Tips for baking success

<p>Enjoying the warmth of the kitchen and the aromas of holiday cooking are some of the most cherished holiday moments of the season.</p>

 

A recipe test run is a surefire way to get it right


 

 

Keep soft holiday cookies and desserts chewy by storing them in an airtight container with a slice of bread or apple, which will help moisten the cookies.

 




Enjoying the warmth of the kitchen and the aromas of holiday cooking are some of the most cherished holiday moments of the season. Before receiving guests and family at your holiday dinner table, pull out your recipe books and add the following holiday baking tips and an easy chocolate truffle recipe to your repertoire. You’ll wow your guests and make your holiday cooking and baking that much easier.





Here are the top holiday tips for baking and cooking success:




  1. Test Run – If you’re trying a new recipe, be sure to make it once beforehand, before making large quantities for guests and family. This way you’ll have enough time to make adjustments as needed.



  2. Chocolate 101 – If you’re working with chocolate this holiday season, remember that chocolate tends to absorb other food flavours, so store it away from strong-smelling foods, such as onions or cheese. When melting chocolate, use indirect heat to avoid burning it.

    One of the best methods to melt chocolate is to break it up into small pieces and place in a stainless steel bowl on top of a simmering saucepan of water, and stir constantly.



  3. Fresh is Best – For great flavour, use the freshest ingredients available. If using dried spices remember that spices lose their potency and freshness within six months to a year from the date they are first opened, so check your spice rack and see if you need to re-stock.



  4. Maximize Flavour – To further maximize their sweet flavour, serve desserts (including baked goods, cooked fruit desserts, puddings, custards and flans) at room temperature rather than chilled. Even frozen desserts will taste sweeter if served slightly softened.



  5. Crisp and Chewy – To keep soft holiday cookies and desserts chewy, store them in an airtight container with a slice of bread or apple, which will help moisten the cookies. To keep cookies crisp, store them in a can.
















Festive Cheesecake Bites


Wow your guests with this unique take on a traditional favourite. Topped with Mars Dark chocolate bars, these festive cheesecake bites offer a distinct grown-up taste.




INGREDIENTS:




  • 3 Mars Dark chocolate bars (50 g size)



  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) chocolate wafer cookie crumbs



  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) melted butter



  • 8 oz (250 g) brick-style cream cheese, softened



  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) granulated sugar



  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) milk



  • 2 eggs



  • Whipped cream (for garnish)






METHOD



STEP 1: Chill the Mars Dark bars for at least 20 minutes. Slice each bar into 16 slices; reserve in the refrigerator until ready to use.



STEP 2: Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 24-cup mini muffin pan with paper liners. Toss the crumbs with the butter; divide evenly among the cups. Press lightly into the bottom of the cups to make a crust. Bake for 5 minutes; cool slightly. Divide 24 of the bar slices among the crusts; reserve.



STEP 3: Beat the cream cheese with the sugar and milk until very smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until just combined. Spoon an equal portion of the cheese mixture evenly over the crust to fill each cup. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until set.



STEP 4: Cool to room temperature; chill until ready to serve or for up to 3 days. Just before serving, garnish each cheesecake bite with a dollop of whipped cream and a reserved slice of Mars Dark bar.



 
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