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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 Cookies/Cake/Pastry

PRODUCT: Pamela’s Figgies & Jammies

It you like Fig Newtons—or wish you liked them more—there’s a better “Newton” in town.

It’s called Figgies & Jammies and the cookies are from Pamela’s Products, maker of delicious gluten-free cookies, bars and mixes. The flavors include:

  • Mission Fig
  • Blueberry & Fig
  • Raspberry & Fig
  • Strawberry & Fig
  •  
    Filled with real Mission figs and complementary fruits, this gluten-free version of the traditional fig cookie is so delicious, even people who don’t prefer gluten-free foods will prefer them.

    The pie-like cookie portion is more tender, the fruit flavors are brighter. The size is a bit larger than Fig Newtons.

    The cookies are not just gluten free, but egg free, low in sodium and all natural. There are no hydrogenated oils or trans fats, no cholesterol, no corn syrup.

    The line is certified gluten-free by GFCO and certified kosher (dairy) by OU (the hechsher is hidden under the fold of the seam).

       

    fig-newtons-pamelasfiggiesjammies-kalviste-230

    Yes, they’re better than Fig Newtons. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    You can find a store locator on the company website, or buy them online from Pamela’s.

     

    4-packages-2-230r

    Four figalicious flavors. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    WHY A “NEWTON¿”

    The Fig Newton was named after the town of Newton, Massachusetts. It was the custom of the original manufacturer, Kennedy Biscuit Works of Cambridgeport (now Cambridge, Massachusetts), to name cookies after towns in the Boston area.

    Kennedy Biscuit Works was affiliated with the New York Biscuit Company, which became part of the company now known as Nabisco. According to Nabisco, the cookie was invented in 1891 by a Philadelphian, James Henry Mitchell, who created the duplex dough-sheeting machines and funnels that made the jam-filled cookies possible. He thought of the soft dough with fruit filling as cookie “pies.”

    The machine was patented in 1892, and Mitchell approached the Kennedy Biscuit Company to try it out. They were impressed—all that was needed was a name. Newton, Massachusetts got the honor. Just think: We could have Fig Lexingtons or Fig Concords instead.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Fanciful Sweet Or Savory Pockets

    Here’s an easy way to add fun to everyday or special occasion fare. This Pocket Maker set from Kuhn Rikon lets you creating “pocket meals.”

    Each of the three fun shapes is 3.5 inches in diameter, and stamps out the dough to make mini pies, pizza pockets, filled dumplings and more.

    Just press the stamp to cut the dough, fill and press down on the lever to crimp the pocket edges together. Any dough works (think pasta dough, phyllo dough, pie dough, pizza dough), or use sandwich bread or tortillas.

    The Pocket Makers create savory or sweet fun foods, from spicy chicken empanadas for a first or main course to individual apple pies for dessert. Our favorite idea: jumbo ravioli.

       

    kuhn-rikon-pocket-maker-set-230

    An easy way to make fun food. Photo courtesy Kuhn Rikon.

     

    kuhn-rikon-pocket-maker-stuffed-pockets-230

    Stamp, fill, bake and serve. Photo courtesy
    Kuhn Rikon.

     

    Each set includes three red pocket makers in flower, heart and round shapes, plus a recipe book filled with tasty ideas for every day and special occasions.

    This gadget set could be just the thing to coax a young person into baking…or give new inspiration to a seasoned baker.

    Pocket Makers are constructed of BPA-free plastic stamps are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.

    The Kuhn Rikon Pocket Maker Set has a suggested retail price of $16 and is available at Amazon.com and Sur La Table stores.

    Discover more delightful products at KuhnRikon.com.

     

      

    Comments

    JULY 4TH FOOD FUN: American Flag Cookies

    We love food “craft projects.” Here, turn graham crackers into flag cookies with this fun family recipe from Pillsbury. In fact, as part of your Fourth of July celebration, let your kids make this easy snack craft.

    Prep time is just five minutes.

    RECIPE: AMERICAN FLAG COOKIES

    Ingredients

  • 1 double graham cracker (5 x 2-1/2 inches)
  • 1 tablespoon fluffy white frosting
  • 1/2 roll strawberry Fruit Roll-Ups or other red fruit leather
  • 4 Fruit Gushers blue fruit flavored snacks or fresh blueberries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SPREAD one side of graham cracker with frosting.

     

    A food craft project for kids. Photo courtesy Pillsbury.

     
    2. UNROLL Fruit Roll-Ups; remove paper. With kitchen scissors, cut 4 strips from fruit flavored snack, 5 x 1/4 inch each.
     
    3. ARRANGE strips on frosted cracker to form 4 evenly spaced horizontal strips. Arrange Fruit Gushers or blueberries in the left top corner for stars on the flag.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Cookie Cutter Gift

    If you need a special house gift for a summer host, consider baking cookies in special shapes. Or, bring the cookie cutters as gifts, along with pre-measured ingredients, as an activity gift.

    Most people who bake have cookie cutter circles, flowers and hearts, and perhaps some holiday shapes. But with more than 15,000 listings on Amazon.com, you can find something personal for your friends and family.

    For Families With Children

  • Dinosaurs
  • Farm animals
  •  
    For People With Beach Houses

  • Beachware
  • Marine life
  •  
    For Sports Enthusiasts

  • Golf clubs
  • Horses
  •  

    sea-creature-cookie-garnish-wilton

    Cookies on sticks, cookies in cakes. Photo courtesy Wilton.

     

    Just decide on your hosts’ recreational interests, and find a cookie cutter to match it.

      

    Comments

    JULY 4th: American Flag Cake

    A tasty flag! Photo courtesy SecretLifeOfAChefsWife.com.

     

    What a great dessert surprise for July 4th!

    This flag cake originated on 17andBak­ing.com, and was reposted on SecretLifeOfAChefsWife.com.

    Elissa, who posted the recipe at age 17 (she’s now 21), said at the time:

    “While I wish I could claim credit for it, the idea of a flag cake was completely my father’s. It was all a bit of an experiment and when I finally cut the cake open, revealing the familiar red white and blue, I was so surprised to see that it worked.”

    You can use any recipe for a three layer white cake. Elissa deliberately made the cake completely white on the outside, with a cream cheese frosting flavored with lime zest. Cutting into a plain cake makes the flag motif an even bigger surprise.

    Are you dying to make it? Here’s the recipe.

     

     
      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Protein Bakery, Delicious Bites With Extra Protein

    “Fitness is my business, baking is my passion,” says Stephen Charles Lincoln, a fitness instructor who enjoys a good brownie and cookie.

    Way back in 1999, he created the Protein Bakery to bake goodies amped up with whey protein, undetectable to the palate.

    We only heard about it recently, but we’re thrilled with the result: delicious cookies, brownies and blondies that deliver six grams of protein per serving. With classic good cookie and brownie flavor, you’d never know you’re getting a nutritional boost.

    The products are baked without wheat flour and include better-for-you ingredients like rolled oats, light brown sugar, peanut butter, cranberries, toasted walnuts and unsweetened coconut. Baked daily in small batches, the sweet treats are all natural, trans-fat free and preservative free.

    The recipes are gluten free, but the brownies and cookies are baked in a facility that uses gluten in other products. The line is certified kosher by KOF-K.

    There is sugar, of course; and the calorie count is the same as most products from artisan bakeries. The differentiation is that instead of empty calories, you get a nice hit of protein with each bite.

    Everything is available shrink-wrapped for home purchase and in tins for gifting. There’s an assortment for everybody.

    And there’s no need to tell kids that the extra protein is good for them.

       

    chocolate-chocolate-chip-stack-230

    Chocolate chocolate chip cookies, packed with protein. Photo courtesy Protein Bakery.

     

     

    pb-brownie-230

    The Peanut Butter Lover’s Gift Set combines
    PB blondies, brownies (shown) and cookies.
    Photo courtesy Protein Bakery.

     

    Blondies: Mini & Full Size

  • Black & White Blondie
  • Coconut Walnut Dark Chocolate Chip Blondie
  • Lemon White Chocolate Chip Blondie
  • Peanut Butter Blondie
  •  
    Brownies: Mini & Full Size

  • Black & White Brownie
  • Chocolate Chip Brownie
  • Peanut Butter Brownie
  •  
    Brownies: Mini & Full Size

  • Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie
  • Chocolate Chocolate White Chip Cookie
  • Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie
  • Oatmeal Cranberry Cookie
  • Peanut Butter Cookie
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
  •  

    Order yours at ProteinBakery.com.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Red, White & Blueberry Layer Cake

    As a follow-up to the lovely red, white and blueberry shortcake, here’s another stunner. The “ooh” factor comes from the number of layers: five.

    You can top it with whatever fresh fruit is in season, but for July 4th, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are appropriately festive.

    Chef Sarah of the Los Gatos, California Sur La Table store adapted this recipe from one on Wilton.com.

    Strawberries are hidden atop the frosting of each layer, but you can customize the cake to any occasion. For example:

  • Choose different seasonal fruits.
  • Substitute chocolate chips, coconut, nuts or other inclusions for the strawberries.
  •  
    You can also vary the flavor and color of the cake layers:

  • Alternate three lemon flavored layers with two vanilla layers, or vice versa.
  • Tint the batter with a different food colors to make a rainbow cake.
  •    

    red-white-blue-layer-cake-chefsarah-SLT-230

    An impressive tower of cake, for July 4th or other festive occasion. Photo courtesy Sur La Table.

     
    For more vanilla flavor, Chef Sarah suggests substituting vanilla bean paste for all or part of the vanilla extract. (Check out the different types of vanilla products.)
     
    RECIPE: RED, WHITE & BLUEBERRY LAYER CAKE

    Ingredients For One 5-Layer Cake

    For The 5 Cake Layers

  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 4 egg whites
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • 2 to 3 cups sliced strawberries
  •  
    For The Garnish

  • Assorted whole blue and red berries for the top: blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
  •  

    nielsen-bourbon-paste-230


    Vanilla bean paste provides more vanilla
    flavor than extract. In recipes where the
    moisture level is critical, it doesn’t add liquid.
    Photo by Claire Freierman | THE NIBBLE.

     

    For The Icing

  • 1½ cups (3 sticks butter), softened
  • 2½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 cups (about 1½ pounds) sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 325°F. Prepare cake pans with vegetable spray.

    2. SIFT together in medium bowl the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy.

    3. ADD egg whites one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat well. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk; beat until just combined.

    4. DIVIDE batter evenly among the 5 cake pans, about ¾ cup per pan. Bake 17 to 20 minutes, rotating pans halfway between baking. Cakes are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

    5. COOL 5 minutes on cooling rack; remove from pans and cool completely before icing.

     

    4. MAKE icing: Beat shortening and butter in large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Gradually add milk; beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

    5. ASSEMBLE: Cut the crowns off each cake layer. Place first layer on cake board or serving plate. Spread a layer of icing to edges of cake; top with sliced strawberries. Top with second cake. Repeat with remaining icing, strawberries and cake layers. To finish, ice top of cake and generously cover with whole strawberries and blueberries. Sprinkle remaining berries around the base of the cake on the serving plate.

      

    Comments

    JULY 4TH RECIPE: Red, White & Blue Shortcake

    This July 4th special from berry specialist Driscoll’s has a special taste twist: lime whipped cream.

    You get to clebrate the summer bounty of berries with this oversized mixed berry shortcake, while parading its patriotic colors. The whipped cream is subtly flavored with lime zest for a bright complement to the sweet berries and tender cake. Small springs of mint make for a pretty and tasty garnish.

    Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 35 minutes.

    RECIPE: RED, WHITE & BLUEBERRY SHORTCAKE

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

    For The Cake

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •    

    red-white-blue-berry-shortcake-driscolls-230

    A beautiful berry shortcake with a flavor twist. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     

    For The Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest
  • 1 package (6 ounces or 1-1/3 cups) blackberries
  • 1 package (6 ounces or 1-1/3 cups each) raspberries
  • 1 package (6 ounces or 1-1/4 cups) blueberries
  • Fresh mint for garnish
  •  

    mixed-berries-greengiantfresh.com-230

    Summer’s berry bounty. Photo courtesy
    Green Giant Fresh.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Lightly grease bottom and side of 8-inch round cake pan. Line bottoms of each pan with a round of parchment paper. Grease paper and dust each pan with flour, tapping out excess. Set aside.

    2. SIFT together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Set aside.

    3. BEAT butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, with mixer on low speed, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk in several additions, starting and ending with flour mixture, mixing just until combined.

    4. SPREAD batter into cake pans and bake 35 minutes or until golden and cake tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes. Invert to cool completely. Once cool, using a serrated knife, cut cake crosswise in half.

     
    5. MAKE the whipped cream: Combine heavy cream and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and lime zest while beating just until stiff peaks form. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

    6. COMBINE blackberries, blueberries and raspberries in a large bowl. Place bottom half of cake on serving plate or cake stand. Spread half whipped cream mixture over cake. Top with sprinkling of half mixed berries. Spread small amount of whipped cream on cut side of top half of cake and place atop berries pressing gently into place. Top cake with remaining whipped cream, mixed berries and small mint sprigs for garnish.
     
    Find more delicious recipes at Driscolls.com.

      

    Comments

    JULY 4TH: Red, White & Blue Tartlets

    red-white-blue-tartlet-shukran.deliverys-chandon-230

    Sophisticated dessert bites for Independence
    Day. Photo courtesy Shukran Deliver | FB.

     

    It’s easy to make tartlets (individual portions) or mini tarts (bite size) for dessert. The minis are a festive idea to cap an evening of July 4th celebrating.

    You can make preparation even easier by purchasing the shells (we use these from Clearbook Farms) and jars of lemon curd or raspberry curd. Otherwise, make the pastry cream recipe below.

    You can make this recipe with only blueberries and raspberries, or use blackberries and strawberries as well.

    RECIPE: RED, WHITE & BLUE TARTLETS OR MINI TARTS

    Ingredients

  • Tartlet or mini-tart shells
  • Red and blue berries: blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries
  • Custard, lemon curd or pastry cream
  • Optional garnish: confectioner’s sugar
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CLEAN berries and pat dry. If using blackberries or strawberries, cut them into pieces that will fit onto the small mini tart surface.

    2. FILL shells with pastry cream or other filling. Top with berries and optional confectioner’s sugar.
     
    RECIPE: PASTRY CREAM (CRÈME PÂTISSIÈRE)

    Pastry cream can be made ahead and refrigerated, wrapped well with plastic wrap on surface, up to three days. Extra cream can be used as a topping for fruit or other desserts.

    Ingredients For 3 Cups

  • 2-1/4 cups whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK together 1/2 cup milk, egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch in a medium bowl.

    2. ADD the remaining 1-3/4 cups milk to a medium saucepan. Scrape in the seeds from vanilla bean; then add the pod. Sprinkle in the remaining 1/3 cup sugar over. Place the pan over moderate heat and bring to a simmer without stirring. When the mixture boils…

    3. WHISK it and remove from heat as you gradually whisk it into the egg yolk mixture. Return the pan to moderate heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the pastry cream simmers and thickens, about 1 minute.

    4. REMOVE from the heat, discard the vanilla pod and whisk the cream until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Chill until cold, about 4 hours.

     
      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Cake In A Jar

    Way back in 2009, we discovered the excellent cake in a jar from Yummy Cupcakes in Los Angeles. It became a Top Pick Of The Week, and one of those products that, years later, we still pine for, remembering every spoonful.

    The trend was slow in starting. After five years, in the past week we’ve received notice of two more cake in a jar products.

    DUFF’S CAKEMIX

    The Food Network’s Ace of Cakes, Duff Goldman, has a custom bakery in Baltimore, a line of cake mixes and cake decorating accoutrements sold nationwide, and most recently, a bakery café, Duff’s Cakemix, also in L.A., which includes a studio where Duff wannabes can decorate their own cakes.

    The bakery offers an array of freshly baked sweets, including Dinkies (Duff’s version of Twinkies) and Cake in a Jar.

    The latter presents an opportunity to send a special occasion “slice” of cake in a Mason jar, which keeps it moist and fresh for five days (not that there will be any left by then).

    So gift challenges are solved: You can send cake in a jar as a birthday gift, or to celebrate any occasion. There’s currently a seasonal red, white and blue Star Spangled Cake In A Jar.

       

    confetti-cake-duffscakemix-230

    Confetti Cake is sweet and celebratory. Photo courtesy Duff’s Cakemix.

     
    You can buy them in two, four or six units, and in two sizes: 8 ounces ($14 for two jars) or 16 ounces ($20 for two jars). The eight-ounce size is more than enough, but the larger size will keep for five days and affords the opportunity for continuous celebration.

    Flavors include Chocolate With Chocolate Buttercream and Chocolate Chips, Confetti With Vanilla Buttercream, Marble With Chocolate And Vanilla Buttercream and Vanilla With Vanilla Buttercream.

    We received a sample of the Confetti With Vanilla Buttercream. The confetti says “celebrate”; the recipe was a bit on the sweet side for us, but should be just the thing most American palates are looking for.

    Order them online at DuffsCakemix.com.

     

    jar-open-chicagocake-230

    Skip the wedding cake; almost everyone will
    prefer cake in a jar. Photo courtesy Chicago-
    Cake.com.

     

    CAKE CHICAGO

    We then received news that one of our favorite artisan bakers, Cake Chicago, is selling cake in a jar.

    Cake Chicago began life as a wedding cake specialist, subsequently branching out into daily treats like cookies, bars and chocolate truffles.

    So it’s no surprise that their cake in a jar achieves a higher standard. Just look at the elegant layers in the jar, perfectly fitted.

    We’d give these as wedding favors and serve a dessert that most guests will prefer to wedding cake. As you can see in the photos, the perfectly-fitted layers and make an excellent presentation.

    Like Duff’s, the jars can be wrapped in grosgrain ribbon, and tags can be added for quantity orders.

     
    Flavors include:

  • White buttermilk cake with raspberry conserve and Italian meringue buttercream
  • Chocolate fudge cake with salted caramel filing
  • Carrot cake with cream cheese filling
  • Banana cake with fudge filling
  •  
    The price is the same as Duff’s: $7.00, with a two jar minimum (8 ounce size only). Order online at Cake-Chicago.com.

    And if anyone out there wants to send us a gift: More cake in a jar, please! It’s a happy way to enjoy a nice piece of cake.

      

    Comments

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