Would you trust the holiday baking advice of a woman who is not only the director of Nestle's Culinary Center but is also a mother of three triplets? Me, too. Hurrah! I got a chance to pick the brain of Chris Garboski, a woman who understands that baking has to be fabulous, but not always fussy and complicated. I am taking her advice to heart. Read along for some holiday baking inspiration. (All of the photos on this post are from Nestle Kitchens.)
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Me: What are the best sturdy homemade treats for mailing?
Chris: Bar, drop or dried fruit cookies are best for mailing. Cookies with hard crunchy textures, like biscotti and shortbreads, ship well as do chocolate chip, gingersnap and oatmeal cookies. Tender, fragile cookies are likely to crumble when mailed, so save those for cookie exchanges. Here are some of my favorite cookies to mail:
And of course the Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies. When my grandfather was alive, I would send him several batches of cookies throughout the year. They ship very well! Here are some tips for shipping cookies: So that your cookies arrive in one piece, it’s best to wrap four of the same size cookies together in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then place in a resealable plastic food storage bag and seal shut. If you are shipping two kinds of cookies, you should double-wrap the cookies so that the flavors don’t blend together. Line the container you plan to use (decorative tin, etc.) with bubble wrap. Place the heaviest cookies at the bottom of the container and layer the wrapped cookies with bubble wrap or crumpled paper towels. Attach lid, then wrap one more in bubble wrap. Put the container into a sturdy cardboard box (be sure to add bubble wrap to the inside bottom of box). Use bubble wrap or crumbled newspaper to protect the container inside the box.
Me: What is an easy treat for kids to make and give away to their teachers and coaches?
Chris: Here are a several ideas: Kids love to assemble cookie or brownie ingredients in a jar. All the recipients need to do is add butter, vanilla and eggs.
I just love these dipped pretzels. You can add sprinkles, chopped nuts, etc. For teachers, these would be adorable placed in a mug, then wrapped in cellophane. Decorative bags work well too. Last year, my son painted a coffee mug for his teacher, then added homemade cookies inside. She cried. I actually have it on camera, it was a very sweet moment!Party Mixes work well too. Just place in a decorative bag and you are done!
Me: Is there a great treat that could WOW at a holiday party that an inexperienced baker could pull off?
Chris: This is a brand new recipe that is easy to make and will certainly WOW guests! Chocolate Dipped Caramels with Sea Salt
Here is another one I love, these glazed nuts are great served in a bowl, on a cheese plate or in salads. Not necessarily a “treat” as in dessert, but a great addition to a party.
Me: What are some inexpensive, pretty treats that you could give as gifts to neighbors and coworkers?
Chris: I love these and they are so easy! For the toppings, the sky is the limit! Easy Chocolate Dipped Ginger Cookies
Bark is also perfect to give as gifts! You can present in a decorative tin or cellophane bags.
Thanks, Chris! I've got the double chocolate dream cookies in the oven and I'm making the Magic Mint Chocolate Bark (just two ingredients!) for a party this weekend.
Labels: holiday baking