We recently shared some Holiday Hints & Hacks, little tips and tricks to get you through your holiday baking with your sanity intact. Now we’ve compiled some better baking basics to help you fine tune! (Thanks to Wyoming News and Burlington Free Press!)

Butter Basics

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“Softened butter” in a recipe means just that… softened. Ideally, it should be barely workable. Don’t make the mistake of letting it melt on the counter. Or the worse mistake of forgetting to take it out of the fridge, and then over-softening it to drippy mush because you tried to cheat with the microwave! (You know what we’re talking about.)

If you’re swapping butter for margarine, make sure you get the real thing. Only brands specifically marked “margarine” (no spreads, etc) contain enough vegetable oil to be suitable for baking.

Out With The Old!

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Throw away last year’s spices and replace them. Cinnamon, cloves… all of it. Replace them with fresh, in small containers that you won’t have left to throw away next year. Same with your leavening agents. Get rid of old baking soda, baking powder and yeast in favor of fresh, to be sure you get the proper rise.

Check Your Chips

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Not all chips are created equal. We’re not even talking about brands. Different chips come in different packaging. For example, semi-sweet chips generally come 12 oz to a bag, while dark chocolate is only 10 oz. And what about butterscotch, peanut butter, caramel…? Buy a spare, and actually measure out the chips.

You may be tempted to add extra… fight the urge. There is such a thing as too much (a limit you don’t want to discover as you hold the end of a broken cookie and too many warm, gooey chips are oozing out of the other piece into your carpet)! You can probably increase your chips safely by up to 1/4 cup.

Parchment Paper

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Parchment paper is your friend! You can cut it to any shape, it’s truly non-stick (Unlike that lying pan you bought. We know. We bought one, too.), and the best part… it’s reusable!