Desserts




 

Cakes




 

Cheryl's Favorite Carrot Cake





Ingredients


For the cake:

  •     2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
  •     1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  •     1 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1-1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  •     1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  •     1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  •     1/2 teaspoon table salt
  •     1 pound medium carrots (6 to 7 carrots), peeled
  •     1-1/2 cups granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
  •     1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  •     4 large eggs
  •     1-1/2 cups vegetable oil , safflower oil, or canola oil


For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  •     8 ounces cream cheese , softened but still cool
  •     5 tablespoons unsalted butter softened, but still cool
  •     1 tablespoon sour cream
  •     1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •     1-1/4 cups confectioners' sugar (4 1/2 ounces)





Instructions


Step 1: For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9 inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pans with parchment and spray parchment.

Step 2: Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside.

Step 3: In food processor fitted with large shredding disk (see below for mixer method), shred carrots (you should have about 3 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside.
 
Step 4: In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment (or in large bowl and using hand-held mixer), beat granulated and brown sugars and eggs on medium-high until thoroughly combined, about 45 seconds.

Step 5: Reduce speed to medium; with mixer running, add oil in a slow, steady stream, being careful to pour oil against inside of bowl (if oil begins to splatter, reduce speed to low until oil is incorporated, then resume adding oil). Increase speed to high and mix until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 45 seconds to 1 minute longer.

Step 6: Turn off mixer and stir in carrots and dry ingredients by hand until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.

Step 7: Pour into prepared pans and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool cakes to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.

Step 8: For the frosting: When cake is cool, mix cream cheese, butter, sour cream, and vanilla at medium high speed in clean bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment ( or in large bowl using handheld mixer) until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until very fluffy, about 1 minute.

Step 9: Run paring knife around edge of cake to loosen from pan. Invert cake onto wire rack, peel off parchment, then invert again onto serving platter.

Step 10: To assemble the cake: Trim layers if necessary. Remove any ragged edges. Slightly rounded tops are easily covered by icing, but excessively large bumps may have to be cut off.  Brush all crumbs from cakes. Loose crumbs make icing difficult. Place the bottom layer upside down on a cardboard cake circle. This gives a flat surface for the filling. Place in the center of a turntable or serving plate. Spread icing on bottom layer out to the edges.  Place top layer on bottom layer, right side up. Ice the cake.





Cheryl's Limoncello Cheesecake






Ingredients

Crust

  •     20 lemon cookies (e.g., Pepperidge Farm lemon cookies)
  •     3 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  •     1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Filling

  •     5 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  •     1 cups sugar
  •     5 teaspoons cornstarch
  •     1/2 cup limoncello liqueur
  •     3 tablespoons lemon juice
  •     1/4 cup heavy cream
  •     pinch salt
  •     2 teaspoons vanilla
  •     2 tablespoons lemon zest
  •     5 large eggs, at room temperature
  •     2 egg yolks, at room temperature


Topping

  •     12 ounces of creme fraiche
  •     2 tablespoons sugar
  •     1 teaspoon limoncello





Instructions

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan.

Step 2: For the Crust: Finely grind the cookies in a food processor. Add the melted butter and lemon zest, and process until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom (not the sides) of the prepared pan. Bake until the crust is golden, about 10 minutes. Cool the crust completely on a cooling rack. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

Step 3: For the Fillling: In a large mixer bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, and cornstarch until smooth for about 3 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally and scraping down the sides of the work bowl. Add the limoncello, lemon juice, heavy cream, salt, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of lemon zest. Mix well. Add the eggs one at a time, and beat just until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Step 4: Pour the cheese mixture over the crust in greased 9-inch springform pan. The batter will reach the rim of the pan. Place the baking pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the baking pan.



Step 5: Bake at 325 degrees F for 1 hour and 15 minutes until the center of the cake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken (the cake will become firm when it is cold). Transfer the cake to a rack; cool 1 hour.

Step 6: For the Topping: Mix the creme fraiche and sugar together and gently spread over the top of the cooled cheesecake. Bake for 5 minutes. Let cool until the topping is set or chill overnight. Best served at room temperature.





Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Icing





Ingredients

  •     2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  •     1/2 tsp baking powder
  •     1/2 tsp baking soda
  •     1/2 tsp salt
  •     2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
  •     1-1/2 cups sugar
  •     2 large eggs
  •     2 large egg yolks
  •     1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  •     1 cup buttermilk
  •     4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  •     1 recipe for chocolate icing




Instructions

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter two 9-X-2-inch round cake pans.

Step 2: Whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

Step 3: Beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for 2 minutes, until it is thoroughly blended into the sugar.

Step 4: Add the eggs one at a time, then the yolks one by one, beating for 1 minutes after each addition and scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. 

Step 5: Beat in the vanilla.

Step 6: Reduce the mixing speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternatively with the buttermilk; add the dry ingredients in 3 portions and the buttermilk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); mix only until each new batch is blended into the batter. 

Step 7: Scrape down the bowl and add the melted chocolate, folding it in with the rubber spatula. Divide the batter between the cake pans.

Step 8: Bake for 26 to 30 minutes, or until the cakes feel springy to touch and start to pull away from the sides of the pans.  Transfer the cakes to racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them.  Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
 

Step 9: Assemble and frost cake with chocolate icing.





Coconut Cake

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, Published March 1, 2001.


Makes one 9-inch, 4-layer cake.






Ingredients

Cake

  •     1 large egg
  •     5 large egg whites
  •     3/4 cup cream of coconut
  •     1/4 cup water
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •     1 teaspoon coconut extract
  •     2-1/4 cups cake flour (9 ounces), sifted
  •     1 cup granulated sugar
  •     1 tablespoon baking powder
  •     3/4 teaspoon table salt
  •     12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 12 pieces, softened, but still cool
  •     2 cups packed sweetened shredded coconut (about 8 ounces)
  •     1 recipe for Coconut Buttercream





Instructions


Step 1: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans with shortening and dust with flour.

Step 2: Beat egg whites and whole egg in large measuring cup with fork to combine. Add cream of coconut, water, vanilla, and coconut extract and beat with fork until thoroughly combined.

Step 3: Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on lowest speed to combine, about 30 seconds.

Step 4: With mixer still running on lowest speed, add butter 1 piece at a time, then beat until mixture resembles coarse meal, with butter bits no larger than small peas, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes.

Step 5: With mixer still running, add 1 cup liquid. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds. With mixer still running, add remaining 1 cup liquid in steady stream (this should take about 15 seconds). Stop mixer and scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then beat at medium-high speed to combine, about 15 seconds. (Batter will be thick.)

Step 6: Divide batter between cake pans and level with offset or rubber spatula. Bake until deep golden brown, cakes pull away from sides of pans, and toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes (rotate cakes after about 20 minutes). Do not turn off oven.

Step 7: Cool in pans on wire racks about 10 minutes, then loosen cakes from sides of pans with paring knife, invert cakes onto racks and then re-invert; cool to room temperature.

Step 8: While cakes are cooling, spread shredded coconut on rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until shreds are a mix of golden brown and white, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times. Cool to room temperature.

Step 9: To Assemble the Cake: With a long serrated knife, cut both cakes in half horizontally so that each cake forms two layers.
Step 10:  Put a dab of icing on a cardboard round cut just larger than the cake. Center one cake layer on the round.
Step 11:  Place a large blob of icing in the center of the layer and spread it to the edges with an icing spatula.
Step 12: Hold the spatula at a 45-degree angle to the cake and drag it across the surface to level the icing.
Step 13: Repeat steps 3 and 4 with remaining cake layers.

Step 14: To ice the sides of the cake, scoop up a large dab of icing with the tip of the spatula and spread it on the sides with short side-to-side strokes. Sprinkle the top of the cake with coconut. Then press the coconut into the sides, letting the excess fall back onto a baking sheet.





Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours





Ingredients

  •     2-1/4 cups cake flour
  •     1 tablespoon baking powder
  •     1-1/4 cups buttermilk
  •     4 large egg whites
  •     1-1/2 cups sugar
  •     2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  •     4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
  •     1/2 teaspoon lemon extract


Filling & Topping

  •     2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves
  •     1-1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  •     1 recipe for Lemon Buttercream




Instructions


Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Step 2: Spray or butter two 9" x 2" round cake pans. Line the bottom of each cake pan with a buttered parchment circle.

Step 3: Whisk the buttermilk and egg whites together in a separate bowl.

Step 4: Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a stand mixer bowl and rub together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and smells like the lemon.

Step 5: Add the butter to the mixer bowl and beat together with the sugar for 3 minutes on medium speed until the mixture is fluffy and light.  Add in the vanilla extract. Add in the flour and buttermilk mixtures in alternating additions, starting and ending with the flour mixtures. Be sure each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next. When everything is added beat the batter for an additional 2 minutes.

Step 6: Divide the batter between the two pans and bake for 30 minutes in the oven or until the tops are set and springy, and a cake tester inserted into the centers come out clean.

Step 7: Transfer the pans to wire racks and let cool for a few minutes, then flip and unmold the cakes (run a knife around the sides of the cakes if necessary). Peel the parchment off and flip the cakes back over right side up on the wire racks to finish cooling. At this point, the fully cooled cake layers can be wrapped in plastic and kept overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.
 
Step 8: To assemble the cake: Stir the raspberry preserves until it is loose and spreadable. Place a layer on a cardboard cake round, Spread raspberry preserves on the cake layer. Spread a layer of buttercream on top of the preserves. Top with a second cake layer. Use the rest of the buttercream to frost the sides and top of the cake. Press the coconut over the sides and top of the cake.
 
The cake is best served a couple of hours after it is assembled to let the flavors develop. You can refrigerate it for up to 2 days, but be sure it is well covered or the cake will dry out. You should also let the cake come to room temperature before you serve it.





Double Chocolate Flourless Cake

Adapted from Cuisine at Home, April 2010





Ingredients


For the Torte:

  •     1/3 cup water
  •     1/2 cup sugar
  •     1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
  •     12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  •     1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  •     1/4 teaspoon table salt
  •     1/3 cup almond liqueur OR cold brewed coffee
  •     2 teaspoon almond extract
  •     6 eggs


For the Ganache:

  •     1/2 cup heavy cream
  •     3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (4 ounces)
  •     Toasted sliced almonds
  •     Fresh strawberries or raspberries

 





Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 325. Coat a 9 x 2 inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper cut to fit into bottom of pan; coat with nonstick spray.

Step 2: Bring water and sugar for the torte to a boil in a pan to dissolve sugar; remove from heat.

Step 3: Add butter, 1 bag of chocolate chips, espresso powder, and salt. Let sit 2 minutes, then stir until smooth.

Step 4: Whisk in liqueur and almond extract.

Step 5: Whisk eggs until whites and yolks are mixed, then whisk into chocolate mixture.

Step 6: Pour batter into prepared cake pan,and place cake pan inside a roasting pan.

Step 7: Add warm water to roasting pan halfway up the outside of the cake pan. Bake torte until puffed and soft to the touch, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove roasting pan from oven, then remove the cake pan to a cooling rack. Let cool 1 hour. Run a paring knife around inside of the cake pan; invert onto a platter. Peel off parchment; cool completely or chill until ready to serve. Bring to room temperature before
serving.

Step 8: Before serving, heat cream for the ganache in a microwave safe measuring cup in a microwave on high until boiling, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 3/4 cup chocolate chips and let sit 2 minutes, then stir until smooth. Cool Ganache 2 to 3 minutes, then spread over top and down the sides of torte. Sprinkle top with almonds. Dip a knife into hot water and wipe dry for each slice. Serve cake with strawberries. Chill any leftover cake.





Dulce de Leche Layer Cake

Adapted from Heart of Mary blog;  White velvet butter cake recipe adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes, 
 
Make 12 servings
 



 

Ingredients

    

For the cake:

  • 4-1/2 large egg whites, at room temperature (4.8 ounces)
  • 1 cup milk (8.5 ounces), divided
  • 2-1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3-1/2 cups (10.5 ounces) cake flour, sifted into cup and leveled
  • 1-1/2 cups (10.5 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (6 ounces) unsalted butter, softened (65° to 75°F)
 
 

For the Dulce de Leche:

  • 2 cans sweetened condensed milk
 

For the dulce de leche frosting:

 
 
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the dulce de leche: Remove the label from the can of condensed milk. Poke two vent holes in the top, by using a can opener for example. Put the can into a pot (with the holes up), and fill up the pot with water until it is a quarter inch or so below the top of the can. 
 
Step 2: Put the pot on a stove and turn up the heat. Let the pot and can simmer gently for up to four hours for solid dulce de leche. Add more water, as necessary, to the pot when the level boils down too much.
 
Step 3: When it's done, let it cool for a while, and then carefully open up the can completely.
 
Step 4: To make the cakes: Grease two 9-inch by 1-1/2-inch cake pans, then line bottoms with parchment or wax paper, and then grease again and flour.
 
Step 5: Preheat the oven to 350°F.
 
Step 6: In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites, 1/4 cup of the milk, and the vanilla just until lightly combined.
 
Step 7: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds.  Add the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup milk and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1-1/2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
 
Step 8: Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  
 
Step 9: Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be about 1/2 full. Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
 
Step 10: Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks.  Let cakes cool completely before icing.
 
Step 11: To assemble the cake:  Position your first layer on a rotating cake stand. Using your dulce de leche filling and a pastry bag, pipe a ring of filling around the edge of the cake. From there, you can fill in the middle with filling by placing a mound of filling in the center of the layer and spread with a flat spatula to the edges.
 
Step 12: Add the top layer of cake, you can begin to ice the sides and top of the cake.  Start by making a crumb coat.  Spread a thin layer of icing onto the cake. Don’t worry if there are crumbs in the icing, this is expected. The icing layer is so thin that you will see the cake and crumbs. Smooth the icing as best as you can and let it dry. The crumb coat needs to be dry to the touch before you put the final layer of icing on.
 
Step 13: After the crumb coat is dry, place a mound of frosting in the center of the cake and push to the sides with your spatula. Continue to frost the top and sides of the cake.
 
Step 14: Add your remaining dulce de leche filling to a pastry bag fitted with a fairly large round time.  Pipe a ring of filling around the edge of the cake. From there, you can fill in the middle with filling by placing a mound of filling in the center of the layer and spread evenly with a flat spatula to the edges
 
Step 15: Once you are finished, you can decorate the top and bottom of the cake as you wish. 
 



 

German's Chocolate Cake

My mother and I were searching for a German chocolate cake recipe to make for our Christmas day dinner and she found this one on the Taste of Home website. This one is a really good and classic German chocolate cake recipe.  It is straightforward and fairly easy to make.  This was my first attempt and it turned out delicious.  

 
By the way, for anyone wondering about the origins of this cake - it actually has nothing to do with the country Germany.  The cake is named after an American by the name of Sam German, who worked for American Baker's Chocolate Company. He developed a type of sweet baking chocolate in 1852 and Baker's Chocolate Company named this sweet dark chocolate after him.  The recipe, originally called "German's Chocolate Cake" appeared years later, in 1957, in a local Dallas, Texas newspaper (the " 's" was dropped over the years). A homemaker sent the recipe to the local Dallas newspaper but the actual recipe's origins are unclear.  
 

Adapted from Taste of Home

Makes 12 servings
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the cake:

  • 4 ounces German sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
 

For the frosting:

  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 5 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2 cups flaked coconut
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped Diamond of California® Pecans
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Line three greased 9-in. round baking pans with waxed paper. Grease waxed paper and set aside. 
 
 
Step 2: In small saucepan, melt chocolate with water over low heat; cool.
 
    
 
Step 3: In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
 
 
Step 4: Beat in 4 egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
 
 
Step 5: Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. 
 
 
Step 6: Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
 
 
Step 7: In a small bowl and with clean beaters, beat the 4 egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold a fourth of the egg whites into the creamed mixture; fold in remaining whites.
 
   
 
 
Step 8: Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 24-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
 
 
Step 9: For frosting, in a small saucepan, heat the sugar, milk, butter and egg yolks over medium-low heat until mixture is thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. 
 
 
Step 10: Remove from the heat. Stir in the coconut, pecans and vanilla extract. 
 
 
Step 11: Cool until thick enough to spread. Spread a third of the frosting over each cake layer and stack the layers.
 
 
 



 

Jaimie's World Famous Carrot Cake

This recipe belongs to Jaimie, a sister of a good friend of mine. Sadly, Jaimie passed away on January 11, 2015 from a grade 4 brain tumor at the very young age of 45. I didn’t have the pleasure of ever meeting Jaimie but I’ve heard so many wonderful things about her and the lives she touched. And after trying her delicious carrot cake, I feel like I have met her. So in memory of Jaimie, I am posting her carrot cake recipe. This cake is absolutely scrumptious. You can’t feel too guilty about eating a cake loaded with carrots and made with whole wheat flour. Honestly, you can’t get any healthier than that. Enjoy!
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the Cake:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
  • 4-1/2 cups finely grated carrots
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, safflower oil, or canola oil
 

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1-8 ounce package of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4-1/2 to 4-3/4 cups sifted powdered sugar
 
 



 

Instructions:

 
Step 1: For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position; pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9 inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pans with parchment and spray parchment.
 
Step 2: Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, and salt in large bowl; set aside.
 
Step 3: In food processor fitted with large shredding disk, shred carrots (you should have about 4-1/2 cups); transfer carrots to bowl and set aside.
 
Step 4: In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat sugar and eggs on medium-high until thoroughly combined, about 45 seconds.
 
Step 5: Reduce speed to medium; with mixer running, add oil in a slow, steady stream, being careful to pour oil against inside of bowl (if oil begins to splatter, reduce speed to low until oil is incorporated, then resume adding oil). Increase speed to high and mix until mixture is light in color and well emulsified, about 45 seconds to 1 minute longer.
 
Step 6: Turn off mixer and stir in carrots and dry ingredients by hand until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.
 
Step 7: Pour into prepared pans and bake until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool cakes to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.
 
Step 8: Run paring knife around edge of cake to loosen from pan. Invert cake onto wire rack, peel off parchment, then invert again onto serving platter.
 
Step 9: For the frosting: Beat together cream cheese, butter, and vanilla at medium high speed in clean bowl of standing mixer fitted with flat paddle attachment until well combined, light and fluffy, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Gradually add powdered sugar and mix until very fluffy, about 1 minute.
 
Step 10: To assemble the cake: Trim layers if necessary. Remove any ragged edges. Slightly rounded tops are easily covered by icing, but excessively large bumps may have to be cut off.  Brush all crumbs from cakes. Loose crumbs make icing difficult. Place the bottom layer upside down on a cardboard cake circle. This gives a flat surface for the filling. Place in the center of a turntable or serving plate. Spread icing on bottom layer out to the edges.  Place top layer on bottom layer, right side up. Ice the cake.
 



 

Limoncello Cake with Limoncello Zabaglione

This cake truly captures the sunshine of Southern Italy, where limoncello is traditionally made.  Limoncello and lemon are infused in every element—the cake itself, lemon curd, and zabaglione cream. The recipe is a little complicated and time- consuming to make but, if you have the time, I guarantee it will get rave reviews from your guests.
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the cake:

  • 2-1/2 cups cake flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened 
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar 
  • 2 large whole eggs, at room temperature 
  • 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest 
  • 1/4 cup limoncello
  • 1/2 cup whole milk 
 

For the lemon syrup:

  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons limoncello
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
 

For the lemon curd:

  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
 

For the limoncello zabaglione:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup Limoncello
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • 2 cups heavy cream
 
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the lemon cake: preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper and butter parchment. Dust the bottom and sides of pans with flour and tap out the excess.
 
Step 2: In a medium bowl, Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir together the dry ingredients with a whisk. Set aside.
 
Step 3: In an electric stand mixer, using the paddle attachment or beaters, beat the butter on medium speed for about 30 seconds, or until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, increase the speed to medium-high, and continue to beat until the mixture is light, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
 
Step 4: Add the whole eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and lemon zest. 
 
Step 5: Reduce the speed to low and gradually beat in the limoncello (the batter will appear curdled at this point but will smooth out after you add the dry ingredients). 
 
Step 6: Beat in the dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another 10 seconds. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
 
Step 7: Bake the cakes for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks and cool completely.
 
Step 8: To make the lemon syrup: place the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves and the syrup clears slightly. Remove from the heat and transfer to a glass bowl to cool to room temperature.
 
Step 9: To make the lemon curd: combine sugar and cornstarch in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in fresh lemon juice. Whisk in eggs and yolks; add butter. 
 
Step 10: Whisk over medium heat until curd thickens and boils, about 12 minutes. Pour into medium bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto the surface.  Refrigerate until cold, at least 5 hours. Curd can be prepared 1 week in advance.
 
Step 11: To make the filling, first make the zabaglione. Place a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Add the eggs and sugar and whisk well.  Add the limoncello. Continue to whisk, over the pan of water until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set to one side to cool slightly.
 
Step 12: In another large bowl beat the mascarpone until it is smooth. Beat in the slightly cooled Zabaglione and mix until even.
 
Step 13: In another bowl, whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks and fold into the mascarpone/zabaglione mixture.
 
Step 14: To assemble, place 1 cake layer onto a serving plate. Soak the top of the cake layer with the lemon syrup brushing on with a pastry brush.
 
Step 15: Spread the cake layer with lemon curd and then add an even layer of mascarpone filling. Top with the second cake layer. 
 
Step 16: Soak the top of the cake with the lemon syrup brushing on with a pastry brush. Coat the top of the cake with an even layer of mascarpone filling. Run a palette knife around the sides of the cake to even out the filling. Reserve the remaining mascarpone filling and place the cake in the fridge for 4 hours to firm so that the rest of the assembly can be completed. Once chilled, coat the sides and top of the cake with the reserved mascarpone filling.  Decorate as desired.
 
 
 



 

Luscious Lemon Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting





Ingredients

 

For the cake:

  • 2-1/2 cups cake flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened 
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar 
  • 2 large whole eggs, at room temperature 
  • 3 large egg yolks, at room temperature 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest 
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/2 cup whole milk 
 

For lemon curd:

  • 2-1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
 

For the lemon frosting:

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd
  • 4 cups heavy cream
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the lemon cake: preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper and butter parchment. Dust the bottom and sides of pans with flour and tap out the excess.
 
Step 2: In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir together the dry ingredients with a whisk. Set aside.
 
Step 3: In an electric stand mixer, using the paddle attachment or beaters, beat the butter on medium speed for about 30 seconds, or until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, increase the speed to medium-high, and continue to beat until the mixture is light, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
 
Step 4: Add the whole eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and lemon zest. 
 
Step 5: Reduce the speed to low and gradually beat in the lemon juice (the batter will appear curdled at this point but will smooth out after you add the dry ingredients). 
 
Step 6: Beat in the dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with milk in 2 additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for another 10 seconds. Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
 
Step 7: Bake the cakes for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks and cool completely.
 
Step 8: To make the lemon curd: Combine sugar and 2 teaspoons cornstarch in heavy medium saucepan. Gradually whisk in fresh lemon juice. Whisk in eggs and yolks; add butter. 
 
  
 
 
Step 9: Whisk over medium heat until curd thickens and boils, about 12 minutes. Pour into medium bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto the surface.  Refrigerate until cold, at least 5 hours. Curd can be prepared 1 week in advance.
 
  
 
Step 10: To make the lemon frosting: Combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract and lemon curd in the bowl of a stand mixer. Fit the mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until smooth. Once smooth, remove the paddle attachment and fit the mixer with the whisk attachment. While the mixture is whipping, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Stop and scrape the bottom of the bowl a couple of times while you continue whipping until the cream can hold a stiff peak.
 
Step 11: To assemble the cake, place 1 cake layer on a serving plate. Pile the lemon filling onto the center using a small offset metal spatula, and spread it into an even layer, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge of the cake layer. Top with the second cake layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the lemon frosting and decorate as desired.
 
 
 
Step 12: Serve the cake immediately, or refrigerate and bring to room temperature before serving.




Martha Stewart's Ultimate Chocolate Cake

Makes two 9-inch layers
 





Ingredients

  •     1 cup cocoa, plus more for dusting
  •     3/4 cup strong coffee, boiling
  •     1 cup milk, room temperature
  •     2-3/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  •     1 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •     1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  •     2-1/2 cups sugar
  •     1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  •     4 large eggs, room temperature
  •     Hershey's Cocoa Chocolate Frosting
     




Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper. Butter the parchment, and dust with cocoa powder; tap out excess.

Step 2: Sift cocoa; whisk in boiling coffee and milk. Let cool. Sift together cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
    
Step 3: Using an electric mixer, beat the butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Pour in the cooled cocoa mixture. Mix until fully incorporated.
    
Step 4: Add the sifted dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, stirring until just combined.

Step 5: Pour the batter into the prepared pans (about 4 cups in each pan). Bake for 20 minutes, rotate the pans, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center.

Step 6: Remove the cakes from the oven, and allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes on a cooling rack. Carefully run a small offset spatula around the edge of the cakes to loosen them from the pan. Remove cakes from pans, and invert onto a wire rack. Let cool completely, about 1 hour.

Step 7: To assemble, using a serrated knife, level the top surface of each cake layer. Place four strips of parchment paper around the perimeter of the cake stand. Spread with 3/4 cup of chocolate frosting. Top with the remaining layer, bottom side up. Using a swirling motion, cover the outside of cake with the remaining frosting. Remove parchment-paper strips





Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake

Makes  l0 to l2 servings.






Ingredients

  •     2 cups vanilla wafer crumbs
  •     1/4 cup butter, melted
  •     2 (8 ounce) packages light Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
  •     3/4 cup sugar
  •     2 tablespoons cornstarch
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla
  •     3 eggs
  •     1 cup canned pumpkin
  •     3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  •     1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Topping

 

  •     2 cups sour cream
  •     1/3 cup sugar
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla
  •     Pecan halves for decoration





Instructions


Step 1: For the Cheesecake: Combine crumbs and margarine; press onto bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan.  


  

Step 2: Combine cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla, mixing at high speed on electric mixer until well blended.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Step 3: Reserve 1 cup of the cheese mixture.  Add pumpkin, remaining 1/4 cup sugar and spices to remaining cheese mixture.  Mix well.  You should have a little over 3 cups of the pumpkin mixture and 1 cup of the plain cheese mixture.



Step 4: Layer half of pumpkin mixture and half of  the plain cheese mixture over crust.  Repeat layers.  Cut through batter with knife several times for marble effect. 

   

Step 5: Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the cheesecake in a water bath to keep the oven moisture high and the heat gentle. Don't overbake the cheesecake. When perfectly done, there will still be a two to three-inch wobbly spot in the middle of the cheesecake; the texture will smooth out as it cools.

Step 6: For the Topping:  Mix sour cream, sugar and vanilla together. Spread on top of cheesecake. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Loosen cake from  rim of pan; cool before removing from rim of pan.  Chill before serving.





Schiacciata alla Fiorentina

My sister-in-law, Kathy, first ate schiacciata at the Pensione Bencista in Fiesole, overlooking the Duomo while the wisteria was in bloom. She loved it so much she asked for the recipe; she still has it—written longhand in Italian by one of the pensione’s owners. This version of the Tuscan cake was baked in a rectangular pan for breakfast and left out uncovered all day for snacking tourists. The overall effect was satisfyingly dry and chewy.
 
Kathy was kind enough to share the recipe with me. The original yields a cake that is slightly dense but very fragrant—I really love the combination of the orange and lemon flavors. I made a lighter and moister version thanks to the substitution of sour cream for the non-fat plain yogurt; I also used whole wheat pastry and cake flours instead of the heavier whole wheat flour. And because I love the shape of bundt cakes, I decided to make the schiacciata in a round fluted cake pan.



 

Ingredients

 
  • 1-1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1-1/2 cups cake flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • powdered sugar for topping
 
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease or butter a 9 X 12 glass rectangular dish or a 9-1/2 inch fluted cake pan.
 
Step 2: Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
 
Step 3: Combine the sugar and lemon and orange zest in a stand mixer bowl and rub together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and smells like the lemon and orange.
 
Step 4: In bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs on medium to low speed for 30 seconds, then add sugar-zest mixture, sour cream, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until combined.
 
Step 5:  Add oil slowly to the egg mixture and mix well (about 1 minute).
 
Step 6: Fold or gradually beat in flour mixture on low speed.
 
Step 7: Pour batter into a 9 X 12 greased glass pan or fluted cake pan and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. If using a glass pan, bake for 35 minutes. If using a fluted pan, bake for 50 minutes.
 
Step 8: Cool on rack.  Sift powdered sugar on top and serve.
 



 

Strawberry Cream Cake

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, Published May 1, 2006. 




 


Ingredients

Cake

  •     1-1/4 cups cake flour (5 ounces)
  •     1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  •     1/4 teaspoon table salt
  •     1 cup sugar (7 ounces)
  •     5 large eggs (2 whole and 3 separated), room temperature
  •     6 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
  •     2 tablespoons water
  •     2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Strawberry Filling

  •     2 pounds fresh strawberries (medium or large, about 2 quarts), washed, dried, and stemmed
  •     4 - 6 tablespoons sugar
  •     2 tablespoons Kirsch
  •     Pinch table salt


Whipped Cream

  •     8 ounces cream cheese , room temperature
  •     1/2 cup sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •     1/8 teaspoon table salt
  •     2 cups heavy cream



 

Instructions


Step 1: For the cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two round 9 by 2-inch cake pan and line with parchment paper.

Step 2: Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and all but 3 tablespoons sugar in mixing bowl.

Step 3: Whisk in 2 whole eggs and 3 yolks (reserving whites), butter, water, and vanilla; whisk until smooth.

Step 4: In clean bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat remaining 3 egg whites at medium-low speed until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes.

Step 5: With machine running, gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form, 60 to 90 seconds.

Step 6: Stir one-third of whites into batter to lighten; add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain.

Step 7: Evenly pour batter into prepared pans and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert cake onto greased wire rack; peel off and discard parchment. Invert cake again; cool completely, about 2 hours.

Step 8: For the strawberry filling: Halve 24 of best-looking berries and reserve.

Step 9: Quarter the remaining berries; toss with 4-6 tablespoons of sugar in medium bowl and let sit for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Strain juices from berries and reserve. You should have about 1/2 cup of liquid.

Step 10: In workbowl of food processor fitted with metal blade, give macerated berries five 1-second pulses (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). In small saucepan over medium-high heat, simmer reserved juices and Kirsch until syrupy and reduced to about 3 tablespoons, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour reduced syrup over macerated berries, add pinch of salt, and toss to combine. Set aside until cake is cooled.


Step 11: For the whipped cream icing: When cake has cooled, place cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whisk at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed.

Step 12: Reduce speed to low and add heavy cream in slow, steady stream; when almost fully combined, increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture holds stiff peaks, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes more, scraping bowl as needed (you should have about 4 1/2 cups).

Step 13: To assemble the cake: Place bottom layer on cardboard round or cake plate and arrange ring of 20 strawberry halves, cut sides down and stem ends facing out, around perimeter of cake layer.



Step 14: Pour one half of pureed berry mixture (about 3/4 cup) in center, then spread to cover any exposed cake.



Step 15: Gently spread about one-third of whipped cream (about 1 1/2 cups) over berry layer, leaving 1/2-inch border from edge.



Step 16: Gently press last cake layer on top. Spread remaining whipped cream over top; decorate with remaining cut strawberries. Serve, or chill for up to 4 hours.  The cake portion can be made ahead of time, wrapped in a double layer of plastic wrap, and frozen; thaw the frozen cake, unwrapped, at room temperature for about two hours before proceeding with the recipe.




 

Texas Sheet Cake





Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter 
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (alternatively, you can substitute 8 ounces sour cream for the buttermilk)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 recipe for Hershey's cocoa chocolate icing
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Sift sugar, salt, flour, and baking soda together. Set aside.
 
Step 2: Add butter, water and cocoa to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Continue boiling for two minutes.  
 
Step 3: Remove from heat and add sifted dry ingredients. 
 
Step 4: Using an electric mixer, add eggs, one at a time. 
 
Step 5: Add buttermilk (or sour cream) and mix well until just incorporated.
 
Step 5: Pour into greased and lightly floured sheet pan (12" X 15" pan).  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
 
Step 6: Spread icing on hot cake.




Tiramisu Cake

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: From My Home To Yours"





Ingredients


For the cake layers:

  •     2 cups cake flour
  •     2 teaspoons baking powder
  •     1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1/4 teaspoon salt
  •     1-1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  •     1 cup sugar
  •     3 large eggs
  •     1 large egg yolk
  •     1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  •     3/4 cup buttermilk


For the espresso extract:

  •     2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  •     2 tablespoons boiling water

For the espresso syrup:

  •     1/2 cup water
  •     1/3 cup sugar
  •     1 tablespoon amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy

For the filling and frosting:

  •     1 8-ounce container mascarpone
  •     1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  •     1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  •     1 tablespoon amaretto, Kahlua, or brandy
  •     1 cup cold heavy cream
  •     2-1/2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, or about 1/2 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
  •     Chocolate-covered espresso beans, for decoration (optional)
  •     Cocoa powder, for dusting




Instructions

Step 1: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9×2 inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess, and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.


Step 2: To make the cake: Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.



Step 3: Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy.



Step 4: Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes.

Step 5: Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition.



Step 6: Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter.
 

Step 7: Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

Step 8: Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them, and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right-side up.



Step 9: To make the extract: Stir the espresso powder and boiling water together in a small cup until blended. Set aside.



Step 10: To make the syrup: Stir the water and sugar together in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Pour the syrup into a small heatproof bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of the espresso extract and the liqueur or brandy; set aside.

Step 11: To make the filling and frosting: Put the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, and liqueur in a large bowl and whisk just until blended and smooth.

Step 12: Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it holds firm peaks. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir about one quarter of the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream with a light touch.

Step 13: To assemble the cake: If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. Place one layer right-side up on a cardboard round or a cake plate protected with strips of wax or parchment paper. Using a pastry brush or a small spoon, soak the layer with about one third of the espresso syrup. Smooth some of the mascarpone cream over the layer - using about 1 1/4 cups.



Step 14: Gently press the chopped chocolate into the filling.



Step 15: Put the second cake layer on the counter and soak the top of it with half the remaining espresso syrup, then turn the layer over and position it, soaked side down, over the filling. Soak the top of the cake with the remaining syrup.

Step 16: For the frosting, whisk 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of the remaining espresso extract into the remaining mascarpone filling. Taste the frosting as you go to decide how much extract you want to add. If the frosting looks as if it might be a little too soft to spread over the cake, press a piece of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate it for 15 minutes or so. Refrigerate the cake too.

Step 17: With a long metal icing spatula, smooth the frosting around the sides of the cake and over the top. If you want to decorate the cake with chocolate-covered espresso beans, press them into the filling, making concentric circles of beans or just putting some beans in the center of the cake.

Step 18: Refrigerate the cake for at least 3 hours (or for up to 1 day) before serving - the elements need time to meld.

Step 19: Just before serving, dust the top of the cake with cocoa.





Classic German Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

 

For the cake:

  •     3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2.3 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder (sift before measuring)
  •     1/2 cup boiling water
  •     1/2 cup canola oil
  •     4 large eggs, separated, plus 2 egg whites at room temperature (1/4 cup of yolks and 3/4 cup of whites)
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •     3/4 cup (2.6 ounces) cake flour (sifted into the cup and leveled off)
  •     2/3 cup (2.6 ounces) all-purpose flour (sifted into the cup and leveled off)
  •     1-1/2 cup (10.6 ounces) sugar
  •     2 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1/4 teaspoon salt

 


For the filling - Make filling at least 3 hours before using:

  •     1 cup heavy cream
  •     1 cup sugar
  •     3 large egg yolks
  •     3 ounces butter, cut into small pieces
  •     ½ teaspoon salt
  •     1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
  •     1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut, toasted


For the syrup:

  •     1 cup water
  •     3/4 cup sugar
  •     2 tablespoons dark rum

 

For the chocolate icing:

  •     8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  •     1 cup heavy cream
  •     1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 


Instructions

 

Step 1: To make the cake: Butter two 9-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with rounds of parchment or wax paper. Preheat the oven to 350°.

Step 2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, by hand, whisk the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Step 3. Add the oil and yolks to the mixer bowl with the chocolate. Attach the whisk beater. Starting on low speed, gradually raise the speed to medium and beat for about 1 minute, or until smooth and shiny, and resembling a buttercream. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in vanilla for a few seconds.

Step 4. In a medium bowl, sift together the cake and all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Step 5. Mix in half of the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture and beat on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture. Raise the speed to medium high and beat for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl. The mixture will be very thick. 

Step 6. On low speed add the egg whites. Gradually raise the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. The batter will be the consistency of thick soup.

Step 7. Divide the batter into the 2 prepared cake pans (each one will be 1/4 full), smooth the tops, and bake for about 25 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Important Note: During the baking, the batter will rise almost to the top of the pans and a little higher in the middle. They will start to lower just before the end of baking. To prevent the collapse of the delicate foam structure, while still hot the cakes must be unfolded as soon as they have baked.

Step 8: Leave oven on to toast the pecans.

Step 9: Cool cake layers completely. While the cakes are baking and cooling, make the filling and icing.

Step 10: To toast the pecans: Spread the pecans evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes to enhance the flavor.  Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid overbrowning. Set aside.

Step 11: To make the filling: Mix the cream, sugar, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan. Put the 3 ounces butter, salt, toasted coconut, and pecan pieces in a large bowl.

Step 12. Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the spoon (an instant-read thermometer will read 170°.)

Step 13. Pour the hot custard immediately into the pecan-coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted. Cool completely to room temperature. (It will thicken.)

Step 14: To make the syrup: In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water until the sugar has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the dark rum.

Step 15: To make the icing: Process the 8 ounces of chopped chocolate in a food processor until fine.

Step 16: Heat the cream until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour the cream through the feed tube of the food processor in a steady stream. Process for a few seconds until smooth.

Step 17:Pulse in the vanilla the chocolate.

Step 18: Cover and cool in the refrigerator. Stir every 20 to 30 minutes until it reaches a soft frosting consistency.

Step 19: To assemble the cake: Remove the cake layers from the pans and cut both cake layers in half horizontally, using a serrated bread knife.
Set the first cake layer on a cake plate. Brush well with syrup. Spread ¾ cup of the coconut filling over the cake layer, making sure to reach to the edges. Set another cake layer on top.

Step 20: Repeat, using the syrup to brush each cake layer, then spreading ¾ cup of the coconut filling over each layer, including the top.

Step 21. Ice the sides with the chocolate icing, then pipe a decorative border of chocolate icing around the top, encircling the coconut topping.
   

Candy and Snacks





Buckeyes

This buckeye recipe belongs to my sister-in-law Amy and it is the best.




 

Ingredients

For the peanut butter balls:

  •     2 cups smooth peanut butter (not the natural kind)
  •     1/4 cup butter (room temperature)
  •     3-3/4 cups powdered sugar

 

For the chocolate coating:

  •     2 cups or 12 -14 ounces chocolate
  •     2 tablespoons Crisco



 


Instructions

Step 1: To make the peanut butter balls: Cream all ingredients together with a mixer.

Step 2: Form into one inch balls on wax paper lined cookie sheet  and freeze one hour.

Step 3: To make the chocolate coating: Put chocolate and crisco in microwave for 1 minute and then stir. 

Step 4: Melt remaining chips in 10-15 second burst but don't get to hot. 

Step 5: Dip frozen balls and place back on wax paper lined cookie sheet in freezer to harden.

Step 6: Wet your finger to remove toothpick mark on top of candy.




 

Caramel Popcorn

Ingredients

  •     16 cups popcorn
  •     1 cup unsalted butter
  •     2 cups light brown sugar (packed)
  •     1/2 cup light corn syrup
  •     1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla
  •     1 teaspoon salt


Instructions

Step 1: Combine butter, sugar, corn syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan.

Step 2: Bring mixture to a boil and continue to boil for five minutes or until soft ball stage.

Step 3: Add soda and vanilla at the end of cooking.  Stir well until foamy. 

Step 4: Pour over popcorn.  Stir until coated. 

Step 5: Spread on shallow pan in thin layer.  May need three pans. Bake one hour at 250 degrees F.  Stir every fifteen minutes.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Adapted from Marcel Desaulniers' I'm Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas


Ingredients

 

For the Chocolate Cups

 

  •     Twelve 6-inch squares aluminum foil
  •     8 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, melted     


For the peanut butter mousse

 

  •     One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
  •     1 cup creamy peanut butter
  •     1/4 cup granulated sugar
  •     2/3 cup heavy cream
  •     1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •     1/2 cup semisweet chocolate mini morsels

 

Instructions

 

Step 1: For the chocolate cups: Line twelve 2-ounce ramekins with the aluminum foil, pushing down to shape the foil to the ramekins. Although the recipe is for 10 peanut butter cups, use 12 ramekins to insure against the possibility of a broken chocolate cup or two.


Step 2: Using 1 slightly heaping tablespoon or a level #70 ice-cream scoop, portion the melted chocolate into each ramekin, then use the back of a teaspoon to spread the chocolate over the insides to completely cover the foil. Refrigerate the ramekins until the chocolate is thoroughly hardened, 30 to 40 minutes.

Step 3: For the peanut butter mousse: Place the softened cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar in the bowl of a stand electric mixer fitted with a paddle.

Step 4: Beat on medium for 1 minute until combined. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Beat on medium-high until very soft, about 1 minute. Transfer to another bowl and set aside.

Step 5: Place the heavy cream and vanilla in a clean mixer bowl and attach a balloon whip. Whisk on high until stiff peaks form, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Step 6: Use a rubber spatula to fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture until thoroughly incorporated, then fold in the chocolate mini morsels.

Step 7: To assemble the cups: Remove the ramekins from the refrigerator and the foil cups from the ramekins. Very carefully remove the foil from each chocolate cup.

Step 8: Transfer the peanut butter mousse to a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe the mousse into each cup so it peaks about 1 inch above the top of the cup. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Rum Balls

These little chocolate balls infused with rum are a holiday classic. And what better way to celebrate the holidays than to eat chocolate and get drunk on rum all in one bite. The recipe below belongs to my friend, Theresa, and she says the longer they marinate the more tasty and potent they become. So to experience the full effect of the rum balls, you should definitely make them way in advance of when you want to serve them.  And finally, a word of warning, if you eat too many of these little hedonistic treats, they may indirectly cause you to relax, which can impair your coordination and reaction times.
 
Makes 5 dozen balls

 




 

Ingredients

 

  •     6 ounces chocolate chips
  •     1/2 cup sugar
  •     3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  •     1/2 cup bourbon or rum
  •     2-1/2 cups vanilla wafers, crushed
  •     1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  •     Powdered sugar



 


Instructions


Step 1: Melt chocolate in microwave.

Step 2: Stir in sugar, corn syrup, and them blend in bourbon or rum.

Step 3: Mix nuts and crushed wafers in separate bowl, then add to chocolate mixture.

Step 4: Form into 1" balls and roll in powdered sugar.  Store rum balls air tight container for up to 7 days.  Rum balls can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.




 

Cookies




 

Alfajores de Manjor Blanco

The alfajor, a traditional Spanish and Latin American cookie, is a sandwich cookie filled with delicious dulce de leche. Sometimes it is sprinkled with powdered sugar, rolled in coconut, or coated in chocolate.

My friend, Theresa, introduced me to this cookie. It was Christmas time and we got together for our annual all-day cookie making fest. Each year we choose a cookie that we haven't made before. She chose alfajores. Although I was skeptical as I watched her make this cookie, I fell in love with it after the first taste.  Her version was coated in chocolate and rolled in coconut. It was delicious. Since then, I've been obsessed with finding the perfect alfajores recipe.

There are hundreds of alfajores recipes and each country and region has its own version. The cookie part is made different ways; some recipes using sugar, butter, flour, and cornstarch (alfajores de maizana) and others just using sugar, butter and flour.  The recipe below is from Peru and it uses more of a shortbread or butter cookie.  I sprinkled the alfajores with powdered sugar but you could dip them in chocolate as well.

Makes about 24 alfajores




 


Ingredients


For the Manjar Blanco or Dulce de Leche:

  •     4 cups of whole milk
  •     2 cups of granulated sugar
  •     1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •     pinch of cinnamon
  •     1/4 teaspoon baking soda


For the Alfajores:

  •     1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  •     1/4 cup confectioner’ sugar, plus more for sifting
  •     2 large egg yolks
  •     1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  •     1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •     1-1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1 cup dulce de leche
  •     Finely grated dried coconut (optional)



 

Instructions

Step 1: To make the manjar blanco or dulce de leche: Over medium heat, bring the milk to a boil in a heavy 4 quart sauce pan. Add sugar, vanilla bean, and cinnamon being sure to stir the sugar with a whisk until it’s completely dissolved.  Otherwise, your Dulce de Leche will have a gritty consistency.

Step 2: Once the sugar has dissolved, add the baking soda and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered at a bare simmer. Stir occasionally, but do not re-incorporate the foam that appears on the top of the mixture. Continue to cook for 1 hour.

Step 3: Remove the vanilla bean after 1 hour and continue to cook until the mixture is a dark caramel color and has reduced to about 1 cup, approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a month.

Step 4: For the Alfajores: In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and confectioners sugar until smooth.

Step 5: Beat in the egg yolks. Add the zest and vanilla extract and mix well.

Step 6: Sift the flour and baking powder, then mix into the butter mixture to make a dough that is soft but not runny. If it is too soft, add some more flour. Form into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Step 7: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment

Step 8: On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thick and cut into 1 1/2 -inch rounds. Place on the prepared cookie sheet and bake until set, about 10 minutes; the cookies should not color at all.

Step 9: Remove from the sheet and let cool on wire racks.

Step 10: Spread one cookie with dulce de leche and press a cookie on top. If desired, spread dulce de leche around the sides of the cookie and roll in the grated coconut. Or just sift confectioner’s sugar on top.

Repeat with the remaining cookies and dulce de leche


Great alfajores in Sausalito




 

Amaretti (Italian Almond Cookies)

Adapted from Epicurious, December 2006
 
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
 



 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole almonds (perferably blanched), plus 16 for garnishing
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg white, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • Powdered sugar for dusting tops of cookies
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350°F.  Lightly oil 2 large baking sheets, then line with parchment paper.
 
Step 2: In food processor, combine almonds and sugar. Process until finely ground, scraping down sides once or twice.
 
    
 
Step 3: Add egg white, almond extract, and salt and pulse until combined.
 
Step 4: Roll mixture into 1-inch balls, place 2 inches apart on baking sheets, and flatten slightly. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and top each with whole almond. 
 
 
Step 5: Bake until cookies are golden about 10 minutes, switching positions of pans halfway through. Cool on sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
 
 
 



 

Anise Strips (Anise Toasts)


Ingredients

 

  •     6 large eggs                      
  •     1-1/2 cup canola oil                       
  •     4 teaspoon baking powder                  
  •     1/4 teaspoon salt                      
  •     1/2 cup whole milk                      
  •     2 cup granulated sugar                      
  •     4 tablespoons pure anise flavoring                    
  •     2 drops yellow food coloring          
  •     3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 

                    
Instructions


Step 1: Grease and flour two standard bread pans.

Step 2: Add flour and baking powder in a bowl and whisk until combined.

Step 3: In bowl on electric mixer, beat eggs until thick and foamy.

Step 4: Add sugar gradually to eggs and beat well.

Step 5: Slowly add oil and then milk and flavorings until combined.

Step 6: Gradually add flour mixture. 

Step 7: Divide mixture evenly among greased 2 bread pans. Bake at 350 degree until lightly brown, about 20 minutes. slice and toast in oven.

Betty Grace's Ultimate Sugar Cookie




 

Ingredients

  •     1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  •     3/4 cup sugar
  •     1 large egg
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla
  •     1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel
  •     2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1 teaspoon baking soda
  •     2 to 3 tablespoons  whole milk (usually just 2 tablespoons)

 




 

Instructions

 

Step 1: Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 

Step 2: Add egg, vanilla and orange peel. 

Step 3: Sift dry ingredients.

Step 4: Add the dry ingredients alternately with milk.  Mix until just combined. Dough should not be sticky.  Chill dough for 1 hour. 

Step 5: Roll dough to 1/8 inch thick on lightly floured surface.
 
Step 6: Cut into desired shapes and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.

Step 7: Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 7 to 10 minutes until light brown. 

Step 8: Decorate as desired.




 

Bitter Chocolate Macarons

I've learned that chocolate macarons are not the easiest to make. In fact I've attempted this recipe three times and finally after the third try, my macarons were somewhat picture presentable. These aren't perfect but they are much improved from the first two attempts. Because of the addition of the melted chocolate to the macaron batter, there seems to be less room for error in your technique for making the Italian meringue and folding the egg whites into the batter. 

 
I adapted this recipe from Pierre Herme's bitter chocolate macaron recipe found in his Macaron Cookbook.  The recipe calls for unsweetened or bitter chocolate to be added to macaron batter.  The macaron shells are also filled with chocolate ganache made with 72% cacao chocolate.  This macaron is loaded with chocolate and then more chocolate, so if you are a chocolate lover like me, this is the macaron for you.
 

Makes 72 macarons




 

Ingredients

 

For the macaron shells:

  • 120 grams cacao pâte (or dark chocolate 100% cocoa - I used Callebaut brand)
  • 300 grams finely ground blanched almonds (if possible, use Trader Joes sliced dry roasted almonds)
  • 300 grams confectioners sugar
  • 200 grams extra fine granulated sugar
  • 75 mL water
  • 110 grams aged Egg Whites at room temperature (to be mixed into dry ingredients)
  • 110 grams aged Egg Whites at room temperature (place in bowl of mixer) 
  • 4.5 grams Red food coloring
  • Cocoa powder for dusting

 

For the bitter chocolate ganache:

  • 400 grams heavy whipping cream
  • 400 grams Valrhona chocolate (72% cacao chocolate)
  • 140 grams sweet unsalted butter at room temperature
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the macaron shells: Separate eggs at least 24 hours before using (or up to five days). The older the eggs the better.  
 
Step 2: Line 6 half sheet trays with silpat baking sheets or parchment. 
 
Step 3: Using a scale, measure out all the ingredients. Remember to set aside 110 grams of egg whites for mixing into the dry ingredients and 110 grams of egg whites to place into the bowl of mixer. 
 
Step 4: Chop chocolate for shells and melt in a double boiler, remove from heat once melted. Set aside.
 
 
Step 5: Place the ground almonds and confectioners sugar in a food processor and process until finely ground (about 1 - 2 minutes). Sift the mixture to remove any lumps.
 
Step 6: Mix red food coloring into 110 grams of egg whites. Take the egg whites mixed with the food coloring and pour into the almond meal and powdered sugar mixture. Allow it to sit.
 
Step 7: Take a heavy bottomed pot and pour the granulated fine sugar and water into the pot. Attach a candy thermometer to measure the temperature of the sugar and water as it heats up. Bring the water and sugar solution to 245 degrees F. 
 
Step 8: Meanwhile, in the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the remaining 110 grams of egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Start beating your egg whites when your sugar is close to your desired temperature. 
 
Step 9: Once the sugar solution reaches 245 degrees F, slowly pour it over the whisking egg whites.  Continue to whisk and allow meringue to cool.  Meringue should not be hot when you add to almond sugar mixture.  Continue to beat meringue until it cools.
 
Step 10: Once meringue has cooled, gradually fold egg whites into almond sugar mixture, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Gradually fold in the melted chocolate. Once the almond chocolate mixture is completely folded into the meringue, the batter will fall back into the bowl in a thick ribbon. 
 
    
 
Step 11: Fill a pastry bag, fitted with 1/2 inch (1 cm) tip (#5 or 805 ATECO tip), with about half the batter. Pipe about 1 - 1 1/2 inch (3 - 4 cm) rounds onto silpat-lined pans.  Leave at least 1 inch between macarons. As you pipe, hold the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet and flick the tip of the bag as you finish each cookie to minimize the peaks. Use a sieve to sprinkle the rounds of batter with a light dusting of cocoa powder. Let the macarons sit at room temperature for about 60 minutes or until the tops of the macarons are no longer tacky.
 
 
Step 12: While your macarons are sitting at room temperature, preheat oven to 300 degrees F with an oven rack in bottom third of the oven. You may have to do some experimenting with your oven to determine the best temperature for your macarons - it could be anywhere between 250 to 350 degrees F.
 
Step 13: Bake the cookies (one sheets at a time) for about 10 minutes, rotating the pans front to back, about halfway through baking. The macarons are done when you can just barely separate the cookies from the parchment paper.  
 
Step 14: Remove from oven and let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet placed on a wire rack. 
 
Step 15: To make the ganache: Chop up the chocolate and put into a medium bowl. Bring the cream to a boil (212°F) and pour over the chopped chocolate a third at a time until the chocolate melts completely into the cream. 
 
Step 16: Add the pieces of butter a few at a time and stir to melt. Whisk to obtain a smooth ganache. Pour this mixture into a glass or ceramic baking dish and press plastic wrap over the surface of the ganache and set aside in the fridge for about 30 minutes so that it thickens.
 
Step 17: To assemble the macarons: Take two cookies and sandwich them together with your ganache.  Place filling on flat side of cookie, and leave a narrow, unfilled border when piping the filling onto the cookie bottoms. You want to use just  enough filling so that it spreads to the edge when topped but doesn’t squish out much when bitten. Top the filled halves with their partners. Best served at room temperature. Filled macaroons can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
 
 



 

Caramel Pecan Bars

Adapted from Fine Cooking, December 2006






Ingredients


For the crust:

 

  •     Non-stick cooking spray, vegetable oil, or melted butter for the pan
  •     7 ounces (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to just warm
  •     1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  •     1/2 teaspoon table salt
  •     9 ounces (2 cups) unbleached all purpose flour


For the caramel topping:

 

  •     2 cups pecan halves, toasted and coarsely chopped
  •     1 cup packed light brown sugar
  •     3/4 cup heavy cream
  •     4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  •     1/2 cup light corn syrup
  •     1/4 teaspoon table salt

 

For the ganache:

  •     6 tablespoons heavy cream
  •     2 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

 






Instructions


To make the shortbread crust: For the best results, measure your flour by weight instead of volume. (1 cup of all-purpose flour equals 4-1/2 ounces) If you don’t have a scale, be sure to use the proper technique when filling your measuring cups.

Step 1: Line a straight-sided 13x9-inch metal baking pan with foil, letting the ends create an overhanging edge for easy removal. Lightly coat the sides of the foil (not the bottom) with nonstick cooking spray, oil, or melted butter to prevent the caramel from sticking.

Step 2: In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, brown sugar, and salt. Stir in the flour to make a stiff dough.

Step 3: Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Refrigerate the pan for 30 minutes (or freeze for 5 to 7 minutes), until the dough is firm.

Step 4: Meanwhile, position a rack near the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F.

Step 5: Bake the dough for 20 minutes, and then decrease the oven temperature to 300°F and bake until the crust is golden all over and completely set, about 15 more minutes.

Step 6: To make the topping: Sprinkle the pecans evenly over the crust.

Step 7: In a heavy medium saucepan, bring the brown sugar, cream, butter, corn syrup, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until all the ingredients are melted and smooth. Let the mixture continue to boil, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 240°F, about 6 more minutes.

Step 8: Turn off the heat and immediately (but carefully) pour the caramel evenly over the prepared crust. Let the bars cool completely, about 2 hours, before garnishing with the ganache.

Step 9: To make the ganache: Put the chocolate in a small heat proof bowl.

Step 10: In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for 3 minutes. Stir gently with a rubber spatula until combined and smooth.

Step 11: Fill a plastic zip-top baggie with the ganache, snip the tip off a corner, and drizzle the ganache decoratively over the caramel bars (you don’t have to use all the ganache; keep the extra in the fridge for 5 days). Let the ganache set for 30 minutes to an hour.

Step 12: Carefully lift the bars from the pan using the foil sides and transfer them to a cutting board. Separate the foil from the bars by sliding a spatula between them. Cut the bars into 1-1/2-inch squares. They will keep at room temperature for 1 week.
 





Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe comes from Cake Love, a bakery located in the Washington, DC metro area.  I've never met Warren Brown, the baker and owner, but I did take a class several years ago at the Cake Love located in Silver Spring, MD. I'm still slightly bitter that Warren wasn't available to teach the class, but  I was able to obtain this very delicious chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe.   I've read quite a bit over the years about how to make chocolate chip cookies chewy and it seems that Warren has a winning recipe. 
 
To make your cookies chewy, you should use more brown than white sugar,  add melted butter to your sugars instead of creaming them together, and eliminate half of the egg whites (e.g., for a recipe using 2 eggs, use 1 egg and 1 egg yolk).  For best results, weigh your ingredients.  However, if you don't have a kitchen scale, I've included some approximate conversions.
 

Makes about 40 cookies




 


Ingredients

  •     6 ounces sugar (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
  •     14 ounces dark brown sugar (2 cups, packed)
  •     8 ounces butter (melted, cooled) (2 sticks)
  •     4 teaspoons vanilla extract 
  •     2 large eggs
  •     2 large egg yolks
  •     20 ounces all-purpose flour (4-1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon)
  •     1 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     13 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  •     6 ounces of 60% chocolate pistols



 


Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Step 2: Melt butter, remove when melted and allow to come back to room temperature.

Step 3: Sift dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and gently whisk for 10 seconds to blend them together. Set aside.


Step 4: Add butter to sugars in the bowl of your stand mixer. Allow it to fully combine running the mixer on low speed, add in vanilla extract.  Add eggs and yolks one at a time. Combine fully.

 

Step 5: Add dry ingredients in scoopfuls. Mix to just combine. Pour in chocolate pieces, and just combine.

  
Step 6: Scoop out the dough into small balls using an cookie scooper.  Evenly place balls a few inches apart on a parchment lined sheet tray.

Step 7: Bake until light and golden in appearance (for 8 minutes, rotate, then bake for 8 minutes more).

  




 

Chewy Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated: Thick and Chewy Triple-Chocolate Cookies, published September 1999




 

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  •     2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  •     1/2 cup cocoa powder
  •     2 teaspoons baking powder
  •     1 teaspoon table salt
  •     16 ounces semisweet chocolate , chopped
  •     12 ounces Reese's peanut butter chips (about 2 cups)
  •     4 large eggs
  •     2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  •     2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
  •     10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks), softened
  •     1-1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  •     1/2 cup granulated sugar



 


Instructions


Step 1: Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.

Step 2: Melt chocolate in medium heatproof bowl set over pan of almost-simmering water, stirring once or twice, until smooth; remove from heat.



Step 3: Beat eggs and vanilla lightly with fork, sprinkle coffee powder over to dissolve, and set aside.



Step 4: In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 seconds. Beat in sugars until combined, about 45 seconds; mixture will look granular.



Step 5: Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in egg mixture until incorporated, about 45 seconds. Add melted chocolate in steady stream and beat until combined, about 40 seconds. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula.


Step 6: With mixer at low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not overbeat.

Step 7: Mix in peanut butter chips. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until consistency is scoopable and fudgelike, about 30 minutes.



Step 8: Meanwhile, adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Leaving about 1 ½ inches between each ball, scoop dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets with 1¾-inch ice cream scoop.

Step 9: Bake, reversing position of the baking sheets halfway through baking (from top to bottom and front to back), until edges of cookies have just begun to set but centers are still very soft, about 10 minutes.

Step 10: Cool cookies on sheets about 10 minutes, slide parchment with cookies onto wire racks, and cool to room temperature.  Remove cooled cookies from parchment with wide metal spatula and serve.





Chewy Pecan Toffee Cookies

Makes approximately 36 cookies
 




Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1-1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup Heath English toffee bits
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350. 
 
Step 2: Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.
 
Step 3: Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
 
Step 4:  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, then add vanilla.
 
Step 5: Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.  Fold in the pecans and toffee bits until evenly distributed.  
 
Step 6: Drop by the heaping teaspoon onto a pan lined with parchment and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.   
 
Step 7:  Cool cookies on wire rack for about 10 minutes.
 
 
 




Chewy Salty Oatmeal Cookies

When it comes to oatmeal cookies, there's nothing I love more than one that's crispy around the edges with a moist and chewy center. I know, I'm very particular about my oatmeal cookies. So I set out to find the perfect recipe, which I might add was no easy task. I've tried several different recipes, all with varying amounts of fat, sugar, eggs, and leavening agents but none seemed to give me that perfect oatmeal cookie that I was seeking.  I finally decided to create my own and use as my guide a recipe in a cookbook that my mother bought me (Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, 12th Edition).
 
Now you might be wondering how I altered the basic recipe to create a cookie that meets all of my criteria. Well, I decided to decrease the amount of flour (from 1-3/4 cups to 1 cup), add 1 cup of blended oatmeal and increase the oatmeal from 2 to 3 cups to give the cookie a slightly denser texture, more oatmeal flavor, and also to ensure that it retained its shape. I increased the amount of brown sugar (from 1 to 1-1/2 cups) to make the cookie sweeter and help it retain moisture. I also used 1 egg and 1 egg yolk instead of two eggs to make the cookie chewier, increased the amount of fat (from 3/4 cup to 1 cup) and used baking powder instead of baking soda to give the cookie more rise or lift.  And because I like a salty cookie, I sprinkled the unbaked cookie dough with Maldon sea salt flakes.  Finally, I've created an oatment cookie that satisfies all of my cravings.
 
 
Makes approximately 24 cookies



 

Ingredients

 
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks or 226 grams), room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cup packed brown sugar (315 grams)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (98 grams)
  • 1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (115 grams)
  • 1 cup blended oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 cups old-fashion rolled oats (260 grams)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • Maldon sea salt
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
 
Step 2: Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
 
Step 3: Place raisins in a bowl and pour hot water over them just to cover. Let set for 30 minutes. Drain and dry thoroughly.
 
Step 4: Using a food processor, blend oatmeal to a fine powder. You should have 1-1/2 cups of blended oatmeal. Whisk together the oats, blended oatmeal, flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside.
 
 
Step 5: Working in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
 
 
Step 6: Add the whole egg and egg yolk, one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each addition and then beat in the vanilla. 
 
 
Step 7: Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients slowly, beating only until blended. Add raisins and mix well. At this point, the dough can be wrapped well and chilled for up to 2 days.
 
Step 8: Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart onto the baking sheets or use a medium (1-1/2 tablespoons) scoop. If the dough has been chilled, gently press down on the mounds of dough until they’re about 1/2-inch thick.  Sprinkle each mound of cookie dough with Maldon sea salt.
 
 
Step 9: Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating the sheets front to back and top to bottom after 5 minutes. The cookies will be golden and just firm around the edges.
 
Step 10: Cool cookies on cooling racks
 



 

Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, published September 1999
 
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
 



 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 16 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/4 sticks), softened
  • 1-1/2cups packed light brown sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.
 
Step 2: Melt chocolate in medium heatproof bowl set over pan of almost-simmering water, stirring once or twice, until smooth; remove from heat. 
 
Step 3: Beat eggs and vanilla lightly with fork, sprinkle coffee powder over to dissolve, and set aside.
 
 
Step 4: In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 seconds. Beat in sugars until combined, about 45 seconds; mixture will look granular. 
 
Step 5: Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in egg mixture until incorporated, about 45 seconds. 
 
Step 6: Add melted chocolate and chips in steady stream and beat until combined, about 40 seconds. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula. 
 
Step 7: With mixer at low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over beat. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until consistency is scoopable and fudge-like, about 30 minutes.
 
Step 8: Meanwhile, adjust oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Leaving about 1-1/4 inches between each ball, scoop dough onto parchment-lined cookie sheets with medium ice cream scoop.
 
Step 9: Bake, reversing position of the baking sheets halfway through baking (from top to bottom and front to back), until edges of cookies have just begun to set but centers are still very soft, about 10 minutes. 
 
Step 10: Cool cookies on sheets about 10 minutes, slide parchment with cookies onto wire racks, and cool to room temperature. Cover one baking sheet with new piece of parchment paper. Scoop remaining dough onto parchment-lined sheet, bake, and cool as directed. Remove cooled cookies from parchment with wide metal spatula and serve



 

Chocolate Biscotti

Makes about 3-1/2 dozen


Ingredients

  •     4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  •     1 cup unsalted butter
  •     3 large eggs, separated
  •     1-1/4 cups sugar
  •     1/2 teaspoon anise extract
  •     1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  •     3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1 cup sliced almonds
  •     1 egg white, slightly beaten 


Instructions
 

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.

Step 2: Melt chocolate and butter in top of double boiler over simmering water. Remove from heat. Cool. Alternatively, you may melt the butter and chocolate in microwave by heating about 2 minutes at MEDIUM (50%) power stirring at 30 second intervals.

Step 3: Beat egg yolks and half of the sugar until thick and pale. Slowly beat in melted chocolate mixture.

Step 4: Add anise and almond extract. Alternatively, you may substitute 2 drops of anise oil for anise extract.

Step 5: Beat three egg whites with remaining sugar until stiff but not dry. Fold into chocolate mixture.

Step 6: Sift flour and baking powder in bowl. Add flour mixture slowly to chocolate mixture. Add almonds and blend well.

Step 7: With lightly floured hands, divide dough into four portions. Form dough into cylinder shaped logs (1-1/2" wide by 10 inches long).

Step 8: Place on prepared baking sheets. Brush dough all over with lightly beaten egg whites. Bake until dough is set about 35 to 45 minutes.

Step 9: Remove from oven. Allow cookie log to become firm for 2 or 3 minutes after removal from oven before attempting to slice it, and use a very sharp knife to prevent the fragile slices from breaking. Cut on diagonal into l/2" slices.

Step 10: Arrange on baking sheet, placing the slices on their sides. Return to oven and bake until slightly dry, turning once Bake about five minutes on each side. Cool on wire rack. Cookies can be stored up to two weeks in an airtight container.
 

Chocolate Biscotti by Dorie Greenspan

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours

Makes about 40 cookies

 




 

Ingredients

 

  •     2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  •     2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  •     3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     6 tablespoon (or ¾ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  •     1 cup sugar
  •     2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  •     1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •     1/2 cup chopped almonds (blanched or unblanched)
  •     4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped or ¾ cup mini chocolate chips



 


Instructions
 

Step 1: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Step 2: Sift together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Step 3: Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until pale, about 2 minutes; the mixture may be crumbly.

Step 4: Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes; don't worry if the mixture looks curdled.

Step 5: Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until a dough forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Step 6: Mix in the chopped nuts and chocolate, then turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead in any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

Step 7: Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough into 12 inch long logs. Flatten both logs with the palm of your hand so that they are 1/2 to 1 inch high, about 2 inches across and sort of rectangular, then carefully lift the logs onto the baking sheet.



Step 8: Sprinkle each log with a little sugar.

Step 9: Bake the logs for about 25 minutes, or until they are just slightly firm. The logs will spread and crack - and that's just fine. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, put it on a cooling rack and  cool the logs for about 20 minutes. (Leave the oven on.)

Step 10: Working with one log at a time, using a long serrated knife, cut each log into slices between 1/2 and 3/4 inch thick. Stand the slices up on the baking sheet - you'll have an army of biscotti - and bake the cookies again, this time for just 10 minutes.



Step 11: Transfer biscotti to a rack to cool.


 




 

Chocolate Caramel Slice

Adapted from Bon Appetit, published May 2007
 
Makes 20 to 24 slices
 




Ingredients

 

For the crust:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon ice water
  • 1 large egg yolk
 

For the toppings:

  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 tablespoons golden syrup (such as Lyle's Golden Syrup) or dark corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons whipping cream
  • Flaked sea salt (such as Maldon)
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: For the crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. 
 
Step 2: Butter 11x7x2-inch metal baking pan. 
 
Step 3: Blend first 4 ingredients in processor. Add butter. Using on/off turns, blend until coarse meal forms. 
 
Step 4: Add 1 tablespoon ice water and egg yolk. Blend until moist clumps form. 
 
Step 5: Press dough onto bottom of pan; pierce all over with fork. Bake until golden, piercing if crust bubbles, about 20 minutes. Cool completely.
 
  
 
Step 6: For the toppings: Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves, butter melts, and mixture comes to boil. 
 
 
Step 7: Attach candy thermometer to side of pan. Boil gently until caramel is thick and temperature registers 225°F, whisking constantly, about 6 minutes. 
 
Step 8: Pour caramel evenly over crust; cool 15 minutes to set.
 
 
Step 9: Meanwhile, melt chocolate with cream in microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring occasionally. Spread chocolate over warm caramel; sprinkle with sea salt. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, at least 1 hour. 
 
  
 
   
 
Step 10: Cut dessert lengthwise into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 5 or 6 slices. Transfer to platter and serve.
 
 




Chocolate Chip Cookies

Traffic is one of the worst things about living in the DC metro area.  I spend an incredible amount of time on the road. In fact, last year, I drove over 20,000 miles. With all this time spent driving, I need to find creative ways to entertain myself. Lately, I’ve been talking to Siri (my iPhone) quite a bit (sad but true). The other day, on my commute home, I asked Siri to tell me how to make chocolate chip cookies.  Siri informed me that the basic ingredients for chocolate chip cookies are flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, eggs, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips. For the rest of my commute home, I couldn’t help but think about all the ways you can fuck up a chocolate chip cookie using various combinations of those basic ingredients. 
 
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts on this site, I’m very particular about my chocolate chip cookies. There aren’t many that I like.  I’ve posted a couple of other recipes - one that is a soft chewy cookie which I’m not a big fan, and another that uses browned butter, which I love. The browned butter in that recipe is delicious but it’s an added step that complicates the mixing of the cookie dough. I want a chocolate chip cookie recipe that’s straightforward and easy to make that yields a cookie that is perfectly crisp on the outside and chewy in the center with a rich, chocolaty, nutty and caramelized flavor.  The recipe below meets all of my criteria.  The important step that takes a little planning and that you shouldn’t skip is the long hydration time for the cookie dough.  This allows the ingredients in the dough to fully soak up the liquid. So store your dough in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and up to 72 hours if you want to make a more evenly browned, rich, and caramelized cookie. 
 
Adapted from David Leite’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, published July 2008 in the New York Times
 
Makes about 4 dozen small cookies
 
 



 

Ingredients

  • 8-1/2 ounces cake flour
  • 8-1/2 ounces bread flour
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2-1/2 sticks (1-1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces light brown sugar
  • 8 ounces granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or chips, at least 60 percent cacao content 
  • Maldon sea salt
 
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Weigh flour and then sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
 
Step 2: Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. 
 
Step 3: Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix well.
 
Step 4: Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
 
Step 5: When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
 
Step 6: Scoop 1 tablespoon mounds of dough onto baking sheet, Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, about 10 minutes. 
 
Step 7: Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. 
 



 

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

An Italian American tradition in my hometown in West Virginia is to have, at wedding receptions, tables loaded with dozens of homemade ethnic and other types of cookies. These cookies, and of course, the wedding cake, are my favorite part of the wedding.
 
Recently, I volunteered to make cookies for the wedding reception cookie table for a cousin who is getting married this summer. I needed a rich, delicious, gooey chocolate cookie to compliment and complete my cookie ensemble that included Italian wedding, biscotti, gallettes, pecan tassies, Mexican wedding, peanut blossoms, Hungarian nut roll, chocolate chip, pressed cookies, date pinwheel, and pistachio cranberry. I lucked out and found that perfect chocolate cookie in a recent edition of Cook’s Illustrated magazine. 
 
This chocolate crinkle cookie is both beautiful and delicious, with a soft, luscious, chocolaty center and has the perfect amount of sweetness. This recipe uses unsweetened chocolate (100% cacao) and cocoa. Many other recipes that I’ve read used semi-sweet chocolate, and the extra sugar found in semi-sweet chocolate makes those chocolate crinkle cookies too sweet for me to eat. That’s why this cookie is the perfect chocolate crinkle cookie.  And if you follow the recipe exactly, you too will make the perfect chocolate crinkle cookie.
 
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, published November 2014
 
Makes approximately 48 cookies
 



 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1-1/2 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 cups packed (10-1/2 ounces) brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 teaspoons instant espresso powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped (I used Ghiardelli 100% cacao)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) confectioners' sugar
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. 
 
Step 2: Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in bowl.
 
Step 3: Whisk brown sugar; eggs; espresso powder, and vanilla together in large bowl. 
 
Step 4: Combine chocolate and butter in bowl and microwave at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, 2 to 3 minutes.
 
Step 5: Whisk chocolate mixture into egg mixture until combined. 
 
Step 6: Fold in flour mixture until no dry streaks remain. Let dough sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes to firm up so that you can roll it. I let mine sit for up to 2 hours and it firmed up enough to roll into soft balls.
 
Step 7: Place granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar in separate shallow dishes. Working with 1 tablespoons dough at a time, roll into balls. Drop dough balls directly into granulated sugar and roll to coat. Transfer dough balls to confectioners’ sugar and roll to coat evenly. The granulated sugar prevents the confectioners' sugar from being absorbed in to the cookie while it bakes. Evenly space dough balls on prepared sheets.
 
Step 8: Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until puffed and cracked and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), about 10 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let cool completely on sheet before serving.
 
 



 

Chocolate Gallettes

I was talking to my mother the other day on the phone and she mentioned that she had made gallettes, one of my favorite cookies.  My mom and aunts have been making these waffle cookies all of my life and they will forever remind me of them and my childhood. That night, after talking with my mother, I had a heavenly, sweet, and inspiring dream -instead of the delicious vanilla almond tasting cookie of my childhood, they were chocolate through and through.  The next day, I had no choice but to recreate the chocolate gallette in my dreams.  And I have to say, they are OMG chocolicious. This is one time where my reality is so much better than in my dreams.

Inspired by Better Homes and Gardens' Chocolate-Peppermint Waffle Cookies

Makes about 6 dozen cookies

Ingredients

 

For the waffle cookie:

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 9 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 

For the glaze:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk
 
 

Instructions

 
Step 1: For the waffle cookies: Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.
 
Step 2: Melt chocolate in medium heatproof bowl set over pan of almost-simmering water, stirring once or twice, until smooth; remove from heat. 
 
Step 3: In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 seconds. Beat in sugars until combined and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
 
 
Step 4: Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Beat egg yolks and vanilla lightly with fork, then sprinkle coffee powder over to dissolve, and set aside.
 
Step 5: Reduce speed to low and gradually add egg yolk mixture to the creamed sugars until incorporated, about 45 seconds. 
 
 
Step 6: Add melted chocolate in steady stream and beat until combined, about 40 seconds. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula. 
 
 
Step 7: With mixer at low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over beat. 
 
 
Step 8: Beat egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into dough.
 
  
 
Step 9: Preheat electric gallette iron according to the manufacturer's directions. Lightly grease grids with cooking spray.
 
Step 10: Drop 1 to 2 tablespoons batter into the center of the pre-heated gallette iron and bake until cookies are set and firm, about 45 to 60 seconds. Using a fork, carefully lift cookies off grid and cool on a wire rack. Repeat with remaining batter, lightly greasing grids periodically, as needed.
 
  
 
   
 
Step 11: For the glaze: In a small saucepan melt the 2 tablespoons butter over low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in the powdered sugar and the 2 tablespoons cocoa powder until smooth. Stir in the milk to make a thin glaze.
 
  
 
Step 13: Dip one side of each cookie in the glaze to coat the top, allowing excess glaze to drip off. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Let stand until set.
 
 
 

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

Adapted from Gourmet, January 2003

Makes 12 big pies






Ingredients


For cakes

 

  •     2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
  •     1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  •     1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     1 cup well-shaken buttermilk
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla
  •     1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  •     1 cup packed brown sugar
  •     1 large egg
     

For filling

 

  •     1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  •     1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
  •     2 cups marshmallow cream such as Marshmallow Fluff
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla
     




Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350°F.

Step 2: To make the cakes:

Step 3: Whisk together flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl until combined.



Step 4: Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl.

Step 5: Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes in a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a handheld, then add egg, beating until combined well.

Step 6: Reduce speed to low and alternately mix in flour mixture and buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with flour, scraping down side of bowl occasionally, and mixing until smooth.

Step 7: Spoon 1/4-cup mounds of batter about 2 inches apart onto 2 buttered large baking sheets.

Step 8: Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until tops are puffed and cakes spring back when touched, 11 to 13 minutes. Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack to cool completely.



Step 9: To make the filling: Beat together butter, confectioners sugar, marshmallow, and vanilla in a bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Step 10: To assemble pies: Spread a rounded tablespoon filling on flat sides of half of cakes and top with remaining cakes.





Coconut Macaroons

Makes 36 cookies






Ingredients

 

  •     14 ounce sweetened condensed milk
  •     2 extra-large egg white
  •     1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  •     1/4 teaspoon salt
  •     14 ounce flaked or shredded sweetened coconut
  •     6 ounce semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate (optional)





Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 325°F.  Grease or line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Step 2: Combine the coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla in a large bowl.

Step 3: In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and salt on high speed until they make medium-firm peaks.  Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.

Step 4: Drop the batter by tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheets. 

Step 5: Bake, 1 sheet at a  time, until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.  Let stand briefly, then remove to a rack to cool.


Step 6: To dip in chocolate: While the macaroons are baking, in a stainless steel or glass bowl fitted over a small saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. When macaroons are cooled, dip one half into chocolate and place on cooling rack or parchment lined sheet pans to set.

 





Cook's Illustrated Brown Sugar Cookies

Makes approximately 24 cookies
 




Ingredients

  • 1-3/4 sticks (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (1-3/4 ounces)
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar (14 ounces), divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons (10-1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter to melt; set aside for 15 minutes.
 
Step 2: Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large (18 by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. 
 
Step 3: In shallow baking dish or pie plate, mix granulated sugar and 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, rubbing between fingers, until well combined; set aside. 
 
Step 4: Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder together in medium bowl; set aside.
 
Step 5: Add remaining 1-3/4 cups brown sugar and salt to bowl with cooled butter; mix until no sugar lumps remain, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula.
 
Step 6: Add egg, yolk, and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl. 
 
Step 7: Add flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 1 minute. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.
 
Step 8: Divide dough into 24 portions, each about 2 tablespoons, rolling between hands into balls about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Working in batches, toss balls in reserved sugar mixture to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart, 12 dough balls per sheet. 
 
Step 9: Bake until cookies are browned and still puffy and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft about 12 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Do not over bake.
 
Step 10: Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes; using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.
 




Crostoli (Italian Bow Tie Cookies)

This recipe belongs to my Aunt Carmella and I love these cookies.  I mean how could you not love a cookie that's deep-fried and drizzled with honey.  My aunt would always make these for Christmas and Easter so I had never really tried making them myself - why would you when you have an expert making them. Sadly, my aunt moved away and I haven't had these cookies in a few years. This year, I decided that it was time to carry on this cookie tradition and try to make them myself. Below is my first attempt at making these wonderful, light, crispy, deep-fried, honey-drizzled cookies. The recipe is not too difficult if you use a pasta machine to roll out your dough. But if you don't have a pasta machine, be prepared for a workout. And honestly, I can't imagine making them if I had to roll the dough with a rolling pin.
 



 

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
 
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: In a bowl, combine eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla, lemon zest, and sugar. 
 
  
 
Step 2: Sift together flour and baking powder. Make a well in the middle of the flour and pour wet ingredients into center and gradually work in. 
 
 
Step 3: Knead until you have a stiff dough. The dough should not be sticky. Let dough rest for 20 minutes.
 
Step 4:  Divide the dough into 4 equal parts and roll the dough into very thin strips using a pasta machine. I rolled the dough to setting 6 on my pasta machine.
 
  
 
  
 
Step 5: Cut and shape into bow ties.
 
 
Step 6: Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large heavy skillet to 375 degrees F. Drop bow tie shape cookie in the heated oil and deep fry until golden. Drizzle honey over cookies while still warm.
 
 



 

Cuccidati (Italian Fig Cookies)

The cuccidati is the Italian version of the American Fig Newton or actually, more accurately, I think the Fig Newton is the American version of the Italian cuccidati.  The cuccidati is a Sicilian fig cookie made typically at Christmas time, and boy is it a pain in the ass to make. The dough is soft and buttery and melts the minute you start to roll it out.  Once the dough begins to melt, it becomes incredibly difficult to roll the fig filling in the dough.  Here are some helpful tips that I've learned over the years -- Don’t ignore the refrigeration time for the dough, the colder the dough, the easier to roll. When rolling your dough, don't be afraid to dust your counter with a little flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Also, the longer you chill the filling, the more flavorful your cookies will be. You should marinate the fig filling in the brandy, honey, and spices for at least 24 hours or longer. And finally, my best friend when making these cookies is a dough scrapper.  You should definitely have one on hand when rolling the dough and forming the cookie logs.

Adapted from Gourmet magazine

Makes about 6 dozens

 




 

Ingredients


For the filling:

  •     1 cup packed soft dried Mission figs (8 oz), hard tips discarded
  •     3/4 cup raisins (3 3/4 oz), plumped
  •     3/4 cup mild honey
  •     1/4 cup brandy
  •     1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest
  •     1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
  •     1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  •     1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  •     1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  •     3/4 cup whole almonds (4 oz), toasted and coarsely chopped
  •     3/4 cup walnuts (3 oz), toasted and coarsely chopped


For the dough:

  •     4 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  •     1 tablespoon baking powder
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     2 sticks (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  •     2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  •     1/2 cup whole milk
  •     1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  •     1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest


For the icing:

  •     1 cup confectioners sugar
  •     1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  •     1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  •     A few drops of natural orange oil (optional but very good)



 


Instructions


Step 1: To make the filling: Pulse the figs and raisins in a food processor until finely chopped, then stir together with the remaining filling ingredients in a bowl. Chill, covered, at least 8 hours. The filling can be made 1 week ahead and chilled, covered.

Step 2: To make the dough: Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Step 3: Add the butter and blend with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until the most of the mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly a pea-size) butter lumps.

Step 4: Add the eggs, milk, vanilla, and zest and stir with a fork (or pulse in the food processor) until a soft dough forms (starts to form – for the food processor method; do not over process).

Step 5: Halve the dough and gather each half into a ball, then flatten each half into a rough 6- by 4-inch rectangle between sheets of plastic wrap. Chill until firm, at least 8 hours. The dough can be chilled, wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil, up to 3 days.

Step 6: To form the cookies: Center an oven rack and preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat. Set aside.

Step 7: Roll out 1 rectangle of dough (keep the remaining dough chilled) into a 1/8-inch thick rectangle, about 15- by 14-inch, on a well-floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Trim the edges to form a rectangle with one side exactly 13-inches long; another side can be as long as it can be assuming you rolled it evenly thin (chill the trimmings). Then cut the 13-inch side into 4 (3 1/4-inch-wide) strips. Arrange a little bit less than 1/8 of all filling in a 1-inch-wide log lengthwise down the center of each strip, then fold the sides of each strip up over the filling to enclose it, pinching edges together to seal.


Step 8: Turn the rolls seam-sides down and press gently to flatten the seams. Chill the logs, covered with plastic wrap, for about half an hour before slicing and baking. Cut the logs crosswise with a sharp knife into 1 1/2-inch-wide slices and arrange 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Make more cookies in the same manner with the remaining chilled dough, trimmings (re-roll once), and filling.

Step 9: Bake the cookies, in batches, until golden around edges, about 30 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and cool until warm, about 10 minutes. Glaze until the cookies are still warm.

Step 10: Make the icing while the first batch of cookies is baking:

Step 11: Whisk together the confectioners sugar, vanilla, and enough orange juice to make a pourable icing.

Step 12: Brush the icing on the warm cookies. Let the icing to dry completely before packing the cookies for storing.




 

Date Pinwheel Cookies

There are a lot of cookies that I adore and this date pinwheel cookie is high on my list of the top 25 best ever cookies. I love the brown-sugar dough wrapped around the date nut filling. When it’s baked correctly, the cookie has a wonderful mouth-watering rich caramelized outer cookie with an inside date filling that's lusciously sweet and nutty.
 
These cookies can be a little tricky to roll out.  I can honestly say I haven’t quite yet perfected rolling the dough, adding the filling, and baking the cookie slices. Sometimes they come out picture perfect and sometimes they just don’t, like the ones in the picture above. I will say this, regardless of how they look, they have always tasted amazing.
 
I don’t know much about the origins of this cookie either but of course I’d like to believe that it’s Italian. Most days, I'd like to believe that all things delicious are Italian.  Even though my mom and aunts have been making these cookies for years, they are unfortunately not Italian. As far as I can tell from my search online, the cookie's origins are American. The oldest recipe that I could find was a similar date-nut pinwheel cookie recipe in Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book, originally published in 1963. They list the caramel cookie dough part of the recipe (with the option to add the date-nut filling) as one of the best cookie recipes in the early 1940s.  So there you have it, this is an old American classic that will most definitely complement any holiday cookie tray.  
 
Makes about 4 dozen cookies
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the cookie dough:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

 

For the date filling:

  • 7-1/4 ounce pitted dates
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Dash of salt

 




 

Instructions


Step 1: To make the cookie dough: sift flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Step 2: Beat butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in medium bowl until light and fluffy. 

Step 3: Beat in vanilla and egg.

Step 4: Add sifted dry ingredients. Divide dough into two equal portions, wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm enough to roll, about an hour.

Step 5: To make the filling: Cut dates in small pieces and place in a medium saucepan.  Then add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, dash salt, and 1/3 cup water. Bring date mixture to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add chopped walnuts and then cool to room temperature.

Step 6: Roll each dough half, on floured waxed paper, into a 9x12 rectangle. Spread with filling; roll up tightly from end.



Step 7: Wrap in paper; chill overnight, Slice 1/8'" thick.

Step 8: Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes.

 




 

Denise Hinton's World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have never been a huge fan of chocolate chip cookies. I think mainly because I have never found one with the right combination of ingredients. They’ve either had too much or too little brown or granulated sugar, or they were too thin, too hard and crispy, or too soft, or they didn’t have the right proportion of chocolate chips to cookie dough. Since I had never found one that I liked I was convinced that I just didn’t like chocolate chip cookies - which seems almost un-American to me. Then one day, my life changed.  My boss has been bringing these cookies to all of our office parties for many years. Finally one day I tried one and honestly it was love at first bite. These cookies are perfectly crisp on the outside and chewy in the center.  And what really makes these cookies unique is the addition of the browned butter. That along with baking the cookies at a slightly higher temperature (375 degrees Fahrenheit) gives them a wonderful nutty, caramelized flavor and nice brown tops. Many thanks to Denise for finally giving me a chocolate chip cookie I could love.

Adapted from Food and Wine, published June 2012

 




 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temp. and cut into 16 pieces
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup tightly packed, light brown sugar (or dark brown sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons of whole milk (alternatively you can substitute carnation milk, cream, or half and half)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces chocolate chips or chocolate chunks (use a good brand like Callebaut)
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Place the butter into a medium-size saucepan. Over medium heat, cook the butter until melted, and browned. As the butter is cooking, use the handle of saucepan to swirl it around and prevent burning. 
 
Step 2: As the butter browns, it will start to become frothy, as soon as the froth dissipates, keep a close eye on the butter. It should have a lovely nutty fragrance and the bubbles will be deep golden brown. The browning process can take about 5-9 minutes. As soon as the butter is ready, remove the saucepan from the heat and transfer the butter to a heat-proof bowl. Allow it to cool to room temperature.
 
    
 
    
 
Step 3: In a separate, large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda; Set aside.
 
Step 4: Beat together the browned butter and both sugars on medium-high speed until creamy and smooth, about 7 minutes.
 
 
Step 5: Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and milk choice. Beat on medium speed to combine.
 
Step 6: On low speed, beat in the dry ingredients, beating just until they're incorporated into the wet.
 
Step 7: Use a large rubber spatula or wooden spoon to fold in the chocolate chips.
 
Step 8: Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the dough for at least 12 hours. This allows flavors to blend and give the cookie a better texture.
 
Step 9: When you're ready to bake, remove the dough from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 375 F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
 
Step 10: Use scoop to place them on the prepared cookie sheets, leaving about 2-inches of space between each mound of dough. 
 
Step 11: Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are just starting to turn golden brown. The center will look under cooked, but will firm up after cooling for about 5 minutes. Remove the sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for a few minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. 
 



 

Dorie Greenspan's Les Whoopies

In November 2014, I enjoyed a gourmet lunch at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. with my favorite cookbook author, Dorie Greenspan. Dorie was there promoting her latest cookbook, Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere.  Included with lunch was a copy of her cookbook - big bonus for me because I really wanted the cookbook and was planning on buying it even if I didn’t attend the luncheon.  Of course Dorie made her way to all of the tables that day and personally signed each of our cookbooks.  And Dorie was so sweet to take a picture with me. She is the absolute best!
 
This particular recipe has been calling out to me to make since I first opened her cookbook.  Peanut butter and chocolate are my favorite and this has to be the best whoopie pie in the world. 
 
 
Makes about 24 small cakes
 
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the whoopie pies:

  • 2 cups (272 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (42 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces; 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) whole milk, at room temperature
 

For the peanut butter filling:

  • 1-1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces; 170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (256 grams) creamy peanut butter (not natural)
  • 1  cup (120 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon teaspoon fine sea salt

 

For the optional chocolate glaze:

  • 4  ounces (57 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) heavy cream
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the whoopie pies: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. 
 
Step 2: Butter or spray a whoopie pie pan or if you’re making whoopie pies without a pan, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon baking sheet liner.
 
Step 3: Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together into a medium bowl. Set aside
 
Step 4: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes. 
 
Step 5: Add the egg and beat for 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.
 
Step 6: Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions. 
 
Step 7: Mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated and you’ve got a thick, smooth, silky batter.
 
Step 8: Using a small cookie scoop (capacity of 2 teaspoons), place dollops of batter on the baking sheet, making sure to leave about 2 inches of space between the mounds of batter. 
 
Step 9: Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cakes puff and spring back when poked lightly; a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean. 
 
Step 10: Slide the parchment paper or silicon baking sheet liner with the little cakes off the baking sheet onto a rack and let the cakes cool to room temperature before gently lifting them off the paper. 
 
Step 11: Allow the cakes to cool to room temperature before filling them.
 
Step 12: To make the filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater,  beat all the ingredients together on medium-high speed until soft, fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. 
 
Step 13: To fill the whoopie pies: Using a piping bag with a plain or star tip or a spoon, put about 1 tablespoon filling on the flat side of half the cakes. Top with the other halves, flat side down, twisting the tops gently just to make certain that the pieces are “glued” together. 
 
Step 14: To make the glaze if using the glaze:  Put the chopped chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl and heat it for about 90 seconds at 50% power. Bring the cream to a boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds, then gently stir the mixture, starting at the center of the bowl and working your way out in ever-widening concentric circles, until you have a smooth, glossy ganache.
 
Step 15: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. One by one, dip the tops of the whoopie pies into the ganache, twirling each pie slightly as you lift it out of the chocolate, so that the excess drips back into the bowl, and place glazed side up on the baking sheet. When all your pies are dipped, refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or just long enough to set the glaze. 



 

Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies

For anyone who knows me, it's no secret where I fall on the political spectrum. As you might imagine, I’ve been feeling a little emotional since the 2016 election. I wake up every morning with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and I'm having difficulty trying to shake this feeling of impending doom. When I have anxiety, the best therapy for me, outside of exercising, is baking.  Baking always lifts my spirits. So this morning, I decided to take a large dose of my favorite medicine and start baking cookies for Christmas.
 
What better cookie to start my morning off baking than with these hopeful and inspiring World Peace cookies. No, I didn’t make that name up. This very intense and rich chocolate butter cookie is really called a World Peace cookie.   You might recognize this type of cookie by its more common name,  a French sable.  According to Dorie Greenspan, eating one of these cookies a day would most certainly ensure world peace.  Well Dorie, with the results of the 2016 election, our country and the world are in dire need of these cookies. I would surely make Donald Trump about 122 dozen of these world peace cookies so he could eat one a day for the next 4 years if I thought it would help.  Unfortunately, I fear nothing can help us now.  In the meantime, please experience a little bit of heaven and be inspired to spread love and world peace by having one of these cookies.

Recipe by Dorie Greenspan: Baking from My Home to Yours

 
Makes about 24 to 28 cookies
 



 

Ingredients

  • 1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 11 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fleur de sell or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 5 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 85% cacao), chopped into chips (no pieces bigger than 1/3 inch), or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Sift flour, cocoa, and baking soda into medium bowl. 
 
 
Step 2: Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth and creamy but not fluffy. 
 
Step 3: Add both sugars, vanilla, and salt; beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. 
 
 
Step 4:  Turn off mixer. Pour in dry ingredients, drape a kitchen town over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the  mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time.  
 
 
Step 5: Take a peek - if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not remove the towel. Continuing on low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears in the dough. For the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don't be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly.
 
Step 6: Toss in the chopped chocolate; mix just to distribute (if dough doesn't come together, knead lightly in bowl to form ball). 
 
Step 7: Divide dough in half. Place each half on sheet of plastic wrap. Form each into 1-1/2-inch-diameter log. Wrap each in plastic; chill until firm, about 3 hours. The dough can be made 3 days ahead. Keep chilled. There are 4 logs in the picture because I doubled the recipe.  Also, I like a llittle bigger cookie so I made each log about 2 inches in diameter. 
 
 
Step 8: Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using thin sharp knife, cut logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Space 1 inch apart on prepared sheets.
 
 
Step 9: Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies appear dry (cookies will not be firm or golden at edges), 11 to 12 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool. 
 
And here is Dorie, the pastry queen herself, and her World Peace Cookies.  
 



 

Gallettes

Makes 6 dozen




 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 6 large egg yolk
  • 6 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour


 


Instructions


Step 1: Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.

 

Step 2: In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.  Beat in sugars until combined and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.


 

Step 3: Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Beat egg yolks and vanilla lightly with fork and set aside.
 
Step 4: Reduce speed to low and gradually add egg yolk mixture to the creamed sugars until incorporated, about 60 seconds. 
 
Step 5: With mixer at low speed, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over beat.

Step 6: Beat egg whites to stiff peaks and fold into dough.

  

Step 7: Chill batter overnight. 

Step 8: Preheat electric gallette iron according to the manufacturer's directions. Lightly grease grids with cooking spray.
 
Step 9: Drop 1 to 2 tablespoons batter into the center of the pre-heated gallette iron and bake until cookies are set, firm, and light brown, about 45 to 60 seconds. Using a fork, carefully lift cookies off grid and cool on a wire rack. Repeat with remaining batter, lightly greasing grids periodically, as needed.
 




 

Hungarian Nut-Filled Cookies

I wish I knew the true heritage of this cookie because it’s one of my favorites.  My mother and aunts have been making this hearty and gratifying cookie as far back as I can remember. I’d like to think that this delicious cookie is of Italian origin; however, rumor has it that the recipe hails from my cousin’s mother-in-law who was Eastern European.  Whether Italian or Hungarian, this is an awesome cookie for any occasion and one that you should try.

Makes approximately 7 dozen cookies




 

Ingredients


For the Filling:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 cups walnuts (finely ground)
  • 2 large egg whites (or enough to make a good spreading consistency)


For the Dough:

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk

 

For the Browned-Butter Icing:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 evaporated milk (or whole milk)



 


Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2: For the Dough: Place all dry ingredients in large bowl and whisk until well-blended.

Step 3: Add butter and shortening to dry ingredients. Cut in shortening and butter (with a pastry blender) until size of small peas.



Step 4: In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk and eggs. Beat until combined.

 

Step 5: Make a well in the flour mixture, then add egg-buttermilk mixture. Using pastry blending, mix until dough forms into a soft ball. Dough should be soft but not too sticky.  If dough is sticky, liberally add flour to your work surface when rolling dough out.  



Step 6: Divide dough into 6 equal pieces (approximately 9.5 ounces each). 

 

Step 7: For the Filling: Combine sugar, finely ground walnuts and 2 egg whites in a bowl. Mix well and set aside.

Step 8: Roll dough into a 4" X 14" rectangle.  Arrange approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup of filling in a 3-inch-wide log lengthwise down the center of each strip leaving approximately 1/2 inch free around the edges. Roll up dough as you would a jellyroll.  Turn the rolls seam-sides down and press gently to flatten the seams.

      

Step 9: Chill the logs, covered with plastic wrap, for about 1/2 hour before slicing and baking.

 

Step 10: Slice into 1/2 inch slices. Bake on cookie sheet 350°F oven until light golden brown.

  


Step 11: For the browned-butter icing: Heat two tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat until golden brown. Add 2 cups of sifted powdered sugar and 1/4 cup evaporated milk (or whole milk) and beat until smooth.

Step 12: Ice cookies once they are cool.




 

Italian Wedding Cookies

This is my mother's signature cookie -well these and her biscotti. No one in the world makes these cookies better than her. This recipe dates back for generations. My mother has altered it slightly over the years, replacing milk with orange peel and orange juice. Twelve cups of flour make a boat load of cookies, and it's probably just fine for families of 6 or more people. If you have a small family, feel free to cut the recipe in half. Oh, one other fact about this recipe - it won first place in the 2008 Montgomery County, Maryland Fair in the "Rolled by Hand" cookie category.

Makes about  15 dozen cookies




 

Ingredients

  •     12 cups all-purpose flour
  •     2-1/2 cups sugar
  •     9 teaspoons baking powder
  •     2 teaspoons salt
  •     2 cups unsalted butter (4 sticks)
  •     2 teaspoons vanilla
  •     2 tablespoons anise flavoring
  •     2 teaspoons almond flavoring
  •     12 eggs
  •     1/4 cup orange juice
  •     2 to 3 tablespoons orange zest


For the Icing:

  •     Powdered sugar
  •     Milk (or orange juice)
  •     Vanilla or other flavoring



 


Instructions


Step 1: Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Sift to combine. 

Step 2: Cut butter into 16 pieces and add to the flour mixture. Work in butter with hands until completely and fully incorporated and butter/flour bits are smaller than the size of peas. As my father always said, mix and caress the butter and flour like you love it. 

  

Step 3: Add eggs, orange juice, orange zest and flavorings together in a small bowl. Beat together and set aside.

Step 4: Make a well in the flour and add egg mixture to flour mixture. Mix dough with hands until the dough is smooth and firm enough to roll out.  You will most likely need to add a little flour to your surface and knead the dough for a few minutes.

Step 5: Roll into desired shapes and bake at 325 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes until lightly brown.  

 



Step 6: For the glaze:  Add powdered sugar, milk and vanilla together and mix. The icing's consistency should be runny and easily spreadable.  I sometimes use orange juice instead of milk in the icing.

Step 7: Cool cookies completely, then glaze cookies with powdered sugar icing.

 



 

Joyce Grandinetti's Chocolate Crinkles

Makes 66 cookies






Ingredients

 

  •     1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  •     1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  •     2 teaspoons baking powder
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •     4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (chopped).
  •     1/2 cup unsalted butter
  •     1 3/4 cups sugar
  •     3 large eggs
  •     2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  •     3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  •     3/4 cup chopped walnuts or hazelnuts (optional)
  •     1/2 cup powdered sugar

 





Instructions


Step 1: In bowl, mix flour, baking powder, cocoa and salt. 

Step 2: Melt chocolate and butter, stirring; cool. 

Step 3: In mixing bowl, mix chocolate mixture and sugar and beat on slow speed to blend.  Beat in eggs one at a time, then vanilla. 

Step 4: Beat in flour mixture.  Stir in chips and nuts. 

Step 5: Cover, refrigerate overnight.  Let dough rest for 10 minutes before rolling next day. Roll level tablespoons into 1” balls; roll in sifted powdered sugar. 

Step 6: Spray baking sheet and place balls 2” apart.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake 12 to 14 minutes until tops crack. Store in airtight container for up to two weeks.





Jumbo Raisin Cookies

 

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies

 





Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 1/2 cup shortening, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)





Instructions

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2: Cook raisins in 1 cup boiling water for five minutes.  Set aside and cool. Do not drain raisin mixture.

Step 3: Mix together flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.
 

Step 4: Cream shortening, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. 

Step 5: Add vanilla and cooled raisin mixture. 


Step 6: Gradually add dry ingredients and blend well.  If you are using nuts, add them at this time and mix with wooden spoon. 



Step 7: Drop by teaspoon on greased cookie sheet. 

Step 8: Bake at 375 degrees until lightly brown 12 to 15 minutes.





Lady Locks

I love this cookie. I have wanted to try this recipe for some time but I found making the pastry dough and horns a little intimidating. This recipe belongs to one of my mother's friends, who was kind enough to teach us how to make them. It was actually much easier than I had anticipated.




 

Ingredients

For the dough:

 

  •     4-1/2 cups flour
  •     1 pound butter, softened
  •     1/2 pint sour cream
  •     1 cup buttermilk


For the filling:

  •     2 cups whole milk
  •     7 tablespoons flour
  •     2 cups shortening (crisco)
  •     2 cups sugar
  •     2 cups powdered sugar
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla
  •     1 cup marshmallow cream



 


Instructions


Step 1: For the dough: Mix flour and butter as you would pie dough.  I used a pastry blender.  Softened or room temperature butter will incorporate better into the flour.

       
Step 2: Add sour cream and buttermilk. Mix until blended.  You may need to add a little more flour if dough is too sticky.  I added an additional 1/2 cup of flour.


Step 3: Divide dough into four parts.  Roll each part like a pie shell then fold all four corners to make a square wrap. 

    


Step 4: Wrap each square in wax paper and refrigerate overnight.  Next day, roll each square long about 24 inches long and 3 inches wide.  



Step 5: Cut into strips approximately 1/2 inch wide (perpendicular to the long length). Wrap strip around rod so that edges overlap slightly. 


   

Step 6: Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Slide horn molds quickly off of rods while still hot. 



Step 7: Let cool completely.

Step 8:  For the filling:  Add 2 cups of milk and flour to saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat. Cook until thick and let cool completely.

Step 9: Beat 2 cups shortening and 2 cups sugar - add sugar a little at a time. Add two cups of powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup marshmallow cream. 

Step 10: Add cooked milk/flour mixture and cream well.
    
My mother's friend, Mary Ann Malcolm.



 My Mother




 

Mary Mermigas' Melomakarona (Greek Christmas Cookies)





Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup of sunflower oil
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup of brandy
  • 1/2 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 to 7-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • Grated walnuts for garnish

For the Syrup:

  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup of honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 lemon slices
  • 3 orange slices 
 




Instructions

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 325 F with a convection oven, or 350 F with a conventional oven.
 
Step 2: Put all the dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda) in a bowl and mix until blended with a whisk. 
 
Step 3: Cream together butter and oil until fluffy
 
Step 4: Add the sugar and continue beating until sugar is well combined.
 
Step 5: Add the eggs, orange juice, brandy, and orange zest.  Continue beating until everything is incorporated.
 
Step 6: Gradually add flour mixture. Add additional flour so that the dough will not be too soft or sticky.
 
 
Step 7: To shape the cookies, take a fistful of dough and make it into a log. Press the dough gently with your fingers on one side to flatten slightly. The shape of the cookies can be rounded, oval, or a small log shape.
 
Step 8: Place the cookies well spaced on a greased cookie sheet, place on the middle rack in the oven and bake until browned (about 20 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool on baking racks.
 
Step 9: To make the syrup: Put the water, honey, sugar, cinnamon stick, and orange and lemon slices in a wide pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat down to low. Remove cinnamon stick and orange and lemon slices.
 
 
Step 10: Put in cookies (as many as will fit on the bottom) into the hot syrup and use a spatula to hold them down for about 45 seconds to a minute, depending on how syrupy you want them to be.
 
 
Step 11: Once the cookies have been soaked, remove them with a slotted spoon, letting some of the syrup drip, place on a large serving plate in layers, sprinkling each layer liberally with the finely chopped walnuts.
 
 
 

Do not refrigerate the melomakarona. Cover them with plastic wrap or store in tins so they don't dry out.




Mexican Wedding Cookies

The Mexican wedding cookie, in my opinion, isn’t an exciting cookie. In fact, it's a really boring cookie to make because it doesn’t have any of the new trendy cookie ingredients, like salted caramel, browned butter, lavender, rosemary, chili, pepper or bacon. But it is an old classic with good basic ingredients - ground nuts, butter, sugar, and flour. And if made correctly, you will have a delectable, rich, buttery, sugary cookie that will literally disintegrate and melt in your mouth. I’ve been making these cookies for years and it will always be a part of my cookie repertoire.
 



 

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  •     1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  •     1/2 cup powdered sugar
  •     1 to 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  •     1/8 teaspoon salt
  •     2 cups flour
  •     1/2 cups finely chopped nuts



 


Instructions

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350°F.

Step 2: Sift your flour first, then measure the required amount.  Sifting, for this particular recipe, is an important step that you shouldn't skip.  Sifting aerates the flours, which alters the texture of the cookie, resulting in a lighter, airier, melt in your mouth texture.

Step 3: Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Step 4: Add 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt; beat until well blended. Stir in flour and nuts.  Note: you should also sift your powdered sugar beforehand to remove any lumps.

 

Step 5: Shape into 1-inch balls. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets.



Step 6: Bake for about 13 to 15 minutes until cookies are slightly brown around the edges. Remove from baking sheets.

Step 7: Immediately roll hot cookies in remaining powdered sugar. Place sugared cookies on wire racks to cool. When cool, roll again in sugar.

 




 

My Mother's Best Biscotti

Biscotti, which literally means twice-baked, is a traditional Italian cookie that’s named after its baking process. These cookies are actually baked twice and made purposely dry and hard because they are meant to be dunked in a drink, such as coffee, tea, or wine. This particular biscotti is one of my mother’s signature cookies and the best biscotti recipe ever. It’s perfectly flavored with almonds, anise and vanilla. 




 

Ingredients

  •     2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •     1/4 pound unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  •     1 cup granulated sugar
  •     1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  •     2 large eggs
  •     2 teaspoons anise flavoring or black anise seeds
  •     1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •     1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
  •     1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped almonds (toasted)
     



 

Instructions

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2: Sift the flour, black anise seeds (if using seeds instead of flavoring), baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Step 3: Beat butter, sugar and orange zest until fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Step 4: Beat in eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla, almond extract and anise flavoring (if not using the seeds).

Step 5: Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in almonds.

Step 6: Divide dough into 2 equal portions, about 15 ounces each.

 

Step 7: Form dough into two logs about 1-1/2" wide by 14" long. Put on a baking sheet about 3" apart. 

Step 8: Brush the top of each log with egg whites.  

Step 9: Bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Step 10: Remove logs from oven and reduce oven temperature to 250°F.

Step 11: Allow cookie logs to cool and become firm for 2 or 3 minutes after removal from oven before attempting to slice it, and use a very sharp knife to prevent the fragile slices from breaking. Cut logs into 1/2" slices, and put the cut-side up on baking sheets. Instead of a baking sheet, my mom turns a cookie rack upside down and places the cookies on the rack. 

Step 12: Bake until dried, 30 to 40 minutes. If using a baking sheet, turn cookies over after 15-20 minutes. If using the cookie rack, it's not necessary to turn the cookies over.

 




 

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 112 cookies





Ingredients

  •     5 cups blended oatmeal
  •     2 cups butter
  •     2 cups white sugar
  •     2 cups brown sugar
  •     4 eggs
  •     2 teaspoons vanilla
  •     4 cups flour
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     2 teaspoons baking powder
  •     2 teaspoons baking soda
  •     24 ounces chocolate chips
  •     8 ounces Hershey Bar (grated)
  •     3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)





Instructions


Step 1: Measure oatmeal and blend in a food processor to a fine powder.



Step 2: Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla



Step 3: Mix together flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and soda. Gradually add to egg mixture, Add chocolate chips, hershey bars and nuts.

Step 4: Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet.



Step 5: Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.





Nonna's Italian Wedding Cookies

Every Italian family has their own recipe for Italian Wedding Cookies. My family happens to have two recipes - one that belongs to my mother's family and one that belongs to my father's family. The recipe below belongs to my nonna on my father's side. It is similar to my mother's recipe but uses oil instead of butter. This recipe, like my mother's, makes a ton of cookies. The cookies freeze really well so I often make a whole recipe- you can store them in the freezer for up to 3 months.

 

Makes at least 10 dozen cookies

 




 

Ingredients

For the cookie dough:

  •     2-1/2 cups sugar
  •     2 cups vegetable oil
  •     12 large eggs
  •     1 tablespoon vanilla
  •     2 tablespoons anise flavoring
  •     11 cups all-purpose flour
  •     7 teaspoons baking powder
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     1/2 cup orange juice
  •     2 tablespoon orange zest


For the icing:

  •     Powdered sugar
  •     Milk
  •     Vanilla or other flavorings



 


Instructions


Step 1: Beat eggs until thick and lemon colored. Add sugar gradually and blend well. Gradually add oil while beating. Add flavorings.

Step 2: Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour and orange juice alternately to egg mixture. Add enough flour to make a soft dough. Dough will be sticky. Refrigerate overnight.

Step 3: Roll out and shaped into braids or knots.

Step 4: Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet 350 degree until lightly brown, about 10 minutes. Do not over bake.

Step 5: Ice cookies with powdered sugar icing.




 

Oatmeal Cranberry Cookies




 

Ingredients

  •     2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •     2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  •     1 cup sugar
  •     1 cup brown sugar
  •     2 eggs
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •     3 cups oats (not instant)
  •     1 cup dried cranberries
  •     6 ounces of good quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped



 


Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350; line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Coarsely chop white chocolate.  Make sure to use a good quality white chocolate. I used Ghiardelli brand

Step 2: Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

Step 3: Cream butter, both sugars, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture; stir with a tubber scraper or wooden spoon until completely blended.

  



Step 4: Fold the oats, cranberries, and white chocolate into the dough until evenly distributed.



Step 5: Drop dough in 3 tablespoons mounds (a #40 cookie scoop is perfect) onto prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.



Step 6: Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, or until golden but still a little moist. Let cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack. If desired, dip cookies in melted white chocolate.

 

 

 




 

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies

When making sugar cookies, the thought of using cookie cutters and then having to decorate each cookie stresses me out. So if you are like me, you want a sugar cookie that’s simple and quick to make. This particular sugar cookie recipe has been around since the beginning of time - well at least most of my life. And it’s perfect because the only rolling is when you roll the little ball of dough in sugar and the only decorating is sprinkling each flattened ball of dough with decorative or colored sugar. The recipe is foolproof too. I once decided to make this cookie using a combination of whole wheat pastry and all-purpose flours (don’t ask why) and I couldn’t believe how perfectly shaped and tasty the cookies were. So if you are looking for a slightly healthier sugar cookie (is that an oxymoron?), you can substitute half of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour, and if the dough is too stiff, just add a tablespoon or two of whole milk.
 

Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies

 

Ingredients

  •     3-3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  •     3 teaspoons baking powder
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •     1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
  •     1-1/2 cups sugar
  •     2 eggs, room temperature
  •     3 teaspoons vanilla
  •     Granulated sugar or colored sugar
  •     Soft butter for bottom of glass


Instructions


Step 1: Sift dry ingredients.  

Step 2: Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  

Step 3: Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.  Add vanilla.

Step 4: Add flour gradually beating only until combined.

Step 5: Roll into a 1- or 2-inch balls and then roll each ball in sugar. Press each sugar-coated ball with the bottom of a glass that has been coated with butter. Sprinkle each flattened cookie with decorative sugar.  

Step 6: Bake at 350 degrees for about ten minutes or until lightly brown

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.






Ingredients

  •     48 Hershey Kisses
  •     1/2 cup shortening
  •     3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  •     1/3 cup granulated sugar
  •     1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  •     1 egg
  •     2 tablespoons milk
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •     1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •     Granulated sugar





Instructions


Step 1: Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

Step 2: Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended.

Step 3: Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy.

Step 4: Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well.

Step 5: Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

Step 6: Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Step 7: Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Step 8: Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.





Peanut Butter Cookies

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan: Baking: From My Home to Yours

 





Ingredients

 

  •     2-1/2 cups flour
  •     1 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1/4 teaspoon salt
  •     pinch of nutmeg
  •     2 sticks unsalted butter
  •     1 cup creamy peanut butter
  •     1 cup packed light brown sugar
  •     3/4 cup sugar
  •     2 large eggs
  •     1 cup chopped salted peanut
  •     Raw sugar





Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2: Stir dry ingredients.

Step 3: Cream butter and peanut butter. Add sugar. Then eggs one at a time. Combine with dry ingredients. Fold in peanuts.

Step 4: Bake on lightly greased cookie sheets, roll cookies in raw sugar, press down with fingers or fork.

Step 5: Bake for 12 minutes, cool on rack.





Peanut Butter Nanaiamo Bars





Ingredients

 

For the Cookie:

  •  1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1-3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped blanched almonds

For the Peanut Butter Filling:

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

For the Chocolate Glaze:

  • 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

 





Instructions

Step 1:  Line an 8 by 8-inch baking pan or casserole with aluminum foil, with long flaps hanging over each edge.

Step 2: For the cookie: Put the butter in a heatproof medium bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water to a very slow simmer over medium-low heat. Set the bowl over, but not touching, the water. Once the butter is melted, add the sugar and cocoa, and stir to combine. 

Step 3: Add the egg and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, until warm to the touch and slightly thickened (it should be about the consistency of hot fudge), about 6 minutes. 

Step 4: Remove from the heat and stir in graham crumbs, coconut and nuts. Press the dough firmly into the prepared pan. (Save the pan of water for melting the chocolate.)

Step 5: For the filling: Beat the butter, peanut butter and confectioners' sugar together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until light. 

Step 6: Spread over the cookie and freeze while you prepare the chocolate glaze.

Step 7:  For the glaze: Put the chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl, and set over the barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Alternatively, put the chocolate and butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Melt at 50 percent power in the microwave until soft, about 1 minute. Stir, and continue to heat until completely melted, about 1 minute more.

Step 8: When cool but still runny, pour the chocolate layer over the chilled peanut butter layer and carefully smooth out with an offset spatula. Freeze 30 minutes.

Step 9: To serve, remove from the freezer and let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. Pull out of the pan using the foil flaps and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 1-inch squares with a sharp knife. Serve cool or at room temperature.





Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies





Ingredients

  •     3/4 cup peanut butter
  •     1/2 cup butter
  •     3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  •     1/2 cup granulated sugar
  •     1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  •     2 large eggs
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla
  •     1-1/4 cups flour
  •     2-1/2 cups regular oatmeal
  •     1-1/2 cups chocolate chips





Instructions


Step 1: In a large mixing bowl, combine peanut butter and butter -- mix 30 seconds at medium speed. Add sugars and beat until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat well.

Step 2: Add flour, baking soda and baking powder in a separate bowl and whisk to combine. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix to combine. With wooden spoon, stir in oatmeal and chocolate chips.

Step 3: Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls onto cookie sheet about 3" apart. Press into 4" circles. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.

Step 4: Cool on wire rack.





Pecan Tassies

Adapted from Carole Walter, Great Cookies: Secrets to Sensational Sweets

 
Makes 4 dozen tassies.
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the cream cheese pastry:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, spooned in and leveled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
 

For the filling: 

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups lightly packed very fresh dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped lightly toasted pecans, divided
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: For the cream cheese pastry: mix together using a pastry blender the butter and cream cheese until thoroughly blended.
 
Step 2: Add in 1 cup of the flour and the salt, working with the pastry blender until almost incorporated. Mix in another 1/2 cup flour, working until the flour is almost incorporated. Complete the process by adding in another 1/2 cup flour. Do not overwork.
 
Step 3: With lightly floured hands, shape the dough into a mound, then divide in half and form two 5 inch rectangles. Wrap with plastic. Chill for at least 4 hours or up to 3 day
 
Step 4: Divide each rectangle of pastry into 24 1-inch squares. Roll each square into a ball and place into mini-muffin tins. Mold the dough into each hole, pressing it up the sides. Chill while preparing the filling.
 
Step 5 Position the shelves in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Heat the oven to 325F.
 
Step 6: For the filling: Place the eggs, brown sugar, butter, salt, and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk together until smooth.
 
 
Step 7: Distribute 1 cup of the pecans among the pastry lined muffin cups. Empty the filling into a measuring cup with a spout and pour the mixture into the tins, filling them no more than 2/3 full. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining 1 cup nuts.
 
 
Step 8: Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown around the edges. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back towards the end of baking time. Let stand 5 minutes. using the tip of a paring knife, run the blade carefully around the edges of the muffin cups to loosen the tassies. When the tassies are cool enough to handle, remove them from the pan and set on cooling racks. (Note: The tassies can either be either be eased out with the tip of the knife or inverted onto the cooling rack.)



 

Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti

I love Christmas time because it’s really the only time of year that I bake cookies. In fact you could say that I run a cookie baking marathon during the Christmas season, baking a different batch every other evening after work during the month of December. I have traditional cookies that I always make and sometimes I’ll try something new.  I’ve only made this particular biscotti once before and I’m not sure why I've waited so long to make it again because it's so delicious. It’s also very festive with all the colors of the holiday baked right into the cookie, and it's perfect for decorating your Christmas cookie tray. This biscotti just may become part of my Christmas cookie tradition.

Adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2003




 


Ingredients

  •     2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
  •     1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  •     3/4 teaspoon salt
  •     6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  •     3/4 cup sugar
  •     2 large eggs
  •     1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  •     1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  •     1 teaspoon black anise seeds (alternatively you can use 1 tablespoon of pure anise extract)
  •     1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  •     3/4 cup shelled natural unsalted pistachios
  •     6 ounces imported white chocolate, chopped



 


Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 1 large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Step 2: Sift first 3 ingredients into medium bowl.

Step 3: Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl on medium speed until creamy about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in lemon peel, vanilla, and black anise seeds (or anise extract if using instead).

 



Step 4: Beat in flour mixture just until blended. Stir in cranberries and pistachios (dough will be sticky).



Step 5: Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Gather dough together; divide in half.

 

Step 6: Roll each half into 15-inch-long log (about 1-1/4 inches wide). Carefully transfer logs to 1 prepared baking sheet, spacing 3 inches apart.



Step 7: Bake logs until almost firm to touch but still pale, about 28 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet 10 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.



Step 8: Carefully transfer logs still on parchment to cutting board. Use a serrated  or very sharp knife to gently cut logs crosswise into generous 1/2-inch-thick slices.

Step 9: Place slices, 1 cut side down, on remaining 2 prepared sheets. Instead of a baking sheet, you can also use a cookie rack and turn in upside down and place the cookies on the rack. Bake until firm and pale golden, about 9 minutes per side. If using the cookie rack, it's not necessary to turn the cookies over. Transfer cookies to racks and cool.



Step 10: Line another baking sheet with waxed paper.

Step 11: Stir white chocolate in top of double boiler over barely simmering water just until smooth. Remove from over water.

Step 12: Dip one end of each cookie into melted chocolate, tilting pan if necessary; shake off excess chocolate. Place cookies on prepared sheet. Chill until chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes. (Can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight between sheets of waxed paper at room temperature.)




 

Pistachio Cranberry Ice Box Cookies

Adapted from Gourmet, December 2007





Ingredients

  •     1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  •     1/4 teaspoon salt
  •     1-1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  •     1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  •     1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest
  •     1/2 cup shelled pistachios (2 1/4 oz; not dyed red)
  •     1/3 cup dried cranberries (1 1/4 oz)
  •     1 large egg, lightly beaten
  •     1/4 cup decorative sugar (preferably coarse)
     




Instructions


Step 1: Make dough: Stir together flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.

Step 2: Beat together butter, granulated sugar, and zest in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Step 3: Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until dough just comes together in clumps, then mix in pistachios and cranberries.

Step 4: Gather and press dough together, then divide into 2 equal pieces.

Step 5: Using a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper as an aid, form each piece of dough into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

Step 6: Square off long sides of each log to form a bar, then chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until very firm, at least 2 hours.

Step 7: Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Step 8: Brush egg over all 4 long sides of bars (but not ends). Sprinkle decorative sugar on a separate sheet of parchment or wax paper and press bars into sugar, coating well. 

Step 9: Cut each bar crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, rotating bar after cutting each slice to help keep square shape. (If dough gets too soft to slice, freeze bars briefly until firm.)

Step 10: Arrange cookies about 1/2 inch apart on lined baking sheets. Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are pale golden, 15 to 18 minutes total. Transfer cookies from parchment to racks using a slotted spatula and cool completely.

Dough bars can be chilled up to 3 days or frozen, wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil, 1 month (thaw frozen dough in refrigerator just until dough can be sliced).





Pistachio Macarons

I've read a lot about macarons since my second attempt at making them using the Italian Meringue Method.  For the recipe below, I used Pierre Herme's recipe but  decided to switch things up a bit and try the French Meringue Method. Although I've read horror stories about this method all over the internet, it seemed to work just fine for me. The jury; however,  is still out about which method I like better.  Since I'm still a novice, I'll continue to use both the Italian and French meringue methods until there is a clear winner.
 
For this particular recipe, because I like a pistachio macaron with lots of pistachio flavor, I decided to use half ground pistachios and half ground almonds for my macaron cookie and I added some pistachio extract to both the macaron batter and the buttercream.  By the way, you can buy pistachio extract at silvercloudestates.com. 
 
I also tried a slightly different technique for adding the flavoring. During my previous attempts at making macarons, I added the flavorings and food coloring after I folded the meringue into the dry ingredients. I ended up with slightly deflated, runny, and loose meringue. This time, I added my liquid flavorings and food coloring near the end of whipping my egg whites to stiff peaks.  This seemed to work really well; the color was infused evenly and I didn't run the risk of deflating my meringue like before.
 
Makes 72 macarons
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the cookie:

  • 150 grams finely ground blanched almonds (if possible, use Trader Joes sliced dry roasted almonds)
  • 150 grams finely ground pistachios
  • 300 grams powdered sugar
  • 300 grams extra fine granulated sugar
  • 220 grams aged Egg Whites at room temperature 
  • Green food coloring
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pure pistachio extract
 

For the pistachio French buttercream:

  • 12 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup finely ground pistachios
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons pure pistachio extract
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the macaron cookie: Separate eggs at least 24 hours before using (or up to five days). Save yolks for egg yolk buttercream. The older the eggs the better.  
 
Step 2: Line 6 half sheet trays with silpat baking sheets or parchment. 
 
Step 3: Using a scale, measure out all the ingredients. 
 
Step 4: Place the ground almonds, ground pistachios, and confectioners sugar in a food processor and process until finely ground (about 1 - 2 minutes). Sift the mixture to remove any lumps.
 
  
 
Step 5: In the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add your granulated sugar to whisking egg whites and beat to stiff peaks.  Add green food coloring and pistachio extract and continue whipping under the color is evenly distributed through out the meringue.
 
 
Step 6: Gradually fold egg whites into your dry ingredients, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.  Completely fold in your dry ingredients into your egg whites. The batter will fall back into the bowl in a thick ribbon.
 
 
Step 7: Fill a pastry bag, fitted with 1/2 inch (1 cm) tip (#5 or 805 ATECO tip), with about half the batter. Pipe about 1 - 1 1/2 inch (3 - 4 cm) rounds onto silpat-lined pans.  Leave at least 1 inch between macaroons. As you pipe, hold the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet and flick the tip of the bag as you finish each cookie to minimize the peaks.  Let the macarons sit at room temperature for about 60 minutes or until the tops of the macarons are no longer tacky.
 
  
 
Step 8: While your macarons are sitting at room temperature, preheat oven to 325 degrees F with an oven rack in bottom third of the oven. You may have to do some experimenting with your oven to determine the best temperature for your macarons. Using my convection oven, I found that 315 degrees F was a good temperature.
 
Step 9: Bake the cookies (one sheets at a time) for about 8-10 minutes, rotating the pans front to back, about halfway through baking. The macarons are done when you can just barely separate the cookies from the parchment paper (there will be some browning of the cookies).  
 
Step 10: Remove from oven and let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet placed on a wire rack. 
 
 
Step 11: To make the pistachio French buttercream: Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan to 242 degrees F or a few drops form a soft ball in cold water.
 
Step 12: While syrup is cooking, beat egg yolks until they are fluffy. Pour hot syrup in a thin stream into yolks, beating constantly.
 
Step 13: As the mixture cools, it will become thick and light. Continue to beat for a few minutes and then set aside until entirely cooled. If the syrup has not been cooked sufficiently, no amount of beating will make the mixture thick enough. If the syrup has been cooked too long, it will not beat smoothly into the egg yolks but will form little lumps of sugar.
 
Step 14: Beat in softened butter until thick and creamy. You may have to beat up to 5 to 10 minutes for the buttercream to become creamy. Add ground pistachios and extract.
 
Step 15: To assemble the macarons: Take two cookies and sandwich them together with your filling.  Place filling on flat side of cookie, and leave a narrow, unfilled border when piping the filling onto the cookie bottoms. You want to use just  enough filling that it spreads to the edge when topped but doesn’t squish out much when bitten. Top the filled halves with their partners. Best served at room temperature. Filled macaroons can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
 
 



 

Pitta 'mpigliata

My parents have been making this Italian pastry for Christmas for as long as I can remember.  It's almost unbelievable and I'm embarrassed to say that I have only just recently (in Christmas 2016) made this recipe for the first time.  Luckily, my parents and my aunt and uncle were all available to help me out this year and to impart their wisdom on the proper technique and traditional way our family makes them.

 

In addition to making them the traditional way, this year, we made a couple of 21st century changes to the recipe. First, my uncle suggested that we add a layer of grated milk chocolate on top of the raisin and nut filling.  In my opinion this was an excellent suggestion because the chocolate added a nice depth of flavor to the pastry. I liked it so much that I plan to intensify the chocolate flavor the next time I make them by bumping it up to a semisweet instead of a milk chocolate. The second change we made was in how we traditionally roll, bake, cut, and serve the pittas. There are many ways to roll and assemble the pastry. My parents traditionally roll the pitta 'mpigliata into a log, bake the log, and then cut the log into slices and serve.  For some, we decided to slice the unbaked logs and then bake the slices. For others, we rolled each little pitta individually into rosettes. I think my preference is slicing the unbaked log first, then baking the individual slices, rather than rolling each pitta individually or baking the logs first and then slicing before serving. My only caution with slicing first before baking is that you should make sure that you roll the pittas tightly and seal the ends and bottom of the pitta logs so your slices will stay round and pretty while they bake. Regardless of how you do it, I promise you, they will be delicious.  As we say in Italy, "meglio di nostri!"  

 

Learning to make pita 'impigliata has been on my bucket list for quite some time and now I can happily cross it off. So here is our family recipe for the famous pastry that hails from the small village of San Giovanni in Fiore in the Sila. Also, on your way to San Giovanni in Fiore, you won't want to miss a stay at the fabulous Hotel Grandinetti, nestled in the Sila mountains, and only a few minutes by car away from San Giovanni in Fiore.




 



Ingredients

For the Filling:

  • 2-1/2 pounds walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 pounds raisins
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup amaretto or orange-flavored liquor
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 8 ounces milk chocolate 
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
     

For the Dough: 

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup amaretto or brandy
  • 1-1/2 cups white wine
  • 10 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar

 




 


Instructions


Step 1: Mix walnuts, raisins, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1-1/2 tablespoons cinnamon, amaretto or orange-flavored liquor, honey, and orange zest together in a large bowl and let set overnight.

Step 2: Melt shortening.  Add oil, wine, and brandy or amaretto to the melted shortening.

Step 3: In stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat eggs, then add oil mixture to eggs and beat until incorporated.

Step 4: Dissolve yeast in lukewarm water. Add dissolved yeast to the egg mixture and beat on low speed.

Step 5: Sift dry ingredients together.  Gradually add dry ingredients to liquid ingredients. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic.



Step 6: Divide dough into 9 equal parts. Let dough rest for about 30 minutes.


Step 7: While dough is resting, finely grate chocolate, if using. Set aside. Mix together 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and 1 cup of sugar in a bowl. Set aside.

Step 8: To roll out in logs -- roll out each piece of dough and brush lightly with melted butter.

  

Step 9: Spread honey over dough. Sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. 

Step 10: Spread raisin and nut filling over dough. Sprinkle with chocolate (if using). Top with a small amount of honey. Roll as desired.

   

To roll out individually into rosettes:


Step 11: Bake at 325°F for 30 minutes or until light brown. Do not over bake. Slice cooled rolls and serve.



 




 

Pressed Sour Cream Cookies





Ingredients

  •     1 cup butter
  •     1 cup sugar
  •     2 egg yolks
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla
  •     4 cups flour
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •     1 teaspoon nutmeg
  •     1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1/2 cup sour cream





Instructions


Step 1: Cream butter and sugar until creamy. 

Step 2: Add beaten egg yolks and sour cream and vanilla. 

Step 3: Sift dry ingredients. Gradually add to creamed mixture mixing well after each addition.  Fill cookie press. 

Step 4: Press cookie dough on cookie sheet and sprinkle with decorative sugar.

   

Step 5: Bake  at 375 degree until lightly browned.





Raspberry Cassis Macarons

In 2006 and then again in 2013, I visited Paris and each time I fell in love with the French macaron. It is basically two meringue biscuits filled with ganache, buttercream, or jam. The macaron should have a soft, almost meringue texture in the middle with an egg shell-like outer crust. A perfect macaron should have feet that surround the flat side of the cookie. 

I've attempted to make this cookie once and let's just say that while it wasn't a disaster, I would have been embarrassed to serve it to anyone who knew what it was supposed to look and taste like.  Making this cookie is all about technique, and I've been incredibly intimidated to try again without taking a class. 
 
Recently, I took a class from Ann Amernick, a well renowned Pastry chef who lives in the Baltimore area. My mother, three of my friends, and I went to Ann's house one Saturday. The class was really fabulous and I learned a great deal from Ann, and I'm now on a mission to perfect my technique.  Ann taught us the French Meringue Method in which egg whites are whipped to stiff peaks using sugar and then folded into the dry ingredients.  Ann asked me not to share her recipe (you'll have to take her class to learn how she makes her macarons) so I'm posting another recipe which I tried after the class. The recipe below, which is posted all over the internet, belongs to Pierre Herme, the Picasso of pastries.  His uses the Italian Meringue Method which incorporates the same ingredients as the French method except instead of making a regular meringue, sugar and water are boiled together and then poured into soft peak egg whites. Also, the dry ingredients are glued together by an addition of egg whites before the meringue is folded into them.
 
This recipe had a few more steps than the one I learned in class but I think it's worth it.  I was pleased with the results.
 
Makes 72 macarons
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the cookie:

  • 300 grams finely ground blanched almonds (if possible, use Trader Joes sliced dry roasted almonds)
  • 300 grams confectioners sugar
  • 300 grams extra fine granulated sugar
  • 75 mL water
  • 110 grams aged Egg Whites at room temperature (to be mixed into dry ingredients)
  • 110 grams aged Egg Whites at room temperature (place in bowl of mixer) 
  • 4 drops Red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon pure raspberry extract
 

For the raspberry French buttercream:

  • 12 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup raspberry preserved
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons creme de cassis
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the macaron cookie: Separate eggs at least 24 hours before using (or up to five days). The older the eggs the better.  Save yolks to make the French buttercream.
 
Step 2: Line 5 half sheet trays with silpat baking sheets or parchment. 
 
Step 3: Using a scale, measure out all the ingredients. Remember to set aside 110 grams of egg whites for mixing into the dry ingredients and 110 grams of egg whites to place into the bowl of mixer. 
 
 
Step 4: Place the ground almonds and confectioners sugar in a food processor and process until finely ground (about 1 - 2 minutes). Sift the mixture to remove any lumps.
 
      
 
Step 5: Mix 4 drops of red food coloring and 1 teaspoon of raspberry extract into 110 grams of egg whites. Add more or less food coloring until you reach your desired raspberry color. Take the egg whites mixed with the food coloring and raspberry extract and pour into the almond meal and powdered sugar mixture. Allow it to sit.
 
 
Step 6: Take a heavy bottomed pot and pour the granulated fine sugar and water into the pot. Attach a candy thermometer to measure the temperature of the sugar and water as it heats up. Bring the water and sugar solution to 245 degrees F. 
 
 
Step 7: Meanwhile, in the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the remaining 110 grams of egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Start beating your egg whites when your sugar is close to your desired temperature. 
 
Step 8: Once the sugar solution reaches 245 degrees F, slowly pour it over the whisking egg whites.  Continue to whisk and allow meringue to cool.  Meringue should not be hot when you add to almond sugar mixture.  Continue to beat meringue until it cools.
 
 
Step 9: Once meringue has cooled, gradually fold egg whites into almond sugar mixture, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Once the almond mixture is completely folded into the meringue, the batter will fall back into the bowl in a thick ribbon. 
 
     
 
Step 10: Fill a pastry bag, fitted with 1/2 inch (1 cm) tip (#5 or 805 ATECO tip), with about half the batter. Pipe about 1 - 1 1/2 inch (3 - 4 cm) rounds onto silpat-lined pans.  Leave at least 1 inch between macarons. As you pipe, hold the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet and flick the tip of the bag as you finish each cookie to minimize the peaks. Let the macarons sit at room temperature for about 60 minutes or until the tops of the macarons are no longer tacky.
 
 
Step 11: While your macarons are sitting at room temperature, preheat oven to 300 degrees F with an oven rack in bottom third of the oven. You may have to do some experimenting with your oven to determine the best temperature for your macarons - it could be anywhere between 250 to 350 degrees F.
 
Step 12: Bake the cookies (one sheets at a time) for about 10 minutes, rotating the pans front to back, about halfway through baking. The macarons are done when you can just barely separate the cookies from the parchment paper.  
 
Step 13: Remove from oven and let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet placed on a wire rack. 
 
 
Step 14: To make the raspberry French buttercream: Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan to 242 degrees F or a few drops form a soft ball in cold water.
 
Step 15: While syrup is cooking, beat egg yolks until they are fluffy. Pour hot syrup in a thin stream into yolks, beating constantly.
 
Step 16: As the mixture cools, it will become thick and light. Continue to beat for a few minutes and then set aside until entirely cooled. If the syrup has not been cooked sufficiently, no amount of beating will make the mixture thick enough. If the syrup has been cooked too long, it will not beat smoothly into the egg yolks but will form little lumps of sugar.
 
Step 17: Beat in the softened butter until thick and creamy. You may have to beat up to 5 to 10 minutes for the buttercream to become creamy. Add raspberry preserves and cassis.   
 
Step 18: To assemble the macarons: Take two cookies and sandwich them together with your filling.  Place filling on flat side of cookie, and leave a narrow, unfilled border when piping the filling onto the cookie bottoms. You want to use just  enough filling so that it spreads to the edge when topped but doesn’t squish out much when bitten. Top the filled halves with their partners. Best served at room temperature. Filled macaroons can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
 
 
 
Here are pictures from my class making macarons using the French meringue method.
 
   
 
The French meringue method:  First we processed our ground almonds with the confectioners sugar in a food processor (far left picture).  Next we beat our egg whites and granulated sugar to stiff peaks (middle picture) and then we folded our egg whites into our dry ingredients (far right picture).
 
  
 
The picture on the left is our batter before we added the food coloring.  You can see how the batter falls back into thick ribbons.  The far right picture is the macarons piped onto our cookie sheet.  These need to sit for about an hour before baking in the oven.
 
 
The macarons in the top pictures were the raspberry macarons. Pictured above are the rose macarons that we filled that day.  Ann had already made the meringue shells the night before our class.  We filled these macarons with a rose and lychee French buttercream.  These were really delicious and truly tasted like a rose.  The secret is really in the flavorings so Ann gave us a tip on where to buy just about any kind of flavored extracts - check out Silver Cloud Estates at silvercloudestates.com


 

Scalille (Italian Fried Little Latters)





Ingredients

  •     3 eggs
  •     1 tablespoon oil
  •     1 tablespoon sugar
  •     1 to 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (or anise extract)
  •     1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  •     1 teaspoon baking powder
  •     approximately 3 cups all purpose flour
  •     1 to 2 cups honey





Instructions


Step 1: Mix eggs, oil vanilla, lemon peel and sugar. 

Step 2: Make a well with flour. Pour wet ingredients into center and gradually work in.  Add enough flour to make a stiff dough. Let dough rest for 20 minutes.

Step 3: Roll dough, cut and form into ladders. 

Step 4: Deep fry in oil until golden.

Step 5: Dip cookies in honey while still warm.





Strawberry Macarons

 

Makes 72 macarons
 

Ingredients

 

For the cookie:

 
  • 300 grams finely ground blanched almonds 
  • 300 grams powdered sugar
  • 250 grams extra fine granulated sugar
  • 220 grams aged Egg Whites at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure strawberry extract
  • Red food coloring
 
 

For the strawberry French buttercream:

  • 12 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh (or frozen) strawberries, pureed
  • 1 teaspoon pure strawberry extract
 

Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the macaron cookie: Separate eggs at least 24 hours before using (or up to five days). Save yolks for egg yolk buttercream. The older the eggs the better.  
 
Step 2: Line 6 half sheet trays with silpat baking sheets or parchment. 
 
Step 3: Using a scale, measure out all the ingredients. 
 
Step 4: Place the ground almonds and confectioners sugar in a food processor and process until finely ground (about 1 - 2 minutes). Sift the mixture to remove any lumps.
 
Step 5: In the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Add your granulated sugar to whisking egg whites and beat to stiff peaks. 
 
Step 6: Gradually fold egg whites into your dry ingredients, making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. Once your dry ingredients are completely folded into the meringue. The batter will fall back into the bowl in a thick ribbon. Add red food coloring and strawberry extract and gently fold into the batter.
 
Step 7: Fill a pastry bag, fitted with 1/2 inch (1 cm) tip (#5 or 8505 ATECO tip), with about half the batter. Pipe about 1 - 1 1/2 inch (3 - 4 cm) rounds onto silpat-lined pans.  Leave at least 1 inch between macaroons. As you pipe, hold the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet and flick the tip of the bag as you finish each cookie to minimize the peaks. 
Let the macarons sit at room temperature for about 60 minutes or until the tops of the macarons are no longer tacky.
 
Step 8: While your macarons are sitting at room temperature, preheat oven to 300 degrees F with an oven rack in bottom third of the oven. You may have to do some experimenting with your oven to determine the best temperature for your macarons. 
 
Step 9: Bake the cookies (one sheets at a time) for about 10 minutes, rotating the pans front to back, about halfway through baking. The macarons are done when you can just barely separate the cookies from the parchment paper (there will be some browning of the cookies).  
 
Step 10: Remove from oven and let the macarons cool completely on the baking sheet placed on a wire rack. 
 
Step 11: To make the strawberry French buttercream: Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan to 242 degrees F or a few drops form a soft ball in cold water.
 
Step 12: While syrup is cooking, beat egg yolks until they are fluffy. Pour hot syrup in a thin stream into yolks, beating constantly.
 
Step 13: As the mixture cools, it will become thick and light. Continue to beat for a few minutes and then set aside until entirely cooled. If the syrup has not been cooked sufficiently, no amount of beating will make the mixture thick enough. If the syrup has been cooked too long, it will not beat smoothly into the egg yolks but will form little lumps of sugar.
 
Step 14: Beat in softened butter until thick and creamy. You may have to beat up to 5 to 10 minutes for the buttercream to become creamy. Add strawberry puree and strawberry extract.
 
Step 15: To assemble the macarons: Take two cookies and sandwich them together with your filling.  Place filling on flat side of cookie, and leave a narrow, unfilled border when piping the filling onto the cookie bottoms. You want to use just  enough filling that it spreads to the edge when topped but doesn’t squish out much when bitten. Top the filled halves with their partners. Best served at room temperature. Filled macaroons can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
 

Struffoli





Ingredients

  •     2-1/2 cups flour
  •     4 large eggs
  •     1 egg yolk
  •     1/4 cup vegetable oil
  •     1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  •     1/8 teaspoon salt
  •     1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  •     2 cups vegetable oil
  •     1-1/2 cups honey





Instructions


Step 1: Combine flour, sugar, lemon peel, and salt together.

Step 2: Place flour mixture on a board and make a well in the center.

Step 3: Add eggs, egg yolk, and oil. Mix and work dough well.

Step 4: Shape dough into very small balls about the size of marbles, and fry in 2 cups of hot oil until golden. Fry only a few at a time. 

Step 5: When balls are done drop them in the honey and remove with a strainer spoon. Pile on a serving dish into a conical mound. Cool.

Step 6: Top with candy sprinkles or powdered sugar or leave plain.





Susie's Raisin-Filled Cookies





Ingredients

For the Filling:

  •     Approximately 36 ounces of raisins
  •     2/3 cup sugar
  •     2/3 cup light brown sugar
  •     5 cups water
  •     1/4 teaspoon salt
  •     2 tablespoons butter
  •     1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  •     1 teaspoon cinnamon
  •     4 tablespoons cornstarch
  •     1/2 cup water


For the Cookie Dough

  •     3-1/2 cups flour
  •     1 cup sugar
  •     1/2 cup Crisco
  •     1/2 cup butter
  •     2 eggs
  •     1/4 cup whole milk
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     3 teaspoons baking powder
  •     1 teaspoon nutmeg
  •     2 teaspoons vanilla





Instructions


Step 1: For the Filling:  Place raisins, both sugars, salt, cinnamon and 5 cups of water in a heavy kettle. Cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Cook for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cornstarch which has been dissolved in a little cold water. Cook a few minutes longer until mixture thickens. Add butter and lemon juice.


Step 2: For the Cookie Dough: Sift together dry ingredients. Work in crisco and butter using a pastry blender as you would for piecrust dough. You could alternatively use a food processor.

Step 3: Beat eggs and then add milk and vanilla to eggs.


Step 4: Make a hole in center of flour mixture. Add egg mixture and mix well. If dough is too soft to roll out, add some flour for right consistency.


Step 5: Roll out dough in a long piece, about 4 inches wide. Place raisin filling on dough. Roll another piece of dough the same size. Place on top of dough with the raisin filling. Use a cookie crimper to cut and seal cookie.


Step 6: Bake for about twenty minutes in a 350 degree oven about 20 minutes until cookies are light brown in color.





Turdilli

Turdilli, a traditional Christmas cookie from San Giovanni in Fiore in Calabria, are sweet deep fried cookies, shaped like gnocchi and drizzled with honey. They are delicious and one of my favorite cookies.




 


Ingredients

  •     1 cup crisco, melted and cooled
  •     1 cup sugar
  •     1 cup canola oil
  •     2 tablespoon vanilla
  •     1 egg
  •     1 egg yolk
  •     2 cups sweet wine (Marsala, sweet sherry, or red vermouth)
  •     8 cups flour
  •     2 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  •     1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •     1 teaspoon ground allspice
  •     About 2 cups honey, warm
  •     About 4 to 6 cups of vegetable or canola oil for deep-frying the cookies



 


Instructions


Step 1: Sift together the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

Step 2: In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the first seven ingredients until well blended. 

Step 3: Add dry ingredients on low speed until mixture forms a cohesive mass.  

Step 4: Scrape the dough onto a very lightly floured board. Knead lightly until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball, flatten, and place in a bowl. Dust the top lightly with flour, cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight to allow the dough to relax.

Step 5: Roll into logs and cut one inch pieces.  Roll down on fork or gnocchi board.  The deeper the grooves on the cookies the better as they puff up as they fry and the ridges, unless deep, tend to disappear.

Step 6: Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or deep pan to 350 degrees F. Deep fry until golden brown.  Each batch should include enough cookies to cover the surface of the oil. Any fewer and the oil gets too hot and browns the cookies before they are cooked through. Stir the cookies while they fry so they do not stick together. Remove cookies just as they turn a light milk chocolate color or a little before. Drain on paper towels.

Step 7: While still hot, put the cookies in a large shallow dish and pour the honey over them. Toss the cookies several times as they cool. If the cookies absorb all the honey, add more - they should be fully saturated.  Cookies will keep for about 1 week in an air tight container.




 

Cupcakes





Banana Toffee Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

 
When you have a freezer full of ripe bananas, the first thing that comes to mind is banana bread. I have this fabulous banana bread recipe but honestly I’ve made it so many times that I’m sick of it. So I thought I would try making banana cupcakes instead. And because I'm not a huge fan of banana muffins, I wanted to make a banana cupcake that would never be confused with a muffin. Featured on Cupcake Wars in 2011, this banana cupcake has delicious bits of chocolate toffee candy mixed throughout and is topped with salted caramel buttercream. No one could ever confuse this cupcake with a muffin. I loved it!
 
Adapted from Food Network’s Banana Toffee Cupcakes
 
Makes 24 cupcakes
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the Chocolate Toffee Candy Bar:

  • 1-1/2 cups slivered almonds 
  • 1-1/2 cups butter (3 sticks)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1-1/2 to 2 bags chocolate chips (preferably 60% bittersweet chips)
  • 1/3 cup almonds
 

For the Cupcakes:

  • 4 ounces unsalted butter
  • 5 ounces light brown sugar
  • 4 ounces granulated sugar
  • 3-1/2 ounces whole egg
  • 12-1/2 ounces ripe banana puree
  • 14 ounces cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 7 ounces chocolate toffee candy bar bits
  • 4 ounces buttermilk
 

For the Salted Caramel Buttercream:

  • 1-2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
 
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: For the salted caramel: Combine the sugar, 1/3 cup water and the corn syrup in a small saucepan. Stir with a wooden spoon and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer, swirling the pot occasionally, until the mixture is a beautiful amber color (watch closely). 
 
Step 2: Once the desired color is reached, immediately add the butter and stir with a wooden spoon until completely incorporated. 
 
Step 3: Remove from the heat. Add the heavy cream and stir to incorporate. Stir in the coarse salt. 
 
Step 4: Pour the salted caramel into a bowl. Cool completely, stirring occasionally. 
 
Step 5: For the chocolate toffee: Toast 1-1/2 cups slivered almonds for about 10 minutes in a 425 degree oven until lightly browned (watch carefully; it can burn quickly). Place in a bowl.
 
Step 6:  Place the remaining 1/3 cup almonds in a blender and blend/grate to a fine consistency; set aside. 
 
Step 7: In fairly deep soup pot, combine the butter, sugar, salt, and water. Cook, stirring with a long-handled spoon on medium high heat. When temperature reaches 140 degrees C, add toasted almonds. Continue cooking and stirring. 
 
Step 8: When temperature reaches 150-154 degrees C, pour out quickly on to lightly oiled cookie sheets (2 small or 1 very large) and spread thin with the back of the spoon. When cool spread with melted chocolate chips and sprinkle with ground almonds. When cold, break into pieces.
 
Step 9: For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a two standard size muffin pan with 24  cupcake liners.
 
Step 10: Combine the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream on medium-high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. 
 
Step 11: Scrape down the bowl and add the egg and banana puree. Cream for an additional 3 minutes. 
 
Step 12: Scrape down the bowl, and then add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix for 30 seconds on low speed. 
 
Step 13: Add the toffee bits and buttermilk. Stir on low speed until combined.
 
Step 14: Fill the prepared cupcake liners three-quarters full with batter and bake until golden brown and baked through, about 20 minutes. Cool the cupcakes completely.
 
 
Step 15: For the marbled salted Caramel Italian Meringue Butter: Stir the 1/2 to 1 cup salted caramel in by hand to create a marbled appearance. Place in a pastry bag fitted with a large round or star tip. Pipe a generous amount of buttercream on top of each cupcake, and garnish with crumbled toffee.
 
 



 

Blueberry Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting





Ingredients

  •     1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  •     1 cup granulated sugar
  •     3 extra large eggs
  •     1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •     2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •     1/3 cup milk
  •     1-1/2 cups fresh (or frozen) blueberries gently tossed in 2 tablespoons flour





Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.

Step 2: With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Add vanilla.

Step 3: In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk. Gently fold in blueberries. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full.

Step 4: Bake for 20 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of cupcakes comes out dry.

Step 5: Completely cool cupcakes in pan before frosting with lemon buttercream frosting.





Chocolate Cardamom Cupcakes

 
Makes 24 cupcakes
 



 

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 2 ounces dark (64% or higher) chocolate melted
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 recipe for chocolate cream cheese frosting
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: Heat the oven to 350 F and line 24 cupcake tins with cupcake paper liners.
  
Step 2: In a large bowl whisk together the flour, spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda until well blended.  Add the sugar and whisk to incorporate.
 
Step 3: In a medium bowl combine the butter, melted chocolate, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla.
 
Step 4: Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk until blended, but do not over mix.
  
Step 5: Divide the batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about three quarters full. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed in the center.  Cool the cupcakes in the pan for three minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
 
Step 6: Once the cupcakes are cool frost the cupcakes as desired with chocolate cream cheese frosting.
 



 

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

My ol' trusty favorite chocolate cupcake recipe is Rose Levy Beranbaum's Devil's Food cupcake. The cupcake has a very tender cake crumb and wonderful rich chocolate flavor but it is just ever so slightly dry. As usual, I was in search of a more perfect moister chocolate cupcake and I found the recipe below in a stash of old recipes that I had tucked away in a remote corner of my bookcase.  This recipe uses oil in addition to melted butter and it makes the moistest chocolate cupcake I have ever had. The best part of the cupcake is the rich and intense chocolate buttercream. For the buttercream, I adapted my favorite white chocolate vanilla buttercream recipe by substituting unsweetened chocolate and cocoa for the white chocolate. Then I added some heavy cream to give the buttercream a light and airy texture. The buttercream is full-proof too - you just can't mess it up. Just remember to beat the hell out of it.  I’m so glad I decided to switch it up a bit because this new recipe is fabulous and it is my new favorite chocolate cupcake. 

Makes 22 to 24 cupcakes




 

Ingredient 

 

For the cupcakes:

 
  • 1 cup water

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons natural cocoa powder (not dutch processed)
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

 

For the chocolate buttercream:

  • 1-1/2 cups of unsalted butter (3 sticks)
  • 5 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 cup natural cocoa
  • 4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate (100% cacao)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

 




 

Instructions

Step 1: For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line two standard cupcake pans with liners.

Step 2: In a small saucepan, bring water, vegetable oil, butter, and cocoa powder to boil. Whisk until smooth.  Remove from heat and add semisweet chocolate. Whisk to combine until chocolate is melted. Set aside to cool.

Step 3: In a bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Slowly add cooled chocolate mixture to egg mixture.

Step 4: Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt.  Add liquid mixture to flour mixture until just combined.

Step 5: Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle of cupcakes comes out clean.

Step 6: For the chocolate buttercream: Melt chocolate in microwave, stirring every 30 seconds.

Step 7: Beat the butter, cocoa, and powdered sugar until light and fluffy.  You can not overbeat so continue to beat until it's light and fluffy.

Step 8: Add melted chocolate and again beat until light and fluffy.
 
Step 9: Add vanilla and then add heavy cream and then continute to beat the hell out of it.
 
Step 10: Completely cool cupcakes in pan before frosting with chocolate buttercream.


 




 

Coconut Cupcakes with Lime Filling and Coconut Buttercream

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, Published March 1, 2001.

Makes 22 to 24 cupcakes

 





Ingredients

 

For the cupcake:

  •     1 large egg
  •     5 large egg whites
  •     3/4 cup cream of coconut
  •     1/4 cup water
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •     1 teaspoon coconut extract
  •     2-1/4 cups cake flour (9 ounces), sifted
  •     1 cup granulated sugar
  •     1 tablespoon baking powder
  •     3/4 teaspoon table salt
  •     12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks), cut into 12 pieces, softened, but still cool
  •     2 cups packed sweetened shredded coconut (about 8 ounces)


For the lime filling:

 

  •     3/4 cup lime juice, strained
  •     1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed
  •     1 cup sugar
  •     1/4 cup cornstarch
  •     pinch of salt
  •     2 whole eggs
  •     2 egg yolks
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla
  •     1 recipe for coconut buttercream





Instructions


Step 1: For the Cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

Step 2: Beat egg whites and whole egg in large measuring cup with fork to combine. Add cream of coconut, water, vanilla, and coconut extract and beat with fork until thoroughly combined.

Step 3: Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on lowest speed to combine, about 30 seconds. With mixer still running on lowest speed, add butter 1 piece at a time, then beat until mixture resembles coarse meal, with butter bits no larger than small peas, 2 to 2-1/2 minutes.

Step 4: With mixer still running, add 1 cup liquid. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 45 seconds. With mixer still running, add remaining 1 cup liquid in steady stream (this should take about 15 seconds). Stop mixer and scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then beat at medium-high speed to combine, about 15 seconds. (Batter will be thick.)

Step 5: Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filing each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden and a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 17 to 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. 

Step 6: For the lime filling:  Start the lime filling by combining the lime juice and butter in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the butter melts.

Step 7: Meanwhile, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in small bowl. Combine eggs in another bowl. Whisk sugar mixture into eggs until smooth.  Slowly drizzle the lime juice mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly. You need to pour slowly or the eggs will scramble. 

Step 8: Return mixture to saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. Cook until thick, 8 to 10 minutes. Off heat, stir in vanilla. Place filling in bowl; press plastic wrap on surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill completely.

Step 9: To assemble the cupcakes: When cupcakes are cool, cut an upside down cone shape out of the top of your cupcake. Add your lime filling to a pastry bag and squeeze filling in the cupcake using a plain round pastry tip.



Step 10: Frost cupcakes with coconut buttercream and sprinkle cupcakes with coconut.





Devil's Food Cupcakes with Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting

Anyone who knows me even a little, knows how crazy I am about chocolate and peanut butter.  So it’s no surprise that these cupcakes would be in my top 5 all time favorite cupcakes in the entire world. These rich, velvety, chocolate cupcakes, filled with a creamy peanut butter buttercream and frosted with that same creamy peanut butter buttercream, really are exceptional!  In fact, they are so exceptional that heaven to me would be swimming in a pool filled with these cupcakes.

Cake recipe adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes

 
Makes 24 cupcakes
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the Devil's Food Cake:

 
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate (90% or higher)
  • 3/4 cup plus 1-1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-1/4 cups cake flour, sifted and leveled off
  • 1-1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 1 recipe for creamy peanut butter frosting
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 standard cupcake pans with liners.
 
Step 2: In a medium bowl, whisk the chocolate, cocoa, and boiling water until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and cool for about an hour at room temperature.
 
Step 3: Combine  the eggs, yolks, sour cream, vanilla, and half the chocolate mixture in another bowl, just until slightly combined.
 
Step 4: Make the batter In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds. 
 
Step 5: Add the butter and the remaining chocolate mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
 
Step 6: Starting on medium-low speed, with the mixer off between additions, add the egg mixture in two parts. Beat on medium speed for 45 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure.The batter will be slightly fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
 
Step 7:   Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filing each three-quarters full. 
 
Step 8: Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden and a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 17 to 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. 
 
Step 9: To assemble the cupcakes: When cupcakes are cool, cut an upside down cone shape out of the top of your cupcake. Add your peanut butter  filling to a pastry bag and squeeze filling in the cupcake using a plain round pastry tip.
 
Step 10: Frost cupcakes with creamy peanut butter frosting and sprinkle with chopped peanut butter cups, if desired.
 
 
 
 



 

Double Shot Mocha Latte Cupcakes

 
This delicious, rich, chocolaty, espresso cream-filled cupcake leaves me speechless.
 
Adapted from Food Network's Double Shot Mocha Latte Cupcakes
 
Makes 24 cupcakes
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the Dark Chocolate Ganache:

  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
 

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup hot espresso
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 

For the Espresso Cream Filling:

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cold espresso
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: For the ganache: Put the chips in a medium bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan just until it bubbles around the sides. 
 
Step 2: Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate, give the bowl a good shake and let stand 10 minutes, shaking the bowl occasionally. Then whisk until the mixture is homogenous, 20 to 30 seconds. 
 
Step 3: Chill about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping down the sides, until the mixture is almost spreadable. Give it another brief whisk, and let stand at room temperature until it's at frosting consistency.
 
Step 4: For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line standard muffin pans with 24 cupcake liners. 
 
Step 5: In a small bowl, stir the chocolate chips into the hot espresso until melted; cool in the refrigerator to room temperature.
 
Step 6: Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a bowl. 
 
Step 7: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs, granulated sugar, applesauce, oil and vanilla at medium-high speed for about 2 minutes. Applesauce replaces some of the oil and sugar in these cupcakes to bring moisture and sweetness to the table.
 
Step 8: Beat in the cooled chocolate mixture until the mixture is homogenous. 
 
Step 9: With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated, scraping the sides as necessary. It's ok if the batter is slightly lumpy. 
 
Step 10: Using a 1/4-cup ice cream scoop, fill each cupcake liner with batter.
 
Step 11: Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 18 to 20 minutes. 
 
Step 12: Transfer the pans to cooling racks and cool for about 10 minutes, and then transfer the cupcakes to the racks to cool completely before filling and frosting.
 
 
Step 13: To make the filling: While the cupcakes cool, make the filling. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cream and confectioners' sugar to firm peaks. On low speed, whisk in the espresso. Use immediately, or hold in the refrigerator until ready to assemble.
 
Step 14: To assemble: Use an apple corer or melon baller to remove the center from each cupcake, about three-quarters of the way into the cupcake. 
 
Step 14: Use a pastry bag to pipe some of the espresso cream filling into the centers. 
 
Step 15: Pipe a large rosette of dark chocolate ganache on top of each cupcake.
 



 

German Chocolate Cupcakes

I have been wanting to make these cupcakes for some time, and I was so excited when a friend of mine recently requested them. These classic german chocolate cupcakes are pure joy and deliciously decadent.
 
 
Makes 16 to 18 cupcakes 
 



 

Ingredients:

 

For the cake:

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (66 grams) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup boiling water (118 grams)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs yolks, room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (75 grams) cake flour
  • 2/3 cup (75 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups (300 grams) superfine sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
 

For the coconut pecan topping:

  • 1 cup pecan pieces, broken medium coarse
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk 
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 8 tablespoons (one stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-3/4 cups sweetened coconut
 

For the chocolate frosting:

  • 1⁄2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 2⁄3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1⁄3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
 



 

Instructions:

 
Step 1: For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cupcake pan with paper liners.
 
Step 2: In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk, by hand, the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. To speed cooling, place it in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.
 
Step 3: Add the oil and yolks to the mixer bowl with the cocoa mixture. Attach the whisk beater. Starting on low speed gradually raise the speed to medium and beat for about one minute, or until smooth and shiny, and resembling a buttercream. 
 
Step 4: Scrape down the sides bowl. Beat in the vanilla for a few seconds.
 
Step 5: In a medium bowl, whisk the cake flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 
 
Step 6: Add half of the flour mixture to the chocolate and beat on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture. Raise the speed to medium-high heat for one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bottom of the bowl. The mixture will be very thick. 
 
Step 7: On low speed, add the egg whites. Gradually raise the speed to medium-high heat and beat for two minutes. 
 
Step 8: Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the centers. 
 
Step 9: Remove cupcakes from the oven and allow to cool several minutes in cupcake pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, top each cupcake with 2 tablespoons of the coconut pecan topping (in a mound in the center) then pipe the Chocolate frosting around cupcakes. 
 
Step 10: For the topping: Spread the pecans evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about seven minutes to enhance the flavor. Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid over browning. Set aside.
 
Step 11: In a medium heavy saucepan, whisk together the condensed milk and yolks. 
 
Step 12: Add the butter and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula, reaching well to the edges and bottom. As soon as the mixture starts to simmer, lower the heat or occasionally remove the pan from heat to keep it from cooking too fast or burning. Simmer for about five minutes, or until thickened enough to pool slightly on the surface before disappearing (about 175°F). 
 
Step 13: Stir in the vanilla, coconut, and pecans. Continue cooking on medium heat for 1 minute. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl. Cover with a towel and allow to cool to room temperature, or just barely warm, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. 
 
Step 14: For the frosting: Melt butter, and then stir in cocoa.
 
Step 15: Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add a small amount of additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.
 
 



 

Limoncello Cupcakes with Limoncello Buttercream

Makes 20 cupcakes

 

Ingredients

  •     3/4 cup butter
  •     3 eggs
  •     1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1/4 teaspoon salt
  •     2/3 cup milk
  •     1/4 cup limoncello
  •     1-1/2 cups sugar
  •     1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon peel
  •     1 recipe for Limoncello Buttercream or Limoncello Frosting

Instructions

Step 1: Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, line twenty 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with paper bake cups.

Step 2: In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Step 3: In a 2-cup glass measuring cup combine milk and limoncello; set aside.
Step 4: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Step 5: In a large bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and lemon peel; beat until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add flour mixture and milk mixture to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.

Step 6: Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each about three-fourths full. Use the back of a spoon to smooth out batter in cups.

Step 7: Bake about 18 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Cool cupcakes in muffin cups on wire racks for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from muffin cups. Cool completely on wire racks.

Step 8: Up to 1 hour before serving, generously spread or pipe frosting on each cupcake.

Make-Ahead Directions: Store unfrosted cupcakes in a single layer in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or store unfrosted cupcakes in a single layer in an airtight freezer container in the freezer for up to 1 month. Thaw cupcakes at room temperature before frosting.

Martha Stewart's Tiramisu Cupcakes

Makes 18 cupcakes

Ingredients

For the cupcake:

 

  •     1-1/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
  •     3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  •     1/4 cup milk
  •     1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved (I substituted 1 teaspoon vanilla)
  •     4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
  •     3 large whole eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  •     1 cup sugar
  •     Coffee-Marsala Syrup
  •     1 recipe for Mascarpone Frosting
  •     Unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

 

For the Coffee-Marsala Syrup:

  •     1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly brewed very strong coffee (or espresso)
  •     1 ounce Marsala (you can also use rum, brandy, or Kahlua)
  •     1/4 cup sugar


Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.

Step 2: Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

Step 3: Heat milk and vanilla-bean pod and seeds (or 1 teaspoon vanilla) in a small saucepan over medium heat just until bubbles appear around the edge. Remove from heat.

Step 4: Whisk in butter until melted, and let stand 15 minutes. Strain milk mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl, and discard vanilla-bean pod.

Step 5: With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk together whole eggs, yolks, and sugar. Set mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water, and whisk by hand until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm, about 6 minutes.

Step 6: Remove bowl from heat. With an electric mixer on high speed, whisk until mixture is fluffy, pale yellow, and thick enough to hold a ribbon on the surface for several seconds when whisk is lifted.

Step 7: Gently but thoroughly fold flour mixture into the egg mixture in three batches; stir 1/2 cup batter into the strained milk mixture to thicken, then fold milk mixture into the remaining batter until just combined.

Step 8: Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until centers are completely set and edges are light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

Step 9: For the coffee Marsala Syrup: Stir together coffee, marsala, and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Let cool.

Step 10: To finish, brush tops of cupcakes evenly with coffee-marsala syrup; repeat until all syrup has been used. Allow cupcakes to absorb liquid 30 minutes.

Step 11: Dollop frosting onto cupcakes; refrigerate up to overnight in airtight containers. Dust generously with cocoa powder just before serving.


 

Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting

Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes


Makes 18 to 20 cupcakes


Ingredients

  •     1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  •     3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •     1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  •     6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  •     1-1/3 cups sugar
  •     2/3 cup natural, creamy peanut butter
  •     3 large eggs
  •     1/2 cup sour cream
  •     1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •     3/4 cup coarsely chopped salted roasted peanuts
  •     1 recipe for Peanut Butter Frosting


Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.

Step 2: Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Step 3: With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (cream up to 5 minutes). Reduce speed to low.

Step 4: Mix in peanut butter. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Mix in vanilla.

Step 5: Gradually add flour mixture, beat until just combined. Mix in sour cream and peanuts.

Step 6: Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filing each three-quarters full.

Step 7: Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden and a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 22 minutes.

Step 8: Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.  Once cupcakes are cool, frost tops with peanut butter frosting.  Decorated cupcakes will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 days.

Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes with Italian Meringue Buttercream

Makes 12 cupcakes


Ingredients

  •     2 eggs
  •     2/3 cup sour cream, divided
  •     1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  •     1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  •     1/3 cup of unsalted, unroasted pistachios
  •     1 cup of sugar
  •     2 cups of cake flour
  •     2 teaspoons of ground cardamom
  •     1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  •     1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  •     1/2 teaspoon of salt
  •     1-1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
  •     1 recipe for Italian Meringue Buttercream


Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line cupcake pan with 12 cupcake liners.

Step 2: In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, 3 tablespoons of the sour cream, vanilla, and almond extract, just until lightly combined.

Step 3: In a food processor, process the pistachios with the sugar until finely ground but not to a powder.

Step 4: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, pistachio mixture, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom on low speed for 30 seconds.




Step 5: Add the butter and remaining sour cream. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1-1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Step 6: Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure.

 



Step 7: Place into cupcake papers, and bake for 16-20 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean (no crumbs) in a 350 degree oven. Let cool on a wire rack.


Step 8: Frost with Italian Meringue Buttercream.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Pumpkin or Dark Rum Cream Cheese Frosting

The weather is getting colder, the leaves are changing, and fall is in full swing. If I had to pick one food item that reminds me of fall, it would be pumpkin. And right now pumpkin is everywhere, even in our beer and coffee. I had a craving for pumpkin cupcakes and started thinking about the best pumpkin cake I ever had. Then I realized that I had only had and made a pumpkin cake once in my life -- it was Warren Brown’s pumpkin pound cake recipe, and it was superb.  
 
Warren used to own several bakeries (called CakeLove) in the DC metro area.  I was sorry to hear that the last CakeLove closed in December 2015, however, Warren is still making cakes -  actually he’s now selling cake in a jar. And according to his website, you can buy CakeLove in a jar at Whole Foods.  The next time I'm there, I'll have to remember to look for it. His pumpkin pound cake recipe is seriously to die for and the recipe works perfectly as cupcakes.   The cupcakes are very moist and have loads of pumpkin flavor. They contain the perfect amount of spice, and I absolutely love the hint of rum in both the cake and frosting.

 

Adapted from Cake Love, by Warren Brown

Makes 36 to 38 cupcakes




 


Ingredients

 

  •     3 cups extra-fine granulated sugar
  •     1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  •     2 eggs
  •     4 egg yolks
  •     2-3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  •     1 tablespoon baking powder
  •     1-1/4 teaspoons ground cloves
  •     1/2 teaspoon table salt
  •     1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  •     1 can pure pumpkin (15 oz.)
  •     5 tablespoons heavy cream
  •     1 tablespoon honey
  •     1 tablespoon dark rum, optional
  •     1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  •     1 recipe for Pumpkin or Dark Rum Cream Cheese Frosting



 


Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350˚ F with rack in center.  

Step 2: Cream the sugar and butter together in a stand mixer (with paddle attachment) on low for 5 minutes.

Step 3: Add eggs and yolks one at a time, letting each incorporate before adding the next.

Step 4: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, ground cloves, salt and allspice.


Step 5: Combine pumpkin, cream, honey, rum and vanilla extract.  


Step 6: With mixer still on low, alternately add dry and wet ingredients to butter mixture, beginning and ending with dry.  Scrape the sides of the bowl to the bottom, then mix on medium speed for 20 seconds.

Step 7: Fill paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


Step 8: Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
 
Step 9:  Frost cupcakes with pumpkin or dark rum cream cheese frosting and dust with cinnamon.


 




 

Red Velvet Valentine Cupcakes

Red velvet cake is a southern tradition and since making these cupcakes, I've discovered that it is a favorite among many people, especially my Aunt Phil. I find the addition of vinegar in the recipe a little weird, and have always wondered why it's needed. I decided to go straight to the guru on all things about cakes - Rose Levy Beranbaum.  Rose explains the reason for the vinegar in red velvet cake in her book, "Rose's Heavenly Cakes."  This is an awesome cookbook and I would highly recommend buying it if you love to bake.  


Vinegar, as we all know, is highly acidic. The white vinegar raises the acidity of the batter, and its addition intensifies the red color of the cocoa and of the cake.  The buttermilk in the cake is also highly acidic - but its acidity is counteracted by the addition of baking soda (i.e. sodium bicarbonate).  Rose adds that you can omit the vinegar if you substitute baking powder for the baking soda.  Baking powder is a mixture of dry acid or acid salts (potassium bitartrate) and baking soda, with cornstarch or flour. The acidity from both the buttermilk and baking powder makes adding the vinegar unnecessary. The recipe below is your basic red velvet cake recipe using the vinegar. I plan to try Rose's recipe (without the vinegar) sometime and you should too.

Makes 18 to 20 cupcakes.

Ingredients

  •     1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
  •     1 cup buttermilk
  •     2 large eggs, room temperature
  •     2 tablespoon red food coloring
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •     1 teaspoon white vinegar
  •     2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  •     1-1/2 cups of sugar
  •     2 tablespoons dutch-processed cocoa powder
  •     1 teaspoon baking soda
  •     1 teaspoon salt
  •     1 recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting

 

Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners

Step 2: In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

Step 3: In mixing bowl of electric mixer, beat oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until smooth and well blended.  

Step 4: Scoop into cupcake papers, about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Rotate the pan after the first 15 minutes of baking to ensure even baking.

Step 5: Allow to cool for one minute in the pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Step 6:  Frost with cream cheese frosting.
 

Salted Caramel Cupcakes with Chocolate Toffee Crumble

I have been obsessed with salted caramel cupcakes and have tried many iterations of the basic salted caramel cupcake recipe. First, I tried using Rose Levy Berambaum's recipe for caramel cake and frosting it with a salted caramel Italian meringue buttercream. The cupcake was delicious (as expected since it was a Rose Levy Berambaum recipe) but the entire cupcake combination didn’t quite have the potent salted caramel flavor  that I wanted. Next I found a triple salted caramel cupcake recipe on sprinklebakes.com. It had gooey salted caramel oozing out of the middle, and after I slightly adapted the buttercream recipe to my taste (I prefer an Italian, French or Swiss buttercream rather than an American buttercream), I thought it was exactly what I was looking for in a salted caramel cupcake until I found the recipe below. This cupcake apparently won on Cupcake Wars in 2012 and I can certainly understand why and agree with the judges.

The original recipe called for a pecan coconut brittle crumble and the first time I made these, I made the crumble as instructed and sprinkled a dusting on each cupcake.  Many of my friends didn't like the coconut in brittle  and to be honest I wasn't crazy about it either -- so the next time I made them I used a homemade chocolate toffee crumble.  The chocolate toffee crumble woked perfectly with the flavor profile of the cupcake and it put this cupcake over the top for me.  It's my new favorite salted caramel cupcake.

 

Adapted from the Food Network's Salted Caramel Cupcakes with Pecan Coconut Brittle Crumble and Caramel Swiss Buttercream

Makes 24 cupcakes




 

Ingredients

 

For the Homemade Salted Caramel:

  • 1-2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt

 

For the Chocolate Toffee Candy Bar:

  • 1-1/2 cups slivered almonds 
  • 1-1/2 cups butter (3 sticks)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1-1/2 to 2 bags chocolate chips (preferably 60% bittersweet chips)
  • 1/3 cup almonds

 

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
 

For the Caramel Italian Meringue Buttercream:

  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup homemade salted caramel
 



 

Instructions:

 
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two standard muffin pans with 24 cupcake liners.
 
Step 2: For the salted caramel: Combine the sugar, 1/3 cup water and the corn syrup in a small saucepan. Stir with a wooden spoon and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer, swirling the pot occasionally, until the mixture is a beautiful amber color (watch closely). 
 
Step 3: Once the desired color is reached, immediately add the butter and stir with a wooden spoon until completely incorporated. 
 
Step 4: Remove from the heat. Add the heavy cream and stir to incorporate. Stir in the coarse salt. 
 
Step 5: Pour 1/2 cup of the salted caramel into a small bowl or measuring cup, and the remainder into another bowl. Cool completely, stirring occasionally. 
 
Step 6: For the chocolate toffee: Toast 1-1/2 cups slivered almonds for about 10 minutes in a 425 degree oven until lightly browned (watch carefully; it can burn quickly). Place in a bowl.
 
Step 7:  Place the remaining 1/3 cup almonds in a blender and blend/grate to a fine consistency; set aside. 
 
Step 8: In fairly deep soup pot, combine the butter, sugar, salt, and water. Cook, stirring with a long-handled spoon on medium high heat. When temperature reaches 140 degrees C, add toasted almonds. Continue cooking and stirring. 
 
Step 9: When temperature reaches 150-154 degrees C, pour out quickly on to lightly oiled cookie sheets (2 small or 1 very large) and spread thin with the back of the spoon. When cool spread with melted chocolate chips and sprinkle with ground almonds. When cold, break into pieces.
 
Step 10: For the cupcakes: In a medium bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder and kosher salt and set aside. 
 
Step 11: Combine the milk and vanilla and set aside. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. 
 
Step 12: Once incorporated, add the eggs, one at a time, at low speed. Be sure to incorporate after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Do not over beat. 
 
Step 13: Once incorporated, add the flour mixture and the milk mixture. Alternate with three parts flour and two parts milk, being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary (we don't want any butter chunks stuck to the bottom). Using a 1/4-cup ice cream scoop, fill each cupcake liner with batter.
 
Step 14: Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer the pans to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, and then transfer the cupcakes to the racks to cool completely before filling and frosting.
 
Step 15: While the cupcakes are baking, make the buttercream: Separate the egg whites and place them in the bowl of the standing mixer fitted with a wire whip attachment.
   
Step 16 Measure 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup water into a heavy bottom 1-2 quart sauce pan. Gently stir to combine. 
   
Step 17: Measure 1/4 cup of sugar into a small bowl and set aside. cut the butter into tablespoon size pieces and set aside in a medium bowl. 
   
Step 18: Begin heating the sugar syrup. Place the pot with sugar over medium-high heat. Partially cover with a lid to capture the evaporating water - this will help moisten the sides of the pot to prevent sugar crystals separating from the syrup.
   
Step 19: Begin whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks in a standing mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment on high speed. When the meringue is at stiff peaks, keep the mixer running and pour 1/4 cup sugar into the meringue.
 
Step 20: Test the temperature of the sugar with a candy thermometer. Raise the heat to bring the syrup to 248 degrees Fahrenheit if it is not there already. When the  syrup is at 248 degrees F, remove the thermometer and slowly pour the syrup into the meringue. 
 
Step 21: When pouring, keep your eye on the bowl. Aim for the space between the mixer bowl and the revolving whip. To maintain the same rate of pouring, poor slowly and raise the pot from your shoulder.
 
Step 22: To assemble: Use a small serrated knife, core each cupcake about 1-1/4 inches wide at the top and halfway into the cake. Fill each with about 1 tablespoon of the remaining salted caramel. 
 
Step 23: Frost each cupcake with a generous amount of caramel buttercream and garnish with crumbled pecan coconut brittle. 
 



 

Salted Caramel Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

Makes 12 cupcakes
 

Ingredients

 

For the caramel for the batter:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature

 

For the cupcakes:

  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup caramel for the batter
  • 1 recipe for salted caramel buttercream frosting
 

Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the caramel filling: Melt the sugar and salt over medium high heat in a large pot. Whisk the sugar as it melts and cook until it becomes a deep amber color. 
 
  
 
Step 2: Add the butter and stir it in until melted.
 
 
Step 3: Carefully, pour in the heavy cream (it will sputter and foam, so step back a bit), whisk until you get a smooth sauce. You may have some lumps but keep stirring until they have melted. Remove from heat and let cool. You should have close to 2 cups.  You will need 1 cup of caramel for your batter.  Use the remaining caramel to make your buttercream frosting.
 
 
Step 4: To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line at least 12 muffin tins with papers. 
 
Step 5: In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and vanilla until lightly combined.
 
Step 6: In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix on low speed using the flat beater for 30 seconds.
 
Step 7: Add the butter and 1 cup of the cooled caramel. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1-1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
 
Step 8: Starting on low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. 
 
Step 9: Divide the batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about halfway full. Bake for about 20- 25 minutes (the tops should spring back from a gentle touch.) When done, transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.
 
 
Step 10: Pipe salted caramel buttercream frosting on cupcakes.

Triple Coconut Cupcakes filled with a Rum-Infused Coconut Custard

When I find a recipe that I want to make, my general rule of thumb is to follow the recipe exactly the first time. Then, I usually think about what I liked and didn’t like and ways to perfect the recipe.  
 
The coconut cake recipe below is by Rose Levy Beranbaum, who is the ultimate cake guru. And that's not just my opinion, that's a fact.  I have never found one of her cake recipes that wasn’t perfect. What I like most about Rose’s recipes is that she uses the “reverse creaming method” for most, if not all of her cakes. In the reverse-creaming method, you mix all the dry ingredients and the sugar together first.  Next you mix the fats (e.g., butter) and a portion of the liquids into the dry ingredients followed by the remaining liquids. For me, this method is so easy and produces a perfect cake crumb every time. 
 
The first time I made a coconut cupcake, I used Rose’s heavenly coconut seduction cake recipe and frosted the cupcakes with a coconut Italian meringue buttercream.  In my opinion, while the cake part of the cupcake was perfect, the overall taste of the cupcake and frosting left me wanting —the coconut flavor was just so underwhelming. So I started thinking about how I could jazz it up. Then it hit me like a ton a bricks — the answer was simple — I could fill the cupcakes with a rum-infused coconut custard. 
 
These cupcakes are sweet, moist, and luscious. The tender crumb of the cupcake is loaded with a triple blast of coconut flavor  - shredded unsweetened coconut, cream of coconut, and coconut extract. They are filled with a rum-infused coconut custard and then topped with a tropical coconut buttercream and finished off with a nice nutty crunch of shredded toasted sweetened coconut. These are not your ordinary run-of-the-mill coconut cupcakes. It is the ultimate coconut cupcake.  
 
Coconut cake recipe adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum, Rose's Heavenly Cakes 
Rum-infused coconut custard recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan Baking: From My Home to Yours 
 
 
Makes 12 cupcakes
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the cupcakes:

  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup canned cream of coconut, divided (processed in food processor before measuring)
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/2 cup minus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar 
  • 1/2 cup desiccated unsweetened grated coconut
  • 2 cups cake flour, sifted into the cup and leveled off 
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick)

 

For the rum-infused coconut custard:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-1/2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

 

For the coconut buttercream:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons coconut extract
  • 1/2 cup of cream of coconut
  • Lightly toasted coconut for adding to the top of the buttercream
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line 12 cupcake tins with cupcake papers
 
Step 2: In a medium bowl whisk the egg whites, 3 tablespoons of the cream of coconut, the vanilla, and the coconut extract just until lightly combined.
 
Step 3: In a food processor, process the sugar and coconut until the coconut is powder fine.
 
Step 4: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the coconut-sugar mixture, flour, baking powder, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and remaining cream of coconut. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1-1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides. 
 
Step 5: Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg white mixture in two batches, beating for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the surface evenly.
 
Step 6: Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about three quarters full. Bake for about 20- 25 minutes (the tops should spring back from a gentle touch.) When done, transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.
 
Step 7: Toast coconut at 350 degrees until lightly toasted.  
 
Step 8: To make the custard: Bring the milk to a soft boil. 
 
Step 9: In a large saucepan whisk together the sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch and salt until well combined. While constantly whisking, pour 1/4 of the milk into the egg mixture. Continuing to whisk, slowly pour the remaining milk into the eggs. While still whisking, heat the mixture over medium heat until it begins to boil; let boil for up to 2 minutes, until it thickens. 
 
Step 10: Mix in the rum and vanilla. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Then add the bits of butter. This should make the custard very smooth. Stir in the coconut. Cover with plastic wrap pressed against the custard and cool in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. You can also store the custard overnight until ready to use.
 
Step 11: To make the coconut buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip butter on medium-high speed until very fluffy, about 8 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add powdered sugar and salt, and beat on low to incorporate.
 
Step 12: Add heavy cream, coconut extract, and cream of coconut, mixing on low until combined. Increase mixer speed to high and beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 to 6 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
 
Step 13: To assemble the cupcakes: Remove the middle of the cupcake using a cupcake corer. Fill the center with the coconut custard filling. Top with coconut buttercream and sprinkle with toasted shredded coconut. 
 
 
 



 

Triple Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Adapted from Sprinkle Bakes (http://www.sprinklebakes.com/)

Makes 15 cupcakes
 




Ingredients

 

For the cupcakes:

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt 
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar 
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
 

For the salted caramel filling:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter cubed
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: For the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin tins with papers.
 
Step 2: Combine flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
 
Step 3: Cream butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until pale fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated.  Add vanilla.  Mix and scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
 
Step 4: Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each.
 
Step 5: Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about halfway full.  Bake for about 25 minutes. When done, transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.
 
Step 6: For the salted caramel filling: Melt the sugar over medium  high heat in a large pot.  Whisk the sugar as it melts and cook until it becomes a deep amber color. Add the butter and stir it in until melted.
 
Step 7: Pour in the heavy cream (mixture will foam so step back) and whisk until you get a smooth sauce. You may have some lumps but keep stirring until they have melted.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  
 
Step 8: To assemble the cupcakes: Cut a small round piece out of the tops of each cooled cupcake and pour in 1 teaspoon of caramel.
 
 
Step 9:  Replace the cake piece and set cupcakes aside. Top caramel-filled cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream.
 
 
 




Vanilla Cupcakes with White Chocolate Vanilla Buttercream

My friend, Jeannette, asked me to make a very vanilla white cupcake for her community's annual Valentine's Day cupcake bake sale.  I knew instantly that I wanted to make these because they are truly killer vanilla cupcakes with probably the best white chocolate vanilla buttercream I've ever had. If you are vanila cupcake lover, then this cucpake is definitely the one for you.  
 
Vanilla cupcake recipe adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's white velvet butter cake found in Rose's Heavenly Cakes; white chocolate vanilla buttercream adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction 
 
Makes 16 cupcakes
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the vanilla cupcakes:

  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature (3.2 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup milk (5.6 ounces), divided
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (7 ounces) cake flour, sifted into cup and leveled
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2-1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened (65° to 75°F)

 

For the white chocolate vanilla buttercream:

  • 6 ounces white chocolate, melted and slightly cooled (use a good quality white chocolate like Callebaut or Ghirardelli)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
 
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: For the vanilla cupcakes: Set 16 cupcake liners in cupcakes pans.
 
Step 2: Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
 
Step 3: In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites, 3 tablespoons of the milk, and the vanilla just until lightly combined.
 
Step 4: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds.  Add the butter and the remaining milk and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1-1/2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
 
Step 5: Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Use a number 30 ice cream scoop or a spoon to place the batter into the prepared cupcake liners, smoothing the surfaces evenly with a small metal spatula.  The liners will be about three-quarters full.
 
Step 6: Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a wire cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean and the cupcakes spring back when pressed lightly in the centers.
 
Step 7: Let the cupcakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove them from the pans and set them on a wire rack.  Cool completely. 
 
Step 8: For the white chocolate vanilla buttercream: In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed for 1 minute. 
 
Step 9: Starting on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar until combined. Continue beating for 1 to 2 minutes.
 
Step 10: Add the cooled white chocolate to the creamed butter and sugar. Beat for 2 to 4 minutes on medium speed until combined and creamy. Add the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat for 2 to 4 minutes until combined. 
 
Step 11: Pipe buttercream on each cupcake.
 
 



 

White Velvet Butter Cupcakes with Raspberry or Strawberry Buttercream

Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes

Makes 14 to 16 cupcakes


Ingredients

  •     3 large egg whites, at room temperature (3.2 ounces)
  •     2/3 cup milk (5.6 ounces), divided
  •     1-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •     2 cups (7 ounces) cake flour, sifted into cup and leveled
  •     1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
  •     2-1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 tsp baking powder
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •     8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened (65° to 75°F)
  •     1 recipe for Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

 

Instructions


Step 1: Set 15 cupcake liners in cupcakes pans.

Step 2: Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.

Step 3: In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites, 3 tablespoons of the milk, and the vanilla just until lightly combined.

 

Step 4: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds.  Add the butter and the remaining milk and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1-1/2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Step 5: Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Use a number 30 ice cream scoop or a spoon to place the batter into the prepared cupcake liners, smoothing the surfaces evenly with a small metal spatula.  The liners will be about three-quarters full.

Step 6: Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a wire cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean and the cupcakes spring back when pressed lightly in the centers.

Step 7: Let the cupcakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove them from the pans and set them on a wire rack.  Cool completely. Ice with Raspberry or Strawberry Buttercream Frosting.

White velvet butter cupcakes with raspberry buttercream

     

White velvet butter cupcakes with strawberry buttercream

Woody's Lemon Luxury Cupcakes

Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum Rose's Heavenly Cakes
 
Makes 24 to 26 cupcakes
 

Ingredients

 

For the cupcakes:

  • 6 ounces white chocolate containing cocoa butter, chopped
  • 6 large egg yolks (1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons egg yolks), at room temperature
  • 1 cup milk, divided
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups (10.5 ounces) cake flour, sifted into the cup and leveled off
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons (8-1/2 ounces) superfine sugar
  • 4-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
 

For the lemon curd:

  • 3 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 7 large egg yolks (1/2 cup egg yolks), at room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
 

Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the lemon curd: Place lemon zest in a medium bowl and place a fine-mesh strainer over bowl.
 
Step 2: In a saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk yolks, sugar and butter until well-blended. Whisk in lemon juice and salt, stirring constantly with a silicon spatula (and scraping sides of pan) until mixture thickly coats spatula but is still liquid enough to pour; do not allow mixture to come to a boil or it will curdle. Whenever steam appears, remove pan briefly from heat, stirring constantly, to prevent mixture from boiling.
 
Step 3: When curd is thick enough that it will pool quickly when a little is dropped on a surface, pour it through prepared strainer. Stir gently to mix zest into curd and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
 
Step 4: Divide curd into 2 containers: 6 tablespoons for buttercream, the remainder for filling and topping. Cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 weeks.
 
Step 5:  To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and adjust oven rack to lower third of oven. Line 24 cupcake tins with cupcake liners.
 
Step 6: In a microwave oven (or a double boiler over hot but not simmering water), heat white chocolate until almost completely melted. Remove from heat and, with a silicon spatula, stir until fully melted. Allow to cool until no longer warm to the touch but still fluid.
 
Step 7: In a medium bowl, whisk together yolks, 1/3 cup of milk and vanilla extract and reserve.
 
Step 8: In a bowl of a mixer on low speed, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest for 30 seconds. Cake flour (or low protein flour) makes your cake very tender.  For a slightly denser texture, you can use 1-1/2 cups cake flour and 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour.
 
Step 9: Add butter and remaining 2/3 cup milk and mix until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase speed to medium and beat 90 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl.
 
Step 10: Reduce speed to medium-low and gradually add egg mixture to batter in three parts, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl. 
 
Step 11: Add melted white chocolate and mix until fully incorporated. 
 
Step 12: Divide batter evenly among line cups (fill about 1/2 to 3/4 full).
 
Step 13: Bake until golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes (a wire cake tester inserted in center should come out clean, and tops of cakes should spring back lightly when pressed in centers). 
 
Step 14: Remove from oven and transfer pans to a wire rack for 10 minutes. Cool completely.
 
Step 15: To assemble the cupcakes: When cupcakes are cool, cut an upside down cone shape out of the top of your cupcake. Add you lemon curd filling to a pastry bag and squeeze filling in the cupcake using a plain round pastry tip. Place cone top back on cupcake and frost with lemon buttercream.
 
    
 
 

Frostings and Fillings




 

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

 

 
 




Ingredients

  • 2 stick butter, at room temperature
  • 2 – 8 ounce block cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder

 





Instructions

 
Step 1: Blend the cream cheese and the butter until well blended and smooth.  
 
Step 2: Add the vanilla and mix.  
 
Step 3: Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and mix on low speed until smooth.




Chocolate Ganache

 





Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean (optional)
  • 10 ounces chocolate (60% bittersweet)
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Pour heavy cream into a heavy bottom 1 quart pot. If you choose, add the vanilla bean to the heavy cream.  
 
Step 2: Chop the chocolate into small chunks. Place chocolate into a bowl.
 
Step 2: Begin heating the heavy cream. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. 
 
Step 3: At full simmer pour heated heavy cream over the chocolate. All the heat from the heavy cream will melt the chocolate in 1-2 minutes. 
 
Step 4: Gently whisk chocolate and heavy cream mixture until combined, dark in color, and has a nice shine. Cool slightly before using.




Chocolate Icing





Ingredients

  •     3/4 cup butter
  •     1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  •     4 cups confectioners' sugar
  •     1/2 cup hot milk
  •     2 tsp vanilla extract





Instructions

Step 1: In a small saucepan over low heat melt butter, add cocoa, stirring constantly until smooth and slightly thickened. Remove from heat; set aside to cool slightly. 

Step 2: In large mixing bowl combine confectioners' sugar and milk; beat until smooth.

Step 3: Add chocolate mixture and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until smooth and slightly thickened, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Step 4: Cool at room temperature to spreading consistency, about 1/2 hour.
 





Coconut Buttercream






Ingredients

  •     4 large egg whites
  •     1 cup granulated sugar
  •     pinch table salt
  •     1 pound unsalted butter (4 sticks), each stick cut into 6 pieces, softened, but still cool
  •     1/4 cup cream of coconut
  •     1 teaspoon coconut extract
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 





Instructions

Step 1: Combine whites, sugar, and salt in bowl of standing mixer; set bowl over saucepan containing 1 1/2-inches of barely simmering water. Whisk constantly until mixture is opaque and warm to the touch and registers about 120 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 2 minutes.



Step 2: Transfer bowl to mixer and beat whites on high speed with whisk attachment until barely warm (about 80 degrees) and whites are glossy and sticky, about 7 minutes.

 

Step 3: Reduce speed to medium-high and beat in butter 1 piece at a time.

 

Step 4: Beat in cream of coconut and coconut and vanilla extracts. Stop mixer and scrape bottom and sides of bowl. Continue to beat at medium-high speed until well-combined, about 1 minute.





Cream Cheese Frosting





Ingredients

 

  •     1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  •     8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  •     1 pound (1 box)  powdered sugar
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla extract




Instructions


Step 1: Cream butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes.

Step 2: Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to ensure even mixing. Add the vanilla extract and mix.  Add the powdered sugar, continually taste to get to desired sweetness.





Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting

Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
 

Makes about 3 cups





Ingredients

  •     6 ounces cream cheese
  •     1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •     1 cup creamy peanut butter (not natural)
  •     1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •     1/2 cup heavy cream





Instructions


Step 1: Beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar with a mixer on medium speed.

Step 2: Add salt, then peanut butter, then vanilla.

Step 3: Whisk cream until soft peaks form, and then fold into peanut butter mixture.

Step 4: Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth before using.





Dark Rum Buttercream (by Warren Brown)





Ingredients

  •     1-1/4 cups extra-fine granulated sugar
  •     1/4 cup water
  •     5 egg whites
  •     4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces, room temperature
  •     2 tablespoons dark rum
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •     1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

 





Instructions


Step 1: In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 cup extra-fine granulated sugar with ¼ cup water.  Bring to a boil until temperature reaches 245º F. 

Step 2: While sugar mixture is boiling, whip egg whites in an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Whip in ¼ cup extra-fine sugar.

Step 3: When syrup reaches correct temperature, slowly pour into meringue in a steady stream with mixer on high. Continue beating until the outside of the bowl reaches room temperature and mixture is thick and glossy, about 10-12 minutes.

Step 4: Beat in butter pieces, one tablespoon at a time. 

Step 5: Mix in rum, vanilla and cinnamon. 

 





Double Chocolate Frosting

Makes about 5 cups
 




Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 pound best-quality semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Combine cocoa and the boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved. 
 
Step 2: With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. 
 
Step 3: Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the cocoa mixture and vanilla.




Hershey's Cocoa Chocolate Frosting





Makes 2 cups


Ingredients

 

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
  • 2/3 cup cocoa
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract





Instructions


Step 1: Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.

Step 2: Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.





Italian Meringue Buttercream





Ingredients

  •     5 egg whites (large)
  •     1-1/4 cup extra-fine granulated sugar
  •     1/4 cup water
  •     1 pound unsalted butter (room temperature)





Instructions


Step 1: Separate the egg whites and place them in the bowl of the standing mixer fitted with a wire whip attachment.
   
Step 2: Measure 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup water into a heavy bottom 1-2 quart sauce pan. Gently stir to combine. 
   
Step 3: Measure 1/4 cup of sugar into a small bowl and set aside. cut the butter into tablespoon size pieces and set aside in a medium bowl. 
   
Step 4: Begin heating the sugar syrup. Place the pot with sugar over medium-high heat. Partially cover with a lid to capture the evaporating water - this will help moisten the sides of the pot to prevent sugar crystals separating from the syrup.
   
Step 5: Begin whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks in a standing mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment on high speed. When the meringue is at stiff peaks, keep the mixer running and pour 1/4 cup sugar into the meringue.

Step 6: Test the temperature of the sugar with a candy thermometer. Raise the heat to bring the syrup to 248 degrees Fahrenheit if it is not there already. When the  syrup is at 248 degrees F, remove the thermometer and slowly pour the syrup into the meringue. 

Step 7: When pouring, keep your eye on the bowl. Aim for the space between the mixer bowl and the revolving whip. To maintain the same rate of pouring, poor slowly and raise the pot from your shoulder.


   
Step 8: After 1-2 minutes, reduce the speed to medium for about 3-4 minutes or until the meringue is cooled.
   
Step 9: Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. Raise the speed to high to fully combine the butter with the meringue. This may take a little time so be patient and keep beating until your buttercream is light and fluffy.



Step 10: Add a flavoring of your choice and mix well - see examples below:

For Vaniila Buttercream - add 1 to 2 tsp pure vanilla extract or the seeds of 1 vanilla bean

For Raspberry Buttercream - add 1/4 cup of raspberry puree

For Chocolate Buttercream - add 1/2 cup melted cooled chocolate

For Amaretto Buttercream - add 2-4 tablespoons of amaretto depending on your preference

For Strawberry Buttercream - add 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, pureed in a food processor

For Salted Caramel Buttercream - add 1/2 cup of salted caramel sauce

For Dulce de Leche Buttercream - add 1/2 cup of dulce de leche 

For Coconut Buttercream - add 1/4 to 1/2 cup cream of coconut and 1 teaspoon of coconut extract

 For Lemon Buttercream - add 1/2 cup lemon curd and 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

 

 





Lemon Buttercream (for Dorie's Perfect Party Cake)





Ingredients

  •     1 cup sugar
  •     4 large egg whites
  •     3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
  •     1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  •     1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 





Instructions

Step 1: Combine the sugar and egg whites in a medium heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water.

Step 2: Whisk the sugar mixture constantly over heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture looks smooth and shiny, about 3 minutes. Remove mixture from heat and pour into a stand mixer bowl. Whisk on medium speed for about 5 minutes until the mixture has cooled.

Step 3: Switch to the paddle attachment and with the speed on low, add the butter a few pieces at a time, beating until smooth. When all the butter has been added, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed for about 6-10 minutes until it is very thick and smooth. Add in the lemon juice and beat until combined. Add in the vanilla.

The buttercream is ready to be used. Place a piece of plastic wrap against the surface until you are ready to use it to prevent it from drying out.





Lemon Buttercream Frosting





Ingredients

  •     1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  •     1 pound powdered sugar
  •     1/2 teaspoon lemon rind
  •     dash salt
  •     3 tablespoons lemon juice
  •     1 tablespoon milk





Instructions


Step 1: Beat butter until soft in a medium-sized bowl.

Step 2: Beat in powdered sugar alternately with lemon rind, salt, lemon juice, and milk.

Step 3: Continue beating until smooth and spreadable.





Limoncello Buttercream





Ingredients

  •     1 cup sugar
  •     4 large egg whites
  •     3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
  •     1/4 cup limoncello
  •     1 to 2 teaspoons lemon extract




Instructions


Step 1: Combine the sugar and egg whites in a medium heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water.

Step 2: Whisk the sugar mixture constantly over heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture looks smooth and shiny, about 3 minutes.

Step 3: Remove mixture from heat and pour into a stand mixer bowl. Whisk on medium speed for about 5 minutes until the mixture has cooled and stiff peaks have formed.

Step 4: Switch to the paddle attachment and with the speed on low, add the butter a few pieces at a time, beating until smooth.

Step 5: When all the butter has been added, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed for about 6-10 minutes until it is very thick and smooth. Add in the limoncello and beat until combined. Add in the lemon extract. Place a piece of plastic wrap against the surface until you are ready to use it to prevent it from drying out.





Limoncello Frosting

Makes 2-1/3 cups frosting





Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoon of lemon extract
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons limoncello




Instructions


Step 1: Allow 1/3 cup butter to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Step 2: In a large mixing bowl beat butter, 1/3 cup shortening, and 1 teaspoon vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds.

Step 3: Slowly add 2 cups powdered sugar, beating well. Add 2 tablespoons limoncello and 2 teaspoons of lemon extract.

Step 4 Gradually beat in 2 cups additional powdered sugar.

Step 5: Beat in 1 to 2 tablespoons limoncello, 1 teaspoon at a time, until frosting reaches a spreading consistency.





Mascarpone Frosting

Makes about 2 cups

 





Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

 





Instructions

 
Step 1: With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk heavy cream until stiff peaks form (be careful not to over beat, or cream will be grainy). 
 
Step 2: In another bowl, whisk together mascarpone and confectioners' sugar until smooth. 
 
Step 3: Gently fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated. Use immediately.




Pumpkin or Dark Rum Cream Cheese Frosting






Ingredients

  •     1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  •     1/2 cup butter, softenen
  •     4 cups confectioners' sugar





Instructions


Step 1: In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy.

Step 2: For pumpkin cream cheese frosting: Add1/2 cup pumpkin and then confectioners’ sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon cinnamon; beat until smooth.  For dark rum cream cheese frosting: Add  confectioners' sugar and then 2 to 3 tablespoons dark rum and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat until smooth.





Raspberry Buttercream

Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes


Makes 2 cups






Ingredients

 

  •     3 large egg yolks, or 3-1/2 tablespoons
  •     1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  •     1/4 cup (2 fluid ounces) golden syrup or light corn syrup
  •     1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  •     16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  •     1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  •     1/3 cup seedless raspberry or strawberry preserves (alternatively, you can use 1/2 cup of fresh raspberries or strawberries, pureed in a food processor)

 





Instructions


Step 1: To beat the egg yolks: Have ready a 1-cup heatproof glass measure, lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray.

Step 2: In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the yolks until light in color.

Step 3: Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, preferably nonstick, combine the sugar, golden syrup, and lemon juice.

Step 4: Using a silicone spatula, stir until all the sugar is moistened. Heat over medium-high, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup begins to boil around the edges. Stop stirring and continue cooking for a few minutes, until the syrup comes to a rolling boil. (The entire surface will be covered with large bubbles.) Immediately transfer the syrup to the glass measure to stop the cooking.

Step 5: To complete the buttercream: If using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, with the mixer turned off, pour a small amount of syrup over the yolks. Immediately beat on high speed for 5 seconds. Stop the mixer and add a larger amount of syrup. Beat on high speed for 5 seconds. Continue with the remaining syrup. For the last addition, use a silicone spatula to remove the syrup clinging to the glass measure and scrape it off against the beater. Continue beating for 5 minutes.

Step 6: Allow to cool completely. To speed cooling, place the bowl in an ice water bath or in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally.

Step 7: When cool, beat in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time on medium speed. The buttercream will not thicken until almost all of the butter has been added.

Step 8: Add the vanilla and raspberry preserves, if using, and beat on low speed until incorporated.  Place the buttercream in an airtight bowl. Use it at once (it will have a slight crunch until it stands for several hours) or up to 4 hours later. If you are keeping it longer, refrigerate it and bring it to room temperature before using. To restore its texture, rebeat it, but not until it has reached room temperature, in order to avoid curdling





Royal Icing

Recipe adapted from JoyofBaking.com

 
Makes about 3 cups
 




Ingredients

 

To make royal icing using egg whites:

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
 

To make royal icing using meringue powder:

  • 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 
  • 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup warm water
 




Instructions

 

For the royal icing using egg whites:

 
Step 1: In the bowl of your mixer, beat the egg whites with the lemon juice. 
 
Step 2 Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth.
 
Step 3: Mix in food coloring, if desired. 
 

For the royal icing using meringue powder:

 
Step 1: In the bowl of your mixer, beat the confectioners' sugar and meringue powder until combined.  
 
Step 2: Add the water and beat on medium to high speed until very glossy and stiff peaks form (5 to 7 minutes). If necessary, to get the right consistency, add more powdered sugar or water. 
 
Step 3: Mix in food coloring, if desired. 
 

Icing Tips:

 
To cover or 'flood' the entire surface of the cookie with icing, the proper consistency is when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface of the icing for a few seconds before disappearing.
 
The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.
 




Salted Caramel Buttercream

 





Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons of salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: In a saucepan, stir together granulated sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cook without stirring until mixture turns a deep amber color (if you notice that one area of the sugar is cooking faster than the rest, gently swirl the pan by using the handle).
 
Stpe 2: Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring until very smooth. Let caramel cool for about 20 minutes, until it is just barely warm and still pourable.
 
Step 3: In a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butters and salt together until lightened and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar. Mix until thoroughly combined.
 
Step 4: Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel. Beat on medium high speed until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2 minutes). Mixture should be ready to use without refrigeration. If your caramel was too hot when added, it will cause your icing to be runny. If this happens refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.




Pies and Tarts





9-inch Single Pie Crust

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours

 



 

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) very cold (frozen is fine) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons very cold (frozen is even better) vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
  • About 1/4 cup ice water
 



 

Instructions:

 
Step 1: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt.
 
Step 2: Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas.
 
Step 3: Add the water and mix with a fork or pastry blender until the dough pulls together. 
 
Step 4: Wrap in plastic wrap, place in the refrigerator and let rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
 
Step 5: To roll out the dough: Have a buttered 9-inch pie plate at hand. You can roll the dough out on a floured surface. Turn the dough over frequently and keep the counter floured. 
 
Step 6: Fit the dough into the pie plate and, using a pair of scissors, cut the excess dough to a 1/4- to 1/2-inch overhang. Fold the dough under itself, so that it hangs over the edge just a tad, and flute or pinch the crust to make a decorative edge. Alternatively, you can finish the crust by pressing it with the tines of a fork.
 
Step 7: To partially or fully bake: Refrigerate the crust while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  If you have time, freeze the crust. This will prevent your crust from shrinking as it cooks.
 
Step 8: Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil, fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust and fill with dried beans or rice or pie weights. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake for 25 mins. Carefully remove the foil and weights and, if the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. 
 
Step 9:  For a partially baked crust, return the pie plate to the oven and bake for about 8 minutes more, or until the crust is very lightly colored. 
 
Step 10: To fully bake the crust, bake until golden brown, about another 10 minutes. Transfer the pie plate to a rack and cool to room temperature before filling.



 

Apple Tarts

Adapted from Gourmet, October 2001






Ingredients

 

  •     2 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and halved
  •     1/2 cup water
  •     1/2 cup sugar
  •     2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  •     2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  •     1 frozen puff pastry sheet (from a 17 1/4-oz package), thawed
  •     Cut apple halves crosswise into 1/16-inch-thick slices and transfer to a bowl.

 





Instructions


Step 1: Bring water, sugar, lemon juice, and butter to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then pour over apples. Turn apples until slightly wilted, then drain in a colander set over a bowl, reserving liquid.
 

Step 2: Preheat oven to 425°F.

Step 3: Roll out pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface into a 121/2-inch square and cut out 4 (6-inch) rounds.

Step 4: Transfer rounds to a lightly buttered baking sheet and top with overlapping apple slices.


 
Step 5: Bake in middle of oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Step 6: Boil reserved liquid in saucepan until reduced to about 1/3 cup, then brush on baked tart.
 





Beth Whisler's Perfect Key Lime Pie





Ingredients:

 

For the Crust:

  • 2 sleeves of graham crackers pulsed in food processor (3 cups)
  • 1/2 cup butter melted
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • 1/2 cup white sugar

 

For the Filling:

  • 3 cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1-1/2 cups key lime or lime juice (can be freshly squeezed but must be strained for pulp)
  • 4 eggs
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
 
Step 2: For the crust:  Mix the crushed graham crackers, 1/2 cup melted butter, cinnamon and sugar together and press onto bottom and sides of 9-inch spring form pan.
 
Step 3: Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes
 
Step 4: After removing crust from the oven, turn oven temperature down to 325 degrees.
 
Step 5: For the filling:  Whisk lime juice, eggs and sweetened condensed milk together. 
 
Step 6: Pour into hot crust and bake 25-35 minutes until center is set - it may be a little jiggly.





Blackberry Pie





Ingredients

  •     2-1/2 pints fresh blackberries
  •     1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  •     1 cup of sugar
  •     1/2 cup all purpose flour
  •     1/4 teaspoon salt
  •     Coarsely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  •     1/4 cup dry bread crumbs or crushed graham crackers
  •     1 large egg, beaten
  •     1 tablespoon water
  •     Raw Sugar, for dusting
  •     9-inch double pie crust




Instructions


Step 1: Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Step 2: Put the berries in a large bowl, sprinkle with lemon juice and toss to coat evenly. 

Step 3: In a small bowl, stir together sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest. Sprinkle mixture over berries and toss to evenly distribute.  You may need to double the amount of flour if using frozen berries or if your berries are juicy.
 
Step 4: Remove the pie shell and top crust from the refrigerator. Sprinkle an even layer of the breadcrumbs over the bottom of the shell. Immediately transfer berry mixture to dough-lined pan. 

Step 5: Using your fingertips, moisten the rim of the bottom crust with a little cold water. Center the top crust over the filling and gently press the top crust against the bottom. Trim the excess from the bottom and top rounds; crimp to seal the edges. Using a small, sharp knife, cut 4 slits in the top crust crust.



Step 6: Add 1 tablespoon water to the beaten egg to make egg wash. Brush the top crust with the egg wash, then sprinkle the crust with a little sugar.
 
Step 7: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Bake pie at 425 F for 30 minutes and then decrease the temperature to 375 F for 30 minutes until crust is golden and the filling is thick and bubbling.  Transfer the pie to a rack and let it cool and settle for at least 30 minutes before serving.





Chocolate Cream Pie

Chocolate cream recipe adapted from Food and Wine
Sweet Tart Crust recipe adapted from Pierre Herme, Chocolate Desserts
 




Ingredients

 

For the Crust (makes enough for four 9-inch tarts):

  • 2-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup finely ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 

For the Filling (makes enough for one 9-inch tart):

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Chocolate shavings, for garnish
 




Instructions

 
Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 375°F. 
 
Step 2: To make your tart crust:  Place the butter in the bowl of a food processor and mix until creamy.
 
 
Step 3: Add the powdered sugar and pulse until blended.
 
 
Step 4: Add the ground almond powder and salt and pulse to blend.  Then add vanilla and eggs and pulse to blend ingredients, scraping down the blade and the sides of the bowl as needed. The dough may look curdled – that’s alright. Add the flour in three or four additions and pulse only until the mixture comes together to form a soft, moist dough – a matter of seconds. Don’t overdo it.
 
   
 
Step 5: Gather the dough into a ball and divide it into four pieces to make four 9-inch tarts. Gentle press each piece into a disk and wrap each disk in plastic. Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or for up to 2 days, before rolling and baking. The dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to a month.
 
Step 6: Place a buttered tart ring on a parchment-lined baking sheet and keep close at hand. Work with one piece of dough at a time; keep the remaining dough in the refrigerator.
 
Step 7: Working on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to a thickness of between 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick, lifting the dough often and making certain that the work surface and dough are amply floured at all times. (I find it easier to roll the dough between two pieces of wax paper). Roll the dough up around your rolling pin and unroll it onto the tart ring. Fit the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the ring, then run your rolling pin across the top of the ring to cut off the excess.  Chill it for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Putting it in the freezer is even better.
 
Step 8: To fully bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil) and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (If you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes.
 
Step 9: Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon (or prick it with the tip of a small knife). Bake the crust about 10 minutes longer, or until it is firm and golden brown, brown being the important word: a pale crust doesn’t have a lot of flavor. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature.
 
Step 10: To make the chocolate cream: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk with 1/4 cup of the sugar until bubbles form around the edge. 
 
Step 11: In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 1/4 cup of the sugar, the cornstarch and salt. Gradually whisk in the hot milk mixture. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until very thick, about 3 minutes. 
 
Step 12: Remove from the heat and whisk in the semisweet chocolate until smooth. Strain the chocolate filling into the pie crust through a coarse sieve and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pie filling and refrigerate for 3 hours, until chilled.
 
Step 13: Let the pie stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the cream with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and the vanilla until firm. Spread the whipped cream over the pie, cut into wedges and serve, garnished with chocolate shavings.
 
 




Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours






Ingredients

 

For the caramel layer:

 

  •     Scant 1/2 cup heavy cream
  •     1/2 cup sugar, sifted
  •     1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  •     2 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
  •     Pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)
  •     3/4 cup honey-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped


For the ganache:

  •     8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  •     1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  •     4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
     




Instructions


Step 1: Click on Sweet Tart Crust for instructions on how to make the tart.

Step 2: Before making the caramel, make sure that you have all the ingredients measured out and ready to go because you have to work quickly once the sugar caramelizes.  Also have a medium heatproof bowl at hand to hold the hot caramel. 

Step 3: To make the caramel, bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan.  Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet, preferably nonstick, to medium heat and sprinkle in about 3 tablespoons of the sugar. 



Step 4: When it melts, stir it with a wooden spatula or a fork and sprinkle over another 3 tablespoons.  When that sugar is melted, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. 

Step 5: The sugar in the pan may already have started to color and that is fine.  Stir in the corn syrup and boil the syrup until it reaches a deep caramel color – it will probably begin to smoke, and that is normal.

Step 6: Bring the simmering cream to a full boil.  Stand back from the skillet and stir in the butter and salt, if you’re using it.  The caramel will bubble furiously and may spatter, so be careful. 

Step 7: When the butter is in, add the warm cream – the caramel will bubble furiously again.  Lower the temperature just a tad and let the caramel boil for just 2 minutes.  (If you check the temperature with a thermometer, the caramel should be at 226 degrees F.)  Pour the seething caramel into the heatproof bowl and set it aside while you make the ganache.

Step 8: To make the ganache, chop chocolate in small chunks. Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and have a whisk or rubber spatula at hand. 



Step 9: Bring the cream to a boil, then pour half of it over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds.  Working with the whisk or spatula, very gently stir the chocolate and cream together in small circles, starting at center of the bowl and working your way out in increasingly larger concentric circles. 

Step 10: Pour in the remainder of the cream and blend it into the chocolate, using the same circular motion.  When the ganache is smooth and shiny, stir in the butter piece by piece. Don’t stir the ganache any more than you must to blend the ingredients – the less you work it, the darker, smoother and shinier it will be.

Step 11: Cover the ganache with a piece of plastic wrap, pressing the plastic against the surface of the chocolate to create an airtight seal.  Set aside at room temperature for the moment. 

Step 12: To assemble the tart, stir the peanuts into the caramel using a rubber spatula.  If the caramel is too thick to stir or spread easily, gently warm it in the microwave in 3-second spurts.  Spread the caramel over the bottom of the tart shell in a thin layer. 


Step 13: Refrigerate the tart for 15 minutes to set the caramel.

Step 14: Check the ganache.  If it has thickened and is no longer pourable, warm it in the same way as instructed for the caramel above.  Pour the ganache over the caramel and jiggle the tart pan to even it.  Refrigerate the tart for 30 minutes but no longer, and then keep it at room temperature until serving time.





Coconut Cream Pie

My family is difficult to please when it comes to coconut cream pies.  My Aunt Joyce is the only person I know that can make a coconut cream pie that pleases them.  I've attempted to make this pie many times but never had it come out perfectly. You might be wondering, what could I have possibly done so wrong. Well, for past pies, I’ve put rum in the coconut cream and no one liked it. I loved it by the way but maybe because I drank a little too much of the rum as I was making the pastry cream. Here’s the recipe for it if you are interested.   Another time, I made the meringue too sweet. And there was another time when I made the crust and it totally shrank and collapsed in the oven.  So you can see that I truly haven’t had much luck with coconut cream pies.  Today, I was determined to successfully make and bake all three componets of the pie to perfection - the pastry crust, pastry cream, and the meringue. And after having a piece, I'm officially calling this pie my redemption pie!

 

Ingredients

 

For the pastry crust:

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 7 tablespoons very cold (frozen is fine) unsalted butter, cut into 7 pieces
  • 5-1/2 tablespoons very cold (frozen is even better) vegetable shortening, cut into 5 pieces
  • About 1/4 cup ice water

For the pastry cream:

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 12 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon coconut extract

For the meringue:

  • 7 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
 

Instructions

 
Step 1: For the pastry crust: Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. 
 
Step 2: Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour until you have pieces the size of peas.  I pulse about 10 times to get this consistency. 
 
Step 3: Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 3 tablespoons of the water— add a little water and pulse once, add some more water, pulse again and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If, after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn’t look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary. or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter are fine. 
 
Step 4: Scrape the dough out of the work bowl and onto a work surface. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten it into a disk, and wrap it in plastic. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before rolling. (If your ingredients were very cold and you worked quickly, though, you might be able to roll the dough immediately: the dough should be as cold as if it had just come out of the fridge.)
 
Step 5: To roll out the dough: Roll the dough out on a floured surface. If you are working on a counter, turn the dough over frequently and keep the counter floured. Fit the dough into the pie plate and, using a pair of scissors, cut the excess dough to a 1/4- to 1/2-inch overhang. Fold the dough under on itself, so that it hangs over the edge just a tad, and flute or pinch the crust to make a decorative edge. 
 
Step 6: To partially or fully bake a single crust: Refrigerate the crust while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil, fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust and fill with dried beans or rice or pie weights. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes. 
 
Step 7: Carefully remove the foil and weights and, if the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Return the pie plate to the oven and bake for about 8 minutes more, or until the crust is very lightly colored. Transfer the pie plate to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature before filling.
 
Step 8:  To make the pastry cream: Bring milk to a boil. 
 
Step 9: Whisk yolks, sugar and cornstarch together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisking constantly, drizzle in one-quarter of the hot milk. When yolks are warm, add the rest of the liquid in a steadier stream.  
 
Step 10: Return pan to medium heat and, whisking vigorously, bring mixture to boil. Boil — still whisking — for 1 to 2 minutes. Add vanilla and coconut extract and then stir in butter. Transfer cream to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and cool in the refrigerator.
 
Step 11:  To make the meringue: In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 1/2 cup sugar and the water. Dissolve the sugar completely. Do not stir. 
 
Step 12: Increase the heat and bring sugar to soft-ball stage (235 to 240 degrees). Use a candy thermometer for accuracy. Wash down the inside wall of the pot with a wet pastry brush. This will help prevent sugar crystals from forming around the sides, falling in and causing a chain reaction. 
 
Step 13: In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the eggs whites on low speed until foamy. Add 1/4 cup sugar and the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium, and beat until soft peaks form.
 
Step 14: With the mixer running, pour the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over fluffed egg whites. Beat until the egg whites are stiff and glossy. 
 
Step 15: To put the pie together: Lightly whisk the cooled custard and pour it into the crust. Spoon the meringue all over the pie and spread evenly to the edges. Sprinkle with coconut on top of the meringue.
 
Step 16: Bake 12-15 minutes or until the meringue is golden. Cool 1 hour on a wire rack. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving.

Cook's Illustrated Foolproof Pie Crust

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, Published November 1, 2007






Ingredients

  •     1-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (6 1/4 ounces)
  •     1/2 teaspoon table salt
  •     1 tablespoon sugar
  •     6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 1/4-inch slices
  •     1/4 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening , cut into 2 pieces
  •     2 tablespoons vodka , cold
  •     2 tablespoons cold water





Instructions


Step 1: Add 3/4 cups flour, salt, and sugar together in bowl and whisk until combined.



Step 2: Add butter and shortening. Using a pastry blender, mix until texture resembles coarse cornmeal with butter pieces no larger than the size of small peas.

 

Step 3: Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together.

Step 4: Flatten dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.





Dorie Greenspan's Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours






Ingredients

 

  •     1 to 1-1/4 cups sugar
  •     Grated zest of 3 lemons
  •     4 large eggs
  •     3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)
  •     2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons butter (10 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon size pieces, at room temperature.
  •     1 9-inch tart shell made with sweet tart dough, fully baked





Instructions


Step 1: Have a instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

Step 2: Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water.

      
Step 3: Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy, and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the lemon juice.
 

Step 4: Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture fees tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees F.
 
Step 5: As you whisk- you whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling- you’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point- the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking or checking the temperature, and have patience- depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp may take as long as 10 minutes.

Step 6: As soon as it reaches 180 degrees F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the blender (or food processor);
discard the zest.


Step 7: Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.

Step 8: Turn the blender to high (or turn on the processor) and, with the machine going, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going- to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to bend the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests, and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.

Step 9: Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight. (The cream will keep in the fridge for 4 days or, tightly sealed, in the freezer for up to 2 months; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.)

Step 10: When you are ready to assemble the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell.



Step 11: Serve the tart, or refrigerate until needed.

Below is a picture of me and Dorie, the genius pastry chef who created the lemon tart recipe, in addition to many others that I've posted on my website.  She is adorable!





Dorie Greenspan's Sweet Tart Crust

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours
 





Ingredients

  •     1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  •     1/4 teaspoon salt
  •     1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons; 4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  •     1 large egg yolk





Instructions


Step 1:  Put the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine.

Step 2: Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in—you should have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.

Step 3: Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses—about 10 seconds each—until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change—heads up.

Step 4: Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.



Step 5: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.  Just press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Don’t be too heavy-handed–press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but don’t press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture.



Step 6: Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

Step 7: To fully bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil) and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes.

Step 8: Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon (or prick it with the tip of a small knife). Bake the crust about 10 minutes longer, or until it is firm and golden brown, brown being the important word: a pale crust doesn’t have a lot of flavor. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature.

Storing: The dough can be wrapped and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, the flavor will be fresher bake it directly from the freezer, already rolled out–just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.





Double 9-inch Pie Crust




 

Ingredients

  •     3 cups all purpose flour
  •     2 tablespoons sugar
  •     1-1/2 tsp salt
  •     1 cup (2 sticks) of  very cold or frozen unsalted butter
  •     1/2 cup very cold or frozen vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
  •     About 1/2 cup ice water



 


Instructions


Step 1: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, and salt.



Step 2: Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas.

  

Step 3: Add the water and mix with a fork or pastry blender until the dough pulls together. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a round flat disk.



Step 4: Wrap in plastic wrap, place in the refrigerator and let rest for 30 minutes.

Step 5: Roll out one disk into a 12-inch round and line the pan or dish. Roll the second dough disk into a 12-inch round and refrigerate until ready to use.




 

Fresh Berry Fruit Tart

This is another wonderful and delicious Dorie Greenspan recipe. I was looking for a dessert for Easter dinner and I stumbled across this one in Dorie’s cookbook, “Baking From My Home to Yours." This dessert epitomizes spring and is so simple and easy to make. Your dinner guests will love it and they will think you spent hours in the kitchen making it.
 

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours




 


Ingredients

  •     1 fully baked sweet tart crust
  •     2 cups pastry cream (See recipe below)
  •     6 ounces raspberries
  •     6 ounces blueberries
  •     6 ounces blackberries
  •     1/3 cup red currant jelly



 


Instructions


Step 1: Bake the crust and let it cool to room temperature.

Step 2: Make the pastry cream and chill it (preferably the night before), and then spread chilled pastry cream inside the tart shell.

Step 3: Arrange fruit on top. Heat 1/3 cup of jelly and 1 tablespoon water. Drizzle on top of fruit tart.


 

Dorie Greenspan's Pastry Cream


Ingredients

  •     2 cups whole milk
  •     6 large egg yolks
  •     1/2 cups sugar
  •     1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
  •     1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  •     3-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature
     

Instructions


Step 1: Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan.

Step 2: Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended.



Step 3: Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk– this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle.

Step 4: Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil.



Step 5: Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.



Step 6: Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are full incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky.

Step 7: Scrape the cream into a bowl. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold or, if you want to cool it quickly, put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water, and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.




 

Fresh Orange Cream Tart

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours






Ingredients

  •     1 to 1-1/3 cups sugar
  •     Grated zest of 3 oranges
  •     Grated zest of 1 lemon
  •     4 large eggs
  •     Scant 3/4 cup fresh blood-orange juice or Valencia orange juice
  •     3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  •     1-1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  •     1 tablespoon cold water
  •     2-3/4 sticks (11 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, at room temperature
  •     1 recipe for Sweet Tart Dough for 9-inch tart pan
  •     3 orange segments, for decoration
  •     1/3 cup quince or apple jelly mixed with ½ tsp of water, for glazing





Instructions


Step 1: Have an instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender (first choice) or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

Step 2: Put the sugar and orange and lemon zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zests together between your fingertips until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic.


Step 3: Whisk in the eggs, followed by the orange and lemon juice.

     

Step 4: Set the bowl over the pan, and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees F.  

    


Step 5: Whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling—you'll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180 degrees F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. The tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don't stop whisking or checking the temperature, and have patience—depending on how much heat you're giving the cream, getting to temp can take as long as 10 minutes.

Step 6: As soon as it reaches 180 degrees F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the blender (or food processor); discard the zest.



Step 7: Soften the gelatin in the cold water, then dissolve it by heating it for 15 seconds in a microwave oven (or do this in a saucepan over extremely low heat). Add the gelatin to the filling and pulse once just to blend, then let the filling cool to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.

Step 8: Turn the blender to high (or turn on the processor) and, with the machine going, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going—to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to blend the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.



Step 9: Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. (The cream can be refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to 5 days and, or frozen for up to 2 months; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator.)

Step 10: When you are ready to construct the tart, whisk the cream vigorously to loosen it. Spread the cream evenly in the crust. Arrange the orange segments in the center of the tart.

Step 11: Prepare the glaze: bring the water and jelly to a boil. Use a pastry brush or a pastry feather to lightly spread the jelly over the orange segments and cream. Serve now or refrigerate the tart until needed.


 





Key Lime Tarts

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, March 1997

Makes 6 Tarts





Ingredients


For the Lime Filling:

  •     4 teaspoons grated lime zest
  •     1/2 cup lime juice from 3 to 4 limes
  •     4 large egg yolks
  •     1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk


For the Graham Cracker Crust:

  •     11 graham crackers, processed to fine crumbs (1 1/4 cups)
  •     3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  •     5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


For the Whipped Cream Topping:

  •     3/4 cup heavy cream
  •     1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  •     1/2 lime, sliced paper thin and dipped in sugar (optional)





Instructions


Step 1: For the Filling: Whisk zest and yolks in medium bowl until tinted light green, about 2 minutes.

    

Step 2: Beat in milk, then juice; set aside at room temperature to thicken.

Step 3: For the Crust: Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix crumbs and sugar in medium bowl. 

Step 4: Add butter; stir with fork until well blended.



Step 5: Divide mixture into 6 5-inch tart pans; press crumbs over bottom and up sides of pans to form even crust. Bake until lightly browned and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Transfer pans to wire rack; cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Step 6: Pour lime filling into crust.



Step 7: Bake until center is set, yet wiggly when jiggled, 15 to 17 minutes.

Step 8: Return pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours. (Can be covered with lightly oiled or oil-sprayed plastic wrap laid directly on filling and refrigerated up to 1 day.)

Step 9: For the Whipped Cream: Up to 2 hours before serving, whip cream in medium bowl to very soft peaks. Adding confectioners’ sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, continue whipping to just-stiff peaks. Decoratively pipe whipped cream over filling or spread evenly with rubber spatula. Garnish with optional sugared lime slices and serve.





Montmorency Cherry Crisp

The Montmorency cherry, a sour cherry found in the United States, Canada and France, is the most popular cherry used for pies and preserves. In this recipe, the rich bittersweet cherry is topped with a buttery brown sugar rustic crumb crust.  I made this recipe while I was vacationing in Orleans, France and even though I only had access to a very small kitchen with limited equipment, the crisp came out delicious.  This recipe is a must try if you ever come across these delcious tart cherries.
 



 

Ingredients

 

For the cherry filling:

  • 
3-1/2 cups pitted tart cherries
  • 
1/4 cup cherry juice

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 2 tablespoons tapioca

  • 1/2 cup sugar
 


For the crisp topping:

  • 1 cup quick rolled oats

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup flour
 



 

Instructions

Step 1: To make the cherry filling: Using a cherry pitter, remove seeds from cherries.
 
   
 
Step 2: Mix the cherries, cherry juice, cornstarch, tapioca, and sugar together and let stand for 10-15 minutes.
 
 
Step 3: Place cherry mixture in the bottom of a greased 8" x 8"  glass baking pan. 
 
 
Step 4: To make the crumb topping: With a pastry blender, mix the oats, butter, brown sugar and flour together until crumbly. 
 
Step 5: Spread rolled oat mixture over the cherries. 
 
 
Step 6: Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until cherries are bubbling.
 
 



 

Peach Crostata

 
Makes 8-10 servings
 




Ingredients

 

For the Tart Dough

  • 2-1/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • 3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small cubes
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons heavy cream
 

For the Almond Filling

  • 1-1/2 cups blanched, sliced, almonds
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of kosher salt
 

For the Streusel

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup blanched, sliced Almonds
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
 

For the Peaches

  • 6 medium ripe peaches
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: For the tart dough: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and orange zest. Pulse until combined.
 
Step 2: Add the cold butter cubes and toss lightly to coat. Pulse until the butter is the size of small peas.
 
Step 3: In a separate bowl, combine the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and heavy cream, and add it to the flour-butter mixture. Pulse to moisten the dough, then pulse until it begins to come together. 
 
Step 4: Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead by hand. If the dough is too dry, add a few drops of heavy cream. 
 
Step 5: Shape into a small disk, wrap, and chill thoroughly for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
 
Step 6: Preheat the oven to 350°F.
 
Step 7: Roll the chilled Tart Dough into a 12-inch circle, large enough to line the bottom and sides of a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Press the dough into the sides and trim the top so that the dough is flush with the tart pan. 
 
Step 8: Place the pastry shell in the freezer and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
 
Step 9: To make the filling: spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until light golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then place the nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not powdery.
 
Step 10: In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and the confectioners’ sugar until very smooth and creamy. 
 
Step 11: Beat in the egg, followed by the vanilla and the salt. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Thoroughly beat in the ground almonds. Set aside.
 
Step 12: To make the streusel: Melt the butter and set aside to cool. 
 
Step 13: Place the flour, almonds, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the melted butter and pulse to form pea-size crumbs. Spread the streusel out onto a cookie sheet and chill briefly.
 
 
Step 14: Blanche the peaches in boiling water. Peel the peaches and cut into 1/4-inch wedges. 
 
Step 15: In a large bowl, toss the peach wedges with the lemon juice, vanilla, flour and sugar. 
 
 
Step 16: Spread enough of the almond filling on the bottom of the tart to completely cover it, and arrange the peach slices densely on top. 
 
  
 
Step 17: Sprinkle the streusel crumbs over the tart. 
 
 
Step 18: Place the tart on a baking sheet to catch any juices and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the crust and streusel are nicely browned and the juices are bubbling. Allow to cool completely before removing the tart from the pan.
 
 




Pecan Pie




 

Ingredients

 

  •     6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  •     1-1/2 cup sugar
  •     1 cup light corn syrup
  •     1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  •     3 large eggs
  •     2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  •     2 cups whole pecans
  •     1 recipe for 9-inch pie crust



 


Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2: Melt butter and mix with sugar. Add eggs to sugar mixture and whisk until combined.

Step 3: Add light and dark corn syrup and vanilla. Mix well.  

Step 4: Pour into unbaked pie deep dish 9 inch pie shell. Arrange pecans in circular pattern on top of pie filling.



Step 5: Bake at 325 degrees until outer edges of pie begins to bubble, approximately 1 hour to 1.5 hours.




 

Pumpkin Pie




 

Ingredients

 

  •     1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust
  •     3/4 cup white sugar
  •     1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt
  •     1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  •     1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  •     2 large eggs
  •     1 (15 ounce) can pure pumpkin
  •     1 cup evaporated milk
  •     1/2 cup half and half or light cream
     



 

Instructions


Step 1: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Step 2: Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl.

Step 3: Beat eggs lightly in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk and half and half.



Step 4: Pour into pie shell.

 

Step 5: Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F.; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours.

Step 6: Serve immediately or refrigerate. Do not freeze as this will cause the crust to separate from the filling.




 

Salted Caramel Apple Pie


For me, salted caramel is like crack. Once I start eating it, I get addicted and can’t stop. I wanted to make an apple pie for Thanksgiving dinner and decided to adapt my go-to Dorie Greenspan apple pie recipe by adding salted caramel to it. This pie is loaded with juicy apples, and not only does it capture the flavor of fall, the addition of the creamy and luscious salted caramel sauce adds a modern twist to a traditional Thanksgiving favorite. Serve it with ice cream and drizzle it with some salted caramel “crack” sauce. This pie is the perfect happy ending to any dinner, but especially my Thanksgiving dinner.

 

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours

 




 

Ingredients

 

For the homemade salted caramel:

  • 1-2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
 

For the pie:

  • 4 pounds (about 6 very large) apples (I use a combination of Granny Smith and Braeburn or Golden Delicious)
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 to 1/3 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs (or dry bread crumbs)
  • 2/3 cup salted caramel
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 9-inch double pie crust
 

For the glaze:

  • Milk or heavy cream
  • Decorating (coarse) or granulated sugar



 


Instructions


Step 1: For the salted caramel: Combine the sugar, 1/3 cup water and the corn syrup in a small saucepan. Stir with a wooden spoon and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer, swirling the pot occasionally, until the mixture is a beautiful amber color (watch closely). 

 
Step 2: Once the desired color is reached, immediately add the butter and stir with a wooden spoon until completely incorporated. 
 
Step 3: Remove from the heat. Add the heavy cream and stir to incorporate. Stir in the coarse salt. Set aside.
 
Step 4: For the pie: Butter a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.

Step 5: Working on a well-floured surface (or between wax paper, or plastic wrap), roll out one piece of the dough to a thickness of about ⅛ inch.

Step 6: Fit the dough into the buttered pie plate and trim the edges to a 1/2-inch overhang. Roll the other piece of dough into a 1/8-inch-thick and slip it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Cover both the circle and the crust in the pie plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes, while you preheat the oven and prepare the filling. The crusts can be well covered and kept refrigerated overnight.

Step 7: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Step 8: Peel, core and slice the apples into slices about 1/4 inch thick. I place my peeled and sliced apples in large bowl of cold water and lemon juice added to the water. Drain and dry apples and put them into a large bowl. Add the sugar, lemon zest, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

Step 9: Toss everything together really well. Let the mix sit for about 5 minutes, until juice starts to accumulate in the bottom of the bowl.

Step 10: Remove the pie plate and top crust from the refrigerator and put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Step 11: Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the bottom of the crust and then turn 1/2 of the apples and their juices into the crust. Spread half the salted caramel on top.  Repeat with a layer of apples and then the salted caramel. The apples will heap over the top of the crust. Pat them into an even mound. Dot the apples with the bits of cold butter.

Step 12: Very lightly moisten the rim of the bottom crust with water, then center the top crust over the apples. Either folds the overhang from the top crust under the bottom crust and crimps the crust attractively, or presses the top crust against the bottom crust and trim the overhang from both crusts even with the rim of the pie plate. If you’ve pressed and trimmed the crust, use the tines of a fork to press the two crusts together securely.

Step 13: Use a sharp paring knife to cut about 3 slits in the top crust.  Brush the top crust with a little milk or cream and sprinkle it with sugar.

Step 14: Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425 degrees F. Lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees F, and bake the pie for another 50 to 60 minutes (total baking time is between 65 and 75 minutes), or until the crust is browned and the juices bubble up through the top crust. After about 40 minutes in the oven, if the top crust looks as if it’s browning too quickly, cover the pie loosely with a foil tent.

Step 15: Transfer the pie to a rack and let it rest until it is only just warm or until it reaches room temperature. 

Step 16:  Serve with salted caramel sauce drizzled on top.
 




 

Sicilian Pumpkin Pie

Recipe adapted from La Gazzetta Italiana
 
Makes 8 servings
 




Ingredients

 

For the Filling:

  • 1 cup canned pure pumpkin 
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 12-ounce container Mascarpone cheese
  • 1 9-inch single pie crust
 

For the Whipped Cream and Mascarpone Topping:

  • 1 cup chilled whipping cream 
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Preheat oven to 350° F.
 
Step 2: Using an electric mixer, beat pumpkin and sugar in large bowl until well blended. 
 
  
 
Step 3: Add eggs and next 7 ingredients and beat until blended. 
 
 
Step 4: Add mascarpone cheese and beat just until mixture is smooth. 
 
 
Step 5: Transfer filling to prepared crust.
 
 
Step 6: Bake pie until custard is set, about 55 minutes. Transfer pie to rack and cool. Tent with foil and chill.
 
 
Step 7: For whipped cream and mascarpone topping: Combine ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat to soft peaks. Cover and chill. Serve pie with topping.




The Best Ever Blueberry Pie

This recipe is by Dorie Greenspan and she touts it as the best ever blueberry pie.  And I must say that I agree with her — this is truly the best ever blueberry pie. Dorie does a couple of things that I really like. First she recommends sprinkling some plain dried breadcrumbs in the bottom of the crust before adding the blueberry filling. She does this so that the crumbs will absorb the excess juice and keep the crust from getting soggy. Second, Dorie adds just a splash of lemon juice and lemon zest to the berries to brighten up the flavor of the filling.
 
I made this pie in the summer months when the blueberries were in season. I then froze the unbaked pie and baked it later in November for Thanksgiving.  I was surprised at how well it baked after freezing and it tasted as if I had baked an unfrozen pie. If you plan on freezing an unbaked blueberry pie, it's important to double the amount of thickening agent in the filling. Cornstarch has a nice smooth texture and no real flavor and is the perfect thickening agent for berry pies.  However, too much cornstarch can lead to a murky color and a chalky taste. Flour is an easy thickener but too much of it can impart a gummy and cloudy filling and a starchy or flat flavor. To avoid these pitfalls, I used a combination of both in this particular pie -about 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup cornstarch.  The result was a perfectly tasting and thickened blueberry pie.
 

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours




 


Ingredients

 

For the Blueberry Pie Filling:

 

  •     About 6 cups fresh blueberries
  •     1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  •     1/2 cup of sugar
  •     1/2 cup all purpose flour
  •     1/4 teaspoon salt
  •     Coarsely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  •     1/4 cup dry bread crumbs or crushed graham crackers
  •     1 large egg, beaten
  •     1 tablespoon water
  •     Raw Sugar, for dusting
  •     1 recipe for a 9-inch double pie crust



 


Instructions

 
Step 1: Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Step 2: Put the berries in a large bowl, sprinkle with lemon juice and toss to coat evenly.  

Step 3: In a small bowl, stir together sugar, flour, salt, and lemon zest. Sprinkle mixture over berries and toss to evenly distribute.  If you plan on freezing the pie,  don't forget to double the amount of thickening agent (e.g., flour and/or cornstarch).


 
Step 4: Remove the pie shell and top crust from the refrigerator.



Step 5: Sprinkle an even layer of the breadcrumbs or crush graham crackers over the bottom of the shell.

Step 6: Immediately transfer berry mixture to dough-lined pan.  



Step 7: Using your fingertips, moisten the rim of the bottom crust with a little cold water. Center the top crust over the filling and gently press the top crust against the bottom. Trim the excess from the bottom and top rounds; crimp to seal the edges.
 
Step 8: Using a small, sharp knife, cut 4 slits in the top crust crust.  Add 1 tablespoon water to the beaten egg to make egg wash.

Step 9: Brush the top crust with the egg wash, then sprinkle the crust with a little sugar.


 
Step 10: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Bake the pie at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes, then bake at 375 degrees F until crust is golden and the filling is thick and bubbling for 50 to 60 minutes.  If you are baking a frozen pie, you may need to bake for a total of 90 minutes. Transfer the pie to a rack and let it cool and settle for at least 30 minutes before serving.

 




 

Toasted Coconut Cream Pie

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours 
 
Makes 8-10 servings
 




Ingredients

For the custard:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3-1/2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut, lightly toasted
 

For the meringue:

  • 5 eggs whites
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • shredded sweetened coconut
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Toast coconut at 350 degrees until lightly toasted.  
 
Step 2: To make the custard: Bring the milk to a soft boil. 
 
Step 3: In a large saucepan whisk together the sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch and salt until well combined. While constantly whisking, pour 1/4 of the milk into the egg mixture. Continuing to whisk, slowly pour the remaining milk into the eggs. While still whisking, heat the mixture over medium heat until it begins to boil; let boil for up to 2 minutes, until it thickens. 
 
Step 4: Mix in the rum and vanilla. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Then add the bits of butter. This should make the custard very smooth. Stir in the toasted coconut. Cover with plastic wrap pressed against the custard and cool in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. You can also store the custard overnight until ready to use.
 
Step 5: To make the meringue: In a double boiler over medium-high heat, combine 1 cup sugar and the water. Dissolve the sugar completely. Do not stir. 
 
Step 6: Increase the heat and bring sugar to soft-ball stage (235 to 240 degrees). Use a candy thermometer for accuracy. Wash down the inside wall of the pot with a wet pastry brush. This will help prevent sugar crystals from forming around the sides, falling in and causing a chain reaction. 
 
Step 7: In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the eggs whites on low speed until foamy. Add 1/4 cup sugar and the cream of tartar, increase the speed to medium, and beat until soft peaks form.
 
Step 8: With the mixer running, pour the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over fluffed egg whites. Beat until the egg whites are stiff and glossy. 
 
Step 9: To put the pie together: Lightly whisk the cooled custard and pour it into the crust. Spoon the meringue all over the pie and spread evenly to the edges. Sprinkle with coconut on top of the meringue. 
 
    
 
Step 10: Bake in the oven at 325 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes until meringue is golden and coconut is toasted.
 




White Chocolate Banana Cream Pie with Salty Bourbon Caramel

 
This deliciously silky and rich pie is the best banana cream pie I’ve ever had.  It has layers of fresh bananas, creamy delicious vanilla custard, and a luscious white chocolate mousse all inside a yummy chocolate cookie crust. However, it is the large spoonful of heavenly salty bourbon caramel sauce that is drizzled over each slice immediately before serving that put this pie off the charts for me. This recipe is a bit complicated and time-consuming but it is most definitely worth it.
 

White Chocolate Banana Cream Tart adapted from Cuisine at Home Jan/Feb 1999 

Salty Bourbon Caramel adapted from Bon Appetit, Published February 2012




 

Ingredients

 

For the Crust:

  • 1-1/4 cups chocolate oreo cookie crumbs
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
 

For the Custard Filling:

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 medium bananas, peeled, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
 

For the Mousse:

  • 1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup reserved custard
  • 1-1/4 cups heavy cream, cold
 

For the Salty Bourbon Caramel:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons bourbon, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2' cubes
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
 
 



 

Instructions

 
Step 1: To make the custard filling: Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in heavy medium saucepan to blend and evenly distribute the dry ingredients. 
 
 
Step 2: Whisk in egg yolks and mix in the milk immediately. Don't add the sugar directly onto the eggs and let it sit; this causes the yolks to "burn" into hard little lumps that detract from your creamy custard. So make sure your milk is ready to add immediately after you whisk in the egg yolks. 
 
  
 
Step 3: Transfer the custard to a heavy saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard is thick, about 6 minutes
 
   
 
Step 4: Remove from heat. Whisk in unsalted butter and vanilla extract. Reserve 1/3 cup for the mousse. Transfer remaining custard to large bowl; cool for about 30 minutes. 
 
Step 5: To make the cookie crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Blend cookie crumbs and brown sugar using a pastry blender to get the lumps out. Add unsalted butter and stir to moisten evenly. 
 
 
Step 6: Press onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch-diameter tart pan. Bake crust until set and pale golden, about 8 minutes. Cool completely.
 
 
Step 7: To make the white chocolate mousse: Dissolve the gelatin in 2 tablespoons hot water for 5 minutes. Stir several times to make sure that the gelatin is completely dissolved.
 
Step 8: Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler, stirring with a heat resistant rubber spatula.Then mix the gelatin into the melted chocolate. 
 
   
 
Step 9: In a mixing bowl, blend the 1/3 cup reserved custard into the white chocolate and gelatin mixture. Stir thoroughly. Set aside.
 
Step 10: Pour the cold heavy cream into a chilled mixing bowl and whip until stiff peaks form.  
 
Step 11: Stir a small amount of the whipped cream into the chocolate just to make it workable. Slowly fold in the the remaining whipped cream with a rubber spatula. Don’t overmix.
 
Step 12: To make the salty bourbon caramel: Stir sugar, 1 tablespoon bourbon, corn syrup, and 1 tablespoon water in a medium deep saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. 
 
  
 
Step 13: Increase heat, bring to a boil without stirring, and cook, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until sugar is deep amber in color, 6–8 minutes. 
 
   
 
  
Step 14: Remove caramel from heat; whisk in remaining 1/4 cup cream, butter, and salt (mixture will bubble vigorously). Let cool for 5 minutes; whisk in remaining 1/2 tablespoon of bourbon and vanilla. Let bourbon caramel cool slightly. 
 
 
Step 15: To assemble the pie: Layer sliced bananas randomly in the pie shell and pour the warm custard over them. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 to 3 hours.
 
  
 
Step 16: Heap the mousse on in  a generous layer keeping the center thicker than the edges. Pipe the mousse around the edges of the pie.
 
 
 
Step 17: Serve with bourbon caramel drizzled on each slice.
 



 

Souffles, Custards, Puddings, Ice Cream, and Frozen Desserts





A Poet's Tiramisu

Tiramisu, which literally means "lift me up," is a decadent Italian dessert  with layers of creamy mascarpone cheese, lady fingers infused with a  mixture of coffee and liquor, and topped with a delicate dusting of rich cocoa powder and shaved chocolate.
 
This recipe, a light, lyrical version of the traditional favorite, hails from my famous poet sister-in-law, Kathy.  Check out some of her poems here. It’s made with Stevia instead of granulated sugar and not only is it delicious, it is also low in sugar calories and is perfect in terms of sweetness. Kathy brought this to my parent's house for Christmas dinner in 2015. Everyone loved it so much that I've been meaning to post the recipe for some time.   So finally here it is.  Enjoy and have some guilt free tiramisu --well almost guilt free.
 
Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis
 
 
Makes 6 servings
 




Ingredients

 
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 4 teaspoons Stevia, divided
  • 1 pound mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1-1/2 cups strong espresso, cooled
  • 2 teaspoons marsala wine
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 24 packaged ladyfingers
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate shavings, for garnish
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg yolks and 1 tablespoon Stevia until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Add mascarpone cheese and beat until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of espresso and mix until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
 
Step 2: Add 1 teaspoon of Stevia to the heavy whipping cream. Beat heavy whipping cream to stiff peaks.  Fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture.
 
Step 3:  In a small shallow dish, add remaining espresso and marsala wine. Place ladyfinger on the bottom of a 13 X 9 inch baking dish (or as pictured above, in individual serving bowls), breaking them in half if necessary in order to fit the bottom. Drizzle a spoonful of espresso-marsala mixture over each ladyfinger. Sprinkle unsweetened cocoa over ladyfingers.
 
Step 4: Spread evenly 1/2 of the mascarpone-whipped cream mixture over the ladyfingers. Arrange another layer of ladyfingers, drizzle the espresso-marsala mixture over the ladyfingers, sprinkle with unsweetened cocoa and top with remaining mascarpone mixture.
 
Step 5: Cover tiramisu with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours.
 
Step 6: Before serving, sprinkle with chocolate shavings.




Chocolate Souffles with Creamy Caramel Sauce

Adapted from Gourmet, December 2008


Makes 6 servings





Ingredients

  •     1/4 cup sugar plus additional for coating ramekins
  •     8 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
  •     3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  •     2 tablespoons heavy cream
  •     4 large egg yolks
  •     7 large egg whites
  •     1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  •     Creamy caramel sauce (click on creamy caramel sauce for the recipe)




Instructions

Step 1: Butter six 1-cup ramekins (4 by 2 inches) and coat with sugar, knocking out excess sugar.


Step 2: Finely chop chocolate.




Step 3: In a small saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add cream and bring just to a boil.


Step 4: Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, stirring until smooth.



Step 5: Transfer mixture to a large bowl.



Step 6: Stir in egg yolks.



Step 7: In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat whites with cream of tartar and a pinch salt until they just hold stiff peaks. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, beating until just combined.



Step 8: Stir one fourth whites into chocolate mixture to lighten and fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

  


Step 9: Divide soufflé mixture among ramekins and smooth tops with a knife. Run tip of knife around edges of soufflés to aid rising. Soufflés may be made up to this point 1 day ahead and chilled, loosely wrapped in plastic wrap.




Step 10: Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake soufflés on a baking sheet in lower third of oven until puffed and surfaces are cracked, about 20 minutes.




Step 11: Top soufflés with sauce and serve immediately.

 





Jeni's Honeyed Peanut Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Freckles (a.k.a The Buckeye State Ice Cream)

Adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

Makes 1 quart

 





Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1-1/2 ounce cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fine sea salt
  • 1-1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 tablesoon honey
  • 4 ounces chocolate (55% to 70% cocoa), chopped
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
 
 
Step 2: Whisk the cream cheese, peanut butter, and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
 
     
 
Step 3: Fill a large bowl with ice and water
 
Step 4: Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, corn syrup, and honey in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat and boil for 4 minutes.
 
 
Step 5: Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.  Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
 
Step 6: Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. 
 
    
 
Step 7:  Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
 
 
Step 8:  Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and begin to spin the ice cream.  If you don't have a stand alone electric ice cream maker, an ice cream Kitchen Aid attachment works really well. Churn on the lowest speed for 30 minutes.
 
 
Step 9: Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Remove from the heat and let cool until tepid but still fluid.
 
Step 10: When the ice cream is thick and creamy and almost finished, drizzle the melted chocolate slowly through the opening in the top of the ice cream machine and allow it to solidify and break up in the ice cream for about 2 minutes.
 
  
 
Step 11: Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid.
 
 
Step 12: Freeze in the coldest part of the freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.




Jeni's Maple Ice Cream

Adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home





Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1-1/2 ounce cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1-1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1-1/2 cups Grade B or C pure maple syrup
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
 
 
Step 2: Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
 
 
Step 3: Fill a large bowl with ice and water
 
Step 4: Combine the 1-1/4 cups heavy cream with the corn syrup, set aside.
 
Step 5: Bring 1-1/2 cups maple syrup to boil over medium heat and continue to boil for 8 minutes, or until the maple syrup is reduced by half and is darkened around the edges.
 
 
    
 
Step 6: Remove the syrup from the heat and slowly add then cream mixture, then add the remaining milk, whisking until combined. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 4 minutes.  Don't worry if the mixture looks curdled (from the acid in the syrup).
 
Step 7: Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.  Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
 
 
Step 8: Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. 
 
Step 9:  Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
 
Step 10:  Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and begin to spin the ice cream.  If you don't have a stand alone electric ice cream maker, an ice cream Kitchen Aid attachment works really well. Churn on the lowest speed for 30 minutes.
 
Step 11: Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid.
 
Step 12 Freeze in the coldest part of the freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.




Jeni's Roasted Pistachio Ice Cream

Adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

 
Makes 1 quart
 




Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachio (plus 1/4 – 1/2 cup more if you want to mix in whole or chopped pistachios with your ice cream)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1-1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1-1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the 1/2 cup pistachios out on a small baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10-12 minutes until fragrant and just starting to brown.
 
Step 2: Remove from the oven and pulverize in a food processor until the pistachios become a smooth paste. This may take awhile depending on how powerful your food processor is.
 
Step 3: Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a slurry and set aside.
 
Step 4: In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, pistachio paste, and salt until smooth.
 
 
Step 5: Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set aside.
 
Step 6: In a 4 quart saucepan, combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and allow to boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually mix in the cornstarch slurry.
 
 
Step 7: Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium heat and cook, stirring with a heat proof spatula, until slightly thickened (about 1 minute). Remove from heat.
 
Step 8: Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the pistachio cream cheese mixture. Whisk until smooth.
 
Step 9: Pour the mixture into a 1 gallon ziploc freezer bag. Submerge the freezer bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice if necessary, until cold (about 30 minutes). Alternatively, you can place your mixture in a bowl and place in an ice bath.
 
 
Step 10: Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and turn on the machine. If you don't have a stand alone electric ice cream maker, an ice cream Kitchen Aid attachment works really well. Churn on the lowest speed for 30 minutes. 
 
Step 11: Pour the almond extract into the opening at the top of the machine, and continue to spin until the ice cream is thick and creamy. 
 
Step 12: Pack the ice cream into a storage container, layering it with pistachios (if using) as you go. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Place in the coldest part of your freezer, and freeze for at least 4 hour. 
 
 
 
 




Jeni's Salty Caramel Ice Cream

Adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

 
Makes about 1 quart
 




Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1-1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1-1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
 
 
Step 2: Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
 
 
Step 3: Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout. Heat to a simmer.
 
 
Step 4: Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
 
Step 5: To make the caramel: Heat the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until it is melted and golden amber in color. Stand over the pan of sugar with a heatproof spatula ready, but do not touch the sugar until there is a full layer of melted and browning liquid sugar on the bottom with a smaller layer of unmelted white sugar on the top. When the edges of the melted sugar begin to darken, use the spatula to bring them into the center to help melt the unmelted sugar. Continue stirring and pushing the sugar around until it is all melted and evenly amber in color — like an old penny.
 
  
 
Step 6: When little bubbles begin to explode with dark smoke, give the sugar another moment and then remove from the heat. Immediately, but slowly pour about 1/4 cup of the simmering cream and corn syrup mixture into the burning-hot sugar, stirring constantly.  It will fizzle, pop, and spurt.  Stir until it is incorporated, then add a bit more cream and stir, then continue to slowly add all the cream and corn syrup mixture until it is all in.
 
Step 7: Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the milk. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
 
Step 8: Bring back to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. If any caramel flecks remain, pour the mixture through a sieve.
 
 
     
 
Step 9: Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and whisk. 
 
 
Step 10: Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
 
Step 11: Pour into frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy. If you don't have a stand alone electric ice cream maker, an ice cream Kitchen Aid attachment works really well. Churn on the lowest speed for 30 minutes.
 
 
Step 12: Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid.
 
Step 13: Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.




Rudy's Rice Pudding

Makes 12 servings
 




Ingredients

 
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1 cup water
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: In deep saucepan, simmer rice in salted water, covered until water is absorbed. Set aside.
 
Step 2: Add milk, sugar and butter to the rice and cook 40 minutes.  Remove from heat.
 
Step 3: Dissolve cornstarch in a little water and add to well beaten eggs, blending thoroughly.  Then slowly pour into milk and rice mixture, stirring constantly until well blended.  
 
Step 4: Simmer over low heat, stirring, for two minutes until slightly thickened.  Add vanilla.
 
Step 5: Pour into individual custard cups or large casserole pan.  Sprinkle with cinnamon
 




Spicy Coconut Tapioca with Mango and Blackberries

Adapted from Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill Cookbook

Makes 4 servings






Ingredients

  •     1/2 cup tapioca
  •     2 (14 ounce) cans of unsweetened coconut milk
  •     2 cinnamon sticks
  •     1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled
  •     grated zest of 1 lime
  •     1/2 serrano chile (optional)
  •     1/2 whole nutmeg, crushed
  •     1/4 cup sugar
  •     1/3 cup simple syrup
  •     1/3 cup creme fraiche
  •     Mango and Blackberry salad (see below for recipe)

 





Instructions

Step 1: Put tapioca in a bowl, pour 2 cups of cold water over it, and let site for 1 hour.



Step 2: Combine the coconut milk, cinnamon sticks, ginger, zest, serrano, nutmeg, and sugar in a large saucepan and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until reduced to 3 cups (about 25 to 30 minutes).


Step 3: Set a medium bowl in a large bowl of ice water.

Step 4: Strain the coconut milk mixture into a medium saucepan. Drain the tapioca and add it to the pan. Place the pan over medium heat, bring to a simmer, and cook for 2 minutes.  Pour the mixture into the bowl set in the ice water bath and stir until cool.



Step 5: Whisk the simple syrup and creme fraiche into the coconut milk-tapioca mixture. Serve immediately, in bowls topped with mango and blackberry salad. 
 

Mango and Blackberry Salad

Ingredients

  •     1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and diced
  •     1 cup fresh blackberries
  •     1/4 cup sugar
  •     1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
  •     1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  •     Fresh mint leaves for garnish

Instructions

Step 1: Combine the mango, blackberries, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds, and ginger in a medium bowl and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Step 2: Remove the vanilla bean before garnishing with fresh mint leaves and serving. This can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored in the refrigerator.





Spicy Pumpkin Ice Cream

Adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

 
Makes 1 quart
 




Ingredients

 
  • 1 small pie pumpkin or Kabocha, Buttercup or butternut squash (2 to 3 pounds) (alternatively you can use 3/4 cup of canned pumpkin)
  • 2 cups whole milk, divided use
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1-1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1-1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese 5-spice powder
 




Instructions

 
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
 
Step 2: Cut the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and membranes. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until soft when pierced with a fork. Let cool slightly.
 
Step 3: Scoop the flesh into a food processor and purée until completely smooth. Measure out 3/4 cup for the ice cream. Reserve the rest of the purée for another use.  Alternatively you can skip steps 2 and 3 and use canned pumpkin. I used Libby's brand.
 
Step 4: Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
 
Step 5: Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Add the pumpkin purée and the honey and whisk until smooth.
 
Step 5: Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
 
Step 6: Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar and corn syrup and Chinese 5-spice powder in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. I substituted the Chinese five spice powder with pumpkin pie spice because I didn't have any chinese five spice.  This substitute worked ok but the next time I make it, I will use the Chinese five spice. The ice cream lacked the little kick I think the 5 spice powder would have given it.
 
 
Step 7: Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
 
Step 8: Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the pumpkin mixture until smooth. Pour the mixture in a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Alternatively, you can place your mixture in a bowl and place in an ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold about 30 minutes. 
 
 
Step 9: Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and turn on the machine. If you don't have a stand alone electric ice cream maker, an ice cream Kitchen Aid attachment works really well. Churn on the lowest speed for 30 minutes. 
 
Step 10: Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
 




Tiramisu





Ingredients

  •     2-1/2 cups espresso, room temperature
  •     9 tablespoons dark rum
  •     6 large egg yolks
  •     2/3 cup sugar
  •     1/4 teaspoon table salt
  •     1 pound mascarpone cheese
  •     8 ounces cream cheese
  •     3/4 cup heavy cream (cold)
  •     42 to 60 lady fingers, depending on size
  •     3.5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, grated

 





Instructions

Step 1: Stir espresso and 5 tablespoons rum in wide bowl; set aside.

Step 2: In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat yolks at low speed until just combined.

Step 3: Add sugar and salt and beat at medium-high speed until pale yellow, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula once or twice.

Step 4: Add 1/3 cup cream to yolks and beat at medium speed until just combined, 20 to 30 seconds; scrape bowl.

Step 5: Set bowl with yolks over medium saucepan containing 1 inch gently simmering water; cook, constantly scraping along bottom and sides of bowl with heatproof rubber spatula, until mixture coats back of spoon and registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 4 to 7 minutes.

Step 6: Remove from heat and stir vigorously to cool slightly, then set aside to cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

Step 7: Whisk in remaining 4 tablespoons rum until combined.

Step 8: Transfer bowl to standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, add mascarpone and cream cheese, and beat at medium speed until no lumps remain, 30 to 45 seconds. Transfer mixture to large bowl and set aside.

Step 9: In now-empty mixer bowl (no need to clean bowl), beat cream at medium speed until frothy, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes. Increase speed to high and continue to beat until cream holds stiff peaks, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes longer. Using rubber spatula, fold one-third of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Set mascarpone mixture aside.



Step 10: Working one at a time, drop half of ladyfingers into coffee mixture, roll, remove, and transfer to 13 by 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. (Do not submerge ladyfingers in coffee mixture; entire process should take no longer than 2 to 3 seconds for each cookie.) Arrange soaked cookies in single layer in baking dish, breaking or trimming ladyfingers as needed to fit neatly into dish.



Step 11: Spread half of mascarpone cheese mixture over ladyfingers; use rubber spatula to spread mixture to sides and into corners of dish and smooth surface. Sprinkle 4 to 5 tablespoons grated chocolate over mascarpone.

Step 12: Repeat dipping and arrangement of ladyfingers; spread remaining mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers and sprinkle with remaining grated chocolate.




Step 13: Wipe edges of dish with dry paper towel. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours. Cut into pieces and serve chilled.