12 Secret Ingredients That'll Make Your Cooking So Much Better
It'll be our little secret.
You'll Never Make Brownies Without This Secret Ingredient Again
If you haven’t used sour cream in your baking before, you’re not alone. We usually think of it as a creamy complement to salty foods. But this refrigerator staple thickens your batter, ensuring your brownies are wonderfully chewy and moist.
Joanna Gaines' Secret Ingredient for Pecan Pie is Kinda Genius
“It’s funny how a small tweak to a classic recipe can make it seem completely new and exciting,” Gaines writes. “I’m not saying traditional pecan pie needs improving, but adding a bit of ground ancho chile creates a sweet-and-heat pairing that sends this pie into another stratosphere.”
The Secret Ingredient for the Chewiest Chocolate Chip Cookies
James Beard Award-winning Chef Dorie Greenspan revealed her secret for the chewiest cookies in her new cookbook, Everyday Dorie: The Way I Cook, and elaborated on it in her latest “Dinner With Dorie” video for Food52. You ready for it? It’s oats.
The Secret to Extra-Crispy Roasted Vegetables
If you’re craving some extra crunch, look no further than a staple you probably already have in your pantry: cornstarch. Cornstarch is frequently added to foods to give them an extra bit of crispiness, but for some reason it’s not commonly included in roasted vegetable recipes. Once you try the cornstarch method, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.
Store-Bought Puff Pastry is the Secret to Making Easy Desserts That Look Impressive
A good ol’ box of Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry sheets is the type of supermarket shortcut that even the most enthusiastic and prolific bakers stand to benefit from during the months when most of us look to minimize oven use.
The Secret to the Publix Key Lime Pie
Over the years, we’ve enjoyed many a slice of Publix Key lime pie, and we’ve come to the conclusion that one inspired addition makes this Key lime pie better than the rest. What’s the secret? It’s right there, front and center—or, actually, it’s scattered around the outer edge of the graham cracker crust. The secret to this particular pie is the sprinkling of hand-crushed, toasted almonds embellishing the circumference of the pie.
The Tofu I Make Is Insanely Good, Thanks to This Secret Ingredient
While one of the easiest ways to flavor tofu is to smother it in a glaze, I knew I could find a way to impart flavor into the tofu itself, and eliminate the need for an additional sauce. I found my answer in nutritional yeast. Don't be freaked out by its name—nutritional yeast is simply a nutrient-rich ingredient with savory, "cheesy" flavor.
Stephanie Izard's Secret for Excellent Biscuits
Stephanie Izard can do no wrong when it comes to big, bold flavors—and brunch is no exception. For this week’s episode of Mad Genius Live, the heavily decorated chef (she was a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 2010, the first female winner of Top Chef, and recently became an Iron Chef) stopped by the Test Kitchen to make the breakfast sandwich of our dreams, otherwise known as Szechuan-Style Breakfast Biscuits. The recipe comes from Izard's new cookbook, Gather and Graze: 120 Recipes for Tasty Good Times.
Served at Little Goat, one of Izard’s three Chicago restaurants (the other two are Girl and the GoatandDuck Duck Goat), this dish is a fresh take on the classic sausage biscuit. Izard likes to call the sandwich, “This Little Piggy Went to China.”
In making the biscuits, one of the first steps is to cut the cold butter into the dry mixture of flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar. While Izard suggests using a pastry cutter to chop the butter, she personally prefers to go old-school: “You don’t want to put it in a mixer. It’s one of those that you want to just kind of get in there with your hands. Get down and dirty.”
Beware that your freezer door might also get down and dirty, since this recipe calls for a few rounds of chilling. “It’s so important when making biscuits to keep [the dough] nice and cold,” Izard says.
While the scallion-and-cheddar biscuits are buttery and delicious, Food & Wine Culinary Director Justin Chapple says that the Szechuan Chile Sauce is “the trick.” Izard transformed Chinese-inspired flavors into a breakfast sauce by adding maple syrup to ingredients such as broad bean paste and fish sauce.
As for the hoisin mayo, the simplest option is to buy both ingredients and mix them together, although Izard makes her own hoisin at the restaurant and thickens the sauce with dried dates.
Perhaps the best part about Izard's knife-and-fork breakfast sandwiches is that most of the components can be made in advance. “If you’re having friends over for brunch on Sunday or Saturday,” Izard says, “you don’t want to have to get up super early and make everything the morning of.” In fact, you can store the biscuit dough in the freezer for up to a month.
This Spread Is the Secret Ingredient in a Perfect French Canadian Breakfast
At first, spreadable pork may not seem like something you’re interested in eating. Though it sounds more like a label for mystery meat, the French Canadian spreadable pork known as cretons is actually delightfully fatty spread for morning toast.
The Only Fluffy Pancake Secret You’ll Ever Need
The key to making extremely fluffy pancakes is entirely dependent on the way you handle just one ingredient: the eggs.
The Secret to Better Homemade Whiskey Sours and Daiquiris
Maybe you’ve heard of simple syrup, the classic 1:1 sugar-to-water mixture used in drinks and, occasionally, desserts. Perhaps you’ve shaken or stirred simple syrup into a drink or two. It is an easy way to add sweetness without the grittiness of sugar. These days, though bartenders and home cocktail fans tend to reach for rich simple syrup, called “rich simple” for short, instead.
Japan Has an Unexpected Secret Ingredient for Perfect Pancakes
Japan has given us plenty of crazy food news lately, from alcoholic Smirnoff coffee soda to Nicolas Cage snacks to pancake pudding. The latest pancake news from Japanese Twitter, however, is a whole new kind of weird: The secret ingredient for perfect pancakes is mayonnaise.