Monday, December 22, 2008

Cookie Kits

One of the biggest indicators of me being 'off my mark' lately is the lack of activity on this blog. Ask me how much Christmas baking I've done this year. It's right about at the same level of how much shopping and Christmas card making/sending I've done.

next to nothing.

oh well.

there's still a few days til Christmas, so I may still get a fire under me and crank some stuff out. I DID, however, put some time aside to make some cookie kits for my daughter's preschool class.

I was lucky to be one of the volunteer moms for her Christmas party last week. Highlights of the party were to include pizza making, a story, and cookie decorating. The other mom said she would take care of the pizza supplies, so I happily said I'd take care of the cookie decorating.

The cookies themselves were no great shakes... I used a simple butter cookie recipe, and made enough so that each child would get one candy-cane shaped and one tree-shaped cookie to decorate. Because these kids are 4 years old, I kept the cookies on the thin side, versus my normal thick style I use for decorating with royal icing.

Inspiration hit to create the 'kits' when my daughter and son were working on a project together. arms flailing, tempers rising, and too much whining while two kids fought over who gets to use what materials are not a good combination when trying to stay on Santa's good list... and I pictured what it would be like with TEN boys and girls trying to reach for the same sprinkles at once.

Hence.. the cookie kits were born.

I hit up my local super-everything-store and purchased some inexpensive plastic containers. At a price of $2-something for a 4 pack... I'd say I got a good deal while staying on point for a budget.

Each kits also received three types of sprinkles, which were put in little plastic condiment cups. Let me tell you.. those cups are FANTASTIC. for storing sprinkles to putting ranch dressing for my daughter's carrot-stick snacks, to individual servings of jello-shots back in the day when my husband and I had more of an industrious social life.... anyways... LOVE them. and the lids... don't forget the lids! seriously.. they are so perfect and useful for SO many things... I always have them in my pantry.

so each kit got the sprinkles, two cookies, a plastic spoon, and some vanilla frosting that I put in the disposable pastry bags, then tied in a knot. no mess, no fuss, no fighting or reaching or germs spreading from one set of sticky fingers to the communal sprinkles. Well.. maybe not so much on the 'no mess' part. they are FOUR, after all.

I rounded out each kit with a splash of color on the top, then individual labels for each child.

really.. this was such an easy thing to prepare.. and so inexpensive... and each child felt special cause it was made especially for them.

So while this project didn't involve a LOT of baking.. I think it deserves to be on here in my baking journal because it accompanies the experience of EATING the baked goods. I will totally do these kits again for one of my children's future birthday parties. From what I could tell, it was a hit with the kids and teachers alike.... so for sure this will be on my list of things to do again. After all.. happy, non-fighting kids equals happy, non-yelling mom.

Lessons Learned: If I were to ever market this, I would definitely include a 'decorating mat' of some sorts, and perhaps a little explanatory note card. Something cutesy and fun like a check-list or decorating ideas... whatever was age or theme appropriate. Best part is that this can be made to suit any theme, and as said previously... was fairly inexpensive to create.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Corny, but Cute!

ok, ok.. I couldn't resist this one.

Stolen from the pages of Hello, Cupcake YET AGAIN.... I used a bag of assorted yellow jelly beans, a few more yellow starbursts, and some black decorating sugar to replicate their cupcake-on-the-cob.
Theirs, of course, came out better then my first stab over here.. but seriously. this was too easy to be this cute. and like I said.. for my first try.. they're pretty believable.
Next time I try these, I will for sure use less frosting, and work on the spacing of the jelly beans better... try to get it spaced better.
I could totally see these as a fun thing to bring to a summer BBQ. or a thanksgiving/autumn treat if I were to use darker jelly beans.. (like making Indian Corn) and try to find something to replicate some husks. but hey.. if you like lemon... these are just a cute way to pay homage to corn!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Piece of Cake

so I forgot to mention that the cake I made for Danny's party was a three layer cake. I had bought a cutting tool a few weeks ago... the kind that helps you make level layer cuts.

I decided to alternate chocolate cake layers with a vanilla layer, and used a chocolate pudding filling.

While the tool helped to make a very even-looking cake, and the three layers looked really cool when sliced... I have to say the pudding was a little goopy inside, and left the remaining cake and slice a teeny sloppy looking.

perhaps a thicker filling or using a hot knife to make the slice? or having the cake be cold at the time of cutting? maybe it's something that can't be helped... or I just need to learn to cut a slice better. not really sure.. but it's something I certainly don't mind investigating a little further.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Birthday Boy

Yesterday we had a little party for my son. He turned two this week, and while he doesn't use a lot of words, he THOROUGHLY enjoys singing along to a variety of songs.

One song he particularly enjoys is "Old MacDonald". He loves mimicking the animal sounds and the simple "E-I-E-I-O" refrain. Consequently, we decided to go with a barnyard/farm theme for his party. While I have no problems eating meat, I prefer to think of farms as places where animals LIVE, and we harvest vegetables from... so Danny's cake and accompanying cupcakes focused on veggies.

Now, a while back, I had played with some gumpaste in attempt to practice making fruit/veggie cupcake toppers. as cute as they did turn out.. I was overall left a little disappointed. Gumpaste , while edible, isn't exactly TASTY. and it's HARD. like break a child's tooth HARD. Imagine, then, my delight when I read the book Hello, Cupcake. Not only did it feature a garden-party cupcake for me to replicate.. but the authors suggested taking ready made candies and ingredients to make into the vegetables.

The result? amazing. I used starbursts and m&m candies, licorice, cornflakes and graham crackers in conjunction with some home made cake and frosting, a little melted chocolate and color gels... and I managed to produce the following.

Now, I still wouldn't allow my 2 year old birthday boy (or his 4 year old sister) to eat the starbursts-turned-veggies.... but in a few years I could totally see them eating every little bit of the cupcake, and still having teeth left to brush when they were through.

Lessons Learned: heating the starbursts in the oven worked better than the microwave. Also? best tip EVER??? rolling the 'carrots' in cinnamon after I made the decorative growth lines made the carrots look OH-SO real. and LOVED the idea of coating the cornflakes in green frosting. the 'leaves' looked truly authentic.

I'm not saying I'll never use gumpaste again.. but for basic colors and for items for kids? the reshaping of chewy candies is really the way to go!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Let them eat PIE

so one of my favorite things about November and December is the ABUNDANCE of cranberries. Fresh, red, beautiful tart CRANBERRIES!

Naturally, when I see them at my grocer's, I can't help myself and pick up a bag or two. then I make a beeline for the apples... and get home to start baking.

My girlfriend made a french Cranberry-Apple pie a few years ago, and I have been smitten ever since. between the streusel-crunch topping and the intermitten tart cranberries, I firmly believe I can not make a plain apple pie ever again.

The recipe she passed on to me was a photocopy from a Williams-Sonoma cookbook, but I have found this recipe online to be identical. If I was in the business of sharing my secrets, I'd tell you I ALWAYS double the amount of streusel topping and omit the nuts.... but the best way to bake (at least as far as I have found) is to taste and see and tweak as you like.

Anyway... if you're looking for a sure-fire hit to bring to a Thanksgiving dinner... this is a winner. enjoy... and let's all give thanks for the cranberry!

Lessons Learned: I have been LOVING the little pie tins. Not only do I increase the number of pies I can get out of one batch of filling, but the SIZE!! so nice! Perfect for hitting the spot when you have a sweet tooth, but don't want to be eating the same dessert all week.

These tins can be found in the grocer's under the label of 'pot pie' tins. They're deep dish, so 1/4 of this pie is a generous portion. try them out... they even serve well to bring to a friend's house for coffee or little thank you gifts.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

So cute, it's SPOOKY!

ok.. I know I've actually had a good month in terms of baking... but it HAS been a while since I got back to basics and decorated some cookies.

On the doorstep of Halloween... I thought it'd be only fitting to make a few ghoulish treats.

I ended up with some ghosts, some bats, and some pumpkins.

Perhaps not the SCARIEST looking cookies.... but that could be a good thing. wouldn't want anyone afraid of sinking their teeth into them.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

LESSONS LEARNED: yes.. even on my basic cookie I learned something. I am NOT good at making bat faces, for one... and another? the ghosts looked FAR better outlined in black, as compared to the white. I went over the white details with black.. and while it stands out more.. I find that my lines look a bit more wobbly, cause the black was balancing on the white.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Not-so-Perfect Pumpkin Cake

It's really hard for me to resist making pumpkin things when October rolls around. Usually it starts off with me getting a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Bigbucks... then... well.. you saw I caved and made a pumpkin flavored Happy Jane.

Last week I realized that I don't make many cakes. and that's really a shame... cause people.. I love cake. The idea of a PUMPKIN cake was enough to get me to wear my contacts, get dressed up, and bake a cake... totally Stepford Style.

I found this recipe from the Joy of Baking. hook, line, and sinker. and forget about the idea of adding MAPLE to the cream cheese frosting. I was seriously swooning before I even cracked the first egg.

Now.. I did go into a more detailed description of the events that occurred while I was baking this cake on my other blog... but because my narrative involved many curses, I'm going to let you use your imagination here. (sorry.. I try to keep this blog clean, folks.)

Things started off VERY WELL, though. Dare I say I believed I had made some perfect cakes. I'm a bit of an ego-centric... I'll admit that. But I RARELY use the word 'perfect' to describe my culinary attempts. I like to recognize what I do right, but want to always better myself.. so again.. I don't throw around 'perfect' too much.

but these cakes??? I went there. I even said it out loud. which was probably my downfall... but they were sooo beautiful. and the smell!! again.. SWOON, I say!

It all went to pot when I attempted the frosting, though. it was too runny (probably from my over-zealous addition of maple syrup) and I kick myself cause there was a point in the mixing process that I felt I had the right (read THICK) consistency... I forged ahead with the recipe instructions, and added more maple. GAR!

but I'll spare you all of that and just get to the awful evidence.

Despite letting the frosting sit for a few hours (thinking it would thicken or harden..) it was still a gloppy mess.

hence.. my cake became a gloppy mess.

ooey-gooey, yippy drippy MESS.

Now.. fear not.. it didn't stop me from EATING it. and I will say that the taste WAS superb. and moist. oh MY do I love a nice, fresh, moist cake! Really.. this recipe is fantastic for the cake. the icing? I might say to stick with what you know, even if it means buying a canned cream cheese frosting. The maple did add a nice layer to the frosting... but the thin consistency threw me for a loop.

The second cake I made came out a bit nicer looking. maybe because I used the frosting a bit more sparingly... knowing too much would get the gloppy side effect. SO yes.. the second one came out better.. but very far from something I'd call perfect.

The second cake was donated to my husband's work... and supposedly all who had it were very pleased. Hey.. they're computer nerds... maybe they're not as picky?

LESSONS LEARNED: So yeah. one.. NEVER use the word perfect. call me superstitious, but being that bold = murphy's law to happen = far from perfect results.

I will for sure use this recipe again... but next time I will use double the cream cheese, and single or slightly LESS than single proportions of the liquid ingredients. Next time.. I'll be going for a thick frosting. Like ability-to-pipe thick.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tricks and Treats

SO clearly I'm all about the treats on this site. I DO love me some treats!

a good friend of mine, whom I have already named to be my executive talent scout should I ever get too big for my britches. (and by that I DO mean money wise.. not pants sizes. if I LITERALLY get too big for my britches, then said friend will be the one duct-taping my mouth shut and putting my rear back on weight watchers. Cause she and I know I have to look good for that day when our kids get married. Just sayin'. )

ANYWAYS! Susie, in many ways, is my eyes and ears. She finds the coolest stuff, and that definitely includes recipes and fun ways of doing or presenting everyday stuff. A few months ago.. Suser passed on a link to a Martha special featuring a treat called Cake Pops.

I was immediately enthralled.. but I'm ashamed to admit I did not even ATTEMPT those little bad boys until this past bake sale. I was GOING TO... just... life took over for a little.

I thought it would be fun to make some cake pops in a ghoulish theme... I was thinking ghosts and goblins. or at least ghosts and pumpkins.

that's where the 'trick' part came in

On the original site of the cake pops creator... she was coating her pops in candy melts for the round pops... and the 'cupcake' shapes were 'dipped' on 2 different occasions.

I used white chocolate, and it was NOT EASY to work with. it was very gloppy and thick. I found that my ghosts looked a bit more like round and fat mummies. oh, and my food writing markers?? did not work so well on the white chocolate. I ended up using my Wilton dye gels for the eyes.

Look at these poor things... it's like they're BEGGING for someone to help them look better.

and lo and behold.. my 'grand' ideas of doing pumpkin balls got SQUASHED because I didn't have a good way of letting the balls 'dry' without setting them up-side-down. (thus giving them a Frankenstein-esque flat head.)

Thinking fast I dunked the orange 'balls' in theme-colored sprinkles, and chalked it up to inexperience.

All in all I think the treats turned out cute enough, and they tasted fine. (though ENTIRELY too sweet in my opinion. My 4 yr old daughter didn't seem to mind, though.) They seemed to be as dense/fudgy as a brownie coated in a too-thick layer of white chocolate.... just not as rich and heavy as a brownie would be.

I'm in no hurry to try these again, but that's not to say I won't. I think that like anything, practice would make me more proficient at making them... and perhaps using a thinner consistency outer shell (such as candy melts or adding paraffin!!! again with the paraffin!) would make this project a little easier.

or having a stand of some sorts so the pops could harden upright?

overall... I'll give it a "boo!" rating. Really... not my best work. Try me again next year?

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I'm sure you're wondering what in heck a PBE is. no.. I assure you it's not the newest blue-collar beer. It's another new flavor of my Happy Janes.

I know.. I have yet to even market these things enough to sell ONE, and I'm coming up with new flavors. ISSUES! But it's all in the spirit of creativity.

If you recall, a while back, I hosted a contest. Well, given that the winner wasn't really a HUGE fan of any of the flavors I was offering, I decided to come up with something better for her 'prize'. I also had a 4-month-late birthday present to send... so all of that coupled with another bake sale at church... and well.. two new flavors were born. I've already posted about the Pumpkin Truffle flavor.
(as a matter of fact, I actually just made another batch of them. my parents were visiting and are heading back to jersey tomorrow, and my mom requested that I make some for her to give as part of a gift basket to give to her doctor. So I GUESS you can say I got my first order. except I wasn't paid for them. Though my folks will tell you that they paid in some free babysitting while they were here. but my first order!!! though it's my folks... and they're supportive like that. oh well. I'm chalking it up as a win-win. I get to practice my skills and get my product to a new mouth without having to pay hand-over fist in shipping. but NEVERMIND!! back to PBE's!)

So the other flavor was made with the previously mentioned belated birthday girl in mind. Erin of Erin Cooks had a birthday back in June, and I had promised to send her some CDs. oops. So, to make up for my tardiness, I tried to make the CD package more than just music for her ears. you see... Erin is a fan of peanut butter. like a BIG fan. A while back, Erin posted a recipe for her own take on a recipe called "Melting Moments". She decided to make it in a peanut butter version. The recipe she posted looked pretty good.. so I used it for inspiration and as a base for a filling for a new Jane.
I made a few changes.. like using crunchy peanut butter, and using like 5x the amount she calls for. but still... it was sweet. and pea-nutty good.

I used a chocolate cookie base... and spooned some filling on each before freezing. (note.. yes, I DID say SPOON. the filling was too thick/crunchy to be piped on using my bags. I mean, I did start to pipe it on, but it came out like little logs, and I ended up using a spoon to round them out... so I stuck with the spoon for the rest.)

You know the rest... dipped them in chocolate, let them cool, and served with some milk!

Oh. it occurs to me I never did explain what the PBE stands for. The PB is easy.. Peanut Butter. duh! but the E? Gotta give credit where credit is due. SO since I used Erin's recipe for the filling... I think it's proper to have the E stand for Erin. But Jane is a vain little cookie... and can't be havign another woman's name in the mix.... so just a plain E will have to suffice. The taste makes up for it, though.. cause there's nothing plain about them.

Lessons Learned: I noticed I may have yet another reason to use paraffin in my chocolate. I'm not quite sure if it was the shoddy sprinkling of gold dusting powder I did on the PBE's, or if it was the EXUBERANT amount of peanut butter I used (hence creating a very heavy oil-base for the filling) but I noticed an odd crystallization happening on the outer shell of the chocolates. (if you look closely, you can see it on the last picture.) It did not affect the taste.. but I'm big on appearances, and seeing those spots bugged me. I really need to look into the paraffin.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Fall into Happy Janes

Autumn is probably my favorite season, and has been just about all my life. As a child in NJ, I recall the crisp mornings, the hearty foods and bursts of color every where I turned. When I lived in Florida, it was the time of year when we finally got a break from the heat. awwww, heck... I have reasons for every place I lived why Fall is my best season.

In the here and now, however... Autumn is more than a season of weather to me. It's back to school, it's birthdays and socials time, it's holidays, and most importantly.. it's GOOD FOOD.

I once joked with a friend that I only eat pumpkin from September through late January. While I know it's entirely silly to put stipulations of when I eat a particular food... 'saving' pumpkin for this time of year just means it's that more special to me.

Imagine my glee, then, when I came across this recipe for Pumpkin Truffles. pumpkin. chocolate. spices.

my tongue about fell out of my mouth.

At the heels of a bake sale, and eager to get back into the kitchen, I concocted a new flavor of Happy Janes inspired by the Pumpkin Truffle recipe and this SO-EASY recipe for home-made graham crackers.

I set out by making the graham cracker rounds, my signature shape for the Janes. As I said, this was much easier than I expected it to be. I think once you get used to working with cut-table cookie doughs, this falls right in line. (A word of warning, though.. if you choose to make graham crackers.. this recipe was far stickier than a regular sugar/butter cookie dough. I suspect it's from the abundance of honey.)

Then I made the pumpkin truffle filling. I followed the recipe, then made some changes. First.. I only used about HALF the amount of chocolate and heavy cream that was called for, and used about one and a half TIMES the amount of pumpkin required. I did this because I knew I wasn't making truffles as much as I was looking to create a pumpkin truffle FILLING. Also, since I knew the Jane would be COATED in chocolate.. I wanted a nice strong pumpkin flavor to emerge. (oh, and I used CLOVES.. not Gloves, as stated in the recipe.)
After the filling set and cooled... I piped some on the rounds.

Froze those bad boys and dipped in a bittersweet Belgian chocolate, then piped on an orange-colored candy drizzle for decoration.

I was very pleased with the flavor combination. it was like a chocolate covered piece of pumpkin pie. Yes.. I think I actually swooned a little after my first one. What a way to bring in Autumn!

Lessons Learned: I got two big things out of this project. The first is that those graham crackers are VERY POROUS. Within 24 hours, I noticed the cookie began to soften from absorbing the pumpkin's moisture, and by day three, they were a soft crumbly mess. The taste was still there, but texture means a lot to me.. and I was disappointed when they lost the cookie crunch. Some possible work-arounds are dipping the cookie in chocolate FIRST.. to form a protect barrier? maybe. we'll see.

The other lesson I learned is that my husband has very hot fingers. Every time he touched a Jane he ended up looking like a toddler playing with dark brown finger paints. Not so pretty. I may explore the addition of just a bit of paraffin to my chocolates to solidify that outer shell a bit more. This should prevent the messy fingers, as well as prevent the chocolate from absorbing oils of the fillings, and just being affected by things like humidity. Not that I want the Janes to have a shelf life of a twinkie.. just being able to hold their shape, color, and taste for more than 24 hours could open up a lot of doors for me in terms of sending Janes as gifts to friends around the country.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Ten Dollar Cake

So we had another bake sale for church. It was good to get back in the swing of things, as I missed last month for family obligations, they had taken the summer 'off', and I was in NJ for the June sale.
One of the items I made was a peanut-butter chocolate layer cake. yeah. sounds good if you like that stuff!
I had some leftover peanut butter filling from a new flavor of Happy Janes. (a post about them is coming, I promise!) And since I was making some chocolate cake for my own version of cake-pops.... I decided to make a small round cake.

SO after the cake was cooled, I smoothed some 'filling', and layered the other half of the cake on top.

Made some chocolate icing, and frosted the cake.

At that point, I decided to 'purty' it up and piped some edging around the base and the top.

It occurred to me that I do not have much practice with icing cakes, so this was a good exercise. I was happy to see that it sold at the bake sale for $10 dollars. not sure *I* would have paid that much.. but it was a fundraiser, and sure enough.. I was there to see a couple buy it. Felt good to see the guy pick it up and pay for it.. as it did to see his girlfriend or wife walk away with a very coy smile. like she KNEW they were gonna knock that bad boy out with a jug of milk that afternoon. (or so I imagined...)

lessons learned... I need to invest in some flat off-set spatulas for a smoother finish. and maybe a leveler.. as the cake looked a teeny bit lop-sided. but overall, the cake was relatively simple to make, and decorate. I may just make some more next time I'm invited somewhere for dinner or coffee. The size was just right, in my opinion. (assuming it's to feed a group of six or less) small enough to be eaten before it starts to get stale.

Monday, September 1, 2008

and the Winner is.....

Well, the results are in for the Name That Jane contest. I'm pleased to announce that the official winner is:


This name was submitted by Dara... so CONGRATULATIONS, DARA!!! all that's left for her to do now is to say which flavor Happy Jane she would like to be made and delivered to her this week! (Mint Treasures, Mocha Crunch, Strawberry Shorties, or... Coco-Dots!)

In terms of the specifics... I made up a voting sheet and a large batch of the chocolate-coconut Happy Janes and brought them to a neighbor's house on Saturday for a get-together they were throwing.
Judges were asked to vote for their TOP FIVE choices, and number them one through five. All #1 votes would receive 5 points, #2 votes would get 4 points, and so on down to one point for #5. I collected five completed judging sheets, and the breakdowns were as follows:

Chicka Boom - 3 points total ( one 3rd place vote)
Choco-COCO Jane - 1 point total (one 5th place vote)
Choco-nut Janes - 2 points total (one 4th place vote)
Coco-Bel Bites - 2 points total (one 4th place vote)
Coco-Dots - 20 points total (three 1st place, one 2nd place and one 5th place vote)
Coconut Dreams - 16 points total (two 2nd place, 2 3rd place and one 4th place vote)
Coconut Groove - 12 points total (one 1st place, one 2nd place, one 3rd place vote)
Coconut Wonders - 6 points total (one 1st place, one 5th place vote)
Jungle Janes - 3 points total (one 3rd place vote)
Major Coconut - 2 points total (one 4th place vote)
Secret Addiction - 5 points total (one 2nd place and one 5th place vote)
Tropical Storms - 1 point total (one 5th place vote)
Undercover Coconut - 2 points total (one 4th place vote)

I tried scanning in the tally sheets for each of you to see, but the 'table' format caused all sorts of breaks. I'll be more than happy to snail-mail photocopies of the results to anyone who wishes.

I will say something, though.. the winner is NOT who I expected. PERSONALLY I was leaning towards Undercover Coconut, Coconut Groove, and Coconut Dreams as my top 3... and while two of those WERE in the top three.. that Coco Dots just really took hold and wouldn't let go. At first I began trying to think of a way to get out of using the name... but I stopped myself because there's a lesson to be learned for me in all of this. The demographic in which I would be primarily selling and giving these Janes were the people voting. If they said that Coco-Dots was a name THEY would like associated with what they were eating... then I should listen.

So again.. congratulations to Dara, and let's all give a hearty welcome to the newest Happy Jane Flavor... COCO-DOTS!!!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Let's go to the Judges!

Well.. I want to thank all of you who participated in my very first contest here on Crumbles!

Unlike my other blog in which I tend to blather on and curse a lot... this is a place where I share a part of me that I am truly passionate about... my baking creations. For a girl who went to college for Aircraft Engineering, and spent 8 years working and designing and managing projects in varying engineering disciplines.... BAKING and decorating is a pretty far cry from what I was trained to do.

But alas... here we are, and here I go down that road. A road that I hope will some day lead to culinary school when my children are a little older. A road that may some day lead to a business in which I can make money from my edible creations.

So again... your participation in this contest is not only validating to me, but encouraging. Having more than just my close family and friends see what I do is thrilling and nerve-wracking! but to have such a great response and surge of creativity shared all in the name of naming a Jane? Again, I say it is encouraging. Maybe this really IS the right road for me to be on!

So without further ado... I will take the submitted names and pass them on to my judges!

Each name will be anonymously given to my panel of judges for a vote. I am asking my judges to vote for their TOP FIVE names. OF those top five names... each will be assigned a point value ranging from one (1) to five (5) points. Five points given to their favorite name, 4 points to their second choice, and so on down to one point for the #5 spot.

I have personally bribed my judges for their input with their own coconut and dark chocolate combo Janes. I figure it's only fair that they can match the taste with the name.

I have five judges in mind, and will scan their scoring sheets for all to see on Monday.

again.. thank you ALL so much for participating... and stay tuned for Monday when our "Name That Jane" Contest WINNER will be announced!!!


Friday, August 22, 2008

Name That Jane--- a CONTEST!!

Well... I did it. I created yet ANOTHER type of Happy Jane.

Let me tell you something. It's GOOD. like "I may hide the rest of these from everyone and eat them by myself in the laundry room GOOD".

But alas... I have a problem.

My lil Happy Janes are without a name.

First.... let me introduce you.

This Happy Jane hails from a vanilla cookie descent. She is topped with a rich, hand-made coconut buttercream (laced with shredded coconut, of course), then dipped in an extra dark Belgian dark chocolate, then topped with just a teeeeny sprinkle of more shredded coconut for garnish.

She really is a beauty, if I say so myself. wait. I just did.


So there you have it. Now is where YOU come in.

I need a name for this Jane... and I'm willing to offer up a free batch of Janes to whomever can give her the best name.

To play... leave a comment here BEFORE 5pm EST, August 29th with a name suggestion.

All entries will be given to a panel of judges for voting. The name with the most votes will not only win the honor of having their entry attached to an official Happy Jane, but he or she will ALSO receive a shipment of ONE DOZEN HAPPY JANES in a flavor of their choice. (Mint Treasures, Mocha Crunch, Strawberry Shorties, or the TBN (To Be Named) )

Additional rules: no more than TWO suggestions per person, please. I realize that a week is a long time to think on something, and you may get a new idea after you submit your first suggestion. THEREFORE... I will allow TWO (and ONLY TWO) suggestions per participant during the submission period.

Side note... on the chance that two individuals submit the same name choice.. credit will be given to the entry with the earliest timestamp. (so if you DO have a good name.. don't sit on it too long...)

so what are you waiting for? NAME THAT JANE!!!

*** due to my personal standards of quality and the types of ingredients I use (read "chocolate MELTS in the summer heat"), I can only select a winner with a valid US mailing address that can receive overnight mailings.

New Addition - Strawberry Shorties

I'm proud to say that we now have two new additions to the Happy Jane Family!!! This post will only discuss one of the two I made, as I will be hosting a little CONTEST involving the other happy jane. (stay tuned for later today about the contest info and unveiling of the other Jane!)

I decided to shake things up and make some Happy Janes with a vanilla cookie base.

After looking around in the fridge and our daily lives for inspiration, I decided to try to make something of a vanilla-strawberry variety.

After whipping up a buttercream filling, I piped little 'cones' on the cookie rounds. After the 'cones' were in place, I piped in some strawberry preserves. AT this point I wanted to call it quits and eat the whole lot, as strawberry and vanilla are two of my favorite flavors. alas, my senses over-ruled and I put them in the freezer while I prepared the white chocolate dip. Or should I say "pink" chocolate dip.

Each round was coated in a pink-dyed white chocolate, then allowed to set overnight.

Don't be deterred by their loud pink color. These Janes are soft blend of vanilla, shortbread, and just a right hint of strawberry. I present to you...

Strawberry Shorties!

Lessons Learned? once again, I foolishly tried to 'enhance' the white chocolate with an imitation strawberry extract. (there's the clue.. imitation = BAD!) the chocolate got lumpy and grainy, and I had to scrap the batch. oh well. the second batch came out nice, and believe it or not. I think it's better without the 'extra' strawberry flavor. now they just stand with that hint of strawberry. very nice for adults who don't like that over-the-top sweetness.