Sunday, July 15, 2012

There's something in the flour! Otherwise known as- Old Navy Spring Party Part Deux

The following post was supposed to air on BlondeAmbition- but when the co-editor of this piece took an inordinate amount of time to complete her task.... Well, let's just say it became a bit ridiculous to post it as a guest blog- because it is now ROYALLY overdue. And when I say royally I mean over a year has passed since I composed said post. Still, I feel the story needs to be recorded for posterity. Plus? It's freaking HI-lar-IOUS. (or at least it is to me...)

Originally written on June 25th 2011. Commentary by Steph will appear in this colour. Return commentary by moi will appear in this colour. For part one to this entry---> Fair and Steph's Spring Beautiful Party

Hello again!

Now for Part deux of Fair and Steph's 

Spring Beautiful Party!

The food!

    I had decided to go with a sort of tea and cookies theme and so we went with cake, scones oh my god, best scones EVER), cookies, palmiers, veggies w/honey cream cheese Hey, something I could still eat! Aw. I'm sorry! I promise I will work on changing these recipes over to GF! and a cheese w/cracker platter.

All recipes will follow at the end of this saga...

     I started my baking three days early so that I wouldn't end up frazzled on the day of... which invariably turned out to be an exercise in futility. I still ended up late with getting ready and didn't end up helping to put out the food or help take photos of said food table. MEH! I am not sure how this ended up happening... no wait, scratch that... I am TOTALLY positive as to why I ended up becoming a footsorecrazymaniacalspeeddizzylunatic the day before and morning of our party.  On Wednesday I was set out to create a cream cheese fruity cookie recipe that would knock the socks off of every attendees taste buds. But before I began baking I thought to myself- "Fair, you had better workout first and finish a few pomanders because you'll wear yourself out in the kitchen and not want to do anything later." Because to Fair, all of the pre-party cleaning does not constitute a workout. She is already a freakin' lunatic! Ha. Me and my lazy bum need to get back to being said lunatic. Which is exactly what I did, wear myself out that is- only before I had even started baking. Can you say DUMBASS with a capital D? Sure you can. Go ahead, I'll wait a minute for you to conjure up whatever other names you can think of to call me in regard to my oh so naive stupidity...Oh, already beat ya to the punch, carry on...;) I should argue... If Jo says together we make a Genius- What then do two dumbasses make?

     After working out, showering and completing 6 of the 13 pomanders I needed- a full three hours later -Fair enters kitchen with a good, albeit slightly sluggish, demeanor/attitude and ready to work her cookie magick!
     All was going well and the day would have continued on harmoniously if it weren't for the fact that I had forgotten to employ my cardinal rule when creating new recipes--> ALWAYS watch the first batch like a hawk to make sure you know how long they need to bake!  No, no- instead of doing as I always do- I had picked an approximate time and left the first batch to bake without supervision while I worked on some of my tissue paper pomanders. Haha, I forgot what a pomander was until now in the post, so I was all thinkin' it was a food, and was racking my brain, 'What is a pomander..what is a pomander...something bread-like with apples? Lol. Hey! Maybe I should make up a recipe for something that turns out like pouffy ball and call it a pomander! BIG mistake! I ended up over-browning/nearly burning the first detailorientedhellatimeconsuminglytediousfigureitTFObatch. ARRRRRRRGAH! By the time I finished baking the following batches I'd had enough for the day. Which left me no energy and fewer cookies than I had hoped for... But enough? for a nice plate of them, or so I told myself at the time...
     The next day, Thursday, I had reserved for creating a new scone recipe and making the final four (I had managed to eek out three of them earlier in the week) of my thirteen pomanders. I proceeded to workout on schedule Again, crazy. and then conjure up sixteen divine coconut chocolate chip cream scones Seriously, you guys have no idea, they are so delicious I could cry. Haha. I never suspected people's reaction to them would be so intense! I also finished the remainder of my pomanders. Whoo-hoo! Completely deluded. I know, I know- I always think I have things under control and then they seem to spiral like slew of a broken springs. I'm right on track!
     The night before our party- Friday night -we hadn't finished decorating yet- and so I knew I was going to need to take time out from my cake, palmier and, as it turned out, MORE cookies baking schedule to finish putting the room together. So, still feeling like a lazy arse -even though I knew I was going to be spending hours on my feet in the kitchen- I skipped my workout altogether and after a minimal breakfast headed straight for the kitchen. I had high hopes that I could make an early night of it and have plenty of time to get ready and put the finishing touches on our party before the guests arrived the next day. I entered the kitchen... took another gander at the container of non-burned cookies I had made on Wednesday... aaaand promptly decided there were too few to actually look good on a plate. First thing to get out of the way then- I made more.
More detailorientedtimeconsuminglytedious, but oh so DELICIOUS cookies. This time in 'Raspberry Blue'! Since I had already conceived the recipe. Figured out how to keep the tiny cookie cutters top side from sticking or slicing all the way through the centers. And determined the correct amount of time along with temp needed to bake them! The making of these adorable tasty little morsels went smoothly and without event.
     Next up- the oh so fabulous Lemon Blackberry-Berry Layer Pound Cake w/Grand Marnier Italian Buttercream Frosting! I decided to; Use my Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake recipe, Add berry flavoured syrup to my usual cake glazesoak to punch up the berry fantastic flavour, Take the easy peasy route with the filling by using canned blackberry pie filling- And top it all off with a Martha Stewart buttercream recipe I'd been eyeing for quite awhile.
    By now it was mid-day and so I paused to clean up my cookie mess, refuel and take stock of all that I had accomplished. Having satisfied my hungries and done a once over of the MASSIVE cleaning endeavor that had taken place downstairs the week before, I once again entered the kitchen. I put together my mise en place for the cake batter- leaving the cake-flour for last. If only I had checked the date on that cake flour before pouring it. IF ONLY! I will spare you the details of what horror awaited me. You may ask- but be ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY sure you want to know! However, I will tell you, not only did it delay me an hour- because I had to have someone fetch me some new cake flour -but it- Seriously. Mentally. Scarred. My. Baking. Adventures. For. Life. I poured out the cake flour. I made a violent face. I screamed. I shook uncontrollably. I flapped my arms and rapidly stomped my feet and ran in place... then shot from the kitchen while gagging and pleading mewling-ly for my mother. For those who doubt my sincerity- Tonight, more than one week later, I made cookies for a friend. Steph caught me dubiously staring at my container of flour before pouring it... Even though I knew damn well that it definitely contained only the contents of a fresh bag I had emptied into it last weekend- I remained irrationally nervous.
     This event set the tone for the rest of the cake making process. One hour later the new cake flour had arrived and I could begin again. I measured it out, still intermittently shuddering from my previous experience. I poured it into my sifter and began to sift it into a bowl. My large sifter suddenly decided it was going to quit working properly. hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I banged on it. I jimmied the squeezy handle. Banged some more... Still, only the barest spit of flour was coming out of the bottom. Boo! I had to turn to my small sifter. My small -kinda hinky fixed with a paperclip- sifter. It worked, bless its poor mangled heart, but made the process take one whale of a lot longer to complete. Things went okay after that until I needed the vanilla. I ran around the kitchen looking for it for a full five minutes- going, "Where is the vanilla? What did I do with the vanilla? I CAN'T FREAKING FIND THE VANILLA! ARRRRRRRGAH!" 'Til my mother- who had come to my rescue with the cake flour- came up to me, giving me a look that spoke volumes of my current crazed state of mind... all while pointing in my general direction- kinda uncertain-like- and tentatively went, "Isn't that the vanilla in your hand, Fair?". I looked at my hand, the vanilla bottle silently mocking me and then I responded to her (mom) with a quietly sheepish, "oh." I'm going along editing this for her, and this part totally made me laugh out loud.
     I finished the cake batter and put my poured pans Wow, I read penis. LOL. Get thee dirty mind outta my oven!  in the oven to bake. I went on to make the glazesoak for the cake and cook the filling for a bit to thicken it up. I cut and layered the cake with glaze and filling, then put it back in the fridge to set up before dirty icing it. Waiting for the kitchen to cool down enough to make the frosting took forever but did give me a chance to sit a bit and eat something.
     It was nearly eight PM when I finally got back to work. (On the frosting.) I started with the egg whites and nearly screwed them up by breaking a yolk. Moving on to the syrup- I accidentally over heated the mixture to 245 degrees Fahrenheit- which for those of you who don't know -is no longer soft ball stage- like Martha's recipe calls for- but firm ball stage. ACK! However, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise for it worked to my advantage cooking the syrup to this degree. The frosting set up better than it would have without doing so and it allowed me to add one stick less butter. It also made the frosting extraordinarily light. Much more like frosting than like “sweetened butter". "Sweetened butter" is a complaint I have received in the past in regard to Italian buttercreams. I finished the frosting and tasted it while it continued to cool down. Can I just say- this is my ALL TIME FAVE frosting!!! Holy freaking crap is it gooood!!! I, who almost never moan when eating anything, pulled a Sally Albright upon ingesting this phenomenally dreamy delight! When the frosting had cooled enough I pulled the cake from the fridge, dirty iced it and put it back in the fridge to set up before frosting it the rest of the way. You would think that my mishaps were behind me at this point, non? Sadly (._.) not to be.

     It was now 10:30-ish-pm. Steph had been home for approximately one hour.  We both went downstairs to hang the pomanders. Upon finishing hanging up the pomanders Steph decided she was too tired to put any thought into getting the swag bags together and came upstairs with me to watch me ice the cake. (Steph also took this time to make the honey cream cheese!)
I got out my new Duff Goldman Gel food colour kit and pulled out electric purple. Believing the best, I very carefully squeezed a small drop into my pristine white frosting and switched on my mixer. My frosting was now only a very slightly pinkish off white. So I added another two drops. Now it was a barely baby orchid like pink. Wtf mate? The blue worked like gangbusters with my Sweetart cookies earlier... didn't it? I added another drop. Andanotherandanotherandanother. FREAKING A!*^&%$@*#! The purple flat out refused to work. By now I had added half of the bottle and my frosting was still a light orchid hue. HALF the BOTTLE, seriously. Even I, she who knows nothing of this stuff, knew this was messed up. I gave up and resorted to adding a single drop of pink and blue to the frosting. That's all. One drop each and suddenly my frosting was a very definite spring lavender. Phew! On to the next task- frosting my cake. After attempting a couple different flower designs and failing miserably -I opted to cover the cake in stars- and since this always looks better when you use two shades of frosting- I finished approximately half cover of my cake surface and dyed the remaining frosting a purple three shades darker with which to continue frosting until completely covered.

     At this point it was nearing midnight, I'd been up for 17 plus hours and on my feet for nearly every one of them.
No way was I going to go to town on the palmiers after this! So I said Sayonara to that dream and with Steph's help (Bless her heart!) began cleaning up the DISASTER AREA that was my kitchen. I was utterly exhausted, my feet hurt so bad I wanted to cry and I was LITERALLY stuttering... And I don't stutter. Not really. Anyway, I don't even remember what I said- but I got stuck on a word beginning with the letter T.
Ttt-ttt-tt-t-t-tttttt-tt-t. It was like my brain had suddenly decided it had had enough. All the little mistakes, the flour incident, the pressure and the pain had caused a meltdown. Seriously I couldn't stop. Ttt-tt-ttttt-tt-tt-t-t-t... Haha, I don't remember whatsoever what the word was, but I remember it was freaking hysterical. Also that we were both slaphappy at this point. Slaphappy is right. If you read QuixoticPaperdoll or La Belle Parapluie- then you'll know that recently we pulled a 32 hour day on our Woolite Party. Slaphappy doesn't even begin to cover how rummy we were! According to Steph- I am a "Much more amusing Fair" when slaphappy than when drunk.

     And then Steph and I about died laughing. I haven't laughed that hard in, like, forever
- and Steph and I laugh really hard nearly once a day every day.

     My eyes were streaming. I was half bent over with my arms around my middle because my stomach was cramping. I couldn't breathe correctly- and so my laughing began to sound like a wheezing old man-hyena-chipmunk hybrid. I sank to the floor to avoid falling down... which only made us laugh even harder-if you can imagine. Slaphappily, we walked the cake into the fridge and went downstairs to chill out a bit before heading off to bed at around three AM.
     Saturday morning we still had the 'Fire and Water' thing and the swag bags to put together- plus laying out all the food/make-up/nail stuff, getting showered/dressed/made-up for guests... and I still needed to clean/dust my bedroom for the house tour! [After complaining to my mother about not finishing the night before- She offered to come make the palmiers I never got around to- They didn't turn out correctly AT ALL (something had to be wrong with that pastry) but people still seemed to love them. (^-^)] I was trying desperately to finish everything in time all while hobblespeeddemonbookingit around on my toes (avoiding my throbbing fasciitis heels) and being half awake. Oh. Almost forgot to tell you- I also shattered Shit! a tall shot glass in the middle of working on the Fire n' Water thing. So you can see why I was still putting on eye-makeup when the girls began to arrive. Eep! Thankfully (er, I think? I'm not entirely sure if one should be happy when people are cool with one not being around. :P) no one seemed to mind that I wasn't present during the first 20 minutes of our shindig. Ha, they're just really laid back and know you take forever to get ready! ;) Is two and half hours forever? 

So there you have it- our friends came, went on the tour, pleaded to move in woot! after said tour, did their nails, ate copious amounts of yumminess, babbled to one another about Old Navy (among other subjects), tried on a multitude of accessories, got their make-up done by yours truly and in general enjoyed themselves silly. \(^-^)/

I'm truly sorry for the lack of photo's on this one... I hadn't intended on it being a baking blog type entry when I wrote it! But the recipes are truly YUM-TASTIC! So I thought I'd post em anyway! (^-^)

 Spring Party Recipes!

Sweetart Soft Shortbread Cookies

Tools You Will Need:

one stand mixer or 1 hand mixer
one sifter
one rubber spatula
two large sized mixing bowls (or one large mixing bowl and one stand mixer bowl.)
two mise en place or small prep bowls.
one food scale (or one standard 2 to 5 cup measuring cup.)
one large whisk (or two large forks.)
one tiny drink whisk (or one small fork.)
two cookie baking sheets
parchment baking paper
plastic wrap
one pair of scissors
one rolling pin
one small 1 and 1/2inch to 2inch sized cookie cutters of your choice
and one 3/4inch matching shape fondant cutter *I used Makin's clay cutters sets which are cheap ($1.67US in stores or online) at Hobby Lobby and the perfect size!


10 oz. (or 2 cups) bleached all purpose flour *I use Gold Medal brand

4 oz. (or 3/4 cup) cornstarch

8 Oz. (or 1 3/4 cups) powdered sugar plus 1/2 cup more for rolling out dough *I use C&H brand

8 oz. REGULAR cream cheese (or 1 cup) (chilled and cut into chunks)
*do not attempt with low fat version unless you want a sticky mess of unworkable dough!

4 0z. (or 1/2 cup) sweetcream salted butter (chilled and cut into chunks)

1 1/2 tsp. butter flavour extract or complimentary liqueur flavour (eg: Pucker watermelon, pomegranate etc.)

1 pkg. unsweetened Kool-Aid of your choice.
*When using a light colour Kool-Aid like those of the "Ice" line- you may decide you want to dye your dough with food colouring to achieve the same vivid coloured cookie end result as those flavours with more colour in their mix. If this is the case, I recommend using a gel based food colouring as it does not mess with the consistency or flavour of baked goods. (I Used Blue Raspberry Lemonade Cool ICE Kool-aid and Duff Goldman's electric blue gel colour for my flowers.) *Note- I have made this recipe many times since this party as it has become a highly requested treat among friends and family. A flavour you should most definitely try? Scary Blackberry! 

Flavoured Glaze for Sugar Crunch Topping
1-2 tablespoons Pucker liqueur (may substitute any tart fruit flavoured liqueur or water for Pucker if desired)

1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Coarse sugar crystals or "sparkling sugar"
Cut parchment paper to fit two cookie sheets, line them and set aside.

Sift flour, cornstarch and powdered sugar into a large bowl, then whisk together thoroughly (may mix using two large forks at once to achieve a similar result). Set aside. In a separate large bowl or a stand mixer (I prefer a stand mixer for stiff dough recipes like this- but it's up to you!) cream together cheese and butter. In a very small 'Mis en place'  or 'prep' bowl  mix Kool- Aid and butter extract thoroughly with a mini-whisk until no lumps remain and Kool-Aid is dissolved. (If you don't have a mini-whisk you can use a small fork.) Add Kool-aid and extract mixture to creamed mixture and mix thoroughly. If using a light coloured Kool-Aid now add food colouring to the creamed mix until desired colour reaches 2 shades deeper than your intended end result. Next mixing with stand or hand mixer and starting on low speed, add the flour mixture in thirds to the creamed mixture. Slowly increasing to medium speed with each flour addition and occasionally scraping unmixed flour/dough down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula until fully incorporated and the texture of your dough resembles that of Play-Doh.

Now pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 177 degrees Celsius. And make sure rack is as close to the middle of your oven as you can place it.
I ALWAYS wait until 15 minutes before I actually need the oven until turning it on. For two reasons- one the oven doesn't need to be wasting electricity while I am not in need of it immediately. And two- if you turn it on far before you actually intend to use it- it heats the kitchen up and makes working with any butter or cheese based food good WAY tricky. Elevated room temps lead to drippy buttercream frostings, sticky and unworkable doughs, rubbery cheese, undesired burned edges combined with undone center baking results- just to name a few.

Next sift powdered sugar over your counter to prevent dough from sticking to it as you roll it out. Pat dough into a smooth round ball- you may need to knead it a bit first if you did not use a scale to measure ingredients to achieve a smooth result. Place ball of dough onto counter surface, and using your rolling pin, roll out dough until 1/4 inch thick. Using a small cookie cutter cut into 1 and 1/2 inch to 2inch shapes and place on parchment lined cookie sheets at least 1/2 inch apart. Once cookie sheet is filled, using the non cutting side of the smallest cutter in the Makin's set or one matching 3/4inch sized fondant cutter of your choice, gently press and rock the cutter into the centers of each cookie- creating a 1 to 2 millimeter center impression of your chosen shape. If cutter starts to stick tap edge into a small bowl of powdered sugar before using again.

Cover any remaining dough with plastic wrap to complete use of later and place with completed sheets far away from oven. I  placed the sheets on, and sat at, my kitchen table for the next step.

Prepare tart glaze mixture in your second mise en place or small prep bowl. Using your finger smooth some of the glaze over the top of a cookie and sprinkle on sparkling sugar. Repeat process until all cookies are glazed and sugared. Place one sheet into oven and bake for 7-8 minutes. (If and-only if -your oven is perfectly calibrated may you do two sheets at a time. If so, rotate and flip each pan halfway through baking time. Mine is not heated evenly and seems to refuse to be... so I only do one sheet at a time.) DO NOT BROWN EDGES AND DO NOT OVER BAKE!!! Or the cookie edges will burn and your cookies will become rock hard when cooled. Repeat patting, rolling, cutting, impression, glazing, sugaring and baking steps until all dough is used. Keeping any dough that you aren't working with covered in plastic wrap while not in use. Depending on the size and shape of your cutters this recipe will make upwards of 120 small cookies or more. Recipe may be halved if desired- but be sure to measure out your Kool-Aid and halve it's contents before adding to butter extract! Or your cookies will be sour and not at all sweetart!  Cookies may be stored for up to two weeks in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Lemon Black Berry-berry Layer Cake 

with Grand Marnier Buttercream

Tools You Will Need:

one stand mixer or hand mixer with wire whip/whisk attachment
one large bowl (or three large bowls if using hand mixer)
two 9 inch cake pans
three small saucepans with lid
one candy thermometer (or a very cold glass of water on stand-by)
one wire cake leveler
one wire whisk
one large 3 to 5 cup measuring cup
two small 1 cup measuring cups...
*or one measuring cup and one medium mise en place/prep bowl
one sifter
one zester/mini grater
one citrus juicer/clamp
one basting/pastry brush *I use a silicone one- easier cleanup and far more sanitary
one silicone/high heat tolerant spatula
parchment baking paper
one pair of scissors
enough cardboard for two 9 inch cake rounds
plastic wrap
one frosting piper plus large star tip or 2 frosting piping bags and large star tip

Cake Batter

3 cups cake (soft white wheat pastry) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons  baking powder
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup sweatcream salted butter
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon extract
1 packet True Lemon powdered lemon juice
1 lemon for 1/4 cup fresh squeezed juice plus grated rind (if you get less than 1/4 cup of juice from your lemon add water to it until it equals 1/4 cup)
3/4 cup buttermilk
*I use powdered buttermilk mixed with 1% milk because it is easier to keep on hand.


1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 lemon for juice and grated rind
2 tablespoons of raspberry flavoured or other berry flavoured syrup
*I use Torani brand syrups


1 can of blackberry pie filling

Grand Marnier Italian Buttercream Frosting
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
pinch of coarse salt
*I always bake with kosher salt as it melts more evenly than regular table salt.
6 egg whites
1 pound of cold butter cut into small pieces.
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other liqueur
Purple gel food colouring *I used Duffs electric colours in purple

For Cake Batter

Using your cardboard and one cake pan- trace around the bottom with a pencil two make two cardboard cake rounds. Cut out and cover these rounds with plastic wrap- set aside for later.

Roll out parchment paper, place one cake pan on paper and using a pencil trace around the bottom of the pan on the paper. Using your scissors cut out your liners by cutting just inside the circle you've traced. Repeat for second pan. Set aside.

Using your pastry brush generously butter the sides of two 9 inch cake pans then dust with flour until sides are lightly coated.  Place the parchment liners in the bottom of both 9 inch cake pans. Set aside.

Grate rind from one lemon and squeeze juice into small measuring cup. If 1/4 cup of juice is not achieved- add water until it reaches 1/4 cup. Add packet of True Lemon  to juice and stir until dissolved. Set aside. Pour 3/4 cup of 1% milk into blender and add 3 tablespoons of buttermilk powder to it- blend on high until fully incorporated and set aside. ( If you don't have a blender you can do the following: Mix together 3 tablespoon of powdered buttermilk with 1/4 cup 1% milk until no lumps are left- then add 1/2 cup more milk mix until thoroughly combined. Set aside.) If using fresh buttermilk skip the previous step and measure out 3/4 cup of buttermilk then set aside.
Sift cake flour, baking powder and baking soda into large bowl and add pinch of salt, then whisk together. Set aside.

Preheat your oven now to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 177 degrees Celsius. And make sure rack is as close to the middle of your oven as you can place it.

In stand mixer with wire whisk attachment or hand mixer with wire whisk attachment and large bowl, cream together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add in eggs on at a time mixing on medium high speed waiting to add the next when each is fully incorporated. Add vanilla and lemon extract and mix thoroughly.
Add lemon juice mixture to buttermilk and stir to combine. Next, add flour mixture and lemon milk mixture in thirds to creamed mixture in stand mixer bowl/large mixing bowl with hand mixer set to medium low speed. Alternating between adding the lemon milk- then the flour mix until each is just incorporated.

Pour half of the cake batter into each cake pan and place both pans on center rack in oven. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until cakes spring back when lightly touched in their centers and/or a toothpick or knife comes out clean when inserted in each cakes center. You may need to check on your cakes regularly depending on how temperamental your oven is at maintaining a consistent and even temperature.
Remove and to protect counters from heat damage- cool in their cake pans on wire rack or stove-top until they reach room temp. Place cakes uncovered into refrigerator to chill completely. Meanwhile prepare your filling and glaze.

For Filling

Pour entire contents of one blackberry pie filling can into small saucepan and cook uncovered over medium low heat. Stirring constantly with a heat resistant silicone spatula to prevent burning- cook until all berries are broken up and filling thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Rinse/clean your silicone spatula or use a second if you have one for the following glaze recipe.

For Berry Lemon Glaze

In your second small saucepan stir together with your rinsed silicone spatula 1 /1/2 cups granulated sugar, 1 cup water and two tablespoons raspberry syrup until sugar is mostly dissolved. Cook mixture uncovered over low heat, stirring constantly until it comes to a boil. Cover and boil for 10 minutes. Add in Juice and grated rind of one lemon, stir until combined and remove from heat. Set aside to cool.

To Cut and Assemble Cake

Remove cakes from fridge and slide a butter knife around the edges of one cake to loosen the sides. Invert to remove cake from pans. Peel off parchment liner. Place first cake bottom side down on one of your plastic wrap covered cardboard rounds.

Using a serrated knife carefully cut through the outer crust along the top ridge of cake. Place wire cake cutter next to the side of the cake and determine how many notches you'll need to move the wire up to level off just the top of the cake.  Adjust wire and gently slide cake leveler upright and on it's feet through the cut on the side of the crust. Slide wire back and forth until top of cake is cut off.

Keep cut off top on top of cake for something to grip/hold onto for next cut. Now place cutter next to cake side and determine how high you will need to place the wire to cut the remaining cake (sans top) directly in the middle to make two even layers. You may need to place the cake and round atop the other round to accomplish this depending on your levelers measure of notch increments. Adjust the wire and gently slide the cake leveler upright and on it's feet back and forth until all the way through the cake. Now you should have two even layers! Repeat process for second cake.
Gently lifting with both hands, place bottom half of one cake onto your final destination for your cake. (eg: glass rotating cake stand, plate etc.) Next, using your washed/clean pastry brush (or a second pastry brush if you have one) brush an even amount of glaze over layer. Spread an even layer of blackberry filling over layer. Carefully place directly over the top  the next layer and repeat the glazing and filling step for two more layers being sure to leave enough glaze for the final layer. Place the top and final layer on the filled cake and brush with the last of your glaze t seal most of the loose cut crumb.
Place filled cake in refrigerator to chill and set up filling for at least 1 hour. It is unnecessary to cover it with plastic wrap- but you may if you wish to do so.

For Frosting

Make sure that your kitchen has completely cooled before you begin making this frosting!
Avoid burns! Use extreme caution when working with the melted sugar aspect of this recipe. If working with melted sugar for the first time or if you are kinda clumsy in the kitchen- keep a large bowl of iced water, pain relieving antibacterial cream not ointment  and band aids-on hand just in case!

In your third and final small saucepan... or washed and dried one if you don't have three- stir together 2 cups granulated sugar and 2/3 cup water until dissolved. Cook over medium low heat until boiling. Cover and let boil for 5 minutes.  Uncover and continue boiling until syrup reaches 238 degrees (or soft ball stage- which is to say that, when a small amount of sugar syrup is dropped into a cold glass of water and removed, it gels together into a soft and pliable ball but will flatten without pressure in your hand)

While sugar syrup continues to cook, using your stand mixer with wire whip attachment or hand mixer with wire attachment and large bowl, beat 6 egg whites until foamy. Add in cream of tarter and a pinch of coarse salt. Beat until stiff but NOT dry. This is to say that when the whip/wisk is lifted the egg whites will form a firm peak that does not settle but still appears wet/glossy.  DO NOT OVER BEAT. You do not want your egg whites to be dry.

When Sugar syrup reaches 245 degrees Fahrenheit (or firm ball stage- which is to say that, when a small amount of sugar syrup is dropped into a cold glass of water and removed, it gels together and will form into a ball that maintains it's shape and will flatten only when squeezed)  remove from heat and turn stand mixer/hand mixer on low. Pour syrup in a thin and continuous stream into egg whites until about a 1/4 cup has been incorporated. While continuing to pour in a thin stream, increase mixer speed to medium speed and incorporate all of the remaining syrup. Increase speed to medium high and beat until only very slightly warm.

Continue beating at medium high speed and add cold butter pieces a few at a time until each addition is mostly incorporated. Keep adding and beating until all butter is fully incorporated. Stop mixer momentarily, add in 1 teaspoon and 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other favourite liqueur and beat first on low increasing to medium speed until thoroughly mixed. Add in purple food colouring gel, mixing until completely dissolved. Use one drop at a time until desired lavender hue is achieved. Cover with plastic wrap and set bowl aside.

*I recommend you do not attempt this with a hand mixer unless you are either very adept at holding onto a pan with one hand while keeping it and your bowl steady with the other hand. Or  if you have a partner to help you with the process... Either pouring the syrup or beating the mixture with the hand mixer while you do the one or the other. Trying to do it alone could  at the very least result in an epic frosting FAIL or a series of seriously uncomfortable sugar burns. If you've never worked with melted sugar you may not know this- but the stuff burns until it cools and is not easy to rinse off immediately. So be CAREFUL!!!!!!

To Frost Cake

Remove cake from refrigerator and smooth a thin layer of frosting over both top and sides to seal in crumbs. Return to fridge and chill for at least a half an hour. Remove from refrigerator and frost evenly with about 1 to 1 and a half cups frosting- starting with the top and moving onto the sides- smoothing surface as much as is possible. Load your frosting pump or piping bag with about half to 2/3 of what is left of your frosting. Using the star tip make varying sized stars and double stars (stacked stars) on top of cake in random numbers and spaces- leaving room inbetween groupings for more later. Do the same around the bottom of the cake. Using your food colour gel add more food colouring to what is left of your frosting and return to stand mixer. Continue beating and adding colouring one drop at a time until a much deeper hue of purple is achieved than the original lavender. Clean and load your frosting pump or load your second piping bag. Using the cleaned star tip fill in all the gaps on top of and around the sides of your cake with stars and double stars.

Recipe makes one 9inch round filled and frosted 4 layer cake. I do not recommend attempting to halve this recipe- but if you must- do try to split the eggs into two and a half. Cake may be covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Remove from fridge at least one hour before serving. ENJOY! (^-^)

Mega Coconut Chocolate Chip Cream Scones

Tools You Will Need:
one stand mixer with whisk and paddle attachment. (or powerful motor hand mixer with beater and whisk attachment.)
one large bowl
one sifter
one rubber spatula
one whisk
one food processor with large gauge grater attachment. (or one large gauge stand grater and a medium prep bowl)
one measured pastry/dough cutter (or one sharp smooth blade knife and one ruler)
two cookie sheets
parchment baking paper
one pair of scissors
one large measuring cup (6 cup is preferable but you can make do with any measuring cup and another large bowl)
one medium measuring cup (2-4 cup measure)
one large mixing spoon (or you can do like I do and just use your hands)
one medium mise en place  or prep bowl
one pastry brush *I use a silicone one- easier cleanup and far more sanitary


6 cups bleached white all purpose flour *I use Gold Medal brand
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 sticks or 8 oz. VERY cold sweetcream salted butter
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream plus 1/4 cup (may substitute heavy whipping cream if you can't find heavy cream)
5 large eggs (4 for the dough and 1 for the cream wash)
1 tablespoon  plus 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract *I use Faerie's Finest which is more economical per ounce and tastes far better than your average grocery brand. No chemical aftertaste here!
1 1/2 teaspoons plus 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla
2 cups dried and sweetened shredded coconut *I use Mounds (Yes, just like the candy!) brand
To dry out your sweetened coconut place and even layer over one to 2 cookie sheets and cover with a cheesecloth for at least one day- preferably more -making sure to stir/flip the coconut a few times per day. As your unsweetened coconut will already be dry enough straight from the package, you will not need to dry it out further.
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut *I use Bobs Red Mill brand- find it in your grocers health food section!
1 12 oz. package of semi-sweet chocolate chips.
*I use Guittard which is absolutely the BEST chocolate chip on the market. I am serious no other compares! Guittard will be the smoothest, meltiest, richest tasting chocolate chip you will have ever eaten- I am TELLING you! BELIEVE me! Switch to Guittard and you won't regret it! Find them at Safeway, Whole Foods, Winco, World Market and online.
2/3 to 3/4 cup sparkling sugar (coarse sugar)

On the day you choose to make your scones-

Make sure to place your butter in the freezer for at least one half hour before starting!

Unroll enough parchment paper to line the bottoms of two cookie sheets and cut to fit. Line the cookie sheets with your paper and set aside.

Now you may make your scones!
Mix sugar, flour and baking powder together in your large measuring cup and sift entire contents of your measuring cup into either stand mixer bowl fitted with the wire whisk attachment. (If using a hand mixer- attach the whisk attachment and sift your flour mixture into a large bowl.) Stir in your kosher salt and set aside.
Fit your food processor with the large gauge grater attachment. Take your butter out of the freezer and cut in half once lengthwise, then in half widthwise and drop one chunk at a time into your food processor. Pulse to grate your butter into the food processor's receptacle. (If using a large gauge stand grater- do not cut your butter! Simply grate it and sweep into a medium sized mise en plas or prep bowl.)

Now add both the dried sweetened coconut and the unsweetened coconut to your flour mixture and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined.
Next, toss a few pieces of your grated butter at a time into your coconut and flour mixture. Stir to coat and break apart. Repeat until all your grated butter is lightly coated and separated in the coconut flour mixture. Turn your stand mixer or hand mixer to low to start cutting your butter into the flour mixture. Increase speed to medium low as it becomes easier to blend. [ie: the butter pieces aren't big enough to fly out of the bowl anymore. ('o') ] Continue blending until butter and flour mixture until it resembles a fine sand. Set aside.

Preheat your oven now to 375 degrees Fahrenheit or 190 degrees Celsius.

Whisk together heavy cream, extracts and 4 of your large eggs. Remove wire whisk attachment from your stand mixer or hand mixer and fit with wither the paddle mixer or beaters. Pour your cream mixture into your coconut/flour/butter mixture and mix on medium low until just combined. scraping down the sides occasionally. Stop mixer when it becomes to tough to mix or dough begins to climb the paddle/beaters.

Utilizing your large spoon or your hands, continue to mix until all the flour mixture is combined. Next, stir or knead in your chocolate chips until evenly distributed. Split dough in half and pat into two large balls.

Sift a small amount of flour onto your counter to keep dough from sticking and set one of your balls of dough onto counter. Pat into a circle that is approximately 8 inches in diameter. Using your measured pastry/dough cutter or ruler and knife- find the center of your circle of dough. Gently mark the center both horizontally and vertically, making a 'cross-hair' pattern that separates your dough into quarters. Now, find the middle of each quarter and mark it with a line from the middle point to the outer edge of the circle. This should make an eight-pointed star-like pattern. Now, using a sharp- but controlled movements and the guidelines you've just made- chop your dough along each line into 8 (mostly) even pieces.
Place each of the eight pieces you've made onto one of your line cookie sheets. Repeat process with other ball of dough. Set aside.

Whisk together the last large egg of your five, 1/4 cup of heavy cream, 1/4 teaspoon of coconut extract and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract together in a small bowl. Using your pastry brush, brush the top of one scone and sprinkle generously with sparkling sugar. Repeat until all scones are coated with glaze and sugar. Place on sheet into preheated oven and bake for approximately 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and firm. Depending on your oven it could take more or less time- so I suggest you check frequently on the first batch to gauge the correct amount of time for you. Remove from oven and let cool on pan for 5 minutes- then gently place each scone onto a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way. Repeat with second sheet of scones.
You may store these in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Recipe makes 16 bakery sized scones and may be halved if so desired.

Friday, July 13, 2012

AWESOME Can't tell the difference- Gluten Free Thin Crust Pizza

Sooo... I have no idea why the format of my blog refuses to cooperate. Why For some reason photo's want to layer themselves over eachother, Why ON EARTH the background and font colour seem to alter themselves without my doing regularly. Whatever the reason- the debacle has kept me from posting on time and I have had it up the wazzu and gone cross eyed with attempting to fix it. SO Hence forth- I give UP! It will be what it will be until some divine tech intervention occurs.

And now on to the goodie portion of this post...

A little back story on the Gluten Free thing. I have not been tested for Gluten Sensitivity or Celiac. I do not live my life Gluten Free- yet. And I may never have to. But my dear sister and best friend Steph (La Belle Parapluie) recently tested to find out that she is Gluten and Soy Sensitive/Intolerant. Which could lead to Celiac Disease if she doesn't stop eating Gluten PRONTO! This means that all my lovely goodies must be reformulated to be gluten and soy free ASAP! So for the past couple of months I have been dipping my toes into Gluten/Soy free waters. I am thankful that there are many Gluten Free choices today that weren't there a few years ago. Gluten Free Food/Life is trending just like Low Carb did awhile back. Since Steph's diagnoses- I have found a million Celiac and Gluten Sensitive blogs to surf for recommendations and tips! Most notably- Gluten Free Goddess. She's an allergen foodie Godsend! With all the information at my fingertips I've been able to get as close as possible to my original fare outcomes. I can't say it has been easy to figure out- but it hasn't been as hard as it may have been just a few short years ago.

Next to my Secret Recipe Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Cookies and other "OMG so delicious there's gotta be drugs in these- desserts!", pizza has been tops on her list of requests. Before attempting gluten free pizza-  I had tried to make homemade pizza more than a handful of times in the past. But my pies always turned out sorta... well, blah is putting it nicely. I admit that I kinda gave up after a few attempts and never thought twice about ordering takeout or chucking a frozen number into the oven at home and calling it good. Which is why I didn't exactly have a heck of a lot of confidence in being able to produce an adequate gluten free number- let alone an AWESOME one.

Steph and I love a lightly sweet, thin and very crispy crust- So after searching google images for gluten free recipe results that looked to be about what I was after- which is when I stumbled upon the King Arthur recipe. Looked delicious... But if it would it in fact BE delicious was anyone's guess. I didn't labor a lot of expectation over my recreation of Arthur's recipe. And instead of ordering and waiting for King Arthur brand flour- I made my own with the gluten free flours I already had in my pantry. It was a sort of success! Steph loved it- but I suspected that was merely due to the fact that she hadn't dined on anything remotely resembling something other than cardboard in weeks. I thought it left a little something to be desired. While the crust was thin-ish and crispy-ish for sure- it's flavour was not exactly up to snuff. I am not a fan of brown rice flour. It tastes odd and unless it's EXTREMELY FINELY milled it has a peculiar grainy/gritty texture. Both of which seemed fairly evident to me despite the addition of other starches, honey and buttermilk to the mix. But at least I had a jumping off point. The oil both in an on the crust bottom were obviously crucial to the recipes outcome- so I didn't deign to mess with that part. From what I could tell the flour type and water content were most likely what needed changing. After a couple of tries with different flour blends and adjusted amounts of flour, water, yeast, sugar, honey and salt- haha basically the entire recipe... I do believe I have finally hit it!

This recipe has become GOLDEN to Steph and myself alike! To me it tastes just like the real RESTAURANT thing. If you know me- I am difficult to please so that is saying something! Now if I can just figure out Neapolitan style GF crust...

Fair's Can't tell the difference! Gluten Free Thin Crust Pizza


You will need:

One 14-15inch pizza pan
One 16inch or larger pizza paddle
One extra large spatula (I like to use the kind intended for flipping pancakes!)
One hand mixer and medium bowl or standmixer fitted with dough hook/s
One cooking thermometer. ( I use a candy thermometer- because my digital one died awhile back and I have yet to replace it)
Measuring cups/spoons/devices
One whisk
One fork and spoon
One rolling pin


2 Cups Gluten Free Mama's Almond Flour Blend plus a little for dough handling!
1 Teaspoon Xanthan Gum
2 1/2 Tablespoons Buttermilk Powder
2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
2 Teaspoons Pizza Yeast (you can use regular yeast if you can't find pizza formulated- honestly I don't know that there is a difference.. but it's what I use)
3 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
1 Tablespoons Honey
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Flavour Infused Olive Oil (ie: garlic, chili, basil, rosemary, herb... It's entirely up to your taste)
1/2 Cup Warm water (110-115 F)

Additional 2 Tablespoons-1/3 Cup water
Half a jar of Classico Pizza Sauce
Finely shredded mixed white cheese- heavy on the mozzarella ( I prefer a mix of mozzarella, romano, white cheddar, parmigiana and provolone.)
Desired Pizza Toppings


To a medium sized bowl or stand mixer, add flour, xanthan gum, buttermilk powder, kosher salt and 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Whisk to combine and set aside.
To a microwave safe measuring cup add 1/2 cup water, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and honey plus 2 tablespoons olive oil. Microwave on for appx 30 seconds on high. Check temperature of water- If it reads between 110 f and 115 F- add in yeast and stir to combine. If it is cooler- return to microwave for 10 seconds and measure temp again before adding yeast. If it is warmer- allow to cool to correct temp before adding yeast. Once your water, sugar, oil and yeast are combined- set aside to allow the yeast to do it's thing for appx 10-15 minutes.
Look at it go!
Attach dough hook/s to mixer/handmixer. Add yeast water to flour mixture.

Mix on medium to medium high speed until it resembles a coarse pea sized crumb.
Add 2 tablespoons of additional water at a time to mix and mix until dough comes together. It will be sticky and smooth in consistency. Scrape into/form dough into a ball with your hands. Cover and let rise minimally in a warm place for 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 F.
Pour 2 tablespoons flavoured olive oil onto pizza pan. Tilt pan in opposite directions until entire surface is coated evenly. If using a regular nonstick pan- Spray over top of oil coating- center of pan with nonstick cooking spray. TRUST ME- if you are not using a nonstick pan- YOU WANT TO DO THIS! The weight of the dough upon baking can cause the center to stick to the pan- even with the generous amount of oil used! Which makes it difficult to remove and transfer to your pizza paddle after pre-baking.

Once dough has been allowed to raise for 20-30 minutes. Generously dust your clean countertop or board with GF flour. Remove dough from bowl and roll across flour to lightly coat the surface. Dust counter top with flour again where flour has been removed by dough. Place flour coated dough on floured surface and roll with rolling pin in semi circular motions to achieve the circle shape- until dough is appx 1/4inch thick and about 15-16 inches in diameter.
Gently lift and fold dough in half. Place oiled pizza pan directly above dough and slide dough onto pizza pan such that the middle of the fold is in the middle of the pan. Gently unfold. If dough should be sticking up in any place. press down with fingers. The oiled surface will allow the dough to shift adequately to flatten.

Fold and pinch excess dough edge to create a crust ring. Prick bottom of dough all over with a fork.

Place completed crust directly into oven on lower middle rack to prebake for appx 8-10 minutes or until it just begins to brown. 

Keep your pizza paddle and large spatula at the ready!

Remove prebaked crust from oven and lift with a large spatula to slide prebaked crust from pan onto your pizza paddle.

Top with sauce, and 3/4 the amount of cheese desired. Add pizza toppings and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 amount of cheese desired over top of toppings to hold them in place once baked.

Slide prepared pizza into oven directly onto top middle rack. Bake for appx 10-12 minutes until cheese is bubbled and browned lightly... (or if you are like  Steph and I- a bit longer as we like our pizza WELL done! Using large spatula again to help you push/slide baked pizza onto your paddle and remove from oven.

Allow to cool for at least 3-4 minutes. This will help you to cut slices without the toppings sliding all over/coming off your crust! Serve and enjoy! (^-^)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Semi-Homemade- Gluten Free Chocolate- Chocolate Chip Heart Cake w/Raspberry filling Topped with EASY Italian Buttercream!


The past month I have been running around like a Ca-RAZ-ay woman. Traveling, trying to plan Crowdtap and birthday parties, host said parties, write about them... get stuff done in, around and for the lake house... And well? Other things that- while aren't really worth whining about- are time consuming none the less. 
Feeling like I have about twonanosecondstobreathe. I just hope to get a couple of promised recipes posted here before things get fired up again this month! 

I am starting off with a simple one that isn't really- aaaand then my sister Steph (La Belle Parapluie) interrupts me....
20 minutes later... and no understanding of why my font/background/blog layout is doing what it's doing...

A simple GF one that is not entirely homemade- but more an augmentation to a cake mix that is pretty dang fabulous- if I do say so myself. The following is a recipe for a RICH, very moist- at once delicate- yet mildly dense chocolate cake that pairs well with a STRONG cup of espresso. The crumb is smooth and fine- yet much like pound cake... Anyhoo- There won't be many pics to go with this one... will getcha on the next one!

Without further ado- here we goooo...

Semi-Homemade Gluten Free Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Heart Cake
w/Raspberry Filling & Topped with EASY Italian Buttercream.

Cake Ingredients: 
One 15oz. Gluten Free Betty Crocker Devils Food Chocolate Cake Mix
1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 package Jello Brand Chocolate Fudge Instant Pudding Mix
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
1/4 Cup Hershey's Chocolate Syrup 
1 Cup Cold Espresso Coffee
6oz Melted Guittard Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips *see melting instructions below.
4 Large Eggs
6oz Guittard Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

Cake Directions:
Evenly/THOROUGHLY grease and GF flour 2- 8-9inch heart shaped cake pans. Set aside. Preheat oven to 325 F. *To a small microwave safe measuring cup add 6oz. chocolate chips. Microwave on medium power (5 or 6) for 3- 40 second intervals- stirring well at the end of each until chips are smooth and melted. If a few small lumps remain- do not return to microwave again- just keep stirring until they melt the rest of the way.
To a large mixing bowl/stand mixer bowl add the following: Cake mix, sugar, pudding mix, oil, syrup, cold coffee, melted chips and eggs. Mix on low until just combined and then increase mixer speed to high- beat for 2 minutes- occasionally pausing to scrape down sides of bowl. Add 6 more oz chocolate chips. Mix on high until batter is smooth, thick and very shiny.
Divide batter between two cake pans- leaving at least 1/2 inch room at top for cake to rise without overflowing. (I fill a greased and GF floured tiny 3x4inch loaf pan with any remaining batter at the same time... But what you do with it is up to you!)
Place filled pans in preheated oven and bake for approximately 40 to 45minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for at least 20 minutes. Release sides of cake from pans by running a butter knife around the edges. Turn out onto a clean flat surface to cool completely before leveling, filling and frosting.

Filling Ingredients:
1/2 Can of Raspberry Pie Filling
Wilderness Premium Raspberry Pie Filling 21 oz

Filling Directions:
Pour 10oz. of Raspberry Pie Filling  into small saucepan. Cook on stovetop over low heat stirring constantly until it just begins to bubble... Set aside to cool- stirring occasionally to keep a skin from forming.

Frosting Ingredients:
1 1/2 Cups Cold Sweet Cream Butter
16oz Kraft Marshmallow Creme (DO NOT USE GENERIC- or recipe will fail!)
3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla or favourite Liqueur.
*a small amount of gel food colouring if desired.
Makes approximately 4Cups frosting. enough to frost one two layer 8-9inch cake or 18 cupcakes.

Frosting Directions:
*I recommend you start with a cool kitchen as a warm room is this frostings enemy.
To a large mixing bowl/stand mixer bowl add 1/1/2 Cups (3 sticks) Cold Sweet Cream Butter. Beat/cream on high until butter is light and fluffy. It is very important for the butter to be beaten long enough. Should you stop at smooth- but not light/airy/fluffy- your frosting will not be frosting thick- it will be more like an ice cream topping in consistency. Same goes for trying to make this recipe with generic marshmallow creme- Fair's warning- I've tried it several times- and it fails no matter which grocer brand you pick! Light and fluffy butter should look like this  and act like whipped cream- as the beater/whip passes through it- leaving stiff-like peaks/ripple shapes. It may take upwards of 6 to 8minutes. But timing can vary greatly depending on mixer speed/power, kitchen temp and/or butter fat content.
Next, add in Kraft Marshmallow Creme and beat on high, scraping downs sides of bowl occasionally, until no major lumps remain- and it appears smooth. Now add your powdered sugar and beat on high until high and light. Beat in Vanilla or favoured liqueur and, if desired- gel food colouring until fully incorporated. 

To assemble cake:
Remove the hard crust top from each completely cooled cake by using a cake leveler or cake knife. Place one layer on to cake board or cake stand. Pipe or smooth a small amount of frosting to 1/2 inch edge of top of cake layer. This will keep your filling from sploodging over and out the edges of your cake when you set the upper layer on top. Spoon raspberry filling onto center of lower layer. Spread in even layer to frosting ringed edge. Layer leveled top layer on top of bottom layer. Crumb coat with a small amount of buttercream. *Smoothing on a thin layer of frosting before completing the frosting process will help to keep unwanted crumbs out of your frosting's top coat! Cover and place in fridge or freezer for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Remove chilled cake from fridge freezer and continue layering frosting until desired thickness of frosting is achieved! Slice and serve as desired.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Barbeque À la McCormick GrillMates (part deux- the party & review!)

My Barbeque À la McCormick GrillMates Party!

As my silly little poem I wrote prior to the engagement predicted ...

Grillers Lament

Rain- dude normally we are all about your little drops of palest blue
And serious love from we to you  
But this Saturday eve is our GrillMates BBQ  
So we would be ever so happy if you could delay  
Or at least make way  
From 6 to 8pm on our special day  
If you should refuse  
We most certainly will have the boohoos  
And hang our heads, silently shaking our fists at yoose!  
Please, oh please, grant us our wishes   
Just while we grill our dishes
Don't drown our party out, for as you can see, 
we haven't gills like fishes!

     It did indeed rain on the day of my party. Even though my GrillMates Barbeque was rained out- guests didn't seem to mind as they descended on the food and fun immediately upon arriving. People ate like it was Thanksgiving. It was a summertime cornucopia of watermellon, chips and dip, sauteed veggies, salads, corn and regular salsa fresca, baked mac n'cheese, MEAT and various other sides that guests brought to the table.
     Wait... Did I say rain? No it STORMED. Repeatedly. And allllll night long! Forcing us to grill just inside our garage with the doors up- of course! We didn't think much of it until later when we all stepped out there to partake in some of Rikki's Blackberry Jello Shots (which were really good!). The garage was so LOADED with fumes- we're pretty sure we got a little high off (lack of oxygen haha) breathing in Eau de GrillMates BBQ Smoke. That or Rikki's shot's were far more potent than she would admit. 
                    Jess ended up in Buck's hardhat...
                         The reason is still unclear.

 This brings me to the cocktail portion of the menu...
     In the name of Barbeque- we served up my Grilled Cocktail Creations to our guests! The favourite among them was the Smoke & Blushes grilled watermelon cherry hard lemonade. pic soon!

             Steph's fave was the Flame Kissed Pinkolada


Or the Sun Seared Strawberry Sunrise

 Or she says just now, "WAIT! I can't pick!"


My favourite was the Smokin' Mojito Libre. It's so fresh and unique tasting. (shhhhhllllrrrrp) Definitely doing that one again! If you like Lime syrup w Vanilla Zero Coke- like moi- you will LOVE the Smokin' Mojito Libre! 

Unfortunately I didn't get around to making my Blackened Berry Sour Sizzle one... Which I will debut at another party soon! So sorry no pics or reviews of that one yet!

Julie, one of my guests arrived VERY late- surprising us all by bringing her two kids- Maddie (11), Matt (8) and Maddie's friend Emily (also 11) along with her to our adult only party... Which turned out to be a happy accident- because Matt fixed our Wii! Well, temporarily fixed it- because randomly it stopped working again just before our party for Woolite the following week. 
Where's 8yr Matt (above Rockin' Guitar Hero w/sis Maddie) when you need him!

Guests, including the kids, all fell in love with GrillMates Mojito Lime and Baja Citrus.
 We had many GrillMates product samples to send home with them to help keep the GrillMates buzz going! Overall everyone enjoyed themselves immensely. There was talk of future GrillMates BBQ's.. and it just so happens that Rikki's husbands July birthday is going to be one of them! Since it will be a Luau- I'm betting Rikki will be using GrillMates Hawaiian Luau Marinade for the luau themed fête!

 Found these cute little shakers 
which matched our decor for the party at a dollar store!

GrillMate's products GALORE!

                          How cute is this serveware!            


 On to the Review!

For My GrillMates Party I used the following GrillMates flavours- Mojito Lime, Baja Citrus, Molasses Bacon, Zesty Herb, Montreal Steak, Brown Sugar Bourbon. Here are my thoughts on each!

Mojito Lime:
GrillMates offers Mojito Lime as both a seasoning and as a marinade.
I elected to create a marinade with the seasoning variety as I could not find the marinade mix at my grocers. Mojito Lime's flavour is chiefly comprized of lime citrus and spearmint. Mint may sound like a tad strange of a flavour to be adding to your chicken. And at first I was skeptical too. I wondered at the addition of spearmint instead of the traditional peppermint that is usually the go to for traditional Mojito flavour.
But here's the thing, the results (however strange the combo of mint and chicken may seem) are indeed as delicious as they are surprising! The spearmint has a very delicate herbal quality to it. 
I suppose this is why GrillMates added it rather than straight up peppermint- Figuring correctly that peppermint might have been too overwhelming to add to the mix. The milder mint spearmint plays well with meat and while it has a very slight mouth cooling effect- it does not remind of toothpaste. (Which was my concern.) Instead you get this great sort of extra FRESH like flavour. I want to say citrusy clean water... if that makes sense? Definitely a great flavour- hot from the grill or cold over salad.
All of my guests loved the unique taste and wanted samples to try out at home! Since the party my family has used it several times on both chicken and beef. I tend to think that the flavour is more suited to chicken or perhaps fish than beef. I have been too tentative to try it personally on beef. So I'll just say that I am reserving final judgment for beef dishes until then. In any case, GrillMates Mojito Lime has definitely become a new favourite of my family and friends. I am sure it will be making a regular appearance at BBQ's and dinner parties throughout the summer season and beyond.

Guest Monica says, "This is all really, really just so- SO GooooD! My kids will LOVE (of the Mojito Lime) this! I can't wait to pick up a bottle of Mojito Lime from Costco!"
Baja Citrus:
Grillmates offers Baja Citrus as a packet marinade. 
We used Baja Citrus on scewered chicken and added it to our fried rice with Chinese sweet and sour sauce. 
Baja Citrus's flavour is cheifly comprized of herbs and mild spices with an intense orangey-lemon citrus.

We tried it out a couple times before the party to be sure we understood it's flavour. I thought that Baja's orangey flavour would play well with our Asian-American themed dish. If you like a citrus taste then this is the one for you! 
Like everyone- Rikki sampled a bit of everything...

Rikki says, "Since the party- I've used both the rub and the Mojito Lime. My kids are big fans of the Mojito Lime. My husband and I really love the Baja Citrus! I've been wondering if it would make an interesting addition to fried chicken... I will definitely be picking more up to use soon!"

Zesty Herb:
(*Note- If you are GLUTEN, SOY, or DAIRY sensitive- do not use it! 
As GrillMates Zesty Herb contains all three of these known allergens!)

GrillMates offers Zesty Herb as a packet marinade. Pictures here soon. 
In the past we have used GrilMates Zesty Herb as a marinade for chicken, a salad sprinkle and as a fry coating. So we were very familiar with it's flavour which is chiefly comprised of garden herbs with a light cheesy taste (even though there is no cheese ingredient present in the mix). It reminds of those vegetable crackers that are shaped like veggies... you know the ones.
 Zesty Herb is one of my personal GrillMates favourites. This time we used our Zesty Herb in sour cream to make a dip for Kettle Chips. It was in a word- AWESOME. Totally tasty and a major hit among our guests! There was a small amount left afterward which we decided to save... Bad idea folks. If you are going to make this as a dip- and I recommend you do because- FRESH -it's YUM! But I warn you- use it immediately! Do not save it as leftovers! Because Zesty Herb is a marinade- As a dip seasoning it will develop into a pungent garlic-salty brew that (even if you are a Garlic fanatic) is not pleasant AT ALL

Molasses Bacon:
GrillMates offers Molasses Bacon as a seasoning. 
I found the idea of this flavour a bit odd. Bacon added to your meat dishes? Not one to mix meats or meat flavours- I was not exactly gung ho to try this on anything personally. But with a slew of guinea pigs- I figured eh, why not. For our party we decide to use Molasses Bacon on beef sliders.
 The general consensus? Molasses Bacon was the perfect combination of sweet and salty- but light. Apparently Molasses Bacon is lighter in strength than other GrillMates products and I needed to add more of it to adequately season my patties. 

Kandis says, "Straight off- Molasses Bacon has an enticing smell... smokey-sweet, imparts a light barbeque flavour. I tried it out at home on burgers- It's very aromatic but it takes quite a bit to impart taste. I would use it again and use it in combination with steak and barbeque sauces to add a unique flavour. But first I am going to try it in black beans and hominy with chorizo sausage today! Mmmaybe make cornbread..."

Montreal Steak:
GrillMates offers Montreal Steak as- a seasoning in both regular and 25% less sodium varieties- as well as in both regular and 25% less sodium variety marinades.

My family has used GrillMates Montreal Steak seasoning for YEARS. In fact, before McCormick introduced Montreal Chicken seasoning we used the steak variety on stir fry chicken and in preparation of our grill marinades! Our pantry has never been without it! For the party we decided to use it classically to season hamburger sliders. My guests loved the flavour and when asked to describe it- this is what one had to say...

Steph says, "It's spicy- but not hot. Peppery, mildly garlicy... It's like- 'The Better Pepper'- if there was such a thing. But seriously I freakin looove Montreal Steak! No, you have no idea. You know how there are Ketchup People? People who put ketchup on nearly everything? That's me with Montreal Steak. I've been using on nearly everything for years. Fries, rice, in cottage cheese or cream cheese, salads, meat, pizza... you name it- if it's savoury I've tried it and it's delicious!"

Brown Sugar Bourbon:
GrillMates offers Brown Sugar Bourban in a BBQ sauce base- which can be used as a rub as well. Brown Sugar Bourbon's flavour is intensely BROWN SUGAR and you definitely get that little bit of a Bourbon aftertaste. It has this sort of tang to it- which we think is the Bourbon but it could just be the particular source of tomatoes used in it's composition. I didn't know that GrillMates made sauces so we had not used GrillMates sauces before. And we wanted to get a few for the party but we could not find them in our grocer's.
 We tested it out against two other BBQ sauces that we generally have on hand- Jack Daniels Steakhouse and Trader Joe's Bold & Smoky Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce. The general consensus is that GrillMate's makes a damn fine sauce.
It's very different from other sauces on the market and deserving of a place in your BBQ sauce stash. We loved that it has a high quality taste and that it comes in a squeeze bottle! It's weird to us that so many sauces come in a hard to control large mouth glass jars. After having tried this we are definitely going to ask our grocer's to start carrying it a well as the other varieties that GrillMates has to offer!

Guest Ryan (who incidentally is a chef) says, "I find the idea of this as both a rub and a sauce really novel! It's great on burgers and fries- I can't wait to pick up a bottle to try on some steaks!"

Stay tuned for the third installment of my Barbeque À la McCormick GrillMate's Party- which will include all the recipes used and thoroughly enjoyed by myself and my guests!