Bunny Butt Petit Fours and Other Delicious Giggle-Worthy Easter Treats From Three Brothers Bakery

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Some devilish decorations on these delicious petit fours.
What's trending in Easter baked goods this year? Rabbit tushes. Bakers are eschewing traditional animal representations of Easter such as the itsy-bitsy baby chick in favor of focusing on bunny buttocks; even Pillsbury has embraced this fad.

Beloved Three Brothers Bakery has followed suit and is currently offering its own bunny butt baked goods in the form of whimsical petit fours. These incredibly light cake bites with a rich vanilla flavor are topped with a sweet hare derrière icing decorations. (Other adornments are available for those too modest to nibble on a bunny butt.)

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There's More Than Cupcakes at CRAVE in The Woodlands

Categories: Sweets

Photo by Phaedra Cook

One of the features at the new CRAVE Cupcakes in The Woodlands is a full coffee bar that features espresso drinks and pour-overs, as well as drip coffee.

CRAVE is well-known in Houston for its neatly-iced cupcakes in a rotating menu of flavors like carrot, mint chocolate and Nutella, but these aren't necessarily the most interesting things at the newest location in The Woodlands at 2501 Research Forest Drive.

The new location is more spacious than the original in the Galleria area. As a result, there is room for more offerings. Take, for example, the full-fledged coffee and espresso bar, where V60 drippers in gleaming copper are used for pour-overs with freshly ground coffee from Costa Rica, Columbia and Rwanda.

Also unique to this location are the savory breakfast offerings, a fledgling foray into a world that will hopefully be expanded as time goes on. The unique take on a sausage kolache made with puff pastry and with a little bit of heat to it is a conceptual success that proves that the bakery is capable of kicking more than just sweets out of the kitchen. Joining the savory lineup is a rosemary scone studded across the top with nubs of browned goat cheese.

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5 Lessons From the Houston Rodeo Dessert Competition

Categories: Sweets

Photo by Phaedra Cook
Dessert judging at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo World's Championship Bar-B-Que Competition is serious business.

This was my second year to help judge the Dutch Oven Dessert Competition. I'm glad I had a little judging experience under my belt this time. I already knew what it was like being on the competitor side of the equation.

I used to participate in a private competition that Halliburton put on for its oil and gas clients. I worked in the IT department at the time and since I was a big "foodie," of course I wanted to be on the team. We did good, taking home first place one year and a chef's table award a different year.

I always made the dessert -- some variation on an Apple Betty -- as well as a brisket. We didn't have the same restrictions on the cooking vessel as the Houston World's Championship competitors do, so I used little individual cast-iron pans that I'd set atop the firebox to bake. Getting a nice brown crust on top was the trick.

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Try These 5 Outrageously Chocolaty Desserts in Houston

Thumbnail image for QuadrupleChocolateCupcakeHP.jpg
Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Five times the chocolate makes this cupcake five times the winner.
They say life is like a box of chocolates. That's cool, but we prefer to think of life like a box of chocolate-chunk-loaded, ganache-filled, buttercream-iced chocolate cupcakes. We don't have an analogy for it -- we just really, really love chocolate.

If you do too, check out these 5 seriously good chocolate treats.

See also:
Try These 5 Seriously Awesome Hot Dogs
Try These 5 Seriously Outrageous "Salads"
Try These 5 Absolutely Loaded Grilled Cheeses
Try These Five Monster Breakfast Dishes
Try These Five Monster Sandwiches
Try These 5 Absolutely Loaded Pizzas
Try These 5 Absolutely Loaded Fries
Try These 5 Chili-Smothered Dishes
Try These 5 Awesomely Outrageous Burgers in Houston
Try These 5 Awesomely Delicious Kimchi-Packed Eats in Houston
Try These Five Outrageously Awesome Shellfish Dishes
Try These Five Outrageous Hangover Cures
Try These 5 Outrageous Mac & Cheeses

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Dish of the Week: Buttermilk Pie

Categories: Recipes, Sweets

Photo by Ralph Daily
Buttermilk brings a great tang to this classic sweet pie.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we're sharing a sweet Southern classic: buttermilk pie.

Buttermilk pie is a custard pie made with, you guessed it buttermilk. Though it's known as a dessert popular in the Southern United States, its origins are likely from the U.K.

The dessert is often confused with chess pie; though chess pie contains cornmeal and occasionally corn syrup, where buttermilk pie does not. Instead, buttermilk pie is made simply with buttermilk, sugar, butter, eggs and flour. Variations include the addition of vanilla extract, lemon zest, fruit, or even chocolate.

The mixture is poured into a traditional pie crust; then baked until it sets and gets a crisp, caramelized top. The result is a rich, slightly tangy, and ultra creamy pie that is melts in your mouth with each bite.

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Eat This: Three Brothers Bakery King CHEESECake

Categories: Sweets

Photo by Allison Huseman
Three Brother King Cheesecake
The most exciting thing about regular old King Cake is the fact that lurking within is a creepy plastic newborn whose appearance in your slice means prosperity in your future. Barring that chance to secure the good luck baby (or bean, as the case may be) even the most well-made King Cake, IMHO, is a somewhat dry over-sugary circular pastry.

The ever creative chefs at Three Brothers Bakery have introduced their own spin on King Cake that resolves the failings of typical versions. To do so, they pretty much reverse the proportions of cream cheese and cake.

Using King Cake as the crust base, the bakery then pours its classic cheesecake as the second main layer and bakes this sweet amalgam in the oven. In keeping with the symbolic Mardi Gras colors, the King Cheesecake is topped with green (faith), purple (justice), and yellow (power) sanding sugar.

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Admirable use of festive sprinkles.

The result is a lovely marriage of creamy and flaky textures with strong notes of dairy, egg, and vanilla. It's way more decadent than your average king cake, but isn't decadence the whole point of Mardi Gras? Alas, no baby inside; however, the soft top layer means it's not hard to insert your own little bugger from Party City in there someplace.

The King Cake Cheesecake will be available at the beginning of February, and Three Brothers Bakery encourages you to call ahead to place an order. A full cake sells for $59.95, and slices cost $6.95.

Testing Pillsbury's $1M Winning Bakeoff Recipe

Categories: Recipes, Sweets

Photo by Joanna O'Leary
Peanutty Pie Clusters

In early December, Pillsbury announced "Peanutty Pie Clusters" as the grand prize-winning recipe of its 47th Bakeoff contest. The $1M recipe, submitted by Beth Royals of Richmond, Virginia, is particularly distinctive for its incorporation of toasted pie crust squares.

This innovation in combination with a short, ostensibly simple ingredient list prompted me to test it for a holiday cookie exchange. The Huffington Post didn't think much of the look of these clusters, but whatever.

Here's where my troubles began.

Actually, they began specifically in the baking aisle at H-E-B while I was searching for one particular ingredient: "white vanilla baking chips." There were white chocolate chips. There were some generic "white chips." No "white vanilla baking chips." Isn't white vanilla sort of redundant? And "white chocolate vanilla" soft of oxymoronic? Also, are "morsels" the same as "chips"?

This recipe is not for neurotic language scholars.

This story continues on the next page.

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Dish of the Week: Mexican Hot Chocolate

Categories: Recipes, Sweets

Photo by Juliana Su
You may as well serve the chocolate drink with churros for good measure.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

Just in case the weather actually gets colder for good this time, this week we're sharing a recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate.

Mexican hot chocolate is like classic hot cocoa in that it's made with heated milk, chocolate, and sugar. This drink, however, has added spices like cinnamon, vanilla, anise and chiles.

The beverage traces back to Mayan and Aztec cultures, where seeds from cocoa trees were ground into a paste, mixed with water, and flavored native spices and herbs to cover up the bitter taste. The word cocao is derived from the Nahuatl word xocolātl, meaning bitter water. Since it had a very sacred place in Central American culture, the scientific name of the cocoa plant is Theobroma cacao, with theobroma meaning "food of the gods."

Cold, thick, and intensely flavored. traditional xocolatl was quite the acquired taste. Once Europeans introduced sugar, however, it morphed into the slightly sweeter hot cocoa that we know and love today.

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Chocolate and Charity: Cacao & Cardamom and the Chester Pitts Foundation

Categories: Sweets

Photo by Chuck Cook Photography
Annie Rupani, Chester Pitts and kids from his foundation received exposure to the fine art of chocolate-making at Cacao & Cardamom.

Sometimes when people are trying to do something good, challenges arise. Such was the case when Cacao & Cardamom at 5000 Westheimer joined forces with former Houston Texan Chester Pitts last week to host a group of kids, show them how chocolates are made and sell chocolates to raise money for the foundation.

Traffic all around the shop was excruciatingly slow, making almost everyone on the way to the event late. The Galleria area intersection of Westheimer and Post Oak seemed to be the nexus of the problem. I left from Uptown Park and it was a 25-minute slog to make it a mile down the street. My photographer-husband was coming from the other direction and it took him longer to get from Highway 59 and Sage to the shop than it did for him to get to that exit all the way from Katy.

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Dish of the Week: Classic Bread Pudding

Categories: Recipes, Sweets

Photo by opacity
A drizzle of caramel or whiskey sauce makes the sweet bread pudding extra decadent.
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. See the complete list of recipes at the end of this post.

This week, we're indulging in a classic comfort food: Bread Pudding.

Bread pudding is a dessert consisting of stale bread that is soaked in a custard-like mixture before being baked. It is often spiced with things like cinnamon, nutmeg, or vanilla and served with a sweet sauce (whiskey, rum, chocolate or caramel based). We know the dish as a Southern classic, however it is popular all over the world, including in places like Argentina, Belgium, India, Ireland, the Philippines, Slovakia and the Puerto Rico, to name a few.

Food historians have traced the dish's origins to the early 11th and 12th centuries, where it was created as a frugal way to use stale bread. In 13th century England, it was referred to as "poor man's pudding." Then, it was likely a simple mixture of stale bread, milk, and some form of fat and sweetener.

Today, the addition of eggs and other flavors, spices, and add-ins like liquors, fruit, nuts, and chocolate have turned the humble dish into something a bit more luxurious. It can even be made savory through the edition of cheese, herbs, vegetables, and meats.

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