How To Elevate Your Holiday Desserts
Drizzles, dusts, and sprinkles, oh my! Bring your baked goods up to all-star status.
This unsweetened, pure ground chocolate adds color and flavor. Natural cocoa is acidic but lightest in color and is most often used in recipes that call for baking soda, which neutralizes its sharpness. Dutch process cocoa has been alkalinized to reduce its acidity and is the variety most commonly used to dust baked goods and desserts.
Typically dissolved in hot liquid and paired with chocolate in cookies, brownies, and confections, dry espresso powder may also be mixed with superfine sugar and cinnamon and used as a flavorful garnishing dust.
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Luster Dust and Spray
This edible shimmering powder can be a mess to work with but creates elegant cookies. Find it in an array of shades, even pearlized finishes, in jars or spray cans. Powders are mixed with a drop or two of liquid and painted on cookies.
Bars, Morsels, and Chunks
Bars of milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or white chocolate can be melted for dipping and drizzling, chopped into chunks, or shaved into curls for frilly garnishes on brownies or bars. Whether incorporated into the dough or pressed on the surface of cookies prior to baking, morsels have moved beyond chocolate and butterscotch and come in a variety of flavors and sizes. Stock up on seasonally-inspired flavors too.
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From candy bars and miniature cups to peppermints and jelly beans, store-bought candies can be used to add favorite flavors or delightful colors to your baked treats.
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It only takes a drop or two to tint icing, frosting, or dough. Be sure to mix thoroughly to avoid a marbled effect.
Sprinkles refer to a variety of confectionery accents. Jimmies are the tiny, oblong, opaque candy garnishes that top cookies and ice cream and are said to be named for the operator of the machine at the factory where they were created. Nonpareils refer to the poppyseed-sized round candy balls. Dragees are round, often metallic, candy-coated garnishes reminiscent of tiny ball bearings, while sugar pearls are their more refined cousins with a lustrous finish. Sanding sugars are translucent sugar crystals available coarse or fine that can be applied before or after baking. Roll balls of dough in the sugar before baking for a crackled effect. To adhere sprinkles to baked cookies, brush the cookies with egg wash, or frost them first.
Icings, Frostings, and Glazes
If a cookie recipe you're making doesn't include an icing or glaze recipe, or you're in a pinch for time, purchased cookie icing, royal icing, frosting, or glazes in tubs or tubes are decent conveniences. Tubes are like a built-in piping bag with tip, which makes decorating with precision easy.
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Dried Fruit and Nuts
Dried or candied fruit add a colorful accent and interesting texture and flavor to baked goods, so stock up on your favorites and keep them stored in airtight containers at a steady temperature. Nuts have a high fat content that makes them go rancid fast, especially in the kitchen's fluctuating heat. Buy in bulk and in season, and keep them sealed in the pantry up to a month, or freeze up to a year.
Extracts and Flavorings
Extracts are distilled volatile oils and flavor compounds of a particular ingredient—herb, spice, fruit, or nut—concentrated in a solution of alcohol. Flavorings are less potent and often blended in a liquid such as glycerin or oil. Imitation extracts or artificial flavorings are replications of a flavoring when it is either too expensive or difficult to extract from its natural state.
Are you ready for to decorate your Christmas cookies now? Be sure to gather all your helpers and get baking.