10 Must-have Staples for Holiday Baking


Brandy and Rum

It's impossible to talk about holiday baking without mentioning fruitcake. The bad fruitcake has become a recurring joke -- it's baked, given as a gift, left uneaten on a shelf in the pantry and then regifted the next time the holidays roll around. However, fruitcake doesn't have to be the dry, brown brick of unrecognizable candied fruit that shows up in stores during the holidays. One way to resurrect a dilapidated fruitcake is dousing it with brandy or rum to give it a little splash of flavor and moisture.

Even if you won't let a fruitcake cross the threshold of your front door, keeping brandy and rum in stock during the holiday baking season is still a good idea. You can use the liquor in cake recipes that call for a teaspoon or two of rum-flavored extract. Dried fruit will perk up when soaked in high-quality brandy or rum. In addition to flavoring dishes, brandy and rum can also play a part in some pyrotechnic party tricks. For a real old-fashioned Christmas pudding, pour brandy over the cake, turn down the lights and ignite it for an unforgettable presentation. Who doesn't like a cake you can set on fire?