Inspiration for Holiday Baking

This time of the year there is something magical in the air. Jingle Bells fills the air wherever you go and your social calendar is filled with events and parties from friends and family. To ensure that this year your holiday baking will be the best it's ever been we've decided to share some of our best baking secrets.

1. Start out Fresh: Last season's ingredients just won't cut it. Stock up on fresh holiday cookie baking ingredients and start out fresh. A holiday cookie that tastes likes stale flour just won't do it. Sugar might be able to keep for quite a while, put products like, baking soda and flavored extracts can quickly become stale and dull-tasting.

2. Easy on the Oven: Overbaking will result in dry hard cookies. Follow the recipes time for baking closely, and remember to pre-heat your oven before sticking the cookies inside. Most cookies should be removed from the oven while they're still soft and just lightly browned around the edges. They should be moist & chewy and will firm up after cooling. Be sure to store them in an airtight container to keep them fresh.

3. Keep the Cookies Handy: Fresh cookies are the best cookies, so when baking, make an extra batch or two. Tightly covered containers is perfect for storing cookie dough in the refrigerator for when you need it.

4. Keep it Clean: For easy clean up, grease a tray or dish with margarine without getting your hands dirty: put your hands inside a small plastic sandwich bag. Just turn the bag inside out when you are done and throw it away!

5. Don't use Guesswork: Baking is not like cooking. Cooking allows you to improvise ingredients and alternate easily with various quantities and mostly you can still cook up a perfect meal. You need to ensure that the recipe ingredients and measurements are spot on as baking takes a lot more precision. There are however exception, if you want to change the flavour of a cookie recipe dough you can easily exchange it for another and still come out with a perfect batch.

6. Freezing to Make it Easy: If you are not going to be serving your cookies in the next three days, freeze them. To freeze, cool the cookies thoroughly before wrapping them well. Good packaging keeps cookies in prime condition and prevents dry freezer air from drying them out. Freeze cookies in layers, separated by a sheet of waxed paper. To thaw, let the cookies stand for 15 minutes in the container at room temperature.

7. Tasty Nutty Treats: Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees and spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 5 to 7 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Or, toast in the microwave by spreading nuts in a single layer on a microwave plate and microwave on High for 2 minutes. Stir nuts, then continue cooking 1 to 2 minutes longer, until nuts are fragrant and toasted to taste.

8. Chocolate to Top it all Off: To create the ultimate garnish for baking use something sweet, smooth and decadent like chocolate. By drawing a vegetable peeler across the narrow side of a chocolate bar it will make small chocolate curls. To make large curls, draw the vegetable peeler across the wide side of a chocolate bar. Making curls for decoration is easiest when you use milk chocolate.

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About The Author, Sandra Olivier
An interactive kitchen to share ideas, inspirations and tips about cooking, crafts and life! Find out more.