These edible Easter Baskets are a great treat for kids and adult alike. They look adorable, but the best part is – they’re relatively easy to make. A simple cupcake acts as the “basket” base (I chose coconut cupcakes), green-colored coconut is strikingly realistic Easter grass, tuck in a cookie handle, and mini chocolate eggs finish off the look. Just a couple of do-ahead steps, and you’ll be ready to assemble your own baskets!
Hello All! I apologize for the long hiatus, but unfortunately I have been struggling with a bad bout of migraine headaches (I’ve had migraines all my life). I worked hard these last couple of months to get better control of them, and while they are improving, I am still not 100%. So please hang in there with me, as I know I have horribly neglected the blog. I do, however, vow to be more faithful to my fellow cyberchefs and keep posting!
So now on to the fun stuff. Here are the new Winter cookies at the store (The Crown Market.) While I would love to take full credit, I simply cannot. I created these cookies last year, however, since then, our intern, now-turned assistant pastry chef, Samantha Persaud, has improved upon them and made them her own. Sam insisted that something in our bakery repertoire be pink, so she introduced a pink mitten alongside my original blue, and added the addition of colored sugar, which I think makes the cookie entirely. Not only does it add extra color to the cookies, but it gives the great illusion of a fuzzy yarn. These cute mitten cookies are perfect for the season and are as fun to look at as they are to eat! Glazed in blue or pink icing and decorated with royal icing and accented with blue and purple sanding sugar, they are the perfect winter treat!
Each cookie retails for $1.69.
Ok, I know that it is not technically Fall yet, but even the slightest chill in the air makes me start to crave all the great autumnal flavors. (Fall is my favorite season after all.) While baking pumpkin bread and breaking out the cranberries is a little premature, I compromised and baked these fantastic Carrot Cake Cookies. A sandwich cookie, these treats are comprised of a soft, cake-like carrot cookie and a sweet cream cheese frosting. Everything you love about carrot cake in a bite-sized package. The cookies are easy to make and combine shredded carrots, dried currants, and oats, along with cinnamon and ginger to recreate the flavors commonly found in the classic cake. (Currants are similar to raisins, but are smaller and therefore work well for these small cookies.)
I was looking though the blog and noticed a lack of cookie posts/recipes. You may have guessed: cookies are simply not my favorite. These cookies, however, are winners – and coming from a non-cookie lover such as myself, that is quite an endorsement. I wish I could take credit, but these cookies are Martha all the way. I first made these in college as part of a care package for Scott, who at the time, was studying at a different university two states away. (Yes, he was as lucky as a bachelor as he is as a married man.) Baking was my stress reliever when I was in school (or vehicle of procrastination, however you choose to look at it.) But when the papers were piling up and the reading seemed endless, I would head to my little kitchen and bake. I would rarely make anything twice, and in reality, those college years were the foundation to my culinary repertoire.
So for this short period of time where the weather is sunny and 75, but the leaves are beginning to turn, try this seasonal hybrid.
Recipe: Carrot Cake Cookies
As the summer winds down, I thought I would sneak one more berry dessert into the mix. Although peak raspberry season is over, you can still find acceptable berries at your grocery store. This tart is the epitome of simple: a graham cracker crust, a sweet and creamy filling, topped with fresh berries. I can’t imagine anyone not liking this combination. The dessert highlights the berries by creating a subtle contrast in flavor and texture in both the crust and filling, but does not over power the delicate raspberries themselves. The tang of the berries are complimented nicely by the tang of the sour cream filling. Similar to a no-bake cheesecake recipe, the filling is a simple combination of cream cheese, sour cream, and sugar. By including the sour cream, it not only adds an extra layer of flavor, but also softens the filling and keeps the dessert on the lighter side. (more…)
Here are the fruits of today’s labor. We had an order for 200, yes 200, soccer ball cupcakes. All were hand decorated and piped with chocolate fudge. It officially took me 1 hour and 40 minutes to create all the cupcakes and then about an additional hour to recover. (Hunching over a workbench for hours at a time tends to do a number on your back and neck.) But here they are nonetheless. The picture below only shows half of the order.
The cupcakes were ordered for a Bar Mitzvah with, you guessed it, a soccer theme. Like so many these days, the customer opted to forgo a traditional cake and serve individual cupcakes instead. While I admit that 200 was a little daunting, I feel as though I conquered something. A cupcake marathon, if you will? (Side note – have you ever attempted to draw a soccer ball? Turns out when you investigate, the pattern is made of up both black pentagons and white hexagons. Now, try to imagine piping those shapes, with straight lines and crisp angles with chocolate fudge in the middle of the summer! I promise, it was not the easiest of tasks.) I hemmed and hawed over their likeness to real soccer balls, but in the end, if you squint, I think they are good enough. Everyone who came into the bakery kitchen today who could identify the cupcakes as soccer balls got a hug (it was that kind of day).
As promised, although slightly late, here is one option for using all of those perfectly ripe summer strawberries. These fresh strawberry cupcakes certainly let the sweetness of the strawberry shine. I used white cake and filled the cupcakes with berries marinated in sugar, grand marnier, mint and orange zest. Surprisingly so, these additions really help to make the flavor of the berry pop and add some depth to the overall taste. To top the cupcakes, I made a fresh strawberry buttercream. Using my traditional Italian Buttercream recipe (post to come soon), I added fresh, mashed strawberries. The juices from the mashing helped to not only flavor but also color the buttercream a perfectly pale pink. I purposely mashed the berries instead of pureeing them because I also wanted small pieces of the strawberry throughout the buttercream. If you are going to go to all the trouble of making fresh strawberry buttercream, you may as well show it off, right? To finish up, I adorned each cupcake with a small perfect berry (stems attached, for that just from the farm look) and there you have it.
Recipe: Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes
These are the new “Summer” cookies at work. While they don’t taste like watermelons, they sure do look like them. To make these cookies, we cut large circles from rolled out dough and then half the circles to achieve our “watermelon slice” shape. After they are baked, we spread a thin coat of icing (colored pink, of course) and pipe on the rest of the details. These would certainly be fun to serve at a BBQ as a small treat, especially if served alongside real watermelon slices.
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