Thursday, February 18, 2016

ABP Cookies!!

Since someone had to make a visit to the main campus, in the absence of a cake donor, we stopped by the Au Bon Pain store at the hospital and picked up some Au Bon Pain cookies!  There is a interesting shared history with ABP. Way back after college graduation I stopped with a friend at the original, we think, Au Bon Pain at the Faneuil Hall Markeplace in Boston where said friend wanted to apply for a job.  The owner or manager was a French woman named...France!  How's that for dedication to your country! 
This is where we got the cookies!
He didn't get the job but we did enjoy some of their baked products which we thought were very good.  We would stop by now and then but watched them grow into a larger chain meaning we lost interest.  But they are still going strong, coming on 40 years and are in several countries throughout the world though probably not in France.
Our selection for the day courtesy of ABP!
They've expanded well beyond baguettes and croissants and now are known for their sandwiches in addition to their baked goods.  Today we got a selection of their cookies which are quite large. We solved the caloric intake concerns by breaking them up each into four pieces.  This brought us from seven to 28 servings and since each of them is about 400 calories, we felt better sampling a few as opposed to eating a whole one.  This way we even got two days out of the seven cookies.
We tried their chocolate chip cookie, the harvest cookie, the mudslide cookie, the English toffee cookie, the chunky peanut butter cookie, the white chocolate macademia nut cookie and the
shortbread cookie half dipped in chocolate.
You guessed it - chocolate chip!
The white chocolate macademia nut treat!
This would be the English toffee!
Yes, this is the mudslide!
As cookies go, they are very good if kind of large and caloric.  The Harvest cookie was interesting containing Rolled Oats, Sweetened Dried Cranberries , Raisins, Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, and Molasses. It was very earthy crunchy though with all the sugar probably not exactly healthy.

The Harvest cookie!  Harvest?
Another favorite is the shortbread which is always a buttery treat and the one sided chocolate dipped part is a great finish!  All in all the cookies are high quality though given the calories a single one for breakfast might suffice!
A perennial favorite - the half chocolate frosted shortbread!
Break 'em up for fewer calories and more selection!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Let them eat long as it's ice cream!!

We do have a few people that don't have sweet teeth and are not big cake fans.  However, one of those will indulge in some ice cream!  So for her birthday we got and ice cream cake!!  This one was Ben and Jerry's aka Euphoria to Go that you can read about in another post.

Gotta be an ice cream cake!
That's pink and white whipped cream decor!
And the message !
Two good flavor layers and enough for tomorrow!
Needless to say B&J make a very good ice cream and so you can count on the cake being good too.  It was! This one had a chocolate brownie bottom and a vanilla cookie dough top.  Add a nice pink whipped cream top and some whipped cream florets and you call it a cake. Our friend enjoyed her birthday celebration and was happy to indulge her ice cream affinity! Because of its size we also got a second day out of the cake!
Just don't set off the sprinklers!
Making a wish....
And blowing out the candles!!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Got a second day out of that Boston Cream Cake

Nope, we didn't finish it yesterday!  So today we got to have a little more of yesterday's Boston Cream Pie inspired cake!  It was just as good the second day and we did manage to finish. 
Today's leftovers!
Got about half of this to finish!!
And some of these for good measure!
Just in case there wasn't enough we threw in some Ferrero Rochers for backup. This is a marvelous little confection and how they get that hazelnut surrounded in chocolate, enclosed in a wafer that is then coated in more chocolate and nuts, is a mystery to us. Life's little mysteries continue on!
How DO they get all these layers??

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Time for a version of a classic treat

Boston Cream Pie is not a pie at all. It is actually a cake with a yellow base, two layers with some pastry creme in between  and the chocolate frosting on the top.  They are pretty common but we hadn't seen one in awhile until today.
The classic Boston Cream Pie
What we had though, was a Boston Cream Pie inspired cake.  This one had three layers with two fillings of the pastry cream.  There was the obligatory chocolate frosting on the top but rather than being the usual simple coating, this one included a decorative swirl of white frosting amidst the chocolate, a ring of decorative vanilla frosting with some red sugar granules and it was garnished with some white milk chocolate pieces.  It was certainly pleasing to look at it.
This one is a little more elaborate!
A little taller and an extra layer!
Nicely decorated top - not the usual plain chocolate!
And a few extra decorations!
And of course it was quite pleasing to taste!  It was not as heavy as it looked nor overly sweet as youn might have expected.  Several of our foreign colleagues were happy to give it a try and learn a little New England specialty lore!
Looks heavy but it wasn't!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Day Glo Dumplings and other New Year Treats

One of us was in NYC the past weekend celebrating the incoming year of the monkey with her family. She returned for cake hour with some "traditional" treats that are featured at a Chinese New Year celebration.  Since we didn't know what any of the names were, came up with some of our own.  Included were some cupcake like concoctions made of rice flour, not particularly sweet, and with no particular flavor. What they did have was color.  We called them day-glo dumplings. See if you can guess which things they are in the pictures.
If you guessed these were the Day Glo dumplings you guessed correctly!
Less colorful treats!
Sugar Sticks
And some sesame nuggets
Peanut Surprise!
The several other offerings were varied small baked treats.  One were longish tubular cracker type things with a granulated sugar coating.  We called these "sugar sticks".  We also had "peanut surprises" which were wonton like things that had a candied peanut - like in Cracker Jacks on the inside.  Finally there were small sesame crusted things that we named "sesame nuggets".  All three of these were fine - a little dry which is not surprising since they should be consumed with tea or similar beverage. Typically Chinese, they are not outrageously sweet and relatively blah er I mean subtle in flavor. That's not to say we did not enjoy them.
A trio of treats!
We see them in New York every year!
We remember these from our younger days!
We have several folks now from the People's Republic.  They all confirmed that what we had was authentic and that they had had them at the New Year celebration before...during their childhood.  Back then this was the only type of thing that most people could afford.  Now that China has advanced, folks are getting to experience more western or global treats to the detriment of their public health.  So thought these treats may have provoked happy childhood memories today they are probably more likely to eat a Snickers bar or a slice of cheesecake. All power to them!
Our last "Dagashi"

It wasn't a hit with us but this is the favorite flavor!
Close to the expiration date it would seem!
We also finished the last Corn Potage treat.  A family member bought a bunch of these at Christmas as special stocking stuffer treats and they were all the same Corn potage flavor.  Corn Potage is a Japanese soup.  This treat is something referred to as Dagashi which is an informal treat in Japan like something you would buy for kids. This particular thing is called Umaibo which means "delicious stick" and is described as a small, puffed, cylindrical corn snack from Japan.  Its consistency is similar to Cheetos. We agree with the last statement.  Although we had one flavor, there are many both savory and sweet versions.  The corn potage was not a big hit but with luck and/or continued collaboration with Japanese colleagues we may get to try some of the others! For more info:

We have lots of flavors to try yet, it would seem!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Laissez les bon temps roulez encore! It's Mardi Gras!

Hot on the heels of Chinese New Year we have Mardi Gras!! Thanks to a former colleague from New Orleans we began our cake hour celebrations of Fat Tuesday all the way back in 2008.  Her tradition lives on and we get a king cake to honor the event and toss around some doubloons and beads in the traditional colors to share the meaning and fun of Mardi Gras.
Special box from FedeX!

Look what's inside!

Must be a King Cake - all decorated after arrival!

Just a bit shy on the purple!
Our designated Orpheus is ready to go

We had many this year who were unfamiliar with what it was all about so we also gave a short primer on Christian tradition, Lent leading into Easter and the concept of self denial.  Someone suggested giving up cake for Lent. Right! Like that's going to happen.

We relied upon our trusty New Orleans king cake bakery, named to get the thing to us and as you can tell from the box there is not doubting what it inside.  This year we just got the basic king cake with no fillings or fruit. These things actually come a little unassembled.  You have to add the icing and the three colors of sugar to get the finished product. That's not a big issue but for some reason the purple colored sugar is always the one that opens up in transit. So you will pardon if the cake is a little shy on the purple color. 
Showing off their doubloons and beads!
A few more partygoers!
Our French colleague celebrates a French American tradition!
This year the box had a greeting from the packers, the history of Mardi Gras and king cakes which was helpful with the neophytes, and a disclaimer about how the cake might be damaged.

Greetings from the packers!

Damage disclaimer but we were good!
Other than the purple sugar issues our cake was intact we quickly decorated it and began the search for the baby.  It was found by someone new this year which was nice. He didn't have much idea what he was doing but now knows. As tradition goes, he gets to host the next party.
The search for the baby begins!
And we have the host for the next party!
What's that crawling out of my cake!

It's the Mardi Gras baby saying let the good times roll!

The cake was very good, as usual, very moist and not overly sweet. Some were surprised that it came all the way from New Orleans.  You do what you gotta do to make sure Mardi Gras gets its due at cake hour.  Let the good times roll!