From Christmas cookies to chocolate bark to spiced breads to peppermint-crusted cupcakes... there's no better time of year for baking than the holidays! If you know someone whose kitchen isn't equipped to take on the brunt of holiday baking -- even if it's just a batch or two of snowball cookies -- here are some great ideas to get you (errr... them) started. Better yet, leave a comment with your email address telling me about your favorite holiday baked good and you'll be entered to win one of two of Bakelab's holiday cupcake decorating kits (#1 on our list), which was also featured as part of Martha Stewart's 2010 Holiday Gift Guide! Comments must be entered before noon on Monday, December 20. Good luck and happy baking!
2. Silpat Non-Stick Baking Sheets: $14.95
Decorate your sweet little holiday cupcakes just like pastry chef Kristin Feuer does at her L.A Bakelab. The Winter Wonderland Cupcake Decorating Kit features a well-curated mix of 24 cupcake liners, sparkling sugar and white snowflakes, old-school plastic reindeer, and Bakelab's handmade tiny ribbon flags and stamped sugar buttons. The sugar buttons are completely edible, and after they're roll and cut by hand at the Lab, they're stamped with food coloring with a variety of classic holiday images. Contains 24 cupcake liners (12 green + white carnival stripe and 12 silver foil), 1 oz. aqua blue sanding sugar, 1/2 oz. white snowflake sprinkles, 6 old-school plastic reindeer, 6 hand-tied ribbon flags in a variety of blues, greens, silvers, and whites, 6 hand-stamped sugar buttons (green mitten, purple ice skates, blue snowflake).
Check out my winter wonderland cupcake creations!
I bought my first Silpat baking sheet during a grad school trip to Paris in 2002. It's nearly nine years later and while I've collected a few imitations over the years, the original Silpat is still my go-to baking sheet liner. Nothing, and I mean nothing, sticks to it. Cookies, muffins, chocolate bark, pizza dough. Everything slides off perfectly browned on the bottom. If you don't have one, get one now.
3. Stainless Steel Portion-Sized Cookie Scoop: $14.99
You may already have one of these scoops but think it's only for ice cream. Think again, as the spring-release stainless steel scoops are also great for measuring out perfectly portioned scoops of cookie dough and neatly filling cupcake and muffin tins. Simply scoop up the dough, squeeze and release. Hint: I'd recommend getting one with a soft grip, otherwise the repetitive motion on the steel can make your hand sore.
4. Wilton Dessert Decorator Pro: $31.49
This kit gives you everything you need to add beautiful decorations to desserts or appetizers in minutes. Designed for comfortable one-hand decorating and effortless tip positioning, this is the most convenient dessert tool you’ll ever use. Create beautiful decorations—shells, stars, rosettes, leaves with the included six piping tips. The recipe book included is filled with fabulous ideas to tempt your family and friends.
5. Set of 3 Personalized Silicone Spatulas: $27.59
Bryan got these for me last year, branded with Pardon My Crumbs on each handle. I've used them pretty much every day every since, whether it's to make scrambled eggs, pancakes, chili, pastas, cupcakes batter, etc. They are indispensable for mixing, stirring, scraping and folding ingredients. Made in the USA from flexible silicone, their wide heads withstand heat up to 800°F and they won't chip or crack.