Goodies For Gifts – A goodies central

Li’l Puffs is proud to announce that we’re now listed on Goodies For Gifts directory of delectable goodies!

Goodies For Gifts is a site dedicated to anyone who is looking for unique edible gifts to ship anywhere in the country. Browse their website to find and learn about amazing tasty treats that you can buy, share or send as gifts to your loved ones.

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Love With Food Tasty Box

Who doesn’t love food? I do!

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Love With Food a couple of times this year. I love that they donate a meal with every deal that they sell. I’ve been blessed with opportunities so I always look for ways to give back and working with Love With Food is a great way of doing so.

Love with Food recently launched a new Best Bites subscription program. For $14 a month (shipping is FREE), you get to discover 5 to 6 gourmet bites. Then, you’ll enjoy exclusive discounts to all the full-sized products featured in your box! How great is that?! And what I love most, for every box purchased, Love With Food will donate a meal to No Kid Hunger.

December tasty box included:

  • Li’l Puffs Peppermint Marshmallows
  • White Chocolate Amaretto Filled Wafer Cookies
  • Cranberry Ginger Biscotti
  • Madecasse Mini Square
  • Chocolate Dipped Nutter Butter
  • Truffle Pig-Dark Hazelnut

YUM!

For those of you who purchased or received a box, don’t forget. You get exclusive discounts to the full-size products featured in the box until January 9, 2012.

Don’t wait! Go to Love With Food to reserve your January box now. It features healthy new year nibbles 🙂

Holiday Bundles

It’s been a while since my last post. Sorry about that. The holidays took pretty much all of my time away from the computer.

Before the holidays are completely behind us, I wanted to let you know of our new marshmallow bundles. All our bundles contain three 4-oz packages of marshmallows of different flavors.

This holiday season we’re offering the holiday bundle. Each bundle include our fall flavor marshmallows, peppermint and cinnamon, and chocolate marshmallow.

We also added two other bundles: Customer Favorite and Neapolitan.

Customer Favorite is the most popular flavors that our customers order. The customer favorite bundle includes chocolate, raspberry, and strawberry.

Neapolitan, just like the ice cream, comes with chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry flavor marshmallows.

Any bundles you choose, you’ll get a variety of flavors to enjoy.

Have a happy holiday season!

The Aroma of the Holidays

Every year I look forward to the holidays and yet at the same time, dreading the pounds that inevitably come shortly after. I hear the words that the Borg utter “resistance is futile” repeating in my head over and over again. Does that stop me? No 🙂

What food do you typically associate with the holidays? For me, it’s basted ham, roasted turkey and lots of delicious and tempting desserts.

This Halloween, I kick started my baking with a pumpkin pie and a carrot cake. Fall weather always makes me think of hot chocolate and spices. What could be more appropriate than having a slice of home made pumpkin pie and a lightly spiced carrot cake with fluffy cream cheese frosting to enjoy the start of the holiday season.

I finished off the night with a cup of hot cocoa topped with 2 cinnamon marshmallows. I love watching marshmallows melt in hot cocoa. They melt into a frothy layer on top of the hot cocoa, spicing it just right as you sip your hot cocoa. So good!

The cinnamon flavor in my hot cocoa reminded me of other desserts I love which I think would taste great in hot cocoa too. Gingerbread cookies! It brought me back to my culinary school days when I participated in a Fairmont gingerbread hotel competition with 3 other classmates. Here’s a picture of the finished hotel. We came in second 🙂

Anyway, I went ahead and made gingerbread marshmallows and pumpkin pie spice flavor too. They turned out great so I’m bringing them to the Evergreen Farmers Market this Sunday, complete with a cup of hot cocoa for those who will brave the forecast of rain.

Angry Birds!

It’s been a while since I made a theme cake. There’s a reason for that. I’ve decided a year ago not to do theme cakes anymore because it takes more time to make the cake than to devour the entire cake. So I now make theme cakes only for family.

Like most edible theme cakes, most of the structures or models used on the cake are made using fondant or gum paste. I try to steer away from both as much as I can because I don’t think they taste good, but sometimes, it’s inevitable.

I have found one brand of fondant though, that tastes decent. Some had said it tastes almost like a tootsie roll. The brand is Fondarific. The fondant seems to also be more pliant and workable, and doesn’t dry up as fast as those I’ve worked with, such as Wilton.

Anyway, I digress.

I was asked to do a theme cake for my nephew’s 4th birthday. He’s crazy about Angry Birds. I mean, really crazy. He has stuffed toys of the different angry birds and knows what each bird does!

My first thought was…. someone has to already have made those things as cake toppers. I wasn’t looking forward to making them from scratch, though I will if I have to. But lucky for me, they are available! So, I just have to figure out what structure I’m going to build on the cake and where to place the birds and the pigs. Yay! Job made simple 🙂

So here are all the in-progress pictures of the cake.

First, I made a “stone” platform where I’m going to place my structure on. I made a rice krispies treats using vanilla marshmallows and cocoa puffs. I did add a drop of grey to make it look more like a wall of rocks rather than chocolate.

This is finished structure that I was going to put on the cake. The pigs and the birds are plastic but the other pieces, the eggs, ice blocks, wood planks, and the concrete blocks, are made out of fondant.

The angry birds with the fondant catapult! 

The finished cake. The cake was a marbled cake with a custard filling and whipped cream frosting.

I had some leftover cocoa rice krispies treats so I decided to make an actual angry bird model to surprise my nephew.

Here are the in-progress pictures:

And he loved it! I don’t know if he’s going to eat it though. 🙂

Looks Can Be Deceiving

It’s both a blessing and a curse knowing how to bake sometimes. I’m so picky now when it comes to desserts. Yes, even a dessert as simple as cookies. I can’t remember the last time I bought a cookie and liked it.

Last week, I had lunch provided by Doubletree Inn. The lunch came in a brown gift bag with a large “Cookie” word printed on it. I guess I’m having a cookie for dessert. I wasn’t too excited at the thought of it at the time. When I unwrapped the wax paper containing the cookie, my expectations was right on. I wasn’t too impressed by the look of it. I took a bite of the cookie and wow! I was so surprised by how good it tasted. Ok. I take it all back. This is one cookie that I would actually buy and eat. It wasn’t too sweet as most store-bought cookies are. It was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The cookie also had a subtle hint of lemon and cinnamon, and it was loaded with chocolate. Seriously! I thought I put a lot of chocolate chips in my chocolate chip cookies. This cookie actually had more.

So, I went home and of course bragged about the cookie to my husband. The poor guy had to listen to me describe how scrumptious the cookie was. I felt bad afterwards so I decided to make a trial batch for him to try it out.

I’ve modified the recipe slightly so if you want to use the original recipe that I found on the web, here is the link: http://www.foodgeeks.com/recipes/18302. You’ll notice that I tend to convert the measurements in my recipes from cups to ounces. It’s a habit I learned so I always have a consistent result every time.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2-1/4 cups all purpose flour (11.25 oz)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter, softened (8 oz)
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed* (7 oz)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar* (3.5 oz)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (18 oz)
  • 1-1/2 cups walnuts, toasted and chopped fine
Directions:
  1. Grind oats in a food processor or blender until fine. Combine the ground oats with the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
  2. Cream together the butter, sugars, vanilla, and lemon juice in another medium bowl with an electric mixer. Add the eggs and mix until smooth. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture and blend well. Add the chocolate chips and nuts to the dough and mix by hand until ingredients are well blended.
  3. Spoon rounded 1/4 cup portions onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place the scoops about 2 inches apart. Bake in a 350°F oven for 15-18 minutes or until cookies are light brown and soft in the middle. Store in a sealed container when cool to keep soft.
*This cookie isn’t overly sweet but if you want it even less sweet, you can reduce the sugars a little bit more.

Note: The original recipe indicated that you should chill the dough overnight in the refrigerator before baking the cookies. I don’t find that the step makes that much of a difference, but that chilling step does help when you have to prepare lots of dishes for an event.

If you decide to chill the dough overnight, I recommend that you scoop them first on the cookie sheet before covering and putting them in the refrigerator. If you don’t, the dough will be stiff when you first remove them from the refrigerator and you’ll have to wait for the butter in the dough to soften before you can scoop them out.

Of course, if you don’t want to spend the time making these cookies, you can always buy them from any Doubletree Inn 🙂 They’re not very expensive and are worth the purchase.

Strawberry S’mores Tart

In honor of National S’mores Day, I wanted to make and eat s’mores. Of course, the traditional s’mores are easy to make and they’re always delicious, but since I have different flavors of marshmallows at my disposal, I decided to make my own twist of a Strawberry S’mores Tart.

The tart crust is made from graham crackers, but I added a little flour and bind it with an egg for a more cookie-like crust. The filling is velvety rich chocolate custard so a little slice of this tart will satisfy your sweet tooth cravings. Serve it with a cup of hot tea. Umm… I can’t think of a better afternoon teatime treat for myself today.

Strawberry S’mores Tart
Makes a 9″ tart

Crust:
1 package graham crackers (9 crackers)
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/3 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten

Chocolate Filling:
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping:
1 4-oz bag Li’l Puffs Strawberry Marshmallows, or more if desired.

Preheat oven to 325F.

Grind the graham crackers in a food processor into fine crumbs, or you can place the crackers in a ziploc bag and crush them using a rolling pin. Mix the ground-up graham crackers with the sugars and flour.

Cut the butter into the mixture using a pastry blender until the mixture looks like coarse sand.

Stir in the beaten egg and mix well. Press the mixture into a 9″ tart pan and set aside.

For the filling, mix all ingredients together except for the evaporated milk. Add the evaporated milk last and mix well.

Pour into the prepared tart pan and bake for approximately 45 minutes.

Check your tart at 40 minutes in case if it’s done earlier. The custard center should be puffed and jiggle a little bit when you lightly shake the tart pan. It will settle back down when it cools.

Cool to room temperature before adding the marshmallow topping. You can prepare up to this step a day ahead and refrigerate your cooled tart.

When you’re ready for the marshmallows, cut the 1-inch cube marshmallows into four pieces and cover the top of the tart with the marshmallows. Feel free to add more marshmallows if you love them.

The cut-up marshmallows will be sticky. That’s ok. Fresh marshmallows have a softer texture than store-bought marshmallows. Next, use a kitchen torch and roast the tops of the marshmallows gently so they puff up and turn a nice golden color.

Enjoy and Happy National S’mores Day! Hope you have a s’more delicious day!