Archives for the month of: June, 2011

These bars are known as Hello Dolly bars. I have no idea where that name comes from – perhaps Satchmo loved these, and used his large mouth to eat as many at a time as he possibly could. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

They also can be called Magic Bars, Seven-layer bars, or probably lots of other things. I choose to call them Beaucoup Bars because that is exactly what they are. Too much.

I made these as a dessert for a dinner party, intending for them to be easy to eat, a nice hand-held alternative to a cake/pie/tart. I grossly underestimated the power of these tiny little artery-cloggers.

You start with a graham cracker crust. Then you put every single delicious thing you can find on top of it. Some people choose to layer their toppings nicely, but I follow the mix-it-up school of thought, because this way you never know what each bite will contain. Anyways, whichever method you prefer, once you are done adding your fixings, you dump a can of sweetened condensed milk over the whole thing, stick it in the oven, and for the love of god, jump on a treadmill till they are done. And for about 5 hours more afterwards.

Traditionally, toppings include chocolate chips, shredded coconut, butterscotch chips, and pecans. I skipped the butterscotch chips, and instead incorporated Heath toffee bits. This worked really well, because the toffee provides a little much-needed saltiness to the mix.

These were so delicious, but a little too rich to be a regular indulgence. Next time, I would try using fat-free sweetened condensed milk, and maybe upping the amount of toffee bits, and cutting down on the chocolate chips a little bit. Also, I have no official measurements of toppings for this recipe, because I just eyeballed how much I would need. Go with your soon-to-be-slightly-larger gut.

Graham Cracker Crust Recipe

  • 2  1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 9 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press mixture evenly into the bottom of a greased 9×13 baking dish.

Add desired toppings on top of crust (layering if desired). Pour a can of sweetened condensed milk evenly over the entire pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until top is slightly golden brown.


This is the third and final Fathers Day recipe. Making desserts for my dad is tricky business, because he only likes certain kinds of desserts. He will swoon over key lime pie, but put a chocolate lava cake in front of him and his spoon will be untouched. Note to self: “share” more chocolate lava cakes with Dad.

My little sister went to Paris on a French class trip this past April, and in addition to buying me a shot glass and zero pairs of cute boots, she bought herself a French cookbook (and 2 pairs of cute boots), thinking that she would help me bake things from it. When my sister decides to help me bake, things can go one of two ways:

Option 1:

Little sister: Does this recipe have chocolate chips in it?                                                               Me: Nope                                                                                                                                      Little sister: K, gotta go.

Option 2:

Little sister: Does this recipe have chocolate chips in it?                                                             Me: Yes                                                                                                                                     Little sister: K, I just have to go get something, I’ll be right back                                                          *30 minutes later, upon hearing the telltale crinkle of the bag of chocolate chips being opened*     Little sister: Sorry, that took longer than I thought! Soooo, do you still need help?

This recipe does not have chocolate chips.

This galette tastes much, much better than it looks. The first time I heard the word “frangipane”, I was immediately suspicious, because it sounded a lot like “marzipan”, which I detest. Turns out, both involve almonds, but the key difference is that one of them is delicious and the other is gross.

Plus, making a frangipane tart is totally relevant to my upcoming plans, and to this blog, since the word “frangipane” derives from the Italian phrase frangere il pane, which means “break the bread”. It is also the surname of a very notable Roman family from the Middle Ages. I will find their descendants and make them this tart when I get there.

Things I would do differently next time I make this:

1) Make more of the crust

2) Don’t roll the crust so thin

3) Leave at least a 3-inch border of crust around the filling

Pate Brisee recipe (Adapted from Joy of Baking)

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and sliced into smaller pieces
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated white sugar
  • 1/8 cup cold water

In a food processor, mix the flour, salt and sugar. Add in the butter and blend until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the water bit by bit until the dough begins to hold together. Remove the dough from the food processor and place it on work surface. Gather it into a ball, wrap in saran wrap, and chill in the fridge for at least an hour (I actually left it in there for 3 hours). Use this time to make the frangipane and prepare the apples!

Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on rolling surface.  (I use parchment paper to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter, but a generous sprinkling of flour would do the same thing. Don’t forget to flour the rolling pin too!) Roll the dough out until it is uniformly thick (the actual thickness is up to you, but next time I definitely won’t let mine get thinner than slightly less than 1/4”). Once you are happy with the thickness of your dough, transfer it to your baking sheet, because once you add the filling, it will be very hard to move it.

Spread the frangipane filling in the center, leaving at least a 3″ border of crust. Add the apples on top, and fold up the crust around the sides, pinching it together where necessary.

Bake at 375° for 50-60 minutes, until crust is golden-brown, and apples are soft.

Frangipane recipe (adapted from Joy of Baking)

  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, or 1/8 tsp. vanilla beans
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds (I used slivered almonds, so that I didn’t have to blanch them and peel them first)
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

Combine butter and sugar using electric mixer, then beat in egg and vanilla until smooth. Add almonds and flour and stir until mixture forms a paste.


  • 3-4 apples (I used golden delicious)
  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar

Peel and core the apples, then cut into eighths. If you prefer bigger/smaller slices of apple, then don’t cut them into eighths! Once the frangipane and apples have been spread on the crust, and the crust has been folded up, sprinkle the granulated sugar over the whole tart before baking.

Serve warm or at room temperature! Or cold from the fridge the next day when you are pretending to get a glass of water!

Is it one word or two? Crab Cakes or Crabcakes? Truthfully, I spent most of the evening calling them Krabby Patties. I didn’t actually get any pictures of these after they were cooked (too hungry), but they were delicious. I found the recipe in my mom’s recipe binder, so I have no idea where it came from and who deserves the credit, but someone sure does. The only thing I would do differently next time would be to add some chopped jalapeños or something else to give them a little spice. Traditionally, crabcakes are fried, but please, for the love of all that is low-rise and ultra-skinny, consider baking them or grilling them instead. They are just as delicious, I promise.

Crabcake Recipe

  • 1/2 cup chopped green peppers
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onions
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped scallions
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • 16 oz. lump crab meat
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • additional egg for coating

Chili Sauce

  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 3 tsp. chili-garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Sautee the celery, onions, and green peppers for a few minutes and place in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup chili sauce to the crabcake mixture, along with the egg. Add the mustard, black pepper, seasoning and breadcrumbs to the mixture. Combine mixture with crabmeat. Form small patties, and lightly coat with egg. Chill in fridge for a couple of hours (or overnight), then bake/grill/fry.

1/2 cup chili sauce remains as a dipping sauce.

Yes, I do know that it is called bruschetta, not bruschetti. But that doesn’t rhyme with confetti. Sometimes rhyming is more important than being grammatically correct in a foreign language – its not as though I’m about to move to Italy or anything anyways.

These were our Father’s Day appetizers. The main course and dessert will be posted soon, but for now its all about these tasty little bruschette. We wanted something light and tasty, nothing that would fill up our stomachs or help us fill out our jeans.

Technically, bruschetta is made with bread that is rubbed with garlic, topped with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, then roasted. From that point on, its your blank canvas. Common toppings include chopped tomatoes or olives, or sometimes a little basil or mozzarella. But I opened this post with a bastardization of this Italian dish anyways, so in for a penny, in for a pound. We skipped the mozzarella and basil and olives, but we invited the tomatoes. Green peppers and red onions too. Capers and dried jalapeño peppers rounded out the set. But there were two things that really made these little bruschette amazing. First, we spread a thin layer of goat cheese on the bread. I like it better than mozzarella anyways (they are really going to hate me over there). Second, we mixed the chopped vegetables with a little bit of fresh pesto made with garlic scapes. This gave the dish a really sharp, summery flavor.

Pretty much any kind of baguette or toasts can be used as the base for this dish. We actually used sourdough sandwich bread, cut up into quarters. Make it even healthier and use multigrain or whole wheat bread!

For the base, use whatever kind of bread you like. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with salt + pepper, and bake in oven until crisp.

Topping recipe:

  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. capers
  • 1 tsp. dried jalapeño flakes
  • 1 Tbsp. pesto
  • Approximately 3 Tbsp. goat cheese

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Spread thin layer of goat cheese on each piece of toast. Heap a small spoonful of topping onto each toast. Bake at 250° for 2-3 minutes, then broil for 45-60 seconds. Remove from oven and serve warm!

There are too many people I like who were born in June. My spatula has grown weary, and the oven is threatening to revolt. No. More. Birthdays.

These pictures are decidedly sub-par, even for my less-than-stellar photography skills. Some days you just can’t make things look good. But when those things are covered in chocolate ganache and filled with raspberries and soooo shiny, you eventually have to put down the camera and pick up a fork. My limited sense of coordination makes it impossible to do both at once.

This cake is for a Nice Boy. He likes chocolate and raspberries, so he wasn’t too surprised to be presented with a chocolate cake filled with raspberries and topped with more chocolate (and more raspberries).

I confess to using box cake mix for this cake. I’m not sorry – I think box cake mixes are great, especially if you doctor them up a bit. For this cake, instead of adding water, I added milk (buttermilk is also a popular substitution). I also grated a couple ounces of semi-sweet baking chocolate into the batter, to make it extra chocolate-y. Due to poor planning and estimation, one of those cake layers is regular chocolate cake, and one is German chocolate cake. Calm down, it was fine. For the filling, I warmed chopped fresh raspberries in a saucepan with a little bit of this amazing jam I found in my fridge:

I filled the cake with the raspberries, and topped it with homemade ganache, stuck more raspberries on top, scowled at the mess in the kitchen, and that was that.

For the cake, use whatever chocolate cake recipe you can find, or use a box!

Raspberry Filling Recipe 

  • 1 box fresh raspberries
  • 2 Tbsp. Baco Noir jelly

Chop the raspberries into small pieces, then add to a saucepan along with jelly. Heat over a low flame for 2-3 minutes until jelly is melted and mixture is slightly warm. Remove from heat and spread over bottom layer of cake.

Add top layer of cake. Prepare ganache.

Ganache Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Melt chocolate chips and heavy cream together in a double boiler until chocolate is thoroughly melted. Pour mixture over cake and spread to ensure that entire cake is covered. Top with fresh raspberries if desired.

Today was the birthday of a very dear family friend. Who just happens to love figs. Last year for his birthday, I made Fig and Walnut Biscotti, but I think I’ve been clear on my opinions of non-sliceable birthday desserts. This year it had to be a cake. The search was on. I came across this cake recipe, and called off the hunt. This morning, my mom and I set to work getting it ready.

I myself am not too crazy for figs in and of themselves, but when you puree them and put them in a cake batter (or biscotti dough!) they are pretty excellent. The cake was rich and moist and perfect, and the figs deserve the lion’s share of the credit for that. The pecans are in there for crunch and you can pretty much dictate the pecan presence in this cake by modulating the size of the chopped pecan pieces. We left pretty sizable chunks of pecan, but chop them according to personal preference and all will be well.

Truthfully, this cake is just as delicious without the glaze, and we debated whether or not to even make it. We thought the cake might be too sweet already, but despite the figs and sugar, the cake isn’t overly saccharine. The glaze is sweet, of course, but the bourbon in the glaze really stands out and I think it adds some extra flavor. Plus, its so quick and easy to make.

Pecan Bourbon Fig Cake (adapted from

  • 1 lb. Turkish figs, dried
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 bourbon (I used Wild Turkey, but you can use anything)
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 cups pecans, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature

Simmer the figs in the water in a heavy saucepan, covered, for about 25 minutes or until water is mostly absorbed. Puree in food processor with bourbon and vanilla extract. Cool to warm. 

Preheat oven to 350°F, and grease bundt pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.

Beat together brown sugar, eggs, and oil with electric mixer until thick and creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in fig-bourbon mixture. Stir in dry ingredients. Fold in pecans.

Pour batter into pan and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 60-75 minutes.

Glaze (adapted from

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 5 Tbsp. heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. bourbon
  • 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Pour glaze over cooled cake. 

This past Thursday was my mom’s birthday, so I was going back and forth trying to decide upon which dessert to unleash my oven mitts. My decision was made a lot easier when my mom requested chocolate chip cookies with walnuts. So then it was settled. Such is the power of a birthday girl.

Honestly, I don’t think you can call something a “birthday dessert” unless it can be sliced. Cakes, of course, fit this criterion. Pies and tarts are fair game too. Regardless,  requests trump rules, and that is how the birthday chocolate chip walnut cookies were born.

Like any other baker, I’ve searched long and hard for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. I’ve looked all over the internet, I’ve looked on the back of the chocolate chip bag, and I’ve stood in Borders and browsed through cookbooks, all to find a cookie that’s not too salty, not too sweet, not too chewy, not too crispy. Not too picky, right?

This is my favorite recipe so far. Like so many other delicious recipes, it comes from Deb at Smitten Kitchen. My only modifications were to slightly decrease the amount of chocolate chips, and to add walnuts. Other than that, I’m not messing with it. “If it ain’t broke” and all that.

For the recipe, head on over to Smitten Kitchen