With all the holiday cooking and baking that goes on, it is likely that you will open a recipe (like one of Yazmin’s non-traditional desserts) and discover you are out of an ingredient. Sometimes going to get that missing item can be impossible (snowed in) or expensive (saffron is $40 per ounce or more). What’s a cook to do?
If you understand what each ingredient is doing in the recipe, you can find something else that will do the same thing.
For instance, cream of tartar is something that is NOT on the shelves of most cooks. But it tends to show up in holiday recipes. Cream of tartar can be used for three main reasons:
- to keep egg whites fluffy when you whip them
- to make breads and cookies rise when used with baking soda
- to give frosting its creamy texture
If you don’t have any cream of tartar, you can substitute
- vinegar or lemon juice to keep your egg whites fluffy (use the same quantity as the cream of tartar in the recipe)
- baking powder replaces cream of tartar AND baking soda – 1/3 teaspoon baking soda and 2/3 teaspoon cream of tartar equals 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- forget about it in the frosting as it’s not really necessary
Other great substitutes:
- Honey – replace with 1 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water
- Cardamon – use a combination of cinnamon and nutmeg
- Evaporated milk – mix 2/3 cup non-fat dry milk with 3/4 cup water – makes one cup evaporated milk substitute
- Yeast – baking soda and lemon juice in equal amounts to make up the missing amount of yeast – added at the end of your mixing
Unfortunately, there appears to be no really good substitute for the most expensive spice in the world, saffron. There are substitutes for the color: marigold petals, safflower or food coloring. A somewhat workable substitute for the flavor is turmaric. Trader Joes carries their own brand of saffron which is cheaper than most places and has a passable flavor.
A great source for substitutes for just about anything is The Cook’s Thesaurus.
Do you have a substitute that you use in cooking?