Milk can help wash down failed baking experiments at home. But it can’t save you from turning up at a holiday party with tough, flat or, worse, fugly cookies. The F&W Test Kitchen’s Kay Chun, however, can help. Here, she explains how to avoid the most common mistakes.
1. Underbeating (a.k.a. undercreaming) the butter and sugar. The butter mixture should be pale yellow in color and fluffy, which takes about three minutes; this helps form tiny air bubbles so that during baking, the bubbles expand and help the cookies rise.
2. Overbeating (overcreaming) the butter and sugar. Stop once the butter is pale yellow and fluffy, otherwise the butter starts to break down and release all those air bubbles you’ve just created. During baking, the cookies will remain flat and dense.
3. Placing the cookies too close together on the baking sheet. Give the cookies enough space to spread. If there’s not enough room, bake the cookies in batches.
4. Overmixing the cookie batter. Overmixing activates the gluten in the flour, yielding chewy and tough cookies. Beat in the flour on low speed just until combined.
5. Overbaking the cookies. Check the cookies at the minimum baking time and remove them when they’re lightly golden on the top and bottom, and firm around the edges. Even a few extra minutes can lead to cookies that are too dark and very hard once they’ve cooled.
- 1 calabaza squash (4-5 pounds) or other winter squash like butternut or sugar pumpkin
- 2 cones brown sugar cane (Piloncillo)
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- 3 to 4 Mexican cinnamon sticks
- Whipped cream or ice cream for serving (optional)
Cut squash in half. Scoop out and discard seeds and stringy flesh. Cut squash into 12 wedges or 3-inch pieces.
Add 8 cups of water to a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Add brown sugar cane cones and bring to a boil.
When sugar dissolves, stir in orange juice, zest, and cinnamon sticks.
Add the squash wedges and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Loosely cover and simmer until squash is completely tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Transfer the squash to a platter using a slotted spoon. Cover squash with foil.
Remove and discard cinnamon sticks. Strain liquid into a bowl to remove cinnamon bits, zest, and any solids.
Pour the liquid back into the pot and bring to a boil.
Cook until liquid reduces to a syrup (similar consistency to maple syrup), about 30 to 45 minutes.
Serve squash warm or at room temperature. Drizzle squash with syrup and top with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.
Calabaza squash is also called West Indian Pumpkin.
Butterscotch Banana Bread Recipe:
(Makes 1 9″x5″ loaf)
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 large egg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup butterscotch chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas, egg, vegetable oil and sugar. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add flour and mix until combined. Fold in butterscotch chips. Pour batter into a greased 9″x5″ bread pan and bake for 55 minutes or until golden brown on top and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Oreo Popcorn Balls: A Halloween Favorite Treat
Compliments of It’s a Keeper
8 cups popcorn, popped
12 Oreo cookies, crushed3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup margarine
2 tsp cold water
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup marshmallows
In a large bowl, combine popcorn and crushed Oreos. In a large sauce, combine the corn syrup, margarine, cold water, confectioners’ sugar and marshmallows over medium heat. Stir until the mixture comes to a boil. Carefully remove from heat and pour the mixture over the popcorn and crushed cookies until each piece is coated.
Spray popcorn baller with non-stick cooking spray and quickly shape the popcorn mixture into balls before it cools. Let cool on a sheet of wax paper. Wrap each ball with wax paper or plastic wrap and store at room temperature.
Yields 50 cupcakes
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 16 ounces (4 sticks) unsalted butter
- 4 cups sugar
- 8 large eggs
- 2 cups milk
- 8 Medium Apples, diced small
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add liners to cupcake pan. Mix all dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, cream the butter. Add sugar and continue mixing. Add eggs one at a time. Add milk. Scrape down sides and add dry ingredient mix, one cup at a time. Fold in diced apples. Fill cupcakes liners to 3/4 full and bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool before frosting.
- 3 sticks of butter
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon, to taste
Whip butter until white and fluffy. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time. Continue whipping. Add vanilla and cinnamon. Scrape bowl and whip another 30 seconds.
Add sprinkles, plastic spiders or whatever your heart desires to complete the cupcakes!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Yield: About 3 cups
All of the goodness of pumpkin pie in a skinny milkshake!
- 1 cup lowfat milk (or almond or soy milk)
- 1/2 cup plain lowfat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 ripe banana, cut into chunks and frozen
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2-1 cup ice cubes
Pulse all ingredients together in a blender until smooth. Add extra ice cubes if desired.
Best Snickerdoodle Recipe:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening (butter-flavored works best)
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons white vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons white sugar
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cream butter, shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, eggs and vanilla together. Add in the flour, lemon juice/vinegar, soda and salt.
- Let dough chill in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
- Use a cookie scoop or rounded teaspoons and shape dough into balls.
- Mix the 3 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in the cinnamon-sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
- Bake 8 minutes, or until cracks are formed but dough still looks a little bubbly. Remove immediately from oven and let cool on baking sheets for about a minute before transferring to a wire rack.
- Recipe produces between 40 and 60 cookies.
Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
approximately 30 cookies
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1 1/2 cup Reese’s pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Cream together the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until lifht and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and beat well.
Gradually add the flour, baking soda and salt until just combined. Stir in the oats, and then the Reese’s pieces.
Drop dough in 2 Tablespoon scoops onto prepared baking sheets
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cookies will be golden brown the bottom and look underdone on top.