By Dian Mills
Congratulations, you’ve survived the holiday gauntlet! Now that the parties, family gatherings and frantic shopping expeditions are behind you, it’s time to breathe and think about what will make you happy this year. For some, the answer is world peace. For others … the perfect cupcake. Here are a few ideas for making 2014 your sweetest year yet (even if your answer was peace, you’ve still got to eat!).
Baked goods may be considered naughty, but that doesn’t mean we can’t slip a little niceness in here and there! Organic products are widely available in grocery stores now and can do wonders for the health aspect of a recipe. For example, replacing butter and other fats with coconut oil (such as Carrington Farms 100% Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, available at http://www.CarringtonFarms.com) is a healthy, delicious way to lighten things up. If you end up with some left over, it doubles as a skin and hair moisturizer, always welcome during these dry winter months! Organic eggs are another great addition to any mix. Since the hens who produce them have never had to deal with antibiotics and chemical pesticides, they can’t pass any on to you. Pete and Gerry’s® Organic Eggs are a great choice and their website, http://www.peteandgerrys.com, can point you straight to the dozen nearest you. Organic milk, cream, chocolate, fruit … everything you could possibly use to whip up a batch of baked awesomeness can easily be found in pure, clean, organic form!
Now that your ingredients are ready to roll, it’s time to decide what you’re going to turn them into. My newest inspiration Bible: The Dollop Book of Frosting, by Heather “Cupcakes” Saffer (available at bookstores nationwide and online). Featuring recipes for a plethora of luscious toppings and their matching baked goods, this mouthwatering book definitely proves why Saffer won The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars! If you’d prefer to search for your own revelations (or e-read Dollop), why not invest in a tablet computer like the Camelio by Vivitar? An affordable, wifi-enabled, full fledged 7” Android tablet, it’s the perfect size for reading e-cookbooks (or random recipes you may stumble upon) without gobbling up all your counter space. You can use it later to take and post photos of your culinary conquests to every social media platform you can think of (not that you’re bragging or anything)! It’s also fully customizable thanks to a collection of fun character kits ranging from Hot Wheels to Hello Kitty (available at major retailers nationwide and online).
When you’re ready to hit the oven, the Cake Boss line of professional-style baking pans is your best friend. Designed by TLC’s Cake Boss himself, Buddy Valastro, each piece of this collection is designed to give home bakers the confidence to go beyond Betty Crocker and create treats worthy of Carlo’s Bakery! Choose your weapons at http://www.cakebossbaking.com. Removing said pans from the oven can be hazardous, but the Sizzler oven mitt by BUILT® NY will take the heat for you. Made from protective Neoprene and featuring a textured interior grip that can withstand up to 500°, this mitt has you covered all the way up to your elbow. Grab one at http://www.builtny.com.
Now it’s time to dollop on that decadent frosting and thank the Baby New Year for the excuse to spoil yourself. Have a healthy, happy, yummy 2014!