Category Archives: Sweet Stuff

Consumer Reports rates brownie mixes

Homemade brownies are unquestionably delicious, but box mix brownies are a standby for even avid at-home bakers (and chefs on reality TV shows who are scared of baking) because they are reliable, take seconds to mix and generally turn out a finished product that will satisfy any chocolate craving. I generally like box mix brownies better than box cake mixes, and I know that I’m ... Read More »

5 Great Shortcakes for a Summer Barbecue

More Shortcake Ideas

Shortcakes are typically made with a buttery biscuit or scone that is laden with fruit , ice cream, whipped cream or other fillings to create a fun summertime dessert that really showcases the best and ripest fruit of the season. Strawberry shortcakes are the most classic iteration of a shortcake, but there are all kinds of different variations out there to try. You can dress ... Read More »

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 »

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