Saturday, May 31, 2008

May Showers



I've had some people ask how Sarah's shower was and whether or not I was going to share pictures. In particular, one friend who's been housebound with plaster on her foot. How could I say no to an invalid? So here's a brief recap of the shower, with recipe at the end.

It was a tea party, so we put together a delightful collection of tea pots and cups. One of the tea pots (the one with the flowers) was a wedding present sent all the way from England by my delightful twin from another mother, Melinda.

We had an assortment of teas to choose from. Each guest got to select her own cup and tea. Please pardon the tacky tea bags! I really need someone from England to come show me how it's done properly.

Along with the opera cake (see previous post), we had plenty of food to sustain us through the shower. The hostess provided small tea sandwiches and I brought lemon-glazed madeleines which were a big hit. With their dainty size and zip of citrus, it was hard to stop at one. Good thing there were plenty!

When women gather in groups, it's an unwritten law that there must also be chocolate present. So I made chocolate-glazed brownie bites. These are dense and delicious enough for any chocoholic. The only thing I didn't think through till after I'd made them is that they have an almond flavor to them, which on it's own is nice. But served alongside the opera cake, which was predominantly almond-flavored, it was a bit much. If I had a do-over on this, I'd have left out the almond flavoring and let the brownies just be pure chocolate bliss.

And, of course, there were presents. Lots of presents. And, oddly, most of them were for the kitchen. Hmmm, does everyone who knows her think she's going to become some mad, baking-obsessed woman who lives in the kitchen? I wonder where anyone might get that idea?

There were a couple of non-traditional party games. When we got our name tags they each had two tiny clothes pins on them. If you could make someone say the words dress, wedding, apartment, or Sam, then you could take one of their clothes pins away. The one with the most clothes pins at the end of the shower got a prize. I lost my clothes pins almost immediately.

If I'd been allowed to play, I would have done much better at the next game. It was a video of Sam posing a string of true or false questions about The Relationship of Sarah and Sam. There were some tricky questions, but I would have aced it.

It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon, and Sarah was happy to have so many friends come to shower her with love.


Chocolate Toffee Brownie Bites
- adapted from The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle

Makes 24 brownie bites

brownies:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract

glaze:

5 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp heavy cream
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/3 cup almond brickle chips


1- Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 deg. F. Using either a 24 cup mini-muffin pan or two 12 cup pans, grease them well and dust them with flour.

2- In the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water, combine the butter and chocolate and heat: stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and cool until tepid.

3- Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. Stir to make sure it's well combined.

4- Stir the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and almond extract into the cooled chocolate mixture until well combined. Add the flour mixture and stir until blended.

5 - Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, filling them 2/3 full. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until set but still soft in the center; a toothpick inserted into the center should come out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. With brownies a clean toothpick means overbaked, dry, hard brownies. Not good. Let the brownies cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert the brownies onto the rack, removing them from the pan, and cool completely.

6 - In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, combine the chocolate, cream, and corn syrup and heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the brickle bits.

7 - Place the rack with the brownies on it over a baking sheet. Arrange the brownies, still inverted, so that they are no more than 1/4 inch apart. Pour the glaze over the bites, covering the tops and sides. Use a small offset metal spatula to smooth glaze over any exposed spots. Refrigerate until the glaze is set, about 10 minutes. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

18 comments:

Claire said...

Sounds like fun! We played a game like that a friend's shower and I think I won...I'm obsessed and very literal in games like that! Well, really in all games. :-)

LyB said...

I so love all those tea pots and cups, so very girlie! And those madeleines, they look just perfect with those beautiful bumps. What a wonderful tea party that must have been. :)

VeggieGirl said...

Ahh, I LOVE the tea party-theme for Sarah's shower (especially since I collect teapots)!! And wow, those Chocolate-Toffee Brownie Bites sound like a delectable treat to enjoy, while among great company - yum!

Sarah said...

Looks like a fun shower! My mom won the question game at my sisters shower. It is an unfair advantage! But she did as you did and didn't play to win! :)

Melinda said...

Thanks for sharing the shower pictures with us. I love seeing the wedding teapot in action!
I will happily show you proper tea making if I ever get over to Seattle. But teabags are just fine!
The shower menu sounds perfect. I think those brownies sound delicious.
Sarah looks so pretty and she looks like she is really enjoying all the fun.
I bet she can't wait to be stuck in her own kitchen so she can use all the new stuff and cook for her new husband.(the 'new man' helps!) We expect some future baking post from Sarah!
Thanks again for sharing this lovely post. (The invalid appreciates it! x)

Kristen said...

Oh how fun!

Lina said...

the shower and opera cakes look so wonderful!

Peabody said...

Toffee and chocolate...I am in!

Lisa said...

Your shower looked like fun! I went to one yesterday morning....not so fun. Thanks for sharing.

Sophie said...

I didn't think it was possible to improve upon the traditional brownie, but now that I've seen this, I've definitely changed my mind :).

P.S. Great idea using the Opera Cake for the shower! :)

giz said...

The whole tea thing is so dignified isn't it. The shower sounds like it was a hoot.

Deborah said...

What a fun shower! The brownie bites sound just wonderful!

Abby said...

Such a cute idea! The food and tea looks wonderful! I'm sure the bride-to-be was thrilled with everything.

Aimée said...

I see you and I have both been busy showering the brides! Love the tea party idea. Very elegant.

Patricia Scarpin said...

You girls had a wonderful time!

Suzana said...

Lovely tea pots, and so fitting with the madeleines. Sounds like you had a wonderful time!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Sounds like a lovely time. I am always a sucker for those shower games! I love the fierce competition! :)

Sarah C. said...

It was lovely mom. You know, you're like my favorite mom ever