Category Archives: cookies

It’s My Party

Over the years I’ve planned birthday parties, weddings, family events and impromptu get togethers. This year I decided that it was high time that I planned an event just for me. Hey, call me selfish if you will. My 55th birthday was the perfect occasion. It was awesome!!! I couldn’t have pulled it off without the help of my hubby, Poppa Frank James Garth (that’s what Gabbi calls him) and Charisse. She’s probably still worn out from all the errands she ran for me and with me. Nobody likes to shop with me because I can never only go to one or two places.

Even though Samara had been here just three weeks before for Christmas, she came back. Garlon and Rupal came from Indiana and Mona, James and Malcom made the trek from Holland. Mona made her famous cheesy potatoes. There was so much to be done and she and the kids were right there with me. And if it’s a Garth event you know there was tons of food!! One of Charisse’s good friends, Denitra Harper donated dressing, pasta salad and macaroni and cheese, and it was fantabulous. My amazing spread was far from healthy, but I enjoyed every bite I overindulged in.

I got the idea to have a dessert buffet while recuperating from shoulder surgery. You have no idea how many websites I combed through pilfering ideas for my grand buffet. I think even Ms. Martha would have liked it. Trust me the pictures don’t tell half the story because you can’t taste all the goodies. My color scheme was Neopolitan and I wore it out. Everything from the invitations to the desserts was in those colors. Do you know how challenging it is to find candy in Neopolitan colors. I ended up with neopolitan candies (the coconut cubes), chocolate and strawberry malt balls, assorted chocolates that came in pink and gold wrappers and also nuggets with customized birthday wrappers. I have a friend with a Sam’s Club membership that bought mini cheesecakes for the table. OK, I’m drooling now, and by the way, a whole tray seemed to disappear when we packed up the leftovers…..hmmmmmmm.

On one of my perpetual trips to Michael’s I found a ribbon tied gift box cookie cutter. It was perfect for my Neopolitan flavored cookies. And oh my goodness those red velvet and chocolate cake truffles, yummy, yummy, yummy!

As luck would have it, Luck’s cake supply had edible images for the sides of my cake in my colors. Woo-hoo! They also had a picture of a really tall 6” cake. That got the old creative juices flowing and of course I had to have one. Mine was four layers of the moistest vanilla cake you’ve ever had. I didn’t have the nerve to try and stack that one, so it sat off to the side in all it’s glory. The other two tiers took center stage on the buffet. One chocolate and one strawberry, both wrapped in edible images. All this confectionary goodness and gooiness resulted in a couple-two-three-four-plus pounds gained but who cares!? You only turn 55 once. Will I say the same thing next year when I turn 56? Most likely and most likely I’ll have to outdo this year’s. I would be wise beyond my 55 years to start planning now.

 

 

Oreo Cream Cheese Pound Cake

100_0514I made my first cream cheese pound cake last year and my youngest daughter fell in love with it. The original recipe calls for 1 ½ cups butter and 1 8oz pkg of cream cheese. Yes it tastes awesome, but my cholesterol said no-no. My first attempt at overhauling this recipe was a total disaster, I changed everything and it was too much. Here’s a better compromise. The kicker is my daughter doesn’t know that this version is healthier and chances are she won’t be reading this so she’ll never know. Ha!!!

Cream Cheese Oreo Pound Cake

½ cup butter

¾ cup Smart Balance Oil

8oz reduced fat cream cheese

1 ½ cup sugar

½ cup Splenda

1 TBS vanilla

1 tsp almond extract

3 eggs

¾ cups egg substitute

3 cups cake flour

9 Oreos crushed

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a 10” tube pan with non stick spray formulated for baking. Cream together the butter, oil, cream cheese, sugar and splenda on mediu speed of electric mixer for 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Add the flour, eggs and egg substitute alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Fold in the crushed Oreos by hand and pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for one hour and 15 minutes or until cake tests done. Dust with powdered sugar or make a glaze of 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla and enough water to make it pourable.

 

Sweet Sensations – Chocolate

chocolateOften when we consider eating a chocolate, there is a fair amount of guilt that comes along with it (sometimes). It’s time to toss those guilty feelings. Moderate consumption of chocolate may have the same benefits as eating fruits and vegetables; key word here is moderate.

A Chocolate a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Flavanols found in rich dark chocolate has been shown to reduce high blood pressure. Flavanols are powerful antioxidants that are present in fruits, vegetables and get this, red wine. The word antioxidant gets thrown around quite a bit. We know in general that it’s something that is good for us, but can’t really put a finger on exactly what it is. Here’s the short and sweet version. Antioxidants release free radicals that clean up the debris in our circulatory system. Still scratching your head? Ok, if you take a piece of metal and pour water on it and let the water sit, the metal will start to rust. Now take a bottle of an anti-rust solution and soak the metal in it and the rust is cleaned up. That’s similar to how antioxidants containing free radicals work in our arteries, they clean up the debris. Now that you know the nutritional benefits of eating chocolate, how about some guidelines how much to eat.

Take it Easy

This is not a license to gorge on chocolate. It means you can let go of any guilt associated with eating it. A small amount is OK. While we’re on the subject of small, it’s time to clarify what that means as well. A 1.4 oz bar of dark chocolate is an average serving. It only contains 200 calories and 11 grams of fat. If you think your daily caloric intake won‘t allow for it consider on of these substitutions.

Omit a pat of butter from your toast, or a spoonful of mayonnaise from your sandwich.

Consider reduced fat or fat free salad dressing.

Take your coffee black, instead of with cream.

Fact vs. Fiction

Chocolate is not addicting. People say they “crave” chocolate, most time meaning they’d just like to have some. An addiction is a serious medical and emotional condition, which in all likelihood requires some sort of intervention.

It does not cause diabetes.

Tooth decay is not caused by eating chocolate. Any fermenting carbohydrate left in the mouth too long will contribute to dental problems.

Chocolate is not high in caffeine. One ounce of chocolate is the equivalent of one cup of caffeinated coffee.

Eating chocolate does not cause migraine headaches.

The cocoa butter content of chocolate does not raise blood cholesterol levels.

Good to You, Good for You

We’ve all been told many times about some things being too good to be true. Well, this is a good thing and it is true. Eat chocolate, even have a glass of red wine and you’ll be doing your heart a favor. How cool is that!

Types of Chocolate

Before we get into the types of chocolate, you should know that all chocolate is not created equal. Chocolate formulas are unique to each manufacturer. They establish their own bean blend, and flavorings. Most important is the determination of the amount of chocolate liquor and cocoa butter. Are you scratching your head wondering if you clicked on to the right category? You’re in the right place but there’s a bit of background information that’s necessary.

In the Beginning

In the beginning there was a cacao tree (pronounced ka-kow). The seeds from this tree are cocoa beans. Once harvested, the center of the cocoa bean called the nib is ground into a smooth liquid paste called chocolate liquor. There is no actual liquor in it (darn it). The liquor gives off a natural fat when it is pressed, this is cocoa butter. Again the word is a tad misleading; it’s not a dairy product. Once the cocoa powder is forced out of the chocolate liquor the result is cocoa powder. Clear as mud right?

What it All Means

When manufacturers refer to the cacao content, they’re speaking of the combination of chocolate liquor, cocoa butter and cocoa powder. By the way, cocoa and cacao are often used interchangeably.

At Long Last, Chocolate

Regulations

Milk – Very creamy, contains at least 10% unsweetened chocolate. Take extra precautions when melting because it has a lower solid cocoa content and dried milk powder.

Sweet – Also known as dark chocolate, has at least 15% unsweetened chocolate. Only contains the liquor and cocoa butter, sometimes with emulsifiers and other flavorings.

Bittersweet – Has a high cocoa solid content, up to 50% unsweetened chocolate. Often has milk, sugar and emulsifiers.

Unsweetened – This is bitter chocolate, not bittersweet. It has no sugar but does have a full chocolate flavor.

White Chocolate – Officially not a chocolate at all because it doesn’t have any chocolate liquor. It’s made of cocoa butter, milk, and sugar.

Carob – Also not a chocolate, but similar tasting. It’s used by individuals allergic to chocolate or as a healthier alternative. It has less fat and no caffeine. If carob powder is not available cocoa powder can be substituted.

Couverture – Chocolate with at least 32% cocoa butter. Very fluid in its liquid state.

 The percentages on the various types of chocolate are an easy identifying method. They let you know just how much actual chocolate you’re getting. There is a set of federal regulations called the Standards of Identity that oversees the legal definitions of chocolate. Could be a fun job, you never know