In honor of Black Friday, and my firm belief in avoiding throngs of shoppers at all costs, I am posting a list of great gift ideas for all the bakers in your life. I feel compelled to do this because today I am making Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffins adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook and alas I am unable to share this recipe with you! But what I can share is a link to this book, which is truly a gem. It is full of sage advice from one of my most trusted sources outside of my family, and aside from the muffins there are many recipes in this book that I make on an almost weekly basis- like pizza! They have a great (and very easy) recipe for pizza crust that will make you wonder why you have been paying a fortune for delivery all these years. So, with that in mind, I am compiling a few suggestions here for the bakers in your life. And I advise you all to put some cookies in the oven, make a cup of tea, and let your shopping today be in the comfort of your own home.
I’ll start with stockings because those are by far my favorite thing to shop for, and often people (my husband) underestimate the possibilities here. I think back to a Christmas morning many years ago where I found mousetraps in my stocking…. thank god they were not set! Now, granted, we did have mice. We lived in an apartment in downtown Petaluma above an Italian restaurant and they just kind of came with the territory, but we also had 10 foot ceilings and a fabulous brick interior so it was not all bad. But, back to the stocking…. we had agreed that year, as we were young and didn’t have much money, to just fill each others stockings. And he got me mouse traps! (And a huge kitchen table which did not fit in the stocking, missing the point entirely of the sweet but small gifts we had agreed on.) If you would rather fill your own Kitchen King or Queen’s stockings with things not destined to fill them with thoughts of rodents, consult this list for some ideas:
- Microplane Zester and Grater – Works great and perfect size for a stocking!
- Offset Spatulas – For frosting cakes.
- Bench Scraper – If you don’t have one already, get two!
- Measuring Cups – I love my odd size set, 3/4 and 2/3 cups are really nice to have.
- Measuring Spoons – The oval shape makes these easier to get in spice jars.
- Nielsen-Massey Vanilla – There is no substitute for this vanilla, it is all I use.
- Heat Resistant Spatulas – So there are no issues if you leave one in the chocolate melting on the stove!
And now that you’ve filled their stocking with so many fun things, why not take it to the next level with some baking themed gifts for under the tree. Like this Alteco rotating cake stand that makes frosting cakes a snap! I wouldn’t be able to get that perfect swirl effect without it. Complete the package with a set of pastry tips, pastry bags, and gel paste food coloring and your gift will include everything your favorite pastry chef in training will need for decorating cakes like the pros.
All right, it’s time for me to take the muffins out of the oven. I’ll be back on Monday with the first of many cookie recipes I am eager to share. Until then, enjoy this time with your family, the biggest gift we will all receive this holiday season.
P.S. If you do order the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, these muffins are made using their recipe for Pumpkin Nut Bread. I substitute chocolate chips for the walnuts and bake them in mini muffin tins instead of a loaf pan.