Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pantry Must-Have's

The shelves in a home pantry can be filled with many different things:  canned goods, baking needs, cookie sheets, serving pieces, cookbooks and likely a box or two of jell-o. 

While I try to be a highly organized person (I think I sometimes spend more time planning to be organized than actually "being" organized..), looking through the pantry can be a real adventure; Finding a set of cookie cutters you totally forgot about, discovering a jar of Aunt Millie's homemade pickle relish (that you graciously said thank you for - but really hate..), or finding an open package of fondant that is now rock hard and unusable. 

Since I enjoy baking (more in the fall/winter than summer), there are a few items that I have discovered in the last year or two that I need to restock in our pantry.  These items are must-haves and you'll be certain to restock them regularly. 

This may shock some  - since I regularly do advocate baking from scratch - but these brownie mixes from the guys at "Baked" in New York City can't be beat for fast, last minute dessert needs that truly do taste like homemade.  Add a few ingredients and you'll have guests "oooing and ahhhing" thinking you spent hours in the kitchen. 

Who doesn't love ice cream?  These great ice cream starters from Willams-Sonoma are a fast and easy way to make a batch of creamy goodness.  Add the starter with some milk and cream, toss it into your ice cream maker and voila! Ice cream! 

Vanilla... lots of good vanilla is definitely a must-have in the pantry.  I keep a variety of vanilla in the pantry- from extract, to vanilla paste and whole vanilla beans and vanilla sugar.  Nearly every recipe calls for vanilla, so it's best to keep a good supply on hand. But, make it the very best vanilla you can afford. 

Another baking essential for me is Espresso Powder.  Whether your making a coffee flavored dessert, or want to enhance the flavor of chocolate - Espresso powder makes it easy. 

Kick up the brightness of your fruit based desserts with a little shot of Lemon extract.  Much like vanilla, you want to only use the very best and a little goes a very long way. 

Once you've made your brownies, and topped them with homemade ice cream - you're going to need one of the most delicious caramel sauces as the finishing touch.  The Cajeta goat milk caramel sauce from the good guys at Beekman 1802 is the perfect topping for any dessert. 

To purchase the above mentioned products, visit Williams-Sonoma or Beekman 1802

Keep your pantry stocked... you never know when company will drop in.


Elaine said...

I have a few of those items in my pantry. :) I have seen the ice cream starters at WS, but haven't tried them yet. You are so right that these items are perfect to have on hand when you have unexpected company and don't have time to make dessert from scratch. The Barefoot Contessa boxed mixes are also good.

Perfecting Pru said...

I have none of those items in my pantry (except the vanilla). I would love to see how you organise your pantry though Kenn. We could compare notes!

mike509 said...

What great products (I'm shocked none are of the 'Stewart' variety")! :) How funny, my order of 25 madagascar vanilla beans just came from (check it out) - they have so many varieties of vanilla beans... mexican, etc. Who'da thought? I didn't know BAKED had pre-BAKED goods! Great review!

John R. said...

Well, I have to admit, the only item in that list I do have is espresso powder. I do have vanilla, but I make my own! I haven't bought vanilla in over 10 years, since I learned how to make it from Martha! Several vanilla beans steeped in a giant 1.75 liter bottle of Stoli Vodka and that will last me about a year! And after reading Mikes post about I have a great new source for small bottles, since Cost Plus closed all their stores near me!