S’mores, the Dessert Sandwich

4 Dec

I don’t think it matters how old you are. You’re never too old to eat s’mores. Besides, what could be more perfect that sandwiching melty chocolate and marshmallows in between two graham crackers?

A week or so ago my bestie and I went to the Festival of Lights in Tanglewood Park in Clemmons, N.C. Besides for the extraordinary light displays, our favorite partΒ  is stopping by the giant bonfire and buying two of the s’mores sets they sell. Even though I think s’mores should be eaten at any age, we were probably the only people doing so over the age of six. Haha. I’ve never quite mastered the art of giving your marshmallows that nice toasty glow…mine caught on fire TWICE as I was more preoccupied with running my mouth about something (see evidence in the photo below) than attending to the mallows. No worries though. It was still incredibly delicious. The BFF did a better job with hers.

Extra crispy mashmallows. πŸ™‚ Still tasted good though!

S'mores time!

One of my favorite light displays at the Festival of Lights.

The BFF with her smores.

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New Year, New Blog!

30 Nov

Chocolate Pecan Pie (Credit: Hershey's Cookbook)

I want to apologize for not posting this week 😦 Prepping for the end of the semester in grad school has been occupying my time recently. With the new year coming up I got to thinking and decided it was a great time to amend my blog a bit. And what does that mean? Well instead of just posting critiques of dessert places in DC (since let’s face it I have to run out eventually) I will try my hand at baking. This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop going to new dessert places because let’s get real, that’s just not humanly possible for me, but I’d really like to take a stab at baking. So with that said the content is just going to be more diverse. In my life so far, I didn’t make any sort of dessert unless the mix for it came in a box…the more error proof it was the better! I have several great dessert cookbooks and I’ve decided that they’re no longer going collect dust. The first dessert I’m going to try is chocolate pecan pie from the Hershey’s cookbook (see recipe below if you want to try it yourself). I’m hoping this a dessert I can bring to the dinner table on Christmas Day as well. πŸ™‚

Also, I’ll be completely honest if I mess up any of these recipes along the way! And I’m not going to be like one of those cooking talk show hosts who pretends like some intricate dessert is a piece of cake (no pun intended). I’ll be completely honest about how difficult it is, how it turned out, if I burnt it, hated it, etc. I’m no Martha Stewart but I’m going to do my best! Hopefully I can try more complicated recipes as I go along too. Stay tuned and see my culinary triumphs (with hopefully very few failures)! Also, feel free to send me any dessert recipes you love or just want to try out. I’m volunteering to be your dessert-making guinea pig! Also feel free to follow me/talk to me through Twitter (@vanessamgray). πŸ™‚

Happy cooking!!!

Vanessa

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa

3 eggs beaten

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup pecan halfs

1 unbaked (9-inch) pie crust

Whipped topping (optional)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees; 2. Stir together sugar and cocoa in medium bowl. Add eggs, corn syrup, butter and vanilla; stir until well blended. Stir in pecans. Pour into unbaked pie crust.; 3. Bake 60 minutes or until set. Move to wire rack and cool completely. Garnish with whipped topping if desired.; 4. You’re done. Woohoo! Relax, sit back and enjoy! πŸ™‚

Firehook Bakery

20 Nov

Pumpkin Cupcake

With it being less than a week away from Thanksgiving, I made it my mission to get something seasonal. I’ve been craving pumpkin everything recently and wanted something to celebrate one of my favorite upcoming holidays. With that in mind, I trekked out to Dupont Circle to a bakery I’ve heard some rave reviews about…Firehook Bakery. Firehook has locations all over DC and the DC area.

Maybe it was my high expectations but the pumpkin cupcake wasn’t anything special. The cake was pretty dry; however, if it hadn’t been I think this would have been a pretty good cupcake. The frosting was delicious – creamy and rich.

The seven-layer bar on the other hand was pure heaven. It has a graham cracker crust topped with chocolate and butterscotch chips and pecan and coconut shavings. There’s a lot going on with this dessert bar – it’s rich but the blend of ingredients is pure perfection.

They also serve cookies, pies and tarts. In addition to the chocolately goodness that this place serves up, they also have breakfast and lunch items. Can’t wait to go back for breakfast here at some point in the near future! πŸ™‚

Seven-layer Bar

Firehook Bakery in Dupont Circle

Baked and Wired

11 Nov

The Tessita cupcake

Located in Georgetown, Baked & Wired is found a stone’s throw away from the chaotic hubbub of M Street. You can find it between 30th and 31st on the charming street of Thomas Jefferson. The motto of this place is “get baked”. Pretty witty if you ask me. πŸ™‚ This bakery/coffee shop has plenty of room for sitting and enjoying your drug of choice…coffee or dessert. And if you can’t decide between dessert and coffee there are plenty of desserts injected with a jolt of mocha to give you that caffeine fix you’re looking for.

Get Baked– Baked & Wired doesn’t discriminate when it comes to dessert. In fact, it houses almost anything sweet you can imagine. They have dessert bars, breakfast bars, coffee cakes, brownies, cakes, cookies, cupcakes, muffins, pie, sandwich cookies, and scones. Basically, it’s a sweet lover’s dream come true. They also have hippie crack (noooo, not what you’re thinking people…it’s granola!) and quiches.

O.M.G. bar

While I was here, I tried two items: an o.m.g bar and the tessita cupcake. The o.m.g. bar has certainly earned its name. It’ll have you singing that Usher song in your head (or maybe even out loud) before you’re done. This dessert bar has a graham cracker crust and is layered with homemade caramel, marshmallow and chocolate glaze. I will definitely being coming back for this amazing creation! The equally delicious tessita cupcake has vanilla cake with dulce de leche filling and chocolate-hazelnut satin icing. Yum, yum, yum!

But Baked & Wired is not just known for its sugary goodness. It’s also known for its coffee…hence the word ‘wired’ in its name.

Get Wired – They offer expressos, macchiatos, lattes, mochas and several other caffeine-infused options. While a sugar fix is more my drug of choice, I noticed plenty people lined up for a caffeine fix as well.

Need something for the pooch? Baked & Wired offers options for your loveable furball. These doggie treats are available in five flavors and include: bacon and cheese, BBQ kitty riplets, chicken and cheese, minty fresh breath and PB crunch. Puppies need yummy goodies too!

Getting Social – Check them out on Twitter (@bakedandwiredDC), Facebook (www.facebook.com/pages/Baked-and-Wired/134625793248511) or on their blog (iambakedandwired.tumblr.com).

There’s a dessert app for that

9 Nov

Trolling around on my iPhone this week I discovered that two of my favorite dessert places have apps which is super exciting! And on top of that they’re my favorite four letter word…FREE!

Crumbs Bake Shop app

With the Crumbs Bake Shop app you can send a greeting card via email with an image of your favorite cupcake for sixteen different occasions. You can also purchase a gift certificate for 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 or 12 cupcakes and send via email. Gift certificates can be redeemed at any of the store locations. You can also share your favorite cupcakes on Twitter. You can find a few reviews of the app here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/crumbs/id419435030?mt=8

Sprinkles cupcake app

Β With the Sprinkles cupcakes app dishes out free cupcakes, one-click menu access, virtual cupcakes gifting , a memory game and a bakery locator. On top that that, Sprinkles bakes a limited supply of free cupcakes per day. Beat out other Sprinkles addicts by being the first to uncover our whisper words in this app’s alerts. The app menu shows what Sprinkles is baking each day. You can also bake a virtual Sprinkles cupcake for their Facebook wall or email inbox. In addition, you can also get directions to the nearest Sprinkles bakery from your location.

The Sweet Lobby

2 Nov

The Sweet Lobby is tucked away on a cute side street in Capitol Hill and is easily accessible via the orange line – Eastern Market stop. The shop itself is tiny and is really only meant for to-go orders. And by tiny I mean there’s really only room for the line that forms for to-go orders. The store seems to have many regulars and I received some good recommendations from the lady behind me in line. Because this shop is known for its macaroons I tried two – the PB&J flavor as well as the hazelnut praline salted caramel. I figured the PB&J flavor would either great or terrible but I wanted to try something a little different. I’m glad I tried it though since it was delicious! It was similar to a peanut butter cookie with grape jelly sandwiched in the middle. While that one was pretty amazing, the hazelnut praline salted caramel was hands down the better of the two. It was light and airy and had hazelnut and praline shavings sprinkled on top. I do have to say that I’ve never been a fan of macaroons until now! I can see why this place is know for their macaroons…they are definitely this shop’s best product.

The cupcake I had was also very good as well. The chocolate salted caramel is a chocolate cupcake which is dipped in dark chocolate ganache, filled with house-made salted caramel and topped with milk chocolate buttercream and a salted caramel swirl. The center of the cupcake was the best part. I have never seen or heard of a cupcake like it. What I enjoyed most about their cupcake collection was the variety. They had unique cupcake flavors such as bananas foster, pumpkin spice, mango cream, chocolate caramel crunch, Boston creme, sticky toffee and pineapple ‘inside out’ cake.

Even though I’ve been raving about this shop, I do have one warning. They will charge you 50 cents extra if you get a cupcake box that only holds one cupcake. However, this is the only box they change extra.

The shop also offers shortbread, madelines, mendiants, looseleaf tea and European style hot chocolate. This little shop is a gem! I’d certainly recommend going for anyone who likes uniquely flavored cupcakes or is a fan of macaroons.

Pinkberry – Guilt Free Dessert

26 Oct

PB frozen yogurt + chocolately goodness

I wanted to mix things up this week and try some frozen yogurt at Pinkberry. For some reason, I end up craving ice cream and cold dessert as it gets colder outside…go figure! If you’re on a diet or just weight-conscious, this should be your main stomping ground. This place has plenty of low calorie options for a gal (or guy)Β  just tryin’ to get a sugar fix. I was feeling pretty good about myself and my dessert decision (peanut butter frozen yogurt) until I discovered the array of toppings. So what did I do? Well instead of getting fruit I went straight to the chocolatey goodness. I added chocolate chips, brownie bites and a waffle piece. The combination was pure heaven!

The best part about this experience was that you get to try samples of the yogurt…you can try every single one if you really want to. Feeling festive and wanting to try something seasonal, I also tried the pumpkin frozen yogurt with a sprinkle of cinnamon. I’d recommend this combination as well. One of the employees told me that I common combination is pumpkin yogurt, cinnamon and swirly whip (aka pumpkin pie). I was also in love when I found out my frozen yogurt wasn’t weighted AND when the employee told me their wasn’t a limit to the number of toppings. I just wanted to hug her at that moment (don’t worry I didn’t). She said, “Anything you can get in the small size cup is yours.” Amazingggg!

Pinkberry’s offers several frozen yogurt flavors including: original, peanut butter, pumpkin, chocolate, mango and pomegranate. The also have smoothies, fruit parfaits and fruit bowls. Check here to find a location near you: locations.

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