Marshmallow Valentine Teddy Pops

Made out of marshmallows, fruit chew candy and some sprinkles for decorating, these cute little teddies are so easy to make and so much fun!

Homemade Lolli-Pop Tarts

Because everything tastes better on a stick, I created these adorable Lolli-Pop Tarts! Flaky pie crust filled with sweet strawberry jelly, all finished off with a layer of pink glaze and sprinkles. You can make these with store bought pie crust and jelly, or make your own pastry and filling from scratch. Either way, these little cuties are perfect for parties, or skip the stick for a great breakfast or after school snack!

Food Network "Cupcake Wars" Series Premiere WIN Recap & Recipes

As many of you know, after a nationwide search for the country's top bakers, I was chosen to compete on the season 1 series premiere of the Food Network show "Cupcake Wars", in June 2010. And guess what?  I WON! And, I was chosen to come back and compete for the title of "best of the best" on a special Cupcake Wars Champions episode, in season 2 !

If you missed it, watch me WIN the series premiere episode of Cupcake Wars below!
Cupcake Wars: Series Premiere Highlights ("Seaworld Birthday Bash" season 1 episode 2)!

And then, watch me compete in the season 2 special,
Cupcake Wars: Battle of the Champions Highlights ("Rose Parade" Season 2 Episode 6)!

FOOD NETWORK: Cupcake Wars - Season 1 recap
This was my first Food Network appearance, and the first time seeing myself on television... it is sooo surreal! The whole process was so exciting/nerve racking/exhausting, but so incredibly worth it!

After applying, I got a call back and headed in for my on camera interview...

... then after I waited for what seemed like an eternity, I got THE call... They told me I was chosen to compete on CUPCAKE WARS! 

Me and my assistant, Jordan, and I right before "the war"... so nervous!

The theme of the episode was a "Seaworld Birthday Bash", so to get inspiration for our challenge, we were taken to Seaworld San Diego right before the "battle" began. 

Here we are filming the opening of the show... me being distracted by EVERYTHING in sight...
I got to swim with dolphins, pet penguins, and get up close with baby seals... It was the most incredible experience of my life!

See me on the far right!?

Me kissing a dolphin!

Then, we headed back to the kitchen and the competition began...

ROUND 1: Taste Challenge
Round 1 was the "Taste Challenge" and the secret ingredients we had to incorporate into our cupcakes were... SEAWEED AND SEA SALT!

The first thing that came to my mind when I heard the salty ingredients, was to contrast them with some sweet. I added toasted sesame seeds and tahini (a ground sesame paste), along with flakes of dried seaweed and a sprinkling of sea salt to my basic vanilla cupcake batter to create a nutty, salty cupcake. I then topped it with a sweet honey cream cheese frosting... the nutty sesame cupcake paired with the perfect, sweet honey cream cheese frosting made the cupcakes taste like one of those sesame honey candies. They were sooo good! You couldn't even taste the seaweed, it simply gave a nice salty bite to the sweet nutty cupcakes, instead of the fishy flavor I was dreading.

I replicated the cupcake when I got home for my friends and family to try, and it is officially my mom's new, all time favorite cupcake! Skip the seaweed and you have a fabulous sesame honey cupcake!

Here is my assistant Jordan and I getting started on the round 1 cupcakes. See the judges deliberating in the background?!

My seaweed cupcakes right out of the oven, rushing back to the station to let them cool!

ROUND 2: 50% Taste & 50% Presentation

Round 2 was 50% based on taste, and 50% based on presentation. We had to come up with 3 additional cupcake flavors and must incorporate the colors: black & white into one of our cupcakes. I used the inspiration from our trip to Sea World to come up with the flavors and decorations in this round.

Round 2 Cupcakes
Cupcake 1: Mocha fudge cupcake
Cupcake 2: Churro cupcake
Cupcake 3: Pina Colada cupcake (not shown)

Naturally I used that famous black&white color pattern to create little Orcha whales out of fondant to top my mocha fudge cupcake.

I made a churro cupcake to represent my favorite Seaworld treat, decorated with graham cracker "sand", edible pearls and starfish.

And lastly, sticking with the Seaworld theme, I also made a pina colada cupcake to capture the tropical feeling of Seaworld, decorated to look like an underwater coral reef.

Working on my fondant whale decorations.

Getting the cupcakes on the judging plates with only a few seconds to spare!

Round 3: 1,000 cupcakes display
The judges loved my cupcakes and I made it to round 3, where I had to bake 1,000 cupcakes and created the winning display! 

A rough sketch of my display idea.

Frantically putting all the cupcakes on my display with only a few minutes left on the clock!

My finished 1,000 cupcakes & display up for judging!

"Mini cupcakes are the signature treat of Dollhouse Bake Shoppe, but there's nothing miniature about their flavor. This young entrepreneur is exploding into the cupcake scene... It was sink or swim for Lindsay Morton in the debut "SeaWorld Birthday Bash" episode of Cupcake Wars. Did she float to the top of the competition? The judges voted yes." -Food Network

The judges loved my cupcakes and display and I took home first place in the series premiere episode!
Me and my winning cupcakes & display at the SeaWorld Birthday Bash event! (See the whale in the background on the left?)

Thank everyone who tuned in and cheered me on. I appreciate all of the support and sweet emails so much!

Candy Cupid's Arrows

These cute little arrows are so simple to make and perfect for bagging up and giving away as Valentine's! At first I was going to dip the pretzel part in pink candy melts to match the gummies, but I ended up opting for a simpler version that kids can get in on the action with! I didn't think of creating cupids bow until after I came up with the idea for these took the photos...maybe next year I'll create a whole cupid candy pop tutorial,  bows and arrows included!

Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes

New Years is right around the corner, followed by Valentine's Day, and what better way to celebrate, than with some bubbly... in your cupcake?! A sophisticated, adult flavor, incorporated into a nostalgic childhood treat.

Mounds Candy Bar Penguin Pops

This just might be my favorite holiday no-bake holiday pop so far. For Hanukkah I showed you how to make marshmallow dreidel pops and for Christmas I introduced my Snickers reindeer pops... and now for a versatile pop you can customize for any winter holiday, baby shower or birthday party!

Eggnog Cupcakes

Fluffy, tender eggnog cupcakes topped with a rich and creamy eggnog frosting, finished off with a touch of nutmeg.

White Chocolate Marshmallow Dreidel Pops

What's better than a spinning dreidel? A spinning dreidel made of white chocolate and marshmallows, of course!

Snickers Candy Bar Reindeer Pops

I am so excited to share my candy bar pops with you. These little reindeer are sooo cute and all you need is some fun sized Snickers bars, candy noses, melted chocolate, and pretzel twists! I came up with my reindeer and penguin candy bar pops last Winter in an attempt to create a no-bake, quick, simple alternative to cake pops. When I came up with the idea of using fun sized candy bars for the body of my, I couldn't believe I didn't think of this before! My candy bar pops are so easy to make and they are a real crowd pleaser around the holidays. Bring them to school or work as individual gifts, or wrap them up as party favors at a Christmas party. Even create a whole edible scene as a festive centerpiece! Hope you like them as much as I do :)

Candy Cane Cocoa Stirrer

Take any ordinary hot cocoa or coffee to the next level with these fun cocoa stirrers! Simply stir your hot beverage with the homemade stirrer, and let the creamy chocolate, marshmallows and peppermint melt right in for a peppermint hot chocolate or peppermint mocha. Wrap them up in a clear plastic bag with ribbon, and place them inside a festive mug with a packet of hot cocoa for a fun Holiday gift!

Gingerbread Cupcakes

Warm spiced, gingerbread cupcakes that are super moist and fluffy and packed with flavor, topped off with a cool, silky cream cheese frosting that pairs just perfectly.

Cupcake Menorah

This festive cupcake menorah is great as a Hanukkah centerpiece or holiday party. The best part is, it is made of cupcakes so everyone can easily take their own little candle cupcake at the end of the night!

Christmas Tree Cupcakes

There are tons of variations of a Christmas tree cupcake out there. But instead of just swirling some green icing on top of my cupcake and decorating it with sprinkles, I wanted something bigger! The Christmas tree is the most important part of Christmas for me. It gets me in the holiday spirit with its festive lights and fresh woodsy scent... And most importantly, it is a place for presents family & friends to gather together and rejoice. Naturally, I wanted to bring the Christmas spirit in the form of a cupcakes and create a whole little Christmas scene! Kids will love adding their favorite sprinkles and candies to decorate their own edible Christmas tree. You can use my cupcake and frosting recipes below of use a boxed mix and canned frosting.

Snowman Cupcakes

Chocolate coconut cupcakes, decorated into adorable little snowmen!

Jelly Donut Cupcakes

At Hanukkah, Jews observe the custom of eating fried foods, like Sufganiyot (jelly donuts), in commemoration of the miracle associated with the Temple oil. This baked version is a non-fried alternative, and just as much fun to eat as they are to make! 

Preparing & Filling Pans

Make sure to always prepare your baking pans before you begin. Some batter like cakes and cupcakes must be baked right away. If the batter sits for too long before baking, you increase the chance of your baked goods coming out flat and dense. Other baked goods like Chocolate Chip Cookies, require no pan preparation, and it is best to let the dough sit, for the best flavor.
Cupcakes: For best results, use paper, foil or silicone baking cups/cupcake liners for easy removal from pan. You can also try baking your cupcakes in icecream cones for a fun alternative! If you don't have baking cups, grease or spray bottom and sides of cupcake pan with nonstick cooking spray
{VIDEO} How To Fill A Cupcake Pan With Batter (4 Ways)

Cookies: When rolling cookie dough, dust your surface with powdered sugar instead of flour to improve flavor and prevent the cookies from becoming dry. It is not necessary to grease pan when baking most cookies, but the cookie sheet can always be lined with a piece of parchment paper to ensure easy removal. Always cool sheets in between batches. When you throw another batch of cookie dough on a hot pan and right back in the oven, this causes them to burn on the bottom. You can use an upside down cake pan as an extra baking sheet; or, run cool water on the back of a hot cookie sheet, or even place the pan in the freezer for a minute if you’re in a hurry.

Cakes, brownies, bars and breads: Use nonstick spray or grease pan with butter or shortening and sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoons of flour (sprinkle with cocoa powder for chocolate cake so it is not speckled with white from the four.) You can also use parchment paper (greased on both sides) cut to fit the inside of the bottom of the pan, so the cake comes right out upon removal. To create a pan for your baked goods in any shape or size, without having to buy a specialty pan, simply use my original DIY disposable pan method below.

*To make homemade pan grease: Combine equal parts shortening, oil, and flour. This is used as a substitute to greasing the pans then dusting them with flour. Keep unused portion in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Cake Baking Times & Batter/Frosting Amounts

  Pan Size    (2" deep)Cups Batter
Approx. Baking Time (min.)Baking
of frosting per layer
   Approx. Servings

One 4" round One 6" round
One 8" round
One 9" round

3 1/2 - 4
5 1/2 - 6



1 1/2
1 1/2 - 2


Measuring Your Ingredients, Ingredient Weights & Conversion Charts

Baking is a science. Unlike cooking, baking requires precise attention to recipe, and accurate measurements. Little things people tend to not pay attention to, like the way you measure a cup of flour, or whether you are using a liquid or dry measuring cup, can make all the difference in the outcome of your baked good. 

  • Measuring Spoons: Measuring spoons are used for both dry and liquid ingredients. Measuring spoons usually come in nestled sets of four. The most common sets include 1/4 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon, 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon.  Some more unique sets can including measurements such as a "pinch", "dash", 1/8 teaspoon or a 1-1/2 tablespoon. (Be sure not to use your standard eating spoons or coffee scoop for accuracy.) Also, be sure you do not measure ingredients into your measuring spoons over your mixing bowl. It is too easy to accidentally spill or pour too much ingredient that can overflow into your recipe.
    • Powders (cream of tarter, spices, baking powder, baking soda, etc.): Fluff up the ingredient in it's container/box, gently scoop it into your measuring spoon and level it off. 
    • Dry Ingredients (sugar, salt, oats, etc.): Scoop ingredient into measuring spoon out of carton and level off.  
    • Liquids/Wet Ingredients: Pour liquid (milk, water, oil, etc.) or wet ingredient (sour cream, yogurt, apple sauce, mashed banana, peanut butter, etc.) into the spoon. Level off if necessary.
  • Dry Measuring Cups: If your recipes says "x cups ingredient, sifted", measure first, then sift. If your recipe says "x cups sifted ingredient", sift, then measure.
  • Liquid Measuring Cups: Measure liquids, such as water, milk, vegetable oil, honey or syrups, in a clear glass or plastic liquid measuring cup (typically with a handle and spout). To measure ingredient, place the cup on a flat surface and check the amount at eye level. Use a rubber spatula to scrape out all the liquid if needed. Tip: For easier removal of syrups, honey or molasses, use non-stick cookie spray or grease the cup or spoon first.
FlourIt is always best to weigh out your flour & cocoa powder using a scale for accuracy! If you don't have a scale, the next best method to get a more accurate measure is using, what I call, the fluff, spoon and level method (explained below). This method is especially important when measuring out your flour or cocoa powder. By scooping the dry ingredient into your measuring cup, straight from the bag, the ingredient becomes packed into the cup and will result in too much ingredient in your recipe. Too much flour will result in a tough, dense baked good, while too much cocoa powder will dry out your baked goods. This is one of the main factors in a recipe not coming out "right", and is a very common baking mistake made by at-home bakers.  
How To Measure Flour (or cocoa powder and other dry ingredients) When You Don't Have A Scale: The "Fluff, Spoon & Level" Method
    1. Fluff up the flour (or dry ingredient) in its bag or container, with a spoon or scoop to loosen and aerate it.
    2. Gently spoon the flour into your measuring cup until it is completely full and overflowing.
    3. Level it off, by dragging the a flat edge across the top edge of the measuring cup (back of a butter knife, metal spatula, etc.). Do not pack it down or shake it, as this will compact too much flour into your cup than desired. Repeat if necessary. Add to your recipe as directed.

NOTE: If the recipe calls for a "heaping" cup/teaspoon/tablespoon, leave a small mound of ingredient overflowing on top of your measuring cup/spoon and do not level off the top. If the recipe calls for a "scant" cup/teaspoon/tablespoon, do not fill the cup/spoon up to the top, leaving a small gap between the ingredient and the rip of the cup/spoon.

  • Granulated, white: Make sure there are no clumps before measuring, by breaking them up with a fork. Scoop the measuring cup into the bag/container until it is completely full and overflowing and then level it off.
  • Confectioners' (powdered): Some recipes state to sift the sugar before measuring "x cups sifted powdered sugar" while some require the sifting to be done after measuring "x cups powdered sugar, sifted". If you are directed to sift after measuring, it is always helpful to lightly whisk the sugar in it's container/bag to remove lumps. Proceed to spoon sugar into measuring cup and level it off.
  • Dark, medium or light brown: Make sure there are no clumps before measuring, by breaking them up with a fork. Brown sugar should to be gently packed into the measuring cup/spoon, unless recipes states otherwise. The sugar will hold the shape of the cup when it is released into your bowl but should easily be stirred apart.

Fats: Liquid fat, such as oil or liquid margarine, should be measured using a liquid measuring cup or measuring spoons. Solid fats, such as butter, margarine or shortening in the form of a stick, can either be weighed or sliced according to the pre-measured marks on the sides of the wrapping (I always weigh out large amounts even after slicing according to the marks on the wrapper, for accuracy). Solid fats, such as margarine, lard, buttery spread, or shortening packaged in a tub are measured by scooping the ingredient into the measuring cup lined in saran wrap, for easy removal and then leveling off. You can also measure solid fats with the liquid displacement method; ex: If you need 1/4 cup shortening, fill a liquid measuring cup with 1/4 cup water, add enough shortening until the water level reaches the 1/2 cup mark. Since 1/4 cup + 1/4 cup = 1/2 cup, you know that your measuring cup now contains your desired 1/4 cup shortening. You can then pour out the water and use your shortening as directed in your recipe.

Non-Liquid, Wet Ingredients: Ingredients such as sour cream, yogurt, apple sauce, mashed banana, peanut butter, butter, etc. should be measured using dry measuring cups and measuring spoons. Sticky ingredients can also be measured this way, but you can use a spritz of non-stick spray to avoid sticking.

Conversion Chart:
  • 1 dash = 1/16 teaspoon
  • 1 pinch = 1/8 teaspoon
  • 1/2 tablespoons = 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • 1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons OR 1/2 fluid ounce
  • 1/8 cup = 2 tablespoons OR 1 fluid ounce
  • 1/4 cup = 4 tablespoons OR 2 fluid ounces
  • 1/3 cup = 5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoons OR 2 2/3 fluid ounces
  • 3/8 cup = 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons
  • 1/2 cup = 8 tablespoons OR 4 fluid ounces
  • 2/3 cup = 10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons OR 5 1/3 fluid ounces
  • 5/8 cup = 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons
  • 3/4 cup = 12 tablespoons OR 6 fluid ounces
  • 7/8 cup = 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons
  • 1 cup = 16 tablespoons OR 8 fluid ounces = 1/2 pint
  • 4 cups = 2 pints = 1 quart = 32 fluid ounces
  • 16 cups = 8 pints = 4 quarts = 1 gallon 
Common Ingredient Weights:
    • Apples, peeled: 1 cup sliced = 4oz / 1 cup diced = 3oz
    • Baking Soda or Baking Powder: 1 teaspoon = 5 grams 
    • Bananas, mashed: 1 cup = 8oz/1 small banana = about 1/3 cup mashed
    • Butter: 
      • 1 cup = 2 sticks = 16 tablespoons = 1/2 pound = 8oz/227g
      • 3/4 cup = 1-1/2 sticks = 12 tablespoons = 6oz/170g 
      • 2/3 cup = 10 tablespoons+2 teaspoon = 5.3oz/150g 
      • 1/2 cup = 1 stick = 8 tablespoons = 4oz/113g
      • 1/3 cup = 5 tablespoons+1 teaspoon = 2.7oz/75g 
      • 1/4 cup = 1/2 stick = 4 tablespoons = 2oz/57g
      • 2 tablespoons = 1/4 stick = 1oz/28g
      • 1.5 tablespoons = .75oz/21g
      • 1 tablespoon = 1/8 stick = .5oz/14g
    • Chocolate: 8oz/227g chopped = 3/4 cup plus 2T melted 
    • Chocolate, Morsels or Chopped: 1 cup = 6 oz/175 g
    • Cocoa Powder, unsweetened (natural or dutch procesed): 1T = 5g; ¼ cup = 20g; 1/3c = 26.7g; 2/3c = 53.3g; 1 cup = 80g 
    • Cornstarch: 2T = .5oz/14g
    • Dairy
      • Milk (whole, 2%, 1%, nonfat & buttermilk), Sour Cream, Yogurt: 
        • 1 cup = 8 fluid oz/242g
        • 1/3 cup = 2.65 fluid oz/80g
        • 1 tablespoon = .5 fluid oz/15g
      • Cream (heavy or whipping)
        • 1 cup = 8 fluid oz/232 g
        • 1/3 cup = 2.75 fluid oz/77.3g
        • 1 tablespoon = .5 fluid oz/14.5g
    • Egg, large, out of shell: 1 whole = 1.75oz/50g = about 1T yolk and 2T white
    • Egg White, large: 1 1/4oz/30g = about 2T
    • Egg Yolk, large: 1/2-2/3oz/20-25g = about 1- 1.5T
    • Flour, spooned and leveled, unsifted:
      • All-Purpose Flour: 1 cup = 4.25oz/120g
        • 1 tablespoon = 1/4 oz = 7.5g
        • 1/4 cup = 1.25 oz = 30g
        • 1/3 cup = 1.5 oz = 40g
        • 1/2 cup = 2.5 oz = 60g
        • 2/3 cup = 3.25 oz = 79.5g
        • 3/4 cup = 3.5 oz = 90g
        • 1 cup = 4.25 oz = 120g
      • Bread flour: 1 cup = 4.5oz/128; 1T = 8g
      • Cake flour:
        • 1 tablespoon = 7g
        • 1/4 cup = 1 oz = 28g
        • 1/3 cup = 37g
        • 1/2 cup =  2 oz = 56g
        • 2/3 cup = 74g
        • 3/4 cup = 3 oz = 84g
        • 1 cup = 4 oz = 112g
    • Honey: 1T = .75oz; 1 cup = 12oz
    • Oil: 1 cup = 7.5 oz/212 g
    • Sugar
      • Confectioners’ (powdered): 1 cup = 4oz/120g; 1T = 7.5g
      • Granulated white or Light/Dark Brown, packed: 1 cup = 192g; 1/3c = 64; 1T = 12g
    • Vegetable Shortening: 1/4 cup = 1.75 oz 

    Ingredient Information

    Always read the entire recipe and instructions before you begin, to make sure you have all of the ingredients, equipment and the time required to prepare your recipe. Remember, the fresher, better quality ingredients you use, the better tasting desserts you will have. I highly recommend using the best quality butter, cocoa powder for chocolate desserts, and a great pure vanilla extract (I always use Madagascar bourbon pure vanilla extract or paste, but you can even use seeds from a vanilla bean to take it to the next level).

    To bring to room temperature quickly, microwave milk in 10-15 second intervals until no longer cold, stirring in between. Using cold milk can cause your batter to look curdled when added to the other room temperature ingredients. 

    Milk: The fat content in the milk you use will affect the outcome of your recipe. The higher the fat content, the better flavor it will lend to your baked good. When using regular milk, I usually opt for whole milk for the richest, most moist outcome. If a recipe does not state which type of milk to use, generally if is safe to stick with whole or 2% milk. I rarely use fat-free or skim milk for baking.
      • fat-free or skim milk (0% / 0g fat per cup)
      • 1% or low fat milk (1% / 2.5g fat per cup)
      • 2% or reduced fat milk (2% / 5g fat per cup)
      • whole or vitamin D milk (4% / 8g fat per cup)
      • whole evaporated milk & sweetened condensed milk (~8%)
    Cream: Heavy cream, also called heavy whipping cream is the richest of the creams, with the highest fat content. Both light and heavy whipping creams will whip up into a nice sturdy whipped cream, while half and half (made of half milk and half cream) and light cream do not have a high enough fat content (30% minimum) to whip up into a nice fluffy whipped topping, but are great for using in baking or using as the liquid in American buttercream frosting recipe for a little extra richness.
      • Half and half (10.5–18% fat)
      • Sour Cream (18-20% fat)
      • Light cream (18–30% fat)
      • Light whipping cream/Whipping cream (30–36% fat)
      • Heavy whipping cream (36% or more) 
      • Butter (80% fat)
    Buttermilk: I love to use buttermilk in baking. The acidity in buttermilk tenderize the gluten formation in your recipe, yielding a softer, more tender baked good. In addition to giving baked goods a nice texture, buttermilk also lends a rich tangy flavor. It usually comes in a low-fat variety these days and has a thicker consistency than regular milk. Click here to learn all about buttermilk and watch the video for how to make buttermilk substitute with just 2 simple ingredients!
    Sour Cream: Sour cream, similar to buttermilk is also an acidic ingredient which will tenderize your baked good for a soft texture. It can also be used in place of buttermilk in your recipe but will make the outcome a little denser and more heavy texture. It has a higher fat content, with 18-20% fat, adding richness to your baked goods.{VIDEO} How To Properly Measure Liquid Ingredients
    • When not stated, most recipes use large eggs by default.
    • Eggs are mainly used as a leavening agent and an emulsifier to help bind the fats with the liquids in your batter.
    • Eggs add flavor, richness, color, structure and texture to your baked goods.
    • Eggs should be at room temperature, unless otherwise noted, when adding them to your recipe to promote even baking and to ensure the egg is easily dispersed throughout the batter without over beating. 
    • To bring whole eggs to room temperature quickly, place cold eggs (not cracked) in a bowl of warm water for about 5 minutes, or until they are no longer cold to the touch. Dry the eggs with a paper towel before cracking. 
      {VIDEO} How To Separate Egg Yolks From Egg Whites (4 ways) | Baking 101: Quick, Easy Tips & Tricks - See more at:
      {VIDEO} How To Bring Eggs To Room Temperature Quickly
    • Eggs, however, are more easily separated when cold, right out of the refrigerator, then, the yolks or whites can be brought to room temp. {VIDEO} How To Separate Egg Yolks From Egg Whites (4 ways)
    • The yolks primarily add richness from the fat and help bind the ingredients. 
    • The whites do not contain any fat (used in many fat-free/low-fat baked goods). 
    • Egg whites help strengthen the structure of your baked good and add volume and height, but can also dry out your recipe. 
    • The egg white alone (without any trace of the yolk) can be whipped up to almost 8 times their size (like when making meringue cookies)! 
    • In some recipes, the eggs are divided and the whites are whipped and folded into the batter at the end to make the cake lighter and fluffier. 
    • Whole eggs whipped with sugar are also sometimes used as the leavening agent instead of baking powder/baking soda.

    The two main types of fat that are used in baking are either solid fats (butter, margarine, vegetable shortening and lard) and liquid fats (oils like vegetable oil, canola oil or olive oil).

      • Fat content
        • 100% fat content: shortening, lard, oil
        • 80% fat content: butter, margarine
      • Texture
        • Oil typically yields a more dense, heavy, yet moist baked good. Shortening or lard yield the most tender or flaky and moist baked good. Butter is somewhere in the middle with a nice tenderness, while margarine yields the least amount of tender, moist, flakiness in your baked goods.
      • Flavor/Richness
        • Butter adds the most flavor and richness to your baked goods, with margarine and butter flavored shortening adding some flavor and vegetable shortening, vegetable oil and lard adding virtually no flavor to your baked good.
    • The two main types of fat that are used in baking are either solid fats (butter, margarine, vegetable shortening and lard) and liquid fats (oils like vegetable oil, canola oil or olive oil).
    • Butter adds the most flavor and richness to your baked goods.
    • Butter is the most common fat used in baking as it lends a wonderful flavor and texture to cakes, cookies, pie crusts and fillings, frostings, brownies and more. 
    • Standard American butter is made from churning the fat in cow's milk. American butter is an emulsion of water in about 80% fat, while European butter has about 82% fat content. 
    • Butter adds a delicious flavor, leavening and texture to baked goods and is very important in keeping your baked goods tender and rich, which is why it is important to use a good quality butter in your baked good for optimal taste. 
    • Always use unsalted butter and add your own amount of salt to the recipe separately, if the recipe does not state whether salted or unsalted is needed. 
    • Butter can be melted and browned (how to make brown butter) over the stove top when a recipe calls for melted butter (like in my chocolate chip cookie recipe). This will add a carmel/toffee/butterscotch flavor to your recipe that really takes it to the next level. 
    • Most recipes require "Room temperature" butter when not otherwise stated (like using ice cold butter in pie crusts, or softened butter to coat flour in pastries), which should be at around 63-65 degrees (spreadable) when adding to your recipe. {VIDEO} How To Bring Butter To Room Temperature Quickly
    • Butter begins to melt at 68 degrees F and at that point can no longer be used for certain mixing methods when incorporating into your recipe. 
    • Room temperature butter will also allow for the maximum amount of air to be beaten into it. This is why the "creaming method", beating room temperature butter with sugar until light and fluffy, is such a common first step when making cakes. This creates air bubbles that get enlarged by the baking powder/soda when heated in the oven. 
    • Room temperature butter should be cool to the touch and make a slight indent when pressed with your finger. Microwaving is not a method I recommend. Microwaving tends to melt butter very easily, even if it still looks solid, and can compromise the structure of your baked good. Once the butter has begun to melt the emulsion breaks down and cannot be built up again, even after hardening in the refrigerator or freezer. {VIDEO} How To Tell If Your Butter Is At Room Temperature
    • It is always best to substitute a solid fat for a solid fat (butter, margarine, shortening, lard) and a liquid fat for a liquid fat (canola oil, vegetable oil, etc.). Solid fats that have been melted do not become a "liquid fat". Butter for instance, contains milk solids (oil does not) that will firm and set after your baked good has cooled. 
    • Unsalted butter is usually called for when not specifically stated but salted butter can be used in its place by reducing the amount of salt in the recipe by 1 teaspoon per pound of butter.
    Butter Measurements
    1 cup = 2 sticks = 16 tablespoons = 1/2 pound = 8oz/227g
    3/4 cup = 1-1/2 sticks = 12 tablespoons = 6oz/170g
    2/3 cup = 10 tablespoons+2 teaspoon = 5.3oz/150g
    1/2 cup = 1 stick = 8 tablespoons = 4oz/113g
    1/3 cup = 5 tablespoons+1 teaspoon = 2.7oz/75g
    1/4 cup = 1/2 stick = 4 tablespoons = 2oz/57g
    2 tablespoons = 1/4 stick = 1oz/28g
    1.5 tablespoons = .75oz/21g
    1 tablespoon = 1/8 stick = .5oz/14g
      Margarine: Margarine usually comes in tubs or sticks. It is an oil based spread made of vegetable fat and water and typically contains salt. I do not recommend baking with margarine as it will not lend the same quality and taste that you get from butter.
      Shortening: Vegetable shortening (or "Crisco" as labeled in the grocery store) is a solid fat made from vegetable oils, such as soybean and cotton seed oil. It is virtually flavorless but also comes in butter flavored variety. Shortening is ideal for making pie crusts or pastry, since it blends well with flour or a stiff buttercream frosting since it has a high melting point and remains more solidified at room temperature, however I recommend using at least half butter, half shortening in an all shortening recipe to maintain a nice flavor. 
      Oil: Vegetable oil is the most common oil used in baking. Some recipes call for olive oil, but it is not recommended in baking unless called for because it lends a stronger flavor to your baked good than a typical mild oil with a neutral taste. Some common, neutral tasting, all-purpose oils that are good for baking are: vegetable oil or canola oil (most commonly used), corn oil, safflower or sunflower oil. Vegetable oil also come in non-stick spray cans that are great for spraying the pan. You can alternatively fill a non-aerosol spray bottle with oil of your choice to coat pans, for an simple, affordable, refillable option.  

      Dry Ingredients

      • Flour is either made from wheat or non-wheat ingredients (grains, nuts, legumes, etc.). 
      • Non-wheat flour is a common ingredient in gluten free baking, while wheat flour is the more common type of flour and a staple in most home pantries. 
      • Flour is one of the most common ingredients in baking. 
      • Using it incorrectly can turn your baked good form a masterpiece into a disaster.
      • Even a few extra ounces of flour can drastically compromise the outcome of your baked goods.
      • Flour naturally compacts itself in its bag so make sure you are measuring it properly before adding it to your recipe.   Unlike cooking, baking is a science and requires precise attention to recipe, and accurate measurements. Little things people tend to not pay attention to, like the way you measure a cup of flour, or whether you are using a liquid or dry measuring cup, can make all the difference in the outcome of your baked good. {VIDEO} How To Properly Measure Flour (#1 baking mistake)
      • Flour helps give volume and provide support and structure in baked goods. 
      • Flour can also be used for dusting pans before baking and coating nuts, fruit, and mix-ins before adding to the batter to prevent them from sinking to the bottom during baking. 
      • In baking, the type of flour used will drastically affect the outcome. 
      • Flour contains protein (which creates gluten), in either higher or lower levels. Different types of flour have different percentages of protein. 
      • When flour is mixed with the liquid in the recipe, the proteins in the flour bond together causing gluten to form, producing toughness and elasticity in your baked good. The leavening agent (usually baking powder or baking soda and sometimes yeast) then fills that gluten with air pockets. As your baked good is heated in the oven it will rise even more until the gluten sets, giving a fluffy and spongy structure to dense, wet dough. 
      • When the recipe simply states "flour", all-purpose flour is usually called for. 
      • If your recipes says "x cups flour, sifted", measure first, then sift. If your recipe says "x cups sifted flour", sift, then measure.
      • By scooping the flour into your measuring cup, straight from the bag, the flour becomes packed into the cup and will result in too much flour in your recipe. 
      • Too much flour will result in a tough, dense and dry baked goods. This is one of the main factors in a recipe not coming out "right", and is a very common baking mistake made by so many at-home bakers.
      • If the recipe calls for a "heaping" cup/teaspoon/tablespoon, leave a small mound of ingredient overflowing on top of your measuring cup/spoon and do not level off the top. 
      • If the recipe calls for a "scant" cup/teaspoon/tablespoon, do not fill the cup/spoon up to the top, leaving a small gap between the ingredient and the rip of the cup/spoon.
      • It is always best to weigh out your flour using a kitchen scale for accuracy! 
      • If you don't have a scale, the next best method to get a more accurate measure is using, what I call, the fluff, spoon and level method (explained below).   
        • Cake Flour (6-8% protein content) has the lowest protein content, resulting in a more soft, tender, delicate crumb, so I like to use it for most of my cakes and cupcakes (To make your own cake flour see Ingredient Substitutions). Cake flour is made from soft wheat and has the lowest gluten content of any wheat flour. It is typically bleached and enriched. The bleaching process makes the protein a bit stronger in the flour, allowing it to hold the structure of a baked good with a large amount of sugar and fat without falling or collapsing in the center.
        • Pastry Flour (8-10% protein content) Pastry flour has a slightly higher protein content than cake flour, yet it has less gluten than all purpose flour. It is perfect for making a tender yet sturdy pie crusts. It is usually unbleached (causing more spread in baked goods than a bleached cake flour).
        • All-purpose (10-12% protein content) is a mixture of high and low gluten protein flours, used in the most diverse amount of recipes. It is the most common type of flour and can readily be found in most grocery stores. It can be found in bleached and unbleached versions (sometimes enriched), which are interchangeable. In baking, it is great for most cookies, cakes, muffins, biscuits, pancakes, and pastries. When the recipe simply states "flour", all-purpose flour is usually called for. 
        • Self-Rising Flour is cake flour or all-purpose flour that has baking powder and salt mixed in with it. This can make a recipe more simple to be able to skip the step of sifting together the dry ingredients, however I prefer to add my own leavening agents and salt to regular cake and all-purpose flours as necessary per specific recipes, as some might require more or less than what is already premixed. This way you can adjust amount accordingly. (To make your own self-rising flour seeIngredient Substitutions)
        • Bread flour (11-14% protein content) is made exclusively from hard wheat flour. It can be found in bleached and unbleached versions (sometimes enriched). Its high gluten content gives it shape and structure, making it great for breads, pizza dough and muffins.
        • Whole Wheat Flour (14% protein content) is made of ground hard wheat that is high in gluten, containing all of the nutrients found in the wheat kernel, such as wheat germ, bran. It has more fiber, protein and calcium than white flour, along with fewer calories and carbs. It yields a denser baked good, perfect for bread making. Most recipes work best when you substiture up to half the whole wheat flour in the recipe for all-purpose flour or bread flour.
        • Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (9% protein content) is made of a low-protein soft wheat with whole grains incorporated. It has a lower protein content than whole wheat flour. It can be used in by substituting some of the all-purpose flour in most recipes for a healthy alternative. It is not as commonly used as most other types of flour.

      Both baking soda and baking powder are chemical leaveners (opposed to yeast, which is a natural leavener), in the form of white powder, that help baked goods rise in the oven, by enlarging the air bubbles in the batter while baking; however they cannot be interchanged in a recipe. Once you mix a batter, your baking soda or baking powder immediately begins producing gas, and if not baked right away (within about 15 minutes), the gas begins to escape and your baked good will not rise as tall, light and fluffy (however, baked good like my brownies or chocolate chip cookies, which do not use baking soda or baking powder as a way to get the batter/dough to rise, can be refrigerated for a few hours or overnight before baking to help the flavors meld together and develop for a more flavorful baked good). Baking soda is about 4 times as strong as baking powder, so you typically only need about 1/4 teaspoon per cup of flour in your recipe as opposed to baking powder where you need about 1- 1 1/4 teaspoon per cup of flour.
      • Baking soda is made of pure sodium bicarbonate, an alkaline powder (a base). It is used in recipes that contain an acidic ingredient, which include: applesauce, buttermilk, cream of tartar, honey, lemon juice, molasses, or natural chocolate and cocoa powder, sour cream, yogurt, vinegar, etc. When it is dissolved in the liquid in the recipe and combined with the acidic ingredient it reacts immediately to produce carbon dioxide bubbles, which further expand when you put it in the oven, producing a light and fluffy baked good. It also aids in the browning of your baked goods (like in pancakes and muffins) and is sometimes added even when their is no acidic ingredient in the recipe for it to work with (like in chocolate chip cookies), to simply lend a flavorful golden brown hue.
      • Baking powder is made of baking soda combined with an acid and a starch (see my ingredient substitutions page for the baking soda, cornstarch, and cream of tartar mixture substitute. Unlike baking soda, it does not rely on an acidic ingredient to be activated. It is usually used in recipes with alkaline (a base) ingredients, like whole or skim milk and dutch processed cocoa powders (which contain alkali). Once you add your liquid to the recipe, the acid and base which make up the baking powder dissolve and create the air bubbles which cause your baked good to rise. When heated in the oven, more carbon dioxide bubbles form, producing a generally lighter and fluffier baked good than a recipe that uses only baking soda, because of the baking powder's "double acting" properties. However, too much baking powder can cause the carbon dioxide bubbles inflate too quickly, causing your batter to rise too much, and then collapse. While too little baking powder can result in a dense, heavy cake. It can also cause a metallic/bitter taste if used in excess.

      Cocoa Powder 
      There are two main types of cocoa powder, Dutch-Processed Unsweetened Cocoa Powder and Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder.

      • Dutch Processed cocoa powder is treated with an alkali to neutralize its natural acidity, so it must be used with baking powder (acidic) instead of baking soda for leavening. It is usually a little darker, with a reddish-brown tint, and has a more mild flavor than Natural cocoa and is easily dissolved in liquids.
      • Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, on the other hand, is an acid, so it must be used with baking soda (alkali) for leavening. It has a lighter color and a much more bitter taste than dutched, with fruity notes. It is really just personal preference on which to use in your baked goods. I prefer dutch processed, yielding a deep dark chocolate taste, rather than the intense chocolate flavor of natural cocoa. (See substitutions if you need to use one for the other in a recipe. They are not interchangeable.)

      • White granulated sugar is the most common sweetner used in baking
      • Powdered Sugar (Confectioners' Sugar): 1 cup = 1 cup granulated white sugar + 1 tablespoon cornstarch, pulsed in a food processor until powder.
      Citrus Fruit 
      To zest your citrus fruit, scrape the colored outer skin with a citrus zester or a cheese crater. Do not zest the white part of the rind, this part is very bitter and will add an unpleasant taste to your recipe. Always zest your fruit before cutting and juicing. To get the most juice from your citrus fruit, roll it around on your counter top, warm it in a microwave for 5-10 seconds, slice in half and juice either by hand or with a juicing tool. Lemon juice can be used with milk to create a buttermilk substitute. Lemon juice can also be used to prevent sliced banana, sliced apple, or guacamole/avocado from browning.
      • One lemon yields about 1 tablespoon of zest. 
      • One large orange yields about 2 tablespoon of zest. 
      • About ten tangerines yields about 2 tablespoon of zest. 

      Nuts/Berries/Mix-ins: If your baked good recipe calls for nuts or berries, toss them in with flour before adding to the batter. This trick will keep them from sinking to the bottom during baking. Baking with fresh fruit will also increase the baking time as a result from the extra moisture.