Friday, November 5, 2010

Cute Candy Favors

I was just looking for some candy favor ideas and came across these cuties. They are simple, colorful and affordable. Here are the easy directions.

These can be used as favors, place cards, or just decoration. 
I absolutely love how the candy is color coordinated with the cupcake liners. Just make sure that you have strong cupcake liners, so that they can hold the weight of the candy.

Have a wonderful weekend! 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Crazy for Cranberries

Now that Halloween has passed, it's time to think about what’s next… Thanksgiving. I absolutely love how crazy/fun the holiday season is. There always are back to back events with wonderful family and friends and lots of great food & desserts. Thanksgiving and fall in general, make me think of some of my favorite foods: cranberries, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and apples!
Speaking of cranberries, I just finished baking cranberry muffins. This often overlooked fruit is actually loaded with antioxidants. Here is the muffin recipe I used:

Cranberry-Orange Oat Muffins 
Yields: 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup oats (I used old fashioned)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
                   1/2 cup chopped fresh cranberries
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup orange juice
2 large eggs
                   1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Combine flour and all ingredients through nutmeg in a large bowl, stir with a whisk. Add the chopped cranberries. Make a well in center of the mixture.
In a separate bowl mix the sugar, oil, juice, and eggs. Stir this mixture into the dry mixture, just until the ingredients are combined. Coat muffin pans with cooking spray, spoon in batter and sprinkle tops with turbinado sugar. Bake for 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

These muffins are best served warm!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Tutorial

Making chocolate covered pretzels is extremely easy and can be oh so impressive! 

Here is what you need to make the pretzels in the picture above:
- Regular shaped pretzels (flavor of your preference)
- White chocolate melts or chocolate chips
- Yellow chocolate melts
- Black chocolate melts
- 2 quart size plastic bags or decorating bags
- Parchment paper
- Scissors
- 1 regular sized coffee mug 

Fill mug about half way with white chocolate melts. Put in the microwave for about a minute to a minute and a half. DO NOT WALK AWAY from your microwave; you will need to stir the chocolate every 20 seconds until the chocolate resembles a liquid consistency. Dip the pretzel vertically into the melted chocolate, covering the bottom half with chocolate. Shake the pretzel back and forth in the cup to remove excess chocolate. Place the half dipped chocolate pretzel on the parchment paper and follow the same process for your other pretzels. Carefully place the parchment paper on a flat surface in the fridge for about 10 minutes until the chocolate has hardened.
When the chocolate has hardened, remove parchment paper from the fridge and repeat the process by dipping the opposite ends of the pretzels. This will cover the pretzels completely in the white chocolate. Let them chill in the fridge for another 10 minutes.

Put some of the black chocolate melts in one plastic bag and some of the yellow melts in the other plastic bag. Heat in microwave until it is a liquid consistency; make sure to kneed/massage the bag every 20 seconds. Cut off a very small piece in the bottom corner of each bag. Remember that you can always cut the whole bigger but you can never make it smaller!

Line up all of the white chocolate pretzels and make zig zags with the yellow chocolate, followed by the black chocolate in the opposite direction. Let them chill for another few minutes until they have hardened.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween Dessert Table

I hope everyone had a spooky/fun Halloween this past weekend. This year I decided to dress up as a pirate and I can assure you that I was in good company. It was exciting to walk the city streets of New York, checking out all the creative costumes. In order to take in the true spirit of Halloween (i.e. candy), I created a fun dessert table so my friends and I could get our sweet fix. To all you kids out there… this is what adults need to do when they are too old to go trick-or-treating!

I decided to go with a non-traditional color palette: black, white, and yellow. I included different types of candy, marshmallow pops, brownie pops, gourmet popcorn, chocolate covered pretzels, cupcakes and ghost nutter-butter cookies. I also had customized chocolate bars and candy treat bags for guests to take home. Here are some of the photos taken by my new photographer, Jessica Sprung! 


Dessert Tables Take Center Stage

Dessert tables are quickly surpassing the ‘cupcake’ in popularity. These incredible displays are the new hottest trend for showcasing desserts. Dessert tables that show off custom cupcakes are even better. Check out the fabulous cupcake display below from The Cupcake Company.

So many events can be livened up by a well put together dessert table. Who doesn't look forward to dessert? From intimate birthday parties to elaborate weddings... why not bring it up a notch and truly impress your guests with an unforgettable dessert table. Guests absolutely love to help themselves to a great candy selection, mini desserts or a combination of the two. 

The success of any dessert table is based on the attention to detail. Obviously, the location of the table, the type of table or tablecloth, the colors used, and the actual desserts are all important components. However, details that are often overlooked such as: ribbon, flags, labels on the desserts, and personalized messages can really make your table an eye-catching home run.

Also, it is important to remember to keep the color palette simple. Notice in the photo above how Amy Atlas limits her color selection to tones of pinks and browns. While some desserts may be beautiful as they stand alone, when grouped with desserts of  many different colors, the table can become so busy that the eye cannot appreciate the individual beauty of each element. The eye needs order and pattern to take in the number of choices displayed. Your goal should be to create a cohesive vision.

The use of different types of vessels/jars is important to keep your eye interested on the display. Make sure to vary the heights of items on your table so that all of your plates are not just lying flat on the table.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A New Beginning

I am so excited to enter the blogging world. In this blog, I will focus on some of my favorite things: baking, d├ęcor, and the amazing result of combining these two. Growing up with a family that is half Swedish, it has always been very special to me to make our family’s Swedish sugar cookie recipe for the holidays. I can remember those days when I was too short to even reach the counter so my grandma would plop me on the counter to engage in all the fun. Cookie dough everywhere! As I grew older, I continued the tradition with my father and many of my friends who still come over every year to make our special cookies!

Now to discuss the inspiration behind the other half of this blog – design. It just so happens that my very own mother has been an interior designer for over twenty years. Since we share a very close relationship, her passion for design has seemed to rub off on me. I have worked as her assistant on a number of projects and pooling our ideas, creativity, and energy always has amazing results!

As you can probably determine, family has always been very important to me. That is why both baking and design have had important roles in my life. What could be better than to combine two passions!?