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.