What are the advantages of dedicated cooling racks?
We have a few cooking racks. On the rare occasion that I try to bake (I am not a good baker) and I need a cooling rack, I use the cooking rack. The racks are always washed in the DW so there is no transference of odors or whatnot. So far, this seems to work fine. So, can one use cooling and cooking racks interchangeably? Are cooking racks more versatile since they can be put in the oven and used to support a turkey?
I did pick up a cheap cookie cooling rack at Home Goods a number of years ago. But I find that clean cutting boards work just as well. I use boards that are only used for veggies. But I clean them and I've never had a trace of an odor transfer. I also like a board for cooling cakes and brownies, but admit that mostly I just put those on my glasstop stove when it is not in use.
As long as your baking racks can do the job of cooling, then it is all fine. Cooking racks can be much thicker than cooling rack depending of the object in which is meant to support. Also, cooking rack can be non-flat, like this to hold up a bird or a piece of meat:
As such, those would be unsuitable for cooling cookies. Nevertheless, if you can make them to work. Go for them.
Freshly baked cookies are awesome. There is something about them that cannot be touched by commercial cookies. However, some cookies taste better when they are slightly cooled, when the sugar in the cookie re-crystalized. Hold on your urgent, wait for them to cool just a bit, so they can develop that slightly crunchy surface and chewy interior. :)
I have one cooling rack one baking rack, and I use both to cool my bake goods. I don't see any differences.
Best of luck
Hi, E_M: " So, can one use cooling and cooking racks interchangeably? Are cooking racks more versatile since they can be put in the oven and used to support a turkey?"
Sorry to mix metaphors, but you have a whole fruitbasket of issues at work here. IME it all depends on the design/construction of the rack in question before you can even try to pigeonhole whether it is "cooking" or "cooling", and even then there is crossover.
There are several features of what many people consider a dedicated roasting rack that would militate against it being a good choice for cooling baked goods. First, many racks meant for roasting are V-shaped and don't sit flat. (even those infuriating folding/adjustable ones). Second, many racks meant for roasting have only widely-spaced, parallel slats (vizualize me cursing a blue streak when my cookies catch on/slip/break between the slats [minds out of the gutter now]) .
Personally, I think the woven-wire racks that fit inside sheetpans work great for both roasting (e.g., potatoes and oven-roasted bacon) and cooling baked goods, but aren't usually high enough for roasting large cuts/joints of meat--your T-day turkey would end up 1/4 stewed.
In my kitchen, I have *one* heavy V-rack for roasting big meat, and a bunch of smaller racks (some parallel, some woven) that *are* IMO interchangeable.
Since you rarely bake and since it seems to work fine for you and since you still have concerns, why not use parchment paper to create a barrier? That way you don't add clutter to your kitchen.
Actually dumb of me - the parchment solves one problem, but creates another - poor breathing at the underside of your baked goods.
The rack that I would choose to support a turkey or roast in a roasting pan is quite different from one that I would use to cool cookies. The meat rack is V shaped cradle, with just a few cross bars. The cooling rack is a flat grid that fits in a half sheet baking tray. It could, in theory, be used to bake flat items (e.g. roasted vegetables) and to drain fried items.
Any rack used regularly for roasting will develop a scuz factor over time unless you invest disproportionate time in soaking and scrubbing. Unless you have some tool for scrubbing crevices you will never get dried on drippings out of the joints. Since racks are cheap and flat I'd buy several and keep one or two to use as cooling racks. Also, roasting vegetables make a good rack for roasting meat if you have only one rack and want to keep it clean.