Dirty little kitchen secrets shortcuts.
I never bother to sift.
(Except for royal icing, when lumps will cause certain failure and imminent disaster.)
Heck, I rarely even bother to combine the dry ingredients before adding them to the wet.
As long as everything is evenly distributed, it’ll all work out just swell.
Or temper eggs.
The idea behind tempering eggs is to ensure even heating of the eggs, preventing the proteins from clumping together and scrambling.
An immersion blender solves this issue very nicely.  
As long as the eggs are well blended into all the other ingredients and you bring them all up to temperature at the same time, blending constantly to ensure even heating, your eggs will not scramble.
I’m positive about this.  A lot of these tricks are just time-savers for evenly distributing ingredients and heat; traditional methods are equally effective, but often take longer and are fussier.  
I don’t like fuss.
I taste (constantly) as I go.
No explanation necessary.  Ahem.
I microwave pretty much everything and I never use a double boiler.  Ever.
Admittedly, ye of much patience and time to spare may prefer bain maries because they ensure even heating, but I prefer things done quickly and efficiently.  
You can insure even, slow heating yourself, by whisking, or better yet, blending, constantly and vigilantly.  
I make my curds, crème pâtissière, and crème anglaise (for ice cream) this way.  
I melt (and temper) my chocolate in the microwave; for ganache, I don’t even bother adding the cream to the chocolate afterwards.  I microwave them all together.  It’s faster.
(I will admit that for tempering, if you are not experienced and/or do not feel comfortable with chocolate, you should try tempering on a stove top first, so that you can constantly monitor the temperature of the chocolate.  Once you get the hang of it, ‘nuke it!)
I sling salt like cowboys do guns in Westerns.
A pinch in my book is approximately 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt.
I never measure salt, I’ll admit it.  That’s what tasting is for!
Too often I find that recipes call for a measly amount of salt, too small to have an impact on the flavor.  Salt brings out and heightens flavors, especially sugar.


I eyeball things; I always add more vanilla and citrus zest than is called for.  

Again, just like salt, these additions heighten flavor.  
I rarely strain zest out of curds and batters and whatever because a) I like the texture and b) the rind contains a ton of the essential oils that give flavor, which is why we used it in the first place.  Why take that out?! 
Oh, and c) it’s less work.  Right.
Whenever I use melted butter, I brown it.
Um, duh.  No explanation necessary.
I indiscriminately swap yogurt, sour cream, and buttermilk; 
I even use milk with a little acid added, whether in the form of a baking powder swap or a touch of lemon juice.
Baking powder is baking soda with tartaric acid added, so if you add acid in the form of buttermilk or yogurt or sour cream in place of milk, switch some of the baking powder in the recipe to baking soda, which reacts with the acid.

I bake by weight 95% of the time.

This is one of the most important things; people’s measurements of cups and pinches and all sorts of things vary wildly, depending on how they measure them.  
Volume is not the best way to bake, especially not when precision is called for.
I very rarely soften butter.  
In fact, the only time when I do is for meringue buttercreams.
See the next shortcut for an explanation.
No matter what a recipe calls for, I cream my butter for a minimum of 5 minutes.  
This means that starting with cold butter is no problem.  Just beat it on high for 30 seconds before adding the sugar to cream.  
Easy peasy, and no pesky waiting.
(This especially applies for cookies, which I beat for a minimum of 10.  
I learned this trick from Christina Tosi.)
I temper my chocolate.
Tempering chocolate frees you from needing to use shortening or other fats and/or corn syrup in your candies.
The result is a cleaner, deeper, and richer taste: one of chocolate alone.
Granted, tempering chocolate takes (minimally, once you’ve got the hang of it) longer than candy melts, but it is way more flavorful and, in truth, healthier.
Candy melts= paraffin wax.  Yes, wax.  
Um… I’ll pass on those traditional cake-pops.

Even better? Cookie dough pops.  Om nom nom.
There’s nothing better than raw cookie dough.  Except raw cookie dough that’s safe to eat and is covered in more chocolate.
One last protip?  Stick these in the freezer (if you’ve tempered your chocolate, this won’t create any ugly blooms) and you have heaven on a stick.

Cookie Dough Truffles
1/2 cup (1 stick, 8 tablespoons, 4 ounces)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup tightly packed brown sugar
heaping 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons milk
splash vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2-3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
bittersweet chocolate chips, tempered, for coating
popsicle sticks
Beat butter in the bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy and softened, about 2 minutes.
Add in the sugars and beat for 3 more minutes, until very fluffy, shiny, and not gritty.
Scrape the sides of the bowl.
Add in the milk, salt, and vanilla, and beat for 2 more minutes.
Add in the flour and mix on medium low until homogeneous.
Stir in the chocolate chips.
Roll into balls, dip popsicle sticks in a little bit of chocolate, and stick into the balls.
Freeze until solid, dip into tempered chocolate and allow to set.

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