7 Healthy Holiday Baking Tips

Do you slack on your healthy eating habits around the holidays? Do you think of the "12 pounds of Christmas" when you hear the "12 days of Christmas?"

This is, without a doubt, the most difficult time of year for people trying to eat healthy meals. However, this does not imply that we must give up!

Here are some healthy holiday baking suggestions and ingredient swaps that will lighten up your recipes without sacrificing flavour, texture, or deliciousness.

Soften the butter
In cookie dough, the temperature of the butter is critical. Too cold or too warm butter will not whisk well enough to incorporate the proper quantity of air, resulting in dense cookies. Prepare ahead of time by bringing your butter to room temperature before you start baking. (Butter should be malleable at room temperature, and a finger should easily indent it.) Here are three techniques to make sure your butter is ready to use in the kitchen.

What is the best way to soften butter for baking?
1. Allow your butter to sit out on the counter for 2 to 3 hours, or overnight.
2. To enhance the surface area of refrigerated butter, cut it into small pieces and let it at room temperature for about 1 hour.

3. Cut the butter into small, consistent pieces and spread them out on a platter evenly. Microwave in 15-second intervals on low power, flipping the pieces after each interval. (Two to three intervals should suffice.)

The dough should be aerated.
Small air pockets are created when butter and sugar are creamed together, which aerates the dough and helps it rise in the oven—a crucial step for light cookies.

It's crucial to use a hand mixer or a stand mixer. Unless the recipe indicates otherwise, use the paddle attachment if using a stand mixer. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar till pale yellow and fluffy. With a hand mixer on medium, this takes about 3 minutes, and with a stand mixer on medium, it takes about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl's sides from time to time to ensure that all of the butter is well-aerated.

Precisely measure the flour
Baking necessitates precision; even minor changes in the recipe can have a significant impact on the final product.

Scoop the flour into the measuring cup with a spoon, then level the top with a straight edge (such as the spoon handle). If you scoop flour directly from the bag, you can wind up with more than you need, resulting in a drier cookie. Alternatively, you can weigh your flour according to the weights specified in the recipes.

Check the temperature of the oven
Because every oven is a little different and many don't run at the same temperature, investing in an oven thermometer is a great idea (a few degrees difference can make a big difference to your cookies).

Adjust the dial as needed after verifying the temperature, or change the baking time specified in the recipe. Because cookies are little and delicate, a few degrees or a minute of baking can be the difference between underbaked, overbaked, or just right.

Always use parchment paper for baking
It not only makes cleanup a breeze (no need to wash the baking sheet! ), but it also eliminates the need to grease the pan and ensures that your cookies do not cling.

Between the baking sheet and the cookie, parchment works as an insulator, preventing overbrowning. It also prevents cookies from spreading excessively (and merging into one giant cookie).

Kitchen Tip: Save your used parchment paper! It can be used over and over (as long as it's clean) until it's worn out. In the test kitchen, Reynolds and No Name are our go-to brands for quality and durability.

Bake one sheet at a time in the oven
Although many recipes don't say, it's understood that cookies are baked one sheet at a time. This is necessary because it enables for optimal heat circulation and equal browning. Unless otherwise specified, place the oven rack in the middle. Keep in mind that cookies continue to cook on the hot tray after they've been removed from the oven, so remove them when the edges are just beginning to become golden.

Store separately
Because cookies are susceptible to air and humidity, keep soft and crisp cookies in separate, tightly sealed containers to maintain texture. Using paper to separate layers of cookies will help prevent breakage, especially if you're transporting them.

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