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LOS ANGELES, CA – Dec. 12, 2016 – Whether dreaming of sugar plums or gingerbread men, the holidays are a season of baking. Megan Potthoff, Pastry Chef at WP24 by Wolfgang Puck in The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles offers up some expert tips to make holiday baking even sweeter.

Check your temperature – use a thermometer to ensure your oven is reading true. Most ovens run a little hotter than the display, which can lead to burnt cookie bottoms.

Follow the directions – read the entire recipe start to finish before you start baking, and follow it exactly. Baking is a very delicious science.

Bring ingredients to room temperature – unless the recipe specifically calls for cold, use butter and eggs at room temperature. Cut butter into chunks after measuring to soften faster, and allow the butter to disperse more evenly when blended with sugar.

Don’t go overboard with the mixer – beat butter and sugar for several minutes until the mixture lightens in color and becomes creamy. Stir in dry ingredients just until they’ve fully incorporated, and stop. The more you mix the dough after adding flour, the more likely your cookies will the tough and hard.

Let the dough chill – leave dough in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or even overnight before baking, this gives the batter time to rest and the flavors a chance to come together.  You can also freeze most dough. Label the container with the baking time and temperature to make future prep easier.

Mix and match – once you find a cookie dough that you love, make it your base. Experiment with different mix-ins, like high quality chocolates, candies, dried fruit and nuts to create your own flavor combinations.

Remember to rotate – to help ensure an even bake, rotate pans halfway through the baking time, from front to back and top to bottom. If your cookies do burn, don’t throw them away – crumble the cookies up and use them as an ice cream topping or in a trifle.