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Make cookies like a pro

Here’s our Cookie Clinic with tips to help you create the best baked goodies ever
By: Tinka Davi Granite Bay View
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Who doesn’t love cookies at Christmas? Like Donner and Dixon, trees and tinsel, Christmas and cookies just go together to make the holidays happier and our tummies fuller. It’s a joy to receive a sampling of sweets from the neighbors or even bake up batches from your family’s favorite recipes. There’s a sense of satisfaction when you can say, “I baked these myself.” But have you ever had problems with cookies burning on the bottoms or around the edges? What about chocolate chip cookies that spread so much as they bake that they turn out as flat as a you know what? Kelli Ridenour, owner of Kelli’s Best Cookies in Roseville, has not one, but four secrets to creating perfect cookies. And she’s willing to share. That’s a wonderful holiday gift from her to our readers — and bakers. Here are her tips: 1. Lower the oven temperature by about 50 degrees. If the recipe calls for 375 degrees, bake the cookies at 325 instead and add two to three minutes baking time. “You’ll get a more thoroughly baked cookie in the middle and around the edges,” said Ridenour, who is known for her soft-baked cookies. “If the oven is really hot, the cookies will spread. Keep an eye on them.” 2. Don’t use egg yolks, only the egg whites. “That’s a little bit healthier,” she said. Egg yolks can cause cookies to be dry and crunchy; using only egg whites results in fluffier, cake-like cookies. Ridenour cracks hundreds of eggs a day and is willing to give away all those unused yolks. 3. Stick with butter. “Margarine has a lot of preservatives and artificial ingredients that you can’t pronounce,” Ridenour said. “And if you can’t pronounce it, don’t use it. Margarine has other ingredients like water that will cause the cookies to spread. Margarine also has an after taste while butter helps the cookies taste better and stay fresh longer, she said. 4. Don’t over mix. Fold in the dry ingredients and mix just enough to blend. Ridenour cautions against using the high speed on the mixer and over beating. Kelli’s Cookies offers 16 different flavors of cookies from peanut butter to toffee fudge, glacier mint to oatmeal raisin and just about all the favorites in anybody’s cookie jar. She’s added sugar-free cookies, which she developed for diabetics. “They’re moist and soft like our other cookies,” she said. A breakfast cookie is made with Kashi cereal, walnuts, dried cranberries and protein powder. The newest are gluten-free cookies. Ridenour’s favorite? “I’m not a fan of pumpkin pie, but I love our pumpkin cookies. They taste more like the top of a pumpkin muffin.” They’re made with pecans and chunks of white chocolate and are so popular that Ridenour says she can’t keep them on the shelf. The best-selling cookies are chocolate chunk, made with chopped milk chocolate. Another favorite is snickerdoodles topped with cinnamon and sugar. Cream of tartar gives them a buttermilk taste. Ridenour has been in business for 14 years. “I was influenced by my grandma who was always in the kitchen baking cookies. She and other women from her church pooled their recipes and had a nonprofit church bakery. Everyone who came in walked out with a smile. I knew I wanted to open my own bakery since I was 10 years old.” She goes to work daily. “It’s lots of hard work but I’m doing what I love. I wake up every morning and say, ‘How quickly can I get there?’ If there was an eighth day in the week, I’d go to work.” Kelli’s Best Cookies has two locations in Roseville, the original store at 605 Douglas Blvd. near the Roseville Chamber of Commerce, and a second, newer store at The Fountains at Galleria Boulevard and East Roseville Parkway. That’s where you can overindulge your sweet tooth with cookies or shop for cookie baskets, gift boxes of cookies or holiday specials for your family and friends. Enjoy! It’s Christmas cookie time!