Category Archives: Sweet Stuff

What is ganache?

Bowl o' chocolate

Ganache is a word that gets tossed around a lot in cookbooks and on dessert menus, and while it is easy to figure out that it has something to do with chocolate, what makes this particular kind of chocolate a ganache is often a little less clear. Ganache is a mixture of melted chocolate and cream that can be used as a glaze for pastries ... Read More »

Judging the 2011 Ice Cream Cupcake Contest

Ice Cream Cupcake Contest: Honey Hazelnut

Ice cream cakes are a delicious dessert and can be even better when they come in a smaller, cuter cupcake size. This is party because you can actually be more creative with cupcakes than you can with full sized cakes, as my own Root Beer Float Cupcakes demonstrate because they work perfectly in a cupcake package. So, I was honored to be asked to judge ... Read More »

Vosges Love Goddess Chocolate Cake Mix, reviewed

Vosges Love Goddess Chocolate Cake Mix

Vosges is a high end chocolatier who is known for not just high quality chocolate, but the unusual flavor combinations that it it pairs with its chocolate. One of their specialties is a bacon chocolate bar, for instance, and their other exotic bars include ingredients like wasabi, gogi berries, chipotle chiles and more (although they also have plenty of bars that contain more familiar chocolate ... Read More »

Cook’s Illustrated rates Vanilla Beans

Vanilla Beans

Vanilla beans can impart a much deeper and more complex vanilla flavor to a custard or other dessert than vanilla extract, but while any vanilla bean is better than none, not all vanilla beans offer the same flavors. They range in quality and price, and in a recent issue (July/Aug 2011) the test kitchen at Cook’s Illustrated set out to test five different brands of ... Read More »

How long do vanilla beans last?

Vanilla Beans in Sugar

Vanilla beans are a pricey ingredient prized by bakers and cooks because nothing imparts vanilla flavor like seeds scraped straight from a fresh vanilla pod. I usually have a few vanilla beans on hand and, like so many other deal-hunting bakers, I try to replenish my supply when I find a good deal on bulk vanilla beans (the holidays are a great time to stock ... Read More »

How to make Lightly Sweetened Whipped Cream

Whipped Cream on a whisk

Whipped cream is a great way to finish off just about any dessert, adding a light sweetness to contrast with rich berry flavors and intense chocolate ones. For many, using whipped cream means picking up a can from the refrigerated section of the grocery store. This isn’t a bad solution in a pinch (I know I’ve used it many times), but making your own whipped ... Read More »

Sof’ella Gourmet Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix, reviewed

Sof'ella Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix

Not every cake mix is going to appeal to me, but the gourmet mixes that use all natural ingredients tend to catch my eye and get me wondering how they compare to real, homemade baked goods. I’ve tried some mixes with great results, and others with more mixed feelings. This Sof’ella Gourmet Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix is a little bit unusual because it is ... Read More »

What is panna cotta?

Panna Cotta

Panna cotta is a dessert that shows up on restaurant menus a lot more than it does in home kitchens, but the simple dish is one that is very easy to make at home. Panna cotta, or “cooked cream” in Italian, is a dessert that consists of a lightly sweetened cream mixture that is set with a small amount of gelatin. The gelatin allows the ... Read More »

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