A sweet lady’s birthday…and some cookies

June 27, 2017 § Leave a comment

When my mother in law’s big 8-0 rolled around, we had a beautiful evening of dinner and magic show followed by brunch the next day. This was the perfect occasion to make some extra special cookies for a very sweet lady.

So SWEETTABLESCAPES got to work with some favors, big balloon cookies with a message AND a personalized set for the birthday girl with cookies showing her favorites things!!

Balloons are airbrushed, using the Cookie Countess’s stencils

Message is added

We added a miniature cookie with the large and packaging was done..

 

For her own special set, we created 8 cookies representing her 5 grand-daughters, the town she grew up in, her current building…

her favorite hotel.

her favorite restaurant,

her favorite pastime, 

her favorite department store. 

and her favorite clothing company!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SUE!!

Neurologist Cookies

June 22, 2017 § Leave a comment

Med school is indeed the incredible challenge we hear about…and then comes time for your residency. This neurologist spent seven years doing his and we think he well deserved a cookie at the end! His family did too and ordered these fun treats for him and another doctor friend.  SWEETTABLESCAPES had a blast creating them!!

“Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see” or “A cookie Story”

May 29, 2017 § Leave a comment

When a client recently requested cookies based on Eric Carle’s book “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?”, we got really excited. If SWEETTABLESCAPES enjoys making and decorating very single cookie, it is always a real pleasure to tackle an original project. Most of us have read Carle’s books to our young kids and are familiar with his colorful illustrations and their “painted” look. I knew right away that I would try and replicate his style on my cookies…

Firs, I dug out every cookie cutter I had of the corresponding animals; not all were in the exact position but they still worked pretty well, then I iced the background in a solid color and proceeded with accents by brush. Edible food coloring can be used just like paint, diluted if necessary with some alcohol (which evaporates immediately) and it worked beautifully, don’t you think.

The teacher who ordered these for a bilingual school, was having a reading with parents. The kids were showing off they newly learned colors and animals..and in the end, everyone shared the cookies! What a great idea!!

Here are the different pages of the book:

Who says you can’t read your book and eat it too? LOL

Make your own Nougat!!

April 30, 2017 § Leave a comment

OMG, SWEETTABLESCAPES was so excited when we found this recipe for “easy nougat” in an old copy of  “Elle a table” (Nov-Dec 2014). Nougat being one of our f-a-v-o-r-i-t-e candies, the recipe quickly made it to the “to-do” list and sat there…and sat there! Finally, the other day, we had time to experiment!

For nougat aficionados out there, each of us probably has a favorite taste and consistency in mind. For me, it is the nougat made by Escobar that wins first place! I was introduced to it by a friend with local ties in Montelimar, of course,  and I have never looked back!

Could I ever duplicate the delicate, chewy (not too hard and not too soft) consistency of this amazing treat? Well, I am no Escobar BUT this recipe really delivered and I am devouring every piece as I write!!!

You’ll need:

  • 55 g egg whites
  • 125 g pine tree honey
  • 15 g  glucose + 30 g
  • 250 g granulated sugar+ 15 g
  • 10 cl water
  • 125 g roasted almonds
  • 90 g roasted hazelnuts
  • 70 g pistachios
  • 70 g candied lemon and orange peels
  • 50 g powdered sugar
  • 10 g de cornstarch
  • 1 candy thermometer

NOTE: when I bought the required glucose, I realized that the only ingredient listed on the label was “corn syrup”. I noticed however that glucose is thicker than corn syrup…I did not want to take a chance and have different results, so I stuck with the glucose. Some people say, here, that they are interchangeable….I am not adventurous and will stick with Wilton’s glucose.

Directions:

  • 1.Pour your egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment. In a small saucepan, heat the honey and 15g of glucose over low heat. Dip the thermometer in and continue heating until temperature reaches 120 C. In another small saucepan, over low heat, cook 250 g sugar, water and 30g glucose until they reach 158 C.
  • Start beating egg whites and 15 g sugar into a meringue slowly.
  • 2.When the honey and glucose mixture reaches 120 C, pour this syrup slowly over the egg whites that you are still beating into a meringue, increasing the speed.
  • 3.Reduce speed to medium and add the second syrup (sugar, water and glucose mixture) into the egg white/meringue mixture. Beat until it is completely smooth and lukewarm.
  • 4.While mixing, chop almonds very coarsely with a knife.
  • 5.Stop the mixer ans check the meringue consistency. It should be VERY firm.
  • 6.Add hazelnuts into the meringue; then add pistachios almonds and candied fruit (we did not add candied lemon and orange peels because, we prefer our nougat with only nuts) . Mix thouroughly with a spatula.
  • 7.With a rolling pin, roll out the nougat mixture between two pieces of parchment paper, about 1/2 in thick.
  • 8.Mix powdered sugar and cornstarch and sprinkle on both sides.
  • 9.Let cool at room temperature or if in a rush, in the refrigerator. Cut pinot long strips and then cut strips into small pieces.
  • Try not to eat it all at once!!

Vanilla Birthday Cake

April 29, 2017 § Leave a comment

SWEETTABLESCAPES does not dabble in fondant decorating, even though it looks so pretty. We usually use buttercream or creme cheese frosting to decorate our cakes. So this birthday confection is no exception.

We just added a cookie to send the message loud and clear!!

The cake recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens.

You’ll need:

Passover Walnut Cake

April 18, 2017 § Leave a comment

If you are looking for a quick yet rewarding dessert recipe for Passover, look no further; this Walnut Cake from the NY Times fits the bill.

Here at SWEETTABLESCAPES, we love nuts, so this is a perfect way to enjoy them and still follow the dietary rules of the holiday (make sure all ingredients are kosher for Passover and skip the whipped cream if you want to remain dairy-free)


You’ll need:

FOR THE CAKE:

  •  Oil or butter, for greasing the pan
  • 4 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 1 packed cup/200 grams dark muscovado sugar
  • 12 ounces/350 grams walnut halves(about 3 1/2 cups), blitzed to the consistency of fine bread crumbs in a food processor
  •  Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  •  teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons amaretto

FOR THE CARAMELIZED WALNUTS:

  •  cup plus 1 tablespoon/80 grams granulated or superfine sugar (caster sugar)
  • 2 ounces/60 grams walnut halves(1/2 cup)
  •  Sea salt

FOR SERVING:

  •  cup/150 milliliters heavy cream(double cream)
  • ½ teaspoon granulated or superfine sugar (caster sugar)

PREPARATION

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit/190 degrees Celsius. Grease an 8-inch/20-centimeter springform pan with oil or butter. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Place egg yolks and muscovado sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl, if using a hand-held electric mixer). Whip on high speed for about 2 minutes, or until pale and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.
  3. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Add walnuts, lemon zest and salt and mix well to combine.
  4. Clean and dry the stand mixer bowl and whisk attachment, then add egg whites to bowl.
    Whip on high speed for 2 minutes, or until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula, fold egg whites into the walnut mixture a third at a time; the mixture will be thick and quite difficult to bring together at first but will gradually loosen, so the final addition of whites lightens the batter considerably.
  5. Pour batter into pan and bake for 40 minutes, until evenly puffed.
  6. This is a moist cake, so a skewer inserted inside should not come out completely dry and clean. Let cake cool for 5 minutes, then release it from the pan. (You may need to run a small knife around the edge.) Carefully flip over cake, remove pan bottom and paper, and flip again to transfer it to a large plate. Brush surface with amaretto and then leave to cool completely.
  7. While cake is cooling, make the caramelized walnuts: Sprinkle sugar evenly over the bottom of a medium saucepan and place over medium heat.
    Cook gently for about 6 minutes, swirling pan but resisting the urge to stir, until you get a medium brown syrup, the consistency of maple syrup. Add walnuts and quickly stir them into the syrup until coated. Pour nuts onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spread in a single layer, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Once cool and hardened, roughly chop into 1/2- and 1-inch/1- and 2-centimeter pieces.
  8. To serve: Add cream and sugar to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or use a large bowl and a hand-held whisk). Whip on high speed for 1 minute, or until firm and fluffy. When cake has cooled, spread cream over surface and then scatter with caramelized walnuts.

Grapefruit Tart…for a change of citrus!

April 11, 2017 § Leave a comment

After seeing the picture of this tart in Southern Living magazine, there really was no hesitation! This would make it onto our table very soon!

Any citrus fan looking for variety and color can’t help but fall in love with this beautiful dessert. The common lemon curd becomes a grapefruit curd and the crust is made of saltines….how original and fun!

 

You’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups finely crushed saltine crackers (about 1 sleeve) We used 1 and 1/2 sleeve.
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 7 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 3/4 cups fresh red grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 egg yolks
  • Deep pink food color gel
  • 1/3 cup salted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • Grapefruit slices, quartered

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°F. Stir together cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar, and melted butter in a small bowl.

 

Press mixture into a lightly greased 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable rim, pressing evenly up sides and on bottom.  

  1. Bake in preheated oven until crust is lightly browned, 12 to 14 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile, combine cornstarch, salt, and remaining 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar in a medium-size heavy saucepan.
    Whisk in juices and egg yolks.
    Using a small wooden pick, stir in a small amount of deep pink food coloring gel.
    Cook over medium, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.
    Boil, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Remove from heat; whisk in 1/3 cup butter pieces. 
  3. Pour filling into prepared tart shell. Chill uncovered 4 to 24 hours.
  4. Beat cream with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until foamy; gradually add powdered sugar, beating until soft peaks form. Dollop over tart. Top with quartered grapefruit slices.

 

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