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Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

I want to wish everyone a very wonderful, happy, healthy, and safe new year! No matter what time zone in which you celebrate, I hope you are enjoying the evening with the people you love! See you in 2013!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Post Christmas glow

Hi lovely readers! Happy Friday! I've got a few pictures for you from my Christmas festivities! I hope you all had a lovely holiday/relaxing Chinese and a movie day!
Chocolate wafer sandwiches with
peppermint cream cheese filling

Classic Linzer cookies

6 layer chocolate cake with
white chocolate ganache,
dark chocolate ganache,
and chocolate frosting

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas time is here! (insert Charlie Brown music here)

Merry Christmas to all of my wonderful readers! Have a happy and safe evening/day tomorrow. I hope Santa brings you lots of presents because I know you've all been good (and busy in the kitchen!)!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sophisticated Christmas desserts!

Happy Wednesday! I've got a couple of recipes for you today...these are unique, elegant, and beautiful at the end of a delicious Christmas meal. Enjoy!

Italian Trifle with Marsala Syrup
Fabio Trabocchi



  • 1 quart milk
  • 1 plump vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 dozen large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sweet Marsala
  • 1/3 cup sugar
Whipped cream and fresh berries, for garnish

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the milk with the vanilla bean and seeds and 3/4 cup of the sugar. Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Discard the vanilla bean.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the cornstarch and the remaining 1 cup of sugar. Whisk in 1 cup of the milk mixture. Whisk the egg mixture into the milk in the saucepan and cook over moderately high heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until the custard just begins to thicken, about 4 minutes. Switch back to a whisk and cook, whisking constantly, until the custard is very thick and bubbling, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer the custard to a large heatproof bowl. Let cool, then press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a 12-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet and line the sheet with parchment paper. Butter the parchment and dust it with flour. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the eggs with the sugar at medium-high speed until the mixture is thick and pale, about 7 minutes. Beat in the orange zest.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the cake flour with the cornstarch and salt. Working in two batches, sift the flour mixture over the beaten eggs and fold it in. Pour the cake batter onto the prepared baking sheet and smooth the surface with an offset spatula. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes, until the cake is golden and springy. Let cool on a wire rack.
  5. In a small saucepan, combine the Marsala with the sugar and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let cool.
  6. Run the blade of a paring knife along the sides of the cake and invert the cake onto a work surface. Peel off the parchment paper. Cut the cake into 3-inch squares. Reserve any scraps to patch holes. In a large glass trifle bowl, arrange a layer of cake squares. Using a pastry brush, soak the cake with some of the marsala syrup. Top with a 1-inch layer of the pastry cream. Repeat with the remaining cake, syrup and pastry cream, ending with a layer of cake and syrup. Cover the trifle loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. Top the trifle with the whipped cream and berries and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The trifle can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Salted Caramel Pie
Carrie Cusack

  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 5 ounces)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • Two 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
  • Fleur de sel
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a food processor, pulse the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and light brown sugar until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly into a 9-inch glass or metal pie plate. Bake for about 10 minutes, just until lightly browned. Let cool. Increase the oven temperature to 425°.
  2. Scrape the condensed milk into a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish and sprinkle with a scant 1/2 teaspoon of fleur de sel. Cover the dish with foil and place it in a roasting pan. Add enough hot water to the pan to reach one-third of the way up the side of the baking dish. Bake, lifting the foil to stir 2 or 3 times, until the condensed milk is golden and thickened, about 2 hours; add more water to the roasting pan as necessary. The consistency of the caramel should be like dulce de leche. Don't worry if it is lumpy; it will smooth out as it chills.
  3. Scrape the caramel filling into the pie crust, smoothing the top. Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with vegetable oil spray and cover the pie. Refrigerate until the filling is chilled and set, at least 4 hours.
  4. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream with the confectioners' sugar until firm. Remove the plastic. Mound the whipped cream on top of the pie and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Cut into wedges and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The recipe can be prepared through Step 2 up to 5 days ahead. Refrigerate the crust and filling separately.

Happy baking!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Chocolate for Christmas

Back to the Monday was your day? Today we're talking cookies, a classic addition to the office holiday party. Seems like everyone is doing December Cookie Month, and as I was perusing Food Network I found a few interesting and chocolatey recipes to share. Enjoy!

Chocolate Cheesecake Candy Cane Bars
Food Network Kitchens

  • 20 chocolate wafer cookies
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground coffee beans
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon light or dark corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup crushed candy canes


For the crust: 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch-square baking dish with foil.
  2. Process the chocolate wafers in a food processor with the butter, sugar, coffee and salt until fine. Evenly press the crust into the prepared dish, covering the bottom completely. Bake until the crust sets, about 15 minutes.
For the filling: 
  1. Meanwhile, heat the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl at 75-percent power until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir, and continue to heat until completely melted, up to 2 minutes more. (Alternatively, put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer; set the bowl over, but not touching, the water, and stir occasionally until melted and smooth.)
  2. Blend the cream cheese, sugar and sour cream together in the food processor until smooth. Scrape down the sides as needed. Add the eggs and pulse until just incorporated. With the food processor running, pour the chocolate into the wet ingredients and mix until smooth.
  3. Pour the filling evenly over the crust. Bake until the filling puffs slightly around the edges but is still a bit wobbly in the center, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool on a rack.
For the glaze: 
  1. Put the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a microwave-safe bowl and heat at 75-percent power until melted, about 2 minutes. Stir the ingredients together until smooth; add the sour cream. Spread the glaze evenly over the warm cake and scatter the crushed candy canes over top. Cool completely, and then refrigerate overnight.
  2. Cut into small bars or squares. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
  3. Store the bars covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Cook's Note: To crush the candy canes, remove the wrappers and place in a resealable plastic bag. Use a rolling pin to roll over and break up the candy into small pieces, about 1/4 inch or so.

Dark Chocolate TrufflesTyler Florence (one of my favs!)


  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces good-quality (70 percent) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cocoa powder, for dusting
  1. In a saucepan, bring the cream just to a simmer over medium-low to low heat. Pour the cream over the chocolate in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand about 10 minutes to melt the chocolate.
  2. Add the vanilla and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Then beat the chocolate at medium speed, using an electric mixer, until it is thick and light colored. If the chocolate has cooled enough, it will be ready to form truffles right away. If the chocolate is still too soft to hold its shape when rolled in a ball, spread over the bottom of a baking dish and smooth the top. Refrigerate until firmed, but still scoopable, up to 2 hours.
  4. Pour the cocoa powder onto a deep plate or shallow bowl. Use a melon baller or small ice cream scoop to scoop out balls of chocolate and gently roll into a ball. Place them on the plate with the cocoa powder and roll between 2 forks to completely coat with the cocoa powder. Then use the forks to carefully transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper.
  5. If making the truffles a day or two ahead of time, let them stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving.
Cook's Note: A pair of disposable latex gloves will help your hands stay clean while rolling the truffles.

Sunny's Chocolate Chip Candy Cane CookiesSunny Anderson


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, gently chopped
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) coarsely crushed red or green candy canes (4 to 5 candy canes)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. To a stand mixer, add the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Blend on high with the paddle attachment until the sugar granules are less visible and the mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  3. Scrape the sides with a rubber spatula, then add the egg and blend on low until combined, stopping to scrape the sides more to incorporate.
  4. Prepare the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, add the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and baking soda. Stir and toss with a spoon or fork.
  5. Scrape the sides of the mixer bowl and, while off, add half of the flour mixture. Turn on low and mix until combined; this should only take 5 to 6 rotations of the paddle. Stop and scrape the sides again, then add the other half of the flour and mix on low the same way. Turn off the mixer.
  6. Add the chopped chocolate chips and crushed candy canes. Turn the mixer back on low and blend until just combined; this should only take 3 to 4 rotations of the paddle.
  7. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop dough balls the size of golf balls, 1 tablespoon each, and place 3 inches apart on the baking sheet, about 8 cookies per sheet. Bake until the edges are set and the center is cooked through, but still soft, 13 to 15 minutes.
  8. Cool the cookies for 2 to 3 minutes on the sheets. Then, holding the baking sheet over a wire cooling rack, remove the cookies from the sheet by gripping the baking sheet with one hand and the parchment paper on the opposite side with your other hand. Gently slide the parchment paper off the sheet with the cookies still on top, resting the parchment and cookies on the wire rack beneath until cool. This cookie removal/cooling trick takes coordination, so think about it before you do it and easy on the egg nog.

Happy baking!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Remembering those we lost

I am so heartbroken by the tragedy in Connecticut today. As a tri-stater and a Kindergarten teacher, it's both frightening and heart-wrenching. I hope you will all keep the families in your thoughts and prayers as they try to deal with what happened.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday desserts for the inventive chef

Good evening my bloggies! I've got two new recipes for those of you interested in freshening up the annual holiday party. Enjoy!

Shaker-Style Lemon Bars
Food & Wine, Grace Parisi

Shortbread Dough
  • 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 large, firm lemon, scrubbed and halved lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  1. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons of butter with the sugar and egg yolk until smooth. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and beat at low speed until evenly moistened, about 2 minutes. Using your hands, knead once or twice to bring the dough together.
  1. Using a mandoline or very sharp knife, slice the lemon halves as thinly as possible and transfer to a medium bowl; pick out the seeds. Stir in the lemon juice and sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Butter a 9-inch square metal baking pan. Pat three-fourths of the dough into the baking pan in an even layer. Roll the remaining dough into eight 9-inch-long ropes. Transfer to a plate. Refrigerate the crust and ropes until firm, about 10 minutes.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the flour, butter and eggs until smooth. Fold in the lemon-sugar mixture.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the filling over the dough and arrange the ropes of dough on top in a crisscross pattern. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the ropes are golden. Let cool completely.
  5. Run the tip of a knife around the edge of the pan. Cut the square into 18 bars and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The bars can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Glittering Lemon Sandwich Cookies
The Gourmet Cookie Book

For Cookies
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • White and colored sanding sugars
For Filling
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
Make Cookies:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt.
  3. Beat together butter and confectioners' sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then beat in zest and vanilla. At low speed, mix in flour mixture just until a soft dough forms.
  4. Put sanding sugars in different bowls. Roll a scant teaspoon of dough into a ball and drop into sugar, turning to coat. Reshape if necessary and transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat, spacing balls 3/4 inch apart, until baking sheet is filled.
  5. Bake until tops are slightly cracked but still pale (bottoms will be pale golden), 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer cookies on parchment to a rack to cool completely.
  6. Form and bake more cookies on second baking sheet.
Make Filling and Sandwich Cookies:
  1. Beat together all filling ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until combined well. Transfer to sealable bag and snip off a corner.
  2. Turn over half of cookies and pipe about 1/2 teaspoon filling on flat side of each. Sandwich with remaining cookies, pressing gently.

Recipe Notes1. The sugared dough balls should be chilled for 30 minutes or frozen for 5 to 10 minutes to help preserve their round shape. Keep the sandwiched cookies chilled.
2. The unsandwiched cookies keep, in a metal cookie tin, at a cool room temperature for up to 4 days.

Happy baking!

Monday, December 10, 2012


Hello all! Just updating you with a picture are my fabulously delicious Hannukah desserts: no pic of the ricotta ice cream, but here are the sugar cookies and the chocolate-pecan rugelach. Enjoy!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hannukah preview...

Happy Friday everyone! Tomorrow night starts Hannukah early this year, and I want to give you a little preview of what I'm doing. I'm trying not to go overboard (though I ALWAYS go overboard), so I'm not doing too many desserts. Here are my holiday cookies...even though it's Hannukah, I like to celebrate everyone's holiday season!

Roll-and-Cut Sugar Cookies
Cindy Mushet for Food & Wine, December 2008


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup seedless raspberry or apricot jam (for jam-filled cookies)
  • Royal Icing, sprinkles, sparkles and dragées, for decorating

  1. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, mix the flour with the sugar and salt. Add the butter and mix at low speed until the butter is broken up into small pieces, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the flour and butter form small clumps, about 1 minute. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix at low speed until the dough comes together in a few large clumps. Pat the cookie dough into two 1/2-inch-thick disks, wrap them in plastic and refrigerate until chilled but not firm, about 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, working with 1 disk at a time, roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. Using 3- to 4-inch cookie cutters, cut the dough into shapes and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Reroll the scraps and cut out more cookies. (Alternatively, cut the dough into 3- to 4-inch shapes and, using a smaller cutter, stamp out the center of half of the cookies.) Refrigerate the cutout cookies until chilled, about 30 minutes.
  3. Bake the cookies for about 13 minutes, until they are lightly golden around the edges; shift the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through for even baking. Let the sugar cookies cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then, using a metal spatula, carefully transfer them to a rack to cool completely, about 20 minutes.
  4. For sandwich cookies, spread a thin layer of raspberry or apricot jam on the solid cookies and top with the corresponding cutout cookies to expose the jam. Otherwise, decorate as desired with the Royal Icing, sprinkles, sparkles and dragées.
MAKE AHEAD The decorated and/or jam-filled cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

    Happy baking!

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

    8 nights of frying!

    Hannukah is around the corner! Let's talk about what makes this holiday so much fun - frying everything! One Hannukah tradition, and I'll admit it's not one I've done often though I always say I will next year, are doughnuts. Yum yum. Here's a fun recipe for delicious little doughnut holes for a delicious start to the holiday.

    Doughnut Holes with Raspberry Jam
    Ginevra Iverson of Restaurant Eloise in Sonoma County


    1. STARTER
    • 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
    • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water
    • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1. DOUGH
    • 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
    • 2 tablespoons milk, warmed
    • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 3 large egg yolks
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    1. JAM
    • 1 pint red raspberries (12 ounces)
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus more for coating
    • Vegetable oil, for frying


    1. In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Mix in the flour. Cover with plastic and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 hour.
    2. In a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook, dissolve the yeast in the milk. Add the flour, salt, egg yolks, butter, sugar and the starter and mix until the dough forms a ball. Scrape the dough into a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, 1 hour.
    3. In a saucepan, simmer the raspberries with the 1 1/2 cups of sugar over moderate heat until thickened, about 25 minutes. Scrape the jam into a bowl and let cool for 1 hour.
    4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough 1/2 inch thick. Stamp out 1-inch round doughnuts as close together as possible. Reroll the scraps and stamp out more doughnuts. Transfer the rounds to the baking sheet and cover with a damp cloth. Let stand for 15 minutes.
    5. In a saucepan, heat 1 inch of oil to 325°. Fry the doughnuts until golden, 2 minutes. Drain, then roll the doughnuts in sugar. Serve hot, with the raspberry jam.

    Happy baking!

    Tuesday, December 4, 2012

    Holiday season is here!

    Be sure to place your holiday orders soon! Hannukah starts this weekend. Check out for more details!