Tag Archives: party

Evergreen Brownies

Holiday party season is fast approaching and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ll take any excuse to get creative in the kitchen, but Christmas themed baking really gets me going. Sometimes I go overboard around the holidays and spend more time slaving in the kitchen than catching up with friends and family, so I decided it was time for a treat that screams Christmas without kidnapping me for 3 hours. For these tannenbaum brownies, you’ll need:

  • one batch of your favourite brownies, baked in an 8 inch round pan. I used this recipe here, and skipped the icing. They turned out moist and delicious! A mix works just as well if you’re feeling lazy.
  • 1/2 cup green candy melts (or white chocolate and green food dye)
  • 1/4 cup sprinkles or decorations (my snowflake sprinkles are from bulk barn)
  • 8 small yellow candies like Smarties or Misty Mints

When your brownies are cool, cut them like you would a pie into 8 equal slices. Feel free to make more skinny minny slices if you want.

Put your candy melts into a ziploc bag, and microwave them on high for 30 second bursts until they are melted. Be careful not to overdo it, or you’ll scorch the chocolate. Between each blast, squish them around in the bag to help the melting process.

Lay your brownies out on waxed paper (or something) to avoid mess, and snip a tiny corner off of your ziploc bag. One by one (trust me, I tried to do them as a batch and the chocolate cooled too fast) drizzle your candy melts back and forth across each tree. To get the best results, hold the bag about 6 inches above the brownie, and move quickly. Sprinkle (or strategically place for optimum beauteousness) your decorations right away so they stick before the chocolate cools. Add a yellow “star” to the top of the tree with a dab of extra chocolate. Now, and only now, can you move onto your next brownie. Repeat this process until you’re all done.

If you want to get really spiffy, you can cut yellow stars out of fondant, or pipe them all fancy-like with royal icing, but hey, this recipe is supposed to be about simplicity.

These will keep in an airtight container for a few days, but I can’t imagine that they will last that long. With all this extra time on your hands, you can rock around the Christmas tree and chug eggnog like you’ve been meaning to all year.

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Filed under a party, holidays, super simple

Half Eaten Cookies

I ventured up to Kingston to reunite with my friends for Halloween this past weekend, and as usual, everyone pulled out all the stops with their culinary contributions. Here are a few photos of our fabulous tricks and treats.

To make these simple, spooky treats, just chop the end off of a store-bought cookie (or make your own if you’re a hero), and wrap a set of gummy teeth around the “bite”. For added drama, drip of few drops of red icing around the teeth for oozing blood.

My friend Lisa used Bakerella’s recipe for these creepy eyeball cake pops. She served them on forks and knives for a little added gore.

And check out this amazing cauldron cake that my friend Candace made! She recently started up her own baking business. Check out more of her stuff here.

I know our treats were adorable, but hey, we looked pretty cute too.

Hope everyone had an epic Halloween! Now to commence Christmas party planning…

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Coconut Cupcakes with Lime Filling and White Chocolate Buttercream Icing

The tropical flavours in these cupcakes make a delectable combination. The super sweet coconut cake gets a tangy punch when you bite into the gooey lime centre. And, depending on your kitchen know-how and free time, you can adapt the recipe to include homemade or store-bought ingredients. The recipe yields about 36 generously iced cupcakes.

You’ll need:

  • 36 cupcake liners (optional)
  • 2 pkgs white cake mix (or 2 batches of your favourite recipe)
  • 3 tbsp coconut extract
  • 1 tbsp almond extract
  • 5 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 1/2 cups lime curd (I used one batch of this recipe: http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/fresh-lime-curd/Detail.aspx, but you can buy it  if you prefer)
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 pound butter softened
  • about 5 cups icing sugar
  • piping bag and decorating tip #230 (Wilton)
  • 5 limes, sliced
  • 1/2 cup toasted, shaved coconut

If you plan to make your own lime curd, do this first. You will want it to cool fully before filling your cupcakes.

Preheat your oven and prepare your cake mixes as directed, adding 2 cups of your shredded coconut, and both extracts. Fill your cupcake liners about 2/3 full, and bake according to your recipe. When your cupcakes are golden brown, remove them from the oven, and set them aside to cool.

Now, I mentioned earlier that you can substitute store-bought ingredients for parts of this recipe, but I don’t recommend skimping on time with the icing. Real buttercream icing is too good to pass on, and even if you flavour canned frosting, it won’t measure up.  Therefore, I suggest that you go for the gusto with the icing, and save time using a cake mix. In my opinion, cake mixes are just as delicious as most homemade cake recipes, and sometimes even better. You can also shave off time by buying your lime curd in a jar. You will find it in some grocery stores, and most specialty shops. Look for an option with lots of real lime for the most flavourful filling.

To make your icing, cream your butter with a  hand mixer until it is soft and fluffy. Don’t whip it too much or it will get air bubbles that will ruin the look of your icing. Now, melt your white chocolate, and slowly beat it into the butter. Be careful not to overheat the chocolate, or it will get crumbly, and once again, ruin the look of your icing. Add about 2 cups of icing sugar to the mixture, and cream it in with a wooden spoon. Doing this by hand will prevent over mixing  and will give your icing a nice smooth look. Continue adding icing sugar about 1/2 cup at a time, until your icing is a workable consistency. It should be a bit thicker than mashed potatoes. Set aside your icing while you fill your cupcakes with lime curd.

To fill your cupcakes, place your decorating tip into an icing bag, and fill the bag with your curd. Insert the tip about 3/4 of the way into the centre of each cupcake and squeeze out roughly 1 tbsp of curd. If the top of your cupcake cracks, it is probably too full, but don’t worry because you will be covering any imperfections with icing anyway. A bit of filling will probably seep out of the hole in the top of your cupcakes, but will also be hidden under the icing.

Once your cupcakes are filled, frost them generously by either piping or spreading on icing. Scatter your remaining coconut onto a large dish, and roll your iced cupcakes in it to cover them. After coating your cupcakes in shredded coconut, decorate half of the batch with a thin slice of lime, and the other half with a sprinkling of toasted coconut. Add the lime slices just before serving so your icing doesn’t get all slimey from lime juice.

One bite of these cupcakes will transport you straight to the tropics, but enjoy with caution, I accidentally ate five in one day.

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Lime Jello Shooters

Hosting parties, particularly theme parties, is one of my favourite pastimes. I can spend hours thinking of creative ways to incorporate a theme into every aspect of an event. So you can imagine that when my roommate announced her intention to celebrate her 23rd birthday coconut-lime style, my mind was reeling. Oh the possibilities! These next two posts are a couple of the ways we infused the party with her favourite flavours. These shooters are super easy to make and look totally cute. You’ll need:

  • 15 limes
  • 2 boxes of lime jello (we used sugar-free)
  • a mickey of vodka (we used lime flavour)
  • egg cartons

First, cut your limes in half, and then cut around the inside edge between the pulp and the pith. Now is the time to squeeze out any juice if you plan to save it (it will come in handy if you plan to make the lime curd in my next post).

Then, take a spoon, and scrape around the cut you made. You can be fairly aggressive without harming your precious limes. Try to get out as much pulp as possible. Then rinse your empty limes, and settle them into an egg carton. You can use the egg shelf in your fridge door like we did, but be super careful when you open/close it.

Now to make the jello. Follow the recipe on the box, substituting your vodka for 1.5 of the 2 cups of cold water. Pour the liquid jello into your limes very slowly until it just reaches the rim, and put them in the fridge to set.

Once the jello has set, it will be firm enough to move your limes around without too much difficulty. Be sure to give the jello enough time to set before your party, but don’t make them too far in advance or the jello will take on the bitterness of the rind.Keep them refrigerated right up until you serve them.

The limes will stay a bit squishy, so you can slurp the jello right out of them. You can also make a kid-friendly version without the vodka for a fun party snack. Yum! Now that’s what I call lime jello!

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Chocolate Covered Caramallow Pops

These treats are the ultimate in decadence. They are relatively easy, and make the perfect handheld party food. You’ll need:

  • 20 wooden lollipop sticks
  • parchment paper
  • 1 bag of large marshmallows
  • 1 1/2 cups of white sugar and 3/4 cup heavy cream OR 4 cups of chewy caramels
  • 6 cups of milk chocolate (chunks, chips, or discs)
  • toppings of your choice: sprinkles, skor bits, white chocolate and peanut butter chips

In a deep, thick bottomed skillet heat your sugar over medium until it liquifies and turns a golden caramel brown. Turn the heat to low and add the cream little by little, stirring as you go. If you aren’t comfortable working with sugar, you can melt down chewy caramels instead. Pour the mixture into a small, deep vessel (I used a measuring cup) and set aside to cool for a few minutes.

While the mixture is cooling, skewer three marshmallows onto each of your sticks. I found that the marshmallow stuck well to the wooden sticks, but you can use whatever you have around.

Once your caramel has cooled slightly, dip your pops and let any excess drip off. As you use up your caramel you may have to tilt your bowl in order to fully coat the marshmallows. Place the dipped pops on parchment to set. The caramel will not completely harden, but the chocolate will seal in any moisture.

Now you can let your caramel coated pops sit as you melt your chocolate. Follow these easy instructions for tempering chocolate in the microwave to avoid that gross dusty look: http://www.ehow.com/how_2128206_temper-chocolate-using-microwave.html. Repeat the dipping process with your melted chocolate. Make sure to tap off as much excess as you can. I found that as my chocolate cooled, it started to pull away from the caramel, so work quickly.

If you are adding solid toppings, like skor bits, you can sprinkle them on to the chocolate before it cools, and then lay your finished pop on a fresh sheet of parchment to harden.

I also made some pops with melted white chocolate and peanut butter chips drizzled over them. For these, set your pops down on parchment to let the milk chocolate harden while you melt your toppings. Place about 1/2 cup of each topping in a ziploc bag and microwave for 20 seconds. Take the bags out, squish around the chips, and put them back in for another 10 seconds. Continue this until most of the chips are melted, the unmelted chips will melt when you squeeze them around in the bag.

Cut a small hole in the corner of each bag and drizzle the topping back and forth across your pops. Carefully move them to a fresh sheet of parchment to cool.

Once the chocolate has completely hardened, your pops are ready to serve! You can also wrap them up individually for cute little favours. You can keep them in a cool, dry place for a few days until they are eaten.

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