Posts Tagged 'party'

Pipe Dream #16: To Love My Neighbor, Revisited – Rhubarb Meringue Tart

We-he-ell, if that ain’t the nicest, smoothest, most grain-free meringue you ever did see. (Lauren 3 Meringues 2). Seriously, this is the nicest meringue I have ever made. It’s appropriate that the first recipe I made out of the Great British Bake Off cookbook should turn out so well. It works on paper (like Communism) and in my stomach (unlike Communism).

Before I continue, I am just going to tell you a little life story. Upon my return from England, I found two new items in my parents’ kitchen that have brought me endless delight and have contributed enormously to the ease of my kitchen life. One is the $7 bottle of truffle oil that my mum bought, unaware of the deep appreciation for truffles that I acquired in Europe. The other is this little scale she bought, unaware that I would need to measure out dozens of different recipe ingredients from English recipes. It makes nearly every aspect of my life more exact and digitized. The lesson learned here is this: Keep doing things. Maybe you will bring someone endless delight sometime.

We had a little neighborhood barbeque, and I had some strawberry rhubarb compote to use up, so I decided to take a stab at shortcrust pastry. Luckily, this one gave me no trouble and was surprisingly short to prepare. One of my neighbors is gluten intolerant, so I made her a little mini dish full of the strawberry rhubarb filling and meringue so she could partake of the awesome.

The meringue calls for golden sugar (I think I used white instead), which potentially would make the meringue brown up a little more golden than mine did. I left if in the oven a titch too long. Don’t be like me.

And now for a bit of wisdom I picked up this year: Always cut huge pieces/put out extra cookies for males. That way, they don’t have to feel guilty about taking seconds, which they almost always desire. Just another way to love your neighbor. We could even take this a step further and say “Love your neighbor as yourself,” but I don’t want to be accused of advising the blogging community give themselves extra dessert.

On the other hand, of course I do. And besides, this is meringue we’re talking about. Go ahead and slice it up big, friends.




Strawberry Rhubarb Meringue Tart

Adapted from The Great British Bake Off

For the tart crust:
400g/14oz plain flour
250g/9oz cold butter, cut into cubes
100g/3½oz icing sugar
1 heaped tsp ground ginger
2 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
For the filling:
2kg/4lb 8oz rhubarb (I used half rhubarb, half strawberries)
225g/8oz caster sugar
2 oranges, zest only
For the meringue:
8 free-range eggs whites
400g/14oz golden caster sugar
4 tsp cornflour

1. Grease a 30cm/12in loose-bottomed tart tin.
2. To make the pastry, sift the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the icing sugar and ground ginger, mix thoroughly then add the beaten eggs and just enough cold water to form a dough.
3. Turn the dough onto a floured board, knead gently into a smooth ball then roll the pastry out and use it to line the tart tin. Prick the base with a fork, line with foil and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, make the filling. Preheat the oven to to 150C/300F/Gas
2. Cut the rhubarb into 5cm/2in lengths and place in an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle with the sugar and orange zest then cook, uncovered, in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until the rhubarb is just tender but still holding its shape. Increase oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
5. Add baking beans to the tart case and bake blind for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and the beans and return the tin to the oven for about eight minutes or until pale golden-brown. Remove the tin from the oven and increase the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 .
6. For the meringue, place the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until they form soft peaks. Gradually add half the sugar, whisking all the time, then fold in the cornflour and remaining sugar and whisk until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
7. To assemble the pie, fill the tart case with the rhubarb, standing the pieces on end. Pile most of the meringue on top of the pie, keeping enough back to then pipe pointy peaks over the surface. Bake in the less than 30 mins preparation time 1 to 2 hours cooking time


Pipe Dream #104: To Stop At 14ths – Cream Cheese Party Mints

I can distinctly remember the first time I had these mints. It was at a grad party, and they were in the shape of little grad caps and diplomas. I was probably 16 or 17, so it was somewhat embarrassing to return to the food table the amount of times that I did that day, but I couldn’t help myself. Seriously, I was like my own personal German granny, “You look thin. You really should eat some more. Here. Have a fourth helping.”

These babies are approximately as addicting as the homemade peppermint patties I showed you before, and twice as simple because you don’t have to dip them in chocolate. So there is absolutely no reason that you should not make them now and give them away immediately to your neighbors. They’ll appreciate. Also, they are the perfect party mints. Any occasion will do. Just buy a mold and set to it!


Party Mints

Adapted from the Clever Culinarian

6 cups powdered sugar

½ teaspoons peppermint extract

¼ cup butter, softened

4 ounces, fluid cream Cheese

sugar (for rolling)

Mix ingredients well and form one teaspoon of mix into a small ball. Coat in sugar.

Push the first mint ball into your candy mold. If there is too much mixture, remove the excess. When finished, roll back into a ball use as a size example to make the rest of the mints.

If you don’t have actual candy molds, you can use any small clean, food safe item that will work or just roll them into balls and coat with sugar. Then you can make several at a time and coat them in sugar.

Finish each by pressing into the candy mold and placing on a tray to dry out.

Makes about 8 dozen marble-sized mints. If your event has a colorful theme, you can add a few drops of food coloring when mixing.

I Got It Right: The Perfect Caramel

I was at church the first time I had a brown sugar caramel. It is appropriate that I should have received it there because church should always be a very joy-filled occasion. It is actually kind of weird that I remember having one at all. At the time, I wasn’t that obsessed with baking or candy, besides having the love of candy that most 12-year-olds have.

I think it really struck me because it was so different than any caramel I had experienced before, you know, those store-bought, pre-wrapped chunks of toffee that stick in your teeth and taste like preservatives. And it wasn’t like the caramel you get in a candy bar either. This caramel was soft and full of a rich flavor. It was heavenly.

Since that time, I have found brown sugar caramels at select coffee shops and homes all around Minnesota. I can never resist them, nor do I try. That would be folly.

I had forgotten them until I came across the recipe on a blog one day. Even though I was nervous about trying them given my track record, I figured that it was high time I had some good caramel in my life. And it was New Years coming up. Start things off right, you know.

Pipe dream CHECK,


Brown Sugar Caramels

Adapted from Stella B’s Kitchen

1 cup butter

⅛ teaspoons salt

2-½ cups brown sugar, packed

1 cup corn syrup

1 can sweetened, condensed milk – 14-ounce Can

1 teaspoon vanilla

pecans or other nuts, if you like

Generously butter the bottom and a couple inches up the sides of a 9×13 inch pan.

Melt butter, salt and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir in corn syrup, mix well. I have to admit that I added half the corn syrup by mistake before I was supposed to. It turned out all right. Gradually add condensed milk. Stir constantly over medium heat for 12-15 minutes until temperature reaches firm ball stage (250 degrees F). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Quickly pour into the greased pan. Cool completely at room temperature.

Cut about 100 5×4 inch pieces of wax paper to wrap the caramels, or just cut them out without wrapping like I did. I didn’t cover them well, and by day three, they were a bit gooey, so you’ll have to eat them fast if you don’t seal them. Shouldn’t be too tricky.

Place a large sheet of wax paper on a large cutting board. Butter wax paper lightly. Pull out the sheet of set caramel (if you are having trouble, section the slab into thirds, pull that chunk out and proceed) and set on wax paper. Cut into one inch pieces (shoot for Tootsie Roll size). Wrap with pieces of wax paper twisting towards yourself, or both ends twisted in the same direction so they unwrap neatly when pulled. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

Makes about 100 pieces.

Pipe Dream #9: To Try All 10,000 Chex Mix Flavors – Lemon Puppy Chow

I’m not going to pretend I’m too good for puppy chow. Just because I make ganache-covered cheesecakes and cupcakes with flavorful frosting does not mean that I am going to stand here and tell you that puppy chow is for amateurs (I am one.) And besides, has other things going for it besides its classic roots and addictive crunch.

Puppy Chow is a powerful tool in the Midwest. People at parties flock to puppy chow like vultures to a carcass, circling round and round, intent on finding the ever-elusive “double.”

I have been to social events where the atmosphere would probably have been ruined by people transfixed by the puppy chow bowl. Luckily, I am able to save these situations in most cases by distracting everyone with my boss dance moves and witty dialogue.

Do you believe me?

Ok good, me neither. But still, puppy chow is the real deal. And super easy to make. Just beware of the social repercussions of sharing it.

All you do is nuke chocolate, butter and peanut butter, pour it over Chex cereal (or generic brand, it’s cool), plant your feet, and shakeshakeshake it like a Polaroid picture.

Ahem. Again we witness the social repercussions of puppy chow.

(Sidenote: I believe the official name of puppy chow is “Chex Muddy Buddies,” to which I say, “Whatever, Chex, I go with what I know. In this case, “puppy chow.” Just to clear up any confusion about the naming of things. By the way, have you heard of Andrew Bird? That rhymed. He is exceptionally talented.)

One day when I was looking up the recipe for regular puppy chow online, I came across Chex’s goldmine website of Chex Mix recipes. I guess they felt they should run with a good idea. Anyway, I perused for a little while and decided I couldn’t live my entire life without trying some of the more interestingly named flavors like:

Chex Moroccan Crunch (Seriously, how do you make something taste like Morocco? Like dust? That is all my uncultured mind can imagine. Forgive me for being ignorant about Mideastern culture and geography; it is one of my many failings.)

Lemon Rosemary Chex Mix

Party Hardy Chex Mix

and my personal favorite,

White Candy Fantasy Clusters (What the heck? Who comes up with these?)

I recently tried the recipe for Chex Lemon Buddies. I nicked my fingers with a microplaner. The chow was pretty decent and quite lemony, though due to long years of exclusive exposure to the original recipe, I feel that my loyalty still lies with the classic peanut butter and chocolate combo. So I gave the rest of it to my neighbors on the corner.

9,998 left to go,


Lemon Puppy Chow

Adapted from

9 cups Rice Chex® cereal

1 1/4 cups white vanilla baking chips

1/4 cup butter or margarine

4 teaspoons grated lemon peel

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 cups powdered sugar

In a large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.

In a 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chips, butter, lemon peel and juice uncovered on High for one minute. Stir. Microwave 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring evenly until coated. Pour into 2-gallon Ziploc, or a bowl with a lid, like moi.

Add the powdered sugar. Seal bag, and shake until well coated. Spread on wax paper or foil to cool. Store in an airtight container.

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