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Tuesday
Apr032007

Living the High Life with Pie in the Sky

Have an altitude problem? Say goodbye to slumpy pies and goopy cakes with Pie in the Sky, Susan G. Purdy’s successful effort at demystifying the trials and tribulations of high-altitude baking. With colorful travel anecdotes describing Purdy’s baking adventures, this award-winning baking expert has taken the guesswork out of making apple pies and chiffon cakes.

The first book to effectively tackle the atmospheric difficulties experienced by bakers living in high elevations, Purdy presents each recipe at five different altitudes (from standard sea level to 10,000 feet). She also debunks the myths surrounding high-altitude adjustments, such as whether or not to raise the oven temperature (the answer can be quite different for each altitude).

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With easy-to-read reference charts and a multitude of tips, amateur and expert bakers alike will enjoy these innovative recipes. From the Alpine Angel Cake to the Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie, readers are presented with precise measurements and instructions on how to perfectly execute delicious and gorgeous-looking desserts each and every time.

The next time you make your famous soufflé at your Aspen ski home, bring this magical book along for guidance. I promise your lovely creations will be as fluffy as the clouds sailing above you.

Pie in the Sky, Successful Baking at High Altitudes, W. Morrow/HarperCollins

Available at: www.highaltitudebaking.com, www.susangpurdy.com or www.amazon.com

See you in the kitchen,

The Sweet Life

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Thursday
Mar292007

Scharffen Berger Las Islas Bar

Cult followers of the Scharffen Berger chocolate bars will be stockpiling the Limited Series Bar #7 - Las Islas. Originating from the Caribbean, the bar is made from carefully selected cacao beans from Trinidad, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic. This 72% cacao bar carries soft citrus notes with hints of orange peel (similar to marmalade) and has a long smooth finish. So hurry along to the nearest store, as only 1,200 cases of this bar were produced.

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Available at Whole Foods Markets, Scharffen Berger boutiques, and at: www.scharffenberger.com

See you at the candy store,

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Wednesday
Mar282007

Recchiuti Oeufs de Paques

Even if you're not religious, here's another excuse to celebrate Easter: Michael Recchiuti's gorgeous Oeufs de P√¢ques (Easter Eggs). These signature eggs are carefully hand-crafted to perfection by the renowned chocolatier. Savor over tea as your taste buds dance over the exquisite dark chocolate shell, with a silky center of Force Noir ganache inside.

Eggs

www.recchiuti.com

Happy Easter!

The Sweet Life

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Tuesday
Mar272007

Bake Confidently With Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home To Yours

If you've always dreamed of making your own authentic French desserts, look no further than to Dorie Greenspan's latest baking bible, BAKING: From My Home to Yours. After a lifetime of working with the best culinary authorities in the world (such as Julia Child), readers are now privy to coveted recipes, from her famous buttery World Peace Cookies to the très facile French Yogurt Cake.

Jam-packed with more than 300 foolproof recipes, you can expect to wow your guests with each and every dessert. Like a baking guardian angel feeding you tons of encouragement, this baking guru describes exactly what the dessert is supposed to look like every step of the way, with perfect descriptions of dough textures and appearances (check out the stellar brownie recipe below and you'll find out why this is a must-buy).

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TRIBUTE-TO-KATHARINE-HEPBURN BROWNIES

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons finely ground instant coffee

2 large eggs, preferably at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup broken or chopped walnuts or pecans

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

GETTING READY: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper. Butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk the flour, cinnamon, if you’re using it, and salt together.

Put the butter in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and place the pan over low heat. When the butter starts to melt, sift the cocoa over it and add the instant coffee. Continue to cook, stirring, until the butter is melted and the cocoa and coffee are blended into it. Remove from the heat and cool for about 3 minutes.

Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, beat the eggs into the saucepan one at a time. Next, stir in the sugar and vanilla (don’t beat anything too vigorously—you don’t want to add air to the batter), followed by the dry ingredients, nuts and chopped chocolate. Scrape the batter into the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes, at which point the brownies will still be gooey but the top will have a dry papery crust. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the brownies cool for at least 30 minutes. (You can wait longer, if you’d like.) Turn the brownies out onto a rack, peel away the paper and invert onto a cutting board. Cool completely before cutting into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side.

Makes 16 brownies.

Recipe used with permission from BAKING: FROM MY HOME TO YOURS, by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin, November 2006).

Photo Credit: Alan Richardson

See you in the kitchen!

The Sweet Life

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Tuesday
Mar202007

Spring Delights From Williams-Sonoma

Spring is officially here, and Williams-Sonoma has launched an adorable array of sweets, home decor and baking tools for our lovely amusement. Perfect for Easter brunches, gift baskets, or hostess gifts, the following sampling of ideas should inspire a beautiful Spring celebration:

Need an Easter centerpiece? Try the elegant and gorgeous Nest with Truffle-Filled Eggs for the picture perfect brunch. Made with oak moss, lavender, oak leaves,yellow feverfew and dried miniature roses, this will get the nod of approval from even the most discerning hostess. Of course, the guests might not be able to restrain themselves from eating all the chocolate truffle eggs...

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Be sure to load up on the Easter Moravian Cookies, as you can never have too many. Made from an heirloom Moravian recipe, they are ideal treats for filling Easter gift baskets or dessert plates. Shaped as ducks, eggs, and bunnies, these impossibly thin buttery wafers will make everyone smile as they happily nibble on these delicate goodies.

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The Beehive Bundt Pan will make any home baker buzz with delight. The cast-aluminum pan’s nonstick finish guarantees an easy release each time, so baking and clean up will be a total breeze. Adorned with bees, this stunning cake will definitely impress the guests, ensuring a successful and yummy tea party.

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The Sweet Life

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Thursday
Mar152007

Brookfarm - Healthy & Gourmet Macadamia Goodness

Foodies looking for another line of gourmet foods should take serious note of Brookfarm. Recently introduced to the US market, this award-winning Australian company focuses on superior macadamia products, from the delicious Macadamia Muesli to their fantastic Macadamia Oil collection. Big on flavor and quality, they are dedicated to using only the finest local ingredients such as Australian Ocean Sea Salt, Lemon Myrtle and Bush Tomatoes from the Central Australian desert.

Cholesterol free and high in monounsaturates, the premium cold-pressed Macadamia Oils are infused with clean flavors of Lemon Myrtle and Lime and Chilli. Offering a multitude of culinary possibilities, you can use it in salads, veggie stir fries, or as a base in pesto sauces. Great for enhancing seafood and meat dishes, it's also perfect as a dipping oil for appetizers or hors d'oeuvre platters (For cooking inspiration, see award-winning chef Sally James' pesto recipe below).

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The oven roasted Macadamia Nut collection is a great example of the slow-food production method, ensuring full flavor and nutritional integrity in each bite. Perfect as a cocktail snack or pre-dinner appetizer, the Kashmiri Chili and Sea Salt flavored nuts add a nice warm zing to the tastebuds. Another popular favorite is the Bush Pepper Spice and Sea Salt flavor.

I'm a big fan of the Natural Macadamia Muesli. By far one of the most flavorful muesli's I've ever tasted, it is a literal flavor explosion in your mouth. Packed with more than 17 ingredients, it includes buckwheat, bran, brown rice, natural sultanas, currants, and Brookfarm’s sun-ripened macadamia nuts. GMO-free and low in fat, it is truly a healthy gourmet breakfast indulgence.

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For folks who can't tolerate gluten, you're in for a tasty treat. The Gluten Free Macadamia Muesli has a wonderful wholesome flavor that is rare in many other 'healthy' muesli brands. As promised in their product label, it doesn't taste anything like cardboard. Loaded with macadamia nuts, sunflower and pumpkin kernels, and delicately sweetened with unprocessed Australian Bush Honey, it's only about 150 calories per serving.

For more recipe ideas: www.brookfarm.com.au

SALLY JAMES’ MACADAMIA CILANTRO PESTO

Ingredients:

2 ounces (60g) Brookfarm oven roasted macadamias

1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 – 1/3 cup Brookfarm Premium Grade Natural Macadamia Oil

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Method:

Place the macadamias, cilantro and Parmesan in a blender and process until coarsely chopped, scraping down sides. With motor running add enough of the macadamia oil to reach desired consistency. Add lemon juice to taste and mix well. Serve spread on bread, tossed through rice or pasta or serve on fish or chicken.

See you at the gourmet stores,

The Sweet Life

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Thursday
Mar082007

Palette Fine Foods: A Rainbow Assortment of Flavor-packed Condiments

Palette Fine Foods, a new label under Dave's Gourmet, has a great array of preserves and honeys to add to your condiment cupboard. The Lavender Honey makes a great substitute for plain honey - use it in baking, or drizzle over ice cream, pancakes, french toast or other baked goodies. I love it with my herbal teas.

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For Asian-inspired dishes, the Star Anise Honey can boost the exotic flavor factor. The licorice flavor is fantastic as a glaze for meat dishes, or as a dipping sauce for spring rolls/appetizers.

For an impressive cheese platter, you can match it with The Sour Cherry and Lemon Balm preserve, Peppered Black Mission Fig preserve, or one of my favorites, the Spiced Quince. The Golden Raspberry Jam has a unique, delicate flavor, making it perfect for toast, or paired with goat cheese.

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http://davesgourmet.com/

The Sweet Life

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Tuesday
Mar062007

Chalmers Ganache - Loving Spoonfuls of Cocoa Bliss

If you're an aspiring home baker like me, you might entertain fantasies of making and tempering your own chocolate confections. Why torture yourself into making a potential chocolate mess when you can fake it with a lovely substitute?

Chalmers Ganache should be the secret weapon in your kitchen for your next dinner party. Made with fine European chocolate (no high-fructose corn syrup or other artificial sweeteners), this rich and sinful ganache can transform itself into many delicious things, from a Chocolatini cocktail to mochas or a cupcake frosting. No time to make a fancy dessert? Not a problem. Just freeze the ganache and roll them into truffles for a quick sugar fix. Your guests won't know the diference.

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You will have your hands full experimenting with the three great flavors: Luxe Dark, Ultra Mint, and the new Mucho Mayan Spice. No need to fret over the calorie content (110 calories per serving, and NO trans fat!), so splurge away!

For more info and recipes: www.chalmerschocolate.com

The Sweet Life

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Friday
Feb232007

Poco Dolce - Petit morsels of artisan sweetness

Hand-made in small batches, Kathy Wiley's confections are like modern pieces of art. They're so edgy-looking you almost don't want to taste them. If you haven't tried pairing sea salt with your sweet nibbles, you're in for a treat. Her signature Bittersweet Chocolate Tiles are topped with grey sea salt, which lends a nice intensity to the other ingredients.

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These 2-inch bites are intense teasers for your taste buds. Hailed by Saveur magazine as one of their top ten picks, you can't go wrong with any of the flavors: Almond, Aztec Chile, Burnt Caramel Almond Toffee, Ginger, Coconut Almond, Hazelnut. Also try the new Cortina collection, an Italian-inspried assortment of filled chocolates.

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See you at the candy store!

The Sweet Life

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Thursday
Feb152007

Pluck & Go with EstheticPlus Mini Tweezers

The EstheticPlus Mini Tweezers is like a girl's other best friend. Just 2 inches tall, this little tool of wonder can tame the bushiest of brows. Ingrown hairs? Not a problem. These hand-crafted (made in Italy) tweezers can grab even the most troublesome hairs with precision. The best part about it, of course, is the size. Great for small makeup bags, travel, work, school, etc.

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Available at www.estheticplus.com or call 877-643-7900

The Sweet Life

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