Thursday, November 24, 2011

Top Ten Awesome Christmas Gift Ideas for Bakers

Do you have a baker on your Christmas shopping list? I've compiled a list of 10 cool gifts that bakers will swoon for! From amateurs to pros, these gift ideas will be sure to please. No need to break the bank; there are gift ideas for every budget — from stocking stuffers to showcase uber-gifts. Happy shopping!

1. KitchenAid KSM120MC Custom Stand Mixer in Metallic Chrome $269.97 Cdn
A classic addition to any baker's kitchen — it is the one tool I use constantly and could not do without!

2. Wilton 50-Piece Tool and Caddy Decorating Set $67.99 Cdn
A fantastic starter set for anyone who wants to get started decorating cakes, cupcakes and cookies. 

3. Silpat silicone baking mat $14.99 Cdn
My favorite non-stick surface for making cookies, molding chocolate or sugar, or making bark-type desserts like peanut brittle. 

4. Silicone spatula $5.94 Cdn 
One of the most versatile tools for a baker's kitchen! A silicone spatula can take any heat; whether you're stirring caramel or melting chocolate, this spatula also has the strength to stir stiff cookie batter. A must have! 

5. Digital Scale $25 Cdn 
Many baking recipes measure by weight, so a digital scale is an essential tool for the modern baker. 

A fantastic stocking stuffer — thermometers are used in making candy, melting chocolate and making caramels.  

7. Beautiful cake stands from Shop Sweet Lulu Starting at $35
8" or 11.5" in diameter, these elegant stands will make your dessert stand out! There are many other beautiful and unique stands to choose from. Check it out! 

8. Cookie love apron $24.50 from Cafe Press 
Showcasing a match made in heaven: milk and cookies. 

The one and only Cake Pops book you need to read! Written by the popular web author, Cake Pops is a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy. 

10. Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes by David Lebovitz $28 
Reading David Lebovitz' website about his culinary adventures in Paris inspired me to start this website. 

Hopefully, you will find some of these great products for a great price tomorrow on Black Friday. Happy shopping!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sugar High Sunday: Get Ready for your Christmas Cookie Swap!

Have you ever participated in a cookie swap?
Some of you (you know who you are, you naughty minx) may be thinking this is a euphemism for something immoral and vaguely illegal. I assure you, cookie swaps or exchanges are completely dessert-related! (Sorry, minx

The premise is simple and brilliant — you and let's say, five of your friends each make six dozen of one recipe. You keep one dozen of your own for yourself, give away five dozen to the other swappers, and in return you receive five dozen other treats! That you didn't have to make! See? Brilliant! It's so much easier to make six dozen of one recipe, than six separate recipes. Often, you only have to double a recipe to get the proper amount. The best part is that it doesn't have to be cookies, it can be anything by the dozen — brownies, lemon bars — anything you like. 

Here are some ideas from some other food bloggers to get you started. I promise — Cookie Swaps are fun and rewarding!

Martha Stewart's roundup of Holiday Cookies

These Chocolate truffles pack a tiny hint of heat, that is. From Art of Dessert: El Diablo Chocolate Truffles

Our Best Bites gives us the perfect Sugar Cookie

From the Idea Room: Chocolate PepperMint Cookies and a fudge recipe

Delicious Mint Chocolate Chip Bark from Bakers Royale looks beautiful, too.

It's not Christmas without nuts! {That's what SHE said} Ahem. Anyhoo… here's some Nut Caramel Bars with Dried Cherries from honey & jam

So, yeah. It's been a very long week.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chocolate Espresso Cookies

Unhinge jaw. Inhale cookie stack.

I am a coffee girl.

In the morning, it usually takes at least two cups of coffee before my eyes can focus and I can form complete sentences. I also love chocolate — so, coffee and chocolate together? Pure heaven. These shiny, chewy chocolate cookies pack a huge chocolate whollop, with a sweet kick of coffee. Getting the right grind on your beans will be the key to your success — the finer the grind, the better.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy birthday Marie Antoinette!

Today is the birthday of my cake-loving mascot, Marie Antoinette!

I am in love with Sofia Coppola's movie version of her life, inaccuracies aside. Everything about the costumes, the sets, Kirsten Dunst's performance, makes me giddy. I just wish the DVD would come out on Blu-ray already! Do you hear me, Sofia?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

5 Post-Halloween Sugar Hangover Tips

How was your Halloween? Mine was the usual — ate way too much candy, put out a jack o' lantern fire and attempted to soothe two 95-lb dogs that were freaking due to firecrackers. I also have a Godzilla-sized sugar hangover.

Here are five things I find help me to recover from the post-Halloween chocolate overload. I hope they help you, too.

  1. Drink water. The best way to reset your system is to drink plenty of water. A good amount is eight 8 oz glasses.
  2. Get anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants repair damage to cells. If your insulin held a midnight rave in your body from your sugar binge, then anti-oxidants will help the body begin to recover. How you do that is up to you — I like green tea, or citrus fruits. If you go for citrus, eat the whole fruit rather than just a glass of juice.
  3. Get moving. Get some exercise — even if it's just a walk around the block. Working your bod gets the blood flowing to all the places that need it!
  4. Eat! Eat small meals and snacks often throughout the day. This will keep your blood sugar steady and help prevent cravings. Make the food you choose count nutritionally; whole grains, veggies, lean meats, a tiny bit of good fat and so on. If you find you are still craving sugar, reach for a piece of fruit first.
  5. Get that extra candy out of your house! Take it to work. Give it away. Give it to the Food Bank or shelter. If it's not in front of your face, you can't eat it, right? What do you do if you can't give it away? Make it difficult to get to, such as keeping it on the freezer.

What kinds of things do you do to help yourself get over a sugar hangover?