At first glance, this may just look like your average vanilla cake with chocolate frosting. But it’s so much more than that. I’ve enhanced the classic to make a snack cake worth talking about.
This is my very favorite gluten-free cake base. I use it all the time. I’ve made it into lovely layer cakes, Boston cream pie, perfect petit fours and every upside-down fruit cake that you can imagine. The key to its perfect tender, buttery crumb is almond flour — my secret weapon for gluten-free baking.
Light and airy meringue is the stuff of dreams. Made of just egg whites and sugar, it magically transforms into something that’s so much more than the sum of its parts.
French meringue is the simplest to make. The egg whites are simply whipped while sugar is gradually added. This meringue needs to be baked. Swiss meringue starts with sugar and egg whites gently heated in a double boiler until the sugar is completely dissolved. It’s then whipped into a dense, silky cloud. Swiss meringue is the base of for my favorite kind of buttercream frosting.
Love of baked goods but fear of baking is a common kitchen story. If you’re one of those people who is intimidated by baking’s precision or thinks the exactness is boring, think again. Former pastry chef and cookbook author Abby Dodge believes there’s an inner baker in everyone. And she hopes to inspire people to break out the flour and turn on the oven with her newest book, The Everyday Baker (featured in our holiday cookbook gift guide).
Read our interview with Dodge below to find out which recipes she’ll be making this season, the kitchen tools she can’t live without and her biggest baking pet peeves. Plus, grab her recipe for Rosemary-Cornmeal Shortbread (pictured above), her go-to cookie for all occasions. Like all the other recipes in her book, it includes step-by-step photos and thorough twist ideas, so you can be confident in (and have fun with) your holiday cookies this year.
When you hear “fruitcake,” you probably envision a dry, dense cake that arrives by mail during the holidays. The fruit-filled loaf has a bad rep, and it’s time to change that. These five delicious recipes dismantle everything you thought you hated about fruitcake.
“For anybody who doesn’t like fruitcake, forget it. You’ll love these,” says Ina Garten. And we believe her. Sherry-soaked fruit is infinitely more appealing when encased in buttery cookie dough with crunchy pecans and a touch of lemon.
Fragrant pine branches layered with ribbon and candy canes, a freshly cut yule log smoldering in the fireplace, winter-white landscapes come to life with merry snow people: These are the season’s defining emblems, and you can always rely on them to set a festive scene at your holiday party. Even better is when they’re manifested in sweet, edible form. Here are seven of winter’s familiar symbols transformed into whimsical desserts, including delicate snowflake cookies, classic French yule log cake and a tower of cupcakes fastened in the shape of a Christmas tree.
Cupcake Christmas Tree (pictured at top)
Transform basic chocolate cupcakes into a stunning centerpiece for your Christmas dessert spread by generously coating the frosted tops with green sprinkles or jimmies and fastening them onto a Styrofoam cone using toothpicks.
Baked doughnuts have basically taken over the Internet. I understand. The opportunity to indulge in a homemade doughnut without having to heat up a big pot of oil is appealing. That said, I think that baked doughnuts are in a completely separate category from regular doughnuts. They’re wonderful but more in line with cakes and cupcakes than true doughnuts.
That’s not a bad thing. Baked doughnuts are incredibly easy to whip up. The batter comes together in minutes, bakes quickly and makes just enough doughnuts to enjoy for brunch without leftovers.
I have four kids under the age of 7, so you can bet there are some Christmas cookies baking in my house — and the rascals want in on it. These are our favorite cookies for baking as a two-generation team.
Cocoa Thumbprints from Food Network Magazine
Anything that involves rolling dough into a ball, jamming your finger into it and placing candy on top is a hit with kiddie cooks.
I know that white chocolate isn’t for everyone. It’s taken me a long time to warm up to the stuff myself. But I’ve recently learned one important fact about white chocolate: To find the best stuff, you must read the label.
True white chocolate is made from cocoa butter. To make cocoa butter, roasted cacao beans are ground into a fine paste. That paste is then run through a special press, which separates the cocoa mass from the cocoa butter. To make white chocolate, cocoa butter is then mixed with sugar and milk. Different chocolate manufacturers make different blends. In the United States, to even be called white chocolate, it must contain at least 20 percent cocoa butter. But for better flavor, look for something with an even higher percentage of cocoa butter. More cocoa butter makes for a more delicious product. Avoid white chocolate with fillers like oil and artificial flavor.
Good friends, fresh baked goods and a few generous mugs of (possibly spiked) hot chocolate: That’s what a holiday cookie swap is all about. If you’re hosting this year, it’s time to choose your recipes, check your pantry (ditching old spices and other baking staples that have been collecting dust at the back of your shelves), and head to the store for missing ingredients. Remember to stock up on treat bags or roomy covered containers; that way, everyone can go home with a few edible mementos.
Guests are generally expected to bring one batch of cookies. (Or you might ask guests to bring two or three batches, depending on the size of the swap.) When hosting, it’s wise to bake two or three different varieties, and remember to take food allergies into account. Choose two familiar, tried-and-true recipes, like classic sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies. (That way you won’t stress over making errors and can focus on beverages and decor too.) The third cookie should be super-seasonal and more of a challenge. You can make one recipe the day of, but make the other recipes a day in advance — whatever works best with your schedule. Here are a few of our most sought-after holiday cookies to get you started.
Cookie #1: Classic Sugar
Food Network Kitchen’s Soft Sugar Cookies (pictured at top) are the classic sugar cookies you could roll out in your sleep — except they might be more tender than you’re used to, thanks to an extra egg in the dough. Before baking, roll the dough in red and green sanding sugar. The cookies will bake up in just 20 minutes. Check out more of our festive takes on sugar cookies here.