Sunday, December 15, 2013

Eye Candy … BARS!

Candy Bars Photographed by Matt Armendariz

Here’s some eye candy (BARS) that I hope inspire you in the kitchen over the next several days. I just wanted to remind you guys that there’s just about two weeks left to enter the Scharffen Berger Chocolate Adventure Contest. And since I know you’ll be baking up a big sugary storm – why not be a little adventurous and take a shot winning the $25,000 Grand Prize at the same time. I would so love for one of you guys to win!!!

Candy Bars Photographed by Matt Armendariz

Here’s a quick rundown reminder.

1. Create an original bar recipe. That could be layered bars, candy bars, cookie bars, ice cream bars, brownies. Basically any bar.

2. Your bar recipe just needs to use a Scharffen Berger chocolate product and at least one of this year’s ten adventure ingredients.

Adventure Ingredients:
Bourbon
Turbinado Sugar
Fresh Pomegranate
Hibiscus
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Peppercorns (Any Type – Black, Red, Green)
Pandan Leaf or Pandan Leaf Extract
Coconut Milk, Cream, Butter or Oil
Oat Flour
Carrot
Sesame Seeds (Black or White)
Fresh Croutons or Crostini

Okay, I know you guys are going to be making some kind of bar recipe over the holidays.

Bourbon? Who’s planning on baking with Bourbon? I thought so.
Coconut Milk? Totally doable.
Pomegranate? Perfect for a festive treat.
Turbinado Sugar? You guys can totally do this.

Break out that family bar recipe and adventure that bad boy up.

Here’s the Chocolate Adventure Contest website with everything you need to know.

Contest ends January 2, 2014.

Hope you guys whip up something magical and make it hard for me to help pick a winner.

Now, how about those inspiration candy bars above that my friend and fellow judge, Matt Armendariz photographed to illustrate different kinds of bar possibilities… yes, yum… let’s make some. Here are some more of his pics if you need more visual inspiration.

Dark Chocolate Dipped Almond Coconut Bars from Handcrafted Candy Bars

Servings:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 batch tempered dark chocolate**
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, to decorate

To temper chocolate:

  • 3 cups ice
  • 3 cups chopped high quality dark chocolate, 60% or higher.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Place almonds on one baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, until aromatic and lightly brown.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine sifted powdered sugar and cream with a wooden spoon until you have a paste. Stir in coconut and salt. Shape into 2-inch firmly packed logs, with a slightly flattened top. Then place logs on second baking sheet and gently press two almonds on the top of each log. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  4. While logs are chilling in the fridge, temper the chocolate.**
  5. Remove logs from the refrigerator. Have tempered chocolate ready for dipping at 90 degrees F. Dip each log into the chocolate using two forks to help remove as well. Gently shake off any excess while on the forks. Then slide on baking sheet originally used to toast the nuts after relining with a new sheet of parchment paper. Dust each bar with a little cocoa powder. Let set at room temperature or place in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to firm up. Serve at room temperature.

To temper chocolate:

  1. Place ice in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Reserve a handful of the chopped chocolate. Then melt rest gently in a stainless-steel bowl set over simmering water until it reaches 115 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Remove bowl from the heat. Wipe bottom of bowl with a dry cloth to prevent water from splashing onto work surface. Sprinkle reserved chocolate into melted chocolate and stir. Cool the chocolate by placing over the bowl of ice for a few seconds at a time, removing it, stirring until smooth, and repeating until the temperature drops to 82 degrees F.
  3. Heat the chocolate again by bleaching the bowl back over the simmering water for 30 seconds to 1 minute at at time. Once temperature rises to 90 degrees F, the chocolate is ready to use for dipping. It’s important to keep chocolate at 90 degrees, so as chocolate cools, reheat over pan of hot water for 30 seconds to 1 minute at a time until it returns to 90 degrees. Just don’t overheat. Chocolate should not rise above 91 degrees.
  4. **Okay… you know me and since we are talking inspiration candy bars here… I would probably just dip these in dark chocolate candy coating or chocolate bark so I don’t have to worry about all that temperature stress. I’m getting nervous just thinking about it.
Source: © 2013 Handcrafted Candy Bars published by Chronicle Books

Enjoy and Happy Baking Adventures!

Which adventure ingredient would you want to tackle?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Stuffed Stocking Cake Pops (and a giveaway)

Stuffed Stocking Cake Pops

I’m sharing these sweet stuffed stockings from my book, Cake Pops Holidays with you guys today. (Plus, there’s a holiday giveaway at the end, too!)

These stockings are one of my favorite designs in the book and they’re actually easier to decorate than the look.

candy wafers

You start out by shaping the crumbled cake and frosting into thick socks – the stockings – and then you dip them in melted candy coating.

You can coat the stockings with any color candy wafers that you like, but I went with dark pink, green, and light blue. Still fun and festive without being straight up red and green. After they dry, dip them in melted white coating for the cuffs and then you can start bringing them to life with random sprinkles and decorations.

Or you could leave them toyless, but they’ll be way happier stuffed with toys inside.

Plus, that’s the most fun for me. Playing and finding fun candies to decorate with.

decorations

These are a few of the shapes I used. Candy canes, gingerbread men, candy snaps … plus, my can’t live without sprinkle – white sugar crystals.

But there are tons of sprinkles that would work. You just need to find simple shapes since the stockings are so small.

Here’s the full how-to from my book.

Stuffed Stockings Cake Pops

Servings: 48 cake pops

Ingredients

  • 9 X 13 cake, cooled (makes up to 48 cake pops)
  • Frosting
  • Wax paper
  • Baking sheet
  • 48 oz colored candy coating
  • Deep, microwave-safe plastic bowl
  • 48 lollipop sticks
  • Styrofoam block
  • 16 oz white candy coating
  • Small, microwave-safe plastic bowl
  • Assorted sprinkles for toys, such as candy canes, gingerbread men, and flowers
  • Toothpicks
  • Sanding sugar
  • 96 snowflake sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Crumble cake and mix with 2/3 - 3/4 container of ready made frosting or about 1 cup equivalent homemade until completely combined. Roll into 48 balls and place on a wax paper covered baking sheet.
  2. Shape them, one at a time, into stockings. You can use wax paper to aid in shaping the sides. After starting the shape, take one side of your stocking shape and slide it on a wax paper covered baking sheet. Flip and repeat for each side to help create a flat surface while continuing to shape by hand.
  3. After shaping, put the shaped cakes in the freezer for about 15 minutes to firm up for dipping. Once they are firm, transfer them to the refrigerator.
  4. Melt the candy coating in the deep microwave-safe bowl, following the instructions on the package. The coating should be about 3 in deep for easier dipping. When you are ready to dip, remove a few shaped stockings at a time from the refrigerator, keeping the rest chilled.
  5. One at a time, dip about 1/2 in of the tip of a lollipop stick into the melted candy coating and insert the dipped end straight into the bottom of the stocking shape, pushing it no more than halfway through. Dip the cake pop into the melted coating. Gently lift the pop out of the coating and tap off any excess. Let dry completely in the Styrofoam block.
  6. Melt white candy coating in the small microwave-safe bowl. Dip the tops into the white coating to make the cuffs. While the coating is still wet, place several of the “toy” sprinkles on top. Return to the Styrofoam block and let dry completely.
  7. When dry, use a toothpick to apply more white candy coating on the surface of the cuffs. Sprinkle with sanding sugar over a large bowl so you can reuse it. Use the edge of a clean toothpick to straighten any rough edges by gently pressing it along the bottoms of the cuffs.
  8. To decorate the front of the stockings, attach 2 snowflake sprinkles on each using melted candy coating as glue and dot on more coating for extra detail. Let dry completely in the Styrofoam block.
Source: Cake Pops Holidays by Bakerella

Frosty Friends Mini Kit

And today, because the holidays are fast approaching, I’m giving away a copy of my book along with the Frosty Friends Mini Kit.

PLUS…

I’m also giving away my Cake Pops Toy to the lucky winner!

Here’s a few pics of the toy since I haven’t posted them in a while.

Cake Pops by Bakerella Toy

Cake Pops Toy

It would totally make a sweet present for someone that loves baking and decorating. It’s still available at Toys R Us in the US and Wal-Mart in Canada if you need a gift idea.

Cake Pops Toy

The molds that come with the toy could also help make many of the pops in the book, like the presents, Christmas trees, holly, jingle bells, nutcrackers, elves and much more.

Cake Pops Toy

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Cake Pops Holidays plus the Cake Pops Toy and Frosty Friends Mini Kit.

  • To enter, just leave a comment on this post and tell me what you’re looking forward to baking or tasting this holiday season. What’s your favorite festive treat?
  • Deadline to enter is Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 7:00 pm ET. Sorry, time’s up. Winner announced below.
  • One winner will be chosen at random and announced sometime Wednesday evening.

Good luck!

P.S. – I’m having a book signing Tuesday, December 10 at Chef Central in Paramus, NJ. If you’re in the area, come say hi… I’d love to meet you!

 

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

 

I just picked the winner and it’s comment #301!

I think Debra is going to be pretty excited. Congratulations! Hope you enjoy the book and toy!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

I needed chocolate to offset all the turkey and dressing leftovers I’ve been eating for the last few days so I made some quick cookies on Sunday.

Cookies chocked full of chocolate …

White Chocolate Peppermint M&M's

… and peppermint M&M’s.

White Chocolate Peppermint M&M's

I blame Target and their huge end cap seasonal Christmas candy displays for these cookies. I was shopping with my mom and walked right past these until she pointed out they were white chocolate inside.

White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Yes. White chocolate peppermint M&M’s. Yum.

Cookie Ingredients

So naturally, I had to buy a couple of bags. Some to snack on and some to bake with. And some to snack on while I’m baking.

Plus, it never hurts to have white M&M’s on hand for random decorating.

Mixing Cookie Dough

I used dark cocoa for the chocolate in these cookies but you can use regular, too.

Chocolate and M&M's

Spoon please.

Baking Cookies

Roll the dough into balls and bake.

I like to reserve some of the chips and candies to press into the balls after they are rolled so the chips aren’t all hidden inside the cookie.

It helps them look prettier and more pepperminty this way after they are baked.

Warm Peppermint Cookies

Not that any looks would stop me from warm, soft cookies. Big bites right out of the oven are always a must.

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Servings: 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa (I used Hershey’s Special Dark if you can find)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee crystals
  • 1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup white chocolate peppermint M&M’s
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate morsels

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Mix flour, cocoa, soda, salt and coffee crystals in a medium bowl using a wire whisk. Set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. Add flour mixture to creamed butter and mix until combined.
  6. Stir in M&M’s and chocolate chips and then chill dough for about 30 minutes.
  7. Roll into balls. (Note: reserve a few chocolate chips and candies to press into the tops of the dough just before baking.)
  8. Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until done. Cool and eat.
Source: Bakerella.com

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Enjoy these “I can’t eat any more turkey” treats!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hay There!

Scarecrow Cake Pops by Bakerella

I just had to get these in before Christmas sets in. It’s still Fall after all. And I thought these Scarecrow Cake Pops would be a fun Thanksgiving alternate to my Turkey Pops.

Candy mold

First up. Scarecrows need hats. You know, to hold their hay hair in place. Rolos can work. Reese’s peanut butter cups, too. But I didn’t have any in the house so I made my own with a handy silicone candy mold. Fill the cavities with chocolate and tap the mold on the counter to make solid pieces.

Candy Cups

Or, just coat the sides. You can fill the cups and then turn them upside down and tap out the excess or you can brush the chocolate on the sides of the molds. I like this hollow version better because the shape rests on top of the cake pop nicely cupping the curve of the pop so it looks more natural. The solid version sticks up higher.

Dipping pops

Dip your cake pops in tan-tinted coating. I used white wafers with a little brown and orange too. But only because I had the orange out to use later.

Note: Here’s the full cake pop how-to here if you haven’t made any yet.

Cake Pops

Right after you dip the pop, rest the hat on top. Press gently to secure and then let dry.

Shredded Wheat

Ahhh. Now for the hair. The hay. The shredded wheat. Yes, we’re talking cereal. Perfect for tiny scarecrows to look their best.

Scarecrow Pops

To attach the hay, apply some melted coating to the pop and sprinkle or press into position in a messy, haphazard way. Do the sides first and then the bangs and let dry. Try to get the top of the bangs to attach flat against the pop. They can stick out all they want in front though.

Then use a toothpick dipped in chocolate coating or a squeeze bottle filled with coating and draw a brim over the bangs. You can try to make it straight or make it floppy looking. Floppy is easier since the bangs aren’t super smooth.

Scarecrow Pops

For the faces, draw on the noses with orange melted coating and a toothpick. Attach black confetti sprinkles for eyes and draw on stitched smiles with a black Americolor Gourmet Writing Pen.

Attach a couple of jumbo leaf sprinkles and then your scarecrows are ready to scare … absolutely no one. They’re just too cute.

sprinkles

You can also take them up a notch if you want. And I want. Because these scarecrows need to look a little more stuffed. Add a lifesaver collar and attach more “hay” with some melted coating.

And then there’s black coated sunflower seeds.

You know where I’m going with these …

Scarecrow Cake Pops

That’s right … little black crows with dotted candy coating beaks and eyes.

Scarecrow Cake Pops

Yep. Definitely not being taken seriously at all here. I guess they’re just too sweet to scare.

Hope you guys enjoy them!

Hugs and happy Fall y’all!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Wrapped and Ready

Cake Pops Holidays Wrapping Paper

Have you guys started getting ready for the holidays yet? For the last few years, I’ve waited until the last minute, but this year I’m trying to get ahead of the game and wrap some gifts that I already know I’ll be giving.

Cake Pops Holidays Books

My Holidays book is a good way to start. And I wanted to wrap them in a cute, quick and totally customizable way. So I’m working with Zazzle.com to create fun, custom cards and packaging. You can upload your own photographs or artwork to their site to make endless types of unique gifts from shirts and phone cases to lunch boxes and lamps. Lots of stuff.

Cake Pops Cards

I stayed with paper products though and made something special for the holidays. I used some of my photographs from the book to create illustrated versions of my cake pops, so the whole gift could be one cute coordinating package.

I started with cards, but soon stumbled onto stamps!

Cake Pops Stamps

Ack! Have you ever made your own stamps? This is such a cool extra touch that makes mailing something more special.

The only problem is they are so cute I don’t know if I can stand to send them away. I think I’m going to just have to order more to keep for myself.

Custom Cake Pops Stickers

I also made these sweet stickers in pink and green… because, as usual I couldn’t decide on just one color to stick with.

But let me show you my favorite new thing to make.

IMG_6324

Wrapping Paper!!!!

Custom Cake Pops Wrapping Paper

Yes, rolled wrapping paper. You can get so creative with this for special occasions. Birthdays, anniversaries, the holidays, of course. I can’t wait to make more.

Okay, let’s get wrapping!

Cake Pops Lollipop Sticks

Oh yeah, I’m popping a few sticks inside the box with my book, so I relabeled them to match the packaging.

Packaged

Wrap in tissue, stuff with some coordinating paper filler and then seal with a sticker.

Cake Pops Wrapping Paper

Add a coordinating bow and it’s wrapped and ready!

Yay! One present down.

Cake Pops Frosty Friends

And here’s a few more. Pink wrapping paper for these adorable little Frosty Friends Mini Kits.

I’m thinking stocking stuffers.

Cake Pops Stamped Envelope

Now, who should I send some to?

Cake Pops Custom Packaging

I thought I’d give away three gift sets if you’d want to get ahead of the game this holiday too and let me wrap a present for you.

Enter for a chance to win one of three (3) Cake Pops Gift Sets that includes a signed Cake Pops Holidays Book with lollipop sticks and a Frosty Friends Mini Kit all wrapped in cute custom paper.

  • To enter, just leave a comment on the blog and tell me if you’d rather have pink or green wrapped presents. Or if you can’t decide, then just share what kind of wrapping paper you’d like to make one day.
  • Deadline to enter is Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 6:00 p.m. ET. Sorry, Time’s Up! Winners announced below.
  • Three (3) winners will be chosen at random and announced sometime Thursday evening.

P.S. Two new December Book Signings! - I’m happy to share that I’m making up the Cake Pops Holidays book signing from last year that was cancelled in New Jersey due to Superstorm Sandy. And I have a new one in my home state of Georgia. I hope you can make it if you live nearby.

Good Luck on the Giveaway!

 

Holidays are made for you at Zazzle. Find gifts they’ll love at Zazzle.

 

Okay guys, we have three winners. Joanna McC, Jenn and Sophie! I hope you enjoy your holiday gifts.

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