While some holiday recipes might call for unusual ingredients that
require a trip to the gourmet food store, some ingredients are
ubiquitous. Keep those ingredients in your pantry year-round and
you'll be on track to bake up a storm this holiday season.
The baking gurus at
Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, a more than 100-year-old family-run
flavoring company, offer this checklist of must-have items to help
ensure your pantry is well-stocked for holiday baking:
* Flour -- Some type of
flour is the foundation of most baking. Your pantry should always
have a supply of all-purpose white baking flour, but don't forget to
add some other common, useful varieties like whole wheat, unbleached
* Sweeteners -- Refined
white sugar, of course, is a reliable stand-by for sweetening any
recipe. But many holiday recipes may call for alternative sweeteners
like confectioner's sugar, maple syrup, brown sugar or honey. And,
if you're baking for folks with dietary restrictions, you'll need
artificial sweeteners. Many brands of artificial sweeteners now
offer varieties specifically designed for use in baking.
* Extracts -- Holiday
baking cries out for certain flavors, like peppermint, almond,
chocolate and vanilla. You can find an extract for virtually every
flavor under the sun, but keeping an ample supply of the staples,
like Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, will ensure you have the perfect
flavoring on hand for a variety of dishes -- from holiday baked goods
to main courses and side dishes. The family-run company uses a
proprietary cold extraction process that slowly and gently draws the
delicate and distinctive flavor from the vanilla beans.
* Spices -- Certain
spices just speak to the holiday season, but they're also useful
throughout the year. Keep your pantry stocked with
holiday-appropriate spices like cinnamon, allspice, ground ginger,
nutmeg and cloves.
* Fruits and nuts -- While some recipes may call for fresh fruits and nuts, others will
require dried varieties. Walnuts, almonds, pecans, raisins, candied
ginger and even dried apricots and cranberries are all good starting
points for a well-stocked holiday pantry.
* Grains -- What would
oatmeal raisin cookies be without the oatmeal? Holiday recipes often
call for grains and cereals, including oatmeal, cornmeal and bran.
* Leavening -- Many
cookies don't require a leavening agent or stabilizer, but cakes and
breads may, so include yeast, baking soda and baking powder in your
* Shortening -- Vegetable oil, shortening and lard are staples of baking. To lighten
a recipe without sacrificing taste, try naturally lighter oils like
* Milk -- You may not
use it at any other time of year, but holiday baking often calls for
evaporated milk. Sweetened condensed milk is also incorporated in
many recipes. A can or two of each, purchased ahead of the holidays,
will ensure you don't have to make a special trip to the grocery
store for this less-used ingredient.
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Now that your pantry
is prepped for the holidays, try this festive recipe from
Crisp Vanilla Butter
- 1 cup (2 sticks)
- 1 cup sifted
- 1 tablespoon
- Bourbon Pure
- 2 eggs, lightly
- 2 cups unbleached
- 1 teaspoon baking
- 1/4 teaspoon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chocolate
pieces of choice
Cream the butter,
confectioners' sugar and vanilla powder in a mixing bowl using an
electric mixer on medium speed. Add the eggs and beat until light
and fluffy. Beat in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt on
low speed until just blended. Place the dough on parchment paper and
shape into a 12-inch long log. Chill for 3 to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat an insulated cookie sheet with
nonstick cooking spray. Cut the dough log into 1/4-inch-thick slices
and place on the cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until
golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Place the cooled cookies on a
parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Place the chocolate pieces in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high
for 15 seconds. Repeat at 5-second intervals, stirring and checking
the consistency. The chocolate is ready when it freely drips from
the spoon in a fine line. Spoon the chocolate into a large plastic
food storage bag. Twist the bag until the chocolate is in one corner
and then trim the tip of the bag. Drizzle the chocolate over the
Variation: Add 1/2 teaspoon of any Nielsen-Massey Pure Flavor
Extract, such as Chocolate, Almond, Lemon, Orange or Coffee, to the
cookie dough to create a signature cookie.
Makes 2 dozen.
[Article copied from
Brandpoint, formerly ARAcontent]