If spring is all about colour, winter is a study in white. Or at least it should be. Thanks to mild temperatures and plenty of sunshine, for many of us this winter has been anything a white wonderland.
Looking for a little frosty inspiration? Check out the Winter 2012 issue of Gatherings magazine – the “white” issue. Gatherings is a newish digital magazine created by interior designer and blogger Heather Spriggs.
We fell for the Snowy Sweet Sensations white dessert party – with its refined palette of white, cream and cocoa-coloured neutrals, and pretty vintage touches, it’s sophisticated enough for a winter bridal shower or an evening with your most stylish girlfriends, and yet homey and kid-friendly enough for a relaxed Sunday afternoon gathering with family.
The creamy white serving pieces look glamorous next to glass-domed cake stands, and we love how simple mugs of hot chocolate get dressed up with the addition of beribboned marshmallow stir sticks. The display could have fallen flat with such a limited palette, but contributor and food stylist Jessie Senese smartly used dark chocolate brown for contrast and tone-on-tone textured food items – a cake with white chocolate shavings, powdered sugar donuts, white-chocolate dipped pretzels – to add visual interest to the display.
Other must-read sections in this issue include tips on how to pick the perfect white paint (it can be more challenging than you think) and a collection of yummy white winter side dishes.
+ Winter 2012 issue of Gatherings Magazine
Here are a few entertaining ideas for your Easter brunch. Serve fresh juices or a jar of smoothies into an ice bath. They will stay cold without risking to water them down.
Bunny-shaped cookies bring a camping treat to Easter. You could bake your own recipe, set up a s’more bar or opt for the ready-to-consume version at Williams-Sonoma.
Bunny Egg Cozies
Egg cozies will keep your eggs warm while adding a festive touch to your table. Parkhaus named their felt bunny cozies David and Victoria. You can combine them in so many ways. When designing a egg station, it might be a good idea to one David and several Victoria. This way, David will add the unexpected touch. Or go for only one model, all in the same color except for one egg cozy that you select in a contrasting hue.
Easter Craft Projects
If you feel crafty, Martha Stewart shared a template to make your own Hen-Shaped Egg Cozies. Both will look great with the Felt Easter Bunny tutorial we did two years ago.
Eggcups make a great vase for individual Easter centerpieces. Look for tiny, seasonal flowers. Adding a colored eggshell makes it more festive. If you prefer an edible centerpieces, you can design something cool with the chocolate colored Easter eggs from Knipschildt Chocolatier. The small chocolate bunny hidden in a wheatgrass garden centerpiece will please kids and adults.
+ Bunny S’mores $24.95 USD at Williams-Sonoma
+ Punch Bowl Ice Bath from Martha Stewart Living (June 2010)
+ Easter Egg Chocolate Box $35 USD at Dean & Deluca
+ David Bunny Egg Cozie £8 at Little Baby Company
+ Victoria Bunny Egg Cozie $12 USD at Dean & Deluca
+ Flower Arrangements in eggshells in from Martha Stewart
+ Wheatgrass Setting with Chocolate Bunny Favors from Martha Stewart
Wow! A recipe that unites two of my favorite flavors: chocolate and Matcha tea. I am pleased that Kusmi Tea has accepted that I shared the recipe on my blog. I was surprise to see that it is not complicated to make your own choco-matcha truffles. You could serve them as mignardises at the end of a dinner party or bring those as the perfect hostess gift.
Choco-Matcha Truffle Recipe
Recipe by Kusmi Tea, which operates a boutique on Saint-Denis Street in Montreal.
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 1 5/8 cups 35% cream
- 3/4 – 1 lb 70% Guanaja chocolate
- 3 tbsp. Matcha powder tea (powder for cooking)
- Boil cream and honey.
- Finely chop the chocolate and put the pieces in a bowl.
- Pass the sweeten cream through a sieve, pouring over chocolate.
- Whisk thoroughly until you get a smooth texture.
- Refrigerate until the mixture hardens.
- Make small balls with mixture. Aim for 2 cm (3/4 in) in diameter.
- Roll the balls in the Matcha powder and completely cover each truffle.
You could eat that with one of the delicious teas from Kusmi Tea. Click here for their online boutique that serves Canada and the United States.
Soup for dessert may seem like a stretch, though with rich chocolate and cream as key ingredients, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything more inventive or more indulgent to finish a Valentine’s Day meal.
This recipe, created by Heather at Sprinkle Bakes, uses skim milk and half-and-half cream to slightly reduce the calorie count without sacrificing the soup’s velvety texture. You could also use flavoured chocolate and a splash of your favourite liqueur for an added indulgence. Skip the sandwich and serve it with pound cake croutons, biscotti or garnished with berries.
What better way to warm hearts!
+ Chocolate Soup Recipe from Sprinkle Bakes
It seems that not only city cyclers fall in love with vintage bikes. Vintage bikes unite my story of two retailers. Plus, both brands rely on their unique creations to do business.
Food+Flower+Style is the retail place of two sisters with a background in food and floral arrangements. I like what they do. They specialize in event and floral design. One particularly is that they often flowers with their vintage style bicycle. They serve San Francisco and New York. They deliver by bike chocolate, flowers and home decor accessories (style).
The nostalgic feeling of their Days of the week dishtowels is cute and comforting. They are flexible on the tasks you can print on the dishtowels.
Seeing the British old-fashioned bike in front of Hotel Chocolat invited me to enter their chocolate shop. This British chocolatier transformed me into a customer with their Less Sugar, More Cacao recipes.
This British chocolate maker opens two stores so far in The United States. Both are in Boston. I took pictures at the Newbury Street location. If you wish to become more savvy with your cacao, Hotel Chocolat offers Tasting classes that cost $50 per person. This can be a fun event among friends.
It was hard to decide what I wanted from their vast selection. Sadly, the US Web site only shows a few products. A cool thing is that they produce a seasonal chocolate collection where the fillings reflect the seasonal produces. I bought several bars and boxes that pleased my taste buds. I will definitely go back on my next trip to Boston.
+ Days of the week dishtowels $35 USD
+ Food+Flower+Style – via Design Mom
+ Hotel Chocolat in the United States
+ The British site of Hotel Chocolat that sells online
If you are not ready or if you already gave her the Tiffany blue box, here is another signature blue box that will please her this Valentine. I like the drawings on the artisanal chocolates. It is common these days to see design like the chocolates made by Christopher Elbow. The MarieBelle chocolates gain points for being more cheerful and adorable.
You can buy it online from MarieBelle Chocolates or find at a retailer near you that carry the collection. I spotted this gift idea on Parcel Post, the blog of Urbanic Paper, a boutique in Venice, California. I wish to leave a message to my dear husband. I saw on the store listing that it may be available at Indigo.
A must-go in SoHo
I noted on my agenda a visit to the Cacao Bar and Tea Salon that is inside their retail space in SoHo. Their line of hot chocolate seems awesome and many rave about it. Another idea is to sit down for a nice cacao at their Parisian style salon. It is on the pricey side but indulgences are in order on Valentine’s Day.
+ MarieBelle Chocolates
I wish I could buy these German chocolate here. The concept is great. Each package is for a different flavor and refers to a particular emotion.
Trost refers to consolation (according to the Google translator). The milk chocolate block comes with the spoon. It is perfect to give to your best friend when they guy she likes does not return her call. Liebe refers to love. Glück is how I feel after eating a piece of excellent chocolate: happy!
+ Sinnvolle Schokolade Trost, Glückor Liebe 8,50 € at Design3000
+ brand web site: Sinnvolle Schokolade
A sure way to impress your guests at the end of a meal is to serve homemade truffles with your mignardises (assortment of small pastries served at the end on a meal). I must confess that I never tried to make my own. Looking at the dark chocolate truffles recipe on Tartelette, it does not seem to hard to make your own. I put it on my to do list for 2010.
Make sure to start with premium chocolate. Better ingredients create the best results.
+ photo: Tartelette
I wish you a wonderful Easter Day! We bought our Easter eggs and animals all wrapped in cute baskets this year. I will try to take pictures but I cannot promise I could resist eating it right away.
In case I cannot resist the temptation, I gathered nice images from Chocolats Geneviève Grandbois. This artisan chocolate shop is well-known in Montreal for their fine chocolate. I want to try her hot chocolate mix. I did not know she made Easter animals. I checked it out Juliette the Baby Chicken and her Hen Mother. Besides the traditional animals and eggs, she makes a cute hedgehog, a turtle and a mouse. It is good to know that they deliver in Montréal, Québec, Ottawa, Toronto.
+ Juliette la Poulette et sa maman Poule $14.50 CAD
+ Hot Chocolate Mix $11.50 CAD for 8 servings
+ get directions to Chocolats Geneviève Grandbois p 514.933.1331
138 Avenue Atwater, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H4C 2G3
I love dark chocolate. So I am looking for good reasons to eat a few bites. I discovered the NEWTREE large chocolate bars at a local fruit and vegetable shop.
The NEWTREE Alpha collection is available in 3 tempting flavors: pure, chili pepper and the exquisite thyme. It is made with 65% dark Belgium chocolate that is less sweet. It is delicious!
The ALPHA series contains golden roasted flax seeds and crisped rice. The good news is that
half a large ALPHA bar supplies the daily recommend intake of Omega-3. Knowing this fact, there is no more reason to feel bad about indulging in a chocolate snack.
March 8th, 2009 Update: To make it clear to all readers, chocolate in general, including most of NEWTREE chocolate does not contain OMEGA-3. Only the ALPHA contains added OMEGA-3 from what we can read on the back of the package.
Chocolate Pairing Lounge
NEWTREE started in Europe. It was founded in 2001 by Benoit de Bruyn, a biochemist with a passion for chocolate. NEWTREE is available in the United States since 2003. They produced milk and dark chocolate bar.
You can find on their pairing room unique combinations to impress your guests when you are interesting.
- Give a twist to your olive oil tasting party with dark chocolate. Serving them together is supposed to enhance the both flavors. Sip the olive oil, it will cleanse your palate, then nibble a piece of PLEASURE, pure 73% dark chocolate.
- Top a toasted slice of baguette with a little bit of olive oil, a slice of brie cheese and a sliver of RENEW, dark chocolate with blackcurrant.
- Find out which wine or beer to serve with each one of their chocolate bars.
+ NEWTREE Alpha Chocolate
There are two shops of Max Brenner in New York City. The place looks pretty cool.
The signature Hug Mug at Max Brenner is ideal to drink hot chocolate because you hold the cup from both sides. This enables the liquid to stay warmer. I want those cute cups shaped as a cacao bean.
The Suckao at Max Brenner is an experience in itself. Max Brenner defines the Suckao as a concentrated shot of rich chocolate.
You prepare and drink it your suckao from the same cup. You made it yourself and decide the proportion of chocolate versus milk. The Suckao cup comes with a special spoon and a tea light candle. I want a pair.
I did not find the milk jar on the site but they are pretty. The milk jar may have change since this model dated from 2005 and the picture was taken in an Australian shop of Max Brenner.
+ Hug Mug by Max Brenner $8.90 USD for the mug and saucer
+ Suckao by Max Brenner $15.50 USD
+ Locations of Max Brenner
+ Image of suckao setup by selenachoi on Webshots