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Problem solving pointers for baking cookies and bars

The following are some pointers and ideas for solving the most common problems when baking cookies and bars. These pointers are mostly for the novice baker but serve as good reminders for all of us.

Cookies spread too much:

1 Always place cookies on a cool baking sheet

2 Replace part of the butter in the recipe with shortening

3 If using margarine, check label and make sure it contains 80% vegetable oil

Cookies don’t spread enough

1 Use all butter instead of shortening or margarine

2 Add 1 to 2 tbl of liquid such as milk or water

3 Let dough stand at room temperature before baking

Cookies are tough

1 The dough was overhandled or overmixed, use a…

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Tips for baking and keeping the perfect cookies

Refrigerate bar cookies briefly after cooling to make the slicing easier.

Cookies can be frozen up to 6 months in the freezer if wrapped in aluminum foil or in a zipper lock plastic bag

To prevent cookies from darkening too much on the bottom, use shiny aluminum cookie sheets. Or double the pans, stacking the pan with the cookies on it on top of another cookies sheet. this slows down the process and results in more even baking. If you must use a dark baking sheet, reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees

You really don’t need to grease the cookie sheet if following a recipe that’s high in butter. But if you feel it will prevent the cookies from…

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Toasting nuts

Why toast nuts? It brings out full, total flavor. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to do and what a difference it makes in the taste.

Basic instructions are: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread them out in one layer on a baking pan. Stir once or twice with a metal spatula or a long wooden spoon while toasting. Remember that chopped nuts will take less time than whole nuts and halves. And pay attention to the nuts while they’re toasting, don’t leave the kitchen!! Nuts will continue to cook and darken after they are removed from the oven, so watch them and remove just as you start to smell them in the air.

Here are some general…

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Tips for a successful bake sale

I’ve had a fair amount of success selling my wares at a local craft show. So the first thing I think you should know is….be a good cook! Use time tested recipes that you are comfortable with, this is not the time to try something brand new. And the 2nd thing you should know is your customer. What area do you live in, upscale, down home, country? What kinds of local flavors are popular in your area? Do a little research and learn who your customer is.

Now for some hints and tips from Jill Gosden Pollock. She’s a homemaker and mother of 2 who has chaired some very impressive bake sales at the St Chrysostom’s Day School in…

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Making chocolate curls

When you want to make your cakes or cheesecakes look super fancy and professional, here’s the way to do it.

Begin with an 8-ounce block of either semisweet or white chocolate purchased from a specialty shop or your local bakery. Most supermarkets don’t stock these large blocks, and you need this size to create the ribbon like curls.

Place the chocolate clock on a plate in a warm spot, by a sunny window, on top of the stove toward the back (not on a burner), on top of the refrigerator, for about an hour, just to lightly soften it.

Drag a sharp vegetable peeler down one side of the chocolate in one motion from top to bottom so you create…

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