Other than cookie molds, what do you need for molded cookies?
Well, an oven, of course. And something to mix with—I use a stand mixer, but you could do the whole process by hand.
Measuring and/or weighing equipment. Pot holders, cooling racks, basic kitchen stuff. If you bake at all, you probably have these things already.
But what specialty tools do you need? Do you really have to spend a lot of money?
I've bought expensive items that weren't worth the money, and use some inexpensive ones that make a big difference. Here's a rundown of what I've tried, and how it worked for me. These are listed in related groups rather than alphabetically. Unless I specify where I got something, you can find them in cooking stores,the cooking section of department stores, or even large grocery stores. Or, of course, online.
This might seem like a lot of equipment, but not all these items are necessary, and many of them are very inexpensive.
And at the end is a list of things I tried and didn't think were worthwhile. So you don't have to go through that, at least.
You need one, but what kind? I've tried many.
Nonstick ones stick to cookie dough.
Chilled ones, like the bottle style rolling pin that you fill with ice water, don't work any better than anything else. I never tried a marble one, but I think it's the same idea—the coldness is supposed to be helpful. And it probably is, for piecrust.
Tapered rolling pins aren't as good as cylindrical ones, not for this use, anyway.
I used everything I could think of, and got rid of all but one. The one I kept is a wood one with handles. It's not a one-piece affair—the barrel rotates around the handles. I think I got it at a thrift store.
These are cheap and really helpful. They're stretchy knit tubes that you pull over the rolling pin. Almost nothing sticks to them—if you get sticking with one of these, there's a problem with your dough. Often, they come in a set with a pastry cloth for rolling the dough on. Don't buy this unless it's the only way to get the covers—there are better alternatives.
I put the word cloth in quotes, because the one I like isn't cloth. It's silicone. It's useful for huge cookies, but I wouldn't use it to make ordinary size ones. I use nonstick foil or baking parchment instead.
I lump these together because I use them more or less interchangeably. I mostly use nonstick foil, although regular is OK if you grease it. For most cookies, I roll a piece of dough out on a piece of foil that's a little bigger than the cookie mold. I brush flour on the dough, oil the mold very lightly, and push the mold down onto the dough. The I flip it over, foil and all, use the rolling pin to press the dough even tighter into the design. Once again, I flip the mold, dough and foil over.
Now the mold is on top. I press down hard, then grasp the foil along with any dough that has squeezed out aroud the edge, and pull downward. The cookie dough sticks to the foil, and it usually comes away from the mold without much problem.
If one part sticks, I work on it from another angle.
There are lots of photos of this in my book, Baking with Cookie Molds. It's quite easy, and almost always works.
I mostly use baking parchment if I'm baking cookies in a mold. This is far from my favorite way to make cookies, but if you do bake in a mold, it's helpful to cover the top surface with parchment and put one or two chains of pie weights on top. This prevents most of the heaving and bubbling that can destroy the patterns of cookies baked in a mold.
Necessary for very large molds, to support the molded dough as you handle it. Otherwise, I use one because my kitchen counters are tiles rather than plastic laminate. Otherwise, I'd use the counter.
I use a pastry brush mostly for brushing flour over the cookie dough after rolling it out. The brush helps create a thin, overall coat of flour that will disappear when the cookie is molded. I tried silicone brushes, thinking that would avoid the problem of pastry brushes—that they can shed bristles. The silicone one didn't work. The bristles were too coarse to distribute the flour.
So I went back to natural bristle ones. They work well, and you do have to keep an eye out for shedding. I don't know why I can't find any with dark colored bristles that would be easy to see and remove, but I haven't seen anything like that for sale.
Shedding occurs mostly when the brush is new, and is much less of a problem later.
I have two—a wide one I use for brushing flour onto dough, and a narrow one I save for occasionally brusing flour off of molded dough if I've used too much. (Actually, if there's just a little, I let the unbaked cookie sit at room temperature for about twenty minutes, and the flour almost always disappears by itself.)
I use a soft toothbrush for oiling my molds. It distributes a thin coat of oil better than anything else I've tried.
Either a fluted or a straight one is useful for cutting out cookies made with cookie stamps, springerle boards, or springerle rolling pins. A pizza wheel will work, too.
Very useful as you're kneading, and an offset one will also double as a cookie lifter.
I use a stiff brush the shape of a toothbrush to clean dough out of molds. Not really necessary unless a cookie sticks, but very useful when one does. I don't seem to be able to buy stiff toothbrushes, so this is a cleaning brush I bought from a web site called The Clean Team. Possibly the bristle brushes sold in hardware stores for stripping furniture details would work as well, but I haven't tried them. However, don't use the brass or steel brushes sold for the same purpose—they'll destroy your molds.
Another handy thing for removing dough from molds is wooden toothpicks.
A sharp paring knife is handy, but a craft knife works just as well. These are for trimming the edges of cookies, NOT for use on your molds, ever.
I use one called Ove-Glove, but I believe there are several brands. Much less awkward than any other potholder I tried. Since I tend to be a klutz and burn myself when I'm cooking, these are really important to me.
I rarely use them, but they're sometimes handy for a little touch-up work on very large cookies. You get them at art supply stores. For use on dough only, NOT on your molds.
Everyone will probably have their favorites, but I prefer the plain ones as opposed to the ones with an air layer to prevent burning. The air layer works, in a way, but if you overbake cookies, they're going to be ruined whether they're charred or not. And not being able to put something in the dishwasher is a real deal-breaker for me.
I like cookie sheets with three raised edges and one flat one, so that cookies can be slid off the sheet without handling them. Always put them into the oven with one of the raised edges toward you—makes it easier to take the sheet out again.
These can be useful, though often they're not necessary. I use a pizza lifter for enormous cookies, and a long spatula for cookies that are long and narrow. Otherwise, I use my dough scraper.
These are either strips you lay alongside your dough or rings you put over the ends of your rolling pin. Using them gives you a perfectly level sheet of dough. I occasionally use them, but don't think I'd miss them much if I didn't have them.
Silicone oven mitt—Didn't use it because it was too awkward.
Oven rack puller—I abandoned this after I got my Ove-Glove.
Fondant wheel for trimming cookies—This seemed like a good idea, but wasn't really big enough for most cookies.
Fondant smoother for pressing cookies into molds—It didn't do any better job than my rolling pin.
Pastry roller—This is like a short rolling pin. It really was no more useful than the basic rolling pin.
Double pastry wheel—One end fluted, the other plain. VERY awkward.