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poofandmook's avatar

Can I refrigerate cookie dough that relies on lots of butter to spread the cookie during baking if I bring it to room temperature before baking?

Asked by poofandmook (17063 points ) December 17th, 2013

I make ridiculous amounts of cookies every Christmas. This year, I was in the middle of moving and I can’t do them until next weekend. I thought I could do a bunch of the dough ahead of time and refrigerate, but I remember that last year it was really hard (and actually painful) to get spoonfuls of certain doughs off the refrigerated hunk… specifically the chocolate chip, which is full of butter so that the cookie spreads during baking.

Would it hurt the integrity of the dough or anything if I refrigerated and then brought it back to room temp before I baked it? Or can I refrigerate the spoonfuls and then toss them on a sheet to bake later? I can knock out batches of dough easy enough before/after work but the baking off is what takes time… so if I can do that I might have a fighting chance of getting all my required baking done before Christmas.

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24 Answers

janbb's avatar

I frequently refrigerate cc cookie dough and bake it off in small amounts. I will let it soften a bit before putting on the baking sheets. What works even better is to put it on the trays and then refrigerate them for a day or so since I was having a problem with too much spread while baking. This is something that @thorninmud told me to try.

In any case, yes – you can refrigerate the dough and then let it soften some. I wouldn’t leave it more than about three days or so in the fridge though.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

Either method you mentioned would work. I think the idea of refrigerating a batch in spoonfuls would be most time efficient. That way when you’re ready to bake, you only have the baking time, rather than the warm-up time plus the bake time.

thorninmud's avatar

Refrigerating the dough is no problem at all. No need to let it come back up to room temp, either; just go straight into the oven. For a classic chocolate chip dough, I mix the dough and portion it out on a sheet covered with plastic wrap, then refrigerate it so that the mounds can be picked up off the sheet and stored in tupperware until baking time (they need to be protected from the oxidation and picking up fridge odors). Then just space the lumps on your cookie sheet and straight into the oven.

If you need to wait more than a couple of days before baking, you can easily freeze the lumps. Just remove the tupperware from the freezer the day before baking, keep it closed and in the fridge, and then bake as above. They will not suffer at all from the freezing.

poofandmook's avatar

Thanks guys!

I don’t have enough sheets… I do probably 6–8 dozen chocolate chip alone… not counting the white chip macadamia, PB, flourless dark chocolate, sugar, pecan fingers, and thumbprints… which are at the very minimum 3 dozen each. lol

poofandmook's avatar

@thorninmud: are there any cookie doughs you CAN’T refrigerate ahead of time?

thorninmud's avatar

@poofandmook I’m having a hard time thinking of any that can’t be refrigerated. A classic french macaron couldn’t be, but aside from that…

Certainly, not all could be portioned out ahead of time (e.g. those that are more batter than dough), but still the base mixtures can be kept in the fridge and portioned out at baking time.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@poofandmook When are you baking? Can I come over? (yum!)

Smitha's avatar

I usually roll up the cookie dough into logs and chill them. Just wrap the log in waxed paper and then in aluminum foil and put in the refrigerator. To bake just slice the log into pieces and bake. Most dough’s can also be frozen for up to a month.

poofandmook's avatar

@Yetanotheruser: Saturday afternoon-Monday. Come on over to Jersey :)

poofandmook's avatar

@thorninmud: Oh, good. That will HUGELY reduce my workload this weekend if I can gradually make dough throughout this week.

glacial's avatar

I’m single, but I love to bake. A batch of cookies is far too much for me to consume before they get stale, so I frequently make a batch that’s 4 times the size of the original recipe, then freeze it in a good-quality freezer bag. When I want a few cookies, I pull out the freezer bag, slice off what I want, and bake them immediately, without even letting them come to room temperature. I find they turn out even better than cookies I make from room temperature dough.

janbb's avatar

@glacial I freeze already baked cookies as well for the same reason. (And is that why you’re @glacial – because you’re always in the freezer!)

glacial's avatar

@janbb My (baker’s) secret is out!

I don’t think I would want to eat once-frozen baked cookies, though. Do they not taste a bit stale?

janbb's avatar

Depends on the kind (I almost said breed because of the other question) and how long you freeze them. Shortbreads do fine for several months, chocolate chips for a few. I always used to start my Christmas baking in late November and freeze.

glacial's avatar

Interesting.

thorninmud's avatar

The key to freezing baked cookies is controlling condensation. This is mainly a textural problem. The “cement” that holds the baked cookie together is mostly sugar that melts in baking and re-solidifies during cooling. If exposed to high humidity after that, the sugar begins to soften, and so does the cookie. That may be a non-issue for some, and a serious downer for others.

So before you package the cookies for freezing, they need to be thoroughly cooled so that they’re not still venting off their moisture into the storage container. When you take them out of the freezer, leave the container sealed until the contents have come all the way back up to room temp. If they’re still cool when you open the container, condensation will form on the surface of the cookies and soften them.

janbb's avatar

@thorninmud Come live me with and be my love – or at least my baking and Buddhism guru.

My cookies stay crisp. Just sayin’

thorninmud's avatar

Who knew bake-speak was such a penguin magnet?

janbb's avatar

My flippers are all afluther!

jca's avatar

You know what’s a good cookie? Cranberry Pistachio. Try it!

augustlan's avatar

I want to come visit you @poofandmook! Save some cookies for me. :)

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@poofandmook Sorry, I can’t make it to Jersey this weekend. I am hosting my own soiree here in Colorado.

janbb's avatar

I’m in Jersey – Just sayin’

JLeslie's avatar

My only additonal recommendation to those above is when you refrigerate it put some plastic wrap right on top of the dough, really protecting the dough from air, and then also seal the container with wrap or a cover.

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