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!

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.

Totally “Baked” Danny Boy Cupcake!

You all might have heard about a popular drink served particularly around St. Patty’s Day call the Irish Car Bomb.  You make one by adding Bailey’s and Jameson to a shot glass.  You layer the Bailey’s on the bottom.  After you pour the Guinness into a pint glass or beer mug 3/4 of the way full you simply drop the shot glass into the Guinness and chug.  This drink sounds like it can get you totally “BAKED”.

I love the idea of making this drink into a cake/cupcake, but I thoroughly dislike the name.  One of our faithful facebook followers suggested that we rename it the Buzzed Danny Boy which we think is an awesome name, but since we always try to play off of our “BAKED” name we have decided to rename this concoction the Totally “BAKED” Danny Boy.

We’re lucky to have a fantastic micro-brewry right here in town so I strolled on over to Burley Oak Brewery and grabbed myself a growler of their Black Cow Stout.  Now, I’ve made Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Burley Oak brew before, but adding this Black Cow to my recipe really cranked things up a notch.  The cupcake was so moist and balanced it was delicious without the accouterments of filling or frosting, but in our efforts to recreate the drink in a cake/cupcake form we’ve filled them with Irish Whiskey Ganache and topped them with our homemade Irish Cream Liquor buttercream.  The Totally “Baked” Danny Boy cupcakes are rolling out the door for a limited time only.

For your baking enjoyment I’m including the following recipe for Chocolate Stout Cupcakes.  It’s the best that I’ve found and is courtesy of David Lieberman of the Food Network.

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups all-purposeflour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch fine salt
  • 1 bottle stout beer (I recommend Burley Oak’s Black Cow)
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt.

In another medium mixing bowl, combine the stout, melted butter, and vanilla. Beat in eggs, 1 at time. Mix in sour cream until thoroughly combined and smooth. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.

Lightly grease 24 muffin tins. Divide the batter equally between muffin tins, filling each 3/4 full. Bake for about 12 minutes and then rotate the pans. Bake another 12 to 13 minutes until risen, nicely domed, and set in the middle but still soft and tender. Cool before turning out.

My suggestion…You can top these cupcake with any of your favorite fillings and/or buttercream frostings, but honestly they’re absolutely delicious all by themselves.Totally "BAKED" Danny Boy Cupcake

What to Whip Up for St. Patrick’s Day?

I can’t believe that March is almost here and that means “Saint Patrick’s Day” is right around the corner. Last year we learned the fine art of baking Irish Soda Bread and offered Chocolate Stout Cupcake with Irish Cream Buttercream and Mad Vanilla Cupcakes stuffed with Stout Orange Curd.  What uniquely different dessert  are we going to whip up this year?

I think most people think about desserts that surround Irish Cream Liqueur for St. Patty’s Day and it’s a no wonder.  Did you know that this delicious concoction was created by a guy named Joe Sheridan in 1943 at Foynes flying boat base’s at Shannon Airport.  It all happened when a crowd of tired, thirsty and cold passengers wondered in and Joe served them up some hot coffee laced with sugar, Irish whiskey and a generous amount of Irish double cream.  More than 60 years later, this liqueur is now served world wide.

In addition to using some of Joe’s creation in our desserts, I think we’ll also try some other unusual offerings as well.  How does Chocolate Potato Cake and Donegal Oatmeal Cream sound?  In addition to Irish Soda Bread maybe we’ll also bake some Sweet Seed Cake.  I can’t wait to get started.  The best of the best we’ll post in a later blog, but in the meantime I’m sharing a recipe for homemade Irish Cream Liqueur that is fool proof and far less expensive to make than what you find in the liquor stores.

Irish Cream Whiskey Liqueur

1 3/4 c. your favorite liquor (Irish Whiskey, brandy, rum, bourbon, scotch, or rye whiskey)

1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

1 c. whipping or light cream

4 eggs

Day 256/365 - 13 Sept - Irish Cream

Day 256/365 - 13 Sept - Irish Cream (Photo credit: anshu_si)

2 tbsp. chocolate flavored syrup

2 tsp. instant coffee

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. almond extract

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Serve over ice, with club soda or in your favorite dessert recipes. Store tightly covered in refrigerator up to one month. Stir before serving.

The big BALL DROP and Getting “BAKED” at the beach…a year in review!

Sister Love!

Continuing to get "BAKED" in 2012

If I could describe 2011 in one word it would be “AMAZING”!

The last night of it was no exception.  We spent it with the people we love, loyal customers and thousands of others who gathered in Berlin to watch a “Times Square look a like” Ball Drop.  Residents, visitors, young, old and even pets poured into town and peacefully partied into the wee hours to bring in what hopefully for everyone is a Promising New Year.  It brought a whole new meaning to getting “BAKED” for the holiday!

First, our success would not be possible without the love and support of our family and friends.  The support and encouragement from our business neighbors and the continued support from the town of Berlin, its’ Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Program, Grow Berlin Green and more are priceless.  I must single out here two people who work harder than anyone I know insuring that doing business in Berlin is a dream…Michael Day Director of Economic Development  and Olive Mawyer Executive Director.  What can we say to everyone, but THANK YOU!

Without going blow-by-blow, suffice it to say that 2011 was an exciting year, but not without its challenges.  Within months, Shelly got divorced, we bought our partner out and in 5 days we moved our business down the street to our new and improved location at 4 C Bay Street.  Unfortunately, we lost one of our favorite people who also happened to be our landlord.  We really miss Ed and so does this town that he loved so dearly.  Oh yah, there were also Kenny and Shelly’s emergency surgeries right before the holidays.  That really made things interesting.  Sometimes “it’s not all cupcakes and sprinkles”.

On a brighter note, we’ve grown from peddling all natural “BAKED” goods to peddling all natural “BAKED” goods and running a “Fine Art” gallery.  We’ve developed a friendship and partnership with renowned artist Patrick Henry and began showcasing his and other local art talent.  We’ve included organic lunches, homemade Krackers and cheese spread to our ever-expanding all natural menu.   New dessert favorites emerged with the addition of our signature Cupcake Bread Pudding, Cupcake Bombs and Liquor Soaked Bundt Cakes.  More people got “BAKED” for the holidays than ever before!  We began selling our “BAKED” goods wholesale and we are currently working on a new line of comical “BAKED” apparel.  Plus, we hope to have more exciting news come February.  Oh yah, we also won, the now controversial, Berlin Bathtub Race when we partnered with Ayer’s Creek Adventures.  We know people are coming for us this year.

We feel totally blessed to be thriving in Berlin, a town that is filled with incredibly unique restaurants, B&B’s, boutiques, shops, artists and even Burley Oaks microbrewery.  Most, are family run businesses and many are operated by really strong business women.   What an awesome New Year’s resolution…find your passion, do something you love, turn it into a business and then “go for it” with no regrets.

Shelly and I love what we do and who we serve!  We’ve said this a lot, but we must say it again…the best part of our job is the people we serve or as we fondly refer to them as “The Best Customers on the Planet”!  We look forward to another “AMAZING” year filled with getting everyone “BAKED” at the beach.   Mostly, we wish everyone a New Year filled with HOPE, LOVE, HAPPINESS, GREAT HEALTH and PROSPERITY!

If you’ve never been to Berlin, if you’ve never gotten “BAKED” at the beach, then definitley put these on your “2012 to do list”.   You won’t regret it!  PEACE!

The Perfect Little Cookie!

English: These are palmiers, or sugar cookies ...

Image via Wikipedia

My brain hasn’t fully processed the fact that the Summer is over, let alone, Thanksgiving and with Christmas right around the corner, we’re “busy bees” at the bakery.

I really want to organize a “Recipe Exchange” where customers bring their favorite dessert/appetizer with copies of the recipe to share with the group, but time just keeps ticking away.  There just aren’t enough hours in a day!  Oh well,  maybe it’s not too late to pull that off, even if it’s an online exchange!  Anyhow, that idea and a favorite customer of ours made me think about the “Cookie Exchange” parties that I participated in for many years with my friends.  What a concept!  You bring several dozen cookies with copies of your recipe and by the end of the celebration you return home with an assortment of holiday sweets perfect for making gift platters or just enjoying with your family.

A cookie that we make and is a popular favorite, no matter what time of year, is the Palmier, also known as an Elephant Ear.   There’s a lot to love about this little cookie from its delicately crunchy texture, to its sweet cinnamon taste and its adorable heart shape.  Plus, if you forego making the puff pastry from scratch and opt for store-bought instead, you can whip these little gems up within minutes.  It’s also a great cookie to make with your kids!  I should note here that this is a French pastry and in France they do not use cinnamon, only sugar.  I am a “mut” and my husband is Italian, plus we love cinnamon, so our recipe is loaded with it.  You can get really creative here and add different spices and nuts is you please.

Get baking for the holidays and add the tasty Palmier to your repertoire.

Puff Pastry

2 cups all-purpose flour, 2/3 cup cake flour, 
10 ounces butter, cold (2 1/2 sticks), divided, 
1 1/4 tsp salt, 
3/4 – 1 cup cold water

Take 8 ounces of butter (2 sticks) and shape into a block roughly 1/4 inch thick. If you are using stick butter, slice each stick into three long pieces and make a 2×3 block. Press butter together well and refrigerate.

Combine flours and salt in food processor. Pulse lightly to combine. Add remaining 2 ounces (1/2 stick) of butter and cut in until dough looks like sand. With the motor running, add 3/4 cup water. If dough has not come together, add remaining water slowly
flatten dough into a smooth disk, wrap and chill for 1 hour.

On a well floured surface, roll dough out into a large (10 inches or so) circle. Set butter block in the center and fold up the extra dough as though you were folding an envelope: fold over the sides, the fold the top down and the bottom up. Turn the seam side down and roll until envelope has quadrupled in size. Use short strokes, keeping the pressure as even as possible, and lots of flour.
 Fold the dough in thirds as though you were folding a business letter. This is one turn. Wrap and refrigerate dough for at least one hour and up to two days.
 To make turns 2, 3 and 4, place chilled dough seam side down on a well-floured surface and roll out again into a large rectangle. Try to keep the dough as evenly rectangular as possible. Fold as you would a business letter. Wrap and chill.
 Dough can be frozen until ready to use.

Palmiers


1 recipe for puff pastry,
lots of sugar and cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out your puff pastry on a floured surface until it is as thin as you can get it. Cover generously with sugar and cinnamon. Starting at the right side, roll the pastry until it reaches the center. Repeat with the left side.
Cut roll into 1/2 inch segments.
Spread more sugar onto your work surface. Fold each segment into a V shape and press it down into the sugar and cinnamon mixture, flattening it with the palm of your hand.   Place each Palmier on the baking sheet and bake 12-15 minutes in a pre-heated 400 degree oven until golden brown.

Italian Easter Pie…Oh My!

Right after graduating from college, I had the privilege to work with a wonderful Italian woman named Jean.  She was a fabulous cook and her specialties included, of course, traditional Italian dishes.  It was Jean who turned me onto the tradition of the Italian Easter Pie!

Now, I am married to a wonderful Sicilian man whose mother was one of the best cooks on the planet, but the Italian Easter Pie, thanks to Jean, was a recipe that I was able to introduce to them.  In fact, in contains all of their “favorite ingredients”, but what is the history behind it?

Since Easter is preceded by Lent, which is a time of fasting, particularly from meat on Fridays, Easter Sunday is a time to celebrate and indulge.  For Italians, the celebration includes the rich, cheesy, quiche-like Italian Easter pie filled with eggs, cheese and Italian meats.  Depending on the region, Easter Pie has many different names and recipes.  In Naples they call it “pastiera” and it is made with ricotta and whole grains to symbolize rebirth.

Sicilians make it with macaroni, pork, cheese and eggs.  Calabrians prefer ham, sausage, hard cooked eggs, mozzarella and ricotta.  “Pasqualina” as they call it in Liguria contains spinach, ricotta, cheese and eggs.  From Umbria to Marches, the pie is really more of a bread.

No matter what you call it, where and when you eat it or the combination of ingredients you choose to fold into it, Italian Easter Pie is a delicious addition to any brunch, lunch or holiday celebration.

RECIPE

For the crust:

• 2 cups all purpose flour
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• 2 sticks butter
• 2 eggs

For the filling:

• 6 eggs
• salt and pepper to taste
• 8 oz. ricotta cheese
• 2 oz. shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese
• 3 oz. diced  ham, I prefer capicola
• 3 oz. diced salami, I prefer sorpresssata
• 3 oz. diced pepperoni

Directions
To make the crust, mix the flour and salt and place it in the bowl of a food processor.   Cut the butter into cubes and add them one at a time to the dough.  Pulse the food processor just enough to work in the butter into the consistency of a coarse meal.  Add the eggs and pulse the dough until it comes together in a ball.  Cut the dough in half so that one half is a little bigger than the other.  The smaller half will be the top crust. Wrap each in plastic wrap and rest the dough for an hour in the fridge.

For the filling, beat the eggs with the salt and pepper.  Then blend the cheese into the eggs. Dice or  julienne the meat, or put it in the food processor for a finer textured pie and add this to the egg/cheese mixture.  I usually add 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Roll out the larger piece of dough on a floured board until it will fill a 9-inch pie shell. Add the filling. Then roll out the smaller piece of dough until it will cover the top.  Crimp it around the edge to seal it.  Brush with a beaten egg wash and  poke some holes or slits in the top crust to allow the steam to vent.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.