Pignoli Cookies

photo 5

Another simple but amazing cookie.


12 ounces almond paste
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg whites, divided
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups pine nuts


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
In a small bowl, beat almond paste and sugar until crumbly. Beat in 2 egg whites.
Gradually add sugar; mix well.
Whisk remaining egg whites in a shallow bowl.

Place pine nuts in another shallow bowl. Shape dough into 1-in. balls. Roll in egg whites and coat with pine nuts.

Place 2 in. apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Flatten slightly. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 1 minute before removing from pans to wire racks.

I worked with this recipe.



Peanut Butter Blobs


So simple and so good.


1 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
Coarse-grained sea salt, to finish


Whisk together brown sugar and eggs until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then the peanut butter until smooth and completely incorporated.  It will form together in a ball.  Mix in chocolate.

Use a small ice cream scoop and scoop onto lined cookie sheets.  Put in freezer for 15 minutes before baking.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Sprinkle the dough balls lightly with coarse-grained sea salt just before baking. Bake for approximately 15 minutes. When finished, cookies should be golden at edges. They’ll need to set on the sheet for a minute or two before they can be lifted intact to a cooling sheet.

I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Engadiner (Swiss Nut Torte)

A Swiss Nut tart from Johnny Iuzinni and his book Sugar Rush.

Tart Dough
196 g cold unsalted butter
198 g almond paste
219 g flour
1 teaspoon salt

200 g sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon kosher salt
225 g heavy cream
366 g chopped walnuts and pecans mixed

1 large egg
1 teaspoon milk


For tart dough, put the butter, almond paste into a standing mixer bowl fitted with the paddle and beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes until the butter and almond paste are combined with no butter clumps visible.  With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour and salt and mix, stopping to scrape down eh bowl with a spatula occasionally, until the dough is smooth.  Divide the dough into 2 equal portions, form each into a disk, and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll one of the dough disks into an 11-inch circle and carefully press it into a 8-inch removable-bottom fluted tart pan allowing the excess dough to hang over the edges of the pan. Roll the other portion of dough into a 10-inch circle and transfer it to a lightly floured baking sheet.  Chill the two crusts int he refrigerator while you make the filling.

For the filling, put the sugar, water, corn syrup, and salt into a heavy saucepan and stir with your finger until mixture is sandy. Wipe the edges of the pan with a wet finger and put the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Once the sugar is dissolved, brush the edges of the pan with a clean pastry brush dipped in cold water.  Cook, without stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the sugar turns a deep mahogany brown and beginning to smoke.

Meanwhile, warm the cream in another saucepan over medium heat until warm.  When the caramel is ready, slowly and carefully whisk in the warm cream. Bring the mixture back to a boil and stir in the nuts. Remove from the heat and pour the filling into a large bowl to cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. F.

To assemble the tart, pour the cooled filling into the bottom shell and spread evenly.  Carefully lay the pastry circle on top of the filling and press on it lightly to compact the filling and seat it at the edges. Lightly press the bottom and top crust together at the edges, trimming away any excess dough.

Whisk the egg and milk in a small bowl and brush the top.  Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake for 35-50 minutes until crust is deep golden brown.  Cool the tart completely in pan before slicing.  Keep covered and at room temperature.


Mocha-Walnut Marbled Bundt


I’m on a Dorie Greenspan kick. I used this recipe but there was a key step missing so I added it below in my recipe.


2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup finely ground walnuts
teaspoon baking powder
teaspoon salt
sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup coffee, hot or cold
teaspoon espresso powder
1 3/4 cups sugar
large eggs
teaspoons pure vanilla extract
cup whole milk, at room temperature


Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter a 9- to 10-inch (12-cup) Bundt pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess.

Whisk together the flour, ground walnuts, baking powder, and salt.

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Put 2 tablespoons of the butter, cut into 4 pieces, into the bowl, along with the chocolate, coffee, and instant coffee. Heat the mixture, stirring often, until the butter and chocolate are melted and everything is smooth and creamy—keep the heat low so that the butter and chocolate don’t separate. Remove the bowl from the heat.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the remaining 2 sticks butter and the sugar at medium speed for about 3 minutes—you’ll have a thick paste; this won’t be light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition. The mixture should look smooth and satiny. Beat in the vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients and the milk alternately, adding the dry mixture in 3 portions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients).

Pour half the batter (without the chocolate coffee mixture) into the prepared bundt pan.  Then pour the chocolate coffee mixture on top of that.  Do a final layer of the rest of the batter.  Take a knife and make gentle swirling motion around the pan. Just go around once trying not to scrape the sides or bottom with the knife.

Bake for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the Bundt pan to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes before unmolding, then cool the cake completely on the rack.

Decorate or frost as desired.  I used a shot of espresso and 2 cups of powdered sugar.


Cardamom Crumb

Thanks to Dorie Greenspan for this recipe.


1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sugar
tablespoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature

cups flour
teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2/3 cup sugar
tablespoons finely grated orange zest
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup strong coffee, cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla


Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess.

To make the crumbs: Put all the ingredients except the butter in a bowl and toss them together with a spatula just to blend. Add the butter and, using your fingers or the spatula, mix everything together until you’ve got crumbs of different sizes. It’s nice to have a few big pieces, so don’t overdo it. Set the crumbs aside.

To make the cake: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom, and espresso powder in a large bowl. Turn the dry ingredients out onto a sheet of wax paper, and put the sugar and zest in the bowl. Rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of orange strong, then return the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk to blend.

Put the remaining ingredients in another bowl and whisk them to blend. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir – don’t beat – to mix. Stir only until you’ve got an evenly moistened batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and top with a thick, even layer of the crumbs. Pat the crumbs ever so gently into the batter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake has risen (it will crown), the crumbs are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool in the pan before serving warm or at room temperature.

You can unmold the cake if you want to, but you’ll lose some of the crumbs when you turn it over. Dorie prefers to cut the cake in the pan, taking care not to nick the surface of the pan with my knife. (This is a good job for a plastic or silicone pie server.)

Serving: Cut the cake into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.

Storing: This cake is best served the day it is made. It can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months; once it defrosts, it benefits from a quick warm-up in a 350-degree-F oven.

I got the recipe here.



Pâte à Choux can be tricky but this recipe is pretty easy. I’m just not that great at it.


Pastry Cream

2 1/4 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cup cream (whipped before filling eclairs)

Pâte à Choux
cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
4 large eggs
10 oz dark chocolate for topping


Pastry Cream
In medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup milk, egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch.

Transfer remaining 1 3/4 cups milk to heavy medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add pod. Sprinkle remaining 1/3 cup sugar over, letting sugar sink undisturbed to bottom. Set pan over moderate heat and bring to simmer without stirring.

Whisk hot milk mixture, then gradually whisk into egg yolk mixture. Return to saucepan over moderate heat and cook, whisking constantly, until pastry cream simmers and thickens, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, discard vanilla pod, and whisk cream until smooth. Transfer to bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto surface. Chill until cold, about 4 hours.

Pate a Choux
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the water, butter, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and cook until the butter is completely melted and the mixture is simmering.

Add in the flour all at once, and continue to cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until the dough gathers itself into a ball and a film begins to form on the bottom of the pot.

Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl, and beat on medium speed.

Drop in the eggs, one at a time, while continuing to beat. Allow each egg to become fully incorporated, before adding the next (about 30 seconds to a minute).

Pipe or spoon the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, allowing about 3 inches in between each puff.

Bake time can range from 20-40 minutes, depending on size. Remove from the oven when they are puffed, golden brown, hollow, dry, and light.

Fill Eclairs

Whip cream until stiff peaks form.  Fold into chilled pastry cream until smooth. Fill pastry bag for piping into cooled shells. Use a chop stick or something similar to poke three holes in the bottom of the the cooled puffs. Pipe into eclairs.  Melt chocolate by putting chips into microwave for 30 seconds at a time until smooth.  Dip eclairs on one side.  Let set and serve.  Refrigerate if not eating immediately.

I used this recipe for the Pate a Choux.



Cara Cara Cake

I imagine myself eating this with chocolate ice cream.


3 1/2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
Zest of one Cara Cara orange
teaspoon vanilla extract
eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
16 oz softened cream cheese
4 cups powdered sugar
juice of one orange
zest of one orange


In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, or in a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and orange zest together until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.

Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and making sure batter is fully combined after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat to combine.

Add one-third of the dry ingredients, beat to combine, then add half of the buttermilk and mix again. Alternate between dry and wet ingredients, starting and ending with the dry, until everything is just combined.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9 x 9-inch square pan (or a loaf pan, or a 9-inch circular pan) with parchment paper, then butter or spray the paper.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it out with a spatula. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For the frosting, combine butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl and cream until smooth.  Add powdered sugar a cup at time until whipped smooth.  Add juice and zest and mix until well combined.

Slice, layer, and frost cake as desired.


Kimberly’s Black Forest Cake


I thought I’d make Kimberly one of her favorite cakes for her birthday.



1 2cups flour
2cup cocoa powder
1 1teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
12 cup shortening
1 1cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1cups buttermilk


1cup kirsch
1cup unsalted butter
3 cups icing sugar|
1 pinch salt
1cup espresso
2 lbs fresh black cherries


2 cups heavy whipping cream
1teaspoon vanilla
1cup kirsch
2 tablespoons dry milk
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1cup shaved dark chocolate


Pit most of the cherries leaving about 10 for decoration on top of the cake. Take the pitted cherries and soak them in a jar of the 1/2 cup Kirsch overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F Line the bottom of three 9 inch round cake pans with parchment.

Sift the dry cake ingredients together.

Cream the shortening and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk and mix well.

Pour evenly into the cake pans. Bake for 20 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean.

Cool and remove the cakes. Prick the tops of the cakes with a toothpick and pour the 1/2 cup of Kirsch (that the cherries soaked in) onto the cake.

In a bowl beat the butter until light and creamy. Add the icing sugar, salt and espresso and mix well. If the icing is too thick add Kirsch or cherry juice.

Cut the cherries into halves.

Place the base layer on top of your cake tray, spread 1/2 of the filling over one top, cover with cherries and top with another layer of cake.

Spread the second half of the filling over that layer of cake, cover with cherries and top with the third layer of cake. Cover this and let sit in the fridge for a day or two to allow the kirsch to soak into the cake and become moist.

The day you’re going to serve this cake prepare the icing. Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks.

Gently fold in the dry milk and icing sugar.

Add the vanilla and pour in the Kirsch until it’s a good consistency.

If you like more icing double this recipe. Spread the icing over all of the cake.

Place the fresh, intact cherries on top for decoration and cover the top with the chocolate shavings. Serve and enjoy!

I got the recipe here.


Chocolate Almond Torte

Chocolate and almonds in a gluten-free treat.


7 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
7 oz. unsalted butter, cubed
4 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon espresso powder
200 g sugar
100 g ground almonds
1/4 teaspoon salt


Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch/20cm (or a 9-inch/23 cm) springform pan. Wrap the outside bottom and sides of the pan with aluminum foil to prevent leaking.

Place chocolate and butter in a medium heat-proof bowl and microwave in 20 to 30-second increments, stirring between each, until melted. Alternatively, you can set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl, and stir occasionally until melted. Set aside.

In a large bowl, place egg yolks and ½ cup (100g) sugar, and whisk by hand for a minute until pale and thick. Stir in chocolate mixture, espresso powder, almonds, and salt.

In a mixer bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk eggs and the remaining ½ cup of sugar on high speed until thick, shiny, soft peaks form.

Using a spatula, fold one-third of egg white mixture into chocolate mixture until mixed. Fold in remaining mixture in 2 additions until combined.

Pour batter into prepared cake pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs. The cake should be set on the sides but still wobbly in the center. Allow to cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours until completely set.

Sift cocoa powder over cake before serving. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Cake will keep, well wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. It also freezes well.

I got the recipe here.


Brown Butter Blondies




Gooey part
½ cup unsalted butter
1 large egg
¾ cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon kosher salt
⅓ cup flour

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more
2¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more
1½ cups pecans, coarsely chopped
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1¾ cups (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Gooey Part
Cook butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until butter foams, then browns, 5–8 minutes. Transfer brown butter to a medium bowl; let cool slightly. Add egg, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat until mixture is light and falls back onto itself in a slowly dissolving ribbon, about 3 minutes. Fold in flour.

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter a 13×9” baking dish and dust with flour. Toast pecans on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until slightly darkened and fragrant, 8–10 minutes. Let cool.


Whisk baking powder, salt, and 2¼ cups flour in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat brown sugar and 1 cup butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating between additions; mix until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in vanilla.


Reduce speed to low and mix in dry ingredients. Fold in half of pecans. Scrape two-thirds of batter into prepared baking dish; smooth top, pushing batter to edges. Alternating, dollop brown butter mixture and remaining batter on top. Smooth and sprinkle remaining pecans over.


Bake until blondie is golden brown and firm (a tester will not come out clean), 30–35 minutes. Let cool before slicing.

I used this recipe.