Whether you’re an expert in the kitchen or you just like decorating cookies, sweets come with this time of year.
We asked Sam Allen, Wentworth & Fenn owner, executive pastry chef and Gerald Hawkins Jr., Leah & Louise pastry chef and personal vegan Chef Joya for their tips to navigate the kitchen, whether you are hosting a holiday party or making something to enjoy at home.
Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
1) What are common mistakes people make when it comes to sweets?
Chef Sam Allen: People either overthink the baking or make things too sweet.
- Keep it simple, it’s just baking.
- The pastry will shine through if you’re relaxed while baking.
- If you’re stressed, odds are, it won’t turn out the way you want it.
Chef Gerald Hawkins, Jr.: Over or under-baking is a common mistake because every oven is a little different.
- I encourage people following recipes, to use visual clues and invest in tools, like cake testers and thermometers, if you bake regularly.
- Measuring ingredients is the key to baking success. Consistency on that side will give you consistent results.
Chef Joya: People sometimes forget baking is a science.
- People either often under or over bake their desserts.
- Also, they tend to be a little too casual with measurements or not measure correctly at all.
2) How many holiday sweets should you make for a holiday party or holiday dinner?
Allen: No less than two options, people like variety!
- Cookie trays and variety trays are the way to go at the holidays!
Hawkins: If you’re hosting a holiday party I think you should have at least two sweets.
- Chocolate is always popular, but across all social dining events, keep in mind that chocolate isn’t everyone’s favorite.
- The more options the better for everyone to choose from at your holiday event.
Chef Joya: I suggest making at least three different things to choose from.
3) What are common ingredient swaps for vegan treats? Such as milk or eggs?
Chef Joya: There are so many plant-based milks on the market, but almond or oat are my favorites.
- My two favorite egg swaps are flax-seed meal and apple sauce. It works like a charm every single time.
4) What is your favorite holiday sweet?
- My banana pudding is also a crowd favorite.