* Measure liquids, like water and vegetable oil, in a liquid measuring cup instead of a "nested" or dry-ingredient measuring cup for an accurate amount.
* Use shiny aluminum cookie sheets. There are many types of cookie sheets to choose from, but shiny aluminum ones will give the best results.
* Scoop cookie dough onto completely cooled cookie sheets. Cookies will spread too much if put on a hot, or even warm, cookie sheet. You can quickly cool a cookie sheet by popping it in the refrigerator or freezer, or by running cold water over it, drying it completely and greasing again if needed.
* Dip edges of plastic cookie cutters, if using, in vegetable oil to get a sharper, more defined edge on cookies.
* Shape cookie dough into balls by using a level measuring tablespoon of dough. It's just the right amount to create a perfect 1-inch ball.
* Bake cookies on the middle oven rack. For even baking, bake one cookie sheet at a time. If you decide to bake two sheets at once, switch the placement of the sheets halfway through baking to help the cookies bake more evenly.
* Cool cookies on wire cooling racks so air can flow around the cookies, which will keep them from getting soggy. Cool pans of bars in the pan on a wire cooling rack. Cool cookies and bars completely before frosting them unless the recipe tells you to frost them while they are warm.
* Line baking pans with aluminum foil for super-quick cleanup. Let some foil overhang the edges of the pan. Then, when the bars or brownies are cool, just lift them out of the pan by the "handles," peel back the foil and cut as directed.
* Cool bars completely before cutting so they don't fall apart. Use a plastic knife to cut soft and sticky bars or brownies.
* Dress up white or light-colored cookies by sprinkling them with colored sugar before baking. To make your own colored sugar, put 1/4 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar into a resealable plastic food-storage bag and add 1 to 3 drops of desired food color seal bag. "Smoosh" or knead bag until all of the sugar is tinted.
* Add extra crunch to cookies by rolling dough in chopped nuts or cereal before baking.
* Create a lunch-box treat! Make sandwich cookies by putting baked cookies together in pairs with about 1 tablespoon ready-to-spread frosting, marshmallow creme or peanut butter.
* Embellish baked cookies by dipping them in melted chocolate or candy coating. After dipping cookies, place them on a wire cooling rack until chocolate is set.
From "Betty Crocker's Ultimate Cake Mix Cookbook." Text Copyright 2004 General Mills, Inc. Used with permission of the publisher, Wiley Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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