10 Tips you need to freeze your holiday cookies the right way
Cookies and Christmas go hand in hand, but during the busiest time of the year, do you really have time for baking?
Luckily with these tips, you can make all your favorite cookies now, before things get too crazy, and freeze them for later without worrying about freezer burn or stale treats. Sounds like a plan to me.
1. Freeze the dough raw for freshly baked later on
If you want to be able to pop some cookies into the oven at a moment's notice and fill your house with that fresh-baked smell, then you can freeze your cookie dough raw. Roll your dough into discs, wrap them in plastic wrap, and place in a zip-top bag. When you're ready to bake, thaw the discs, then form your cookies, and bake. Alternately you can form your cookies ahead of time, whether they're drop cookies, balls or cut out. Freeze the raw cookies on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, then transfer to a container, and freeze until you're ready to make them. You can bake them from frozen — just remember to add a minute or two to your baking time.
2. Try this trick for slice-and-bake cookies
Roll your icebox cookie dough into a log, then wrap it in waxed paper or parchment. Put this dough into an empty paper towel tube with a slit down the side, and freeze. The tube acts like a mold, helping the dough keep its shape until frozen solid. Once frozen, remove the tube, and wrap the dough in plastic wrap, then place in a plastic bag, and freeze until you're ready to bake.
3. Freeze baked cookies if you'll be pressed for time
Have time for baking now but know you'll be too frenzied later in the month to deal with it? Luckily freezing baked cookies is really easy. Let the cookies cool completely, then freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Then, transfer to a freezer-safe, airtight container, placing a piece of waxed paper, parchment paper or plastic wrap between each layer of cookies in their container.
4. If you do pre-bake, line your baking sheets
When you bake your cookies, use parchment or a Silpat so you can get them off easily and won't have to grease a cookie sheet. Starting with cookies in the best condition possible (with no extra grease from the baking sheet) will make the whole freezing and thawing process much more successful.
5. Prevent soggy defrosted cookies
Cool your cookies completely before freezing them so they won't be frozen with extra moisture (as in condensation) and later defrost into a soggy mess.
6. Freeze like with like
Freeze crisp cookies with crisp cookies, soft cookies with soft. Otherwise the extra moisture in the soft cookies could cause the crispy cookies to become soft, either when they're in the freezer but haven't started to freeze yet or when they're thawing.
7. Know what to freeze
Most cookies can be frozen, especially those with a dense dough and texture. Unless it has a very delicate texture or is iced or filled, your average cookie, whether drop, cut out, sliced or rolled, can be frozen.
8. And what not to freeze
Sandwiched or filled cookies, delicate cookies (like meringues and macarons) and cookies coated in chocolate aren't good candidates for freezing. The texture of any filling can separate or become unpleasant when frozen and thawed; delicate cookies can crumble or become soggy when taken out of the freezer; and chocolate can develop a whitish bloom after being frozen that can look kind of weird. Iced cookies are a no-go too — as they thaw, condensation can cause the different colored icings to bleed together. Instead, freeze your cookies, and then decorate them once thawed.
9. Use the right containers
To avoid freezer burn and staleness, you want to make sure your cookies are frozen in an airtight container. Try getting plastic containers that are made specifically for the freezer; other types can shatter from the low temperature. Avoid round containers, which can bend or break your cookies. If you need to layer your cookies in their container, place a piece of waxed paper, parchment paper or plastic wrap on the bottom and between each layer so they don't stick.
10. Thaw thoroughly
Thawing cookies creates condensation, which can make them soggy or taste stale. Make sure you thaw them outside of a container — try placing them on a cooling rack until thawed, then transfer them to an airtight container. This is especially important if you plan to ice your cookies or to coat them in chocolate, as condensation can prevent these from sticking to the surface of the cookie.