2 Ways To Melt Chocolate

While you can easily make chocolate chip cookies without needing to worry about melting chocolate, this is not the case with many baking recipes. From brownies to cake to fudge, you will encounter many different recipes that require you to melt chocolate until smooth if you do any baking at all. So how can you melt chocolate and do so effectively? Let’s look into it now:

Microwave Method

First, you will have to either pour the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl, or roughly chop up the chocolate (if you are using bars). Then, place it in the microwave and slowly heat the chocolate. Start with roughly 20 to 30 seconds of time in the microwave before pausing and stirring. You can keep going in short intervals (never more than 30 seconds) in between stirs until your chocolate is mostly melted. If there are one or two lumps, you can generally let the residual heat take care of the rest. You have to be very careful with this method, because chocolate can burn in an instant when you are microwaving it, since there is more hands off time when you cannot touch it.

Double Boiler

Perhaps the best way to effective melt chocolate for baking recipes is to create a double boiler. First, grab a tall pot and fill the bottom with a little bit of water. You also need to get a metal bowl to place in the pot, but you must match the sizes so it sits comfortably (as if you turned a lid upside down) on the pot sides rather than falling in. Also be sure to avoid having the bottom of the bowl touch the water.

Bring the water to a boil and then pout the chocolate chips or chopped chocolate into the metal bowl. Use a plastic spatula to constantly stir the chocolate until smooth.

3 Ways To Prevent Cheesecake Cracks

Cheesecake is perhaps one of the most popular rich desserts people make outside of restaurants. The vast majority of people enjoy them, since there are wide ranges of flavours. There is a flavour for just about every taste! However, baking cheesecake can be quite finicky, since there is a fine line between perfectly mixed and overmixed and they are very prone to cracking during or after baking. The good news? Cracks in your cheesecake are simply an aesthetic issue—they do not change the taste. Regardless, if you want to produce a perfect cheesecake without cracks, we have some tips for you:

Remember The Water Bath

Many cheesecake recipes tell you to put it in a water bath—and if the recipe doesn’t, you should still do it. A water bath is your cheesecake’s best friend for preventing cracks. It helps even out the baking process. Uneven baking can cause these cracks to form in the oven! The water bath is also a great way to cool your cheesecake slower, which is the second piece of advice we have on this list for you.

Cool Slowly

The time after your cheesecake comes out of the oven is a critical time for cracks forming—this is where they happen the most often. It has to do with the drop in temperature. A fast drop is a near guarantee of cracks in the top of your cheesecake. Instead, we suggest starting by shutting off your oven and leaving the door open a little bit. You can do this for 10 to 20 minutes before taking your cheesecake out of the oven. At this point, you want it on a cooling rack. Do not flip it or take it off its base though! At most, in another few minutes you should carefully take off the sides of the springform pan. Leave your cheesecake out on the counter for a couple hours before putting it in the fridge.

The key to all of this is to slow down the cooling process as much as possible to help prevent the cheesecake from seizing and forming cracks.

Use A Topping

Okay, so this one is less about preventing the cracks in your cheesecake and more about making it seem as if there are no cracks. Sometimes even if you try everything, your cheesecake will still end up with a crack or two in it. Thankfully, there is an easy way to make it look perfect again! All you need to do is make some kind of topping to cover your cheesecake. This can be a fruit compote, chocolate ganache, et cetera. Either way, it will disguise the cracks!

Difference Between Muffins and Cupcakes

Though they are quite similar when you first think about it, given you bake them in the same tin and they are the most portable baked goods next to cookies, muffins and cupcakes are not the same thing. In fact, there are a few key differences between the two, though they may not be well known to some. Here is a quick breakdown of the significant differences between muffins and cupcakes:

Can You Make A Birthday Cake?

There is a quite simple test you can run to determine if something you are baking is a cupcake or a muffin. If you have cupcake batter, you can just pour it into a cake tin and bake it, resulting in a nice birthday cake (or a cake for another occasion). For muffins, on the other hand, the batter will not make a nice birthday cake if you were to pour it into a cake tin instead of the individual tins for muffins/cupcakes. No, if you have muffin batter you could make a quick bread like banana or zucchini bread, which are both denser than cakes, much like how muffins are denser than cupcakes.

Only One Can Be Savoury

Most people tend to make sweet muffins and cupcakes when they are baking. This is, after all, what baking is most associated with! However, the idea of savoury baking is rising in popularity at a steady pace. Most significantly, you can make savoury muffins, such as cornbread muffins to go with chili or a baked egg muffin for a quick breakfast. You cannot, however, make savoury cupcakes. Those remain exclusively sweet.

Down To The Batter

Both muffins and cupcakes share common ingredients, such as flour, eggs, butter, milk, and sugar (though this will vary based on the specific recipe). However, with muffins you can commonly find the regular all-purpose flour substituted for oat, nut, or other wheat flour. In muffins you are more likely to find mix ins like nuts in the batter, whereas you may find a filling in a cupcake. The major differences come in the quantity of the ingredients, like the higher amount of butter and sugar in cupcakes, and the mixing process. For the most part, a baker would mix cupcake batter for longer, resulting in a different consistency, including more aeration than with muffin batter.

Essential Tools For Baking

essential tools

If you are going to bake delicious desserts, you are going to require some tools to make it happen. While there are many fancy tools out there, like automatic mixers, in reality there are only a few things you will actually need. You may have to work a little harder because of this, but it is well worth it.

Mixing Bowls

You will not get anywhere with baking unless you have a good set of mixing bowls. Ideally, find a nesting set of bowls. They can be metal or plastic, but remember you cannot put the metal ones in the microwave, and if you want to make a double boiler to melt chocolate, you need a metal bowl. Nesting bowls are the best idea to save on storage space.

Measuring Cups and Spoons

How else are you going to know how much of an ingredient you are adding if you do not have any measuring cups or spoons? Use the spoons for ingredients like vanilla extract, spices, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. The cups are for liquids, flour, sugar, and oats, among other higher volume ingredients.

Wooden Spoons

Wooden spoons are the ideal tools to mix your ingredients together with. Mixing by hand will also help you work your muscles, which is quite beneficial, even if using an automatic mixer would make things easier. In addition, mixing by hand with wooden spoons gives you more control over the process ,which is essential for many finicky recipes.

Baking Sheets and Muffin Tins

You are definitely going to need things like baking sheets, muffin tins, brownie pans, et cetera if you actually want to bake the batter you mix. Unfortunately, it is hard to substitute these pans for one another, so you will likely need at least one of each of them.

Cooling Racks

When you take your baked goods out of the oven, they will need some time to cool down before you can eat them. This is where cooling racks come in handy. While you can put things on a clean counter, the cooling rack helps to cool them faster since the air can also travel underneath.

Rolling Pin

If any of the recipes you like want you to roll out dough, you are going to need a rolling pin to help. This make things much easier than trying to roll out dough with your hands or a makeshift tool like a jar. It also helps to ensure you are rolling the dough evenly, which can only help your recipe.

Essential Ingredients For Baking

essential ingredientsAre you getting started with baking? Do you need to stock up your pantry? Baking returns all sorts of delicious goodies, but nothing is more frustrating than choosing a recipe only to find out you are missing one or more of the ingredients. While some recipes will call for certain things you do not normally use, or would go bad quickly, there are some essential ingredients you should always keep on hand if you like to bake.

All-Purpose Flour

There are many types of flour, but some of them, like pastry flour, are meant for only certain recipes. All- purpose flour, on the other hand, is a very multi functional ingredient. You can use it in cakes, cookies, muffins, and even as a thickening ingredient in savoury cooking. In many instances, you can use some all-purpose flour as a substitute for most of the other kinds of flour.


While it may seem like you could simply leave out a teaspoon of salt in your recipe, it will actually compromise the taste and even the texture of your baked goods if you do. Since it does not go bad, always keep some simple table salt in your pantry for all of your baking needs. You can even use it outside of baking, so you do not need to worry about whether or not you will finish it off.

White and Brown Sugar

Most baking calls for either white or brown sugar, so you should always try to keep some on hand. You can substitute one for the other in many recipes, though it would still be better to use whichever the recipe wants, since it will affect the texture slightly, and even maybe the taste for discerning palates. You can, however, add some molasses to white sugar to help mimic the taste and consistency of brown sugar.

Baking Soda and Powder

You do not want to skip either one of these ingredients if they appear in your list of ingredients for a recipe, Just be sure to read the list carefully so you do not accidentally add the one you are not supposed to!

Baking Chocolate

Do you like chocolate? If so, always keep some baking chocolate and chocolate chips in your pantry. It should always be baking quality so you can be assured of the flavour as well as how much you need to add. Baker’s chocolate is usually much stronger than the commercial chocolate you will see in other aisles at the grocery store.

Pure Vanilla Extract

This is one of the most popular extracts you will see on recipes, which is why it is a good idea to keep it on hand. You can also use this in a pinch if you do not have another extract, though remember it will delivery a different flavour than, say, orange extract.

Popular Substitutions in Baking

Baking is a particularly popular pastime. You can make countless sweet and savoury treats with simple recipes and your imagination. However, there may be instances in which you need to change the recipes. This may be due to allergies, other dietary restrictions, or perhaps because of a diet. The good news is there are lots of things you can do to make your favourite sweet treats even if you have to switch out a couple ingredients. Here are some popular alternatives to ingredients like sugar, flour, and butter:

Applesauce – Applesauce is perhaps the most popular substitute ingredient out there. You can use it in place of both sugar and butter. If you want to change out some of the sugar in your recipe, add in an equal amount of applesauce instead. Thus, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar, use 1 cup of applesauce. This works well for a wide range of baked goods, particularly cookies. Just remember to reduce the liquid in your recipe by a quarter cup for every cup of applesauce you add.

Black Beans – You might think this surprising, but pureed black beans are a popular alternative for all-purpose flours, particularly in brownie recipes. Using black beans helps make the recipe gluten-free and adds some protein to it as well. When substituting, use the same amount of black beans as you would flour.

Avocados – Butter and avocados have roughly the same consistency at room temperature, and the fact they are both fats makes avocados a perfect substitute ingredient. Simply switch out every cup of butter for a cup of pureed avocados. Their creaminess and subtle flavour will make brownies and cookies quite delicious, in addition to cutting some of the calories butter added.

Chia Seeds – In recipes for cakes, bread, and muffins, chia seeds can actually work in place of butter. Simply soak two to three tablespoons of chia seeds in a cup of water for every cup of butter you want to take out of your recipe. They add protein and potassium, and are great for making a recipe vegan. You can also use one tablespoon of chia seeds in a cup of water for every egg. Just remember, we only recommend substituting half of those ingredients for chia seeds, at least in the beginning.

Evaporated Milk – Instead of using heavy cream in cakes, biscuits, and other baking recipes, use evaporated milk in equal amounts. They have the same consistency, but evaporated milk has merely a fraction of the fat. There is, however, a little more sugar in evaporated milk, but the fat reduction tends to make up for it.