Cutting bar cookies and brownies can be a surprising challenge, especially if you would like cookies to have clean edges and be evenly-sized.
Many bar cookie recipes and brownie recipes tell you to grease the baking pan (and sometimes flour it, too) – and then spread the dough directly in the pan. Once the cookies are baked and cooled, you are to cut them in the pan and remove them with a metal spatula.
That method for cutting can work well with bar cookie recipes that have stiff batter and are firm when baked. But not all baked bars cooperate so easily. Bars with a soft or spongy texture can be more difficult to cut and often are harder to remove from the pan cleanly. The first bar out of the pan may fall apart. Edges can be rough. A mangled cookie may taste good, but it’s not so nice to look at.
Even the firmest bar cookies are easier to cut with The Elf’s foolproof method.
You can take a few more simple steps to slice bars and brownies into even sizes.
Prepare the cutting knife
Use a large chef’s knife when cutting bar cookies or brownies. Make sure the knife is well-sharpened.
Spray the knife with vegetable spray. Wipe it clean with a paper towel. Or you can dip the knife in hot water and wipe with a dry kitchen towel before making each cut.
Cut away edges
If the outer edges of the cookies are dried or brown, you might want to trim them away before scoring and cutting the bars. Use the sharpened chef’s knife.
Position a clean ruler on the surface of the baked bars. Use a sharp paring knife to make cut marks at even intervals both horizontally and vertically, with the ruler as a cutting guide.
Make the cuts
Starting in the middle of the block of bars, line up the knife between scored cut marks. Insert the tip of the knife gently into one cut mark and then press it firmly through the length of the block. If the cut is longer than the length of the knife, then glide the knife smoothly through the block to the other end. Do not use the knife to saw cookies.
Wipe the knife clean. Spray it with vegetable spray again, wiping it clean (or dip it once more in hot water and wipe dry.) Then repeat the cutting process for each set of scored cut marks, both horizontal and vertical.
Use a spatula to transfer bars or brownies to an airtight container.
Cooled Cookies Cut More Easily
If you cut bars or brownies while they are still warm, they will crumble (some more than others.) Make sure cookies are completely cool in order to get best results when cutting them, regardless of whether or not you line the baking pan with foil or simply grease the pan.
Frozen Cookies Cut Even More Cleanly
You can go one step further to get clean cuts by freezing bars or brownies in the pan for two hours or overnight before cutting. Use the foil handles to lift the frozen bars out of the pan. Set them on a cutting board, peel away the foil, and proceed.
Some crisp-textured bars, such as shortbread, must be cut or scored while warm to prevent crumbling around the edges. Read a bar cookie recipe thoroughly before you begin in order to know how to cut cookies – just out of the oven or when cool.
More Baking Cookies How-Tos from The Elf