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.