All About Cookies, Bars, and Brownies

How To Tell When Cookies, Bars, and Brownies Are Done

Cookies are best when they’ve been baked just the right time—not too long and not too short. Here are some easy ways to tell when cookies are done.

Check cookies at the minimum baking time. Even 1 minute can make a difference! Continue checking them every minute until done. Immediately remove cookies from the sheets with a pancake turner, unless the recipe calls for them to cool on the sheet. If cookies stick to the sheet, they may have cooled too long. Return them to the oven briefly.

Cookies are done when they are firmly set or browned according to recipe directions. When you touch them lightly with your finger, almost no imprint will remain. Bake cookies according to recipe directions for the correct amount of browning.

Bake brownies according to recipe directions.

  • Cake-like brownies are done when they just begin to pull away from the sides of the pan, when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or when they are set in the center.
  • Fudgy brownies do not have a specific doneness test. Bake the brownies within the time range stated in the recipe. Baking at the minimum time will also produce a very moist brownie. Baking at the maximum time will produce a moist brownie, but one that is not as “wet” as the one baked at the minimum time. Experiment to obtain the results that you prefer. Overbaking brownies (baking beyond the maximum time) can result in dry, hard brownies, especially around the pan edges.

Keeping Baked Goods Fresh and Flavorful

If cookies last long enough to take them off the cooling rack, here are some tips for keeping them at their fresh-from-the-oven best.

Store different kinds of cookies in separate containers.

Cookie jars are only for short-term storage.

Store soft cookies in a container with a tight-fitting cover. Place sheets of waxed paper between layers so cookies won’t stick together. Frosted or filled cookies should be stored in a single layer.

Store crisp cookies in a container with a loose fitting cover. However, if you live in a humid climate, containers should be tightly covered. If crisp cookies soften, place them on a cookie sheet and warm them in a 300°F oven for 3 to 5 minutes.

Store bars and brownies in the baking pan. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap or foil or slip it into a plastic bag and seal with a twist tie. Some frostings or fillings may require refrigeration.

Line cardboard containers with foil or plastic wrap. This will prevent the cookies from absorbing any cardboard flavor or aroma.