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French Hot Chocolate, Sweet Paris Book Review and a Giveaway


Phew!  After a whirlwind of Diamond Jubilee baking it was nice to get a bit of a break from baking and blogging by escaping to Italy for a few days.  Last week we travelled to Bologna for a short 3 day city break.  It was my first time in Italy and we (my husband, baby and I) had a fabulous time.  The sun was shining, the people were friendly and most importantly the food was amazing, especially the gelato!  

The gelato in Italy is the best ever.  They’ve got an amazing array of flavours, and I think the best one we tried was probably the ricotta and chocolate – who woulda thought!?  A daily gelato (or two!) was essential in helping to cool down in the hot Italian sun, so you can imagine our disappointment when we landed back on UK soil where the wind and rain was there to great us in full force.

The weather has been so rotten in the UK, I’m skeptical as to if summer will actually ever arrive.  The weather so far has been more suited to hot chocolate rather than gelato, and I’m pleased to say I have the perfect recipe!


A month or so ago I was sent a review copy of Sweet Paris by Michael Paul.  The instant I first opened Sweet Paris I knew it was going to go straight to the top of my “favourites” list.  Although I had a fantastic time in Italy, Paris still remains my favourite city to visit and I will definitely be taking my copy of Sweet Paris with me on my next visit there in August.

Sweet Paris isn’t your typical recipe book.  It’s filled with insider knowledge on the best places in Paris to find traditional French desserts and treats such as chocolate eclairs, macarons, strawberry tarts, brioche, creme brulee, salted butter caramel, and of course – hot chocolate.  A brief history of some of the major Parisian patisserie shops are included, as well as a history of many of the featured desserts.  There is a great selection of recipes that compliment the written content of the book as well, and I had a really hard time deciding on which one to make.  In the end I settled on the hot chocolate, and as well as a spur of the moment apple tarte tatin.


Sweet Paris is made up of seven chapters and also includes several pages of addresses so you can easily find your favourite pastry shop while your there.  The thing that really makes Sweet Paris stand out from the other books on my shelf is the photography.  The pages are filled with stunning images of Parisian pastries, pastry shops and every day images of Paris. I could stare at the photos all day long!


Some of the recipes that I’ve bookmarked to make in the future are:  

Classic French Chocolate Eclairs
Traditional Tart au Citron
Bittersweet Tarte au Chocolate
Homemade Blackcurrant Sorbet with Cassis
Classic Caramel au Beurre Sale 


I’d been looking for an authentic French hot chocolate recipe ever since I had my first encounter with it at the infamous Parisian tea salon Angelina.  The hot chocolate at Angelinia was so rich, thick and chocolately I couldn’t finish the whole thing.  Although it was delicious, it’s definitely not something I could drink on a regular basis.  The recipe for hot chocolate in Sweet Paris is just right – it’s still delicious and chocolately, but not overwhelming enough that you couldn’t finish the whole cup!



Old Fashioned French Hot Chocolate 
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 Vanilla Pod 
600ml (20oz) Whole Milk
250ml (9oz) Single Cream
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
Pinch of Sea Salt
150g (5 1/2oz) Bittersweet Dark Chocolate, finely chopped
100g (3 1/2oz) Milk Chocolate , finely chopped
300ml (10 1/2oz) Double Cream, whipped

Instructions: 

1.  Slice the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.  In a large saucepan, add the vanilla pod and seeds to the milk, cream, brown sugar and salt.  Warm over low heat and bring to a simmer, but don’t boil.

2.  Remove the milk mixture from the heat, and then remove the vanilla pod.  Add in the milk and dark chocolates and stir gently until they’re melted and the mixture becomes smooth.  Using a hand whisk, whisk the hot chocolate mixture for a few minutes until it’s smooth and frothy.

3.  Return the hot chocolate to the stove and re-heat again to a gentle simmer (not boiling).  Pour into cups and serve with whipped cream on top.

I served my hot chocolate with whipped cream on the side, just like they do at Angelina in Paris.


I also made the Apple Tarte Tatin when I needed a last minute dessert idea.  It was the first time I’d made a tarte tatin and it was delicious and so simple, only requiring a few ingredients.  I took a few pictures of it using my iphone before we gobbled it up.  


I can’t wait to try more recipes from Sweet Paris, and also explore some of the many pastry shops and tea salons listed in the book.  As I mentioned before, I will definitely be bringing my copy with me when I go to Paris in August.


Now here’s some good news – it’s GIVEAWAY time!!! I’ve got an extra copy of Sweet Paris to give away to one of my lucky readers!  


To have a chance at winning, simply leave a comment below telling me what your favourite Paris pastry is.  It could be macarons, eclairs, brioche – you decide!  Additional entries will be given by doing the following:

  • Become a follower on Google+ (I just joined this week!)
  • Become a fan on Facebook
  • Become a follower on Google Friend Connect
Links to all of the above are in the right hand column.  Maximum of 4 entries per person.  The winning comment will be chosen at random.

Open to UK residents only.  Contest closes at 11:59pm Monday June 25th.  Winner will be announced shortly after.  

*** Please note that you MUST leave a comment below in order to be entered into the prize draw, otherwise I have no way of keeping track of who, followed etc.  If you make a comment anonymously then please leave an email address so I can contact you if you win. You should leave a separate comment for each of the 3 things listed above if you want to be entered more than once.  I will be using random.org to choose a number from all of the comments listed below in order to determine the winner. ***


With thanks to Hardie Grant Publishing for my review copy of Sweet Paris. 

Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundaes and a Giveaway!

Yesterday was my 3rd wedding anniversary, and to celebrate I made an extra special dessert that my husband and I fell in love with while on honeymoon at Disneyland.  During our time there we took a break to explore the other areas in Disneyland and went off in search of some food.  We ended up at an ESPN Zone sports cafe (we’d never been in one, as they don’t have them in Canada).  I can’t remember what we got for lunch, but I sure do remember what we had for dessert.  In fact, I haven’t stopped thinking about that dessert for the past 3 years, so finally decided the buy the necessary equipment to make my own mini versions of it.
The dessert I’m talking about is simply called the Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae.  It’s actually a warm and gooey chocolate chip cookie that’s been freshly baked in a cast iron skillet.  Just after it’s taken out of the oven, and while it’s still piping hot, a few scoops of ice cream are added on top along with whipped cream and chocolate sauce to create the ultimate sundae.  
 ESPN’s version
The combination of a warm chocolate chip cookie along with the slightly melted ice cream and chocolate sauce makes this sundae one of the most delicious and decadent things I’ve ever had.  So when I came across these mini cast iron pans at TK Maxx, I just had to get them as I knew they’d be the perfect size to replicate a single serving of ESPN’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae.  Plus they’re just so darn cute!  I’m also slightly obsessed with anything mini, so I just couldn’t resist.


To make these yummy little sundaes you can either use mini cast iron skillets like I did, or use a slightly larger one (like the size you’d use for a fried egg) and share it with someone else – or if you’re feeling particularly sinful – just eat it all yourself!  I promise I won’t tell!

Making these chocolate chip cookie sundaes couldn’t be easier.  All you’ll need is some chocolate chip cookie dough – I used the same Jacques Torres cookie dough I used for the cookies I made here.  Take enough cookie dough for a single cookie (or double if you’re using a larger skillet), place it in the center of your cast iron skillet and cook it at 350ºF (175ºC) for about 8-10 mins (or 13-15 mins if using a larger skillet).  


When the cookie is done baking the edges should be golden brown, but the center should still be nice and gooey.  Let the cookie cool slightly – only a minute or two so your ice cream doesn’t totally melt into a liquid pool.  After the minute or so, simply drop a scoop of ice cream on top of the warm cookie, and top with chocolate sauce and/or whipped cream, caramel sauce, sprinkles, nuts etc.  It’s up to you, just use whatever you like. 


That’s really all there is to it!  Make sure you place the pan on a heat prof surface like a pot holder, wooden cutting board or plate so you don’t burn yourself, and eat immediately.  I found that baking the cookies in the cast iron skillets resulted in them having a delicious chewy caramelized edges. SO GOOD!!! Sooo good!!


Now, I understand that eating something like a warm and gooey freshly baked cookie fully loaded with chocolate, and covered with melting ice cream & chocolate sauce may get a little messy, so I’ve got the perfect solution for you.


The lovely ladies from Cooking Gorgeous have kindly offered to giveaway one of their beautiful aprons to one of my lucky readers.  

The entire range of aprons from Cooking Gorgeous are made in the UK, and they’re also expertly designed. 
Their apron waist ties are longer than average (to tie in front or behind), the women’s aprons are adjustable (to suit any décollotage) and the men’s pockets are tapered (a must for manly hands).  They select high quality natural fabrics with a softness that belies their strength and retains the characteristics of natural fibers.  They don’t compromise on quality or design – everything needs to be up to the job and, naturally, cooking gorgeous. 


The apron up for grabs is from The Bottom Line range, and is valued at £31.99.  It comes in two different accent colours – pink or teal.  I think you all know which one I’d choose!  And don’t you just love the cute little bow?  They really are gorgeous!  


If for some reason you’d prefer to have a different apron style other than The Bottom Line, you may choose whichever one you want provided that it is of equal or lesser value.  If you prefer an apron of a higher value you may pay the difference and choose whichever one you’d like.
To enter leave a comment below telling me what Cooking Gorgeous apron you would choose.  Additional entries can be earned by doing the following:
  • Become a follower of Made With Pink using Google Friend Connect
  • Become a fan of Made With Pink on Facebook 
  • Follow Made With Pink on Twitter and tweet the following message: I’ve just entered to win a #CookingGorgeous apron from @Made_With_Pink and you can too. Enter here: http://tiny.cc/5vfgf
Links to all of the above are in the right hand column.  Maximum of 4 entries per person.  The winning comment will be chosen at random.
Open to Mainland UK residents only.  Contest closes at 11:59pm Friday July 22nd.  Winner will be announced shortly after.  

*** Please note that you MUST leave a comment below in order to be entered into the prize draw, otherwise I have no way of keeping track of who tweeted, followed etc.  If you make a comment anonymously then please leave an email address so I can contact you if you win. You should leave a separate comment for each of the 3 things listed above if you want to be entered more than once.  I will be using random.org to choose a number from all of the comments listed below in order to determine the winner. *** 

Good Luck!

Macaron Successes, Failures and a Giveaway!

It was about 2.5 years ago (shortly after moving to the UK)  that I was flipping through a magazine when something caught my eye.  Something magnificent that I’d never seen before.  No, it wasn’t a pair of designer shoes or a pretty dress.  It was a cookie!  But not just any cookie.  These cookies were colourful fancy little things with pretty ruffled edges.  I scoured the page to find out what they were called and where I could get them.  Macarons. I’d never heard of them before – except for the American coconut haystack kind (aka macaroons).  I immediately googled macarons to see how I could make them.  At that time only a few websites & blogs popped up that actually featured recipes for macarons, each of them explaining how finicky they were to make.  Age your egg whites, fold the batter until it flows like magma – (no more than 50 strokes), don’t make them on a humid day, let the piped macarons rest on the counter for 45 mins,  leave the oven door propped open with a wooden spoon, and only listen to smooth jazz while making them – ok, that last one is a lie, but you get the picture.  It seemed as if the odds to make these pretty little cookies were stacked against me.  Never the less a few days later I decided to bake my very first batch of macarons.  I did all of those things I mentioned above (except for the jazz), and you know what?  My macarons actually turned out pretty darn good for my first try!  They had the frilly little feet and everything!  I was thrilled with them, and gloated to myself that they really weren’t that hard to make!  Well, fast forward 2.5 years, and I’ve made dozens of batches of macarons, but sadly only about 50% of them have actually turned out well enough to even be called a macaron.  I didn’t know what I was doing wrong.  My beginners luck had run out shortly after I made my first batch, and it seemed like each batch I made was completely hit or miss – even if I used the exact same recipe as the time before.  Macarons started getting increasingly popular on the blogging and baking scene, and I was constantly reading new blog posts and trying new recipes out.  I got pretty discouraged after a while, and to be honest I probably went a good year without baking another batch of macarons – until now.  Recently I came across a blog post by Brave Tart where she described her exact recipe and method of macaron making.  What made Brave Tart’s recipe and method so different from all the others I’d come across what that none of those crazy “rules” that I mentioned above applied!  It didn’t matter if the egg whites were aged, room temperature or cold, humid days were no problem at all.  And I believed her!  Why?  Because she confirmed my thoughts all along.  You see, Brave Tart is a restaurant pastry chef who makes batches upon batches of macarons each day, and if she had to adhere to all those crazy rules ALL the time, she may only be able to produce and sell her macarons 3 days a week!  So, this past weekend I gave Brave Tart’s recipe a try.  Three trys to be exact.  Each time I managed to get at least one tray of perfect looking macarons.  Sometimes I aged the egg whites, and sometimes I used fresh cold ones. They worked each time.  I did however have a few issues, but I don’t believe they’re the fault of the recipe. 



My latest macaron baking sessions allowed me to come to the conclusion that my oven is – well basically a piece of crap.  Why?  Well, to be honest I’ve never really been a fan of my tiny UK oven – especially after discovering that some of my North American pans are too big to fit inside. But the size isn’t what annoyed me this week.  It’s the fact that my oven only has a top element – not a bottom and a top element like most of the ovens I’m used to.  This results in a lot of my baking browning on the top in order for it to become fully cooked throughout.  In fact, I’ll often have to cover whatever I’m baking with a sheet of aluminum foil to prevent it from browning as it continues to cook.  This was reflected in the 3 batches of macarons I baked over the weekend, and led me to believe that my oven may likely be the main reason why my macarons have been so hit and miss over the past couple of years.  I tinted the first batch bright pink, and I was really pleased with the way they were looking in the oven until I noticed that they were starting to brown slightly around the edges, making the colour a little uneven.  The other thing I noticed when I took them out of the oven after the recommended baking time was that the bottoms weren’t nice smooth (and lets face it – we all want nice smooth bottoms don’t we!)  Instead my macarons had slightly moist and sticky bottoms – a result of there being no direct heat underneath my macarons.  I came to this conclusion after reading this article from Syrup and Tang that explains the differences between the 4 main types of ovens & their heating elements.  The article stated “If you have a crappy electric oven with an element just at the top (type D), abandon much hope of easy macaron making without a serious oven stone of some sort to store heat in the lower part of the oven.”  That explains a lot!  As I mentioned before, my oven is fan assisted with the only heating element located at the top.  I’ve tested the temperature regulation of my oven before using a thermometer, and although it does reach the exact temperature I set the oven to, the temperature will vary by about 10ºC-15ºC throughout the duration of the baking time. Not good!  Basically thanks to the Syrup and Tang article I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll need to create a heat source at the bottom of my oven using my pizza stone.  I haven’t had a chance to try that yet, but I definitely will sometime soon!

Anyways, lets get back to my macarons! Although all 3 batches of my macarons turned out, I was most pleased with the look of my final batch.  In order to avoid my macarons from noticeably discolouring I opted to leave them au-natural.  I made a plain vanilla flavoured macaron and filled them with Speculoos (a subtle gingerbread flavoured spread similar to peanut butter).  I also had a few extra Speculoos cookies laying around which I crumbled and sprinkled on top of the macaron shells before baking them.  These were so so good!  And thanks to Brave Tart’s recipe they were also so so easy to bake!  For this particular batch I opted not to age my egg whites or bring them to room temperature.  I just used cold ones straight from the fridge.  Although I did get those pretty little feet around the edges of all my macarons, I do think that the best feet were achieved in my first batch (the ones that discoloured & that I ate before taking any real photos) when I used egg whites that were aged for 2 days at room temperature. 



Vanilla & Speculoos French Macarons
Slightly adapted from Brave Tart

4 ounces (115g) Almond flour, or whatever nut you like
8 ounces (230g) Powdered sugar
5 ounces 
(144g) Egg whites , temperature and age not important!
2 1/2 ounces (72g) Sugar
The scrapings of 1 vanilla bean or 2 tsp vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste)
1/2 tsp (2g) Salt

1 Belgian Speculoos cookie – crushed up

Belgian Speculoos Spread (Peanut butter or Nutella would also go well)

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 300° and have ready a large (18”) pastry bag, fitted with a plain circle tip, along with two sheet pans lined with parchment paper.

2.  Process the almond flour and powdered sugar in a food processor for a minute or two in order to get rid of any little almond chunks.   Set aside.

3.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar, vanilla bean (not the extract), and salt and turn the mixer to medium (4 on a Kitchen Aid). Whip for 3 minutes. They will not seem especially foamy at that point.  

Increase the speed to medium-high (7 on a Kitchen Aid) and whip another 3 minutes, then crank the speed to 8 for go another 3 minutes.  

At that point, turn the mixer off and add in any extracts/flavor/color and whip for a final minute on the highest speed, just to show it who’s boss (and to evenly distribute the color/flavor).  At the end of this minute, you should have a very stiff, dry meringue.

When you remove the whisk attachment, there will be a big clump of meringue in the center, just knock the whisk against the bowl to free it. If the meringue has not become stiff enough to clump inside the whisk, continue beating for another minute, or until it does so.

4.  Now dump in the dry ingredients all at once and fold them in with a rubber spatula. Use both a folding motion (to incorporate the dry ingredients) and a pressing motion, to deflate the meringue against the side of the bowl.

First timers: the dry ingredients/meringue will look hopelessly incompatible. After about 25 turns (or folds or however you want to call “a single stroke of mixing”) the mixture will still have a quite lumpy and stiff texture. Another 15 strokes will see you to “just about right.” Keep in mind that macaronage is about deflating the whites, so don’t feel like you have to treat them oh-so-carefully. You want to knock the air out of them.

Undermixed macaron batter: quite stiff. If you spoon some out and drop it back into the mix, it will just sit there and never incorporate. Do this test before bagging your batter and save yourself the trouble of baking of undermixed macarons!

Overmixed macaron batter: has a runny, pancake batter-like texture. It will ooze continuously, making it impossible to pipe into pretty circles. Um, try not to reach that point.

You can evaluate your batter one stroke at a time, no rush.  Essentially, the macaron batter needs enough thickness that it will mound up on itself, but enough fluidity that after 20 seconds, it will melt back down. I’ve heard people describe this consistency as lava-like, or molten, and that’s pretty apt.

5.  Transfer about half the batter to a piping bag. (When your bag is too full, the pressure causes the batter to rush out in a way that’s difficult to control, making for sloppy macarons.)  Pipe the batter into the pre-traced circles on the baking sheet. Stop piping just shy of the borders of the circle, as the batter will continue to spread just a bit.  After piping your macarons, take hold of the sheet pan and it hard against your counter. Rotate the pan ninety degrees and rap two more times. This will dislodge any large air bubbles that might cause your macarons to crack.  Sprinkle the tops with the crushed Speculoos cookies.  

Bake for about 18 minutes, or until you can cleanly peel the parchment paper away from a macaron. If, when you try to pick up a macaron, the top comes off in your hand, it’s not done.  Once the macarons have baked, cool thoroughly on the pans, before peeling the cooled macarons from the parchment. Use a metal spatula if necessary.

6.  To fill your macarons take a large dollop of  Speculoos and carefully smooth it on the bottom of a macaron before sandwiching another macaron of similar size and shape on top to create the finished macaron.  

Macarons, against all pastry traditions, actually get better with age. The shells soften and become more chewy, mingling with the flavor of the buttercream too. So, while of course you can eat them right away, don’t hesitate to store them refrigerated for up to a week. If at all possible, set them out at room temperature for a few hours before consuming, because cold buttercream is kinda gross.


I’m so excited that I found this recipe, and Brave Tart herself has been wonderful about getting back to my tweets and emails full of questions!  I can’t wait to make these again using different flavours, fillings and colours.  Next time I’ll use the pizza stone as a bottom heat source and will let you know whether or not its successful.


And now onto something really exciting!  Everyone knows that the key to making a good macaron is a good kitchen scale, so I was delighted when lovely folks over at Salter UK provided me with a beautiful new MyScale kitchen scale to test out.  I decided that making these macarons would be the perfect opportunity for me to try it out.  The scale is definitely the prettiest kitchen scale I’ve ever seen, and it’s also pretty cool because you can customise the pattern on it to whatever you like!



The Salter MyScale Personalised scale is customisable allowing you to change the display image to suit your tastes and kitchen decor.  It comes with 2 ready made designs – a pastel polka dot background and  a beautiful silvery grey damask pattern that I LOVE!  But if you don’t like either of those patterns then the really cool thing is that you can upload and print out your own design using a picture of your choice by visiting the MyScale website.



The digital display is back-lite which makes it easy to read, and the buttons are really sensitive to the touch, so there’s no need to push down hard on them in order to reset it or change the measuring units.  (I had to do this with my old scale and it was a pain!)  You can easily switch from grams to ounces and milliliters to fluid ounces at the touch of a button, so there’s no need for measuring cups.  The scale turns off automatically after a few minutes, but instead of the digital display turning completely blank, it reverts to a clock!  The scale is also wall mountable so that you can use it as a pretty piece of art and a clock when you’re done baking in order to save valuable counter top space!  See – told you it was pretty cool!




Now here’s the best part!  Salter UK has kindly provided me with a 2nd MyScale to giveaway to one of my readers!   To enter all you have to do is leave a comment below telling me what design you would choose to use on your MyScale.  Additional entries can be earned by doing the following:

  • Become a follower of Made With Pink using Google Friend Connect
  • Become a fan of Made With Pink on Facebook 
  • Follow Made With Pink on Twitter and tweet the following message:  I’ve just entered to win a customisable #Salter_MyScale from @Made_With_Pink and you can too! Visit http://tiny.cc/nehz9
Links to all of the above are in the right hand column.  Maximum of 4 entries per person.  The winning comment will be chosen at random
You can also follow Salter UK on Twitter here: @SalterUK and as well as on Facebook
Open to UK residents only.  Contest closes at 11:59pm Sunday May 29th.  Winner will be announced the week of May 30th.  

*** Just a reminder that you MUST leave a comment below in order to be entered into the prize draw, otherwise I have no way of keeping track of who tweeted, followed etc.  If you make a comment anonymously then please leave an email address so I can contact you if you win. You should leave a separate comment for each of the 3 things listed above if you want to be entered more than once.  I will be using random.org to choose a number from all of the comments listed below in order to determine the winner. *** 


Alternately if you can’t wait to find out if you’ve won the MyScale you can purchase it via Amazon here:   


Whoopie! It’s a Giveaway!

You may recall that I made my very first whoopie pie a few weeks ago when I tested a recipe for a new cook book that has yet to be released.  I was really impressed with how easy whoopie pies were to make, and wondered why the heck it took me so long to try them!   
Last week I made pumpkin pie, and I’ve been on a bit of a pumpkin kick ever since.  One of my favourite things to make with pumpkin are my pumpkin spice cupcakes, but this time I decided to forgo my “old faithfuls” in exchange for something new. Pumpkin Whoopie Pies!  I’ve wanted to make these pumpkin whoopie pies for ages – long before I offered to test the chocolate and vanilla ones, but I just never got around to it.   
These whoopies are really delicious.  They’re a bit like carrot cake, but without all those little carroty bits.  Sandwich some cinnamon cream cheese filling in between them, and you’ve got a match made in heaven. 
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

1½ cups (190g) flour 
½ tsp salt 
½ tsp baking powder 
½ tsp baking soda 
½ tsp vanilla extract 
2 ½ tsp ground cinnamon 
½ tsp ground ginger 
½ tsp ground cloves 
1 cup (220g) packed brown sugar 
½ cup (125ml) vegetable oil 
¾ cup (165g) pumpkin puree 
1 egg 
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling 
½ cup (113g) Cream Cheese  
½ cup (113g) Butter, room temperature 
1½ cups Icing Sugar 
2 tsp vanilla 
1 tsp cinnamon  
Maple syrup or flavouring** (optional) 
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (175ºC), and lightly grease 2 baking sheets, or line with parchment paper. 
2. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the oil, vanilla and brown sugar together. Mix in the pumpkin and eggs, and beat until well combined. Add in the flour mixture, and mix until combined.   
3. To form your whoopie pies, drop two teaspoons of batter onto the prepared baking sheets.  Alternatively, you can pour your batter into a piping bag, and pipe 1½ inch circles onto your baking sheets Bake for 10 minutes. Cool. 
4. For the cream cheese filling, beat the butter and cream cheese together until well blended.  Add in the icing sugar, cinnamon and vanilla, and blend until light and fluffy.  If the icing isn’t stiff enough, add in a bit more icing sugar until it’s thick enough. **I tried several variations with my cream cheese filling.  I split the filling into thirds, and left 1/3 plain, 1/3 cinnamon, and 1/3 maple (I used McCormick brand Maple Flavouring from Canada).  I thought all 3 fillings, were delicious, but I’m a sucker for anything cinnamon, so preferred the cinnamon variation the best. 
5. Spoon or pipe the cream cheese filling onto the bottom of one of the whoopie pies before placing another one on top of the filling to create a small sandwich. Repeat until all of the whoopie pies are complete. 
There ya go.  Pumpkin Whoopie Pies!  Bet ya can’t eat just one! 
And now for the best part!!!


Since we’re almost half way through the first week of December, I’m assuming most of you have probably started your Christmas shopping by now.  I have.  And while I was out shopping a few weeks ago, I came across another one of these reusable nylon cupcake bags.  I’ve had this exact bag for ages, and I have to admit it’s great for popping into your purse and whipping out at a moments notice to carry home all of your purchases.  And because it’s Christmas, and because it’s the season for shopping – and giving, I’ve decided to give away this cute little bag.  To enter for a chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment below telling me what you’d put in the bag when you go shopping. Would it be a hat and scarf for mom? A DVD set for your boyfriend? Or toys for your kiddies? You can get extra entries by doing each of the following, and then leave a comment telling me which ones you’ve done.     
  • Become a Follower of Made With Pink using Google Friend Connect  
  • Become a Fan of Made With Pink on Facebook 
  • Follow me on Twitter, and Tweet the following message: I’ve just entered to win a Cupcake Fizbag from @Made_With_Pink  http://tiny.cc/h5fi3
Links to all of the above are in the right hand column.  Maximum of 4 entries per person.  Contest open residents world wide. The winning comment will be chosen at random.  
Contest closes at midnight (London, UK time) on Sunday December 12th.
Good Luck!

*** I Just wanted to remind everyone that you MUST leave a comment below in order to be entered into the prize draw, otherwise I have no way of keeping track of who tweeted, followed etc.  If you make a comment anonymously then please leave an email address so I can contact you if you win. You should leave a separate comment for each of the 3 things listed above if you want to be entered more than once.  I will be using random.org to choose a number from all of the comments listed below in order to determine the winner. ***

First Tooth Cookies

There are few events in life that will change the way you look forever – I’m not talking about dying or cutting your hair, covering yourself in fake tan or makeup – none of those things are permanent.  Aside from plastic surgery or physically growing taller, the only thing I can really think of that will change the way a person will look forever is when they start to get their teeth.  And that’s exactly what has happened to my little boy. 
First Tooth Cookies
It is a momentous event you know.  No longer can I stick my finger in his little mouth and have him chew away on it – if I do that now, I might as well be sticking my finger in a rat trap.  Each time I put my finger in there to have a little feel, it’s a gamble as to whether or not it will actually come out intact.  Having a mouth full of baby teeth is like having a mouth full of little razor blades.  They’re tools that will come in handy with everyday life, but they can draw blood if you’re not careful. 
We’ve waited 9 long months for these teeth to show up.  And while many babies I knew were really struggling with their teeth, crying out in constant pain and needing dose after dose of baby pain killers, I was quite relieved and pleased to see that Jayden has gone relatively unphased by the whole teething process. 
We noticed the first bottom one appear the day after he turned 9 months.  A week later the second bottom tooth made its appearance.  I thought that was all the teeth we’d see for at least a month – the body needs to recover from these things you know.  But a week later while we were in Italy, I dipped Jayden backwards while playing with him in the sun and to my surprise I saw another new tooth – but this time on the top!  Within the next two weeks, the total number of teeth we’d see in his mouth had grown to six.  His little smile is looking quite different now – it’s hard to get used to!
So goodbye toothless gummy smiles – we will never see you again.  Instead let’s celebrate with a cookie – a cute little first tooth sugar cookie.  Well, actually let me celebrate with the cookies – Jayden gets some celebratory bread sticks and cheese.  After all, I wouldn’t want him to rot his teeth out  😉

First Tooth Cookies

First Tooth Sugar Cookies
Equipment:
Tooth Cookie Cutter
White Pearl Lustre Dust
Pink Lustre Dust
Craft Paintbrushes
Edible Black Marker Pen


Sugar Cookie Dough – recipe here
Royal Icing – recipe here, although I used a boxed mix to save time.


1.  Roll out the dough, cut, and bake your cookies according to the directions in my sugar cookie post here.  Let your cookies cool fully before you start decorating them using royal icing.


2.  To decorate, pipe the outline of the tooth in white royal icing that’s thick enough to hold it’s shape, but not too dry (you should be able to tell if your icing consistency is right if you run a knife through your bowl of icing and it comes back together in about 10 – 15 seconds).


3.  Now it’s time to flood your cookies – you can do this in two ways:  fill them immediately after you’ve piped the outline, or allow the outline to dry for several hours and then fill.  I prefer it when the outline blends in with the rest of the icing, so I flood my cookies immediately after I pipe the outline.  Give the cookie a gentle shake from side to side a few times to help smooth out the icing.  Leave the flooded cookies to dry over night.


4.  Mix approximately 1/4 teaspoon of white lustre dust together with 1.5 teaspoons of vodka, or other clear alcohol in a little dish.  Using a paintbrush of an appropriate size, dip the brush into the white lustre dust mixture and brush over top of the royal icing to give it a pearlised finish.  Let dry for 15 – 30 minutes.


5.  Use an edible black marker to draw on little faces.  Give your teeth some rosy cheeks by dipping a smaller paintbrush in a bit of the dry pink lustre dust.  Gently apply the lustre dust in a small circular motion for the rosy look.


Look at these little pearly whites all lined up in a row!  Don’t you just want to sink your teeth into them!?

First Tooth Cookies

And to announce the winner of my Sweet Paris giveaway – the winning comment is……..

Congratulations Nicola McCandless!  Please send your mailing details to me at madewithpink@gmail.com, and I’ll have a copy of Sweet Paris sent off to you!