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!
Because of the nature of the business (pastry that is), my schedule is erratic at best. Days off are weekdays and never consecutive. Unfortunately, its the price I pay for doing what I love. Anyways, because my schedule can be demanding at times, I have recently decided that my rare day off will be appreciated and valued. Rather than running around trying to accomplish all the tasks that were cast aside the week prior, I have decided to spend the day, or at least part of the day, doing something fun and enjoyable. Last week, I treated myself to lunch out and even a glass of wine. I sat by myself at the bar and just enjoyed the simple pleasure of a cup of soup and a portobello sandwich. This week I decided I would go berry picking – strawberry picking, that is.
Strawberry season is just starting and my favorite local farm recently opened their “pick your own” season. Although picking our own is a nice activity that Scott and I enjoy doing together, I decided to use my day off to its full advantage and pounce on the first pick of the season. Living in the Hartford area, I think Rose’s Berry Farm is the best place for berries around. Located in South Glastonbury, Rose’s offers a variety of pick your own, concentrating on berries, but also including some harvest apples and pumpkins. (more…)
If I had to nail down a favorite cocktail, (although I must admit, I try to be an equal opportunity cocktail drinker) my favorite would be the classic mojito. This refreshing cocktail is made of 5 simple ingredients: Lime juice, fresh mint, rum, sugar (traditionally sugar cane syrup), and club soda. Originating in Cuba, the drink combines tart lime with fresh sweet mint, all to compliment the clean kick of white (or dark, depending on your preference) rum. To me, there is nothing more refreshing or satisfying on a hot day than a well-prepared mojito.
To make a mojito, lime juice is added to mint and sugar in the bottom of a glass (a highball is the glass of choice for this particular cocktail – its so pretty you need to show it off!) The three ingredients are then mashed with a muddler. A muddler is a long stick with a flat bottom that helps to crush and release the juices and oils from the mint and lime. I like to use sugar syrup in place of granulated so that the sugar dissolves completely. (There is nothing worse than a clump
of sugar swimming around in the bottom of your glass.) To stay as authentic as possible, I make a sugar syrup using sugar in the raw, which helps to impart an “island” flavor to the drink. (Sugar in the raw is an unrefined sugar that is made from sugar cane juice.) Once you have created a great slurry of fresh flavors, add the rum, ice, a splash of soda and you are ready to go! Sit back and enjoy. (more…)
This recipe is titled ricotta cheesecake, however I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a cheesecake. I admit that I was not anticipating the texture of cake that I ended up with. Instead of a smooth, creamy, somewhat dense cake, this ricotta cake lends itself to a light and fluffy texture. With more subtle flavors of ricotta and a touch of lemon zest, the cake is a nice clean canvas. I think this would be perfect to serve with tea or coffee in the afternoon – possibly an addition to a brunch. However, as a dessert, I think it could use a little jazzing up.
I wanted to create a dessert that mimicked the light, airiness of the cake; I did not want to weigh the cake down with the addition of heavy flavors. Trying to stay in season, I spread a thin layer of lemon curd (you can make your own, or buy good quality at the stores these days) and then topped the cake with an assortment of fresh berries. This way the topping did not detract from the cake, but helped to give it the little extra umph that made the cake a Dessert – not just a simple cake. (more…)
This is one of my “wow” factor meals – something that sounds as wonderful and interesting as it tastes. The best part is, this recipe comes from a Cooking Light cookbook, so not only does it pack some serious flavor, but it is easy on the waistline too! The sauce is the real star of this dish. (And the most complex aspect of the recipe, however very worth it.) With a unique combination of sweet blackberry with savory pork, the sauce is a rich, dark, luscious dressing for the meat. It ends up a deep purple color and feels like blackberry velvet in your mouth. (more…)
This is the cake I made for my Mother-in-Law this year. The cake is a pina colata creation that I tried for the first time. (The mojito cupcakes were such a hit, I have decided to further explore “cocktail” cake flavors.) This particular cake is a pineapple cake (boxed cake made with pineapple juice instead of water and added crushed pineapple) layered with a coconut pastry cream, finished with a coconut rum whipped cream. Although I could have had fun with more flavor-inspired decorations (shredded coconut and fresh pineapple) I wanted this cake to be elegant and feminine for Mother’s Day. To achieve this look, I simply placed royal icing flowers around the edge of the cake to create a flower wreath. I kept the flowers all the same color, but made them in three different sizes. Allowing some of the flowers to “fall” over the edge gives the flowers and more natural look.
Stay tuned for instructions on how to make your own Royal Icing Flowers.
Recipe: Pina Colata Cake
What better way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than a cupcake? (Who needs beer, guacamole and salsa anyways?) Scott and I were invited to a Cinco de Mayo party and I started thinking of what Mexican inspired dessert I could come up with that would be good for a crowd. While beer may be the drink of choice for this holiday, I am a personal fan of the mojito. The combination of rum, lime and mint is very refreshing and says “South of the Border” to me. (I do realize the mojito is traditionally a Cuban drink, but lime is certainly no stranger to Mexican cuisine). So I knew I wanted to play with the idea of an edible mojito, but in what form? When planning for a party, I tend to fall back on the cupcake for group events. They are already pre-portioned, don’t require a plate or utensils and are easy to eat. So I knew what I wanted to create, the next step was actually figuring out how to do so. (more…)
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