Before you bake ANYTHING for the office

With the Christmas holidays approaching, you will likely be doing more baking, or you are connected to someone who will. Cookies make great gifts and are delightful presents for co-workers. If you are newbie to baking, I am here to help you learn the golden rules of taking cookies to work, or anywhere else for that matter.

 I have had one too many encounters with rogue bakers who don’t respect these golden rules, yet bake for others anyway. Most of the serious infractions concern their lack of proper hygiene, as you can read here in this article : Friend wash thy hands.

First, an important lesson on Hygiene

Apparently the act of hand-washing is now an outdated practice in Western societies, even though there are considerable conveniences. For example, on Fridays after work, coworkers meet for drinks and burgers, but no one gives a thought to hygiene. Folks come from the outside having touched innumerable surfaces, then proceed to pick up burgers and chow fries with unholy fingers. The holiday season is around flu season in parts of the West, and that nasty flu bug spreads quickly. Therefore, it behooves bakers everywhere, (and especially those in colder climates) to ensure that their hands and utensils are clean. (This means that if you have the sniffles, set your dough aside for another day:)

Be clean and come clean and you will have success

Baking rules to remember:

Its all in the dough

Achieving success is closely tied to preparation. If you want your cookies to be scrumptious and perfect, make your dough ahead of time (I suggest 2 days before you plan to take the cookies into office). I recommend you refrigerate the dough. Refrigerating the dough will help produce better flavor, and helps the fat to firm evenly. In addition, refrigeration produces cookies with neater edges, and this will give the impression that you know what you are doing.

Don’t be skimpy

Unless you’re doing an experiment, use original ingredients. That means using real butter vs margarine. (FYI: Real butter produces cookies with better textures.) Also, if you are making cookies with bits, remember that NO ONE wants a chocolate chip cookie with only 2 small chips in it.

Don’t let your children make them, and in the name of luke skywalker, keep your pets out of the kitchen

This rule seems like common sense RIGHT? (one can only hope). Unless you’re baking for close family members, please don’t allow young children to “experiment” with the cookies that you plan on taking to your co-workers. I beg, have some compassion. BTW, I’ve worked with children for over a decade. You can turn your back for a millisecond, and in a flash, they are doing something they should not be doing, like throwing a crusty raisin in the dough. Keeping pets out of the kitchen is pretty self explanatory, but you will be surprised to learn that there are people who think a little fur is no big deal.

Monitor the cookies so you don’t have to start over

Carelessness leads to wastage. Avoid burnt cookies by monitoring the temperature in the oven, and checking on the cookies near the time that they are supposed to be finished. NOTE: Don’t open the oven often as this will affect the time it takes for the cookies to fully bake. Stay patient, and open the oven when you are supposed to.

Package them properly

First, ensure that the cookies have fully cooled before packing them. Cooling the cookies properly will prevent them from sticking together. (NOTE: Don’t stack cookies when cooling or they will get soggy) . When packing the cookies, use parchment paper between layers of cookies especially with cookies that have icing decorations. Lastly, for optics, wrap the cookies in an attractive box, or in a clear plastic wrap with a ribbon. Handing out cookies in a zip lock bag is just not the thing!

BONUS: Consider creating a label listing all the ingredients within the cookie so that the recipient is aware.

For your benefit I have created a cheat sheet that you are welcome to print and post where you can see it forever:

Will you be baking cookies for the holidays? share your pictures with me on twitter @_cookiesarelife. I’m waiting to see them.

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