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Books for cooks: Tips can help you master the art of baking

If you’ve ever forgotten to soften the butter for your baking, Marcy Goldman has a tip that will get you mixing in no time.

She suggests shredding cold butter with a large box grater so it warms quickly and blends easily into the batter.

The pastry chef and master baker also suggests “double sheeting” or stacking two baking sheets together so there’s no chance of scorching the bottoms of your goodies. You can easily proof your dough right in the mixer, Goldman says, by covering the whole machine with a large plastic bag while the dough rises.

“A Passion for Baking” includes those tips, other tricks and recipes for the kind of goodies that make you drool while you’re standing in line at the coffee shop. Do Vanilla Cheesecake-Stuffed Brownies, Double Fudge Biscotti or Oh-So-Coconutty Cupcakes sound good? How about Cranberry-Orange-Walnut Tea Bread with Sweet Orange Glaze, Asiago and Cheddar Potato Rolls or Java Streusel Banana Muffins?

Here’s a recipe from the book for the gift-giving season. It’s also a quick and easy recipe to keep on hand at home.

Double Fudge White Chocolate Chunk Brownies in a Jar

Pack these into a pretty Mason jar and tie with a ribbon, with a recipe card attached. Adding a brownie pan to the gift makes it the perfect baking ensemble. This is a great kids’ gift, as well as being just the thing for the beginning baker.

For the layered mix:

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup premium-quality cocoa powder

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon finely pulverized instant coffee granules, optional

1 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Add ins:

1 cup unsalted butter

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a large jar or Mason jar, layer sugar, cocoa, flour, baking soda, salt, coffee, and then white chocolate, nuts and chocolate chips at an angle. To create the layered angled appearance of the mix in the jar, simply tilt the jar and add each ingredient through a paper funnel while the jar is tilted.

Recipe card text: To make the brownies, dump mix into a large bowl. Stir in 1 cup melted unsalted butter and then add 4 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Blend well.

Spread batter in a lightly greased 13-by-9-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees until done, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool well and then refrigerate before cutting.

Yield: 2 to 3 dozen, or 10 to 14 large brownies

Approximate nutrition per serving, based on 12: 260 calories, 15 grams fat (8 grams saturated, 49 percent fat calories), 3 grams protein, 31 grams carbohydrate, 58 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram dietary fiber, 57 milligrams sodium.