1. Proceed with caution. To avoid mishaps, read the recipe from start to finish — twice — before beginning. Many recipes require the dough to be refrigerated for a period of time.
2. Shop carefully. Many recipes use large eggs and all-purpose flour, unless otherwise noted. Invest in fresh baking powder, baking soda and spices.
3. Equip your kitchen. Use flat, shiny, rimless and insulated medium- to heavy-gauge aluminum baking sheets. Eliminate greasy baking sheets by using parchment paper or reusable silicon (such as Silpat) baking mats.
4. Measure carefully. Spoon flour and powdered sugar into the measuring cup (rather than using the measuring cup as a scoop) and level ingredients with a straight edge, such as a knife. Soften butter at room temperature until a light touch leaves a slight indentation, about 30 to 45 minutes.
5. Bake evenly. Preheat the oven for at least 20 minutes. Adjust baking rack to the oven’s middle position. For true accuracy, invest in an oven thermometer. Use one baking sheet at a time in the oven, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking time. Cool baking sheets completely between batches either by alternating among several cookie sheets or running hot ones under cold water.
6. Store wisely. Most cookies remain fresh for up to a week when stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Use separate containers to store different types of cookies.
©2012 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Distributed by MCT Information Services 
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