Fresh fruit loses flavor as soon as it is refrigerated. Buy fruit as close to ripe as you can. Citrus fruits can be chilled, but keep them in the fruit drawer.
When choosing chocolate, read the label: look for cocoa butter and no other fat, real vanilla and not artificial vanillin. When melting chocolate, always remove it from the heat before it is completely melted to prevent burning.
Low-fat dairy products, such as cream or ricotta cheese, ice cream, and milk will work as substitutes for full-fat products in most recipes, but never substitute nonfat dairy products.
Unsalted butter is best for desserts. It usually has a sweeter, more buttery flavor and seems firmer and richer than its salted counterpart.
Heavy cream works better for whipping than products labeled "whipping cream." Pure extracts are most costly than artificially flavored ones, but worth every penny.
Puff pastry, phyllo dough, and piecrusts are easiest to use if well chilled.
For citrus peel and juice, grate the peel before juicing the fruit and use only the colored part, avoiding the white pith, which is bitter.
Dairy Products and eggs should be kept in the coolest part of the refrigerator, usually the back.
Nuts and nut butter should be refrigerated once the container is opened to preserve freshness and to keep natural oils from quickly turning rancid.
Oven thermometers are worth the investment. If an oven registers more than 25 degrees oft the mark, call a serviceman. If less than that, make the proper adjustment when you set the temperature dial.
Finally, unlike other kinds of dessert making, baking is a science that requires a certain degree of precision and timing. Follow the directions exactly.
Short & Sweet
150 Sophisticated Desserts in No Time at All
By Melanie Barnard
Houghton Mifflin Company
Hardback, $25.00, May 1999
240 pages, 8 pages of color photographs
Reprinted by permission.
This page created July 1999
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