Monthly Archives: September 2010

Penuche Walnut Fudge

Penuche Walnut Fudge
Delicious Maple Walnut flavor…another great recipe from Julie in California!

Penuche Walnut Fudge

3 cups brown sugar, packed
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. Bourbon vanilla**
1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, salt and cream. Sitr until dissolved. Cook until temperature reaches 235 degrees on a candy thermometer, or soft ball stage.

2. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Cool to 110 degrees, or lukewarm. Add the vanilla and beat vigorously by hand until mixture loses its shine.

3. Quickly stir in the nuts and spread into a greased 9″ x 12″ pan. Chill before cutting into small squares. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed airtight container with wax paper between layers. Keeps for one week.

** Bourbon vanilla is a richer tasting vanilla extract. You can find it online at  King Arthur Flour.com.

Serving Suggestion: For a pretty treat, cut the fudge slab with a very small cookie or candy cutter like the butterfly used in the picture above.

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Tips for Tender, Tasty Scones

Cinnamon Chip Scones

It’s early morning and I’m making mini scones (about 6 dozen) in preparation for a meeting…pumpkin, cinnamon chip and golden raisin. A good flavor combination considering the season. Crunched for time, I’m resorting to my favorite box mix, Iveta Gourmet, which has me out of the kitchen and on my way  in an hour. I love that mix!

As I’m patting and cutting 4 bowls of dough, I find my inspiration for this post. How many times have I served scones only to hear this comment, “These are scones? But they taste so good!”?

While I appreciate the compliment, scones aren’t difficult to make. The appeal of a good scone is in the texture as well as the taste. It should be a little crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside. So without further comment, here are my tips for tasty, tender scones.

– Use cold butter or margarine and cold milk.

– Scones are basically a sweet biscuit, so follow the same rules: Don’t overmix and handle the dough as little as possible.

– When rolling out the dough, use as little flour as possible and roll to about 1/2 inch thick. Remember to handle the dough as little as possible. I’ve found that patting out the dough with my hand allows me to use less flour.

– Cut out small scones instead of large. I use a 1-2 inch round cutter. It’s a great size that your guests will appreciate.

– Don’t overbake! I know this is obvious, but still important.

– Make your scones the morning of your event. Remember, scones are basically biscuits, and therefore, will get stale more quickly.

Turbinado Sugar

– For extra table appeal, sprinkle your scones with coarse sugar before andafter baking. You can use raw sugar, demerara sugar, turbinado sugar or decorative sugars. I pick up decorative white sugar crystals from our local cake decorating shop and keep a vanilla bean in the sugar for extra aroma and flavor.

– If you’re crunched for time, don’t be afraid to use a mix. I’ve got a favorite scone recipe, but there are some good mixes on the market. As I mentioned, my favorite is Iveta. With a mix, you can have scones and tea ready in about 30 minutes.

If you’re looking for a good scone recipe instead of a mix, I recommend this one: The World’s Best Scones. As always, we’d love to hear your comments or questions.

Happy Baking!                                                                                                            Michelle in Customer Service

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Making Chai Tea

As the weather in Southern California is finally starting to hint at autumn (a cool 78 degrees!), our thoughts around the office are turning gratefully to rainy days, good books and a good cup of hot tea! It’s funny what you miss when you don’t have it. In the middle of January, I’m sure we’ll be looking fondly toward Summer having forgotten the sweltering heat.

With those thoughts in mind, it occurs to me that now might be a good time to post a refresher on making that spicy good tea, Chai. Much has been written on this cold weather favorite, so let’s just share the brewing basics.

Brewing Chai:  Place 1 heaping teaspoon of tea for each cup into your teapot. Pour boiling water into teapot. Cover and let steep for 5-10 minutes – yes, this is more tea and a longer steeping time for a good strong brew.  While the tea is brewing, put 1 teaspoon of sugar in each of your cups – this can be adjusted to taste, artifical sweetner also works fine. Adding sweetner helps open up the exotic flavor of this spicy blend. Add milk to your cups (about 20% of the cup’s volume). When the chai is ready, strain into cups and enjoy.

Personally, I use one packet of Splenda – yes, I know it might kill me. AND I do use cream instead of milk because I like the added body and that “slickery” feeling the cream offers.

If you like a full bodied tea with strong flavors, we highly recommend Chai tea. It’s a terrific brew for Autumn & holiday gatherings. We have an exceptional Vanilla Chai available in our store, should you like to indulge yourself. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Paper Doilies: The Decorating Wonder!

Party Decorating on the Cheap
Need a cheap, versatile decorating idea? Two words: Paper Doilies!

We had an epiphany shopping at the local Walmart, which judging from the information already on the internet was late in coming! We needed doilies for store use and purchased a 24 pack of round paper doilies in three size (12″, 8″ & 6″) by Wilton for $2.00.  Such a deal! That’s when we realized the awesome, cheap decorating power of the paper doily.

Think about it. Need to decorate a cake? Paper doilies and powdered sugar. Decorate a table? Paper doilies. Place cards? Doilies. Invitations? Doilies!

So, with a doily in hand for inspiration, here is a list of basic ideas as a springboard for your imagination and some links to ideas from other creative people. Please share your great ideas as well. If you’ve got a Walmart nearby, go for the Wilton Cakes display. I’ll bet you find paper doilies…the decorating wonder!

If you can’t find paper doilies, here are some online resources:  from Create For Less – 32 Assorted Round White Doilies for $1.94, from Kids Crafts Plus – 96 Assorted Round White Doilies for $7.45, from Sur La Table – 48 Assorted Square White Doilies for $9.95. We also noticed some good deals on Ebay and Etsy searching under Paper Doilies.

Paper Doily Ideas:


1.  Decorate a cake with doilies.  Lay a doily or doilies in  a pattern on top of a dark cake such as chocolate,  gingerbread or even brownies. Sift with powdered sugar and carefully lift doilies. For the prettiest look, be sure to use a doily that does not have a solid circle of paper in the middle.

2.   Use large doilies as place mats under table settings. This is most effective on a colored tablecloth.

3.   Dress up serving plates/trays with doilies or set off a special dessert with a doily.

4.   Arrange different sized doilies on a colored tablecloth and cover with sheer fabric or tulle netting.

5.   Take the same idea as above but make a doily table runner.

6.   Use a doily as an invitation.

7.   Dress up a paper napkin by folding it inside a doily. My thought here is to fold a square napkin in half lengthwise and fold a round doily in half. Then place the now rectangular napkin in the now half-round doily and give it all a good crease.

8.   Use 4″ round doilies as place cards at each table setting.

9.   Decorate small favor boxes with small doilies.

10. Make a luminary table decoration with white paper bags, candles, sand, paper doilies, glue and scissors. While your bag is still folded up, scallop the top edges with a scissor. Glue doilies on the inside of your bags making sure to glue all edges to the bag. When dry, add 1-2 inches of sand and votive candles or battery operated votive candles. Remember the safety of your guests: never leave a burning candle unattended.

11. Make a Paper Lace Garland – a charming idea from Project Wedding!

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