Updated: December 29, 2012 6:04AM
There is something to be said about having the ability to serve warm, home-baked treats to guests — last minute or otherwise — without so much as dirtying the mixer.
The answer? The freezer.
With the upcoming holiday onslaught, it’s not a bad idea to get ahead of the game by freezing doughs, cake batter and even fully formed pies before putting them in the oven. There’s no shorting the quality, freshly baked treats are ready as needed, and with the aroma of baking in the air, your guests will be none the wiser.
Small items like bite-size appetizers or cookies can travel from the freezer to the plate in minutes. Plus, you can bake only as much as you need.
Savory, cheese-filled puffs, called gougeres, pair nicely with wine or bubbly for a quick appetizer. The pate a choux dough is made and piped onto cookie sheets in advance, then frozen and stored in a zippered plastic bag. These don’t last long after baking, so freezing the dough results in hot, feathery puffs right when they’re needed.
Use a good melting cheese like fontina and your choice of herbs to flavor the simple dough.
Of course, frozen cookie dough is nothing new. If life is feeling too hectic, I at least try to have a bag in the freezer filled with pre-shaped chocolate chip cookies. Almost any drop cookie can be pre-shaped in this manner.
Once the dough is made, use a small ice cream scoop — about the size of 2 tablespoons — to dig out balls of the dough. Line them up side by side on a cookie sheet, and stick the whole thing in the freezer for 30 minutes tops. Then peel them off and freeze the cookies in a container or self-sealing plastic freezer bag. Pull out just as many as you need at any given time, and they’ll be ready — and warm, and gooey — in less than 15 minutes.
San Francisco Chronicle