Wheaton - New Storefront

We've moved!  Just down the block.  Only 11 store fronts south -- about 300 feet.  

As you drive down Triangle lane, look to your right.  You'll pass our new location before you even get to the old store.  We're have a burgundy and tan awning with white writing.  If you've reached Filipos or the Wheaton Dance Studio you've gone too far!  

Parking can be a bit tricker here, but we've retained our parking spaces in front of the old store until it is leased. We have one parking space in front of the store, four parking spaces in front of the old store.  We also have 2 parking spots in the lot, but the county has to change the signs and give us permits to use them.  We'll send an update with those are ready.  We are working with two more stores to use their parking spaces during our busy times during the holiday season. 

Why did we move?

Our old location has a lot of Little Bitts history- over 43 years of supplies, classes and advice.  Leaving was not an easy choice, but necessary.  In late 2016 the building was sold.  After the same landlord for 42 year, Little Bitts now had a new development group calling the shots.  They asked us to downsize last year, so we became... cozier, and this year they refused to give us a lease.  Wheaton is undergoing a lot of changes right now with a new 12 story being built right across the street, and it seems like they did not want to commit to a rental agreement. The old little bitts need a number of upgrades, many of which i was ready to make, but not without a lease. 

I know that the history of Little Bitts is important to many, and staying in its original location was important to me, too. This was not a decision I took lightly, but it was necessary to move to a new location as we continue to forge ahead. 

We love this new space.  While it's not quite as wide it is a bit longer, so we did not lose any square footage.  It's cleaner, brighter and it has consistent air conditioning! I can't wait for you to see it!

But it's not bigger!

I wish there was a space in Wheaton that matched the original size of Little Bitts, unfortunately there isn't one available. This one is   We have the first right of refusal for the storefront upstairs, when it becomes available, and the landlord thinks it will be sooner rather than later.  We plan to expand upstairs with a larger classroom, and more inventory. 

Margie's Brownies

Margie loved brownies, and this was her favorite recipe (to the letter!).

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BROWNIES

1 cup flour

1 cup sugar

1 stick margarine

1 large can Hershey's chocolate syrup

4 eggs

  • Mix well. Bake 350.
  • 10" x 15" jelly Roll pan 25 minutes. 9" x 13" 30 minutes.

FUDGE FROSTING

1 1/3 cups sugar

6 T. margarine

6 T. milk

  • Bring to a boil.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips until melted.
  • Spread on cooled brownies. (nuts optional)

Candy Clay Recipe

1 lb. Merckens Coating Chocolate

1/3 cup light corn syrup

  • Melt Candy Melts following package instructions.
  • Add corn syrup and stir to blend.
  • Turn out mixture onto waxed paper and let set at room temperature to dry.
  • Wrap well and store at room temperature until needed. Candy Clay handles best if hardened overnight.

To Tint: Candy Clay may be tinted using Candy Color. Knead in color until well-blended.

To Use: Candy Clay will be very hard at the start; knead a small portion at a time until workable. If Candy Clay gets too soft, set aside a room temperature or refrigerate briefly. When rolling out Candy Clay, sprinkle work surface with cornstarch to prevent sticking; roll to approximately 1/8 inch thickness.

To Store: Prepared Candy Clay will last for several weeks at room temperature in a well-sealed container.

The Bitter Price Of Vanilla

Have you noticed that the price of vanilla has gone way up recently? Because it has - by a whopping 10 times in the past couple years. Little Bitts is in mourning, too, but there are some interesting reasons behind the price jump.

For one, vanilla is one of the most labor-intensive foods on the market. It is made primarily in Madagascar from the seed pod seeds of orchids, which have to be pollinated by hand. Then the vanilla bean farmers have to put the bean pods through a complicated process which I won't go into here, but you can read about in this story from NPR. All of this to say that vanilla production takes an enormous amount of costly labor.

This was a real drawback for farmers before the organic food movement, when most people were happy to use a cheaper synthetic flavoring: vanillin. Many farmers simply gave up on vanilla for other less expensive crops. However, when bakers and companies began to favor real vanilla, there were not enough orchids to meet the demand. On top of that, a cyclone hit Madagascar in 2017 and boosted prices even more.

You might be wondering if there's any way to get prices down where they used to be. Farmers in Madagascar have been building new plantations, but it will be a couple years before they are able to contribute to the market and potentially lower prices. In the meantime, they'll be enjoying the influx of cash.

Sources: Our Love Of 'All Natural' Is Causing A Vanilla ShortageWhy Is Vanilla Getting More Expensive?

King Cake

Check out Bob's recipe for your Mardi Gras celebration!

BATTER

1/2 cup butter of margarine

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 t. salt

1/3 cup warm water

2 packages dry yeast (0.5 oz.)

3 large eggs, beaten

1 t. grated lemon rind

1 t. ground nutmeg or cinnamon

4-5 cups all-purpose flour

1 small plastic baby to bake in the cake

GLAZE

1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

1 T. lemon juice

1 T. water

DECORATION

Colored granulated sugar (gold, purple, green)

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Over medium heat in a large saucepan, heat the butter, milk, sugar, and salt until the butter melts and the mixture steams. Do not let it scorch. Remove from heat.
  • Pour the warm water into a large bowl and dissolve the yeast in it. Add the warm milk mixture, eggs, lemon rind, nutmeg, and 2 cups flour. Mix well until free of lumps. Stir in 2 more cups of flour. Add more flour as needed to make a dough that holds together and is easy to handle.
  • Dust a counter surface with flour. Turn out the dough and kneed it for 5 minutes until it gets springy.
  • Grease another large bowl in a warm, draft-free place and let it rise until it doubles in volume, about 2 hours.
  • Punch it down and kneed for about 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and each piece into a rope about 30" long.
  • Grease a large baking sheet and carefully braid the ropes together, curving the braid to form an oval. Wet the ends and press them together. Push the baby underneath to hide it.
  • Cover the sheet again with the towel and let the dough rise for an hour.
  • Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Let cool.
  • In a small mixing bowl blend the ingredients for the glaze well. Drizzle or paint the glaze on top of the cake and sprinkle it with alternating colors of granulated sugar.

NOTE: Whoever finds the baby in their piece of cake must make the King Cake next year.

 Photo by bhofack2/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by bhofack2/iStock / Getty Images

Quick and Easy Valentines treats

Looking for something fun for you and your kids or need to bring something to a party and you’re short on time?  

Look no further- this is an easy ands so quick way to bring something fun.  All you need is a gigantic rice krispie bar, melting chocolate, sprinkles and a small heart cookie cutter.  

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Ganache

Every week a couple of people come in asking to buy ganache.  We don't sell ready-to-use ganache (but maybe we should/will :)), but it's so easy!  Once we share the recipe, people are thrilled to know how simple it is and how many uses it has from drip cakes, candy fillings and macarons. 

Try this super simple recipe that takes only about 10 minutes and can be done in the microwave, but be careful!

 Photo by ganache/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by ganache/iStock / Getty Images

Ingredients

  • 9 ounces chocolate (milk, dark or white)
  • 1 cup heavy cream 

 

Instructions

  1. Using a heavy sauce pan bring the heavy whipping cream to boil. 
  2. While the cream is coming to a boil, chop the chocolate.
  3. When the heavy whipping cream has come to a boil add the chocolate. 
  4. Stir until it comes into a smooth mixture
  5. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature to use as a filling.  Pour onto a cake when slightly warm to use on a drip cake.

Some things to Note and fun options!

  • Be careful when boiling the cream because it can boil out of the pot. 
  • When you stir in the chocolate you can also add a tablespoon of alcohol
  • You can whip the ganache after it cools to make a fluffy ganache. 

Directions in Pictures!

 Photo by YelenaYemchuk/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by YelenaYemchuk/iStock / Getty Images

Margies Two Box Cake Mix

Margie liked to make baking easy, which is why she always recommended this recipe for a simple and tasty yellow or chocolate cake.

Makes two 9 x 12 x 2 cakes; or one 10 x 15 x 2 cake (plus a few cupcakes); or one 12 x 16 x 2 cake.

2 Duncan Hines Yellow Cake mixes without pudding added (Devils food cake for chocolate cake)

2 1/3 cups water

1 cup Crisco oil

8 eggs

1 box vanilla regular pudding cooked variety (chocolate for chocolate cake)

2 T. vinegar

1 envelope Dream Whip

  • Preheat oven to between 325 and 350.
  • Combine all ingredients in medium bowl (Kitchen Aid). Blend until moistened.
  • Beat on medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Pour in cake pan(s) and bake. Check after 40 minutes depending on cake pan being used. Allow for extra baking time for extra cake mix.

Bob and Anne's Crisco Crusting Buttercream

This icing's thick texture is perfect for making flowers, or simply frosting your cakes in a beautiful white coat. It holds its shape and tastes delicious!

This recipe will frost four 8 x 12 cakes. You may want to cut the recipe in half, but this will increase the chances of developing air bubbles.

3 1/2 cups Crisco solid (white, not butter flavored)

1/2 cup margarine (Blue Bonnet seems to have less yellow dye, thereby giving a whiter icing)

2 t. clear vanilla

2/3 cup water (that includes 2 t. vanilla)

4 lb. powdered sugar, sifted to remove lumps if not from a sealed 2 lb. or 4 lb. bag

  • Put Crisco and margarine in a 4 1/2 cup mixing bowl (Kitchen Aid).
  • Put the flavoring into a measuring cup and fill to 2/3 cup with water.
  • With the mixer on the lowest speed, alternate adding liquid and sugar, ending with the sugar. Scrape the bowl without lifting the beaters.
  • Blend on medium speed (#4) approximately 4 1/2 minutes. Do not remove the beaters from the icing until completely finished or beat on too high of a speed as air bubbles will result.

NOTE: This icing will store for months with or without refrigeration. Store in an air-tight container.

Chocolate Melting Instructions

Ever wondered how to melt chocolate without burning it? Read Megan's tips below for how to make even and glossy melted chocolate in five minutes!

Place chocolate or summer coating in a plastic container, not glass, and microwave on high for 15 to 30 seconds at a time, depending on the strength of your microwave. Stir the chocolate vigorously after each 15 to 30 second window. Please not that the inside of the melting wafer may be melted even though it retains its shape. A pound of chocolate will take one to two minutes to melt depending on your microwave.

You may also melt your chocolate in a double boiler using your hottest tap water in the bottom pan. Never melt your chocolate on the stove. It will get too hot and the sugars in it will burn.

Never add water, milk, cream, butter, flavors, or any other liquid. THIS INCLUDES LIQUID AND GEL FOOD COLORING because they will thicken the chocolate. Please note that colors, especially Red, Pink, Dark Green, and Super White may take a little longer to melt.

Irish Soda Bread

Today I have a simple Irish recipe, perfect to make for St Patrick's day! Dating back to 1840, Irish Soda Bread is a traditional product of a poor country; it was made with only the most basic of ingredients: flour, baking soda, milk, and salt. In the South of Ireland, the bread is shaped and baked as a round loaf with a cross marked on top, but in the North, it is flattened into a round disc and divided into four equal triangular shapes and then cooked on a flat griddle. Today, it is a popular bread in the U.S. and Ireland alike because of how quickly it can be made.

Here is Kit's Recipe:

Irish Soda Bread with Raisins and Caraway

yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

 5 cups all purpose flour

 1 cup sugar

 1 tablespoon baking powder

 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

 1 teaspoon baking soda

 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, room temperature

 2 1/2 cups raisins

 3 tablespoons caraway seeds

 2 1/2 cups buttermilk

 1 large egg

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter heavy ovenproof 10- to 12-inch-diameter skillet with 2- to 2 1/2-inch-high sides. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add butter; using fingertips, rub in until coarse crumbs form. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds. Whisk buttermilk and egg in medium bowl to blend. Add to dough; using wooden spoon, stir just until well incorporated (dough will be very sticky). Transfer dough to prepared skillet; smooth top, mounding slightly in center. Using small sharp knife dipped into flour, cut 1-inch-deep X in top center of dough. Bake until bread is cooked through and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool bread in skillet 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in foil; store at room temperature.)

Welcome, Guittard Chocolate

We are happy to announce that The Little Bitts Shop will now be carrying Guittard Fine Chocolate.  To celebrate we'll share the most delicious chocolate layer cake recipe, which we were lucky to try at the Atlantic Bakery Show last month.  The recipe is from the fine people at Pennsylvania College of Technology!  It is amazingly delicious!

 

 

Mother's Day Gift Ideas!

Mother's day is just around the corner, and if you are looking for some great gifts, we've got them! Here are our top 10.  Come in and shop or order online for same day pick up.  

1. Mother's Day Cupcake Class: On the Saturday before Mother's Day (Saturday, May 7) join us at 1pm for a cupcake class.  We'll make lovely cupcakes that you can give to mom, or better yet, come with mom and share the experience

2. PME Supertubes.  Any cookie making momma knows that these are simply the best.  Their seamless stainless steel design makes for the perfect royal icing application. 

3. Fat Daddio Pans.  The only pans she'll ever need.  The anodized aluminum pans mean they reach baking temperature faster and cool more quickly for the perfect pastry.  The pan for any professional or aspiring professional.  

4. Yoga Cookie Cutters:  Is your mom Yogi or a wanna be Yogi, who would really rather be baking?  These large cutter make great cookies, but can also cut sandwiches, cakes, and are perfect for crafting. 

5. Merkens Chocolate.  Stock mom up with a supply of her favorite dipping chocolate.  It tastes great on strawberries, chocolate covered rice krispies, molded chocolate and cake pops.  Better yet, you can do the dipping for her and surprise her with some sweets.  

6. Ateco pastry bags.  Upgrade mom from the regular old plastic pastry bags, and get her some nice reusable pastry bags.  They are easy to grip and comfortable to use. 

 

7.  Sprinkles! Sanding sugars and jimmies are not just for kids anymore.  Help out moms supply of sugary decorations by loading up on fun sugars and sprinkles. 

8. Fondant Class.  Has your mom always wanted to make the perfect fondant covered cake? Purchase a class for her!  We are offering two fondant cake classes this month.

9. Bakery Emulsions.  Our Lorann bakery emulsions are absolutely our favorites. Because they are not alcohol based they don't bake out of your pastries, and they leave a strong flavor and aroma, that will be sure to please any mom.   

10. Let her choose with a Little Bitts Gift Certificate!  

 

 

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Guinness and Baileys Irish cupcake

Guinness and Baileys Irish cupcake recipe

This recipe come from our favorite blue ribbon baker, Kit


These little blue ribbon beauties from Ireland really do offer a genuine taste of the Homeland, just as they satiate your chocolate and cream cravings. With their lively mix of Guinness and Baileys, just one taste will tell you that they’re a little triumph of the cake makers' art. They serve 24, perfect for a St. Patty's day party!
 

Ingredients

1 cup stout (Guinness) get it in a can, not a bottle

16 tbsp. unsalted butter

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups all-purpose flour

1½ tsp. baking soda

2/3 cup sour cream

For the Baileys ganache filling:

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

2/3 cup heavy cream

2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature

2 tsp. Baileys Irish cream

For the Baileys butter cream frosting:

8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

4-8 tbsp. Bailey's Irish cream

Method

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Combine the stout and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

  In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sour cream to blend. 

Add the stout-butter mixture and beat just to combine. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 to ¾ full.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the ganache filling, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until simmering, then pour it over the chocolate. Let sit for one minute and then whisk until smooth. If the chocolate is not completely melted, place the bowl over a double boiler or give it a very short blast in the microwave (15-20 seconds). Add the butter and Baileys and stir until combined.

Set aside to let the ganache cool until it is thick enough to be piped. (You can use the refrigerator to speed the cooling process, but be sure to stir every 10 minutes or so to ensure even cooling.)

Meanwhile, cut out a portion from the center of the cupcake using the cone method (a small paring knife works best for this). Once the ganache has reached the correct consistency, transfer it to a piping bag fitted with a wide tip and pipe it into the cupcakes.

To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the powdered sugar until it is all incorporated. Mix in the Baileys until smooth. Add more if necessary until the frosting has reached a good consistency for piping or spreading. Frost the cupcakes as desired. Bon appetite!

 

Heart Shaped Chocolates

Hey Guys! In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I have a sweet and simple candy craft for you to try out. It's super easy, but the end product will look like you spent hours on it. All of the ingredients and supplies can be purchased in store.

Ingredients

1 pound Mercken's chocolate (buy five pounds here and you'll receive a free chocolate mold!)

Supplies

plastic container

rubber spatula

transfer sheet

cookie sheet

heart-shaped cookie cutter

 

Directions

Melt chocolate in plastic container for 30 second intervals for a total of 1 minute 30 seconds, stirring between intervals

Place transfer sheet onto cookie sheet, design side up

After chocolate fully melts, use spatula to spread it 1/2 inch thick onto the transfer sheet

Refrigerate for 10 minutes until chocolate sets

Cut using cookie cutter

Refrigerate another 20 minutes until hardened

Peel off chocolate to reveal your beautiful design!

Don't forget to stop into the shop to pick up all of these supplies. This would make a perfect gift for your S.O. or anyone you <3.

 

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Introducing Kit!

Kit comes from a long line of good cooks and her mother was a pretty fair baker. She started baking seriously in her late teens and entered her first county fair in Monterey, California. One of her first baking ventures was white bread. She is the oldest of seven and she didn't expect her siblings, raised on Wonder Bread, to go for home-baked bread, but they did. Bread, along with a number of sewing projects, got entered in the fair. She's kept up with the fair entries as she's moved around - Kitsap County Fair in Washington, Orange County Fair in California and for the last seven years the Montgomery County Fair.

Her personal rule is that once an item has won a blue ribbon, she retires it from competition so there are new challenges every year. For the 2015 Fair, she was able to enter ten items and won 4 blue ribbons and 4 red ribbons. However, the reason she was able to do so much is that she's currently between jobs. She says it's great for baking but not so great for the practice runs as she's had a hard time figuring out how to give them away.

Bob's Favorite: Peppermint Candy Bark

One of the very first things I learned this holiday season is that I needed to buy a lot of crushed peppermint candy!  I bought 30 pounds and was out in a week.  Then I bought 120 more pounds.  As of today I have 60 pounds left and still two weeks until Christmas.  The distributer is out, though, so I hope that 60 is enough :) 

People were explaining to me how wonderful the bark is.  How everyone asked for it during the holiday season, and how there wasn't any peppermint crush last y

Gobble Gobble

How do you use candy molds? Not just for chocolate, right?

I love all things sweet and candy, but making chocolates is not my strength.  Over the last two months, I've had a crash course in candies and candy molds.  Turkeys have been popular the last two weeks.  I've sold flat turkey molds, 3D turkeys,  sucker turkey molds, hard candy turkeys....  so much turkey!

Most people are buying a mold and some chocolate, but some people have other ideas for the turkeys.  I thought I'd share a few ideas that I've learned over the last week. These are some fun ways to use candy molds and easy activities for the start of the indoor months!

Chocolate Turkey.  The obvious choice.  A quick and easy way to impress your family this Thanksgiving.  Using easily meltable chocolate from Little Bitts, you fill the molds with your favorite color.  You can add a few drops of flavor oil-- maybe peppermint, to make the turkeys a bit more festive. 

Hard Candy Turkey.  The second obvious choice.  First make sure that your candy mold is suitable for the heat of hard candy.  You can purchase a hard candy mix.. from Little Bitts :) or make your own from simple grocery store ingredients. We'll put up a more detailed tutorial on the blog soon, but a quick overview--  Mix sugar (2 cups), Water (1 cup), and Corn Syrup (1/2 cup) over medium heat until it reaches 300 degrees.  Take the mixture off the heat and mix flavoring (1 tsp) and food coloring for two minutes.  Pour into the mold, cool and enjoy!

Butter Turkey. Dress up the Thanksgiving day table with a professional looking butter pad.  Leave the butter out until soften.  Spoon the butter into the mold and pop into the freezer for half and hour.  Run the butter under hot water for a minute and the butter should pop right out!  Dazzle your family. 

Gelatin Turkey. Homemade Jello is so delicious and I promise we'll write a post on how to make it soon, but until them, we'll stick the the good ol' box stuff for this post.  Follow the directions on the box and put a little in each mold.  Stick in the fridge and pop out the jello-fun!  It makes for a great accent to the dessert table platter or fruit bowl!  yummy, easy and cute. 

Fondant Turkey. Fondant can be intimidating.  Hand molding fondant can be a challenge, but using a mold as a start makes the process much easier.  Be sure to coat the mold with powdered sugar or corn starch to keep it from sticking.  

Ice Cream Turkey. We'll end with another sweet idea.  Soften some ice cream just a bit and spoon it into the candy mold.  Just like the butter, press it all the way down and stick it in the freezer.   Quickly run it under warm water to release from the mold.  You can stick them in a plastic container and back into the freezer until they are ready to eat!

Have you used candy molds in a new way?  Leave a comment below or share on our Facebook page!