I love making cookies for the holidays. I’m not very crafty or a particularly talented baker, but the holiday season makes me feel very homey. Every year, after Thanksgiving, my kids and I look through our recipes and decide which cookies we want to make that year. We always pick too many and we never make as many different kinds as we want to anyways. Also, I end up having a few crazed baking days when all my dishes get dirty, my kitchen and I end up covered in flour, icing, and sprinkles, and I wonder why I do it all to myself every single year.
Well, not this year! I have had a revelation. Not only can I can make as many different kinds of holiday cookies as I want, but I can enjoy the cookie-making process for all of them! And I can start in October. Let me tell you how.
Did you know that you can freeze cookies? For up to three months, depending on the type. They can be frozen fully baked and ready to eat! Well, after a defrosting. Maybe you knew this already, but I didn’t. And let me tell you, it is a game-changer!
Making Cookies Ahead of Time
You can start making holiday cookies 3 months ahead of time. 3 months! That’s the end of September. You can enjoy leisurely making one or two (or more!) batches of cookies on the weekend. Even if you only did that for 8 weekends, you could still have 8-16 (or more!) different kinds of cookies by the holidays! Then all your friends will think you are Martha Stewart when you pull out all those cookies at your holiday party. Plus, it’s easier on the budget to spread the baking out instead of trying to cram it all into one glorious week.
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Freezing Cookies: Before or After Baking
You can choose to either freeze cookies before you bake them, as dough, or you can freeze them after they have been fully baked.
Most cookies freeze beautifully, but there are a few delicate types that don’t hold up well in the freezer, like florentines, meringues, wafer cookies, pizelles, and madeleines.
Freezing Cookie Dough
Cookie doughs that freeze really well include:
- drop cookies (chocolate chip, peanut butter, etc)
- slice and bake cookies
- sugar cookies
How you freeze the dough is doing to depend on the type of cookie.
Drop cookies – scoop balls of cookie dough onto a cookie sheet, making sure that they are not touching, and then freeze until solid. After they are frozen, put them into a bag clearly labeled with the date, the type of cookie, and baking instructions.
Slice and bake cookies – freeze the dough in a tightly wrapped log, ready to slice. Label clearly with the date, type of cookie, and baking instructions.
Other – form the cookie dough into a disc and wrap it in plastic. Label clearly with the date, type of cookie, and baking instructions. This method works well when you are going to roll the dough out and use cookie cutters.
If you have cookies that need to be dipped in powdered sugar before they are baked, freeze them plain. Let them defrost and then roll them in sugar right before baking.
Time to Bake
When you decide you want to bake the cookies, just pull the dough out to defrost. If you froze the cookie dough in balls, you don’t even have to wait for the dough to defrost. You can bake the frozen cookie dough straight from the freezer! Just allow for a couple extra minutes in the oven.
Freezing Baked Cookies
I personally prefer freezing baked cookies over freezing dough. It leaves less work for me to do when I’m ready to eat them. And it’s so easy!
First, you want to bake your cookies as usual. Make sure that the cookies are completely cooled before you put them in the freezer.
If the cookies are supposed to be frosted, it’s best to wait to decorate them. Decorations don’t always hold up well through the freezing and defrosting process, so it’s better to freeze the cookies plain and then decorate them after they are thawed.
How to Freeze
After your cookies have completely cooled, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and place them in the freezer until they are completely frozen. You can freeze multiple layers of cookies at a time as long as you separate the layers with parchment paper or wax paper.
If you are freezing bar cookies, you can line the entire pan with aluminum foil or parchment, and after they cool, lift the whole pan out, wrap it, and freeze it just like that.
Storing Frozen Cookies
The frozen cookies should be stored in an airtight container. A hard-sided container is best to protect your cookies, but you can also store them in a plastic freezer bag. It is best to put a piece of waxed paper or aluminum foil in between the layers to keep the cookies from sticking to each other. For extra protection, you can wrap the cookies in plastic wrap before you put them in the airtight container.
Whatever you use, make sure you label it with the contents and the date. And remember, you can store frozen cookies and dough for 3 months in your freezer!
Thawing Frozen Cookies
The best way to thaw your frozen cookies is to take them out of the storage container. If you try to thaw them in a tupperware or bag, they may get soggy from condensation. Lay them out on a cooling rack at room temperature in a single layer until defrosted. And voila! Delicious cookies, ready to eat.
That’s it! It’s so simple. And it’s going to be a game-changer for me this holiday season.