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Posts Tagged ‘Holiday Baking’

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If you are the midst of holiday baking (or like some of us who are procrastinating this year and haven’t started), here are some tips to help streamline the process:

• Invest in some good quality baking sheets. It honest-to-goodness makes a big difference.

• Make baking parchment and Pam your friend (as in non-stick cooking spray.) Spray your baking sheets with a light coating of Pam, line with a piece of parchment cut to fit and then give it a quick coating of Pam. Words don’t describe how much easier this makes my life. Just try it, you’ll see what I mean.

• Use Pam on your measuring cups if you will be measuring out something sticky, like molasses. A quick spray and the molasses just rolled right out of the cup like nobody’s business.

• Invest in a cooling rack or two. If you’ve got pans and pans of hot cookies coming out of the oven, cooling racks can be worth their weight in gold. They give your cookies a chance to cool down appropriately and that really does effect the finished product. Also, if you can find stands that stack, they free up tons of counter space while still providing circulation around those sweet treats.

• Clean as you go. If you are doing a marathon day of baking (like your truly) clean up as you go. At the end of the your baking spree you’ll be glad you did when you have just a few things to wash instead of a huge sink full of sticky, dirty dishes.

• Measure accurately. Seriously, measure accurately. This can make or break your baked goods. Don’t eyeball it. If the recipe says 1 1/4 cups then measure out exactly 1 1/4 cups.

• Follow directions. If you want your baked goods to turn out like the recipe intended, follow the directions carefully and completely.

•Gather your ingredients before you start. Before I start making a recipe, I read through it, gather all the ingredients and have in mind the order of the recipe. If I try and bake by grabbing the ingredients as I go, I will guaranteed forget to put something in. If you’ve got all the necessary ingredients laid out in front of you, it is harder to miss something.

• Use the right ingredients. If a recipe calls for butter and sour cream, don’t substitute margarine and applesauce and think you’ll wind up with a recipe that turns out correctly.

• Enlist help! Put your significant other, the kids or any warm body who happens into your home during a baking frenzy to work. They can cut out sugar cookies, cream butter and sugars, wash dishes, frost cookies. Turn it into a fun activity that you all can enjoy!

She who really needs to get something baked

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I’ve been up since way too early this morning working on my holiday baking. So far, I’ve turned four pounds of butter into chocolate peppermint kisses, gingerbread brownies, Russian teacakes, sugar cookies and seven layer bars.

As I’ve hustled through the baking, I thought of a few tips I wanted to share with you that make the process go so much easier.

• Invest in some good quality baking sheets. It honest-to-goodness makes a big difference.

• Make baking parchment and Pam your friend (as in non-stick cooking spray.) Spray your baking sheets with a light coating of Pam, line with a piece of parchment cut to fit and then give it a quick coating of Pam. Words don’t describe how much easier this makes my life. Just try it, you’ll see what I mean.

• Use Pam on your measuring cups if you will be measuring out something sticky, like molasses. A quick spray and the molasses just rolled right out of the cup like nobody’s business.

• Invest in a cooling rack or two. If you’ve got pans and pans of hot cookies coming out of the oven, cooling racks can be worth their weight in gold. They give your cookies a chance to cool down appropriately and that really does effect the finished product. Also, if you can find stands that stack, they free up tons of counter space while still providing circulation around those sweet treats.

• Clean as you go. If you are doing a marathon day of baking (like your truly) clean up as you go. At the end of the your baking spree you’ll be glad you did when you have just a few things to wash instead of a huge sink full of sticky, dirty dishes.

• Measure accurately. Seriously, measure accurately. This can make or break your baked goods. Don’t eyeball it. If the recipe says 1 1/4 cups then measure out exactly 1 1/4 cups.

• Follow directions. If you want your baked goods to turn out like the recipe intended, follow the directions carefully and completely.

•Gather your ingredients before you start. Before I start making a recipe, I read through it, gather all the ingredients and have in mind the order of the recipe. If I try and bake by grabbing the ingredients as I go, I will guaranteed forget to put something in. If you’ve got all the necessary ingredients laid out in front of you, it is harder to miss something.

• Use the right ingredients. If a recipe calls for butter and sour cream, don’t substitute margarine and applesauce and think you’ll wind up with a recipe that turns out correctly.

• Enlist help! Put your significant other, the kids or any warm body who happens into your home during a baking frenzy to work. They can cut out sugar cookies, cream butter and sugars, wash dishes, frost cookies. Turn it into a fun activity that you all can enjoy!

She Who Better Get Back To Her Baking

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One of my favorite treats to make (Ok, I will admit it – eat) during the holidays is Seven-Layer Bars.

These are so easy to make and taste so delicious. People will think you have slaved over them when it is really so simple. The first year I made these my youngest niece, the one who got stuck wreath making with me, nearly floundered on them. Yes, they really are that good.

Last year, I took my two grand-nieces for a day of shopping and fun. We ended up eating lunch at a restaurant that offered the most wonderful dessert – a warm Seven-Layer Bar topped by vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. I thought I would melt in a puddle right there and the girls would have to find a ride home. I only half-melted because Katie, who shares my chocoholic genes, wanted a bite and then promptly inhaled the rest of my treat. Sweet little whippersnapper. Pulling out cute smiles and warm hugs while she steals my chocolate. My gracious goodness.

Anyway, here is the recipe! Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

 

 

Melt butter in the pan in the oven.

 

 

Top butter with graham cracker crumbs. Since I'm a lazy slug, I save the graham cracker packages from cheesecake mixes because they have just the right amount of pre-crushed graham crackers for this recipe (cheesecake filling goes in store-made graham cracker crusts, of course!).

 

 

Up next - sweetened coconut.

 

 

Chocolate chips followed by butterscotch chips make the next two layers.

 

 

Here come the pecans. If you have whole nuts and don't own fancy nut-crushing kitchen tools, a meat tenderizer and a ziploc bag do a bang-up job!

 

 

Finish it off with the sweetened condense milk. Remember, do not stir!

Seven-Layer Bars

 

Seven-Layer Bars

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. butter

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 cup coconut

1 cup chocolate chips

1 cup butterscotch chips

1 cup chopped pecans

15-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Put butter in a 9 x 9 or a 11 x 7 inch baking pan. Put into oven and let melt. When it is melted pull out and top with ingredients in the following order: graham crackers, coconut, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, pecans, sweetened condensed milk.

DO NOT STIR! REPEAT – DO NOT STIR!

Just layer the ingredients and then place in the oven for about 30-40 minutes until bubbling and brown.

The smell will be heavenly when you pull them from the oven.

Cut into small squares because these babies are rich. Serve alone or with ice cream and caramel sauce. Just make sure no chocolate-thieving 7-year-olds are around!

Happy Holiday Entertaining,

The chocolate-less aunt

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