By Sheela Prakash, Epicurious
With the holidays approaching, your kitchen is probably heading straight into overdrive mode. There are cookies to bake, cheese balls to roll, cocktails to drink, and of course, actual dinner to cook. But there's no need to let that approaching tsunami of cooking intimidate you. By prepping one of the most important components of the holidays -- cookies, of course -- you'll be one step ahead when the madness is finally underway.
Your key holiday cookie strategy? Stock your freezer with homemade cookie dough. That way, you'll be able to bake a dozen (or three dozen, or just three) cookies at a moment's notice for parties, midnight snacks, and spur-of-the-moment gifts. Here's how to do it.
Here are a few of the holiday favorites that we plan to stash in our own freezers:
From sugar cookies to gingerbread, these are some of our favorite cookies to freeze for the holidays. Freeze the dough in flattened rounds, and then thaw them until they are easy enough to roll out and cut. Then go cookie-cutter crazy and bake. You can also roll out the dough and cut it into shapes prior to freezing. Freeze the cut-out cookies on cookies sheets until firm, then store them in plastic freezer bags until you want to bake them.
Chunky cookies like chocolate chip, oatmeal, and molasses are easy to roll the dough into balls. Freeze the balls on cookies sheets until firm. Then store the balls in a plastic freezer bag until you're ready to bake them.
These cookies are super-easy to freeze, since most slice-and-bake cookie recipes already call for chilling the dough logs for easy slicing. When you're ready to bake them, let the logs thaw out for an hour in the fridge or 15 minutes on the counter before slicing them.
And finally, a few cookie-freezing guidelines:
1. To prevent freezer burn or outside odors, wrap the dough in a double layer of plastic wrap and place in a resealable freezer bag. Cookie dough will stay fresh in the freezer for a couple of months that way, though with cookies so easily at your reach, you'll likely bake them and eat them all well before that.
2. While most cookies freeze great, delicate ones like lace cookies or more cake-like cookies like madeleines are exceptions. Skip the freezer on those and just make them fresh.
3. Some cookies may call for a sprinkling of sea salt, coarse sugar, or a brush of egg wash before baking. This can be done right before they go in the oven. Just be sure the dough has had at least a few minutes to thaw out so that the topping sticks to the dough.