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Archive for February 9, 2014

TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Valentine Cake Decoration

Decorated by you, with jumbo white morsels
and cinnamon candies. Photo courtesy
GoodEggs.com.

 

Want to bake a cake for someone special but don’t have the chops to decorate it?

Just get chocolate chips and other candy decorations in contrasting colors and sizes, and press them into the frosting of your own homemade or a store-bought cake. Head to the candy store or baking supply store to check out the options.

RED AND PINK DECORATIONS

  • Red chips, called cherry chips or baking morsels
  • Pink and red decorating hearts
  • Cinnamon candies like Red Hots
  • Red lips sprinkles
  • Sweethearts “conversation hearts” from NECCO or these Talking Hearts
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    CHOCOLATE DECORATIONS

  • Try white chocolate chips atop chocolate or pink frosting
  • Use milk or dark chocolate chips on pink or white frosting (contrast jumbo, regular and mini sizes)
  • We love decorating with chocolate or vanilla nonpareils
  • Coating discs, also called disc wafers and pistoles, are larger than morsels, about the size of a nickel; while they’re typically melted to make chocolates or baked goods, they are 100% delicious, quality chocolate
  • For mint lovers, press Junior Mints into the frosting
  • Although it’s a bit commercial, you can use M&M or Reese’s Pieces for fans of those candies
  •  
    What’s your cake decorating inspiration for Valentine’s Day?

      

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    VALENTINE GIFT: Pink Or Red Food Dehydrator

    A growing number of people are switching to good-for-you snacks. If they like to make their own, an unusual and generous Valentine gift is a food dehydrator from Excalibur, in red or pink.

    According to the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, Americans consume a third of their daily calories from snacks. Many pre-packaged bars, cookies, dried fruit and jerky are high in salt, sugar, preservatives and additives.

    Dehydrating your own food allows you to swap out those questionable ingredients for healthy, nutrition-dense alternatives that allow the true flavors of natural foods to shine through. Think dehydrated fruits and vegetables, or meats and fish jerky.

    You can also dry herbs and flowers (to decorate cakes or make your own potpourri and sachets) and make granola. It’s easy to get hooked on dehydrating.

     

    excalibur-red-dehydrator-230b

    Instead of roses: a bright red food dehydrator. Photo courtesy Excalibur.

     
    WHO’S DEHYDRATING FOOD?

    Man has been dehydrating for thousands of years, initially to preserve meat and other foods in the millennia prior to refrigeration. Today, our most commonly enjoyed dehydrated foods include jerky and bottled herbs. Many “practitioners” dehydrate summer crops—berries, peaches, tomatoes—for enjoyment through the winter.

    Dehydration is used everywhere from hunters’ cabins to Michelin-star kitchens.

    Grant Achatz, Ferran Adrià, Dan Barber, Matthew Lightner, Sam Mason, Sarma Melngailis, Iliana Regan, Rich Torrisi and Ming Tsai dehydrate ingredients to intensify and concentrate flavors, decrease marinating time, thicken sauces and soften saturated fats like coconut oil or cacao butter.

     

    excalibur-pink-230

    Radiant Raspberry is another option, along
    with Antique Copper, Copper, Radiant
    Blueberry, Radiant Cherry and Twilight Black.
    Photo courtesy Excalibur.

     

    THE EXCALIBUR DEHYDRATOR

    Compact enough to fit on your kitchen counter, the Excalibur Dehydrator has a patented airflow drying system to optimize speed in drying, among other features. It is up to 10 times faster than common round dehydrators, and available in a variety of color finishes and sizes, including commercial and non-commercial grade units.

    You pay for quality, of course. Excalibur machines are top of the line, and these are $349 at ExcaliburDehydrator.com.

    But if you enjoy kale chips, carrot chips, apple chips and the like, it will pay for itself in less than a year. Instead of baking cookies, bring your hosts your homemade snacks.

     
    While even pricier than those pricey red or pink roses, it will be a permanent change in better-for-you food preparation.
     

    You can package the dehydrator with a book:

  • Dehydrating Food: A Beginner’s Guide, with 167 recipes
  • The Dehydrator Guide, with more than 400 recipes
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