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Before I started really getting into baking, and especially before La Hoot got started, I hardly (if ever) used my cooling racks.  I got them as a wedding present and then they proceeded to sit in my cupboard.  I guess I always figured that when making the occasional chocolate chip cookie, the cookies would be fine remaining on the pan while it cooled on top of the oven.  And if I was in need of a free tray, I’d take them off of the cookie sheet and put them on our dinner plates.  Hey, it seemed to work, so I went with it.  Not to mention, if I was baking anything at the time, the audience consisted on close friends and family.  I’m sure they weren’t too worried about the perfection of my chocolate chip cookies.

But the truth of the matter is, how you cool your cakes and cookies makes a big difference!  When you leave them sitting on a hot tray too long, the edges will continue to cook, causing them to brown, harden, or even burn.  Don’t you want the outside of your dessert to be as soft and delicious as the inside?

So pull your cooling racks out of the cupboard and put them to use.  When your cookie sheet or cake pan comes out of the oven, do not sit it on the stove top or a simple trivet.  Instead, sit it on top of the cooling rack.  This allows the pan to cool down much quicker since it is surrounded by the cool air.  And as soon as the pan is cool enough to touch, the desserts are cool enough to be removed.  But they’re probably still not cool enough to package for storage.  No.  Once you can safely touch the pans with your hands, transfer the baked goods from the pans to the cooling racks themselves.  And if they are very soft and tender (which is always the best), you can chose to put a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper on top of the cooling racks before placing the baked goods on them.  This will limit the lines imprinted on your dessert from the wires of the cooling rack.

So which ones to buy?  These stacking ones are my daily favorite.  Honestly, I hardly ever stack them.  I more often sit them out in a row so I can rotate cakes between them easily.  But if you’re using them for cookies and limited on counter space, the stacking would be extremely helpful.

Another one I have on hand is this large, single layer cooling rack.  It’s big enough to hold a half sheet cake (which is really important), but that is really the only time I use it.  You could use it more, but because of it’s size, I keep it stored in a room other than my kitchen.  So the convenience factor points me to using my smaller stacking racks most often.

Pick the racks that work best for you based on the space you have available.  It doesn’t really matter.  What does matter is that you use them and you’ll be pleased to have softer, fresher, more delicious desserts.