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.
One of my first food memories is of me standing over a large pot of bubbling applesauce. I was perched on a stool in my Aunt Vicki’s kitchen, my nose hovering as close as possible to soak up the amazing smell. I don’t remember much else other than that snapshot, but I have never forgotten the intoxicating aroma. Aunt Vicki and I were making homemade applesauce – yes, I said making. (As far as I was concerned, applesauce grew in jars.) Whenever I smell baking apples to this day, I am immediately reminded of that afternoon. It was about twenty years later until I had another taste of homemade applesauce, yet somehow my memory of the sweet sauce was perfectly on point.
So let’s start from the beginning: Aunt Vicki. As the story goes, the first day my parents moved in, Vicki Giffin showed up on their doorstep with a large welcome basket filled with goodies, tea, and her lifelong friendship. Aunt Vicki became my surrogate grandmother, seeing that mine was a long drive away. Some of my first childhood memories are of Aunt Vicki. A woman way ahead of her time, Vicki was a vegetarian nurse who taught yoga (and yes, this was the early 80s). She was famous for all sorts of kooky things, ranging from setting her lamppost on fire one Halloween (she made a “ghost” out a sheet – however did not account for the flammability of said sheet) to spending ungodly amounts of money to save a tree in her backyard that was in the way of an impending addition (by the way, the addition was a jacuzzi room). She had a working slot machine in her living room, an ancient rake hanging on the family room wall, and every toy imaginable in her basement. She was one of the coolest people I have ever known. Along with all these quirks, Vicki had the largest heart. She was kind, genuine, and loving. Unfortunately, Vicki’s life was cut short by a very rare form of brain cancer. While she is no longer with us, her memories live on in all those she touched. I smile and think of her every time I make my own sauce. (more…)
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.
These egg-shaped cupcakes are the perfect treat for Easter. With endless decoration possibilities, these individual cakes offer a fun twist on dessert for the holiday. And the best part is, they taste as good as they look!
For these fun little cakes, you will need a special “egg” baking pan. I came across mine years ago at Williams-Sonoma, but they have become so popular, you can find them at various kitchen supply stores. Wilton carries a “Mini Egg Pan” that can be found at craft supply stores or on their website. Ok, so once you have the pan, the rest is relatively simple. I am about to share a massive secret, one which at times I thought I would take to the grave: More often than not, I use box cake mix. I know that many of you are thinking, “what self-respecting pastry chef uses a box cake mix?” I admit it, I do. I find the box cakes produce a fluffy, moist cake and you simply can’t beat the convenience factor. Now, these mixes are not all the same and are not suitable for all uses. For example, when I make wedding cakes, I do not use the box cake mix. (more…)
This Spring I will be teaching cooking classes to kids through a community food organization here in Hartford. In preparation, I am testing some “kid friendly” recipes, trying to amass a curriculum. (Needless to say, anticipate plenty of “cooking with kids” recipes in the future.) Here is my first try…
What child (or adult for that matter) doesn’t love the classic campfire combination of chocolate, marshmallow and graham crackers? These s’more cupcakes are very simple and a great recipe for young chefs. With very few ingredients and just two simple “mixing” steps, kids can help from start to finish. Before the cupcakes are baked, each is adored with one kiss and four marshmallows – the perfect place to enlist tiny fingers! (And get in some counting while you’re at it). I also like these cupcakes for kids because they are baked in mini muffin tins, so the cupcakes are the perfect size – no extreme sugar rushes here.
Enjoy these little nostalgic treats!
A quick note about the recipe: Don’t be worried when you don’t see flour in the ingredient list. These “cupcakes” use graham cracker crumbs in place of flour. I admit that I was skeptical myself, but the added baking soda helps to leaven and lighten the “cake” and you don’t notice a difference.
Recipe: S’more Cupcakes
As I have said before, one of the main things that drew me to pastry was the artistry of it all. A butter cookie, although seemingly simple, can be a blank canvas on which to create pretty much anything. All you need is a fun cookie cutter, now found in such unique shapes from winter sleighs to leaping frogs, some cookie dough, and batch of royal icing. So grab your favorite cookie cutter and let’s get started.
I love to decorate cookies, (this is where I really let my creativity fly) and it is one of the staples that I offer at work. To keep it interesting and exciting, I change the cookies seasonally, offering a fun new item in our showcase every couple of months. In the fall I create maples leaves dusted with red, orange and yellow sugar, winter brings mittens and a version of these snowflake cookies, with spring comes daisies and ladybugs, finished by watermelons slices for the summer. Really, the sky is the limit. (more…)
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