One of my very first jobs was working as a barista for a small coffee company. I really enjoyed working with the coffee and the customers, and the aroma of the shop was delicious. The only drawback of working with coffee was the fact that I did not drink coffee. I had no idea what it tasted like, nor could I tell the customers the difference between a dark espresso roast and a Sumatra (I can’t imagine surviving the mornings without at least one cup nowadays!) I was able, however, to trade the leftover coffee at night for pastries at the bakery next door. One of the most decadent trades was their peanut butter dream bar.
Did you ever have a time in your life where you ate so much of one particular food item that you can’t stand the smell, taste or look of that item any longer? For me, it is the peanut butter cookie. I know you are thinking, “How could you not like peanut butter cookies?” I have one very good reason...my father! My father is a wonderful man that I truly enjoy spending time with, but when he becomes fixated on a certain food item, it tends to make an appearance many, many times! A good example is peanut butter cookies. He decided that homemade peanut butter cookies would be a thoughtful and delicious addition to our school lunches… and they were… for the first week. After a month of peanut butter cookies making a daily appearance, we began to tire of them. At two months, we kindly asked him to please refrain from putting them in the lunches (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t so eloquently asked, but I think he finally got the point). We were wrong. The peanut butter cookies continued to make an appearance, but this time they were topped with a Hershey kiss. This did not improve upon them! Thankfully, he finally grew tired of them himself, and one glorious day, they were no longer gracing the top of our lunches, halleluja! This was over 25 years ago and, until recently, I would not make any peanut butter cookies, often blaming food allergies for their lack of appearance in our home.
Chocolate cake makes me weak in the knees. It's not just, "That dessert looks good. I think I will throw all inclinations of eating healthy today out the window," but, "I want to sit down and eat a giant slice cold from the fridge at six in the morning with a big glass of cold milk."
Luckily, I was able to do just that this morning! I recently posted a recipe for drunken cherries on the Beanilla blog. As I sat down to plan out my posts for the week, I remembered a previous post for drunken cherries. I grabbed them out of the fridge and pried off the lid. The most amazing aroma greeted me; hints of almond, beautiful vanilla beans from Beanilla, and cherries. I knew that those cherries were crying out to be paired with rich chocolate cake. So, I made one, and guess what? It was amazing! My son begged for a piece, my husband (who doesn't eat dessert) ate an entire slice and me, well... I had two! I know you're thinking, "You're a pastry chef. You probably eat sweets all the time". But that is simply not the case......
There is nothing quite as delicious as a chocolate chip cookie straight from the oven! Hot and delicious, the chocolate still melted and the center of the cookie so soft and delicious it breaks apart in your hand. My mouth waters just thinking about it!
Grab a cup of coffee (or tea), sit down with a good old fashion newspaper, and enjoy the simple pleasure that is coffee cake. In this very hectic and digitalized world it is nice, on occasion, to put it all aside and reflect on the simple pleasures. Now don't get me wrong, I couldn't live without my iPhone, computer or camera, and nor would I want to, but every once in a while the hectic, fast-paced digital world that is our lives needs a rest -- a time to breathe and think about how quickly time passes, and how we sometimes forget to appreciate the small things that can bring so much pleasure.
Roses are red, violets are blue, Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, I’m ready--are you? Dinner reservations, store bought candy and jewelry are certainly appreciated and show us that you care, but nothing is sweeter than homemade cupcakes!
Beanilla carries a large selection of extracts and flavorings that any chef or home cook would love. From almond to lavender the choices are extensive! Cool, refreshing and a perfect complement to rich chocolate; Peppermint, one of my personal favorites!
Peppermint brownie tarts begin with a base of chocolate fudge brownie, a middle layer of cool peppermint filling and a top layer of rich dark chocolate ganache. They are a small but decadent dessert that is easy to make and guaranteed to disappear faster than you can make them.
Whoopie pies are a classic lunch box treat. Growing up it was always a treat to find whoppie pies, swiss cake rolls or oatmeal crème pies in our lunch nestled amongst the frozen juice boxes and the flattened tuna sandwich! (Courtesy of the frozen juice box)
Times have changed; the classics are delicious and bring back happy memories of child hood but parents these days are much more aware and concerned about what their children are consuming. Highly processed snacks and treats are being replaced with whole foods and nutritous snacks. Baking from scratch allows parents and health conscious persons to regulate the amount of refined flour, sugar and fats we introduce into our diets.
Warm, soft, buttery snickerdoodles are one cookie my husband just can't resist! I have his recipe written in the front of an address book, although I'm sure he knows it by heart by now. My children love the recipe so much that I have finally transferred it to a digital recipe book for them to take with them when they leave and have families of their own. This year we were able to enhance his cookie by rolling it in a mixture of cinnamon and vanilla sugar.
When I think of raspberries, I think of my in-laws. In the early to late fall, there is a beautiful "u-pick" raspberry farm close to their home that has the most delectable raspberries known to man. My mother-in-law introduced me to them a few years ago on one of our visits back home. Picture a long winding drive, a couple of dogs greeting you with excited barks and a middle-aged woman smiling as she tends to her stand. The stand is stocked full of treasures such as homemade breads, jams and the most exquisite raspberry flower honey I have ever tasted. She greets you with a smile and a basket to collect the berries, points you in the direction of the most plentiful bushes and sends you on your way. Once you arrive at the raspberry bushes, you notice how peaceful it is and you begin to collect the sweet red berries. Most of the berries make it into the basket, but a few are so beautiful and ripe, they beg to be eaten right then!