Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - December 13, 2013

Top 5 tips to simplify holiday baking

Plan ahead and keep it simple

From cookies to cupcakes, the holidays just aren't complete without freshly baked treats to gift, serve and enjoy, plus baking is a great activity to share with children. You might even want to invite a friend of your child's over after school for a simple cookie decorating get-together.

However, baking isn't always a piece of cake, whether you're an expert or novice baker. So this year, as you preheat your oven and prepare to whip up dozens of your favorite recipes, check out these five helpful tips to ensure your holiday cookies don't crumble.

* Pre-freeze cookie dough. Freeze cut-out cookies for 10 minutes before baking. They'll keep their shape better during baking and also rise slightly higher.

* Use parchment paper. The versatility of parchment paper allows for fuss-free baking. It can be used to line baking sheets for evenly cooked treats and makes cleanup a breeze.

* Bake on the center rack. To allow for the most even heat circulation, bake your holiday cookies on the oven's center rack. Additionally, don't over-crowd the oven. This can cause uneven baking, resulting in underbaked or burnt cookies.

* Use an air-tight container. After baking, place your cookies in an air-tight container before they are completely cooled. Doing so will prevent them from drying out and will keep them nice and chewy.

* Stick with a simple recipe. If you're short on time or an inexperienced baker, stick with a simple recipe that you know will turn out great and is sure to please.

Rolo Pretzel Delights are a favorite to make with children, and can be completed in less than 30 minutes.

Rolo Pretzel Delights

* Ingredients:

Small pretzels

Rolo Chewy Caramels in Milk Chocolate

Pecan halves

* Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees; line cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Place one pretzel for each pretzel treat desired on prepared sheet. Top each pretzel with one unwrapped Rolo Chewy Caramels in Milk Chocolate.

Bake three to five minutes or until caramel piece begins to soften, but not melt. Remove from oven; top with either pecan half or additional pretzel. Allow the treats to cool completely.

--Brandpoint

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