Alex Guarnaschelli's Important Warning For Mixing Cookie Dough

When chef Alex Guarnaschelli speaks, people — particularly "Chopped" contestants — listen, at least if they know what's good for them. Whether the "Iron Chef" is in her Manhattan restaurant, Butter, or serving up pointed critique as a judge, she has much to teach cooks, both experienced and novice. Warm, funny, and full of practical tips, Guarnaschelli was a natural fit for "Good Morning America's 12 Days of Christmas Cookies" series, with her easy chocolate candy cookies that can be color-customized for any holiday or special occasion.

There's a lot riding on special occasion cookies, whether it's Marcus Samuelsson's spice-warmed memories of gingersnaps or Christina Tosi's holiday tip for cookie exchanges. Mastering the sugar cookie, for example, may see bakers experimenting with substituting browned butter for regular butter or brown sugar for granulated. Given the dizzying array of kinds of cookies, who wouldn't want to pick Guarnaschelli's brain for her cookie expertise? GMA's feature of the talented cook yielded one very important piece of advice.

The famous chef has vital flour insight

In her GMA segment, Guarnaschelli reveals that flour should be added towards the end. For her chocolate candy cookies, she explains, "Add the flour last. We don't want to overwork flour." She elaborates on her cookie procedure, saying, "I'm on this kick. Don't take flour to the gym. It does not wanna work out." Her insight makes sense — kneading bread is what encourages the development of gluten chains that give bread its distinctive, chewy texture, a texture that's pretty much the opposite of what you're looking for in a chocolate chip cookie.

The cookbook author goes on to explain that working flour too much makes it tough, marring the structure of delicate baked goods like cookies and cakes. Instead, she recommends using a mixer to combine all other ingredients but flour, and then gently folding the flour in. And Bakerpedia agrees, noting that folding in the flour last and not overworking the dough "prevents a gluten matrix from forming." Guarnaschelli croons to her flour as she carefully incorporates it into the dough, saying "Hello, flour. You're going to be good to us this holiday season." No matter what time of year you're baking cookies, gently folding in the flour last will give you the ideal delicate texture.