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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Holiday Cookies for 2016

Happy Wednesday! I've been busy in the kitchen this holiday season; it's clear cookie time has begun. Whether you love it (like me) or dread it (oy, the mess!), I've got a few basic recipes that are always classic hits in your own cookie boxes.
Festive holiday basket, filled with
salted oatmeal, classic gingerbread cookies,
gingerbread cake (FAVE), and chocolate sables

Basic Sugar Cookies
Alison Roman

  • 3 ½ cups/508 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cups/341 grams (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups/250 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Frosting, glaze or royal icing
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar on medium-high until the mixture is light, fluffy and pale, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down sides of the bowl, and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, and beat until everything is well combined, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed.
  3. Add dry ingredients all at once, and mix on low speed just until incorporated.
  4. Scrape dough out of bowl and divide it in half. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap, patting into a 1-inch-thick disk. Chill at least 2 hours and up to 5 days.
  5. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Roll out dough, one disk at a time, on lightly floured parchment paper or work surface until it's about 1/8 inch thick. Create shapes, using a lightly floured cookie cutter. (Alternatively, using a knife, cut the dough into squares, rectangles or diamonds.) If at any point the dough becomes too soft to cut and cleanly remove from parchment paper, slide it onto a cookie sheet and chill for a few minutes in the freezer or refrigerator. Gather any dough scraps and combine them into a disk. Roll and repeat the cookie-cutting process, chilling as necessary.
  6. Place shapes onto parchment-lined baking sheets 1 inch apart and bake until cookie edges are lightly browned with sandy, pale centers, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. Cool the cookies on a rack, if you have one. Otherwise, let them cool on the pan. Decorate with a glaze, royal icing, frosting or whatever you'd like. Don’t forget the sprinkles.
Bake Ahead: Cookie dough can be made 5 days ahead and refrigerated. Cookies can be baked 2 days ahead, wrapped tightly and stored at room temperature.

Raspberry-Hazelnut Macaroons
Luisa Weiss

  • 1 1/2 cups whole hazelnuts
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam
  1. Preheat the oven to 400° and line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Spread the hazelnuts in a pie plate and toast until the skins split and the nuts are fragrant, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a clean kitchen towel and 
rub together to release the skins. Let 
the hazelnuts cool completely. 

  3. In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts until finely chopped. In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt at medium speed until foamy, 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted, 
5 to 7 minutes. Fold in the hazelnuts. 

  4. Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop 
or a soup spoon, scoop 1 1/2-inch rounds 
of the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake the cookies for 11 to 13 minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned; rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Remove the cookies from the oven and, while they’re still hot, carefully make an indentation in the center of each with 
the back of a teaspoon. 

  5. In a small saucepan, boil the raspberry jam for 30 seconds, until slightly thickened. Carefully spoon about 1 teaspoon of the hot jam into the center 
of each cookie. Let the jam set and the cookies cool completely before serving. 

Bake Ahead: The cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight ?container between wax paper for up to 4 days.

Melty Chocolate-Truffle Cookies
Joy Wilson

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp espresso powder (optional)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (about 3 oz) chopped dark chocolate
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 375° with racks in center and upper third. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder (if using). Rub butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in chocolate.
  3. Whisk together egg and vanilla. Add egg mixture to chocolate mixture; stir with a fork until mixture is slightly moistened. Form dough into a ball; wrap in plastic; refrigerate 30 minutes.
  4. Shape dough into tablespoon-size balls. Roll each in powdered sugar to coat; place on sheets 2" apart. Bake until just set but still slightly undercooked, about 10 minutes. Let cool on sheets 5 minutes; transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Serve warm.

Happy baking!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thanksgiving Desserts Ahead!

Happy Friday all! My FAVORITE holiday is coming up in just 7 short days and on top of our family meal, I've got 6 other pies to make! I'm a busy bee here at the bakery! Let's talk about a few unusual ideas for your Thanksgiving table - get your pad and pen ready and start shopping tomorrow!

Sweet Potato Hummingbird Cake
Margaux Laskey

  • 8 large bananas
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 ½ cups/563 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 2 cups/400 grams sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 cups/473 milliliters neutral vegetable oil
  • 28 ounces/794 grams canned pineapple chunks, drained and chopped (3 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup/160 grams dried black currants
  • 2 cups/300 grams green peanuts (or use roasted, unsalted peanuts)
  • 2 pounds/907 grams sweet potatoes, peeled (about 3 medium)
  • 2 (8-ounce/227 gram) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 sticks/452 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 ¾ cups/454 grams confectioners’ sugar (one 1-pound box)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups/300 grams roasted, salted peanuts (such as cocktail peanuts), roughly chopped, for garnish
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees (or 400 degrees convection). Arrange bananas (in their peels) on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in the oven until they are soft and black, about 25 minutes. Let bananas cool to room temperature. Remove and discard peels, and transfer banana flesh and any juices that collected on the pan to a food processor. Process until smooth. Measure 2 cups of the purée and set aside (reserve any extra purée for another use).
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees (325 degrees convection). Spray three 9-inch cake pans with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment. In an extra-large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, salt, sugar and cinnamon.
  3. In a separate large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil and banana purée until well combined. Fold in pineapple, vanilla, currants and peanuts.
  4. Grate sweet potatoes on the large holes of a box grater or with the grater attachment of a food processor. Fold grated potatoes into the wet mixture.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until just incorporated. Divide batter equally among the three pans and bake until firm and golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cakes cool for 10 minutes in the pans on wire racks, then turn out onto the racks, peel off parchment, and let cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, make the icing: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add butter and mix on low speed, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer running on low speed, add sugar by the 1/2 cup until it’s fully incorporated. Add salt and vanilla and mix to combine.
  7. To assemble the cake, use a serrated knife to trim the top of each layer to make sure it’s flat.
  8. Place a cake layer on a platter or cake stand. Using an offset spatula, spread 1 1/2 cups icing over the first layer. Top with a second layer and repeat with 1 1/2 cups icing. Top with the third layer and use remaining icing to frost the top and sides of the cake. Press roasted peanuts on the sides of the cake for garnish. The cake, once assembled, can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days, but it’s best the day it’s made. Serve at room temperature.

Gingerbread with Quark Cheesecake
Nancy Olson


  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 ounces quark or Greek-style whole-milk yogurt (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon Cointreau or other orange brandy
  • 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Candied kumquats in syrup, sliced, for garnish

  1. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar at medium speed until smooth. Add the quark and beat just until blended. Add the egg and egg yolks, one at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the Cointreau. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
  2. Add enough hot water to the roasting pan to reach halfway up the side of the springform pan. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the cheesecake is slightly jiggly in the center and set around the edge. Remove it from the water bath and run a knife around the edge of the cake to allow it to settle in the pan as it cools. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 6-inch cake pan. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, ground spices and salt. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the brown sugar with the egg and egg yolk at medium-high speed until light and fluffy. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter in the milk. Stir in the molasses, fresh ginger and vanilla. In 3 alternating additions, beat the dry and wet ingredients into the egg mixture.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the lower third of the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until springy. Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then turn the cake out onto a rack. Turn it right side up and let cool completely.
  5. Using a serrated knife, carefully slice the rounded top off of the gingerbread cake to make it level. Invert the cake (cut side down) onto the cheesecake. Place a plate over the cake pan. Holding both the plate and pan, invert the entire cake onto the plate. Remove the ring, then carefully lift off the pan bottom. Garnish with the candied kumquat slices and serve chilled.
Notes: The finished cake can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Bouchon's Apple Pie
Bouchon Bakery

  • 5 tbsp. confectioners' sugar
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1⁄4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1⁄4 tsp. dark rum
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tbsp. almond flour
  • 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 3⁄4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup unsweetened apple cider
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 4 large semisweet apples, such as Fuji, cored, and cut into 8 wedges each
Topping and Baking:
  • 1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄3 cup almond flour
  • 5 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
  • 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
  • Bouchon's Pâte Sucrée
  • 1⁄2 cup Bouchon's Apple Butter, or substitute store-bought
  • Confectioners' sugar and ground cinnamon, for dusting
  1. Make the almond cream: Using the stand mixer with a clean bowl and paddle, cream confectioners' sugar and 2 tbsp. butter until fluffy, 1–2 minutes. Add extracts, rum, and egg; mix until combined. With the motor running, slowly add flours until cream is smooth. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; chill until ready to use.
  2. Make the caramelized apples: Heat granulated sugar in a 12" nonstick skillet over medium-high; cook, without stirring, until sugar is melted and light amber in color, 8–10 minutes. Carefully stir in cider and ½ cup water (mixture will bubble up); pour caramel into a bowl and set aside. Wipe skillet clean and melt 3 tbsp. butter over high heat. Cook apples until golden, 8–10 minutes. Add reserved caramel; cook until apples are just softened, 10–12 minutes. Let apples cool, then drain; discard caramel.
  3. Make the topping: Pulse flours, sugar, butter, and salt in a food processor until mixture resembles fine sand; set aside.
  4. Assemble and bake the pie: Heat oven to 325°. On a lightly floured surface, roll Bouchon's Pâte Sucrée into a 15" circle, about ⅙" thick. Fit into a 9" tart pan with a removable bottom; trim edges. Using a fork, prick the dough all over. Line dough with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans; bake until golden, 25–30 minutes. Remove paper and weights and let cool.
  5. Spread reserved almond cream over dough; arrange caramelized apples over top. Spoon Bouchon's Apple Butter over apples. Sprinkle the reserved topping over entire surface of pie; bake until topping is golden, about 45 minutes. Let pie cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar and cinnamon before serving.
Happy baking!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Healthier Holiday

Happy Monday all! Last week I decided to test my one year old's palette. He loves to eat my blueberry muffins and zucchini bread so I wanted to up my game with something a little more festive (one of my mom's favorite ways to describe a holiday food). Scouring my Ellie Krieger books I happened upon a sweet bread that would work well for me, as it included pumpkin (because, of course), cranberries, and whole wheat flour. Well the baby enjoys the cake, it's not exactly his favorite. Maybe it's the bad mom in me, but it's funny to watch him eat a cranberry and spit it out. At any rate, I really like it.

Pumpkin Bread with Cranberries
Ellie Krieger

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or whole-wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 cup fresh whole cranberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. In another large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, honey, oil, eggs, and egg white until well combined. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing just enough to combine evenly. Gently stir in the cranberries.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the top is browned and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then transfer the bread to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Happy baking!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Election Night Celebration - or Commiseration

Happy Election Tuesday everyone! I hope you've all gone out and voted (or plan to vote) in this extremely significant election! Whether or not your candidate wins is irrelevant when it comes to can eat either way. So today we have 3 election-y fun desserts to honor this very important historic event.

Oreo Cheesecake Brownie Bars
Elise Strachan

Brownie Batter:
  • 13 tablespoons (185 g or 6½ ounces) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 7 ounces (200 g) good quality dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups (270 g or 9½ ounces) granulated sugar or superfine sugar
  • 2/3 cup (90 g or 3.2 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (40 g or 1½ ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Nonstick cooking spray
Cheesecake Batter:
  • 16 ounces (2 bricks) cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 48 Oreo cookies, broken into chunks
  • 1 package mini Oreo cookies
  1. Preheat the oven to 320°F.
  2. Make the brownie batter: In a saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and bring to a gentle boil. Turn the heat OFF and then add the dark chocolate, stirring intermittently until the chocolate has melted. Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl, add the eggs and sugar and beat with an electric mixer until they have almost doubled in size and are super light and fluffy, at least 7 minutes.
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and gently fold the two together using big round figure-8 movements. Stop mixing as soon as you no longer see white streaks through the chocolate batter.
  5. In another bowl, sift the flour and cocoa powder together. Sift the cocoa flour mix directly over the top of the chocolate mixture so it falls evenly. Fold together, again using big round figure-8 movements.
  6. Spray a 9-inch x 13-inch pan with the cooking spray and line the base with parchment paper. Pour half of the brownie mixture into the prepared pan and par-bake for 15 minutes. 
  7. Meanwhile, make the cheesecake batter: In a large mixing bowl, add the cream cheese, sugar and cornstarch and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy.
  8. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating in between each addition.
  9. Stir in the cream, vanilla and 1½ cups of the crushed Oreo cookies.
  10. Remove the partially cooked brownie from the oven. Pour the cheesecake mixture over the par-cooked brownie and bake for 20 minutes.
  11. Remove the tray from the oven and gently spread the remaining brownie batter over the cheesecake layer. Cover the brownie with chunks of crushed Oreo, adding some whole and halved mini Oreos throughout before returning to the oven for a further 20 minutes. The top should start to look a little flaky and the middle should spring back lightly when touched.
  12. Cool completely in the pan (or preferably, chill overnight) before cutting into bars.

Flag Cake
Ina Garten

  • 18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
For the icing:
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
To assemble:
  • 2 half-pints blueberries
  • 3 half-pints raspberries
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Butter and flour an 18 by 13 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed, until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and stir until smooth.
  4. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature.
  5. For the icing, combine the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mixing just until smooth.
  6. Spread three-fourths of the icing on the top of the cooled sheet cake. Outline the flag on the top of the cake with a toothpick. Fill the upper left corner with blueberries. Place 2 rows of raspberries across the top of the cake like a red stripe. Put the remaining icing in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe two rows of white stripes below the raspberries. Alternate rows of raspberries and icing until the flag is completed. Pipe stars on top of the blueberries.
  7. I serve this cake right in the pan. If you want to turn it out onto a board before frosting, use parchment paper when you grease and flour the pan.

Election Cake
Melissa Gaman

  • Two .25-ounce envelopes dry active yeast
  • 1 cup warm, but not hot, water (about 105 degrees F)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup mixed dried fruit, such as golden raisins, cranberries and pittedprunes, chopped if large
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup American whiskey, bourbonor rye
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  1. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water in a medium bowl. Stir a few times and let stand to allow the yeast to dissolve and begin bubbling, 1 to 2 minutes. Sift 1 1/2 cups of the flour into the bowl and stir until mostly smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for about 30 minutes. The mixture will expand, loosen in texture and will have large bubbles on the surface. 
  2. While that sits, generously butter a 12-cup Bundt pan and set aside. Place the dried fruit, 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar and all of the whiskey in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Heat in the microwave until hot and bubbling, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir and set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, whisk the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour with the cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and salt. 
  3. Beat the butter with the remaining 1/2 cup brown and the granulated sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined (the mixture may look slightly curdled at this stage), and then add 1 teaspoon of the vanilla. Beat in the yeast mixture and then reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually beat in the flour mixture. Add the plumped dried fruit with any remaining liquid and beat on medium speed until the fruit is well blended. The dough should be soft and elastic at this point. 
  4. Transfer the dough to the prepared Bundt pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until the dough fills the pan about three-quarters of the way, about 2 hours. When is the cake is almost done rising, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 
  5. Bake the cake until golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes in the pan on a wire rack. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and turn onto the wire rack to cool completely. 
  6. Before serving, stir the confectioners' sugar with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1 tablespoon milk. Gradually add as much as needed of the second tablespoon of milk to make a thick glaze that will just gently run. Spoon over the top of the cake, allowing the glaze to slowly run down the outside and inside of the cake. 
Cook's Note: This cake is great made a day or two in advance. Just hold off on the glaze until you are ready to serve.

Happy election baking!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Pumpkins Abound

Happy Thursday!'s pumpkin season. Like it or hate it, the facts are the facts. They are EVERYWHERE. It would go against my professional pastry principles NOT to mention this and celebrate it in some way. Personally, I love all things pumpkin (although I draw the line at pumpkin spice lattes...I don't drink my pumpkin calories on a lack of pumpkin). Recently I made a pumpkin spice babka, just because. (My husband is still confused as to why there are babkas in our freezer, but I just love an excuse to bake. I got an email with a recipe and I had to try. His office was pleased with the results I think.) At any's the recipe. It's easier than you think!

Pumpkin Spice Babka
Tasting Table

  • For the Dough:
  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed to 115°
  • 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup, plus 1 teaspoon, granulated sugar, divided
  • 5¼ cups flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs, divided
  • 1 stick unsalted butter cubed and softened, plus more for greasing
For the Filling:
  • One 15-ounce can pumpkin purée
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  1. Make the dough: In a large bowl, combine the milk, yeast and 1 teaspoon of the granulated sugar. Let it sit until it begins to foam, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cinnamon, and set aside.
  2. To the foamy yeast mixture, add the remaining granulated sugar, the brown sugar and 3 eggs, and whisk to combine. Slowly stir in the flour until a dough forms, then transfer to a lightly floured surface. Using your hands, knead in the softened butter, a little at a time, until a smooth dough forms. Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile, make the filling: In a medium bowl, stir the filling ingredients together until incorporated.
  4. Assemble the babkas: Preheat the oven to 350° and grease two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans. Divide the dough into 2 balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 ball of dough out into a 14-inch square, about ⅛-inch thick.
  5. Spread half of the filling evenly over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1-inch margin at the top of the square. Starting with the edge closest to you, roll the dough up tightly. Leaving ½-inch of dough connected, cut the roll lengthwise in two. Twist the strands together and pinch at the end to seal. Carefully place the babka in one of the prepared pans.
  6. Repeat this process with the remaining dough and filling. Cover both babkas loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm area until the dough expands to fill the pan, 45 minutes more.
  7. In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg and liberally brush onto each babka. Bake, rotating halfway through, until golden and cooked through, 40 to 45 minutes.
  8. Let cool slightly, then remove each bread from the pan and let cool before slicing and serving.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fondant Painting!

Happy Monday everyone! It's been back-to-back birthday cakes this month...I guess it's birthday season! For today's tip, I want to talk about a different technique for decorating fondant. I know everyone's big on creating characters out of rice krispy treats and making tiered birthday cakes for the "wow factor," but I prefer spending my time on making a cake that's delicious and pretty. When it comes to big parties, you don't actually need a big cake. Very few people actually want to be tied down to a big honking slice while mingling.

That being said, last weekend my baby celebrated his FIRST birthday and I had to do something special! After researching some tips, I decided to try painting dye onto fondant to create his favorite book characters (drawing cartoons happens to be my specialty). To do this, mix your favorite dye colors (I always prefer gels) and a splash of vodka (for hold), use a clean paint brush, and paint your design onto the fondant. I rolled my fondant on a mat, made sure it wouldn't break when I picked it up (run an offset spatula underneath so it doesn't stick), and painted a design. You need to continually wet your brush with the dye and work slowly for a well-drawn line. I free-handed a cut around the outside, and let it dry overnight. Remember if you leave fondant out uncovered it hardens a bit, thus becoming more breakable. If your paint isn't runny, the other option is to put it directly on the fondant after painting, so you can place it where you want it/bend it before letting it dry.

Happy baking!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Change Your Rosh Hashanah Menu

Happy Tuesday! It's been awhile since we last spoke; between summer vacation and a baby on the move, things have been crazy! I'm hoping to stay back in action now. Like any holiday, the menu for the Jewish new year can get tired and blah. If you're looking to step outside the box, it's not too late to start.

Honey cake isn't boring.
I know, I know, I said these would be new and updated but for me, this is a new and updated honey cake recipe. I use the same one year after year because it's FABULOUS, but this year I'm going to try this one. Apple cider makes this one a winner.

Apple Cider Honey Cake
Alex Levin via NYT

Apple Cider Butter:
  • 2 pounds/910 grams Granny Smith apples (about 5 or 6 apples), peeled, cored and cut into medium chunks
  • ¾ cup/150 grams light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons/56 grams unsalted butter, or use 1/4 cup/60 milliliters grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • ½ to 1 ½ cups/118 to 355 milliliters apple cider
  • ¾ cup/170 grams melted unsalted butter or 3/4 cup/177 milliliters olive oil, more for the pan
  • 2 ½ cups/310 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup/177 milliliters honey
  • ¼ cup/60 milliliters whiskey
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  1. Prepare the apple cider butter: Combine apples, light brown sugar and butter or oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced and appears soft and golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Let mixture cool slightly, then transfer to a large measuring cup and add enough apple cider to make 3 cups/710 milliliters. Transfer mixture to a food processor or blender and purée until smooth. (This can be made up to 1 day ahead.)
  3. Prepare the cake: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 325 degrees. Generously grease a 10-inch Bundt pan.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. 
  5. In another large bowl, whisk together eggs, prepared apple cider butter, honey, melted butter or oil and whiskey. Whisk in the dry ingredients until smooth.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until firm to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 30 minutes, then carefully unmold cake and let cool completely on a wire rack. Before serving, transfer cake to a platter and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

A Hungarian option...
Apple, Walnut, and Poppy Seed Pastry (Flodni)
Eszter Bodrogi via Saveur

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2" pieces and softened
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 3⁄4 cup white wine
  • 4 oz. dried apricots, minced
  • 1 1⁄2 cups poppy seeds
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1⁄3 cup plus 1⁄4 cup apricot jam
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and grated
  • 6 oz. walnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 oz. pitted prunes, minced
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp. water, for egg wash
  1. Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and mix until incorporated. Add the egg yolks and wine and mix until a dough forms. Replace the paddle with a dough hook and knead dough on medium speed until smooth, 5-6 minutes. Form dough into a ball and wrap in plastic; set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
  2. Make the fillings: Heat the apricots, poppy seeds, 1⁄2 cup wine, 1⁄2 cup sugar, and 1⁄3 cup jam over medium heat and cook, stirring, until hot, 4 minutes. Transfer the poppy seed filling to a small bowl; set aside. Heat the remaining jam, cinnamon, cloves, and apples in a small saucepan over medium high heat and cook, stirring, until apples soften, 8-10 minutes. Transfer the apple filling to a small bowl; set aside. Heat the remaining wine, 6 tbsp. sugar, walnuts, and chocolate over medium heat and cook, stirring, until smooth, 2-3 minutes. Transfer the walnut filling to a small bowl; set aside. Heat the prunes and 1 1⁄2 cups water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until the prunes are soft and water is almost evaporated, 16-18 minutes. Add the remaining sugar and mash with a wooden spoon until smooth. Transfer the prune butter to a small bowl; set aside. Stir the lemon juice into the poppy seed filling; divide the lemon zest between all 4 fillings, stirring to incorporate.
  3. Heat oven to 350°. Line an 8" square baking pan with 2 overlapping sheets of parchment paper cut to 10" x 8". Divide the dough into thirds; set 1 third aside. Cut 2 dough pieces in half and set aside. Transfer the third dough piece to a floured work surface and roll to 1⁄8" thickness. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with dough and let excess dough hang over the edges; trim dough to within 1" of pan and brush with butter. Transfer the poppy seed filling to the bottom layer of dough and smooth the top with spatula. Roll 1 piece of the remaining dough to 1⁄8" thickness and trim to make an 8″ square; top the poppy seed filling with dough and brush with butter. Transfer the apple mixture to top of dough and smooth with spatula. Roll another piece of the remaining dough to 1⁄8" thickness and trim to make an 8" square; top the apple filling with dough and brush with butter. Transfer the walnut mixture to top of dough and smooth with spatula. Roll another piece of the remaining dough to 1⁄8" thickness and trim to make an 8" square; transfer the dough to top of walnut filling and brush with remaining butter. Transfer the prune mixture to top of dough and smooth with spatula; fold the overhanging dough onto the prune filling. Roll the remaining dough piece to 1⁄8" thickness and trim to make an 8" square; top the prune filling with dough, prick with a fork, and brush with the egg wash. Bake until the pastry is golden brown, 1 hour. Transfer to a rack and let cool 6 hours.
  4. Using edges of parchment paper as handles, lift the pastry from pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut flodni into 1 1⁄2" squares and serve.

When dessert won't cut it because you have family in town and there's a lot of...loud...
Pomegranate Mojito
Katherine Martinelli via Today

  • 1 to 1.5 ounces white rum
  • 1 ounce sugar or simple syrup (add more as you like)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh mint
  • 1 ounce pomegranate juice
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Club soda
  • Ice
  1. Select a big glass with room for plenty of ice.
  2. Put rum, lime juice, simple syrup and pomegranate juice in glass. Mix well. Taste, and add more sugar or limejuice if needed. Add some crushed lime peel if you like.
  3. Crush mint leaves from one sprig, add to drink and mix.
  4. Add a handful of pomegranate seeds.
  5. Add a one-second to second-and-a-half pour of club soda.
  6. Top glass with ice.
  7. Garnish with remaining mint leaves.

Happy baking!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Caramel Sauce to Caramel Frost!

Chocolate cupcakes and salted caramel frosting
Happy Tuesday everyone! It's been a busy summer here at Lizzy Bee's, between the baby (read: extremely FAST crawler) and vacation, I've been out and about! Right back from vacation, I recently made 3 dozen cupcakes for a party and came across quite a conundrum: how to translate salted caramel sauce into salted caramel frosting. I have a go-to recipe for a lot of frostings but I couldn't find this one among my arsenal (much to my disappointment). This time I had to use a little creativity and pull some skills from culinary school. Here's how it goes:

I started with this recipe. Note: I used a full teaspoon of salt. I needed it REALLY salty in order to keep that taste in the frosting.

Bobby Flay's Salted Caramel Sauce
New York Times 

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  1. In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine the sugar with 1/4 cup cold water and stir to combine. Cook, without stirring, until the sugar has turned a deep amber hue, approximately 10 to 12 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, warm the cream in a small saucepan. When the caramel is ready, slowly whisk in the warm cream and continue simmering the mixture until it is smooth, another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, then whisk in the butter, and then the salt, to taste. Serve warm.

Not too challenging, right? Once you've got that and let it cool, then take your favorite cream cheese frosting (or buttercream) recipe. Add the caramel after you've made the frosting. I used every. last. drop. Then taste. You'll see that you lose a little of that salty flavor once you've muted it in the frosting, so veeeeery slowly, sprinkle a couple crystals on top of the frosted cake/cupcakes. Just a few. Don't turn it into a salt shaker. Voila! Done.

Happy baking!

Friday, July 8, 2016


Happy Friday! What a delightfully HOT day in the northeast. There's one great way to beat the heat and that's eating something cold and messy! Here are a few ideas to keep you and the kids happy and cool this weekend.

Childhood memories...
Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bars
Erica Clark

  • 1 pint very soft (almost melted) strawberry ice cream
  • 4 (3-inch) sugar cookies
  • 1 tablespoon crushed freeze-dried strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
Special equipment:
  • 6 (3-ounce) ice-pop molds and sticks
  1. Divide ice cream among ice-pop molds, insert sticks, and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, pulse cookies in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Transfer half of crumbs to a plate. Add strawberries to remaining crumbs in food processor and drizzle with butter. Pulse a few times to create strawberry crumbs. Stir strawberry crumbs into plain crumbs on plate.
  3. Line a large plate or rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Dip molds briefly into hot water. Working one at a time, remove ice pop from mold and thaw 1 minute. Dip in crumbs, turning to coat and pressing to adhere. Transfer pops to prepared plate and freeze again at least 15 minutes before serving.
Do Ahead: Ice pops can be made 7 days ahead; freeze in an airtight container.

Adults only...
Vanilla, Apricot, Bourbon Pops
Real Simple, Lindsay Hunt

  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups apricot nectar (100 percent apricot juice)
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • pinch fine salt
  1. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise using a sharp paring knife. Run the dull side of the knife down the length of each half, scraping up the seeds.
  2. Combine the seeds and sugar in a large bowl. Add the apricot nectar, bourbon, and salt and whisk until smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture into 10 3-ounce or 8 4-ounce ice-pop molds, dividing evenly. Insert ice-pop sticks and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours and up to 4 days.

Minted Watermelon Popsicles
Joy Manning

  • 1 1/2 pounds seedless watermelon without the rind, cut into 1-inch dice (about 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • Pinch of salt
  1. In a blender, puree the watermelon with the sugar until smooth. Stir in the mint, lemon zest and salt. Pour the puree into 8 popsicle molds or 2 standard ice cube trays (insert popsicle sticks halfway through freezing) and freeze until hard, about 3 hours.
MAKE AHEAD: The watermelon popsicles can be frozen for up to 1 week.

Happy freezing!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ice Cream Cake!

Happy Tuesday everyone! I treated my husband to a very intense Father's Day cake this year: an ice cream cake made for small, rich bites! I chose a recipe that reminded me of my childhood favorite, Carvel ice cream cakes (Fudgie the whale anyone?) but turned up the intensity with extra cake layers! Check me out:

From bottom: Devil's food cake, fresh hot fudge, chocolate crunchies, salted caramel gelato, vanilla cake, hot fudge, crunchies, and homemade whipped cream.

How do you make a great ice cream cake at home? Choose your fave cake recipe, add layers of softened ice cream between layers. Your best bet to keep it clean and contained is to create the layers inside a springform pan, wrapped with parchment paper for easy removal and freezing between layers so it stays firm as you build up. The best part about an ice cream cake is that there really is no right or wrong! You just add cake and ice cream as you choose, top with some whipped cream or chocolate ganache and freeze until ready to serve!

Have fun and happy baking!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Father's Day!

Happy Tuesday! The sun is shining unexpectedly, the polls are open in CA and NJ, and Father's Day is just around the corner (my husband's first!). I've been brainstorming the perfect cake and while I'm not quite there, I came across a few fabulous ideas to help you get started as well! What kinds of flavors does husband/dad/son/whomever like? Here are lots of options.

This screams SUMMER!
Key Lime Pie
Alison Roman

  • 14 graham crackers (about 1½ sleeves)
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Filling And Assembly
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest, plus more for garnish
  • ¾ cup fresh key lime (or regular lime) juice
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Using your hands, crush graham crackers in a large bowl until coarsely ground (you could do this in a food processor if you’d like, just be sure not to process too finely; you want some texture in the larger pieces). Add butter, coconut oil, sugar, and salt and mix until well blended (mixture will resemble wet sand). Transfer to a 9" pie dish. Using your fingers and the underside of a flat measuring cup, press mixture evenly into bottom and up sides of dish. Bake crust, rotating once halfway through, until golden brown on top and crumbs are set, 12–15 minutes. Let cool.
Filling And Assembly
  1. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat egg yolks and condensed milk in a large bowl until paler and almost doubled in volume, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 2 tsp. lime zest, lime juice, and salt. Pour into cooled crust. Bake pie until filling no longer jiggles and is starting to slightly puff around the edges, 15–20 minutes. Let cool completely.
  2. Whip cream and powdered sugar in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Gently whisk in yogurt and rum, if using. Dollop onto cooled pie, creating dramatic peaks and valleys with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Garnish with lime zest.
Do Ahead: Crust can be baked 2 days ahead; pie without whipped topping can be made 2 days ahead; pie can be assembled (with topping) 4 hours ahead.

Can't go wrong with chocolate.
Warm Chocolate Cakes with Mascarpone Cream
Hosea Rosenberg


  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, plus shavings for garnish (optional)
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs, plus 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup mascarpone (8 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • About 1/2 cup brandied cherries or kirsch-soaked sour cherries

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Coat six 6-ounce ramekins with butter, and dust lightly with flour. Set the ramekins on a sturdy baking sheet. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate with the butter; let cool.
  2. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the eggs, yolks and sugar on high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chocolate, then fold in the cake flour just until no streaks remain.
  3. Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins and bake for 15 minutes, until the cakes have risen, the tops are dry and the centers are slightly jiggly. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  4. In a bowl, beat the cream with the vanilla seeds, brown sugar and lemon zest until soft peaks form. Add the mascarpone and lemon juice and beat until blended.
  5. Run the tip of a small knife around each cake to loosen it, then unmold onto plates. Spoon the mascarpone cream onto the cakes and garnish with the brandied cherries and chocolate shavings.

A little of everything.
Crispy Peanut Butter Snack Cake
Katherine Sacks

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy, no-stir peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons warmed virgin coconut oil, divided
  • 5 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 2 cups Chex cereal
  • 1 1/2 cups salted mini pretzels, lightly crushed
  • 1 cup potato chips, lightly crushed
  • 1 cup roasted, salted peanuts
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate
Special Equipment
  • An 8-cup Bundt pan
  1. Line Bundt pan with plastic wrap, leaving a few inches of overhang; coat with nonstick spray.
  2. Whisk peanut butter, honey, vanilla, and 1/2 cup coconut oil in a large bowl until combined. Using a spatula, gently fold in cereals, pretzels, potato chips, and peanuts. Transfer mixture to prepared pan, spreading evenly and pressing firmly into pan. Chill until cake is set, at least 1 hour.
  3. When ready to serve, melt chocolate and remaining 2 Tbsp. coconut oil in a medium heatproof bowl set over a medium pot of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, or melt in a microwave in short bursts, stirring between bursts, until chocolate is smooth.
  4. Using plastic overhang, lift cake from pan, then invert onto a platter. Drizzle cooled cake with melted chocolate, then chill to set before serving, about 10 minutes.
Do Ahead: Cake can be made 3 days ahead. Wrap in plastic and chill.

Happy baking!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Just in Time for Memorial Day Weekend!

Happy Thursday! Perhaps you're busy shopping for the holiday weekend (or maybe not...the stores were empty this morning!). If you haven't decided what you're bringing to the festivities/sharing with your family, I've got a few recipes from the papers to help you choose!

Simplest Strawberry Tart
Emily Weinstein


Rye Crust: 
  • ⅔ cup/85 grams all-purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup/85 grams rye flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 9 tablespoons/127 grams very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash

  • 1 cup/225 grams mascarpone, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 pound/450 grams small, sweet strawberries
  • 3 tablespoons high-quality strawberry jam


  1. Prepare the crust: Whisk the flours and salt together in a large bowl. Combine apple cider vinegar with 5 tablespoons ice water.
  2. Working quickly, add butter to the flour mixture and toss to coat. Use your fingers or the palms of your hands to press each cube of butter into the flour, ensuring that each butter piece gets coated, until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size lumps. If at any time the butter seems warm or soft, briefly refrigerate the bowl. Alternatively, you can pulse the butter and flour together in a food processor.
  3. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the cold vinegar-water mixture over the flour mixture. Use a gentle hand or wooden spoon to stir the water into the flour until just combined. If using a food processor, pulse a few more times, or until the dough begins to come together. If the dough seems dry, add more of the cold vinegar-water mixture, a couple of teaspoons at a time. You have added enough water when you can pick up a handful of the dough and easily squeeze it together without it falling apart.
  4. Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight. (Dough keeps for up to 3 months in the freezer wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of foil. Thaw in refrigerator before using.)
  5. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 400 degrees.
  6. On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll out the pie crust into an oval about 15 x 6 inches and just under 1/4-inch thick. Use a paring knife or pastry cutter to trim any rough edges and move the parchment paper and crust to a baking sheet, preferably rimless. Dock the crust with a fork to prevent it from puffing up too much in the oven. Brush the surface of the crust from edge to edge with the egg wash.
  7. Bake until crust is deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Check on the crust halfway through baking; if any bubbles have appeared, use a spatula to press them flat. Cool the crust completely on the pan.
  8. Prepare the tart: While the crust is cooling, combine mascarpone and 2 tablespoons sugar. Hull the strawberries and cut them into 1/4-inch slices.
  9. Carefully slide the cooled crust off the baking sheet onto a serving platter or board. Spread mascarpone over the top in an even layer, dot with jam, then arrange sliced strawberries in a single, slightly overlapping layer in a decorative pattern. Sprinkle the tart with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. (Omit this final sprinkling if your strawberries are particularly sweet.) Slice and serve immediately.

Washington Post:
Blueberry and Lemon-Cream Icebox Cake:
Tony Rosenfeld

  • 2 pints fresh blueberries, stemmed and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup Lyle's Golden Syrup (available at larger grocery stores, on the baking aisle)
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 12 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups chilled heavy cream
  • 8 ounces graham crackers, or more as needed
  • Confectioners' sugar, for serving
  1. Puree the blueberries in a food processor until smooth. Use a flexible spatula to push the puree through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing to extract as much as possible from the solids (discard them). There should be about 2 cups of strained puree. Return it to the food processor, along with the syrup and and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, and blend until well incorporated. Reserve 1 cup as a sauce for serving; cover and refrigerate it.
  2. Add the mascarpone to the remaining blueberry mixture (in the food processor) and blend until the mixture becomes uniform and smooth.
  3. Combine the lemon zest, granulated sugar and heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat on low speed for about 1 minute, then on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
  4. Use parchment paper to line the bottom and sides of the loaf pan (an initial light coating of cooking oil spray may help). Use an offset spatula to spread half of the blueberry-mascarpone mixture evenly in the bottom. Cover completely with the graham crackers, making a single layer that uses about one-quarter of the crackers; breaking them as needed.
  5. Next, use the spatula to spread half of the lemon whipped cream evenly over the graham cracker layer, then repeat with another graham cracker layer, the remaining blueberry mascarpone mixture, a graham cracker layer, the remaining lemon whipped cream and a final graham cracker layer. Compress very gently; the assembled cake should come to the top of the pan. Wrap in plastic wrap and weight with a heavy plate or pan. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to a day in advance.
  6. To serve, remove the weight and plastic wrap. Place a platter over the pan, then use both hands to invert the cake so it lands on the platter. Gently peel away the parchment paper and discard it.
  7. Whisk the reserved cup of blueberry puree so it becomes smooth and pourable. Drizzle some over each slice of cake, then sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Serve right away.

LA Times
Lemon Blueberry Buckle
Adapted from "Rustic Fruit Desserts" by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson.Crumb Topping:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup ( 1/2 stick) butter, cubed, at room temperature
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Add the butter, using a fork or your fingers to cut in the butter until it is reduced to the size of peas. Loosely cover the bowl, and place it in the freezer while you mix the cake batter.

  • Cake:6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar, divided
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, divided
  • Crumb topping, chilled
  • Juice of 2 lemons (about 6 tablespoons)

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the butter, three-fourths cup sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  4. Stir the flour mixture into the bowl, a third at a time, alternating with the buttermilk, until both the flour mixture and buttermilk are evenly incorporated into the batter. Gently fold 1 cup of the blueberries into the batter.
  5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and distribute the remaining blueberries evenly over the top of the batter. Remove the crumb topping from the freezer and sprinkle it over the berries.
  6. Bake the cake until it is lightly golden and firm on top, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Rotate the pan halfway through for even baking.
  7. While the cake is baking, make a lemon syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the remaining one-third cup sugar with the lemon juice and whisk until blended. Heat the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid thickens to a syrupy consistency, 6 to 8 minutes. (The glaze will bubble while cooking and may need to be removed from the heat to check that it is the proper consistency.) Remove from heat and set aside in a warm place.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and drizzle the warm glaze over. Cool to room temperature. The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, covered in plastic wrap.

Happy baking!

Monday, May 16, 2016

What to do with Leftover Easter Bunnies

Happy Monday everyone! After stuffing our faces with delicious greasy pizza last night, my husband and I have agreed to pull back on the heavy foods this week. So obviously I'm thinking about chocolate. Milk chocolate, to be specific. I don't keep many temptations in the house, but as a pastry chef, I always have chocolate chips, and as it turns out this month, leftover Easter bunny. So you know what I love to do with too much chocolate? Turn it into a different delicious dessert! Here are a few recipes for those leftover bunnies hidden in the back of your pantry!

Milk Chocolate-Banana Pudding
Melissa Clark, NYT

  • 5 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream, plus 1 cup whipped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large bananas, thinly sliced
  • 14 whole chocolate wafer cookies, plus 4 crushed, for garnish (see note)
  1. Place chocolate in a bowl. In a separate large bowl, sift together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt; whisk in egg yolks and 1/2 cup milk until smooth.
  2. In a large saucepan over high heat, bring remaining 1 cup milk and 1/2 cup cream to a simmer. Pour over chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot chocolate mixture into egg mixture until completely incorporated and cocoa is dissolved.
  3. Return custard to saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Do not let mixture reach a simmer. If custard begins to steam heavily, stir it, off the heat, a moment before returning it to stove top. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Spread several tablespoons pudding evenly into an 8-inch square pan (or a glass bowl). Top with an even layer of bananas; arrange whole cookies on top of bananas. Cover with remaining pudding. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with crushed cookies. Chill at least 3 hours or overnight before serving.
Tip: Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers work perfectly. If you can’t find them or want to paint the lily, try using chocolate sandwich cookies like Newman-O’s.

Milk Chocolate Brownies
Gourmet, February 2007

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces fine-quality milk chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. Melt butter and half of chocolate in a 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring, until smooth. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm. Stir in brown sugar and vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, until mixture is glossy and smooth.
  3. Whisk together remaining ingredients, then stir into chocolate mixture. Stir in remaining chocolate.
  4. Spread batter in pan and bake until a wooden pick or skewer comes out with a few moist crumbs adhering, 25 to 30 minutes.

Silky Chocolate Mousse with Peanut Butter Crunch
Rachel Lansang-Hidalgo, Food & Wine, February 2009

  • 3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 3 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 2 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 pounds milk chocolate, chopped
  • 3 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 9 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups cornflakes, lightly crushed
  • 1/4 cup salted roasted peanuts, chopped
  1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer with the chopped peanuts. Let the peanut cream stand off the heat for 15 minutes. Strain the peanut cream into a medium bowl; discard the chopped peanuts. Wipe out the saucepan, add back the cream and bring to a simmer. Off the heat, whisk in the gelatin and chopped white chocolate until melted. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate the peanut cream until it is set, about 2 hours.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the cream until steaming. Put the milk chocolate and unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl and add the hot cream. Let stand until melted, then whisk until smooth; let cool. In another small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks at high speed until smooth. Slowly pour in the hot sugar syrup while beating at high speed; be careful not to pour the syrup directly onto the beaters. Beat until the mixture is cool, pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate mixture until no streaks remain. Cover the mousse with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Line a medium baking sheet with wax paper. In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, melt the peanut butter and chocolate at high power at 30-second intervals, stirring until smooth. Stir in the cornflakes and peanuts and spread the crunch on the baking sheet in a 1/2-inch layer. Freeze until firm, about 1 1/2 hours. Chop into small pieces.
  5. Spoon the mousse into 8 glasses or bowls and top each with a scoop of the peanut cream. Sprinkle with the peanut crunch and serve.
MAKE AHEAD: The chocolate mousse and peanut cream can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. The peanut crunch can be frozen for up to 5 days.

Happy baking!

Monday, May 9, 2016

What's Under That Fondant?

Happy Monday! It was a busy week for me; this weekend's bridal shower cake order was a tiered, casino and purple-themed, elegant cake. Tall order! Check it out below:

One of the tricky things about fondant is figuring out how to keep it on a cake. The best (and tastiest glue) is using a thin layer of buttercream beneath the fondant. Too thick and it makes the fondant bubble on top, too thin, and it doesn't stick. I like to do a crumb coat on the cake, and then a very thin layer on top. Not only a great adhesive, but for those cake eaters who ignore the fondant, they get an extra little layer of frosting!

Happy baking!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Sweet or Savory, a Crust is a Crust

Wow, we made it to Friday! Recently I used leftover chicken from my Granny's matzah ball soup recipe to make a chicken pot pie (single crust)! But a pie crust is a pie crust is a pie crust, and while each can be made differently and used for different types of desserts, the delicacy of the crust is important in every situation. How much you handle the crust and knead the dough is key - and it's as little as possible. While it's easy to make a crust in a food processor, using a pastry blender is easy and leads to a better result! Check out the steps to making an herb crust below (but choose your favorite recipe to bake it into a crust!):

Herb Crust
Bon Appetit, Oct 1999
Makes single crust
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (**I sub in 1 cup of whole wheat flour**)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons (about) ice water

  1. Blend first 5 ingredients in processor until herbs are very finely chopped. Add butter and shortening. Blend until mixture resembles coarse meal. 
  2. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Using fork, mix enough ice water into flour mixture to form moist clumps. 
  3. Gather dough into ball; flatten into rectangle. Cover and chill 30 minutes. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly before rolling out.)

Dry ingredients and herbs

Mix with a pastry blender
and then a fork for the ice water

Mix until combined, but that's it!

Roll out at least 30 min later

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Sweetening with Condensed Milk

Happy Thursday to all! I was recently reminded of the sweet joys of baking with sweetened condensed milk, a deliciously sweet and creamy concoction that adds a delightful punch to desserts that aren't often the first off our "to do" lists. Check them out below:

Coconut Macaroons
Danny Cohen (aka Danny Macaroons)

  • One 14-ounce bag sweetened shredded coconut
  • One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut with the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the salt until firm peaks form. Fold the beaten whites into the coconut mixture.
  2. Scoop tablespoon-size mounds of the mixture onto the baking sheets, about 1 inch apart. Bake in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 25 minutes, until golden; shift the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Transfer the baking sheets to racks and let the cookies cool completely.
  3. Dip the bottoms of the macaroons into the melted chocolate, letting any excess drip back into the bowl. Return the cookies to the lined baking sheets. Drizzle any remaining chocolate on top and refrigerate for about 5 minutes, until set.
MAKE AHEAD: The macaroons can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Chocolate Fudge with Bourbon Sugar
William Werner

Bourbon Sugar:
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 cup demerara sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 72%), coarsely chopped
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
Bourbon Sugar:
  1. Preheat oven to 150° or as low as yours will go. Scrape vanilla seeds into a small bowl; stir in demerara sugar and bourbon. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let dry out in oven overnight, leaving door slightly ajar. Mixture should feel like demerara sugar again in the morning.
Do Ahead: Store bourbon sugar airtight at room temperature up to 2 months.

  1. Line an 8x8” baking dish with parchment paper, leaving a generous overhang on 2 sides; lightly coat with nonstick spray. Heat chocolates in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let bowl touch water), stirring occasionally, until almost completely melted. Set aside.
  2. Combine condensed milk, butter, bourbon, corn syrup, and kosher salt in a small saucepan; scrape in vanilla seeds and add pod. Heat over medium until barely hot (same as the chocolate).
  3. Gently stir one quarter of milk mixture into chocolate with a rubber spatula. Add another quarter of milk mixture, stirring to incorporate (it might look broken and greasy; don’t worry, it will come back together). Continue with remaining milk mixture in 2 additions, stirring vigorously until fudge is very shiny and almost elastic, about 5 minutes. Scrape into prepared pan and smooth top. Sprinkle with bourbon sugar and sea salt. Let cool, then cover and chill at least 4 hours.
  4. Turn out fudge onto a cutting board and slice into 2x¾” rectangles, 2” squares, or triangles.
Do Ahead: Fudge can be made 1 week ahead. Wrap tightly and chill.

Coffee Infused Tres Leches Cake
Rick Bayless

For the Cake:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Salt
  • 4 eggs at room tempterature
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, preferably Mexican
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
For the Three Milks, Meringue, and Garnish:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 14-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup freshly brewed espresso or strongly brewed coffee
  • 1 teaspoonvanilla extract preferably Mexican
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, preferably freshly ground Mexican canela
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup shaved Mexican chocolate
  1. Bake the cakes. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan that makes 6 large muffins with muffin papers.
  2. Place the flour, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, the baking powder and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Separate the eggs, dropping the whites into the bowl of a mixer and the yolks into a medium bowl. Add the oil, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of water to the yolks and mix well. Beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they start to thicken and form soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
  3. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the egg yolks and mix well. Gently fold in 1/3 of the beaten egg whites. Repeat, alternating the flour mixture and egg whites until everything is thoroughly combined. Scoop the fluffy batter into the prepared muffin tins, place in the hot oven and bake until the tops spring back when touched, 20 to 22 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then take the individual cakes out of the molds, remove the papers and invert them into a deep 13x9 inch baking dish.
  4. Make the three milks mixture. Combine the heavy cream, evaporated milk, condensed milk, coffee, vanilla, cinnamon and a pinch of salt in a bowl and mix well. Slowly pour the mixture over the cakes, soaking them thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to allow the milks to be absorbed into the cakes.
  5. Frost the cakes with meringue and serve. Combine the sugar with 1/3 cup water in a small (2-quart) saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat, swirling the pan gently until all the sugar is dissolved. Dip a brush in water and use it to clean the sides of the pan so no sugar crystals remain. (This is an important step in keeping the syrup from recrystallizing.) Lower the heat to medium and boil the syrup until it reaches soft ball stage (when a little syrup dropped into cold water will form a soft ball).
  6. While the syrup is boiling, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and a pinch of salt until the whites form soft peaks. Drizzle in the hot sugar syrup in 4 additions, beating well after each addition. Continue to beat until the bottom of the bowl is cool.
  7. To serve, place each soaked cake on a plate, decorate with a big dollop of meringue, toasting the peaks with a kitchen torch. Sprinkle with the Mexican chocolate and present to your guests to enjoy.

Happy baking!