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Glossary C-G



Cakes - Broadly defined, cakes are any flat, round disk of food.  The earliest cakes are believed to come from ancient Egypt but they were really sweet breads.   Cake recipes that are similar to today and contain beaten eggs date from the 17th Century.  Most of us think of cakes as a sweet, baked confection made with or without fat (butter, oil, or shortening) and usually containing a mixture or batter of flour, sugar, eggs, flavorings and sometimes another leavener such as baking powder or baking soda.  The mixture is then poured into a pan and baked until the exterior is firm with a crust, and the interior sets with a crumb.....More on Cakes

Cashews - Cashews are a smooth, tan-colored, kidney-shaped nut.  The hard shell of the cashew is toxic and that is why they are sold shelled.  The toxic oil is destroyed when the nuts are bleached or roasted.   The raw cashew has little flavor but roasting brings out its rich, sweet, nutty, buttery flavor.   Sold whole or in pieces, they are eaten as snacks but can also be used in both sweet and savory dishes.  They turn rancid quickly because of their high fat content, so they are best stored in an airtight container or plastic bag in the refrigerator or up to 9 months in the freezer.

Cheesecake - Cheesecakes have a filling made from cream cheese, cottage cheese or ricotta cheese mixed with eggs, sugar, and other flavorings.   The crust can be made from graham cracker crumbs, wafer crumbs, gingersnaps, finely ground nuts, or pastry.  They are baked in a springform pan or cheesecake pan and can have a layer of sour cream on top.  The texture varies from light and airy to heavy and rich....Recipe for New York Style Cheesecake

Chestnuts - Chestnuts have a glossy, mahogany-colored hard shell, and the nutmeat has a mild, subtle flavor.  They need to be cooked and are fantastic roasted and eaten while still warm.  Chestnuts are available in many forms;  fresh in their shells; preserved in sugar (marrons glaces) either whole or in pieces;  sweetened or unsweetened purées in cans or tubes; chestnut flour; and dried chestnuts....More on Chestnuts

Chiffon Cake - A moist and tender, light and airy cake that has the richness of a butter cake but the springy texture of a sponge cake.  Similar to a butter cake in preparation and formula (although oil is used instead of butter), it relies on the whipped egg whites for its leavening, along with baking powder.  A quick and easy batter to make as there is no creaming of the fat and sugar because the fat is in liquid form (vegetable oil).  The dry ingredients are mixed together and then the oil, egg yolks, water, and flavoring are beaten in.  The egg whites are first beaten separately until stiff, but not dry, and then folded in to the batter.  The batter is quite thin and is traditionally baked in a tube pan.  Chiffon Cakes were developed in the 1920's as an easy variation to the angel food cake but didn't appear in print until the 1940's.  Flavorings include extracts, chocolate, cocoa powder, nuts, zests, spices or chopped fruits.....Recipe for Orange Chiffon Cake

Chocolate - Chocolate comes from the Aztec word xocolatl which means bitter water.   The tropical tree from which cocoa and chocolate originate is called Theobroma which translates to "food of the gods".  All chocolate begins with tropical cocoa beans.  The flavor and quality of the chocolate depends on the type(s) of beans used,  how they are harvested and fermented, the roasting procedures, quality and amounts of ingredients added, and the time of conching......More on Chocolate

Chocolate Chips - Chocolate chips are small rounds (1/8 to 1/2 inch) (.6 to 1.25 cm) of semi-sweet, milk or white chocolate that contain less cocoa butter than other chocolates.  They are made to withstand moderate oven heat so they retain their texture and shape in cookies, muffins, and other baked desserts without appearing to melt (even though the cocoa butter has melted).  Primarily used in the making of cookies and brownies.....More about Chocolate Chips

Chocolate Chip Cookies - Ruth Wakefield is credited with inventing the first chocolate chip cookie.  In 1930 at the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts she decided to cut up chunks of Nestlé's Semisweet Yellow Label Chocolate bar and add them to a rich butter cookie dough.  The Nestlé company discovered her delicious cookie and made a deal for the rights to her recipe.  Subsequently by 1939 Nestlé had invented chocolate morsels and packaged them in a Yellow Label bag and, upon buying the Toll House name, printed Ruth Wakefield's recipe for "The Famous Toll House Cookie" on the back.  

Reported to be the favorite cookie of Americans, Ruth Wakefield's recipe has been the springboard for numerous adaptations.  The original recipe: 1 cup butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 3/4 white granulated sugar, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved into 1 teaspoon hot water, 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 cup chopped nuts, and 1 pound cut up chocolate has only been slightly changed by Nestlé to accommodate the changes in baking soda and use of chocolate morsels.  Once made with a mere 1/2 teaspoon of dough, chocolate chip cookies now range from miniature to jumbo and Nestlé has met this demand by producing various size morsels from mini-chips to large morsels.....Recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies

Clarified Butter - Also called drawn butter.  Simply defined, clarified butter is unsalted butter that has the milk solids and water removed so all that remains is pure liquid golden-yellow butterfat.  The advantages of this type of butter is its long keeping quality (several months refrigerated) and its high smoke point (can be used in frying without burning). To make clarified butter gently melt unsalted butter over low heat until the butter breaks down and three layers form......More on Clarified Butter

Clotted (Devonshire) Cream - A clotted cream produced commercially in Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset England.  A thick, rich, yellowish cream with a scalded or cooked flavor that is made by heating unpasteurized milk until a thick layer of cream sits on top.  The milk is cooled and the layer of cream is skimmed off.  Clotted cream has 55-60 percent fat content and is so thick it does not need whipping.  Traditionally served with scones and fruit....More on Clotted Cream

Coat a Spoon - A technique used mainly as a way to test when an egg-based custard or sauce is done.  A spoon, usually wooden, is placed in the custard and, when the spoon is raised, the coating on the spoon will stay in place even when you draw a line with your finger through the middle of the custard. 

Cocoa Butter - Cocoa butter is the ivory-colored natural fat of the cocoa bean extracted during the manufacturing process of producing chocolate and cocoa powder.  It has a very subtle mellow flavor that gives chocolate its creamy smooth, melt-in-your-mouth texture.  The quality of the cocoa butter depends on the quality of the bean it came from and the process of separating it from the chocolate liquor.   Cocoa butter is solid at room temperature but it has a low melting point (just below body temperature) and it does change from a solid to a liquid quickly (i.e.. sharp melting point)....More about Cocoa Butter

Cocoa Powder - Cocoa powder is made when chocolate liquor is pressed to remove three quarters of its cocoa butter.  The remaining cocoa solids are processed to make fine unsweetened cocoa powder.   There are two types of unsweetened cocoa powder: natural and Dutch-processed.  Dutch-processed or alkalized unsweetened cocoa powder is treated with an alkali to neutralize its acids. Because it is neutral and does not react with baking soda, it must be used in recipes calling for baking powder, unless their are other acidic ingredients in sufficient quantities used.  It has a reddish-brown color, mild flavor, and is easy to dissolve in liquids.  Natural unsweetened cocoa powder tastes very bitter and gives a deep chocolate flavor to baked goods.  Its intense flavor make it well suited for use in brownies, cookies and some chocolate cakes.  When natural cocoa (an acid) is used in recipes calling for baking soda (an alkali), it creates a leavening action that causes the batter to rise when placed in the oven.....More about Cocoa Powder

Coconut - The largest of the nuts, the average coconut weighs 1 1/2 pounds (680 grams), and one tree will produce thousands of coconuts over its 70 year life span.   A coconut is round or oval-shaped and has several layers: the outer layer is smooth and brownish-green (removed before shipping to market); next is a hard, hairy, brown fibrous shell that has three "eyes" at one end; inside the shell a thin brown skin encloses a milky white meat; and at the very center of the coconut is a sweet, watery, opaque liquid called coconut water....More about Coconuts

Coffee cake or Coffeecake - A chemical- (baking powder/baking soda or yeast-leavened sweet, rich, cake-like bread that is usually served at Breakfast, Brunch, or Afternoon Tea.  Oftentimes frosted with a streusel mixture or glaze , coffee cakes can contain fruits, nuts, spices, and chocolate.  Can also be filled with a layer of cream cheese, fruit, streusel, lemon curd, jam or preserves, etc.  Best served warm.......Recipe for Coffeecake

Confectioners Sugar - (Also known as powdered or icing sugar)  It is granulated sugar that has been ground to a powder with cornstarch added to prevent lumping and crystallization. It comes in 4X, 6X and 10X but 10X is the one generally found in stores. 10X means that the granulated sugar has been processed ten times.  Confectioners sugar is used in meringues, icings, confections, and some sweet pastry.

Cookbook Journals - As early as the 17th century, women have been sharing and recording recipes in book form.  But the books they made were not merely a compilation of recipes.  They were really a journal of a  woman's domestic life.  You would sometimes find household and gardening advise, as well as formulas for making medicines, as a place to save clippings on events taking place in their neighborhood, a place to save letters from friends and family, to record or even write poetry and quotations, and as a place where children practiced their writing of letters.  Some women kept adding to their journals throughout their lives so these books became a diary of their domestic development.  As the years went by you could see the progress of their cooking skills by the increasing complexity of the recipes and their abilities to adapt the recipes to their own tastes. Some women were so pleased with their accomplishments that they went on to publish their personal recipe books.

Cookies - "Cookie" comes from the Dutch word "koekje or koekie" and refers to a small cake. 'Cookies' in North America are defined as small, sweet, flat or slightly raised baked goods.  In the U.K. they are called biscuits; in Spain they are called galletas; in Germany they are called kels; and in Italy they are called biscotti.  Every country has its favorite.  In the United States and Canada it is chocolate chip, in the U.K. its shortbread, in France its sablés and macaroons, and in Italy biscotti......More on Cookies

Cornstarch (Corn flour) - it is a fine white powder that comes from the inner grain (endosperm) of corn and is used in baking (can replace some of the flour in recipes to produce a finer textured cookie or cake) as well as in cooking (as a thickener for gravies and sauces).  The British term 'corn flour' is often used synonymously with the North American term 'cornstarch'. 

Couverture - Couverture Chocolate is a high quality chocolate that contains extra cocoa butter (32-39%).  The higher percentage of cocoa butter, combined with the processing, gives the chocolate more sheen, firmer "snap" when broken, and a creamy mellow flavor.  Couverture is used by professionals for dipping, coating, molding and garnishing.  When melted is becomes very fluid, giving a smooth, thin coating to dipped truffles and candies.  Must be tempered before use to stabilize the cocoa butter.....More about Couverture

Cranberries - This small, firm, smooth-skinned, shiny red, round to oval-shaped berry is also known as the craneberry, bounceberry, bearberry, cowberry, or lingonberry.  The cranberry is the fruit of a small shrub with trailing vines from genus Vaccinium that likes cold climates.  It grows best in poor acid soil in flooded areas called bogs or on moors or mountainsides.  The tartness of the cranberry make it one of the few berries never to be eaten raw.   They are used in both sweet and savory dishes, as well as juices......More about Cranberries

Cream - Is the fat that rises to the top of whole milk. It has a smooth, satiny texture and is labeled according to its butterfat content (heavy to light). Some creams are labeled "ultra-pasteurized" which means the cream has been briefly heated to kill the bacteria that cause cream to sour. This process gives the cream a longer shelf life, but since artificial emulsifiers are added to restore its whipping qualities, taste is affected.....More on Cream

Cream of Tartar (Potassium Tartrate) - Lining the inside of wine caskets after fermentation is a white sediment (tartaric acid).  Once this sediment is removed, purified and then ground, it becomes a fine white powder which we call cream of tartar.  Cream of tartar (an acid) is used in making commercial baking powders, one part baking soda to two parts cream of tartar.  It is also added when beating egg whites as it stabilizes the whites and gives them volume and strength.  The rule of thumb when beating egg whites is to add 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar for each egg white.  When beating the egg whites, add the cream of tartar to the whites once they are foamy.  You may also notice that some cake recipes call for cream of tartar.  It is used to give cakes more volume with a finer whiter crumb.  In frostings it is used to give added creaminess.  It is also used in both confectionery and sugar syrups to prevent crystallization.  Cream of tartar can be found in the spice section of most grocery stores and should be stored in a cool dry place.

Cream Puff - Catherine de Medici's (an Italian who married France's Henry II) pastry chef invented choux pastry in the 1540s.  Since then this pastry has been the springboard for many desserts.  One favorite is the cream puff which is a hollow round of crisp choux pastry that is split in half, filled with a cream or custard, and dusted with powdered sugar.   Two other desserts that are closely related to the cream puff are the Eclair (long finger-shaped pastry that is filled with cream and glazed with chocolate) and the Profiterole (small puffs of choux pastry split and filled with cream or ice cream and topped with chocolate).....Recipe for Cream Puffs

Creaming or 'to Cream' - How often have you seen a recipe begin with the words 'cream the butter' or 'cream the butter with the sugar'?  This mixing or beating technique not only combines ingredients to make a uniform mixture, but also incorporates air into this mixture.  A whisk, wooden spoon, or electric mixer with paddle attachment can be used.  The butter should be at room temperature so it incorporates the sugar sufficiently to produce a smooth and creamy batter that is light and fluffy.  Follow your recipe's instructions, as this step can vary in length from seconds to minutes, depending on how much air needs to be incorporated into the batter so it rises properly in the oven.

Creme Anglaise - A French term for a pourable vanilla custard sauce served hot or cold with desserts. Also used as a base for making ice cream. Consists of whole milk flavored with a vanilla bean, sugar and egg yolks.  It is a rich sauce that can accommodate other flavors such as liqueurs, melted chocolate and fruit purées.......More on Creme Anglaise

Creme Fraiche - Pronounced 'krem fresh'.  It is a thick and smooth heavy cream with a wonderfully rich and velvety texture.  This matured cream has a nutty, slightly sour taste produced by culturing pasteurized cream with a special bacteria.  In France, where it originated, the cream is unpasteurized so it naturally contains the bacteria necessary to make crème fraîche.  The butterfat content varies (usually 30%), as there is no set standard so you will find every brand tastes a little differently........More on Creme Fraiche

Creme Patissiere - Also known as Pastry Cream.  It is a rich, thick custard made from a mixture of milk, eggs, sugar, flour and cornstarch (a thickener) cooked on the stove.  Vanilla beans, liqueurs, chocolate, coffee and fruit purées are some complementary flavorings added to pastry creams.  It is a very versatile cream used to fill cakes, cream puffs, eclairs, Napoleons, tarts, and other pastries.  If a lighter pastry cream is desired heavy whipping cream can be added......Recipe for Creme Patissiere

Crisps - Crisps are defined as a baked fruit dessert that has a topping (streusel-like) made from flour, sugar, butter that has been combined until it is crumbly and looks like coarse meal.  Nuts, spices, and oats can also be added.  Most crisps are made with sliced apples but other firm fruits, such as pears, can be used.  Crisps do not have a bottom crust and the topping, when baked, becomes crisp and crunchy.  They are best served warm with softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream......Recipe for Apple Crisp

Crystallized Ginger - Crystallized ginger is ginger that has been cooked in a sugar syrup and then coated with sugar.  It has a wonderful sweet spicy taste .  You can buy crystallized or candied ginger in small tins at specialty grocery stores or in bulk form from health food stores.   It will last indefinitely if stored in a cool dry place

Cupcake - The name given to a small individual cake that is baked in a cup-shaped mold (usually a muffin pan).  For ease of removal, fluted paper or foil cup liners can be used.  Cupcakes can be frosted with icing and decorated with sprinkles and are very popular at Children's Birthday Parties.  The name 'cupcake' originated in Britain and North America in the 19th century and is believed to come from the American system of measuring in 'cups'.  Just as the name "pound cake" was derived from using one pound of sugar, butter, flour, and eggs; "cupcake" comes from using 'a cup' to measure the ingredients.  The first recipe for cup cakes was in a book by Miss Leslie, dated from 1828, which called for one large coffee cup of cream or rich milk, one cup butter, two cups sugar, four cups flour.  The batter was them baked in small tins.

Curdle - I still remember the first time I was making a cake and the mixture curdled i.e. separated into a liquid and a fat.  The butter and sugar had been beaten together and the eggs were being added.  You look in the bowl and all you see are pieces of fat amongst the liquid mixture.  Why did this happen and what do you do?  This can happen because too much liquid, albeit eggs or milk, are added at once or added too quickly.  It can also happen when the ingredients being added are not the same temperature as the other ingredients.  Solving this problem is accomplished by simply continuing with the recipe and adding the flour.  Or sometimes it can be remedied by just beating the mixture until it comes together again.  The third way is to heat the mixture so that all the ingredients are the same temperature and then beating. 

Curdling can also happen when making sauces or custards either when heating mixtures containing eggs, or when adding a hot liquid into an egg mixture.  To prevent this from happening always heat egg mixtures over low heat and stir gently but continuously.  When adding a hot liquid to an egg mixture be sure to "temper" first, that is, add a little of the hot liquid into the egg mixture to warm the eggs up.  Then you can safely add the rest of the hot liquid.

Also, when baking a dessert that contains a custard sauce, such as a bread pudding, it is sometimes advisable to place the dessert in a water bath to prevent the sauce from over heating and curdling.

Cut or Cutting In - A technique used in pastry making (scones, biscuits) involving the mixing of a cold solid fat (butter, margarine, shortening) into dry ingredients (flour mixture) until the mixture is blended but still contains small flour-coated pieces of cold fat.  This combining of the cold fat and dry ingredients must be done quickly and with a light hand so the the fat does not melt.  For light and fluffy scones or biscuits, the fat should not become too soft or cut too fine.  A pastry blender, two knives, fingers, food processor, or an electric mixer with the paddle attachment can be used. 


Dash or Pinch - As in "a dash or pinch of salt".  This is an inexact measuring term referring to a very small amount of a dry ingredient that can be held between the tips of your thumb and forefinger.  This is used when the amount of the ingredient needed is so small that it really is irrelevant to the recipe.  Technically, you could say its volume is somewhere between 1/16 and 1/8 of a teaspoon.

Desserts - The last course of the meal where something sweet is served.  It includes  cakes, confections, cookies, custards, fruit, ice creams, mousses, pastries, pies, puddings, sorbets, soufflés, and tarts.  The dessert course can also include cheese.  Dessert comes from the French word 'desservir' meaning 'to remove the dishes' or 'clear the table'.  Once the table was cleared, the dessert, either fruit or sweets was served.  'Dessert' replaced the word 'banquet' which was the English name given to this course during the 18th century.  Trivia - 'Desserts' is 'stressed' spelled backwards.  Quote "Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first." - Ernestine Ulmer

Dollop - An imprecise volume measurement used when placing a small spoonful or mound of a soft food (whipped cream, sour cream, mascarpone, custard, etc.) on the top or beside another food.  For example, placing a dollop of whipped cream on top or beside a slice of pie, tart, or strawberry shortcake. 

Dot or Dotting - A term used when small pieces of butter (usually) are evenly distributed over the top of a pie, gratin, etc. just before being placed in the oven.  As the food bakes the butter melts and helps to provide moisture, richness and aids in  browning.

Dough - Pronounced 'DOH'.  The terms 'dough' and 'batter'' are oftentimes used interchangeably as the main difference between the two is only in their consistencies.   That is, a dough is thicker in consistency than a batter.  This is because a dough normally has less fat, liquid and sugar than a batter. 

A dough is defined as an unbaked mixture of flour and a liquid(s) (water, milk and/or eggs), that when combined with other ingredients (i.e. sugar, fat, salt and a leavener) produces a mass that is normally stiff enough to hold its shape when kneaded and/or rolled.   There are breads, biscuits, and pastries that fall under the classification of doughs and they can vary in consistency depending on their ratio of flour to liquid.

Drizzle - Breads, coffee cakes, cookies, cakes are some of the baked goods that can be enhanced by a drizzle of glaze, icing, or melted chocolate.  Other times, a baked good is drizzled with melted butter just before being baked.  Drizzle means to slowly pour a very thin stream of liquid in a random pattern over the surface of food.  The tines of a fork, paper cone, pastry bag, squeeze bottle can be used to accomplish this task.

Dust or Dusting - Can be used to lightly coat food, (cakes, pastries, and/or confections) pans, or surfaces with a powdery substance such as flour, confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, cocoa powder, or nuts.  Flour is often lightly sprinkled (dusted) on a work surface before rolling out a dough to prevent it from sticking.  Likewise, after greasing a pan, it is dusted with flour to prevent the baked good from sticking to the pan and making it hard to remove.  Confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar or cocoa powder is lightly sprinkled on cakes, pastries and confections to enhance their appearance. 


Eau-de-Vie - Pronounced oh-deuh-VEE.  French for brandy and translated it means 'water of life' which is derived from the Latin 'aqua vitae'.  Eau-de-vie is a clear and colorless, aromatic, and strong (80 to 90 proof) brandy that is distilled from fermented fresh fruit.  This is why their flavors are so wonderful but they do tend to be expensive.  These brandies are not distilled in wood, but are aged in pottery or glass which gives them their clear color.   The most popular ones are made from cherries (Kirsch or Kirschwasser), raspberries (Framboise), and pears (Poire Williams) and the best eau-de-vies come from France, Germany, and Switzerland.  Kirsch originated in the Black Forest region of Germany and has a subtle cherry flavor.  Framboise is French for raspberry and it takes about 9 pounds of raspberries to make one bottle of Framboise.  Bottles that are labeled 'Framboise Sauvage' are made from wild raspberries.  Poire Williams is made from the Williams pear (equivalent to the American Bartlett pear) and has the wonderful aroma of fresh pears.  Eau-de-Vies are used to flavor desserts, sauces, pastries, and confections.  The rule of thumb is to add no more than 2 tablespoons of eau-de-vie to every 1 cup of sauce or batter.   When using alcohol in desserts match the eau-de-vie's flavor to that of the other ingredients in the dessert.  The flavors should complement each other.  See also liqueurs and brandy.

Egg Wash - A mixture consisting of beaten egg(s) (whole eggs, whites, or yolks) and a liquid (usually milk, cream, or water) that is brushed on the top of baked goods before baking to give them a glossy sheen and to aid in browning to produce a crisp outer crust.  Can also be used to keep toppings such as nuts, poppy or sesame seeds, or sugars in place while they bake or to join layers of pastry so they do not separate during baking. 

Eggs - Symbolically, the egg stands for the renewal of life.  Commercially, the term 'egg' refers to hen's eggs.  Eggs from ducks, geese, quails, ostriches are also sold but they must be labeled accordingly.  The egg consists of the thick, clear white (albumen), and a yellow yolk.  The white is 87% water and 10% protein.  The yolk consists of 50% water, 16% protein and 32% fat.  Eggs, as well as flour, are the structural ingredients in baking......More on Eggs

English Cookbooks (Cookery Books) - Recipes were once known as "receipts".  The first cookbooks were written by chefs for chefs.  It wasn't until the 18th century that cookbooks even began to look like what we have today.  Hannah Glasse (1708-1770), Elizabeth Roffald (1733-1781) and Maria Rundell (1745-1829) were said to be the first English women to write cookery books aimed at the inexperienced housewife and her servants....More on English Cookbooks

Eton Mess - The name given to the English dessert made of strawberries, whipped cream, and pieces of meringue.  The name "Eton" is used as the dessert was first created at Eton College, one of Britain's most famous public schools whose alumni includes 18 Prime Minster's of Great Britain.  "Mess" is used as the combination of cream, strawberries and meringue are all just mixed together in one bowl.   This dessert is traditionally served at Eton College's annual June 4th prize giving celebration where parents and students have a picnic....Recipe for Eton Mess


Financiers (Friands) - (pronounced fee-nahng-syehr) and also known as Friands (meaning "dainty" or "tasty").  They are a French tea cakes made from a sponge-like batter of beurre noisette (brown butter), egg whites, flour, toasted ground almonds, and powdered sugar.  Financiers are similar to Madeleines in that they both use a sponge-like mixture that is baked in a special mold.  When baked Financiers are soft and springy with a slightly domed top and a lovely golden brown crust.  The traditional Financiers are baked in rectangular molds that are said to resemble bars of gold.  Another popular mold is the boat shape (barquette).....Recipe for Financiers

Florentines - are round, wafer thin cookie (biscuit) made from nuts and candied fruit that is coated with a sugar syrup.  It has a chewy, also candy-like texture, that has a coating of chocolate on one side that is textured in a wavy pattern, made by using the tines of a fork or a pastry comb. Although the name 'Florentine' suggests they originated in Florence Italy, there is no direct evidence to support this......Recipe for Florentines 

Flour - The term flour was once spelled 'flower'.  The milled flour we buy and use today was once ground using a mortar and pestle.  Milling of different grains dates back to prehistoric times and through the ages automation of the milling process was perfected.  Most people think of flour in terms of "wheat" flour.  When in fact flour can be ground from a variety of nuts and seeds.  When used in baking flour contributes body and structure, texture and flavor to baked goods......More on Flour

Foam Cakes - The category of foam cakes includes sponge, biscuit, roulades, genoise, chiffon, angel food, meringue, and dacquoise.  These cakes have a high proportion of eggs to flour and are leavened solely (except chiffon cakes) by the air beaten into whole eggs or egg whites.  They contain very little, if any, fat and have a spongy texture.....More on Foam Cakes

Fold - A simple but crucial technique used when combining a light and airy ingredient into a heavier ingredient or mixture in such a way as each ingredient maintains its original volume.  This technique must be done quickly but gently and stop 'folding' as soon as the ingredients are blended.  Start by placing one quarter of the lighter mixture on top of the heavier mixture.  With a rubber spatula cut down vertically through the two mixtures, sweep across the bottom, up the nearest side of the bowl, and over the top of the mixtures (go in clockwise direction).  Rotate the bowl a quarter turn counter-clockwise and repeat the down-across-up-over motion.  This technique is commonly used to incorporate flour into a sponge cake base and adding egg whites to a cake batter.

Frangipane or Franpipani:  An almond flavored pastry cream that is traditionally made from blanched ground almonds, butter, sugar, flour and eggs.  A simpler version of frangipane uses almond paste instead of ground blanched almonds.  Frangipane is used as a filling or topping for pastries, tarts, and cakes. 

Frappes/Smoothies - These two names are now used interchangeably by  food writers.   The 'Smoothie', a relatively new drink, probably evolved from the 'Frappe or Frappe' (pronounced fra-PAY).   In Jonathan Bartlett's "The Cook's Dictionary and Culinary Reference" , he defines "Frappe" as either "a drink composed of a liqueur poured over shaved ice" or as "a dessert of thick fruit juice or syrup frozen until mushy".  There is also listed a "Frappe", no accent on the 'e', which is like a milkshake and consists of milk, some form of flavoring, and ice cream, and maybe an egg.   The Smoothie seems to combine the best of a Frappe (fruit/juice), with the dairy part of the Frappe (ice cream, yogurt, etc.).  'Smoothie', being defined as a beverage made of pureed fruit and/or juice blended with yogurt, milk or ice cream. 

Frosting - What is the proper name for that sweet sugary mixture used to fill and cover cakes, pastries and other confections?  The answer may depend on where you live.  Americans tend to use the word 'frosting'.  Other countries tend to use the word 'icing'.  The name 'icing' probably has something to do with the fact that 'confectioners' or 'powdered' sugar is also known as 'icing' sugar.  Hence, combining icing sugar with other ingredients makes an 'icing'.  The fact is that 'frosting' and 'icing' are the same thing and food writers used them interchangeably.  There are numerous types of frostings (icings), both thick and thin, cooked and uncooked, starting with a simple mixture of powdered sugar and water, to beating hot sugar syrup into stiffly beaten egg whites.......More on Frosting

Fruit Cake - Fruit cake is the traditional British Christmas Cake that is full of fruit (candied and dried), nuts, and spices, that is laced with alcohol (usually brandy), and covered with marzipan and royal icing.  They are baked for several hours in a slow oven and, after they are completely cooled, are often wrapped in a liquor or brandy soaked cheesecloth.....Recipe for a Boiled Fruit Cake

Fruit Fools - "Fool" is believed to have originated from the French word "fouler" which means "to mash" or "to press".  Dating as far back as the sixteenth century, this classic British dessert has seen its popularity ebb and flow.  Today fruit fools consist of cooked or raw fruit that is puréed or mashed, then sweetened, chilled, and finally folded into stiffly beaten whipped cream (there should be streaks of the white cream showing where the fruit was not completely folded into the whipped cream).  Traditionally fools were made with tart fruits such as raspberries, gooseberries, blackberries, loganberries, and rhubarb but today virtually any fruit can be used......More on Fruit Fools 

Fudge - is a soft, creamy, sweet candy that appears to have been first made   on American college campuses during the 1890s.  We don't, however, know why it became known as "fudge".  The Webster's Dictionary speculates that the making of the candy was a way to "fudge" on dormitory rules.  Although the first recipes involved the making of a sugar syrup, which can prove difficult for the inexperienced, simpler recipes have now been developed using condensed milk or marshmallow cream....Recipe for Fudge


Ganache - A French term referring to a smooth mixture of chopped chocolate and heavy cream.  The origins of ganache are debatable but it is believed to have been invented around 1850.  Some say it originated in Switzerland where it was used as a base for truffles.  Others say it was invented in Paris at the Patisserie Siravdin.  To make ganache boiled heavy cream is poured over chopped chocolate and the mixture is stirred until velvety smooth........More on Ganache

Genoise - Named after its place of origin, Genoa Italy, it is a type of light and airy sponge-like cake.  Different from a sponge cake in that the eggs are beaten whole and a small amount of melted butter is added.  This makes it more tender and flavorful but is less sweet than a regular sponge cake.....More on Genoise

Gelatin - Unflavored gelatin is tiny granules that are tasteless, colorless, and odorless.  It is used as a thickening agent but only becomes active when dissolved in hot water.  Gelatin comes from two sources: collagen, which is a protein found in the connective tissue and bones of animals, and from certain algae (agar-agar).  Professionals normally use the gelatin from algae. 

Unflavored gelatin is used in fillings, mousses, puddings, creams, molded desserts, marshmallows, and confections to give them shape.  To use gelatin you first need to sprinkle it over a cold liquid (about 1/4 cup (60 ml) of cold liquid for 1 envelope of gelatin) so the gelatin softens and will combine evenly and smoothly with the other ingredients in the recipe.  The gelatin should be allowed to soften, untouched, for about 5 minutes so the granules will swell and become spongy.  The softened gelatin then needs to be warmed so the gelatin granules dissolve and the proteins become activated (gelatin is completely dissolved at 105 - 115 degrees F (41 - 46 C)).  You can do this by either adding the softened gelatin to hot liquid, or, the softened gelatin can be heated in a bowl over simmering water until it dissolves.  (To check to see if the gelatin has completely dissolved, dip a spoon into the gelatin and check to see that there are no unmelted crystals.)  Just make sure the gelatin does not boil.   Above 150 degrees F (66 degrees C) the gelatin breaks down and will not resolidify when cooled.

Once the gelatin is dissolved and added to a liquid it is cooled in the refrigerator until it sets and becomes jelly-like (this will take about 4 - 6 hours, or overnight).   Do not freeze as the gelatin will crystallize and separate.  If you want to add fruit to the gelatin mixture, first let the gelatin set to the consistency of egg whites.  Letting the gelatin set to this stage will prevent the fruit from sinking to the bottom of your bowl.  If you wanted to layer two different colored gelees; pour your first layer into your serving bowl, chill the gelee to the point where it is almost set (will still be a little sticky), and then add your next layer.   

Unflavored gelatin is sold in the baking section of grocery stores.  It is packaged in small boxes which hold four paper envelopes of powdered gelatin.  Each 1/4 ounce (7 grams) (scant tablespoon) envelope of gelatin will jell about 2 cups (480 ml) of liquid.  Unflavored Gelatin is also available in clear, paper-thin leaves (or sheets).  Professionals use this type of gelatin as it gives a smoother and clearer consistency.  It is widely used in Europe and can be found in gourmet and specialty baking stores, or through mail order. You need to soak the sheets in cold water for about 15 to 20 minutes until it looks like wet plastic wrap.  The sheets are then heated until liquefied.  The two types of gelatin can be interchanged.  Four sheets of leaf gelatin equals 1 envelope (7 grams) (1 tablespoon) of powdered gelatin.

German Chocolate - German Sweet Chocolate is a dark baking chocolate created by Samuel German (hence its name) who thought it would be more convenient for bakers to have a chocolate where the sugar was already added to it.  It is sweeter than semi-sweet chocolate and contains a blend of chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, flavorings, and lecithin.  The quality of the chocolate depends on the ingredients and processing.  Famous for its use in the American German chocolate cake recipe that was very popular in the 1950s.  It is a rich American style two layer cake made with sweet chocolate and filled with cooked coconut-pecan frosting.

Glace - (pronounced Glah-SAY).  French for glazed, crystallized or candied.  Glace cherries or pineapple are usually purchased prepared and is a process whereby the fruit is dipped several times in a dense sugar syrup.  It is then left to dry and crystallize and should be stored in a cool, dry place.  Commonly used in confectionery and pastry. 

Glaze - Defined as a thin liquid sweet coating that adds shine and color to pastries.  Also used as a protective coating to prevent the fruit on the top of tarts from drying out and looking unattractive.  Apricot jam, raspberry preserves, red currant jelly, lightly beaten egg whites, and  chocolate make good glazes......More on Glaze

Ginger, Crystallized - Crystallized ginger is ginger that has been cooked in a sugar syrup and then coated with sugar.  It has a wonderful sweet spicy taste that goes well with the refreshing flavor of lemon.  You can buy crystallized or candied ginger in small tins at specialty grocery stores or in bulk form from health food stores.   It will last indefinitely if stored in a cool dry place.

Gingerbread - There are two major styles of gingerbread: a moist and spicy sweet cake or a cookie that is usually molded or shaped into a figure.  In both cases we seem to enjoy this dessert mainly during the fall and winter, especially around the holiday season. 

The Crusaders are credited with bringing gingerbread to Europe, although not in the form we enjoy today.  At one time it was made with breadcrumbs and sweetened with honey.  As with most recipes, gingerbread evolved around the world to meet the tastes of its different cultures.  If you sample gingerbread in a country other than your own you may be surprised to find it does not look or taste as you expected.   It may be a bread, cake or cookie and can range from light colored with just a touch of spice to dark colored and very spicy.  Other gingerbreads: France has pain e'epices (a cake containing flour, spices and honey), Holland has Speculaas (crisp gingerbread cookie molded into different shapes),  Austria and Germany have Lebkuchen (a molded gingerbread cookie full of honey and spices), and China has Mikong (ginger flavored honey bread).

In England and America, we  usually make  our gingerbread with treacle or molasses.  Ground ginger and cinnamon are almost always present, with ground cloves placing a distant third, if used at all.....Recipe for Gingerbread Cake......Recipe for Gingerbread Men

Gold Leaf - Gold leaf to be edible must be pure 22- to 24- karat gold.  It is pure metal which has been beaten into a gossamer-thin square and is sold in packages of 3 1/2 inch square sheets of leaf, layered between sheets of tissue parchment paper. It has no taste and is used to decorate fancy desserts and pastries.  It must be handled carefully, with a sable brush or tweezers, as it dissolves easily from the moisture of your hand.  It can be stored indefinitely.  You can find it in some art supply stores (make sure that it is pure 24 karat gold) or else through Beryl's Cake Decorating Equipment 1-800-488-2749 or www.beryls.com


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