Molds Are Magic

They are so pretty. And not fancy, actually — it’s just white chocolate, milk chocolate, ruby chocolate, dark chocolate; I didn’t add any flavorings to these. The Callebaut chocolate is so tasty, just as it is. And they look so charming all together. Molds are magic.

I tried gilding them, but they actually looked better without!

These are for my Narnia-themed treat boxes. I wish I’d had these for Kavi’s 5th birthday princess party; they would’ve been perfect. Ah well! I’m sure there will be another princess party in my future at some point…

Futzing Around with Chocolate and Yarn Hearts

Quiet day — mostly did computer work, but in between, futzed around with little chocolates and yarn hearts for the upper tier treat boxes (“Narnia in love” theme: remember, he’s not a TAME lion…). I was excessively pleased with myself for managing to find a WARDROBE mold.

I mean, come on, people! Those are some serious Etsy shopping skills you’re looking at. Of course, now I need an excuse to throw a Narnia birthday party so I have a reason to use it again…I’m not sure what else you would do with a wardrobe mold!

Jed and I watched a fun rom-com while I was crocheting, Broken Hearts Gallery. Came out in 2020, so it may have skipped theatrical release? It was a little hard for me to empathize with the 20-somethings (they’re SO YOUNG), but there were lots of cute / funny moments, and the lead, Geraldine Vishwanathan (half-Tamil!) was adorable.

I could totally see her as Maya in my Liminal Space novel, if it was ever made into a movie. 🙂 Summer project — seeing if the novel would work as a screenplay…

Fresh Strawberry & Ginger Scones

(30 minutes, plus cooling time, makes 16 mini scones)

In Sri Lanka, strawberries are an introduced horticultural crop, very popular in the hill country. I have fond memories of eating fabulous strawberries from roadside stands near Nuwara Eliya. Sri Lankans enjoy strawberries fresh, in milkshakes, cooked down into jam, whipped into a refreshing fool, or made into ice cream.

A hint of ginger adds subtle complexity to these lovely fresh strawberry scones. Made with plenty of butter and cream, they’re a delectable indulgence.

In many baked goods, you can substitute frozen fruit for fresh successfully, but I wouldn’t recommend that here — frozen strawberries will give off too much liquid. Look for fresh, ripe strawberries — the best for eating will also be the best in your scones. My children don’t like crystallized ginger, so when baking for them, I leave it out.

2 c. flour
ÂĽ c. granulated sugar
1 T baking powder
½ t. salt
1/2 t. ground ginger
6 T cold unsalted butter
1 c. heavy cream, plus 1 T for brushing the scones
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. chopped fresh strawberries
1/2 c. crystallized ginger, chopped fine, optional

2 T sugar

for glaze (optional):
1 ½ c. confectioners’ sugar
2 T milk

½ t. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray mini scone pan with Baker’s Joy (or butter and flour pan, which will be kind of a pain).

(If you don’t have a mini scone pan, you can cut and shape these by hand, and bake on a regular baking sheet, placing them quite close together. If you pop them in the freezer for 30 minute before baking, they’ll hold shape better.)

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and ground ginger.

3. Chop butter in small pieces and cut into flour with a pastry cutter (or with your fingers) until mixture resembles coarse meal. (It’s fine to have small lumps.)

4. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 c. heavy cream and the vanilla extract. Pour liquid ingredients over flour mixture; stir with a spatula until dough begins to form. Don’t overmix. Gently stir in chopped crystallized ginger, if using, and chopped fresh strawberries.

5. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead a few times. Cut into 16 equal pieces and press into the cavities of the pan. Use a pastry brush to brush the tops of the scones with the additional T of heavy cream. Sprinkle with 2 T sugar.

6. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool 20 minutes in pan, then remove from pan to wire rack and cool completely.

7. I don’t think these scones need a sweet glaze, but some people love a little extra sweetness. And it does look pretty. If you’d like to glaze, make it while the scones are cooling. In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, milk, and vanilla together until smooth. Drizzle glaze generously over completely cooled scones.

Serve warm or room temperature, with additional fresh strawberries if possible. Can be split and served with butter or clotted cream, and jam, if you like, though when freshly baked, I don’t think these scones need anything else!

75% Off Your First Winter Patreon Box

Whoops, I meant to post this yesterday — well, since I didn’t, I’m going to extend the deadline to midnight today, to sign up for the Winter Patreon boxes — that’s 75% off your first box!

I haven’t finalized everything that’ll be in the boxes (shipping by end of February, fingers crossed), but so far, I know that all tiers will receive the following:

  • chocolate-vanilla rose decaf black tea (in a cute reusable glass test tube — nice for other tea, bath salts, tiny candies, etc.)
  • “Caramel Loves Passionfruit” marshmallow
  • chocolate-dipped strawberry marshmallow
  • chocolate scones with cherry & orange
  • Artist’s Valentine rose-cardamom iced cookie
  • gingered red velvet crinkle cookie
  • cranberry brownie roll-out heart cookie
  • confections box: pomegranate chocolate roses, dragonfruit chocolates, cayenne-chocolates, rose & date Turkish delight, and probably one more confection TBD
  • crocheted heart pin

Link in comments! Sign up for the lowest tier at $10 / month, cancel anytime.

(If you sign up after today, you’ll be looking at a Spring box for your first one, likely shipping a little early, in April, to try to beat the heat.)

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

Just a few more pics from last night’s sweet-making. I realized I didn’t post a recipe, so here it is:

1) Melt 1 c. milk or dark chocolate chips in a microwave safe-bowl at low power for 2 minutes, stirring at 30 second intervals. Dip strawberries and place on parchment paper.

2) Melt 1 c. white chocolate chips in a microwave safe-bowl at low power for 2 minutes, stirring at 30 second intervals. Dip strawberries and place on parchment paper.

3) Use a fork to drizzle white chocolate over the darker chocolate, and another fork to do the reverse.

4) Be proud of yourself for making such a pretty (and relatively healthy!) dessert with so little effort. 🙂

(Yes, you can use a double boiler instead of a microwave if you want. No, I don’t bother tempering the chocolate for this.)

Valentines for the Kids

We are thankfully past the age of needing to find / create Valentines for an entire class of elementary age students at this point, hoorah, but we do still try to do something for the kids on the holiday, when we remember.

Kevin made the brownie breakfast bars; I dipped some strawberry marshmallows in milk chocolate (I like dark, but they like milk, oh well), dipped strawberries in white and milk chocolate, and drizzled and sprinkled for pretty.

The strawberries are really so simple to do, and take about 15 minutes of working time, plus about 15-20 minutes of setting time.

A Genius or a Fool

When your daughter asks if she can go to a friend’s house tonight, and if you can drop her off at 6 and pick her up much later, and you say yes even though it’s been a long workday at the end of a long workweek at the end of two years of miserably long pandemic and every bone and muscle and corpuscle in your body is tired…

….you say yes because you know you got off lucky on the parental-ferrying-around front (even though your husband’s eyes have been too bad for driving for a few years now) because after one summer of soccer (which you dutifully coached), neither of your kids turned out to be sporty, so you were spared the many many hours of ferrying children to practices and games (sometimes two on the same weekend) and you are pathetically grateful for that…

…and besides, elder child will be fifteen in three months, which means in nine months, she can have a learner’s permit, and in about a year or so (you’re a little unclear on the specifics), she’ll be driving herself around, lord willing and the creek don’t rise, so you can probably manage a playdate ride or even two of them (there and back) tonight…

…and after all, you are also pathetically grateful that we have gotten far enough past this wave of omicron that we can actually have playdates again, that two vaccinated children can get together in relative safety to watch a movie and eat pizza on a Friday night, thank all the gods…

…but you do still feel a little sorry for yourself, because you were tired enough that even though you wanted something delicious for dinner, you didn’t have the energy to figure out what that could be, despite a solid fifteen minutes of staring at restaurant delivery options on your computer…

…and also, food prices have risen alarmingly recently, so that even though you want to support your local restaurants in this hard time, your family can’t actually afford to eat takeout all that often, so you made yourself a bowl of spicy ramen for dinner, which is fine, it tastes good, but it doesn’t really satisfy the feeling sorry for yourself…

…and then, when you’re dragging yourself out of bed at 9:45 to go get the child, you remember that you have a bowl of strawberry puree in the fridge that should get used (leftover from making strawberry marshmallows) and you could get cake! and ice cream! and make yourself a trifle-like concoction, and wouldn’t that be splendid!!!

…but oh, damn, the nearby grocery stores will close at 10, and you just don’t have the energy to try to dash in five minutes before closing to try to find cake! and ice cream! so you just grumpily go off to pick up the child instead…

…but after picking her up you realize you’re very low on gas, and you should get some soon, and don’t gas station convenience stores have some version of cake! and ice cream!?

…so you ask the tired child if it’s okay to stop for gas, and she agrees, and you get Twinkies, because that’s what the convenience store can offer for cake, and also some rather appealing Ben & Jerry’s strawberry cheesecake ice cream, and you bring it home and spoon the ice cream into a bowl, and slice the twinkies in, and add the strawberry puree and for a moment, it looks like you’ve made something delicious…

…and then you bite into it, and you remember why you don’t ever eat Twinkies anymore, because the cream is so incredibly sweet, it’s almost like eating pure sugar, how do children do this??!!

(sidebar: the child has apparently never had a Twinkie before, because you are a terrible parent and have deprived her of this quintessential American experience, and she devours one and declares it good! sigh!)

…but since the strawberry puree is unsweetened, it and the delicious ice cream basically do mostly work to tone down the Twinkie filling, or at least you manage to convince yourself that it works, enough that you eat the entire bowl…

…and now you are not sure if you’re a genius or a fool.

Gingered Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

More baking for the Winter 2022 Patreon boxes. 🙂 Kid-approved!

Gingered Red Velvet Crinkle Cookies

(makes about 60 small cookies)

These luscious little bites work equally well for Valentine’s Day or Christmas.

Original recipe, modified a bit, from OMG Chocolate Desserts:

4 T butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 egg
red food coloring
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 c. granulated sugar
2 T unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Guittard’s Cocoa Rouge)
2 t. baking powder
1 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. salt

1/2 c. powdered sugar

1. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.

2. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese and butter until smooth; beat in egg and as much food coloring as desired.

3. Add dry ingredients to wet, and stir until the dough comes together smoothly; cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for an hour (or longer).

4. Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, and place powdered sugar in a small bowl.

5. Roll about 1 T dough each into small, firm balls, then roll balls in powdered sugar (shake off excess sugar).

6. Bake 12-14 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are set; they will still be a little soft. Carefully transfer cookies to racks and allow to cool completely.

NOTE: Store in an airtight container for up to three days, or wrap each cookie individually in plastic wrap and freeze for longer storage.

Sleepy Slow Morning

Sleepy slow morning, gilding some pomegranate chocolate roses for the Patreon treat boxes, trying to wake up. Teaching day today.

I’ve been thinking about how much time I spend on the treat boxes — I think the three times / year schedule is about right for what I can manage without stress right now, especially with Ethan Yeung so competently helping me with the cooking — last Tuesday, he knocked out two batches of passionfruit marshmallows (all now sold!), a batch of dragonfruit chocolates (ditto!), and a batch of rose-cardamom cookie dough.

I already have a list for Ethan to work on when he comes tomorrow — more passionfruit marshmallows, dragonfruit chocolates, cayenne chocolates (which I’m planning to add to the Serendib shop for direct ordering). Lovely to have skilled help! I’m going to see if Emmanuel Henderson can take some time while Ethan’s cooking tomorrow to take some photo and video for us to use for clips for the site.

Today, I’m planning to pack up and ship three orders before teaching, get the rest outstanding this evening, once I make another batch of milk toffee and pick up some mini cupcake liners on my way back from teaching.

Oh, and I need to sew a tea towel — a sci-fi writer I know ordered one of my University of All Worlds ones, fun. Geekery for your kitchen! Might get that done before teaching too, we’ll see. Also have some edits to finalize for Vegan Serendib. Go, go, go. Wake up, Mary Anne, wake up, things to do…

WINTER 2020: Valentine’s Day in Narnia

Total Patrons as of 2/6: 25

Artist’s Valentine rose-cardamom iced cookies, 25 frozen
“Caramel Loves Passionfruit” marshmallows, 25 frozen

chocolate scones with cherry & orange, 30 frozen

tea (vanilla steeping until Sun 2/13)

confections box: pomegranate chocolate roses, dragonfruit chocolates, cayenne-chocolates

More to come! 🙂 Lots more!