|While three of the sheets rated three stars or above, the majority scored lower. (Mark wilson/globe staff)|
We made sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, Sherry Yard's oatmeal raisin cookies (recipe on E6), and Pillsbury "Golden Layers" refrigerated biscuits on each sheet in the writer's professional-grade Thermador gas oven. Performance in your oven may vary. Five stars is the top rating.
If C is for cookie, C-minus is for this Calphalon sheet, which turned in pale cookie after pale cookie - and took forever doing it. During the sugar-cookie round, we removed the batch from the oven after 19 minutes, a full 5 minutes longer than other sheets. (Even then, the interiors were a shade underdone and the cookies never spread to their full diameter.) The light gray surface coupled with the insulating layer of hot air simply slowed down baking too drastically. The basically flat sheet (no raised sides) made removal with a mitted hand a daunting endeavor.
Bottom line: Full of hot air.
This solid sheet handled every baking task we gave it like a dream. Oatmeal cookies spread into perfect circles, and the sugar cookies baked on it - pale yellow on top, with the subtlest hint of brown on the edges - could have been featured in some glossy magazine. Two raised sides made transferring the sheet easy but, by extension, provided two hot spots of aggressive browning. Although the light-gray surface isn't billed as nonstick, cookies came off beautifully even during parchment-free rounds.
Bottom line: Surface with a smile.
Fashionistas clad in all black look hot. Cookie sheets clad in all black bake hot. This ultra-dark pan raced oatmeal cookies to the finish line almost 2 minutes quicker than the recipe's lower baking time and one cookie turned inedibly dark. What's more, this four-sided model suffered from the same hot spots near the sides as the lighter sheets. Biscuits finished baking a minute or two early, and the dark, heavy sheet retained so much residual heat that the bottoms went from dark brown to almost-burnt while briefly "cooling" on the pan.
Bottom line: A distinct burning sensation.
We rolled our eyes when we saw this contender's gimmicky "pebbling," a rough-hewn surface reminiscent of a rocky road. But while the patented texture offered no discernible advantage, neither did it hinder baking. Every cookie came out beautifully once we figured out the hot spots along its single raised edge. The expansive surface area, which comfortably accommodates 15 cookies, is a bonus. One negative: The slippery pebbled surface provides limited friction, making the parchment paper slightly unstable.
Bottom line: The sheet to beat.
We didn't have very high expectations when we took home this featherweight contender, so imagine our surprise when . . . only kidding. This sheet was about as useful for baking cookies as a backyard grill. The paper-thin swath of tin bent precipitously when we placed it in the oven - and even more so when we removed it. Some 14-minute cookies took 22 except for one, which inexplicably finished in just under 15. Only the supermarket biscuits came out unscathed on this chintzy sheet (but they're built to survive anything).
Bottom line: Foiled again.
The Norpro earns a slightly better score than the Chicago Metallic Jellyroll Pan for one reason: Undercooked cookies are still edible; burnt cookies are not. Made out of stainless steel (one of the worst conductors of heat) rather than aluminum (one of the best), this ultra-shiny sheet deflected more heat than it retained. The result? Pale oatmeal cookies. Pale sugar cookies. Pale chocolate chip cookies. Pale biscuits. The one time we let the cookies bake until bottoms and interiors were fully cooked, the tops had turned dangerously dark. The only thing strong about this sheet was the clanging sound it made while warping in the oven.
Bottom line: Pales by comparison.
The newest kid on the block, this innovative light-colored gold sheet replaces the old-school dark nonstick coating. The good news: Gone are the over browning tendencies that plague every other nonstick sheet. The bad news is that the water-repellent "ceramic-glazed" finish has a funky affect on moisture. Moisture and fat pooled underneath each cookie, hindering crispness and leaving behind unappealing splotches of oil on the parchment paper. Biscuits, however, came out perfect, and most of the cookies tasted fine if not ideally crisp.
Bottom line: All that's gold does not glitter.
- JOLYON HELTERMAN