Category Archives: Ingredients

What is chocolate bark?

From the name alone, chocolate bark doesn’t sound particularly appetizing. Chocolate bark is actually a sheet of chocolate that is usually covered with nuts, dried fruits, candies or even additional pieces of chocolate. Its is rustic looking in the sense that it is just thrown together, not laid out with a specific pattern to how the ingredients are placed, and it is broken into shards ... Read More »

How to roast a squash

Roasted Butternut Squash

Pumpkins and other firm winter squash can seem a bit daunting the first time you set out to cook one at home. This is largely because they’re a bit foreign looking when compared to other fruits and veggies, with an intimidating outer peel. Fortunately, they can actually be very easy to cook and once you’ve done it once, you’ll find yourself doing it again to ... Read More »

What is custard powder?

Custard Powder

It’s not an ingredient that you’ll see called for too often in American cookbooks, but you’re sure to see custard powder mentioned in cookbooks published in the UK or Australia, or even in the pages of foodie magazines imported from either country. I used some recently in my recipe for Vanilla Slices. Custard powder is not dried, powdered custard. It is actually a powdered mix ... Read More »

CI taste tests ground cinnamon

CI taste tests ground cinnamon

At one time, you could search for cinnamon on the spice aisle at the grocery store and see just a plainly market bottle staring back at you. No country of origin listed, no special variety mentioned. In most stores these days, the selection looks quite a bit different, with various brands and types of cinnamon to choose from.  Is there a difference between the brand ... Read More »

What is mascarpone?

Mascarpone cheese

Mascarpone cheese is a rich, creamy cow’s milk cheese that is somewhere between butter and cream cheese in terms of both texture and flavor. It is smoother than cream cheese, but thicker and much less “melty” than butter. It has a very delicate, subtle flavor, more like butter than cream cheese. The cheese originally comes from Italy and is popular in many Italian dishes, including ... Read More »

What is dulce de leche?

Spoonful of dulce de leche

Dulce de leche is a thick, milk-based caramel sauce. It is probably most popular in South American Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries, but variations exist in other countries and cultures as well. The most simple caramel sauce starts with sugar, and depending on the variation you have in mind, ingredients like cream and butter are added to the hot sugar to form caramel. With dulce de ... Read More »

What is cocoa butter?

Cocoa butter

In the simplest terms, cocoa butter is the fat in chocolate that makes it melt in your mouth and in your hand. It is a plant fat from the cocoa bean that has a melting point that is just around body temperature (somewhere around 95F, give or take a few degrees, actually), meaning that it is a solid at any temperature below that point and ... Read More »

What is shortening?

Crisco shortening

Shortening is a type of solid fat that is made from vegetable oils, such as soybean and cottonseed oil. Shortening seems to get its name from the fact that it shortens gluten strands in wheat by adding fat. Since it is 100%, as opposed to the 80% fat content of butter or lard, it results in a very tender baked good. It is frequently seen ... Read More »

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