32 dozen cookies: a whole lotta bakin' goin’ on

Imagine the William Tell Overture (a.k.a. the Lone Ranger theme song), pounding in your head. Hear the drumming hoofbeats (if you were a fan of the Ranger, Tonto, and Silver), or the lively violins (for you classical music buffs). OK, got that? Ready… Set… Go bake 32 dozen cookies—in 2 hours!

What possessed me to do just that this morning? Perhaps it was talk around the office recently of Project Graduation, our local high school’s all-night supervised party. This community-wide event includes a pull-out-all-the-stops drive for donations ranging from boom boxes and bikes to pizzas and bagels and chips and Coke and cookies… And cookies, and more cookies.

Cookies are the fuel that drives these 18-year-olds through a night of substance-free partying. There can never be too many cookies at any event involving teenagers. The girls nibble, mindful of their diets; the boys, with metabolisms revving at about 200rpm, grab handfuls and inhale. Either way, trays of cookies disappear at an alarming rate, to be replaced, thankfully, by more trays of cookies.

I baked cookies for this Project Graduation several years ago, when my own son was a senior. Back then, I didn’t have as many shortcuts up my sleeve as I do now. I’ve learned a lot about mass cookie baking, thanks to various potlucks, bake sales, and community events to which King Arthur donates. And somehow, it all came together early this morning, as I stood in the kitchen at 6:50 a.m. wondering where to start. How about—cookies?

I knew I wanted to write a blogpost. It’s graduation time. There might be others out there having to bake zillions of cookies for hungry teenagers. How about a how-to on “sprint” baking?

Clearly, you folks at home don’t have the facilities I do: two ovens, 16 cookie sheets, and a big rolling rack for cooling 16 pans of cookies at a time. But you do (or can) have the other key ingredients for success:

img_2977.JPG
Tried-and-true recipes, ones that make non-fussy, sturdy (easily transportable) cookies. Today I made Snickerdoodles, and peanut butter cookies.

img_2970.JPG
Oven gloves. A bowl scraper, to get every last bit of dough out of the mixer bowl. Four good baking sheets, so that you can have two in the oven and two ready to go. Parchment paper, to avoid doing dishes at the end. A scale, for fast, mess-free measuring. Measuring spoons. A teaspoon cookie scoop, which makes lovely 2” cookies, the perfect size for “grab and go” grads.

img_2979.JPG
And a stand mixer. Or at least a hand mixer, though a stand mixer can handle a lot more dough than the hand-held models. I happen to love KitchenAid mixers, so that’s what I use here at King Arthur—a 5-quart version. My KitchenAid at home is 30 years old and counting.

I started pulling ingredients off the shelf at 6:57 a.m. By 9:05 a.m., I’d pulled the final baking sheet out of the oven. In 2 hours, 8 minutes, I’d baked nearly 32 dozen cookies: 366, to be exact.

You probably don’t need to bake 32 dozen cookies at a time. But how about 8 dozen (96 cookies)? That’s just a single batch of dough, four pans’ worth, two trips into and out of the oven… and a nice contribution to any potluck, bake sale, or Project Graduation. Here’s how:

img_2950.JPG
First, make the cookie dough—I made a double batch of Snickerdoodles; you could probably get away with a single batch (96 cookies). A stand mixer makes the job easy.

img_2951.JPG
Snickerdoodles need to be coated in cinnamon sugar before baking. Use your cookie scoop to drop them into a pan of sugar.

img_2959.JPG
Since my baking sheet holds 2 dozen 2” cookies, I plopped a dozen balls of dough into the sugar at a time.

img_2960.JPG
Shake till coated…

img_2961.JPG
…then toss onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Literally. don’t bother lining them up yet.

img_2953.JPG
Once you have 2 dozen balls of dough on the pan, stagger them in six rows of four; staggering them allows you to utilize the space on the baking sheet more fully.

img_2954.JPG
Flatten the cookies. I use the pusher from our Cuisinart food processor. It has a nice circular design in the top.

img_2956.JPG
Here they are, ready to go into the oven. Since I have two ovens at my disposal, I prepared four sheets of cookies at a time. While four sheets were baking, I was getting the next four ready. After eight sheets’ worth of cookies…

img_2967.JPG
…the bowl was bare. WHEW!

img_2963.JPG
Here they are, cooling off. Look how perfectly they spread—I’d say I use the space on the baking sheet very efficiently, wouldn’t you? That’s one of the keys to sprint baking: efficient use of space. A teaspoon cookie scoop + 18” x 13” baking sheet (half-sheet pan) = VERY efficient use of space.

img_2965.JPG
Cooling on the rack. I went through the same process with peanut butter cookies, and ended up with just under 16 pans of cooling cookies, pretty much filling the rack. If you do a double batch of either of these recipes, you’ll have about 16 dozen 2” cookies. Plenty for most gatherings, wouldn’t you say?

img_2976.JPG
Notice the friendly size. When feeding a crowd, it’s better to make a greater number of slightly smaller cookies; you’ll find they last longer, and obviously feed more people.

Read our recipe for Snickerdoodles. And, for a delicious variation, read our blog post on Caramel-Stuffed Snickerdoodles.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Keebler Sandies Simply Shortbread cookies, 24¢/ounce

Buy: Supermarket in-store bakery sugar cookies, 18¢/ounce

Bake: Snickerdoodles, 9¢/ounce

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Beth

    A few years ago, a group from a local Baptist church took a trip to Mississippi to help with the flood victims. I made dozens and dozens of cookies starting on Friday evening and finished up Sunday afternoon. I only had one oven and only baked one sheet of cookies at a time, but it helped speed things up by using cookie dough that needed to be chilled. Then all I had to do was pull it out of the fridge and get going. I’m trying to remember what kinds of cookies I made: oatmeal chocolate chip, peanut butter (I chilled that dough), hermits, molasses, and a basic dough that had been frozen into six rolls – I can’t remember what else, but it got to be a community event, because a couple of neighbors came over with containers to store the cookies in, another church took up a donation, and collected several hundred dollars for the Baptist group’s traveling expenses. And you’re sure right, PJ, about teenage boys’ appetites – one kid will grab a dozen cookies when they have barely cooled on the racks.

    Reply
  2. Eric

    So are you cooling these all the way on the half-sheet pans, or is there a step where they’re getting removed to wire racks?

    Hi Eric: I cool them right on the pan. I never transfer cookies to racks to cool, because I have enough pans that I don’t need to, and they cool just fine on the pan. -PJH

    Reply
  3. Lorraine

    I chuckled over your efforts as I too have made “batches and batches” of cookies but for our office at Christmas time. I’d start on Wednesday before Thanksgiving (I was invited out for Thanksgiving dinners) and continued on two more weekends (since I have a full time job), pick out at least a dozen different cookie recipes that make at least four to six dozen a batch times two. These were all day baking sessions. I would start bringing them in to the office in shopping bags the whole week (they were all locked up in my file cabinet) so that I could spead them out in our department’s kitchen just before the holidays. It was a treat I enjoyed doing and for the love of baking but unfortunately with back problems and bad knees I no longer can do this. But, it was fun while it lasted. I still bake but only occasionally throughout the year.

    We have other talented bakers and cooks in our department and everyone enjoys the goodies all year long. Lots of birthdays throughout the year. –LLM

    Reply
  4. Eric

    Well, then, I’m going to do the same thing! I have stacks and stacks of half-sheet pans and yards of parchment, and I’ve subscribed to the orthodoxy of “cool on wire rack” for far too long! VIVA THE SHEET PANS!

    E

    Reply
  5. Rose

    I too have baked dozens and dozens of cookies, plus dozens of scones, muffins and 4 full sheet pizzas. This was done in 2 1/2 days using a Bosch mixer purchased from KA a few years ago and my 36 inch Garland stove. All for a good cause for a non-profit
    After being volunteered to bake kitty kookies for a local shelter this year, I’ll start sometime this week on baking and decorating around 200 cut out cookies.
    If anyone lives in Ashland, MA, I could sure use some help.

    Reply
  6. Margaret Heaton

    Wow! That is a lot of cookies! I bake for a food kitchen every Saturday and throughout the week, my husband and I will pick up and deliver any food we are given to help offset hunger in the less fortunate. I am glad to read in your blog that the the King Arthur Company gives to local community events. I only wish we were closer to the company!
    We deliver anywhere from ten to 1000 pounds of food each week. But you have inspired me to go bake up some cookies in addition to the meal we will be delivering later this afternoon. Margaret

    Margaret, thanks for all the work you do for the food kitchen. This is something King Arthur is very active in, too. It’s all part of keeping our communities healthy, eh? Good luck with the cookies- PJH

    Reply
  7. Roberta Partridge

    I would like to add one more aid to cookie making. I had to make 8 recipes 6 times each for an OCCASION. Fancier rather than plain cookies. I found that mixing in the final ingredients using the dough hook – speed low – on my KitchenAid (mine is at least 30 years old) saved a lot of elbow grease. It meant that I could double recipes and stir in the chocolate chips, nuts, raisins, rice krispies, oatmeal, etc. with ease and no smashing of the ingredients. I now use this when I’m only making one recipe! I just switch over from the paddle to the dough hook when the right time in the recipe comes – time and effort saved makes cookie making fun again. And if you don’t have the cookie scoops put all four sizes on your present list! They make such a difference.

    Hi Roberta,

    Love the dough hook idea! I’m going to try that myself!

    Happy Baking!

    MaryJane @ The Baker’s Hotline

    Reply
  8. Mavis

    I do a lot of ‘mass’ baking for holidays, or our church, in my home. I try to never ‘make’ and ‘bake’ on the same day. When I’m making the dough, I scoop the dough onto parchment lined cookie sheets that fit into my freezer, putting as many raw cookie dough cookies onto a sheet that I can. When they’re frozen hard, they’re put into gallon sized baggies, and labeled with what they are and the baking requirements. Whenever I’m ready for fresh cookies, I just pull out a bag and they’re ready to go. I’m also a big fan of refrigerator cookies that I can freeze in bars, and I also do a lot of biscotti that I freeze in bars as well. When I’m ready to bake them, just put the cookies on parchment covered sheets and let them have a few minutes to thaw if you have the time to do that. If not, just pop into the oven frozen, allowing a few extra minutes for defrost in the oven.

    Usually all my Christmas cookies are in the freezer by Thanksgiving time. I like everything fresh baked, so as the season gets closer I can pull them out of the freezer and bake them fresh as needed. The house always smells yummy through the holiday without the kitchen mess and hassle at an already stressful time.

    Reply
  9. Carol Rosen

    Glad to hear from other mass bakers out there. About 4 years ago when my youngest left home, I figured I had to do SOMETHING, so every other weekend I bake 600 to 800 cookies for a a downtown soup kitchen. I make 6 to 8 double batches, and measure all the ingredients the night before. I begin work at about 4:30 a.m. and usually finish by 11:30 (I have two ovens). Favorites are chocolate chip, peanut butter criss-cross, oatmeal raisin pecan, peanut blossom, cherry chocolate chunk, and gingersnaps with white chocolate frosting, which I make less frequently because I have to cover every level surface in my house with cookies while the chocolate hardens, and it takes 14 lbs. of Belgian chocolate!

    Reply
  10. Jamie

    I used to bake 100 dozen Christmas cookies every year. I would give them as large gift baskets/plates for the mailman, UPS guy, doctor’s office, hair stylist and all the bachelor men I knew, etc. It was a labor of love, but I would make 2-3 batches of “quantity” recipes and make at least 6 different types of cookies so they looked good on a plate. Once you get the rhythm, you learn the best multi-taskers. Make one dough while another is cooling, bake one batch while frosting or packaging something else.
    But I am curious as to what is in the middle of the peanut butter cookies. There isn’t anything about this in the recipe. Is it chocolate or jam?

    Jamie, it’s just a single chocolate chip – I plopped them on just as I took them out of the oven, so they kind of melted and settled in. – PJH

    Reply
  11. Pam

    I place my cookies which have been rolled into logs, chilled and then sliced onto parchment paper and slide the parchment paper into stoneware pans that live in my oven. When the cookies come out, can they cool on the parchment on the counter or should they be in a rack for circulation?

    Hi Pam,

    We rarely use racks for cooling our baked cookies. Unless the recipe specifies moving to a rack, or the cookie will be soggy if you don’t use a rack, go ahead and cool on the parchment.

    Happy Baking!

    MaryJane @ The Baker’s Hotline

    Reply
  12. jwg

    What about Silplat. You specify parchment paper. I just love my silicon sheet liners.

    Hi! The Silpat would be fine to use instead of parchment paper. Enjoy. Jessica @ the Bakers Hotline.

    Reply
  13. Irene Peery, RN

    When I was still working at UVA Hospital in the OR , I took it upon myself to thank all my co-workers with a BIG box of homemade cookies each Christmas. It took a week, working after I got home from work and the weekend before, to make and bake the cookies. Thank goodness for cold weather because I put the finished cookies in plastic containers to keep on my back porch, since I didn’t have freezer space enough. The last Christmas, I counted how many I baked and it totaled 127 dozen. I used a lot of bar cookie recipes or refrigerator recipes but the box usually had 20-30 different kinds of cookies. Like you, I used a stand mixer with two bowls, a food processor, small ice cream scoops but I only had one oven. All I can say is thank goodness for parchment paper. I could lift one batch off when done and put another one on the cookie sheet. My shopping list usually consisted of 15 lbs. of flour, 8 lbs. of butter, 3 doz. eggs, 4 lbs. brown sugar and 15 lbs. of white sugar. That was just the beginning. Now that I am retired and don’t do this anymore, I really enjoy Christmas cookies a lot more. I do miss the look on the staff’s faces when the cookies came to the front desk. Thanks for all of your great recipes.

    Irene, what a great Christmas gift – I can bet they were all happy. Cookies and other baked treats, in my experience, are ALWAYS a welcome gift – one size fits all!-PJH

    Reply
  14. Lee

    I just did a mass cookie baking for an informal wedding reception for two dear friends that are both marrying for the second time. The most popular cookie I do starts with a bag of macademia nuts for baking (I bring these home from Seattle when I visit my grandkids because I can’t find them in Maryland) that I toast in the oven and cool. Then I make the standard Toll House recipe, add the nuts, a bag of white chocolate chips, and a little extra vanilla. Bake them like the standard Toll House recipe (about 10 minutes at 350 for the size scoop I use–probably close to 2 teaspoons) and they will disappear!

    WOW – those sound great! Thanks for the inspiration, Lee- PJH

    Reply
  15. Rose

    I’d love to show you the Kitty Kookies I baked for the local Humane society, but see no way to upload the photos. Any help out there?

    Rose, if they’re posted online somewhere (Flickr? a blog?), just provide the link. Otherwise, no, sorry, technologically there’s no way (that I know of) to post photos… – PJH

    Reply
  16. Rose

    PJH,
    Sorry the photos are NOT posted on any website or blog. They’re just sitting here on the Desktop.

    Reply
  17. JOHNNY KRIEGER

    EVER PUT EGGNOG IN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES ? I WAS OUT OF EGG, AND ITS TO WET AND COLD I ALSO MIX LARD AND BUTTER. THERE ALL GONE, SO THE FAMILY MUST OF LIKE THEM

    Never did, Johnny, but boy, that sounds good! Thanks for sharing – PJH

    Reply
  18. Erica Harris

    Hi! I made these and they came out crunchy (which the recipe says they should) but my husband wants the chewy and soft kind. Suggestions?

    Hi Erica – Try our Guaranteed Sugar Cookie recipe, using the snickerdoodle variation mentioned in the introduction, and under-baking just slightly. I think your husband will like them. PJH

    Reply

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *