Baking for the Holidays

Peanut Butter SquaresHolidays make me feel like a Keebler Elf.  I just love to bake and love baking with quality bakeware.  I really like to watch people enjoy my cookies, especially at Christmas.  And, as a side bonus, when I bake cookies, I never eat them.    Great way to control calories during the eating season!   I eat everyone’s cookies, but not my own.  Probably  because of all of the broken cookies I “test!”

An absolute essential in my cookie baking are easy to clean pans that don’t warp (you know that popping sound you sometimes hear when a pan is not thick enough to handle 350 degrees or more needed for tasty cookies?)   I don’t want to have to worry about pans burning cookies or turning out cookies that aren’t quite done.  I count on my cookie sheets to be consistent.  Of the many brands I’ve tried over 30 years (been baking since I was a kid), I have 3 favorites.  I like each brand for different reasons.   Here’s what I think:

CIA BakewareCulinary Institute of America Master’s Collection Bakeware
This bakeware is non-stick, really.  I never have trouble removing cookies (or cakes) from these pans.  I don’t have to worry about cookies over-baking (crisp chocolate chip cookies are one thing, tooth breaking is another!) because it’s a light gray color.   I also like the way the cookie sheets have a slightly higher edge on one side — makes it easy to use a mitt to take trays from the oven without mashing cookies that are on the edge.   Prices range from $24.95 to $39.95

All-Clad Bakeware
All-Clad ovenware can be used for way more than just baking.  Use it on the stovetop, in the oven, under the broiler or on the grill.  It’s really a combination of bake ware and oven ware.  All-Clad designed very functional handles for each piece to make it easy for you to use it with multiple heat sources.  As with All-Clad cookware, this bake ware has multiple layers of stainless steel around an aluminum core for even, quick heating.  I like All-Clad oven ware because it is made in the USA too!

New! American Kitchen Bakeware
When we first heard of this all stainless steel bake ware a few months ago, we were all pretty skeptical.  Stainless steel doesn’t hold heat very well.  It’s why good cookware companies, like All-Clad and Viking put aluminum between layers of stainless steel.   But, bakeware is not cookware.  Duh.
Because the stainless steel American Kitchen cookie sheet doesn’t heat very well, your cookies actually get baked by the heat of the oven.  So, assuming your oven is properly calibrated, your cookies will be crispy or chewy, depending on your preferences and the recipe.   The cookies won’t pick up extra heat from the baking sheet.   The other thing I really like about American Kitchen bakeware is that it’s made in the USA, in Wisconsin!

Chef'sChoice Pizzelle Pro Express BakeFinally, I am so excited to tell you about our Chef’s Choice Pizzelle iron.   Pizzelles are those thin, waffle-like cookies originating in Italy.  I grew up eating them, from Aunt Honey’s kitchen (Uncle Ralph was Italian).  I never made them until this pizzelle iron came into my life.  They always seemed like too much work.  Plus Aunt Honey’s are sooo good.   They’re really easy to make, with the pizzelle iron from Chef’s Choice.  Yum.  Just spoon in a little batter, wait a bit and boom, your pizzels are done.

I’m happy to share Aunt Honey’s pizzelle recipe:


  • 6 eggs
  • 3 ½ cups flour*
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 cup butter, melted & cooled
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp anise oil or extract*


  • Beat eggs, adding sugar gradually until smooth.
  • Add cooled, melted butter and anise oil/extract.
  • Sift flour and baking powder and add to egg mixture.
  • Dough will be sticky but thin enough to drop by teaspoon onto pizzelle maker.  If dough is too sticky, gradually add a bit more flour until the dough is the proper consistency.

* NOTES:  If you like thin pizzelles, use a bit less flour than 3 ½ cups.  If you don’t like anise flavor, vanilla or almond will also work, though anise is the traditional flavoring in this cookie. Anise extract has a less strong flavor than anise oil.  We use extract.