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Archive for March 15, 2010

GOURMET GIVEAWAY: Fancypants Bakery Cookies


The bunnies, carrots and chicks are almost
too cute to eat. Photo courtesy Fancypants Bakery.

The Easter Bunny will be hopping down the bunny trail in less than three weeks. To prepare for his arrival, enter to win a gift box of gourmet cookies from this week’s Gourmet Giveaway sponsor: Fancypants Bakery. Their “Great Big Easter Gift” prize weighs in at nearly three pounds and includes nine, four-inch-long, hand-iced shortbread cookies in adorable, Easter-themed bunnies, carrots and chicks along with 16 chewy chocolate chip cookies.

What sets Fancypants Bakery apart from other decorated cookies we’ve tasted are the fine-quality shortbread cookies made with oh so much buttery goodness (and all-natural ingredients). Coloring is used only in the decorator’s icing, which is not cloyingly sweet, but, like the shortbread, simply elegant. Sensitive to food allergies, Fancypants Bakery is 100% nut free.

Make the Easter Bunny proud by entering this Gourmet Giveaway and checking out our review of Fancypants Bakery.

  • THE PRIZE: One winner will receive The Great Big Easter Gift, which includes nine hand-iced bunny, carrot and chick shortbread cookies along with 16 chewy chocolate chip cookies. The cookies are packaged in two chocolate-brown gift boxes with bows—perfect for giving an Easter party host or enjoying yourself at home. Approximate Retail Value: $75.00
  • To Enter This Gourmet Giveaway: Go to the box at the bottom of our Gourmet Cookies, Brownies & Bars Section and enter your email address for the prize drawing. This contest closes on Monday, March 22nd at noon, Eastern Time. Good luck!
  • Learn more about Fancypants Bakery at (Sign up for their mailing list and receive 15% off your first online order.)


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FOOD HOLIDAY: National Sauce Month

Speaking of sauce, as we did in our previous post about Pears Hélène (chocolate sauce), March is National Sauce Month.

Do you know the different types of dessert sauces?

Take a look at our Dessert Sauce Glossary and see how easy it is to glam up your desserts.

The most ordinary brownie or slice of pound cake can be turned into a special occasion treat with the right sauce and a glamorous garnish.

And check out our dessert and wine pairings. What wine would you choose with chocolate cake? How about apple pie or pecan pie? Or Tiramisu?

(By the way, the appropriate wines to serve with Pears Hélène are Sauternes, German Riesling or Vouvray Molleaux.)


The plainest piece of gingerbread goes
glam with the right sauce and garnishes.
Photo by Michael Lorenzo | SXC.

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FOOD HOLIDAY: National Pears Hélène Day


Poires Belle Hélène, shown without the ice cream. Photo by Teresa Kasprzycka | Dreamstime.


If you’ve never had Pears Hélène (more properly called Poire Belle Hélène), today’s the day: National Pears Helene Day.

The dessert owes its origin to the opera La belle Hélène by composer Jacques Offenbach. It’s a comedic take on the elopement of Queen Helen, wife of King Menelaus of Sparta, with Prince Paris of Troy.

The opera debut, in, 1864, was a big success, and the dessert was developed by the great chef Auguste Escoffier as a tribute.

The dessert is composed of poaced pears, topped with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and crystallized violets (today sliced almonds generally replace the candied violets).

It’s easy to poach a few pears, top with ice cream and your favorite chocolate sauce, and sprinkle on the almonds. Make Pears Hélène for dessert tonight.

  • Here’s the recipe for Pears Hélène.
  • Find more recipes for casual and fancy desserts in our Desserts Section. and pull down the Gourmet menu at the right.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: A Pot Of Lavender

    Lavender is a genus of 39 species of flowering plants in the mint family. It’s not only lovely and fragrant, but a charming culinary herb. It enhances sweet and savory foods with a floral and slightly sweet flavor.

    Bees love lavender nectar—hence lavender honey. And you can drizzle some of that honey over lavender-coated goat’s milk and sheep’s milk cheeses.

    Lavender pairs with chocolate, baked goods and desserts (lavender pound cake, lavender scones and lavender ice cream are favorites). The flowers are candied and used as cake decorations.

    Lavender sugar is a popular addition to iced tea—but lavender iced tea or hot tea is a must-try if it isn’t already one of your favorites. Steep a spring of culinary lavender the next time you have a hot cup of tea, and see for yourself. Enjoy it with lavender marshmallows. Try this exquisite lavender white hot chocolate.



    A bouquet of lavender. Photo by
    EwaDacko | SXC.

    Lavender syrup can be used to make soft drinks (mix with club soda), to glaze a duck and in so many other ways.

    Note the difference between lavender and culinary lavender. You can pick up decorative bunches, but they may have been sprayed with pesticides. Culinary lavender is chemical-free.

    You can fill your yard with lavender, or have a herb pot indoors. The herb will add grace to every dish it touches.

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    PRODUCT: Perky Jerky


    Tender jerky with a jolt. Photo by
    Jerry Deutsch | THE NIBBLE.

    Here’s one of the niftiest products to come down the pike in a while. We give it an A for originality and another A for execution.

    Perky Jerky is “the world’s first all-natural performance enhancing meat snack.” In other words, protein- and sugar-laden beef jerky has been caffeinated with guarana, a natural energy booster with about twice the caffeine content of a coffee bean.

    The idea is, if you need energy but don’t like energy drinks or coffee—or if you’re simply hungry—tear open a portion-controlled package and enjoy a flavorful snack full of nourishment and energy. Caffeinated beef jerky: Gotta love it—and we did.

    The 100% beef jerky is tender and flavorful (some of the jerky brands we try are so dried out and unpalatable, we literally give them to the dog). And yes, it gave us ENERGY!

    Perky jerky is available in one-ounce or two-ounce packages, 12 for $30.00 and $59.88, respectively. You can try an individual package for $2.00 or $4.99.

    If this product isn’t for you, certainly you know a student, new parent or overworked adult who could use a jolt.

    Fun fact: Perky Jerky is a accidental invention, like potato chips, yogurt and many of our foods. An energy drink spilled over some jerky, drenching the meat. Not about to throw good jerky away, the “inventors” ate it and discovered that it was not only more tender, but a great energy boost. (Today, the process for making Perky Jerky is a bit more sophisticated.)


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