More than presents or decorating, in our house, holiday means baking! I find myself stocking up the pantry with the very first signs of fall, in anticipation of breaking out my cookie press and loaf pans. I want to share my nine favorite pantry staples, from an otherwise very long list. I'd love to know what's in your cupboards, too!
1. Chocolate Chips
I am a firm believer that higher quality ingredients make a huge difference in baking. So it's funny to me that I really like to use good-old-fashioned Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chips in my cookies -- I keep both milk and semi-sweet in the pantry year-round. The result is always consistent.
2. Tillen Farms Maraschino Cherries
From filling my mother-in-law's cherry bread to garnishing whiskey sours, maraschino cherries have a place in our holiday pantry. But I simply can't stand the bleached-and-dyed processed ones. Tillen Farms is a Pacific Northwest company that makes these all-natural cherries without dyes, sulfates, or preservatives. Score!
3. Solo Almond Filling
Almond paste is easy to find all year long, but I have a harder time finding almond filling for pastries, so I stock up as soon as I see these in the fall!
4. Darigold Unsalted Butter
Good butter = good baking. Darigold is a Northwest, farmer-owned, dairy co-op. I usually use unsalted when I bake, but their sweet cream salted butter is wonderful for cooking or buttering bread.
Good thing Crisco has a very long shelf life, because I use it only once a year. But it is important -- recipes that call for shortening mean it. It'll make pastries flakey and cookies crumbly, where butter will fall flat (literally.)
I keep pecans and almonds around most of the time, but for some reason, holidays mean baking with walnuts. I prefer to buy them raw, in the bulk bins at our market. Nuts are expensive and get bitter if left out too long, so I just buy what I need.
7. Neilsen-Massey Bourbon Vanilla
Buy the best vanilla you can afford. You can smell the difference.
8. King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
I swear by King Arthur products, especially when baking bread! It has the most versatility, and will create high-rise breads or super tender pastries.
9. Organic Pumpkin
From October through December, I love making anything pumpkin flavored. I started using this Farmer's Market organic version and like how rich and pumpkin-y it tastes. Although, Libby's recipe for traditional pumpkin pie is impossible to beat!