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Welcome to delicious Destinations, a GourmetStation blog. Through the charater of T.Alexander and occasional real-life guests, our aim is to share with you light-hearted fun ideas about food, gift giving, entertaining and culture. At the same time we would love you hear from you. Please share your experiences from home or abroad.

Chocolate Éclair Surprise – 38 years in the Making!!

Posted: June 23, 2010
by: Mark Stine


Growing up as a young kid, I had the best memories of my Aunt Pat making chocolate éclairs. I am an admitted dessert lover (and deserts too) and since I can remember, have always loved chocolate éclairs …..and it seemed my Aunt was always making them. Then she stopped. It was like going through withdrawal…from my later teens onward….every time there would be a family gathering I would ask Pat when she was going to make éclairs again. Sometimes it would be 5 years or more before I would see her. .. And again...somewhere in the visit, I would ask poor Aunt Pat when she was going to make éclairs. After a while… I stopped asking.

Then last November on a family trip back to Ohio to help out my mother for a week….two of my mom’s sisters stopped in for a visit… And as we opened the door… there totally unannounced or expected was a fantastic platter of chocolate éclairs in Pat’s hands! What a surprise...it was the high point of the family visit….and as a follow up for posterity, I asked for the recipe so I could share it with you and maybe someday bake my own. So Pat…after all of these years…thank you for a wonderful treat…again!


Éclair recipe

½ cup butter or margarine (do your self a gourmand favor and use real butter!!)
1 cup of boiling water
1 cup of all purpose flour
¼ teaspoon of salt
4 eggs

Melt the butter in the boiling water. Add the flour and salt all at once, stir vigorously over low heat for about one minute or until the mixture forms a ball.  Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Then add the eggs, one at a time beating vigorously after each egg is added until the mixture is smooth.

On a greased cookie sheet, shape the dough by about ¼ cupfuls into “fingers”  four inches long by 1 inch wide. This should make about 12 shells.

Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until puffed and golden. When cool, split and fill with vanilla cream pudding. Frost the éclairs with chocolate icing and refrigerate until serving time.



As a bonus…my Aunt Judy who arrived with Pat brought along a home made pumpkin pie to accompany the chocolate éclairs.  It was two – two – two delights in one day. Judy received the very tasty pumpkin pie baked by her neighbor friend. It had an earthy texture as he had just prepared fresh home-grown pumpkin and there was nice thicker texture to the pumpkin mix.  So here is the recipe from a noted baking web site.

Level: Easy
Prep: 15 min
Cooking: 55 min
Cooling time: 2 hrs cooling
Yields: 8 servings
3/4 cup granulated sugar (or try  ¼ cup brown sugar  and ½ cup of white sugar – which is prepared style I sampled!!)
teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
two large eggs
one can (15 oz.) LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin  ( or better…prepare fresh pumpkin and get that thicker richer texture!)
one can (12 fl. oz.) NESTLÉ® CARNATION® Evaporated Milk
unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell one Whipped cream  (optional)
Grandma Bittner’s Surprise: As my Aunt Judy Poe reminded me…my Grandmother Bittner made incredible pies and ALWAYS added one shot of bourbon to each pie filling....as Judy said… “It was Yummy!!” So add as an option to suit your taste!
one Whipped cream (optional)
MIX sugar, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. (Add shot of Bourbon if you dare!)

POUR into pie shell.

BAKE in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Top with whipped cream before serving.


Now you are all set for chilled éclairs as a summer treat and a new pumpkin pie recipe for fall.  As HGTV’s Candace Olsen is fond of saying…”How Divine”

Credit where credit is due: This is the traditional holiday pumpkin pie. This classic recipe has been on LIBBY'S® Pumpkin labels since 1950. This pie is easy to prepare and even easier to enjoy. Just mix, pour, bake for a delicious homemade tradition.

Ginger’s Rhubarb Pie

Posted: September 3, 2009
by: T.Alexander

Rhubarb Barb and Mark Stine have some competition! I’ve heard about Rhubarb Pie for years, but never thought much about it until Mark Stine wrote about his friend’s pie. Then, low and behold, my friend, Ginger, insisted on whipping up a Rhubarb Pie during a recent visit to Nashville.




First, let me say that Ginger and her husband Bill know the art of entertaining. From the moment you arrive at their cottage-like home on the Cumberland River, you feel as if you are truly welcomed and are at total ease. Of course, since I’ve been privileged to be their houseguest from time to time for over 20 years, I suppose it is natural to feel “at home.”


Ginger has a way of entertaining with simplicity and elegance. Her meals are always refreshing, healthy and delicious. Her presentation is original and with the dining room facing the rolling river, dinner at the time the sun sets is…well, surreal.


Rhubarb Pie2


So here is this Rhubarb Pie. Looks like something off the cover of Good Housekeeping, doesn’t it. Oh, I forgot to mention that our main dish was GourmetStation’s ocean sparkling seafood dinners. We tried a sampling of red snapper, salmon, sea bass, mahi mahi, sword fish and tuna steaks. Delicious.


Thanks Ginger and Bill, for another wonderful weekend!



Changing The Way You Think About Cupcakes

Posted: June 21, 2008
by: T.Alexander

So how do you think about cupcakes? I think of a fun & whimsical treat. Maybe a kid's snack. Or a quick sweet treat I might pick up at my grocery bakery. Well Tony & Malgosia Monje have another idea about cupcakes….theirs is all about a sinful gourmet dessert for us grown ups, The Ultimate Cupcake.

You know you have a good thing when celebrities like Rosie O'Donnell quickly embrace your product. Well, I respect Rosie's opinion but wanted to evaluate these new fangled cupcakes for myself.  Tony was kind enough to send along a dozen to our GourmetStation R&D center. Fed Ex delivered around Noon and the cupcakes were still nice & cold with both packaging and product in tact. Fortunately we'd just finished lunch so the cupcakes served as an uplifting Friday afternoon dessert. The first thing I noticed was the amount of icing. Most cupcakes might smear a little of this gooey gold on top but not Ultimate Cupcakes. The icing was piled as high as you might expect on a piece of cake at a 5 star restaurant. The relationship of icing to cake is very important mind you - too much or too little icing and the experience is....well, just not right. It was obvious that quality ingredients are used in these cupcakes because of the creamy rich flavors.

I enjoyed dark chocolate, but you may also purchase vanilla, strawberry, red velvet, pumpkin and lemon poppy seed. Prices are a reasonable $33 per dozen. When I say reasonable, you will know what I mean when you try these cupcakes. They rival any gourmet dessert out there.

Right now the cupcakes are only available in the Dallas / Ft. Worth area. But Tony is hard at work to develop a mail order business that will service the entire US. Thanks Tony & Malgosia for putting a new gourmet spin on an old favorite.

Ultimate Cupcake

Order By Phone: 817-881-7444


French Kiss Truffle Gifts From GourmetStation

Posted: April 11, 2008
by: T.Alexander

My first experience with truffles was at a fancy department store when I was much younger. I remember passing the candy counter filled with bite-sized morsels that were as elegant as an Imperial Faberge Easter egg. I also remember thinking the truffles were a bit pricey compared to the size….a couple of good bites at best. But after I enjoyed one, well, I haven’t been the same since. The flavor intensity was like nothing I had ever tasted.

A few months ago GourmetStation was contacted by French Kiss Desserts. The people at French Kiss saw a possible marriage between their line up of exquisite truffles and GourmetStation dinner gifts. After sampling their truffles not only did GourmetStation agree about the marriage, but saw the potential to sell French Kiss truffles on the GourmetStation website. And so the story goes.

Now you can buy 3 & 4 course dinner gifts, soup gifts, dessert gifts AND truffle gifts from GourmetStation. My suggestion? Without hesitation the sampler packet. Each truffle gift contains between 60 and 66 truffles and with the sampler packet your gift recipient (or you if you treat yourself) will receive six varieties. Razz Mojito – raspberry & mint, Tropical Splash – coconut & lime, Beurre de Noisette – hazelnut, Peanut Eclipse – creamy peanut butter, Cherry Caramel – cherry caramel, Dulce De Leche – Argentinean Dulce de Leche.


There are several different methods of making truffles – American, European & Swiss. Fred Quenzer at French Kiss tells us they have their own special process with each truffle being hand dipped and made from only natural ingredients - no preservatives. I could write all day about this new dessert gift, but the best way for you to get my message is to try a sampler packet for yourself. And don’t forget to share!


Comfort Food was Never so Sweet!

Posted: March 24, 2008
by: Chris Card Fuller

If I had to think of one dessert that has to be the best-loved treat in
France, it would be chocolate mousse – or, as we call it here, mousse au

Mousse au chocolat was the first dish my au pair employer decided that
even a kitchen-challenged American student might be able to handle. The
beauty of this chocolate addict’s dab of nirvana is that it really can be
easy to prepare.

Strangely enough, I never make the dessert when I’m stateside, but when I
get back to France,  I seek out the familiar Nestle’s Dessert Chocolat
Noir bar which you can find in any supermarket.  The recipe for mousse au
chocolat has always been (and hopefully will remain forever) on its
outside wrapper. Here are the five easy steps – which even I can follow,
while reading in French.

The ingredients are simple.  200 grams of bittersweet chocolate (luckily,
the entire chocolate bar is exactly 200 grams – so I don’t have to worry
about converting grams to ounces. (and I only sometimes steal a square of
chocolate before it gets into the pot).
6 Eggs and a dash of salt.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.  Then, let the melted chocolate sit
for a moment while you separate the yolks from the whites of the six eggs.
Whip the egg whites with a dash of salt until the egg whites look like
Mont Blanc in Switzerland.

Take the melted chocolate and drizzle it over the mixed egg yolks,
blending the chocolate in bit, by bit.  Then mix more energetically.

Now comes the tricky part.  Incorporate 1/3 of the egg whites into the egg
yolk and melted chocolate mixture, using a spatula to fold in the egg
whites.  Then add the remaining 2/3 of egg whites, continuing to fold them
in without losing the ‘airiness’.

Mousse needs at least three hours refrigeration time which can be a good
thing - you can always put those three hours to good use while getting the
rest of the meal prepared.  Meanwhile, your dessert is sitting pretty.

Whenever I make this dessert, I think of Michele who taught me this
simple, so very French dessert. By now, her son for whom I babysat is
grown up and certainly has kids of his own.  Michele’s home cooking was
always good, never fancy, and always satisfying.
She taught me one recipe that’s stood the test of time.

This is the kind of treat you share with friends who you don’t need to
impress. Instead, it’s the smile at the end of the meal and the way they
scrape the last bit of chocolate from their bowls that will leave you

When you’re in France, you can pick up bars of Nestle Dessert Chocolat
Noir in almost any regular grocery store (Monoprix or Champion or Franprix
for example).   Looking for mousse au chocolat on a restaurant menu?  You’re
most likely to find this favorite at your local brasserie or café.  (And,
yes, even at the Ritz Hotel room service!)

Chris Card Fuller



French Kiss Desserts – Truffles & More - “do what comes natural”

Posted: December 1, 2007
by: T.Alexander

GourmetStation provided hundreds of turkey dinners around the country this Thanksgiving and we’ve received excellent reviews. Was it the turkey most commented on? Well, no – it was the Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake & the Amaretto Cookies! Without fail the desserts leave the lasting, and in most cases, most powerful impression.

French Kiss Desserts instructs us to “do what comes natural.” I know exactly what they mean – just like our turkey dinner recipients, what comes natural is the proverbial sweet tooth. Hail the sweet tooth and may it live on! (Actually French Kiss Desserts was referring to all natural ingredients, but I took some liberty here.)

I personally had the opportunity to sample truffles from French Kiss Desserts and my sweet tooth hasn’t been the same since. I did share a few, mind you – and the feedback from my co-workers was similar. Exquisite.


Mint Delight, Crème de Noisette, Peanut Eclipse, Dulce de Leche & Raspberry Truffles are all available online at French Kiss Desserts. We sampled Peanut Eclipse, Dulce de Leche & Raspberry and it’s difficult to say which was the winner. They were all winners. Although not the most elegant of the truffle samples, I favored the Peanut Eclipse – made me feel like a kid. Truffles are a sophisticated treat in addition to being intense. When you bite into these round buttery balls, there is a sensation like no other dessert can provide. So I invite you to share the fun we experienced and see for yourself. You can also contact French Kiss Desserts for special orders for weddings & other special events. A great way to impress your guests.


New Dessert of the Month at GourmetStation

Posted: October 7, 2007
by: T.Alexander

Of the month programs are the rage these days. They’re gifts that keep giving throughout the year like the Energizer bunny. Our Dinner of the Month program was introduced a few years ago and was an immediate hit. Earlier this year we introduced the Soup of the Month program, but the best has been saved for last. Now introducing the GourmetStation Dessert of the Month club.

So why are these monthly clubs so popular? We’ve found that adult families are purchasing them for their Mom’s and Dad’s….the folks that have everything. have been there & done that. Our patrons are looking for experiential gifts and our taste buds can give us quite an experience. Mom’s and Dad’s have something to look forward to every month – for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months. Bottom line – these clubs are fun food gifts.

The Dessert of the Month program allows recipients to choose from five categories, chocolate cakes (my favorite), marvelous mousses, white cakes, cheesecake heaven and homemade pies. There are over 45 selections so whether a gift recipient has a 3, 6, 9 or 12 month program, there is a choice bound to please.

Now for the fun part. My favorite? Red Velvet Cake – “As seen in O magazine as one of Oprah’s favorites – a southern classic…smooth as velvet, mild flavored cake…rich & topped with thick cream cheese frosting…almost too pretty to eat. Enjoy!


Tate's Bake Shop - Now That's A Wow!

Posted: March 26, 2007
by: T.Alexander

Can a story so sweet as a fairy tale be real? Can a passion be so intense that an 11 year old’s dream becomes a reality as big as life? Yes it can…Kathleen King’s dream….Tate’s Bake Shop. When you purchase handmade cookies, pies, dessert squares and other delights from Tate’s Bake Shop you’ll be delighted by the quaint and attractive packaging. The sweet story reads something like this:

“If you’re in the Hamptons and walk around the charming little Atlantic coast town of Southampton, you’ll see a primrose yellow Victoria structure with turquoise shutters, framed in flowers, that seems to attract people like bees to a hive. It’s Tate’s Bake Shop, the fairytale culmination of a dream that got started when 11-year-old Kathleen King began baking cookies to sell at her family’s farm stand not far out of town. Today, those amazing cookies have attracted a loyal following from coast to coast. Crispy and buttery, rich but not overwhelming, they simply melt n your mouth….and just one is never enough!”


Reviewing fine food, especially desserts, is a delightful part of hosting Delicious Destinations. For this review I put together a team of three dessert loves, Charlotte, Julie and me. We reviewed cookies and dessert squares, and I assure you…I’ll try the pies personally for our next spring event.

Charlotte sampled the plain brownie square. The only thing wrong with this delight is the name….nothing “plain” about this treat. The squares are five ounces…what this means is that the portions are so generous, one brownie can be shared….especially if served a la mode with ice cream. Charlotte’s comment was…”it tastes like fudge” (her favorite). No wonder..the square is made from high quality Belgium chocolate and AA butter.

Julie sampled the White Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Cookies…..because Julie loves Macadamia anything. She is usually a fan of thicker, chewy cookies, but found Tate’s Macadamia Nut cookies excellent. She said the white chocolate was subtle – not overwhelming. And like me, she enjoyed nibbling on the crumb morsels from the delicate cookies.

I sampled the Oatmeal Raisin and Chocolate Chip cookies. There is an art to cookie baking that is known by few. The skill involves balancing high quality, rich ingredients….with a thin crispy cookie. Tate’s has mastered this skill. While I LOVED the chocolate chip cookies, I favored the Oatmeal Raisin. There was a childhood memory that popped up…the eating experience made me feel like a little kid in my Aunt Velma’s kitchen….waiting on her delicious desserts to come out of the oven.

We’re not the only ones who loved Tate’s product. Rachael Ray picked Tate’s products as one of their Overall Favorites in October 2006. Rachel was very creative about other way’s to use Tate’s products:

1)      Turn crisp cookies into chewy: Bag them with a slice of bread overnight.

2)      Make an instant piecrust: Combine cookies, sugar & melted butter in a food processor.

3)      Cook up s’mores: Place a marshmallow between two cookies & microwave for about 10 seconds.

4)      Decorate a cake: Press whole cookies around the side of a frosted cake.

5)      Form ice cream sandwiches: Spread ice cream between two chewy cookies and freeze

Congratulations Kathleen – job well done!


Old Fashioned Carrot Cake - Wins the Prize

Posted: January 27, 2007
by: T.Alexander

It’s almost February. Has the guilt of eating too many luscious sweets over the holidays faded? If the answer is yes (it is for me) let’s look at a few yummy options.

Atlanta’s “The Sunday Paper” wrote about their 25 favorite desserts – “better than sex.” Yikes, that’s a tall claim. From Napoleone at Veni Vidi Vici to Almond Croissant at Alon’s, the list is quite impressive. The winner was almost Mount Everest Cake form the Metrotainment Bakery. Standing at eight layers and comprised of twenty pounds of chocolate and fudge, any chocolate lover should pay attention. But my pick was a little more conservative.

My winner of the 25 finalists? Old fashioned carrot cake comprised of four layers of moist, cinnamon cake studded with walnut and raisins…..available from OK Café at 1284 W. Paces Ferry Road in Atlanta. Go for it if you’re in town. The Sunday Paper calls the “lust factor” “the impossibly smooth cream-cheese icing pulls the whole package together.” Carrot_cake

From where and how do you think carrot cake came into being? According to food historians, our modern day version probably descended from medieval carrot pudding enjoy across Europe. During the Middle Ages sweeteners were scarce and very expensive. So carrots were used to sweet cakes and desserts. (Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson). So there you go – a little history with your sweet passion. In the event you’re in the mood to whip up your own carrot cake, here is a great recipe.

For unique gourmet food gifts, dinners delivered for gifts or personal use, or gourmet meals delivered, visit GourmetStation.

Rhubarb Barb - A Tart Sensation

Posted: August 2, 2006
by: Mark Stine

Growing up as a child, one of my strongest recollections about desserts was the tart taste of rhubarb pie. My grandmother made them, my father had a liking for them and he continued the tradition. Unfortunately, living in tropical, Mediterranean and desert climates as I have for the last 15 years, is not terribly conducive to growing rhubarb, which likes damper, wetter and cooler growing conditions.

So I had to forget that wonderful dessert taste sensation, until I discovered that a friend from Ohio, living in sunny California would stalk the grocery stores looking for rhubarb to make its annual appearance. Barbschultz

Her name is Barb …her mission rhu-Barb. Actually the word rhubarb dates back to early Latin times and referred to an area where the plant grew and on the other side of the river, no man’s land as it were, where the “barb”- arians lived. Not meant to be disparaging about the taste of rhubarb!

Now Barb and I go back “aways” …what with us being lifeguards at the local Greene Valley Recreation Club in Beavercreek, Ohio, back in circa “never mind”. She had that Midwest – upper Midwest up bringing and pies were a natural part of her baking heritage.

Barb is a purist, she doesn’t fuss up her rhubarb pie with other fruits as many other recipes do, masking the tart flavor with, of all things strawberry infusions. She also reminded me that she has a rhubarb pie in her freezer, just waiting for me to drop by her greater LA home.

That and a recent reference to rhubarb pies in the “Prairie Home Companion” movie by “Rhonda and Yolanda” , fictional characters played by Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin, sparked my interest in sharing this wonderfully tart treat. So nice to eat in the summer, if you have a friend with one in the freezer for you!

So here it goes…Barb’s version of rhubarb pie!

Rhubarb Pie

4 cups rhubarb stalks cut into 1/2" pieces
1 1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1-2 tablespoons butter
Unbaked pastry for 2-crust 9" pie (recipe follows)
Mix the rhubarb with the flour, sugar and orange rind. Turn into
pastry-lined pan. Dot with butter. Trim the edge of the pastry to within an
inch of the edge of the pan. Top with second crust, trim the edge and crimp
the top and bottom edges together. Cut slits in the top for steam to
release. Brush milk or half and half on the top crust and sprinkle with
granulated sugar. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 350
degrees and bake an additional 25-30 minutes or longer. You may want to
cover the crimped edges with tinfoil to prevent over-browning. If so, remove
the tinfoil for the last 15 minutes of baking.

Pie Crust

The original recipe for this crust used only unbleached white flour; I have
adapted it to use part white, part whole wheat, which gives the crust a
nuttier flavor.

1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup shortening
1/4 cup very cold water (approximate*)

Stir the flours and salt together. Add the shortening and cut it through the
flour with a pastry blender until the mixture is in pea-sized pieces. Add
the water a few tablespoons at a time, and mix with a fork to combine
evenly. The dough should be moist enough to hold together in a ball. Note
that the addition of the whole wheat flour will tend to make the crust a bit
more crumbly and hard to handle, so a few extra sprinkles of water may be
Divide the dough in half and roll each piece out on a floured surface. Turn
the first crust in to the pan, trim, add the filling, then the top crust and

* the amount of water required depends on the type of flour, the temperature
of the mixture, and even the ambient humidity. If the dough seems too soft,
chill it in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.

And Barb says, “That's it -- go ye forth and bake! “
The base recipe for this pie came from "James Beard's American Cookery".

And remember…you always have the option this summer of turning to GourmetStation to come up with some excellent dessert choices for your afternoon or evening soirées. My favorites are the Chocolate-raspberry cheesecake, Crème Brule cheesecake and Praline Pecan cheesecake.  So take a look and find your favorites, there are many other options sure to catch your imagination and provide that special summer memory.