It can be a definite challenge finding the perfect present for friends and family members during the holiday season. To help you out with some ideas, I’m going to give a rundown of my top 5 holiday gadgets for the people on your list that love to spend some time in the kitchen.
1. A stand mixer is the perfect gift for the baker in your life. The KitchenAid brands can get pricey but come in a variety of colors to customize to your kitchen. A 5 quart tangerine KitchenAid Artisan mixer is on my Christmas list for this year… a girl can wish, right?
2. An immersion blender is a nifty appliance you can use to blend ingredients or puree food in the container in which they are being prepared. Last Christmas my boyfriend Matt bought one of these and it’s been pretty indispensable when making soups.
3. Sometimes, a kitchen gadget is something that’s fun but you might not necessarily need. A spoon scale probably fits the bill for this description. If you’re shopping for someone who is a stickler for using recipes, this spoon will ensure you have exactly 0.5 ounces in the tablespoon that you are measuring.
4. Do you ever feel like you don’t have enough space to cool all your cookies on the counter top? Wilton came out with a three-tier cooling rack that solves this problem for anyone that’s searching for a little extra space.
5. Your recipe tells you to roll your dough out a 9 inch circle for a pie crust. You search in vain for your protractor from junior high but come up with nothing. This non-slip pastry helper mat not only gives you a solid foundation to work on, but also has measurements for whatever shape or size you dough you might need to form.
Now, can you make the chocolate snowball recipe featured today without a three-tier cooling rack, stand mixer, and spoon scale? Of course! But sometimes, it’s just fun to have a couple extra gadgets to make the process a little smoother.
Day Four: Chocolate Snowballs
Adapted from Taste of Home
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, milk and vanilla; mix well. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Gradually add to creamed mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Shape dough into 1 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes or until tops are crackled. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Roll in confectioners’ sugar.
Heather’s Helpful Hints
When trying to save time in the kitchen around the holidays, it’s tempting to skip the portion of a recipe that tells you to chill your dough for a certain amount of time. Don’t sell yourself short on this step—chilling your dough can be very important to the final product of your cookie. The chilling firms up the fat, which affects how the cookies spread. So if you find that your cookies are spreading more than intended, one solution is to chill the dough in the refrigerator before baking.