Orlando Festival of Chocolate

Coming soon: The Orlando Festival of Chocolate. April 27th to April 29th at the UCF Arena in Orlando. Demonstrations and seminars include the Cocoa Couture Fashion Show, How to Taste Chocolate, The Art of Creating Chocolate Figurines with Nicholl Notter, and all kinds of hands on classes with chocolate. The event will have both adult and kids activities.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $9 for kids.

Orlando Festival of Chocolate

Pastry Sampler Giveaway 3 - All-Girls Molds and Cutters

This Giveaway is all about the girl - molds and cutters are all themed together. Great for girls' birthday or tea parties. Included are chocolate, fondant, mint, and candy molds, and cookie cutters. A dozen items in all, retail value over $25.00. Lots of ways to enter. Good luck!
  • Wilton princess pick mold for cupcakes
  • Wilton princess lollipop mold
  • Butterfly lollipop and pencil pop mold
  • Wilton garden flower mold
  • Autumn Carpenter's flower fun fondant mold
  • Autumn Carpenter's flower fun mint mold
  • Fancy purses mold
  • 3-D high heeled shoes mold
  • Tear drop high temp candy and jewel mold
  • Metal cutters: butterfly, tea cup, tea pot

This giveaway has ended. Thanks to all who participated! A winner was chosen via Random.org and has been notified. Have a great day, and congratulations to the winner. -- Renee.

Upcoming Commercial Bakery Equipment Auctions

Here is a listing of bakery auction and auctions with bakery, pastry, commissary equipment.

Supermarket, Bakery and Commissary
  • Public auction - double rack oven, proofer, spiral mixers, dough dividers, grinders, ovens, etc.
  • April 25th - begins 11:03am eastern
  • 1224 NE 7th Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Restaurant, Market and Grill
  • Public auction - lots of restaurant equipment here - food cart, Blodgett convection oven, ranges, display coolers, ice machine, planetary mixer with bowl/hook/paddle, more.
  • April 25th - inspection begins 10am eastern
  • 1224 NE 7th Ave, Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Restaurant Equipment - Internet Only
  • Online auction - restaurant & commercial bakery equipment - steam and baker ovens, floor mixers, stainless steel tables, hoods, convection ovens, freezers & coolers, more.
  • May 2nd - 1:00pm pacific
  • 7500 York St, Denver, CO

Multi-Restaurant & Catering/Bakery Online Auction
  • Online auction - commercial equipment - mixers (complete), doughnut fryer, sinks, microwave, convection and steamer ovens, more.
  • April 26th - 7pm central
  • Online only, items located at 23257 W 255th St, Paola, KS

Peach Cobbler - Variations and Versions

Today is National Peach Cobbler Day. My go-to recipe for peach cobbler at home comes straight from the pages of Southern Living Magazine. I was a fan of the magazine long before my big move to the South, and have yet to try a recipe I didn't like from it. But what is a cobbler? Ask five different people and you'll probably get five different answers. For some, it is a biscuit-like topping atop sweet and bubbly fruit. To others, the topping is more a rustic pastry crust.

And looking back to old cookbooks, cobblers seem to be put together differently altogether. In 1902, Paul Richards' recipe (Paul Richards' Book of Breads, Cakes, Pastries, Ices and Sweetmeats) is similar to Victor Hirtzler's 1919 version (The Hotel St. Francis Cook Book). Both involve lining a baking pan with pie paste, filling with sweetened fruit, seasoned if desired with spice, then covering the top with a crust, egg washing, and baking. Sort of like a pie, only deep-dish and baked in a casserole.

In any case, cobblers are one of the few desserts that has appeal at any time of the year: spring and summer with the abundance of ripe, fresh fruit, and fall and winter when there is a longing for sweet and warm desserts. And like all good recipes, the simpler the better. The recipe below is adapted from Southern Living. I substitute whatever stone fruit I have on hand if I don't have peaches making it a 'universal' recipe, sweetening the fruit with as much sugar as needed.

Peach Cobbler
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, divided in half
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 cups fresh peaches, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
In heavy, metal casserole, heat the butter over low heat until melted. Remove from the stove. Whisk the flour, 1 cup of sugar, and baking powder together. Add in the milk an stir until just mixed. Pour this over the melted butter.

In a saucepan, stir the peaches, remaining 1 cup of sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a quick boil and pour over the top of the cobbler batter. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 35 to 45 minutes until lightly browned, bubbly, and the cobbler crust has cooked through. Serve warm with fresh vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Image Source: Photo of peach cobbler is from Flickr - User: Arnold Inuyaki through a creative commons license.

National Chinese Almond Cookie Day

Celebrate National Chinese Almond Cookie Day by making these crisp almond flavored sugar cookies, often baked with a whole blanched almond on top. Brush the tops with a simple yolk glaze to create a shiny surface after baking. Here's one version to get you started. If you don't have whole blanced almonds on hand, try pressing in slivered blanched almonds on the tops.

Chinese Almond Cookies
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • Whole blanched almonds (one for each cookie, about two dozen or more)
  • 1 yolk, mixed with 2 teaspoons water for glaze
Stir the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Set aside. Cream the butter and shortening together, then beat in the sugars until smooth. Add in the egg and almond extract. Gradually add in the flour mixture. Shape into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place cookie balls onto baking sheets, and slightly flatten with fingertips. Press an almond onto each cookie, and brush the tops with some of the yolk glaze. Bake the cookies for about 10 to 12 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven until lightly browned.

Image of Chinese almond cookies from Flickr by User snowpea&bokchoi through a creative commons license.

Home Baked Comfort by Kim Laidlaw

Kim Laidlaw's Home Baked Comfort has fast become a favorite read. Not only does she provide tips, and lists her favorite kitchen tools, all the recipes are enhanced with gorgeous photography by Eric Wolfinger. The photos alone are worthy of a book all to themselves. Laidlaw's Amazing Baking Facts You Might Not Know include quick and easy tips for baking.

The book contains all the basic recipes needed on any given day or holiday: Breakfast; Breads; Cookies & Bars; Cakes & Cupcakes; Pies & Tarts; and Custards & Souffles. The recipes include both sweet and savory treats. The author's recipes are intermingled with notable contributors: Bakerella's recipe for Mini Banana-Maple Pancake Muffins is included and Pearl Bakery's Blueberry-Huckleberry Grand Marnier Tart makes you want to leave for Portland, OR, to try it first hand.

Besides the fun layout and photos, Home Baked Comfort has something else going for it: the recipes are uncomplicated and sound. Laidlow writes that the Chicken, Leek, and Wild Mushroom Potpies is 'the gold standard for potpies' and I have to agree. My favorite recipe is her Sour Cherry "Toaster" Tarts. I, too, am a child from the '70's, and I remember making a version with my grandmother.

For a reference baking book to have on hand, this would be hard to beat. Sound baking advice combined with really great photography and tasty recipes make this one to flip through, and work from, often.

Book Information:
Disclosure: This digital galley copy was provided to the author by the publisher. Any opinions are the author's own.

Latest Read: Fine Cooking Cookies

Making cookies is a holiday pastime for me and the family, and I have a few tried and true cookbooks I reference back to just about every season. Fine Cooking Cookies: 200 Favorite Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More contains great recipes to try for the holidays or any time of year. What makes it stand out for me is the pictures: I'm a visual girl and I love seeing all the studio photos. Tips are sprinkled throughout the book to make cookie making easier.

Some of the cookies are unusual, but resemble ones I've made from another favorite book of mine: Plaisir de Petit Fours, like the Cracao and Pain Turc from Plaisir and the Chocolate-Nut Wafers and Toasted Almond Thins from Cookies. I've made each both about a million times and I'd knew I'd seen them before, and was pleasantly surprised to see them included. The list of ingredients are similar, too. Having said that, this is a great collection of a broad range of cookies. The cookie recipes are presented by different people, so the recipes collected from the different contributors ensure that there is a wide range of styles and types.

Cookies by Fine Cooking magazine and Taunton Press has 200 recipes for just about every cookie variety. Chapters are broken down by type: Classic Cookies & Confections; Bars, Brownies & Bites; Fruit & Nut Cookies; Biscotti & Shortbread; Spirited & Spiced Cookies; and Sweet & Savory Sandwiches, which is all about about sandwich-style cookies and confections, including recipes for the fillings. If you have a hankering for shortbread, there are more than a dozen to choose from.

Overall, a great cookie recipe collection that presents both European and American favorites and new ideas in a way that makes it easy for home cooks to recreate in their kitchens. Like all Fine Cooking recipes, the ones I've tried have all turned out. The list of contributors is a who's-who of notable pastry professionals, too.

Book Information:
  • Fine Cooking Cookies: 200 Favorite Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More; by the Editors and Contributors of Fine Cooking
  • The Taunton Press; 2011
Disclosure: This digital galley copy was provided to the author by the publisher. Any opinions are the author's own.

Most Reading

Email Newsletter

Join Pastry Sampler on G+


Friends of the Blog

Google+ Circles