Sunday, February 22, 2009

Stepford's Rejects

I knew it would happen. I was doing too well with the whole "Happy Jane" train I had going. Good flavors, good reviews... all was... well... GOOD.

So I had been thinking on a good flavor combination that I could present in March, and being the good little Irish girl I am.. I thought it'd be a kick to do something with Bailey's Irish Cream. Also, for personal reasons, I give up sweets/desserts during the Lenten Season for my religion. Since March falls during Lent, I wanted to do my flavor testing a little early.. you know... while I could actually taste it without breaking my fast.

All started off great. Chocolate cookie bases were made, then set aside while I whipped up a Bailey's butter cream for my centers. Piped that on the rounds, and got ready to do the dip.

So I had decided to use a milk chocolate this time around... thinking I didn't want to squelch the taste of the Bailey's. However... the only milk chocolate I had available was in the form of milk chocolate morsels. from Target.
I've used Target brand things before.. and they're FINE. but this time it didn't work. and i had a nagging feeling in my gut when I was melting it down.. as I usually only use my best chocolates for the outer shells... but still... I proceeded.

Unfortunately.. the chocolate never melted down to be smooth or 'wet' enough. It remained a bit gloppy... and when I went to dip my rounds... things just went further downhill. Despite freezing the rounds topped with the bailey's butter cream... the filling just began to melt away under the heat of the gloppy milk chocolate. Adding to my frustration... I just couldn't get a smooth finish for the rounds. they looked like little rats' nests on my cooling racks.

I even tried to 'doll' them up a bit by adding zig-zaggy strips of colored gum-paste. meh. still didn't do it for me.... so I gave up and left the remainder as plain. (plain Bailey's rats' nests, that is!)

After over an hour, noticed the Janes were just not setting... and more so that the centers were beginning to ooze out, since the heat from the chocolate was melting the butter-cream.

finally I just put them in the fridge to set. Once they hardened.. they weren't too bad. As you can see... I still ate a few.

Ultimately... this 'recipe' won't make it to my Stepford site. the TASTE was good... but the appearance was nowhere near up to par for its sister Janes. I will try to re-do this.. perhaps make the butter cream a LITTLE thicker... and either find a better milk chocolate or switch to a dark that I know will melt nicely and form a better shell.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cordially Cherry Happy Janes

So as I mentioned before.. I came up with a new flavor of Happy Janes this past weekend. ok.. so the IDEA for the flavor stemmed a long time ago from my husband who, several months ago, begged me to do a chocolate and cherry combination.

well maybe not BEGGED.
he might have done a gorilla-styled "oooh-oooh-oooh!!!" in asking me, though.

not one to disappoint, I declared February would be the month to do it. I mulled around some different ideas.. fresh cherries, dried cherries, cherry extract... white chocolate, milk chocolate.. DARK chocolate.... Finally I decided to go with a chocolate cookie base, topped with a cherry-infused ganache, coated in a dark chocolate.

cherry-infused, you ask?

yeah. so I took some cherries, and added them to my heavy cream during the boiling process of making my ganache. once the cream was boiling, I strained the cherries out. This part was NOT very pretty, and gave the cream a funky reddish-brown color... but I definitely feel there was a certain sweet after-taste that the cherries added.

once my chocolate was fully melted and mixed with the cream, I folded in some finely chopped DRIED cherries. As you can see.. I totally avoided using cherry extract. for one.. because it's crap. but seriously.. it gives things such a maraschino FAKE cherry taste that I can't be affiliated with. bleh! so no extract.

after the piping was done, I coated in a bittersweet and extra dark chocolate blend, then topped with some festive heart sprinkles.

these are truly a chocolate lover's treat.... but I do enjoy the chewy and zingy-sweet element the cherries add. So let's say hello and welcome to the newest Jane in the neighborhood... the Cordially Cherry.

if the description and pictures of the Cordially Cherry Happy Janes aren't enough for you.. take a stroll over to A Taste of Stepford. By the end of March, things will be set up there for you to be able to order your very own batch of Janes.

Monday, February 9, 2009

We have a WINNER

First off.. I want to say thanks to all that visited my blog and participated in this latest contest!

As I type, I have a fresh batch of cookies in the oven, partially on their way to becoming a tasty valentine treat for one of you.

what's that? oh... you want to know who won???

ok, ok... I'll spare you the agony of waiting any more.

The lucky winner, via the cool random number generator.... is #18!!!

So let's send some big love and congratulations to Jodes!

Jodes, please e-mail me the address to which you would like for your dozen cookies to be sent to, and your personalized batch will be on their way! you can e-mail me at

Thanks again to all who participated... and for my first FOLLOWER! Thanks to Melinda Mey for being my first groupie! (you too can be a follower, btw... there's a place to click along the left sidebar!)

look for some new posts this week... I've been doing a ton of baking! I also came up with a new flavor for my Happy Janes, so I'll be sharing that... and very soon I'll be talking more about my side project, A Taste of Stepford. Then, of course.. you never know when I'm going to bust out with another contest!
thanks again for all who participated.. and congrats to Jodes! Happy Valentine's Day!!

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Little More Conversation - A Contest!

Well... on the verge of Valentine's day, and with all this LOVE in the air... I decided it was high time for me to host another contest. Besides... I need to be baking more, and this poor blog has been feeling lonely!

One of the most popular treats you see at Valentine's day are those little boxes of 'conversation hearts'. personally? I can't stand them! Now, that doesn't mean to say that I don't EAT some every year... (what can I say... you never know if/when your tastes may change!) but invariably.. every year... BLEH.

So... out of respect for the item's popularity, but keeping my tastes and talents in mind... I like to make some Conversation Heart Cookies. Below you'll see some I've made in the past.

This year? I'm giving you a chance to win your very own batch.... (that'd be a dozen)... right in time for Valentine's Day! what's the catch? none. well.. you DO have to leave a comment, and you DO have to live in the Continental US. After that... the handy-dandy random number generator will do the work. Oh, and leave your comment before NOON EST on MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9th.

Really. it's that easy. one comment = a chance to win.

ANNNND... since I'm feeling crazy... I'll even give you a SECOND chance to win. Link to this post on your blog, facebook, or twitter feed, and you'll get another entry. Just come back here after you link me, and leave me a comment saying where you pimped me out.

Can you feel the love tonight?

good... now let's give them somethin' to talk about!


Official Rules:

  • one comment/entry per person, with one BONUS entry allowable if a second comment is left showing where/how you link back to this post.

  • All comments/link backs must be posted PRIOR to 12:00pm EST, Monday, February 9th.

  • Winner will receive 1 dozen personalized Conversation Heart cookies, shipping via USPS Priority 2-3 day Mail.... just in time for the 14th


comments are now officially closed!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

And baby makes Three!

A few weeks ago, I got my first 'gig' doing cookies for someone. A friend was hosting a baby shower for someone who was having their third baby... and she asked me to do cookies as favors for the party guests. It was an exciting event for me, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit that my nerves were on edge the whole week. I mean.. for the first time I was baking for a guest of honor that I didn't know!!!

would the cookies be good enough?

would they hold up well? (shipped to Arizona!)
would they get there in time????

Supposedly all turned out well... I've only had sporadic contact with the hostess since the event. The good news is that no matter what... I was able to get more practice in. and my shrink-wrapping is coming along rather well, too! (especially considering the SHAPE of these cookies)

Poor Susie... when I did the monster truck cookies for her son, Liam.. yikes. the shrink wrap on them was like an INCH thick. hah! and they were CIRCLES! so yeah.. definitely getting better about those.

also got a chance to play with backgrounds for the cookies. I'm finding that fabric backgrounds seem to take the best pictures for the cookies. While the wrapping paper offers great colors.. I always get a shine. and bonus! a friend of mine reminded me that fabric stores always have a TON of scraps for super cheap.... so look for (hopefully!!) some better pictures highlighting my efforts in posts to come.

speaking of things to come... February bake sale is this coming weekend. I had a request to make my biscotti again... and I have a new Happy Jane flavor in the works. Also? can you believe I've never done my cookies for the bake sale??? so yeah. I think some nicely decorated hearts are in order.