I’ve talked about keeping cookies soft by putting a slice of fresh bread along with them in a sealed container. I’ve just read that a few sugar cubes will do the same trick. According to Cook’s Illustrated (January & February 2012), sugar cubes have moisture in them that will transfer to the cookies. I’m going to try it – let me know if you do, too, and how it works out.
Another tip involving sugar: I know there can be conflict between good food and food that’s good for you. Overall, it’s better to cut back on sugars in general and refined sugar in particular, which we’ve done for many of the recipes in the Braces Cookbooks. But, if you eat sweets in moderation, here’s a point to consider (again, from Cook’s Illustrated, this time back in January & February 1997). “Sugar makes baked goods both more tender and moister because it helps the cake or cookie retain water during the baking process.” So, a little sugar helps, though a lot of sugar pushes the cookies into crunchy-edge mode. We’ve found in general that you can cut 1 cup of sugar down to 3/4 cup to make a softer cookie.
Tip three: If a recipe calls for raisins, first put them in a microwaveable mug or Pyrex cup and add water to cover them completely. Microwave the raisins for about 2 minutes on high (close to boiling) then let the raisins sit for at least 5 minutes. Drain off the water before using the raisins in the recipe. By letting them absorb water first, they will not draw moisture from the cookie or cake batter while it’s baking, so the finished product will not be dry.