October 24, 2013 Sticky Toffee Pudding

After we returned from the Holiday photo shoot in England, my mind kept drifting back to sticky toffee pudding—the perfect amalgamation of cream, caramel and dates!  Since I couldn’t find it on any dessert menus back home, it didn’t take long for me to whip up a version of my own.  Without further adieu, I present to you….

Sticky Toffee Pudding

stickypudding

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Grease an 8” x 8” square cake pan.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 1/3 Cup evaporated milk (or regular milk), 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 8 oz chopped dates.  Bring to a boil, but watch closely so it doesn’t burn or boil over.  Boil for a couple minutes, until the mixture thickens and the dates seem nice and soft.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine ½ Cup brown sugar, ¼ Cup sugar and 1 stick of butter (1/2 Cup), softened.  Beat with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Add 2 eggs and beat for another minute.  Then add 1 ¼ Cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda and ½ teaspoon salt, beating just until it’s combined.  Lastly, add the date/milk mixture and beat again just until it’s combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  I start checking after 25 minutes, testing it with a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean.

While the cake bakes, prepare the caramel (toffee) sauce:

                               caramel

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 stick of butter (1/2 Cup) with 1 cup of brown sugar and a small dash of salt.  Once it boils, you’ll want to stir it almost constantly with a wire whisk.  Continue boiling for 2-3 minutes, then add ½ Cup heavy cream (whipping cream), without turning off the heat.  Return to a boil and let it cook for a minute longer, whisking almost constantly.  Finally add 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract just before removing it from the heat. Set aside.

Once the cake is done, it only needs to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.  You want it to be warm!  While cooling, whip up some fresh cream for the top.  All you have to do is pour about ¾ cup heavy whipping cream into a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric beater until thick.  When it’s close to the perfect thickness, turn off the beaters and add a small amount of powdered sugar (confectioners sugar), about ½-1 tablespoon depending on how sweet you like it.  Keep in mind that the caramel and the cake are both very sweet, so the cream does not need to be as sweet as normal.

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To serve, cut the warm cake into squares and top individual servings with a heavy stream of caramel and a dollop of cream!

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Out the Back Door: Holiday Inspirations

The inspiration behind some of our Holiday 2013 prints took us to far-flung places spanning oceans and even decades, while others didn’t take us further than the backyard!  Take a peek at how we re-imagined real-world objects into wearable landscapes…

Moroccan Tile New

Sometimes you need to travel to far-away lands! The ornate stylized designs in Morocco have inspired countless patterns here at Peruvian Connection.  In our Holiday collection, we were especially thrilled about this fanciful Moroccan scrollwork painted on ceramic tiles.   We colored it and played with different fabrics ranging from printed jerseys to velveteen and devoré—and then re-colored it some more!

LacePants

Other times you need a little fancy paper!  For these lacy-print pants, we started with a pattern inspired by this lavish gold-leaf paper, then “ate away” at the print for an abstracted, decayed lace look.  We loved this print on the Paloma Pants so much that we reinvented it on the bohemian Bolinas Skirt.

AntiqueScrolls

Then sometimes time-travel is the only way!  For our Antique Scrolls Tee, we drew from the ornate aesthetic found in 18th century Romanticism. We gave it a contemporary look by making it more graphic and using rich jewel-tone coloring.

Sketchbookdress

And sometimes all you need is to look out the back door!  If you didn’t know by now, the Peruvian Connection headquarters sit on a gorgeous landscaped farm, complete with chickens and all!  The print on our Sketchbook Dress was created from images and drawings of garden flowers in our very own back yard. Then we layered on washes of watercolor to bring you this artsy, close-to-home print!

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All Saints Day in Peru

saints2
All Hallows Day in America may be overshadowed by costumes, trick-or-treating and jack o’ lanterns the night before, but let’s not forget why zombies and ghosts fill the streets on Halloween.  Celebrated on November 1st, this Christian ritual, also known as All Saints Day, honors those who have attained saintliness in heaven. The following day, known as All Souls Day, commemorates the departed who have yet to reach heaven and remain trapped in purgatory.  When the Spaniards arrived in Peru in the 16th century, they brought these rituals with them.  The Incas always maintained a strong connection with their deceased ancestors, offering them gifts and requesting assistance, so the ideas behind All Saints Day and All Souls Day were easily absorbed.  To this day, the Peruvian celebration of these rituals, known as Dia de los Difuntos, “Day of the Deceased,” focuses on departed ancestors and their indelible connection to those living on earth.

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In Peru, the celebration is rooted in the belief that the souls of deceased relatives visit earth on this day.  It is the family’s duty to ensure that plenty of food is available for these departed souls in order to fuel their journey in the afterlife.  In more rural areas, families may share their meal on the grave of the deceased relative and leave some behind, while in other areas, families will simply bring food or flowers to the grave.  Either way, lively music is likely to fill the air, along with the smells of roasted pig, the most traditional food to enjoy on Dia de los Difuntos.

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In addition to the roast pig, you’ll likely find “bread babies,” or Tanta Wawas, filling gravesites, decorating the dinner table and entertaining children.  Tanta Wawas are made from a brioche-like dough usually in the shape of a baby, to signify the beginning of the life cycle.  It’s common in some regions to find horse-shaped Wawas or even staircases, both of which are meant to assist an ancestor in their journey from earth to the other realm.

saints1

Since the focus is on remembering the dead as they were when living, Peruvian graves are a live “scrapbook” of the deceased. Often, the grave will be gifted with the favorite food or drink of the deceased–it’s not uncommon to spot a beer, a soda or even a bottle of pisco inside the framed glass enclosures that mark an individual’s grave in Peru.  These glass enclosures are a window into the life of the deceased.  Even as a stranger from another country, you can get the sense of how someone lived, what they liked and who they were from the meaningful display in front of their grave.

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October 23, 2013 PC is in the News!

Rachael Ray wearing our Cheval Pendant on the October cover of EveryDay.

Rachael Ray wearing our Cheval Pendant on the October cover of EveryDay.

Peruvian Connection got a kickstart back in 1979 thanks to an article in the New York Times style section…we’ve been big believers in the power of the press ever since.  PC has been in the news lately, with mentions in a number of popular blogs as well as in print features. The latest edition of KC Magazine, features an interview with our founder, Annie Hurlbut, telling the story of PC’s roots on the family farm in Tonganoxie, Kansas.

Annie Hurlbut with Georgina of "Notes on Lifestyle by Georgina".

Annie Hurlbut with Georgina of “Notes on Lifestyle by Georgina”.

Jonelle of Jo Traveler has been a PC customer and follower for 15 years, and made the trip to Kansas to visit our headquarters in September.

LiquidHip, an alternative review site that covers the cool, new and artistic, gives Peruvian Connection and its Art Knits a 9.5 on their Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Our retail stores have been garnering praise in the blogosphere–check out the latest comments about our stores and Fall / Holiday collections:
Boston:
Racked Boston
Bostinno.com
Bostonista
Scorpion Disco
Height of Style
Notes on Lifestyle by Georgina
Where Boston

Renata of Scorpion / Disco in PC's Bella Lace Pullover and Ayaviri Dress.

Renata of Scorpion / Disco in PC’s Bella Lace Pullover and Ayaviri Dress.

Kacy of "The Height of Style" in PC's Lucia Silk Pinafore.

Kacy of “The Height of Style” in PC’s Lucia Silk Pinafore.

Kelsey of "Tickle Me Pink" in our Inlet Pullover.

Kelsey of “Tickle Me Pink” in our Inlet Pullover.

Chicago:
included on Michigan Avenue‘s list of 2013′s Best Places to Shop
Red Soles & Red Wine
Sassy Moms in the City
Racked Chicago
PureWow Chicago
Jess & Jill

Jen of Red Soles & Red Wine, in PC's Bedouin Knit Coat.

Jen of “Red Soles & Red Wine”, in PC’s Bedouin Knit Coat.

Jill of "Jess & Jill" in our Macedonia Pencil Skirt.

Jill of “Jess & Jill” in our Macedonia Pencil Skirt.

Look for features coming up soon in EveryDay with Rachael Ray, Women’s Health and Good Housekeeping!

Visit the store nearest you:
Washington DC  -  San Francisco –  Chicago –  Santa Fe  - Kansas City –  Boston  -  London

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October 21, 2013 Finding the Perfect Coat for Your Shape

‘Tis the season to layer-up, but that doesn’t mean you have to bury your fashion sense under a frumpy, unflattering coat.  We put together an easy guide to help you find the right winter topper to flatter your shape. To make a sweet deal even sweeter, take advantage of our $25 rebate towards the tailor of your choice!

pear

If you’re a Pear-Shape…

Then fit-and-flare shapes are your best bet.  Look for styles that slim through the bodice and flare out through the hips, like our Mireille Maxi Coat.  These concealing shapes give you the room you need without compromising your smallness up top.  Another trick to balance out wider-on-bottom shapes is to add volume up top, with details like wide lapels, big fancy buttons, breast pockets and double-breasted plackets.   Don’t forget to look for coats that hit below the hips! Check out our Belgravia Trench and Black Forest Wrap Coat, they add volume up top, cinch the waist and A-line past the hips for a flattering fit.

apple

If you’re an Apple-Shape…

Then A-lined, looser-waisted coats are for you!  Think Car Coats and Cocoon Coats.  Their boxier shapes help conceal wider middles, giving you the extra space without sacrificing a great fit everywhere else.  Silhouettes that A-line from the shoulder really help showcase your smaller frame up-top.   Check out some of our best Car Coats: the Excursion Coat and the Hamburg Coat.  What’s more, these coats are the most flattering length for your shape—past the hips.  To keep attention off the middle, you don’t want a coat that hits right there.  And let’s not forget our vintage-looking Cocoon Coat, it tapers in slightly at the bottom, to help keep those hips looking slim.

hourglass

If you’re an Hourglass-shape…

Then shapely waist-cinched coats are the way to go!  Look for something with a waist seam or even a belt to show off your small waist (like our Black Forest Wrap Coat and Belgravia Trench).  Long coats shouldn’t be ruled out (as long as you’re not petite!), but for the most part above-the-knee shapes will most greatly flatter curves without hiding them.  Styles like our Swallowtail Coat that have a tailored, fitted bodice and an A-lined hem accentuate all the right spots without overemphasizing those curves.

beans

If you’re Straight Up & Down…

Then seek out curve-creating styles.  Seamed bodices, double-breasted plackets, peplums, defined waists and pleats are all your friends! You want shapely details, not fill-you-out bulkiness. Fit-and-flare shapes with a nipped-in waist will give you a curvy look without the bulk.   Unless you’re petite, longer lengths can also work for you.  Check out our ankle-grazing Mireille Maxi Coat and Rivoli Coat.   Let’s not forget defined shoulders!  We’re not talking jumbo 80’s puff shoulders, but slight padding, epaulets, or even seaming create even more shape up top.  Our Swallowtail Coat has everything you need to create flattering shape while maintaining that slim, tailored look.

stack

If you’re a Petite “Short Stack” (5’4” or below)…

Then go no further than your knees!  Long coats (past the knee) will only shorten the look of those legs!  Worst of all is a voluminous long coat…nothing will dwarf you quicker.  The most flattering, elongating style is a knee-length coat with an empire waist, belt or fitted bodice, all of which create a taller illusion (like our Belgravia Trench and Winter Ombré Coat).  Another trick of the trade is to draw eyes upward with details at the neckline, such as fur-trim or an extra-wide collar, such as our Anatolian Coat

 

carrot

Carrot artwork courtesy of http://www.artisticrealism.com/paintings/carrot-oil-painting.jpg

Then look for coats that don’t put the focus on your chest—opt for details at the neck or hem and avoid big pockets at the bust.  Coats that A-line from the shoulder can help balance things out by bringing more volume to the bottom without putting more on top.  Our Excursion Coat does just that, plus it has a zipper so you won’t have to worry about the gaping-button syndrome!  Not that buttons are a bad thing.  For the most part, a single-breasted placket will be the most flattering, as double-breasted plackets tend to emphasize the bust.  Long lengths help draw the eye downwards, so go for coats that are hip-length or longer.  We recommend the Cocoon Coat or the Black Forest Wrap Coat!

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