Bonus column: Martha Stewart
Fresh ideas to elevate the everyday.
BRING MAY FLOWERS
If you think you need to be a pastry chef to create these little beauties, think again. Simply top frosted cupcakes with a small garden’s worth of cut-up candies in an artful arrangement. Serve your blooms at parties, bake sales, brunches — even on Mother’s Day. Everyone will love eating them petal by petal before biting into the cake underneath.
Ombré Merluza Dahlia: Slice Haribo Sour Peaches, then arrange on frosted cupcake, fanning out from center.
Simple White Daisy: Snip a Bumplettes Tutti Frutti Beaded gumdrop in half; place in center of cupcake, cut-side up. Surround with mini-marshmallow-slice petals, cut-side up.
Red-and-Yellow Garden Rose: Cut Haribo Sour Peaches in half horizontally, then slice crosswise. Working from outside in, push pieces into frosting at an angle so they stand up, overlapping slightly.
Pink Clematis: Place a Jelly Belly Champagne Bubbles gumdrop in center. Cut Haribo Pink Grapefruit pieces in half horizontally; slice off one tip. Arrange around gumdrop.
White Chrysanthemum: Working from outer edge in, layer mini-marshmallow-slice petals in a circular pattern, cut-side up.
Classic Red Rose: Cut a 20-inch strip of Sour Power Strawberry Candy Belt lengthwise into a wavy line. Starting from center, swirl around top.
Sour White Spider Mum: Snip a Jelly Belly Raspberry gumdrop in half; place in center of cupcake, cut-side up. Thinly slice Haribo White Grapefruit pieces, then snip in half. Arrange slices around gumdrop, cut-side up.
Sugar-Coated Rose: Twist a 10-inch strip of Sour Power Pink Lemonade Candy Belt. Starting from center, twirl around top.
Pale-Pink Chrysanthemum: Snip a Jelly Belly Champagne Bubbles gumdrop in half; place in center of cupcake, cut-side down. Poke thin slices of Haribo Pink Grapefruit pieces into frosting so they stand up.
Two-Tone Rose: Snip Ferrara Gummy Rings in half and arrange on top.
Pink Geranium: Snip a Jelly Belly Champagne Bubbles gumdrop in half; place in center of cupcake, cut-side down. Snip 5 Bumplettes Tutti Frutti Beaded gumdrops in half; arrange around center, cut-side down.
Red Dahlia: Working from outer edge in, arrange thinly sliced Sour Patch Cherries in a circular pattern.
Forgo the traditional frying — and mixing up the batter — for this Latin American treat. Instead, bake store-bought puff pastry for churros that are easier to make but full of the same spicy sweetness. “Muy delicioso!”
Heat oven to 425 F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out 14 ounces all-butter puff pastry into a 12-by-16-inch rectangle. Brush lightly with a beaten egg. Fold in half into a 6-by-16-inch rectangle; press out air bubbles, then cut crosswise into 1/2-by-6-inch strips. Twist into spirals, pressing ends to gently adhere. Place 1 inch apart on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets; freeze 30 minutes. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until puffed and golden, 20 to 22 minutes.
Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon. While still hot, toss half of churros with half of sugar. Repeat with remaining churros and sugar. Serve with chocolate sauce for dipping.
Tip: Upgrade 2 cups of chocolate sauce with 1/2 teaspoon each of ancho chile powder, vanilla extract and cinnamon.
Here’s a quicker way to whip up a robust batch of iced tea: To make 2 1⁄2 cups, place 3 to 4 tablespoons loose-leaf tea in the strainer of a teapot. Pour in 2 cups boiling water and let steep 3 minutes. Then add 2 cups ice. The cubes will begin to melt — and the drink will reach the perfect strength in a few minutes. Serve in glasses filled with more ice.
Tip: Use a ceramic or tempered glass pot for this quick steeping technique.
PUT YOUR STAMP ON IT
Frill-free napkins turn into a customized hostess gift when stamped with — surprise! — bleach. Just dampen a sponge brush with it (don’t dilute), and use it as “ink” for any rubber stamp. Let excess drip off, then apply quickly and evenly to tightly woven cotton napkins. The images will appear as the bleach sets. Machine-wash, dry and iron the napkins, then bundle them with twine and a tag.
Tip: Remember to wash the rubber well with stamp cleaner once you’re done.
Source:Fete cotton napkins, in Aqua and Coral, $4 each, crateandbarrel.com.
No more searching for the right card. Now a truly one-of-a-kind option is at your fingertips. Press your thumbs into an ink pad to make the momma animals, and dip your (or your little one’s) pinkies for the babies; let dry. Draw the details with a fine-tipped marker, and post as thank-yous, invites and more.
TOAST THE SUNRISE
A basic brunch turns into a tropical party when you serve this mouthwatering ombré mocktail. In a blender, purée a peeled, cored and chopped pineapple with a pinch of coarse salt. Fill a pint glass with ice. Pour in 1⁄2 cup guava or passion-fruit juice and 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice. Add 2 teaspoons grenadine syrup; let settle (don’t stir). Gently spoon 1⁄2 cup purée on top.
TIP: Save the pineapple leaves to tuck in as a garnish.
(Questions should be addressed to Ask Martha, care of Letters Department, Martha Stewart Living, 601 W. 26th St., New York, NY 10001. Questions may also be sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, address and daytime telephone number.)