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Tasty Tips for Last-minute Bakers

The holiday baking frenzy is in full swing. Get out your measuring cups and a mixing bowl -- with a few helpful tips and these fool-proof recipes, your baking endeavors are sure to be a delicious success.  

Award-winning pastry chef Mindy Segal, owner of HotChocolate restaurant in Chicago, shares her favorite holiday recipe for Gingersnap Cookies. Five different spices, including a pinch of pepper and a generous dose of ginger, give these buttery little cookies a flavorful kick.  

Coffee lovers will enjoy the Whole-Wheat Caramel Lattes. This thumbprint cookie has a rich dough with hints of coffee, a caramel filling and is topped with a chocolate-covered coffee bean.  

Before the baking begins, here are some tips to help deliver tasty results:

* Baking is a science; the more accurate your ingredient measurements, the better your end product.  

* Never use spreads or margarine to replace butter in a recipe. Spreads contain less fat and more water than butter and will not perform the same.

* Keep your cookie dough chilled in between baking batches. Only work with one small piece of dough at a time; keep remaining dough in the refrigerator.

* Prevent cookies from sticking to baking sheets by covering sheets with a layer of parchment paper or greasing the sheet with butter.

* Cookies turn out best when the dough is placed on cool cookie sheets.  

* Store soft cookies in a container with a tight lid, and crisp cookies in a container with a loose lid.

Visit www.ButterIsBest.com for more baking tips and delicious holiday cookie recipes made with real butter. Here are some tasty recipes you may want to try:  

* Gingersnap Cookies (Makes 4 dozen cookies)
by Chef Mindy Segal

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, cream butter and dark brown sugar; add molasses and beat until blended.  Add egg and mix until combined.  

Combine flour, baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon of the cinnamon and ginger, cloves, nutmeg and pepper in a separate bowl; add to butter mixture and mix well.

In a small bowl, combine remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar. Shape dough into 1-inch balls, then roll in cinnamon and sugar mixture. Place dough on parchment-lined cookie sheets.  

Bake 10 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. Store cookies in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to one week.  

* Whole Wheat  Caramel Lattes (Makes 3 dozen cookies)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup café mocha instant coffee crystals
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
18 caramels
1 tablespoon heavy cream
42 chocolate-covered coffee beans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar and instant coffee crystals together until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat until blended. Combine flours in a separate bowl and add to butter mixture; mix well.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls, and place 2 inches apart on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Press thumb into cookie center. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until cookies begin to brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.

In a small saucepan over low heat, heat caramels and cream; stirring frequently. Using a teaspoon, drop melted caramel into each thumbprint, placing a chocolate-covered coffee bean on caramel immediately.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

Editors note: Find more articles about the holidays on MomTalk.com

Categories: Food & Recipes, Newsletter,

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