Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sweet on Trader Joe's Saturday: English Toffee

review: trader joe's english toffee #traderjoes

This morning, I sent kiddo to Trader Joe's to pick out our review item since I was busy doing important things...putting a deep conditioner on my hair. Now that I think about it, I should send him to pick up the dry cleaning while I write this intro.
(Minus the worry, having a driving teenager has its perks.)

Today, we're reviewing Trader Joe's English Toffee with Milk Chocolate.

review: trader joe's english toffee #traderjoes
An 8-ounce package costs $3.49 and contains about 8 small bars of toffee. Each bar is covered in milk chocolate and chopped almonds.

review: trader joe's english toffee #traderjoes
A mom's (my) take: I definitely prefer my toffee IN things...like Ben & Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch, for example. If you are a toffee lover, you might really love these. The toffee center is thick, crunchy and buttery. I can't help thinking they could use a little pinch of salt and more chocolate. I don't taste the chocolate at all here. Chopped up in coffee ice cream, though? That might make these a 10.
Overall rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

A teenager's (kiddo's) take: Well, unlike my mom, I prefer toffee OUT OF things; by itself. The nutty taste hits hard at first, but is soon balanced out by the thin, but very tasty layer of chocolate, and, of course, the title item -- the toffee. I really enjoy the consistency, and the fact that it doesn't get stuck to your teeth like some other toffee does. I do agree, however, that it could use just a tad more chocolate.
Overall rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

review: trader joe's english toffee #traderjoes
Trader Joe's English Toffee with Milk Chocolate: not quite 5 stars, but not bad.
review: trader joe's english toffee #traderjoes

Thursday, April 23, 2015

First Communion Cookies for Mac

first communion cookies :: tutorial and links to recipes and supplies you'll need from @bakeat350
My nephew Mac is celebrating his First Communion this weekend. As soon as I saw this picture of the banner they made...
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...well, you know where my mind went. Cookies.

I've made First Communion cookies before (decorated a little differently), and posted them on the blog back in 2011. (That post also has pictures from kiddo's First Communion which, oh my gosh, seems like yesterday and was actually EIGHT years ago.)

first communion cookies :: tutorial and links to recipes and supplies you'll need from @bakeat350
Let me walk you through making the cookies. You could always hand-cut your cookies, but I absolutely recommend buying this cutter. So much easier.

first communion cookies :: tutorial and links to recipes and supplies you'll need from @bakeat350
Also, these are DOUBLE-DECKER cookies. Oh yeah. I love a double-decker.

{I really wish you guys could see these in person, because pictures of that red disco dust just doesn't do it justice. Think Dorothy's red slippers.}

To make first communion cookies, you'll need:

first communion cookies :: tutorial and links to recipes and supplies you'll need from @bakeat350
First, use #2 tips to outline the cookie using white and gold icing. Reserve some of the gold piping consistency icing before thinning. 

first communion cookies :: tutorial and links to recipes and supplies you'll need from @bakeat350
Thin the gold and white icings with water, a bit at a time, stirring with a silicone spatula, until it is the consistency of a thick syrup. You'll want to drop a "ribbon" of icing back into the bowl and have it disappear in a count of "one thousand one, one thousand two." Four is too thick, one is too thin. Count of 2-3 is good. Cover with a damp dishcloth and let sit for several minutes.

Stir the icing gently with a spatula, then pour into squeeze bottles. Flood the cookies with the thinned icing, using a toothpick to guide to the edges and pop any large air bubbles. Let the cookies sit for at least one hour.

(Use the same technique to cover the heart cookies in red.)

first communion cookies :: tutorial and links to recipes and supplies you'll need from @bakeat350
With the reserved gold icing, go back over the outline of the chalice.

first communion cookies :: tutorial and links to recipes and supplies you'll need from @bakeat350
Use a #4 tip to pipe a cross with blue icing.

Let the cookies dry uncovered for 6-8 hours, or overnight.

Once the icing is dry, combine 1/2 teaspoon each of meringue powder and water. Use a clean paintbrush to paint onto the heart cookies. Sprinkle on the disco dust and shake off the excess. Use a dry paintbrush to brush off stray sparkles, if desired.

first communion cookies :: tutorial and links to recipes and supplies you'll need from @bakeat350
Pipe some icing on the back of the heart cookies and place onto the chalices. Let set for 30 minutes or so.
first communion cookies :: tutorial and links to recipes and supplies you'll need from @bakeat350

Happy First Communion, Mac!!! ♥

first communion cookies :: tutorial and links to recipes and supplies you'll need from @bakeat350


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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Chocolate Almond Blondies

chocolate almond blondies from bakeat350.blogspot.com
Is there ANYTHING chocolate doesn't pair well with? Chocolate and peanut butter, chocolate and vanilla, chocolate and coffee, well...we've already discussed chocolate and orange.

I have *always* loved chocolate and almond. I'm pretty sure that love affair started with a Hershey bar. ♥

chocolate almond blondies from bakeat350.blogspot.com
If you love almond, you're going to LOVE these blondies. They are over-the-top with almond flavor with just the right hit of bittersweet chocolate. The blondies are soft, a little cake-y, very moist, and have a great added crunch thanks to the slivered almonds on top.

Get ready to heat up your oven...these are so easy to make; you'll be on your second piece within the hour. ;)

chocolate almond blondies

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Chocolate Almond Blondies

2 eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup salted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 cup bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate chips
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 325. Grease an 8x8" pan.

Beat the eggs. Add in the sugar and salt, and mix well. Beat in the almond extract and melted butter. On low speed, mix in the flour, just until incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.

chocolate almond blondies
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Top with the almonds.
(Don't worry...this is as close as I let him get.)

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until done. Cool on a wire rack.
chocolate almond blondies

Enjoy!

chocolate almond blondies

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