Category Archives: Ingredients

What is masa harina?

masa harina

When a recipe calls for cornmeal, it is usually referring to a slightly coarse and sandy flour made from ground, dried corn. It’s perfect for cornbread (for instance) and is widely used in other types of cooking, but in Mexico, Central and South America, this coarse type of cornmeal is not popular and a different type is used: masa harina. Masa harina is a very ... Read More »

What is fondant?

The term “fondant” can refer to a couple of different things. In many British cookbooks, for instance, a soft-centered chocolate cake is called “chocolate fondant.” The term primarily refers to a cooked mixture of sugar, water and cream of tartar that can be used either as a candy filling or as a frosting for a cake. Fondant is made by boiling sugar and water to ... Read More »

What is cream of tartar?

cream of tartar

Cream of tartar, more technically known as potassium hydrogen tartrate, is a fine white powder with many culinary applications. It is a byproduct of the winemaking process as the powder forms inside wine barrels during fermentation. It comes from tartaric acid, a naturally occurring substance in grapes and some other tart fruits that in the principle acid in winemaking. It helps to help control the ... Read More »

What is wondra flour?

Wondra flour is an ingredient sometimes called for in baking recipes, mostly in some pie crust and tart crust recipes that promise a flaky and tender crust. It is actually a brand name for a type of instant flour and, because the brand is so widespread, the name Wondra tends to be used in recipes. Instant flour is low protein, finely ground flour that has ... Read More »

Browned butter vs. clarified butter

melting butter

Last week I talked about how to make browned butter, butter that is cooked until the milk solids in it become brown and toasty, giving the butter a warm brown color and a wonderfully rich flavor. It is not the same as clarified butter. Clarified butter is also used in a liquid state, but is made in a different way. It starts with regular unsalted ... Read More »

What is browned butter?

melting butter

Browned butter is pretty much what it sounds like: butter that has been cooked until it is brown. The slightly more formal name for this is “beurre noisette,” or hazelnut butter – a double reference to the light brown color of the cooked butter and the lovely nutty flavor that it acquires during the cooking process. If you’ve ever cooked with butter, using it to ... Read More »

What is almond milk?

almond milk, various flavors

Almond milk is not milk, although it does resemble milk in color. The creamy white liquid is made by grinding almonds and water together, then removing the almond solids and leaving only the liquid behind. Since most of the almond solids are removed and the nuts are not pressed to squeeze out all of the oil, almond milk is low in both fat and calories. ... Read More »

What is spelt flour?

spelt flour

Spelt flour is one of the most popular whole grain, non-wheat flours available. It shows up in pastas, breads and in a variety of specifically wheat-free recipes. But what exactly is spelt flour? Spelt is a cereal grain in the wheat family, but it is not the same thing as wheat (same genus, different species). The grain has been cultivated for centuries, in both central ... Read More »

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