21 5 / 2012

"The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude." -Julia Child

Pictured above in my very first gum paste flower.  In the picture, the flower looks pur-dy but it did NOT start out that way. Let me tell you, it took me over two hours and several upside down petals to make one flower.  Everyone else in the class (mind you, they were actual pastry professionals) was able to chat away idly as their hands performed miracles that I could only dream of.  Anyways, that being said, awesome experience and I can’t believe that people make hundreds of these by hand.  This is likely to be my one and only flower and I am cool with that.  =) 

~Isabella

15 2 / 2012

It’s mid-week and the day after Valentine’s Day.  Let me just say, yesterday was nuts.  People dashing frantically into grocery stores last minute to pick up roses and cheap chocolate like it’s the apocalypse.  Romantic, eh?  Anyways, being around all the hustle and bustle made me want to offer the poor souls a drink.  A chocolate-y, easy to make cure for the madness.  (drumroll) Rum Balls!

Bam!  So here’s how it’s done:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of dark rum (you can use any rum but I like the taste of the dark)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Box of Vanilla Wafers
  • 1/2 cup coarsely ground or chopped pecans, walnuts, almonds, etc.
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons of honey
  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • Toppings: extra cocoa powder, powdered sugar, jimmies/ sprinkles, white chocolate, dark chocolate, vanilla sugar, or whatever else your heart desires!

In all, this recipe takes about 20 minutes to complete:

  1. Toast the nuts in the over for extra flavor.  To do this, spread a thin layer on a cookie sheet and pop them in over on 375F for about 6 minutes. Set aside to cool, then chop by hand or give them a whirl in a food processor.
  2. Place the vanilla wafers in a food processor until they are finely ground.
  3. Sift the cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, and powdered sugar in a large bowl and add the rum and honey.  Mix well and then add the nuts and ground wafers.
  4. Mix well and then place mixture in the fridge for about an hour, or in the freezer for 15 minutes.  (I’m slightly impatient, so I took the freezer route) The mixture will look dry, but do not fear-it’s perfect!
  5. Taking the mixture between your palms, form balls.  If you shoot for about a 1 inch diameter, then you’ll come out with roughly 40 rum balls.
  6. Roll the balls in whichever coatings you choose! If you’re rolling them in chocolate, add a bit of butter while melting the chocolate for an easier to work with consistency. 
  7. Place the rum balls in mini cupcake liners for a nice finishing touch.  Then, pack them in an air tight container and leave them in the fridge over night…they get better with time!

And there’s your cure for Valentine’s Day madness.  Nothing like a little rum and chocolate to help ease anxiety. =)

Until next time,

Isabella