Homemade Marshmallow Fluff Dip + Fresh Fruit = Delish and Perfect for 4th of July Festivities!

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Hard to believe that the 4th of July is just days away. I usually start fretting about how fast Summer goes by when we hit this holiday. My husband has suggested, on numerous occasions, that I should see a therapist about this. I can’t help it. Summer is my absolute favorite time of year…the days are longer, water warmer, the kids are out of school and the fresh, local produce selection plentiful. Why, Oh Why does it seem like it’s the time of year that goes by the fastest?

Ok, I am trying to pull myself together here. So, in my efforts to embrace the upcoming Red, White and Blue festivities I would like to share a delicious recipe that is really perfect anytime of year, but particularly during these warm Summer months and holiday cookouts. Don’t be intimated, it’s way easier than you think. Of course, if you don’t want to make the Fluff, you don’t have to, but I suggest you purchase an “all natural” brand without the colorings and additives. Oh, did I mention that this dessert is Gluten Free too…bonus!

Homemade Marshmallow Fluff Dip

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/8 teaspoon fine salt
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS
Stir together the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 240°F on a candy/fat thermometer.
Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip the egg whites to soft peaks on medium speed.

When the syrup reaches 240°F, with the mixer speed now on low, slowly drizzle about 2 tablespoons of syrup into the egg whites to warm them. Slowly drizzle in the rest of the syrup into the egg whites. Increase the speed to medium high and whip until the marshmallow crème is stiff and glossy, about 7 minutes. Add in the vanilla and whip 2 minutes more. Use immediately or refrigerate stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Here’s where is gets really interesting…mix equal parts of the prepared Marshmallow Fluff with softened cream cheese and serve with you choice of fresh fruit…strawberries, nectarines, apples, pineapple etc. That’s it…prepare for your taste buds to be amazed!

Ring out the old, Ring in the New…2012 Our Year in Review!

It doesn’t seem possible that another year has passed!  2012 has come and gone and thankfully it was another year full of goodness for Baked Dessert Cafe & Gallery and the little historic town of Berlin, Maryland.  This was the first year that we chose to close shop at the bakery during the celebration so that our focus could simply be on enjoying the evening with our family and friends. Only on its third year, the Berlin Ball Drop has become quite the tradition.  We were amongst the thousands of young and old, locals and visitors who chose to spill into the streets of Berlin watching the ball drop at Broad and Main Street.

Many new customers, along with our loyal seasonal and  local supporters, crossed our threshold this year.  Most new customers found their way to us via Social Media outlets; Yelp and TripAdvisor our new best friends.  In April we celebrated our 2nd year in business and in July our first full year in our new and improved space.

We acquired our liquor license in May which brought new and improved meaning to getting “BAKED” at the beach and added a convenience to our customers looking to purchase great wines and craft brew. New recipes were tried, some big winners, some not.  Our signature desserts the Peach Dumpling, Cupcake Bread Pudding and Cupcake Bombs still the consistent sell outs.  We added new, deliciously Gluten Free and Vegan desserts, meals and bread mix for our customers following those specific diets and we more than doubled our wholesale business.

We received several significant awards this year as well.   The two we are most proud of are the Worcester County Green Business Award and the Berlin Chamber of Commerce Philanthropy Award.  Showing some love to Mother Earth and one another is of the utmost importance to both Shelly and I.   We feel blessed to have been able to donate thousands of dollars to various local charities and thanks to Worcester Youth and Family, we were also able to adopt local families in need during the holidays.

Looking ahead, this New Year will include a trip to the Food and Wine Festival in Charleston in late February, early March and a trip to Spain.  We are so excited to bring back some new and exciting recipes and wine from those journies.  We’ll be packaging our Gluten Free Cake Mix for sale and adding new apparel to our line up.  We are looking forward to continued collaboration with our neighboring businesses to include new and improved service to our customers and

get "BAKED"!

get “BAKED”!

I, of course, will continue to try to keep up with technology.  There’s so much more to come!

2013 will bring new challenges and triumphs I’m sure, but we are ready for both.  We’ve celebrated so much this year;  non of it possible without the love and support of our family, friends, loyal customers and business community.  Thank you all!  We look forward to serving you and our community and we wish everyone a New Year filled with Peace, Love, Laughter, Great Health and Great Eats!

Loving the fresh foods of Summer…Refrigerator Peach Basil Preserves!

I know I haven’t blogged in a while.  The days and nights seem to be flying by and like most people I know, there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in a day.  So it is really hard for me to believe that we’re back to Summer on the Eastern Shore.  There are so many reasons that I love Summer most; napping on the beach and swimming in the ocean, the smell of sunscreen, salt water and sleeping with the windows open to name a few.

Not surprisingly, one of my very favorite perks of Summer happens to be the fresh food; vine ripe tomatoes, fragrant herbs, corn on the cob, watermelon and of course fresh peaches.  Our friend and neighbor Jason just brought us a bucket of his “sweet as sugar” peaches so I instantly thought…Refrigerator Peach Preserves!  Then I noticed that our Basil plants needed a harvesting so I thought Refrigerator Peach Basil Preserves.

Honestly, I’m not one to stand in a kitchen filled with jars, lids and boiling water baths so Refrigerator Preserves and Jams are right up my ally.  I also am not a huge fan of using pectin, most fruits contain enough pectin to jell on their own if prepared correctly anyway.  Plus, with Refrigerator Preserves and Jam you don’t have to be an expert cook or canner and you can be uber creative with your combinations of fruit/herbs.

Saturday must have been my lucky day.  Not only did Jason deliver some beautiful peaches, but my husband and friend Melinda offered to peel and chop the entire bucket, about 30 peaches, to which I added lemon juice and sugar.  I covered the concoction and allowed it to macerate over night.  After adding the fresh basil which I sliced thin, all that was left to do was to cook, reduce and enjoy.

As a general rule, I use one pound of fruit to 1 tablespoon lemon juice to one cup of sugar and cook over medium heat until the mixture coats the tines of a fork.  If you place a dollop on a plate and place it in the refrigerator for several minutes, it should resemble the consistency of ketchup.  Seal in airtight containers and refrigerate for up to two weeks or place in freezer.

Of course, I enjoy this type of preserve/jam on toast, but you can just as easily glaze grilled chicken with it or pour it over some softened cream cheese and serve with crusty french baguette for a “no brainer” appetizer.  I think I’ll be trying my hand at Vidalia Onion Peach Chutney next.  Enjoy!Image!

You asked for it…Moist and Flavorful Irish Soda Bread!

Ok, I’m not Irish.  As a matter of fact, I consider myself to be a “mutt” although my husband says that I am Italian by marriage.  So suffice it to say that the only reason I ever even thought to make Irish Soda Bread was for our bakery customers who request it for the St. Patrick’s Day holiday.

Over the years I have tried several traditional Irish Soda Bread recipes and most have turned out as expected.  Honestly, I find this type of bread to be on the dry side  and overall unappealing; this coming from a total “bread head”.  This year I decided to continue my quest to find an Irish Soda Bread recipe that was moist and flavorful.  After researching and reading numerous reviews, I decided to try several and came up with a real winner with the recipe I found on allrecipes.com.

This Irish Soda Bread was a breeze to make and is a recipe that I will continue to bake year round.  Both moist and full of flavor, this bread would be a perfect accompaniment to breakfast, lunch and/or dinner.   I made two varieties this week, plain and whiskey soaked raisin studded.  I’ll also experiment with the recipe to see if I can replicate it in a Gluten Free variety.

Note, if you don’t have buttermilk handy you can simply make your own by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice per cup of milk.  Allow this mixture to sit for 5 minutes before using.  Making your own buttermilk is also less expensive than buying buttermilk in the store.  I guarantee that you’re not going to be disappointed with this Irish Soda Bread recipe.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg, lightly beatenMoist and Flavorful Irish Soda Bread
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and baking soda. Blend egg and buttermilk together, and add all at once to the flour mixture. Mix just until moistened. Stir in butter. Pour into prepared pan.
  2. Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the bread comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Wrap in foil for several hours, or overnight, for best flavor.

My “Feed Your Sweet Tooth Diet” Week #2

Feed Your Sweet Tooth!

I'm feeding my Sweet Tooth!

Day 8…

Weighed in today at 152lbs.  Whoohoo, 1.5 lbs lost!  I know that might not sound like much, but I’m taking it.  Also, took my measurements and although the waist and hips didn’t budge, my bust area is down .5 inches.  Somebody please tell me why woman usually lose weight in their boobs first?

I walked the dog this morning as usual.   Went to the gym before work and exercised my lower half plus abs.  I’m going to go back to the gym before dinner and take the Pilates class that I started last week.  This class is actually relaxing even though you are getting a great “core” workout.  I almost went straight home after work, tempted to sit on the couch and kick off my shoes, but I didn’t.  I’m glad that I pushed myself through the door and onto my mat and I feel better for having done it.

For breakfast this morning I enjoyed our Gluten Free Low Sugar homemade Granola.  I warmed it up with milk for a hot breakfast.  This really could count as a dessert because it was so delicious.  Granola is so easy to make  yourself and when you do, you can add anything you want to make it yummy.  Today’s granola had walnuts with dried cranberries.  It’s also full of fiber, protein and antioxidants.  Healthy can taste good!

I enjoyed my dessert today after lunch.  Our Cupcake Bombs are Valrhona chocolate cake mixed with our cream cheese buttercream frosting, rolled and topped with Calabaut chocolate ganache.  I warmed it up and it was so good I really wanted to eat another.  Resisting this temptation was easier to do once I reminded myself that I could have another one tomorrow if I wanted.

I managed to eat dinner prior to 7:00pm tonight and enjoyed a glass of wine with it.  This eating slowly and mindfully thing is starting to make my meals more enjoyable and me more relaxed.

Day 9…

It was pouring rain this morning so the pooch walk was short.  I also felt a little under the weather today.  Maybe that’s because it’s so dreary outside.  Anyway, tonight I have my spinning class, which usually is a butt kicker, so no worries.

Breakfast was uneventful.  I am not preparing any special meals or snacks.  I am eating whatever I have and/or feel like.  I am making sure that I drink at least 8 ounces of water before I do eat.  This is such a simple weight loss strategy, one that I have heard about before, but for some reason never tried.   This does seem to be working.  Between the water and eating slowly, I felt so full I only ate half of my omelet.

I ate some turkey breast today for my snack and enjoyed a Cannoli today for my dessert.  We fill them fresh in the bakery so that they aren’t soggy and it was divine.  I love the fact that I am enjoying dessert without guilt for the first time in decades.

Tonight I ate dinner before going to my spinning class.  I almost didn’t go at all.   My sister, who normally goes to this class with me, couldn’t this evening.  I started to make some excuses, tried to think of an exercise I could just do at home and then I stopped myself.  This is exactly why I do better when I have an exercise buddy.  I did manage to change my internal conversation and decided to get in my car and drive to the gym.  Once there, I took the class and had an amazing workout.

Day 10…

Started my morning as usual.  Headed to the gym before work and exercised my chest, back and abs with weights.

I’ve been trying to get my dad, who now has Diabetes, to join our gym.  I’m certain that if he moves more, he’ll lose some weight and in turn he’ll have more control over his blood sugar.   No one in my family thought that he would, but I bought him 2 training sessions for Christmas hoping that it might be just the catalyst he needed.

I understand that sometimes going into a gym for the first time can be intimidating particularly when you’re older.  So, I ask him he wanted to come in and talk to the trainer on a morning that I would be there.  He did and he set up his two training sessions.   I didn’t know if he would continue past that.

I was at work today when my dad came in and told me that he joined our gym for the year.  You can’t imagine how happy this makes me.   He is the finest person I know and I want him around for a really long time.  Maybe he’ll even join the “Biggest Loser” challenge.  We can motivate each other.

Oh yah, I ate my dessert today with breakfast.  I know that sounds crazy, but not when you own a bakery.   I enjoyed our Fudge Brownie with my coffee.  I just couldn’t resist that smell of chocolate.  Lunch and dinner was uneventful.  I am getting better about planning to eat before 7:00pm.

Day 11…

This morning I rediscovered Chia Seeds!  I’ve had them before in coconut bars that I’ve purchased from my local organic store, but I just learned how to incorporate them into my everyday meals.

The ancient Aztec and Mayan people revered Chia Seeds as vital to their nourishment and it’s a know wonder.  These gluten-free seeds are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, protein and fiber.  You can enjoy them in juice, yogurt, cereal, and baked goods.  Once soaked in a liquid for 10-15 minutes they make a gel that you can add to almost anything.  They’re fantastic and they even help you to feel full.

I soaked mine this morning and added them to some Pomegranate juice, which I enjoyed after my breakfast.  Wow, I just realized that I ate my breakfast while on the computer and that’s a no-no.  Anyway, if you’ve never tried them, stop by your local organic store and pick up a bag.

I enjoyed my dessert after my lunch today.  I am finding that this is a perfect time to feed my sweet tooth.  I had a serving of our Cupcake Bread Pudding.  It’s just like bread pudding except that instead of using bread we use our cupcakes.  This confection did “hit the spot”, but I should have only eaten half of the serving because after eating the whole thing I felt too full.

I ate my dinner tonight pretty early, before my spinning class.  I thought I might be hungry later on, but surprisingly I was very content for the rest of the evening.  My husband came home from a business trip and while he enjoyed a glass of wine, I enjoyed a dirty martini.

Day 12…

Exercise was pretty uneventful today.  I made my way to the gym and performed resistance training on my shoulders, biceps, triceps and abs.  Looking back on the workout, I could have pressed myself a little harder.

I also didn’t do so well with my water consumption today.  I drank a lot of water, but forgot to drink it before both breakfast and lunch.  I was really busy at work and also didn’t eat as mindfully as I want to.

We ate dinner out and I used chopsticks, which slowed me down thankfully because I was really hungry and otherwise might have eaten too fast.  My dessert tonight was a piece of my niece’s birthday cake.  I honestly felt a bit guilty eating my dessert late and in all didn’t feel great about the day.  I’m trying not to dwell on this and instead I’m refocusing my energy on tomorrow.

Day 13…

Today was my day of rest, well as far as exercise goes.  I did walk the dog, but it was pouring rain so we weren’t out for long.  Added my chia seeds in juice to my morning routine and wasn’t even really hungry for breakfast or lunch.

We had company come over for dinner and I made a Peach Blueberry Cobbler with vanilla whipped cream.  I had every intension of enjoying it for dessert, but I had also enjoyed a couple of glasses of wine during dinner so I decided that the wine was probably enough dessert for me, plus I really didn’t want it.

I am a little nervous about my weigh in this week and I don’t know exactly why.   I am trying to remember that this is a 6-week journey and that some weeks are going to be better than others.  I really don’t want to set myself up for disappointment.  Rather, I want to remain positive and focused on the positive changes that I have already made.

Day 14…

Chia seeds again this morning in my juice and after drinking it I was full so I waved off breakfast, which was a mistake.  By the time lunch rolled around I was pretty hungry.  I drank my water, but ate faster than I have been and I think I over ate as a result.  I did enjoy the leftover Peach Blueberry Cobbler from the night before though.

This morning my daughter and I worked out to a free on demand video on cable.  We did 30 minutes of Power Yoga and let me tell you it was everything but relaxing.  I think I’ll add this to my exercise routine on a regular basis.  Today I also added an additional 30 minutes of walk/running for some extra cardio.  I’m trying to jog on soft surfaces so that it’s a little bit easier on my joints.  The park close to the bakery has a soft surface path and the neighborhood we live in has several so I have plenty of options.

The playoffs were on today and after watching the Raven’s heartbreaking loss I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m craving some chocolate.  I will drown my sorrows with water instead.

A recipe reminiscent of my childhood!

Raggedy Robbins

"Simply Delicious"

Whether it be the smell and of course the taste of your granny’s freshly baked chocolate puddin’ cake, the smell of sunscreen, a freshly cut lawn or hearing an oldie, but goodie song on the radio, there’s a variety of stimuli that can instantly transport you back to your childhood.  Shelly and I were recently working on new gluten free ideas for desserts and I remembered a recipe that my best friend and I use to enjoy on a regular basis.  We called them Raggedy Robbins, others called them No Bakes.  They should be called just “Simply Delicious”!

We revamped the recipe a “smidge” to include gluten free oats, organic peanut butter and Valrhona cocoa.  As soon as I began combining the ingredients, I was 12 years old again in Lynn’s kitchen, giggling and rehashing the days events.  What boys we thought were cute or quirky and how to wear makeup were the two hottest topics.  We would tell each other to wait for the cookies to set, but most often we ate the gooey mixture hot, right out of the pan.  Thinking about this now makes me instantly happy and reminiscing about it reminds me of how young I was when I began to nurture my “genetic sweet tooth/teeth”.

Lynn’s mother is a kind and patient woman.  She didn’t care what mess we made in her kitchen, she encouraged us to cook, bake and experiment with recipes.  She learned a lot about what we were up to by just quietly listening to our conversation from the other room.  Ingenious on her part and a method I must institute myself.  Somehow, in this age of convenience, prepackaged foods and “not enough time in the day” I think moments like these are lost.  Thinking about this reminds me to cook more with my kids, relax some kitchen rules and share some of my fondest childhood memories and recipes that my children can pass on to future generations.

This is definitely a recipe for just that.  Enjoy!

Raggedy Robbins

1 cup sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup cold milk
__________
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups quaker quick-cooking oats or Gluten Free Oats
In a 1 1/2 qt saucepan, mix sugar, cocoa powder, butter cut into pieces, cold milk. Cook over medium heat, bring to a rolling boil. Boil 1 additional minute. Stir in vanilla, peanut butter and oats, stirring quickly.  Before mixture cools, drop by teaspoonfuls onto parchment paper or in cupcake liners or eat hot right out of the pan.
*I use an ice cream scooper to drop the cookies.  Actually, I use an ice cream scooper to drop most things.  It has an easy release and is almost a perfect measure.


The Sweet Life…striking “the balance”…working it out!

No one has to tell us about diets, indulging in sweets in moderation and watching the waist line.  Our stretchy pants feel the pain of having to taste most everything that leaves the building everyday.  Plus, I’m sure that you’ve read our previous post about “you can have your cake and eat it too” so I am not going to elaborate on that subject.  So what, you ask, am I blogging about now?  Well, it’s our newest endeavor.

We want to connect our customers with our local fitness centers, personal trainers/coaches and share healthy eating tips.  You think it’s “weird” that the owners of a dessert cafe are blogging about fitness?  Let me be clear, we definitely want you to get “BAKED” at the beach, but it is as important to us that our customers are happy and most importantly healthy.  We hope you know that this is why we are committed to baking au’naturale.   We seriously believe that good health and happiness are all about striking “the balance” between the “healthy” and the “indulgent”.   Sometimes that balancing act is just down right difficult.

This  idea came to me when I saw a customer of ours at the gym.  She kindly commented on our facebook post and picture of our Monster Cream Puff asking, “Do you think I could eat half of one if I walk for 30 minutes on the treadmill”?  “Why yes”, I replied and voila the proverbial lightbulb in my head went off.  Why not  connect with the local fitness gurus and share fitness tips, “specials” and wellness strategies with our fans?  Why not ask our fans to share their success stories, tips and recipes.  I don’t know about you, but I can use all of the help that I can get!

No matter if you are a local, just visiting or vacationing at the beach, there are a plethora of fitness centers to choose from and most offer yearly, seasonal, monthly, weekly and daily rates.  Some are even open 24 hours a day.  Fitness centers are not a “one size fits all” and gyms here are no exception.  They offer different fitness philosophies, different work out schedules, classes and styles and varying approaches to reaching your fitness goals.  Most of the centers provide personal coaching, some are class oriented, some more “free weight” minded.  Some follow specific diet regimens like the Paleo Diet which one of our friends and customers recently shared a dessert recipe from.  It was so delicious, Chocolate Babies are now on our “favorites” menu.

Shelly and I come from a large family who celebrate every occasion with food and we own a bakery for gosh sakes. We are constantly striving to strike “the balance” and so we work out almost every morning together.  I personally can’t imagine the strain on our stretchy pants if we didn’t.   One of the factors that we considered when joining a gym was the convenience of the location to the bakery and our children’s school.  Let’s face it, some days are harder than others and for us convenience was a major consideration.  I’ll be honest, the struggle for me is walking through the gym door.  Once I make it past that threshold, I’m “golden” and I always feel physically and mentally better for it.

So, in addition to providing you the very best all natural desserts, breads and beverages, we’re also going to be “rooting out” fitness tips, gym specials and healthy dessert recipes for your overall wellbeing and enjoyment.  We’ll be providing more gluten free, diabetic friendly and vegan dessert options at “BAKED” and are interested in your own personal success stories, winning tips, strategies and recipes.  Visit us on facebook, share your strategies and join our quest to strike “the balance” for a happy, healthy, sweet life.