Turn to cocoa powder for potent chocolate flavor. There are two kinds: Dutch-process or alkalized which produces a darker color but more mellow flavor, and natural cocoa powder, which has a slightly stronger, sharp flavor and lighter color. They are not perfectly interchangeable, so check your recipes before you stock your pantry.
A little goes a long way, so be sure to add it gradually, drop by drop, to tint icing or melted white chocolate into holiday shades. If you suspect your child is sensitive to synthetic dyes (tartrazine or yellow dye #5 has been associated with allergic reactions) skip the color job or opt for natural dyes health food grocery stores.
An essential for gingerbread, ground ginger abounds in holiday baking. Milder than fresh ginger, this spice is kid-friendly. For flavor you can taste, make sure your supply is no older than six months.
All you need is confectioner's sugar and a little bit of milk to make that creamy, sugary concoction that kids can't get enough of.
Toss these sweet pillows of joy into hot cocoa, whip up rice Krispie treats at a moment's notice, or throw a few on some brownies. Sick of dried out marshmallows? They'll stay moist if stored frozen in a tightly sealed bag. Bonus: They're easier to slice or snip with scissors when frozen.
It ain't gingerbread if it doesn't contain molasses. Besides, this sweetener is chockful of iron, making this a sweet thing that parents can feel good about. Try coating your measuring spoon or cup with a thin layer of oil before measuring molasses so it will slide right out.
Who doesn't love sprinkles? Best prices are found in bulk stores, but be sure to transfer into small, kid-friendly shakers to help little fingers decorate with ease.
Pick your chip —- from milk chocolate to semi-sweet to mint chocolate —- and toss them into cookies, cakes and muffins or use them to decorate. Chocolate chips are designed to maintain their shape when baked and while you can melt chocolate chips, they don't melt as smoothly as baking chocolates will.
Vanilla is used sparingly in recipes so if you can afford it, buy genuine vanilla extract.
by Madeline Greey
Madeleine Greey is a Toronto-based food and nutrition writer. When she's not at her computer, Madeleine's bound to be in the kitchen, cooking up something to write about.