A Y-peeler (named for its shape) has a wide blade and is strong enough to make short work of the skin on apples or pears. (Need a recipe idea? Think about making caramel pear cookies.)
“You need a really good microplane and y-peeler,” Garrelts says. “You don’t need a really fancy peeler with a lot of stuff going on, the classic y-peeler is what every every line cook in a restaurant uses.” Make sure both kitchen tools are sharp and free of rust before you use them.
You should also find a knife you love. Garrelts is partial to her Wusthoff serrated knife. “It’s great for slicing frozen cookie dough or chopping chocolate,” she says. “It’s my favorite pastry knife.”
The right knife is the one that works for your hand. I find myself often reaching for the least expensive knife in my drawer, the Pure Komachi serrated sandwich knife. This steel knife is lightweight, helps slice bar cookies and can be used as a spreader in a pinch.
Now that your ingredients are peeled and chopped, you’ll want to have a stand mixer on hand. “My go-to is the standard KitchenAid mixer,” Garrelts says. And if you’ve saved time with a mixer, use it to your advantage. Chill the dough in your freezer for 30 minutes before baking. Garrelts says that cold dough will give your cookies a better shape and texture.
“And there’s a new paddle with the scrapers on the sides that’s really awesome,” Garrelts notes. The paddle — the Beater Blade — is a KitchenAid attachment that scrapes the sides of the bowl while it mixes the dough. The pointed tip also hits the bottom of the bowl, helping to fold together all the ingredients.
While an electric mixer is sure to save you time (and sore arms), you can always cream together butter and sugar in a pinch by hand with a spatula like this highly-rated model from OXO.
Best kitchenware and bakeware for cookies
When I first started baking, I liked that cookies offered me a built-in back-up plan. If the first sheet of cookies didn’t work out — much like the first pancake of the morning — I had another chance, a plan B, waiting on the counter.
The Williams and Sonoma’s Goldtouch line that Garrelts uses solves that problem by offering two cookie sheets, along with a wire rack for cooling. “The cookies tend to stick less and the wire racks are slip resistant,” Garrelts says.
You can use parchment paper or silicone mats like a Silpat Baking Mat — which is designed to conduct heat evenly — to prevent cookies from sticking to your baking sheets.
When it comes to getting your dough onto the baking sheets, you can use an OXO cookie scoop or portion out the dough on a digital kitchen scale — I use an Ozeri Pronto Digital Kitchen and Food Scale and then roll the cookies out by hand.
The versatility of cookies means that they can be made in a variety of ovens. Bakers are using air fryers and smart ovens, in addition to conventional ovens. Even astronauts can make cookies in space. Back on earth, Garrelts recommends an oven with a convection setting. Her home kitchen oven is an American Range. “I always use a convection oven for baking cookies,” Garrelts says. “If you’re in the market for a new oven, get one that has convection because it regulates the heat better.”
Convection ovens have a fan and exhaust system to regulate heat more evenly, meaning you can avoid cookies that are too brown on the edges and too soft in the middle. You can find an array of convection oven options (at various price points) on Amazon and at Walmart, Home Depot, Sur la Table and elsewhere.
Of course, you don't need an entire new range to cook with a convection oven. Plenty of countertop models will give you the same cooking properties and features. The relatively affordable COSORI 12-in-1 Oven will give you a convection oven on top of a slew of other features, including an air fryer, rotisserie and dehydrator.
Once you’ve mastered the basics, the sky's the limit when it comes to cookies. Garrelts regularly swaps passion fruit for oranges or macadamia nuts for walnuts. She’s still thinking about a chocolate chip cookie made with rye flour and brown butter. “That cookie was different. It made me want to know what was in it,” Garrelts said. “Cookies are really forgiving, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Just change up the ingredients a bit and you might find something really interesting.”
More kitchen and cooking recommendations
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