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Ask A Philadelphia Expert: Creating The Perfect Christmas Cookie

For many families, it just isn't the holiday season without Christmas cookies. Favorite recipes are passed down through the generations, and both kids and adults are able to enjoy this tradition together. While actually baking the cookies is a fun way to create memories, you also want to make sure the cookies are delicious. These tips from Irv Boyd of Philadelphia's Bredenbeck's Bakery will help you make your cookies better than ever this year.

Bredenbeck's (Credit, Michelle Hein)

Irv Boyd
Bredenbeck's Bakery and Ice Cream Parlor
8126 Germantown Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19118
(215) 247-7374

Bredenbeck's has been a Philadelphia tradition since 1889. Family run, this historic Chestnut Hill spot is known for its friendly service and exquisite cookies, cakes, pastries, pies and ice cream. With a commitment to making everyone's holiday season just a bit sweeter, Bredenbeck's entire collection of holiday cookies can be shipped anywhere in the United States.

Irv Boyd, the fourth generation working at Bredenbeck's, has been in the business his whole life. After countless Christmas seasons helping out with baking, decorating and packing orders, he came aboard full time two and a half years ago. While he claims that all the cookies are a great snack, dessert or even dinner during the busiest days, his favorite is the Springerle. This anise-flavored cookie is made using Irv's great-grandmother's cookie press from the early 1900s.

Tip 1: Place cookies on parchment paper prior to baking

One of the worst things that can happen to your cookies is having them stick to the baking sheet. This often causes them to burn, or fall apart as you try to remove them from the pan. By lining your trays with parchment paper, you create a stick-free surface. If your cookies move on the paper when gently pushed with a spatula, you know they are done and ready to come out of the oven. Using parchment paper also makes for easy cleanup. There's no need to scrub your baking trays, giving you more time to enjoy with your guests.

Tip 2: Let the rolling pin do the work for you

To get nice, even cookies that bake at the same rate, you'll want your dough rolled out to a uniform thickness. To do this, you want to learn to work with the rolling pin rather than against it. Gently roll, instead of adding a lot of pressure. And keep in mind that when you add pressure to the dough, the cookie absorbs more flour. That flour can dry out your cookies, making for a cookie that is more likely to crumble.

Tip 3: Go big or go home…when it comes to sugar, that is!

Many Christmas cookies are rolled in sugar before baking for a bit of extra sweetness and a decorative touch. While fine granulated sugar may look nice when decorating, it tends to get absorbed by the cookie while baking. Your cookies will be better if you use a coarse sugar. Coarse sugar gives cookies a nice sparkle and crunch when they are fresh out of the oven.

Related: Top Bakeries In Philadelphia

Tip 4: Use water to get sugar to stick

When applying that coarse sugar, you'll want to use just a bit of water. To get that perfect light mist, use a spray bottle filled with water. Moisten the cookie just a bit before sprinkling on the sugar. This allows the sugar to stick to the cookie instead of falling off while baking.

Tip 5: Remove cookies from oven at the first hint of a browned edge

Cookies are still baking when they come out of the oven, so you want to take them out as soon as you see that they have a light golden browned edge. If you let them over brown during the active oven baking stage, they will end up burning while on the pan. Let the cookies cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack. After the cookies have completely cooled, store any leftovers in an air-tight container.

Related: Top Spots To Get Alternative Wedding Cakes In Philadelphia

Michelle Hein is a copy editor for a women's fashion company in Bucks County by day and a self-proclaimed food and drink fanatic by night and weekend. She enjoys attending wine classes, trying new recipes in the kitchen and going to old favorites and new restaurants alike in the Bucks County and Philadelphia area. If the writing gig doesn't pan out, she constantly dreams of owning her own bakery...perhaps connected to the restaurant/bar that her lawyer boyfriend would love to open.

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