The difference between a good cookie or cake and a great one generally isn’t a “secret ingredient.” The secret is using the best basic ingredients: top-grade chocolate or cocoa, fresh organic eggs, artisan flour, real Madagascar (Bourbon) vanilla and fresh-ground spices—not pre-ground ones that have been sitting on the shelf for months (or years!) Try the best ingredients with your favorite recipe and see if they make a big impact. As tough as it is to “waste food,” don’t use old ingredients—toss old spices, cocoa and baking chocolate and don’t try to use up old butter in cake or cookies. Even if the carton says that the eggs are in still in the window of usability, the fresher they are, the better they bake up. When you factor in your labor and the cost of all ingredients, using the best and the freshest is worth it.
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