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Winter 2010

In This Issue
Feature: An Easy Aphrodisiac
Favorites: Fancy Flours
Fanfare: Cookie Swap Tour

I routinely reevaluate (or shall I say, second guess?) my work and business path, and even more so at the beginning of each year once I've got 12 months of the last one behind me to dissect. Some accuse me of not reveling enough in the moment, and, you know, I can't really argue with them. At the heart, I'm a perfectionist, and I'm always, always looking for ways to tune my craft.

That said, I've been reflecting a lot since the beginning of 2010, and I hope you'll be pleased with some of the new directions I'm taking as a result. With so many people connecting at a frenetic pace on the Internet, it's hard to overlook the Web's brand- and market-building possibilities. To keep pace with these changes, I've been working like a mad woman this month to enhance my site with Web 2.0 capabilities - basically features that will allow my content to be easily shared, tweeted, and stumbled upon!

Experts also say that over 60% of people acquire their recipes online rather than through cookbooks. (If you have any doubts, just take a look at the crazy-huge volume of recipe-swapping happening in my mixingbowl.com group!) So without much further ado, I'll be introducing recipes, step-by-step crafting  projects, and - if all goes to grand plan - instructional videos on my new site.

Ultimately, all of my introspection boils down to one thing: more and better content for you! Be on the lookout - I expect the first of these changes to come your way later this month!

Live life sweetly,
Feature: An Easy Aphrodisiac
Brandied Cherry-Chocolate Sin Cookies from Cookie Swap   
(about  2 dozen 2 1/4 - 2 1/2-inch cookies) 
From my Valentine's Day chapter. Also a favorite book tour staple. Why? Simple - because the recipe is so darn easy and irresistible!
1. Heat 1/2 cup cognac and add 3/4 cup dried tart cherries. Let sit about 30 minutes until plumped. Drain off all but 2 tsp. cognac.
2. Melt 8 ounces semisweet chocolate and 2 Tblsp. unsalted butter in a double boiler. Meanwhile, mix together 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 2 tsp. Dutch-process cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp. baking powder, and 1/8 tsp. salt.
3. Separately whisk 2 large eggs with 1/4 cup plus 2 Tblsp. granulated sugar, 2 Tblsp. firmly packed light brown sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. cherry extract, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, and the 2 tsp. cognac.
 Gradually whisk the egg mixture into the melted chocolate and butter; then stir in the flour mixture followed by 2 cups chopped, toasted pecans, 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips, and the reserved plumped cherries.
5. Portion into mounds with a heaping tablespoon or a #30 scoop. Bake 13-15 minutes in a preheated 350F oven. I like these cookies best warm while at the height of their gooey-ness.

Favorites: Fancy Flours
In my new-found downtime (a perk of life post-book tour), I've been experimenting with pre-printed wafer papers (thin sheets of dehydrated potato starch, water, and oil), such as these lovelies on the above heart cookie.
If you're not handy with a pastry bag, wafer papers will be right up your alley. Simply cut and paste them (with a thin schmear of corn syrup) onto a cookie. The only trick is: the paper won't adhere well to naked cookies, so be sure to smoothly top coat with royal icing first. And let that icing dry completely, ideally overnight.
Also, remember: you'll soon find blow-by-blow tips for making this exact cookie on my site. The complete project will be posted just as soon as my upgraded site goes live - I promise!
Wafer papers: Fancy Flours
Sugar coated rose on top: Crystallized Flower Company

Happy Valentine's Day!

 An Affair of the Heart

 Photo by Steve Adams 
 Out of romantic gift ideas for your loved one?
 Convinced that a box of chocolates won't do? No
 worries. The Valentine's Day feature on my site
 has plenty of gift ideas, edible and otherwise, that
 will make your special someone swoon!
Cookie Swap Tour Continues, But More Gently! 

After over 100 appearances across the country in 2009, I really want to be more of a homebody this year! Even so, it's hard to keep me away from teaching, one of the things I love to do most. Here's how my events are shaping up for 2010:

3-24: Kitchen Conservatory, St. Louis, MO
3-27: Culinary Center of Kansas City, Kansas City,
4-25: International Cake Exploration Society, St. Louis, MO
5-01: Kitchen Conservatory, St. Louis, MO
5-21: The Good Table, Belfast, ME
6-17: Kitchen Conservatory, St. Louis, MO

More event details

Hot Off the Press 
The PR machine that I set in motion in 2009 is still on a roll - thankfully! Here's a taste of some of the Cookie Swap coverage that's come since my last newsletter:
12-14: WCSH - Portland, ME
Plans to appear regularly on KSDK TV are also in the works. In the inaugural episode of my "TV series" on February 11th,  I'll be showing how to turn these ethereal cinnamon-spice heart-mallows into Valentine's gifts. Stay tuned; clip to come! 
Photo by Me (on my new Canon T1I!) 
More media mentions
Let's Link
Buy Cookie Swap
Become my Facebook fan
Follow me on Twitter
Tune into my YouTube channel
Chat with me on Mixing Bowl
Read past Sugar Buzz newsletters
Buzz Me

It was great hearing from so many readers last year! I'm always up for a challenging baking question and open to feedback, so please keep the emails coming in 2010! And, as with every newsletter, I'm doing a little giveaway. The 50th person to respond to the following question (before February 20th) will win a signed Cookie Swap!

Question: If you could design a cookie in any form or flavor, what would it be? (Push your imagination, please, please!)

Sugar Buzz, the newsletter of
Recipes for A Sweet Life
c/o Julia M.Usher

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