Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Treats

We conclude our review of treats prepared for the 2009 winter holidays in this post.  It was a busy year, and one we won't soon forget!  The first treat is one that has become one of our most popular items during the fall and winter holidays-- rich and dense pumpkin spice poundcake with Belgian bittersweet chocolate chips.  You have likely read about these fanciful cakes in other posts on this blog-- but those were full-sized desserts!  Pictured here, these cakes make a perfect accompaniment to afternoon tea, or a festive individual dessert after your holiday meal!

We drizzle each cake individually with both confectioners' icing to add some gooey sweetness, and rich, bittersweet tempered chocolate for visual and textural contrast!

Wrapped in festive cellophane bags, and tied with snowflake ribbon and hand-crafted decorations, these cakes are the perfect gift... if you don't eat them yourself before giving them away!

The second treat highlighted in this post is our popular milk chocolate and peanut butter popcorn!  Crunchy caramel corn, coated in a smooth and sweet peanut butter coating, tossed with roasted salted peanuts, and drizzled with creamy Belgian milk chocolate, this popcorn is addictive and delicious!  It's the perfect gift for the peanut butter lover in your family!  Presented in snowflake bags, and decorated with beautiful wired ribbon and festive holiday ornaments, these bags of gourmet popcorns are show-stopping gifts!
Holiday sprinkles add a festive touch to the popcorn!

Dried Cranberry, Orange, and Bittersweet Chocolate Chip Scones are another delicious treat we created this year--  perfect for that holiday breakfast or brunch.  A lightly orange-scented dough is chock-full of plump dried cranberries and smooth bittersweet chocolate chips.  Dense and moist, these scones are a delicious snack, breakfast pastry, or even dessert!
Festooned with ribbon, these are also perfect for gifting!

Lastly, a selection of our handmade confections creates a thoughtful gift.  Mint, Orange Blossom, and Rosewater confections-- dry on the outside, smooth and creamy on the inside-- create a taste explosion.  Perfect for nibbling around a fire, or for serving at an elegant dinner party, these "mints" are a fan favorite!

Thanks to all of our friends and customers who made this year such a success!  We appreciate your continued patronage, and wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Cookie Assortments

As our faithful readers know, Holiday Cookies are an orenji tradition!  This year, we created forty varieties of cookies, sold in various boxes, weights, and assortments.  One of our corporate customers ordered one pound boxes for clients, which are pictured in this post.  A 1 1/4 pound box contains a few of each of the forty cookies.  Finished with satin ribbon and an assortment of holiday decorations, these are the perfect gifts for those hard to shop for friends, family, or customers!

Happy Holidays from orenji!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Dessert Party (part 5)

We conclude our review of the orenji Holiday Dessert "Drop-In" Party with a look at the many varieties of holiday cookies we created.  Many of these cookies are holiday traditions here at orenji-- and most of them you will have heard about before if you have been following this blog.  Just the same, here they are, in all their holiday delectableness!

Cranberry, Crystallized Ginger, and Toasted Pecan Shortbread with White Chocolate

Viennese Shortbread with Mocha Buttercream and Bittersweet Chocolate

Bittersweet Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Brittle Fingers

Pine Nut and Pistachio Brown Sugar Biscotti with White Chocolate

Toasted Coconut Shortbread with Milk Chocolate

Triple Chocolate Biscotti with Dried Cherries and Hazelnuts

Chocolate & Hazelnut Swirls

Tropical Log Jams

Buttery Walnut Dreams

Apricot, Orange, and Almond Shortbread Bars

Vanilla and Cardamom Press Cookies

In our next posts, we'll take a look at some more holiday treats prepared this year!  Keep reading!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Dessert Party (part 4)

We continue our review of the orenji Holiday Dessert Party with a look at some of the homemade confections created for that party!  The first type of confection is our homemade marshmallows (pictured left).  These fluffy white pillows are infused with various scents-- Madagascar vanilla, orange blossom, raspberry, mint.  Here, they are also decorated with festive colored sanding sugars, creating both a delicious snack and visually appealing addition to our holiday spread!

Truffles, an orenji tradition, were also prepared for the holiday dessert buffet.  We created two types of truffles-- white chocolate and pumpkin spice, and bittersweet chocolate infused with Welsh Oak sea salt, Mexican cinnamon, and chili pepper.    The mix of spices and salt creates an extraordinary combination of tastes, each enhancing the other.  While guests were initially doubtful, once they tried on of these chocolatey creations, they had to go back for more!

Orenji "mints" were the final confection prepared for the holiday dessert buffet.  These confections are dry on the outside, but soft and creamy on the inside.  Lightly flavored with natural peppermint, these are the perfect candy for a cool (or warm) holiday evening!

More holiday desserts from our "dessert drop-in" party in our next post!  Be sure to keep coming back!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Holiday Dessert Party (part 3)

We continue our review of the orenji Holiday Dessert Buffet we recently created.  In this post, we examine three more specialty creations-- two individually sized tarts, and one delicious cheesecake!
The first of the three are individual tartlets-- a crisp and buttery flaky pastry dough, rich with vanilla, was filled with a smooth and creamy Belgian milk chocolate and eggnog ganache.  Topped with a light rum-scented chantilly cream and pistachio praline, these tartlets were rich and festive for the holidays... made even more so by a light sprinkling of holiday-themed sprinkles!
The second dessert reviewed in this post is one of our most requested cheesecakes.  This is a recipe that we created back while we were based on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, resulting from our on-going love of Japanese culture.  We took a classic orenji white chocolate cheesecake recipe and infused with Japanese Matcha green tea-- a powdered, sweetened green tea with a deliciously mossy and herbal taste.  For contrast, we added a bit of spicy cardamom and a deep chocolate crust.  Together, this cheesecake is light, not too sweet, and the perfect ending to a meal, whatever the season! 

The last of the three desserts we are reviewing today was a new creation for us at this party-- since that time, we have sold many of these in a larger (full dessert) size.  A crispy buttery crust with a hint of chili powder for depth, is topped with a creamy freshly roasted a mashed sweet potato filling.  Lightly scented with vanilla and cinnamon, this filling is topped with  toasted pecans and miniature marshmallows, which caramelize during the baking process.  All in all, it's a smoky and gooey tart, which is a sure crowd pleaser!
More desserts from our Holiday Dessert Party to review-- be sure to check back!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Holiday Dessert Party (part 2)

We continue our review of the corporate Holiday Dessert Party we recently created (for the beginning of coverage of this party, click here).  The buffet contained both whole desserts and individual (bite-sized) offerings.  This post reviews three of our favorites!  The first of these items (pictured right) is a deliciously creamy three layer cheesecake-- toasted coconut, caramel, and milk chocolate!  Taken together, these three tastes created an amazing gustatory experience.  For texture and presentation, we coated the sides of the cheesecake with freshly grated and toasted coconut, and used tempered milk chocolate lattice to add dramatic and fanciful height!
The second of three desserts featured on our dessert buffet is now one of our most popular items during the fall and winter holidays-- a dense and moist pumpkin pound cake speckled with the finest Belgian bittersweet chocolate chips.  A drizzle of confectioners' icing and bittersweet chocolate add a touch of both bitter and sweet!  Glossy hand-molded chocolate leaves and acorns create a festive holiday touch.
The third dessert highlighted today are individual spiced carrot cakes-- moist, sweet, packed with pineapple, pecans, and macerated golden raisins, these little gems melted in the mouth!  Topped with creamy and smooth cream cheese icing, and dusted with toasted coconut, these cupcakes flew from the buffet faster than we could keep them stocked!

All in all, these three desserts added to the overall success of the event-- over twenty-five different dessert selections to choose from.  We will review more of these over the next few posts.  Be sure to check back... and thanks for your continued patronage of orenji!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Assorted Holiday Shortbreads

As a special order, we were recently commissioned to create a festive assortment of handmade shortbreads, to be given as gifts. We ran to the orenji test kitchens to dream up new flavors of shortbread, and settled on five: some classic and some brand new!

We began with our classic Tahitian vanilla bean shortbread (decorated with pink sugar), and our now-classic Hawaiian lavender shortbread (with lavender sugar)-- now a holiday favorite, and one of out most-requested items. To these two delicious flavors we added three "new" flavors-- orange blossom and tangerine (with orange sugar), French Roast coffee (with white sugar), and Matcha green tea (with red sugar). Each of these flavors is robust, which is unexpected in such a a delicate cookie!

Taken together, these cookies created a beautiful and delicious assortment, which we individually bagged...

...and then boxed...

...and then wrapped with festive holiday snowflake ribbon and decorations!
These shortbreads are perfect for shipping, perfect for giving, and even more perfect for eating!
While this was a special order, we have created 40 additional flavors of cookies this year-- all part of our orenji holiday assortment.... but supplies are limited, so order now!
Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Holiday Dessert Party (part 1)

We recently had the pleasure of preparing a "dessert feast" for a local company, for their employee holiday party. We created a sizable buffet of whole and individual desserts, cookies, candies, and truffles. There was so much variety, it will probably take us a few posts to review it all... so, be sure to check back!

This post will focus on three of the whole desserts created. The first (pictured above and below) was a spiced and caramelized pear tart. The pears, slow roasted with vanilla and brown sugar, sat atop a creamy baked almond custard layer. A flaky buttery pastry crust provided the base of this delectable and festive dessert, with leaf cutouts and crunchy white sanding sugar finishing the top. This was one of the first desserts to be finished, and people were asking for more! It was so popular, we have added it to our 2009 Winter Holidays Pricing Guide, so that others can enjoy it as well!

Nothing says the winter holidays like gingerbread. Our gingerbread is quite traditional, although (of course) it contains on orenji twist of sorts. We start with both fresh and crystallized ginger, to which we add plump blueberries and a hint of balsamic syrup. Taken together, the brown sugar and molasses, coupled with the holiday spices, ginger, and blueberries create a deliciously moist and flavorful gingerbread. It's perfect on it's own, or with a traditional vanilla sauce. Either way, you can't stop at just one piece!

The last of three desserts reviewed today is a cheesecake. Here at orenji, we're known for our cheesecakes. Moist and creamy, dense and flavorful, orenji cheesecakes are like no other! This particular cheesecake is our "midnight cookies and cream" cheesecake-- a coffee flavored base packed full of chocolate cookie crumbs. A rich chocolate crust adds texture, and Kahlua-infused bittersweet ganache provides a burst of flavor! Despite being so rich, it's hard to stop eating this delectable dessert!

Festive holiday decorations add to the charm of this classic orenji cheesecake!

All of the items reviewed today are available for your winter holiday celebrations. Drop us an email or give us a call-- we'll be more than happy to help you celebrate this season!

Monday, December 07, 2009

the story behind orenji holiday cookies...

In 1985, at the age of 12, Jacob Palm, the owner of orenji and culinary artist behind our creations, made his first holiday cookies. Nearly twenty-five years later, we are still making cookies in the same manner— by hand, with trusted family recipes.

The history of orenji cookies began in upstate New York, with Jacob watching his mother, Linda—the first major influence on orenji holiday cookies-- bake holiday classic cookies, and gradually (to her delight!) replacing her as the holiday baker. It was in these early days that holiday cookies were mostly for friends and family, although sales began shortly thereafter.

(Jacob @ age 14)

After a few years, Jacob was working as a pastry chef under the skillful guidance, mentorship, and friendship of Cheryl Hanzlian Bevacqua—the second major influence on orenji holiday cookies. Cheryl “introduced” a significant number of now-classic recipes, and for many years the two friends baked cookies together. Sadly, in 2005 Cheryl passed away following a lengthy struggle with cancer. One of the cookies created each year since that time, Kahlua Balls, is decorated with pink sanding sugar—the color of breast cancer awareness-- as a simple tribute to an amazingly kind, loving, and talented woman.

(Cheryl Hanzlian Bevacqua)

Since the start, orenji holiday cookies have moved from upstate New York, to the upper east side of Manhattan, to our current location in southern California. Over the years, cookies have been shipped to a multitude of countries spanning four continents. Each year, the 35 “core” recipes— many variations on those first baked by Linda or Cheryl—are supplemented with new yearly creations. We hope that the love and attention that go into each hand-crafted cookie enhance your holiday season and communicate the long history of culinary artistry that these cookies represent. From all of us at orenji: Happy Holidays!

It's not too late to order your holiday cookies! Don't wait... supplies are limited!

krispy cereal Christmas trees, snowflakes, and snowmen!

Here at orenji, we love krispy rice cereal treats! We make them for every holiday, in a variety of festive shapes! For the winter holidays, we make snowflake-shaped treats, dipped in smooth and creamy Bittersweet chocolate and drizzled with white chocolate. The treats are decorated here with icy white and purple decorations, and tied with festive snowflake ribbon.

They are the perfect "winter wonderland" pops, easy to eat on their sturdy wooden sticks!

This year, we also made Christmas tree-shaped krispy cereal treats, decorated with red, white, and green sprinkles and tiny gingerbread men!

Lastly, snowmen-shaped treats were enjoyed by many of our clients this year-- the perfect stocking stuffer for all the children (young and old) on your Christmas list!

It's not too late to order holiday-themed krispy cereal treats! Just give us a call, or send us an email, and we will be happy to fill your order in time for the holidays!