Top 4 Winter Baking Tips

Written by: Liz Willis

For the vast majority of us, especially those of us living in colder states, winter and baking go hand in hand. I know this is true of myself, especially during the holidays. There is comfort in a warm oven full of fresh baked treats, but for people with food allergies, baking can seem a bit overwhelming.  

Companies like MI-Del Cookies and Chatfield’s Brand who are dedicated to allergen friendly treats and baking products can help make baking fun again. They also make it convenient for those of us that don’t have allergies to make something guaranteed to satisfy a friend or family member without the added worry of contaminating them with their known allergens. Read on for how they helped take a lot of the stress out of my holiday baking this year, along with my top 4 baking tools, allergen friendly baking tips, and links to some recipes that you can save up for next year’s celebrations! 

First things first, if you want your baking to become a relaxing ordeal instead of a chaotic mess, you have to have the right equipment. You can’t build a barn without the right tools and it’s quite the same in the world of baking and cooking. Here are my top 3 -can’t live without- baking tools plus a bonus tip.

Cookie Scoop: To get perfectly shaped and uniform cookies like these dairy and gluten free 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies, a cookie scoop is life-changing. I lived for years making my cookies into balls by hand and after I got my cookie scoop I wondered what I had been doing all that time! Your cookies will not only look better, they will bake evenly because they are all the same size and shape. These particular cookies are perfect for any season and you can’t beat that chocolate peanut butter combo! Allergic to dairy or caffeine in chocolate?  Chatfield’s® offers dairy free alternative chocolate chips as well as carob chips if you’re sensitive or allergic to caffeine. Use  Chatfield’s® allergen friendly chips in place of regular chocolate chips whenever you have a recipe that calls for them. With a dairy allergy in our home, I’ve used both the double dark chocolate chips and the carob chips for my cookie recipe as a fantastic dairy free substitute. Check out this recipe from Chatfield’s as well! The carob chips are a great 1 to 1 substitute. They have a pleasantly sweet taste that is delicious if you find yourself allergic or sensitive to the caffeine in chocolate.

If you’re not into cookies, a pie made with carob chips would be perfect for a Valentines or Galantines celebration! Chatfield’s® also offers a variety of chocolate in baking bar form which is fantastic for chopping and adding to cookies, pies, or decorating with and is also free of the 8 major allergens. 

Quality Baking Sheets: Baking sheets aren’t just for cookies! I use them in my kitchen for many things including roasting chicken, roasting veggies, and placing my pies on to bake. If you’ve ever experienced filling a pie and then placing it precariously in the oven as the liquid inside shifts back and forth like the ocean, you can use this trick to help next time.

Before placing your filling inside your pie crust, first place the crust on a baking sheet. Once your pie crust is filled, you can then place the whole baking sheet in the oven which allows you to have a much more sturdy grasp and steady hand. I used this method especially when I worked with MI-DEL® pie crusts. Their crusts are so convenient and delicious and because they are in a foil tin, a baking sheet will help you to keep your mouth watering pie safe and steady as you take it in and out of the oven. It will also prevent any accidental spill-overs that may happen as your scrumptious pie filling bubbles to baked perfection in the oven. Try out this technique with this recipe for my Chai-Spiced Pear Pie with Gingersnap Crumble. You will not regret using the MI-DEL® Ginger Snap Pie Crust and their Ginger Snap cookies in this recipe either. Both the crust and cookies are gluten and dairy free and have that perfect ginger bite that you’re looking for! 

The MI-DEL® Lemon Snaps or Vanilla Snaps would also substitute perfectly in the crumble on top, and the fact their Ginger Snaps, Vanilla Snaps, and Lemon Snaps are all non-GMO certified is worth a mention as well.  

Whisk: For the same reason you don’t just buy any old tool for any old job, a quality whisk can be magic. Look for something called a balloon whisk and make sure that it has lots of thin flexible wires. This allows you to do many tasks including making silky smooth sauces, whipping air into egg whites and heavy cream for baking projects, and making emulsions such as mayonnaise or salad dressings. I use my whisk more than any other tool in my kitchen! A good quality whisk makes whipping together my vegan, refined-sugar free caramel sauce with Chatfield’s® date sugar a breeze. Back in October was the first time I had worked with date sugar, and Chatfield’s® made it a dream. It’s not like a granulated sugar, but it’s more of a powder consistency with a darker caramel taste making it perfect for this caramel sauce! For the recipe, check out my Caramel Apple ‘Spider’ Pie. It’s a Halloween themed recipe, but it would be delicious any time of year (you don’t have to make the spider web design, just drizzle!). You could even use the caramel recipe by itself to drizzle on dairy free ice cream! 

Creativity: This one is easy since you already have this tool right inside your own head! You may think you aren’t creative, but once you get in the kitchen, you may surprise yourself if you think for a moment about what you’d like your final dish to look like and then get to work creating it instead of just wanting to make it look like the picture you see!

Stick to your recipe but go crazy with your toppings and decorations. Think about what YOU want and go for it! Just because you’re following a recipe, doesn’t mean you have to make it look exactly like what someone else made. I’ll give you an example. Over the holidays, I created a recipe for Candy Cane Cookie Ice Cream Pie  which I topped off with candy canes and  MI-DEL® chocolate sandwich cookies. I crushed them up together and sprinkled them on top, but what about creating little cookie snowmen holding mini candy canes on top instead? The possibilities are endless when you just put your mind to it and let yourself have fun! 

Lastly, whether you’re baking for yourself or someone else with an allergy, check out all of the varieties of MI-DEL® pie crusts and cookies and let them inspire you to your next baking creation! They make it insanely convenient and easy to use that creativity I was talking about without the worry of allergens*! For even more baking staples, check out their sister brand Chatfield’s®. As you can see above, Chatfield’s® makes a host of different varieties of allergen free chocolate chips as well as carob chips, powders, bars, and date sugar that are perfect for all of your allergen friendly baking needs!

*make sure to double check the product for your specific allergen as some products differ.