Baking Basics: A Recipe for Holiday Success

Tried-and-true tips and quality ingredients help your baked goods “measure up” this holiday season

Baking Basics: A Recipe for Holiday SuccessNo matter what traditions your holiday season involves, holidays of all cultures seem to have one thing in common: baking. Food is an integral part of many celebrations, and whether it’s Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, or simply a family get-together, chances are good there’s a baked good in attendance.

“Holiday baking plays a fundamental role in many family traditions,” said Craig Nielsen, CEO, , Inc. “Following a few basic baking rules and using high-quality ingredients, such as Nielsen-Massey pure vanillas, are easy ways to guarantee that these traditions continue on for generations to come.”

Whether trying your hand at an old family recipe or experimenting with favorites from other holiday traditions this year, these baking basics will help ensure success in your kitchen:

  • Stock the staples: Some staple ingredients, such as all-purpose flour, baking soda and baking powder, eggs, sugar, and vanilla show up in many recipes. Stocking higher quality ingredients will ensure that your holiday recipes benefit from complex and superior flavors. This year, add an organic, fair-trade vanilla – such as Nielsen-Massey Organic Fair-Trade Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract – to your pantry. Your family will love the superior vanilla flavor, and the farmers who grow the vanilla beans will benefit from receiving fair prices for their products.
  • Prep for performance: Before diving into a new recipe, read it twice from beginning to end, and make sure you have all the necessary ingredients and bakeware items. Be sure to prep ingredients, utensils, and pans per the recipe directions, and remember to preheat your oven before you begin mixing ingredients. Finally, pre-measuring your ingredients helps ensure a smooth, uninterrupted process once it’s time to begin mixing.
  • Cool for conclusion: Make sure to avoid the most common – and worst – baking mistake: impatience. Follow recipe directions for cooling your baked goods before attempting to remove them from the baking pan, sheet, or tray. You will be glad you waited when your baked goods come out of the pan without breaking, crumbling, or splitting.

For a chewy, flavorful cookie that your family will love, try these baking basics with this recipe for Chewy Macadamia Nut Cookies. The smooth, mellow flavor of Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla pairs perfectly with rich brown sugar and delicate macadamia nuts, leaving your family begging for more.

Baking Basics: A Recipe for Holiday SuccessChewy Macadamia Nut Cookies
(Makes three dozen)


  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup chopped macadamia nuts


  1. Cream the butter, brown sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl using an electric mixer on a medium speed until fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.
  3. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, cream of tartar and cinnamon and mix well.
  4. Stir in the macadamia nuts. Chill for two hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Coat an insulated cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
  7. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and place on the prepared cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Cool on a wire rack.

Baking Tip:
When preparing bakery items such as cookies, here’s a tip to enhance the flavor intensity of your product: cream the vanilla into the butter or shortening and sugar first. This step encapsulates the vanilla and helps prevent flavor loss in low mass/low moisture/high heat cookies.

About Nielsen-Massey Vanillas
Throughout its more than 100 year history, Nielsen-Massey Vanillas has earned its reputation as a manufacturer of the finest extracts in the world. The full line of Nielsen-Massey’s Pure Vanilla products include: Vanilla Beans and Extracts from Madagascar, Tahiti and Mexico; sugar and alcohol-free Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Powder; Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste; Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Sugar, Organic Fairtrade Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract and Organic Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Beans. Nielsen-Massey Vanillas also offers a full line of Pure Flavors: Pure Chocolate Extract, Pure Almond Extract, Pure Orange Extract, Pure Lemon Extract, Pure Coffee Extract, Pure Peppermint Extract, Orange Blossom Water and Rose Water. All Nielsen-Massey products are All-Natural, Allergen-Free, GMO-Free, and certified Kosher and Gluten-Free. The company is headquartered in Waukegan, Illinois, with production facilities in Waukegan and Leeuwarden, The Netherlands. 

To learn more about Nielsen- Massey Vanillas, please visit them on the web at, and find them on Facebook and Twitter.