Results tagged thermometer from David Lebovitz

Homemade Yogurt

homemade yogurt recipe

I was goofing around on social media the other night, conversing with someone and recollecting our fondness for our Salton yogurt makers from the 70s; bright yellow contraptions that you put white-capped jars that you’ve filled with milk and yogurt into, plugged into the wall, and waited overnight. Then, in the morning, you were magically rewarded with five pots of warm, barely quivering, just-made yogurt.

homemade yogurt

It was all so exciting at first and I couldn’t stop myself from making yogurt. But like most things teenagers get interested in, I eventually lost interest in it, most likely tempted by the rainbow of flavors at the supermarket, which were highly sweetened and were accompanied by a pretty brilliant ad campaign. And I switched to those.

whole milk

It wasn’t until I became a mature adult – although some say they’re still waiting for that day to happen – so I’ll say…it wasn’t until I moved to France that I developed an appreciation for plain, unsweetened whole milk yogurt. The yogurt aisle in a French supermarket is, indeed, a sight to behold, with rows upon rows of yogurt and dairy items in all sorts of colors, flavors (including chocolate, caramel, cheesecake, and lemon macaron), fruits, fat percentages, and lord knows what else.

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Marshmallow Cream Fudge

I was told by my somewhat better half that I wasn’t allowed to bring the construction crew – that is, the guys who are working on my apartment – any more treats until they picked up the pace. I don’t think the expression “No more monsieur nice guy” exists in French, but that seemed to be the tone of the sentiment expressed.

However being American, I can’t help being a soft touch and have been sneaking the guys treats over there. They’ve had everything from Date Bars to Panforte. Meanwhile back at home, as I am packing up my kitchen cabinets and boxing everything up for my move, I found a jar of marshmallow cream that I brought back from the states a while back, presumably to make some sort of cupcake frosting that I never got around to.

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Candy Thermometers

candy thermometer

A friend once told me that the one word which terrifies people, enough to dissuade them from tackling a recipe, was the word “thermometer.” Candy making generally requires the use of a thermometer and I’m not sure why people get uneasy around thermometers because like kitchen scales, when things are in precise measurements – like degrees, pounds, or grams – it’s pretty straightforward. In fact, when you think about it, grilling meat or fish to the right point require far more savvy than simply reading the numbers on a thermometer.

Candy (also know as deep-fry thermometers) are readily available in houseware stores and almost every supermarket in the states. So there’s no reason to be wary of them as some baking, and candy making projects really do require the use of one. But sometimes recipes don’t turn out as intended and although candy making is famously persnickety (factors such as temperature of ingredients, weather, and variations in ingredients, like various chocolates, butters, and sugars can affect the results) many candy making issues can be resolved by verifying the accuracy of your thermometer.

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How to Make Candied Ginger

candied ginger

There’s an inside joke amongst people who write books about baking that any recipe that begins with “Using a candy thermometer…..” scares the pants off of people and is enough to ward away all but the most dedicated baker.

I’m not sure why that is. It’s like when people tell me, “I can’t bake.” While baking is a fairly exacting affair, 1 cup of sugar is pretty clear: it’s one cup of sugar. It’s not like frying fish or meat, where you need to gauge doneness yourself, or making salad dressing where personal taste and the ingredients used can alter the finished result. But the thermometers does not lie.* I mean 225 degrees is pretty clear: it’s 225 degrees.

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How to Make the Perfect Caramel

morecaramelstirring.jpg pouringcaramel.jpg

Here are my tips and step-by-step instructions for How To Make The Perfect Caramel.

(You may also wish to read Ten Tips for Making Caramel, which preceded this post.)

Ice Cream

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How to Prevent Cookies From Spreading

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Here are some helpful tips to prevent cookies from spreading:

Don’t Overbeat the Batter

Far too many recipes advise bakers to simply “Cream butter and sugar until smooth”. So many people just turn on the mixer and go check their e-mail.

When you beat butter and sugar, those little crystals of sugar create air pockets between the butterfat. The more you beat, the more air you incorporate (those trapped air pockets steam open and expand in the oven). That’s great for a nice, light cake…but not for most cookies. So when the recipe says, ““Cream or beat butter and sugar”, just mix them for about 30 seconds, until well-combined.

nonspreadingcookies.jpg
Pecan-Brown Sugar Shortbreads from Ready For Dessert

Use Ungreased Baking Sheets

Unless the recipe says so, bake cookies on an ungreased or unbuttered baking sheet. You’re creating a slippery surface if you do, which causes cookies dough to slide. I use parchment paper, which has just enough friction for cookies to stay-put without sliding around, but they don’t stick.

Measure Ingredients Properly

I know this is a big duh!, but adding more liquid or less flour than a recipe indicates makes a big difference. When people tell me, “I can’t bake”, I never understand that. I mean, how difficult is “8 ounces of butter” or “3 large eggs”? It’s not like a piece of meat that you need to guess and adjust cooking times. Baking is a no-brainer.

Don’t change ingredients either. Using extra-large eggs in place of large eggs means you’ve added more liquid. Using anything other than all-purpose flour (or whatever is called for) can also be problematic.

Check Your Fat

Most butter is about 80% fat, meaning the rest is roughly 20% water. When used in a batter, that water liquefies, and voila!. You can use a ‘European-style’ butter, which has a higher percentage of fat and remains more stable when baked. Examples of this include Plugra.

Some recipes use vegetable shortening instead of butter, which is another alternative (although I don’t personally use vegetable shortening). Vegetable shortening is 100% percent fat, which means there’s little water so things stay in place better when baked (it’s why pie dough made with shortening is flakier…there’s little water to saturate and toughen the flour.)

If you choose to replace butter in your recipe with vegetable shortening, find one without trans-fats, which are now available.

Check Your Oven Temperature

Every oven is completely different. I had a someone call me at 11pm one night to tell me her Peanut Butter Cookies took 10 minutes to bake instead of 9 minutes, as indicated by the recipe. Buy an oven thermometer and check the accuracy of your oven.

If you put cookies in an oven that’s not hot enough, they’ll droop and spread before firming up.

You can find more tips at my post: Tips to Keep Cookies From Spreading



Related Links

Is sifting necessary?

Chocolate FAQs

Cocoa powder FAQs

Why you should use aluminum-free baking powder (and how to make your own)

Recipes for using up leftover egg whites

American baking ingredients in Paris

French sugar

Tips to keep cooking from spreading