Friday, December 25, 2015

Holiday Sugar Cookies

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Holiday Sugar Cookies
Every year, I make Holiday Sugar Cookies and I bought some new cutters to add to my collection: melted snowmen, snow globe, angel, dress and house. I made wreaths, stockings, gingerbread boys and girls, reindeer, Santa's belly, Mrs. Claus' dress, snowy houses, angels, candy canes, trees, ornaments, snow globes, melted snowmen and snowmen. I used various sprinkles, nonpareils, sugar pearls, and sanding sugars for the cookie decorating. I worked on the cookies for two days and despite the unseasonably warm weather here in New York, I tried to stay in the Christmas spirit. I love cold weather, not this heat. Due to the heat, rain and humidity, the royal icing took extra time to dry. It rained for days and the kitchen was dark, but I managed to stay uplifted knowing the cookies were Christmas gifts for my family. Please go to my Jack Skellington Cookies post: (http://twofrys.blogspot.com/2015/10/jack-skellington-cookies.html) for the Vanilla Sugar Cookies recipe. Below I share the recipe for the Chocolate Sugar Cookies recipe and large batch Royal Icing recipe. Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Melted Snowmen, Snow Globe and Snowmen Cookies
Snow Globe Cookies

Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Ingredients
2 cups (4 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened and each stick cut into 8 cubes

2 cups Granulated Sugar

2 Extra Large Eggs

3 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

4 cups All Purpose Flour

1 ½ cups Cocoa Powder

1 teaspoon Kosher Salt

Melted Snowmen, oh oh...
Melted Snowmen, whoops...

Directions
Sift flour, cocoa powder and salt in large bowl and combine with spatula; put aside.

Cut each stick of butter into 8 cubes.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment on low to medium speed. Mix until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Snowmen
Snowmen
Scrape sides of bowl with spatula and mix again for 5-10 seconds more.

Add eggs one at a time. Scrape down bowl with spatula and mix again for another 10 seconds.

Add vanilla extract and mix for 1 minute.

Slowly add flour mixture to bowl and mix on low speed for 1 minute. When dough clumps around paddle attachment, it is ready.

Snowy Houses
Angels
Use rolling pin and roll out dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper. 

Cover dough with plastic wrap and cool in fridge for 1-2 hours or overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Take one quarter of dough, and roll out to desired thickness and cut out desired shapes. Repeat rolling the dough and cutting shapes until you have used it all.

Holiday Sugar Cookies
Holiday Sugar Cookies
Place cookie shapes on parchment lined baking sheet and space apart 2 inches. Put cookies in the freezer for 5 minutes before baking. They hold their shape when you do this.

Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until center of cookie no longer looks wet. My cookies baked in 10 minutes.

Let cookies cool in baking sheet for 5 minutes and transfer to wire rack to cool completely; about 1 hour.

Let cookie sheets cool completely before you bake again. I put the cookie sheet in the freezer for 5 minutes. Repeat until you have baked all the cookies.

Trees
Wreaths

Large Batch Royal Icing
Ingredients
8 Egg Whites

8 teaspoons Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed

12 cups Confectioners Sugar, sifted

Reindeer
Ornaments

Directions
In a medium size bowl, whisk together the egg whites and lemon juice.

Transfer to stand or hand held mixer with paddle attachment.

Slowly add sifted sugar and beat on low until smooth.

Holiday Sugar Cookies
Holiday Sugar Cookies
If needed, you may add 1 teaspoon of water at a time until you reach the right consistency. Watch the Joy of Baking (link at the end) video for both Flooding Consistency and Piping Consistency Royal Icing. If you prefer a recipe using Meringue Powder, it is also available at this link.

I separated the icing in plastic containers with lids according to the different colors I needed for tinting.

I use Americolor Soft Gel Paste Food Color in Super White, Turquoise, Gree,n Super Red, and Super Black. I made Grey by adding a few drops of the Super Black. I wanted a bright white so I added two drops of Super White.

Santa's Belly, Mrs. Claus' Dress and Candy Canes
Gingerbread Boys and Girls
Keep the containers covered until you are ready to color. Royal Icing hardens fast so keep it covered when not in use.

I transferred the icing immediately into Squeeze Bottles using a funnel to prevent it from spilling. Keep the squeeze bottle tips covered. If the Royal Icing hardens due to exposure to air, spray a little bit of water and shake bottle well holding the tip with your finger. Test the icing consistency on a paper towel before decorating the cookie.

I did the white borders around each cookie and waited 1/2 hour before flooding the cookie.

Use a paintbrush or cookie stick to reach edges and use tip of toothpick to pop any air bubbles.

Icing Bottles in the colors  I used
I lined a cookie sheet with paper towels and placed the cookies on cooling tray over it.

I did all the outlines first and waited about 15 minutes and then filled the cookies and added decorations, sprinkles, sanding sugars, sugar pearls, etc...

For further information:
For the Chocolate Sugar Cookie recipe, please visit Sweetopia:
http://sweetopia.net/2013/12/chocolate-sugar-cookie-recipe-cut-out-cookies/

For the Vanilla Sugar Cookie recipe, please visit Sweetopia:
http://sweetopia.net/2009/12/sugar-cookie-recipe/

For the Royal Icing Recipe and Video Tutorial, please visit Joy of Baking:
http://www.joyofbaking.com/RoyalIcing.html

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Thursday, December 24, 2015

White Chocolate Coconut Truffles

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White Chocolate Coconut Truffles
I love coconut and white chocolate and combined, they are a perfect pair. I made these White Chocolate Coconut Truffles as a gift for family. I love the decadent rich taste of the white chocolate and coconut flakes and how the truffles just melt in your mouth. If you love white chocolate and coconut, these truffles will make you very happy. I share the recipe below.

Yield: Makes 36 Truffles

Close-up of White Chocolate Coconut Truffles

Ingredients
2/3 cup Heavy Cream

2 cups White Chocolate Chips (I use Ghirardelli)

4 tablespoons Unsalted Butter

2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract

2 cups Sweetened Coconut Flakes

White Chocolate Coconut Truffles ready to set in the fridge.

Directions
In a sauce pan on medium heat, bring cream to a simmer.

Stir in white chocolate chips with spatula.

Remove from heat and keep stirring until smooth for about 2 minutes or until chips dissolve.

Add butter and vanilla extract and stir with spatula until incorporated.

Let stand for 2 minutes.

Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill in fridge for 4 to 5 hour to set.

White Chocolate Coconut Truffles in gift tin
Use a cookie scoop to form ball and roll in coconut flakes.

Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Repeat until you cover all the truffles with coconut flakes.

Cover cookie sheet with aluminum foil and let truffles set in the fridge overnight.

For the White Chocolate Coconut Truffles recipe, please visit Dinners Dishes and Desserts:
http://dinnersdishesanddesserts.com/white-chocolate-coconut-truffles/

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Gluten Free Coconut Cookies

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Gluten Free Coconut Cookies
I came across a recipe for Eggless Coconut Cookies from the blog, Ruchi's Kitchen and had to try it. I made the recipe gluten free by substituting the all purpose flour to coconut flour, and for every cup I use 1/3 cup. If you do not need Gluten Free use 2 cups of all purpose flour. I also added a little salt and more vanilla extract. I have a family member that eats gluten free and another that cannot eat egg, so this recipe was a perfect gift for them both. The cookies are so soft and tender and full of coconut goodness. I ate two of them right out of the oven. I left the cookies in a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil over night before I packaged them for my gift.

Yield: Makes 1 1/2 dozen cookies

Close-up Gluten Free Coconut Cookies

Ingredients
2/3 cup Coconut Flour (Gluten Free) or 2 cups All Purpose Flour

1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/8 teaspoon Coarse/Kosher Salt

1 1/2 cup Sweetened Coconut Flakes

1 cup, 2 sticks Unsalted Butter, softened and each cut into eight cubes

1 cup Granulated Sugar

5 teaspoons Whole Milk

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

Yummy Gluten Free Coconut Cookies

Directions
In a medium size bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar for about 2-3 minutes.

Slowly add coconut flakes just until incorporated.

Cookies right out of the oven
Turn mixer to low speed and slowly add flour until incorporated. Turn mixer off and with spatula, scrape sides of bowl.

Add milk and vanilla extract just until incorporated.

Take dough and knead. Cover with plastic wrap and let it set in the fridge for 2 hours.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a melon baller or small ice cream scoop, form into balls and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Pretty cookies has my name on it.
Place cookies in freezer for 5 minutes so they hold their shape when baking.

Bake cookies for 11 to 14 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. My cookies baked in 14 minutes.

Let cookies rest for 10 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely; about 1 hour.

For the Eggless Coconut Cookies recipe, please visit Ruchi's Kitchen:
http://www.ruchiskitchen.com/recipe/eggless-coconut-cookies/

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Cranberry-Orange White Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Cranberry-Orange White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Last Sunday, I baked Cranberry-Orange White Chocolate Chip Cookies for the Christmas party at work the next day. I came across a recipe from Mother Thyme, but reduced the light brown and granulated sugar and replaced orange extract with orange zest and freshly squeezed orange juice. I did not have Orange Extract, but I had a huge bag of oranges I bought at my local Stop & Shop the day before. The recipe below is easy and feature the flavor and color of the holidays. When the cookies came right out of the oven, I could not help myself and ate two of them. It took a lot of will power not to eat more. The combination of the dried cranberries with the orange juice, zest and white chocolate chips is sublime. The cookies are soft and chewy and all the flavors shine through. You need to add this cookie to your holiday baking.

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cookies or more depending on size.

Close-up of Cranberry-Orange White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
2 3/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (I use King Arthur Flour)

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1/2 teaspoon Kosher/Coarse Salt

1 cup, 2 sticks Unsalted Butter, softened and each stick cut into 8 cubes

2/3 cup Granulated Sugar

2/3 cup Light Brown Sugar, slightly packed

2 Extra Large Eggs

Zest of 2 Oranges

2 tablespoons Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice

1 1/2 cups Dried Cranberries

1 1/2 cups White Chocolate Chips (I use Ghirardelli)

I've got my eye on you cookie

Directions
Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium size bowl, combine with spatula dried cranberries and white chocolate chips; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine with spatula granulated and brown sugar; set aside.

In a medium size bowl, combine with spatula flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

Cookies cooling. They smell so amazing!
Using a hand held or stand mixer with paddle attachment on medium speed, cream butter and sugars for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add eggs one at a time, then the orange juice and orange zest.

Turn the mixer on low speed, and add the flour mixture slowly just until incorporated.

Take spatula and scrape sides of bowl to ensure everything is incorporated.

With a spatula, fold in cranberries and white chocolate chips.

Yummy and beautiful Cranberry-Orange White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Using a standard size ice cream scoop, drop balls of dough on baking sheets spacing each 2 inches apart.

Bake for 11 to13 minutes or until the edges start to brown. My cookies baked in 12 minutes.

Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes, and then transfer to wire rack to complete cooling; about 1 hour.

Recipe adapted from Mother Thyme:
http://www.motherthyme.com/2012/11/cranberry-orange-white-chocolate-chip-cookies.html

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Speculaas Spiced Springerle

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Speculaas Spiced Springerle
Speculaas are traditional cookies from the Netherlands, Belgium and Holland. I did a lot of reading before baking Speculaas. Speculaas (Dutch), Speculoos (French) or Spekulatius (German) are more commonly known as Dutch Windmill Cookies or Biscoff Cookies. Speculaas are traditionally baked around the time of the feast of Sinterklaas (December 5) in Holland, and in the western and southern parts of Germany around Christmas. Speculaas derives its name from the wooden molds used to make the cookies called speculaasplank or speculaas. Traditional recipes involve many steps, but I found a great recipe that maintains the integrity of the traditional cookie, and bought a modern Springerle rolling pin (a rolling pin with designs carved into it). The word Springerle is from an old German dialect meaning "little knight" and traced as far back as the 14th century.

Close-up, Speculaas Spiced Springerle
I will purchase some of the intricately designed Speculaas molds little by little, until I have a good dozen of them or so. You can also use any shape Christmas cookie cutter you have. This cookie is the perfect combination of spices for the holidays. Some of the recipes I found vary with the ingredients in making Speculaas Spice. Some recipes use Cardamom and Black Pepper, but I did not use these two spices and instead increased Anise Seed from 1/8 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon. I think my combination is close to the traditional spices used in this cookie recipe. When I went shopping for Anise Seed powder, the only available one was Anise in seed form. My hubby took the seeds and ground them for me and made Anise Seed powder. The smell of this spice is amazing!

The cookies have a wonderful flavor from all the spices and are crisp when you bite into them and tender inside. The cookies are the perfect accompaniment with coffee, tea, hot chocolate and eggnog. I really love the texture. The trick to making these cookies is keeping the dough cold before you make the impressions. If you use individual molds or a Springerle rolling pin as I did, be sure to flour well. If the dough gets to room temperature, it will stick.

Yield: 2 to 4 dozen cookies depending on size.

Springerle Rolling Pin and Dough

Ingredients
1 ½ cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour (I use King Arthur)

½ cup Unblanched Almond Flour/Meal (I use Hodgson Mills)

¼ teaspoon Baking Soda

½ cup, 1 stick Unsalted Butter, softened and cut into 8 cubes

¾ cup Granulated Sugar

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

½ teaspoon Salt

1 Extra Large Egg

Speculaas Spice Mixture:
3 ½ teaspoons Ground Cinnamon

½ teaspoon Ground Anise Seed

¼ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

¼ teaspoon Ground Clove

1/8 teaspoon Ground Ginger

1/8 teaspoon Ground White Pepper

Yummy Speculaas Spiced Springerle

Directions
In a small bowl, combine the Speculaas Spice Mixture; set aside.

In a medium size bowl, combine with a spatula or whisk the all-purpose flour, almond flour, salt and baking soda; set aside.

Using a stand or hand held mixer with paddle attachment cream butter and sugar until incorporated, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add vanilla extract and spice mixture and mix just until incorporated.

Add egg and mix until incorporated.

Turn mixer to low speed, and slowly add the flour mixture and combine well.

Form the dough into a round shape, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cut dough in half keeping the remaining half covered in the fridge until ready to use.

Speculaas Spiced Springerle
Place dough in between two sheets of parchment paper and roll out to desired thickness and length with a rolling pin. Remove top sheet of parchment paper.

Sprinkle a little flour over the dough and flour molds or Springerle rolling pin. Press hard into the dough to make impression, then remove and cut around the design with a sharp knife, pizza or pastry cutter.

If dough gets to room temperature and it is sticking to the mold or Springerle rolling pin, cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 10 minutes and then repeat step above.

Place cookies on baking sheets and freeze for 10 minutes. This will ensure the cookies hold their shape and design while they bake.

Bake the cookies for 9 to 11 minutes, or until slightly brown around the edges. My cookies baked in 10 minutes.

When removing from oven, leave cookies on baking sheets for 10 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely; about 1 hour.

Links for further information:
For the Speculaas Spiced Springerle cookie recipe I use, visit King Arthur Flour:
(Speculaas Spice Mixture changed, so see above for my variation)
http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/speculaas-spiced-springerle-recipe

Here's another Speculaas recipe using the same Springerle mold I have: http://www.eatthelove.com/2012/12/speculaas/

For more information on Speculaas, visit Weekend Bakery:
https://www.weekendbakery.com/posts/quest-for-the-best-speculaas/

For more history on Speculoos, visit Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speculoos

To read more about Springerle, visit Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springerle

For history of Springerle, visit And All The Kings Men:
http://andallthekingsmen.bizhosting.com/history.html

To order molds, visit House On The Hill:
http://www.houseonthehill.net/

To order molds, visit Springerle Joy:
http://www.springerlejoy.com/

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

Friday, December 18, 2015

Therése F. Baron - Baron's International Kitchen

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Therése F. Baron, Baron's International Kitchen
Below is an in depth interview with Therése F. Baron, Founder, President and Head Chef of Baron's International Kitchen, Inc. We met a few years ago at one of the hot sauce events in NY, and Allen and me love the product line and company. The quality of the ingredients and the bold and rich flavors are top notch. Baron's International Kitchen started in 2003 and is headquartered in New York's Ulster County, in the heart of the beautiful Hudson Valley.

Therése, what have you been up to since I saw you at the last Hot Sauce Expo in Brooklyn? There's always so much going on with running and growing the business. We're available in a few more outlets- in New York City, Brooklyn and now Long Island too. We're also at select Market32 gourmet supermarket locations and we recently shipped our first international order. It's a very exciting time!

Baron's International Kitchen product line
That is great, congrats! Can you tell me about the evolution of Baron's International Kitchen? Baron's International Kitchen started out as an idea- something I'd like to do one day maybe when I retire. I've been cooking for as long as I can remember. Among my earliest childhood memories are cooking at my Mom's side on my stepping stool, learning how to season sauces and other foods. I'm of Scottish, Portuguese, and Caribbean descent, with extended family and friends from many different cultures. I have always been exposed to a variety of delicious authentically/traditionally prepared foods.  Throughout the years, cooking developed into a hobby for me.

I didn't start out on a food career path though. I had been a Marketing executive in start up telecommunications and computer companies. I loved it but I always said, one day, when I retired I'd start a gourmet/specialty food business to share my love of cooking and all these amazing family recipes. The opportunity came sooner than I expected when the "dot com bubble" burst in the early 2000s and the startup I was working for hit tight financial times and reduced their workforce. After I was laid off, I was not able to find a job. One day my husband said, "You're always talking about how one day you're gonna start that gourmet specialty food business…why not do it now?"

To learn about commercial specialty food production, I volunteered for a year and a half at Hudson Valley FOODWORKS, a then non-profit organization located in the Empire Development Zone in Poughkeepsie, NY. The organization has since closed but was a shared-use commercial kitchen dedicated to supporting start-up and growing specialty food businesses and creating jobs for local residents. In fact, the organization had become a national model for "kitchen incubators" or shared-use commercial kitchens as tools for redevelopment in the Hudson Valley and it had helped start or expand over 100 specialty food businesses. I learned a lot- not only about food production but also sourcing, labeling, food marketing, sales strategy and a whole lot more.

From there, we were ready to launch the product line in 2010. In the beginning, I sure cooked a lot. I made everything myself in a local commercial kitchen during the overnight and then visited retailers during the day on sales calls and deliveries. Our products were only available then online and in local specialty shops here in the Hudson Valley. Now, we're in specialty retailers from Albany to NYC, in a handful of select retailers across the US and we just shipped our first international order. When I look back at the evolution of Baron's International Kitchen, through all the bumps and twists and turns we've weathered along this journey, I still can't believe how far we've come from that initial idea to an actual company. I'm most grateful for all the support and positive energy of our friends, family and colleagues without whom I couldn't have come this far.

Therése, NYC Hot Sauce Expo, 2015
How has your experience as a former Marketing Executive helped the company? My marketing experience has been so valuable on many different levels. From a more general perspective, my marketing experience had been in startups, primarily. I enjoyed the energy, fast pace and flexibility and I suppose that influenced me throughout my marketing career to seek out startups. This experience certainly prepared me well for what the life of an entrepreneur is like.

The type of work I performed- writing websites and brochures, supporting sales teams, doing trade shows and events, choosing suppliers for goods and services and a variety of other things, gave me practical knowledge, skills and abilities. In addition to these more practical things, I learned that paramount to any company’s success is a high-quality product and quick customer responsiveness and I'd seen the valuable of relationships with peers and colleagues and even customers.

Baron's International Kitchen, NYC Hot Sauce Expo, 2015
Please tell me about your product line and your inspiration for each, and which is your top seller? My main inspiration has always been to share the amazing authentic flavors I grew up with, with the world. My product line contains 4 items. There's the Caribbean Jerk Sauce Marinades in hot and mild varieties, Portuguese Relish and Caribbean Hot Sauce. The jerk sauces are brown sugar, cinnamon, sweet and savory. The balance of fresh cucumber and zingy mustard give my Caribbean Hot Sauce a delectable and distinctively refreshing flavor. The sweet and tangy Portuguese Repolho Relish is so tasty, folks complain they end up eating the whole jar once they open it. It feels GREAT that others are enjoying my family's recipes as much as we do!

With the exception of the Mild Jerk Sauce, these are foods I enjoyed when I was growing up. I was inspired to create a mild version of the Jerk Sauce so I could share the delicious flavor of this amazing cooking sauce and marinade (which traditionally is habañero hot) with many more people. I know not everyone enjoys very spicy foods. Cooking from an early age taught me that quality, fresh, local ingredients deliver amazing authentic flavor so I've been inspired I suppose to stay true to those traditional values by using only the freshest and highest quality ingredients to deliver the most amazing taste and delicious flavors. This has begun to win us accolades.

You may have seen the image on our company facebook page- of the fresh ingredients…it's from a batch of Caribbean Hot Sauce I was making. I became so overwhelmed by the amazing color and aroma of all the fresh ingredients I had just chopped, I had to snap that shot. It's been up for years but it just so well captures the freshness of what we're using to make our products and the quality that goes into making them that we haven't changed the image.

The Hot Jerk Sauce Marinade is our second best seller; our top seller is the Caribbean Hot Sauce- both are pretty spicy. Since not everyone enjoys spicy food, my product line also includes foods that are not or are mildly spicy. My sweet and tangy Portuguese Repolho Relish has no heat, while the mild Jerk Sauce Marinade introduces a little heat.

As I became a mom who works full-time and who is always short on time, it also became really important to me that my products all be easy to use and nutritious too. Everything is quick and easy to use right out of the jar and the Jerk Sauces work triple duty as a marinade/steak sauce, sandwich spread and dip. Over the coming year, I'd like to add more of our family recipes to the library on the website, so other busy working moms can have options- a fresh take on the same old chicken, beef, pork, fish and veggies. All will be quick and delicious authentic international meals, some they'll be able to make in little to no time.

Caribbean Marinade great on ribs (pictured), Baron's International Kitchen
Have you won any awards? The Jerk Sauces have won 2 awards so far- voted Best Wing Sauce of the Hudson Valley and we also picked up iloveitspicy.com's best Caribbean Hot Jerk Marinade award. Aside from the awards, my products are also consistently highly rated and reviewed for great taste and outstanding flavor and we've also been featured in some of the local press. It is so rewarding to get this recognition.

Can you talk about your former work with FOODWORKS and what from your time there carried over into Baron's International Kitchen. FOODWORKS was the first major step along the road to getting started. It's where I gained initial knowledge about the specialty food industry such as licensing, commercial food production and food safety, figuring out product packaging and labels, pricing, brochures and a lot of the practical things I would need to know to get started. It's also where I first met and connected with people who were doing what I wanted to do. The people I met then, many of whom are still friends today, are an invaluable source of support, advice and inspiration and I'm so thankful to have met and gotten to know each and every one of them.

Are there commercial kitchens in the Hudson Valley area, and do you utilize one for your business? There are some commercial kitchens here in the Hudson Valley and throughout the wider NY tri-state area. These can be found in specialty food resource guides or listing services or with a quick Google search for shared use commercial kitchens or incubators. When we first started out and I was making all the products myself, in rented commercial kitchen space. Now that I have the assistance of a co-packer, the products are all produced in their commercial kitchen facility.

Ribs (pictured) with Caribbean Marinade, Baron's International Kitchen
As a woman in this business, what do you think is the biggest challenge you face? No doubt about it, starting any business is wrought with all kinds of challenges. I suppose my biggest challenge would be how to balance running my business with being a mom of 2 young children and making time for my husband, family and myself. I'm so busy, all the time. Juggling all the things I have to do on any given day can be quite stressful.

I love companies as yours that offer high quality small batch products. Was this a conscious route for you rather than going the commercial production route? That's a really great question, Sophia. For me, it's always been about making high quality products that taste amazing and authentic so since the beginning, I made a conscious decision to stay true to the authenticity of the recipes by using quality fresh ingredients and local too whenever possible.

I was so obsessed in the beginning that I HAD to make everything myself in order to ensure a high quality product, that I had to peel every onion and chop every habañero and this was really limiting how much the company was able to grow. A co-packer was able to help. We still produce in small batches by hand, but now we can make a high quality product and get it to more outlets quickly.

I feel your diverse cultural background shines through in your products. Can you tell me how you take from each when you create your recipes? Well, as traditional family foods, these were all existing recipes, all that is except for the Mild Caribbean Jerk Sauce Marinade, which I mentioned earlier. It was tough to decide which products to launch with but in the end I settled on 4. I figured I'd be learning a lot and likely making a few mistakes too and I wanted to keep everything from being too overwhelming, especially as I was just getting started. The 4 products in my line are among my absolute favorite family foods, of which there are many. I plan to add more products to the line in the future, stay tuned for more news on that.

I cannot wait. What is your favorite pepper and why? I have to admit, the old classic is still my favorite- the habañero. I’ve been enjoying habañeros since I was a child so maybe I'm a little biased. I like other chile peppers but the habañero has the right level of heat and a really nice flavor. For me, heat is good but it's always about the flavor. I love the sweet burn of a delectably flavorful sauce.

Hawaiian Burgers (pictured) with Caribbean Hot Sauce, Baron's International Kitchen
Is your husband involved in the company? If so, what role does he play? Oh yes, Sophia. I couldn't do this without him. He encouraged me to start the company and he's so much more than just a co-founder. He helps make sure our technology is working, he does most of our social media and with so much going on for me every day on the sales and operations side, he helps me stay on track.

What is a typical work day for you? LOL! No such thing as a "typical" day. Every day is busy, every day is different… I may be out meeting folks at in store demos or events, sharing recipes and culinary memories. I could be visiting retail store clients to see how they're doing and dropping off orders. I might be at a local farm buying fresh habañeros, in my home office taking care of payables and receivables and ordering office supplies or shipping online orders. Wearing so many different hats can be stressful and it's certainly fast paced and hectic. To be resilient, it helps to be flexible.

Will you be a vendor at any upcoming hot sauce related expos/events? If so, which ones and how important is it for your company? This upcoming Spring, look for us at the 2016 NYC Hot Sauce Expo with Steve Seabury of High River Sauces and the gang. That's always a good time. We're also looking at maybe 1 or 2 out of state expos. Updates on all that will come out on our social media feeds. Expos are really important and for me they're one of the more fun aspects. We get to meet and connect with a lot of other people who love food and introduce them to our products, we get a chance to see peers and colleagues we haven't seen in a while and we get to learn about some of the newest trends happening in the industry.

We will see you soon at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo. Therése, what advice can you offer to aspiring women interested in breaking into the hot sauce world? Don't get discouraged. When first starting out, it can seem intimidating, overwhelming and even a bit scary. I remember how overwhelming this all was for me when I was first getting started. I think among the most important is to not try and do it all yourself. Get help and assistance from others, get to know some of your peers and rely on their experience for guidance. This will be an invaluable source of advice and inspiration. I have also benefitted from a Certified Business Advisor. Here in NY, their services are provided free of charge by the SBDC. Working with a Certified Business Advisor helped us avoid some of the common and typical pitfalls of first time business owners.

I realize this may sound a little cliché but perhaps the most important thing is to believe in yourself and that you can do it! Having that confidence that you can make it happen will inspire you through the bumps and obstacles you may encounter along the way.

Thanks for the amazing interview. How can Two Frys readers order your products? Our online storefront at BaronsInternationalKitchen.com is open 24 X 7 X 365. There, my products are always in stock, including several gourmet gift set options. For party sizes of the Jerk marinades (gallon and half gallon), send us an email. We hope to add party sizes to the online store in the coming year.

-Sophia/Two Frys

Friday, December 11, 2015

Spritz (Spritzgebäck) Cookies

Pin It Spritz (Spritzgebäck) Cookies

Spritz (Spritzgebäck) Cookies
Spritz (Spritzgebäck) Cookies are one of the most popular holiday cookies. These buttery delights originate from the German word "spritzen", which means to squirt or spray. The cookies are made using a cookie press or pastry bag fitted with desired tip. The texture of the cookies are a little crisp when you bite into them and tender inside. I made these cookies using my Cuisinart Electric Cookie Press. Using a cookie press allows you to creates cookies in different shapes. The recipe is from Cook's Illustrated Holiday Baking, 2011, (pgs. 26-27). The cookie shapes hold well, but do not chill the dough and be sure to place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet. The butter ensures the cookies do not stick to the sheet, so do not use parchment or wax paper. I use red, green and blue colored sugars and sprinkles, colored sugar pearls, snowflakes, holly and trees. If you wish, you can tint the dough in different colors, but I opted to keep to the traditional recipe. If you want to change the flavor profile, substitute the pure vanilla extract to almond, coconut, anise, orange, or lemon extract.

Makes about 6 dozen 1 1/2 inch cookies.

Spritz (Spritzgebäck) Cookies

Ingredients
1 Extra Large Egg, just the Yolk

1 tablespoon Heavy Cream

1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) Unsalted Butter, softened

2/3 cup Granulated Sugar

1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt

2 cups All-Purpose Flour

Colored Sugars and Sprinkles of your choice

Spritz (Spritzgebäck) Cookies

Directions
Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl, beat egg yolk, heavy cream and vanilla extract with a fork until combined; set aside.

In a bowl of your mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar and salt on medium high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

Scrape down bowl with spatula.

Spritz (Spritzgebäck) Cookies
With mixer on medium speed, add yolk-cream-vanilla mixture and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds.

With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour and beat until combined.

Scrape down bowl with spatula and give a final stir to make sure no flour pockets remain.

Dough will be soft, but do not refrigerate.

Fit your cookie press with desired disk to form cookies.

Place cookie sheet in the fridge for about 5 minutes before pressing cookies on it.

Spritz (Spritzgebäck) Cookies

Press onto ungreased baking sheet, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart.

Decorate with colored sugars and sprinkles.

Bake until cookies are light golden brown around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. My cookies baked in 10 minutes.

Cool cookie sheets completely before you press more cookies on it. I stick the cookie sheets in the fridge for 5 minutes.

Cool baked cookies for about 10 to 15 minutes and then transfer to wire rack and cool completely, about 1 hour.

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys