Halloween Mason Jar Luminaries

Mason Jar Luminaries

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These luminaries are an easy-peasy, economical, and kid-friendly activity. These are quick to make and I found all of the supplies at my local dollar store.

For, the Jack-O-Lantern luminaries, I decoupaged clipart of faces and orange tissue paper to the inside of mason jars. I used Mod Podge, but I believe Elmer’s glue diluted with water would also work. Simply let your design dry then place a battery-powered tea “candle” in the jar.

The spider web luminary centerpieces are even more simple: wrap webbing around the jars before placing the lights into the jars. Voila!

 

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Baking Science

Eggnog Cupcake

Cocoa Anatomy

Cocoa beans naturally start out at about 50% fat.  After fermenting, drying, roasting, and de-husking, the beans are ground to a paste; at this point it’s essentially baking chocolate. When put through a hydraulic plate press, squeezing out about half of the cocoa butter, a hard disk of concentrated cocoa remains. This block is then ground into cocoa powder.    

Vocab

Cocoa Butter: fat squeezed from cocoa beans

Cocoa Solids: the substance remaining after the cocoa butter has been removed from cocoa beans

Cocoa Nibs: roasted, de-husked cacao beans broken into pieces

Natural Cocoa Powder: cocoa beans that have been roasted and ground into a fine powder. Baking soda, which is alkaline, is generally paired with natural cocoa in recipes to neutralize its acidity.

Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder: dark, milder tasting cocoa powder treated with an alkali (potassium solution) to neutralize its natural acidity. Baking powder, also near-neutral in pH, is paired with Dutched cocoa in recipes.

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Black cocoa: cocoa powder that has been heavily-Dutched  Ex: Oreo cookies

Unsweetened/Baking Chocolate: pure, ground, roasted chocolate beans (cocoa butter + cocoa solids)

Dark Chocolate: cocoa butter + cocoa solids + sugar

Milk Chocolate: cocoa butter + cocoa solids + sugar + milk powder or condensed milk

White Chocolate: cocoa butter + sugar + milk powder or condensed milk (no cocoa solids)

Notes & Tips

  1. Cocoa powder can be used instead of flour to dust pans
    (especially if concerned with gluten free cooking)
  2. Because of the differences in chemistry, Dutched cocoa powder and natural cocoa are not reliably interchangeable in baked goods. The easiest substitution advice I found is:
    • To replace natural cocoa and baking soda with Dutch-process cocoa, substitute an equal amount of Dutch-process cocoa but replace the soda with twice the amount of baking powder.
    • For Dutch-process cocoa powder and baking powder, substitute the same amount of natural cocoa but replace the baking powder with half the amount of baking soda.
      (The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion)

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Europe Part 2: Graz, Austria

 

 

Oh, hello blog, I remember you…

Kunsthaus Graz (Graz Art Museum)
detail of Kunsthaus Graz (Graz Art Museum)
View from Grazer Schloßberg (Castle Mountain)

Head & shoulders protected? Check
& the genitals? Let’s not get extravagant

Europe Part 1: Lausanne, Switzerland

A sunrise walk to Lake Geneva and my first fondue experience are my souvenirs from  Lausanne, Switzerland. Nestled in the Jura Mountains, this city is incredibly charming.

Interesting facts about Lausanne

  • It is the site of the International Olympic Committee headquarters and is officially recognized by the committee as the ‘Capitale Olympique’
  • It is the smallest city in the world to have a rapid transit system
  • The Lausannes consume 4 tons of chocolate per day and the average resident drinks 40 liters of wine a year
Vineyards, Swiss chocolate, year-round skiing; does life get any better than this?

A-A-Astoria!

I explored one of my new favorite ‘hoods of the city this past Sunday: Astoria, Queens!

The occasion was “Sweets for your Sweet,” a food artisan market at the Queens Kickshaw. This place serves possibly the finest grilled cheese sandwich in existence: gouda, black bean hummus, guava jam, and pickled jalapenos on brioche.

YOU.  MUST.  HAVE.  IT.

But I digress. As stunning as the sandwiches are, they certainly didn’t outshine the vendors. I met the proprietors, and of course, tasted and gushed over their marvelous creations.

AJ Simone, the brilliant mind behind Handjobs (for the Home),
revealed  to me his plans to teach a preserving class in the near future.
Keep us posted AJ, I’m looking forward to it!

AJ's handmade sea salt from Provincetown, MA

The vegan, Indian inspired delicacies of Sweet Silk

The beautiful Shefalee of Sweet Silk

Matt Swanston, creator of the evilly addictive cakes of  Gooey&Co.