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Baking For The Holidays? A Checklist Of Pantry Must-Haves

Posted on Wednesday 12 December 2012

This article featuring holiday baking tips has appeared online and in newspapers throughout the US. We thought it was worth placing on our own website as well. Enjoy!

(BPT) – A holiday season without baked goodies would be like a movie without popcorn, burgers without fries or a sundae sans cherry: good but not quite perfect. If you enjoy baking traditional holiday favorites, you may also like trying new recipes. Experimenting with new recipes is easier if you start out with a well-stocked pantry.

While some holiday recipes might call for unusual ingredients that require a trip to the gourmet food store, some ingredients are ubiquitous. Keep those ingredients in your pantry year-round and you’ll be on track to bake up a storm this holiday season.

The baking gurus at Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, a more than 100-year-old family-run flavoring company, offer this checklist of must-have items to help ensure your pantry is well-stocked for holiday baking:

• Flour – Some type of flour is the foundation of most baking. Your pantry should always have a supply of all-purpose white baking flour, but don’t forget to add some other common, useful varieties like whole wheat, unbleached or semolina.

• Sweeteners – Refined white sugar, of course, is a reliable stand-by for sweetening any recipe. But many holiday recipes may call for alternative sweeteners like confectioner’s sugar, maple syrup, brown sugar or honey. And, if you’re baking for folks with dietary restrictions, you’ll need artificial sweeteners. Many brands of artificial sweeteners now offer varieties specifically designed for use in baking.

• Extracts – Holiday baking cries out for certain flavors, like peppermint, almond, chocolate and vanilla. You can find an extract for virtually every flavor under the sun, but keeping an ample supply of the staples, like Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, will ensure you have the perfect flavoring on hand for a variety of dishes – from holiday baked goods to main courses and side dishes. The family-run company uses a proprietary cold extraction process that slowly and gently draws the delicate and distinctive flavor from the vanilla beans.

• Spices – Certain spices just speak to the holiday season, but they’re also useful throughout the year. Keep your pantry stocked with holiday-appropriate spices like cinnamon, allspice, ground ginger, nutmeg and cloves.

• Fruits and nuts – While some recipes may call for fresh fruits and nuts, others will require dried varieties. Walnuts, almonds, pecans, raisins, candied ginger and even dried apricots and cranberries are all good starting points for a well-stocked holiday pantry.

• Grains – What would oatmeal raisin cookies be without the oatmeal? Holiday recipes often call for grains and cereals, including oatmeal, cornmeal and bran.

• Leavening – Many cookies don’t require a leavening agent or stabilizer, but cakes and breads may, so include yeast, baking soda and baking powder in your pantry.

• Shortening – Vegetable oil, shortening and lard are staples of baking. To lighten a recipe without sacrificing taste, try naturally lighter oils like canola.

• Milk – You may not use it at any other time of year, but holiday baking often calls for evaporated milk. Sweetened condensed milk is also incorporated in many recipes. A can or two of each, purchased ahead of the holidays, will ensure you don’t have to make a special trip to the grocery store for this less-used ingredient.

Now that your pantry is prepped for the holidays, try this festive recipe from Nielsen-Massey: Crisp Vanilla Butter Cookies

This article is presented by Brandpoint.

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