Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Pasta Ciotti....Happy Fat Tuesday!

In the past, I've shared my family's Mardi Gras traditions here on Half Baked. My Pennsylvania Dutch side of the family always makes doughnut for Fastnacht Day. A couple of years ago I changed it up a bit and made these beignets instead of our traditional doughnuts. This year I thought I'd try an Italian twist to tradition and made Pasta Ciotti which means "little custard tarts". Little pastries filled with cream....I think they are the perfect indulgence for Fat Tuesday!

The original recipe has them being made in 3" tart pans but they can also be made in a muffin pan, which is what I used to make mine.
The recipe may look a little intimidating but I found they were actually quite easy to make. The dough is very forgiving and fairly easy to work with.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

Need some inspiration for a sweet treat for that special someone in your life?? Here are a few great treats that are sure to make your sweetheart swoon!

1.Chocolate Valentino Cake The name says it all! This rich decadent flourless chocolate cake will have your sweetie falling at your feet...end you don't have to tell them how easy it is to make!
2. Strawberry Panna Cotta  So pretty and delicious...the perfect end to a romantic dinner.
3.Brown Sugar Fruit Dip...perfect paired with ripe strawberries....or anything else you want to dip. Use you imagination!...umm I was thinking like pineapple or grapes...what were you thinking??? wink wink
4.Knock-off Salted Chocolate Caramel Candies  Made with store bought caramel squares, these take only a few minutes to make but will have your Valentine begging for more!
5. Pink Champagne Cake It's cake made with Champagne...what's not to love!
6. Chocolate Espresso Mousse Richly chocolate but light and fluffy. Definitely swoon inducing!
(from left to right)

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ruffle Heart Cake {tutorial}

Looking to surprise your Valentine with a special treat this year? I've got the perfect  Valentine's Day cake. This Ruffle Heart cake is fairly easy and oh so sweet! 

Here's what you'll need:
1 iced cake, any size ( you can make one or buy a basic cake from the bakery, any flavor)
1 cup buttercream frosting, tinted hot pink
1 pastry bag fitted with Wilton's rose tip #104
waxed paper, about a 5 inch wide piece

For the fondant heart banner:
8-10 inches bakers twine
1 small heart cutter (1/2 inch)
1 medium heart cutter (1 inch)
small bit of hot pink fondant
small bit of red fondant
two bamboo skewers

Draw a heart on the waxed with a marker that's approximately 3-inches tall for a four inch tall cake. Place the frosting in the pastry bag fitted with the #104 tip, Starting in the center of the heart shape on the waxed paper with the larger end of the tip touching the waxed paper, pip a small round ruffle shape. You will need to turn the waxed paper as you pip. Use a cake turntable if you have one but it isn't necessary to use a turntable if you don't own one. Then pip ruffled rows on each side of the center to until you fill out to the outline of the heart. Make sure your rows from each side meet at the bottom. Using a rounded container that is laying on it's side, place the piped heart on the waxed paper onto round container vertically. You can use any large rounded container such as, an oatmeal or shortening container, soup cans are too small. (see photo above). The curve of the container will allow the heart to set up with a slight curve that will make it easier to adhere to the curve of the cake.  Place the heart on the container into the freezer for 20-30 minutes or until completely firm to the touch.
Put a dot of frosting onto the side of the cake, where you want to place the heart. Gently lift the buttercream heart from the waxed paper and place onto the side of the cake where you put the dot of frosting. I put the heart onto the cake and placed the piece of waxed paper back over it to press it onto the cake. I wanted to minimize the warmth of my hand from warming up the buttercream and crushing any of the ruffles as I pressed the heart on the cake.

To make the heart banner:
Roll out the pink and red fondant to about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out 4 small hearts from the red and two medium hearts from the pink fondant. Lay one of the pink hearts with a red heart on each side, leave about two inches of space between each of the heart. Place the twine across the middle of each of the hearts. very lightly press the twine onto the heart.  Place the remaining matching hearts on top of their mate. Press together the hearts, trapping the twine in between. If your hearts don't want to stick together, use a tiny drop of water on one of the hearts to help glue on the matching heart on top. Let the fondant dry for at least 24 hours. Tie the ends of the twine very tightly onto bamboo skewers to make the banner.
To add a little extra sparkle,I added a bit of food safe disco dust to my center heart.

Place the skewers on the banner on the top of the cake.
Happy Valentine's Day!!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Game Day Pizza Dip

Are you ready for some FOOTBALL?
It's almost Game Day. If your having a Super Bowl party, you'll want to put this pizza dip on the menu.  Not only is it ridiculously easy to prepare, but it's also everything you love about pizza but in the form of a dip. What could be more perfect! If your having a large party just double the recipe and you're set to feed a crowd.
Game Day Pizza Dip

12 ounces shredded mozzarella
1 8-ounce cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoons crushed red pepper
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup tomato sauce
4 ounces pepperoni,sliced

In a food processor, combine the cream cheese, cheese, olive oil, salt and the spices. Pulse the mixture until very well combined. Shape the cheese mixture into a football or just a mound.

Make a deep well on top of the cheese mixture. Put the tomato sauce in the well you made in the top. Shingle the pepperoni all around the exterior. Dig in!

If you need some more inspiration for Game Day foods here is a round-up of a few of my favorites!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pink Champagne Cake

Happy New Year!! Ok I know I'm really just a tiny bit late to the party, but I brought a pink Champagne cake. Hopefully this will make up for my tardiness in posting!!
I recently came across a recipe for this cake and have been dying to make it ever since. I was putting together a cake tasting for a bride this week and thought this cake would be a perfect for a wedding. Everything about this cake just screams celebration!

This would be a great cake for any celebration...perfect for Valentine's day!!

Here are just a couple of my thoughts on this cake. If you don't like the taste of Champagne/sparkling wine, you probably won't like the cake. It has two cups of champagne in it and it has a distinct champagne flavor. I thought it tasted a bit like a Zabaglione, which is one of my favorite desserts. Also, you need to use a sweet, not a dry (brut) Champagne or sparkling wine. It doesn't necessarily have to be a pink champagne but it should be more sweet than dry. I used a sparkling Rose for this cake.
Once again, you really can taste the flavor of the Champagne, so buy one that would be good enough to drink.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Eggnog Rice Krispy Treats

I've been on kind of a rice krisy treat kick lately. I feel like plain RKT's (rice krispy treats) are a bit like a blank canvas. They are fine just as they are but open to lots and lots of variations. For me it just isn't the Christmas season until I get my first glass of eggnog. while shopping for some cake decorating supplies a few days ago, I found some eggnog flavored candy melts made by Wilton. I bought them, not really knowing how I would use them. i decided to make Eggnog flavored RKT's using the candy melts as an icing for the treats. These RKT's really taste like eggnog which makes them perfect  for the holiday season.

Eggnog Rice Krispy Treats
3 tablespoons butter
1 10 ounce bag mini marshmallows
1 1/2 teaspoons rum or rum extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of salt
6 cups rice krispy cereal
1 cup white chocolate chips

1 bag Wilton Eggnog Candy Melts

Spray an 8x8 pan with non-stick cooking spray. I like my rice krispy treats to be thick. You can also use a 9x13 inch pan, your treats will just be a little thinner.

In a large pot, melt butter and stir in the marshmallows over medium low heat until marshmallows are melted completely. Remove from heat. Stir in run extract, salt,   and nutmeg. Pour in cereal and stir to coat in marshmallow. Stir in the white chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan and press down well with buttered fingers. Melt the Wilton eggnog candy melts according the package instrutions, With an off set spatula or knife spread the melted eggnog candies over the top. Top with sprinkles , if desired. Cool to room temperature, about 20-30 minutes. Cut into bars and serve.
Bag them up and give them as Christmas gifts!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Making Plans for the Future

Can you believe the New Year is just around the corner? As a younger person I never really thought much about the New Year beyond how/where to celebrate with friends and family. As I’ve gotten older, I find myself looking at the New Year, less as just a time to celebrate and more as a time to take stock and reevaluate my life and goals for the future. What do I want my future to look like and how can I make those things happen? The New Year is just a natural time to consider making changes to ensure a good future. It’s a great time to really think about the things I’m doing now and how they will affect the future I hope to build. Is how I’m living my life now working toward my plans for the future? How do I want to Get Old? Get Old is an initiative developed by Pfizer to challenge people of all ages to rethink what it means to Get Old and take a more active role in their health and quality of life at every age.
For me, and I would imagine a whole lot of other people, this includes planning for maintaining good mental and physical health in the future. Sure good genes play a role in our health as we age but taking charge of how we live our lives can make a huge difference in future health and well-being. Being mentally and physically strong as I get older is important to me so this year I’m resolving to take simple steps help ensure both as I age.
My New Year’s resolutions usually include some vague plan to lose a little weight, get more exercise and eat better. I've found I have better success when I’m accountable to someone. This past year I've done pretty well sticking to my exercise goals from last year by meeting my friend every morning to walk. We motivate each other by having a plan to meet and walk our neighborhood first thing every day. Having that accountability to has made a huge difference in me actually sticking to my goal to get more exercise. My goal for this year is to continue this and also add in some workout classes. I've found I need really need the accountability and motivation of an organized workout plan. I don’t stick with it otherwise.
Another big resolution for me this year is eating better. I know this is one of those resolutions that everyone makes but this is something that has been really difficult for me since Hubs has taken a job that keeps him away from home for long stretches of time. Eating alone, I tend to just do whatever is most convenient, which is usually not the healthiest choice.  One of my concrete plans to reach this goal is to eat breakfast every day. That may sound easy for some but I almost NEVER eat breakfast even though I’m well aware that it’s “the most important meal of the day!” So I’m resolving to eat breakfast every day. I’m planning to try to eat things like this Apple Pie Oatmeal. It can be made make ahead and is so easy, I’ll have no excuse for not sticking with my resolution!
I have found that when I stick to both of these goals I feel better not only physically but mentally as well. Another resolution I’m making toward mental “fitness” is continuing to pursue my passion for cake decorating by building up my small business and striving to learn new techniques and methods to take my skill set to the next level.

These are just a few of the things that come to mind for me as I think about resolutions and goals for the upcoming New Year. What are you doing to Get Old well?  Tell us at GetOld.com and join the conversation on Twitter.com/GetOld and Facebook.com/GetOld.   I am participating in a sponsored campaign hosted by Pfizer and Get Old. I received compensation for this post. All opinions stated are my own. Get Old is a registered trademark of Pfizer Inc.