Archive for the ‘Sweet treats’ Category

You put the lime in the coconut!

August 28, 2009

I’m a chocolate loving girl. I tend to think a dessert doesn’t qualify as dessert if there isn’t chocolate in there somewhere. This is why I am so reluctant to try any recipe that doesn’t include some kind of chocolate. But I’m trying to be more adventurous and open-minded as of late, so I am determined to seek out other treats.

So I was excited this week when a little gem showed up in my email in-box. It was a recipe for Martha Stewart’s Key Lime Coconut Bars. I recently signed up for Martha’s “Cookie of the Day” emails and have been receiving all kinds of yummy recipes that I can’t wait to try. I went shopping for the ingredients for the the bars the very next day!

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Even though I live in Florida, I did not find key limes or key lime juice. I know our grocery store carries it, but apparently not on the day I was shopping. I substituted regular limes and juice, which the recipe states is an alternative. I honestly don’t know what a difference in flavor the key limes would make, but I will try that in the future.

The crust for the bars is a pastry crust and the dough can be made using either a pastry cutter or two knives. Well I tossed out my pastry cutter a few years ago after a very frustrating and extremely unsuccessful attempt at making apple pie. I swore to never make another pie crust again and the cutter went straight into the garbage…such is the temper I have! I tried using two knives to cut the dough as suggested by Martha. It was a mess and I was starting to get really aggravated when I had one of those clever “light bulb” moments. I dug out my potato masher and used it instead. It did the job, but man it was a workout on my forearms and biceps! I made a mental note to purchase another pastry cutter.

I sprayed the pan with non-stick spray, but in retrospect I should have lined it with foil to make it easier to remove the bars for cutting. I was still able to cut them fairly easily using a pizza cutter. I have found that the pizza cutter works really well on bar desserts and is faster and less messy than using a knife.

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The end result is that I was really happy with these Key Lime Coconut Bars. The toasted coconut added just the right crunch to these creamy little bites. I realized after tasting them, that these are basically mini key lime pies with coconut added. In fact, when I looked up a recipe for Key Lime Pie, it was almost identical. While the powdered sugar sprinkled on top was tasty, I think they would be even better with a spoonful of whipped cream.

As usual, the majority of these goodies were sent to work with my husband to share with his coworkers. He is not a fan of key lime pie and wasn’t sure if these would go over well. He was surprised (and I was quite pleased) that his coworkers went crazy for these and they did not last long! So if you are in the mood for a taste of tropical Florida in a yummy little treat, definitely give these a try!

Cake pop trials & tribulations

August 13, 2009

If you know what a cake pop is then you undoubtedly know who Bakerella is. I don’t think she invented the cake pop, but since she started making the cutest ones on the planet, they have become synonymous with her name. My friend Sheila directed me to her blog earlier this year and I fell in love with the adorable cake pops she had made for Easter. I immediately wanted to try my hand at them…so I did.

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For my first time making these, it actually went fairly well. While these don’t even remotely compare with Bakerella’s, I was pretty proud of them. It was this positive experience that gave me a false sense of confidence that would soon be my undoing.

I immediately decided I was going to start making cake pops for everything…birthdays, holidays…every occasion was going to have a cake pop to go along with it! I am walking in the Alzheimer’s Association’s Memory Walk this year and thought that selling cake pops would be a great fundraising idea. So before I’d even had a chance to try making a few more cake pops, I contacted the director of our local chapter and promised to make 200 cake pops to sell the morning of the walk. Yes, that’s right…200 cake pops! She was thrilled of course!

With my cake pop making confidence in full gear, I offered to make them for Sheila’s daughter’s 2nd birthday party. She had turned me onto the things after all, how could I not? I’m not sure what went wrong with that second attempt, other than everything! It was a complete disaster. Suffice to say, there were no cake pops at that party. Thankfully, I had also made the birthday cake so the missing pops weren’t too much of a let down.

But I have really started worrying about those 200 cake pops that I am supposed to make in November. I have nightmares of what it’s going to be like in the days leading up to the walk. Do you remember the candy making episode of I Love Lucy? That’s basically what I’m envisioning…but without the laugh track.  I knew I needed to try to make them again.

This time, there is no pressure…no holiday, no event…just me and some cake. Things start off well…cute little chocolate cake balls, armed with their paper sticks…

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Then when I begin to dip into the candy coating, things start to get ugly. One by one the brave little chocolate balls begin to lose their footing and slip off the sticks. I try gently tap-a tap-a tapping the way Bakerella has explained in her cake pop tutorial. Nope…the little suckers continue to fall off. Right around pop #7, remembering my last failed attempt, I begin to wonder if Bakerella is some sort of sorceress with magical baking powers. I cannot fathom how her pops look so absolutely perfect and mine look like they have been chewed and then spit back out!

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Then just when I’m ready to swear off cake pops forever, a few things begin to click. First, the size of the cake ball is extremely important. I notice that the smaller ones are easier to dip into the candy as they don’t get as heavy. A diameter of about an inch is just right…no bigger.

Second, you have to be FAST. You can’t dip the cake ball and then linger around, rolling it back and forth to get a good coating. No, no, no…you have to MOVE! Cake ball in, swirl once, tap gently and get out! If you don’t get it right…don’t look back…move on, there’s no saving that pop now.

Finally, the melted candy coating has to be in a container deep enough to completely submerge the cake ball in one plunge…no double dipping. If you don’t heed the above advice, this is what you have to look forward to…

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In the end, I get about three that I’m not embarrassed of…

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I think I have learned enough from this attempt to give it another try. I’m still not convinced that Bakerella doesn’t possess some sort of magical powers. And I’m still not sure how I’m going to get good enough to whip up 200 of these babies without said powers…but we will see. Stay tuned!