Things You Need to Know about Holiday Desserts

Things You Need to Know about Holiday Desserts

It’s holiday season now! Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year are just around the corner. Make sure you have the basic baking knowledge before you start preparing the holiday desserts.

Granulated Sugar or Decorating Sugar? 

Granulated sugar is often used as a sweetener in baking, so it can be confusing when other names appear. Decorating sugar has much larger crystals than granulated sugar and is used to decorate desserts, such as cookies. Larger size makes it more heat resistant. You can add colors to decorating sugar for a rainbow of options. Other sizes that serve a similar purpose to decorating sugar are called coarse sugar and sanding sugar. 

Powdered Sugar or Confectioners’ Sugar? 

Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, these two sugars are different. Powdered sugar is granulated sugar that has been ground to a very fine powder. For those of you who watch baking shows a lot, you may have heard the term "icing sugar" for powdered sugar. This is simply because powdered sugar is often used to make homemade frosting. Confectioner sugar, meanwhile, is powdered sugar to which starch has been added. This prevents it from clumping while it sits. So while you can substitute one for the other in your baking, read the ingredients carefully if you want to use sugar to garnish your dessert.

Evaporated Milk or Condensed Milk? 

While condensed and evaporated milk are both thick, shelf-stable canned milk made by removing about 60% of milk's water, they taste different. Condensed milk is often called sweetened condensed milk because it has added sugar to create a sweet mixture that can be eaten on its own after being boiled and cooled. Evaporated milk, also known as dehydrated milk, not to be confused with powdered milk, goes through a longer storage process than condensed milk. It may be labeled as unsweetened condensed mil

Meringue or Whipped Cream? 

Both are whipped into a light white fluff, used to garnish desserts, meringues, and whipped cream are popular during the holiday season, but don't confuse the two. Meringues are made with egg whites, while whipped cream is made with heavy whipping cream. Meringues keep longer than whipped cream and can be added to desserts before meals rather than at serving like whipped cream. Whipped cream is usually sweeter than meringues, so if you mix what needs to be, the taste of your dessert will change.

Baking Soda or Baking Powder? 

Baking soda and baking powder are both used in place of yeast, but which one to use depends on how the dessert is prepared. The baking soda reacts with any acidic ingredients it contains, making the food less harsh, so these recipes will bake in no time. Baking powder reacts when heated, so it can rest before being brought close to the stove. However, these two components are not exclusive. Baking soda and baking powder can be combined to control the overall flavor but still allow the mixture to leaven.

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