Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sweet Potato Casserole

Okay, this recipe is so delicious I can't stop eating it.  It's of course, delicious with turkey and ham, but I have to tell you it makes an awesome dessert with fresh whip cream.  I do not recommend you cut back on the sugar at first.  I like to make recipes as they are original printed and then make changes to suit my taste.

Sweet Potato Casserole
by Chris Ruth Steakhouse

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
1/3 cup stick melted unsalted butter

Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and butter to form  crumbs in a bowl, set aside.

3 cups cooked mashed sweet potato (I have even used up to 5 cups packed baked sweet potato, mashed)
1 cup white sugar
pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
1 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 dgrees.  Spray or grease baking pan with butter.  (9x13) pan

Peel sweet potato and bake in oven on a baking sheet for one hour until fork tender.

Mash Potatoes well with potato masher.

Add sugar, salt, vanilla and butter into potato mixture, continue to mash and mix well.  When potatoes cool down add beaten eggs and mix well.

Place potato mixture in prepared pan, smooth evenly.

Place crumbs on top and bake in oven for about 30 minutes until lightly golden brown.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  If eating as a dessert I like mine cold from fridge with cold whip cream.  

Thursday, October 22, 2015


I usually make my Tiramisu in a 10x12 aluminum pan or a 9x13 pan.  It should have over 2 inch sides.  However the pic above was made in a spring form pan.  


Coffee Mixture
1 1/2 cups strong espresso
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup kahlua
2 T. Rum

Combine all ingredients above.

1 pkg. Italian lady fingers
1 Hershey's chocolate Bar
Hershey's Cocoa Powder for Dusting

Cream Filling
6 eggs separated
2/3 cups sugar
1 large Tub mascarpone cheese
1tsp. vanilla extract

Stabilize Whip Cream for Decoration (optional)

Beat egg yolks and sugar to creamy and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add cheese, vanilla extract and continue to beat until creamy.  Whip egg whites in a separate bowl to stiff peaks.  Gently fold egg whites into cheese mixture.  Fold until you don't see egg white anymore.

Dip one lady finger into coffee mixture (rather quickly), continue until you have a layer on bottom of a 9x13 pan.  Take half your cheese mixture and smooth with an offset spatula to cover your first layer of dipped lady fingers.  Take cocoa and sift on top of cheese mixture.  Grate half of chocolate bar on top of cocoa layer.  Continue to do another layer of lady fingers dipped in coffee mixture.  Then a layer of cheese mixture, cocoa and grated chocolate.  I whip up heavy whipping cream with a little powder sugar and I dissolve plain gelatin in a little bit of hot water to stabilize whip cream.  First whip up whipping cream then add powder sugar to your whipped cream to taste and a little bit of dissolved gelatin. Continue to whip until all is incorporated.  Do not over do it or you will get butter.   Pipe decorations on top. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Polish Napoleon

I love Napoleons which are a French dessert.  However, I found out that Polish people have their own take on this dessert as well.  It only has two layers of puff pastry and no fondant.  Super easy to put together and I must say quite impressive.  Enjoy.

Polish Napoleons
2 cookie sheets lined with parchment

1 box of Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry with 2 sheets of pastry dough
Powder sugar for dusting

4 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out
or 2 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch salt
8 egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup whipped whipping cream

More powder sugar for dusting.

Preparing Puff Pastry:
 Roll out puff pastry to about a 10x14 depending on size you want to fit in pan.  Keep in mind it will shrink about an inch all around after baking.  You can trim after baking to desired size to fit in pan.

After rolling puff pastry, poke all over with fork.  Bake in a 375 degree oven until golden brown, remove from oven and dust with powder sugar and place back in oven to caramelize.  Remove from oven and flip over and do the underside with a dusting of powder sugar and bake until caramelized.  This adds a wonderful texture and flavor to the puff pastry, similar to the top of a creme brulee.  Do not skip this step, it makes a huge difference.  Roll out other sheet and do the same as above.  When finished, let pastries cool completely for assembly.

Make Filling: Can make filling in advance to cool
In a medium saucepan, mix milk, 3/4 sugar, vanilla bean seeds and salt.  Slowly cook over medium heat and bring to a light simmer.  In another bowl, whisk egg yolks, cornstarch and remaining 3/4 sugar.  Whisking constantly, add hot milk into egg yolk mixture.  Keep whisking.

Transfer mixture back into sauce pot.  On gentle heat, bring mixture to a boil.  Be careful it can burn very easily.  Make sure you are whisking constantly.  As soon as you see first bubble from boiling,  remove from stove top, add butter and continue to mix well with a wooden spoon.

Place custard in a bowl.  Cover with clear wrap directly on top of custard to prevent a skin from forming.  Custard needs to cool for about 2 hours.  Fold in the whipped whip cream into custard with a spatula.

In a 9x13 place a piece of parchment paper to overhang long sides about 2 inches on each side.  This is for easy lifting of the Napoleon when frozen.  If you have to cut your first piece of puff pastry to fit into the 9x13 pan do so.  Place pastry sheet on bottom of parchment lined pan.  Place custard on top and smooth out with off set spatula to even out.  Place the other Pastry sheet on top.  Gently press down to even out custard.  Cover  Napoleon with clear wrap and place in freezer for 5 hours to freeze.  This is for easy slicing.  Remove Napoleon by lifting from the parchment paper overhang on sides of pan.  Place on cutting board.  Generously sift powder sugar all over Napoleon.  Using a serrated knife, slice frozen Napoleon into perfect slices.  Place in fridge for about 5 hours to come to perfect consistency. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Danish Pastry

Danish Pastry Posted originally on my old blog Soap Mom's Kitchen
For the yeast dough starter, put into a small bowl or one cup measuring cup, the following ingredients:
1/4 cup warm water (105*F to 115*F)
1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
Wait 5 to 10 minutes to activate the yeast; it will be bubbly.  If not bubbly, discard.  Try again.  If yeast still did not activate,  you need to buy new yeast.

In a separate large bowl add and whisk together
1/2 cup milk at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
Set aside.

In a food processor add
2 3/4 cups flour
2 sticks cold, unsalted butter
Process only until butter forms large clumps.  Do not over-process into a meal.  You want to see clumps of butter.  Have another 1/2 cup of flour in reserve to bring the dough together into a soft ball.

In a large mixing bowl place the egg, milk, sugar mixture add the yeast dough starter. Mix well.  Add flour-butter mixture, and using a spoon bring the dough together.  You can mix the dough with your impeccably clean hands as well.  Using the reserved 1/2 cup flour, bring the dough together to make a soft dough ball.  Do not overwork the dough as you do not want to melt the butter.  Grease the bowl slightly with vegetable oil and gently turn the dough over in the bowl to lightly coat the dough ball with the oil. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Cheese Filling 
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine and mix well.

Honey Glaze
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons water
Heat in a microwave safe bowl and use a pastry brush to glaze the baked Danish.

Confectioner's Glaze
3/4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon of water (or enough to achieve desired consistency for drizzling)
Mix well.  Use to drizzle on top of cooled Danish.

Optional but highly recommended
Jam or preserve  or curd of choice to add on top of the cheese filling
Toasted sliced almonds

Oven 350* F.
Parchment-lined or generously greased cookie sheet.

The next day, on a well floured surface, roll out the dough into a large 16-inch square and fold into thirds.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Take the dough out and roll again into a 10 x 20 rectangle and refold as before.  Cover and refrigerate.  Do this for a total of 3 times.

After the third roll into a 10 x 20 rectangle, cut into strips.  Cut along the short side.  About 1 inch wide. 

Take two strips and twist them, forming the twisted strips into a circle and pinching the ends together.
Pinch the inner part of the ring all the way around towards the center to make a base for the filling.  Spray the tops of the danish with spray release and cover gently with clear wrap.  Let rise for about 35 minutes in a warm spot or until proofed.

Add cheese filling and a tablespoon of preserves on top of the cheese if you wish.  Bake in a 350*F oven for about 18 minutes or until golden brown. 

Glaze with honey glaze, a drizzle of confectioner's glaze, and if you want to guild the lily, a few toasted sliced almonds.

One of the beauties of this recipe is that the dough can be prepared ahead of time, frozen, defrosted, and finished off at your pleasure.

To prepare in advance and then freeze, prepare the dough up to and including twisting the strips into a circle. Spray with the pan release, put on a tray and place in your freezer for a couple of hours. Once completely frozen, remove the pastries from the freezer and store in a plastic bag. When you are ready to bake, defrost the rings (they defrost quite quickly) and proceed with pinching the inside of the rings towards the center to make the base for the filling. Allow to rise and then bake and glaze.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Baked Mozzarella Clam Dip

Baked Mozzarella Clam Dip
Source: Cousin Tina


1/2 cup of salted butter
1 cup of bread crumbs
1 medium onion minced
2 10 ounce cans of minced clams with juice
2 T. mayonnaise
2 teaspoons of oregano
2 teaspoons of parsley
2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
2 Tablespoons of Parmesan cheese
6 ounces of  shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese
1 box of Town House butter crackers or slices of baguette lightly toasted


Saute onions in butter until clear.

Combine bread crumbs, clams, oregano, parsley, mayo, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese to small baking dish.

Add butter and onion and combine well.

Add shredded mozzarella and combine well.

Bake in a 350° oven for 25 minutes.  Top should be nicely browned and bubbly.

Serve hot with crackers or baguettes.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

No Bake Cherry Cheesecake

 Super easy and everyone loves it. 

No Bake Cherry Cheesecake

2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
8 T. melted unsalted butter
2 T. sugar

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Press into pan.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden.  Remove and let cool completely. 

Cheese Filling
2   8 ounce packages room temperature cream cheese
1 can sweeten condensed milk
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat all ingredients in a mixer until creamy and smooth.  Pour over prepared graham cracker crust.
Pour one can of pie fruit filling such as cherry, blueberry, raspberry, etc.  Spread fruit filling with offset spatula to cover cheese filling.  Place in fridge for at least 5 hours to set, best over night.  

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Baklava Rolls

Baklava Rolls

4 cups water
3 cups sugar
1 stick cinnamon
juice of 1 lemon and rind

Boil, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for about 45 minutes,  until syrup is thickened like maple syrup consistency.  Set aside and cover with top of pot.   Cool Syrup.  Now you can prepare baklava.

2 pounds phyllo dough number 4
2 pounds unsalted butter
4 pounds ground walnuts
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. clove

In a large bowl, mix ground nuts, with spices and sugar.  Set aside.  

In a sauce pot melt butter.  Set aside.  Unwrap one pound of phyllo at a time, do this gently.  Place a damp cloth on top of phyllo to keep moist.  This is important do not skip this step.  

Take a total of 5 sheets of pastry for each roll.  Butter each one, one at time placing another sheet on top of the last one you just buttered.  Sprinkle about 1 cup of nut mixture over the  5 sheets of layered buttered phyllo.  Roll up jelly roll style, from the longest side.  Roll tightly.  Cut each roll about 1 inch thick with a sharp serrated knife.  Place in a buttered pan.  I use 10x15.  Continue this until you use all your sheets of phyllo and your pan is filled.  

Pour remaining melted butter on top of baklava.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven, pour cooled syrup over very hot baklava. Set aside to cool.  Keep covered with a sheet of foil when cooled completely in a dry place.  Last for weeks.   Makes about 50 pieces.  

Special note:  You can change up the flavors.  Add sweetened ground coconut, mini chocolate chips, different nuts, dried chopped up fine fruits, ex: apricots, dates or cranberries.  Can use orange rind  and orange juice instead of lemon.  Have fun! 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ekmek Kadaifi

 Ekmek is a Greek dessert that is a favorite among pastry shops in Astoria, New York.  It has a layer of shredded dough, soaked in syrup with a top layer of pastry cream and whip cream.  It's delicious.

Kadaifi (dough layer)
1 pound frozen Kadaifi (save other half for another time)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Defrost kadaifi.  Grease a 9 x 13 pan, glass pan preferably.  Defrost kadaifi.  Pull apart the shredded threads of dough and gently pack down on pan.  Pour melted butter all over.  Bake until lightly golden brown.  Around 20-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Prepare syrup below.  Pour hot syrup all over kadaifi.  Set aside and let cool completely.

1 3/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups water
one lemon rind
juice of one lemon
1 orange rind

Place all ingredients in a sauce pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Discard rinds.  Pour hot syrup over cooked kadaifi.  Set aside to cool completely.

2 Tablespoons flour
4 Heaping Tablespoons Corn Starch
1 cup sugar
4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
7 egg yolks

2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 T. Butter

In a Sauce pot add all ingredients except extract and butter.  Whisk all the cold ingredients until dissolved.  Place pot on stove top over medium heat and whisking all the time, until the custard thickens and you see the first steam bubble popping up out of custard.  Remove from heat.  Add butter and extract, stir well.  Pour hot custard over kaidaifi.  Place a clear plastic wrap on top of custard.  The wrap can touch custard.  You do not want custard to form a skin.  Place in fridge.  Cool completely.  Remove plastic film and cover with sweeten whip cream and slivered almonds. 

Whip Cream Topping
3 cups whippping cream
1/2 cup powder sugar

Whip all ingredients until peaks form.  You can spread on custard with offset spatula and pipe a border for a festive design.  Add slivered almonds or pistachios on top. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Sugar Cut Out Cookies

 Sugar Bear

I am making these cookies for a Baby Shower.  The theme as you can tell is Teddy Bears.  These are the samples I made earlier.  They are adorable.  I am so pleased with how they came out.

Sugar Cookie Cut Out Recipe
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees
2 Cookie Sheets with silpat or parchment 

2 cups room temperature unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 large room temperature eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
5 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
pinch salt

Special note:  There is no leavening in this recipe.  The cookies hold shape and do not spread. This is ideal for cutouts holding their shape.  It is a delicious, shortbread cookies.  You can use lemon or almond extract instead of vanilla or use the seeds of one whole vanilla bean for intense vanilla flavor.

In a stand mixer, cream butter with sugar, until light and fluffy.  Add room temperature eggs and continue to cream.  Add extract and pinch salt.  Slowly add flour until dough is well incorporated.

Place dough into fridge for 30 minutes to chill.  Roll out dough into desired shape.  If I have time I will place cutouts into fridge to firm up.  They will even hold their shape better if chilled before going into oven.  However, when you are doing volume and you are baking from a home kitchen this is impossible.  I still have great results skipping this step. 

Bake for about 8 to 12 minutes depending on how thick you cut them.  For these cookies they were thick and I baked for close to 15 minutes.  You want a slightly golden brown on bottom, not too dark.

Place on cooling rack and decorate as desired.

Royal Icing:
1 pound confectioner's icing
3 Tablespoons powder meringue (I use wilton)
1/2 tsp. cream of tarter
water: approx. up to 1/2 cup plus more for thinner consistency

If you want to flood cookie you need to thin out accordingly.  First use a thick royal icing to outline the border of each cookie.  Then use a thin icing to flood. You can use a toothpick when flooding to help spread thinned out royal icing and pop air bubbles.  It works like a charm.   Let cookies dry for 24 hours then you can pipe on with a thicker consistency of royal icing to decorate using a piping bag and specialty tips.   Let that dry before wrapping. 

In a stand mixer, mix confectioner's sugar, cream of tarter with meringue powder.  Slowly add water until desired icing consistency is reached.  You might have to use less or more water depending on what consistency you desire.  If too watery, just add more confectioner's sugar.  

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Ravani Greek Sponge Cake

Ravani is a syrupy Greek Cake. It is very popular dessert to all Greeks.  However, it is typically made with semolina or a combination of farina, coconut and flour.  I find the semolina and farina make it heavy and add a grainy texture.  I prefer my families version much better.  My mother  makes a beautiful sponge cake with a lemon syrup.  It's light, airy with hints of lemon. There is no added fat to this cake other than the egg yolks.

 Many Greek desserts are drenched in syrup, this is typical to many Middle Eastern Desserts.  You can eliminate the syrup and just serve with berries and cream.  However, I do recommend trying this version.  The cake is heavily drenched in syrup and the sponge cake soaks it all up.  It might be shocking at first at how much syrup you add, but try it out.  You can serve with fresh berries and whip cream.  It's a sophisticated dessert. I also dust the tops of cake slices with powder sugar. 

Cake Ingredients
6 jumbo eggs, room temperature separated
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup water, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups cake flour (must use cake flour)
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch salt

1 tsp. Cream of tarter (to be added to egg whites when whipping)

In a stand mixer,  beat egg yolks  and sugar, add a little water from the 2/3 cup water if needed at this time.  Beat until creamy and smooth for 5 minutes.  Add remaining water slowly and continue to beat.  Sift all dry ingredients and slowly add to egg yolk/sugar mixture. Mix well.  Place batter in a big bowl.  Clean your mixing bowl very well, add egg whites plus one tsp.  cream of tarter. Beat into stiff moist peaks.  Gently fold egg whites into batter. Be careful not to deflate.

Grease and flour a 10x12 pan with 2 inch plus sides.  If using a 9x13 it must have 3 inch sides or you will have too much batter. I use disposable aluminum pans that are used for chafing pans. They are 10x12x2.

Gently pour batter into prepared pan.  Even out batter with back of spatula.  Do not tap down pan on counter.  You do not want to deflate batter.  Place in a 350 degree oven for 55 minutes until golden.  Do not be tempted to open your oven until at least 45 minutes.  You can do the toothpick test to make sure cake is done.  

3 cups sugar
3 1/2 cups water
Rind of one lemon
Juice of one lemon

Place all ingredients in sauce pot and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer on a medium boil for 15 minutes.

Bake sponge cake first.  Cool cake completely.  Cut into diamond cuts using a serrated knife. Poor very hot syrup all over cake.  I use a ladle and do this gently, making sure all pieces are drenched.  Cover cake loosely with foil and let the cake rest for a few hours soaking up liquid. When ready to serve dust each piece with powder sugar.

Note:  Store soaked cake covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.  

Monday, June 29, 2015

Lucas's Birthday Bash

The Birthday Boy!

Lucas's Smash Cake Picture

Lucas at the Day of his First Birthday Party

The cakes I made for the Lucas

Made red velvet cake jar favors

Got to have cake pops

Lots of Cookies I made for the party

Italian Sandwich cookies with Rainbow Swirl Cookies

These are pudding Cookies I made in assorted flavors.  This is Chocolate M&M.

Confetti White Chocolate

Ready for Transport

I made super soft Rice Krispie Treats dipped in White Chocolate and Sprinkles.

He is loving it.

Aunt Penelope enjoying her nephew.

Party Venue all decorated.

More goodies for guest.

Popcorn and Candy table for the kids.

Candy Table with Curious George theme.

More trays to go.

Smash Cake

White Chocolate Chunk and Dark Chocolate Chunk

Vanilla M&M

Chocolate Chunk Banana Nut

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