Category Archives: Ingredients

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 »

How to choose fruit for grilling

Grilled fruits, pineapple and peaches

Cooking outside when the weather is nice is very appealing, and it’s nice to be able to make dessert while you’re outside – and without heating up the house to bake – so one of the best summertime desserts out there is grilled fruit. Grilling can make fruit sweeter, as it caramelizes the natural sugars in the fruit, and can make them seem even juicier ... Read More »

What is arrowroot?

Arrowroot starch

Arrowroot, or arrowroot starch, is a powdery product made from the arrowroot plant, a starchy tropical root. The plant is dried and ground up to make the powder, which is primarily used as a thickener in the kitchen, much like cornstarch. Much like cornstarch, it is an excellent thickening agent. It has about twice the thickening power of regular flour. Unlike cornstarch, however, arrowroot is ... Read More »

What is buttermilk?

I often get asked questions about what buttermilk is and how to substitute for it because people don’t keep it “on hand.” The best answer to this is to say that buttermilk is a wonderful dairy product that makes for some delicious baked goods, and it should always be kept on hand if you like to bake more than just the occasional batch of chocolate ... Read More »

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