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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Color Coordinate Your Super Bowl Treats!

It's Wednesday you have baking plans? Still unsure about what to for Super Bowl Sunday? The Washington Post gave us a FABULOUS idea this week! Why not color coordinate your cookies to your favorite team? Get purple or red M&Ms and let's go!

M&M Bars
The Washington Post, December 7, 2011


  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • Rounded 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 slightly rounded tablespoons sour cream (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
  • 12 ounces plain M&M candies (about 2 cups)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use nonstick cooking oil spray to grease a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan, then line the bottom of it with enough parchment paper so that some of it sticks up/out beyond the two short sides of the pan.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. Combine the butter and shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat on low speed until smooth. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add both sugars; beat on low, then on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Stop to scrape down the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and sour cream; beat on low speed to incorporate.
  4. Gradually add the sifted ingredients, beating (on low) to form a soft dough. Stir in the M&Ms. Transfer the dough to the pan, patting it in evenly and smoothing the surface. Bake for 25 minutes; the cookie slab should be puffed and slightly golden.
  5. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until just set at the center. Cool completely in the pan. Use a round-edged knife to loosen the edges of the cookie slab, then use the parchment paper to lift and transfer the cookie slab to a cutting board before cutting it into 24 bars.

M&M Cookies
Adapted from Gourmet, October 2003

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups M&Ms (16 ounces)

  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or wax paper.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
  3. Beat together butter and sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Lightly beat 1 egg with a fork in a small bowl and add 1 3/4 tablespoons of it plus 2 remaining whole eggs to butter mixture, beating with mixer until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture until just blended, then stir in chips.
  4. Scoop 1/4 cup batter for each cookie, arranging mounds 3 inches apart, on 2 baking sheets. Flatten mounds into 3-inch rounds using moistened palm of your hand. Form remaining cookies on additional sheets of parchment.
  5. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool and continue making cookies in same manner using cooled baking sheets.

Happy baking!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Super Bowl = Puppy bowl time!

Hello lovely readers! I know, I know, I am a dessert blogger, HOWEVER, I just remembered that Super Bowl day is a PUPPY BOWL DAY! How could I forget? In honor of the pups, I want to make sure you've got the line up! You're welcome. :)
Puppy Bowl tiiiiime! (3pm on Sunday!)

Make a Dog Cake!
(a la Martha Stewart - click link for her pic of the cake)

What you'll need:

  • Your favorite blondie recipe
  • Your favorite brownie recipe
  • Cooking spray
  • Your favorite chocolate frosting
  • Vanilla ice cream (homemade I hope!)

  1. Trim blondie to 6-inch square; repeat with brownie. Cut out small bones from scraps with dog-bone-shape cutter.
  2. Coat a large dog-shape cutter with cooking spray. Cut out a dog from center of each 6-inch square. Carefully place brownie dog into cutout in blondie, and blondie dog into cutout in brownie. Spread brownie with frosting. Top with blondie. Refrigerate until set, 20 minutes. Serve with ice cream and dog bones.
Cookie cutters:

Happy baking!

Friday, January 25, 2013

It's (almost) Superbowl time!

Happy Friday to all of my wonderful readers! Not only is the groundhog about to tell us whether or not we must endure 6 more weeks of dry skin, cold noses, and frozen toes, but it's ALSO almost Superbowl time!!!! This is another year for the Ravens (my home team) and the 49ers (my perhaps future home one day)! In honor of this awesome event filled with hours of a game I don't always understand and commercials that make me giggle, I give you a variety of desserts you can bring to your own Superbowl table. Bragging can commence the minute you set the food down. Touchdown!

Guinness Ice Cream with Chocolate Covered Pretzels
Food & Wine, February 2008


Ice cream:
  • 2 cups Guinness (16 ounces)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 15 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
Chocolate covered pretzels:
  • 6 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups thin pretzel sticks
  1. In a large saucepan, combine the Guinness with the cream and milk and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. Gradually add the hot Guinness cream to the yolks, whisking constantly until well blended.
  2. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly until it coats the back of a spoon, about 6 minutes; do not let it boil. Pour the custard into a medium bowl set in a large bowl filled with ice water. Let stand until the custard is cold, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
  3. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions (this may have to be done in 2 batches). Pack the ice cream into an airtight container and freeze until firm, about 4 hours.
  4. Spoon the ice cream into bowls and top with some Chocolate-Covered Pretzels. Serve at once.
  1. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Let cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pretzels and stir gently until coated. Using a fork, transfer the pretzels to the wax paper, letting the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. Refrigerate the pretzels until the chocolate is set, about 20 minutes.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies
Bon Appetit, Dede Wilson, January 2009

Brownie layer:
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Cheesecake layer:
  • 1/3 cup creamy (smooth) natural peanut butter (made with only peanuts and salt)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
For brownie layer:
  1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Spray 9-inch square metal baking pan with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray; line bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Stir chocolate and butter in medium saucepan over low heat until smooth; cool 10 minutes. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, eggs, and vanilla in medium bowl until very fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture on low speed, then beat in flour and salt. Spread batter in pan.

For cheesecake layer:
  1. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and vanilla in medium bowl until smooth. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in cream, then flour. Transfer 1/3 cup cheesecake batter to small bowl and reserve. Spread remaining cheesecake batter over brownie layer.
  2. Place chocolate in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on low power in 10-second intervals until chocolate begins to melt, then stir until smooth. Mix chocolate into reserved 1/3 cup cheesecake batter. Drop chocolate batter by heaping teaspoonfuls atop cheesecake layer. Using chopstick or wooden skewer, swirl chocolate batter in figure-eight pattern through white cheesecake layer.
  3. Bake brownies until edges of cheesecake layer are puffed and center is set, about 36 minutes. Cool brownies in pan on rack. Cover; chill at least 1 hour.
  4. Cut brownies into 25 squares. Using narrow spatula, transfer brownies to platter. Serve cold.

Chocolate Dulce de Leche Bars
Gourmet, Shelley Wiseman, July 2008

For shortbread crust:
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
For chocolate dulce de leche:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup dulce de leche
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 5 ounces 60%-cacao bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (preferably in a food processor)
Make shortbread crust: 
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Butter a shallow 9- to 9 1/2-inch square baking pan (1 to 1 1/2 inches deep). Line bottom and 2 sides with parchment paper, leaving an overhang. Butter parchment.
  2. Blend together butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a bowl with a fork. Sift in flour and blend with fork until a soft dough forms.
  3. Spread dough evenly in baking pan using an offset spatula or back of a spoon, then prick all over with fork.
  4. Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes, then cool completely in pan on a rack, about 30 minutes.

Make chocolate dulce de leche
  1. Bring cream and dulce de leche to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan, stirring with a wooden spoon until dulce de leche has dissolved.
  2. Whisk together yolks in a bowl, then slowly whisk in hot cream mixture. Return to pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until pan is visible in tracks of spoon and mixture registers 170°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until melted.

Make bars:
  1. Pour chocolate mixture over cooled shortbread and chill, uncovered, until cold and set, about 2 hours.
  2. Run a small knife around edges to loosen, then transfer to a cutting board using parchment. Cut with a hot clean knife (dip in hot water and wipe clean between cuts) into 24 bars. Chill until ready to serve.

Cooks' note:Chocolate dulce de leche bars can be chilled in an airtight container up to 1 day.

Happy baking! Go team.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Remembering MLK while celebrating Inauguration!

Happy Inauguration Day/Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day! I hope you all have off for this cold winter celebration. In honor of President Obama and Dr. MLK Jr., I've got a few recipes to try before you sit down to watch the parade. Enjoy!

In honor of Dr. MLK Jr's southern roots:

Red Velvet Cake
Adapted from B. Smith's recipe


  • 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • Frosting:

  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

  • 3 1/2-pint baskets fresh raspberries
  • 3 1/2-pint baskets fresh blueberries

  • Directions

    For cake:
    1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Sift sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in small bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions.
    2. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 27 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.

    For frosting:
    1. Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
    2. Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over top of cake. Arrange 1 basket raspberries and 1/2 basket blueberries atop frosting, pressing lightly to adhere. Top with second cake layer, flat side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Arrange remaining berries decoratively over top of cake. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)

    According to Matt and Ted Lee, contributing editors of Travel + Leisure, buttermilk pie is one of President Obama's favorite desserts:

    Olivia's Buttermilk Pie 
    Paula Deen


    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 1/2 cup biscuit mix (recommended: Bisquick)
    • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) butter, melted
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 3 eggs
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch pie pan.
    2. Put all ingredients in a bowl and blend for 1 minute with a handheld electric mixer. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes.

    And of course, I need to add what Bon Appetit (one of my go-to mags) says for Inauguration Day desserts:

    Peanut Butter-Honey Tart with Ganache Glaze
    Dede Wilson, January 2009



    • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
    • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
    • 5 tablespoons sugar
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
    • 1 large egg, separated
    • 2 (or more) teaspoons ice water


    • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
    • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 1/3 cup honey
    • 1 cup lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/3 cup creamy (smooth) natural peanut butter (made with only peanuts and salt)*
    • 2 tablespoons plus 1 to 2 teaspoons milk

    ganache glaze

    • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
    • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 3 tablespoons lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped



    1. Spray 9-inch square or 10-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom with nonstick spray. Blend flour, sugar, and salt in processor 5 seconds. Add butter and blend until coarse crumbs form. Add egg yolk and 2 teaspoons ice water. Blend until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into square or disk (depending on shape of pan). Wrap and chill 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.
    2. Roll out dough to 11- to 12-inch square or round. Transfer dough to prepared pan. Cut off all but 1/2 inch of overhang. Fold overhang in, creating double-thick sides. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
    3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake crust until pale golden, checking every 5 minutes and pressing bottom if bubbling and pressing sides up with back of fork if slipping, about 28 minutes.
    4. Beat egg white in small bowl until foamy. Brush some white over hot crust to coat inside. Bake 1 minute longer. Cool on rack. Increase oven temperature to 375°F.


    1. Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in brown sugar and salt, then cream and honey. Bring to rolling boil, swirling pan occasionally. Boil 1 minute. Whisk in 1 cup peanuts. Pour filling into crust.
    2. Bake tart until filling is bubbling thickly, about 15 minutes. Cool on rack until firm, about 2 hours; freeze 15 minutes.
    3. Beat powdered sugar and peanut butter in medium bowl until blended. Gradually beat in 2 tablespoons milk, then more by teaspoonfuls to thin slightly; spread evenly over peanut filling. Refrigerate tart while preparing glaze.

    ganache glaze

    1. Place chocolate in medium bowl. Bring cream to simmer in small saucepan; pour over chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Spread glaze over tart. Sprinkle chopped peanuts around edge. Chill tart until glaze sets, at least 1 hour. 
    DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.
    Using tip of small knife, gently loosen crust from pan. Push up pan bottom, releasing tart. Cut square tart in half and cut each half crosswise into 7 or 8 slices or cut round tart into wedges.

    *which peanut butter to use

    For this recipe, we used creamy (smooth) all-natural peanut butter. To make sure you're buying the right stuff, check the label. There should be only two ingredients: peanuts and salt. This style of peanut butter may have a layer of oil (from the peanuts) on top. If it does, chill the jar for a few hours, then slowly mix until smooth. Don't use freshly ground peanut butter: It can have inconsistent flavor and texture.

    Happy baking!

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013

    Grab a sweet fruit and juice!

    It's Wednesday...finally! Hope you're not snowed in! Today let's talk about shakes and smoothies for those of you who are early birds and need a grab and go breakfast. These recipes will get you started but the great thing about a blender is that you can throw in whatever mixture excites you and blend it up!

    Jasmine Honey Lassi
    Super Charged Smoothies, Mary Corpening Barber and Sara Corpening Whiteford


    • 3 tbsp raw honey
    • 1/2 cup/120 ml warm strong-brewed jasmine tea
    • 1 1/2 cups/255 g diced peaches
    • 3/4 cup/170 g low-fat Greek yogurt
    • 4 to 6 ice cubes

    1. Dissolve the honey in the warm tea. Refrigerate until chilled. Combine the sweetened tea, peaches, yogurt, and ice in a blender. Blend until smooth.
    Vanilla-Date Breakfast Smoothie
    Bon Appetit, May 2007

    • 1 cup nonfat yogurt
    • 1 cup nonfat milk
    • 1 cup (packed) pitted Medjool dates (about 9 ounces)
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 2 cups ice cubes
    1. Purée yogurt, milk, dates, and vanilla in blender until smooth. Add ice cubes; puree until mixture is thick and smooth. Divide between 2 glasses and serve.
    Almond-Banana Smoothie
    Bon Appetit, May 2009

    • 2 large ripe bananas, peeled, sliced
    • 2 cups almond milk or whole milk
    • 2 cups ice cubes
    • 2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • Ground nutmeg
    1. Blend first 5 ingredients in blender until smooth. Divide smoothies among 4 small glasses. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg.
    Happy blending!

    Monday, January 14, 2013

    Tonight's big reveal!

    Hello my lovely readers! Just wanted to send along an update as I've been busy in the kitchen. This weekend I worked on my holiday rainbow cookies, as I didn't have time to send out my annual cookie boxes. Here are the delicious results! Thin layers of almond cake filled with apricot preserves and topped with a crisp layer of chocolate. YUM. Happy baking!

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

    See you Friday!

    Couldn't post tonight...had to make some of my famous brownies! These are swirled with white chocolate. YUM! See you Friday! Happy baking!

    Monday, January 7, 2013

    A smorgasbord of shortbread!

    I love shortbread - they're easy, rich and delicious, and can be made into an infinite amount of flavors! Here are a few shortbread recipes to get your mouth watering. Start softening that butter...

    Maple and Chocolate Chip Shortbread
    Lori Longbotham, Oct 2010 for Bon Appetit


    • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus additional for pan
    • 7 tablespoons finely ground maple sugar, divided
    • 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
    • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup (about) bittersweet chocolate chips
    • 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
    • Test-Kitchen Tip
    • If maple sugar is coarse, grind it in a food processor until it resembles granulated sugar.

    1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. 
    2. Using electric mixer, beat room-temperature butter, 6 tablespoons maple sugar, and coarse salt in large bowl until light and fluffy and sugar is dissolved. Add flour and beat just until blended. 
    3. Pat dough evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. Press chocolate chips into dough in random pattern, spacing chips 1/2 inch apart (chips should show). Brush dough with maple syrup and sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 tablespoon maple sugar.
    4. Bake shortbread until golden brown and firm to touch, about 55 minutes. Transfer pan to rack and cool shortbread 10 minutes. Gently push tart pan bottom up, releasing shortbread. Cut warm shortbread into 16 wedges. Cool shortbread wedges completely and serve.

    Lemon Shortbread Heart Cookies
    Jodi Liano, February 2011 for Bon Appetit


    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 2 teaspoons (packed) finely grated lemon peel
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • Generous pinch of coarse kosher salt
    • 2 teaspoons (about) sugar
    • Additional powdered sugar (optional)
    special equipment
    • 2- to 2 1/2-inch-diameter heart-shaped cookie cutter
    1. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Using electric mixer, beat butter and 1/4 cup powdered sugar in medium bowl until smooth. Beat in lemon peel and vanilla. Add flour and coarse salt and beat just until blended. 
    2. Transfer dough to large piece of plastic wrap and press into disk. Cover dough with another piece of plastic wrap and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Place wrapped dough on another baking sheet and chill until firm, 20 to 30 minutes.
    3. Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350°F. Transfer wrapped dough to work surface; remove top sheet of plastic. Using 2- to 2 1/2-inch-diameter heart-shaped cookie cutter dipped in flour, cut out cookies and place on 1 parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing 1 to 1 1/2 inches apart. Reroll dough scraps to 1/4-inch thickness and cut out additional cookies; place on second parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle top of cookies lightly with sugar (about 2 teaspoons). Chill 10 minutes.
    4. Bake cookies until light brown on bottom and just barely golden around edges, about 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to rack and cool completely. Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of cookies, if desired. 
    DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Store in single layer in airtight container at room temperature.

    Parmesan Shortbread with Fennel and Sea Salt

    Caitlin Williams Freeman, Blue Bottle Coffee, San Francisco


    • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour plus more
    • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan (about 2 ounces)
    • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
    • 1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt or other coarse salt
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

    1. Using an electric mixer, beat butter in a medium bowl on low speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Add powdered sugar, pepper, and kosher salt. Reduce speed to medium and beat, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Add flour and cheese. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat mixture just until dough comes together.
    2. Wrap dough in plastic and flatten into a rectangle. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Dough can be made 5 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before continuing.
    3. Place fennel seeds in a resealable plastic freezer bag. Coarsely crush with a rolling pin or the bottom of a skillet. Alternatively, pulse in a spice mill until coarsely crushed. Transfer to a small bowl; stir in sea salt. Set fennel salt aside.
    4. Arrange a rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove plastic wrap from dough. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 10x8" rectangle about 1/4" thick. Cut in thirds crosswise, then cut each third crosswise into 6 rectangles. Arrange cookies on prepared baking sheet, spacing 1" apart. Brush cookies generously with oil, then sprinkle with fennel salt.
    5. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until cookies are golden brown (flecks of cheese will be slightly darker), 20-24 minutes. Let cool on sheets for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

    Millionaire's Shortbread
    Gale Gand

    • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
    • 3 cups sugar
    • 2 1/4 cups flour
    • 1/4 cup cornstarch
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 2 tablespoons salted butter
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream, heated to lukewarm
    • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with parchment or waxed paper. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream 8 ounces butter until soft. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar and mix until incorporated.
    2. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and cornstarch. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix at low speed just until the ingredients are incorporated and the dough comes together. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead it 5 to 10 times, to bring the dough together and smooth it out. Re-flour your work surface. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to fit the sheet pan. To transfer to the sheet pan, roll the dough up onto the rolling pin, lift it up, and unroll into the pan. Using light strokes of the rolling pin, roll the dough into the corners and edges of the pan, and roll out any bumps (or press the rolled-out dough thoroughly into the pan with your fingers). Prick the shortbread all over with a fork to prevent any buckling or shrinking.
    3. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, rotate the pan and knock it once against the oven rack, to ensure even cooking and a flat surface. Bake 10 to 15 minutes more, until very lightly browned. Let cool in the pan.
    4. Pour the remaining 2 1/2 cups sugar into the center of a deep saucepan. Carefully pour the water around the sugar, trying not to splash any sugar onto the sides of the pan. Do not stir; gently draw your finger through the center of the sugar twice, making a cross, to moisten it. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil without stirring. Reduce the heat to a fast simmer and cook without stirring until amber-caramel in color, 10 to 20 minutes. Immediately remove from the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons butter with a wooden spoon. Slowly and carefully pour in the lukewarm cream, stirring slowly but constantly (it will bubble up and may splatter). Pour over the baked shortbread and smooth the top. Place in the refrigerator, uncovered, to harden slightly.
    5. When the caramel has set, melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler (or in a mixing bowl) set over barely simmering water, stirring frequently. Stir in the vegetable oil (this will make the chocolate less brittle when it hardens). Pour over the cooled caramel and spread quickly with the back of a spatula or spoon to cover the entire surface. Let cool in the pan. With a heavy knife, cut into 1 1/2-by-3-inch bars. Store in an airtight container.

    Happy baking!

    Friday, January 4, 2013

    Keeping warm in these cold, cold months!

    Happy Friday everyone! Sorry for the post delay...I've been detoxing from the holidays. I feel like I've gained an elephant's worth of pounds! So to bring us rolling into the new year, I'm giving you a couple of fun tidbits. First, Food & Wine has a list of the best hot chocolate in the U.S. and how could I not share that with my dessert-loving readers? Here's the list: Best Hot Chocolate in the U.S.!

    Does it make you want to brew up your own hot chocolate? Never fear, I've got the cure for that too! Here are a few recipes to keep you sweet and warm!

    For the over 21 crowd:

    Double-Chocolate Hot Chocolate
    Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, Baked


    • 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
    • 2 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
    • 1/2 cup boiling water
    • 3/4 cup whole milk
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • 2 tablespoons Jack Daniel's whiskey (optional)
    • Marshmallows, for serving

    1. In a medium bowl, combine the bittersweet chocolate with the milk chocolate. Add the boiling water and let stand for 1 minute. Whisk the chocolate mixture until it is smooth.
    2. In a small saucepan, bring the milk and heavy cream just to a simmer. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk over moderate heat until hot. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the whiskey. Pour the hot chocolate into demitasse cups or small mugs, garnish with marshmallows and serve.

    For the chai-lovers:

    Chai-Spiced Hot Chocolate
    Bon Appetit, February 2010

    • 4 cups low-fat (1%) milk
    • 3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
    • 10 cardamom pods, coarsely cracked
    • 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice, cracked
    • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 5 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar, divided
    • 6 quarter-size slices fresh ginger plus 1/2 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
    • 1/2 cup chilled whipping cream
    1. Combine first 6 ingredients, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, and ginger slices in medium saucepan. Bring almost to simmer, whisking frequently. Remove from heat; cover and steep 10 minutes. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.
    2. Meanwhile, whisk cream, remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar, grated ginger, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in medium bowl to peaks.
    3. Strain hot chocolate. Ladle into 6 mugs. Top each with dollop of ginger cream.

    For those who crave the cold in the cold:

    Frrrozen Hot Chocolate
    Sweet Serendipity, Stephen Bruce


  • 6 half-ounce pieces of a variety of your favorite chocolates
  • 2 teaspoons storebought hot chocolate mix
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 cups ice
  • Whipped cream
  • Chocolate shavings

  • Directions
    1. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place it in the top of a double boiler over simmering water, stirring occasionally until melted. 
    2. Add the cocoa and sugar, stirring constantly until thoroughly blended. Remove from heat and slowly add 1/2 cup of the milk and stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
    3. In a blender place the remaining cup of milk, the room temperature chocolate mixture, and the ice. Blend on high speed until smooth and the consistency of a frozen daiquiri. Pour into a giant goblet and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Enjoy with a spoon or a straw. . . .or both!

    Happy baking!