Black & White Damask Dessert Table

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Who doesn’t love a table laden with delectable sweet treats? This dessert table is the companion to the Black and White Sweetheart Table that I will share with you soon. Since this was only a styled shoot I used the same fabric and tablecloth that I did for the Sweetheart Table. I also included the small glittered flower vases. In the center of the table is a 7” Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Mousse Filling. The cake is frosted with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting and the sides are wrapped with a candy transfer sheet. At the end of this post I’ve included a Youtube clip that details using transfer sheets. They add a different layer of texture and taste to your desserts. The cake sits on a faux cake riser that was easy as pie to assemble.

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I made cupcakes from the extra cake batter and they are frosted and decorated like the larger cake.

Down front in the center is a bowl of Vanilla Cake Truffles. This time they are coated in coconut.

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Remember those Chocolate Cordial Cups my daughter sent me. Well this is the last batch and I filled them with a Pistachio Mousse.

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What’s a dessert table without Chocolate Chip Cookies? I treated myself to Guittard Chips this time and boy did they make a tasty difference. Not only do I hoard table supplies but bits of leftover desserts. They were kept in the freezer of course. Thankfully the lemon curd and the pastry dough kept well so I could make lemon tartlets for this table.

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On each end of the table is a gigantic goblet with mini bottles of liqueur. What better way to wash down copious amounts of sugar and fat!

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I hope I’ve activated your sweet tooth just in time for Easter. Stay tuned for a short post on my simple DIY projects from this shoot. It will be posted on my other blog, Around My Table but I’ll be sure and include the link here also.

Here’s the link to the Youtube video about working with transfer sheets. It’s a long video but you’ll get the idea in a couple of minutes. I’ve had my chocolate transfer sheets for years and just decided to use them. A whole world of dessert decorations have been laid before my eyes!

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Waffles with Cacao Nibs

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For some reason I thought it was a good idea to stock my bakers shelves with cacao nibs, so I bought some. Not as economical as chocolate chips but what the heck I’m like L’Oreal, I’m worth it. If you’ve never tasted cacao nibs right out of the bag be forewarned it’s not like eating chocolate chips. Cacao nibs are often called Nature’s Chocolate Chips. They are made from pure cacao beans. You may also think you’re eating nuts, bitter nuts I might add, and they are definitely an acquired taste.

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Research suggests that cacao nibs help with cognitive brain function, lower blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, as well as lift your mood. I can tell you first hand that I felt lots better after I made these Waffles with Cacao Nibs. Felt even better when I realized that I would be the only one eating them. The Mr, Charisse and her Super Model daughter wanted no parts of them.

They’re also pretty good in yogurt and I have plans to add some to one of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes. These waffles are really good, be adventurous and give them a try. If you’ve tasted Cacao Nibs before let me know what you think, yay or nay.

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Waffles with Cacao Nibs – Adapted from Edible Garden
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 TBS sugar
1 egg, separated
¼ cup canola oil
1 cup milk
½ tsp vanilla bean paste
¼ cup raw cacao nibs
Non stick spray or butter for the waffle iron

Separate the egg. Mix the flour, egg yolk, sugar, oil, baking powder, milk and vanilla bean paste in a bowl. Whisk well to get the smoothest batter possible but don‘t fret if a few lumps remain. In a small bowl devoid of any oil, whip the egg white until soft peaks form. Gently fold in the whipped egg white to the rest of the batter. Next, also with a very light hand fold in the cacao nibs. Heat your waffle iron and brush lightly with melted butter or give it a good spritz with the non stick spray. I used approximately 2/3 cup of batter for each waffle. Cover and cook until both sides are crisp and golden brown. I’m sure my waffle maker was the first one ever made so I had to hit it with the nonstick spray for each waffle. Brush or spread with a bit of butter and serve with maple syrup. The real stuff if it’s in your budget. This recipe four good size waffles that I hope will rock your breakfast world!

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Espresso Cake with Hot Kahlua Syrup ~ Cake Slice Bakers

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At 2:48am this morning I woke up with a nagging feeling that there was something I was supposed to do today. Mentally I went over the to-do list I had made before I went to bed and it seemed completely. Then all of a sudden it hit me. Today is the 20th, reveal day for the Cake Slice Bakers!

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I’ve been out of the loop for awhile and for some reason I was focusing on it being the 21st. Needless to say that the first thing I did this morning was to get my cake ready. Luckily I had everything that was needed on hand.

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We are currently baking from Carole Walter’s Great Cakes and our selection this month is Espresso Cake with Hot Kahlua Syrup. I know, just let that sink in for a minute. And speaking of sinking in; this cake is soaked in the Hot Kahlua Syrup. One of the most fun moments was hearing the syrup seep into the cake as I poured it on. Or maybe it was the voices in my head who knows!!!!

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I decided to add a ganache glaze as suggested by the author and I’m glad I did. The coffee taste is very prominent so if coffee is your thing you’re going to love this one. I like the cake but I wasn’t blown away by it. Check out the other entries from my fellow bakers and see what they think of it.

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Strawberry Cheesecake Cake

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We just celebrated the last of our family’s winter birthdays. The celebration was delayed because the birthday boy had plans on his birthday. Anthony is our leap year child and sometimes the designated festivity day is February 28th and sometimes March 1st. As with everyone else in the family the honoree chooses the entrée and dessert. This year Anthony wanted tacos and for dessert Strawberry Cheesecake Cake. When it comes to the dessert I really don’t know why I ask him, it’s the same every year. These are from previous years.

2013
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2012

Here we have this year’s variation which by the way started out as a train wreck and ended up delightful. I start out with boxed cake mix baked according to the package directions and the filling is also from a box. I know, spank my hand! Hey the strawberries on top are fresh!!!

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My dearest, trusty oven once again decided to play hide and go seek with the temperature. I swear elves sneak into the kitchen and change the temperature when I’m not looking. Initially two 10” vanilla layers went into the oven at 350°. Five minutes before the end of the baking time I checked and they needed another ten minutes. In the meantime I had enough batter left over to bake an 8 ” layer. When the buzzer went off I took out the 10” layers and popped in the 8” one. To my dissatisfaction the crust on the bigger layers was way to brown, not burned but brown and thick. Hmmm, do I trim the crust or start over? I thought one of them could be salvaged but decided against it. So using what I had on hand I baked one more layer and decided to split it and make two layers. Splitting layers is not my strong suit and I should take a lesson from my dear friend Liz Berg.

I managed not to mangle it too much though. Now, what was I going to do with all of this cake? First up make the cheesecake filling. After it had chilled and set I began the assembly. I spread a thick layer of cheesecake filling between the layers of the larger cake and topped it with sliced strawberries. The second layer went on and it also received a generous layer of cheesecake filling. The sides of the cake was covered in a very light buttercream and the top garnished with more sliced strawberries. Dessert number one was ready.

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Remember those Dark Chocolate Truffle Cups my daughter sent me? I had more stashed in the freezer and made a truffle mixture from the leftover cheesecake filling and piped it into the chocolate cups. I also gave them a light drizzle of raspberry sauce. Dessert number two all set.

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The 8” layer was split and filled with the leftover cheesecake truffle filling. Waste not want not! Then topped and frosted with chocolate truffle that was just languishing in the freezer and drizzled with caramel sauce from my Mini Caramel Apple Tarts. Thank goodness for freezer space.

Anthony got more than he bargained for this weekend didn’t he? It was way too much, but leap year birthday’s only come once every four years. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

If you haven’t already read my last post about our exciting family news check it out here.

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Mini Caramel Apple Tarts

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I am so desperate for a change of seasons that now I’m baking fall desserts and using pastel props. Winter please be gone already!! OK, I’m better now. On occasion I will buy things that I really don’t need at the time. Guess it’s the hoarder in me. Such was the case with a bag of apples. They were lolly gagging in the fridge for the longest so I decided to break out ye old apple peeler/corer and prep them for the freezer. Once a lolly gagger always a lolly gagger, my apples had a blast chillin (literally and figuratively with the cake tops and bananas.

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It got to the point where I was tired of rearranging my frozen goods and the apples had to go. Where I took them was nothing short of out of this world tasty delicious make you do the happy dance bliss. And they look kind of cute too! One thing that came out of the freezer and straight to the garbage disposal was the ready made piecrust. It had developed ice crystals and really looked yucky. Also, I’m doing my best to get back to making as much from scratch as possible. That being said I may slip up from time to time.

The fancy name for the crust I made is Pate Sucree. Look at me getting all fancy and stuff! It sounds really complicated but it’s just sweet dough made in the food processor. Five minutes and I was done. It’s the same dough I use when making lemon tarts. Click here for the recipe.

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Also jumping up and down to get my attention was my tart pan, but alas it was too big for the amount of apples I had oh hand. A looonnnggg time ago I bought two mini tart pans from TJ Maxx. Do you think I could easily find them? Nope. They also were hidden deep in the booth in the back in the corner in the dark nestled inside a layer pan. If searching for misplaced supplies was an aerobic activity I’d be thin as a dime.

My Mini Caramel Apple Tarts baked up perfectly. I topped them with Vanilla Ice Cream and some of the homemade Caramel Sauce. Those two little pans were just enough. One for me and one for the Mr.

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Mini Caramel Apple Tarts – Adapted from Epicurious.com

Apple Filling
1 ½ TBS sugar
2 tsp all purpose flour
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cardamom
3 medium Gala apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 ½ tsp pineapple juice
Vanilla Ice Cream (optional)
Caramel Sauce
1 ½ cups (packed) dark brown sugar
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
6 TBS unsalted butter

To make the sauce, bring sugar, cream, and butter to boil in heavy medium size saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until sugar dissolves. Boil until caramel is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, whisk often for about 10 minutes. Be very careful when whisking. Hot splashes of caramel on the skin is not conducive to a pleasant baking experience.

For the apple filling, preheat oven to 375°F then whisk first 4 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add apples and pineapple juice then toss until evenly coated. I used pineapple juice for a little extra flavor. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to (2) 7 inch circles and transfer them to (2) 5 inch mini tart pans. Into each one spoon a heaping 1/3 cup of apples and drizzle with approximately 2 teaspoons of caramel sauce per.

Bake tarts until apples are tender, about 30 minutes. Remove tarts from oven and let them sit for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. If they sit too long the tarts may break when you try to remove them. Serve with more sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


Baked Oatmeal

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If we don’t get some warm weather soon I’m going to weigh 200 lbs!! On Saturday and Sunday mornings one of my
indulgences is to watch episodes of Unique Sweets on demand. I’m in bed with my electronic devices nearby and a spiral notebook. First thing in the morning I’m ravenous and most everything I see on TV I want to eat/make or buy. Danger Will Robinson!!!

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My weekend delights have sparked so many ideas that it would take me three or four more lifetimes to bring all of them to fruition. Baked Oatmeal was one of those ideas and I don’t know why it took me so long to make it. Let me take that back, I know why. This oatmeal is filled with dates, cranberries, pears, walnuts and brown sugar. I swear it is more like a dessert but I fool myself into thinking that it’s a little healthy because it contains oatmeal and fruit. This morning I had the nerve to add a drizzle of real live, authentic maple syrup on top. YOLO!!!!

Thank you Better Homes and Garden for the inspiration and the weight gain, (snark)!

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Fruit and Nut Baked Oatmeal – Adapted from Better Homes and Garden
1 ¾ cups soy vanilla milk
2 TBS butter
1 cup regular rolled oats
1/3 cup chopped dates
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup diced pear
5 TBS packed brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 1 ½ quart casserole and set aside. In a medium saucepan combine milk and butter. Bring to a boil and gradually stir in oats. Next stir in dates, cranberries and the pears. Followed by 3 TBS of the brown sugar and vanilla and salt. Cook and stir for one minute. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan.
Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining brown sugar and walnuts. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes more or until bubbly. Cool slightly and serve with milk and a drizzle of maple syrup. Do your best to save some for the next day. It’s that good, trust me.


Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Skillet

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This was way to easy to put together. In 45 minutes which includes taking pictures are searching for the ice cream scoop this Sweet Sensation was ready to eat. Remember I told you that the Mr doesn’t care for sweets (wink-wink) but he had no trouble with this one. I tried to get him to take a spoonful from the skillet but he wouldn’t go that far. I sure did! Sweet Mother of Pearl this is fantastic and I am on the hunt for mini skillets. If any of you know where I can get some please shout me a holler. Finding a recipe like this was not hard to do. It almost came down to eenie meenie minie moe. Gimmesooven.com was the one. Don’t be surprised if you hear the cookie in a skillet calling you in the middle of the night. It’s that good.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Skillet – Adapted from Gimmesomeoven
10 TBS unsalted butter, softened divided
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla bean paste (extract will work just as well)
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup chocolate chips
(Vanilla ice cream and caramel topping optional)

Butter a black iron skillet with 2 TBS of the butter. If butter isn’t soft enough to spread until gone it can be melted and then set aside to cool. In a large bowl cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Then add egg and vanilla paste. Mix flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. The add the dry ingredients to the wet just until combined and then add chips being careful not to overmix. Press cookie dough into prepared skillet and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until browned around the edges. Cookie should still be soft in the center. Serve with ice cream and caramel topping if desired.

You know you want some, go ahead don’t be scared!!!

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Classic Yellow Cake w/Blood Orange & Whipped Vodka Buttercream Frosting

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I am collecting several go-to recipes of basic cake flavors. Hands down this is the best scratch yellow cake recipe on the planet. This is the third time I’ve made it and never fails. You’ve probably heard that from lots of bakers about their favorites. Ms. Sylvia’s cake is light and tender and judging by its color it could be mistaken for a vanilla cake. Please, please, please try this cake.

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Now about this new fangled frosting of mine. My doctor told me to start eating more bananas and oranges so I decided to use the juice from a blood orange in my frosting. I know she meant to eat them whole and I am, I promise. The juice from these oranges is just so pretty that I wanted to do something different. I also know whipped flavored vodka wasn’t part of her recommendation either. No worries, this cutie pie of a dessert will be shared. Also look for more infused frostings, fillings and creams from Sweet Sensations. I’ve been watching lots of On Demand Unique Sweets and I have lots of ideas. I baked the cake in 7” pans and used the rest of the batter to make cupcakes.

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Classic Yellow Cake adapted from Sylvia Weinstock
Blood Orange Buttercream Frosting w/Pinnacle Whipped Vodka
2 ¼ cups sifted cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 TBS cake enhancer (optional)
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla paste
1 cup sour cream
4 large egg whites
Blood Orange Buttercream Frosting
Juice of 1 Blood Orange, approx ¼ cup
1/8 cup of sugar
2 shots of Pinnacle Whipped Vodka
½ cup of butter, softened
½ cup of shortening
3 TBS Blood Orange & Vodka Syrup
4 cups of powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and line two 8 baking pans with parchment.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, cake enhancer and salt. Set aside. Cream the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy and light in color, about 2 minutes on medium speed. Add the sugar and continue to mix until fluffy and light. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, being sure each is well incorporated before adding the next one. Add the vanilla paste. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream, beginning and ending with the flour. Be sure the mixture is completely blended after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl, and beat for 1 minute. In a separate bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the batter with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth with a rubber spatula. Bake in the preheated oven, 45 to 50 minutes. Test for doneness with a skewer or a toothpick. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn onto wire racks and cool completely. Frost and fill with whatever your heart desires.

Blood Orange Buttercream Frosting
Juice one blood orange and strain to remove the pulp. If a little is left it’s OK. Combine the juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add vodka. Return pan back to stove and reduce heat to low and simmer for an additional five minutes or until the mixture thickens slightly. Let cool to room temperature.

Combine butter, shortening in a large bowl. Beat on high speed with an electric mixture until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar slowly and mix until very smooth. Add the beautiful and infused blood orange syrup 1 TBS at a time. Return to high speed and beat an additional 4-5 minutes until fluffy. The color will be a pale peach and there is a hint of the whipped vodka. Fill the layers and then frost the top and sides as desired. Garnish cake with a orange slice twist and cut a slice into quarters to garnish cupcakes. The cake and cupcakes were also sprinkled with shaved white chocolate.

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Chocolate Truffle Filled Cordial Cups

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This isn’t so much a recipe, just a few things put together quickly for a decadent treat. A couple of weeks ago by daughter Samara called and said she found the deal of the century at Tuesday Morning. Dark Chocolate Cordial Cups marked down to fifty-cents for a box of 12. When she asked how many boxes I wanted, I modestly replied “4” and she mailed them to me. She is such a sweetie pie. Thank you punkin!

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They arrived from Dallas in peak condition and I let them sit in the freezer for a few days while I narrowed down the cazillion ideas I had for them. Also languishing in the freezer was some chocolate cake. Then like a bolt of sweet lightening the idea was born. The chocolate cups were the perfect vessel for creamy chocolate cake truffle lightly sprinkled with crushed hazelnut brittle. Oh yes, life is sweet!

I piped the truffle mix into the chocolate cups with a pastry bag. If you don’t have one spoon the mixture into a resealable bag and snip off one end. When piping the truffle into the cups place the open end of the bag deep inside so that the cups are completely filled. Restraint was my middle name the day I made these. I only had one and packed the rest and shared them with my coworkers this time. Being a wellness instructor and walking in with a box of over the top mini desserts you sometimes get strange looks. Then when the box is opened you get smiles. After that I invite everyone to join me for a workout. It’s all good!

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Wishing you a Valentine’s Day full of love, hugs and laughter.


Cream Cheese Cookie Hearts

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Valentine cookies at long last! I’ve been trying to get these cookie decorated all week and finally they are done. These yummies are made with cream cheese and the recipe is from Kraft. For the glaze I used powdered sugar and strawberry margarita mix to add some color. Why use plain food coloring when you can add color with flavor. For those who have any concerns about alcohol in the mix, have no worries it’s alcohol free. For those who have concerns because there is no alcohol in the mix you can add a teaspoon for a little extra kick.

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While cleaning out my baking cupboard last week I discovered that I have sprinkles for days. Gabbi used to love them on cookies, and cupcakes. Now our resident diva is not that enthused about them. She’s too busy taking duck lips selfies.

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I’m so proud of myself for only making a single batch so there won’t be lots hanging around. Thank goodness because I have a boatload of baking projects on my mental list. Enjoy and take care and be well.

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Cream Cheese Cutouts – Kraft Recipes
1 (8 oz.) pkg, PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
¼ tsp vanilla
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
Powdered Sugar Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
1 TBS Laguna Home Premium Strawberry Margarita Mix
2 TBS water

In large bowl beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer until well blended and smooth. Gradually add granulated sugar until incorporated and then and vanilla; mix well. Add flour in small batches beating well after each addition. When mixture begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball stop beating. Overbeating will result in a tough cookie. Refrigerate several hours or until chilled. Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out dough to ¼ inch thickness on lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes with 3- to 4-inch cookie cutters. Place, 2 inches apart, on baking sheets.

This is a soft dough and sometimes transferring the cookies to the sheet can be a bit challenging. Another alternative is to roll the dough out on the cookie sheet and remove the excess from around the cut outs. Your cut outs will already be in place. Carefully re-roll the scraps and continue cutting out and baking. I use a silpat on my sheets so there is no need to prepare the pans. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets 2 minutes and then remove to wire racks; cool completely.

In a small bowl mix the powdered sugar and strawberry daiquiri mix adding the water a teaspoon at a time until it reaches the consistency for brushing on. You can also apply the glaze from a squeeze bottle or pastry bag fitted with a round tip. Decorate with sprinkles if you’re not too busy taking selfies!

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