I was introduced to parchment paper at my first baking job with Cakes Extraordinaire in Portland, Maine. We used parchment to line full sheet pans for baking huge sheet cakes. Fast forward 23 years and home cooks now demand more restaurant-quality tools. Today, parchment paper is available at grocery stores for under $4.00.
What is the difference between parchment paper and wax paper? Parchment paper is a nonstick paper treated with silicone that can be used in very hot ovens up to 420 degrees F. Wax paper will melt in a hot oven so it is better for room temperature tasks like rolling out pastry dough.
Parchment paper is principally used to line baking sheets to prevent cookies from sticking. It can also be used when baking bar cookies, so that they can be easily lifted from the baking pan for easy slicing. Martha Stewart is a huge fan of parchment paper for both baking and cooking en-papillote. The latter is a French cooking technique where food is cooked (steamed) in a closed pocket of parchment paper. En-papillote recipes tend to be very healthy because little fat is required for cooking. Instead, aromatics like fresh herbs, citrus and onions provide all the seasoning that’s needed.