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Wednesday
Jan292014

Savory Sleuth: How to Cook Quinoa

It's gluten-free, if you care. It's also delicious (you should care!). Here's how to cook quinoa perfectly.

Tuesday
Jan282014

Cake Decorating Advice from Experts

Learn from the pros: these cake decorators have learned it the hard way, and they're passing on their know-how so you can have it easy. Learn their secrets here.

Monday
Jan272014

What's Your Fancy Dessert Name?

Inspired by the memes I've been seeing on Facebook lately, I decided to make a dessert-inspired one! What's YOUR fancy dessert name?

Monday
Jan272014

Sweet Scout: 10 Amazing Pieces of Unicorn Apparel

Unicorn approved!

I've been scouting out some things that are sweet--figuratively, not literally!

Listen, fashion is a way to show your personality. Why not show how special you are with magical and sweet unicorn apparel? Here are ten wonderful finds from around the web. I personally own a number of them!

 

Sequined unicorn sweater. A soft baby blue sweater gets a totally magic upgrade with a unicorn rendered in sparkly sequins. This stately unicorn is absolutely wear-to-work appropriate. Available on choies.com.

Spacey unicorn leggings. A sci-fi background makes people notice these tights right away, but what makes them say "ohmigod where did you get those?" is the wondrous unicorn which spans both legs. I wear these to my yoga class and am always the best-dressed. Available on wanelo.com.

Unicorn yoga pants. These unicorn pants are specifically designed for yoga--that is to say, the stitching is a bit more secure than the leggings above. They're also pricer, though--$66. I'm saving my pennies, because they're also made of all recycled materials and I can feel good about that. Available on teeki.com.

Vintage unicorn dress. Those little motifs are tiny unicorns! OMG! I love the sweet quality of this dress, but with a slightly saucy color. You're totally allowed to buy it for me. Available on unique-vintage.com.

Unicorn tank top. Want to have the whole world in your hands? Nah, the whole universe on your top half is more like it! This magical tank top would work well for a day at the beach or strolling in hipster Brooklyn. Available on amazon.com

Unicorn shirt dress. This magical dress is perfect for wearing anywhere. As a beach cover up, or I loved to wear it to book signing events on my last tour! Available on amazon.com.

Unicorn cupcake robot socks. Also known as "trifecta". What else do you need for happy feet? These adorable socks were designed by me and produced by Sock it To Me. Available on sockittome.com.


Unicorn scarf. It is like having a fancy mink stole, but it is actually a MAGICAL UNICORN! That is a very special thing to have around your neck. Rainbow-hued mane included. Yes. Available on devoutdolls.com.

Unicorn hat. I already mentioned I own a lot of this stuff, right? This hat is as warm and cozy as it is adorable. It is hilarious to walk up to people and ask "have you seen my unicorn?". Or at least, it's funny to me...every time. Available on amazon.com.

Unicorn ugly sweater. Did you miss out in the Christmas miracles department? Make up for it with this amazing sweatshirt, decorated to look like an ugly sweater. Available on amazon.com.

Have you seen any unicorn apparel recently that you think I should buy?

Sunday
Jan262014

Sweet and Light: How to Make Pavlova

Pavlova

Pavlova is a sweet and light dessert that makes a strong case for fairy food. It makes sense that it's named after a particularly graceful ballerina! Learn how to make it--it's surprisingly easy. Recipe here. 

Sunday
Jan262014

Savory Sleuth: How to Perfectly Bake a Potato

So simple, yet so many different ways to do it. Learn the best ones here.

Friday
Jan242014

Baker's Dozen: A Batch of Sweet Links!

Watergate Cake (Pistachio Pudding Mix Cake)

The 26th is National Pistachio Day. How should you celebrate? I know, make Watergate Cake! (pictured above)

Or, make these fantastic pistachio cookies--one of my childhood favorites.

Lard: the comeback fat.

So you want a literary agent? Learn how to get one here. (via Jennifer Pooley)

I have been taking this free(!) class in knife skills, and have learned that my method of using a paring knife for EVERYTHING is simply wrong.

Exotic mango cream puff. You have my interest.

In case you missed it: chocolate covered cherry stuffed cupcakes.

Homemade vanilla coffee liqueur. I like it.

How to make crème fraîche at home. Seriously, even your brother could do it.

And for dessert...dark chocolate s'mores truffles.

CHOCOLATE COVERED CHEE-TOS.

OMG: Brandy Alexander Brownies.

The science of always having room for dessert.

Tuesday
Jan212014

Project for Kids: How to Turn Honeycomb into Chocolate

Choco-honeycomb

 

Here's a fun project for kids of all ages: how to turn honeycomb into chocolate. 

That's right: you can take honeycomb like this:

Image via Airah.org.au

and bing! make it into chocolate, like this:

Choco-honeycomb

Wow!

So, how do you do it? Well, to do it with the "bing" method featured above, you will need magic powers and probably a wand of some sort. If you don't happen to have these things around, all you need is a double boiler, a rubber spatula for stirring and spreading, some parchment paper, some chocolate to melt, and bubble wrap. Yes, bubble wrap!

Here, I will walk you step by step through the process so that you can do it at home. I got the idea for this fantastic project from a wonderful book: Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes.

You need:

  • parchment paper
  • a board or work surface
  • a rubber spatula
  • chocolate (approximately 8 ounces; more or less is fine)
  • a double boiler or a bowl suspended over simmering liquid
  • bubble wrap

Now that you have all of your supplies, let's get to work.

Choco-honeycomb

Honeycomb-lookalike chocolate

Step 1: First, set your parchment paper above a board or on a countertop. Set it to the side for the moment, you'll come back to it.

Step 2: Wash the bubble wrap thoroughly.

Chocolate honey comb

This may be the strangest thing you've found yourself doing in quite some time. Once it's clean, dry it thoroughly. Don't pop the bubbles! Place the dried pieces facing bubbles-up on your parchment paper.

Chocolate honey comb

Step 3: Melt the chocolate. I used a mix of white and dark chocolate morsels for a swirly effect. For instructions on how to melt chocolate, visit this post.

Chocolate honey comb

Step 4: Once melted, remove from heat. Choco-honeycomb

Now, gently spread the chocolate on top of the bubble wrap.

Chocolate honey comb

Spread it fairly thick: you don't want to see the shape of the bubbles beneath.

Chocolate honey comb

Step 5: Let it dry. This can take a few hours, or let it chill out overnight.

Step 6: Flip the pieces of chocolate so that the bubble wrap now faces up. Be gentle! Gently peel off the bubble wrap. Marvel at what you've created!

Choco-honeycomb

Step 7: I like to break mine up into chunks, put it on a plate, and ask people if they've ever turned honeycomb into chocolate before.

Choco-honeycomb

Do you think bees would like this treat? 

Monday
Jan202014

Tres Delicious: How to Make Tres Leches Cake

It's about time you learned how to make Tres Leches cake. Here's a recipe and step by step tutorial.

Sunday
Jan192014

CakeSpy Suggests: Craftsy Course Vintage Cake Design

Photo via CraftsyHave you ever wanted to make a vintage-looking birdcage cake?

Omigod, has Craftsy got a course for you! It's called Vintage Cake Design and it's taught by famed UK cake designer Lindy Smith.

OK, so maybe you'd never fantasized specifically about making a birdcage cake. But wouldn't it be cool if you could create cakes of the caliber of the one pictured above?

Believe me when I tell you this class will help you cake--er, make--it happen.

Listen, between you and me, I can write about cake design, cakes, and recipes, till the cows come home, but when it comes to creating intricately decorated works, I am not quite as confident. I know what fondant spacers are, and tools. But the ease of decorating doesn't come as easy to me as, say, watercoloring.

I knew right away when I started this course that Lindy knew what she was doing. Things I hadn't really considered, such as "polishing" the fondant to ensure a perfectly smooth finish, were presented in an informative way--she didn't assume a certain level of expertise, but at the same time, didn't simply dumb things down. I appreciated that. 

As she presents the various steps that go into this cake, something magical starts to happen. The project goes from completely inaccessible and daunting, something other people, people more talented than you do, to a number of manageable tasks.

It's not a matter of "make an amazing cake"--it's more a matter of, follow these steps, from embossing the baseboard to properly leveling and shaping the cakes to assembling using dowels to covering them with fondant and decorating with silhouettes and various layers...and after you've done all of these manageable tasks, you'll have this amazing cake.

And you know what? I think that even if you never make the cake (because honestly, I haven't yet, but I now believe I can, and that's pretty important), this course is absolutely worth the price. Because you'll pick up all sorts of tips for cake decorating that can be applied to other projects, including stenciling techniques, clever application of luster dust, what types of cake stack and shape well, and too many more little tidbits to name in one short blog post. 

So not only will you learn how to make a cake that will impress all of your friends, but you'll naturally and easily develop some skills that might just have you impressing yourself. Look, here's a cake made by someone who took the class:

Now that takes the cake, sweeties!

Oh, and lucky readers, Craftsy said that since I posted about the class they'd give my readers a totally sweet discount on the class. Lucky you!

Use this link to navigate to a 25% discount on the class: www.craftsy.com/ext/110813_jessie_vintage

Note: I'm not on a referral program or anything, so please don't feel like I'm selling you some cake version of Amway here--I just think it's a nifty course and Craftsy, a business I believe in and work for as a freelancer, was kind enough to offer the discount for my readers. Sweet!

 

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