Desserts

Cooking With Cornstarch

February 16, 2021

More and more people are swapping starches for flour in their recipes. If this is something that you have thought about doing then read on to find out more about cornstarch and its uses.

Cornstarch is one of the most versatile starches that there is. Extracted from the starchy endosperm of corn, its white powdery substance is virtually flavorless. It’s a nice ingredient for thickening puddings, soups, pie fillings, and many baked goods recipes. When added to cake, cookie, and shortbread recipes, cornstarch helps create a crumbly and tender texture.

Commercially, cornstarch is often used as an anti-caking agent. When added to packaged goods like shredded cheese, cornstarch coats the cheese and helps to absorb moisture that would otherwise cause spoiling. The absorption process also helps prevent food from clumping over time. Additionally, it is used when making sugars, such as corn syrup.

When cooking with cornstarch, it is best to mix this ingredient into a recipe that is at room temperature. When cornstarch is added to too hot of a mixture, the heat can cause unwanted clumping. Before adding any starch to a recipe, it’s recommended first to make a slurry. To make a slurry, simply mix cornstarch with a cold liquid such as water. This mixture will create a paste-like substance, that you can then add to the desired recipe. Using this slurry method will ensure that the cornstarch is evenly distributed throughout the recipe and not broken down by the heat. It is not recommended to freeze sauce and soups that include cornstarch. Freeing cornstarch can cause the molecules in the starch to break down, and once thawed, the liquid will not hold the same texture as before.

For Thickening:
Cornstarch is often used as a thickening agent when added to soups, stews, and gravies. Denser than flour, less cornstarch is needed to thicken a liquid to the desired consistency.

When cornstarch is added to a recipe, the starch molecules work to absorb water and thicken the mixture. When heated, those molecules swell and consume even more of the liquid in the recipe. Upon thoroughly cooking, the starch in the mix will have expanded size to ten times its size. Once the mixture cools, these same molecules will set. The setting of these molecules can help further solidify the dough, which makes cornstarch a great thickening agent for gooey fillings like pies and pudding. However, this molecule expansion is limited. While a cornstarch enriched recipe can be brought close to boil, it should never be fully boiled. When cornstarch is exposed to too high of temperatures, the starch molecules will begin to deflate, and the mixture will return to its runny state.

For Baked Goods:
Cornstarch not only acts as a thickening agent, but it can also be used in baked goods like cookies, brownies, and cakes. If you’re looking for more structure in your favorite dessert recipe, then you may want to try using cornstarch. Combining cornstarch with other flours can help soften the rigid proteins of the flour, resulting in a light and chewy dessert. Similar to when adding cornstarch to a soup or pudding, if adding cornstarch to a dessert batter, it should first be turned into a slurry. This will ensure that all of the molecules remain intact and that the starch is evenly distributed. Upon adding cornstarch to your baked goods, evaluate it as you would a soup. Has your batter reached the desired consistency? If not, then a bit more cornstarch may be needed. Once your dough looks perfect, bake your dessert like usual. The result should be light, fluffy, and delicious desserts.

Anti-Caking Agent:
Have you ever wondered why your powder sugar ingredients include cornstarch? Cornstarch acts as an anti-caking agent. By keeping moisture and condensation from reaching whatever it is mixed with. It helps to prevent lumps in finely ground foods like sugar. Cornstarch isn’t just used to ward off moisture from sugar. The next time you’re in the grocery store take a look at how many products list cornstarch as an ingredient. From gravy granules to shredded cheese, you might be surprised by the wide variety of foods that cornstarch is added to.

Frying With Cornstarch:
Cornstarch can also be used as a coating for fried foods. While cornstarch shouldn’t be used as a substitute for flour in baked goods, you can very easily substitute it in for flours when coating fried chicken, fish, or other items you’re frying. Not only will cornstarch work in the same way that flours do, but it will hold up better against sauces and absorb less of the frying oil. Less oil means less fat in your meal.

When frying food with cornstarch, I recommend that you coat the items lightly. Applying a light even coat to your food will ensure that it results in a crispy texture. When too much cornstarch is added, the coating often turns out gummy rather than crunchy. For the perfect, gluten-free fried food, consider blending cornstarch with a gluten-free flour like almond flour. This will help create a more breaded result, similar to wheat flour.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2021 All Rights Reserved

Common Pie Mistakes

November 19, 2020

Warm Dough
Make sure not to let the dough get warm. Use cold butter and ice water. Refrigerate the dough before you roll it out. If the butter warms it will be absorbed by the flour, become sticky, and make for a tough crust.

Uneven Crust
To get an even, round crust, begin rolling from the middle of the dough round, pushing outward and stopping the pressure 1/4 inch from the edge. Then lift the round, give it a quarter turn and repeat.

Transferring Crust
To transfer your pie dough from the rolling surface to the pie plate, lift it with a bench scraper, gently drape it over a rolling pin, then place it in the pie plate.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Autumn Apples

October 2, 2020

Autumn’s bounty is vibrant, varied, and delicious. Apples of all varieties are now available at farmers’ markets and supermarkets, including crunchy, sweet Honeycrisp, gorgeous Galas, MacIntosh mottled with both green and red, pale yellow Ginger Golds, and dark, dusky Paula Reds.

Apples are the perfect snack, satisfying and sweet. Try slicing an apple, place the slices in a plastic baggie, sprinkle liberally with cinnamon, close the bag, and shake until the slices are well coated with cinnamon. The apple slices will stay crisp and white for several days in the refrigerator. Perfect for grab and go school lunches, picnics or work from home snack breaks.

A versatile cooking ingredient, apples go well with both sweet and savory components. Combing apples with plums, cranberries, figs, raspberries or blueberries will yield particularly pleasing desserts, such as pies, puddings, tarts, cobblers, and crisps. Whether baked, poached or sautéed, apples lend marvelous layers of flavor to breads, sauces, slaws, salads, stuffing, coleslaw, chutney, and relishes.

As the weather turns cooler, what could be more comforting than the scent of apples roasting in the oven, mingling with spicy cinnamon. Apples enjoy an easy association with all manner of spices, including allspice, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg.

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Summer Baking

July 29, 2020

I know that summer baking seems counter intuitive, but for some reason I feel compelled to keep baking in the warmer months of the year. Keeping your home cool can be though enough without the oven adding to the heat. Plus, adding in heat-sensitive ingredients and humidity and you can have less than perfect baking results. Summer does bring wonderful seasonal ingredients like berries and stone fruits that should be missed.

Use your oven in the morning or evening. We all know that your oven can heat up your kitchen quickly. This is why I like to bake early in the morning or in the evening when the outside temperature is lower.

Choose recipes with shorter baking times. In keeping with minimizing the heat from your oven, look for baking recipes that don’t require lots of oven time. A simple cake or a pan of mini cupcakes will bake more quickly than a Bundt cake or even a pan of brownies. If you’re a cookie baker try baking a pan at a time to avoid having the oven on for all the time it takes to bake dozens of cookies. You can refrigerate the dough between batches or even freeze the dough to bake when your cookie cravings strike.

Refrigerate cookie dough and pie crusts. Speaking of cookie dough, keep in mind that a warmer kitchen will also make your cookie doughs warmer. If the butter in the dough begins to melt, you could end up with flat, tough cookies. You can try scooping and baking your cookies quickly, but if you refrigerate the dough before baking and between batches you will avoid these issues. This applies to pie crusts as well. It’s not unusual on a warm day to end up with a too warm, too soft pie crust once it’s rolled out, placed in the pan and the edges fluted. When this happens, just put the pie pan in your refrigerator for a bit to let it cool and rest.

Keep an eye on softening butter. With a warmer kitchen butter will soften faster. The warmer it is the faster butter will soften. If you’re using a recipe that contains softened butter, remember to check for softness sooner than normal to ensure that the butter doesn’t get too soft and affect the texture of your baked goods.

Humid days can definitely affect your baking. If you are baking something with a lot of liquid in it, then it may take longer to bake than usual. Keep an eye on whatever you’re baking and follow the recipe’s directions and your best judgement to check for doneness.
Fresh berries and stone fruits are one of summer’s gifts and it is nice to bake with them. There are so many easy ways to bake with summer fruit. A simple fruit crisp or cobbler is always a welcome treat on a summer day. They are also wonderful garnishes for many desserts like cheesecake and pound cake.

Frosting and heat generally don’t mix well. If you’ve made a cake or cupcakes that are frosted you may want to keep them in the refrigerator until it’s time to serve them. Bring them to room temperature before serving. Refrigerating these types of desserts isn’t a bad idea year-round, especially if the dessert won’t be eaten within a day or two.

No bake desserts may be the way to go. Skipping the oven time can still yield amazing desserts that are perfect for the season with their cool, creamy flavors, and textures. From ice cream to cheesecakes to pies and a whole lot more, you can find plenty of ways to satisfy your sweet cravings.

Support your local bakery. If you are lucky enough to have a great local bakery, take advantage of it. A simple pound cake can be turned into something special with just some fresh fruit and sweetened whipped cream. Brownies can be dressed up in a big way with a scoop of ice cream, a drizzle of caramel sauce, and a sprinkling of nuts. Your grocery store can help, too, with shortcut ingredients like puff pastry.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Quarantine Baking

April 10, 2020

As many people are staying put inside of their homes avoiding exposure to COVID-19, many have turned to baking. Baking is a form of self-care and mindfulness. There is something meditative about creating a dessert or bread that you pay attention to in the moment. Desserts might be trivial, but sometimes triviality should be embraced. We are living in unusual times, but after all, for the sake of mental and physical health, everyone deserves a coping mechanism that lends some sense of structure in a chaotic world. Consider your baking a gift to yourself.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2020 All Rights Reserved

Handheld Pastries

August 21, 2019

Handheld pastries are fabulous for picnics and beach time. Everyone can dig in without the need for utensils.

“Work With What You Got!”

©Tiny New York Kitchen © 2019 All Rights Reserved

Crumbles

July 18, 2019

When You Have Leftover Crumble Serve It For Breakfast With A Dollop Of Greek Yogurt.

Strawberry Peaches & Cream Cake

October 10, 2018

We love autumn, but we’re giving it one last-ditch effort to savor the remaining glimmers of summer. You may frost this cake or leave it plain.

Holiday Moderation

November 17, 2017

The holiday season is in full swing and soon you’ll be living on Thanksgiving leftovers. Ever had pumpkin pie for breakfast followed by a full turkey meal for lunch and another for dinner? It’s easy to get in the habit of holiday indulging.

The average American gains more than a pound each holiday season. Over a decade that really adds up. As they say, “It’s easy to put it on and hard to take off.”

There are ways to enjoy the holidays, but keep yourself in check so that you don’t fall into the trap of complete abandon.

High Fat Foods
Pigs In A Blanket: High In Fat, Salt, and Carbs.
Fried Cheese Balls: High In Fat And Small So It’s Easy To Overeat.
Baked Brie: Fatty And Addictive, Plus You Have To Slather It Onto Some Carb Calories.
Chips: They Have No Nutritional

Eat In Moderation
Cheese And Crackers: Calorically Dense And Super Easy To Eat. They’re Not Special So Spend Your Holiday Calories On Something More Festive.

Once-A-Year Favorites: You Only Eat Stuffing, Latkes, And Eggnog Once Or Twice A Year. If You’ve Been Coveting Aunt Martha’s Chiffon Pie Or Cousin Tommy’s Cooked Goose, Enjoy In Moderation.

Be My Guest
Crispy, Crunchy Crudités: Make The Brightly Colored Vegetables Your First Stop For Noshing. Add Hummus To Slow Digestion.
Pork Tenderloin, Ham Or Turkey: Protein Is Going To Suppress Your Appetite Due To The Fact That It Is Slow Digesting And Triggers The Release Of Several Satiety Hormones.
Shrimp Cocktail: Low In Fat, High In Protein And A Perfect First Course For A Low Calorie Tour Of The Buffet.
Swedish Meatballs: Another Protein Packed Option That Stands Out Amid A Carbohydrate Heavy Table.
Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus: A Great Choice To Fuel Your Body While Keeping Your Appetite In Check.

Enjoy the holidays, but enjoy them in moderation.

“Work With What You Got!”

© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2017 All Rights Reserved

Grapes

August 29, 2017

From Concord to Emperor, there are so many delicious grape varieties available.

Whether tossed in a salad, baked into a dessert, or straight off the vine, these bite-size globes are packed with flavor.

Bursting with fiber, vitamin C, and loads of antioxidants, this fruit packs a nutritional punch as big as flavor. Grapes make an ideal portable snack in less than 100 calories per cup.

Look for firm grapes that are brightly colored and securely attached to their stems. Avoid bundles with wrinkled, dull skin or packages that have a lot of fruit floating at the bottom of the bag. When all else fails, try one.

Although there are thousands of varieties of grapes, the most popular are Thompson and Emperor seedless. Thompson grapes are sweet and crisp with vibrant green skin, amazing for snacking. Emperor red grapes have a sweet and tart flavor and are super juicy, making them great for baking.

Emperor or Flame: With their sweet flavor and long shelf life, these large seedless grapes are one of the most popular varieties.

Thompson Green: In America, 90% of these classic green grapes are produced in California. They are used for snacking, making wine, and raisins.

Concord: Created in Concord, Massachusetts, these grapes are known for their thick, blush skin and sweet candy-like flavor.

Freeze Them: Pick grapes off the vine and place them in a resealable plastic bag. Freeze overnight for a healthy, frosty treat.

Bake Them: To make raisins at home, cook grapes for 30 seconds in boiling water and place in a bowl of ice water. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and place grapes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake until they have dried out completely. Toss grapes halfway through to prevent sticking.

Blend Them: Blend grapes with a bit of water and pour through a fine mesh strainer for a fresh glass of grape juice.

“Work With What You Got!”

© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen © 2017 All Rights Reserved

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