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Archive for Mother’s Day

RECIPE: Rocky Road Truffles

Today is National Rocky Road Day. The original Rocky Road was an ice cream flavor invented in 1929 by William Dryer. He chose the name to describe the bumpy appearance of ice cream packed with chocolate, marshmallows and walnuts. Since the Great Depression began in October of that year, it was also a tongue-and-cheek reference.

Pastry chef and cookbook author Emily Luchetti has taken Dryer’s original flavor profile and added her own twist, to make Rocky Road Truffles, developed for the California Walnut Board.

Chocolate ganache surrounds walnuts and marshmallows, with a light dusting of cocoa powder. The truffles melt in your mouth.

Make them for a family treat or for a special occasion like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Valentine’s Day. The truffles can be made a week in advance. The better quality the chocolate, the tastier the truffles. (We used a Valrhona chocolate bar.)
 
RECIPE: ROCKY ROAD TRUFFLES

Ingredients For 30 One-Inch Truffles

 

Here, the rocky road is welcome. Photo courtesy California Walnut Board.

  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup mini marshmallows cut in half (use scissors)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips or chocolate bar chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WARM the cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until hot and bubbling around the edges, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate. Swirl the pan lightly so the chocolate is covered by the cream. Cover and let sit 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth.

    2. WHISK occasionally until the mixture is at room temperature. Then stir in the marshmallows, walnuts and milk chocolate chips. Spread the chocolate cream in a 9-inch pan or pie plate. Refrigerate until hard, at least 1 hour.

    3. PLACE a heaping teaspoon for each truffle in a single layer on a pan. Refrigerate until hard.

    4. PUT the cocoa powder on a plate or in a small bowl. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. One at a time, place the chocolate balls in the cocoa powder. Dust your palms with cocoa powder and lightly roll the truffles between your palms until round. (The cocoa powder keeps them from sticking to your hands.) Finally, roll the round truffles in the the cocoa powder. (If at any point the chocolate gets too warm and the truffles become difficult to roll, refrigerate the chocolate for 30 minutes until it firms up.)

    5. REFRIGERATE until ready to serve. For gifting, you can wrap the truffles up in tissue paper and tie the bundle with a ribbon.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Berry Croissants

    croissant-fruit-cheese-castelloUSA-230

    Berry croissants: a yummy idea. Photo courtesy Castello Cheese.

     

    For Sunday brunch or afternoon tea*, here’s a fun alternative to a chocolate croissant that provides another reason to enjoy seasonal berries.

    RECIPE: BERRY CROISSANTS

    Ingredients

  • Croissants
  • Berries: blackberries, raspberries, strawberries or a mix
  • Mascarpone, fresh chèvre (goat cheese—look especially for the honey chèvre at Trader Joe’s), cream cheese or other spreadable cheese
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SPLIT the croissant and spread the bottom half with cheese.

    2. ADD the berries, whole or sliced, depending on size.

     
    Thanks to Castello USA for the idea (they used blue cheese).

     
    *Who has afternoon tea, you say? Well, THE NIBBLE is a far cry from Downtown Abbey, but we serve afternoon tea daily. Not everyone drinks tea, but it’s our chance to sample some of the many foods that arrive at our doorstep—baked goods, candy, jam, crackers, cheese, pâté and so forth—including coffee, tea and other beverages. If you want to serve a proper afternoon tea, here’s how.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Mother’s Day Martini

    Make a special Martini for Mom with this recipe from Grey Goose. It’s all in the garnish: microgreens and a caperberry instead of the usual olive or twist.

    Here, the conventional olive or lemon twist is replaced with with microgreens and a large, stemmed caper berry: arty and pretty.

    Use your favorite Martini recipe or this one:

    RECIPE: CLASSIC DRY VODKA MARTINI

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2½ parts vodka
  • ½ part dry vermouth
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • Garnishes: caper berry, amaranth and shiso microgreens
    (or substitutes)
  •  

    microgreen-martini-greygoose-230

    Make it pretty for Mother’s Day. Photo courtesy Gresy Goose.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a Martini glass.

    2. GARNISH and serve.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: The Easiest Cupcake Garnishes

    candy-garnish-cupcakes-sweetstreetdesserts-230

    Easy Mother’s Day cupcakes. Photo courtesy Sweet Street Desserts.

     

    If you still haven’t settled on a dessert for Mother’s Day, here’s the easy way out.

    You can make cupcakes like these, from SweetStreetDesserts.com, simply by purchasing plain cupcakes and topping them with a large piece of candy.

    Instead of sprinkles, the idea is to have one chocolate “centerpiece” to top the cupcake. Consider:

  • Baci
  • Bonbons
  • Chocolate-coverd cherries
  • Chocolate disks
  • Hershey Kisses (unwrapped)
  • Non-pareils
  • Toffee or brittle (large piece)
  •  

    Of course, you can bake your own cupcakes from scratch or a mix. But with this concept, the busiest dad or young child can “make cupcakes” for Mom.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Oysters & Pearls

    The great chef Thomas Keller, inventor of “Oysters and Pearls,” created a splendid first course with fresh-shucked oysters in a pearl tapioca sabayon, garnished with osetra caviar (today it’s domestic white sturgeon caviar, due to import restrictions).

    Here’s a video, here’s the recipe).

    Keller’s inspiration was a box on tapioca pearls he noticed on a shelf. He turned the tapioca into something savory instead of the conventional sweet pudding, thinking “Where do pearls come from? Oysters.”

    The iconic dish came together just like that.

    While we can’t get enough of Oysters and Pearls, here’s an easier take on the dish that you can make for Mother’s Day or other special occasion.

     

    pearls-in-oysters-chalkpointkitchen-230sq

    An easy version of “Oysters and Pearls.” Photo courtesy Chalk Point Kitchen | NYC.

     
    You can serve as many oysters on a plate as you like: a minimum three, up to a dozen oysters on the half shell if your guests are like Diamond Jim Brady.

    Serve this course with a dry white wine or saké.
     
    RECIPE: OYSTERS & PEARLS

    Ingredients

  • Oysters on the half shell
  • Seaweed or microgreens
  • Salmon caviar (vegan option finger lime pearls)
  • Yuzu or rice wine vinaigrette
  • Optional: halved cherry or grape tomatoes, lime wedges
  •  
    Preparation

    1. DRESS the seaweed with some yuzu or rice wine vinaigrette so it can be eaten as a salad.

    2. CREATE a seaweed bed on each serving plate, topped with the oysters.

    3. TOP each oyster with pearls of caviar. Decorate the plate with the cherry tomatoes and lime wedge.

      

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    GIFT: Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free Cheesecake

    Cinderella-Plain-Cheesecake-230

    Delicious cheesecake, sugar-free and gluten-free. Photo courtesy Cinderella Cheesecake.

     

    For a cheesecake-loving mother who has given up sugar, here’s a find: sugarless cheesecake from Cinderella Cheesecake Company.

    It’s sweetened with maltitol, the finest-quality sugar substitute, and has a gluten-free cinnamon cracker crust.

    The classic-style cheesecake recipe also includes cream cheese, eggs, sour cream, natural vanilla flavoring. It tastes just as it should: rich, creamy, wonderful. Sugar-free observers, rejoice!

    Cinderella Cheesecake Company is a family-owned business founded in Riverside, New Jersey in 1965 with a broader product line. But by the early 1980s, the cheesecake business was so rocking that founder Alfred Rezende decided to drop the other baked goods to focus on expanding the cheesecake operation.

    The company sells cheesecakes to distributors, restaurants and non-profit groups for fundraisers, as well as direct to consumers online.

     
    In addition to the No Sugar Added cheesecake, the company makes conventional cheesecakes in Almond Amaretto, Egg Nog, Mango, Pineapple, Plain, Pumpkin, Sampler (two slices of each flavor), Southern Pecan, Washington Cherry and White Chocolate Peanut Butter.

    All cheesecakes are eleven inches in diameter and precut into 16 slices. A four-pound cheesecake is $38.00. It freezes nicely.

    Get yours at CinderellaCheesecakeCoInc.com.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Layer Cake

    chocolate-layer-chocolate-pearls-sweetstreetdesserts-230

    You can make this at home, topped with Callebaut Crispearls. Photo courtesy Sweet Street Desserts.

     

    Nothing says love like a homemade cake: for birthdays, Mother’s/Father’s Day, graduation or or other special occasion. Whether you use a cake mix or measure from scratch, it’s fun to bake a cake.

    And it’s very much appreciated by the honoree. Our friend Beth’s children, ages 7 and 10, know enough to appreciate mom’s homemade birthday cakes to store-bought options.

    Over the years, many people have asked our opinion on cake mixes. Here it is:

    Essentially, a cake mix saves you the time and mess of measuring the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder, etc. It also includes the flavorings—vanilla, orange, whatever. People who don’t like measuring should reach for the box.

    What we personally don’t like is using oil instead of butter. Others may not notice; but if it doesn’t taste buttery, we don’t want to spend our cake and cookie calories.

     
    And of course, a from-scratch recipe that’s enhanced with buttermilk, cream cheese, sour cream, fresh citrus juice or zest, and so on will be better tasting.

    CAKE MIX YES, CANNED FROSTNG NO!

    We totally avoid the canned frostings most people buy to go along with a cake mix. To borrow a line from Snapple, most canned frosting is not made from “the best stuff on Earth.” Here are the ingredients to Betty Crocker’s Rich & Creamy Vanilla Frosting:

    Sugar, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oil, Water, Wheat Starch, High Maltose Corn Syrup, Contain 1% or Less of Salt, Distilled Monoglycerides, Colored with Artificial Color, Yellows 5 & 6, Polysorbate 60, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Citric Acid, Nonfat Milk, Freshness Preserved by Potassium Sorbate

    Why eat cottonseed oil and corn syrup, when in 10 minutes you can make real buttercream, which tastes great?

    All you need is a stick of butter, a cup of confectioners’ sugar, 1/4 cup whole milk and the flavoring of your choice: 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 4 ounces chocolate or 1 teaspoon instant coffee. Just blend them together and ice away. The toughest part is waiting for the butter to soften!

    Here’s the full recipe.

     

    IT’S EASY TO DECORATE

    A special occasion deserves a festive garnish. You can turn a homemade or store-bought layer cake into something special with a simple sprinkle of edible cake decorations.

    In addition to chocolate chips (or other flavors), homemade chocolate curls (scrape a chocolate bar with a vegetable peeler), coconut and candies, there are:

  • Bright-colored or pastel confetti
  • Callebaut Crispirls, chocolate-covered cereal balls in dark, milk and white chocolate
  • Dragées in single colors, multicolor “Harlequin,” gold and silver
  • Gold glitter stars
  • Sugar pearls, in white, pastels, multicolor and metallics
  • White pearl shimmers
  •  
    If you live near a baking supplies store, go browsing. Otherwise, browse online until you find your ideal decorations.

     

    harlequin-dragees-culpitt-amz-230

    Sprinkle festive decorations atop your cake. Photo courtesy Wilton.

     

    Here’s an article about the different types of cake decorations.

      

    Comments

    VALENTINE’S DAY: Drink Pink

    chandon-rose-bottle-glasses-230

    Chandon California Rosé is a sparkling rosé wine that’s less than half the price ($24) of a French rosé Champagne. The company also makes Sparkling Red from Zinfandel ($30), Reserve Pinot Noir Rosé ($35) and Etoile Rosé ($50). Photo courtesy Chandon.

     

    Heading out to the liquor store to pick up a bottle for Valentine’s Day? Here are some tips:

    Don’t purchase a vintage year Champagne. Vintage champagnes typically need to be laid down for 10 or 15 years to reveal their glorious nuances. Knowledgeable people who buy them don’t plan to drink them anytime soon. Instead, you’ll save money and have a better taste experience with nonvintage Champagne.

    Do look for rosé Champagne, as “real” pink-hued Champagne is called. Fuller in body with a deeper flavor, it’s our personal favorite. (It’s also pricier due to the extra steps required to extract the pink color. Taittinger Brut Prestige Rosé is a beauty, with the greater roundness that rosé Champagnes have. It’s priced in between the nonvintage and vintage Taittingers, around $65.00.

    Don’t buy anything called “Pink Champagne.” It is not French but inexpensive wine, carbonated and colored pink. Authentic rosé Champagne (and other natural rosé wines) get their color by extracting it from the grape skins into the white juice.

    Do look for non-Champagne rose sparklers. Two of our favorites: [yellow tail] Bubbles Rosé from Australia (yes, it’s spelled lower case and in brackets) and Martini Sparkling Rosé Wine from Italy. Both are not much more than $10 a bottle, but don’t let the price fool you. They’re delicious! Another favorite, Chandon Rosé, from California is about $22.00.

     
    If you want Champagne with dessert, look for a sec- or demi-sec Champagne*. These are vinified for sweeter foods (i.e., extra dosage is added for sweetness). Brut Champagnes are not vinified to pair with desserts, and will seem too astringent if you drink them with sweeter foods. Sec Champagnes also go well with foods that typically pair with sweeter wines, such as foie gras, lobster and double-creme/triple creme cheeses (our idea of a perfect meal).

    If you don’t want sparkling wine, buy rosé, a pink still wine.

    MORE VALENTINE WINE IDEAS

    Here are some of our favorite Valentine wines.

    More of our favorite rosé Champagnes.

    Whatever is in your glass, have a delicious Valentine’s Day.

     
    *While sec means “dry” in French and demi-sec means “half dry,” as the terms refer to Champagne, they indicates sweetness.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Red Velvet Pancakes

    red-velvet-pancakes-tasteofhome-230

    Red velvet pancakes: use seasonal garnish
    for July 4th, Christmas, Valentine’s Day or
    Mother’s Day. Photo courtesy Taste Of
    Home.

     

    For a special Valentine’s Day breakfast, brunch or lunch, Taste Of Home magazine suggests these red velvet pancakes.

    Red food works for July 4th and Christmas, of course. Just vary the garnish:

  • Christmas: mint leaf or sliced kiwi (or make green whipped cream!)
  • Valentine’s Day: red berries
  • July 4th: whipped cream, crème fraîche or mascarpone; plus blueberries
  •  
    Note that the recipe below is for a party-size batch of pancakes—five batches of 16 pancakes per batch.

    However, the mixed dry ingredients can be divided into five batches, which can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months. You can use the recipe as a guide to make smaller amounts.

    Or, make the five-batch lot, and give the four extra batches as Valentine gifts—tied with a red ribbon.

     
    RECIPE: RED VELVET PANCAKES

    Prep time is: 30 minutes, cooking time is 15 minutes per batch.

    Ingredients For 5 Batches (10 Cups Mix Total)

  • 10 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 6 teaspoons baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 5 teaspoons salt
  •  
    Additional Ingredients (For Each Batch)

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • Butter and maple syrup
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the first six ingredients in a large bowl. Place 2 cups in each of five resealable plastic bags or containers.

    2. PREPARE pancakes: Pour the mix into a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk, eggs and food coloring. Stir into the dry ingredients just until moistened.

    3. POUR the batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a greased hot griddle; turn when bubbles form on top. Cook until the second side is golden brown.

    4. SERVE with butter and syrup.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Red Velvet Raspberry Truffles

    Surprise your Valentine with a beribboned box of homemade red velvet chocolate truffles with luscious raspberry flavor. The insides are the color of red velvet cake.

    McCormick, which contributed this recipe, specifies baking chocolate; but these will taste so much better if you use couverture—higher quality chocolate that chocolatiers and pastry chefs use. Look for 60% to 70% couverture from Guittard, Valrhona and other brands in cbaking supply stores or specialty food stores.

    RECIPE: RED VELVET RASPBERRY TRUFFLES

    Ingredients For 24 Truffles

  • 1 pound semi-sweet baking chocolate, divided
  • 4 ounces (1/2 package) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red food color
  • 1 teaspoon raspberry extract
  • Optional: sprinkles or other red, white or pink decorations; or white chocolate for a contrasting drizzle
  •    

    raspberry-chocolate-truffles-mccormick-230

    Make your own Valentine bonbons. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    Preparation

    1. MELT 8 ounces of the chocolate as directed on package; or in a double boiler.

    2. BEAT the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, food color and raspberry extract in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended and smooth. Add the melted chocolate; beat until well mixed. Cover. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or until firm.

    3. SHAPE into 24 balls (about 3/4-inch). Place on wax paper-lined tray. Refrigerate until ready to dip.

    4. COAT and decorate only 12 truffles at a time (so the chocolate doesn’t harden). Melt 4 ounces of the remaining chocolate in small microwavable bowl on MEDIUM (50% power) for 1-1/2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Using a fork, dip 1 truffle at a time into the chocolate. Tap the back of fork 2 or 3 times against edge of dish to allow excess chocolate to drip off. Place the truffles on a wax paper-lined tray. (If there are any “bald” spots on a truffle, cover them with the melted chocolate that remains on the fork.) Repeat with the remaining 4 ounces of chocolate and the remaining truffles.

    5. DECORATE: Garnish the truffles with colorful sprinkles immediately after dipping in chocolate. The sprinkles will adhere to the truffles as the chocolate coating sets in the refrigerator. Or, decorate truffles with a swirl of white chocolate. You can use a fork to drizzle white chocolate over the truffles.

    6. REFRIGERATE for 1 hour or until the chocolate is set. Store the truffles between layers of wax paper in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

     

    raspberry-cream-cheese-frosting-mccormick

    White cake with raspberry cream cheese frosting and filling. Raspberry extract is clear and won’t color the frosting by itself. Red food color was used to make the filling pink. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     

    MORE USES FOR RASPBERRY EXTRACT

    Some people hesitate to purchase a bottle for only one recipe. Here are other uses for that raspberry extract:

    Beverages

  • Club soda/sparkling water
  • Hot chocolate
  • Hot or iced tea
  • Shakes and smoothies
  • Soft drinks, e.g., add to cola or ginger ale
  •  
    Sweets

  • Cake and cookies
  • Frosting
  • Raspberry brownies
  • Syrup for shaved ice
  •  

    RECIPE: RASPBERRY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

    Ingredients

  • 6 ounces white baking chocolate
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons raspberry extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon red food color
  •  
    Preparation

    1. MELT the chocolate in a double boiler or a bowl placed over a pan of gently simmering water. Take care that the chocolate does not get too hot or it can scorch. Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes.

    2. BEAT the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl on medium speed, until light and fluffy. Add the melted chocolate and raspberry extract and mix well.

    3. GRADUALLY BEAT in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Add the food color and blend well.

      

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