Finding gel food coloring was a revelation. If you've been using liquid, you'll be amazing at the difference! Gel food coloring is much more vibrant, and you'll need much less of it to give your baked goods a bright color. I like using it to color batters, fondant, and frostings. Americolor is my favorite brand for its consistency, quality, and the easy-to-use squeeze bottles, and this orange color gives all of your desserts and baked goods a nice orange shade.
How can something so small taste so good?? These gorgeous little chocolate pearls aren't just for looks--they taste great too! Their glossy chocolate appearance adds the perfect touch to cupcakes, cakes, and many other desserts, but watch out--they're so pop-able you might find yourself eating them by the handful!
Sure, you can make dulce de leche yourself from sweetened condensed milk, but sometimes you just need instant gratification! This dulce de leche is perfect, straight from the can, and is great in baking and candy recipes, and as a toast and muffin topper. My husband even likes eating it straight from the can with a spoon!
Sometimes, nothing but an 11 lb block of chocolate will do! When I have big baking projects coming up, I forgo the smaller dark chocolate options and head straight for this big boy. Buying a large block is more economical and as always, Callebaut makes excellent chocolate. When stored properly the chocolate will last for months, so if you're a regular baker or candy maker, there's no reason not to invest in some quality chocolate.
"Callets" may not be a familiar term, but all it means is that this chocolate comes formed in large, equally-sized drops. Buying callets is great because it eliminates the need for chopping large blocks of chocolate, and all of the pieces melt quickly and evenly. This dark chocolate has a smooth, fluid melt and a wonderfully dark, rich flavor.
When I need milk chocolate for baking, these Callebaut callets are my choice. Callebaut chocolate isn't too costly, but the quality is outstanding, with a rich flavor and perfect texture for dipping and enrobing. Buy callets means I don't have to chop my chocolate, and the small pieces melt quickly and easily. Watch out: it tastes so good, it's also a great chocolate for eating plain!
No, I'm not on the C&H payroll, but yes, I will gladly shill their product! I've learned the hard way that it pays to spend a little more for good sugar. In the past, I've tried buying cheaper store brand sugars that aren't specifically cane sugar, which means they are most likely beet sugar or beet-and-cane blend, and they just don't provide consistent results for candy making and sugar work. I'm now a pure cane sugar convert and recommend that you become one, too!
I use chocolate candy coating all the time, and one of my favorite brands is Merckens. Candy coating is a useful shortcut when you don't want to temper chocolate for candy making, so I always keep a big bag on hand in the kitchen. Candy coating hardens quickly and produces shiny chocolate-covered candies that have a satisfying snap. Some varieties are thick and gloopy when they're melted, but Merckens always has a texture that's not too thick and not too thin--perfect for dipping chocolates and molding candies!
Hands down, my award for MVP of the nut world would go to hazelnuts. They may not be the cheapest, and they may be the devil to skin, but their flavor is my absolute favorite. I love making my own hazelnut butter by blending hazelnuts and a bit of oil in the food processor, then substituting hazelnut butter for peanut butter in recipes. Chopped hazelnuts are also delicious in cookies, brownies, and other baked goods.
Oh Nutella, I wish I could quit you! Try as I might, I just can't stop buying (and eating) the classic hazelnut-chocolate spread. It may not be the healthiest, but dang is it good on a piece of toast. It's also a favorite baking ingredient of mine! It adds excellent flavor to mousses, ice creams, tarts, cupcakes, spoons, fingers...basically anything.
Special desserts call for special ingredients. When I want to pull out all the stops, I turn to Valrhona cocoa powder. It's not cheap, but it's my favorite for adding dark, intense chocolate flavor with lots of depth and no bitterness. For everyday use, I like Cacao Barry cocoa powder as a more affordable option.
When I want high-quality cocoa powder without a high price tag, I turn to Cacao Barry Extra Brute. Valrhona Cocoa might be my favorite for special occasions, but Cacao Barry is my daily go-to. It delivers a strong, rich chocolate flavor and produces delicious cakes and brownies. Best of all, it's one of the most affordable of the "gourmet" cocoas, so I always keep a big stash of it in my kitchen.