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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

From Passover Monday to Easter Sunday!

Hello all! It's Wednesday! Phew. We made it halfway. I had a lovely Passover this year...I made some last minute coconut macaroons (I am a macaroon fanatic...I couldn't stop eating the pieces!). I also made a flourless chocolate cake...which is ALWAYS a crowd pleaser, though I still prefer my coconut! All in all, it seemed fairly successful!

Overall, it's been a very busy week for me! I also had an order for birthday cupcakes for a boy turning 6. Those pictures are coming... In the meantime, let's get ready for Easter now, shall we?

Ricotta Cheesecake
Melissa Roberts and Maggie Ruggiero


  • 3 tablespoons finely crushed amaretti (crisp Italian macaroons) or plain fine dry bread crumbs
  • 2 pounds fresh ricotta at room temperature 30 minutes
  • 6 large eggs at room temperature 30 minutes
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Equipment: an 8-inch springform pan

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in lower third.
  2. Lightly butter pan and coat with cookie crumbs, leaving any loose crumbs distributed over bottom of pan.
  3. Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour into crust.
  4. Bake until puffed and golden but center is still slightly wobbly, about 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Cool in pan on a rack (cake will sink a little).
  6. Serve cheesecake warm or at room temperature.
Cooks' notes:
Ricotta cheesecake is best eaten the day it is made but can be made 1 day ahead and kept at cool room temperature.

Lemon Curd Tart with Olive Oil
Adapted from Rosa Jackson, Les Petits Farcis - Nice, France

For tart shell:
  • 2 tablespoons almonds with skins, toasted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons fruity olive oil (preferably French)
For lemon curd:
  • 3 large lemons
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 whole large eggs plus 2 large yolks
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons fruity olive oil (preferably French)
  • a 9-inch round tart pan with removable side; a small offset spatula

Make tart shell:
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle.
  2. Pulse almonds with flour, sugar, and sea salt to a fine powder in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.
  3. Add yolk and oil and pulse until just incorporated and a very soft dough has formed.
  4. Spread dough evenly over bottom and up side of pan with offset spatula. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
  5. Bake shell until golden brown all over, about 13 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Make curd:
  1. Grate enough zest from lemons to measure 1 tablespoon, then squeeze 3/4 cup juice from lemons.
  2. Whisk together lemon zest and juice, sugar, cornstarch, whole eggs, and yolks in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Boil, whisking, 2 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and oil until smooth.

Assemble tart:
  1. Pour lemon curd into cooled shell and chill until set, at least 2 hours.
Cooks' notes:
• Tart shell can be made 1 day ahead and kept, loosely covered, at room temperature.
•• Assembled tart can be chilled up to 4 hours.

Chewy Amaretti Sandwich Cookies
Gourmet, January 2009, Lillian Chou

  • 1 (7-ounce) tube pure almond paste (not marzipan; 3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg whites at room temperature for 30 minutes
a pastry bag with a 3/8-inch plain tip

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Line 2 large (17- by 12-inch) 4-sided sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. Pulse almond paste and sugar in a food processor until broken up, then add egg whites and pulse until smooth. Transfer to pastry bag and pipe 3/4-inch rounds (1/3 inch high) about 3/4 inch apart in pans. Dip a fingertip in water and gently tamp down any peaks.
  3. Bake, rotating and switching position of pans halfway through, until golden and puffed, 15 to 18 minutes.
  4. Wearing an oven mitt, rest 1 pan in sink at an angle. Lift top edge of parchment and slowly pour about 1/4 cup water between parchment and sheet pan so that all of parchment is lightly moistened (water will steam on pan, moistening bottom of cookies to help them stick together later). Repeat with remaining sheet pan. Cool cookies in pans on racks.
  5. Peel cookies from parchment and sandwich bottoms of cookies together
Cooks' note:
Cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature 1 day or frozen up to 1 month.

Happy baking!

Monday, March 25, 2013

It's Finally Passover!

Happy Monday readers! We've reached one of my favorite holidays...maybe it's the challenge of not cooking with flour or maybe it's the thought of macaroons and chocolate cake, but I always have fun! Happy Passover everyone! Pictures will follow soon...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Don't Pass Up These Passover Desserts!

Hi all! Sorry for the corny title...titles have never been my strong suit. I'm more of a "body of the text" kind of  girl. Today I bring you a few more recipes for your Passover planning. It's never too late to add a delicious dessert and here are a few that might make you salivate, even with the matzoh meal!

Spring is in the air...
Passover Lemon Cheesecake
Gourmet, Melissa Roberts, April 2008

For crust:
  • 3/4 cup sliced blanched almonds, toasted and cooled
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup matzo cake meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
For filling:
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Equipment: a 9-inch springform pan
  • Garnish: julienned lemon zest
Make crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F with rack in middle.
  2. Pulse almonds, sugar, matzo cake meal, and salt in a food processor until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and stir in butter until combined well. Press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of springform pan. Bake until crust is firm and a shade darker, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool crust completely in pan on a rack.
Make filling and bake cheesecake:
  1. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.
  2. Beat together cream cheese and sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add eggs 1 at a time, mixing until incorporated. Mix in zest and vanilla.
  3. Put springform pan in a shallow baking pan and pour filling into cooled crust. Bake until filling is set 1 1/2 inches from edge but center is wobbly, 45 to 50 minutes (filling will continue to set as it cools). Transfer cake in pan to a rack and immediately run a knife around edge, then remove side of pan. Cool completely, 2 to 3 hours.
Cooks' note:
Cheesecake can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, loosely covered.

Passover classic...
Coconut Macaroons
Mark Bittman

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well with a rubber spatula or your hands.
  2. Use a non-stick baking sheet, or line a baking sheet with parchment paper. To make the pyramids, wet your hands and scoop out a rounded tablespoon of the mixture into the palm of one hand. Using your other hand, press in gently on both sides of the mixture, bringing the macaroon to a point. Continue pressing with your thumb and forefinger on both sides until you have an even shape. For cubes, start as you would for the pyramids, then gently press equally on all sides, turning the macaroon to square off each side. You can use a butter knife to gently smooth the sides of the pyramids and cubes if you like. For balls, roll the mixture between your palms gently until round.
  3. Place each macaroon about an inch apart on the baking sheet. Bake until light brown, about 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet and cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before eating. These keep well in a covered container for up to 3 days.
For the chocolate-lover...
Hungarian Chocolate-Walnut Torte
Jewish Holiday Cooking, Jayne Cohen

  • Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup sugar (if using half semisweet and half sweet chocolate) or 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (if using all semisweet chocolate)
  • 6 ounces fine-quality chocolate, preferably half dark sweet (sometimes labeled German’s Sweet Chocolate), and half semisweet, but all semisweet is also delicious; cut into small pieces
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 6 ounces shelled walnuts (1 3/4 to 2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons matzoh meal

Optional accompaniments: Passover Confectioners’ Sugar (recipe below) or Chocolate Icing (recipe below); heavy cream, freshly whipped to soft drifts and barely or very lightly sweetened; or vanilla ice cream

Optional garnish: walnut halves

Chocolate icing:
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter or margarine
  • 6 ounces fine-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
Have all ingredients at room temperature.
  1. Line the bottom of an 8-inch square cake pan or a 9-inch springform pan with parchment or wax paper.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. In a heavy-bottomed 2-or 3-quart saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the sugar and 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil, stirring constantly over medium heat. Continue boiling and stirring until all the grains of sugar have completely dissolved and the mixture forms a simple syrup. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chocolate until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until light and thickened, about 4 minutes. Grind the walnuts with the remaining sugar and the matzoh meal in a food processor using the pulse motion and stir into the egg yolks. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and combine thoroughly.
  5. Using clean beaters, beat the egg whites in another bowl until they hold stiff peaks. Gradually fold the whites into the chocolate-walnut mixture, incorporating them gently but thoroughly so that no whites are visible. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until puffed and almost set but still a little gooey in the center. A wooden toothpick inserted 1 inch from the edge should come out clean.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack. When completely cool, unmold the cake by running a thin-bladed knife around the edges of the cake to release it from the pan (or release the springform); invert onto a platter. Peel off the parchment paper. Serve the torte at room temperature.
  7. If desired, lightly dust with Passover confectioners’ sugar. For a lovely, simple presentation, place a doily or a stencil—handmade by you or, even better, your children—over the torte, then sprinkle with the sugar. Carefully remove the doily or stencil.
  8. Or glaze with the chocolate icing. Lay long strips of wax paper or foil on a cake plate or serving platter and place the cake on top. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Using a spatula, evenly spread the glaze over the top and sides. Now, pull out and discard the paper strips or foil strips--the plate will be clean and ready for serving. If you’d like, garnish with a few walnut halves attractively placed in the center of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for about an hour to set the glaze, but bring it to room temperature before serving.
  9. The plain or frosted torte is heavenly with generous dollops of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
Passover Confectioners’ Sugar:
  1. In a blender, mini-food processor, or clean coffee grinder, whirl 1 cup minus 1/2 tablespoon regular granulated sugar until it is powdery. Place in a small bowl and stir in 1/2 teaspoon potato starch. Sift before using. (Recently commercial Passover confectioners’ sugar, made without cornstarch, has appeared in some stores with large kosher-for-Passover sections. If available, by all means use it here.)
Chocolate Icing:
  1. Melt the butter or margarine slowly in a heavy saucepan over very low heat. When half is melted, gradually whisk in the chocolate, stirring well as it melts. After all the chocolate has been added, stir in 2 tablespoons water and beat well until the glaze is completely smooth. Let the mixture cool about 5 minutes to thicken slightly.
Happy baking! 

Monday, March 18, 2013

One More Thing...

Thank you for helping me reach 2500 page views and counting! I so appreciate all of your support!

Crumb Cake Pic...My Fav!

Happy Monday lovely readers! This weekend I made one of my FAVORITE cakes...crumb cake! I am in looooove with crumb cake and tend to eat way more than any normal person should. With that said, I continue to search for the perfect recipe: the cake that has giant pieces of light brown crumb on top that just topple off when your fork slices through your delicately moist yellow cake. It's heaven...I think I'm close. My crumb topping was delish, but still a little too baked into the cake. I think I may have figured out the secret, but I'll save that for my next try! With this batch, I added blueberries to make it feel a little fresh and spring-y. When adding an ingredient like blueberries or chocolate chips, it helps to mix it with a little flour, so each piece is lightly coated. This keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the cake! Take that tip and test it out on your next cake recipe and in the meantime, here's a pic. YUM!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Kiss Me, I'm Irish...Boozy Edition

Happy hump day lovely readers. I've got a few more recipes for St. Patty's to you a few days to prep and bake before the fun festivities! This one's dedicated to those of you of legal drinking age...though you can scroll down to the end to find one or two that are kid-friendly!

Chocolate Stout Layer Cake with Chocolate Frosting
Bruce Aidells, BA October 2009


  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup chocolate stout, regular stout, or porter
  • 2/3 cup freshly brewed strong coffee
  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate (54% to 60% cacao), chopped
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
Ingredient Tip:
If you can find it, use a chocolate stout (Brooklyn Brewery and Oregon's Rogue Brewery make it) in the cake batter. The chocolaty flavors in the beer come from dark-roasting the malts. Some brewers even add a little chocolate to the beer as well. If you can't find chocolate stout, use another stout, such as Guinness. Sierra Nevada Porter and Samuel Adams Honey Porter would also work well in this recipe.

  1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper round; butter and flour parchment. Place chopped chocolate in medium metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water and set aside.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar in large bowl until fluffy and pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in lukewarm melted chocolate, then stout and coffee. Beat flour mixture into chocolate mixture in 2 additions just until incorporated.
  3. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar in another medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/3 of egg whites into cake batter to lighten, then fold in remaining egg whites in 2 additions. Divide batter between prepared cake pans (about 3 cups for each); smooth tops.
  4. Bake cakes until tester inserted into centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer cakes to racks and cool in pans 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks; remove parchment paper and cool completely. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.
  1. Place chopped chocolate in medium heatproof bowl. Combine whipping cream and espresso powder in medium saucepan. Bring cream mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally. Pour cream mixture over chopped chocolate; let stand 1 minute, then whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Chill chocolate frosting until slightly thickened and spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours (or for quick chilling, place frosting in freezer until thickened and spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes).
  2. Using serrated knife, trim rounded tops from both cake layers so that tops are flat. Place 1 cake layer, trimmed side up, on 9-inch-diameter tart pan bottom or cardboard round, then place on rack set over baking sheet. Drop 1 1/4 cups frosting by large spoonfuls over top of cake layer; spread frosting evenly to edges with offset spatula or butter knife. Top with second cake layer, trimmed side down. Spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake. 
DO AHEAD Can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let cake stand at room temperature at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours before serving.

Chocolate-Whiskey Souffle Tarts

Selma Brown Morrow, BA March 1999


For crust
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (scant) salt
For filling
  • 10 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup Irish whiskey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons instant coffee crystals
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Sweetened whipped cream
  • Chocolate shavings (optional)

Make crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Blend all ingredients in processor just until dough gathers together. Shape dough into log. Cut into 8 equal rounds. Press 1 round over bottom and up sides of each of eight 4 1/2 x 3/4-inch tartlet pans with removable bottom. Pierce crusts with fork. Bake crusts until pale golden, about 18 minutes. Cool in pans on rack.
Make filling:
  1. Set aside generous 1/3 cup chopped chocolate. Place remaining chopped chocolate in medium metal bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water); stir until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Whisk in whiskey, vanilla, coffee and salt, then yolks. Beat egg whites in another medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff but not dry. Fold half of whites into chocolate mixture. Fold in reserved 1/3 cup chopped chocolate, then remaining whites. Divide mixture among crusts. Freeze at least 3 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and keep frozen.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Push bottom of frozen tartlets up to release from pan sides. Arrange tartlets on pan bottoms on baking sheet. Bake until filling puffs and begins to crack, about 20 minutes.
  3. Place tartlets on plates. Spoon whipped cream alongside. Top with chocolate shavings, if desired.

Irish Soda Bread
Barefoot Contessa


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
  • 1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 cup dried currants
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
  3. With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.
  4. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.
  5. Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Dark Chocolate Mint Cupcakes with White Chocolate Mint Frosting
Marcel Desaulniers, BA February 2004

  • 2 cups walnuts, toasted, cooled
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces high-quality white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon green crème de menthe (optional with kids!)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 °F. Butter two 12-cup mini-muffin pans. Using on/off turns, blend first 4 in processor until walnuts are finely chopped. Whisk flour and baking powder in small bowl. Stir chocolate and butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Cool slightly.
  2. Using electric mixer, beat sugar, eggs, and vanilla in large bowl until very thick, about 4 minutes. Gradually beat in cooled chocolate mixture. Stir in walnut mixture. Stir in flour mixture. Spoon 1 1/2 tablespoons batter into each prepared muffin cup.
  3. Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Cut around cupcakes to loosen; turn out onto work surface. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; store at room temperature.
  1. Bring cream and butter to simmer in heavy small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until butter melts. Remove from heat. Add white chocolate; stir until melted. Mix in crème de menthe. Transfer frosting to bowl; let frosting cool at room temperature until firm enough to pipe, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours.
  2. Spoon frosting into pastry bag fitted with medium star tip. Pipe frosting decoratively atop cupcakes.
Happy baking!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Matzoh Mania!

Happy Monday all! I hope it hasn't been too painful. Tonight I'd like to shower you with matzoh recipes for the end of the case you haven't been matzoh-ed out by the meal at your Passover table. I can't promise kosher, but I can promise fun, creative, and delicious! Enjoy!

Mocha Matzoh Napoleon
The Kosher Baker, Paula Shoyer


  • 10 large matzohs
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee (or 6 tablespoons instant coffee granules dissolved in 1 cup of hot water), cooled
  • 23 ounces parve bittersweet chocolate, divided
  • 8 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) margarine, at room temperature
  1. Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with 2 pieces of plastic wrap that are large enough to drape over and cover all of the sides.
  2. Break the matzoh pieces in half. Pour the coffee into a shallow pan and add the matzoh pieces, turning them over so that each piece becomes soaked with the coffee. Set aside.
  3. To make the Mousse: Break 21 ounces of the chocolate into small pieces and melt either on the stovetop or in the microwave.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cup of the sugar. Add the softened margarine and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed or vigorously by hand with a whisk until combined. Add the melted chocolate and beat again.
  5. In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites until they start to stiffen. Turn the speed to low, add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, and then turn the speed back to high and beat until very stiff, about 1 minute more. Fold the whites into the chocolate mixture.
  6. Spoon about 1/5 of the mousse into the prepared pan to cover the bottom. Add 3 to 4 matzoh halves to cover the mousse in 1 layer. Add another 1/5 of the mousse to cover the matzoh and then another layer of matzoh. Repeat until you have used all the matzoh. There should be 4 to 5 layers, depending on the size of your matzoh pieces. The last layer should be the mousse. Cover with plastic.
  7. Place in the freezer for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight. Place in the refrigerator 1 hour before serving.
  8. To serve, unmold the pan onto a large platter and peel off the plastic wrap. Use a grater or vegetable peeler to shave the remaining 2 ounces of chocolate on top of the mousse. Cut into 20 pieces.
Storage: Store covered in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for up to two months.

Matzoh Baklava
Chef Einat Admony (Adapted by Nancy Davidson) Restaurant Taim

  • 6 sheets matzoh
For syrup
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon rose water
For assembly
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup shelled raw unsalted natural pistachios, chopped
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted margarine or butter, melted
  1. Briefly pass each sheet of matzoh under cold running water until wet on all sides. Layer sheets between damp paper towels and let stand until somewhat pliable but not soggy or falling apart, about 2 hours.
While matzoh is softening, make syrup
  1. In small saucepan over moderately high heat, stir together 1 cup water and sugar. Bring to boil, then lower heat to moderate and cook, uncovered, until syrupy and thick, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, honey, and rose water and simmer 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool, then chill until ready to use.
Assemble dessert
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir together walnuts, pistachios, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom. Separate out 1/6 of nut mixture and reserve for topping cooked baklava.
  2. Transfer 1 sheet matzoh to counter. Press rolling pin once over sheet from one end to other to flatten. Rotate 90 degrees and repeat. Transfer to 8-inch-square pan and brush with melted margarine. Sprinkle with 1/5 of unreserved nut mixture.
  3. Roll out second sheet of matzoh and transfer to pan. Brush with margarine and sprinkle with nut mixture. Repeat with remaining matzoh sheets and remaining nut mixture, ending with matzoh sheet brushed with margarine on top.
  4. Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer to rack and immediately pour chilled syrup over. Sprinkle with reserved nut mixture. Let cool, then cover and let stand at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. (Do not chill.) Cut into small squares or diamonds and serve.

Apple-Matzoh Kugel
Epicurious, Abigail Kirsch
April 2001

  • 4 large apples, Granny Smith or any tart apple, cored and cut into medium dice
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 6 plain matzohs
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup dried apricots, medium, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons butter or margarine, cut into small pieces, for casserole topping
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Toss the apples with the brown sugar and orange juice, set aside in a medium bowl.
  3. Break the matzoh into 2- to 3-inch pieces and soak in 1 cup of warm water until soft but not mushy. Set aside.
  4. While the matzoh soaks, beat the eggs with a wire whisk in a large bowl until blended. Add the salt, sugar, cinnamon, melted butter, raisins, and apricots.
  5. Squeeze the liquid from the softened matzoh and add the matzoh to the egg mixture with the apples. Stir the kugel well and pour into a lightly greased 2 1/2-quart casserole dish or a 10x14-inch pan. Dot the top of the kugel with the 4 tablespoons of butter.
  6. Bake the kugel for 1 hour. Cover the top with foil if the top begins to become too brown early in the baking. Remove the kugel from the oven and cool to room temperature.

Cook's Tip:The kugel can be made 2 days ahead, cooled, and refrigerated, covered. Bring to room temperature and reheat in a 350°F oven.
Happy baking!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Go Green...for St. Patty's Day!

Hello readers! It's the end of hump day, how did it go? If you've decided to think about St. Patrick's Day a wee bit early this year, check out the following recipes. Fun, playful, and wide-ranging in complexity, these desserts are sure to spice up any festivity!

The classics:
Real Irish Food, David Bowers


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Green sanding or decorating sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F and lightly grease an 8-inch round cake tin.
  2. Put the butter in a medium bowl and use a hand mixer to beat until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with your fingertips, and chill for 10 minutes in the refrigerator.
  3. Sprinkle generously with the green sugar and bake for 15 minutes, until just turning golden brown. While still warm, cut into 16 wedges with the tip of a paring knife. Let cool completely before removing from pan.

For the playful, over 21 crowd:
Irish Coffee Sundaes with Caramel Whiskey Sauce
Gourmet LiveMarch 2011
by Ruth Cousineau

For coffee nut crisp:
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules, crushed
  • 1 cup walnut pieces (3 1/2 ounces), coarsely chopped if desired
For sauce:
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 Tablespoons Irish whiskey
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pints good-quality coffee ice cream
Make crisps:
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in middle. Line a rimmed sheet pan with a nonstick baking liner, or line it with foil and lightly oil foil.
  2. Whisk egg white with sugar, coffee powder, and a pinch of salt in a bowl until blended. Stir in walnuts until coated. Spread mixture into a 10– by 8–inch rectangle in pan.
  3. Bake until crisp is dry to the touch, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer pan to a rack to cool completely.
  4. Loosen crisp with a metal spatula and break into small pieces.
Make sauce:
  1. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a 2–quart heavy saucepan over medium–high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil without stirring, but washing down any sugar crystals with a brush dipped in cold water, until syrup begins to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Continue to boil, swirling pan occasionally, until syrup is a deep golden caramel.
  2. Remove pan from heat and carefully add whiskey, cream, and salt (mixture will bubble up and steam and caramel will harden).
  3. Return pan to heat and simmer, stirring, until caramel is dissolved and sauce is smooth. Cool to warm.
  4. Serve sauce over scoops of coffee ice cream then sprinkle with walnut crisp.
Cooks’ notes:
•Crisp can be made 4 days ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature. (Watch out, though; it's so delicious, you will be hard—pressed to resist devouring all of it before your guests arrive!)
•Sauce can be made 4 days ahead and chilled, covered. Re-warm to serve. Any leftover sauce will keep, chilled, at least 1 week.

A country twist:
Country Rhubarb Cake
Gourmet, March 2004

For cake
  • 1 lb fresh rhubarb stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (3 cups), or 3 cups frozen rhubarb, thawed after measuring
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs (1 separated)
For whiskey cream
  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whiskey (preferably Irish)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Make cake:
  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a 10-inch glass or ceramic pie plate or a 2 1/2-quart oval gratin dish and chill.
  2. Toss rhubarb with brown sugar in a bowl until coated.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a large bowl until combined well. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Whisk together milk, whole egg, and yolk. Make a well in center of flour mixture and add milk mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon to gradually incorporate flour and form a soft, sticky dough.
  4. Transfer half of dough to chilled pie plate and pat out over bottom and halfway up side with well-floured hands, then spoon rhubarb and any juices onto dough. Using a tablespoon, spoon remaining dough in small mounds evenly over top. Lightly beat egg white with a few drops of water, then lightly brush cake with egg wash. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar over top.
  5. Bake cake until top crust is golden and rhubarb is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool, about 30 minutes.
Make whiskey cream:
  1. Beat cream with confectioners sugar, whiskey, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer until it forms stiff peaks.
  2. Serve cake warm or at room temperature with whiskey cream.

Cooks' note:Cake can be made 4 hours ahead and cooled completely, then kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature. Reheat if desired.

Happy baking!

Monday, March 4, 2013

What's Sweet on Your Table?

Happy Monday! Back to the work week... *insert dramatic sigh here. BUT, it's going to be okay because I am going to shower you with recipes and tips! Today I want to give you a few new breakfast sweets to liven up your brunch...or just to get you through mid-week. These are a little outside the box, but sure to be delicious!

Vegan Banana Coffee Bread
Recipe adapted from Terri Wu, Farallon, San Francisco


  • Flaxseeds, ¼ cup
  • Coffee, freshly brewed and hot, ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons
  • Canola or grapeseed oil, ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon, divided
  • All-purpose flour, 1 1/3 cups plus 2 teaspoons, divided
  • Whole wheat flour, 1/3 cup
  • Baking soda, 1 teaspoon
  • Ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon
  • Ripe bananas, 4 large or 5 small, peeled
  • Vegan mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons
  • Vanilla extract, 1½ teaspoons
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Granulated sugar, 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons

  1. In a coffee grinder or spice mill, grind until fine the: Flaxseeds
  2. Add the ground flaxseeds to a medium bowl and use the wooden spoon to stir in the: Hot coffee
  3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the mixture becomes gelatinous, at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat the loaf pan with 1 tablespoon canola oil
  5. Add: 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  6. Shake the pan to coat the bottom and sides. Tap out the excess.
  7. Place 2 large pieces of parchment paper on the counter. Over the sheet, sift together: 1⅓ cups all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon
  8. Repeat sifting the dry ingredients over the second sheet of parchment, then sift a third time onto the first sheet of parchment. Transfer the dry mixture to a large bowl.
  9. In a medium bowl, use the potato masher to mash the peeled bananas
  10. Use the wooden spoon to stir in the: Vegan mayonnaise, vanilla extract, kosher salt
  11. Remove the coffee-flax mixture from the fridge and whisk in the granulated sugar
  12. Whisk in the remaining: ½ cup oil
  13. Use a rubber spatula to fold the flax mixture into the flour mixture until a few dry streaks remain, then fold in the banana-mayonnaise mixture.
  14. Once the batter is completely combined, use the rubber spatula to transfer it to the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 40 minutes, and if the top looks dark, loosely cover with a sheet of aluminum foil. Continue to bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the center resists light pressure, 15 to 20 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and cool completely before running a paring knife around the loaf and inverting it onto a platter. Use the bread knife to slice the banana bread into 1-inch-thick pieces and serve.

French Toast Stuffed with Hazelnut-Chocolate Spread, Bananas, and Bacon
Recipe adapted from Brad Farmerie, The Thomas, Napa, CA

Hazelnut-Chocolate Spread
  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • ½ pound milk chocolate, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup demerara or light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil

French toast
  • 8 bacon strips **As a vegetarian, I'd leave this out, but if you like bacon, definitely try it!!!
  • 8 thick slices of sourdough bread (about 1 medium loaf)
  • 2 large ripe bananas, peeled and sliced into thin pieces, divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  • Maple syrup (preferably Grade B), for serving
  1. Make the hazelnut-chocolate spread: Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven until the nuts are fragrant and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Wrap the nuts in a kitchen towel and rub to remove as much of the skins as possible. Add the warm nuts, chocolate, sugar and salt to a food processor and purée until smooth, adding the oil in a slow and steady stream until well combined. Transfer the hazelnut-chocolate spread to an airtight container and keep at room temperature. (It will thicken over a few days. To loosen to a slightly more spreadable consistency, heat in the microwave for about 5 seconds.)
  2. Make the French toast: In a medium skillet set over medium heat, add the bacon and cook until the strips are browned and crisp on both sides, about 8 minutes total. Use a pair of tongs to remove the slices from the pan and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
  3. Lay the sourdough bread on a cutting board. Evenly coat each bread slice with the hazelnut-chocolate spread (reserve extra hazelnut-chocolate spread for serving).
  4. In a medium bowl, use a fork to smash together about half of the bananas slices until a chunky mash forms. Spread the mashed bananas over 4 of the hazelnut-chocolate spread bread slices. Coarsely chop the bacon and sprinkle over the banana mash. Place the sliced bananas on top of the bacon and cover with the remaining 4 hazelnut-chocolate spread slices, pressing down lightly so they stick together. Place the sandwiches in a single layer in a large, ovenproof baking dish.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs until frothy. Whisk in the milk. Pour the egg-milk mixture over the sandwiches and carefully turn them over to coat evenly with the egg-milk mixture.
  6. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Once the butter is melted, add two of the sandwiches and cook until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Carefully flip and cook the other side until golden brown, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board and repeat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and sandwiches. Halve the stuffed French toast on a bias, dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve with maple syrup and additional hazelnut-chocolate spread on the side.
Happy baking!