when cooking/baking sweets
Making sweets is fun, however you to know what you are doing.
Many candy recipes have been handed down from generation
to generation, sometimes you may run into a measurement you don't know
how to convert, or it may request an ingredient you don't have.
Then there are all the unwritten tips, like have you ever
noticed that a professionally baked chocolate cake never has flour dust
Do you have a site cooking? Send
me the URL, if I can't find it, I can't add it.
General Tips - Finding
a Lost Recipe - Simple
Substitutions - Substitutes for Liqueur (nonalcoholic) - Make it fancy, and easy - How
it Measures - Temperatures - Testing Candy - Oops! - When you don't have the right pan - Cleaning
- Keep hardening by keeping a slice of apple in the container.
- If it has started to harden, place a slice of fresh bread
in the package for a couple of hours.
- If it looks like a brick, pull out the cheese grater.
- When needing to peel peaches, pears or tomatoes, simply scald
them first. The skin will almost fall off.
- Get more juice from a citrus fruit by, warming it slightly
in the oven first.
- Cream will whip faster if you chill the bowl and beaters
first. OR add a couple drops of lemon juice.
- You can whipped cream from separating if you add 1/4 teaspoon
unflavored gelatin per cup of cream.
- Soupy whipped cream can be saved by adding an egg white,
chilling, then re-beating.
To keep your bowl from moving while using the mixer,
place a dampened folded towel under it.
- To keep a meringue pie from weeping. Add a teaspoon of cornstarch
to the sugar before beating into the egg whites.
- To cover a meringue pie with out it sticking, grease waxed
paper or plastic wrap with margarine.
- When slicing baked meringue, grease the knife with butter
Muffins will pop out easily if you place the hot
pan on a wet towel first.
If needing to measure shortening or butter, dip
the cup or spoon in hot water first.
When unmolding a gelatin dish, wet the dish first.
This way the gelatin can be moved to the center easily.
Finding a Lost Recipe
One of the most common requests I receive weekly is "Can
you find the recipe for ___? Many of us remember something from our childhood,
that we enjoyed and have no idea how to make it. Americans very often run
into a common problem, it was a grandmother's recipe that was either lost,
or may have never been written down in the first place, and grandmother
wasn't a born American. So far I have found every recipe, some took days
others only minutes.
- If you live in a larger city, call you local library and
ask for the research department. This is a free service at many libraries.
These people are experts at research, and can often find a recipe in minutes.
- If you don't have access to a library that has a research
department, then it is time to the net. By using one of the search engines
that reads the entire text of a site like will increase your chances. HotBot and Web Crawler are my personal favorites.
- Do several searches using different spellings, the odds are
the name you know the food item by has been what I call "Americanized".
- If finding by name fails, do a search by ingredients you
know that are used. This is very handy, especially if it use an odd ingredient.
The search string should look something like this: chocolate +vanilla +sugar
+ corn syrup -flour. If you were looking for a candy, you know it wouldn't
have flour in it, so by including the "-flour" the engine will skip all
the chocolate cake recipes.
Oops Out of ____ , No problem. Simple
- Now for the real tip, while the above will find many of the
more common recipes, sometimes you will still come up empty. This is what
happened when my husband wanted a dish his grandmother made for him as
- Hit the search engines, using the key words of "cook" and
the country you think the recipe may have originated from. In my husband's
case his grandmother was a Russian who migrated to Canada in the early
1900s, so I used "Russia" in my search.
- Even if the websites are not written in a language you can't
read, the pictures will often let you know if you are on a page that has
to do with cooking. Look for an e-mail link, if there is no graphics, or
you can't find the e-mail address you can always try the standard "webmaster@the
- Write a simple note letting the person know what you are
looking for. Give them as much information about as you know about the
item, include what part of the country your relative came from and when
- As a rule I will send out 5 to 10 requests, you will be surprised
at how many people are willing to help.
- If you know how to do 'power searches' you may also do a
search by restricting the search to domains that use the county code. (example:
ru = Russia, it = Italy, de = Germany) If you don't know the county code,
I just happen to have a page with almost all of the countries listed.
- If you still come up empty, let
me know. I can't guarantee anything, but so far I'm at 100% batting
Substitutes for Liqueur (nonalcoholic)
- Allspice - 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
+ 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- Baking powder (1 teaspoon) - 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
+ 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Brown sugar (1 cup packed) - 1 cup sugar + 2 tablespoons
- Buttermilk (1 cup) - 1 cup milk, less 1 tablespoon
+ 1 tablespoon vinegar
- Cake flour (1 cup) - 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons of
sifted all-purpose flour
- Cornstarch (1 tablespoon for thickening) - 2 tablespoons
- Corn Syrup (1 cup) 1 cup sugar + 1/4 cup
of additional liquid used in recipe
- Cream (1 cup) - 1/3 cup butter and 2/3 cup milk
- Milk (1 cup) - 1/2 cup evaporated milk and 1/2 cup
water, or 1 cup reconstituted nonfat dry milk with 1 tablespoon butter
- Pumpkin Pie Spice - 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon + an 1/8
teaspoon of each of the following: ginger, nutmeg, mace, cloves
- Sour milk - (1 cup) - 1 cup milk mixed with 1 tablespoon
vinegar or lemon juice
- 1 marshmallow - 10 miniature marshmallows
- Unsweetened baking chocolate (1 square) - 1 tablespoon
shortening + 3 tablespoons cocoa
- Ground Cloves - Just did this one, place whole cloves
in Coffee Bean Grinder.
Make it fancy, and easy
- Amaretto - (1/4 cup) - 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- Coffee liqueur - (equivalent amount) - use coffee
made with 6 tablespoons per cup water
- Fruit liqueurs - (equivalent amount) - use the
syrup from canned fruit that has been reduced by boiling
- Orange liqueur - equivalent amount of frozen orange
- Rum - a touch of either rum extract or vanilla extract
- Wine - (1 cup) - 7/8 cup fruit juice + 1/8 cup lemon juice or vinegar
Melt chocolate morels, place in plastic baggie, snip corner
and draw on waxed paper, chill and place on most anything, cookies, cakes,
Dip strawberries, pretzels, dried fruit, or most anything
in chocolate. Place on waxed paper, chill.
Melt white bark, mix in chopped red and green jelled candies,
pour on waxed paper, chill, break into pieces
Freeze fruit or mint leaves in ice cubes, serve flavored
water. Like that "Sam's Choice" you get at Wal-mart. Looks great, tastes
great, no fat, no calories, no mess and cheap.
Hate crumbs when icing? Cover layers with plastic wrap
and chill 30 minutes
Hate that white flour on your chocolate cake? Use cocoa
instead of flour when prepping the pan.
How it Measures
|Dash = less than 1/8 teaspoon
60 drops = 1 teaspoon
1 jigger = 3 tablespoons
3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons = 1/8 cup
4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup
4 ounces = 1/2 cup
8 ounces = 1 cup
2 cups = 1 pint
4 cups = 1 quart
|1 pound granulated sugar = 2 cups
1 pound brown sugar = 2 3/4 cups
1 pound powdered sugar = 3 3/4 cups
1 pound sifted flour = 4 cups
22 vanilla wafers = 1 cup crumbs
1 ounce butter = 2 tablespoons
8 to 10 egg whites = 1 cup
12 to 14 egg yolks = 1 cup
1 lemon = 3 tablespoons juice
1 orange = 1/3 cup juice
Manually Testing Candy
|Very slow oven - 250 to 300 F
Slow oven - 300 to 325 F
Moderate oven 325 to 375 F
Moderate hot oven 375 to 400 F
Hot oven 400 to 450 F
Very hot oven 450 to 500 F
|Soft Ball - 234 to 238 F (Fondant & Fudge)
Firm Ball - 245 to 248 F (Divinity & Caramels)
Hard Ball - 265 to 270 F (Taffy)
Light Crack - 275 to 280 F (Butterscotch)
Hard Crack - 285 to 290 F (Peanut Brittle)
Caramelized - 310 to 321 F (Caramelized Sugar)
Fill a cup with fresh cold water. Remove about 1/2 teaspoon
directly from pot, and pour into water. Pick-up candy with fingers and
roll into a ball.
Soft Ball - The candy will roll into a soft ball, that
quickly loses its shape when removed from water.
Firm Ball - The candy will roll into a firm ball, that
will flatten out in a few minutes when removed from water.
Hard Ball - The candy will roll into a hard ball,
that will roll when removed from water
Light Crack - The andy will form brittle threads, that
will soften when removed from water
Hard Crack - The candy will form brittle threads, that
will remain brittle when removed from water
Caramelizing - The sugar has become golden brown. It will
form a hard brittle ball in water.
Sometimes now mater what, something just doesn't go right.
How to save that under cooked Fudge. If you poured
your fudge in the pan and it refuses to set-up, its most likely under cooked.
Since re-cooking it may alter it, try this. (I'm averaging one batch a
year doing this)
Pour fudge back into a bowl, add powered sugar until
Hard candy that is broken, or just dosn't look good
Place in the fridg. for 30 minutes or so.
While the fudge is chilling, chop some nuts
Take fudge out of the fridge, using a teaspoon, scoop
out a little.
Make into a ball about 3/4 inch.
Roll in chopped nuts, and set aside
After all the fudge is rolled, dip each ball into a bowl
of melted Almond Bark
Place on waxed paper, to set.
Trust me this is almost good enough to be a recipe of
its own. Last year it was a plain chocolate fudge that I under cooked.
This year hubby killed my thermometer, while trying to help. I guess I
missed the "soft ball" stage by a degree or two, this years balls are peanut
butter fudge, rolled in pecans, with chocolate coating. ;-)
While making glass candy, I always have pieces that are
too small. Also there is always one or two types of hard candy that comes
in the assorment bag, that everyone picks over. These are great when making
stain glass cookies. (recipe
on cooking page)
Will It Fit? When you don't have
the right pan.
4 1/2 cups:
- 9" pie plate
- 8" x 1 1/4" layer cake pan
- 7 3/8" x 3 5/8" x 2 1/4" loaf pan
- 8 1/2" x 2 1/4" ring mold
- 9 1/2" layer cake pan
- 10" pie plate
- 8 1/2 x 3 5/8" x 2 5/8" loaf pan
- 7" x 5 1/2" x 4" melon mold
- 7 1/2" x 3' tube pan
- 8" x 8" x 2" square pan/dish
- 11" x 7" x 1 1/2" pan
- 9" x 5" x 3" loaf pan
- 9 1/4" x 2 3/4" mold
- 9" x 9" x 2" square pan/dish
- 11 3/4" x 7 1/2" x 1 3/4" pan
- 15" x 10" x 1" jelly roll pan
- 13" x 8 1/2" x 2" pan/dish
- 9" x 3 1/2" angle cake pan
If your fruit pie, boils over in the oven. Shake salt
onto te spill. They will now burn to a crisp that can be easily scraped
up with a spatula.
Us a toothbrush to clean a grater.
The Blender - Pour in a cup or so of water and a drop
of dish detergent. Cover and turn on for a few seconds. Rinse and dry.
Drain running slow?
Scorched stuff in the saucepan? Fill half way with water,
add 1/4 cup baking soda. Boil until stuff is floating.
- Grease - Pour 1 cup of salt, 1 cup baking soda, than a pot
of boiling water
- Other - 1/2 cup baking soda, 1 cup vinegar. Mixture will
foam, then run hot water
Stainless steel pot & pans stained? - (from
You can clean stains off of stainless steel pots and
pans with a little vinegar or lemon juice. Clean regularly
with soap and water first. Then you can remove stubborn stains and
hazes with some vinegar and a paper towel. I use apple cider vinegar,
but any would work, it is the acid.