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Taking the time to read through the recipe from start to finish is the most important thing when baking. After you have read through the recipe and understand all the directions, it is time to gather all of the ingredients and equipment. Make sure that you can get the ingredients to the proper temperature before you begin. Many recipes call for items to be at room temperature before they are to be used. Allowing an ingredient to reach room temperature can take time and this time needs to be accounted for in the baking process.
Follow the directions as outlined in the recipe guidelines. These directions are written in a precise order to make the recipe turn out as designed. Take you time when you read the recipe. Follow it explicitly for the best results. Most importantly, if you make a mistake or a recipe fails, don't be afraid to try it again.
As the holiday season rolls around, it becomes more important than ever to make sure your pantry is well stocked for holiday baking. Things like confectioner's sugar, vanilla, chocolate chips, peppermint chips, food coloring and other baking supplies help to insure that you are fully prepared when it comes time to make holiday cookies.
There are many different candy makers getting into the cookie business. Heath bars, Butterfinger and many others are working their way off of the candy bar shelf and into the baking aisle. These popular candies make wonderful additions to basic recipes or can add an interesting flavor when added to traditional recipes. One of our favorites it to make white chocolate chip cookies and add heath chunks into the batter. Other times we will mix the white and milk chocolate chips with the heath to create a very tasty cookie.
Can't find the perfect cookie cutter? Don't despair -- just make one! It is very simple to make your own homemade cookie cutter. A visit to the local hardware store will provide a roll of aluminum flashing. The heavier gauge that you buy, the stronger the cookie cutter will be when completed.
Ideally, you will have a picture of the shape you want your cookie cutter to be in. If you don't, try to download a picture off of the Internet or find it inside a book so that you can photocopy it. This picture is fundamental to the successful completion of your homemade cookie cutter. Other supplies you will need are tin snips, a knife, a ruler, twine, small clips and an adhesive.
Lay the photograph on the table and trace the outline of the picture with the twine. Make sure that the twine follows all the twists and turns of the image on the photograph. When you have completed tracing the shape cut the twine. Allow one inch of excess on the twine to insure that you have enough aluminum flashing.
Use the twine to measure the correct amount of the aluminum flashing that you will need to create your homemade cookie cutter. With the tin snips, cut the aluminum flashing to the proper length. Using your ruler, measure aluminum flashing to the width that you want your cookie cutter to be. Cut the flashing to the proper width. Use the straight edge of the ruler to assist in making a straight cut.
Place the aluminum flashing on top of the photo and begin to bend the flashing around the curves of the photo. When you have completely outlined your photograph with the aluminum flashing, place a small amount of adhesive to the two ends of the cutter. Overlap the two ends at least one inch. Put a clip on each side of the aluminum flashing and allow to cookie cutter to dry.
Always remember to wash your cookie cutter before use.
Just as it's important to have the right cookie recipe, it is equally important that you have quality cooking tools. Measuring cups and spoons are very important to ensure that the proper amount of each ingredient is used. It is best to purchase a good quality set of each right from the start, rather than having to repurchase a new set each year. Baking or cookie sheets are another necessity. The stronger the baking sheets, the better the baking experience. Spatulas, icing spreaders, cookie cutters, piping tips and bags are also equally important.
You will want to make sure that you buy quality products in order to create quality cookies. A wire cooling rack is an added bonus for cooling cookies properly. Many cookie chefs start baking long before they purchase one of these items but once you have purchased one; it won't be long until you are buying a second.
Parchment paper is used for lining the cookie sheets. This specialty paper is treated with silicone so that is nonstick. It is a wonderful tool that makes cooking a lot easier and a lot cleaner. It is used instead of greasing the baking sheets.
As you continue to pursue your hobby in baking homemade cookies, you will learn by trial and error what works best for you in your kitchen.
Making your own homemade cookie bouquet is much easier that you might think.
The first thing you need to do is create a template for your cookies, this is done by using a firm paper plate upon which you will draw out the shapes or forms in which you want to make your cookies.
Once you have drawn images you'll need to cut out the forms. Put these off to the side, as you won't need them again until after you have made your cookie dough.
Making the cookie dough is an easy process. For the cookie dough, you will want to begin by blending ½ stick or 2 ounces softened butter, making sure that there are no lumps in the butter, add 2/3 cups vegetable shortening, ½ cup light brown sugar, ½ cup granulated sugar and mix until it is light and fluffy. Add 2 large eggs, one at a time followed by 2 teaspoons of vanilla. Make sure that the mixture is thoroughly blended.
Add 3 ½ cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1-teaspoon salt to the mixture and blend all the ingredients together. Divide into three small portions and create a different color in each portion. Allow the dough to sit, covered, in the refrigerator for about two hours.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the cookie dough from the refrigerator and roll out on a floured bread cloth or baking surface. It is best if the dough is approximately ½ inch thick. Work with a small portion of dough at a time and keep the others in the refrigerator while you work. Using the paper plate templates that you made earlier, trace the shapes onto the dough and cut out. Carefully lift each shape and place it onto a cookie-baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Insert a Popsicle stick into each shape; remember that the stick is not a suitable handle for the cookies until they are completely cooled.
Bake for 12 –14 minutes, allowing cookies to cool before attempting to relocate them to a cooling rack. Do not use the Popsicle sticks to lift the cookies up until they are fully cooled.
Use different colored icings and frosting to create the colorful images that you want to fill your cookie bouquet.
One of the greatest heirlooms handed down from generation to generation is a favorite homemade cookie recipe. The history and sharing of popular recipes was once a very celebrated thing in the American culture, with baking and cooking considered highly prized skills. In today's world, people are moving back to the concept of a home cooked meal and family dinner hour.
A fun holiday gift would be to gather recipes from everyone in the family and create a homemade family heirloom cookbook.
To begin the project, ask family members for recipes to include in the book. For the previous generations that have passed away, look to older family members for memories of favorite foods, recipes and other memorabilia that might complement your overall vision and final book.
Creating a family cookbook is a great way to highlight your personal family history and to recognize the skills and talents of other members within your family heritage. In addition to the recipes, include old family photographs from other generations, as well as newer pictures of the family today. This photo collage as an accompaniment to the recipes is a wonderful way to preserve the history of your family.
As you begin your creative process, you may discover many more things about your family than you ever imagined and enjoy the journey to discovery almost as much as the journey of creating the heirloom family cookbook.
There is nothing so powerful as walking into a house and being greeted by the warm sweet smell of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. This is a scent that many different candle-making companies worldwide try to reproduce and yet the imitation never smells quite as sweet as the real thing.
Ask any mother what is the fastest way to get a teenager to sit down and talk and they will tell you it is a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies and a glass of cold milk. Any parent that greets their child at the door with a delicious plateful of treats is more than likely to get an earful of conversation.
For younger children, it is often the making of the cookies that creates an environment rich with conversation. Although most children will agree that making homemade chocolate chip cookies is as equally fun as eating them. One of the great benefits of chocolate chip cookie dough is its flexibility so you can make individual round cookies and chocolate chip cookie squares and pizza-sized individual cookies.
What most parents don't realize is that teaching a child to bake homemade chocolate chip cookies is also a lesson in math and science. The recipe is made up of mathematical measurements that must be followed in order for the recipe to turn out correctly. The scientific process occurs when each of the individual ingredients is combined with the others to form a completely different end product.
Taking the time to bake homemade cookies with your children creates a stronger family bond, real life applications for math, science and wonderful family memories that will last a lifetime.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|