orange hazelnut pull apart bread

I’ve been feeling pretty lousy since Thursday with flu-like symptoms. Yesterday was to be my first day back to work after the holiday break, but I kept coughing so I did my co-workers a favor by staying home. (Sidebar: I wish more people would stay home when sick so as not to infect everyone else.)  As I laid in bed, coughing and generally feeling miserable, I read entries from my blogroll.  Lo and behold, I came upon Joanne’s post on her blog, Fifteen Spatulas, featuring the Cinnamon Pullapart Bread.  After seeing the photo and reading the recipe, a miracle happened!  Suddenly, I found the energy and strength to get out of bed and check the pantry for the ingredients I needed to make this bread. Luckily my pantry is pretty well-stocked.  Although it felt like I was moving in slow motion, I managed to bake this beautiful and absolutely delicious bread.   Continue reading

chocolate cinnamon crinkle cookies

I am not normally a made-from-scratch cookie baker.  For many years, I’ve been buying frozen cookie dough from my nephews’ school as part of their fundraising efforts.  When both boys moved to different schools, the fundraiser ended and with it went my ready-made cookie dough supply.  Now, I am “forced” to make cookie dough myself.  I don’t really have any go-to cookie recipes aside from my Snickerdoodle Cookies so I’ve been testing out recipes I’ve seen on different blogs and websites. So far, I’ve discovered a couple of keepers, like the Pistachio-Tangerine Cookies and the Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies that I featured in previous blog posts. Continue reading

pistachio-cranberry chiffon cupcakes with chocolate ganache

According to legend, the chiffon cake was invented in Los Angeles in the 1920s by Harry Baker (how appropriate!), an insurance salesman. The cake has a wonderfully light and airy texture, much like angel food cake, due to the stiffly-beaten egg whites which acts as a leavening agent.  However, unlike the angel food, the chiffon cake also contains egg yolks and vegetable oil which keeps the cake moist and tender. Baking powder is added to the recipe because the vegetable oil is heavy and needs the extra boost to ensure that the cake will rise properly.  The chiffon cake is typically baked in a tube pan to enable the hot air to circulate and bake the center of the cake.  Once baked, the chiffon cake is inverted until cool to keep the cake from shrinking and deflating. Continue reading

peanut butter cupcakes with chocolate ganache and peanut butter buttercream

Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache and Peanut Butter Buttercream
I have been obsessed with peanut butter cupcakes since I tasted the one at Sweet Revenge® in the West Village a couple of weeks ago.  One of the things I loved about that cupcake was that the cake flavor was actually peanut butter.  Also, I liked that there was still a little bit of chocolate, in the form of a chunk of chocolate fudge, baked in the center of the cupcake.  To top it off, the peanut butter buttercream was just right, not too sweet at all.  Continue reading

soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies


I really set out to make these classic chocolate chip cookie recipe from Jacques Torres, aka “Mr. Chocolate” (and another one of my chef crushes), but it called for two types of flours – bread and pastry – and worse, 24-36 hours of dough refrigeration time before baking. I didn’t have any pastry flour in my pantry and Chris and I couldn’t wait that long to satisfy our cookie craving. Making the oft-hyped “perfect chocolate chip cookie” would have to wait for another day. So I hunted around for an alternative recipe for soft, chewy cookies using ingredients I already had on hand. I found this one from Anna Olson who says cornstarch is the “secret” ingredient for cookies with chewy centers.

Continue reading

molten espresso cake with kahlua buttercream


It always amazes me how four ingredients – butter, eggs, sugar, and chocolate could be combined to make a wonderful dessert. This deliciously soft and “oozey” chocolate molten cake was invented by celebrity chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The story is that he pulled a tray of individual cakes from the oven before they were completely baked through. As he cut through one, the warm, liquid chocolate center oozed out instead of the dense cake he expected, and just like that, a classic dessert was born. Every restaurant in America now has their own version of this ubiquitous cake, but I am a loyal fan of the original version for not only for its simplicity, but also for its intense chocolate flavor. I am also an ardent admirer of Jean-Georges.

Continue reading

chocolate ganache and raspberry tart


I was dragging all day last Sunday, waiting for Chris to get home from his camping trip.  My iMac’s hard drive crashed so I couldn’t blog or surf the ‘net.  My big activity of the morning was making breakfast.  I had the leftover filling of goat cheese, pepperoni, and chives from the stuffed zucchini blossoms so I made an omelette with it for breakfast.  While waiting for the football games to start, I needed something to do so I decided to practice my crust-making skills.  I really liked the pâte sablée crust I made a couple of weeks back, so I got to work on making it again.

Continue reading

peanut butter pie for chris

A few days ago, Chris requested that I make something with peanut butter.  Since I was in the mood to make some kind of dessert, I decided to make a peanut butter pie.  I Googled “peanut butter pie” and the results were a little puzzling.  The internet was buzzing with many  food bloggers making peanut butter pies “for  Mikey.”  After further research, I learned that last month prominent food blogger Jennie Perillo’s husband, Mikey, suffered a heart attack and died leaving her to raise their young children alone.  To honor Mikey, Jennie wrote a touching tribute on her blog, part of which I share with you.

For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there’s no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on.

~ Jennie Perillo, food blogger

Continue reading

razzleberry ice cream with dark chocolate chips

 

Raspberry Ice Cream

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation declaring the third Sunday in July as National Ice Cream Day and designated July to be National Ice Cream Month.  It coincides with our own proclamation naming this year, 2011, as The Year of the Ice Cream.  As you know, Chris has been the diligent ice cream maker, churning ice cream at least once a week.  Today, to mark the Day, Month, and Year of the Ice Cream, it was my turn to create a cold concoction – Razzleberry Ice Cream.  My inspiration for this flavor came from Marie Callenders’ Razzleberry Pie, which is made with blackberries and raspberries.

Continue reading