With the holidays just around the corner, many of us are busy baking up some festive treats. I know I've been busy and have enjoyed the help of my daughter Kaelyn. As she gets older she enjoys helping me in the kitchen more and more. It's been such a fun time coming up with kid friendly treats we can make together. What wonderful memories to cherish and remember always!
In celebration of the upcoming holidays, Chris Garboski, Nestle's Culinary Center Manager and mother of triplets agreed to offer some tips and tricks to making this season the tastiest one yet. You may remember me asking what some of your holiday baking questions were a while back, and I'm happy to let you know that Chris was very kind to answer many of them.
Holiday Baking Questions:
Q. What is the recipe for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie?
A. There are a lot of great recipes out there! I always enjoy reading how others make their version of THE ultimate chocolate chip cookie. For me, perfection is still the Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie. Having said that, I have modified it ever so slightly to my liking. Here is the link to the Original recipe. http://www.verybestbaking.com/recipes/18476/Original-NESTLÉ-TOLL-HOUSE-Chocolate-Chip-Cookies/detail.aspx. Here are my modifications:
1. I use unsalted butter and less of it. When I add nuts to my cookies, I use ¾ cup of butter. If I don’t add the nuts, I cut it back to ½ cup butter.
2. Toast the nuts (like walnuts or pecans) prior to adding to the dough - this really brings out the flavor! Make sure they are completely cool before adding to the dough.
3. Use a small cookie or ice cream scoop (tablespoon size) so that all the cookies are uniform in size. I like to set aside ¼ cup of the morsels and strategically place them over the scooped dough (I lightly press 3 or so morsels into the top of each dough scoop). When baked, the cookies look beautiful!
4. Since I am using a little less butter, the cookies do bake a little faster. I usually pull them out after 8-9 minutes.
We are about to add info to our www.VeryBestBaking.com site on how to make the best cookie using our Original recipe as the base, but offering suggestions on how to customize to your liking (think soft and chewy, thin and crispy, and cake-like). If you have interest in this, I would be happy to forward.
Q. How to avoid cookies with dark/burnt bottoms?
A. Dark baking sheets are typically the culprit to dark cookie bottoms (this is assuming the oven heats evenly). Sometimes baking cookies on the bottom oven rack will contribute to darker bottoms too. Stick to heavy-duty aluminum baking sheets that aren’t too dark in color and have a maximum of two sides. I love Chicago Metallic baking sheets! I have never had a burnt cookie with these baking sheets.
Q. What is the best way to melt chocolate?
A. Here is a video our Baking Kitchens shot that may be helpful. http://www.youtube.com/user/VeryBestBaker#p/u/14/aDhQyZ8p2X4. We do list melting directions on all of our chocolate packaging. My preferred method is the microwave because it is so fast! Below you will find more detailed info on different methods of melting chocolate. All are great, it just depends on what you are most comfortable with.
NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels, Chocolate Chunks, and Mini Morsels
Microwave 1 cup (6 oz) of morsels in a small microwave-safe bowl on high (100% power) for 1 minute; stir. Microwave at additional 10- to 20-second intervals, stirring until smooth. To melt 2 cups of morsels, microwave a few seconds longer.
Melt 1-2 cups of morsels over lowest possible heat. When they begin to melt, remove from heat, stir. Return to heat for a few seconds at a time, stirring until smooth. [Note: Not recommended for Butterscotch Morsels, Milk Chocolate Morsels, Mint-Chocolate Morsels and Premier White Morsels.]
Heat in the top of an uncovered double boiler over hot (not boiling) water. When most of the morsels are shiny, stir until smooth.
NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Milk Chocolate Morsels, Premier White Morsels, Butterscotch Morsels and Dark Chocolate & Mint Morsels
The above methods except the saucepan.
Q. How long can baked cookies be in the freezer?
A. Store home-baked cookies in an airtight container for up to one week. They may also be stored in freezer for 3 to 4 months if wrapped in heavy-duty aluminum foil and then placed in heavy-duty freezer bags. To recrisp cookies, bake at 300 F for 5 minutes. Cool on wire rack.
Q. What is the best way to keep dough from sticking to your rolling pin?
A. Chilling the dough helps, as does rolling your dough between wax or parchment paper (this is what I do). He do have a How To video I can share: http://www.verybestbaking.com/Resources/Baking-School/Articles/How-to-Roll-Out-Dough.aspx
Q. What's the best way to store soft cookies so they stay soft?
A. Store in an airtight container with an apple slice on a piece of aluminum foil, or a piece of bread. It really works! Just make sure to remove the apple or bread slice each day and replace with new.
I thought these were great questions and Chris did a wonderful job answering them! I hope you are able to take from these tips and tricks and make this your best holiday baking year yet!
WIN IT: Just in time for the holidays, Nestle is offering a special holiday-inspired gift basket to one lucky reader! (filled with baking must-haves and some of their favorite recipes)
Mandatory Entry - Visit Nestle Toll House and leave a comment letting me know a recipe you'd love to try.
1. 1 extra entries- 'Like' Nestle Toll House on Facebook
2. 3 extra entries- blog about this giveaway (linking to this post and Nestle Toll House) and leave THREE comments with the URL to that post.
3. 1 extra entry- Follow me on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway (You can tweet once a day for one extra entry every day)! You can copy and paste:
WIN a Nestle Toll House Holiday-Inspired Gift Basket #momsbalancingact http://bit.ly/fYNNEA Ends 12/17
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8. Enter any of my other current giveaways running now. Leave me a comment on which one(s)....ONE entry for EACH giveaway you enter!!
***Myself and one lucky reader were provided a gift basket free of charge from Nestle Toll House. All opinions found here are my and may differ from those of others**