Happy December! It's crazy how quickly the months fly by once you get older. Anyhow, every December my mom would gather us three girls and begin a cookie baking extravaganza. It was a BIG deal. We still gather up for the big day of baking, but these days it's a lot less work than it used to be.
My mom has always been very insistent on stirring each of her doughs by hand in the bowls that her mother used to use when baking cookies. I do understand the sentimental value of using her bowls, but the arm pain you'd suffer after stirring a double (or triple) batch of cookies was enough to make any little kid hesitant to help mom bake cookies. This year I'm lending her my Kitchenaid stand mixer. She's not going to know how to cope with all of the extra time and lack of post-cookie day arm pain when she sees how powerful and helpful the mixer is. (You're welcome, mom!!)
Below, I've listed out a few holiday baking essentials that I find, well, essential during the holidays for baking up treats. Whether you're baking up cookies, bars, candies, or batches of puppy chow (also colloquially referred to as "reindeer poop" in our house, regardless of the time of year) this list is sure to have something to make sure your holiday baking goes off without a hitch.
Holiday Baking Essentials
- Baking sheets. I just picked up a new Nordic Ware half sheet baking pan from Target the other day with a 20% off the entire store coupon. We were in Target for hours.
- Silicone baking mats or parchment paper. Although these are only as good as the baking sheets they rest upon, they make the transferring of cookie to drying rack to plate/tin/my mouth simpler. I love my baking mats and use them every time I turn on the oven. Welcome to the world of nonstick baking. They are awesome for homemade granola.
- KitchenAid stand mixer. It's seriously one of the things I use the most in the kitchen. Right after my trusty sautee pan. It whips up cookies in a flash, makes frostings faster than you thought possible, and makes for a nice statement piece if you have one in your favorite color. Their colors are seriously dreamy.
- Cookie scoops and rubber spatulas. For uniformly sized cookies and clean bowls - duh. Cookie scoops have really revolutionized the way I scooped cookies. No more teaspoon(ish) scoops plopped onto the cookie sheets!
- A cooling rack. Or, if you're my mother, a bunch of cut open brown paper bags that they used to distribute at the grocery store. I'm sure nobody even knows if they still have them in stores or not...I've been on the reusable bag train for awhile now and will sometimes use plastic when I forget my other bags...I digress. Drying racks are safer than leaving your cookies out on brown paper bags in the freezing cold on the porch in the middle of December. (Sorry, mom.)
- A list of all your required ingredients and preferably printed out recipe cards so you don't have to fish for them/look for them on Pinterest as you're elbow deep in cookie dough. This could be just because I'm a list-maker, but it's really helpful.
- A fresh container of baking soda. If you don't tend to bake very often (hello, this is not me...) consider replacing your container of baking soda. It's only supposed to retain its active properties a month after you open the container. Any time after that and your cookies run the risk of falling flat because the baking soda won't activate properly. Save yourself the headache and spend the $1.49 at the grocery store for a new holiday box of baking soda.
- Adorable festive boxes or cookie tins to showcase your baked goods. My mom uses the same ones, year in and year out. I've come to expect a certain type of cookie in each tin because they have been that way for so many years now...if they aren't I get a little confused. Check your local craft store. A.C. Moore and Michaels should probably still have some cute ones in stores.
- Baker's twine to tie up said boxes, bags, or jars with. Festive holiday food gifts aren't complete until they've been tied up and labeled.
- Pandora's Christmas Traditional radio station. You're welcome.
- A buddy to bake with, or a heart full of joy. The holidays aren't complete without feelings of hope, joy, and love for the ones you care about most. It's the truth!
Happy holidays, and happy baking!