Tag Archive | "Cookie Baking Tips"

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Peppermint Bark

Posted on 10 December 2011 by noelskitchen

We’re a house divided when it comes to chocolate. Some of us like regular chocolate and some of us like white chocolate. So when it comes to baking during the holidays, I bake a variety of holiday treats. I try and make batches big enough to fill as stocking stuffers with a little extra for those who like to sneak in and nibble. I’m not mentioning names but you know who you are. :)

I like to make simple holiday candy recipes for holiday gifts that are quick and don’t require a lot of ingredients. This is great when you’re making 12 different recipes in one day. That’s why I love this Peppermint Bark recipe from Paula Deen. I’ve never tried it with peppermint flavoring until now, but’s it sure is good.

And it’s easy! Only three ingredients: white chocolate, candy canes and peppermint flavoring (which of course is optional). I love that! And after sales and coupons,  it’s not expensive to make.

Do YOU make a special candy during the holiday? What’s YOUR favorite-white chocolate or regular chocolate?

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Cookie Baking Tips and Well Known Facts

Posted on 27 February 2009 by noelskitchen

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Cookie Baking Tips & Little Known Facts  . . . D I D   Y O U   K N O W . . .  * Never tap the flour in the measuring cup. Always use the right measuring cup: liquids go in clear measuring cups, dry in standard measuring cups – or just save the bother and use a measuring cup that does it all. Visit www.noelskitchen.com for the perfect measuring cup. This measuring cup is designed for both wet and dry ingredient measuring. Poor measuring is half the problem in disappointing cookies!

 * Don’t refrigerate Brown Sugar.  Remember this tip for all foods – store them in an area like where you bought them at the store, ¼ Brown sugar stores great in a snap-lock container in your pantry, or inside a sturdy zip-type plastic bag.  To soften brown sugar, leave it overnight in a sealed bag with a couple fresh apple wedges or a slice of bread.   If you refrigerate it, the molasses content pretty much forces the sugar granules to stick together – clump city!  

* Measure accurately. Nested metal or plastic measuring cups are intended for dry ingredients such as flour and sugar. When you measure flour, STIR – SPOON – SCRAPE:  Stir it in the canister to lighten it (you don’t need to sift). Gently Spoon flour into a dry measuring cup and Scrape ¼level the top with the straight edge of a metal spatula or knife. Don’t pack the flour into the cup or tap it with the spatula or on the counter to level. Glass or plastic cups with a spout are meant only for liquids. If you use a liquid-measuring cup for flour, you’re likely to get an extra tablespoon or more of flour per cup, enough to make  your cookies dry.  Flour in recipes is actually required by weight.  In the US, we don’t weigh much in the kitchen, so we have substituted measuring cups. ¼ of an improperly measured cup can give you as much as DOUBLE the weight of flour required!  (No wonder that cookie dough was so dry!)

* Chill dough properly. The chilling time given in a recipe is the optimum time for easy rolling and shaping. If you need to speed up the chilling, wrap the dough and place it in the freezer. About 20 minutes of chilling in the freezer is equal to one hour in the refrigerator. Always chill rolled or sliced cookies made with margarine in the freezer.  To keep the dough round, pop it into a tall drinking glass after wrapping it in waxed paper!

* Choose the right cookie sheets.  The best kitchen product I found for making perfect cookies is Stoneware.  The next best cookie sheet is one made of heavy-gauge metal, so it will hold the heat evenly and won’t warp over time. It should not have high sides, which would hamper the even flow of heat over the cookies. Non-stick surfaces work well for cookie sheets, but dark surfaces cause the bottoms of cookies to brown too quickly. Double insulated cookie sheets will also keep the bottoms of cookies from browning to quickly.  So look for shiny, heavy-gauge cookie sheets with very low or no sides. Avoid dark cookie sheets, which may cause cookie bottoms to overbrown. Use metal jelly-roll pans (15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pans) only for bar cookies. Other types of cookies won’t bake evenly in a metal pan with an edge. If you must use such a pan for cookies, turn it over and bake on the bottom. Nonstick cookie sheets let you skip the greasing step. However, the dough may not spread as much, resulting in thicker, less crisp cookies.  Best of all, consider using Stoneware  for all your baking needs- the rectangle stone & rack is GREAT for making cookies, and actually gives you more time – if you forget them in the oven for a few minutes, they still come out OK! 

 This great kitchen product heats the entire surface to the temperature of your oven.  Think of brick-oven baking; old-world bakers ¼stoneware!  And you can cook you pizza there too – or Round Stones (11″, 13″ and 15″ sizes available) work great for pizza, cookies, rolls & biscuits, or reheating breads.

* When baking your first batch of cookies on your Baking Stone, add a few extra minutes to allow the stone to achieve proper temperature. All subsequent cookies will then cook according to your particular recipes’ timing.

 * Insulated cookie sheets tend to yield pale cookies with soft centers. You may have trouble when using them for cookies that contain a large amount of butter, such as sugar-cookie cutouts, because the butter may melt and leak out before the dough is set. Don’t bake cookies on insulated cookie sheets long enough to brown on the bottoms because the rest of the cookie may get too dry.

 * Host a Kitchen Cooking Show for friends, and family who – love to cook and want great tools; -hate to cook and want to get out of the kitchen faster; – have to cook for a large family or to entertain business clients for easy tools, tips and techniques.  Every kind of food from soup to nuts, cookware to serving pieces.  What about a Cookie Show?  Or a Desparate Housewives Show?  Or A Couples Cooking Survivor Show – who will get voted off Kitchen Island?  Fun and food facts in about an hour. 

* Greasing cookie sheets makes it easier to remove the cookies and to wash the cookie sheets after baking. **this is Not Necessary on a Baking Stone after the first few uses.**  On other cookie sheets, a light greasing with shortening or a quick spray with nonstick spray coating is adequate for most recipes. Using too much fat, or greasing when the recipe doesn’t call for it, causes cookies to spread excessively and brown too quickly around the edges. 

* You can access and print over 400 recipes at: www.noelskitchen.com under “Product Use and Care.” * You have control over your cookies!

-IF you want the cookies to spread more: Use all butter or add 1 to 2 tablespoons liquid (water, milk or cream) or use a low-protein flour such as bleached all-purpose (but not one that is chlorinated) or add 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar. -IF you want the cookies to spread less: Cut the sugar by a few tablespoons or add 1/4-1/2 cup additional flour.-IF you want the cookies to have a chewy quality: Melt the butter instead of simply using it at room temperature.

 * Kitchen products available at www.noelskitchen.com can be shipped anywhere in the world! Make your long-distance gift giving easy…I can help! We also have Gift Certificates that can be sent anywhere, with a message attached from you, starting at $20.  Are you getting married? We  have an online Wedding Registry for the easiest shopping ever, for fiancees’ family and friends!

* Plan your baking menu. Pull out those favorite recipes and choose which cookies and confections are on the holiday list this year. Make a list of the supplies you’ll need.

 * Take inventory of your pantry. If you can’t remember when you bought it, or if it’s over a year old, time for a new one!  Always purchase fresh yeast, baking soda and baking powder when beginning a series of baking projects. These leavening agents are inexpensive compared to high-cost ingredients such as butter and nuts that would be wasted if the dough or batter failed to rise.

* Take stock of your supplies. Do you have all your decorating tips? Are your metal cookie cutters rusting? Now’s the time to find out, not when you’re up to your elbows in dough. Do you need to replace your baking sheets? Call me for a quick inventory check!

* Count your containers. Do you have enough containers to properly store finished baked goods? What about cookie tins and decorative trays for gift giving? Tins can be expensive, but they are the best containers for homemade gifts. Discount or dollar stores are a good source for small to medium-sized tins. Rite-Aid, Walgreens and Walmart have amazing sales right after a holiday, to stock-up for the future – if you have room for storage.  BigLots is another great source for storage containers .

* Get an early start. Butter, chocolate and nuts are your most expensive baking ingredients. Purchase several blocks of butter when it’s on sale and freeze it until needed. Check out prices at your local discount shopping club for discounts on quantity items. If the amount is too much for you, see if you can split it with a friend.

* Measure, don’t guess.  In baking, accuracy really counts. For measuring liquids, use transparent or 1- or 2-cup marked measuring cups. (Look at our Easy-Read measuring cups – you don’t have to squat down or lift them up to read them!!)  Set the cup on a flat surface. For measuring dry ingredients, graduated cups make it easy to obtain the exact amount needed by leveling off with the sweep of a long-bladed spatula or knife, rather than just judging by sight.

*Our Garlic Kitchen Tool is great for cookie bakers! Use it to make Santa’s beard or angel’s hair. Break up clumps of brown sugar by popping it through the press.  Or for more conventional uses, it presses ginger, too, for you stir fry lovers.  You can press a boullion cube for faster dissolving, too.   In case you haven’t seen it in action, you will never need to peel another clove of garlic! Drop the whole thing, skin and all, in the hopper and just press! And you never have to touch raw garlic – scrape it off with the attached tool, rinse and use the same tool to clean the holes – pop in the dishwasher – good to go!* Our 50 sq. ft. of non-bleached Parchment Paper (more than twice what’s available in most retail outlets) will save you time and aggravation when baking! You will never have to wash cookie sheets, you can slide the baked cookies off the sheet/stone immediately and slide the next prepared sheet right on! No waiting for sugars to harden and spatula-ing each cookie off individually. Most will just slide right off the paper onto your cooling rack. If you’re frugal, just wipe off the parchment paper after baking with a soapy sponge/cloth and air dry. Store with your stones or in the drawer with your Saran and aluminum foil for your next cookie baking day. Re-use up to 6-8 times!

* Run out of room for cooling cookies?  Our Stackable Cooling Racks have solved that kitchen problem – stack them up to 6- or 8-high; very sturdy, space saving.  For an easy WOW,  place the rack across your cooked brownies still in the pan, and sprinkle with powdered sugar (visit www.noelskitchen.com for a sugar shaker for $5 that works great for this!). Create a “How’d you DO that?” plate of brownies with a grid pattern! 

 * Our Nylon Kitchen Tools for your non-stick cookware may look like everybody else’s, but have a heat tolerance of 428 degrees.   They’re made to prevent edges from melting, with a special spun-glass process!

* Use the right fat. Recipes calling for butter or margarine will produce good results with either, as long as you use a margarine that contains at least 80 percent vegetable oil. If it’s not clear from the front of the box, check the nutrition label: The margarine should have 100 calories per tablespoon. Margarines with less than 80 percent vegetable oil have a high water content and can result in tough cookies that spread excessively, stick to the pan, or don’t brown well. 

* If you know of someone who would like some extra income, talk with me about becoming and Independent Consultant selling High Quality Kitchen Tools that every family needs in the kitchen. We can schedule an Introductory Show for your family and friends. We’ll get your first shows booked, then get your kit for as little as $50!  An average consultant earns approximately $20-$25 per hour or $80-$100 per show! How’s that for part-time pay!? * For gosh sakes, don’t throw away a product if you lose or break a piece to it. I can order a Replacement Part for most pieces of our tools. * Spiced apple cider: Add our Cinnamon Plus to apple cider or 20 cloves, a stick of cinnamon, a sprinkle of nutmeg and a splash of OJ or a bit of grated orange peel for delicious warm comfort. Rum is optional. * You do not need to attend a Kitchen Show to place an order or book a show. You can contact me, or order online in your slippers – anytime!

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