15 Brilliant Baking Hacks

Mrs. Fields Secrets Baking Hacks

Want to feel like a baking ninja? We’ve got fifteen genius hacks to give you some mad skills.

  1. Drop a piece of eggshell into the mixing bowl? Wet your finger and hold it just above, and the shell will practically  jump onto your finger.
  2. No time to make frosting to decorate a cake? Spread a piece of lace across the top and sprinkle a liberal amount of powdered sugar or cocoa powder on top. Remove the lace and you’ve got a gorgeous, lacy design!
  3. Want to speed up your rising time for doughs? Set your covered bowl on top of an electric heating pad or blanket, set on medium-low.
  4. Whip up a batch of whipped cream by shaking it in a mason jar with a lid. A vigorous shake for about three minutes does the trick!
  5. Most baking recipes call for room-temperature eggs. If you forgot to take the eggs out hours in advance, simply place them in a bowl of warm tap water for about 10 minutes.
  6. Ran out of brown sugar? Make your own by mixing granulated sugar with molasses.
  7. Tired of splatters from your hand mixer? Use a paper plate as a barrier. Simply poke the beaters through the plate and insert them into the mixer to create an effective, disposable shield.
  8. Keep your favorite go-to recipes handy by printing them out and posting them inside a kitchen cupboard door for easy reference.
  9. Before popping cakes into the oven, hold the pan a few inches over the counter top and drop the pan. This will pop any air bubbles for a more dense, moist cake.
  10. Use dental floss to cut smooth, even layers of cake. Wrap a long strand around, cross in the front and pull slowly for a clean cut every time.
  11. Substitute Jell-O for food coloring in frostings. You get color, flavor and structure from the gelatin!
  12. Keep a couple of marshmallows in your brown sugar to keep it from going hard.
  13. Dip cookie cutters into flour before the dough for a no-stick, clean cut over and over.
  14. Get your cupcakes uniform size by using a cookie dough scoop sprayed with nonstick spray.
  15. Create your own colored sprinkles with sugar and food coloring (and this easy tutorial).

Tricks for Making Boxed Cake Mixes Better

Everybody knows that there’s nothing quite like a made-from-scratch cake, but in a pinch, a boxed cake mix can place a very close second with some secret tips and tricks from the experts. Try them on your next cake and see if you can pass it off for the real thing!

  • Substitute melted butter for oil. This will give your cake the deep rich flavor that only butter can supply. In a saucepan on low heat, melt the butter until just liquified, then add it to your mix just like you would vegetable oil.
  • Add extra yolks. After you add the eggs the box recipe calls for, add one or two more yolks to give the cake even more moisture and richness.
  • Sprinkle sugar over the top before baking. The weight of the sugar will keep your cake from baking with a mound in the middle. A nice, even sprinkle right before it goes into the oven will keep it more level.
  • Add a teaspoon of coffee to chocolate cakes. A little bit of straight black coffee or espresso will bring the chocolate flavors to life. You won’t taste coffee, just rich chocolate.
  • Add hot water to chocolate cakes. Instead of using water right from the tap, use hot water to help “wake up” the cocoa in the mix.
  • Add pudding mix and sour cream. One small package of instant pudding mix (choose the flavor depending on your cake) plus one cup of sour cream creates a dense, moist delectable cake.
  • Add citrus zest. A bit of fresh zest from a lemon, orange, or lime gives a perfect, subtle zing to cakes, especially ones that have berries and chocolate.
  • Add vanilla. An extra teaspoon of vanilla is a great way to bring boxed cake flavors to life. (Keep in mind that white cake mixes may be slightly off white with vanilla added.)
  • Add meringue powder. A tablespoon of this powder will give flimsy cakes some strength while still remaining delicate. Perfect for layered cakes and angel food.

{Image source.}

25 Ways to Say I Love You

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 4.21.33 PM

Looking for a creative way to show your valentine some love? Here are 25 ways to get started.

  1. Wash and vacuum his car
  2. Spell out his name in candy
  3. Write a love note on the mirror in red dry-erase marker
  4. Dedicate a song on the radio
  5. Make a playlist of meaningful songs
  6. Read his favorite book out loud to him
  7. Write him a love poem
  8. Write him a love letter
  9. Book a surprise getaway
  10. Make a picture book of favorite moments together
  11. Make his favorite meal and eat by candlelight
  12. Surprise him at work with a picnic lunch
  13. Stock the fridge with his favorite snacks and drinks
  14. Name a star after him
  15. Shine his shoes
  16. Book a couples massage
  17. Sign up for a dance class together
  18. Find forgotten photographs and frame them
  19. Give him a list of 100 things you love about him
  20. Surprise him with tickets to see his favorite team
  21. Leave love notes tucked into his shoes
  22. Recreate your first date
  23. Make reservations at his favorite restaurant
  24. Give him a one-minute kiss
  25. Surprise him with a delivery of fresh treats

Blog readers enjoy a special Valentine’s Day discount by using code SECRET20 to get 20% off purchases through 2/10/15.

Tips for Freezing Cookie Dough

If freezing cold temps don’t really work for you, we’ve got some great ideas to make them really work for you. For the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite freezer-friendly tips and recipes to get the most out of your freezer. Today, we begin with cookies, which are a perfectly suited for your freezer. You can put frozen cookie dough right into your preheated oven and have freshly baked cookies in a matter of minutes. But how you freeze and store the dough matters, so follow our tried-and-true tips.

image1

After making your favorite cookie dough (we recommend our Blue Ribbon Chocolate Chip recipe), allow dough to sit for a few minutes while you prepare a 9×13 casserole dish with a Silpat liner or a piece of parchment paper lining the bottom. Half of the liner should be hanging over the edge. Form dough into puck-like discs, about an inch thick with a flat top and line them along the bottom of the dish, leaving a little room around the edges.

image2

Once the bottom half has been filled, fold the liner back over the first layer of cookie dough and fill in another layer on top. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least one hour to get them hard. (You could leave this in the freezer for longer, but the dough won’t last as long or stay as fresh with so much air surrounding it. Not to mention that a 9×13 dish takes up a lot of space!)

image3

Using two strips of plastic wrap per six dough discs, create a “tube” of cookie dough by using the first strip to weave accordion-style between each disc so that they won’t stick together. Wrap excess around the sides, then wrap the stack inside the second strip of plastic wrap to create a tube. When it’s time to bake, simply preheat your oven, unwrap a tube of dough, arrange them on a lined baking sheet, and bake until golden brown.

Frozen cookie dough will stay fresh in your freezer up to three months, so next time you’re making a batch of cookies, but don’t want to bake them all, pop some in the freezer as a gift to your future self. (Your future self sends thanks!)

 

The Best Frosting Recipes for Cakes and Cookies

Mrs. Fields Frosted Cookies

Everybody knows that the frosting can make or break your favorite cakes and cookies. Get it wrong and hours of work is lost. Get it right and people are lifting you on their shoulders and naming streets in your honor. (Or so we hear.) Make your frosting always hit the mark by using our handy guide for finding the best match for your cakes and cookies.

For Cakes

Old-Fashioned Vanilla Frosting – This light, fluffy frosting can be colored (or left a soft off-white). You can also substitute the vanilla with almond flavoring.
Use it on: chocolate cake, red velvet cake, cupcakes

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting – This silky frosting has great texture and deep flavor, perfect for piping or spreading. Use real cream for best results and keep it refrigerated.
Use it on: chocolate cake, yellow cakes, berry cakes, cupcakes

Quick Chocolate Frosting – This lighter-than-air quick frosting takes only a few ingredients and a few minutes to prepare. It’s a great recipe to keep on hand.
Use it on: chocolate cakes, yellow cakes, cupcakes

Cream Cheese Frosting – The perfect balance of flavor and texture, this frosting is not too sweet, not too tangy, and has a sturdy texture perfect for piping and frosting.
Use it on: carrot cake, red velvet cake, spice cake, cupcakes

Chocolate Ganache – For serious chocolate lovers, it doesn’t get better than ganache. This recipe is decadent and perfect for glazing your favorite cake.
Use it on: chocolate cakes, cupcakes, and even brownies

For Cookies

Royal Icing – This shiny, highly versatile frosting is the favorite of sugar cookie decorators. This recipe is solid, simple (and there’s a video tutorial to help).
Use it on: cut-out sugar cookies

Chocolate Royal Icing – The chocolate alternative that, in our opinion, is severely underused. Yum.
Use it on: cut out sugar cookies

Buttercream Frosting – Fluffy, spreadable, color-able and loves sprinkles. Perfect for spreading or piping.
Use it on: drop sugar cookies

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting – Sometimes cream cheese frosting can overpower a cookie, but a little cinnamon balances everything out.
Use it on: pumpkin cookies, spice cookies, gingerbread cookies

Do you have a favorite go-to frosting? Tell us about it!

5 Easy Homemade Dog Treats

Mrs. Fields Secrets Doggie Treats
If you’ve got a four-legged friend in the house, we’ve got just the way to make their day! Homemade dog treats are a fun, healthy, affordable way to shower love on man’s best friend. There are many advantages to making your own dog treats, including customizing the portion size and incorporating your dog’s favorite flavors. We’ve gathered five fun, easy recipes (including a no-bake option) to help you get started. Try them out, customize them and make them your own. Your dog will love you (even more) for it! Follow links for the original recipes.

1. Peanut Butter Doggy Pretzels
2. Bacon Flavored Dog Treats
3. No-Bake Dog Treats
4. Peanut Butter Paw Print Biscuits
5. Healthy Morning Poochidatis

Tips for Keeping Your Cookies Fresh

There’s nothing quite like a batch of cookies fresh from the oven, so soft, chewy and moist. But how do you keep that first-day freshness until the last cookie? We’ve got some brilliant tips to help you do just that!

  • Always allow cookies to cool completely before storing. Placing still-warm cookies in a container will cause them to get soggy from steam.
  • The more butter, the longer the cookie will stay fresh. The natural fats from butter help retain moisture and softness. If you need a recipe you can make ahead of time, our blue-ribbon chocolate chip is ideal.
  • Air-tight containers are key for freshness, but pay attention to size. Use the smallest container you can, which will ensure the least amount of air inside.
  • Never store cookies in the refrigerator, which dries them out. For long-term storage, opt for the freezer in a freezer-safe, air-tight container. Frozen cookies can stay fresh up to three months.
  • Place a slice of sandwich bread inside the cookie jar or container. The cookies will absorb the moisture from the bread to remain moist. Replace the bread every 1-2 days.
  • Wrapping each individual cookie in plastic wrap is a great way to keep air out and moisture locked in. Plus, cookies are ready to go at any time into a lunch bag, purse or pocket.
  • When using a container, separate layers of cookies with pieces of wax or parchment paper. They will retain better shape and more even moisture.
  • Never combine soft and crispy cookies in the same container.
  • Buttery cookies like shortbreads and sugar cookies will stay fresher longer with liners. Use cupcake liners around each cookie in a container for best results.
  • Unless freezing for long-term storage, room temperature is best for cookies.
  • Cookie jars are cute, but make sure they have an airtight seal around the rim for best results.
  • To give a cookie a fresh-from-the-oven taste, wrap it in a barely wet paper towel and microwave it for 5 second increments until warm and soft.

Do you have a favorite trick for keeping cookies fresh? Share it with us!

Make Your Own Cookie Butter

Homemade Cookie Butter via A Beautiful Mess

What’s better than cookies and butter? How about cookie butter? And what’s better than cookie butter? How about homemade cookie butter. That’s right, this decadent treat is super simple to make with your favorite cookies and a few simple ingredients. It also makes an absolutely thoughtful gift. We discovered this helpful tutorial on A Beautiful Mess and give it a standing ovation. Here’s what you need to know:

Cookie Butter
adapted from A Beautiful Mess

2 cups cookie crumbs
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup evaporated milk
water as needed

Directions
Prepare cookie crumbs by pulsing cookies in a food processor. (If using sandwich cookies with a cream filling, remove the cream filling first.) Keep pulsing until you have two cups of fine powder. Transfer crumbs to a mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the butter over low heat until melted, and then stir in the sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk and continue stirring until completely combined. Pour 1/2 cup of the liquid into the cookie crumbs and mix together with a spoon. Keep adding small amounts of the liquid until the cookie butter is just wet enough to stay together. Depending on how dry the cookie is to begin with, you’ll need more or less liquid. Buttery cookies (like the sugar cookies) won’t require nearly as much as the drier cookies.

Once the cookie butter is blended, allow it to cool in the fridge for 1-2 hours. Remove from fridge and stir very small amounts of water (start with 1/8 teaspoon) into the mixture. Continue blending and stirring until you reach a smooth, butter-like consistency, adding butter as necessary. Once desired consistency is reached, cover butter and transfer to the refrigerator. It will keep up to two weeks!

Great Tips for Your Holiday Leftovers

The holidays are officially over, but you’ve still got a fridge and pantry full of decadent food and treats. We’ve gathered up some great ideas to put all that food to good use.

Meats and Cheeses
Reinvent your leftover ham, turkey or roast and bits of cheese in a delicious frittata served for breakfast or brunch. Add in fresh veggies, eggs, even pasta or rice, and the flavors come together in a delicious new way.

Fruit
A fruit basket makes a great gift, but it can be overwhelming to eat it all before it goes bad. We recommend transforming it into a fresh fruit pizza or a pitcher of delicious winter sangria.

Cakes
If you’ve got cakes that are starting to get dry, transform them into delicious cake pops. The bite-sized treats are perfectly portioned for your New Year’s goals.

Cookies
If you’ve got an overload of cookies, place a scoop of ice cream between two of them and transform them into a fresh stock of ice cream sandwiches in your freezer.

Breads, Rolls and Crackers
Stale bread makes delicious homemade croutons. Stale rolls and crackers can be turned into bread crumbs in your food processor. Pulse them and then place the crumbs in a freezer-safe bag and store them in the freezer until needed.

Unopened Perishables
Most food banks and shelters get a lot of support during the holidays, but very little afterward. Box up your unopened perishables and deliver them to those in need. Better yet, invite your neighbors to do the same.

Do you have a favorite idea for holiday leftovers? Let us know!

{Image source.}

6 Christmas Morning Casseroles

Mrs. Fields Secrets Breakfast Casseroles

After working up an appetite from an unwrapping frenzy, you’ll need some sustenance on Christmas morning. We’ve gathered six mouth-watering make-ahead casseroles that will feel like a gift themselves: three savory recipes and three sweet for a decadent, delicious meal. Prepare your favorite the night before, and pop it in the oven Christmas morning. Breakfast practically takes care of itself!

1. California Breakfast Casserole
2. Eggs Benedict Casserole
3. Breakfast Enchiladas
4. Baked Oatmeal Casserole
5. Blushing Blueberry Croissant Casserole
6. Cinnamon Roll French Toast

Follow the links to the recipes.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...