Category Archives: Dessert

Party Cake Pops

Every year when the kids’ birthdays roll around, my wife Carol tries something different to celebrate. As a creative director, she is, well, pretty creative, so I’m always expecting something new & exciting. This year she decided to try her hand at making cake pops.

Cake pops have been “all the rage” ever since Angie Dudley of Bakerella fame published her recent book. Although Angie forms her pops from crumbled cake, Carol decided to try baking them from a set of Bake Pop trays. Carol also wanted her pops to have a soft exterior coating of frosting, rather than the harder candy melt surface that Angie suggests. Either way, cake pops are all about the decorating, and, as you can see from our photo above, anything goes!

You will need…

  • cake mix
  • bake pop tray or baking pan
  • candy melts and your favorite frostings
  • lollipop sticks
  • piping bag & tips
  • sprinkles, nonpareils, etc. (for decorating)
  • styrofoam board (for drying)

Bake cake mix in bake pop trays. Allow to cool. Remove pops from tray.

Place candy melts in narrow microwave-safe bowl and melt in microwave, per candy melt package directions.

Dip lollipop stick approximately 1/2″ into melted candy. Next, insert stick halfway into cake pop. Place pop on small baking sheet or plate. Repeat with remaining pops.

Place pops in freezer for 15 minutes to secure lollipop stick.

Place frosting in narrow microwave-safe bowl and microwave one minute. Tint if desired. Stir. Repeat until frosting is thinned enough for dipping. (Do not overheat or frosting may break down.)

Dip cake pops fully into melted frosting and allow excess to drip away.

Insert stick end of cake pops into styrofoam board to dry. Once the pops have dried, decorate as desired.

For more cake pop tips & methods check out Bakerella’s “how to” video.

-Joe

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Filed under Cake, Chocolate, Cupcakes, Entertaining, Sweets

Autumn Apple Pie

Autumn is my absolute favorite time of year, although not for the reasons you might think. Sure there is the colorful splendor of the changing leaves, and that clean crisp fragrance in the air that says the holidays can’t be too far off. But what gets me most excited about the Fall is that it’s apple pickin’ season.

Lyman Orchards – Middlefield, CT

For me, there is something very romantic about journeying with family & friends to one of the many local orchards in New York and Connecticut.  It’s very special to spend a leisurely day together… picking apples, sipping cider, and meandering through corn mazes. All a much welcome departure from the fast-paced lives we’ve come to know.

When the day is done my mind will often wonder to memories of Autumns past, to Thanksgiving around the dinner table, and in particular to my sister’s homemade apple pie. Roseann is quite the natural baker, and on holidays, the dinner conversation will inevitably turn to guessing which of her fantastic desserts she may have prepared this time around. Of course I’m always hoping for my favorite—her wonderful apple pie. It just melts in your mouth, and is still, to this day, the best I’ve ever tasted.

Special thanks to Roseann for sharing, and for all her help in baking & shooting the pies for this post!

TIP:  If you’re like me, you believe that apple pie shouldn’t crunch when you take a bite, so use naturally soft apples like Macintosh or Cortland. It makes all the difference.

Autumn Apple Pie

Makes 8 to 10 servings

  • Pastry for 9″ double crust (use Pillsbury Pie Crust or make from scratch)
  • 8-10 medium cooking apples  (Macintosh or Cortland), peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • milk (for browning of crust)

• Preheat oven to 425F.

• Line 9″ pie pan with one pastry.  In large bowl stir together apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Spoon into pastry-lined 9″ pie pan. Dot with butter. Cover with second pastry; fold overhang under; crimp and  flute edge.

• Brush pastry with milk;  cut a few slits for steam to escape.

• Bake 40-45 minutes until pie is browned and apples are tender. To prevent over-browning, cover pie loosely with tent of foil after 20 minutes.  Cool on wire rack or serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Joe


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Filed under apples, Dessert, Pie

Cupcakes—those cute little cakes

Have you noticed? Cupcakes are all the rage.  So many flavors, so many frostings, so many toppings, and so many sizes!  Cupcakes have become a whimsical replacement for traditional desserts. I remember when they were just a simple treat to send to school for kids’ birthdays—now they pop up all over, even at wedding receptions!

For those in the Connecticut area, I have started a cupcake venture, Cupcakes for a Cause.  Part of the proceeds are donated to a local animal shelter.  Visit my website and see my limited holiday flavors!!  www.cupcakecause.com

Showcased in the above photo is one of my offerings – Cup o’ Joe (developed in honor of my A LA CARTE partner, Joe, who makes the best coffee in town!)  It is a rich Espresso Cupcake topped with Mocha Buttercream, then sprinkled with chopped candied coffee beans & ground cinnamon.

Cathy

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Filed under Cake, Chocolate, Cupcakes, Dessert, Sweets

Guilt-free Chocolate Shake!

and now, a little quiz from A LA CARTE…..

The mouth-watering chocolate milkshake in the photo:
A. is both non-dairy & cholesterol-free
B. is vegan
C. contains only 200 calories
D. tastes as good as it looks
E. All of the above

If you answered “E”, give yourself a star, and have a sip!

The secret to this tasty, healthful shake is Silk brand’s Dark Chocolate Almond Milk. It’s  available at large grocery stores and I even found it at my Target. Silk’s website has a store locator; just enter your zip code. If your store does not carry it, pester the manager to order it!  It’s quite tasty straight, but extra fab in shakes and dessert recipes. Try it!

Dark Chocolate & Banana Milkshake

1 cup (8 ounces) dark chocolate almond milk
1/2 banana
1/2 cup crushed ice

– Place all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth.

– Serve immediately.

Heather

2 Comments

Filed under Chocolate, Drinks, Healthy, Shakes & Smoothies, Vegetarian

Little, Luscious and Easy-as-Pie!

SO simple.

SO cute.

SO luscious!

During some food-styling downtime at a recent location shoot, Cathy concocted this elegant little tart. Of course, we thought it was beautiful, so we raced to put it on the set, and voilà!  Do you love it??

Cathy started with a small, good quality shortbread cookie for the base. She used LU, a readily available shortbread cookie with an adorable crimped edge. She topped the cookie with a tablespoon of prepared lemon curd, then garnished with a tiny dollop of whipped cream, a blueberry, and some lemon zest.

This is the perfect no-cook, no-bake recipe for those last-minute get-togethers when you’re short of time,  but still looking for a dessert with some “wow” power. Just keep the ingredients on hand, and you can be turning out tarts at a moment’s notice.

Here are some other sweet tarts to consider:

Chocolate Tart:  shortbread cookie, a tablespoon of prepared chocolate pudding, a dab of whipped cream, a raspberry, & chocolate shavings
Butterscotch Tart:  shortbread cookie, a tablespoon of prepared butterscotch pudding, a dab of whipped cream, & chopped toasted pecans
Key Lime Tart: shortbread cookie, a tablespoon of prepared lime curd, a dab of whipped cream, & lime zest

Heather

4 Comments

Filed under Cookies, Dessert, Entertaining, Lemon, Sweets

Easy Easter Cookies

Looking to channel your inner Martha and whip up some professional looking Easter cookies? It’s easy!

• Pick up a few cookie cutters at your local kitchen shop, or order from our favorite source, The Cookie Cutter Shop.

• Place one package refrigerated sugar cookie dough (such as Pillsbury) in a large mixing bowl. Mix in about 1/4 cup of flour to make a stiff dough. (The extra flour will help the cut-out cookies hold their shape while baking.) Now, just roll dough to 1/4-inch thick, cut out shapes, and bake according to package directions.

• To decorate, use your favorite frosting, icing or melted chocolate to cover cookie.  Royal icing is the best choice if you want a very smooth surface, and it colors beautifully. Royal icing typically uses raw egg whites.  To eliminate the risk of salmonella when using raw egg whites, meringue powder is recommended.

Royal Icing with Meringue Powder:  In large bowl, stir together  4 cups confectioners’ sugar and 3 tablespoons meringue powder.  Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup water and beat on high until a ribbon of icing falls back into the bowl and remains on the surface of the icing for a few seconds before disappearing.  This is the best consistency to cover or “flood” the entire surface of the cookie. Tint icing with a tiny bit of food color or paste. Place cookies on cooling rack over a cookie sheet, and “flood” by gently spooning the icing over them. If icing is not thin enough, add water, a teaspoon at a time, until it spreads easily.

Before cookie dries, sprinkle with your favorite sugars and sprinkles.  Check out Wilton Decorating for more creative decorating ideas & tips.

Note: You can purchase meringue powder at large party stores, kitchenware shops and some supermarkets.

 

7 Comments

Filed under Cookies, Dessert, Easter

Key Lime Cake

One word. Quite delicious. Okay, that’s two words, but this cake is quite delicious. Last night my doorbell rang and I signed for a small package. I opened it up to find a beautiful Key Lime Bundt Cake. It was from my sister who had ordered it

from a company called We Take the Cake. What a fun name!  The beautifully packaged cake came with a small container of Key Lime Glaze. I drizzled it over the top and cut a slice. Yum. What a tropical hit! A creamy key lime tang and a moist and tender texture. Sooo good. I could almost hear sound of steel drums—for a few moments I forgot it was still a wintry 40 degrees!

I had to learn more about We Take the Cake. Luckily the stylish brochure accompanying the box was filled with pictures and mouth-watering descriptions of the cakes they sell seven days a week via mail-order. Strawberry Cake, Coconut Cake, Red Velvet Cake, Carrot Spice Cake, Rum Cake, well the list goes on and on. Check them out!

Heather

2 Comments

Filed under Cake, Dessert, Reviews