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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for September, 2011

COOKING VIDEO: Make A Luscious Yet Simple Lemon Tart Recipe

 

How does one pick a favorite pie or tart when one loves them all?

Given a choice—facing a restaurant dessert menu or a bakery display case, for example—we almost always pick the lemon tart. A buttery crust filled with a creamy, refreshing lemon filling, it’s hard to come across one that isn’t a delight. (Note: It won’t be a delight if bottled lemon juice, or anything other than fresh juice and zest, is used.)

Lemon tart is popular with those who love their sweets, as well as others who don’t like sugary desserts. The video below walks you through the process of making a lemon tart. While the speaker doesn’t sound too animated, the results are exciting.

The video doesn’t address garnishing, but a bit of whipped cream works just fine.

As a dessert or for afternoon tea, consider serving tea with lemon or espresso with lemon peel.

If you’d like to serve a wine with your lemon tart, a sweet muscat is the best choice. It’s easy to find a Beaumes de Venise or a California Muscat like Bonny Doon at your wine store. Check out our dessert and wine pairing chart whenever you need a pairing idea.

Pie versus tart. Do you know the difference between a pie and a tart? There are quite a few!

Discover a world of delicious tarts, pies and pastries. Take a look at our beautiful Pastry Glossary.

Love lemon? Check out the different types of lemon.

   

   

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PRODUCT: Bakon Vodka, For Home & Gifts

As we wrote about the Bloody Mary bar earlier today, we searched for our post on Bakon Vodka. We couldn’t find it.

One of the quirks of WordPress is that posts disappear. Months later they can reappear (maybe, maybe not). Since we discovered this content-owner-nightmare, we’ve taken screen shots of every post we publish—not only to be able to recover the content, but also to prove to others that we’re not delusional.

So here’s our re-created 411 on Bakon Vodka:

We enjoy flavored vodkas, although we think that the flavor is often hard to detect in a mixed drink. Fortunately for us, we enjoy drinking vodka neat.

So, we enjoy Bakon Vodka in a shot glass or a brandy snifter.

Made in the Pacific Northwest from local potatoes, Bakon Vodka has a light infusion of smoky bacon that tastes real (the actual production technique is proprietary). We could wish for more bacon flavor, but we trust that the manufacturers tested all the different levels of concentration to strike the best balance.

 

A subtle infusion of bacon flavor makes
Bakon Vodka a great gift for bacon lovers.
Photo courtesy Bakon Vodka.

 

When we use Bakon Vodka in a Bloody Mary, its delicious subtlety doesn’t have a chance amid the larger percentage of tomato juice, plus the horseradish, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce.

But it has inspired us to enjoy our Bloody Mary with a rasher of bacon. You can make candied bacon, too.

We give Bakon Vodka as gifts. It‘s novel, delicious and everyone is more than happy to receive a bottle.

Bakon Vodka retails for about $30.00. Learn more at BakonVodka.com.

Find reviews of more of our favorite spirits, plus cocktail recipes.

  

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PRODUCT: Try Flavored Pretzels For A Change

Pretzels with an extra twist: special flavors!
Photo by Jaclyn Nussbaum | THE NIBBLE.

 

Given the many brands and different flavors of potato chips out there, you’d think there would be an equal choice of flavored pretzels.

But there isn’t.

Snyder’s Of Hanover is our favorite of the bigger pretzel lines. They sell flavored pretzel pieces in seven flavors, including BBQ, Cheddar and Ranch, plus Nibblers (pretzel nuggets) in Honey Mustard and Sourdough.

H.K. Anderson, a favorite smaller line (read our review), makes honey mustard-flavored pretzels.

Now, there’s a new line of flavored pretzels from Vibrant Flavors (makers of one of our favorite seasonings, Oregon Dukkah). While they look like standard small pretzels, Vibrant Flavors pretzels have unexpected bursts of flavor. The flavor is inside; there’s nothing to get onto your fingers.

The pretzels are made in Barbecue, Beerzels, Italian Herb, Maple Bacon, Roasted Garlic and Sweet Onion. Our favorites were Italian Herb, Maple Bacon and Sweet Onion.

 

While the Beerzels may sound tempting, they have a very particular taste. Instead, go for a glass of real beer and a pretzel—plain or flavored. To our palate, the Garlic tasted of garlic chips—not one of our favorite expressions of garlic.

You can buy the pretzels online at VibrantFlavors.com and Amazon.com.

In addition to snacking from the bag, we’ve enjoyed the pretzels:

  • With cottage cheese and yogurt
  • With soup and sandwiches
  • Atop a salad, instead of croutons
  •  
    More Pretzels

  • The history of pretzels
  • Reviews of our favorite pretzels and other salty snacks
  • Bake soft pretzels at home
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Customize Bloody Mary Drinks With A Bloody Mary Bar

    The Bloody Mary is one of the most popular drinks in America (some studies put it at the top of the list). No wonder innovative Chef Geoffrey Zakarian of The National in New York City decided to take the standard up a notch.

    At The National, a “Bloody Mary specialist” wheels the “Bloody Mary cart” tableside, to create guests’ dream Bloody Mary drinks. With or without a cart, you can do something similar at home for a memorable Bloody Mary experience. Just follow these steps:

    1. Mix Up A Batch Of Basic Bloody Mary
    Start with a basic pitcher of Bloody Mary. You can also have a second pitcher of Bloody Maria, substituting tequila for the vodka. Using a chipotle-flavored hot sauce turns a Bloody Maria into a Chipotle Maria.

  • Mary. Here’s the classic Bloody Mary recipe, as well as the original recipe. While the original didn’t use prepared horseradish, the classic does. We love horseradish, but some guests might not like the heat and spice. So, add a bit to the basic and enable guests to add more in Part 2, below. (We love loading our drink with horseradish.)
  • Ice. While your pitcher should be sitting in ice to keep the base chilled, some people like ice in their drinks.
  •  

     

    Custom garnishing makes this the best
    Bloody Mary. Photo courtesy BakonVodka.com.

     

    2. Customize Your Seasonings
    You can add any or all of the following seasonings:

  • Worcestershire Sauce. While Worcestershire sauce is part of your basic mix, a substantial number of people (like us) prefer a Bloody Mary with extra Worcestershire sauce. With all due respect to Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce, a venerable brand, the American version is made with high fructose corn syrup. If you don’t want HFCS, look for a substitute at your natural foods store or try online.
  • Beer. Adding beer turns a Bloody Mary into a Michelada.
  • Beef Bouillon. This turns a Bloody Mary into a Bloody Bull. Maggi Seasoning Sauce, a concentrated bouillon liquid, turns a Bloody Mary into a Michelada Clementina or “Chelada.”
  • Clam Juice. This turns a Bloody Mary into a Bloody Mariner.
  • Hot Sauce. Use Tabasco, sriracha (an Asian hot sauce), your favorite or ours (our favorite hot sauce is Big Papi En Fuego).
  • More Heat. Prepared horseradish, fresh or dried jalapeño or habanero, cracked black pepper and/or cayenne pepper.
  • Celery Salt. We love the flavor it imparts to a Bloody Mary.
  •  
    While the classic Bloody Mary drink contains some hot sauce and pepper, there are many who like it extra-hot and spicy.
     
    3. Choose Your Garnishes
    Dress up the drink with any or all of the these garnishes—speared onto a cocktail pick, added to the rim of the glass, set onto a service plate or inserted into the drink itself, as appropriate:

  • Bagel chip
  • Bacon or candied bacon strip (speared)
  • Blue cheese wedge
  • Celery or fennel stalk
  • Gherkins, dill pickle spears or pickle chips
  • Jerky (speared)
  • Lemon or lime wedge
  • Olives
  • Pearl onions
  • Peppadews
  • Pepperoncini
  •  
    The National serves Bloody Marys in a 14-ounce iced tea glass. You can use a classic 11-ounce collins glass.

    If you have a rolling cart, now you have another use for it. Of course, you can use your bar, a buffet or a table.

    If you’ve always wanted a rolling cart from which to serve tea, coffee or cocktails, you can get one from about $50.00.

    The history of the Bloody Mary.

    Bloody Mary recipes.

    More of our favorite cocktail recipes.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Have A New York Egg Cream

    The glass is contemporary, but the egg
    cream ingredients are classic. Photo ©
    Linda Schirmbeck | Fotolia.

     

    There is tuna in a tuna noodle casserole. There are strawberries in a strawberry shortcake. There’s ice cream in an ice cream soda.

    But there’s no egg in an egg cream—and there’s no cream, either. The ingredients are milk, seltzer and chocolate syrup. In other words, it’s a carbonated chocolate soda made creamy with milk, or carbonated chocolate milk.

    Since today is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, we’ve been thinking about great Jewish-American food inventions. The egg cream, invented in a Jewish neighborhood in New York, is at the top of the list.

    So our tip of the day is: Experience the legend and enjoy an egg cream. We’ve included the regular recipe and our own diet version below.

    EGG CREAM HISTORY

    Many references say that the egg cream was likely invented in 1890 by a Brooklyn soda fountain and candy store owner, Louis Auster. However, Auster’s store was in actually in the East Village of Manhattan, at the southeast corner of Second Avenue and Seventh Street. In October 2008, the grandson of the founder of Ratner’s, the famous deli restaurant next door, set the record straight with his recollections of Louis Auster’s candy store and the egg creams made with Auster’s own secret chocolate syrup formula.

     

    More exciting than a “two cents plain” (a glass of seltzer, or carbonated water*) and less expensive than a malted milk—not to mention great-tasting—the egg cream was a hit. Carbonated soft drinks were in their infancy. Coca-Cola, a fountain syrup available in Atlanta starting in 1886 and first bottled in 1894, was not a northern soda fountain feature at the time (Coca-Cola history).†

    Kids and adults alike loved the egg cream. It was enjoyed at soda fountains, with patrons sitting on stools or in booths, sipping egg creams through a straw. Other soda fountain owners got in on the act, spreading the egg cream throughout New York City. The chocolate syrup of choice became Fox’s U-Bet.‡ And the egg cream was often enjoyed with a pretzel, making the combo a sweet-and-salty snack. Some soda fountains served the egg cream in glasses with silvery metal holders. Others just used a tall glass.

    How did they make the famous drink? First, soda jerks pumped the syrup into the glass: two or three pumps, each pump the equivalent of a tablespoon and a half of syrup. The milk followed, and then the seltzer, which produced a foamy white head.

    There are different theories on the name of this “eggless” egg cream. Perhaps the best is that the foam on the top looks like beaten egg whites.

    We’re old enough to have had egg creams mixed at a soda fountain. After most of the remaining soda fountains and luncheonettes of New York disappeared in the 1970s—replaced by fast food restaurants and delis that did not make drinks—the egg cream faded from view.

    Years later, in 1990, Jeff Goltzer, who fondly remembered them, started to produce Jeff’s Egg Cream. You can buy them online in chocolate, diet chocolate, vanilla, diet vanilla and even orange, which is like a Creamsicle soda.

    EGG CREAM RECIPE

    For immediate gratification, make your own egg cream. In a tall fountain glass, combine:

  • 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup (you can buy Fox’s U-Bet chocolate syrup online, including a sugar-free version)
  • 6 ounces whole milk (you can substitute lowfat, nonfat or nondairy milk)
  •  
    Mix, then add:

  • 6 ounces seltzer or club soda (soda water)
  •  
    Serve with a straw. For a modern variation, use cherry- or raspberry-flavored club soda.

    Note: If you don’t have large fountain glasses, use less milk and seltzer to fit into the glass. Adjust the sweetness to your preference.

    For a diet egg cream:

  • Use sugar-free chocolate syrup and nonfat or lowfat milk, plus seltzer.
  • Or, try our recipe mixing Canfield’s Diet Chocolate Fudge Soda with milk. We fill the glass 1/3 with milk, then add the soda. To make the drink sweeter, we add a packet of noncaloric sweetener to the milk, and stir before adding the soda.
  •  
    Canfield’s also sells a Diet Cherry Chocolate Fudge soda.

     
    *Seltzer and club soda are both soda water. The difference: seltzer is salt-free and club soda has salt.

    †It was the rise of the well-advertised Coca-Cola and other soft drinks that led to the wane of the egg cream, and the rise of fast food restaurants that led to the demise of the soda fountain itself.

    ‡In 1894, H. Fox & Company in Brooklyn began to produce chocolate syrup. The name U-bet wasn’t created until the 1930s.

      

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    FOOD HOLIDAY: Kahlua Cocktail Recipes For National Coffee Day

    What better way to celebrate National Coffee Day, September 29th, than by adding some coffee liqueur to your coffee? You might not want to drink it for breakfast, but any Kahlua cocktail is a terrific after-dinner drink, rich enough to be served instead of dessert.

    Kahlúa, the word‘s largest coffee liqueur brand, suggests these two recipes to warm your day:

    Kahlúa Espresso Martini

  • 1½ parts Kahlúa
  • 1 part vodka
  • 1 part freshly brewed espresso
  •  
    Preparation: Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass

    “Everyday” Kahlúa Coffee
    Here’s a pleasant way to end the day:

  • 2 parts Kahlúa
  • 2 parts coffee
  • 1 park cream or milk
  •  

    Make your evening cup of coffee special
    on National Coffee Day. Photo courtesy Kahlúa.

     

  • Optional garnishes: whipped cream, rolled wafer cookie (like Pepperidge Farm Pirouette cookies)
  •  
    Preparation: Shake all ingredients and serve in glass mug with optional garnishes.

    Famous Kahlúa Drinks

    Famous Kahlúa cocktails include the Black Russian (1 oz Kahlúa and 1.5 oz vodka), White Russian (1 oz Kahlúa, 1.5 oz vodka and 1 oz heavy cream) and Mudslide (1.5 ounces each of Kahlúa, vodka and Baileys Irish Cream; add vanilla ice cream for a Frozen Mudslide). Shake all ingredients (with ice, except Frozen Mudslide) and strain into rocks glass.

    Kahlúa has been produced in Veracruz, Mexico from local coffee beans since 1936. The name means “House of the Acolhua people” in Nahuatl, the Aztec language. The brand is now owned by Pernod Ricard, the largest spirits distributor in the world.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Green Giant Fresh Potatoes In Microwave Steaming Bags

    Our Top Pick Of The Week is a first for THE NIBBLE: a product from a major manufacturer.

    THE NIBBLE focuses on specialty foods and artisan products. They’re typically made with better ingredients, are better for you and simply taste better.

    But the Green Giant Fresh line of Whole Baby Idaho Potatoes in Sauce simply couldn’t be more delicious. The four varieties in tasty sauces are all excellent. Two are absolutely seductive.

    And they’re ready to eat in five minutes or less.

    The steaming hot potatoes are delicious straight from the microwave bag. But you can never go wrong with some fresh chives, parsley, or other favorite herb.

    Find out more in the full review.

    Do you know the different types of potatoes?

    How about the history of potatoes?

     

    From fridge to plate in 4.5 minutes! Photo by
    Jaclyn Nussbaum | THE NIBBLE.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: A Cocktail Or Dessert Of Champagne & Sorbet

    Add the right fruit sorbet to the right
    sparkling wine: delicious! Photo courtesy
    Domaine Chandon.

     

    September is California Wine Month. The first sustained California vineyard was planted in 1779 by Franciscan missionaries, at Mission San Juan Capistrano (in southern California, halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego). The first documented imported vines (from Europe) were planted in Los Angeles in 1833. And about the same time, the first vineyard using indigenous grapes was planted in the Napa Valley, in northern California.

    California wines were enjoyed locally, but were an afterthought on the world stage—if they were thought of at all. The breakthrough came at the history-making Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, a competition in which French judges blind-tasted top Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon wines from France and from California. French wines were considered the best in the world. No one thought that the California wines stood a chance.

    Surprise: California wines ranked highest in each category (the details). Americans, who had previously enjoyed cocktails before and with meals, began to drink lush California red and white wines.

     

    Cocktails & Desserts

    Most of us drink wine and use it in cooking, but it can also be turned into a dessert. Today’s tip: pair sparkling wine with sorbet as a cocktail or dessert. (FOOD 101: Only wines made in the Champagne region of France can legally be called Champagne. All other bubblies are called sparkling wines.)

    We use the sparkling wines from Domaine Chandon—established in the Napa Valley in 1973 by the great French house of Moët et Chandon—and pints of artisan sorbets from Whole Foods Market.

  • For A Cocktail: Chandon Brut Classic With Green Apple Sorbet. Place an ounce of sorbet at the base of a Champagne flute or other glass and top with the sparkling wine. The sorbet will slowly infuse into the wine, adding sweet fruitiness.
  • For Dessert: Chandon Rosé With Peach Sorbet. For a a light and elegant dessert, fill a standard wine glass or goblet halfway with wine. Add a large scoop of sorbet. Garnish with a raspberry for color and an optional chiffonade (very thin strips) of fresh basil for color and a counterpoint of flavor. You can substitute a cinnamon stick for a fall touch.
     
    It couldn’t be easier—or more delicious.

    Find more of our favorite desserts in our Gourmet Desserts Section and Gourmet Ice Cream Section.

      

  • Comments

    FOOD HOLIDAY: The History Of Chocolate Milk For National Chocolate Milk Day

    It’s National Chocolate Milk Day.

    We spent two days last week at a trade show that focused on natural and healthy products. Among the many aloe and coconut water brands, we tried alternative types of chocolate milk: almond milk (Almond Breeze), soy milk (Silk), rice milk (Rice Dream), hemp milk (Living Harvest), coconut milk (So Delicious) and even oat milk (Pure Harvest).

    The oat milk tasted a bit oaty, but few people would have guessed, if handed a glass, that Almond Breeze chocolate almond milk and Silk chocolate soy milk were not cow’s milk (Almond Breeze is also available as unsweetened chocolate milk, an option for those who wish to add a noncaloric sweetener).

    So there’s chocolate milk galore for those who avoid animal products, have lactose intolerance, want more soy in their diet or simply want to benefit from the nutrition in almond milk versus cow’s milk.*

     

    Chocolate milk can be made with any milk or milk substitute. Photo courtesy Midwest Dairy Association.

     

    Who Invented Chocolate Milk?

    A cold beverage made at home by mixing chocolate syrup into milk (commercial brands often use cocoa powder), chocolate milk is one of those foods for which we actually know the inventor:

    Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), for whom London’s Sloane Square is named (and whose collection of objets d’art and curiosities became the foundation of the British Museum), introduced chocolate milk to Europe. It wasn’t exactly the chocolate milk we know today—made with chocolate syrup to get kids to drink milk—but it was a start.

    Cacao was brought back to Spain by the conquistadors in 1527 (some beans had been brought by a delegation of Kekchi Maya nobles from Alta Verapaz, who introduced the beverage to the Spanish court). When Cortès returned to Spain in 1527, cacao was part of the booty. For many years, it remained a Spanish secret, affordable only by the wealthy. (The story continues.)

    Sloane encountered cacao in Jamaica in the late 1680s, where it was drunk mixed with water. He found it most unpleasant (as did Christopher Columbus and the Spanish conquistadors of Mexico—see details).

    However, Sloane devised a means of mixing the ground cacao beans with milk, to make it more pleasant. He brought both cacao and his recipe (most likely unsweetened) back to England.

    A physician, Sloane was initially interested in the medicinal properties of cacao;† he thought chocolate milk had soothing qualities. The recipe was initially sold by apothecaries. You can see ads for the original product on this Cadbury blog, which found them in the Cadbury archives. The earlier ad suggests chocolate milk for “lightness on the stomach” and “all consumptive cases.”

    By the 19th century, it had become an enjoyable food product. The Cadbury Brothers sold tins of Sir Hans Sloane’s Milk Chocolate (use the Cadbury link above to see that ad). One ounce (two squares) was dissolved into a pint of boiling milk, to which sugar was added.

    Make homemade chocolate syrup to celebrate National Chocolate Milk Day.
     
    *Compared to cow’s milk, almond milk has 50% fewer calories, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats instead of cholesterol, less carbohydrates compared to 13.1 grams of lactose (milk sugar), fiber (vs. no fiber in cow’s milk), almost as much calcium as cow’s milk (and more absorbable calcium, since lactose impedes absorption). Details.
     
    †Modern research has shown that flavanol-rich cacao can impact cancer and cardiovascular disease over the long term. However, in the 1600s, health claims were speculative rather than scientifically proven. In 1631, the first recipe for a chocolate health drink was published in Spain by Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, an Andalusian physician, in his book, Curioso tratado de la naturaleza y calidad del chocolate (A Curious Treatise of the Nature and Quality of Chocolate). A doctor who had lived in the West Indies, he claimed that chocolate was an aphrodisiac, caused fertility and eased delivery in women. Here’s the true scoop on chocolate health claims, from the Cleveland Clinic. And, if it gets kids to drink their milk, one could interpret that chocolate milk is a health drink.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Have A Cake Decorating Party

    You won’t believe how easy it is to decorate
    this cake, using products by Duff Goldman
    for Gartner Studios. Photo courtesy Gartner
    Studios.

     

    Our cake design (not the one in the photo—more about that below) recently “took the cake.” It was selected as the winner of a cake decorating contest by Duff Goldman, the Ace of Cakes himself. And it inspired today’s tip: Have a cake decorating party.

    But first, a recap. In this contest, we were competing against other members of the press. The reason: a media event held by Godiva Chocolatier to announce Godiva’s externship scholarship for outstanding pastry students at the Culinary Institute of America.

    To enable them to further develop their chocolate-making skills, six CIA pastry students will spend 18 weeks in Godiva’s test kitchen with master chocolatiers. The externships will take place over the next two years.

    Casey Shea, the first recipient of the Godiva Chocolatier Scholarship, presented one of her externship creations: a sophisticated cappuccino bonbon, milk chocolate filled with cappuccino creme. We enjoyed it with a shot of Godiva Chocolate Infused Vodka, a really excellent infusion of chocolate into vodka.

     

    Sidebar on Godiva spirits: Godiva Chocolate Raspberry Infused Vodka is also a treat, as are all of the Godiva chocolate liqueurs—Caramel, Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Mocha and White Chocolate. Add some to coffee, hot chocolate, a milkshake or straight into a glass and enjoy it instead of dessert. A straight sip can easily satisfy a chocolate craving.

    AND NOW, THE CAKE CONTEST

    Six teams were each given a three-tiered cake covered in white icing, plus open access to a room filled with Godiva confections and the Duff Goldman for Gartner line of cake decorating products.

    Our strategy? First, we developed a concept. Given that Godiva’s best-selling chocolate worldwide is an open milk chocolate clam shell filled with chocolate hazelnut creme, we were inspired to create “The Octopus’s Garden,” a cake with an under-the-sea theme. We haven’t yet received a photo of the cake, but here’s what we did:

  • We accented the sides of the cake with Duff’s glittery sprinkles, in bright blue and pastel green “ocean tones.”
  • We pressed some of Godiva’s White Chocolate Pearls into the hazelnut creme and covered the base of each tier with chocolate clam shells, white chocolate starfish and chocolate-dipped madeleines—sponge cake-like cookies baked in a pan that produces elongated shell shapes.
  • To continue the sea theme, we used Duff’s Decorating Icing Pouches in blue and green to create ocean waves around the bottom cake layer, topped with some “white caps” from the white icing pouch. Tan sanding sugar created a “beach” between the waves and the cake.
  • We used a cake wire, a Duff signature, to create a plume effect with a hook on top of the cake. We dangled a piece of chocolate from the wire. (Duff is a CIA alumnus, by the way.)
  •  

    Duff’s line also includes icing, edible spray paint in eight colors, cake tattoos in a variety of patterns (for wrapping around the sides of the cake, as demonstrated in the photo above), fondant in several colors, food coloring gels and texture tiles to give added texture and dimension to fondant icing.

    HOST YOUR OWN CAKE CONTEST

    We have a lot of fun at food events, but this was our favorite event ever. So if you’re looking for a memorable way to entertain, have a cake decorating party.

  • Invite as many people as you can accommodate with table space, counter space or other work space.
  • If you don’t have the wherewithal to bake (or order) three-tiered cakes, use ten-inch single-layer cakes iced on a cardboard cake circle. Use plain white frosting. Ask one of the party participants to help you bake and/or frost. If you really want to delegate, tell each guest to arrive with his/her own cake.
  • Supply basic decorations—candies, colorful decorating products—glitter and sprinkles, for example—and perhaps some small cookies.
  • Buying decorations can be expensive if you want to have a large selection. You can invite contestants to bring their own, although this takes away the spontaneity and tips the scales to the most aggressive competitor.
  • If you don’t want to judge the cakes yourself, invite a guest judge who can also go from table to table and offer tips—like Tim Gunn on “Project Runway.”
  • You can give out a prize (this is a great opportunity to regift). Our prize from Godiva: a box each of their delicious cupcakes and caramel brownies.
  •  
    After the judging, put out coffee and tea and eat some cake!

    And the bonus: Everyone gets to take home the remainder of his or her cake.

    Find our favorite cakes and recipes in our Gourmet Cakes Section.

      

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