Contributed by: NAPSA
Bringing Home The Nation's Best Recipes (NAPSA) - Culinary competitions draw the best cooks out of the kitchens to share their treasured recipes. For years, food producers have been rewarding these talented folks with ribbons and monetary prizes in exchange for their winning recipes.
Companies like Wisconsin's Saco Foods hold baking and cooking contests throughout the country. By tapping into the company's Web site or calling its consumer hotline, consumers can obtain award-winning hometown recipes.
But even with a copy of the prized recipe, you may wonder if you can recreate it with the same success. According to Amy Thompson, director of consumer affairs at Saco Foods, many cooks have time-tested techniques that make their pie crusts flakier, cakes moister or desserts look more tempting.
When cooks create desserts for competitions, one of the most popular categories-taste-is the primary concern. But many winners reveal that a creative presentation makes their dessert better overall. "A delicious chocolate cake will score points with most, however, adding an appealing, edible garnish makes it the best it can be," says Thompson.
Thompson offers some helpful hints for making blue ribbon-replicas right at home. For topping off cakes or serving on the side of short cakes, chocolate dipped strawberries make the most elegant and tasty treats, hands down. When plump, juicy strawberries are enveloped in a smooth chocolate coating and served with desserts, they become irresistible. "Over the years we've found that many ribbon winners dip their strawberries and other fruits for garnishes in Dolci Frutta," says Thompson. Dolci Frutta brand revolutionized the chocolate melting process with its microwavable container. Just melt the top-quality chocolate wafers, stir and dip. In no time at all you can create a stunning fruit garnish that looks like it took as much preparation time as the dessert itself. Dolci Frutta can be found in supermarket produce sections.
Buttermilk has also been relied on by prize-winning cooks for making baked goods extra moist and delicious. It can be used in virtually any recipe calling for regular milk. Saco Foods offers time pressed and traditional cooks Buttermilk Blend, a powdered buttermilk made from real sweet cream churned buttermilk that stays fresh in your refrigerator for over a year. "They tell us that once they start using buttermilk in the dry form, they never go back to liquid," says Thompson.
This delectable raspberry and chocolate combination by Annie Woods of Ogden, Utah, won first place in the 2000 Utah State Fair.
Melt Dolci Frutta according to package directions. Wash blow-up balloons in warm, soapy water to remove latex dust. Dry thoroughly. Spray non-stick cooking spray on balloons, using your hands to coat entire balloon evenly. Dip balloons in melted chocolate, rolling slightly to each side to coat well and evenly. Place dipped balloons on waxed paper until hard. Gently let air out of the balloons, leaving chocolate shell.
Prepare Danish dessert according to package directions for the glaze. Cool completely. Just before assembly add raspberries to mixture.
Sweeten whipped cream with powdered sugar. In separate mixing bowl beat cream cheese with granulated sugar, vanilla and cocoa. Fold sweetened whipped cream into cream cheese mixture.
Place 2 to 3 Tbsp. of raspberry mixture into the bottom of each chocolate shell.
Fill 3/4 full with chocolate mousse. Top with white mousse.
Garnish with fresh berries and mint leaves, if desired.
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