The holidays can be an incredibly enjoyable time of the year, but they can also be a stressful time for many of us. Entertaining family and friends, baking holiday goodies and even wrapping up gifts take time and organization, and when you have to budget time (and finances), it is helpful to have a few handy how-tos to guide you through the season. These are five of my must-read Holiday Baking How-Tos to get you through the season stress-free and with plenty of goodies to share with friends and family:
- Nothing makes a better present than a box of homemade goodies, so knowing How to Pack and Ship Holiday Baked Goods is key this season. Homemade gifts are always well received and are budget-friendly, too! Wrap things well, use express or priority mail and choose goodies that keep well for several days, rather than ultra-fragile treats. Sturdy cookies like gingerbread and butter cookies are better choices than cakes and cupcakes.
- How Do You Use Paper Baking Molds and How to Bake in a Specialty Pan can also come in handy over the holidays. Paper molds, available at most baking supply stores and specialty food stores, are perfect for baking your edible treats in before shipping. And a loaf of gingerbread or other seasonal treat in a seasonal shape is an extra-nice addition to a dessert tray (and lets you use that fun pan you got as a present last year!).
Creepy, crawly, spooky and sweet all make an appearance at Halloween. It is the time of year to be indulgent and even a little bit over the top, as we break out unusual food colors to infuse black and orange into treats and try to think of new ways to use up tons of leftover snack sized candy bars besides patiently munching through the bag. You could throw wet noodles and peeled grapes into a bowl and let guests be grossed out by touching them in the dark, but it’s more fun to bake something tasty that ties in with Halloween, so I put together a list of a few ideas that will help you get any Halloween celebration off the ground – no wet noodles required.
- Break out the sprinkles! The easiest way to decorate is to stop by a local craft store, or even the baking aisle at your local market, and look for black, orange, purple and green sprinkles that will add a lot of flare to a treat like cupcakes or cookies. There are often seasonal sprinkles, shaped like bats or bones, that add an even more festive touch.
- Bake a pumpkin shaped cake. You can buy a realistic pumpkin pan, or divide a cake batter into a pair of oven-safe round mixing bowls, then simply stack the twin cakes to make a great pumpkin shaped base. Pumpkin cake is a good choice, but any flavor of cake will do the trick. Cover the cake with orange frosting and use a little chocolate (or some chocolate candies) to create a jack o’ lantern face.