Baking Tips

The Role of Eggs in Baking Cookies

Posted on Jan 6, 2014 in Baking Tips | 12 comments

The Role of Eggs in Baking Cookies

Eggs are so wonderful and they do so much for cookies in baking.  As the egg cooks, it holds your cookies together giving them their structure and shape. That’s why you can have some cookie batters that can be super runny and liquidy but if they contain extra eggs they will just puff up when the cookies bake instead of spreading out. The egg keeps it all held together.

role of eggs in bakng

And egg yolks.  Oh so delicious egg yolks! These guys are essential in chewy rich cookies.  The fat in egg yolks tenderizes the dough by shortening the gluten strands, gives your cookies a richer flavor and will also help make cookies chewier. Because egg yolk is a natural emulsifier it makes your cookie batters smooth with a creamy texture.  This is why it’s typically recommended to add the eggs in one at a time.  When you are emulsifying the eggs into the butter you want to make sure the eggs are emulsifying with the butter and not  just other eggs.

role of eggs in baking

Read More

What is Dutch Processed Cocoa

Posted on Nov 27, 2013 in Baking Tips | 3 comments

What is Dutch Processed Cocoa

What is Dutch Processed Cocoa? I actually get this question a lot. Especially this time of year, what’s Christmas without Peppermint Chocolate Cookies!!??  I’ve totally been there.   You’re following a recipe just as it states (good baker 🙂 ) and then it says you need dutch processed cocoa and you think “I have Hershey’s cocoa”….that’s the same right? Well, not really. Dutch Processed Cocoa is actually quite different than the most common found Natural Unsweetend Cocoa Powder creating different results in your finished cookie.

Read More

How to Soften Butter Quickly

Posted on Oct 24, 2013 in Baking Tips | 0 comments

How to Soften Butter Quickly

Baking cookies for me is often pretty spontaneous.  All of my days are super packed between working, blogging, baking and commitments my I can’t say “no” syndrome has me doing….I have gotten much better… Trust me.  If I ever get an hour of open time with little to do, I always feel like baking cookies.  I know I should get checked out for it.  My husband loves to sit and do nothing to relax and I like to bake…what’s the difference? We are both doing things we like right? But the worst is when I get the sudden urge to bake and if I didn’t prepare for it earlier, I have to wait hours for butter to soften.  Softened butter is a must for most of my cookie recipes, unless it is a specific recipe that calls for melted butter in which you can just place the butter in the microwave and presto it’s ready.  Softened butter is used in the creaming method in which the butter is creamed with the sugars to create little air bubbles that makes the batter softer in consistency and larger in volume.

So what do you do if you need to soften butter quickly?  Here are my 3 favorite ways.

1.) Grating the butter through a cheese grater.  Take the hard butter sticks through a grater.  Be careful not to grate too small and grate your hands.  The last piece will be softened from the heat of your hands so there will be no need to grate it. If you don’t have a cheese grater, you can also dice the butter into small chunks. Let it sit for a couple minutes depending on how hard your butter was to begin with.

How to Soften Butter Quickly

2.) Pound the butter with a rolling pin.  Put the butter into a ziplock bag or on a piece of plastic wrap and go to town! Let it sit for a couple minutes and the butter will be softened way quicker than left as a stick.

How to Soften Butter

3.) Beat it.  You can add the butter by itself into an electric mixer and beat it before you add the sugars.  You will probably want to cut it up into smaller pieces before placing it in the mixer.  Beat on medium to soften.

You can try other methods such as a double boiler, microwave or in the oven but just be careful not to melt the butter as this will change the consistency of a cookie recipe that calls for softened butter. The microwave is super deceiving too because it will still look solid on the outside even if it’s melted on the inside.  I typically never recommend the microwave for softening butter.

 

 

Read More

Why use buttermilk in cakes & cupcakes? Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Posted on Oct 9, 2013 in Baking Tips, Chocolate Desserts, Cupcakes & Cakes | 2 comments

Why use buttermilk in cakes & cupcakes? Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Buttermilk, the unsung hero of cakes & cupcakes.  Most cupcakes don’t call for buttermilk but in my opinion buttermilk can take a good recipe to a great recipe! Buttermilk’s tangy flavor adds depth and complexity to finished baked goods while adding very little fat. It also helps tenderize the gluten in the batter, giving baked goods a softer texture and more body for fluffy melt in your mouth cupcakes, exactly how I like them but also keeping enough weight to hold up a good addition of necessary frosting. (The only reason to eat a cupcake in my husband’s opinion.)

Even though the name might suggest it, buttermilk does not contain butter.  It is the liquid left behind after churning the butter out of cream.  Hence the milk of butter….or buttermilk. It has a tart and tangy taste due to the acid in the milk.  It is also the acid in the buttermilk that reacts with baking soda to create bubbles of carbon dioxide.  Not to get too science-y on you guys, but it’s these bubbles or air that is created in the batter that gives your cupcake volume so this is good.  And the acid also interferes with gluten formation which is what keeps your cupcake tender and light.Buttermilk Chocolate Cupcakes

A good rule of thumb to remember is that 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda will neutralize 1 cup of buttermilk.  Therefore, when substituting buttermilk in recipes, reduce the amount of baking powder by 2 teaspoons and increase the amount of baking soda by 1/2 teaspoon to neutralize the acids for every 1 cup of buttermilk.

If that didn’t convince you that buttermilk is delicious in cupcakes, then you must try this recipe! If you are dying to try it but don’t feel like running out to the store for buttermilk, you can also try this substitution.  Combine 2/3 cup plain non-fat or low-fat yogurt with 1/2 cup 1% milk for 1 cup buttermilk.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

Cupcake

  • 1/2 cup Unsalted Butter Softened (1 stick)
  • 1 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup Buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup Water

Frosting

  • 1/4 cup Unsalted Butter Softened
  • 8oz Cream Cheese Softened
  • 2oz Dark Chocolate Melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 cups Confectioner's Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/4 cup Cream or Half & Half

Directions

Step 1
Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add room temperature eggs (cracked open in a separate bowl), one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
Step 2
In a separate bowl, combine sifted flour, sifted cocoa, baking soda and salt.
Step 3
In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk and water. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk and water, beating well after each addition.
Step 4
Fill paper-lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
Step 5
For frosting, in a small bowl, beat butter & cream cheese until smooth. Add in sifted confectioners' sugar until smooth, melted chocolate, cream, vanilla and salt until smooth.
Step 6
Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting. Frost and top with sprinkles, chocolate chips or any other garnish of your choice. And enjoy!
Read More

Chewy Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies

Posted on Oct 8, 2013 in Baking Tips, Cookies, Drop Cookies | 9 comments

Chewy Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies

On Saturday night we realized why we loved where we live.  We recently upgraded from a old “tons of character” apartment on top of a sloping garage to a brand new updated apartment close to downtown San Diego.  We’ve loved that our windows actually open and aren’t painted shut and we’ve loved that we could actually close the kitchen drawers without leaving a trail of saw dust a termite family would be very happy to have but Saturday night was just the cherry on top of it all.  After months of preparation, Saturday night was the big night of our grand opening party and it did not disappoint.  Aside from the open bar (plus), passed hors d’oeuvres (yum), big bouncer to keep the riff raf out (classy), hipster band & tranny swing (kinda wierd but totally cool), and the opening ceremony was performed by the San Diego State Marching Band…crazy!! Remember now, this is an apartment complex…right?!

Chewy Chocolate Toffee Cookies

Totally crazy, my absolute favorite part of it all was that it really encouraged everyone that had all just recently moved in to open up our homes for the open house tour and really take the time to get to know our neighbors. So in the spirit of making new friends…or maybe it was the 3 drinks I had….either way I decided it was the perfect night to make cookies. What better way to say “Let’s be friends” then CHEWY chocolate chip toffee cookies.  Everyone knows you can’t make friends with crispy crunchy cookies.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies

Here are some of my favorite tips to get perfectly chewy cookies every time. Try playing around with these tips and changing the ratio of ingredients until you get your favorite cookie!
1.) Use egg yolks instead of the whole egg – egg whites can dry out your cookies & the egg yolks will add richness
2.) Use brown sugar instead of white – the presence of molasses in the brown sugar will keep the cookies moist
3.) Use melted butter – the melted butter doesn’t trap as much air
4.) Underbake, underbake, underbake! – if it looks done in the oven it is most likely overbaked
5.) Refrigerate your dough overnight – I find that chilling the dough helps give your cookies a richer flavor and when it has been chilled the cookies spread less in the oven keeping them thicker and chewier
6.) Use bread flour or a combination of AP and bread flour – the bread flour has more protein and will form more glutens for a chewier texture

Chewy Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups Unsalted Butter Softened (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar (packed)
  • 1/2 cup White Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg Yolk
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 cups Bread Flour
  • 3/4 teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 8oz Dark/ Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1 cup Toffee Bits

Note

I will confess  did not have time to refrigerate this dough for an hour, I was trying to make friends...instead I actually froze it in the freezer for about 20 minutes and they still turned out well.  If I had the time to chill it longer, the dough would have been much browner and it would have had a richer taste but overall it was still an amazingly delicious cookie.

Directions

Step 1
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees .

Cream butter, brown sugar & white sugar using a paddle attachment in the mixer. Mix until incorporated. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix well.
Step 2
In a separate bowl, sift the flours, baking soda & salt together.
Step 3
Slowly add the flour mixture to the bowl with the butter, sugar & egg and mix until incorporated.
Step 4
Add the chocolate chips & toffee bits and mix to combine. Refrigerate your dough for at least an hour.
Step 5
On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, scoop out ice cream scoop sizes of dough, leaving about 2-3 inches of space in between Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until your edges start to firm up and turn a light golden brown. Remember the dough will look under-baked and that is a good. Let cool 10 minutes on a cooling rack and serve.

 

 

Read More

My Perfect Pantry Essentials for Baking

Posted on Oct 4, 2013 in Baking Tips | 4 comments

My Perfect Pantry Essentials for Baking

When it comes to baking, I never know when the urge will hit to pop some cookies in the oven. Or when a hardworking husband asks to come home to a cupcake with plenty of cream cheese frosting.  That’s why I always try to keep the following pantry essentials for baking on hand, just in case.

Flour – I always try to have at least a few different types of flour on hand.  After all flour is not flour is not flour and different flours have different effects on your finished product.

  • All Purpose Flour
  • Whole Wheat Flour – for when I want to try to be a little bit healthier
  • Bread Flour
  • If you have a recipe that calls for Self Rising Flour or Cake Flour you can always create these with a few added ingredients to your All Purpose Flour. (See How to Make Self Rising Flour and How to Make Cake Flour)

Eggs – I buy Grade AA Large Eggs.
Most recipes call for large eggs and if no size is specified it typically assumes large eggs. Eggs sold in the supermarkets are either grade AA or grade A, both are acceptable and only slightly different in quality.

Sugars & Sweeteners – What’s a baked good without at least a little sweetness?

  • White Sugar
  • Dark Brown Sugar (this has more molasses than light brown sugar which makes cookies chewier and I like that)
  • Confectioner’s or Powdered Sugar
  • Honey (this lasts forever so I always try to keep some on hand)
  • Corn Syrup
  • Molasses

Shorteners & Fats – Haven’t you heard? Fat makes everything taste yummy, but in baking it also helps makes your finished product tender & moist.

  • Unsalted Butter
  • Canola Oil
  • Butter Flavored Shortening
  • Coconut Oil
  • Applesauce (when I am reduced fat baking)

Leaveners – Essential to making your baked goods rise.

  • Baking Soda
  • Baking Powder
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Active Dry Yeast

Mix-Ins & Add Ins -This is where you can choose your own favorites. Here are mine.

  • Chocolate Chips
  • Dark Chocolate Baking Bars
  • Peanut Butter
  • Oatmeal
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Walnuts
  • Golden Raisins
  • White Chocolate Chips
  • Coconut Flakes
  • Cream Cheese
  • Cocoa Powder

And there you have it.  All the things that are always in my pantry at all times for baking.

Read More
Facebook IconTwitter IconFollow our Pinterest BoardsFollow our Pinterest BoardsFollow our Pinterest Boards