'baking' on Serious Eats

Mixed Review: Stonewall Kitchen's Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies

In elementary school, on special occasions, we used to get ice cream after lunch in the cafeteria. We had a choice of three desserts: a Hoodsie, a Nutty Buddy, or—my favorite—an ice cream sandwich. What could be better than rich, velvety ice cream squished between two pliant pieces of chocolate cookie? Years later, I still love ice cream sandwiches above all other frozen treats. That's why I was excited to try out Stonewall Kitchen's Ice Cream Sandwich Cookie Mix. More

Serious Sweets: Bourbon and Brittle Banana Cream Pie

Banana cream pie always brings to mind those revolving fridges at diners, stockpiled with chilled desserts gussied up with from-the-can whipped cream bouffants. I love bananas—and those lit-up iceboxes—but it has never once occurred to me to order banana cream pie. It always looks jiggly and a bit sad, especially next to the buxom double-crust apple pie and the luscious chocolate silk. It was time to give the banana cream pie some help. And yes, bourbon is very much involved. More

Mixed Review: Dassant Meyer Lemon Cake

Meyer lemons are prized for their thin skins, ample juice, sweet flavor, and lack of acidity. In many dishes they are preferable to regular lemons because they provide loads of citrus flavor without the lip-puckering bite. But would their essence really come through in a cake mix? Was there any actual Meyer lemon in the mix, or was it a misnomer? I put Dassant's Meyer Lemon Cake Mix ($6.99) to the test. More

Mixed Review: Fat Witch Original Brownies

When compared to a batch made from scratch, the Fat Witch ones were indistinguishable. Their tops were shiny, smooth, and slightly crackly; the centers were gooey and almost pudding-like. The brownies had nice, thick high edges (if you're a corner person you would love them!) and the center pieces were like squares of baked fudge. More

Taste Test: Gingerbread Mixes

We love dark, spicy, molasses-laced gingerbread. Of course, there are tons of recipes for baking it from scratch but gingerbread mixes are a great option when you're short on time. Which brand to choose? We tested five: Betty Crocker, Krusteaz, Trader Joe's, Williams-Sonoma and King Arthur Flour. Did any pass as homemade-esque? Check out our results. More

Equipment: Cookie Sheets

I chose a basic butter cookie to test out five different brands of cookie sheets. Its pale color would make detecting subtle variations in browning more obvious, and the recipe called for baking on an ungreased, unlined cookie sheet. Could these pans stand up to the naked-baking test, or would the cookies stick? I baked 10 dozen cookies in one day in order to find out. More

Pastry Chef Confessionals: 'I Bought Pre-Made Cookie Dough'

As a professional pastry chef, I did the unthinkable last night. I bought pre-made cookie dough from the market. (Shame.) It was a chilly night and already 9 p.m., and spending an extra hour making cookies from scratch on top of dinner prep was simply out of the question. So I did something I haven't done since I entered culinary school 12 years ago—I used my dough to buy another's. More

Mixed Review: The Invisible Chef Vanilla Fig Tea Cake and Chocolate Chipotle Brownies

In the fall months, I crave desserts and baked treats that are either loaded with harvest fruits or subtly spicy. Give me anything with apples, persimmons, and figs, or cinnamon, ginger, and chipotle. This week, I tested two truly unique (and all natural!) mixes from The Invisible Chef: a vanilla-fig tea cake, and chocolate chipotle brownies that you bake in a loaf pan. More

Elizabeth Falkner vs. Johnny Iuzzini Cupcake Battle

Pastry chefs Elizabeth Falkner of Citizen Cake and Johnny Iuzzini of the Jean-Georges restaurant group recently battled in a cupcake-off at the Astor Center in Manhattan. So what cupcakes did they make? Both involved chocolate, but the similarities pretty much ended there. Falkner did a Chocolate Pub Cake with stout beer in the batter and an easy-to-whip-up fudge frosting (here's the recipe!) and Iuzzini did a chocolate-beet cake (mmm, you really have to make this) with raspberries. More

How to Make Brownies More Exciting

We all agree that brownies are awesome, right? Right. (Well, many of us, anyway, though I have yet to meet a brownie-hater.) But now that there are so many unusual chocolate products on the on the market, from filled and infused bars to flavored hot chocolate to exotic bonbons, it's understandable that you'd get the urge to mix in something aside from walnuts from time to time. More

Mixed Review: Chiquita Banana Bread

On a recent trip to the supermarket, I spotted this mix not in the baking aisle, but in the produce section. Why? Because unlike other readily available banana bread mixes this one actually calls for real bananas. Additionally, wheat flour is listed as the first ingredient, and the mix doesn't require copious amounts of oil. A low-fat quick bread with real banana flavor? I couldn't wait to test it out. More

Mixed Review: Manischewitz's Honey Cake

Like fruitcake, its gentile cousin, Jewish honey cake is generally reviled. People tend to find it, depending on the recipe, too sweet, too dry, too oily, or too spicy. But at Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) you simply have to have one: the holiday just wouldn't be the same without it. This year, I decided to try out Manischewitz's Honey Cake Mix ($6.49). The real thing was already so bad, I reasoned, could a boxed mix be that much worse? More

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