Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dec. 29, Week 12

This is the last CSB pick-up for 2011! Stay tuned for information on a Spring session. I will update the site when we finalize schedules and plans.

The Boston Cream Pie is a well known quintessential American treat. It's the official dessert of Massachusetts, having been invented By a French chef at Boston's Parker House Hotel, and has become a favorite for many. It's not really a pie, rather a vanilla sponge cake that's been split and filled with handmade vanilla custard, then a smooth chocolate ganache poured over the top.

Usually when I make the filling for this "pie", it's a light yellow color, but like all things seasonal, the color of the eggs yolks will determine the outcome of the custard. Our chickens have drastically slowed down production, and I was unable (!) to locate local eggs when I went supply shopping a few days ago. So, I found organic free-range eggs, which are a decent substitute, but the yolks just don't compare to the bright orange of pastured hens. The filling still tastes fabulous, though! The chocolate that makes up the ganache is from Lille Belle Farms in Central Point, OR, and is organic, fair trade. It's the best I've found! Yum.

Please keep your cake in the refrigerator. The custard will ooze out if it gets too warm, and could pose a safety risk if left out for hours on end (remember, it's mostly milk and eggs). You can freeze it for a treat later on, if desired. Simply place the unwrapped cake in the freezer until solid, wrap well with plastic, and keep frozen up to one month. To defrost, unwrap and place in the bakery box (in the fridge) for an hour or so.

The easiest, least messy way to cut a Boston Cream Pie is to run a sharp knife under hot water, wipe it dry, and cut the cake, repeating as necessary. This way the chocolate won't stick, crumbs won't get mixed into the ganache, and the custard won't squeeze out all over the place. You'll have nice clean cuts and a pretty presentation. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dec. 21, Week 11

I have had an incredible amount of work to do to get ready for today's pick up! Two whole days of prep and baking, and I'm taking a break from the kitchen to write this post. A tremendous mess awaits my return.

I have SO much fun making Christmas cookies, and even without the CSB I would be baking this time of year. Still, baking for so many special orders and CSB members, I can make many more varieties than I would dream of doing just for family and friends.

CSB members each get to take home a generous assortment of all kinds of cookies:

~Almond Horns
~Gingerbread Men
~Sugar Cookie Cutouts with Whiskey Buttercream
~Chocolate Thumbprints
~Coconut Pyramids
~Maple Cinnamon Rings
~Black & White Striped Cookies
~Black & White Pinwheels
~Pistachio Moon Melts
~Pecan Sandies
~Spritz Wreaths with Icing
~Meringue Stars
~Neapolitan Cookies
~Chocolate Mint Marshmallow Clouds

See what I mean?! TONS of cookies! I have so much fun making them, though. For storage, most can be frozen (don't ever freeze meringues). Otherwise, keep the cookies in an airtight container. I suggest enjoying the sugar cookies and neapolitan cookies first, and, if you must, saving the others for later.

Happy Holidays, and a very Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Gingerbread Men, Coconut Pyramids, Neapolitan Cookies,
Meringue Stars

Black & White Striped Cookies, B & W Pinwheels, Spritz,
Spritz Wreaths, Chocolate Thumbprints, Almond Horns

Maple Cinnamon Rings, Chocolate Mint Marshmallow Clouds,
Sugar Cookies (naturally colored frosting), Pecan Sandies,
Pistachio Moon Melts

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dec. 14, Week 10

Ah, caramels! Every year my husband stands and stirs the rich, buttery candy until it turns amber in color and is just the right temperature to pour into a huge pan. Then we let it set up for two days before cutting it and checking to see if it was made to our standards! Luckily, we have had few variations thought the years, although the weather can make a difference in the final chewiness. This batch turned out perfectly.

This week each CSB member gets to take home a sample box of assorted caramel-themed goodies. Included are:

~Smoked Sea Salt Caramels: These have become an annual tradition for us, after I received some smoked sea salt one year from my sister and wondered what to do with it (now I use it in all sorts of things). Chewy caramel covered in organic dark chocolate from Lille Belle Farms in Central Point, OR, with a touch of smoked sea salt on top.

~Pecan Clusters: Pecan halves with caramel and dark chocolate, topped with a sprinkle of Oregon sea salt.

~Butter Caramels: A generous rectangle of chewy caramel wrapped in wax paper.

~Caramel-Wrapped Marshmallows: Our handmade chewy caramel wrapped around freshly made vanilla marshmallow.

Also included are a few treats that have the caramel baked into them:

~Caramel-Rum Squares: A crumb-topped bar cookie that has strong notes of rum enhancing the caramel filling. This treat happens to be 100% whole grain!

~Choco-Caramel Crinkles: My own original recipe, starting with a fudgy chocolate cookie dough that's wrapped around caramel, rolled in powdered sugar and baked. The result is a chewy, delicious treat with a soft caramel center and crinkly appearance. A seasonal favorite of my family's!

Store all of these treats at room temperature. Do NOT refrigerate them, or the caramel will be very difficult to chew. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dec. 11, Week 9

Holiday Eggnog, Coconut Kiss, &
Mandarin Squeeze Cupcakes.
Cupcakes are so much fun to create!  I had a blast coming up with six different seasonal flavors to compliment the holiday season. 

While I would LOVE to take credit for coming up with the most exotic flavor, the chestnut variety, I must admit that a local chef friend came up with the interesting combination first.  I read his facebook post, asked permission to "steal" his idea, and concocted my own version (it's my recipe, not his).  Also, many people might think the combination of lemon with gingerbread is slightly odd, but a very traditional way of serving a square of classic gingerbread cake is to present it with a large dollop of lemon curd on top!  Here are my takes on traditional (and not-so-traditional) favorites:

~Holiday Eggnog (lightly spiced cake made with organic eggnog, eggnog French buttercream with a hint of rum, and a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg)

~Mandarin Squeeze (made from freshly squeezed Satsuma mandarin oranges, this cake and icing combination has a subtle aroma of sweet-tart citrus, topped off with a slice of candied mandarin orange)

~Gingerbread Twist (classic gingerbread cake, topped with fresh lemon glaze and candied ginger)

~Peppermint Cocoa (chocolate cake, peppermint American buttercream, naturally colored sprinkles and crushed candy cane)

~Winter Chestnut (Full flavored and delicious, this super moist chocolate cake has a hint of bourbon baked in.  It's topped with a honey-mascarpone-and roasted chestnut buttercream, and a roasted, honey-candied chestnut.)

~Coconut Kiss (chocolate cake, all-natural coconut buttercream, toasted coconut shavings)

All cupcakes should be stored in the fridge, in their bakery box.  Bring to room temperature before enjoying.  To freeze, remove any decorations (candied chestnut and candied orange), freeze until solid, wrap in plastic, and place in a zip-top baggie.  Store up to one month.  To defrost, keep the cupcake wrapped and place in a lunchbox or on the counter for about 30 minutes.
Peppermint Cocoa, Winter Chestnut,
& Gingerbread Twist Cupcakes.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

GF CSB, Month 3

The month of December is filled with holiday get-togethers, festivities, and traditions.  Many people remember having awesome cookies this time of year, but going gluten-free may have put a stop to that.  Sure, there are a few options in the grocery stores now, but it's the made-from-scratch, fresh and buttery morsels we crave. 

For this month's GF CSB pick-up, each member will take home an assortment of Holiday Cookies.  Flavors are:

~Lemon Cornmeal Shortbread (with a hint of coconut)
~Hazelnut Biscotti
~Meringue Stars (naturally colored sprinkles)
~Pecan Sandies (aka Mexican Wedding Cakes)
~Almendrados (flourless almond cookies)
~Hazelnut Cocoa Meringues
~Gingerbread Men
~Chocolate Chip Meringue Drops
~Almond Crescents
~Cranberry Orange Butter Cookies
~Coconut Macaroons (with a drizzle of dark chocolate)

With the exception of meringues, these cookies will freeze well, should you want to save some for the holidays.  Cookies should be stored in airtight containers at room temperature for up to three days, then refrigerated or frozen.  Meringues last indefinitely stored in airtight containers at room temp (never chill them or they may get gummy).

(picture to come soon)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dec. 1, Week 8

Working with whole grains has become a specialty of mine.  Growing up, my parents always had whole grain foods around (whole wheat or multigrain bread, and, when it became available, whole wheat pasta), so I have never been a stranger to the healthier stuff.  When my son was born, almost 8 years ago, I remember walking down the bread aisle at a local grocery store, reading the ingredients and trying to determine which brand would be best, both flavor-wise and health-wise (I have always paid attention to ingredients, but even more so once my kids came along).  So many options were becoming available, touting whole grains, 100% whole wheat, etc, but the preservatives, fillers, and (in some brands) high fructose corn syrup were discouraging.  I decided to figure out how to bake my own 100% whole wheat loaf instead of buying bread.

Once I nailed the from-scratch, 100% whole wheat bread, I started experimenting with other whole grains, even incorporating them into sweets and desserts!  Most people seem to shy away when they're told a cookie is whole grain (especially if it's made with barley flour), that I get a kick out of being able to share such oddities with my CSB members.  While members don't have a choice in the desserts they receive, that is definitely a bonus in the case of whole grains!

I am pleased to create four different whole grain lunch-box style goodies today.  Each CSB member gets to take home a sample box filled with:

~Golden Pumpkin Bars:  These cakey bars are made with 100% whole wheat flour!  No refined grains are present, and each bite is enhanced with fabulous spices, Oregon dried cranberries, and a hint of Lille Belle organic dark chocolate that has been drizzled over the tops.

~Salted Cashew Crunch Cookies:  These crispy cookies are stuffed with organic cashews and have a sprinkling of local, Oregon sea salt over the tops.  They are made entirely with 100% old-fashioned rolled oats!

~Soft Barley Sugar Cookies:  Barley flour often needs a bit of refined all purpose flour for stabilization.  Still, the flour in these cookies is 3/4 whole grain barley flour!  They are certainly an acceptable after school snack, filling up tummies until dinner time.  I made these extra big so they'd be soft, slightly cakey, and yet crisp around the edges.  You'll find just a hint of nutmeg in each bite.

~Lemon-Oat Squares:  Not to be confused with tart and tangy Lemon Bars, these squares start with a 100% whole grain crust, made with rolled oats and whole wheat flour.  An organic lemon creamy filling is smoothed over the top, followed by a sprinkle of more oats.  100% whole grain!

Store cookies and bars at room temperature, in air tight containers, up to three days.  The cashew cookies may be stored even longer, if you have them around that long!  All varieties can be frozen and defrosted well.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Week 7, Nov. 17

Wow!  Who needs artificial air fresheners and scented candles when there's the smell of five different sweet rolls, two types of bread, and cookies baking?!  Yum.  Thanks, CSB members, for supporting and giving me an outlet to work out of my home, doing something I enjoy! 

This week each CSB member will be taking home an assortment of sweet rolls.  These are great for dessert, or tomorrow's breakfast, served slightly warmed.  All are whole grain, and two are 100% whole grain (featuring oats and whole wheat).  Flavors are:

~Dark & Dangerous Cinnamon Rolls:  I made these awesome 100% whole grain treats before for a previous CSB session, and they remain my all time favorite!  They're slathered with a thick coat of buttercream, feature two types of cinnamon, and keep well at room temperature for a few days.

~Pecan Sticky Buns:  100% whole grain, gooey, and filled with toasted pecans.

~Angelic Raspberry-Orange Rolls:  Homemade organic raspberry jam (made using fruit from my neighbor's garden last summer), an organic cream cheese center, and a fresh orange glaze.

~Cardamom-Lime Rolls:  A yogurt-based sweet dough, filled with fresh lime zest and a hint of cardamom, and finished with a drizzle of fresh lime glaze.

~Spirited Plum & Dark Chocolate Rolls:  Homemade filling, made using local Italian plums that had been steeped in liquor for months, drained (the resulting liqueur was saved for other purposes), pureed, and turned into an awesome, flavor-packed jam, chunks of dark chocolate, and finished with a light vanilla glaze and mini chocolate chips.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Week 6, Nov. 10

Ah, cookies!  Everyone is familar with such stand-by flavors as Chocolate Chip, Snickerdoodle, and Sugar, but what if we took it up a notch and made some seriously gourmet flavored varieties?  Each CSB member gets to take home a selection of very different, very interesting, and very tasty cookies today.  Read on to find out what treats I baked, and see what is in each type:

~Not-Your-Average-Chocolate-Chip Cookies:  A basic vanilla-scented dough, studded with chunks of Scarffenberger chocolate, handmade salted crispy caramel shards, and topped with a sprinkle of sea salt.  I found this pure, hand-harvested sea salt at a little shop in Portland.  It is the only artisan salt produced in Oregon (Oceanside, to be exact), and is made by Jacobsen Salt Co

~Banana Macadamia Cookies:  Tropical flavored, crunchy, and yet chewy, these feature organic bananas, roasted macadamia nuts, a hint of nutmeg, and a drizzle of dark chocolate.

~To-Die-For Chocolate Cookies:  The name says it all!  These are composed of three different high quality chocolates, hints of exotic spices not usually found in cookies (cayenne!  black pepper!), liqueurs, and dried currants.

~Candy Cap Cookies:  There isn't any candy in these mushroom flavored disks!  Yes, I said MUSHROOMS!!  I stumbled across Candy Cap mushrooms at the Portland Farmers' Market, where they are being touted as "nature's alternative to maple sugar, but without the calories!"  Candy Caps are a fragile, rare mushroom gathered in the Northwestern Coastal areas only.  They feature a heady aroma of butterscotch and maple, and compliment many desserts wonderfully (sorbet, cheesecake, etc.).  I am SO excited to be able to experiment with these personally, and to share such an exotic treat with my CSB members!

Cookies should be stored in separate air-tight containers (to avoid flavor blending).  If freezing, place between layers of wax paper in an air tight, freezer safe container.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gluten-Free CSB, Month 2

I've said it before, and it's worth saying again:  Being part of this CSB is such a special opportunity.  It's great to "share" the day with several other people and not have to abide by minimum order requirements.  By baking for so many people at once I can offer a creative assortment, versus just one or two flavors.  Today GF CSB members will each receive 6 gourmet cupcakes!  Flavors are:

~Chocolate-Dipped Cranberries (chocolate cake, cranberry filling, dark chocolate ganache, dried cranberries)

~Toasted Hazelnut & Pear (toasted hazelnut cake, spiced pear butter filling, organic cream cheese icing, crushed toasted hazelnuts)

~Hot Chocolate (chocolate cake, toasted marshmallow topping)

~Maple Pecan Fudge (toasted pecan cake, maple buttercream filling, dark chocolate ganache, pecan)

~Cranberry Delight (yellow vanilla cake, cranberry filling, cranberry Italian meringue buttercream)

~Pumpkin Cheesecake (buttermilk spice cake, pumpkin filling, organic cream cheese icing, maple-sugared walnut)

Yes, these are completely gluten-free!  The hazelnuts are Oregon-grown.  I picked the organic pears myself from Valley View Orchard in Ashland, OR, and made the pear butter from scratch.  The cranberries are Oregon-grown as well, and the dried cranberries are from Poverty Ridge.  The chocolate used in the ganache is from Lillie Belle Farms in Central Point, OR, and it's organic, fair-trade.  The pumpkins are locally grown, harvested from Adams Produce.  It's wonderful to live in an area where so much is available that's produced so close by!

Cupcakes will keep well for three days in their bakery box, refrigerated.  To store longer, place in the freezer until solid.  Wrap each individually in plastic wrap and place in a zip-top bag.  To defrost, leave in the plastic wrapper" at room temp for about 45 minutes.  (Do not freeze or refrigerate the Hot Chocolate Cupcake.  Marshmallow gets cranky when chilled!)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Week 5, Nov. 3

It's starting to snow outside, a very fine icy dust falling from the sky, and I'm grateful to be inside, staying nice and toasty with both ovens baking cakes and the smell of spices and pumpkin wafting throughout the house.  Those autumn flavors help to remind me it's only fall, and hopefully winter will stay away for a bit longer (even if it is snowing already!).

Pumpkins have done very well in the Basin this year, and I was the lucky recipient of several that are perfect for baking into pies, cakes, and other goodies.  CSB members will each receive a sheet-style Pumpkin Spice Cake, made with local pumpkins from Adams Produce in Klamath Falls.  These cakes are whole grain (flour from Bob's Red Mill in Milwaukie, OR) and are topped with a light icing made from fromage blanc.  They're finished with a touch of toasted pecans.

Fromage blanc is a cream-style cheese made from whole milk instead of straight cream.  It's lighter and a little tangier than regular cream cheese, and is wonderful for eating on bagels, spreading on toast or veggies, or using in recipes.  I especially like it in icing, and it compliments the spices in today's cakes perfectly.  I culture it myself and hang it to drain for hours until it's the right consistency.  It's the perfect example of slow food, and I'm so glad to be able to share it with CSB members.

These cakes are presented in bake-and-take containers that should make storage and serving easy.  Keep them refrigerated, and you may freeze them until needed, if desired.  They should defrost perfectly for a moist treat to be enjoyed later on.  This cake also goes very well alongside a piping hot cup of chai or a glass of eggnog.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Week 4, Oct. 27

Halloween is right around the corner, which means an inevitable influx of high fructose corn syrup and trans fat-laden treats.  It also means great costumes, and fun parties and get togethers.  For this week's pick-up, each CSB member will receive a few better-for-you treats that I handmade with seasonal, local ingredients, perfect for sharing at events, with drop-in guests or trick-or-treaters, or for helping to curb cravings for store-bought treats. 

In each item I incorporated a very special honey.  My cousin, who lives in Portland, OR, has been dabbling in beekeeping (and gardening, home brewing, etc.), and harvested some amazingly flavored honey this fall!  My husband spent last week up north training and picked up a jar for me on his way home.  This honey is full flavored, yet delicate, and has a hint of rose and spice to it.  Yum.  There are so many different honey varieties, and it's fun to sample them side by side to compare (each year the flavor will often change if the bees visit different flowers).  I knew I had to share this special treat with CSB members.

Included in each share this week:

~Caramel Apple Marshmallows.  These are handmade, fluffy pillows of candy that have organic apple juice and my homemade bourbon caramel sauce in them.  Enjoy straight out of the package or floating on a cup of hot apple cider.

~Honey Orange Marshmallows with Dark Chocolate.  Freshly squeezed organic orange juice and honey give these candies a bright, delicious flavor.  Each one is drizzled with organic dark chocolate from Lillie Belle Farms in Central Point, OR. 

~Honey Butter Popcorn.  Fluffy organic air popped popcorn tossed with fresh butter, honey, special spices, and a hint of fleur de sel make this crunchy sweet snack a special treat.  Curl up with a scary movie, pack in lunchboxes, or set out as party munchies.

All of these goodies should be kept in an air tight container at room temperature.  Do NOT refrigerate!  They should stay fresh for at least a week, if they last that long.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Week 3, Oct. 20

This week each CSB member gets to take home six gourmet cupcakes, featuring seasonal flavors.  I am constantly thinking up new cake and icing combinations, so repeats are few and far between!  Boxes include:

~Toasted Hazelnut-Pear (hazelnut cake, handmade organic spiced pear butter, cream cheese icing, and half a toasted hazelnut for decoration)

~Caramel-Dipped Apple (classic yellow cake, handmade organic apple filling, bourbon caramel American buttercream, roasted peanuts)

~Maple Bacon & Pancakes (buttermilk cake with a hint of cinnamon and maple, pure maple Italian meringue buttercream, crispy bacon)

~Strawberries & Cream (classic yellow cake, handmade strawberry filling, strawberry cream cheese icing)

~Chocolate-Dipped Hazelnuts (toasted hazelnut cake, dark chocolate ganache, toasted hazelnuts)

~Chocolate Maple Bacon (buttermilk cake with a hint of cinnamon and maple, pure maple Italian meringue buttercream filling, dark chocolate ganache, crumbled crispy bacon and a hint of smoked sea salt)

These cupcakes are made with local ingredients.  The strawberries came from local growers (Adams Berries), the bacon is all-natural and nitrate free (from Diamond S. Meat Company), the dark chocolate is organic, fair trade, coming from Lillie Belle Farms in Central Point, OR, the pears are from Valley View Orchard in Ashland, OR, and the apple filling was made with organic fruit from Belweather Farm in Keno, OR.  The hazelnuts are Oregon grown as well.  While most bakers might make a maple buttercream using artificial maple flavoring in a shortening and powdered sugar-based buttercream, I use pure maple syrup, boiled to a candy stage and beaten into a fluffy meringue icing.  I hope you enjoy these decadent treats!

To store cupcakes, keep them in their cake box in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.  If they're transferred to a sealed plastic box, they'll stay moist longer.  To freeze for later, place the cupcake(s) in the freezer until solid.  Wrap each individually in plastic wrap and place in a zip-top bag.  Freeze up to 2 months.  To defrost, leave cupcake in the plastic wrapper at room temp for about 1/2 an hour.  (Ganache-topped cupcakes freeze and defrost exceptionally well.  Other icings may get a little squished from the plastic once they've defrosted.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Week 1, Oct. 6

I have a very hard time admitting when summer is finally over.  Sadly, I cannot deny that we are full-on into autumn now, with such a chilly day, frost dusting the tops of our mailboxes this morning, and realizing it's actually October!  I love summer.  I love the warm sunshine, kids playing outside, the growing garden, family camping trips, a surplus of fresh fruit, and...everything!  One way I can help preserve my favorite season is putting up fresh produce for the winter (and fall).  I spend entire days in the kitchen, enduring the heat, as I'm canning jams, pickled vegetables, fruits, and various pie fillings, just so we can continue to enjoy them until they're hanging from the trees again, ripe and ready to be enjoyed.

One benefit of being a CSB member is being able to partake in these carefully crafted and preserved goodies.  I often incorporate summer's bounty into my treats, and while seasonal ingredients are always the best to use, there are times when it's fun to mix it up a bit, and pull out a jar of July's organic blueberry pie filling.

With the weather being so chilly, it's definitely pie and tart season.  For the first pick-up of the Fall 2011 CSB Session, each member will receive a variety of mini tarts.  All the fruits used are organic, everything is handmade from scratch, and most are local.  If you'd like to know where each fruit came from, just ask! 

Serve the tarts slightly warmed, and topped with freshly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  Store at room temperature in the bakery box provided. 
The four flavors are:
Mountain Huckleberry
in a Maple Graham Cracker Crust

Free Form Apple Tart
in a Whole Wheat Pastry Crust

Nectarine-Blueberry Tart
in a Cornmeal Crust

Pear Butter Handpie
(organic spiced pear butter
encased in classic pastry)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Gluten-Free CSB, Month 1

Welcome to the very first Gluten-Free CSB Session!  I am proud to announce that I am able to offer many gluten-free treats, sweets, and savory items, including scones, sandwich breads, focaccia, pre-baked pizza crusts, and more!  All of these items are available as special orders, of course, but the beauty of signing up for a CSB session is being able to plan on a set pick-up day, knowing that you're guaranteed a treat and any other items you may wish to add on. 

The first Saturdays of October, November, and December are set aside for gluten-free baking for the current CSB session.  Due to the surprising popularity of the GF CSB, the next go-around may need to be a weekly option instead of just once per month!  This session is at capacity, but if you're interested in being a part of a future GF CSB session, please be sure get your name on the waiting list, and I'll let you know details for upcoming sessions.

Another benefit of joining a CSB is that all members pick up their treats on a set day.  By baking for several people at once I can offer many different flavors and choices, with no minimum orders (and you get a better deal because I'm able to buy ingredients in bulk)!  For gluten-free baking, that also means I can make sure my kitchen is free from wheat products that entire day. 

For the first GF CSB pick-up, happening this afternoon, I have made a selection of Fudge Truffle Brownies.  These have become a very popular item, and I sell a ton at the market and as special orders.  They are flourless, dense, and intensely rich, making for a super decadent treat.  I use organic dark chocolate from Lillie Belle Farms in Central Point, OR to create each batch.  It's fun to play with the flavors, and I was able to make 4 today:

~Dark Chocolate
~Toasted Almond & Coconut
~Hazelnut Praline
~Creme De Menthe

Each member will take home 8 bars total, 2 of each flavor.  They can be cut into smaller pieces for lunch boxes, if desired, or topped with ice cream for an amazing brownie sundae.  The brownies may be stored at room temperature, although I prefer to keep them in the fridge.  The chocolate ganache might get a little gooey in a warm room, and when cool keeps its shape better.  Store in an airtight container so they don't start to dry out.  If you'd like to freeze some for later, place each in the freezer until solid.  Wrap individually in plastic, and place wrapped brownies in an airtight container (or zip-top bag) until needed.  Freeze up to one month.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Week 12, April 26

This is the last pick-up for the current CSB session.  As a send-off, each member will be receiving 6 assorted cupcake-sized tartlets.  Tartlet flavors are:

~Lemon-Meringue:  Classic pastry filled with tart and tangy organic lemon curd and topped with a dollop of meringue.

~Double Chocolate Cream:  Chocolate pastry filled with handmade dark chocolate pudding and finished with a swirl of whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

~Fresh Strawberry:  Organic strawberry puree and a whole berry.

~Island Lime:  Ginger snap cookie crust, lime curd mousse (scented with hints of coconut and rum), toasted coconut and lime zest for garnish.

~Chocolate-Mint:  Classic pastry crust, filled with chocolate mint pudding, whipped cream stars.

~Velvety Chai:  Handmade pudding scented with spices and black and green tea.

These little pies must be kept refrigerated.  They are best enjoyed within a day or two.  For leftovers, wrap well or place in a sealed container, and chill.  I don't recommend freezing these.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Week 11, April 19

Without a doubt, cupcakes are the most popular item I make.  The little cakes are super trendy currently, especially in the larger cities, and they're easy to grab for a quick treat, or to enjoy as a special occasion dessert.  I am often inspired to come up with new flavors, and the opportunity to make so many different flavors is one I just cannot pass up! 

This week CSB members are receiving an assortment of 6 different cupcakes, each one completely different from anything sampled before.  Flavors are:

 ~Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry: Chocolate cake, fresh strawberry mascarpone frosting, dark chocolate ganache drizzle, fresh strawberry

~Snickerdoodle: Cinnamon-Vanilla scented cake, French buttercream, cookie decoration

~PB-Choc Swirl: Chocolate cake, peanut butter and milk chocolate swirled cream cheese icing, all-natural mini PB cups

~Italian Strawberry Shortcake: Vanilla-lemon cake, organic strawberry filling, strawberry mascarpone icing, edible dragees

~Toasted Coconut-Chocolate: Chocolate cake, coconut French buttercream filling, dark chocolate ganache, toasted coconut flakes

~Creamsicle: Vanilla-orange cake, organic homemade orange curd filling, vanilla-orange swirl buttercream, handmade candied orange slice

Please keep these cupcakes refrigerated, as many have cream cheese or mascarpone in the icing or include fillings that must be kept cold.  As with all of my cakes, however, they are best served at room temperature, so you can just remove them from the fridge half an hour before serving and they should be perfect! 

Keep the cupcakes in a sealed container up to three days.  If you'd like to freeze some for later enjoyment, remove any fresh fruit toppings (they get weepy upon defrosting) and place the cupcake in the freezer until hard.  Wrap well in plastic, then place in a zip-top baggie.  They will keep, frozen, up to one month.  To defrost, leave the cake in its "wrapper," place on the counter or in a lunch box, and it should be ready to eat in less than an hour.

Creamsicle, Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry,
 PB-Chocolate Swirl

Snickerdoodle, Italian Strawberry Shortcake,
Toasted Coconut-Chocolate

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Week 10, April 12

I spent every day of last weekend baking and decorating cupcakes for various events.  While I enjoyed the full schedule, it was a little difficult to plan for today's CSB pick-up with so much on my mind!  Feeling a bit scattered Sunday evening, I finally had a chance to sit down and figure out what I should make.  Now, if you know me personally, you will know that I am a major's highly unlikely for me to leave something, anything, to the last minute. 

After looking through my personal blog and numerous cookbooks for ideas, I had settled on several types of bar cookies.  This week CSB members will each take home an assortment of delectable treats, including:

~Ancho Chile Brownies- Moist, fudgy, and studded with pepitas (pumpkin seeds), these offer a warm, tingly heat that nicely complements the rich Scharffenberger chocolate.

~Sunny Citrus Squares- Topped with a flavorful lemon-lime custard, the 100% whole grain (spelt!) crust partners nicely for a delicious springtime treat that is still somewhat healthy.

~Marshmallow-Peanut Butter Double Fudge Brownies- These are whole grain also, but are so decadent that you might not even notice!  These brownies are baked with both natural cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips for a fudgy base, then are topped with homemade vanilla marshmallow, peanut butter fudge, and chopped peanuts.

~"Twix"- A world above the store-bought candy bar, my version starts with a crunchy shortbread cookie crust.  I top it with handmade creamy caramel and smooth dark Guittard chocolate.  Make sure these bars are at room temperature when you eat them!

~Vanilla Cheesecake Bars- These are a bar cookie form of a favorite dessert.  They feature an all-natural graham cracker crust and a creamy pure vanilla cheesecake topping.  Keep these refrigerated!!

 The bar cookies will keep up to three days in a tightly sealed container.  Both types of brownies and the "Twix" should be left at room temperature.  The vanilla cheesecake bars must be kept refrigerated.  If you don't eat up all of the Sunny Citrus Squares tonight, then place them in the refrigerator as well.  Enjoy!
Marshmallow-Peanut Butter Double Fudge Brownies
Sunny Citrus Squares
Vanilla Cheesecake Bars
Ancho Chile Brownies
Homemade "Twix"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Week 9, April 5

By now it's not much of a secret that I enjoy making cakes (and cupcakes) more than just about anything else.  There's always an air of celebration around a beautiful cake, and it's so fun to be a delicious part of that!  It's also a hobby of mine to come up with different flavor combinations, often inspired by other dessert, truffle, or confection flavors that I stumble upon when I'm travelling, visiting little shops, or perusing a farmers' market.

I was asked to make a Mardi Gras themed cake a few weeks ago, and I suggested Bananas Foster as the flavor, since that's a dessert that originated in New Orleans.  Since that event, I have been itching to recreate the cake again, mostly so I would have the opportunity for a taste! 

This week, each CSB member is receiving one 6-inch two layer Bananas Foster Cake.  I started with my classic yellow cake, made with pure butter, local organic eggs, and evaporated cane juice.  Once those came out of the oven, I sliced them into layers and infused them with banana liqueur, rum, and spices.  The cakes were then filled with whipped creme fraiche, fresh banana slices, and a drizzle of my homemade salted bourbon caramel sauce.  I topped each cake off with vanilla French buttercream, a sprinkle of toasted walnuts, and another drizzle of caramel.

Each cake should serve 6 people (or 4 very generous servings).  For any pieces that might be leftover, refrigerate, wrapped well, up to three days.  You may freeze this cake, but do be aware that the fresh banana slices might get a little gooey when it defrosts.  Of course, they're in the filling, so that might not be a big issue since they're hidden.  Freeze the cake, whole or by individual slice, until solid.  Wrap well in plastic and store in the freezer up to one month.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Week 8, March 29

Due to a special request, and because I just returned from a fun girls' trip to Italy, cannoli is the treat-of-the-week! I have had cannoli several times throughout the years, mostly when traveling. It's hard to find, and when it is stumbled upon, often the shells are premade, even if the filling is made there.

Five years ago I took my husband to New York City for my sister's wedding, his first time on the east coast. He loved just about everything on the trip (I think, with the exception of traffic, maybe), with one highlight being a visit to Little Italy, in Manhattan. He had his first taste of cannoli there, and fell in love. For Christmas that year I put some cannoli forms in his stocking, with a promise to make them, which I do off and on as a special treat (cannoli were his birthday request last year, instead of a cake!).

Cannoli are tube-shaped Italian cookies. The dough is made with sweet white wine and eggs, kneaded similarly to pasta, and rolled out very thin. I cut out circular shapes, roll those into ovals, and attach them to metal tubes (cannoli forms). They are then fried to form a crispy shell.

Using whole milk and a little citric acid, I make fresh ricotta cheese, that is then folded into sweetened whipped cream, organic lemon and orange zest, and dark chocolate. The pastry cream is piped into the crispy shells, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and served.

There is not a good way to store these treats. They are best eaten right away, before the shells have a chance to soften. If you find that you have too many to consume all at one sitting, be sure to refrigerate the leftovers. I like to serve cannoli with a fruit garnish, such as orange sections or fresh strawberries.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Week 7, March 13

What a sticky, gooey, deliciously fabulous concoction! Homemade marshmallows seem like such a luxury, and I have been known to come up with lots of various flavors to enhance the gourmet experience even more. For this week's treat each CSB member will take home confections that are kind of a cross between s'mores, marshmallow truffles, and whoopie pies.
Homemade chocolate and regular graham circles start as the base for the yummy treats. The chocolate circles were topped with a generous dollop of raspberry marshmallow (made with my neighbor's organic raspberries, frozen last summer), and the regular graham circles were crowned with fresh vanilla marshmallow. Both versions were topped with a drizzle of dark chocolate.

As with all baking, sometimes the results don't turn out exactly as expected. I have made the grahams numerous times, and they stay crispy for weeks, even forgotten in the back of the pantry! When I topped the crunchy, fresh-from-the-oven graham circles with the warm marshmallow, however, they softened. I was a little surprised, and almost worried at first, but the first thought that popped into my mind upon tasting one was...Whoopie pie! So they're very yummy, even if not crispy!

In addition, with St. Patrick's Day at the end of the week, I made some Shamrock Meringues. These are very crispy, and will keep their crunch if tightly sealed, away from any moisture that may be in the air. Please consume the marshmallow treats within a day or two, however, for their best texture and flavor.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Week 6, March 8

This week CSB members will be supplied with new cookie jar favorites. Off-the-wall flavors make for an interesting contrast, and in keeping with my way of doing things, I have stuffed the boxes with a widely varied assortment. Hopefully there's one or two that will appeal to each member of the family!

~Toasted Hazelnut-Coconut: Buttery, crispy, and delightful!

~Triple Chocolate w/Roasted Peanuts and Caramel: Homemade caramel chunks and lots of chunks of dark chocolate make these chewy, rich, and delicious! Try warming them for a few seconds in the microwave to make them gooey.

~Vanilla Bean Sandwiches: Chewy vanilla cookies filled with vanilla bean creme.
~Killer Peanut Butter Fudge: These are huge, sinfully rich cookies! Don't attempt to eat one without a glass of milk close by!

~Lime & Pepita Sugar Cookies: Sunny lime and toasted pepitas make for a slightly odd, but absolutely delectable combination.

~Cranberry, Ginger, & Dark Chocolate Chunk: These are butter-free and are made with organic canola oil instead, whole grain oats, dried cranberries, chunks of dark chocolate, and candied ginger.

~Vanilla & Caramel Crispy Treats: Gluten free brown rice cereal, homemade vanilla marshmallow, and homemade, slow-cooked caramel make this twist on a classic American treat divine.

Please eat the crispy treats within a day or two. The other cookies can be stored in airtight containers; chewy cookies up to three days, and crisp cookies up to
a week. Any of the cookies (not the crispy treats) can be wrapped and frozen for up to one month.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Week 5, March 1

Cupcakes might just be my favorite item to make. Don't get me wrong, I do love variety, and mixing things up keeps me from getting bored. Still, cupcakes offer a myriad of flavor opportunities, and it's so fun just to think them up, let alone assemble them and watch people enjoy my creations!

This week CSB members will sample six different cupcakes. Flavors are:

~S'Mores: Chocolate cake, homemade marshmallow topping, homemade graham cracker decoration
~Mocha Almond Fudge: Chocolate cake, espresso buttercream, fudge drizzle, sliced almonds

~Chocolate-Caramel: Chocolate cake, caramel filling, smooth ganache, smoked sea salt

~Candy Bar: Vanilla cake, whipped ganache, caramel drizzle, peanuts

~Lemon-Ginger: Lemon cake, scented with ginger syrup (making it very moist), lemon-ginger buttercream, candied ginger garnish

~Cherry-Vanilla: Vanilla cake, cherry cream cheese icing (organic Bing cherries, organic cream cheese)

Cupcakes will keep two or three days in a covered container (your bakery box will be fine). If you don't consume the Cherry-Vanilla right away, it should be refrigerated since it has cream cheese in the icing. The other cupcakes are best left at room temperature, however.

Cupcakes freeze exceptionally well. I often make enough to have leftovers, just so we can pull a few out of the freezer for an impromptu picnic dessert. Freeze the cupcake(s) unwrapped. Once it's frozen solid, wrap it (individually) in plastic wrap. Store wrapped cupcakes in a sealed bag in the freezer until needed. Unfilled varieties take 45 minutes-1 hour to defrost, and filled ones take slightly longer. Leave them in the plastic wrap until defrosted!

S'Mores, Cherry-Vanilla, & Lemon-Ginger

Chocolate-Caramel, Candy Bar, & Mocha Almond Fudge

Monday, February 21, 2011

Week 4, Feb. 22

Even though we freeze fresh Oregon strawberries by the flat when they're at their best in June so we can enjoy them throughout the winter, I still find that the fresh ones are hard to resist when they start to appear in late February. Of course, they come from many miles away, and after one expensive bite are a quick reminder that it's best to wait a few more months after all. Still, just seeing them in the produce display makes me attack our frozen stash with vigor, knowing that soon the fresh varieties will be juicy, full-flavored, and affordable. We consume a lot of smoothies in the winter months, and I incorporate all types of frozen local berries into my baking as well.

This week, CSB members will get to enjoy a Strawberry-Orange Glaze on top of a Ricotta Cheese Pie. Reminiscent of a cheesecake, my version has a much lighter texture, is ten times healthier, is sweetened with agave and local honey, and happens to be crustless. While it makes a wonderful dessert, it also doubles as a protein packed breakfast treat. Maybe keep the cheese pie for tomorrow's breakfast and have one or two Lemon-Burst Ricotta Cookies for dessert this evening!

Your cheese pie needs to be kept refrigerated. For longer storage, it will freeze well, and it can also be consumed frozen, if desired, for a frosty treat. The cookies will keep for two or three days in an airtight container, but are at their best fresh.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Week 3, Feb. 15

This week CSB members are receiving boxes of bar cookies. Some are reminiscent of childhood favorites, and another is my version of a purely American Rice Krispy Treat.

~Classic Zesty Lemon Bars- These yummy treats feature a shortbread crust and a gooey, sweet-tart lemon filling.

~Apple-Cranberry Oatmeal Bars- Chopped, seasoned apple chunks, slowly simmered until tender, and dried cranberries fill this flaky whole grain crust. The crust is made with oats and whole wheat flour.

~Chocolate-Caramel Crispy Treats- My take on the classic lunchbox treat, these are far from the usual version. My own recipe for handmade vanilla marshmallow is combined with homemade, rich and decadent caramel sauce, creating a gooey base for Envirokids Koala Crisp rice cereal (the natural foods' take on cocoa rice krispies). These happen to be gluten-free also.

Store bars in an airtight container up to three days at room temperature.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Week 2, Feb. 8

Ahh, chocolate! This week it's all about the richness of dark chocolate, enveloped in more dark chocolate!

I was so disappointed when I looked at the calendar as I was planning out future CSB treats in January, noticing that Valentine's Day falls on a Monday this year. I wanted to share my Flourless Chocolate Cake with members, and making it one day late didn't seem to make sense. So, you're receiving this wonderfully delicious treat one week early!

This cake is similar to a really fudgy brownie, but slightly different still. The edges are crisp-crumbly, the center is fudgy and moist, and the whole thing is covered with an over-the-top dark chocolate ganache. The quality and type of chocolate used is critical, especially when it's the main ingredient. I was fortunate to find that our local Greenway Ecomart could special order Guittard chocolate in bulk; otherwise this cake would not have been economical to prepare (the quantity of chocolate-12 oz in each one-makes it very expensive to make!).

Technically you should be able to get 10-12 servings from this little cake. I know that seems hard to believe at first glance, but after taking one bite you'll soon see what I mean! It's so rich, so delicious, so satisfying, that one little wedge is all it takes to finish off a delightful meal. It just gets better a day later. Keep it, wrapped, at room temperature for up to three days, or for longer storage, refrigerate. There isn't any flour in this treat, so I don't see how it could possibly go stale! This cake also freezes exceptionally well, so wrapping half and freezing for later would ensure that some makes it to Valentine's Day.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Week 1, Feb. 1

This baking day is the first of the second CSB session! Thank you for supporting me (or continuing to support me, if you're a returning member)!

Most people probably don't consider a cinnamon roll as a dessert item, choosing it as a sweet treat for breakfast instead. While my own family certainly enjoys these gooey confections in the morning from time to time, I tend to classify them more as a dessert. Butter, sugar, and refined flour typically make classic cinnamon rolls so enjoyable, but why can't they be a bit healthier and still taste good too?
When I make cinnamon rolls for my family, I make them 100% whole grain. I use two types of very strong cinnamon, and give them an overnight rise in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to become more complex. (This step also saves me quite a bit of time the next morning!) While they still give us a sugar kick, they offer all the nutrition of whole grain oats and whole wheat flour. Sweet rolls made with refined flour tend to taste best the day they're made, but my whole grain versions incorporate such ingredients as honey and potato flour, making them great keepers for a few days. Just warm them slightly to increase the gooey-ness factor!

For those of you who love traditional sticky buns, or who might prefer the taste of more traditional sweet rolls, I am also including a refined flour version. Toasted pecans and a hint of cinnamon are rolled into buttery sweet yeast dough, and then smothered in my homemade caramel sauce. This definitely has to qualify as a dessert! Of course, feel free to enjoy any of these rolls for breakfast, as a mid morning or afternoon snack, or after dinner.


~Dark & Dangerous Cinnamon Rolls (100% whole grain)
~Apple-Currant Buns (100% whole grain)
~Caramel Pecan Rolls