November 29, 2022
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There are countless wonderful aromas that accompany the Christmas season, from the scent of fresh pine, to warm roasted chestnuts, but nothing compares to the smell of a batch of fresh-baked cookies. Buttery goodness has the unique ability to reach every corner of the house, and pull everyone into the kitchen! Whether you’re hosting a get-together, preparing a snack for Santa, or simply baking for fun, you can never go wrong with a batch of delicious homemade cookies.
There are so many holiday cookie recipes to choose from, from snickerdoodle to gingerbread, oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip and beyond. Though they all may call for different ingredients, almost every cookie is based on a few common kitchen needs that are excellent to keep on hand. Today, we’ll walk you through some of the essentials, and even provide some kitchen-hack alternative ingredients. This Christmas, you’ll want to keep a well stocked pantry, before you pull out your most festive apron to start baking!
Flour is one of those staples that every kitchen needs, even if you don’t bake often. It forms the basis of nearly all baked goods including cookies, cakes and pastries. It’s also useful for thickening soups and sauces, homemade pizza or even a quick gravy in a pinch.
There are all sorts of flours including wheat, semolina and durum, to name a few. If you’re gluten-free, there are also great alternatives like almond, rice or buckwheat flour. Whatever you choose, be sure to pick up a bag the next time you visit the supermarket and put it in an airtight container to keep fresh. If you don’t use flour very often, store it in the freezer to keep fresh longer and avoid bugs.
Baking Soda & Baking Powder
Two important ingredients to have on hand, when baking are baking soda and baking powder. Be sure not to confuse the two, as they perform very different functions in the baking process. Baking soda is typically called for when there is a presence of another substance that is acidic as baking soda will counter the acidity. Baking powder is called for when the recipe does not contain acidic ingredients.
Butter is part of the complex, sweet aroma that cookies emit and is also the key to getting that soft, gooey texture (assuming your cookies are soft). A staple for just about any baking project, butter is also useful for whipping up sauces, sauteing or simply on a slice of toast. As well, you can purchase butter in sticks or in tubs.
If you or your guests are vegan, you can swap butter out for items such as applesauce, coconut oil or even a mashed banana, without losing the texture or flavor. Remember, when baking, oftentimes unsalted butter is called for, since the lack of sodium keeps your cookies from baking too quickly or burning.
Everyone’s favorite, no matter the occasion! It’s very difficult to bake anything without a sweetening agent, and sugar is the go-to. There are many different forms of sugar such as brown sugar, confectioners sugar or just plain cane sugar. No matter which one you choose, they’re also great for adding a sweet touch to drinks, sauces or just about anything. It's probably best to stock up on white sugar, brown sugar and powdered sugar, as you never know when you are going to want to indulge in a sweet treat!
There are some great alternative solutions, if you’re trying to avoid sugar altogether. It’s not recommended to use artificial sweeteners for baking, but you can use honey, sorbitol, stevia or agave, in a pinch, to give your cookies a sweet touch.
Chocolate and Vanilla
As some cookies may call for one or the other, or sometimes both, chocolate and vanilla are the yin and yang of the dessert world. They’re not only excellent for cookies, but can add a welcome touch to your coffee or breakfast cereal.
Chocolate is fairly easy to keep around, yet the hardest part is stopping yourself from eating it! You can buy shelf-stable baking chocolate chips to fold into your cookie batter when you need them. Fresh vanilla beans can stay on the shelf for a few months, but we recommend getting a quality vanilla extract. Pay close attention to your recipe, as it may call for sweet, semi-sweet, milk or whole milk chocolate or even a very specific name brand, premium chocolate.
To really give your holiday cookies that festive feel, why not try some sprinkles? Red, green and white do a great job of capturing the Christmas spirit, in a way that is both eye catching and delicious.
Icing your cookies is another great way to bring easy, uncomplicated and delicious elegance to your sweet treats. If you do not have time to make your own icing, you can easily purchase ready-made.
Food coloring is a must-have for holiday baking as it introduces a splash of color to your delectable baked goods.
These are just some of the basics to help you whip up this year’s batch of deliciousness! Remember, these are essentials,and, if the mood takes you, feel free to jazz up your cookies with some holiday toppings like walnuts, pecans, dried cranberries or crushed candy canes. Let's get ready to preheat your Christmas with some delicious holiday fun!