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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Nod to Great Chefs

Happy hump day lovely readers. I'm watching Top Chef as I update my blog...finally get to sit down for the evening! Tonight I want to give you a link to a great collection of fabulous dessert recipes from pastry chefs around the country. This is Tasting Table's best pastry chefs 2013. Try one of the recipes at home...happy baking!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bonjour! The Sophisticated Macaron

Happy Monday everyone! Sorry to post late for those of you East Coasters...but I'm here now! This weekend I was watching HGTV (as usual) and there was an episode about Paris. Well, I absolutely loooooove Paris and it got me in a very French mood, so I decided to play around with French macaron recipes. Admittedly, I haven't made them often and they are very temperamental, but I love a challenge (and I had hours to spare). Here are the lovely pictures of my fresh mint and lemon filled with homemade lemon curd macarons! Happy baking!

Before baking...they had a little pied (or foot)

Fresh from the oven

Final results!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Oscar Party Flourishes!

Happy Wednesday lovely readers! One day closer to spring (I hope...). The Oscars are officially upon us this weekend, and if you're having a fabulous party you will need a fabulous dessert! Maybe you'd looking to match the dessert to the movie? Maybe you're just going for the overall "movie theater" theme? Whatever your party desires may be, here are a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing.

For the "Let's All Go to the Movies..." themed party:
Caramel Corn Clusters
Gourmet, September 2004


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 11/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup salted peanuts (5 oz)


  1. Heat oil with 3 kernels in a 3-quart heavy saucepan, covered, over moderate heat until 1 or 2 kernels pop. Remove lid and quickly add remaining kernels, then cook, covered, shaking pan frequently, until kernels stop popping, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and uncover.
  2. Line bottom of a large shallow baking pan with foil. Lightly oil foil. Melt butter in a 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat. Add brown sugar and corn syrup and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring, then boil, without stirring, until syrup registers 300°F on thermometer, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat.
  3. Using a wooden spoon or a heatproof spatula, stir salt and baking soda into syrup, then quickly stir in peanuts and popcorn to coat. Immediately spread mixture in baking pan as thinly and evenly as possible. Cool completely, then break into bite-size pieces.

For the "Lincoln/All-American" themed party:
Apple Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze
Bon Appetit, February 2007

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 3/4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, coarsely grated
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For cake:
  1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325F. Spray 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick spray. Sift flour and next 6 ingredients into medium bowl. Drain grated apples in strainer. Using hands or kitchen towel, squeeze out excess liquid from apples. Measure 2 cups grated apples.
  2. Using electric mixer, beat butter, both sugars, and lemon peel in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Mix in vanilla and lemon juice. Beat in flour mixture. Mix in grated apples. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on rack 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare glaze:
  1. Stir all ingredients in small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to boil. Reduce heat to medium; whisk until glaze is smooth, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Invert cake onto rack set over baking sheet. Using small skewer, pierce holes all over top of warm cake. Pour glaze over top, allowing it to be absorbed before adding more. Cool cake 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

For the "Silver Linings Playbook/Philly Pride" themed party: 
Lemon Cheesecake with Shortbread Cookie Crust
James Irby, Girl Scout Camp, March 1999

For shortbread crust:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup finely ground Trefoil (shortbread) cookies
For cheesecake:
  • 2 pounds cream cheese (*For this recipe theme, must use Philadelphia Cream Cheese!)
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 teaspooons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
Make crust:
  1. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium high speed for 3-4 minutes. Add flour and ground Trefoils to the mixture and blend for 3-4 seconds until fully incorporated. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake the crust at 350° F for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow the crust to cool completely.
Make cheesecake:
  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and smooth. Add the mascarpone cheese and sugar and continue to beat on medium speed. Add the eggs one at a time. Blend in the lemon zest and juice. Pour mixture into the cooled crust.
  2. Set the cheesecake pan into a roasting pan, and add enough water to the roasting pan to reach halfway up sides of the cheesecake pan. Place in a 350° F oven for approximately one hour or until the cake is set and the top is golden brown. Remove the cake from the roasting pan and place on a wire rack. Allow cake to cool slightly, then place the cake in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.

Happy baking!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Birthday Overload!

Happy President's Day everyone! I hope you had the day off, though if you're like my poor husband, you're still hard at work. This weekend I celebrated my dad's birthday with a very special dessert...we had full fat vanilla ice cream with Madagascar vanilla and Scharffen Berger dark chocolate chunks (I was asked to search for chunks specifically) and a rich, dense white cake covered in an elegant and traditional vanilla buttercream, and filled with caramel cream cheese filling. All in all, a fabulously delicious evening.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day my lovely readers! I wanted to post on the day-of, because you can always make a lovely last minute dessert, like cupcakes or cookies, sprinkle it with pink sugar crystals and voila! A beautiful treat for your loved ones. I made Coffee Cinnamon Bonets for my hubby, which I will show you another time. Today I'm taking you on a journey through a crazy week, a forgotten ingredient, and a happy ending.

I made delicious red velvet cupcakes for my day job which, if you know me, you'll know I'm not a big fan of (the cupcakes, not the job). Are they chocolate? Are they vanilla? Red velvet has always seemed to me like cake with an identity crisis. Anyway, I decided that I would try a new recipe this year, straight from the south, and they turned out AWESOME, even to a non-believer like myself. Last night I wanted to make the frosting so I could get them all set for today, but upon creaming my butter and cream cheese I realized a HORRIBLE fact - I was OUT of confectioners' sugar! Oh sure, I had 2 cups, but I needed 5!!! In my haste to make it through this crazy busy week, I FORGOT to buy the sugar! What's a girl to do??? So instead, I experimented. I added some of my favorite sugar (light brown) to the confectioners' and the end result was a sweet, scrumptious topping for my delicious little cupcakes. So today I bring you my experimental recipe and remind  you that no one is perfect. ...AND, I want to remind you that Valentine's day is just a fun excuse to draw hearts, make a special dinner, and of course, bake. Now who wouldn't love that?

Happy Valentine's Day friends!

Cream Cheese Frosting with a Twist
Don't forget to sprinkle the pink sugar on top!
Makes about 4 cups


  • 10 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar (powdered, 10x, whatever you know it as)
  • 2-3 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  1. Place the cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until completely blended.
  2. Sift the confectioners' sugar onto the mixture in several additions, as well as the brown sugar, and beat thoroughly in between each addition. Scrape the bowl each time to fully incorporate sugar!
  3. Add the vanilla and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy but still holds its shape, 3-5 minutes. Use immediately.
Happy baking!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pizza Night During a Blizzard

Yeast, water, and sugar,
mixed and resting
 Hello lovely readers! Hope you had a relaxing weekend. We were hunkered down here in the tri-state, waiting for the heavy snowstorms that weren't as exciting as we expected. I know New England was blasted with snow, so I do hope you're all okay up there! In the meantime, here's a fun project you can do when you're trapped inside. If you're a regular reader of my blog, you'll probably have a lot of baking basics stored away in your house. So take out the flours, sugar, and yeast, followed by your favorite pizza toppings, and get started!

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
Martha Rose Shulman, New York Times
Yeast mixture, after a few min


  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing the pizza crusts
  • 1 1/4 cups stone ground whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional if necessary for kneading
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Yeast, frothy after 10 min

    Dump ingredients into
    Cuisinart and go!


  1. Combine the yeast and water in a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Add the sugar, and stir together. Let sit two or three minutes, until the water is cloudy. Stir in the olive oil.
  2. Combine the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse once or twice. Then, with the machine running, pour in the yeast mixture. Process until the dough forms a ball on the blades. Remove from the processor (the dough will be a little tacky; flour or moisten your hands so it won’t stick), and knead on a lightly floured surface for a couple of minutes, adding flour as necessary for a smooth dough.
  3. Shape the dough into a ball, pinched at bottom and rounded at top. Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl, rounded side down first, then rounded side up. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and leave it in a warm spot to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. When it is ready, the dough will stretch when it is gently pulled.
  4. Divide the dough into two equal balls. Put the balls on a lightly oiled tray or platter, cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap or a damp towel, and leave them to rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Afterward, the dough balls can be placed in a wide bowl, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to three days. Alternatively, you can wrap them loosely in lightly oiled plastic wrap and refrigerate them in a resealable plastic bag. When you are ready to roll out the pizzas, you will need to bring the balls to room temperature and punch them down again.
  5. Dough resting
  6. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven. Roll or press out the dough to a 12- to 14-inch circle. Lightly oil pizza pans, and dust with semolina or cornmeal. Place the dough on the pizza pan. With your fingers, form a slightly thicker raised rim around edge of the circle. Brush everything but the rim with a little olive oil, then top the pizza with the toppings of your choice.
  7. Place the pizza pan on the stone. Bake as directed.

Yield: Two 12- to 14-inch crusts.

Dough after an hour
and a half
Advance preparation: The pizza dough can be refrigerated after the first rise for up to three days (see step 4). The rolled out dough can be frozen. Transfer directly from the freezer to the oven.

Ta da!

Happy baking!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cookie Caaaaaake!

Happy Wednesday! Sorry I missed a post on Monday...recovering from an exciting Super Bowl! You may have seen my Facebook pic post (if not, check out and were hoping for the cookie cake recipe. it is! Enjoy!

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies (adaptation)
Bill Yosses (you may know him as President Obama's White House Pastry Chef...this recipe is older than that!)


  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line rimless baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars. Add the peanut butter, beating until smooth. Beat in the eggs and the vanilla, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  2. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and the salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, and combine on low speed until the dough comes together. Mix in the chocolate pieces and, if desired, the nuts. 
  3. Scrape dough onto the cookie sheet and spread out into an even thickness, spreading over the entire sheet into a round shape. You will need to use your hands!
  4. Bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes, though you may want to cook longer depending on the thickness of the cookie and the temperature of the oven. Cool the cookie sheet on a wire rack. 
  5. Frost with your favorite frosting and enjoy!
Happy baking!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Baking this weekend...

...hopefully back with pics on Monday. Have a great weekend! Go Ravens! Go 49ers! Hope the groundhog says winter is over soon!