Thursday, February 19, 2015

Winter Woodland Tea Party for Two

While bleak winter days can find us staring soulfully out our window searching for signs of Spring, catching a glimpse of lively furry or feathered friends romping about in the snowy landscape can always bring a bit of cheer to your mood until warmer days arrive.
Living adjacent to a wooded area, I always delight in seeing assorted birds, deer and an occasional fox scampering through the trees or stopping by for a quick snack.
In a previous post, I shared a summer woodland tea party and thought a winter version would be lots of fun as well. With a snowy palette, wintry accents and a fitting sweet treat, it's easy to embrace the best of winter and it's woodland creatures while staying cozy inside.
created using images from the Graphics fairy  

Mini Woodland "Buche du Noel"
I've shared two full sized versions of this whimsical famous french dessert, usually reserved for the holidays, and thought I'd create scaled down individual versions with the simplest "No-recipe" recipe.
You'll Need
Small cake rolls (I used little Debbie)
Vanilla icing, (store bought or homemade)
confectioner sugar, mint, or berries, nuts
 or fruit for accents  
*For 2 servings, 2 cakes will remain full size 
and 1 will be cut in half to for branches
Having a party?
A full box yields 8 servings
Ice cakes in your choice of frosting. This Pillsbury "ready to use" icing has the perfect star tip for a bark-like texture or simply use a pastry bag or tines of a fork over for similar effect. I find chilling cakes in refrigerator makes them easier to work with- the chocolate coating is very fragile.
Carefully cut ends off of cake rolls to expose "roll" center. use a serrated knife to cut one of the cakes in half diagonally
connect these branches" to cake logs and touch up icing as needed
sprinkle with confectioner sugar for snow or add sugar sprinkled fruit, nuts or mint leaves
 I arranged them on individual plates for easier serving
Create tiny mushrooms by gluing Hershey kisses Mini marshmallows with a dollop of frosting 

For my previous full size versions of this dessert visit our posts
& a walk in woods

Winter Mini Garden
While it seems fairy gardens are all the rage, I have seen few winter varieties and thought I'd give one a try to use as a centerpiece. 
I added some wintry branches to a planter holding a mini pine leftover from the holidays. Faux snow layered with epsom salts ($1 a bag) enhances the "landscape" while a mini mirror creates a frozen pond. 
I accented with faux silver frosty branches and flocked deer from my Christmas decor
Tea is Served
Toilet paper rolls turn into napkin rings keeping utensils neat, when wrapped with strips of faux wood contact paper and twine.

With hints of cinnamon, clove and ginger, Chai is a delightful choice for winter.

Pennywise Tips

This is an easy and fun dessert to have kids help make, no oven needed. Let them Customize using different flavor icing and  gummy bugs or candy flowers.

When making for a group, you can frost and assemble beforehand. Cover with plastic and chill. Add garnishes just before serving.

Thank You for Visiting!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Melt your heart: Easy Valentine's Dessert Fondue

While some fully embrace Valentine's Day in all it's romantic splendor, for those eschewing more formal wining and dining fuss for simpler at home celebrations, it's still easy to add a touch of DIY decadence to your day with a surprisingly quick, elegant and easy dessert.

It's hard to believe that the once-again trendy "fondue" was originally a humble means of making the most of leftover hardened cheese and stale bread during harsh winter months centuries ago. With it's roots in Switzerland and France, this melted cheesy blend, often enhanced with wine and herbs, soon spread worldwide- with a huge but brief renaissance in the 1970's (I'm sure there are lots of fondue sets in attics across the country). Fast forward a few decades and we find countless adaptations including the wildly popular array of heavenly dessert versions.
      At once indulgent and embarrassingly easy to make (4 ingredients, about 10 minutes) it's the perfect end to a Valentines dinner for deux or a fun addition to a party. Or, for a fun family dessert including the younger set (what child doesn't love to play with food?) simply omit the liqueur and supervise more closely.
White Chocolate Raspberry Fondue 
You'll need
12 oz. white chocolate
rasberry preserves 
1/2 cup heavy cream
1-2 tbs Grand Marnier or rasberry liqueur(optional)
orange or berry extract

assorted "dippers" of choice

In a heavy saucepan bring cream to a low simmer. Add white chocolate and liqueur if using, and stir until chocolate is completely melted (It might look lumpy at first, I used a whisk for a smooth finish) Meanwhile in small saucepan (or microwave on %50 power) melt preserves just until pourable.
Let sit for a moment then transfer fondue to fondue pot (or crock pot on low) and drizzle melted preserves into fondue and using stirrer, create swirls or patterns. You can use a plastic squeeze bottle if desired. For safety and to prevent burning make sure to keep an eye on any candles or crock pot and adjust temperature as needed.
For dippers we opted for strawberries, brownie bites (disclaimer -they are little Debbie's cut into cute squares) and sliced store bought pound cake cut in heart motifs.
                                        A "bouquet" of strawberries make cute dippers

Serve with a dessert wine or after dinner drink. Bon appetite!

Quick DIY Decor
A small dress form is dolled up in ropes of costume pearls and angel wings (as seen in many a previous post) from an old Halloween costume while books and flowers set a romantic tone
a reused DIY banner from scrapbook paper and stick on letters professes "I love You" a la francais- (Of course everything sounds more romantic in French)

For more Valentine's ideas visit our previous posts 

Dyed pink birds, cupid cupcakes and love letters from love-is-in-air

another romantic dessert from couer-la-creme-valentine-dessert.

easy DIY candy wrappers from sweets-for-sweet