Monday, October 15, 2012

Judging a Bake-Off

This weekend, I got to be a judge at a local bake-off.  The Great Tully Bake-Off is part of the Tully Fall Festival and helps to raise money for a local food pantry.  It was very cool to be asked.  Oh, and if you click on the website, I might just be classified as a local celebrity.  A bit of an overstatement, sure, but still!  I felt very fancy-pants indeed. 

I had my very own spot, complete with judging cards and a thank you gift:

I got to sample cookies made by kids:

And pies and cakes by adults:

It was lots of fun, but not easy!  How do you compare pumpkin cheesecake to coconut cream?  And even with only a bite or two of each, I ended up in a serious sugar coma.  It was a good cause, though, and I had good company in my fellow judges, YNN news reporter Brad Vivacqua and Chris Weiler, owner of Encore Video.

Big props to Linda Milea (cake decorating goddess in her own right) for organizing such a great event!  Hopefully, the sale of all the entries after judging will allow the food pantry to expand both its space and the number of people it serves.  A great cause and a feel-good way to...

Keep it sweet.

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Why Are Rice Krispies Treats So Good?

No, really.  They are so good.  Eat the whole pan good.  Almost instant gratification good.  Make a whole batch for less than five bucks good.  I don't even miss the chocolate good.  (Although M&Ms in them are also crazy good.)  They are so good that I'm going to write a post about them.

I don't make "crisp rice squares" very often.  For one, because they aren't overwhelmingly sweet or rich, I think I probably could eat a whole pan.  For another, as someone who enjoys baking, it feels sort of like cheating.  When I do, and I bring them somewhere, people--without fail--go nuts.  Go figure.

According to the official Kellogg's Rice Krispies website, here's how you make them:

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows
- OR -
4 cups miniature marshmallows
6 cups Kellogg's® Rice Krispies® cereal

1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
2. Add KELLOGG'S RICE KRISPIES cereal. Stir until well coated.
3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day.

Literate Baker Notes:  I use 4T of butter instead of 3.  I needn't explain why.  I also put a little non-stick spray in the pot with the marshmallows, in the bowl with the cereal, and on my hands to spread them out.  Doing so makes the process and the dishes much easier.

In addition to their taste and texture awesomeness, RKTs are fairly light and remarkably sculptable.  That makes them the perfect product for 3D elements on cakes.  If you're a professional cake maker or addicted to cake shows on TV, you probably already know this.  I imagine many of you are not either of those things.  But maybe you want to be.  Or maybe you just want an excuse to make/play with Rice Krispies Treats. 

I'm making a sneaker (a Nike Air Jordan, to be specific) as the topper for a groom's cake this weekend.  Other options...

Your favorite mascot.

A monkey head.

Wings and drumsticks.  (Really.)

Of course, maybe your just want to eat them.  I know I do.

Keep it sweet.

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