Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bake Your Best with Expert Recipes, Advice

(ARA) – If only love alone were the key ingredient for baking success. Filling your cookie tray with delicious delights, however, calls for just the right mix of a great recipe, good ingredients and a little baking savvy.

“Delicious cookies start with quality ingredients like good chocolate, real butter and fresh spices,” says Gale Gand, Chicago pastry chef and Food Network star. “For example, I use fresh ground nutmeg, rather than powdered, to impart amazing flavor in my recipe for Eggnog Cream Cheese Cups.”

Chef Mary Sonnier of The Uptowner, Special Events and Catering in New Orleans, La., stresses organization in your kitchen.

“Read the recipe before you begin and organize the necessary ingredients and equipment in your baking area,” Sonnier says. “Then pre-measure your ingredients with attention to detail. Spoon dry ingredients into measuring cups and crouch down to read liquid measurements at eye level.”

Sonnier’s traditional Italian Wedding Cookies get a special twist from creamy Mascarpone cheese. “The rich Mascarpone cheese enhances the buttery flavor and texture of the cookie.”

Chef Debbie Gold from the American Restaurant in Kansas City, Mo. offers a chocolate-lover's take on the traditional ginger snap with her Cocoa-Ginger Crisps. These crunchy little cookies deliver a delicate ginger flavor balanced by the rich chocolate dough.

“Keep clean up simple and line your baking sheets with parchment paper,” Gold says. “The cookies will be easy to remove and your baking sheets will be protected from cookie crumbs.”

Visit to view dozens of holiday recipes and tips for baking. Sign up for the Holiday Magic e-newsletter to receive a daily e-mail with a holiday cookie or candy recipe, along with helpful baking tips from chef Gand.

Cocoa-Ginger Crisps
By Chef Debbie Gold

Makes four dozen cookies.


2 cups all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons cocoa powder, divided
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
1 cup (two sticks) butter, softened
1/4 cup light corn syrup


Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine flour, 6 tablespoons cocoa powder, baking soda, 1 teaspoon ginger and salt; set aside. In a small bowl combine 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon cocoa, and 1 teaspoon ginger; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream together butter and 1 cup sugar until fluffy. Add corn syrup and blend until combined. Gradually add flour mixture; mix well.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in sugar mixture. Place dough 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 12 minutes until cookies are firm and tops have slight cracks. Cool on baking sheet two to three minutes; remove cookies to a cooling rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

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