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Cookie Storage Strategies

Cookie Storage Strategies

Simple tips to keep your cookies crispy or chewy

General tips
• Always store baked cookies only after they've cooled completely. If you store them while they're still warm, condensation will make them soggy.
• Don't combine different cookie types in the same storage container, as softer cookies will leach moisture that may cause crisp cookies to go limp.
• Store cooled cookies in airtight containers to prevent humidity from affecting their texture.
• Store soft cookies with an apple wedge to help retain moisture. Discard it before serving.
• If crisp cookies soften, recrisp them by baking at 300° for five minutes, and cool completely on a wire rack.
• You can refrigerate or freeze most cookie dough, so you can bake a batch at a moment's notice. You do not need to thaw frozen cookie dough; just bake an additional minute or two. You can also freeze baked cookies for a few months; thaw at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.

Special considerations
Drop cookies (except meringues): You can freeze tablespoon-sized portions of dough in a single layer on a baking sheet, and then transfer to a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag.
Rolled cookies: Store decorated cookies between layers of wax paper.
Sliced/icebox cookies: Freeze dough logs; slice just before baking. If too firm, thaw at room temperature 10 to 15 minutes.
Hand-shaped cookies: Freeze dough balls in a single layer on a baking sheet, then transfer to a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Thaw at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes, then shape.
Twice-baked cookies: Because these cookies are dry and crisp, they store well at room temperature for an extended time.
Bar cookies: Store cookies in the pan in which they bake; cover with plastic wrap or foil.

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Shelf life
• Dough for rolled, sliced/icebox, hand-shaped, and drop cookies (except meringues) will keep for two to three days in the refrigerator or three months in the freezer. Twice-baked and bar cookie doughs should be baked immediately.
• After baking, all cookie varieties will keep for three months in the freezer. At room temperature, rolled, sliced/icebox, hand-shaped, and drop cookies (except meringues) will keep for three to five days . Twice-baked cookies will keep for two weeks, and bar cookies will keep for 3 to 4 days. Baked cookies should not be refrigerated.


On the Cusp of Achieving a Rare Feat: Crumbl Cookies, a Utah-based Cookie Delivery and Takeout Company, Pursues to Grow Across US

&ldquoQuality-related processes and policies have been in place since Crumbl&rsquos conception and are critical to maintaining excellence &mdash especially since the brand&rsquos entire offering changes weekly.&rdquo

When it comes to cookies, tech isn&rsquot always the first thing that comes to mind. However, technology over the years has changed how we produce and find our cookies through applications, robotics, and data.

In light of the foregoing, we&rsquore thrilled to present Crumbl Cookies &mdashAmerica&rsquos fastest-growing gourmet cookie delivery and takeout company.

It was incorporated in 2017 and is headquartered in Orem, UT.

Jason McGowan, Crumbl Cookies Co-founder and CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. What motivated Crumbl to enter the cookie business?

From the beginning, Crumbl&rsquos mission has been to bring friends and family together over a box of the best cookies in the world &mdash that mission still drives us today two and a half years later.

All Crumblcrazed fans are served gourmet cookies, made fast, fresh, and warm. Milk chocolate chip and chilled sugar cookies are always on the menu, while 120+ specialty flavors rotate weekly. Crumbl stores are unique. The brand&rsquos open-kitchen concept is all about transparency &mdash customers can see their Crumbl Crew mix, bake, and prepare fresh cookies from start to finish!

Q. Production processes need to be as effective as possible, with real-time data and track and trace information. How does Crumbl make use of technology to optimize its production process?

Crumbl is a tech-driven bakery. Customers enjoy a seamless ordering experience on the Crumbl app or website, while bakers access recipes and cookie data on the iPads mounted to kitchen walls. Digital menus and ordering kiosks are controlled by corporate to ensure that needed companywide content updates are instantaneous and cost-effective for franchise partners. Corporate&rsquos internal dashboard keeps data top-of-mind given that individual cookie costs, sourcing info, waste metrics, and more are all accessed in one centralized space.

Q. To maintain freshness, Crumbl needs to bake frequently, making it difficult to work ahead or take time off. Given that, how does Crumbl maintain product quality?

Quality-related processes and policies have been in place since Crumbl&rsquos conception and are critical to maintaining excellence &mdash especially since the brand&rsquos entire offering changes weekly. Once a new cookie flavor is released, all bakers are required to perfect their role in the cookie&rsquos creation, (be that mixing, balling, or dressing), before serving customers. As an additional layer of assurance, corporate&rsquos establishment of a quality team ensures that cookie, brand, and operational quality are measured every few days via internal &lsquopass-offs&rsquo, customer reviews, and in-store feedback. In a franchise-model business, it&rsquos critical that the corporate and each location work hand-in-hand this way to provide a consistent and perfected experience to each Crumbl customer.

Q. How did Crumbl get its name?

Only the best cookies are soft and &lsquoCrumbly&rsquo &mdash Crumbl&rsquos name and offering go together perfectly!

Q. What are the factors that affect Crumbl&rsquos cookie pricing?

Crumbl only uses the highest quality ingredients in each batch. The difference is obvious by your first bite! The brand&rsquos experience and offering is truly gourmet &mdash cookies can be picked up fresh or ordered for delivery, curbside pick-up, and nationwide shipping. All of these considerations &ndash as well as local operating costs &mdash are examined when establishing territory pricing.

Q. How does Crumbl market its services?

Crumbl prides itself on being an &lsquoInstagram-able brand&rsquo. The business&rsquo social-heavy marketing strategy as proved impactful based on the brand&rsquos explosive growth. Consistent content creation and management on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, and more serve as educational and re-engagement tactics for both old and new customers &mdash Crumbl likes to keep its online content trendy and fresh. Followership and engagement metrics on all active platforms make significant jumps weekly. In addition to Crumbl&rsquos organic social strategy, the brand actively engages in SEO/SEM tactics, PR strategies, content marketing, influencer outreach, and more at both the local and national levels.

Q. Does Crumbl have any new services ready for launch?

Continuous evolution is part of Crumbl&rsquos brand identity &mdash new product offerings and services are always in motion. Without giving too many trade secrets away, know that features customers have been screaming for (in addition to those they haven&rsquot even thought of yet) are already in motion.

Q. What are Crumbl&rsquos trajectories for the next 5 years?

Crumbl has achieved mind-numbingly-impressive growth since its inception. The franchise-model business now has over 100 stores operating in 17 states, with another hundred in the pipeline. Those metrics, along with positive and consistent sales stats are proving steadfast, despite the social and economic challenges that have presented themselves recently.

Q. What&rsquos next for Crumbl?

The #pinkbox&rsquos global expansion, of course!

Mr. McGowan & Mr. Hemsley: The Brains Behind the Crumbl Success

It all started with one big dream, two crazy cousins, and the perfect combination of flour, sugar, and chocolate chips. After thousands of dollars in the wasted dough, recipes that did not live up to their expectations, and cookies that were just plain embarrassing to them today, the cousins decided to try something a little unique. Jason McGowan &mdash Crumbl&rsquos Co-founder and CEO &mdash came from the tech industry, so A/B testing their way to the perfect cookie felt like the right approach. The cousins continued testing ingredients and baking methods until they came up with, (what they believe is), the world's best chocolate chip cookie. The very first Crumbl bakery opened in 2017 in Logan, UT while Sawyer Hemsley (the other cousin), Co-founder and COO, was attending Utah State University. Since then, the bakery franchise has expanded across several states in the United States.


Cookieless Tracking: Tips for E-Commerce Marketers in 2021

Without a doubt, there has been a shift in digital marketing as we know it. Third-party cookies have played a critical role in online marketing over the last ten years. However, data privacy is becoming ever-more important in the digital age. Google is now phasing out third-party cookies within the next year, and the need for online, cookieless tracking is imminent.

Rest assured, there is still time to prepare for a cookieless world.

For marketers, the key is to find a balance between having the necessary privacy and security measures in place while still delivering a personalized user experience. This post will explore the topic of cookieless/anonymous tracking and provide marketers with tips for navigating a cookieless future.


Pizzelles

Pizzelles are classic Italian cookies that are especially popular at Christmas and Easter. I married into a pizzelle-loving family, so I ended up with a pizzelle maker early in our marriage. I’ve grown to crave these slightly sweet, wafer-like cookies all year round.

My sister-in-law found the perfect storage container for pizzelles, and it sits in a cabinet waiting for me to whip up a batch.

Pizzelles are easy to make, and they can be flavored in a variety of ways. I like this vanilla version, but you can also flavor them with anise or lemon. Substitute some cocoa powder for a bit of the flour to make a chocolate version. These cookies keep very well, so they’re a good choice if you need a cookie that will last for several days.


Christina Tosi’s favorite holiday cookie, and tips for bakers


Milk Bar owner Christina Tosi says she bakes with a savory cook’s mentality. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

For someone who has come up with such concoctions as a compost cookie and crack pie, Christina Tosi of Milk Bar has a surprisingly simple holiday go-to cookie. It’s the one that she brings every year to her staff’s big cookie exchange, and the one that, to her, tastes like a mother’s love — because that’s what went into it.

She calls it the Greta, named for her mother, because it’s the one her mother always made for her when she was growing up in Springfield, Va. “I may be a little biased,” she says, but this is what she craves at the holidays: This big bar cookie that’s almost a cross between a cookie and a cake. In fact, her mother still sends regular shipments of the Greta to Milk Bar. “She sends these cookies to a bakery that makes hundreds of thousands of cookies every day, but when the package arrives and bars come out, they disappear in minutes,” Tosi says.

When the chef came to my kitchen to show me how to make the Greta for a video recently, I asked her about not just this cookie, but other holiday cookie baking strategies. Excerpts of our conversation follow.

Where did your mother get the recipe for the sugar cookie?

Who knows? Probably some community or PTA cookbook. On my grandparents’ farm in Ohio, they have bound together copied pages of recipes that they all share.

How does she typically decorate it?

She loves to bake, but she’s not a technical baker. She loves to bake because she loves the act of baking and giving away the baked goods to people in that loving, nurturing, Mom way, so it’s not about the fancy stuff. She’ll go to her cabinet, and whatever she’s got in the sprinkles department goes on. I don’t care if that means there’s 12 different colors and there’s heart-shaped sprinkles that say “I Love You” or “Happy Valentine’s Day” and it’s the middle of July.

I love that you used close-ups of the Greta as the endpapers in your second cookbook, “Milk Bar Life.”

I want to find the most obnoxious radioactive sprinkles, because that’s the way my mom would do it. She’ll write me and say, “I found the brightest cookie colors, and they remind me of how you make my life bright.” It really is the sweetest.

Have you used it as a jumping-off point for other cookies?

We’ve used it in every place in the kitchen, including blending it into soft-serve to make a holiday-themed soft-serve flavor. You can also take the cookie and punch out shapes after it’s baked, which is awesome, and super easy to do. Just bake it in a pan twice the size, so the dough is thinner. It’s so much easier than rolling and cutting the dough before baking.

In the oil department, if you wanted to get crazy, you could totally use pistachio oil or pumpkin seed oil to take it into a more nutty seasonal-flavored direction. Or olive oil, to make olive oil sugar cookie bars. Just remember that the oil has to be pretty deeply flavored to compete with all that butter.

What are your favorite tips for holiday cookie baking?

For as much and as hard as I like to work, I set myself up by doing as much as possible in advance. There are a lot of cookies that you can make the dough way far ahead, or make the dough and scoop the dough way far ahead, and that makes it really easy to get the job done.

One of my favorite cookie tricks came from my grandma. In storing your cookies, put a slice of bread into the container with your cookies. That’s the best way to keep your cookies nice and moist. It will breathe new life into your cookies for three or four days.

She also lived and died by this pan grease she made, which was part shortening, part oil, and a little bit of flour. She’d keep it as a jar on the counter, with a paint brush, and that’s how she would grease everything. That little bit of flour helps you remove your cake, your bar cookie — and it’s one less thing you have to worry about buying.

Another storage tip: Typically, most people baking over the holidays run out of fridge space quickly. In my family we’ll package them in tins or containers, wrap them in plastic and put them outside in the garage is one of the best places. I have such memories of going to the garage to sneak cookies.

Also, don’t be afraid to improvise. Those happy mistakes are where you discover new things. A lot of people get so stressed out about making things just so, but let it go.

People don’t think they can improvise when baking, not like with savory cooking.

I’m the kind of baker where I’m serious when it makes a difference, and every opportunity I can to not be, I won’t be. Half of the stuff that we serve at Milk Bar came from happy accidents and the power of the imaginative “What if?” I taught myself to bake with more of a savory cook’s mentality. I would be like, ‘I don’t want to follow a recipe, I want to mix this cookie as though I were a savory cook.’ Once you taste enough cookie doughs that are good and bad, you learn those building blocks.

The other thing is, we always bake off a tester. When you have thrown caution to the wind, or you’re not sure, and it’s your first time with the recipe, don’t underestimate the power of eight extra minutes in the oven. We take one scoop of every single cookie we bake every day, and that’s the tester batch. We make a tester, and once it comes out, we make the rest of them. Every now and then a tester doesn’t come out right — you realize it needs more flour, or the crushed candy canes you thought would be such a good idea, there’s too few or too many, and you can still adjust at that point.


(Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post)

These buttery squares taste like a cross between a cookie and a cake, with tender centers and chewy edges. Milk Bar owner Christina Tosi named them after her mother, Greta, who still sends her trays of them regularly.

MAKE AHEAD: The baked cookies can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.

Adapted from “Milk Bar Life,” by Christina Tosi (Clarkson Potter, 2015).

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan

1 /2 cup grapeseed, canola or other neutral oil

1 1 /2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 to 4 tablespoons decorative sprinkles or sparkling sugar of your choice (may substitute a combination of 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch deep-sided baking pan.

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer beat on high speed for about 3 minutes, until fluffy and homogenous. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

Add the eggs, oil and vanilla extract beat on medium-low speed for about 1 minute, or until just combined. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

Add the flour, salt and baking soda, beat on medium-low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, then add the milk and beat for about 30 seconds, to form a soft dough.

Spread the dough evenly in the pan, making sure it gets into the corners. Scatter the decorative sprinkles with a generous hand, using even more if you want particularly colorful cookies, or cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cookie slab has puffed, lightly browned and become firm to the touch. (This will result in a slightly underbaked-in-the-center cookie. If you prefer it firmer, bake for another 3 to 5 minutes.)

Cool completely in the pan before cutting into squares.

Nutrition | Per square: 240 calories, 2 g protein, 29 g carbohydrates, 13 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 110 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 17 g sugar


How To (Re)Organize Your Kitchen, According to a Professional Organizer

When you’re cooking nearly every meal, it’s easy to let chaos creep into the kitchen. Expired food lurks in the back of the fridge grains hide behind cans in cabinets. But it’s a new year, and professional organizer (and former personal chef) Faith Roberson is here to help make (then keep) things tidy and thoughtful.

Sure, you can tackle kitchen organizing anytime, but Roberson believes there’s no better moment than right now to reassess what we have versus what we actually need—both in the form of plain old stuff and our shopping and storing habits. “I recently dropped off a load of canned goods at the nearest food shelter because I bought too much in a panic last spring,” she says. “It only recently hit me, we’re still here Faith, and some people need food now. It felt empowering to go into the new year with a kitchen I could maintain—one catered to my diet, not my fears.”

Everyone’s life is different, so there’s no one way to go about getting organized. Maybe you need a single improvement, like taking everything out of your pantry and donating what you don’t need or, as she suggests below, committing to a small-but-permanent storage upgrade. Or perhaps your cleaning routines need an upgrade to meet the never-ending demands of three meals a day (plus snacks and dessert). “Without a shadow of a doubt, the kitchen is the heart of the home,” Roberson says. “It’s energetic and transitory because food and people are always coming in and out.” The key is to find what works and stick to it. Here, Roberson shares five tips to help you get your space together.

Embrace multipurpose tools to free up your shelves and your budget. Use a salad spinner insert as a colander, or mason jars for drinking, canning, and storing dried goods. You can use a pitcher for iced tea, of course, but you can also use it to hold cooking utensils next to your stove, or flowers on your table (just not all at once).

Put up hooks on a free kitchen wall to hang pots and pans. Your most-used kitchenware will be at the ready, and you’ll free up precious cabinet space for bulkier, less attractive equipment like that clunky blender. Roberson likes these steel ones, which look industrial without being boring.


You’re Probably Storing Carrots Wrong & More Tips for Preserving Produce

There’s a lot of joy to be had in the kitchen—watching the KitchenAid whirl through cookie dough, pulling out fresh bread from the oven, the thrill of rolling out your own pasta—but there can arguably be a lot of stress, too. We’re talking pots and pans clambering out of the sink, spills and stains that just never seem to scrub off, and cabinets overflowing with tools and appliances and everything else you need to make your kitchen function.

If you, like many others, are in search of ways to rid yourself of that kitchen fatigue, or simply have questions about how to operate your kitchen just a little bit smoother, you’ll want to invest in Food52’s new book, “ Your Do-Anything Kitchen .” Put together by the editors from the home and cooking site, the book is your shining beacon to control your kitchen, full of savvy tricks, must-have cooking tools, and how to make the most of any space.

FOOD52 Your Do-Anything Kitchen: The Trusty Guide to a Smarter, Tidier, Happier Space, $16.35 on Amazon

Page through the book and you’ll discover brand-new pantry staples, tips for making your fridge and freezer work with your needs in mind, and strategies for keeping clutter actually organized. When your kitchen’s officially in order, you’ll find the way you actually use your space will have dramatically improved.

Stasher 100% Silicone Reusable Food Bag, Sandwich Storage Size, $11.65 on Amazon

Want a sneak peak yourself? Check out this handy guide to keeping things fresh in the fridge and the freezer. After all, we’ve all been there: purchasing far too much from the store, then slowly watching that bunch of herbs go bad—before you’re able to use them all up. Instead, you’ll learn how to preserve the life of produce, all the while saving money in the process. It’s a win-win scenario.

Reprinted with permission fromYour Do-Anything Kitchen by Editors of Food52, copyright © 2020. Photographs by James Ransom. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc.

Life Preservers: How to Keep Things Fresh in the Fridge & the Freezer

Stocking a fridge and freezer requires a little bit of strategy: What deserves a piece of that valuable real estate? And just how long can the freezer work its fountain-of-youth magic? Give your fresh and frozen goods a long, happy life with these tips.


Martha Washington Candies

These Martha Washington Candies are an excellent addition to your holiday celebrations, are ideal for gift giving, and look impressive on a cookie tray!

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I have been feeling a little nostalgic these past few weeks as I think about the upcoming holiday season. So many of our family traditions have died away the past few years as family has moved away or passed on. Chris and I were talking yesterday about what traditions we have started with our boys and what new ones we want to start so that when they’re older they can look back and say, “We always did such and such at Christmas”. I want that for them.

One of my fondest Christmas traditions was eating insane amounts of candies at my Grandma’s each year on Christmas Eve. Everyone had their specialties and these Martha Washington Candies (or Martha Washingtons as we always called them) were my Aunt Rene’s contribution each year.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with these delectable candies and everything right. Coconut, pecans, and maraschino cherries all wrapped up in a chocolate package…just for you.

This recipe yields roughly a million candies…or about that. I can easily get 5 dozen. My sister makes her’s about one quarter the size of mine since they are very rich. She’s also a lot skinnier than me. I may see a pattern here…

These candies are a great addition to your holiday celebrations and look impressive on a cookie or Christmas tray. Please, please, please do NOT just make these at Christmas though, they deserve to be enjoyed year round. Especially fantastic for Valentine’s Day!


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Save the juice from your maraschino cherry jar and make this amazing Maraschino Cherry Frosting! It’s delicious!


Baking Ingredient Guide

Food Network Kitchen’s Baking Ingredient Guide: What you need to know about flour, sugar, chocolate and other pantry staples for THANKSGIVING/BAKING/WEEKEND COOKING , as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet ©Renee Comet

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Baking relies on the chemistry of carefully considered and properly measured ingredients to create culinary magic: light-as-air biscuits, chewy cookies, flaky crusts and moist cakes. Besides good measuring spoons, the key to baking success is fresh, good-quality ingredients. With this guide, you'll be ready to stock your pantry and bake like a pro.

FNK_BakingIngredientGuideFlour_H

Food Network Kitchen’s Baking Ingredient Guide to Flour for THANKSGIVING/BAKING/WEEKEND COOKING, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet ©Renee Comet

FLOURS

All-Purpose Flour: This basic flour is a pantry staple and can be used in most baked goods, from chewy breads to light biscuits and scones. It is sold bleached or unbleached. It's best to store flour in a tightly sealed canister. It should be good for about eight months in the cupboard and about one year refrigerated.

Cake Flour: This flour has the lowest protein (gluten) level of all the types of flour, making it great for tender cakes, biscuits or scones. Keep it in the pantry for up to eight months.

Pastry Flour: Pastry flour has a gluten level between that of cake flour and that of all-purpose flour it's great in pie dough because it leads to a tender crust that isn't extremely fragile.

Bread Flour: This flour is super-high in gluten, so it’s ideal for yeasted breads where you want a good amount of structure and chew. It can be found in white or whole wheat, and bleached or unbleached. Store in the pantry for up to eight months.

Self-Rising Flour: This is all-purpose flour to which baking powder and salt have been added. Don't substitute it for other flours because the added ingredients might affect your recipe outcome — use it only if the recipe calls for it. It's best to keep this in the original box, tightly wrapped keep in mind the shelf life is only about six months.

Whole-Wheat Flour: This flour still contains the outer kernel of the wheat — also known as wheat germ. If you want to add whole-wheat flour to a recipe, substitute up to half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat any more than that and your baked good might be too tough. Store whole-wheat flour in the freezer — it contains fat from the wheat germ and can become rancid at room temperature. Whole-wheat flour is good for about six months in the freezer and only a couple of months at room temperature.

Gluten-Free Flours: There is a wide variety of gluten-free flours available today, made from all sorts of grains, nuts and starches. When it comes to baking, most people blend a few different non-wheat flours to mimic all-purpose wheat flour. A small proportion of xanthan gum is sometimes added to help simulate the chewiness normally associated with gluten. Consult the specific recipe or packaging for information on how to substitute it for wheat flour in your favorite baking recipes.

DRY SUGARS

FNK_BakingIngredientGuideDrySugars_H

Food Network Kitchen’s Baking Ingredient Guide to Dry Sugars for THANKSGIVING/BAKING/WEEKEND COOKING, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet ©Renee Comet

Granulated Sugar: Whenever a recipe just calls for "sugar," it means this. This is plain white sugar, refined from sugar cane or beets. When stored properly in a tightly covered canister, it will last for years.

Superfine Sugar: Since it is more finely granulated than table sugar, it dissolves almost instantly and is useful for meringues and cool liquids.

Confectioners' Sugar: Also called 10X or powdered sugar, this is granulated sugar that has been ground into a powder with cornstarch. Confectioners' sugar is commonly used in cake and cookie icings and is often dusted on desserts. It's best to store it in the original box.

Brown Sugar, Light or Dark: This soft-textured, hearty-tasting sugar is white sugar flavored with molasses. Light and dark are generally interchangeable, and which one you choose depends on your fondness for the rich flavor of molasses. Keep it very well wrapped in the original packaging or in an airtight container. If the sugar hardens, leave a slice of apple or a piece of bread in the container for a few hours or overnight.

Decorating or Coarse Sugar: The granules are about four times larger than granulated sugar and come in myriad colors. This is best used for decorating to add some sparkle and provide a crunchy texture. Another type of sugar you might come across is sanding sugar, about halfway between granulated sugar and decorating sugar in size.

Turbinado or Demerara Sugar: Whereas brown sugar is fully refined white sugar with molasses added back to it, turbinado is a less-refined sugar from which only the surface molasses has been removed. It is light in color and usually has a larger crystal. Demerara is the English name for turbinado sugar and denotes where the sugar originally came from, the Demerara district of Guyana.

WET SUGARS

FNK_BakingIngredientGuideWetSugars_H

Food Network Kitchen’s Baking Ingredient Guide to Wet Sugars for THANKSGIVING/BAKING/WEEKEND COOKING, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet ©Renee Comet

Molasses: This dark, viscous syrup is the liquid that is left behind from refining sugar. Light molasses is from the first boiling of the sugar syrup dark is from the second and blackstrap, the strongest, is from the third. If you have a choice of sulphured or unsulphured molasses, unsulphured generally tends to have a cleaner flavor. Molasses can be stored in the pantry, but make sure you wipe the bottle well after using to prevent stickiness and pests.

Honey: For baking purposes, select a light-colored honey for a more delicate flavor. Store tightly sealed in a cool, dry place for up to one year. If the honey crystallizes, microwave it for about 30 seconds or melt it in the jar in a pan of hot water over low heat.

Maple Syrup: Make sure you buy pure maple syrup, not pancake or table syrup. The grading of maple syrup is a measure of its color — the darker the syrup, the stronger and more robust the flavor. Darker syrups (grade A dark amber or grade B in the United States) are recommended for baking and cooking. Store opened maple syrup in the refrigerator.

Agave Nectar: Agave nectar is made from the sap of the same plant that produces tequila. It tastes similar to honey and can be interchanged with it in your baking recipes. It can be stored at room temperature.

LEAVENERS

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Food Network Kitchen’s Baking Ingredient Guide to leaveners for THANKSGIVING/BAKING/WEEKEND COOKING, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet ©Renee Comet

Baking Soda: Also known as sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda, baking soda is used as a chemical leavener to make dough and batter rise. When dissolved in liquid and combined with an acid such as buttermilk, molasses, sour cream or yogurt, a chemical reaction occurs that produces carbon dioxide to leaven baked goods. Because this reaction happens immediately, it is important to bake your recipes shortly after the batter has been mixed. Baking soda also helps with the browning of your food, which is why some recipes might call for it even when there isn't an acid present for leavening to occur. Baking soda can last quite a while when stored in a cool, dry place. You can test to see if your baking soda is still active by mixing some with vinegar. If it bubbles up, you're good to go.

Baking Powder: This leavener is composed of baking soda, an acid (usually cream of tartar) and a moisture absorber, like cornstarch. The majority of baking powders available are "double-acting," meaning that they react first when dissolved in liquid and then again when exposed to heat. Check the date on the bottom of the container before purchasing to make sure it hasn't expired once you open it, it will be effective for about six months. You can check to see if your baking powder is still active by stirring 1 teaspoon into 1/3 cup of warm water. If it still fizzes, it's OK.

Active Dry Yeast: This is yeast that has been dehydrated into tiny granules. Before using it must be reactivated or "bloomed" by being mixed with warm water (about 110 degrees F) and sometimes a small amount of sugar for the yeast to feed on. You've most likely come across it in the grocery store packaged in small envelopes, but it is also available jarred. This form of yeast has the longest shelf life and can last for years stored in the refrigerator.

Instant Yeast: Also called "quick rise," "rapid rise" or "fast rise" yeast, it is produced similar to active dry yeast, but with more porous granules that don't require the reactivation step. This leavener works in about half the time of active dry yeast. It can be used interchangeably with active dry yeast when baking in an oven. Be sure to check the expiration date before purchasing and using in any recipes.

Fresh Yeast: Fresh yeast is moist and very perishable. It must be used by the expiration date listed on the package, which is usually within two weeks of purchase. Fresh yeast can be stored longer by keeping it in the freezer, but before using it should be defrosted at room temperature and then used immediately. Fresh yeast is sometimes sold in individually wrapped 0.6-ounce portions, which are equivalent to a 1/4-ounce packet of active dry or instant yeast.


13 Simple Changes That Lead to Huge Weight Loss

Your environment may be sabotaging you. Here's how to fight back.

Sandra Hassink, M.D., has been studying childhood obesity for more than 30 years. And the most important thing she&rsquos learned&mdash applicable to kids and grown men alike&mdashis this: &ldquoAll the willpower in the world,&rdquo she says, &ldquocan&rsquot overcome an obesogenic environment."

In other words, to lose weight and keep it off, you have to adjust your world so it&rsquos not constantly tempting you. Instead of putting yourself on a diet, put your environment on one.

&ldquoYou can&rsquot make good health decisions if your environment is always working against you, because then you have to be on alert 24-7,&rdquo says Dr. Hassink, founder of the Nemours Weight Management Clinic in Wilmington, Delaware. &ldquoYou get tired. Things come up. It&rsquos hard to [be successful] without creating a healthy environment in the first place.&rdquo

With the help of Dr. Hassink and other weight management experts, let&rsquos start fat-proofing your world.

1. Do a Sunday evening junk-food dump.

Like lint on a black sweater, unhealthy foods and snacks can accumulate in your home without your realizing it.

Pie from the church bake sale, caramel popcorn from the Boy Scouts, a pork-kraut roll from Mom. And before you know it, you&rsquore shoveling it into your mouth. Start the workweek fresh by taking a few minutes to rid your kitchen of crap and shake the airline stroopwafels out of your briefcase.

&ldquoIt&rsquos amazing how much food can creep in,&rdquo Dr. Hassink says. If you don&rsquot have the heart to toss Mom&rsquos signature dish, just divide it into smaller portions to freeze and reheat later. And don&rsquot get doggie bags at restaurants anymore&mdashunless they&rsquore actually for your dog.

2. Trim down your social media &ldquofeed.&rdquo

As if Mark Zuckerberg doesn&rsquot have enough reason to feel guilty, Facebook could also be insidiously filling you out. If certain friends and family members are constantly sharing food porn and decadent recipes, their posts could be fattening up your space.

&ldquoHow much time are you spending on those posts? Take notice if you find yourself getting hungry just looking at them,&rdquo Dr. Hassink says.

If you are, then hide, snooze, or unfollow the worst offenders. Likewise, trade all those craft breweries and barbecue joints you follow for sites that deliver positive reinforcement, such as @mealprepdaily, @wickedhealthy, @besmarteatsmart, and Men&rsquos Health&rsquos very own @guygourmet.

3. Tweak your grocery list.

A common belief is that eating healthy costs a lot. Not true, says Adam Drewnowski, Ph.D., director of the University of Washington Center for Public Health Nutrition.

Research shows that the healthiest diets&mdashones rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, and nuts&mdashcost only $1.56 more per day (that&rsquos $10.92 per week) than the least healthy diets&mdashprocessed foods and meats, refined grains.

In fact, stocking your world with nutritious choices needn&rsquot cost anything extra. Swap the ten bucks you&rsquore currently dropping on cold cuts, bread, and chips for a pound of fresh strawberries ($3.99), an avocado ($1.50), a bag of romaine ($2.60), and two single-serving containers of Greek yogurt ($1 each).

Drewnowski calls this an &ldquoeconomic intervention,&rdquo a conscious spending of $1.56 a day on healthy foods instead of fattening, carb-filled ones that will pay off with gradual weight loss.

4. Declare war on one junk food each month.

Diets fail because guys make too many changes too suddenly and try to do it all on their own. So try getting everyone in the family to agree on voting one junk food out of the house each month.

Eliminating sugary drinks is an obvious place to start. &ldquoSugar-sweetened beverages add a lot of unnecessary calories to our lives, and they are not nutritious,&rdquo says Dr. Hassink.

If anyone balks at the idea, suggest tapering consumption week by week. Then next month, after you&rsquove lost your taste for sweetened beverages (and you will), boycott another unhealthy food. The support of other people makes it easier.

5. When traveling, book a room in a pedestrian-friendly part of town.

Whether you&rsquore on the road for business or vacation, you&rsquoll get more exercise and burn more calories if you skip the car rental and stay in a hotel or Airbnb in the center of town, where you can safely walk everywhere.

&ldquoNutrition and activity are not just sideline things we do, but health-building or health-losing activities,&rdquo Dr. Hassink explains. &ldquoEvery decision you make about eating and activity is a health decision.&rdquo

6. Call the hotel help desk.

Request that the mini-fridge in your hotel room be emptied before check-in. This removes any possibility that you&rsquoll give into temptation and wake up in a bed full of Toblerone wrappers and tiny liquor bottles. Pack (or shop for) your own healthy snacks instead and pop them in the fridge.

7. Renting a car? Go compact.

When you step up to the reservations counter, ask the rep if you can be downgraded. That&rsquos right. A bigger rental may increase your risk of supersizing your meals and drinks on the road. It&rsquos simply more comfortable and convenient. Think about it: If the cupholders can easily accommodate a Big Gulp, so can you.

8. Never let your fridge become empty.

It sounds counterintuitive for weight loss, but the moment this happens is the moment you become more likely to go out and order the Mini Corn Dog party platter at Buffalo Wild Wings. So keep that refrigerator at least looking full, says Judy Simon, R.D.N., of UW Medicine in Seattle.

Buy enough fruit, vegetables, and lean meats to last for the week, shop twice a week, or set up regular delivery with your local supermarket. Or simply pull your food to the front of the shelves to create an illusion of plenty.

9. Change your commute.

If you often succumb to temptation and stop for, say, a Grande Caffè Mocha at Starbucks on your way to work, consider changing your route. That drink, even when made with 2% milk, has 360 calories, 15 grams of fat, 44 grams of carbs, and 35 grams of sugar.

Add a blueberry muffin and you&rsquove just turned breakfast into a gut bomb. Keeping your kryptonite out of sight will make it less convenient to pull in and indulge there.

10. Make sure you&rsquore safe at this dangerous time.

Specifically, the hour or two after work ends and before dinner begins is a weak spot for many men, says Simon. Make sure you&rsquore nowhere near a happy hour with free appetizers or an ice cream stand with a drive-thru during these times. Stash your favorite protein bar in your car in case of emergency.

11. Parental-control yourself.

Don&rsquot spend your weekends or evenings watching the Food Network or sports programming with lots of food and beverage advertising.

When the food shows and ads are streaming, the temptation to overeat tends to increase, says Dr. Hassink. Try watching something less food-centric (or leaving the room during commercials) and see if your cravings don&rsquot subside.

12. Find a &ldquosafety&rdquo restaurant.

Every meal can&rsquot be home-cooked. Occasionally life&rsquos challenges will force you to eat out or order takeout. But don&rsquot let that decision be impromptu. Instead, do your homework ahead of time and pick a &ldquosafety&rdquo restaurant or two near home with some nutritious choices (or at least a cook willing to broil instead of fry and who knows what &ldquolight cheese&rdquo really means).

Think of this spot like your grandparents viewed their local diner, but healthier. Researching tip: Eliminate any place with the word &ldquoloaded&rdquo on its menu.

13. Manage the candy stash.

To keep from filching Easter baskets or Halloween treats, buy candy just one day before the holiday. Buy only as much as needed, and then immediately get rid of leftovers. The less time sweets linger in the house, the less likely you&rsquoll be to eat them.

And above all, never volunteer to be the dad who loans his garage to the Girl Scout troop for cookie storage.