Archive for the ‘Gifts & Prizes’ Category

Dragon Eggs

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Very recently I had the wonderful opportunity of helping with a going away party -of sorts- for the Fablehaven series. An exciting part of the evening was an auction hosted by the fairies. Their hope was to raise enough money to tempt Brandon to continue the series with a large advance. One of the many items in the auction was a rare jar of dragon eggs. I think you’ll find them surprisingly simple to come-by.

The dragon eggs came about after a disasterous de-panning of  red velvet cupcakes. I was trying out a new recipe and didn’t have jumbo cupcake liners on hand. You’ll come to learn I lack patience in these situations and carried on without the liners. There’s not a lot of suspense about how this story ends.

dragoneggs1

Delicious…amazing red velvet crumbs! (this recipe is a keeper!!)

There’s only one thing to do with cake crumbs, which you already know if you follow or know anyone who follows Bakerella. Cake Balls! All those times I wept over cake layers that didn’t fully release from their pan!! Baking was truly savage before the invention  of cake balls.

dragoneggs2

Mix with this most perfect frosting. The eye of an experienced frosteur will see that I didn’t allow the heated mixture to cool enough. Fortunately my series of disasters worked together for a happy ending.

dragoneggs3

I can, with confidence, advise you to begin with only a portion of crumbs and frosting so you can add more of either to obtain your desired texture. Which in my case was something that could be formed into a convincing dragon egg.

dragoneggs4

Convinced? Hold that thought…we still need a shell.

After a little time in the freezer these little guys get dipped in tinted white chocolate and smathered with gold gel. Jar’ em, tag ‘em and it’s time to find out what they’re worth on the open market.

dragoneggs5

Happiness in a Jar

Friday, May 29th, 2009

I always hoped that one day I would do something to benefit humanity. I believe that time has come.

cheesecake in a jar

I recently found myself wondering how you could send a cheesecake in the mail. I mean, I know Sara Lee has refrigerated semi-trucks, but how does a commoner like myself get a cheesecake from Utah to say, Pennsylvania? I’ve tried to solve this problem before when I was trying to get some Thrify double chocolate malted crunch ice cream shipped to myself from California. I remember something about dry ice and special frozen shipping boxes. I also remember high-math being involved for figuring the ratio of space to ice, distance traveled, and desired temperature.

As for the cheesecake, a new idea I’ve seen around a lot lately came to mind: cupcakes in a jar. So, why not cheesecake in a jar? No reason at all…except you still have to refrigerate it. Which brings you right back to dry-ice, or hitching a ride with Sara Lee if you want to send it cross-county.

By this point in the process, however, I really love the idea. Unfortunately, because the only reason for baking a cheesecake in a jar is the novelty of it, there aren’t any how-to’s floating around. Until today.

I decided to start with a Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake recipe from RecipeZaar.  This recipe filled 4 – 8oz jars and an additional 20 cupcake size cheesecakes.

cheesecake in a jar

The first round of experimenting I made the nutty crust. These photos show a simple graham cracker crust. 1 1/2 cups of crumbs to 2 Tbs of butter.

cheesecake in a jar

About 1/8 cup of the crust mixture in the bottom of the jars, patted down with a spoon.

cheesecake in a jar

The jars went on a cookie sheet to facilitate getting them in and out of the oven. I hestitated to show you my cookie sheets….all I can say is, they’re seasoned. We buy new and always go back to the old.

cheesecake in a jar

To add a little mystery to the cupcake tin I dropped in a couple truffle kisses. Will we find yummy melted truffleness or a barely altered, reinstated truffle kiss at the end?

cheesecake in a jar

I filled the jars with cheesecake batter just to where the band begins.

cheesecake in a jar

The muffin tins got filled right about to the top. Because…

cheesecake in a jar

…after 20 minutes in a 325 degee oven, the cheesecakes will plump a bit…

cheesecake in a jar

…you’ll see in the background how they sink back down. (The jars stay in for 25 minutes)

cheesecake in a ajar

With a little more cooling the cheesecakes sink even more. Go ahead and let them sink. They are their best the next day anyway. Rumor has it they’re their best 2 days later. We’ve never had one last long enough to confirm the rumor.

cheesecake in a jar

If you like the idea of actually sealing the jars, you’ll need to put the lids on immediately, while the jars are hot. After they cool, store them in the fridge. They’ll last stored this way much longer than you’ll be able to refrain from opening them.

cheesecake in a jar

Makes a much better presentation than a paper plate and saran-wrap, wouldn’t ya say?

cheesecake in a jar

Of course, presentation is just the frosting on the cake. What really counts is how it tastes. I’m not too humble to say, the best part is inside the jar.