Food Safe Sparklers! There’s still a little kid inside of me, wishing there were pretty fireworks (without the noise) every night. Imagine how excited I was to discover that now you can get food safe sparklers!!! No, I’m NOT saying edible sparklers — just ones that won’t pollute your plate with a bunch of nasty chemical residue. They come big and small, in lots of fun shapes — stars, numbers (for birthdays, anniversaries, and other numerically-significant occasions), christmas trees, circles. If you get some (at your local cooking supply store — I don’t think these can be shipped to you), a couple of pieces of advice from me. Practice first. They can be a bit tricky to light, so you want to have your technique down. Yes, you’re going to waste a couple, but you’ll enjoy the sparkles, won’t you? Second, realize that these burn very quickly. Make sure all eyes are focused where you want them to be before you ignite this sparky little miracle.
CHOCOLATE SWIRLS! Chocolate is one of the basic food groups, isn’t it? It is at my house. I melt sugar-free chocolate with just a little unsalted butter, then place it into a quart freezer bag, cut a tiny bit off the corner, and let my inner child make fun shapes on wax paper. (As an alternative, you can melt the butter, add Splenda, then add unsweetened baking chocolate.) From there, it gets popped into the freezer on a small cookie sheet long enough for it to harden. Enter Gentle Mode and pry it slowly off the wax paper. Whether you stick it into a bowl of ice cream or use it to decorate mousse, you are now a garnishing star! See them in action, dressing up ice cream, on page 9 of our On the Road adventure in Seattle.
DOTS! Remember in the Essentials section where I told you to purchase squeeze bottles? I hope you completed that assignment. Mix a little softened cream cheese with enough cream to thin it down. Add some Italian Seasoning, a little garlic powder or garlic salt, then stuff the mixture into your squeeze bottle and start squirting. For Heaven’s sake, TASTE IT first!
Keep the dots delicate in size and decide upon the pattern that will look best with what you’re serving.
Serving something Mexican? Mix sour cream with a little taco seasoning and make your dots or squiggles with it. Prettying up a fruit dessert? Put a little of the fruit into a food processor or blender (or use your emulsion blender) with either sour cream, or a mixture of cream cheese and cream. Add Splenda to taste. So pretty. So many options.
Make a fruit sauce by simmering cut up fresh or frozen fruit (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries) with Splenda. Cook it down until it’s thickened and has the degree of sweetness you desire. Squiggles and dots, here you come!
harmonizes with the nature of what you’re serving it with. Here, I’m cutting out butterflies that will be dusted with cinnamon Splenda and used to garnish the low carb ice cream at the end of an Asian meal.
Cut out the shapes. Place on a cookie sheet. Spray with cooking spray, or brush with butter for a more flaky, crunchy texture. Top with cheese and parsley, or a dash of cayenne pepper, or cinnamon Splenda, or your own mixture.
Above, you see the sweet option.
Shred some aged Italian cheese and chop some fresh parsley. Brush your tortilla pieces with butter or spray them with olive oil cooking spray. Top with the shredded cheese and parsley. Bake as directed above. Da da da da — parmesan tortilla chips.
Here, the cheesy tortilla chips in star shapes become a cracker equivalent. They are shown mixed with some of the infamous low carb hot dog bun toast points.
FOOD AS GARNISH Sometimes the food itself can play the role of garnish. For the Halloween party, we used mini cookie cutters to make all kinds of shapes, which we then layered — 3 types of cheese cut into shapes, both geometric and Halloween-specific, plus ham.
A fleet of provolone cheese ghosts.
Owls, pumpkins, cats, bats. Aren’t they cute?
Even deli ham is easy to cut into shapes. We made these a little bigger so they could be on bottom, right above our tortilla cracker and could be seen under the cheese shapes.
It’s easy to find cute leaf cookie cutters, too. We made a platter full for an autumn party. While the cookie cutters can be found in shapes to match any holiday, they work particularly well on cheese for Fall because of the orange color of some of your basic cheeses.