Monday, January 31, 2011

Happy 2nd Blog Birthday Baking is my Zen!

Two years young today, January 11, 2011.
 Baking is my Zen’s blog celebrates another year of sharing recipes and a story or two. In the past year, recipes with photo tutorials were introducted and have encouraged others to bake. The visuals made some of the recipes not seem so daunting. My blog is one of enjoyment for me. So, I follow my creative flow and post recipes when I desire. I started this as a hobby, and that is where I want it to remain…a FUN hobby.

In celebration of the second year, two birthday cupcakes were purchased from Crumbs Bake Shop in Westfield, New Jersey. There are other Crumbs Bake shop locations, which can be found on their website.

“Crumbs Bake Shop first opened its doors in March of 2003 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan by Mia & Jason Bauer. The menu is an irresistible blend of comfort-oriented classics and elegant baked goods, but the specialty of the house is the Crumbs Signature size cupcakes! With our more than 50 varieties baked fresh daily and a new cupcake of the week every Monday, each Crumbs Bake Shop is an oasis of wall to wall deliciousness. And now you can enjoy your favorite Crumbs treats in the comfort of your own home - just like Mom used to bake. Delivered straight to your front door, perfect for any occasion, without needing an occasion at all.”

130 East Broad St
Westfield, NJ 07090
T 908-232-5527

Sunday: 8am - 9pm
Monday: 8am - 9pm
Tuesday: 8am - 9pm
Wednesday: 8am - 9pm
Thursday: 8am - 9pm
Friday: 8am - 10pm
Saturday: 8am - 10pm

Happy 2nd Blog Birthday Baking is my Zen!

Blow out the candles…make a wish!

Candles are blown out, and Crumbs Bake Shop cupcakes are enjoyed. Delish!

Crumbs Cupcakes flavors: Baba Booey and Samoa Cupcakes

Baba Booey

The Baba Booey was created in 2008 by Gary Dell'Abate a.k.a. Baba Booey of the Howard Stern Show. Gary absolutely loves peanut butter and chocolate, so it's only fitting that his cupcake has both! Chocolate cake filled with peanut butter frosting, topped with peanut butter and chocolate cream cheese frosting and rimmed with peanut butter chips. A portion of the proceeds from the Baba Booey cupcake is donated to LIFEBEAT.

Samoa Cupcake
Ingredients in this delicious cupcake: Vanilla cake, caramel, chocolate and coconut.

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On my travels in Westfield, I came upon a great store called Savory Spice Shop.

138 E. Broad St.
Westfield, NJ 07090

(908) 264 8947

Monday-Wednesday: 10-6
Thursday: 10-8
Friday: 10-6
Saturday: 10-5
Sunday: 11-4

Owners, Jackie Mittlehammer and Becky Solheim, were so helpful and kind.
They treat their customers with such sincere thoughtfulness . How refreshing!

If you ever want to bake or cook with high quality spices, stop by and purchase spices from this quaint store.
You’ll love it!

Peace in Baking,


Baking is my Zen…sweet nibbles for the soul

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Charlotte Russe ~ My Sweet Serendipity

Ladyfingers wrap mousse with dollops of whip cream adorning the top and drops of raspberries…this, my friends, is Charlotte Russe.

This dessert is a mouthful of Sweet Serendipity!

Hi, Carmen here! Welcome to my blog, Baking is my Zen.

In pastry class at The French Culinary Institute in New York City ~ we made a Raspberry and Chocolate Charlotte Russe. The texture of the ladyfingers contrasting with the mousse makes for a dynamic dessert.

 “Charlotte Russe is a special type of charlotte, which references the Russian Czar Alexander I, (Russe is French for Russian). This particular version was the creation of Marie Antoine Carême, and invented in the early 19th century. Carême was a renowned French chef, in the employ of the Czar. There are some differing accounts on who created the recipe for Charlotte Russe, when it occurred, and who it was truly named after. Some suggest that Carême was merely improvising on a recipe long known and created for Queen Charlotte of England, and yet others say the dessert was named after a sister in law of Alexander I, who was also named Charlotte.
No matter what the origin, Charlotte Russe today is typically considered a molded French dessert made by lining a bowl, or small individual cups with soft ladyfingers. Madelines may be suggested in some recipes instead. The mold is then filled with Bavarian cream, a gelatin thickened vanilla pudding. Once the whole dessert has chilled, it is inverted onto a dish. The presentation, provided the custard is dense and not runny, can be exciting. Cutting into layers of the mold reveal beautiful ladyfinger cake surrounding the layer of vanilla pudding.”

You can find the Charlotte Russe Recipe in the textbook,

Or, you can use a similar recipe available online…

Chocolate Charlotte Recipe

Lloyd Gould, is an FCI Pastry Arts student.
Here he is making Biscuit a la cuillere (or, simply, ladyfingers).

Lloyd making the Biscuit batter with team member Shamul (on left).


Lloyd listens as Chef Rebecca Kaiser
demonstrates how to pipe mousse into a glass.

Here I am with Lloyd. He is in today’s STUDENT SPOTLIGHT.

For my FCI pastry class blog posts, I like to include a ‘Student Spotlight”. It’s wonderful to get to know the students and learn of their hobbies and interests.


Hi, I'm Lloyd and here's a little bit about me...

Born in Boston.

Grew up on Cape Cod, MA

Family: Mother, Father and younger brother

College couldn't come soon enough! Attended Hofstra University on Long Island where I studied Entrepreneurship and Marketing which has allowed me to be very flexible in my job choice.

I've been with my girlfriend Stephanie for two years and we're in the process of moving to Hoboken, New Jersey together.

Played more soccer and lacrosse in high school/college than I care to remember (maybe I can't remember because of all the headers in soccer!)

I like to consider myself a bit of a music collector and my tastes can honestly range from classical to pop, jazz to rap, and anything that has soul and character.

I'm fairly certain that if Mexican food was the only food left on the planet I would be completely fine. I've spent the past 4 years searching for the best burrito, and I would say that if you need to use a fork when eating, find a new place to eat!

I wouldn't consider myself a bookworm, but I've been known to find a good book and disappear for a while.

My favorite pastime would easily be baseball. Football is good just to pass the time until baseball season starts. Being a Red Sox fan in NY has definitely been an adventure!

I've also been fortunate enough to travel to quite a few countries around the world, and I have a trip to Spain planned in March with my girlfriend Stephanie. On these trips I've tried my hand at travel writing and photography. I was also able to keep a blog so I understand all the hard work it takes in creating and maintaining a blog!

I just completed my first month of work as a Specialist at Apple on Fifth Avenue in New York City and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences in a job. So, if you ever have any questions about what computer is best for you, come find me!

What brings me to FCI?
I realized after this past summer that I didn't want to spend the rest of my working days sitting in a cubicle. I had already done the business studies to back up a business, and all I needed was the right kind of business. Deciding to go to FCI took a bit of thought, but I can happily say it has been a very good decision. I've always had a soft spot for delicious desserts and what better way to indulge those cravings than learn how to make those sweets!

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What’s happening in the
French Culinary Institute’s
Pastry Kitchen…

Chef Rebecca Kaiser
instructs the class
on different presentations using elements of the Charlotte Russe recipe.

FCI Pastry Arts students in action…

FCI students appearing in this blog:

Caitlin Jensen
Carmen Ortiz
Carrie Cullen
Jose Toro
Lauren Lupardo
Lloyd Gould * student spotlight
Marcela Curry
Sara Hopper
Shahul Hameed
Soo Hyun Kang
Xiaoran Zheng

Till next time my friends...
Peace in Baking,

Baking is my Zen…sweet nibbles for the soul




Thank You.

~ Carmen Ortiz - blogger (Baking is my Zen)