While I was looking for a recipe to make a different dessert I ran across a small paperback cookbook (Good Housekeeping's Book of Delectable Desserts published in 1958) I hadn’t used in awhile.
It had a page of tips for bakers some of which I thought I would pass on to you. A lot of them are common sense ideas, but some times we need to be reminded of the basics.
To tint coconut: Blend 1 teaspoon milk or water with a few drops of food color. Add 1 1/2 cups flaked coconut. Toss with a fork until tinted. You may add a few drops of almond or other extract to the liquid if desired. Use at once or store in covered jar or bowl.
To cut up dates, marshmallows, candied fruit, etc: Use kitchen scissors dipping blades into water every now and then.
To keep Brown Sugar soft: Store sugar in air tight container along with a piece of bread, whole lemon, or slice of apple set on piece of waxed paper. Change bread or fruit often to insure freshness. Hardened brown sugar may softened in the same way.
To substitute milk: For each cup of milk you may substitute 1/2 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water or 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk combined with 1 cup of water.
To melt chocolate: Chocolate scorches very easily, so never try to melt it over direct heat. Instead, place the squares or chips in a bowl and set the bowl over a pan containing a small amount of hot water. Stir until melted. Be careful not to get water in the chocolate. This applies to melting in Microwaves also as it will scorch quickly in a Microwave.
Most cookbooks will have a page or so of basic tips if we take the time to read them. It will often save you a lot of grief and wasted products as well as having to run to the store and start over.