You too can “Pate a Choux”…this one’s for you Mam-aw!

IMG_1437My Mam-aw was an amazing cook! Her personality and culinary skills were both “Sweet and Savory”. She made Sunday dinners that were equivalent to Thanksgiving every week. She never asked anyone to bring a dish or assist her with preparation. My Mam-aw just found great joy by having her family gather around the dining room table each week to simply share great food and conversation. These nights created some of my very best childhood memories and one of the very first memories I have of cooking with her was making “Pate a Choux”.

Although “Pate a Choux”, like my Mam-aw, could be both Sweet and Savory, it was her “go to” for Bridal and Baby Showers. She would make a tray and stuff them with her homemade Chicken Salad, which made for an amazing and creative little sandwich.

Of course you can easily morph them into amazing desserts by stuffing them with homemade Pastry Cream, Whipped Cream, fresh Fruit…the sky is the limit here. Get creative! Honestly, my favorite way to enjoy them is hot, right out of the oven just by themselves. Their taste and texture somewhat similar to a Pop Over.

I know the name alone and its’ pronunciation is a bit intimidating, but I assure you that this “PUFF” is one of the easiest and most versatile recipes to make and even store for later use. All you need to know are some key tricks to insure success and you too will be able to “Pate a Choux”.

RECIPE
1 cup butter
2 cups water
pinch salt and sugar
2 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 eggs

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In 2 quart pot, combine the butter, water, salt and sugar. I hate sifting so just whisk together the flour and baking powder. Once the water and butter come to a rolling boil, dump the flour mixture in all at once. Stir with a wooden spoon or paddle to incorporate until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. *STIR VIGOROUSLY UNTIL IT FORMS A BALL .

Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl or standing mixer equipped with the paddle attachment. *MIX THE DOUGH FOR A MINUTE OR SO TO RELEASE SOME OF THE HEAT. Add the eggs, one at a time, completely incorporating each one before adding the next. Beat until the dough gets thick and ribbony.

Line your baking pan with parchment paper and either using an ice cream scooper spoon dough onto pan with proper spacing for expansion. Transfer pan to the oven and cook for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook for 25 minutes longer. *DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN, not even once, DURING THE ENTIRE COOKING TIME.

Use when cool, or freeze, wrapped in a plastic bag, for 2-3 months.

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MADly in LOVE with Vanilla…Cake Mix!

MADly in LOVE with Vanilla…Cake Mix!

My “sweet tooth” and I go way back. I love all kinds of dessert, particularly custards and tarts, raw cookie dough, undercooked brownies…that kind of thing. To be perfectly honest, I can pass on cake unless it’s really moist, which is why it took more than two years to come up with our recipe for our Mad Vanilla Cake! “Mad” because it’s madly delicious and because we use the very best Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla.

Over the years, we have had so many people ask us to share this recipe that we finally packaged it so that our customers can make it at home. With just the addition of a couple of ingredients and any “add ins” that you can imagine, this tender cake, which develops almost a cookie type crust, can be enjoyed in the comforts of your own home!

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!

Feed Your Sweet Tooth Diet…Week #1 Lost 1.5 lbs.!

Maybe I can have my cake and eat it too!

my "Feed Your Sweet Tooth Diet"

My Rules…

the do’s

Exercise at least 6 days per week for at least 30 minutes

Drink 64 oz. of water daily including at least 8oz before each meal

Eat mindfully, putting the utensil down between bites

Eat a serving of Dessert Daily

the don’ts

Don’t eat past 7:00pm,

Don’t count calories

Don’t prepare special meals or take any weight loss supplement

Day 1…

Weighed in today at 153.5 lbs. to my delight because I actually thought that I was around 160.  Took my measurements, wasn’t so delighted there with 37″, 31″, 42″.  Step aside JayLo, baby’s got back!  That middle number is what bothers me most.  I’ve always been curvy, but that middle number is going to change.

Today I added walking/running with my dog for 15 minutes, cycling for 20 minutes at intervals on level 3 before work and I also added a Pilates class with my daughters before dinner.  Breaking it up seemed to work well.

Drank a lot of water today.  Tried to add a glass prior to each meal.   The hardest thing today was to eat slowly and mindfully.  I guess I have gotten into a bad habit of eating too fast.  I’m sure this is carried over from the days when I had small children and every time I sat down to eat, all hell broke loose.  This habit didn’t develop overnight so I can’t expect that I will correct it in one day.

My dessert today was a zucchini muffin and I enjoyed it with my breakfast.  Surprisingly I didn’t really want anything else sweet all day and that’s unusual.

Day 2…

Walked the dog this morning and hit the gym before work.  I did some resistance training there, chest and back.  Resistance training/weight lifting is so great for women in particular.  It helps us build stronger bones which is really important considering that we are more prone to suffer from osteoporosis.  You don’t even have to belong to a gym or have any fancy equipment.  Push ups and squats are two great exercises and work most of the muscles in the upper and lower body using simply your own body weight.

I drank plenty of water and some green tea today.  I remembered to eat mindfully, but that was still difficult.  Eating slowly almost makes me nervous.  What’s that all about?  I did eat after 7:00pm.  I had a meeting that ran late and I was starving.  Although, I must admit that eating slowly did make me feel full sooner than usual.

My dessert today was our Kahlua Soaked Chocolate Cake and I enjoyed it after my bowl of chili for lunch.  It was delicious and I really savored it.  Again, shockingly I did not crave anything sweet later in the day and believe me I had plenty of opportunity.  I might be on to something.

Day 3…

Walked/ran with the dog again this morning.  This is actually a great way to start my day.   Drank my fair share of H20.  I am going to fill a pitcher each day so that I can measure what I drink.  I read somewhere that most often when you think you’re hungry, your body is actually thirsty.  I also started to eat my lunch while working on the computer and quickly decided that this was not mindful eating, so I turned it off.  I did have a moment today after lunch that I might have normally eaten something just because I was stressed.  I paid close attention to that feeling and decided instead to drink a large glass of water.

My dessert today was another slice of Kahlua cake.  I must say that this confection is one of our very best.  Although after eating the slice I realized that I could have actually been satisfied with probably half of the portion.  Again no other cravings for sweets today.  Truthfully I didn’t really crave the cake, but have decided for this experiment to make sure that I eat something sweet everyday.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll stick to a smaller portion if I’m not really “jonesin” for something sweet.  FYI, did you know that the word “jonesin” in the urban dictionary means an intense craving for a drug?

Ran/walked/skipped with my daughter for about 2 miles this afternoon.  I think it was her idea to skip and it was so much fun.  It reminded me of being a kid.  For some reason the song “zip a dee doo dah” from the Disney movie Song of the South came immediately to mind.  Anyway, the intervals had our heart rates going up and down which I’ve read  is supposed to be the best type of cardio training.

Dinner tonight was uneventful.  I did enjoy a glass of wine which I might consider to be a “dessert” in the future.  We’ll see what my numbers show the next week.

Day 4…

This morning I simply walked the dog.  I knew I was going to the gym to do my resistance training, shoulders, biceps,  triceps and abs and I was taking a spinning class in the evening and that seemed like plenty.

I had some trouble today remembering to drink my water before my meal.  I was really busy at work and maybe that threw me off.  Also the no eating after 7:00pm is proving to be more difficult than any of the other rules.  Tonight I ate at 7:30.  I’m going to have to plan better.

My dessert today was 3 smaller shortbread cookies which was perfect.  I had tried a new recipe and had to taste test them anyway.  I really enjoyed them, but didn’t crave anything else sweet for the rest of the day.

Day 5…

My cardio today was on the treadmill because it was cold and windy outside.  I did a walk/run for about 30 minutes, again the combination of walking and running at intervals had my heart rate up and down.  I ate my dessert at breakfast this morning because I had to taste test our Ginger Refrigerator Cake.  Lunch was Steak Salad, uneventful.

Dinner was a total disaster.  We were getting ready for an arts reception and I didn’t preplan a dinner so I had some cheese with crackers and meatballs with tortellini.  It wasn’t ideal, it wasn’t mindful eating or even remotely enjoyable, but I’m not going to beat myself up about it.   I’ll try and plan better in the future.  Drank socially this evening.  Lemon drops were the drink of the evening, a lemon wedge sprinkled with raw sugar and a shot of vodka.  You bite the lemon, drink the shot and bite the lemon.  Supposedly, vodka has one of the lowest calorie counts plus, this drink is very tasty.

Day 6…

Today was my “day of rest” as far as exercising goes.  I did walk the dog, but at a relaxing pace.  Ate our Organic Celery Salad for breakfast today and it was filling and delicious.  I didn’t do so well with my water consumption today.  I didn’t fill my pitcher at work and wasn’t thinking about it.

I was hungry at lunch today, but remembered to put my sandwich down between bites and felt full before I even finished, so I only really ate half.  My dessert today was an Ice Cream Sundae.  My nephews were in the bakery today and I taught them how to make real Whipped Cream and Hot Fudge Sauce.  Together we enjoyed the “fruits of their labor”.  We had so much fun and it was delicious to boot!

We had reservations tonight for dinner so once again I ate after 7:00pm.  This rule has proven to be the most difficult and here I thought my sweet cravings were going to be the toughest obstacle .  I resisted the urge to order an appetizer and focused on savoring my meal and the company that we shared.  We had a lovely evening!

Day 7…

I ran outside this morning for 30 minutes again alternating between walking and running.  My brother-in-law once told me that when you first start to add running to your exercise regimen, you should either walk or slow down when you’re feeling fatigued and once you recover you can pick up your pace again.  So this has been my approach.

The playoffs were on today so I probably ate a little more at lunch than I have this past week.  I am drinking a lot of water today to try and balance the urge to eat all the “tail gaty” snacks and it seems to be working.

My dessert today was my mother’s Baked Custard.  It’s like eating a cross between creme brulee’ and flan.  She used to make this all of the time when we were children and it really is one of my “comfort foods”.  Surprisingly it isn’t high in sugar and not that bad on the fat count.  It’s purely delicious.

I made sure that I didn’t eat anything tonight past 7:00pm.  Weigh ins are tomorrow morning.  Even if I didn’t lose any weight this week, I do feel better.  I’m actually enjoying the exercises that I’ve added to my normal routine and the permission that I’ve given myself to eat dessert seems to have set me free.

Buy Local…the Challenge!

Baked's Berlin T-shirt

Buy Locally in Berlin

There is a challenge in our area to go one month purchasing local food and product without buying from sources like chain supermarkets and warehouse stores.  We have accepted this challenge personally and professionally and can attest to the fact that the term “challenge” is appropriate for this project.  The fact is, some things are easier to purchase locally than others.  No matter, the fact is buying local has significant advantages whether you are interested in higher quality ingredients, stimulating the local economy and/or reducing your “carbon footprint”.

It began when Christie McDowell, owner of the Good Farm in Berlin, challenged herself this very same way last Summer. “The goal I set was to buy as direct from the producer as possible and buy nothing with preservatives or any unnecessary additives,” McDowell said. “I found the gaps in local food options, what you can get and where you can get it. I bought some of the healthy options at Ocean City Organics in West Ocean City if farmers’ markets didn’t have something”.  Bryan Brushmiller, owner of Burley Oaks Brewery which is preparing to open it’s doors on August 12th, was inspired by McDowell’s project and has joined forces to expand the challenge.  Brushmiller himself purchases rye, hops and barley from local farmers for use in his handcrafted brew.

Shelly and I have always been committed to purchasing as much locally as possible.  Not because it’s the new “buzz word” for marketing, but because it just simply seems, to us, to be the right thing to do.  When you purchase locally, ingredients are fresher and higher in quality, you stimulate your local economy and because “the goods” are not transported from hundreds of miles away, the “carbon footprint” is reduced which helps Mother Earth.

Owning a business and having to purchase product in bulk poses significant difficulty with some vendors.  Dairy has presented a challenge, although local eggs haven’t been easy to purchase on a bulk scale either. Ironically, several egg producers in the area have committed all of their product to the Whole Foods Corporation. Go figure, the “big boys” who also promote buying locally are preventing the small businesses from doing the same.  Unbleached and unbromated  flour is a whole other story.  On a positive note, fruits, veggies, beef, poultry, seafood, coffee, cheeses, honey, soaps, lotions, crafts, jewelry and of course, all natural DESSERTS, BREADS and BEVERAGES are no problem!

This challenge is raising awareness in our community and identifying the gaps, that together, we can work to fill.  Brushmiller and McDowell want anyone raising food or fishing locally who want to promote their wares to contact them at www.burlyoak.com and at www.wegrowgoodfood.com.

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.

Paying it forward, making a difference one cupcake at a time!

The expression “pay it forward” is used to describe the concept of asking that a good turn be repaid by having it done to others instead.  In celebration of our 1 Year Anniversary, we intend to do just that!  From April 4th through April 8th, we will be collecting monetary and food donations to help the First Baptist Church of Berlin replenish their food pantry. When you donate, we will happily satisfy your “Sweet Tooth” with a FREE, all natural dessert.

My first experience with the term “pay it forward” was watching the film Pay It Forward which was an adaptation of the novel written by Catherine Ryan Hyde.  In the book and the movie it is described as the obligation to do three good deeds for others in repayment of a good deed that one receives.  In this way, the need to help others then spreads through society and the movement, in turn, makes the world a better place.

Courtesy of WIKI…

The idea of the book and movie has been championed in real life by the Pay It Forward Foundation. The Foundation focuses on bringing the idea of paying it forward to school age children, parents, and educators. The simple idea of doing good works for others to repay the good that has happened to you is one that can easily be conveyed to children and encourages them to be socially aware and take a role in making the world a better place.[citation needed] The main character of the book was a 12-year-old child, thus giving other children someone they can relate to.

We are a small business and “giving product away” is an expense, but we are committed to this community and making a positive difference here.  There are so many people struggling in this economy, the need for assistance in and surrounding this community is greater than ever.   Imagine, if each of us performs three good deeds to help another, no matter how small, and those people perform three good deeds and then those people perform three good deeds and so on.   What an impact it would make…whose life might be changed…how this world could be different?

We have been given so much by this community.  The best part of owning this business has been meeting the locals, servicing our customers and this great community.  We mean it when we say that “We have the best customers on the planet in the greatest little seaside town”.   Everyone has been so helpful, welcoming and supportive.   “Paying it forward“, even if it’s one cupcake at a time, is just our way of saying Thank You and encouraging positive change in the community that we share!