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A Thank You and Some Homemade S’mores April 11, 2011

As I’m sure you remember, on March 30th I contributed to an online bake sale that was being organized by Sabrina over at The Tomato Tart to benefit earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear crisis victims in Japan.  Despite some technical difficulties with her site on the day of the bake sale, we still managed to not only meet the goal that Sabrina set, but triple it!  Every single item sold and the Online Bake Sale for Japan managed to raise $8,269 to be donated to Second Harvest Japan!  Raising this amount of money is truly amazing.  I’m completely overwhelmed by the charity of others; everyone who participated, from the bakers to the bidders, contributed to the success of this bake sale and I am truly thankful for having been a part of it.  That being said, if you bid on something for the bake sale and did not win, you can still donate to the cause.  Sabrina set up a fundraising site over at Give Forward that will continue to raise money until June 10th.  She has set a new goal of $10,000.  Anything you could spare would be greatly appreciated as Second Harvest Japan will contribute $1,000 in food for every $100 donated.  That means if we manage to raise $10,000, they will donate $100,000 worth of food, which is a staggering amount.

I would like to thank everyone who bid, especially Angele, Karen E., Julie, Karen S., Tali, Kim, and Rose for their winning bids.  Thank you ladies for contributing to a good cause!  I will be sending out your sweet treats soon.  If you were one of my winning bidders and don’t see your name here, that’s because Sabrina hasn’t received your paypal yet.  Be sure to send it soon or contact Sabrina at bakesale@thetomatotart.com.

So, that was the Thank You, now on to the S’mores!

One of the items that I contributed to the bake sale was Homemade S’mores.  Now, one could argue that all s’mores are homemade, but I deem these “homemade” because they start with the Homemade Marshmallows recipe from one of my favorite dessert cookbooks Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth.  I love this cookbook because it is filled with tons of goodies that truly live up to the title.  My only wish is that it had more pictures: I love a cookbook that has a picture to go with every recipe. After I made these for the first time, I decided that homemade marshmallows are a necessity in life; they are just so much better than store-bought.  They’re soft and pillowy and just slightly chewy, plus you can cut them into any shape you want.  (I prefer stars.)  Homemade S’mores are the most requested sweet from all of my friends: I make them for Christmas, birthdays, graduations, random Tuesdays, any occasion I can think of.  The marshmallow aspect of the S’mores is a bit labor intensive (you need to use a stand mixer because they have to beat for 15 minutes and the completed marshmallows have to set for 8-12 hours before cutting), but the time it takes is completely worth the end result.

Here’s what you need:


1 cup cold water

3 Tbls unflavored gelatin

2 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1/4 tsp salt

2 Tbls vanilla

cornstarch and powdered sugar for dusting


graham crackers

chocolate almond bark

Here’s what you do:

Generously dust a large jelly roll pan with cornstarch and set a side.  If you prefer thicker marshmallows, use a 13×9 cake pan.  Pour 1/2 up cold water into the bowl of a stand mixture and sprinkle in the gelatin allowing it to absorb all of the water.  This will take about 45 minutes.

While gelatin is absorbing, combing the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a large saucepan.  Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.  Increase the heat to high and let the mixture come to a boil.  Cook the syrup, without stirring, until it reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer.

Remove the syrup from the heat and slowly beat it into the dissolved gelatin with the whisk attachment on your stand mixer on low speed.  Increase the mixer to high and continue beating until the mixture is very thick and white but still warm, about 15 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla.  (You could use a handheld mixer, if you want, but 15 minutes is a long time.  Believe me I have tried.)

Pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and smooth out with a spatula or your hands.  It works best if you spray your hands with cooking spray and slowly pat it out.  Dust the top with powdered sugar.

Let the marshmallows stand, uncovered at room temperature, for 8-12 hours to firm up.  Cut into squares or fun shapes.

In a glass bowl, melt 5 to 6 squares of chocolate almond bark according to microwave directions on package.

Line your work surface with waxed paper and prepare your graham crackers.

One at a time, dip the top of each graham cracker in the melted almond bark, lay chocolate-side-up on the waxed paper, and immediately place one marshmallow on top of the chocolate.  Let the s’mores cool until set and store in an air-tight container.


Bake Sale for Japan Contributions! March 23, 2011

I have finally decided what I will be contributing to the Online Bake Sale for Japan!  I thought I would give you a little sneak peak of my contributions with some info on each.  Recipes will follow shortly.  Be sure to check the site in the days leading up to the auction on the 30th to see all of the treats up for bid.

The first time I made this Whole Wheat Vegan Banana Bread I fell in love with it.  I now feel the need to make it about once a week.  Sometimes I even make two and store one in the freezer in case I’m having a banana bread emergency and just need to eat some…right now.  This bread is moist and slightly dense, as any good banana bread should be, and completely free of eggs and dairy.  (Two loaves available.)

If you love the crunch, crumble, and buttery goodness of shortbread cookies, but don’t eat dairy or eggs, these Vegan Shortbread Cookies are for you.  They get their buttery taste and flaky crumble from butter flavored vegetable shortening,  are completely egg and dairy free, and made with natural, raw sugar.  They’re especially good with a little jam on top!  You will receive 20 shortbreads in a decorative tin.

Jam is something I always have in my pantry.  It’s so very versatile.  I particularly love to use it to dress up cookies.  This Set of Four Jams would be a perfect addition to your pantry.  The flavors include: Strawberry Balsamic, Lemon Curd, Mango Cinnamon, and Blueberry Lime.  These jams have been canned and will last up to a year, but I expect they will be long gone before then.  Except for the Lemon Curd, they are egg and dairy free.  (Four sets available.)

Whenever an overwhelming urge to bake cookies starts to come over me, I make Blackberry Jam Thumbprints.  They are seriously delicious and everyone loves them.  They are soft, crumbly cookies with a sweet jam center.  The cookies are rolled in white sparkling sugar before baking to give them a little crunch.  These bite-sized cookies are so good I could easily eat a dozen in one sitting, so I am going to ship you three dozen in a decorative tin.

Homemade marshmallows are a necessity in life; they are just so much better than store-bought.  They’re soft and pillowy and just slightly chewy, plus they make the cutest S’mores!  Homemade S’mores are the most requested sweet from all of my friends.  I’ll be shipping a dozen of these in a decorative tin to ensure the marshmallows stay fresh.



A Different Kind of Turkey November 24, 2010

My house has been invaded by an army of turkeys!  They are all lined up in rank and file ready to invade my Thanksgiving table.  These Turkey Cookies have been invading my Thanksgiving celebrations every year since I was in high school, and they are always a hit with kids and adults alike.  I make dozens of them every year, but seem to only be able to keep a few because everyone wants them.  They make a wonderful centerpiece for a Thanksgiving table that doubles as a guest gift: everyone just grabs their turkey to go.  I have seen countless turkey-shaped desserts, but I have to say that mine are the cutest.  What do you think, am I just biased?

Here’s what you need:

amounts are all subjective depending on how many cookies you are making

chocolate-covered graham crackers

double-stuffed Oreos

striped shortbread cookies

candy corn

chocolate frosting*

resealable, plastic bag or piping bag with round tip

Here’s what you do:

First, prepare the frosting for piping by placing the plastic bag into a cup and turning the top down around the edges.  Spoon your chocolate frosting into the bag, fold up and seal the edges of the bag, squeeze all of the frosting into one corner, and cut a small hole for piping.

On a large tray (one that will fit into your fridge), lay out your chocolate-covered graham crackers.  These will be the base of each turkey.  Using the piping bag, pipe two perpendicular lines on the base in the shape of a T.  This will be the “glue” that holds the turkey’s tail and body to the base.

On the top line of the T, place one striped shortbread making sure that the lines are vertical to make the appearance of feathers.  Pick up the Oreo body and pipe a line of frosting along the edge that is going to touch the tail.  Place the Oreo on the vertical line of the T and press against the tail to make the body stand up.

Now it’s time for the head.  Pick up one piece of candy corn and pipe a generous amount of frosting on one side.  Place this “head” onto the front of the Oreo towards the top.

Once you have completed all of your turkeys, place the tray in the refrigerator for two hours (or freezer for 30 minutes) until they are completely set.  The turkeys can be served as is, or placed in clear gift bags and tied with holiday-appropriate ribbon and given as gifts.

*If you have leftover frosting you can make little acorns out of mini vanilla wafers and chocolate kisses!


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