Watercolor Wedding Dessert Table

Dear Friends,

We had the extreme privilege to make a variety of pies, pastry, and cake with a watercolor theme for my best friend’s wedding at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia! Using the bride’s chosen color scheme of plum, lavender, eggplant, and blush and an assortment of pedestals with coordinating watercolor foliage (more on this miraculous find to come) from Home Goods, we displayed 11 treats with the favorite flavors of the bride, the groom, and the groom’s daughters:

img_1488-2

  • Blackberry-Raspberry Truffle Cake
  • Heart-Shaped Lemon Poppy Seed Cakelets
  • Mini Gluten Free Vanilla Cheesecakes with Candied Lavender
  • Key Lime Jar Pies with Whipped Cream
  • Chocolate Mousse Jar Pies with Chocolate Ganache and Whipped Cream
  • Mini Blueberry Pies with All-Butter Crusts
  • Mini Cream Puffs with Vanilla Pastry Cream
  • Raspberry Shortbread Rounds
  • S’mores Bites with Chocolate Ganache and Toasted Marshmallows
  • Trader Joes Macarons (Fig, Coconut, Pistachio, and Salted Caramel)
  • Lindor Truffles (White, Caramel, Milk, Dark, and Extra Dark)

This job was quite the undertaking, as we needed to make (and buy) 600+ pieces to have enough for all the guests to try three different treats. We purposely selected treats that could be made in advance, frozen, and filled/garnished at the last minute. Starting in May, we baked the layers for the truffle cakes and the filling for the key lime pies.

raspberry-blackberry-truffle-cake

raspberry-shortbread-rounds

One of the most challenging parts of the preparation was finding enough suitable pedestals and trays to display all the treats, minimizing how often things would need to be replenished. We had three small tables and wanted each of the pieces to work with the overall theme. Over the preceding months, we found an assortment of items at CB2 (darling cut gray glass bowls, wood cheese boards, and blush appetizer plates), Pottery Barn (classic white three-tiered stands), Harrisonburg Farmers Market Antiques (ruffled white compote dish), and Home Goods (the most beautiful white pedestals with water color flowers, leaves, and berries in the needed color scheme).

mini-blueberry-buttercrust-pies

The Home Goods find was truly miraculous. I rarely come out of that store without something amazing, but this particular time I was in danger of leaving without anything. I found one pedestal that met my specifications, but there was nothing else like it anywhere to be found. I decided against it, thinking it would look too random on its own, and proceeded to the checkout line since Peachie had things to purchase. Wouldn’t you believe, there in the checkout line were at least 10 of the same plates and pedestals! As the store was turning off the lights, amid dirty stares from the cashiers (which was totally justified – I formerly worked in retail and “those” customers annoyed me too!!), I loaded down a cart filled with this treasure trove.

macarons-in-compote

One of the neatest aspects of this particular job was incorporating watercolor in the presentation. Given the inspiration from the Home Goods pedestals, I attempted to replicate a portion of the foliage onto the dessert table sign and guest table menus. I had taken a watercolor class at the Torpedo Factory a few years back, but had only started practicing again with the prompting of my artist friend. I sketched the design from the pedestal and then used transfer paper to place the sketch on pieces of watercolor paper. With lots of repetition, I was able to produce a number of pleasing “paintings”. Ultimately, it was a nice break from all the standing and work associated with the baking effort. I think the focus that painting requires for me makes it incredibly relaxing. In fact, I would come out of my watercolor class each night feeling as though I had received a 2-1/2 hour massage!

img_1605-2

lemon-poppyseed-cakelet-2

vanilla-cheescakes-lps-cakelets

The tricky part of the wedding effort was ensuring that I prepared everything that required an oven in advance since I was informed that the onsite kitchen would not have one. What I didn’t know ahead of time was that there was no stovetop range either. Necessity is truly the mother of invention! Not only did I find recipes to make simple syrup and ganache in the microwave, but I believe these recipes were better and easier than their stovetop counterparts. Yay!

smores-bite-closeup

cream-puffs

Other last minute preparations included assembling the truffle cakes with layers of blackberry-raspberry jam and chocolate ganache, candying the lavender sprigs, filling the cream puffs, topping jar pies with whipped cream, toasting individual mini marshmallows with a blow torch, and drizzling lemon poppy seed pound cakes with lemon icing and a sprinkle of poppy seed.

christina-corrie

Needless to say, it was a team effort! The bride found and booked a room with a kitchen and arranged all the logistical details, the groom and his brother hauled in an additional refrigerator/freezer on a tractor, Jeff coordinated the entire hauling and setup effort in addition to rocking the blow torch, Peachie wrapped a million truffles in addition to a million other things and served the treats with warmth and style, and Dad hauled delicate layer cakes and arranged macarons with the finesse of food stylist. And, those were just the people helping on the day. Having survived an event of this magnitude, I will have to hire a crew for the next time….if there’s a next time🙂

Enjoy!

corrie

Posted in Baking Adventures, Dessert Celebrations, Gluten-Free, Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

May Birthdays – Cinco de Mayo Celebration

Hola Amigos,

The birthday celebration happily fell on Cinco de Mayo this year – ole! I was greatly inspired to do something out of the ordinary for it after a trip to San Antonio in April where I purchased the most adorable donkey piñata, some local prickly pear syrup, and the ubiquitous colorful papel picado (associated with Day of the Dead in November, but the quintessential Mexican decoration).

img_1378

Cinco de Mayo Menu:

  • Key Lime Cheesecake with Lime Glaze
  • Mexican Sweet Buns (Conchas)
  • Mexican Brownies with Spiced Churro Buttercream

img_1343

Key Lime Cheesecake. In selecting this particular cheesecake, I wanted to evoke the experience of an ice-cold salty margarita to go with the theme. The cheesecake batter contains lime juice, but the glaze is made up entirely of it – pure magic. The glaze sets the tone for the bite, starting with a gelatinous, acidic tang that’s only slightly-sweet and ending with a creamy, slightly-salty cloud of cake. The recipe I used came from a blog where the author decorated the top with puffs of whipped cream and half lime slices, so I duplicated that look.

img_1327

Once you get the hang of cheesecakes (knowing your preferred density – straight cream cheese or for it to be cut with sour/heavy cream, mixing room temperature cream cheese before adding the eggs, and steaming the cake with a water bath set on a separate rack of the oven to prevent leakage), it’s hard not to make them for every occasion or for none in particular. I pretty much can’t think of any other dessert that qualifies as breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

img_1334

img_1297

Mexican Sweet Buns. These tasty little buns were so fun to make – both because the assembly instructions were super helpful and because of the fun colors (you guessed it – they’re all-natural!). I used the recipe (and she has an awesome video) from the Sprinkle Bakes blog which featured a lovely shell (concha) design in the sugar paste. The tricky part wasn’t overlaying the sugar paste on top of the bun, though that did take some practice. What was hard was overlaying it before the bun raised too much. If I make these again, I will roll out and indent all the sugar paste pieces before dividing the dough into buns. The color was easy to incorporate in the sugar paste but it took quite a few drops of the natural dye.

img_1347

img_1294

Mexican Brownies. These delicious and festive brownies were inspired by the chocolate bars you find paired with every imaginable spice, but usually something with heat like, chipotle or cayenne. I decided on cayenne and looked at several recipes to inform the quantity. No one used more than one teaspoon so I went with that, but I was surprised how subtle the taste ended up being. The cayenne seemed to kick in on the back end, as I was finishing the last morsel. The way to include more punch, I concluded, was to put icing on the brownie (always a good idea!) in which I’d put more of the spice as well as plenty of cinnamon. This worked well and elevated the brownie out of its initial middle of the pack status. I topped these with picks decorated with piñata clip art, to go with the donkey.

img_1351

img_1356

My only regret with this order was not finding a way to use the prickly pear syrup I bought! But, I’m working on some ideas on that front. Hope you found a way to celebrate the “holiday”!

corrie @ Peachie’s Treats

Posted in Baking Adventures, Dessert Celebrations | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

April Birthdays – Peach Theme

Dear Friends,

The dessert we had originally chosen as the focal point for this month’s birthdays ending up being an epic fail. A tremendous waste of time and money – it was completely devastating! We were trying to make mini Belgian Craquelin Breads. I had previously candied orange peel which I combined with sugar cubes, Grand Marnier, and freshly grated orange peel. This mixture was supposed to be incorporated in rich, buttery brioche dough. The citrus aroma was driving me wild! Everything was going swimmingly until I tried incorporating the butter in the dough with my KitchenAid stand mixer. After it started smoking and giving off a burning smell (I was probably frying the motor), I looked up directions to incorporate the butter by hand. I discovered a technique to do so which made me exceedingly happy. However, in the end, the breads didn’t raise and therefore, didn’t cook through. And, of course, because the process takes multiple days, I didn’t know the breads wouldn’t turn out until the final hour.

img_0957

So, I desperately pulled out our trusty scone recipe and incorporated peach jam bits and pearl sugar (that was supposed to decorate the mini craquelins) from King Arthur Flour. These scones saved me that night because not only could I count on them being delicious, but they wouldn’t require rising and I knew that I had all the ingredients on hand. Also, it was neat to make something quintessentially Peachie’s Treats!

img_0963

To help convey the peach theme, I found an awesome Rifle Paper Company sheet at Paper Source with some favorite elements: the asymmetric assortment of modern flowers which are at once feminine but fresh and the combination of delicate, elegant colors like peach and muted teal with a touch of neon. We also found peach pom-pom picks which were adorable and functional.

img_1018

Here was the modified menu:

  • Apple-Pecan Carrot Cake with Mascarpone Topping, Praline Filling, and Candied Carrot Curls & Pecans
  • Peach Scones with Pearl Sugar
  • Chocolate Chip Cloud Bars

Apple-Pecan Carrot Cake. While the mini craquelins were a disappointment, this cake was anything but. Dense and moist from all the fruit and veggies, this cake went beautifully with the creamy topping and the salty-sweet filling. I placed candied pecans on the top; the recipe is from Little Spice Jar and is quick, easy, and super tasty. Plus, your house will smell awesome while they’re baking.

img_0994

The really fun accent I wanted to incorporate with this cake was curling and candying carrots. The Southern Living Fall Baking magazine I was using provided instructions. Essentially, you wash the carrots, remove all the peels and then use the vegetable peeler to make strips. These strips are boiled in simple syrup until translucent and then baked on parchment at a low heat. As soon as you can touch them, you wrap each one around the handle of a wooden spoon and then fairly immediately, gently remove them and place in granulated sugar. The process was straightforward, but time consuming. Overall, I was pleased with how they turned out. I’m always looking for fun, colorful, all-natural, and preferably edible treat decorations. This definitely fit the bill!

img_0997

img_1003

Peach Scones. I can’t say enough about these scones! The addition of peach bits was a delicious modification to the original recipe. The fruit pieces or jam bits, as they are called, are processed to melt when baked, providing that sought after gooeyness found in fresh-from-the-oven treats. The pearl sugar lent a nice change in texture with its crunch.

img_0960

img_0972

Chocolate Chip Cloud Bars. These bars are probably the best I’ve ever had/made! I found the idea on Pinterest, of course. You start with chocolate chip cookie dough which you layer half of on the bottom of a greased 9”x13” pan. Next, you mix together one 8-ounce package of cream cheese with ½ cup sugar, one egg, and one teaspoon vanilla extract. Spread this mixture on top of the cookie dough. Sprinkle chunks of cookie dough on top of the cream cheese mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. These treats are the perfect combination of chewy and creamy, salty and sweet – yum!

img_0980

corrie @ Peachie’s Treats

Posted in Baking Adventures, Dessert Celebrations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

March Birthdays – Easter Theme

Dear Friends,

This time we used the fact that the Easter holiday fell within the month to serve as inspiration for our birthday treats. We selected our festive, celebratory Hot Cross Buns for the menu as well as an egg-shaped wooden tray on which to serve them, and used an egg-shaped cookie cutter for the Alfajores cookies.

Here’s the menu:

  • Crepe Cake with Coconut Filling
  • Currant-Studded Hot Cross Buns
  • Egg-Shaped Alfajores Cookies

img_0865

Crepe Cake. This deliciously unique “cake” delivered layer upon layer of the creamiest filling ever, a combination of cream cheese, crème fraiche, and cream of coconut! The idea for it came from the cover of the magazine, Victoria, which “promises a return to loveliness”, that I spotted in the checkout line at the grocery store. It was tedious to make all the individual crepes and a little tricky to divide out the cream so each layer was even, but the overall effect was dramatic.

img_0874

The first time I tried crepes was in the Art Deco district in Miami back in 2013 at a place called A La Folie. I couldn’t believe how amazing they were or why I hadn’t come across them before then. I had the Poire, Brie et Noix (caramelized pears, brie cheese, and walnuts in a savory buckwheat crepe) and the Mont-Blanc (chestnut puree with whipped cream in a sweet flour-based crepe). After returning from my trip, I became a regular customer at the cutest crepe place in Old Town, Alexandria called Fontaine. But the fact is I often make delicious ones at home using the Bon Appetit recipe, Basic Buckwheat Crepes.

img_0895

Hot Cross Buns. I look forward to these soft, lightly sweetened and spiced buns every year! They are perfect with afternoon tea or toasted for breakfast. My favorite part (taste and message) is the generous vanilla buttercream announcing the cross. I am laughing as I type the following words, remembering the first time I tried making them in 2005. I had made a double batch intending to share them and had forgotten to add the salt. This was a critical error; no salt, no taste. Although I was sad to throw them away, I ended up getting a lot of enjoyment from the experience, as I watched the neighborhood squirrels happily pluck them out and scurry off with their treasures.

img_0899

img_0856

Alfajores. These South American cookies are really, really good! The cookie contains an inordinate amount of cornstarch, lending to its unique and desirable flakiness. And, it is the flakiness that is best paired with the dense, very sweet dulce de leche that you thickly distribute between the two cookies. You probably wouldn’t be happy eating the cookie by itself. Conversely, you would be very happy eating the dulce de leche by itself! But, the joining of the two unlikely characters is magic.

img_0859

I had these for the first time back in 1999 at a Peruvian Pollo Rico restaurant after eating their signature rotisserie chicken. Based on it being my first time trying the sequence of flavors and the happy context for the meal, I don’t think I can ever capture that taste experience again, but these cookies got me close! I used the recipe on Chowhound (that apparently derives from Argentina) with good success, though I may adjust the cornstarch amount down slightly in future attempts.

Enjoy!

corrie @ Peachie’s Treats

Posted in Baking Adventures, Dessert Celebrations | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

January Birthdays – Hot Chocolate Bar

Happy New Year Friends,

We were inspired to choose hot chocolate as our theme for this month after watching the PBS show, I’ll Have What Phil’s Having, Episode 3: Paris. Among many delights from football-sized croissants to succulent roast chickens, was a jaunt at the Les Deux Magots for their legendary hot chocolate. After seeing Phil experience it, I dare you not to instantly place the dream of drinking hot chocolate there at the top of your culinary bucket list. It looks like the best chocolate you’ve ever had in luscious liquid form. Oh, yeah!!!

IMG_0736

Here’s the selection:

  • Hot Chocolate on a Stick
  • Vanilla Marshmallows
  • Hot Chocolate Cookie Cups
  • White Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies

IMG_9587

Hot Chocolate on a Stick. Totally indulgent (and portable) melted Belgian chocolate (from Trader Joes) that you may eat directly off the stick (highly recommended) or dissolve in hot milk; either way, you won’t be disappointed! A couple tips: We used silicone ice cube tray molds which worked extremely well. You have to work fast with piping the mixture into them, as the mixture behaves much like fudge, solidifying immediately. Also, the sheen on the chocolate is beautiful but takes on fingerprints easily, so try your best to work them out without touching them (wish I could provide more on that, but I ever so inelegantly barely wrangled those suckers out).

IMG_9588

IMG_9593

Vanilla Marshmallows. Puffy and delicious, easy to make, and a great idea for gifts! This is the first time we used gelatin in one of our treats; it had a disconcerting smell but worked beautifully. The mixture transforms while it is whisked from thin and clear with a vanilla tint to voluminous and bright white; I just love seeing ingredients transform – for me, it’s one of the best things about baking! After pouring the mixture into a baking dish sprinkled with powdered sugar and cornstarch and allowed to set, it can be cut. A good tip is to use kitchen shears to separate into pieces; they give a more professional touch than you can achieve with the average knife.

IMG_9601

IMG_9598

Hot Chocolate Cookie Cups. Not only are these adorable, but they are truly delicious! They are more than the sum of their parts; the other thing that I love to see when baking – simple ingredients coming together into something beautiful and delicious J After baking sugar cookie dough in mini muffin tins, you fill them with chocolate ganache mixed with hot chocolate mix, and top with a marshmallow. The recipe, by the Gunny Sack, called for pretzel “handles” attached with melted white chocolate so they resemble mugs of hot chocolate. They were so cute, and really, really good!

IMG_9597

IMG_0728

White Chocolate Peppermint Crunch Cookies. Yum! Soft, with a crunch and appropriately minty, the perfect accompaniment to hot chocolate, we have found this cookie to be everything a cookie should be. The special texture is due to the addition of an extra egg yolk and a couple teaspoons of cornstarch. And, the white chocolate chips add the right amount of creaminess🙂

IMG_9586

May this year be one of many blessings for you!

corrie @ Peachie’s Treats

Posted in Baking Adventures, Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

December Birthdays – Cardinals & Faux Bois

Dear Friends,

Hope this post finds you well! We had so much fun putting together this winter forest themed dessert table with bright, cheerful cardinals, gleaming white snow, and kraft-colored birch trees. The faux bois and cardinal red inspired our treats:

IMG_0600

Here’s what we made:

  • Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake with Kahlua Whipped Cream and Chocolate Shards
  • Kouigh Amann
  • Raspberry Shortbread Bars
  • Iced Nutmeg Logs

IMG_0636

Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake. Moist, velvety, and sweet, this cheesecake beckons you to swim in its decadence🙂 Topped with thick whipped cream flavored with Kahlua to accent the coffee flavor in the cake, we added chocolate shards made from melted semi-sweet chocolate distributed thinly on waxed paper and allowed to dry. They’re actually harder to make than you think! The chocolate has to be very, very thin to achieve the jagged artistic element that you find on high-end treats. We’ll have to keep on practicing!

IMG_0642

IMG_0621

Kouigh Amann. Trendy and delicious, these treats hail from Brittany and feature flaky layers interspersed with plenty of butter and sugar. They’re pronounced: “quee ahman” and they are so good! I had the opportunity to learn how to make these laminated treats during my Croissant Class in San Francisco this past August and to taste an official one at b. Patisserie, the premier place to do so before I did.

IMG_0602

IMG_0655

Raspberry Shortbread Bars. Soft and buttery, with lots of crumbs, we made a homemade lightly-sweetened raspberry pie filling for the center of these bars. The pie filling, happily excluding preservatives and other additives, included a ton of raspberries, lemon juice, sugar, and cornstarch and only took about 15 minutes to cook. Impossible to eat just one, these beautiful treats have become a permanent part of repertoire.

IMG_0604

IMG_0663

 

Iced Nutmeg Logs. We thought these treats would be lovely given the wood element in the packaging! They feature rum extract and freshly grated nutmeg, which also flavor the icing. These are THE solution to your holiday nutmeg fix🙂

IMG_0618

IMG_0661

Enjoy!

corrie @ Peachie’s Treats

Posted in Baking Adventures, Dessert Celebrations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

November Birthdays – Vintage Floral Pie Bar

Dear Friends,

We decided to do a Pie Bar for this month’s treats after perusing countless fun ideas on Pinterest! In addition to fresh-from-the-orchard apples and pie crust leaf accents, we used a lovely seasonal floral paper from Rifle Paper Company (we love them!) for the decorations/packaging.

IMG_9523

Here’s the menu:

  • Apple Cranberry Pie with Pecan Shortbread Crust
  • Snickerdoodle Pie with Butter Crust
  • Mini Pumpkin Pies with Butter Crusts

IMG_9501

IMG_9462

IMG_0584

IMG_9512

Apple Cranberry. Layers of Granny Smith, York, and Fuji apples (from Syria, Virginia) interspersed with dried cranberries and butter – this dense, juicy pie defines the fall season! The recipe calls for a crust and lattice top made of toasted pecan shortbread which perfectly complements the fruit. The shortbread was a little tricky to work but the effect that it creates is worth it.

IMG_9511

IMG_9535

Snickerdoodle. Oh my! What I thought was simply a cookie in pie form turned out to be so much more! It just might be better than the actual cookie with its two layers of melted cinnamon sugar butter. The recipe contains a number of steps, none of which are difficult, so it does take some time. We paired this outrageous filling with a nicely salted flaky butter crust. Yum!

IMG_9547

IMG_9541

When online shopping for pie boxes at Big River Packaging (my favorite box site), I came across boxes for individual slices and an accompanying wax paper insert template. The boxes are well made and feature a window so the recipient can eagerly anticipate their treat. At last, pie sharing is now feasible and attractive! Templates and decoration ideas for these cute and functional boxes are all over Pinterest. Will have to try them to compare🙂

IMG_9553

IMG_9549

Mini Pumpkin. These festive and adorable little treats were so fun to make and even more fun to eat! We use the filling recipe on the back of the Libby can with one other secret ingredient🙂

IMG_9572

IMG_9483

IMG_9516

IMG_9520

IMG_9519

Lastly, we made little felt owls (pattern available in the Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication, Make It Yourself, Fall/Winter 2013) for our Thanksgiving order customers to convey our heart-felt appreciation for their loyalty and enthusiasm.

IMG_9562

Enjoy!

corrie @ Peachie’s Treats

 

Posted in Baking Adventures, Dessert Celebrations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

October Birthdays – Creepy Caramel

Dear Friends,

This month’s inspiration came primarily from BAKED Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito (been out since 2008 but new to me) with their recipes for a caramel cake (Burnt Sugar Bundt) and caramel-filled brownies (Sweet & Salty). For the last few years, every time I would go into Williams-Sonoma, I’d make it a point to flip through this book. I don’t know why it took me so long to buy it! I read the book, cover to cover, and happily and surprisingly found that these guys share my personal dessert philosophy as well as a unanimous estimation of the brownie. Brownies have long been my ultimate treat; I’ve even joked that I consider them vitamins due to their therapeutic properties🙂

Salted Caramel Brownies 1

It was all about caramel this month; can’t get enough of it apparently! We used Halloween as our theme, which led to orange and black colors and a creepy watercolor effect for the treat sign and brownie picks.

Salted Caramel Brownies 2

Salted Caramel Brownies 3

Here’s the menu:

  • Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake with Caramel Rum Buttercream
  • Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Salted Caramel Brownies with Caramel Drizzle

October 2015 Birthday Sign

Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake. The cookbook description for this cake was dead-on! Delicious flavor owed to the addition of coconut milk, a hefty amount of butter, and a neat technique where the sugar is melted (caramel) past the usual amber color. I had to part ways when it came to the frosting, however. I used all the same ingredients called for in the recipe – the same burnt sugar liquid used in the cake, rum, butter, and powdered sugar – just in different proportions. It comes down to the consistency that you prefer and in my case, I use much less butter but more powdered sugar.

Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake

The neatest part was that the authors show you how to elevate the cake with a striking but simple sugar decoration. You melt a half cup of granulated sugar over medium heat until it turns amber. Pour the melted sugar on a cookie sheet fitted with silicone mat. Allow to cool. Break into shards and arrange on your cake. AWESOME! Bottom line: this perfectly fall recipe is a keeper.

Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting 1

Pumpkin Bread. This bread, actually, it’s a pumpkin cake in loaf form, is AMAZING! We make it every year and get a ton of positive feedback. Moist, dense, lightly-spiced, and lightly-sweetened with a creamy topping – we can’t get enough of it. It’s easy to justify eating for breakfast, and did I mention, it’s on our menu for October!

Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting 2

Salted Caramel Brownies 4

Salted Caramel Brownies. Yes, yes, yes! Salty and sweet, dense and moist, these treats hit all the right notes! They are filled with dark chocolate, butter, and scratch-made salted caramel. The caramel recipe differs slightly from the standard with the addition of sour cream. This prevents the caramel from baking into brownie batter keeping them really gooey! For the order, we cut them into smaller pieces, stacked them, drizzled them with more salted caramel, and topped with an extra sprinkling of salt. If you’re as big of brownie fans as we are, you will love these gems which are also on our menu!

Salted Caramel Brownies 5

Salted Caramel Brownies 6

Salted Caramel Brownies 7

Enjoy!

corrie @ Peachie’s Treats

Posted in Dessert Celebrations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

September Birthdays – Beige, Lace & Cookie Dough

Dear Friends,

Fall is fast approaching, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. Definitely looking forward to cooler temperatures and fall flavors🙂 We used a beige and lace look to decorate our treats this month. Here’s the menu:

  • Italian Cream Cake with Chocolate Ganache
  • Coffee Cream Macarons
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

September 2015 Sign

September 2015 Treats Display

We used chocolate ganache both as filling for our cake and as a glaze for our truffles. You can always find a bowl of ganache in my kitchen!

Italian Cream Cake. Apparently, this cake is not of Italian origin, but rather, a Southern favorite usually topped with cream cheese frosting. This moist, decadent treat features lots of coconut and pecans, a small amount of hand-whipped cream (yes, this was my first time whipping it by hand), and buttermilk. It couldn’t be any more luscious, even after sitting on the counter unwrapped all day. I consider this quite the accomplishment. Pairing the cake with ganache was a delicious decision inspired by Vintage Cakes author, Julie Richardson, but now I’m wondering how it tastes with the cream cheese frosting🙂

IItalian Cream Cake

Coffee Cream Macarons

Coffee Cream Macarons. Macarons haven’t lost any of their trendiness or widespread appeal. And, why should they. They are such neat treats due to their dual nature: the perfect crunch on the outside, sweet chewiness in the inside. And, they are super cute and customizable to any flavor or color you need. The coffee flavor and color lend well to our all-natural standards and provide a lovely beige that fits with our decorations. The cream – a coffee-flavored cream cheese frosting – is incredible all on its own. We placed them in brown, fluted brioche baking papers which were staged on a cream wire stand, encircled with lace.

Coffee Cream Macaron 1

Coffee Cream Macaron 2

Cookie Dough Truffles. These candies were AMAZING and HIGHLY addictive! I am one of those rare people who never grew up eating cookie dough and constantly wonder what all the hype is about. Not anymore! I would have eaten more than one, but thankfully, I had to send the rest for the order. Not only is the recipe easy and quick to prepare, but you most likely already have all the items on-hand. The chilling and dipping parts of the process obviously take more time, but there’s no need for all that if you’re making them for yourself. I used the recipe from Bakerella (which she got from the Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook by Lindsay Landis), which yields about 22 balls. These delicious candies get their moistness from milk and vanilla rather than egg. If you don’t already have a go-to egg-free cookie dough recipe for when cravings strike, you will thank me for passing this along!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

Chocolate Cookie Dough Truffle 1

Finally, I found adorable (and free!) chocolate chip clip art with tiny hearts (so cute!) which I used on the flags for the truffles.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffle 2

Chocolate Chip Clip Art

Enjoy!

corrie @ Peachie’s Treats

Posted in Baking Adventures, Dessert Celebrations | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

San Francisco Revisited – Croissant Class & Bakery Tour

Dear Friends,

You’ll never guess?! I was back in San Francisco!🙂 After finding the baking class of my dreams, Croissants and Other Laminated Doughs, with renowned Pastry Chef Nicole Plue at the San Francisco Cooking School, I knew we had to go back. Other highlights included the botanical gardens, bakeries I had to try (b.Patisserie and Boudin), China Town, and some adorable shops in Hayes Valley (Miette and Chantal Guillon) providing lots of baking and decorating inspiration.

San Fran Skyline 1

The class exceeded my expectations in every way. The description warned that the days would be physically exhausting and that was true. After pounding butter blocks and rolling out three different stiff doughs multiple times each day I was sore, using muscles I thought I had previously developed. There were so many neat people in the class, from various areas of the food industry in the city.

SFCS Croissant Class

Chef Nicole walked us through all the steps and was available for all sorts of questions from: my butter is leaking out of the dough to whether or not we needed to refrigerate or freeze a specific dough. We received information packets with the recipes as well as all the tips and techniques covered. We made three different doughs: croissant dough from which we cut croissants and pieces to roll pain au chocolat, Kouigh Aman dough which was a concept similar to croissant dough but easier to work with and happily included the addition of vast amounts of sugar in addition to all that luscious butter, and finally, puff pastry dough which we were to bring back “home” to use.

SFCS Croissant Class - Me

The culinary students and teachers at the school made us wonderful lunches each day and champagne was flowing for our “bake off”, as well as snacks: an apple tart that usually only occurs in my dreams and a puff pastry tart with a mascarpone cream base topped with macerated berries. I attempted the apple tart at the home I was staying at for the week and it was good; just not AS good as Chef Nicole’s🙂. And, I used the following recipe from Fork Knife Spoon, Macerated Strawberries with Mascarpone Whipped Cream, to attempt to duplicate the extreme deliciousness of the fruit tart. This recipe hit the mark!

My Pain au Chocolat

My Croissant

The key tip with laminated doughs is keeping them very, very cold. So, the plan is to attempt them once the weather cools a bit. The temperature gauge in my car today read 97 and it’s already September! Looks like my plans will be delayed!

SF Botanical Gardens 1

SF Botanical Gardens 2

In addition to the baking class, I had a nice little visit to the Botanical Gardens in the Golden Gate Park vicinity. There were a number of things in bloom (this should be obvious given the year-round mild weather but being from the seasonal east coast it still happily surprises me time after time). After taking a break to sit down on a bench to take a phone call, I noticed multiple hummingbirds, zipping this way and that and occasionally chasing each other away from the central foliage they were attracted to.

SF Botanical Gardens 3

SF Botanical Gardens 4

I was very much looking forward to visiting various bakeries I had missed the last time I was here. As luck would have it, I managed to try the Kouigh Aman at b.Patisserie the day before I tasted the one I made in class. This is THE location to have your first experience, so I’ve been told. You can see the difference in the photographs; mine is quite dark – singed really. When I commented on the color of my pastries to Chef Nicole, she said that the color means it has more “flavah”. Very kind and very true! She also said that we needed to listen to our doughs. Sometimes, they will require that we treat them gently and let them stretch on their own; other times we need to show them who is boss🙂 How true this is for life situations as well. I won’t soon forget these words of wisdom.

Kouigh Aman - b.Patisserie

Kouigh Aman 2 - b.Patisserie

My Kouigh Aman

On the weekend, after the busyness of the week including Jeff’s travels, Jeff, Taryn (our friend we stayed with), and I were able to unwind with a relaxing brunch at Café de la Presse before heading to a musical performance later in the afternoon. It is a quaint place with lots of wood detailing, café tables, potted plants, and French newspapers for sale and is only steps away from China Town. The food was delicious, but the company was best of all.

Taryn Jeff and Me

Cafe de la Presse Sign

Corrie & Jeff - Chinatown

After walking back from Saint Mary’s Cathedral on Nob Hill for the performance, we found Miette in Hayes Valley. What a real treat! From the lovely wallpaper in the store (that according to their website, everyone inquires of), the individual treat signs and arrangements, to the packaging, there was a lot to appreciate. They even have a station for packaging up the candy that you select housed on a vintage furniture piece. Their packaging is everything that I want Peachie’s Treats’ to be: simple, fun, lovely, and detailed. I tried the mini meringues (so adorable!) and the tiny shortbread discs. The meringues were sweet and fun and the shortbread was much lighter than I expected – the perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea.

Treats from Miette

Chantal 1

And speaking of tea, also conveniently in Hayes Valley, we encountered a very French Macaron & Tea shop called Chantal Guillon. Taryn placed our order in French. Thankfully, she is fluent and, of course, I’m no help on that score :) While she talked with the proprietor in French, I was able to take my time and gawk and soak in the whole experience. Apparently, they carry tea from the longest-running company in France, Mariage, as well as the PRETTIEST macarons imaginable. Which is so ironic; the macarons are what drew us in, but we ended up only buying the tea! I purchased the Vert Provence with lavender and rose; I cannot wait to try it. And, the vintage desk in the window with one green leg, decorated with macarons with flags. Yes, I will be hanging on the memory of this place for a while🙂

Chantal 2

Chantal 3

Boudin Bear

On our last day, I was able to get a sourdough bear (with bowtie!) from Boudin. He is so much like the ones that Peachie and I made a couple years ago. We should do that again! And, I got macaroons for the first time! They are truly delicious; chewy, sweet (but not overly so), with a touch of chocolate. The recipe is simple, and based on how good they are, will definitely try making before the year end, maybe right around Christmas.

Boudin Macaroon

Boudin Macaroon 2

I think that’s all for now…..anxiously awaiting the next adventure!

corrie @ Peachie’s Treats

Posted in Baking Adventures, Inspiration, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment