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Chance of Showers

One of the most fun aspects of any engagement is attending and hosting wedding showers! Barrett Baker, a busy bridesmaid on the local wedding circuit, turns to her friend Alivia Weeks’ mother, Pam Bryers, for her favorite tried-and-true bridal shower recipes.

Iced Mocha Punch

“This is basically a dessert that people sip on while sitting around chatting away before we even sit down to eat!” says Barrett Baker.

6 - 8 cups strong coffee
1/2 gallon chocolate milk
1/2 gallon coffee- or vanilla-flavored ice cream 
2 teaspoons vanilla
sugar, to taste
whipped topping, if desired    
chocolate sprinkles, if desired

1. Brew coffee and refrigerate until ready to use.  
2. In large punch bowl, add coffee, milk, ice cream, vanilla and sugar. Mix until ice cream is melted but still lumpy. 
3. Garnish with whipped topping and chocolate sprinkles, if desired.

Hot Crab Dip

This scrumptious, savory app is one of Pam Bryers’ favorites to serve up to a crowd. She got the recipe from her friend Lisa Sullivan.

1 stick unsalted butter, melted
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 pound white lump crabmeat
dash of Worcestershire sauce
garlic salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
crackers, for dipping 
tortilla chips, for dipping

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2. In a large bowl, cream together melted butter and cream cheese. Add remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. 
3. Transfer to a baking dish. Bake until warm and bubbly. Serve hot with crackers or chips.

Grape Salad

Pam’s friend Linda Sammons shares this recipe. “I make it all the time, even for just a weekly fruit treat to have around to snack on,” says Barrett. “It is a pretty dish and makes enough to feed a crowd.” 

1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
1 (8-ounce) container cream cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 pounds seedless purple and green grapes, washed and dried
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

1. In a large bowl, mix together sour cream, cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Add grapes and stir to coat. 
2. Store in refrigerator until you are ready to serve. 
3. Just before serving sprinkle brown sugar and pecans over top. 

Petit Fours

This sweet finale comes from another friends and seasoned hostess, Michelle Scott. “My mother owned a bakery when I was a child, and this is one of her specialties,” says the busy mom of four. A true labor of love, these are a beautiful, delectable party treat.  

2 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup salted butter, softened
3/4 cup shortening
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup sour cream
Buttercream Icing (see below)
Glaze (see below)
edible pearls or sprinkles, if desired

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 
2. In a bowl, cream together sugar, butter and shortening until smooth, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, until the mixture is fluffy.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add dry mixture and evaporated milk to the original mixture alternately. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed, then fold in the sour cream.
3. Spread batter onto a parchment-lined half sheet pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 25 - 35 minutes. (But check at 25 minutes!)         
4. Cool completely before adding a crumb coating of Buttercream Icing. This is just a thin, smooth layer of icing to keep the crumbs from showing when you glaze the petit fours.
5. Store entire pan in freezer overnight.
6. When ready to begin the glazing process, remove cake from freezer and cut all edges off. Cut remaining cake into 1 - 1 1/2 inch squares. Eyeball it or use a ruler and straight edge to mark.
7. Place back in freezer for around 10 - 20 minutes until very cold again.
8. Prepare the Glaze (see below) before removing cake from freezer. (The process works best if they remain very cold. You may need to occasionally put cake back in the freezer to keep cold as you work.) 
9. To prepare your work area, place cooling racks over parchment paper to place the glazed petits fours. (This is a messy process!) Keep your glaze over the double boiler as you work, and if it gets too thick, add a bit of skim milk. If too thin, add a bit of powdered sugar as you go. 
10. Use an icing spatula to hold the petit four over the pot as you pour the glaze carefully over the cake using a small ladle. (My preference is a 1/4-cup metal measuring cup.) Try to get the top and majority of the sides with the glaze. (Yes, occasionally a petit four will slip off into the glaze!) Use a second icing spatula to gently slide the petit four off the other spatula onto the cooling racks. Continue this process until all the squares have been covered with one coating, and then start again with a second coating. (The glaze should continue to pour easily, and any crumbs need to be removed as you go.)
11. After cooling, place petits fours in miniature baking cups (this serves two purposes, both for presentation and to hide any imperfections in the glazing) and decorate as desired. If you are using edible pearls, or other sprinkle decoration, you may add these while they are still warm.
12. If desired, simple monogram or flower piped with buttercream looks particularly beautiful on top. 

Buttercream Icing

1 stick unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups solid vegetable shortening
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 bag (2 pounds) sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/4 - 1/2 cup whole milk (to desired consistency)

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, shortening and vanilla extract until smooth, about 3 - 5 minutes on medium speed. 
2. Add about 1/4 of the confectioners’ sugar. You need to add this gradually. It makes a bit of a mess!
3. Mix on low until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl down with a rubber spatula and add another 1/4 of the confectioners’ sugar. Continue mixing and stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add more confectioners’ sugar until you’ve added it all. This mixture will be thick.
4. Add 1/8 cup of the milk and mix at low speed until incorporated. Add more or less depending on your preferred consistency. 

Glaze 

2 1/2 tablespoons shortening 
2/3 - 3/4 cup skim milk
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1. Add shortening to milk over double boiler until combined and melted (but do not let it boil).
2. Gradually add a little confectioners’ sugar at a time, mixing with a hand mixer until all combined and smooth. 
3. After the majority of the confectioners’ sugar has been added (reserve some in case it’s too thin later), add in the vanilla and almond extracts. The consistency should be pourable but not translucent. Adjust milk and sugar as needed to maintain consistency. Keep over double boiler as you work.

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