Thursday, February 24, 2011

There and Back Again, or Meeting in the Middle

I am never going to catch up with myself at this rate. I keep baking, and not posting about the new stuff, because I think that I have to fill in what was before. But I am going to build this train track from two directions - I will start posting new stuff, and simultaneously move forward with the older stuff, so that I am not constantly treading water. I hope the two halves will meet in the middle at some point! So hang on, it's going to be a bumpy ride...


This week, Tova celebrated her bat mitzvah. For her Sunday night party, her mom asked me to make cookies and mini-cupcakes for dessert, in addition to the fruit and cheesecake (one of those infamous erev nashim chalavi parties, where the women have to get dressed up, but the men who show up later for a l'chaim come in to the party in jeans, but still get to enjoy a drink and dessert - where is the justice?!!!) they provided. Shana and I spent the afternoon plattering in the shul, to a very nice effect.

The cupcakes were three flavors: chocolate cupcakes, filled with chocolate mousse buttercream, topped with dark chocolate buttercream and fondant flowers and leaves (in the color scheme of the party); vanilla cupcakes with a vanilla cream filling and pale yellow buttercream on top, garnished with a variety of colorful decors; and chocolate chip cupcakes tipped wtih mint buttercream and sparkling sugar.The cookie platters were a selection of seven of the family's favorite flavors:Oatmeal peanut butter sandwiches, toffee bars, sugar cookie ganache sandwiches, Mexican brownies, chocolate caramel sandwiches, cherry-pecan-white chocolate blondies, and glazed lemon cookies.I guess now that I am done thinking about that simcha, I will have to concentrate on my own. Dvora's Cookie Creations will be on hiatus from Sunday, February 27 through Tuesday, March 15, resuming business on Wednesday the 16th. After that, back to baking!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The shockingly high cost of baking

I would love to hear from readers in the US if the cost of food, in particular baking supplies, has seen an increase lately. Prices have been increasing steadily here, but today was an enormous shock. I have seen the price of flour increase (about 17%), the price of eggs (9%), not to mention milk and all kinds of dairy. Chocolate chips went up by about 11%, and bittersweet chocolate by 15%. Pecans nearly doubled in price over the last year, though you can definitely minimize your use. But today was truly the topper. The price of sugar rose by more than 40% (lucky me, it was on sale, limit 3 kilos, at just 15% more than last week. What a bargain!) And cocoa - the best brand of unsweetened baking cocoa was almost 50% more expensive than the week before.

Is this really a worldwide phenomenon, or are we just lucky? You know, here in the land where we pay for free education and we pay for free healthcare, we pay outrageously high income taxes, not to mention exorbitant sales tax, gasoline tariffs, and various and sundry charges for little things, like security. Still, we live here, so we are super-lucky. But I would still love some feedback...

Let me reassure you, though, that despite my rant, I am intent on maintaining my cookie prices for as long as I can. I have not raised them in over two years and will continue to hold steady as long as it's feasible. It's my commitment to provide delicious products, made of the highest quality ingredients. And I am clearly not in it for the money. So enjoy your cookies. We'll keep making them.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blogger is cool...

With so little time to devote to blogging right now (I hate to say it, but I have no business being on the computer right now. I have things to bake!!!), it must have taken me a while to discover that I could add stand-alone pages to this blog! But now that I found the link, I am getting started. I have already added a page with my kashrut policy, and another with, wait for it, COOKIE FLAVORS! This list has gotten outrageously long, but the flavors are like my children: I worked long and hard for them to develop properly, so how could I let any of them go? Unlike my children, they don't talk back and I never have to worry about them putting away their laundry. Have I mentioned I hate laundry? Also unlike my children, no one will arrest me if I throw a couple back into the deep water, so I have, in all due honesty, removed a couple from the uber-long flavor menu. I do reserve the right to make them if I am in the mood... Also, maybe I will someday be able to put teeny little pictures of the cookies next to each flavor. Sometimes I wish I were the Godiva chocolate guy. But not Godiva. That would be weird.

I hope you will check out the new pages, and I look forward to adding even more, including (next up) ordering information and pricing. Hope you enjoy!


Monday, February 14, 2011

Yoni Turns 17, Part Deux

For the second installment of Yoni's birthday (remember him, he got cupcakes not too long ago), his mom ordered a cake decorated with his favorite things. We started with a laptop, because seriously, what teenager does not spend too much time on a computer?Unless, of course, they are spending too much time on a cell phone, talking and texting.He is a big fan of the army (I know I mentioned that when I showed you the camouflage icing cupcakes!),
he loves playing on his PSP,but lest you worry, he also gets outside sometime, as he is an avid biker.
(I actually loved how this biking symbol came out! I feel like for the next Olympics, I want to make a cake full of sport symbols. Especially curling, because it's just so hilarious. I wonder what the symbol for that is?!) And did I mention he likes the army? Thus the camouflage number 17 - look closely, you will see the patterning!
Glad to have helped Yoni and family share his birthday, even from far away.


Girls deserve treats too!

When a boy is born, the community immediately jumps into celebration mode with a Shalom Zachar on the Friday night immediately following the birth. Many families have taken on the custom of celebrating girls as well - yay for suffrage! - with a Simchat Bat or otherwise named event. These cookies were ordered for a simchat bat, and came out adorable. Again, the in-house talent, Shana, decorated the sugar cookies for me. I love how she takes an idea (I said "Can you draw some baby stuff?...") and simply elevates it.
There are two versions of this design - using two slightly different coloring techniques.Have you ever seen anything so cute?
In addition to snickerdoodles, coffee and cream brownies, chewy chocolate chip cookies, and lemon wedges, the homemade Oreos were filled with pink vanilla cream to honor the new arrival. Mazal tov!


Far from home

When a child, no matter how old, is far from home for his birthday, it is hard on both parents and child. Yoni lives here, while his parents are back in the States. For his 17th birthday, Yoni's mom, a very talented cake decorator, wanted to send him something that would remind him of the family. For the first installment of his birthday, she sent cupcakes - chocolate cupcakes with camouflage colored (brown and green) vanilla frosting, since Yoni is a total army fanatic, topped with golden yellow letter and stars, spelling out "Mazal tov Yoni" and the number "17."This was one of the fastest orders I have ever done, and I am pleased with how they came out.
Yoni's mom was too - as you will see shortly, part II of the birthday treats will follow soon! The only victim here, the photography. I hope to some day learn a lot more about food photography, not to mention always have enough time for beautiful set-ups and backgrounds, but since this is the real world, and these desserts are going to real people, I guess I will compromise on the pictures, but NEVER on the product.


A cutie patootie turns one

When any baby has his first birthday, it's a reason to celebrate. When a baby who had a very rough beginning marks the occasion, the celebration becomes more important, more of a chance to give thanks. Baby Nadav had some bumps in the road after his birth, but now he is, B"H, healthy and happy and oh, so cute. His cake included a very cute teddy bear, hand crafted by the lovely and talented Shana, and some choo-choo trains.

Here is the teddy immediately after sculpting, hanging out to dry.Here he is atop the cake - don't you want to pick him up and squoosh him?!Trains and the number "1" go around the cake,a simple design, with two layers of chocolate cake and chocolate mousse buttercream between the layers.

Happy birthday, Nadav! Wishing you and your family health and happiness.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Extending the family

In this yishuv, it is said, you have to be related to someone. We were lucky enough that, when we moved in, David and I each had a second cousin living here, despite the fact that we did not really know them before we made aliyah. They are both wonderful people with beautiful families, and we are most fortunate to know them and count them as family. (Ironically, they are both sort of related to each other as well, which makes us all happy that none of us have two-headed children, but that is a story for another time.) Recently, my cousin Deena's son Yoni got engaged to a girl also from the community, who happens to be the big sister of Lola's good buddy Serena. So now Lola is (not really) going to be related to a friend of hers, which makes things lots of fun. Deena's older son also married a girl from the neighborhood, the aunt of a classmate of Lola's, so we are grateful that we are now (not really) related to even more people in the community. It's fun to play connect the dots here!

For Yoni and Suzy's engagement party, Suzy's mom called to say that the mothers had discussed and wanted to order cookies for the occasion. The cookies were sugar cookie ganache sandwiches, ginger white chocolate blondies, chocolate snickerdoodles, Mexican brownies, orange-cranberry-white chocolate cookies, and thin mint sandwiches. On top, decorated sugar cookies for the beautiful and happy couple.
We wish Suzy and Yoni all the best, and a lifetime of happiness! Dvora

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Once again, the shoemaker's children go barefoot

Shana turned 17, believe it or not. Because of a large volume of orders during birthday week, Shana's cake got shoddy treatment, with only one fondant decoration, an artist's palette to celebrate her talents.
The writing also got "CakeWrecks" treatment, since we could not think of anything clever to say.

Even her name was in quotes. And the pictures were also rushed, as the decorating was taking place very close to Shabbat, after preparing for the celebration weekend. Oh well, no in-house photographer... but what can you do?!

Despite the message on the cake, we could not be prouder of Shana, as we are of all the kids. Talented, smart, beautiful, even helpful on occasion (kidding, Shosh!), when she goes off to national service next year, we will feel her absence acutely.
Happy 17th!

Love, Imma, aka Dvora

Bye, Bye Birdie

A little pause from catching up on cookies and cake: a news update. We are no longer the owners of parakeets - they have moved to a better owner who will, we hope, appreciate them and the sounds and tumult they make more than we did. Amazingly, a great many people were interested in taking them in - we posted a message on the local email list and got about ten responses within just a few hours.

The first semester of the school year has ended, and all of the kids did beautifully. Shana (GULP!) passed her driving theory test, and is now embarking on the practice portion of the whole horrifying experience. Actually, she is having fun and enjoying it. I won't go on a rant about the scam-iness of the whole system, but let's just say it's an expensive proposition. We are deep in the throes of bar mitzvah planning, and looking forward to the event itself.

I will be back to baking updates next!

If you like the pictures you see here but would love to see more updated photos, make sure to check out our Facebook page! In the meantime, we will do our best to keep the blog a little more current.