Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Pumpkin Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

I always have some canned pumpkin puree on hand, partially because I have an irrational fear of not being able to get hold of any around Thanksgiving. Visions of empty supermarket shelves plague me. Well, this year my fears have been justified: the press has announced the Great Pumpkin Shortage of 2015, with pumpkin crops 

down by about half and making the supply of canned pumpkin for Thanksgiving tight. So, make sure you buy a few cans next time you’re at the store – Thanksgiving is just not the same without pumpkin pie, after all. And there are other great uses for it, as in this moist pumpkin cake. It’s a casual sort of cake, great for lunch, brunch, 

snacking or bringing to a friend’s house. I top it with a creamy White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting, and a sprinkling of candied walnuts. Serve the cake right from the pan, at room temperature.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Theo Chocolate's Gooey Double-Chocolate Mocha Cookies

I’ve been a fan of Theo, the Seattle bean-to-bar chocolate maker, since they opened their doors in 2006. Theo is one of the only companies in the country making chocolate from organic, fair-trade cocoa that it sources itself.  Naturally, I was excited when I heard they had a new cookbook out. Theo Chocolate: Recipes & 

Sweet Secrets from Seattle’s Favorite Chocolate Maker by Debra Music and Joe Whinney, co-founders of Theo (Sasquatch Books, 2015; $24.95), includes sweet and savory recipes for cooking with chocolate at home, along with the fascinating story of how Theo came to be (you’ll have to get the book to find out – no spoilers here!). 

Theo has also just launched a new line of organic, soy-free baking bars, so you can experience the recipes in this book with the correct chocolate. I chose an ooey-gooey chocolate cookie to try out from the book, and it’s a keeper that may just be added to my holiday cookie tray (hey, the competition is stiff!). I used a 70% 

chocolate, as directed, but it’s not Theo brand chocolate. The cookies still turned out wonderfully, all melty and ultra-chocolatey, but I am eager to try the new Theo baking bars.  It’s certainly worth checking out the Theo website to see the amazing line of chocolates from this smart and responsible company. www.theochocolate.com

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Chocolate Almond Coconut Bars from Flavorful

In my new book Flavorful, I wanted to present a collection of recipes in the most popular flavors – the ones that diners go for first on the dessert menu. Nothing too sophisticated or avant garde, just desserts in flavors that people love and return to

time and again. Chocolate is certainly one of the most popular flavors, and it may just be numero uno on the list. I know it is on mine. Inspired by the Almond Joy Candy bar, these indulgent brownies come from the Chocolate chapter of Flavorful

The fudgy brownie base is topped with a sticky coconut layer into which whole toasted almonds are embedded, arranged so that each portion gets an almond. The filling is then covered with a half dark, half milk chocolate glaze. If you love the magic combination of chocolate and coconut, these brownies are for you. Enjoy them at room temperature or chilled, as you prefer. They also freeze nicely, provided you wrap them well first.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Donald Wressell's Sinful Chocolate Pound Cake

Guittard is one of my favorite chocolates, and probably the one I use the most for baking and dessert making. I’ve used it for a long time, and over the years have gotten to know the Guittard family and the wonderful folks who work for them. One of these fine people is the great pastry chef Donald Wressell, who was running the 

pastry kitchen at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills when we first met. Donald is one of the calmest and nicest people in the business – there is nothing he won’t do for a friend or colleague – and he is also one of the most talented, particularly when working with chocolate. Donald is Guittard’s resident Executive Pastry Chef 

and has contributed a whole chapter of recipes in the newly released Guittard Chocolate Cookbook (Chronicle Books, 2015; $25). There are several of his recipes I am eager to try, particularly his chocolate layer cake (Grandma’s Chocolate Cake), but I started with the simple Sinful Chocolate Pound Cake. It’s a moist, buttermilk pound cake that has lots of grated extra-bitter chocolate folded into its batter right before baking, a trick that makes it ultra-chocolatey and extra moist. Make sure to seek out Guittard chocolate and cocoa for this cake, it will make all the difference in the world.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Buttermilk Peach Coffee Cake

A lovely woman from Philadelphia emailed me the other day to tell me she had made the Buttermilk Peach Coffee Cake from The Cake Book and loved it so much that she was determined to make every recipe in the book. I told her to keep me posted on her 

progress—I hope her family likes cake!
            Inspired by my new friend in the City of Brotherly Love and the bounty of peaches that are now in season, I decided to make the very same coffee cake the other day, and it was as wonderful as I remember it to be. The cake has a tender 

crumb (thanks to the buttermilk) and a filling of juicy peaches and crumbly nut streusel. There’s streusel on top, too, along with a drizzle of sweet white glaze. It’s an easy cake to make – no need even to peel the peaches, just slice them thinly and layer them over the batter. I won’t guarantee that you will be inspired enough to make the rest of the cakes in The Cake Book, but do let me know if you are! I’ll send you a prize of some sort (maybe).

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Blueberry Cornmeal Scones from Flavorful: 150 Irresistible Desserts in All-Time Favorite Flavors

It’s been a few months since my last post, but this time I’ve got a legitimate excuse for my absence: I’ve been busy working on the final stages of my new book, Flavorful: 150 Irresistible Desserts in All-Time Favorite Flavors (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015). The official pub date is September 29, but it’s available for pre-

order now on the Amazon and Barnes & Noble sites. This book was two years in the making, and I’m very pleased with how it turned out. It’s beautifully designed, and full of great recipes and enticing photos. Here’s one of the simpler recipes from the book, a tender Blueberry Cornmeal Scone that’s not too sweet and has lots of berry 

flavor. The photos here are not from the book, they were done specifically for this post by moi (the ones in the book are way better!). These scones are great on their own and even better served warm with a French or Irish lightly salted butter. 

Blueberry Cornmeal Scones
From Flavorful: 150 Irresistible Desserts in All-Time Favorite Flavors by Tish Boyle

It’s difficult to find a good scone these days, even at respectable bakeries. Most are dry, tough, and flavorless. The solution is to make your own, using a good recipe and a light touch. These scones are tender and bursting with juicy blueberries, just right for a weekend breakfast, brunch, or afternoon snack. The yellow cornmeal gives them a slightly nutty flavor and hearty texture that stands up to the berries, while a little lemon zest offers a bright note. This recipe makes eight triangular scones, but you can cut out rounds from the dough if you prefer — just pat the scraps back together and cut out more scones until you’ve used up all the dough. I like to eat these with nothing more than a smear of soft Irish butter, but add your favorite jam and clotted cream, if you like.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Key Lime Macarons

It always gives me a small thrill to discover a new (and sometimes better) way of making a classic recipe. For years I’ve made lemon and lime curd the same way – that is by combining the egg yolks, citrus juice, sugar and butter in a saucepan and cook, stirring, until thickened. My new favorite method is based on a method by 

famed pastry chef Pierre Hermé.  I combine everything but the butter in a stainless steel bowl and cook it over simmering water, whisking constantly, as one would for a sabayon. When it’s thickened to the consistency of thin mayonnaise, I remove it from the heat and whisk in the softened butter and citrus zest. Hermé actually puts 

the custard in a blender and then adds the butter. Either way, the result is a very creamy curd that makes an ideal filling for tarts or, in this case, crunchy, green-hued macarons. As an optional garnish for the macarons, I brushed the tops of some with a little watered down gel color and let it dry.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hot Cross Buns

Though I love to make bread, rolls, and basically any yeast-based dough, I’ve somehow never gotten around to making hot cross buns, the sweet rolls you see in bakeries throughout Lent. Growing up, hot cross buns from the bakery were a staple in our house every Sunday in the weeks leading up to Easter. They are wonderful 

plain – after a short warm-up in the toaster oven — or split in half and toasted, topped with a good salted butter and a little marmalade or jam. There is a good deal of folklore and superstition associated with these little buns, which over the years have been said to bring the ill back to good health; protect against shipwreck on sea 

voyages; protect against fires when hung in the kitchen; and ensure friendship to recipients throughout the coming year. In 16th century England, the sale of hot cross buns was even outlawed except for burials and on Good Friday and Christmas. Nowadays you can enjoy them every day of the year, though they do require a bit of 

effort to make. To ensure tender buns, make sure not to over-knead the dough when adding the dried fruit and when rolling the buns into rounds.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Potato, Leek and Fennel Soup with Sausage and Red Swiss Chard

Even though I now reside in the Sunshine State, I spent most of my life in and around New York, and am abundantly familiar with the unrelenting harshness of winters in the Northeast. The past two winters have been particularly brutal, with snowstorm after snowstorm and record low temps offering little relief. I know it

 must be bad, because it’s also been cold in South Florida – when I have to turn on the heat, it means it’s pretty darned chilly out. When the temperature dips, there’s nothing better than homemade soup to nourish the soul (I know it’s not dessert, but an occasional savory recipe won’t kill you). This hearty soup is a meal in itself,

especially when served with a crusty country bread or homemade croutons. I love the combination of potato-leek-fennel-and-sausage, with slightly bitter Swiss chard and a dash of lemon juice serving as counterpoint to the rich ingredients. Feel free to substitute kale, spinach or sorrel (if you can find it) for the chard, and leave the sausage out for a lighter soup.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Chocolate Heart Cookies with White Chocolate Orange Ganache Filling

Valentine’s Day, the holy grail of Hallmark holidays, is almost upon us. I'm basically a total cynic when it comes to the whole declaration-of-love-through-chocolate-and-flowers thing, and the thought of going out to a restaurant on the night of February 14 sends shivers down my spine (and not in a good way). I favor saying “I love you” 

in smaller, less conspicuous ways throughout the entire year. Baking cookies for my husband is one such way; he is easily pleased and always appreciates the time and effort put into my home-spun sweets. This heart-shaped chocolate sandwich cookie is an ideal way to convey romantic thoughts on Valentine’s Day or any other day of 

the year. The tender chocolate butter cookie sandwiches a delicate orange flavored white chocolate ganache; it’s a good match – the cookie part is not overly sweet, and the white chocolate ganache balances its deep cocoa flavor perfectly. If you’re not in love, that’s ok, too (not that you care what I think!). Bake a batch for yourself, and eat them all in one sitting while watching Wuthering Heights or Waterloo Bridge (two of my favorite old romances) on Netflix. Now that’s my idea of a good Valentine’s Day!
(Click "Read More" below for recipe.)