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.