The holiday season is just around the corner, but any day is a great time to whip up a batch of cookies. Cooking can (and should) be fun, but it can also be a chore without the right tools. That’s why we enlisted Chef Jezabel Careaga at Jezabel’s CafÃ© and Bakery, who knows a thing or two about cookies, for a little cooking help. (Wink wink.)
Careaga, who has been baking since the age of 5, specializes in alfajores, an Argentinian cookie available at his bakery in West Philly. This classic butter and cookie sandwich is among the best sweet treats, stuffed with dulce de leche and topped with coconut, or covered in chocolate and sprinkled with rose petals, as Careaga sells. With the baking season ahead, she’s sharing some of her must-have kitchen tools for making consistent, bakery-worthy cookies. From a precision scale to wooden and marble rolling pins, home bakers can easily perfect Grandma’s recipe or start new traditions with their own creations.
Rubber spatula. Careaga suggests scraping down the sides of your bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure each piece of dough is baked into the cookies. âI love to cook, but I don’t like to clean,â she says. Fante’s Kitchen Store offers the lightweight but sturdy GIR âultimate spatulaâ, which features a non-slip handle, flexible blade and an antimicrobial unibody design. The variety of colors – mint, red or white – also makes it easy to complement other kitchen utensils. Fante’s Kitchen Shop, 1006 S. Nineth St., 215-922-5557, fantes.com, $ 12.99
Digital scale. âIf you want to have a great, consistent product, a scale will be your best friend,â Careaga says. The Kohl’s Escali Arti Metal Glass Digital Kitchen Scale features a large, easy-to-read display with accurate weights in imperial measures such as pounds and ounces as well as grams in the metric system. (It even measures fluid ounces and milliliters.) The functional yet stylish design can weigh up to 15 pounds, if you’re feeling particularly ambitious. kohls.com, $ 49.99
Bench scraper. Careaga often considers what happens after preparation. âIf you’re working with paste on any surface around the house – stainless steel, marble, or kitchen countertops – you always want to have a scraper handy,â she says. “This tool scratches [leftover dough] and facilitates your cleaning. Get a tool that can do it all, including portioning dough and lifting cookies off baking sheets, like the OXO Multipurpose Table Scraper. Features include a soft non-slip grip and dishwasher-safe stainless steel blade with quarter-inch markings for precision measurement. $ 10.99; target.com
Baking powder. One of Careaga’s favorite items is baking powder, which helps create lighter and more airy baked goods. âI always teach people how to familiarize themselves with the use of baking powder and learn how they can have less chemicals in their food,â preferring to only use all-purpose flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt for his treats. This universal bakery staple can be found in a plethora of grocery stores and big box stores. Prices and locations vary.
Rolling pin. People have used all kinds of round, rolling objects to flatten the dough in the blink of an eye, but for those who plan on baking often, invest in a good rolling pin. Kitchen kapers offers the Joseph Joseph Adjustable Wooden Rolling Pin, which includes four sets of colorful removable discs that create the right thickness of dough for any recipe, from cookie dough to favorite dishes like pie crusts and pies – Careaga is a fan of his versatility. For added style and functionality, consider an RSVP branded white marble rolling pin, which helps the dough stay cooler. (It also comes with a nice hardwood resting stand.) Kapers Kitchen, 8530 Germantown Ave .; 215-242-2866; cuisinekapers.com, $ 24.95 each