Baking Powder and Baking Soda will lose its kick with age. Seal it tightly after use to keep out moisture and odors.
All-purpose and pastry flour is fine for most cookies. A mixture of one third cake flour to two thirds all-purpose flour is better. Use straight cake flour in your sugar cookies.
All-purpose shortening or hydrogenated shortening will make almost any cookie. A mixture of three-fourths all-purpose flour and one-fourth real butter is better tasting. The butter should be cool, but not hard, when blending with the shortening.
Eggs should always be fresh. The egg's size is very important. When the recipe doesn't say - use large eggs. Frozen eggs come in 4 packages; whole eggs, egg whites, 2 yolks to 1 white; and sugar yolks. If you use frozen eggs the kind that comes 2 yolks to 1 white is best. Whole eggs are second best.
Use very little salt and add at the end of mixing, before flour is completely mixed in. Salt causes flour to toughen and can make your cookies tough.
Never use excessive food coloring. Some food coloring has a taste and may give your cookies an off flavor.
Use very cold water in making cookies (unless the recipe reads differently). Cold water will help keep the mix from separating. Cold fruit juice is a great substitute for water if you like the fruit flavor.
Brown sugar frequently gets dry and lumpy. Lumpy brown sugar can be brought back to life by adding a little cold water and either sifted or placed in a blender.
Dried fruit (such as raisins) should be soaked in a bowl of hot water for about 10 minutes. This will plump them a little, but will not make them too tender.
Nut-meats should always be sampled before using. The oil they contain goes rancid rather quickly and can ruin the taste of your cookies. Nut-meats freeze well and should be stored in the freezer, not in the refrigerator. Nut-meats absorb odors.
Freshen up coconut by adding a little hot water and tumbling until the water is absorbed.
If you've stored chocolate morsels in the refrigerator and they are covered with a white haze, don't worry, that's normal. However, chocolate will absorb odors and should always be sealed tightly and stored at a cool temperature. Also, chocolate will haze over when allowed to heat over 100 degrees while melting.
Melt chocolate in your microwave when possible. If you must melt it on the stove, use very low heat. Put the chocolate in a bowl, then place the bowl in a pan containing water. You must avoid getting water in your melting chocolate. Water will cause chocolate to lump. When the melted chocolate is very thick, add a small amount of vegetable oil or cocoa butter to thin it down. Never add water to thin melted chocolate.
If you like your chocolate cookies more flavorful, add a little more cocoa to the mix. Cocoa will dry the batter out, so you must add a little more shortening or an extra egg yolk. Make a thick paste out of Cocoa and vegetable oil for use in cookie mixes and icing toppings.
Use fresh spices in cookies. Spice loses flavor with age and can sometimes taste like something else altogether. Remember, a little spice goes a long way.
Use plenty of Vanilla extract. Extracts are alcohol based and much of the flavor may bake out in the oven.
Use Almond extract along with Vanilla extract to make cherry cookies taste like cherries.
A little Orange extract added to a chocolate cookie gives it a special flavor. Don't be afraid to experiment with flavors. Always use a little and build the flavor up.