Tag Archives: holiday

Gingerbread House 2017

This years gingerbread house is a new design.  I used a basic gingerbread house pattern that you can find anywhere and made the gingerbread from scratch using my Best Gingerbread Cookie Recipe

Trader Joe’s Holiday Haul

My favorite part of the Christmas season are the cookies, candy and desserts.  That’s an unusual thing to say coming from me, the fitness freak.  But as I always say, consumed in moderation and combined with healthy meals and physical activity, I can still enjoy them.

This afternoon I went to Trader Joe’s to stock up on my favorite holiday treats.  And they’re everyone else’s favorites too because they were selling quickly.

Elf Gingerbread Cottage

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If you would like to purchase one of these Elf Gingerbread Cottages check out my Etsy page  These gingerbread houses are made to order using the highest quality ingredients.  Completely edible, this adorable home decoration would be the perfect addition to your house or as a gift.

Order by December 15 for Christmas delivery.  No nuts or soy products used.

Holiday Baking Tips

Want to make baked treats that are so good everyone will bug you for more?  Did you know that most cookie recipes are almost exactly the same?  There really aren’t that many variations to chocolate chip cookie recipes.  I compiled a list of baking tips so you can understand why some cookies taste better than others, using the exact same recipe.

1. Never, ever, ever use store bought boxed cake, cookie, and brownie mixes or icings and frostings.  All you need to do is look at the ingredients on the box and that alone should give you reason not to use them.  If a single ingredient is long, hard to pronounce, or sounds like something you would find in a chemical factory, it shouldn’t be consumed.  I wrote two articles about this here  and here .

2.  Always use the best quality ingredients you can find and afford.  Obviously there is a limit to how much trouble you’re  willing to go through to purchase ingredients and how much you’re willing to spend on them.  Valhrona chocolate, imported from South America, will make your brownies taste far better than using a store-brand chocolate but the cost is double.  Using Ghirardelli and even Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate will give you more rave reviews than Nestle.  *Did you know Nestle brand baking chocolate was rated the least liked in a survey by America’s Test Kitchen?*

3.  Never use “imitation” anything in your baking.  Read labels carefully, especially when buying chocolate chips.  I once bought a bag of chocolate chips from Trader Joe’s because they were a really good price.  What I didn’t realize until I got home was the small print on the back of the package that said “imitation chocolate chips.”  You really do get what you pay for.   Real vanilla, almond, lemon, and other extracts are widely available everywhere in the United States.  The only time I ever use an imitation vanilla is a clear vanilla extract needed to make an icing that must be very white.

4.  Always follow the recipe directions precisely.  There are times you can substitute certain ingredients such as butterscotch chips for chocolate chips but never replace baking soda for baking powder or leave out primary ingredients because you will have a disaster on to contend with.

5.  Always check your baked items a few minutes before the baking time called for on the recipe.  Most recipes will tell you not only how long to bake something for but will also tell you what it should look like and feel like when it’s done.  Ovens vary and something that could be fully done in one persons oven in 15 minutes could take 20 minutes in another.

6.  I mentioned earlier about not using imitation chocolate but there is an exception.  If you’re dipping pretzels, cake pops, or molding candy that will be a color other than brown or white, you will have to use candy melts.  Candy melts have very little chocolate in them and I try to use as little of them as possible.  For chocolate and white chocolate, I use the real thing but to drizzle red or green or any other color, I use Merckens brand.   You can find more info about it here.

7.  What if a recipe calls for unsalted butter and you only have salted?  Go ahead and use the salted butter but cut down on the amount of salt in the recipe.

I hope to add on to this list and if any of my readers would like to share their holiday baking tips feel free to e-mail me at cinnamonsweetshoppe@verizon.net.  I would be happy to post them.

Easter Themed Whoopie Pies

Easter themed Whoopie Pies.