Moving Cookies: when a friend leaves, give them a Sweet Farewell…

May 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

Our friends managed to sell their house and buy a new one in another state in one short month and when time came to say good bye, SWEETTABLESCAPES just had to do it again: cookies for the road!

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Almond Butter Quinoa Blondies

May 13, 2015 § Leave a comment

SWEETTABLESCAPES bakes its share of brownies all year long but we also think Blondies can be lots of fun, especially when they have this little “je-ne-sais-quoi” that makes them different, healthy and gluten-free! So we very excitedly tried this recipe for Almond Butter Quinoa Blondies from Eatingwell.com.

You’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup smooth or crunchy natural almond butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup quinoa flour (see Tip)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper (or foil), allowing it to slightly overhang opposite ends. Coat with cooking spray.IMG_9691
  2. Beat butter and almond butter in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until creamy.   IMG_9694     IMG_1479Beat in eggs, brown sugar and vanilla. IMG_1480Whisk quinoa flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. IMG_1481Mix the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until just combined. IMG_1482Stir in chocolate chips. IMG_1483Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.IMG_1485
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it, 25 to 35 minutes. IMG_1498Do not overbake. Let cool in the pan for 45 minutes. Using the parchment (or foil), lift the whole panful out and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 24 squares. Let cool completely before storing.

    Quinoa on the right, Honey Blondies on the left...

    Quinoa on the bottom, Honey Blondies on the top..

 

 

Bourbon sea-salt caramels

May 9, 2015 § Leave a comment

Cookies and cakepops are always a great part of our SWEETTABLESCAPES “treat baskets” but we also love to add little extras such as homemade candy. These Bourbon Sea Salt caramels from Bon Appetit (Dec. 2013) are easy to make and give you a delicious, grown-up candy you can share for many occasions!

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You’ll need:

Servings: Makes about 100 caramels

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Preparation:

Special Equipment:

  • A candy thermometer
  • Lightly coat an 8×8” baking pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2” overhang on 2 sides; spray parchment.

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  • Bring sugar, corn syrup, and ¼ cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. IMG_1501Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until mixture turns a deep amber color, 8–10 minutes.IMG_1502
  • Remove pan from heat and whisk in sweetened condensed milk and butter (mixture will bubble vigorously) until smooth. IMG_1503IMG_1504Fit pan with thermometer and return to medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until thermometer registers 240°. IMG_1505Remove from heat and whisk in bourbon and kosher salt. IMG_1506Pour into prepared pan; let cool.  IMG_1510  Sprinkle caramel with sea salt, cut into ¾” pieces, (oops, forgot the picture with sea salt….)IMG_1519and wrap individually in parchment paper.IMG_1521
  • Do Ahead: Caramels can be made 2 weeks ahead. Store wrapped tightly in plastic in airtight container at room temperature.

Raspberry Ricotta Cake

May 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

Fresh fruit are quickly going to make a big comeback into our desserts after the cold months, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use frozen if need be. This super simple, pretty and moist cake is a great choice when you have some leftover raspberries in that bag at the back of your freezer! The recipe was in Bon Appetit, March 2015 and SWEETTABLESCAPES jumped on it!

IMG_1518You’ll need:

Servings: 8

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • cups ricotta
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries or blackberries, divided

Preparation:

active: 15 min total: 1 hour 35 min
  • Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 9”-diameter cake pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick spray. IMG_9691       Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  • Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth; IMG_1489fold into dry ingredients just until blended. IMG_1490IMG_1491IMG_1494Then fold in butter, followed by ¾ cup raspberries, taking care not to crush berries. IMG_1495Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining ¼ cup raspberries over top.IMG_1496
  • Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding.

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  • Do Ahead: Cake can be made 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.

Babka: a Jewish staple, not just for the Holidays

May 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

It’s always frustrating to be in the mood for a nice cake or dessert and then to have to wait for the dough to rise. So, please, think ahead (and we are not talking about hours upon hours here…just 2 1/2 hours!) because, once you’ve made this gorgeous and delicious babka, there will be no turning back. You’ll have to do it again…and again. The beauty of this recipe, straight from The Holiday Kosher Baker by Paula Shoyer, is that it produces TWO babkas…you see what I mean? You make one to take to a friends house AND you have one to keep at home and prevent a riot!!! Absolute perfection!

Babka:

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You’ll need:

Dough:

1/2 cup warm water

1/2 oz (2 envelopes – 14g) dry yeast

1/2 cup (100g) plus 1 tsp sugar, divided

3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour

2 cups (250g) white whole-wheat flour

1/2 cup (120ml) canola oil

1/2 cup (1 stick, 113g) margarine, at room temperature at least 30 minutes

3 large eggs plus one egg white (reserve yolk for glazing)

Filling and Glaze:

1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar

1/2 cup (40g) unsweetened cocoa

1 cup (2 sticks, 226g) margarine, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes

1 cup (180g) mini-chocolate chips

2 tsp water plus reserved egg yolk

To make the dough:

Place warm water, yeast and 1 tsp of the sugar into a large mixing bowl and let sit 10 minutes, or until thick. IMG_8206IMG_8208

Add the sugar, both flours, the oil, the margarine and the eggs.IMG_8209

Combine with a wooden spoon or a dough hook in a stand mixer until all ingredients are mixed together. IMG_8210IMG_8211Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise 2 1/2 hours.IMG_8212

To make the filling:

While the dough rises, make the filling. Combine the sugar with the cocoa. IMG_8213Add the margarine and mix well. IMG_8214IMG_8215You can let the filling sit out covered while the dough continues to rise.

Assembling the babka:

Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Grease two 12-inch loaf pans using spray oil.

Divide dough into a equal pieces. On a large piece of parchment paper sprinkled with flour, roll out each piece of dough into a 10 X 7-inch (25 X 18cm) rectangle. IMG_8216IMG_8217Spread each piece with 1/4 of the filling, sprinkle it with 1/4 of chocolate chips, IMG_8218and roll up the dough lengthwise. IMG_8219When you have two rolls, twist them around each other, keeping the seams on the bottom. IMG_8220Tuck the ends underneath and place into the prepared loaf pan. IMG_8221Repeat with the other pieces of dough. Brush the tops with the reserved egg yolk mixed with water.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until well browned. Cool for 20 minutesIMG_8222

Run a knife around the sides of the babkas and then remove from pans and let cool on a wire rack.

Store wrapped in foil at room temperature for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 3 months…..but we doubt these babkas will last that long!!!

 

 

Mother’s Day: sweet ideas

May 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

The month of May brings flowers, sunshine and a very special day for Moms. Showing them how much they mean to us is always a great pleasure at SWEETTABLESCAPES. Not only do we “say it with sweets” but the biggest fun comes with all the packaging options.

This year, we’ve gone from the simple store-bought tin and cardboard boxes IMG_1512IMG_1513 to our own embellished containers: paper bags and all sorts of favor boxes. Check them out!!

IMG_9686 Grab some basic paper bags and make your own labels with a puncher, decorate with washi tape and use color-coordinated small wooden pins!

Same with some mini boxes, we decorated bottom with washi tape and punched a hole on top to insert paper flower.

IMG_9687Simple striped bags with paper flowers embellishments!

We fill them with our own confections: sugar cookies, lemon marhsmallowsIMG_1530 lavender shortbreads  IMG_1531or brownies IMG_1532but we also surrender to the beauty of some of our favorite chocolate providers such as Maggie Louise Confections, zchocolate or Leonidas.

For a fun idea, we  hand-painted our cookies to coordinate with the packaging :

ORDER NOW: 8-oz bag of cookies in decorative box : $22

(order without the box: 8-oz bag of Minis: $16.50)

ORDER NOW: 8-oz bag of cookies in decorative box : $20

ORDER NOW: 8-oz bag of cookies in decorative box : $22

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Mini bags but BIG message of love:

ORDER NOW: 5 Mini cookies in bag with label: $5

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ORDER NOW:  5 Mini cookies in bag with label: $5

 

Orange Poppy Seed Cake with berries

May 1, 2015 § Leave a comment

One of our favorite cakes here at SWEETTABLESCAPES has become a family staple and pops on our table regularly in the spring. When I realized I had never shared the recipe on this blog, I had to remedy that immediately! I found the recipe years ago in Gourmet magazine (May 1992) as part of a Spring Luncheon Menu. We loved the combination of cake and berries, the added kick of Grand Marnier (which makes it a slightly more sophisticated and grown-up dessert) so much that it has been a classic ever since. The recipe is now available on Epicurious.com.

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You’ll need:

For the cake

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

For the syrup

  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup julienne strips of orange zest (preferably removed with a zester)
  • 3 cups mixed berries
  • confectioner’s sugar for sifting over the cake
  • crème fraîche as an accompaniment

Preparation:

Make the cake:
Into a bowl sift together the flour, the salt, the baking soda, and the baking powder and stir in the poppy seeds. In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream the butter with 1 cup of the sugar and the zest until the mixture is light and fluffy. IMG_9657In a small bowl whisk together the yolks, the sour cream, and the vanilla until the mixture is combined well and beat the flour mixture and the yolk mixture into the butter mixture alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating well after each addition. IMG_9658IMG_9662IMG_9663IMG_9664In another bowl with cleaned beaters beat the whites with a pinch of salt until they are foamy, add the cream of tartar, and beat the white until they hold soft peaks.IMG_9659IMG_9660Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, a little at a time, beating, and beat the meringue until it holds stiff peaks.IMG_9661 Stir about one third of the meringue into the batter to lighten it, IMG_9665fold in the remaining meringue gently but thoroughly, IMG_9666and pour the batter into a buttered and floured 10-inch springform pan, IMG_9667smoothing the top. IMG_9668Bake the cake in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Make the syrup while the cake is baking:
In a small saucepan combine the juice, the liqueur, the sugar, and the zest, heat the mixture over moderately high heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, and remove the pan from the heat.IMG_9656IMG_9673IMG_9672IMG_9674

Transfer the zest with a fork to a bowl, pour 1/3 cup of the syrup into the bowl, reserving the remaining syrup, IMG_9675and add the berries to the bowl. Toss the mixture until it is combined well and chill it, covered, for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

Remove the cake from the oven, transfer it in the pan to a rack, and poke the top immediately all over with a skewer. Brush the top of the cake generously with half the reserved syrup, letting some of it run down between the cake and the side of the pan,IMG_9676 and let the cake stand for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan, remove the side of the pan, and invert the cake onto the rack. Poke the cake all over with the skewer and brush it generously with the remaining syrup. Re-invert the cake onto another rack and let it cool completely. (The cake may be made 1 day in advance and kept wrapped well in plastic wrap or in an airtight container at room temperature). Just before serving, sift the confectioners’ sugar over the top of the cake and serve the cake with the macerated berries and the crème fraîche. (we served it with whipped cream)

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