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There’s something magical about baking during the holidays. In that spirit, we’ve selected our best baking secrets to share with you. Believe your holiday baking will be the best it’s ever been.
1. Toast Nuts Two Ways
Preheat oven to 350ºF and spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake 5 to 7 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Or, toast in the microwave by spreading nuts in a single layer on a microwaveable plate and microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes. Stir nuts, then continue cooking 1 to 2 minutes longer, until nuts are fragrant and toasted to taste.
2. Grease a Pan Here’s a great way to grease a pan with butter or shortening without getting your hands dirty: put your hands inside a small plastic sandwich bag. When you’re done, just turn the bag inside out and throw it away!
3. Line and Lift For easy clean up, mould foil over bottom of pan leaving 3-inches extending over the short sides. Pop pre-formed foil into pan and crunch extended sides of foil to form handles. Use handles to lift baked items out of pan.
4. Finely Chopped Nuts First, stabilize the chopping board by placing a tea towel underneath. Then, with the tip of a sharp knife placed down, carefully rock the knife back and forth across the nut halves until they’re chopped to the desired size.
5. Melt & Drizzle Chocolate
Place coarsely chopped chocolate in a microwaveable bowl and microwave on MEDIUM for 1 ½ minutes or until the chocolate turns shiny. Remove the bowl from microwave and stir the chocolate until completely melted. Create your own piping bag by pouring the melted chocolate into a large resealable bag, seal and snip off one corner. Twist bag at the top and squeeze to drizzle.
6. No Mess Candy Crushed Candy
To crush hard candies, place in a sealable plastic bag. Place on a chopping board and crush using a rolling pin or the bottom of a sturdy pot.
7. Easy Chocolate Garnishes Using the plastic bag technique shown in secret 5, draw stars or hearts or make criss-cross pattern on waxed paper. Place in fridge for 20 min or until cold. Peel off wax paper and use to decorate as desired.
8. Seal in Flavour
To seal a two crust pie, use a fork to crimp the crust. This will seal in juices and serve as decoration too.
9. Making Meringue
Ensure all ingredients are at room temperature and that the bowl is deep enough to allow as much contact as possible between the egg whites and beaters. Beat on high until stiff peaks form. Peaks should stand tall without drooping.
10. Tinting Coconut Mix 1/2 tsp. water with a few drops of food colouring. Add to 1 cup coconut in resealable plastic bag; seal bag. Shake until coconut is evenly tinted. For a darker shade, add additional food coloring to the 1/2 tsp. water; seal bag and shake until evenly tinted.
11. Decorating with Coloured Gels Draw straight lines across the dessert with gel. Lightly drag a toothpick thruough the gel lines, alternating directions back and forth.
12. Chocolate Glaze Melt 4 squares chopped Bakers's Chocolate (semi sweet or bittersweet) and 1 1/2 cups thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping in microwave on HIGH for 1 1/2 min, or until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring after 1 min. Spread over cake top or dip the top of cupcakes into the glaze and twist slightly.
13. Big Batch Squares Drizzle melted chocolate on the whole dessert before cutting. Vary chocolate colour and pattern. Lift whole dessert onto cutting board, and cut into squares. Add pizzaz to your dessert tray by cutting some squares in half on the diagonal to form triangles.