I have two cookie recipes that I plan to enter into a competition. Both of them call for dropping balls of cookie dough onto the sheet pan and then squashing them to 1/4". If I want to make the dough ahead of time and freeze, can I roll the dough into a tube and freeze that way and then slice 1/4" slices when I'm ready to bake them? Or is there a reason I should squash them?
From a food science point of view, in terms of the quality of flavor and the texture of the cookies, there is little reason to choose slicing over squashing; both will give very similar outcomes.
You may find the aesthetics or appearance of the cookies will be slightly different with the two methods. The sliced cookies will be more regular, especially if you cut them with dental floss; they will be quite round and even edged. The squashed cookies will be more irregular at the edges and perhaps show more texture on top.
There is no reason you could not make them into balls and freeze the balls, or make them into balls, squish them and freeze them. In either case they would thaw faster then a frozen log of dough and be ready for the oven as soon as they reach room temp.
If it is a competition then uniformity may be a criteria, use a measured scoop to insure uniform size. You could even use or make a squishing tool so that they are squished to the exact same thickness.
freeze, thaw, bake, win blue ribbon !
There are a few differences in squashing as compared to cutting from a log:
- If done with a fork, it can result in a more craggy surface, resulting in additional browning on top.
- It's often used as a sign to mark peanut butter cookies (a grid from pressing with a fork, then again at a right angle).
- If done with a hand or glass, you won't have any sharp corners. For doughs that don't slump when cooking, this can result in a browned ring around the top. (which is not desirable in cookies with subtle flavors).
- If done with a glass, you can wet the glass slightly, and then press it into colored sugar, leaving a nice even coat.
- If done with a glass with an intricate pattern on the bottom, you can use the colored sugar trick to leave a pattern on top of the cookie.
- You can get more consistently round cookies with squishing. Unless you're doing the thread/dental floss trick and wrapping it around the whole log, you'll squish it slightly when cutting, leading to it being slightly oblong with one flat side.