A cookie cutter is a tool used to cut “rolled cookies” in decorative shapes out of a rolled-out cookie dough.
The cutters mostly emerge in households at Christmas, bright with hope. Still, there is many a slip between the lovely promised shape of many of the intricate cookie cutters now available, and what actually comes out of the oven as a finished product.
Cookie cutters can be made of metal or plastic. Metal ones have the advantage in that they can be thin, and sharp. The metal can be tin-plate (steel coated with tin) or copper. Metal ones can be easier to work with, as their sharp edges require less pressing to cut through dough, and compact less the edges of the cut on the cookie, impeding its rise less. If cookie cutters don’t have nice, sharp edges, you may have to wiggle the cookies a bit to get them out, which can distort the shape. Plastic ones, though, are often designed to leave a more interesting impression on top.
You can buy cookie cutters in sets, or singly. Perhaps the most well known shape is for gingerbread men.
Oftentimes the price tag or UPC label sticker won’t come off from new cookie cutters. Rub the sticker with peanut butter or oil, and let stand overnight.
Always dry metal ones thoroughly before putting away. Tin-plate can rust if exposed to moisture; store it in sealed plastic bags (which also has the advantage of keeping various cookie cutters together as well.) Don’t soak metal ones in water.
Cookie cutters can also be used for sandwiches, or by kids to trace shapes on paper. If you have large metal ones with a handle that doesn’t interfere, you can place them on a hot griddle and pour pancake batter into them to make specially-shaped pancakes.
Have cookie dough well-chilled before using cookie cutters on them — at least two hours in the fridge. Some say roll the dough out first, then chill it, then cut it.
Roll the dough out evenly, to allow for better baking.
Before each cut, dip the cutter in flour, white sugar or vegetable oil.
Bake similar shapes of cookies together if possible, as they’ll have the same cooking time.