The holiday season is upon us and if there is one specific thing that sticks out in my mind, it is baking. Baking Christmas cookies is a tradition most of us partake in because somehow, it just instantly puts us into the Christmas spirit. Baking your favorite cookies and holiday treats will be a whole lot easier if you have these baking essentials stocked in your kitchen.
Whatever you may baking this holiday season, you will need these ingredients to help your kitchen smell like Santa’s kitchen. If you’re worried about having a bunch of sweets lying around your house, just do what I do- pack them up and bring them to work for others to enjoy. For me, it’s more about the actual baking part and then giving to others who will be so overjoyed by the sweet treats. Of course I eat one myself, too… Only one. 😉
- Vanilla Extract. A MUST-HAVE. These delicious few drops of love enhance all of the other flavors. If you forget to use vanilla extract in your baking, your cakes and cookies will taste flat and bland. Salt is to savory food what vanilla extract is to baked goods.
- Vanilla beans. A little pricey, but one vanilla bean pod equals 3 teaspoons of extract. I recommend scraping the inside of a vanilla bean pod when making something where you will be able to see the black seeds. Vanilla bean-infused ice cream, yogurt, or milk are great options.
- Cocoa powder. There are two kinds of cocoa powder: dutch process cocoa and natural cocoa. The dutch process cocoa is smoother and less acidic whereas natural cocoa has more of a reddish hue and is sharper in flavor. Cocoa powder really brings out the chocolate-y flavor in cakes and brownies.
- Cinnamon. This is one of my favorite spices because it’s so warming and heavenly. There really is nothing like a cinnamon-smelling home.
- Butter! Last but certainly not least, butter is an essential part to any baking recipe. Butter provides moisture, flavor, body, and texture. Many recipes call for a “creaming” or “fluffing” method to incorporate air into the butter. There really is no equal substitution for butter.