Posts

Tips for Better Baking: Keep an Ice Bath Nearby when Making Caramel (#39)

Tips for Better Baking: When making caramel, always have an ice bath nearby.

The biggest challenge when making caramel is knowing the fine line between the desired deep amber color and a bitter burnt mess. When I teach my caramel classes, I always tell students this trick:

Tip for Better Baking: When making caramel, keep an ice bath nearby. If your caramel is about to burn, simply dip the bottom of your pan into the ice bath to quickly stop the cooking. 

To make an ice bath, find a bowl or container that’s bigger than your caramel making pot and fill it up half way with ice and water. If the caramel looks like it’s about to burn, take the pot off the heat and dip the bottom into the ice bath to quickly cool it down.

Once you get experienced with making caramel, this step isn’t always necessary. You start to learn the personality of caramel and are able to judge when it’s at the desired deep amber color. However, an ice bath provides a nice safety blanket to use when you aren’t yet comfortable with the caramel making process.

Here’s another tip for making caramel sauce: Tips for Better Baking #30

Tips for Better Baking: Always Sift Cocoa Powder (#38)

Tips for Better Baking: always sift cocoa powder before using it in a recipe.

Cocoa powder is notoriously clumpy. If you add it straight to a recipe, it can be nearly impossible to break up the clumps and you’ll end up with dry spots in your finished product. In order to avoid this frustration, I always sift cocoa powder (at least once, sometimes twice!) before using it in a recipe. I find it’s easiest to sift onto a piece of parchment paper but into a bowl works well too.

Tip for Better Baking: Always sift cocoa powder. Measure the required amount, pass it through a fine mesh strainer onto a sheet of parchment, and then use it in the recipe as called for. 

If you have an old-fashioned flour sifter you can use that but I prefer to use a fine mesh strainer.

 

Tips for Better Baking: Rescuing Over-Whipped Cream (#37)

Tips for Better Baking - How to Rescue Over-Whipped Cream

I’ve made this mistake many times. I’m making whipped cream on a stand mixer and all is going well. The cream is still loose and far from the stiff peaks I desire so I step away and start something else. Of course, I get distracted and when I go back to my whipped cream, it’s over-whipped and has nearly turned into butter. Frustrated, I throw it all away and start over.

When making whipped cream with a mixer, the mixture can go from beautiful, fluffy peaks to an over-whipped grainy, curdled mess in a matter of seconds. But, after making this mistake a few times, I’ve learned that you can usually salvage it instead of having to toss it and start over.

Tip for Better Baking: To rescue over-whipped cream, add a tablespoon or two of liquid heavy cream to the mixture and lightly fold or whisk it in. Continue to add a tablespoon of cream at a time until the whipped cream is back to the desired consistency. 

Check out Tips for Better Baking #3 for my favorite way to keep the whipped cream in your mixing bowl and not all over the kitchen!

Check out Tips for Better Baking #29 for a trick to make the very best whipped cream!