Tips for Using Cookie Cutters

Decorative cookie cutters are great fun to use making extra special cookies that are ideal as gifts!Betsy Cukla of Hammersong, creators of the most exquisite cookie cutters I've ever seen, has also created a great bunch of tips to help you get that cookie dough out the cook cutter in one perfect piece!

HOW TO USE HAMMER SONG COOKIE CUTTERS using the traditional method 1. Make your cookie dough. 2. Take a golf ball sized piece of the dough and press it all around the cut edges of the cookie cutter. 3. Dip the cutter into a plate of flour and then tap the excess flour off of the cutter by tapping it on the counter. You have now "prepped" the cutter and are ready to make cookies. You do this "prepping" process only once. Every so often, while making the cutouts-dip the cutter back into the plate of flour. 4. With a slightly chilled dough (a little warmer than room temp), and a floured rolling pin, roll the cookie dough out onto a lightly floured surface just thick enough to pick up any imprints. An exception is shortbread, which may be rolled up to ½" thick. 5. Make the cookie cutouts by pressing the cutter into the dough. Wiggle the cutter in a North-South, then East-West direction. This releases the cutout from the surrounding dough. 6. The cutout may release from the cutter by itself, if not lift the cutter up about one inch making sure to keep the cutter parallel to the cutting board. Sharply rap the cutter back with the back of a pastry brush or paintbrush. The cutout will then pop out of the cutter. It may take a couple of raps to accomplish this. The air hole in the cutter helps to release the dough from the cutter, so be sure not to cover this. A quick flick of the wrist will release the dough from small cutters that have handles. Make sure that the dough is not too cold when you begin to make cookies. The cutouts will not release from the cutter if the dough is too cold. This is true of any metal cutter you may use. Do not use cooking sprays or oil to "grease" your cutters. HOW TO USE HAMMER SONG COOKIE CUTTERS using SILPATS. Here at Hammer Song, we heartily endorse the use of SILPATS. A silpat is a completely food safe baking mat. While you can always make cookies successfully using that old wooden cutting board, SILPATS make the cookie making/baking process SO EASY and stress free. HAMMER SONG cookie cutters and SILPATS marry so well that we use nothing other. Here, at Hammer Song we have road tested all types of non-stick baking mats and DeMarle is by far the best. Virtually indestructible, these mats don't curl or burn in the oven. They can go from the freezer to oven withstanding extreme temperatures. The most common silpat size to use for residential ovens is 11 5/8ths " by 16 ½" which fits perfectly into a 12 X 17" jelly roll/sheet pan. To make terrific cookies, use this method: Prep the cookie cutters by taking a small ball of the cookie dough and running it around the cut edges of the cutter. This "greases " the cutter. Place the cutter cut side down into a plate of flour. Remove it from the plate of flour and tap the excess flour off. You have prepped the cutter and are now ready to make cutouts. Do not use a cooking spray or oil to prep the cutter. The premise behind the silpat is for the cutouts TO STICK to the silpat. Without using any flour, roll the cookie dough directly on the silpat to within ½" of the edges. With the prepped cutter press firmly into the dough. Press FIRMLY straight down, then pull straight up. DO NOT WIGGLE THE CUTTER. After the cutouts have all been made, place the silpat onto a cookie sheet for stability and FREEZE-yes, freeze! both the cookie sheet and the silpat combo. (If the freezer is not big enough, you can always chill in the refrigerator. It will just take longer. ) This step solidifies the fats in the cookie dough which is one of the keys to making great cookies. Remove the silpat/cookie sheet combo from the freezer/frig. Pull the WASTE dough away from the cutouts and bake the cookies on the silpat lined cookie sheet. YES, you DO BAKE THE COOKIES ON THE SILPAT. THE ADVANTAGES OF THE SILPAT is that the cutouts are never moved from the cutting surface to the baking sheet so there are NO BROKEN BODY PARTS. The silpat mat is your BAKING MAT AS WELL AS YOUR COOKIE MAKING MAT. For sticky doughs, sandwich the dough between two silpats. Roll out. Chill the silpat "sandwich" in the refrigerator for a few minutes. Remove from frig. Pull top silpat off. BE SURE TO LET THE DOUGH WARM UP FOR A FEW MINUTES BEFORE MAKING THE CUTOUTS. (Cold and metal don't jive) then proceed to make your cutouts. We use three silpats at a time. The cutouts are rolled out on one, one is in the freezer chilling out, and one is in the oven baking the cookies. This keeps the cookie making process rolling along. CUTTER CARE AND SILPAT CARE Wash cutters in hot soapy water. Use a large scrub brush, toothbrush and/ or skewer to clean, making sure to get all of the cookie dough out of the cutters. Rinse. Wipe cutter backs dry. Tap out excess water from the cutters. Let dry right side up. DO NOT STORE WET. Do not wash and dry cutters in the dishwasher. We love you to display your cutters on the kitchen walls, but if you must store them, store loose in a drawer, basket or in a breathable medium like a brown paper bag-never plastic containers or plastic bags. Wipe silpats clean with a damp sponge and wipe dry. Store flat or rolled.