Garrison Dealer

Author: Kirsten K., Food, Food & Drink, Sweets

Garrison Dealer 1Knowing of my love for quality chocolate, friends and family members have become enablers of my addiction, searching out unique treats to give as gifts on birthdays and special occasions. My latest dealer is my mother’s friend Pia, who surprised me at Christmas with a beribboned box of chocolates from Garrison Confections. I’d never heard of the company, but was delighted when I opened the box to see that it contained a ganache infused with Prince Vladimir Tea from Kusmi. However, it was their unusual series of chocolates featuring pâtes de fruit that won me over.

Garrison Dealer 2Pâtes de fruit are a classic French candy with intense fruit flavor and a consistency that falls somewhere between gumdrops and Jell-O (they are often referred to as “fruit jellies”). Garrison offers intriguing combinations like “cherry pâte de fruit on top of a pistachio ganache enrobed in dark chocolate” and “red currant pâte de fruit on top of almond marzipan enrobed in milk chocolate,” but the grapefruit version atop a tarragon-infused ganache was a standout, as was their hazelnut praline blended with fennel pollen. The chocolates are also lovely to look at with their whimsical screen-printed images.

Andrew Garrison Schotts, the creator of Garrison Confections, is a pastry chef who has worked at The Russian Tea Room in New York and Guittard Chocolate Company in San Francisco, among other renowned culinary establishments. He has written the book Making Artisan Chocolates and was named “Hottest Chocolatier” in America by The Food Network in 2007. Yep, he’s a pusher. You can get your fix with Garrison’s seasonal collection of boxed chocolates or with a variety of bars and chocolate-themed goodies.

If you’re a cacao junkie like me, try a line of chocolates from Garrison…and hope that nobody attempts an intervention.

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Garrison Confections

 

Making Artisan Chocolates can be purchased from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

 

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The Salty Road to Deliciousness

Author: Kirsti Kay, Food, Food & Drink, Nostalgia, Sweets

Salty Road 1I think, when all of us were kids, we thought that saltwater taffy was made with actual water from the sea. The very thought of taking a bite of THE OCEAN made the treat much more interesting and delicious than it would have been otherwise. I was always pretty sure I tasted the brine somewhere in that little fluffy pillow, but I also believed in magic and fairies and the goodness of people, so it wasn’t that big of a stretch for me.

Salty Road 2Later, when I found out the “salt water” in saltwater taffy was marketing, I was disappointed—much like poor Ralphie in A Christmas Story when he finds out his Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring is a crummy commercial (be sure to drink your Ovaltine!). But even at that young age I did appreciate the genius behind the idea. So, when I discovered that Salty Road Salt Water Taffy has actual salt in it, I had to try it.

Salty Road Salt Water Taffy is made in Brooklyn with all natural ingredients and a lot of love. Not only does their taffy have salt in it, they use a coarse salt that gives the taffy a really addictive crunch, making eating only one piece almost impossible. Salty Road 3Combine the salty goodness with unique flavors such as Bergamot, Chili Chocolate, Sour Cherry, Peppermint and Salted Mango Lassi, and you have got yourself one perfect bite of pure deliciousness.

With holiday flavors just released, like Snow Mint, Pumpkin Pie, and Eggnog, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. A chewy, salty, awesome Christmas.

I still believe in magic and fairies and (mostly) the goodness of people, but now I am definitely sure I taste the sea in my taffy…or at least the salty tang of Brooklyn.

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Salty Road Salt Water Taffy

Ask for the Moonstruck

Author: Kirsten K., Food, Food & Drink, Holidays, Sweets

Moonstruck 1As a minimalist, I like to splurge on consumables. One brief, shining moment of glory and then they’re gone, leaving behind only a happy memory. As a chocolate lover, I’m always on the prowl for something fresh and unusual featuring the beloved bean. Because my browser knows me so well, it recently alerted me to this adorable coffin (do you think those two words have ever been used together before?) from Moonstruck Chocolate Co. in Oregon. Packed with monstrously delicious truffles like Frankenstein Toffee, Popping Praline Mummy, Blood Orange Devil, and Crème Brûlée Werewolf, this collection is as delightful as it is frightful.

Moonstruck 2Since I was already splurging, I decided to add their 6-piece Flavors of Fall Collection to the mix. Fall is my favorite time of year, so what could be better than the flavors of fall interpreted in chocolate? Pecan Pie, Pfeffernüsse Spice, Harvest Almond Praline, and Pumpkin Pie—hold me! I wish I could tell you that I swooned over these chocolates, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to eat one yet. They are so beautiful that I may have turned into a filthy hoarder like Kirsti, unable to use things up and thereby end the anticipatory glee.

My order was delivered just days ago, but it appears that the company has already run out of Haunted House coffins, since they are no longer featured on the website. However, the individual truffles are still available, along with 4-piece Pumpkin Patch and Monster Mash Collections and a 5-piece Spooky Spider Collection. Moonstruck ships on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays and offers 2-Day and Next Day shipping options, so there’s still time to get your monster truffles by Halloween if you order in the next couple of days.

In the meantime, I plan to bury these chocolates in my mouth, so I hope that biting into a werewolf doesn’t have the same effect as being bitten by one, because I’ve been well and truly moonstruck.

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Moonstruck Chocolate Co.

 

10/30/15 update:

I am happy to say that, having sampled each of the offerings in the Haunted House and Flavors of Fall collections from Moonstruck, these chocolates are to swoon for. They have some of the creamiest truffles I’ve ever tasted. My favorite might have been the milk chocolate pumpkin, which has a touch of pumpkin pie spice in the dusting of sugar on the outside. The Frankenstein has so much detail and expression that I could hardly bear to bite into him…but I did, and it was electrifying.

You may have missed the opportunity to sample their Halloween and Fall collections, but their Classic Truffle Collection is available year-round, along with a variety of other chocolates. Be sure to keep an eye out for their upcoming holiday collections.

 

10/05/17 update:

Tonight’s rare Harvest Moon is a reminder that it’s time once again to Ask for the Moonstruck. Their Haunted House Collection usually sells out quickly, so get your coffin before these confections are dearly departed. 👻

 

Mad for Madeleines

Author: Kirsti Kay, Dessert, Food, Food & Drink, Recipes, Sweets

Some people are born to sing or paint or play music. I was born to feed people. When I have friends over for dinner, I can’t help but make everything from scratch. I love orchestrating an evening from start to finish: flowers, table setting, music, cocktails and the food—lots of food. Planning a dinner party fills me with happy excitement. I get giddy poring through cookbooks and files of recipes; pairing dishes that complement each other, that will look pretty together on the plate and, most of all, will taste amazing.

Mad for Madeleines 1I spend more time on the dessert than anything else. Sometimes I wish I could just go to Costco and get one of their giant pies. They are delicious and pretty and no one would care that I didn’t make it. But I am a Sugar Nerd and buying a prefab dessert would be tantamount to lip syncing on SNL. Even though the dessert is the most time-consuming element of my dinner parties, it’s my favorite part.

Then one day, everything changed. I came across a recipe for Daniel Boulud’s madeleines. A madeleine is a miniature French butter cake baked in a shell-shaped mold. I had never been a big fan of them—the ones I ran into were usually dry and bland. But the thought of serving warm little cakes, hot from the oven and dusted with powdered sugar, tantalized me. So I made them the next time we had friends over for dinner.

Mad for Madeleines 2I have to add an “Ooh la la!” for emphasis here. We all kind of lost our minds. They were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside—lusciously buttery and not too sweet. The four of us ate every last one. We didn’t care. Everyone got a kick out of getting something hot from the oven and the house smelled so good! The best part: they took me ten minutes to make and I got just as many oohs and aahs as I do when I spend two days making dessert. I was liberated! These little babies are now my go-to dessert. Sometimes I serve them with fresh berries, other times with whipped cream. Most of the time, I already have the ingredients on hand—no more searching out hard-to-find things like almond paste or powdered egg whites! It’s also the perfect dessert for guests who are gluten-free. Just substitute the all-purpose flour with gluten-free flour. They are just as delicious. Please indulge me one last time: “Ooh la la!”

Now, when people are coming over for dinner, the only dessert decision I need to make is if the madeleines should have lemon, orange or grapefruit zest. Take that, giant Costco pie! I dream of you no more! Well, maybe I do when I take that nap with all the free time I have now. Those French know how to live! I truly get to have my cake and eat it, too. Ooh. La. La.

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MADELEINES (adapted from Daniel Boulud)

Mad for Madeleines 3INGREDIENTS
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp kosher salt
¾ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 Tbsp honey
2 tsp finely grated lemon, orange or grapefruit zest
6 Tbsp (¾ stick) unsalted butter, melted and warm

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Powdered sugar

Special Equipment: 1 madeleine pan (with 12 cake molds)*

INSTRUCTIONS
Whisk baking powder, flour and salt in a small bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, brown sugar, honey and zest in a medium bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients and whisk until just smooth. Whisk in melted butter. Pour batter into a large plastic resealable bag and chill for at least 1 hour. (DO AHEAD: Batter can be made the day before. Keep chilled until ready to use.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray madeleine pan with oil spray and dust with flour, tapping out the excess. Snip end off one corner of the plastic bag and pipe batter into the madeleine pan, filling molds two-thirds full.

Bake madeleines until the edges are golden brown and the centers are puffed up and spring back lightly when touched, about 7-8 minutes.

Release each cake gently with a toothpick or chopstick. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm. Makes about 18 large Madeleines.

Receive tribute from guests.

 

*I like this madeleine pan, which can be purchased from Amazon.

Cute Sweet

Author: Kirsten K., Food, Food & Drink, Sweets

Cute Sweet 1I consider myself something of a chocolate snob. I dislike the term “chocoholic,” because it implies the indiscriminate and uncontrolled consumption of any and all forms of chocolate, regardless of quality (although, there have been times, I won’t lie). An appreciator of fine wine is referred to as an oenophile, rather than a winoholic or an alcoholic, so I guess that would make me a chocophile.

My family and friends are aware of this and have been conscientious about searching out the good stuff when it comes to gift giving. Recently, my cousin presented me with a box from Mignon, a chocolatier in Glendale, California that was new to me. I’m sure she was gratified when I read through their selection guide and squealed with delight over the pictures and descriptions of the chocolates, which she had hand-selected. After all, a gift of quality chocolate must be given its proper due.

Cute Sweet 2I savored these beauties over the days that followed, taking care to store them properly in the infernal heat of late summer in Southern California. I know people (I won’t mention a specific name, but it rhymes with “thirsty”) who keep chocolates for weeks or even months, but these types of handmade confections without preservatives need to be consumed within a week, at most. Shockingly, this does not pose a problem for me.

Two things I look for in a box of fine chocolates are a good temper and pronounced flavor. I love to feel the snap of a glossy shell give way to a creamy center, especially when the ganache is infused enough that I can truly taste the essence(s). Kirsti and I are always disappointed when the flavors that have lured us end up being so subtle that you only get a hint. The temper of these chocolates put me in good humor and the flavors were both inventive and conspicuous. My favorites were the Ginger with Lime Sea Salt, Cuban Mojito, Earl Grey Tea, Lavender, and Triple Crunch, which had four distinct textures.

Although the name Mignon is a French word meaning “cute,” this business made its way to America from Ukraine by way of Iran through three generations of an Armenian family. Chocolate isn’t the only thing that’s melting in the pot. So if you want to experience a treat that has withstood the test of time, distance, and culture, get yourself a box of these delicious chocolates tout de suite!

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Mignon Chocolate

 

If you don’t live in the Los Angeles area, you can order Mignon chocolates from the company’s website, where their fun Build-Your-Box feature allows you to create your own assortment by clicking and dragging chocolates into a virtual box.

 

This Galette Is Plum Delicious

Author: Kirsti Kay, Dessert, Entertaining, Food, Food & Drink, Recipes, Sweets

Galette 1We at The Swoon Society like to eat and we love making food for friends. I made this fantastic plum galette for a dinner party last Saturday night. A galette is basically an open-faced pie where you pile the ingredients into the center of a pie crust and then fold the edges over the filling and—voilà—a quick, easy dessert that has so much damn rustic charm, your guests suspect you also churn your own butter.

When my husband Aaron proclaimed, “This is your best galette yet,” I knew I needed to share the love. Take it as your own, Swooners, and good luck with that butter churning.

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Galette 2PLUM GALETTE (adapted from Food & Wine magazine)

INGREDIENTS

Pastry:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup ice water

Filling:
¼ cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp ground almonds or almond meal (available at Trader Joe’s)
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 ½ lbs plums, halved, pitted and cut into ½ slices
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
½ jar apricot preserves, slightly warmed

INSTRUCTIONS

Pastry:
Combine the 1 ½ cups flour, 1 ½ sticks of butter, and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times (resist the urge to pulse more!). Add the ice water and pulse a few more times. You should still see chunks of butter in the dough. Gather dough into a ball and roll out on a lightly floured surface into a 16×18-inch circle about 1/8” thick. Roll dough around a rolling pin and transfer to a large, flat cookie sheet. Chill 30 minutes in the freezer (you can also make the night before, cover with plastic wrap, and keep in the refrigerator). Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Filling:
In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup of sugar with the ground almonds and flour and spread over the center of the pastry, leaving 2” around the edge. Arrange the plum slices in a decorative circular pattern, starting at the outside edge, and dot with the 3 small pieces of butter. Sprinkle all but 1 tsp of the 1/3 cup sugar over the plums. Gently fold the 2” edges of the pastry up over the fruit (if dough is too firm, let thaw about 10 minutes until pliable or it will break). Sprinkle the border with the remaining 1 tsp sugar.

Bake the galette on the middle rack in the oven for about an hour. The crust should be nicely browned. If any juice has leaked out onto the baking sheet, slide a knife under the galette to prevent it from sticking. Brush the apricot preserves over the fruit and crust. Let cool to room temperature and serve with freshly whipped cream, if desired.

That’s My Jam!

Author: Kirsten K., Dessert, Food, Food & Drink, Recipes, Savories, Snacks, Starters, Sweets

That's My Jam 1I have a problem with condiments. It’s not the taste (although, don’t get me started on relish), it’s the loitering. As a single person, a bottle of ketchup can sit on the door of my refrigerator for months. And yellow mustard? That’s once or twice a year, tops. Spying the partially used bottles every time I look in the fridge is almost as upsetting as watching the contents wash down the drain when I finally decide to dump them.

Jams and jellies tend to go faster, but they can still overstay their welcome—with one notable exception. Jimmie’s Chipotle Pepper Jam is so delicious that I have trouble keeping it on the shelf. It is, quite possibly, the most swoon-worthy thing I have written about on this blog to date.

That's My Jam 2My good friend Mika, a pastry chef and foodie extraordinaire, turned me on to this sweet and spicy spread several years ago when she discovered it at a local farmer’s market. While the label recommends serving the jam as a condiment or glaze for meats, we at The Swoon Society like to spoon it atop baguette slices that have been heaped with Saint-André triple-crème cheese. If you serve this as an appetizer, be prepared for guests who are too full to do more than pick at the main course.

Not content to take a supporting role, the fiery, smoky flavor of Jimmie’s Chipotle Pepper Jam shines when paired with simple foods. For an unexpected treat, heat a little of the jam and pour it over vanilla ice cream. The casein protein in dairy products helps to neutralize the spiciness of the chipotle pepper, while the cold ice cream cools the fire. (Vegans can enjoy Jimmie’s on non-dairy cream cheese and coconut milk ice cream, but these foods do little to soothe the burn.)

That's My Jam 3Uncle Berch’s Foods only sells Jimmie’s Chipotle Pepper Jam in packs of three, four, or five jars, but don’t let that discourage you from trying it. You will tear through those jars and find yourself ordering more to give away to friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors alike. Keep some on hand to use as host/hostess gifts, but make sure to always hold back a jar or two for yourself, or you’ll inevitably dip into your stash.

I’m not sure who this Jimmie is (or Uncle Berch either, for that matter), but he knows his way around a pepper. In addition to the original, he makes three other Chipotle varieties, as well as versions with Red Fresno Chili, Habañero and Ghost Pepper. The label quotes Jimmie as saying, “It’s easy to make things hot. It’s hard to make it taste good.” You can’t exactly set it to music, but his flavors completely rock. Jam on!

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Jimmie’s Chipotle Pepper Jam

 

Saint-André triple-crème cheese can be found at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and many gourmet cheese shops.

Going Native

Author: Kirsten K., Coffee, Dessert, Food, Food & Drink, Hot Drinks, Recipes, Sweets

Going Native 1I rarely consume dairy milk, but I wasn’t crazy about most of the alternatives until I discovered the wonders of coconut milk. I’m not talking about the highly diluted version sold in Tetra Paks that you can find on store shelves next to the almond, soy, and hemp milks. I mean the thick, creamy coconut milk sold in cans that is located in the ethnic foods section of most supermarkets.

I found my way to canned coconut milk when I was looking for a natural, non-dairy creamer to use in my morning coffee and brewed chocolate. I like to control the amount and type of sweetener I add, but all of the soy and coconut creamers I’ve come across contain sugar, and the milk alternatives are too light to replace creamer. When I decided to try canned coconut milk, I went…well…coconuts!

Going Native 2Over the years, I’ve tried many different brands and grades of coconut milk, and Native Forest is, in my opinion, the best of the bunch. It comes in three varieties, but I’ve only seen the Classic and Light versions at my local market. The Light Coconut Milk has a beautifully smooth texture and a mild, sweet flavor that mixes well with coffee and tea. It can be thinned with water and poured over cereal or used in any recipe that calls for milk. I use the full-fat Classic Coconut Milk to make non-dairy ice cream and whipped coconut cream. Melt a bar of dark chocolate in a pan of hot coconut milk for the most swoon-worthy cup of hot chocolate you’ve ever tasted.

All of Native Forest’s coconut milks are organic and come packaged in BPA-free cans. Once opened, the milk should be consumed within four days, but I get around this by freezing it in ice cube trays. I just pop a few cubes out every couple of days and let them thaw in the fridge until I need them. The cans are shelf-stable for years, so I always keep several on hand.

This past week, I saw Native Forest coconut milk at Trader Joe’s, where they were selling it for half the price I normally pay. Previously, I’d only found the brand at health food stores and high-end markets, so I asked an employee about it. He said that Trader Joe’s is repackaging its own coconut milk and sourced the Native Forest brand to offer as an alternative in the meantime. I have no idea how long the situation will last, so I suggest you look for this fantastic deal and milk it for all it’s worth.

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Native Forest Organic Coconut Milk

 

Native Forest coconut milk is sold at Whole Foods and some health food stores. It is available at Trader Joe’s for a limited time.

 

Update 7/20/16:

Native Forest Coconut Milk PowderNative Forest now offers a convenient Coconut Milk Powder. Just like their canned coconut milks, the powdered version is vegan and gluten-free. It dissolves instantly in hot water, making it ideal for use as a non-dairy creamer. It also comes in a resealable pouch that doesn’t need to be refrigerated, so it’s great for travel or if (like me) you don’t have a fridge at work. Mix with cocoa powder and a little xylitol for a quick and easy sugar-free hot chocolate. That may not sound appealing in the midst of this heat wave, but fall will be here before you know it, so enjoy your summer vacation and be sure to take the powder when you take a powder.

Native Forest Coconut Milk can be purchased at Sprouts, the stores mentioned above, or online from AmazonEdward & Sons, and Thrive Market.

 

Join the Popsicle Revolution!

Author: Kirsti Kay, Dessert, Food, Food & Drink, Recipes, Snacks, Sweets

Popsicle 1Popsicle. A happy little word that conjures memories from childhood summers, when there wasn’t anything else to do but sit on the porch with the neighborhood kids and fight over who got the last cherry one. We didn’t care that we were sticky or that it was blazing hot outside. Give a kid a popsicle and all is right in her world.

Today, popsicles have been enjoying a renaissance. I first encountered this Popsicle Revolution when People’s Pops took Brooklyn by storm with their handmade pops made with fresh, seasonal ingredients. With flavors like Raspberry & Basil, Blueberry & Buttermilk, and Apricot & Lavender, I was on board with this Frozen Confection Train.

Popsicle 2Shortly after that, I heard of a place tantalizingly named Suck It Sweets in Studio City.* Oh, my. I could drive there. And I did. And it was Awesome.

I had their Cherry Cobbler pop and, may I say, it was not disappointing. SO not disappointing.

Sometime later, while cruising the frozen section at Whole Foods, I stumbled upon paletas. These are Mexican ice pops made from Mangoes and Chilies and Hibiscus and Coconut and a myriad of other wonderful, regional ingredients. ¡Muy deliciosos!

The signs were unmistakable. My mission became clear. I promptly ordered the following gear: pop molds, sticks, and the bible of frozen confections—the People’s Pops recipe book. I started out classic…trying out Straight-Up Raspberry for a visiting relative. Then I attempted their Blackberry & Rose. Both were Crazy Good.

Popsicle 3

Monin Violet Syrup

My latest fave is Cucumber & Violet. When I saw that recipe in the book, I gasped out loud.** It was serendipitous, because I had just bought some Monin Violet Syrup and was itching to try it. This violet syrup has the truest violet flavor I’ve tried. I can’t wait to experiment with it more. And I have always loved cucumber in spa water and cocktails—I couldn’t wait to try these pops!

They are super easy to make. The only ingredients are:

cucumbers
simple syrup
lemon juice
violet syrup

Popsicle 7

Simple. The taste? Fresh Floral Deliciousness. Neither flavor is overpowering, and they aren’t overly sweet, just really refreshing—perfect on a hot afternoon or even as a palate cleanser during a dinner party. Seriously, friends, who would not be absolutely delighted by a Cucumber & Violet frozen pop between courses on a summer night? Anyone who wouldn’t is not invited to my dinner parties! Even my husband Aaron, who is continually barraged by my floral flavored food, loved them.

I admire the gang from People’s Pops for taking a common treat and turning it into something unexpected and innovative. I’m happily working my way through their recipe book—Vive la Révolution!

 

CUCUMBER & VIOLET POPS (adapted from People’s Pops: 55 Recipes for Ice Pops, Shave Ice, and Boozy Pops from Brooklyn’s Coolest Pop Shop)

Popsicle 41 ¼ lbs cucumbers (about 2 or 3), peeled
2/3 cup simple syrup (see recipe below)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
¼ cup violet syrup (preferably Monin), or to taste

SIMPLE SYRUP

2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup water

Simmer sugar and water in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool. Makes about 1 cup.

Purée the cucumbers in a food processor and add to a medium-sized bowl with a pouring spout. Add the lemon juice and simple syrup. Add the violet syrup, tasting as you go, until you reach delicious violet goodness.

Pour into ice pop molds, leaving a bit of room at the top, since the mixture expands as it freezes. Insert sticks and freeze for at least 4 to 5 hours.

Popsicle 5

Unmold the pops by running warm water over the mold until they release easily. Give an adult a popsicle and all is right in their world.

Popsicle 6

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People’s Pops

 

Monin Violet Syrup is available from the company’s website. You can purchase pop moldswooden popsicle sticks, and the People’s Pops recipe book from Amazon.

 

* This location has unfortunately closed. Come back to me!

**For more violet goodness, see previous posts on The Bitter Truth Violet Liqueur and Kusmi Violette tea.

 

Nice Bundts

Author: Kirsten K., Entertaining, Food, Food & Drink, Sweets

In our health- and weight-obsessed culture, I find it amusing how often people feel the need to tell me about the desserts that don’t tempt them. Either they’ll mention that they have no desire for sweets—in which case I know immediately that we can never be friends—or they’ll say, “I like ice cream, but I couldn’t care less about cookies.” Or, “I love fruit desserts, but I can walk away from chocolate.” (Also not a candidate for friendship.) The one I hear most often is, “I have no interest in cake,” to which I respond, “Hello? Frosting.”

Nice Bundts 1Notwithstanding the whipped cream version (a betrayal!)*, I swoon over frosting. Vanilla buttercream on lemon cake, cream cheese frosting on carrot cake, chocolate ganache on anything—yes, please! Judging by the mountains I’ve seen atop bakery cupcakes and the increasing availability of frosting shots, I’m not alone. I have a friend who’s a talented cake decorator. She considered pursuing it as a career when her children were young, but decided to abandon it altogether when her daughter began to demonstrate an unhealthy obsession with frosting. The struggle is real.

A few years ago, a franchise of Nothing Bundt Cakes opened near my house and I began to receive coupons in the mail for a free Bundtlet. While I enjoy a good play on words, I might have chosen a different name for the chain, like Mind if I Bundt In?, A Bundt in the Oven, or the title of this post. I also have a touch of arachnophobia, and the ropes of frosting cascading down the sides of their Bundtlets remind me of nothing so much as the legs of a spider gripping its prey. Eek! Still, I’m not one to turn down a free offer of generously frosted cake, so I set out to redeem my coupon.

Nice Bundts 2There are some gift items for sale in the shop, but when it comes to the baked goods, it’s like the sign says. Kirsti’s guiding principle is: “Do one thing, do it well.” The shop carries only Bundt cakes in various sizes: 8″ and 10″ cakes, Bundtlets (single serving), and Bundtinis (bite-sized). All have the same cream cheese frosting. They come in a handful of flavors, including Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Red Velvet, and Cinnamon Swirl, with a special flavor every couple of months, but that’s as complicated as things get. I handed over my coupon and departed with my Bundtlet, feeling slightly guilty about getting “Nothing” for nothing.

In retrospect, I shouldn’t have felt remorse, because it was clearly a well-thought-out plot to take my money. One bite of their signature frosting and I knew I was in trouble. The cake itself was quite good, baked to perfection and super m-word (I am forbidden from actually using that word on this blog, due to my co-swooner’s extreme aversion), but let’s be honest: cake is just a delivery system for frosting, and this frosting is superbly balanced in every way—soft and creamy, rich and buttery, sweet and tangy. I am gainfully employed and this shop is one mile from my house. You do the math (i.e. addition of pounds, subtraction of dollars).

Nice Bundts 3I regularly enjoy half a Bundtlet with my afternoon tea. The frosting-to-cake ratio is extremely satisfying, particularly if you let the cake reach room temperature so that the frosting becomes smooth and spreadable. Kirsti likes to offer a tray of Bundtinis on the dessert table when she’s having a party. Convenient and portable in their sturdy paper cups, they are just the right sweet bite to carry around as you mix and mingle. For my birthday a couple of years ago, I decided to invite people over for dessert, at which I served a 10″ Bundt cake. It was the best turnout I’ve had in years.

Visit the Nothing Bundt Cakes website to find a location near you and pop in for a sample. You can also follow them on Facebook or sign up on their website to receive updates about special promotions and coupons. Over time, this can save you a Bundtle—and that’s the icing on the cake.

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Nothing Bundt Cakes

 

*There are few things I can get more whipped up about than whipped cream frosting. If I don’t feel the grease on my lips, it isn’t frosting!