Wine for Dessert Recipes Apple Cake Tatin, Poached Pears, and Tini Bellini Jello Shooters

Thank you to everyone today who attended the Wine for Dessert demo at Harvest Ridge.  Here are the recipes for the things we made today.  I hope you all had a great time and that you were inspired to make some desserts of your very own.

 

Apple Cake Tatin

8 oz granulated sugar

3 oz water

3 oz unsalted butter

3 medium sized apples, suitable for cooking such as Gala, Fuji or Granny Smith – peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4 wide slices

 

Put water and sugar into a sauce pan and cook over medium heat until sugar is a light to medium amber caramel.  Lower heat and gradually add butter, whisking constantly until the butter is all incorporated and emulsified.  Remove from heat and pour into greased baking dish.  (you may also prepare the caramel in an oven safe sautee pan).  Arrange apple slices in pretty pattern and allow caramel to cool slightly.  Prepare your favorite pound cake recipe according to instructions.  Pour batter over caramel and apples. Bake according to recipe directions.  Cake is done when a cake tester inserted comes out clean.  Remove pan from oven and immediately invert onto plate or cake stand.  Allow to cool completely before cutting.

Meanwhile make butter sauce.  Place 1/2 Cup granulated sugar in sauce pan with just enough water to moisten the sugar.  Should be the consistency of wet sand.  Cook sugar until its a light amber caramel, the color of honey.  Slowly add 2 cups of Hard Apple Cider.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Add another 1/2 Cup of granulated sugar.  Cook until liquid has reduced by half.  Lower heat and whisk in 3 oz (6 Tbsp) of unsalted butter until smooth and glossy.  Pour butter sauce over cake.  Devour!

 

Poaching Liquid

Place equal parts (by weight or volume) water, wine, and sugar into a large pot.  Bring to a boil and lower to barely simmering.  Add your fruit of choice.  Flavorings such as citrus peel or spices may be added.  Cook fruit until desired consistency.  Remove from heat.  Fruit will continue to cook as the liquid cools.  Store in an airtight container in fridge for up to 2 weeks.  Poaching liquid may be reused up to 3 times.  Poaching liquid can also be used as a flavored simple syrup for cocktails and drinks.  Enjoy

 

Wine Jello Shooters

Place 1 3/4 Cups water and 3/4 Cup sugar into a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil.  Mean while, place 1 cup of sparkling white wine in a bowl.  Sprinkle 2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin over the white wine.  Place 2 additional cups of wine in a 6 cup measuring cup.  Allow gelatin to bloom for 1 to 2 minutes.  Pour a small amount of the hot sugar water into the bowl with the gelatin, allowing gelatin to melt.  Pour gelatin mixture into the pan with the remaining hot sugar water.  Whisk gently to ensure all the gelatin has melted.  Pour mixture into measuring cup with remaining 2 cups of wine.  Stir gently to incorporate all together.  Pour gelatin into small shot glasses, champagne flutes, or serving vessel of choice along with diced canned peaches.  Allow gelatin to set in fridge for 24 hours to set completely.  Enjoy

 

Raspberry Orange Muffins #throwbackthursday

IMG_1073

I love muffins, especially the recipe we currently use at Turnbridge Point.  Lets face it, they are basically one step away from being cake.  I think muffins are the perfect breakfast item.  Of course they are delicious right out of the oven, but are also a wonderful snack throughout the day.  For as long as I can remember, muffins have been a breakfasts tradition in my family and are a staple at Turnbridge Point.  So, today, I share a delicious Raspberry Orange Muffin recipe with you.  Its in 2 parts, the muffins batter itself, which can be made up to 3 days ahead of time and stored tightly covered in the fridge until ready to use.  The second part is our crumb topping recipe, which goes perfectly on ANY flavor of muffin.  (little secret…we hand place all of our fruit into our muffins.  DO NOT FOLD THE FRUIT INTO THE BATTER!  It may take an extra minute or two but this way you can ensure even distribution into every bite, but more importantly, NO STAINING OF THE BATTER…ESPECIALLY BLUEBERRY MUFFINS!)  You can use fresh or frozen fruit for this recipe.  Oh, also, try swapping out the raspberries for blueberries.  Use lemon zest instead of orange….is that what we do?!  I’ll never tell 😉  Happy baking and enjoy these delicious muffins!

Steve Konopelski Signature

Raspberry Orange Muffins                                                           yields 24 muffins

 

2 C All Purpose Flour (300g)
¾ C plus 1 T granulated sugar (170g)
¼ C light brown sugar (40g)
½ t salt
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
6oz unsalted butter, room temp (170g)
Zest of ½ orange
2 eggs, room temp
2 egg yolks, room temp
2 T whole milk
2 t vanilla extract
5 oz sour cream
2 Tbsp orange marmalade
Fresh raspberries, about 2 pints
Muffin Crumbs

 Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Cut butter into small pieces and add to dry ingredients. Place orange zest in mixing bowl as well.

Paddle dry ingredients and butter on lowest speed of stand mixer until mixture resembles grains of sand.

In a separate bowl, mix together all wet ingredients and marmalade.

Slowly add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in 3 stages, paddling at medium speed until smooth between each addition. Scrape well between each addition.

Using an small cookie scoop, fill paper lined muffin tins. Hand place raspberries into muffin batter. (this works well with a small scoop; one scoop of batter then 3 raspberries, another scoop of batter then 3 more raspberries, making sure to evenly distribute the fruit). Top batter with generous hand full of muffin crumbs. Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 15-20 minutes or until tops are golden brown with no blonde spots.

Remove muffin tin from oven and allow to cool on rack.

 

Muffin Crumbs

 

2 C melted butter, cooled slightly
8 oz whole wheat flour
1 lb All Purpose flour
8 oz granulated sugar
10 oz light brown sugar
½ t ground cinnamon
½ t salt
¼ t baking soda

 

Combine all dry ingredients in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until combined.

With mixer on low speed, stream in melted butter and continue to mix just until combined.

Sprinkle mixture on to parchment lined sheet pan and fluff with fingers. Chill in refrigerator until set. Crumbs may be sprinkled on top of muffins before baking. Store unused crumbs in freezer for up to 4 months

 

Steven’s Biscuits #throwbackthursday

20160121_112643

For as long as I can remember biscuits have been a breakfast staple in my family.  My mother makes great biscuits.  In the 8th grade, I came home from school one day, and handed my mother a recipe that we used for making biscuits in my home economics (remember those?) class.  She humored me, thinking the recipe couldn’t possibly be better than hers and made them for our next breakfast.  The recipe was so great she threw hers away and my family has been making this recipe ever since.  In my mothers recipe box it is simply labeled, “Steven’s Biscuits.”

I thought I would share this recipe with all of you…I have made some changes…and some secrets.   I hope you enjoy!!!

2 Cups (slightly rounded) All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 C (4 oz) unsalted butter, cold
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Cup cold milk, 2% or higher fat content
splash heavy cream

Combine milk, lemon juice, and heavy cream in a measuring cup.  Allow to sit for about 5 minutes, in refrigerator.

Combine all dry ingredients and butter in food processor.  Pulse until butter is the size of peas.

Place butter mixture in medium sized bowl.  Add liquid.  Stir gently until mixture is just hydrated.

Turn out onto floured surface.  Liberally dust with flour.  Pat dough flat with hands, about 1 inch in thickness.  (do not use a rolling pin!)  Sprinkle with flour.  Fold dough in half.  Pat flat to 1 inch thickness.  Repeat this process 4 times total.  Dust with flour as needed to prevent dough from becoming sticky.

Cut into desired shapes.  (I cut my biscuits square so I don’t have to re-roll and risk the dough getting tougher)  Should make 8-12 biscuits depending on size.

Place biscuits on parchment lined sheet pan.  Brush with egg wash or heavy cream.  Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Enjoy hot from the oven with butter and creamed honey!

Steve Konopelski Signature

 

 

Wining and Dining: Hosting a Party on a Whim Event at Harvest Ridge Winery, 1/16/06

Entertaining and opening your home to friends and family is one of the most rewarding things you can do, but it can also be one of the most stressful.  But it doesn’t need to be.  No one expects you to whip up a 7 course chef’s tasting menu.  You shouldn’t over complicate things, especially since you want to spend time with your guests, but you should also look like you put in a little bit of effort.  Trust me, thought and effort goes a long way.  Here are a few simple recipes you can make at home in no time to bring your entertaining game to the next level.  Remember, keep it simple and don’t add to your stress level.  I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I do.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

2 (10 oz) packages of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
2 (14 oz) cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup pepper jack cheese or sharp white cheddar
Healthy pinch of fresh cracked black pepper
Healthy pinch of red pepper flake
Salt to taste

What to do:

Combine all ingredients together. If serving cold, chill for 2 hours before serving. Serve with tortilla chips, crackers, or cubes of fresh bread. (Can it get any easier than that??)

If serving hot, mix all ingredients together, reserving half of the pepper jack or cheddar cheese. Place mixture in greased baking dish. Top with remaining cheese and bake at 350°F until hot and bubbly. Serve with tortilla chips, crackers, or cubes of fresh bread.

 

 

Black Bean Hummus

2 (15oz) cans low sodium black beans, drained
1 medium sized jalapeno, seeded
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
2 tsp lime juice
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced onion, dried
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cilantro, freeze dried or fresh

Place all ingredients in a food processor, except olive oil. Pulse until well combined. Turn processor on and stream in olive oil while running until nice and smooth. Add more olive oil if needed. Place hummus in serving bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped cilantro. Chill until ready to serve. Serve with tortilla chips or vegetables.

 

 

Apple Chutney

6 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tsp fresh ginger
1 cup orange juice
¾ cup Apple Cider
1 cup light brown sugar
½ tsp dried mustard
¼ tsp minced garlic
¼ tsp red pepper flake
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
¾ cup golden raisins

Place diced onions in a medium sauce pan set over medium heat.  Sweat onions in canola oil until soft.  Add all remaining ingredients except raisins.  Simmer until apples are tender and liquid has reduced by half.  Mash with potato masher until apples are broken up.  Remove from heat and add raising.  Allow chutney to cool completely.  Serve with crackers and any type of cured meat.

 

 

Old Bay Candied Peanuts

125 g granulated sugar (about ½ Cup)
40 mL water (2 tbsp plus 2 tsp)
165 g dry roasted peanuts, unsalted
1 tbsp Old Bay

Place water and sugar in a medium sized sauce pan.  Bring to a boil.  Once sugar and water has boiled, add peanuts and stir constantly until  the sugar has crystalized, will take about 5 mins.  Just before the sugar has crystalized, add the Old Bay.  (be prepared to stir a lot)  Once sugar has crystalized, reduce the heat and continue to stir until the sugar and nuts have browned slightly.  Pour nuts onto a parchment lined sheet pan and separate to prevent them from clumping.

 

If you have any questions, please leave in the comments below.  I hope you had a wonderful time at Harvest Ridge and that you feel inspired to throw your next party.  Enjoy these recipes, make them your own and may they make you the host(est) with the most(est)!

 

sk-mark

Finale Time! Join us for the final episode of Holiday Baking Championship

Steve Konopelski | Food Network Holiday Baking Championship Finale

It’s finale time! I’ve made it through to the final episode of Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship. The finale airs this Sunday at 9:00 p.m.

If you live on the Eastern Shore of Maryland (or if you live anywhere and like to travel), join us at Market Street Public House in Denton for our final viewing party. I’d recommend arriving early to grab a seat!

Thanks to everyone who has been watching with us at the Pub each week, or watching along at home. I’ve definitely been feeling the love, and am grateful for your support! #TeamSteve

Steve Konopelski Signature

Where’s the Ice Cream? My thoughts on Episode 4

So I’m coming into Episode 4 feeling relieved that I am safe to bake another day.  Caketastrophy is behind me and I am reminding myself that I have 2 wins.  In fact, with Susan gone, I’m the baker with the most wins so far.  That puts a pep in my step.

musicals singin in the rain

The mini challenge is announced, Cranberries… in a can… ok, I can work with this.  I love cranberries, they have a wonderful tart flavor that pairs nicely with so many things.  It is a perfect holiday flavor.  I decide to make a cranberry crumb bar.  There’s not a lot of time, and the crumb bar has the same ingredients for the bottom as it does for the top.  I know I can make this quickly, like really quickly.  So I decide to make some ice cream to go with it.  White chocolate ice cream.  Did you know I made ice cream?  Well, I did.  You didn’t see it in the episode though did you.  In fact my whole inspiration for the challenge was the first snow fall.  I found this cute mitten cookie cutter, and decided to cut my bar in the shape of a mitten, and then have this cute white ball of ice cream to go with it.  Throwing the first snow ball.  It was really cute, one of the first platings I did that Nancy really liked… but you didn’t see it did you.  I was like, “where’s the ice cream I made?”  Guess it got bumped for time… probably to make more room for the crisp-off between Melody and Padua.  Padua wins by the way, with a crumble made of apples, pears, walnuts, caramel, cranberries and a beautiful anglais.

So main challenge time.  There’s a bunch of harvest fruits and vegetables on the podium and I’m thinking Padua gets to pick his flavor and the rest of us have to battle it out for the rest of the ingredients.

must get over

But oh no, Padua gets to assign the ingredients… should have known.  I’m thinking for sure he’s going to give me the corn, because I’m so “corny.”  Alas, pomegranate.  REALLY!!!  Who bakes with pomegranates.  The only thing pomegranate I’ve ever had is pomegranate juice.  So I have think on my feet.  I decide to make a clafoutis, which is a baked custard which traditionally is made with tart cherries with the pits still in.  I think the pomegranate seeds will be a nice substitute for the cherries, and the tartness will be comparable.  However, clafoutis batter takes about 5 minutes to make and 25 minutes to bake, so in a 90 minute challenge, I have to make something else.  I think sorbet.  I strain some pomegranate juice and pair it with mandarin puree which creates this beautiful pinkish color.  It reminds me of a sunset and I start to think of the Thanksgiving that Rob and I went to Mexico, which is where I proposed.  Boom, inspiration!

Sorbet also takes about 5 minutes to make, so I think I need to make something else.  I decide to make a brown butter tuille to put on top of my clafoutis to have a crunchy element and I make tapioca pudding.  I’m thinking a nice pomegranate caramel swirled in the coconut tapioca pudding will be a great addition to the dish.  Good thing too because about this time is when Bobby comes out with a twist… marshmallows must be added to our dish.  I grab the bag of coconut marshmallows and add them to my tapioca pudding to thicken it up.  So lets recap… I made a clafoutis, a tuille, tapioca pudding, pomegranate caramel, and pomegranate mandarin sorbet.  5 things.

The judges don’t think my plate looks very holiday, but I am telling a very personal narrative, so I don’t care.  Lorainne loves my clafoutis and tapioca pudding, and Duff chugs my pudding like a champ.  All 3 judges loved my sorbet… that I made… did you know I made a sorbet?!  Despite my tropical looking plate, I still made top 3.  I’m pretty happy with that.  I pushed myself with a difficult ingredient and made a lot of tasty things, including sorbet!

Tarte au Sucre FRENCH CANADIAN SUGAR PIE & CRANBERRY COMPOTE

French Canadian Sugar Pie

Filling:

2 C light brown sugar
4 T all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 C heavy cream

In medium sized bowl, combine sugar, flour, eggs and yolks. Whisk until combined, mixture will be thick. In medium sized sauce pan, bring heavy cream just to the boil. Temper the cream into the egg mixture whisking until smooth and completely combined.

Pour filling into unbaked pie shell and bake at 350 degrees F until golden brown and filling has set, about 30 mins.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Filling will settle slightly as pie cools.

Filling may also be poured into a prebaked pie shell and baked at 300 degrees F until set, about 40 mins.

Serve at room temperature or warm gently.

 

Cranberry Compote

2 12oz packages of fresh cranberries
3/4 C orange juice
1 C granulated sugar
2 Tbsp orange marmalade
1 cinnamon stick

Combine all ingredients in a medium sauce pan. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until cranberries have burst, about 10 minutes. Add more sugar to make compote sweeter if desired. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in airtight containers in refrigerator for up to one week.

Career Day! Inspiring the Next Generation with Frosting and Fondant.....and cookies

A couple weeks ago, I participated in the Rotary Career Fair for local high school sophomores.  The goal of the event was to inspire kids who are a bit unfocused on their career paths and hopefully spark some interest in a career they hadn’t considered.  I had a lot of  traffic at my table – and I don’t think it was entirely due to the fact that I was giving away chocolate chip cookies!

Steve Konopelski | Career Day 2015

 

I had some great conversations with the kids.  Many had no idea you can make an actual career out of baking and decorating.  I think that intrigued some of the kids who have a creative side.  Kids are so often discouraged from pursuing creative careers, which is really a shame.  If you’re willing to work hard and pay your dues, you can certainly find success in a creative career.

But I digress.

It was pretty cool to see kids consider what it might be like to be a pastry chef.  I wonder if we’ll see any of these kids on Food Network one day, maybe competing in Season 8 of Holiday Baking Championship!

 

Steve Konopelski | Career Day 2015

Steve Konopelski Signature

 

 

This Stuffing Stuff My thoughts on Episode 3

Interested in recipes from the latest episode of Holiday Baking Championship? Click here or read on to learn more about the episode.

So… I’m coming into week 3 with a spring in my step. Of course it felt awesome to win, but I also felt like I saved face in front of the judges and let the other bakers know that I was a force to be reckoned with.  Standing there in the kitchen, we see a turkey with basters sticking out from behind it.  I’m thinking, “What the heck is this challenge gonna be?”  Perhaps they have caught on that we caught on to their hints.  Well played Food Network.  I’m praying we don’t have to make a dessert with gravy… though, true story, my mother once baked the stuffing for Thanksgiving in a bundt pan and “frosted” it with gravy!  “Stuffing cake”… lets put a pin in that one for a moment shall we!

Bobby tells us our next challenge is making holiday whoopie pies!  Balls!  I’ve only ever made a whoopie pie once in my life.  Its not exactly a recipe I have in my back pocket.  A whoopie pie by definition is a little cake filled with a marshmallow or cream cheese filling.  Thankfully, I have a great chocolate cake recipe and I can make marshmallow in my sleep.  Those little turkey basters each have a random fall theme to act as our inspiration for decorating our whoopie pies.  I select pilgrims.  I immediately think of the signature black band and buckle around a pilgrim hat.  I decide to bake my whoopie pies in a donut mold, and to make little buckle tuiles.  I’ll thinking these little brown “belts” with buckles will be awesome; you’ll know instantly that my inspiration was pilgrim.

I choose to make devils food cake not only because its absolutely delicious and moist, but I think its kind of cheeky to use it on a pilgrim inspiration, since they came to this country seeking religious freedom.  I’ve made this devils food cake a million times and I know that it bakes up really fast.  I have this little voice in my head warning me that the judges might not get my departure from the “traditional shape” of a whoopie pie.  I glance around to see what some of the other bakers have made.  It seems I’m not the only one who has strayed from the traditional shape.  Guess my idea wasn’t as ground breaking as I thought.

On to judging… The judges have quite a debate with each baker over what is and what isn’t a whoopie pie.  It got quite heated.  It didn’t air, but at one point the judges actually said to us, “You’ve seen whoopie pies before, right?”  Of course… I thought we’d be applauded for thinking outside the box.  I’m feeling a bit nervous.  Will they get it?  Lorraine is on board, Nancy is not (shocker!). So it’s all in Duff’s hands, and he’s totally on board… exactly what a whoopie pie should be!!!  (Get the recipe here).  Bobby announces that the top bakers are me and Melody.  She’s a great baker and they loved her traditionally shaped whoopie pie.  In the end, I take the win by a buckle.  Two wins in a row!!!!!  SPATULADROP!

On to our main challenge… remember that pin from earlier in my post… stuffed cakes.  Never heard of one!  We have to stuff our cake with candy, and as my winning advantage I get to pick my candy first.  There are all sorts of jars with everything from salt water taffy (no thank you), candied almonds (death), M&M’s (safe), peppermints (been done), and a bunch of ball shaped candies (could be anything in there from gum to malt).  So I choose Reese’s Pieces.  Those fall colors will look so pretty falling out of the cake.  Another nice thing about this advantage is I have a few more seconds to make a plan.  With the peanut butter candies in hand, I’m thinking about peanut butter and jelly and my nieces and nephews!

I have a plan to make a fall themed cake based on the colors of the Reese’s Pieces.  It will have stenciled leaves on the outside, with rosettes of peanut buttercream topped with raspberries and candied peanuts.  The filling for my cake will be a fresh made raspberry jam and peanut butter mousse.  I should state here that I am allergic to tree nuts only, so peanuts are something I can eat.

Two hours isn’t a lot of time, especially when you have to bake, cool, frost, stack, and fill a cake.  I bake my cakes on a sheet tray, since they will bake faster and I can cut them into round shapes once they cool.  I also decide to build my cake in a ring mold, so essentially it gets frosted as it’s assembled, saving time.  I stencil leaves on a sheet of acetate that will be on the inside of the ring mold with different colored buttercream.  Once the cake is unmolded and the acetate peeled off, I will have a finished and decorated cake… or so I think!  I have used this technique a lot and it works very well… when there’s time for the buttercream to cool and harden.  My cake didn’t have much time.  So, when I pulled off the acetate, the stenciled leaves came off with it.  I now had a cake with a very rough exterior, not a beautifully smooth and decorated one.  I literally had minutes to “decorate” my cake.  I grab the peanuts to cover the sides.  I gather whatever buttercream I have, and pipe whatever shapes I can think of on the top.  I run out of buttercream and have to resort to mousse.  I plop raspberries on the top of the cake.  I use leftover colored buttercream to pipe a boarder on the base, but I run out of yellow so I have to switch to orange.  My cake has two different colors of piping on the base, so I mash handfuls of candies to cover it up.  I dust the berries with powdered sugar as Bobby calls time.  I am totally embarrassed at the disaster.  Its not a decorated cake, its humble pie!

malcolm in the middle embarrassed

In front of the judges, I get a chance to explain what happened, though it didn’t air.  I cry talking about my nieces and nephews and how they don’t care what I make, just that Uncle Steve made them something.  I joke that I should just plop my face into the top.  Duff offers me $5,000 to do it.  I tell him make it $50,000 and he’s got a deal.  No deal.  My cake is like the ugly cousin the family can’t seem to marry off…  rough on the outside, but sweet on the inside.  Thankfully, my cake tastes absolutely delicious, the judges love the peanut butter mousse.  They also praise me for my appropriate filling to cake ratio.  In the end, I’m safe to bake another day.  Tears of joy stream down my face….I can’t hold them back.  I truly have something to be thankful for!!!

sk-mark2

 

 

 

Trending….. My thoughts on Episode 2

Interested in recipes from the latest episode of Holiday Baking Championship? Click here or read on to learn more about the episode.

So if you have been watching Holiday Baking Championship on Food Network, which I hope you have, you will know that week one was not my best week.  Little brown spheres of death and a dark pie crust were almost my demise.  It didn’t make air, but I was crossing every finger possible behind my back.  Those few moments standing in front of the judges felt like an eternity.  I bawled like a baby as soon as I walked off the set; tears of joy for being able to stay to bake another round.  I think I went back to the hotel and sat in the hot tub for an hour to relax and take a little Taylor Swift advice, shake it off!!!

Taylor Swift 18

Thank you Swifty, thank you!!!

So after a good night’s sleep and a little peppermint tea (how holiday) I report to the kitchen to begin a new day.  We walk into the kitchen and I immediately see this huge display of candy canes behind Bobby.  (I learned from Episode 1, it’s never just decoration on that podium.  When I saw the Nutcrackers I thought, “Wow, that is so festive.”  It didn’t even occur to me that it would be a clue to the challenge.  Well played Food Network, well played.)  So, peppermint…..good thing I had that tea!  Bring it on!!!   Bobby tells us our challenge is about getting crafty.  That resonates with me.  As kids, we made crafts all the time.  My mother had, correction has, boxes upon boxes of all sorts of items to make crafts.  Buttons, ribbons, shells, paints, the list goes on and on.  I want to make sure that my plate is decorated so I get crafty with colored sugar in red and white stripes.  I thought it was pretty clever.  I don’t think the judges really got it.  So, it’s Susan with the win.

Time to get crafty again……this time with a holiday wreath-shaped dessert.  I immediately think of my sister and her family.

1463945_10200587666808028_1142280482_n

My sister is possibly one of the most creative and crafty people I know.  You can check out her blog here.  My sister, like a lot of people in this country, is on a tight budget, especially at the holidays.  I am so inspired by all she does and sacrifices in order to make a magical Christmas for her family.  So, I want to make something that she would be proud to have at her house on Christmas.  I also think about the great American holiday tradition of the cookie swap.  Eureka, Cookie Swap Wreath.

I make 4 different kinds of cookies; Spiced Sugar Cookie, Orange Langue de Chats, Coconut Lime Russian Tea Cakes, and Hippen Tuiles.  My plan is to cut the sugar cookie into a large wreath shape, then attach the Langue de Chats to the sugar cookie wreath to give it texture and look like pine bows.  The Russian Tea Cakes will be holly berries, and the Hippen Tuiles I’ll pipe to look like holly leaves.  It’s a pretty ambitious plan, and only 90 mins to pull it off.  I’ve made each of these cookies a hundred times and I know that each of them takes between 5 to 15 mins to bake, so if I work fast I can have these done in no time.

Time flies in that kitchen.  You think you have plenty of time……but you don’t.  In the blink of an eye, Bobby yells, “Time’s up.”  I look at my wreath and I am so proud of what I have made.  I know that my sister will be proud too.

Cookie Swap WreathI deliberately made it monochromatic because I think it instantly reads sophisticated and it is very trendy.  Maybe you heard me say that during Episode 2, like 10 times.  I just want you to know that it is on trend.  It’s on point right now.  Got it? ….monochromatic is on trend.  Embrace it.  Love it.  Get trendy with it.

And the judges agree……WIN!  Last episode I was about to go home.  This time, I won.  It felt amazing.  I had a clear vision in my head and I was able to execute that precisely.  So let’s start a trend, shall we.  Get the recipe for my Cookie Swap Wreath.

Perhaps you have seen our baking classes on the website.  Perhaps you have seen that we have a cookie class in November.  Guess what, we are going to make Spiced Sugar Cookies, Langue de Chats, Coconut Lime Russian Tea Cakes, and Hippen Tuiles…….and we are going to put them together in a monochromatic wreath.  Haven’t you heard?  It’s on trend right now!

sk-mark2