Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Amo el helado!

Image from : buycostumes.com

The trees have blossomed, buds are popping out of the ground and it is finally warm in New England! Boston does not have much of a spring. April can be plagued by snow storms, so I’ve learned to appreciate the good days more than I can even put into words.

Nothing says spring and signals the coming of the summer like soft serve ice cream. At work last week we bolted from the air conditioning to enjoy the sun and headed to Dandilyons in Reading, MA.

Just around the corner from my office, the local soft serve stand is already a bustle of activity. This week is school vacation week so it was more populated with little kids than normal. Usually our group’s visit raises the age of patrons by at least 10 years.

Owned and operated by Overbrook Ice Cream, the little shop serves more than 40 flavors of cult-favorite Richardson's Ice Cream including Toll house, black raspberry and, as this is New England, the Green Monster.

My favorite is a vanilla kiddie cone (proper serving size) with sprinkles (Jimmies if you prefer). If I am feeling particularly daring I might go for a heath bar flurry. The mix of the salty brittle, chocolate and vanilla ice cream reminds me of my mom (tear).

I haven’t been so daring as to try, but the shop serves ice cream cannolis (my Italian side would die) and ice cream cookie sandwiches.

All I can do is toast my ice cream to the gods… thank you for the sun!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Stick 'Em Up!

On Saturday, I threw a surprise birthday party for the BF at an Irish pub in Nashua, NH. I was really excited that so many people could attend. In addition to the guest of honor, the scene stealer of the night was the birthday cake. Let me tell you the story…

Two weeks prior to the party I contacted several bakeries through the internet to get a quote for a custom cake. I received confirmation from a bakery in Brookline, who I frequent for their cupcakes. A week after the order was placed and into my scheming, I received an email from the shop saying that the head baker was uncomfortable making a cake with a gun. I was looking for them to make me a cake shaped like a Glock handgun. An unusual and slightly creepy request, especially coming from me…but hey it’s just a cake!

I scurried the internet to find someone who could help me in less than a week! I found my angel—Cakes by Terri, formerly Terri-Me-Sue. After a fire burned her shop in East Cambridge, Terri (the owner and baker) has been baking out of her house. A bubbly woman answered my panic phone call and said, “Sure!”

I even had the option of making the cake half chocolate and half vanilla for no additional cost. She explained that she would cut down a sheet cake into the shape of the gun no problem and for only $45. I had been quoted twice that at other shops.

I sent her pictures I had found on the Internet. Some were even of other gun cakes…there are a surprising number of grooms cakes out there shaped as armory.

The anticipation bubbled over until I was able to go pick it up on Saturday. Hopping into my little yellow car I zipped a couple of blocks to Terri’s house. The walk to the two-family was covered in Easter eggs and bunny mobiles and wind catchers. And after a knock at the door, Terri, a petite salt and pepper-haired grandma, descended her front steps wearing a purple apron and carrying a large white box.

“Do you want to see it?” she asked.

“Of course,” I responded, leaping out of my skin.

She revealed a large black gun just as I had ordered.

“I hope it is okay,” she giggled and wiggled to my car and squeezed it onto the floor of the front seat.

Thanks to the lower heaters in my car, the drive to Nashua was perfumed with the sweet scent of cocoa. My car became a giant chocolate inhaler. The cake’s icing, which was responsible for the smell, was jet black and laced with richness.

I am still eating cake for breakfast and having dreams about Terri.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tewksbury Tweets

I went to the BF’s parents' house for Easter. I love Easter and all the sugary celebrations it brings. But between the courses of cakes and brownies I was introduced to a regional favorite: Tewksbury Tweets.

With a cultish following, these no-bake cookies are a yummy cluster of oatmeal, chocolate and peanut butter. According to what I was told in my introduction, they were/are served in public-school cafeterias around Tewksbury, MA. Just imagine a plop of fudge with texture.

I hunted down the recipe- super easy! No bake!

2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa
1 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups oatmeal
Waxed paper

In a heavy saucepan bring to a boil, the sugar, cocoa, butter and milk. Let boil for 1 minute then add peanut butter, vanilla and oatmeal. On a sheet of waxed paper, drop mixture by the teaspoonfuls, until cooled and hardened.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Chocolate of the Future?

As much as I enjoy chocolate, there is one small problem... how quickly the calories can add up. But a miracle has occurred in the labs of Harvard… a chocolate inhaler.
Biomedical engineer and Harvard professor David Edwards has adapted a medicinal inhaler to engage the sweet tooth.

Le Whif shoots a light chocolate mist into the consumer’s mouth to saturate taste buds with the luxury of chocolate without the need to chew… or to feel guilty.

The price is right too- just 2 bucks for 4 inhalations. Hey that’s the price of a good candy bar!

According to the Boston Globe article (which brought this brilliant invention to my attention), the inhaler works by allowing chocolate particles to shoot out of the lip-stick sized inhaler. But don’t worry about having a Willy Wonka asthma attack; the particles are too large to make it into your lungs.

I am a little creeped out by the comment Edwards makes about inhaling being an evolution to the culinary world, but I guess we will just have to see.

"Over the centuries we've been eating smaller and smaller quantities at shorter and shorter intervals. It seemed to us that eating was tending toward breathing, so, with a mix of culinary art and aerosol science, we've helped move eating habits to their logical conclusion. We call it whiffing," says Edwards on the product’s Web Site.

It really reminds me of one of those inhalers that smokers use to stop the addiction… I wonder if this could have the same benefit for the world’s obesity issue.

If you are so daring as to try, you can purchase your own inhaler online for €1.80. The chocolate inhaler has been available in Paris for a few months.