Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Gingerbread House 2016

Holiday time is a joyous time.  As traditions go, my daughter and I try to make a gingerbread house every year.  We are not always able to with our busy schedules, but we try.  

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Mini Pecan Tarts

Mini Pecan Tarts
2 tablespoons finely ground pecans
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
Pinch salt
2 tablespoon sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into small chunks
1 egg yolk
2 to 3  tablespoons ice water, only if needed

For the filling:
1 1/4  cups pecan coarsely chopped pecans
2 eggs
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup honey
pinch salt

Powder Sugar or homemade caramel sauce for drizzle
For the Tart dough:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor add all crust ingredients except butter.  Pulse a few times to mix well.   Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolk and process the dough until it comes together.  You might have to add a little ice water to bring dough together.  The dough should stick together when you press with your fingers.  Shape dough into a ball and wrap in clear wrap, place in fridge for 30 minutes to rest the dough.

Use a muffin tin, 12 cup tin.  Spray with nonstick spray.  Lightly flour surface and roll dough out as you would a pie crust.  Use a 3 inch diameter, round cookie cutter.  They should be a little bit larger than the muffin cup.  Press 3 inch round dough disc inside muffin cup. 

For the filling:
In a large mixing bowl, mix the eggs and sugar, combine well. Add in the melted butter, vanilla, syrup and salt until well mixed.  Place the pecans on the bottoms of the tart shells. Pour in the filling. Fill the shells almost to the top.

Bake about 25 to 30 minutes until puffy on top.  Place tarts on cooling rack to cool.  When cool you can remove tarts from muffin tin.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Never Fail Pie Crust

Never Fail Pie Crust

3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 T. sugar
1 1/4 cups soft butter
1 egg
1/3 cold water
1 T. Vodka

In a food processor, add flour, sugar, salt and pulse to combine.  Add soft butter, egg and pulse to a meal.  Combine vodka with water.  Turn on processor add liquids in a steady stream to form a ball.  Remove from machine.  Flatten into 2 disks wrapped in clear wrap.  Place in fridge for one hour.  Roll out on floured board to desired size.  

Zuchinni Cake with Chocolate Glaze

The one thing I love about summer is the abundance of zucchini in my Mother's garden.  Unfortunately, it's not summer but you can find zucchini all year long at the market. One of my favorite recipes is the Cake above.  My mom has had this recipe for years and it is delicious.  I often make the cake into loaves and hand out to neighbors.  It is lovely with afternoon tea. 

You can add walnuts if you like.  This even taste better as it ages. 
What amazes me is that chocolate and zucchini really complement each other.  Give it a try, I am sure you will be very pleased.  You can also leave out the chocolate glaze but don't skimp on the chocolate chips.  I prefer using mini chocolate chips, but I did not have any on hand for the cake above, so I used regular.

The beauty of this cake is it can be mixed in one big bowl with a wooden spoon!

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Flour and spray a bundt pan generously

Put a cookie sheet under bundt pan while baking

3 1/2 cups flour
2 cups grated zucchini and squeeze into a cloth to remove excess liquid
1 cups mini chocolate chips + 1 T. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup oil
4 eggs (Beaten with fork before adding)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sour cream
*1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)

Put all dry ingredients into a big bowl and mix with a whisk, add all wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until well incorporated and everything is well blended.  You do not have to over mix.  Place into prepared bundt, put on cookie sheet and place in the middle of the oven.  It will take about an 1 hour and 25 minutes to bake.  Cool and Glaze.

Chocolate Glaze:
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
3 T. heavy cream
3/4 cups sour cream
1 cup confectioner's sugar

Over a double boiler heat heavy cream and chocolate chips until smooth and melted, remove from heat, add sour cream and confectioners sugar beat with a whisk until smooth.  If you need to add more heavy cream or water to smooth the glaze, go ahead.  Pour over cooled cake that is on a cooling rack.  I place pan underneath, and reapply drippings until the entire cake is covered.  You can use a spatula to help you out.  When glaze is cooled,  add a sprinkle of powder sugar, mini chocolate chips or chopped walnuts on top for a decorative touch!

Can make into loaves for gifts or freeze for later.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Soap Mom's Kitchen Soft Sugar Cookies with Icing

Posted on my Original Blog a few years ago, Soap Mom's Kitchen.  My family has been begging for the recipe.

My daughter loves these cookies that you buy at the grocery store that comes in those plastic containers.  They are usually frosted with bright colors and sprinkles.  They are super soft and yummy.  I am not crazy about all the preservatives and additives they put in them, so I went on a quest to make something very close, if not better.  Give them a try and let me know what you think.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line 2 cookie sheets with silpats or parchment.
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch salt
4 cups all purpose flour

Cream butter with sugar until lighter in color.  Add eggs one at a time and cream.  Add vanilla.  Sift flour with salt and baking powder.  Add to mixing bowl slowly.  Mix well.  Form into balls and flatten into round cookie shape.  Bake for 8 minutes.

Special note:  The oven must be set no more than 325 degree and they must not over bake.  They should just be baked with the bottom of the cookies having no color.  In order to keep the cookies very soft you must not over bake or use a high temperature.  Frost with frosting and add sprinkles.

Frosting Recipe:
2 sticks unsalted butter soften
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
1 Tablespoon milk
Food color optional

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter with electric mixer.  Add vanilla.  Gradually add sugar, one cup at a t time, beating well on medium speed.  Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often.  When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry.  Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.  It should be a spreadable consistency.  Add food coloring if desired.  Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. 

Chocolate Cake Donuts

Got this yummy recipe from Diana's Desserts on the web.  Love them!

Recipe Source: by Diana's Desserts

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
6 to 8 cups vegetable oil for frying
Mocha glaze, (optional) recipe follows

1. In a bowl, mix flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, buttermilk, and melted butter to blend. Stir into dry ingredients until well blended. Chill until cold, at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours.

2. Scrape dough onto a generously floured surface. With floured hands, pat dough out to about 1/2 inch thick. With a 3-inch doughnut cutter, cut out doughnuts. Pat together scraps of dough and cut again. (Alternately, shape dough into ropes about 5 inches long and 1/2 inch thick; join rope ends to form doughnuts.) Place doughnuts on a well-floured baking sheet.

3. Meanwhile, fill an electric deep-fryer to the fill line or pour about 4 inches of oil into a 5- to 6-quart pan; heat to 375°F (190 C) (see Fry Right). Place one doughnut at a time onto a wide spatula and gently slide into oil, frying up to three at a time. Cook, turning once, until puffy and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes total (to check timing, cut first one to test). With a slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain. Repeat to fry remaining doughnuts.

4. When cool enough to handle, dip the top half of each doughnut in warm mocha glaze and place on a plate.  Dip in sprinkles, optional. Let stand until glaze is set, about 5 minutes.

Makes about 16 (3-inch) doughnuts.

Mocha Glaze
In a heatproof bowl, combine 6 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate, 1/2 cup whipping cream, 1 tablespoon butter, 2 teaspoons corn syrup, and 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder. Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a pan; remove from heat. Place bowl over water and let stand, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 10 minutes.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie

Pie Dough 
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
pinch salt
2  tablespoons sugar
1 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 T. Vodka
2 T. Ice Water

In a food processor process all dry ingredients until dough resembles peas. Scrape processor bowl down with spatula. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Drizzle vodka and water over mixture. With clean hands, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together.

Form dough into a ball and flatten to a 4 inch disc.

Wrap in clear wrap and place in fridge for 1 hour.

Remove and roll dough on floured surface to size of pie pan. Place dough on pan. Prick with fork. Place a piece of parchment on top of dough. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake in 375 degree oven until golden brown about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove beans when pie has cooled. Discard or save for another pie. Cool crust completely.

Coconut Filling
1 (14 ounce) cans coconut milk
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon sugar
pinch salt
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
2 tsp. coconut extract

Whip Cream Topping
3 cups cold heavy cream
4 T. Powder sugar
1 tsp. coconut extract
3 tablespoon unsweetened dried shredded coconut, toasted in small dry skillet until golden brown

    Bring coconut milk, whole milk, 1/2 cup shredded coconut, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to ensure sugar dissolves.

    Whisk yolks, cornstarch and 1 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisking constantly, gradually ladle about 1 cup hot milk mixture over egg yolk mixture; whisk well to combine. Whisking constantly, gradually add remaining milk mixture to yolk mixture in 3-4 additions; whisk well to combine.

    Return mixture to saucepan and cook until thickened and mixture reaches boil, whisking constantly, about 1 minute; filling must boil in order to fully thicken. (Large bubbles should quickly burst on surface when you stop whisking.).

    Off heat, whisk in butter and coconut extract until butter is fully incorporated. Pour hot filling into cooled pie shell and smooth surface with rubber spatula; press plastic wrap directly against surface of filling and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours.

    Just before serving, beat cream 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla with electric mixer until soft peaks form, 1 1/2-2 minutes. Top pie with whipped cream and then sprinkle with coconut. Cut pie into wedges and serve.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Italian Vanilla Butter Cake

A simple butter cake perfect for afternoon tea.  Enjoy!

Italian Vanilla Butter Cake
350 degree
30-45 minutes bake time

2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
1 T. vanilla extract or seeds from one Vanilla Pod

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
pinch salt

Cream butter and sugar until creamy and smooth.  Add room temperature eggs continue to beat  until creamy.  Add room temperature sour cream and vanilla extract.  Beat well.  Sift all dry ingredients.  Add slowly to wet ingredients.  Beat until well incorporated.

Grease and flour  a 9 inch spring-form pan.  Bake for 30-45 minutes, do tooth pick test.  Cool completely on cooling rack.  Remove from pan.  Dust generously with powder sugar.  Slice and serve. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Snickerdoodle Cake

I made this cake for my niece's engagement party.  It was in the Fall in Brooklyn over looking the East River.   She wanted a snickerdoodle cookie inspired cake.  It has three components, the cake, the the filling and butter cream.  All the recipes are below.  It was delicious and I use this recipe all the time.  You can use different flavorings and the cake options are endless.  This cake is great for stacking cakes and carving!  Using cake mix adds sturdiness, a tight, velvet crumb and moistness. 

Snicker-doodle Cake
1 Duncan Hines Vanilla Cake Mix
1 cup sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 cup full fat sour cream, room temperature
4 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup whole milk
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a stand Mixer, add all ingredients and mix well.  Add batter to prepared pans.  Bake until cake is springy to the touch.  Use a tooth pick.  If I am using 8 inch pans it usually take s about 25 minutes.

French Butter Cream
4 cups sugar
1 cup water

6 whole eggs, room temperature

2 1/2 pounds unsalted butter (room temperature and very soft, cubed into small pieces)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

In a heavy Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, whip eggs with whip attachment until double in size.  While whipping eggs, at this time bring 4 cups sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a sauce pan.  Have a pastry brush with a cup of water to gently brush sides of sauce pan as it is boiling.  This prevents the sugar from crystallizing and ruining the syrup.  Using a candy thermometer bring the temp to 236 degrees Fahrenheit.

Please be super careful, hot syrup can be very dangerous and you should have experience in the kitchen to do this.  When sugar reaches temperature, slowly pour in to egg mixture while the mixer is on high and whipping the eggs.  Keep the stream of sugar away from the whip while mixing.  You must be careful when doing this.

The eggs will deflate, continue beating after syrup has been added for another 15 minutes on high until the bowl is cool.  I sometimes place a tea towel on top of my mixer because the mixture is whipping on high and this helps from having it go all over your kitchen.  Keep a close watch.  I would not leave kitchen at this time.

When cool to touch,  you can add the soften butter a cube at a time.  Continue to beat for 8 minutes until it thickens to the consistency of butter cream. Add vanilla, cinnamon and whip until incorporated.  This is just the best butter cream ever.

My Favorite Easy Cake Mousse Filling

This mousse is my favorite cake filling.  It is super easy and taste great.  I use it all the time.  I make different combinations to match my cake flavors. 

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1 large package of instant jello pudding (any flavor to complement your cake)
1 tsp. vanilla extract or substitute any flavor to complement your cake
3 T. Coffee Creamer to complement your cake flavor
I Added 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Directions: Mix the milk, heavy cream and pudding mix very well, add extract and creamer and whip until mixture is thicken.  Place in fridge for a few hours to set. 

If you want a fluffier mousse whip another cup of whipping cream until stiff peaks form and gently fold into mousse.  

Special Note:  You can fold in Oreo Cookie Crumbs, Coconut, Nuts, Jams, Puree, etc.
Make it your own.

Cheese Cake Mousse: You can make a cheesecake mousse by adding one 8 oz. soften cream cheese block to the mousse.
You can use different extracts, coffee creamer flavors.  The possibilities are endless.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Greek Thiples

Ok, I am not going to tell you that this is easy or not a labor of traditional, Greek love.  If you are Greek, you probably remember these fondly in your upbringing as a good Greek kid.  Well, these are for you.  Now that your not a kid anymore and getting back to your cooking roots, you finally decided to give them a try.  Take your time, pour your self a glass of Ouzo and get down and dirty in the kitchen, just like Yiayia did.  Practice makes perfect.  When making Greek desserts, the more you make them the better you get.  Ok, maybe not as good as Yiayia but she would still be proud!

Greek Thiples

5 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder, double acting
1 cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
4 wholes
8 egg yolks

1/2 gallon vegetable oil for frying

 Sift your baking powder and flour together.  Place in a heavy duty stand mixer, with dough attachment.  Place flour in mixing bowl, add all the other ingredients.  Using dough hook, knead dough to form a soft ball of dough.  Cover with clear wrap and let rest on your counter for about 3-4 hours.  

When ready to roll, divide dough into 6 equal portions.  You can roll very thin by hand or use a pasta machine.  Roll as thin as possible.  The thinner, the better they taste.  The dough should be super thin and flaky when fried.  Cut dough into 3x6 rectangles.  Place in hot oil to fry.  Using two forks roll the dough as quickly as possible, to form a hollow center.  Do not over brown.  Light golden color is what you are looking for.  Set on paper towels to soak up excess oil.  When cool dip each thiples in hot syrup for a few seconds to soak up syrup, remove from syrup and sprinkle with nuts and sugar cinnamon. 


2 cups honey
1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick

Boil all the ingredients above.  Reduce heat and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes. Dip thiples in warm syrup. 

Special note:  You may have to double syrup or even triple depending on how much these thiples soak up syrup.  I like mine with lots of syrup. 

chopped walnuts
granulated sugar
ground cinnamon

These thiples get better with age.  Stack them up on a big tray.  Cover with clear wrap or foil and enjoy for a few days.  Great for parties.  Make a few days in advance. 

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