If you’ve had the chance to bite into an ooey, gooey cookie from LA-based baking brand Milk Jar Cookies, then you’re sure of one thing—its founder Courtney Cowan is a baking master. In case you’ve been looking to up your own Christmas-cookie-making game, we’ve invited Courtney to share the secret ingredients and tools that will get the job done with less stress—and lots of sweetness!
The holiday season is upon us, and we all know what that means—it’s time to bake! Even the most novice of bakers gets the itch this time of year to fill their oven with holiday cheer. No matter what treats you decide to bake, there are a handful of items that will make the process easier, the delights delectable and keep the fun at an all-time high. Read on for our list of everything you’ll need!
- All-purpose flour
- Sugar (confectioners’, brown and white)
- Unsalted butter
- Vanilla extract
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Chocolate chips
- Various food coloring
- Decorative sprinkles and candies
Each recipe is certainly unique, but having these ingredients on-hand will have you well on your way to making most holiday treats. Depending on what you decide to bake, there might be a few additional things you’ll need to pick up, so be sure to check your recipes before you head to the market.
There are so many choices for each ingredient, but my biggest recommendations are to be sure your butter is unsalted, your vanilla extract is 100-percent pure and your sugar is pure cane. Additionally, I prefer the rich flavor that semi-sweet chocolate chips provide, but make your selection based on your own personal preference.
Tools & Equipment
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Mixing bowls
- Mixer (hand or stand)
- Rolling pin
- Cookie cutters
- Baking sheets and pans
- Pie weights
- Oven mitts
- Nonstick spray, parchment paper or Silpat baking mat
It looks like an extensive list, but chances are you have most of these items already. If not, they will be a one-time purchase, and you’ll be all set for future baking sessions. If you’re short on space or money, an electric hand mixer is an absolutely wonderful, inexpensive alternative to a fancy stand mixer. In fact, before I opened Milk Jar Cookies, it was all I used, and the one I bought for $19.99 in 2005 is still kickin’.
If you choose to bake cookies and want to splurge on something, I can’t live without my Silpat baking mat. It’s a nonstick mat that you put on your baking sheet instead of parchment paper or nonstick spray. Your cookies (and the Earth) will love it! The pie weights are only necessary if you plan to make a pie crust from scratch, as they keep the crust from bubbling when pre-baking it before adding the filling (also called “blind baking”).
The final ingredient for the perfect baking experience is music! I love making playlists for my staff, which we blast in the early morning hours at the shop. So, once you’ve stocked your kitchen, throw on an adorable apron, crank some tunes and don’t be afraid to make a mess. Here’s one of the playlists I made to keep us pumped at Milk Jar. Happy Baking!