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Weekend Tip

by on March 15, 2008 · 16 comments

When making chocolate chip cookies, make sure you use the freshest brown sugar you can find.  As Carol Walter says in her book “Great Cookies — Secrets to Sensantional Sweets”, using stale (hardened) brown sugar will not only affect the creaminess of the dough, but after baking, the cooled cookies will become dry and hard.

I store brown sugar in an air-tight jar with one of those little terracotta gingerbread guys.  If you don’t have a gingerbread guy, you can stick a slice of bread in the jar with the brown sugar. The sugar absorbs the moisture from the bread.

By the way, sorry I didn’t post a cookie recipe today.  I made some brownies, but they were just “eh”.  I’ll make something tomorrow.

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Published on March 15, 2008

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

RecipeGirl March 16, 2008 at 12:04 am

I just discovered the little gingerbread guy recently. He has saved headaches with my brown sugar! I didn’t know that though about it making the cookies hard. Great tip!

Ashley March 16, 2008 at 1:18 am

I never really considered that about brown sugar – good to know. :) Now I want a little gingerbread guy.

Kelly March 16, 2008 at 6:53 am

I just wanted to let you know I found some more good bakeries in NYC! Next time you visit you need to try Rocco’s in Greenwich village, and Fay Da Bakery in MIdtown and CHinatown… They have these crazy, but amazining steamed japanese sponge cakes and cheesecakes.

Debbi March 16, 2008 at 7:39 am

So I shouldn’t buy the huge sack of brown sugar at Sam’s Club and use it for a year??? :-)

Chris C-L March 16, 2008 at 7:43 am

Do you have a philosophy or advice about storing baking staples, like flour, sugar, etc., in the freezer to help maintain freshness?

Chris

Anna March 16, 2008 at 7:53 am

Kelly, thanks for the tip! I sent you an email asking if you’d tried Levain chocolate chip cookies yet.

This brown sugar tip was new to me, which is why I posted it. It makes sense. Debbi, I guess you could buy that bag of sugar if you had a life-size terracotta gingerbread guy ;). Chris, I keep my less used flours such as bread flour, cake flour and (when I have it) self-rising in the freezer. Since I use so much all-purpose and white whole wheat, I leave those in the bag or in a canister. As for sugar, I don’t think there’s a need to freeze it.

carole March 16, 2008 at 10:28 am

I buy lare bags of brown sugar at Costco or Sams, divide it into quart sized freezer bags and store in the freezer.

When I need some it only takes a few minutes to defrost and the rest can be refrozen.

I am going to look for the gingerbread guy. Any source ideas, Anna.

Michelle March 16, 2008 at 1:34 pm

Another method I read about but haven’t tried yet is to make a foil cup (or use a regular cup I guess if you can fit it) and place a dampened paper towel in it, inside your brown sugar container. Change the towel as needed. Not as cute as the gingerbread man, I’m afraid. The bread makes perfect sense but always seemed a bit weird to me, keeping a slice on top of the brown sugar.

bakinmama/Deb March 16, 2008 at 3:24 pm

I keep wanting to tell Debbi – I am a “Debbi,” too! I go by all three now, Deborah, Deb and Debbi – so I don’t know who I am!

Anyway back to the question of where to find the brown sugar man/bear:

http://www.sugarbearsinc.com/

http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=7747167

But then I saw this:
http://www.curbly.com/Chrisjob/posts/1710-Say-Goodbye-to-Clumpy-Hard-Brown-Sugar-for-3-cents-

How great is that??

Amy March 16, 2008 at 4:20 pm

For light brown sugar, Domino has started selling “brownulated” sugar, which is granulated brown sugar in a zipper bag. I’ve been using this since I don’t use brown sugar terribly often and things don’t stay as fresh in my apartment once the weather warms since we don’t have air conditioning. I’d definitely recommend it for things like chocolate chip cookies.

Kelly March 16, 2008 at 5:59 pm

Hi Anna,
Well this comes at a good time, because I made the no fail pan cookies on Friday, and well, they failed. They are dry as anything. I used the Splenda Brown sugar blend (as I am on the silly island that has been out of brown sugar) but it has been open for a month(sealed in a plastic bag) so I am thinking that maybe it’s to blame. We do have Cane Sugar here, which is the color of light brown sugar, but the consistency is completely different, which makes me worried to try it in place of brown sugar…Any thoughts on this? :) Thanks!
Kelly

Michelle W. in Calif. March 16, 2008 at 8:04 pm

I have a little terra cotta brown sugar bear that I got at Bed, Bath & Beyond. But maybe I need the airtight jar! I just put him in the bag (I buy brown sugar in the plastic bags), and he doesn’t seem to do much good!
Since it’s so warm here so much of the year, I keep my flours in the freezer, so that weevils don’t hatch….

Judy March 16, 2008 at 8:14 pm

Since brown sugar is just white sugar with molasses added, that’s what I do. Brown sugar is fairly expensive compared to white sugar and, as noted, doesn’t keep well. I keep molasses in the fridge and add a Tbsp. per cup of white sugar when I need it for a recipe. Right now, though, I have some brown sugar because I had a coupon that was tripled, and it was on sale, so I got it really cheap.

Nicole March 18, 2008 at 8:16 pm

Thanks for the tip. Im crazy about cookie making and thought I knew everything… but I never really knew about that.

Lara March 19, 2008 at 8:46 am

This is excellent advice – thank you! I also had no idea about freezing flour. Now that I have a ton of bread flour from the Jacques Torres cookies, I know where to store it! Do you just plunk the bags in the freezer? (silly question, perhaps) or do you store them in a tupperware-type container? Also, do you have to bring the flour to room temperature before baking with it, then?

Anna March 19, 2008 at 9:14 am

Lara, I usually plunk the whole bag into a freezer bag just to keep out extra moisture. Sometimes it’s hard to fit the whole bag of flour into the freezer bag, so in that case, I dump half of it into a flour canister or into another freezer bag and keep it in the pantry or something. But keeping the flour in the bag helps me remember what kind of flour it is. I’m too lazy to label things.

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