Posts Tagged Slicing Desserts
I love holiday desserts. Whether it’s oohing over elegant chocolate covered berries at a Christmas party with friends, sharing a sweet pecan pie after the big feast with family or decorating sugar cookies with the kids, holiday desserts are more about sharing a moment than packing on the calories. At least, that is how I justify it. Yet, desserts can be daunting and so I am going to share what I’ve learned over the years as I’ve delved into recipes and attempted to make a sweet something out of sugar and flour.
Item #1 Tempermental Chocolate
I once visited Hershey Park with my family. You can smell the melted chocolate when you get out of the car. It’s wafting throughout the park, tempting you at every turn. It is my idea of heaven. So, I love to melt chocolate, but it took me a long time to really understand how to do it successfully.
Most realistic bakers just melt a bag of chocolate chips and I see nothing wrong with that. No reason to spend a fortune if your pallette is just craving a little silken goodness. You can do this by melting in the microwave and stirring every couple of minutes. It works and it is fine for quick desserts as long as you are careful to check by stirring every minute after the first couple to be sure it isn’t burned. Chocolate will hold its shape until you stir it, even if it’s completely melted.
I prefer to melt in my rigged double boiler because I like having it under my watchful eye. I use a small saucepan with about an inch of tepid water and put it on med low heat. Then, I put a glass bowl that fits over the saucepan completely but does not touch the water and pour the choclate chips or bakers chocolate bars inside. I stir often until it’s completely melted.
There is one huge mistake I have made numerous times. You cannot let even a small amount of steam or water get near the chocolate. It will clump up and ruin the entire batch.
One other tip – if you are dipping cookies or fruit into your chocolate, then use a tablespoon or two of shortening and it will add glossiness to the chocolate for a more aesthetic appeal. I have not noticed a difference in taste with this trick.
***Quick Note: I happen to know of a great chocolatier and they do online orders. If you want to leave the chocolates to the experts and feel good about it, then visit http://www.chocolatesforgood.com.
Item #2 Food Coloring
We have a family recipe for a Christmas cookie that we call “Red Cookies”. Though we come from the north, this cookie is actually very much like a Red Velvet Cake turned into a cookie. I love them, but this recipe is so complicated that it has taken years for me to make them edible and I still can’t get the icing to come out consistentl. I have been trying for 12 years.
The “red” comes from 3oz of red food coloring. Actually, we’ve modified the recipe to be 1 oz of actual food coloring and 2 oz of refilling the food coloring bottle with tap water which then comes out red as it rinses out the bottle. These cookies are beautiful, festive and delicious.
The big issue I have with these cookies and anything else dealing with food coloring is the mess I invariably create. I don’t understand how it can so easily get everywhere! Food coloring spreads, multiplies and dilutes in the face of soap and water. I have learned to have serious cleaning power on hand. I prefer to use Clorox Wipes because I won’t accidently spray the ingredients and I can hit the spot with something tough and durable immediately. I always wear an apron when dealing with food coloring.
Item #4 Slicing that dessert
So, after you finally bake your masterpiece, you set it on the counter to cool. Finally, it’s time to serve. So, you grab the nearest knife and hack away. At least, I did. The plastic cake slicer I got from the grocery bakery when I ordered that last cake or maybe an old knife in the drawer.
Now I know. When cutting brownies or even a cake, the best tool out there is a plastic knife. No kidding. It works like a charm. If it gets some crumbs on it between slices, wipe with with a hot, wet towel to clean it off. A paper towel works just fine.
Like most people, I’ll be paying attention to my family and friends over the next two weeks. I wish all of you very Happy Holidays!