Category Archives: How-To’s and Tips

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 »

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 »

How to make graham cracker crumbs

How to make graham cracker crumbs

A graham cracker crust is one of the easiest crust options for making a pie. There is no rolling out dough, nor do you even have to cut butter into flour! If you buy the crust, it’s even easier. Storebought graham cracker crusts are reliable and usually taste pretty good; I always have one on hand for easy pie baking (they’re great for key lime). ... Read More »

Food coloring gel vs non-gel

Food coloring bowls

Most supermarkets carry one basic type of food coloring, a water-based liquid that comes in red, blue, green and yellow. This type of food coloring works pretty well for most purposes. You can dye Easter eggs with it, get creative with cake batter colors and even add it to drinks to make things like plain milk a little more “interesting” (which I did as a ... Read More »

How to clean a microplane

Cleaning a microplane

Microplanes are great tools to have around the kitchen because they really simplify a number of different tasks. They are ideal for zesting citrus fruits, make it easy to grate whole spices like nutmeg and cinnamon, and are great for doing a quick shred of hard cheeses, like parmesan. If you really want to get your money’s worth out, you can even use them to ... Read More »

Natural peanut butter vs Regular peanut butter in baking

Natural peanut butter

Your most basic peanut butter contains just peanuts and some oil to help the peanuts blend together into a smooth paste. There are two distinct types of peanut butter: “regular”  and “natural”. “Regular” is the term I’ll use to define your standard peanut butter and jelly sandwich peanut butter, and a category that includes most easy to find national brands. It’s creamy and thick, even ... Read More »

What is a microplane?

Microplane

Adding zest from fresh citrus is one of the easiest and best ways to brighten up the flavor of a dish, or to infuse an extra burst into some baked goods. For years, however, getting the zest – the brightly colored outer part of the rind – from citrus was a tricky business. Your options were to either peel the fruit as best you could ... Read More »

How to make Lemon Sugar

Homemade lemon sugar, in progress

Homemade vanilla sugar is one ingredient that I always like to keep in the kitchen. Specked with vanilla beans, the sugar can be used in place of regular sugar in most recipes and can really boost the flavor in a cake or a batch of cookies. It’s easy to make, but it’s not the only flavored sugar option out there. Another type of sugar I ... Read More »

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