macadamia nut – Grown primarily in Hawaii, these small, round nuts have a rich, buttery flavor. Shop for macadamia nuts.
macaroon – A cookie with a crisp exterior and soft chewy interior, made with almonds or almond paste, sugar, and egg whites. Macaroons may also contain other nuts or coconut.
Madeira cake – A rich English sponge cake flavored with lemon peel. The cake originated in the 19th century and was served with a glass of Madeira wine. See recipe for Madeira Cake.
madeleine - Madeleine’s are a small and tender French cake that is baked in a special pan Madeleine pan forming the cakes into a scallop shell shape. Madeleine’s are sometimes thought of as a cookie, but are actually little buttery spongy cakes, sometimes delicately flavored with lemon, orange, or almond.
madeleine pan – This pan is used for making Madeleine’s. The Madeleine pan, also known as a Madeleine plaque, usually have 8 or 12 shallow scallop shell-shaped indentations, and come in tinned steel, metal with a nonstick finish, and pliable silicone. A Madeleine pan can also be used to make other formed cookies, such as shortbread, tiny muffins, and petit fours. Shop for madeleine pans.
mandelbrot – Jewish crisp almond bread that is baked, sliced, then baked again, similar to biscotti.
mandelhoernchen – A delicate and buttery almond German cookie shaped into a crescent or “horn” shape. Mandelhoernchen means almond horn. See recipe for Mandelhoernchen.
maple cream – A thick creamy, sweet maple spread made by heating maple syrup, cooling it down, and then whipping it until thickened.
maple syrup – Syrup produced by boiling the sap of the sugar maple tree until most of the water evaporates. Maple syrup is graded according to color; grade AA is a pale golden syrup, grades a and b are deeper in color with a stronger flavor, grace C is very dark with the strongest flavor. Many baking recipes use grade B maple syrup. See recipe for Maple Cupcakes. Shop for maple syrup.
maraschino cherry – A sweet cherry, normally a Royal Ann cherry, that is pitted and macerated in sugar syrup, then dyed red or green. Maraschino cherries are often used as a garnish for desserts and cocktails. Shop for maraschino cherries.
marble – To create swirls of another color in a batter. For example a white, vanilla batter may have swirls of chocolate batter. See recipe for Chocolate Marble Pound Cake.
marble board – A hard, natural material that maintains a cool temperature. Marble boards work well when rolling pastry dough, cookies, and working with chocolate and sugar. Shop for marble pastry boards.
Marlborough pie – A Thanksgiving pie from Massachusetts, made with applesauce, eggs, cream, sherry, nutmeg.
marmalade – Citrus fruit and peel that is cooked with sugar to form a thick spread. Marmalade is used in dessert recipes and also used as a spread on bread. Orange marmalade made with Seville oranges is a popular marmalade. Shop for marmalades.
marshmallow – A confection made with a mixture of gelatin, sugar, corn syrup, and flavoring that is cooked and beaten into a fluffy, spongy consistency. Marshmallows are often used in baking and candy making and are a traditional addition to hot cocoa. See recipe for Marshmallows.
marzipan – A confection made with a cooked mixture of sugar, egg whites, and ground almonds. Marzipan can also be easily tinted with food color to use as decorations on cakes or cupcakes. Marzipan is delicious to eat as is, or formed into small candies, or made into treats such as wrapping around nuts or dried fruits, and dipping into chocolate. Marzipan is also commonly rolled out and used to cover cakes or fruitcakes. See recipe for Marzipan.
mascarpone – A rich, thick, cows’ milk cheese with a sweet taste and the texture of sour cream. Mascarpone is often served with fresh fruit, used in place of whipping cream, and can be used in place of cream cheese. See recipe for Mascarpone Frosting.
mazurka – A Russian Easter dessert made with eggs, sugar or honey, lemon juice and lemon zest and finely ground hazelnuts, walnuts, or almonds. Before serving the Mazurka it topped with sweetened whipped cream. See recipe for Russian Mazurka.
measure – Determining a specific amount of an ingredient, usually done with measuring cups and measuring spoons.
measuring tools - Good quality measuring spoons and cups or a scale is a must for baking. Baking is a precise science and all measuring should be precise to ensure successful baking.
Basic measuring spoon sets include measures for 1/4 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon, 1 teaspoon, and 1 tablespoon. Larger measuring spoon sets may also include 1/8 teaspoon, 3/4 teaspoon, and 1/2 tablespoon. My favorite measuring spoons are stainless steel as they have sharp precise edges and provide the most accurate measuring.
Measuring spoons are used for measuring small amounts of ingredients such as spices, leaveners, and extracts, and very small amounts of liquids. Pour liquids, such as vanilla extract, to the rim of the spoon; level dry ingredients, such as salt or baking soda with a straightedge. It’s helpful to have two sets of measuring spoons so you don’t have to wash and dry the spoons to measure multiple ingredients. Shop for measuring spoons.
Dry Measuring Cups:
Basic dry measuring cups are purchased in a set that includes 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, and 1 cup. Larger measuring cup sets may also include 1/8 cup, 2/3 cup, 3/4 cup and 1½ cup measures. A dry measuring cup does not have a pouring spout; instead they should have a straight edge to allow for easy leveling. Dry measuring cups are used to measure all dry ingredients such as flour, sugar, and oats, also for semisolid ingredients such as jam, shortening, sour cream, and peanut butter.
When measuring, add the ingredient into the measuring cup so that it is mounded and overfull, and then level it off by sweeping a straight edge, such as a metal ruler or knife, across the top of the measuring cup, leveling off the ingredient. My favorite measuring cups are stainless steel as they are the most durable and have the best edges; however you may also find acrylic cups you prefer. It’s helpful to have two sets of measuring cups so you don’t have to wash and dry the cups to measure multiple ingredients. Shop for dry measuring cups.
Liquid Measuring Cups:
All liquid ingredients, such as water, milk, or juice are measured in a liquid measuring cup. Liquid measuring cups should be made of clear glass or plastic, have a pouring spout, and have clear measurement markings on the side. It is handy to have a 1 cup measure, along with a 2 cup and 4 cup measure for most baking projects. Liquid measuring cups are also handy for warming milk or melting butter in the microwave. To accurately measure, place the measuring cup on a flat surface and pour the liquid in up to the marking for the amount you need. Let the liquid stop swishing around to determine the level it is at. Shop for liquid measuring cups.
An everyday 18 inch clear plastic, metal, or wood ruler is a helpful tool for measuring pans, measuring rolled pastry dough, cutting bar cookies into uniform sizes, as a guide when splitting cakes into equal layers, or measuring 1 inch cuts for cinnamon rolls. The ruler also provides a neat, straight cutting edge and is easy to wash.
Professional bakers use scales to weigh ingredients instead of using measuring cups to measure by volume, for the simple reason that weight measurements are more precise and accurate. Scales are used to measure dry ingredients, along with nuts, dried and fresh fruits, and chocolate, and to measure out portions of dough. The scale is also helpful to determine if multiple cake pans have the same amount of batter.
There are two types of scales, digital and mechanical, with digital scales being the most accurate. A thin, battery powered digital scale with a flat platform for weighing is affordable and is the easiest to use for most home bakers. Look for a scale that measures up to about 10 pounds, has an automatic shut-off that will remain on for at least 5 minutes, has a “tare” button to reset the scale to zero in order to measure the next ingredient, and the ability to change from pounds and ounces to metric. In addition, all the buttons and controls should be on the front of the scale, not the bottom or the back of the scale. Shop for scales.
melba sauce – Sweetened raspberry puree, traditionally used as a topping for Peach Melba dessert, but is also delicious as a topping for pound cake and ice cream.
melon baller - Melon ballers come in a variety of sizes, used for creating melon balls for fruit salads. However this little tool doesn’t stop there. It is also great for coring apples and pears, forming small chocolate candies such as truffles, and shaping small balls of cookie dough. Shop for mellon ballers.
melting moments – A British small round cookie that has a rich buttery taste that almost “melts in your mouth.” The cookie is formed into balls and rolled in crushed cornflakes or sweetened coconut and topped with a candied cherry or slice of angelica.
meringue – Egg whites and sugar that are whipped together until firm, or until stiff peaks form. Meringue is used as a topping on pie, such as Lemon Meringue Pie, formed into a shell to hold fillings, piped into discs and baked, formed into shapes such as meringue mushrooms, and even baked with cake batter to form a sweet topping. See recipe for Chocolate Hazelnut Meringue Cake and Strawberry Meringue Cake.
meringue powder – A dried egg-white based powder that is used as a replacement for fresh egg whites when making meringue and royal icing. See recipe for Royal Icing. Shop for meringue powder.
mesh strainer or colander - Also known as a sieve, these mesh bowls are used to strain liquids and sift flour, confectioner’s sugar, and other dry ingredients. Finely woven mesh strainers are good for flours and fruit purees, and larger coarse strainers are used for larger particle ingredients. It’s helpful to have both types of sizes. A fine mesh sieve can be used to remove lumps from cooked fillings, or to sift ingredients (such as flour) into a recipe, or to sprinkle ingredients such as confectioner’s sugar or cocoa over baked goods. Shop for sieves and colanders.
metal spatulas - Nothing works better for removing baked cookies from a cookie sheet than a thin metal spatula. Choose one that is wide enough to slip under the cookies, a 2½ or 3 inch width is a good size for most baking needs. Shop for metal spatulas.
Mexican chocolate – A sweet chocolate flavored with cinnamon and a hint of almond flavor.
Mexican wedding cake – Also called Russian Teacake Cookies, Italian Butter Nut Cookies, Butterballs, and Snowballs. These cookies are rich with butter and nuts, rolled in confectioners’ sugar immediately after baking and then again when cooled, and seem to melt in your mouth. See recipe for Russian Teacake Cookies.
milk chocolate – The sweetest of all chocolates, milk chocolate is made with chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sugar, milk solids, lecithin, and vanilla flavor. Shop for milk chocolate.
mince – To cut food into very small fine pieces, less than 1/8 inch. For example orange or lemon zest may be minced, or cut into very small pieces.
mincemeat – A rich fruit mixture made with finely chopped apples, raisins, candied citrus peel, nuts, brown sugar, spices, rum or brandy, and beef suet. Original recipes used lean beef that was minced; modern versions are typically made without any meat or beef suet. Mincemeat is used as a filling cakes and cookies, but is probably best known as a filling for mincemeat traditionally served at Thanksgiving and Christmas. See recipe for Mincemeat Drops with Rum Frosting. Shop for mincemeat.
mise en place – A French term meaning “everything in its place” referring to having all ingredients and tools prepared and ready to use before starting the project. When baking, all ingredients should be measured and brought to room temperature when necessary, all tools and equipment laid out and ready to use, and the oven turned on and pre-heated.
mix– To stir two or more ingredients together until blended.
mixer – an electrical appliance used to combine and beat ingredients. A stand mixer normally has a dough hook, whisk, and paddle attachment to accommodate most mixing needs. Shop for electric mixers.
mixing bowls - A good set of mixing bowls will be your constant companion while baking, used for mixing, whipping creams or egg whites, preparing ingredients, raising breads, or just storing food in the refrigerator.
My favorite bowls are a set of clear glass nesting bowls, providing several sizes to choose from depending on the task at hand, and with several bowls you don’t have to wash and reuse the same bowl as often. Glass bowls are also microwave safe and can be used on top of a double boiler. Have at least one small, one medium, and one large mixing bowl, and having two of each is even better. Having one extra-small and one extra-large bowls are also useful to have.
Stainless steel bowls are another good all-around choice; they are lightweight, durable, and can be heated, but can tend to dent easily and are not microwave safe.
Crockery bowls are very attractive, and normally oven-safe, however they are heavier and can chip if you’re not careful with them.
Copper bowls are beautiful and expensive. However no bowl is better for beating egg whites into meringue. A chemical reaction occurs between the egg protein and the copper, giving the egg whites greater volume and stability than when they are beaten in a stainless steel or other bowl. Copper is often used when making candy and sugars since it is an excellent conductor of heat.
Acrylic bowls come in fun colors, and are lightweight, but are probably not micro-wave safe.
Plastic bowls and aluminum bowls are the least desirable. Plastic will absorb odors and fat which can transfer into your ingredients. Aluminum bowls will react to acidic foods to impart a metal taste. Shop for mixing bowls.
ml – The abbreviation for milliliter.
mm – The abbreviation for millimeter.
mocha – A flavor combination of coffee and chocolate.
modeling chocolate – Also called plastic chocolate, this is melted chocolate with corn syrup added to make a firm, flexible dough-like texture that can be molded into shapes and decorations such as flowers.
moisten – To add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients until just slightly wet.
molasses – When sugarcane is processed the sugar crystals are moved, leaving the sugarcane juice called molasses. The juice is boiled is stages resulting in different grades of molasses. The first boiling produces light molasses with the mildest flavor; the second boiling produces dark molasses with a richer flavor but less sweet than light molasses, and the third boiling produces the darkest molasses with a bitter flavor, also known as blackstrap molasses. Molasses is a popular sweetened used in baking such as gingerbread, gingerbread cookies, and molasses cookies. See recipe for Molasses Spice Cookies. Shop for molasses.
molded cookie – Cookies that are formed by pressing the dough into a mold to form the shape.
monkey bread – A sweet yeast bread made by forming the dough into small balls that are rolled in butter and sugar and arranged in a cake pan. As the bread rises and bakes the balls into a loaf. To serve the pieces can be pulled off with your fingers to eat, or sliced into pieces. The origin and name of Monkey Bread is not agreed upon. Theories include the fact that you can pull it apart with your hands; it takes a bit of “monkeying around” to prepare the bread; the bread resembles the monkey puzzle tree. See recipe for Caramel Pecan Monkey Bread.
moon cake – A Chinese cake with a round moon shape and filled with a sweet black bean or lotus paste, or a mixture of pickled melon and nuts.
moon pie – A cake like cookie made with two round graham crackers sandwiched together with a marshmallow cream filling, and then the cookie is dipped and covered with chocolate.
mortar and pestle - A mortar is a small, round, heavy bowl; a pestle is a round headed crusher that fits inside the bowl, used for grinding spices and seeds. Most mortar and pestles are made of marble with an unglazed finish, providing a heavy stone surface for grinding. Shop for mortar and pestles.
mousse – Soft, light, and creamy mixtures made with melted chocolate or fruit purees beaten with egg whites and sugar. Gelatin may be added to help the mixture set. Mousses are generally served chilled. Mousse is the French word for “froth” or “foam.”
mousse cake – A rich, flourless cake that is baked in a water bath, similar to custard. The dessert is chilled and then unmolded before serving.
muffin – A small sweet or savory quick bread, leavened with baking powder or baking soda, often made with fruits or nuts, and baked in a muffin pan to form the shape. See recipe for Blueberry Orange Muffins.
muffin and cupcake pans - Muffin pans are a rectangular metal baking pan with six or twelve cup, used to bake both muffins and cupcakes. Muffin pan sizes are typically mini, standard, and jumbo sized. Each cup is normally lined with paper baking cups, and then filled with muffin or cake batter. Muffin pans can also be used to bake dinner rolls or individual brownies. Shop for muffin and cupcake pans.
A standard muffin pan has 12 cups, each measuring about 2¾ inches at the top and 1-3/8 inches deep. Mini muffin pans normally have either 12 or 24 cups and measure about 1¾ inch across the top and ¾ inch deep. Jumbo muffin pans normally have 6 cups, and measure 3-3/8 inches across the top and 1¾ inches deep.
Muffin pans are traditionally made of metal; most common are aluminum pans; however flexible silicone pans are now available.
muscovado sugar – Also known as Barbados sugar, a dark brown sugar that is very moist and a strong molasses flavor.