Holiday Baking tip #1 Mise en place – (pronounced meez en plas) in French it means “putting in place”, as in gathering everything you need before you start to bake. Measure ingredients, prep pans, preheat oven, being prepared makes it go more smoothly giving you a great finished product. Happy Holiday Baking everyone!
Holiday Baking Tip #2 Chocolate Substitutions – Baking is a precise art. And when it comes to chocolate, it’s important to get things just right. Here are some formulas to help you if you’re ever in need of a chocolate substitute.
• One 1-ounce square unsweetened chocolate = 3 tablespoons cocoa + 1 tablespoon shortening.
• One cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels = 2 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate + 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar + 2 tablespoons shortening.
• 1 bar (4 ounces) sweet baking chocolate = 4 tablespoons cocoa + 4 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar + 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons shortening.
Extra tip: bittersweet and semisweet chocolate can be used interchangeably in most recipes. Bittersweet gives it a more sophisticated flavor due to its low sugar.
Holiday Baking Tip #3 Freezing Cookies – If you are freezing an already baked cookie, cool them thoroughly before freezing. Store each recipe in a separate freezer container that is labeled with the name and date. Most will freeze well for up to six months. You can store frosted cookies for up to two months, but we suggest you freeze the cookies unfrosted and then frost them just before serving.
To freeze individually raw cookie dough, roll in balls and put on a cookie sheet. Freeze until hard – about an hour. Then remove the frozen cookie dough balls from the cookie sheet and freeze in a gallon freezer bag. Make sure to label with date, baking time, baking temp and cookie variety. You can bake these at the same temperature called for in the recipe; just give them a minute or two longer.
Refrigerator /Icebox Cookies are cookies made from dough rolled into a long log. The cookies are sliced off one by one for even sizing and thickness. This can be done immediately, or you can freeze the log and slice them as needed.
Holiday Baking Tip#4 Icing Cookies and Cakes – First make sure that cookies are completely cool before applying icing or it will melt. When adding food coloring, first mix the color into about 1 tablespoon of icing, and then blend that into the rest of the icing. You can keep adding more drops to get the depth of color you want. Try combining different ratios of drops and various colors to get all the colors of the rainbow.
Add 1 Tablespoon of Karo syrup to each cup of icing to help the icing set. You want a pretty stiff icing, however If it’s too thick, thin slowly by adding a few drops of water
Use a small offset or flexible-blade spatula or a rubber spatula to apply the icing. Push it from the center of the cookie to the edges, place on wire rack or wax paper to set. Work quickly so that the icing doesn’t dry out and start to set before you’re finished. You could cover any extra icing with plastic wrap and a wet towel
To make accent colors make a few colors then fill in Sandwich baggies twist into a cone and clip the end of the bag and it’s ready to use. Once the first coat of frosting is dry, you can pipe another color of frosting over the top to add details with accent colors and designs such as dots, lines, squiggles, and borders, when finish just toss the bag out.
Holiday Baking Tip #5 Which flour should you use? – The main difference among flour types is in the gluten content, which varies depending on whether the flour is made from hard wheat or soft wheat. Gluten is the protein that helps yeast stretch and rise. To achieve the best baking results, use the type of flour a recipe specifically calls for.
The California wheat council has some great information on all the different types of flours and their uses. Check it out here! http://bit.ly/1fdg8oX