Archive for the ‘ Pastry ’ Category


Toffee Cheesecake

Anybody who knows me will tell you that I’m not the biggest fan of chocolate desserts.  With the exception of a few, very special sweets in our family recipe book, I vastly prefer those confections featuring toffee, nuts, or citrus.  So, when it came time to decide what dessert to have with our Christmas dinner this year, my family came to a bit of brick wall.  Having already eaten pumpkin and pecan pie during Thanksgiving, we were all in the mood for something a little different this time around.  With ideas like an apple galette and bread pudding being thrown around, each option seemed to fall flat the second it was introduced  — keeping with tradition, we were a bit indecisive.  It wasn’t until my sister insisted upon a dessert that included caramel in some form or another that my Mom suddenly remembered a recipe from an old Bon Appétite that she used to make years ago for special occasions — Toffee Cheesecake.

I don’t think I need to tell you how good this cheesecake really is.  I mean, caramel sauce? Whipped cream? Skor bar!?  What’s not to like?  The one thing I can say is that this is an extremely rich dessert of which a little goes a long way.  Next time you have a special occasion on the horizon, consider making this decadent dessert which will easily feed 10-12 guests.

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Chocolate-Dipped Florentine Shortbreads

If there’s one thing I especially look forward to around the holidays it’s my Mom’s epic output of Christmas cookies.  From Mexican wedding cakes and raspberry-filled linzer cookies to chewy molasses spice cookies and our family favorite, Hello Dolly bars, no cookie style is left unrepresented….or so I thought.  I wouldn’t even know this type of cookie existed if it wasn’t for Lauren being struck by inspiration while thumbing through the pages of an old Christmas issue of Food and Wine Magazine.  I’m still not quite sure what it was, but something called out to her about these Chocolate-Dipped Florentine Shortbreads.

With a thin, buttery layer of shortbread and a chewy, orange and almond caramel topping, these cookies are simultaneously crispy and chewy — a truly outstanding textural contrast.  If that wasn’t enough, each cookie is then partially dipped in a thick jacket of melted bittersweet chocolate, serving as the perfect foil for the candied orange rind and zest running throughout the sticky topping.

Having tried the festive cookie, I’m afraid I’ve been ruined. I just don’t know how any cookie platter will be complete this Christmas without the inclusion of these confectionery gems.  Give them a try; you won’t be disappointed.

Continue reading shortbread cookies . . .


Goat Cheese Chorizo Rolls

You know how bacon is all the rage these days? Bacon dipped in chocolate, bacon topped donuts, bacon beurre blanc — for me, it’s all about chorizo.  I’m constantly looking for ways to incorporate it into my cooking and seldom pass up an opportunity to eat a dish in which it is a key component (see Arroz Con Pollo).  Such was the case when I came across this recipe for Goat Cheese and Chorizo Rolls in this month’s Food and Wine Magazine.  Now chorizo is good by itself, but chorizo and tangy goat cheese together?  That sounded like a combo that was too good to pass up.

With a few holiday parties just around the corner, I figured I’d give these guys a test drive before serving them to any guests.  In this sense I consider myself a self-employed guinea pig — not a bad job at all.  After eating a half batch for lunch, I can say with certainty that I have a new hors d’oeurve recipe in the arsenal.  Tangy from the goat cheese and rich and smoky from the chorizo, these crispy little bundles are the type of finger food that demand a good cocktail to wash them down.  While they take a bit of time and patience to roll, preparing the goat cheese filling takes minutes.  Knock these out early in the morning and keep them in the fridge until your friends arrive.

After reading that the recipe was inspired by the street food of Argentina, I decided to serve them alongside another Argentine classic of chimichurri rojo.  Like it’s verde cousin, this sauce has plenty of garlic and a nice vinegar bite to cut through the rich, creaminess of the goat cheese.

Continue reading goat cheese and chorizo rolls recipe . . .


Pecan Honey Sticky Buns 1

To me, there’s no item in the pastry case sexier than the sticky bun.  Cloaked in a caramel and studded with candied pecans, the cinnamon bun seems downright dowdy when compared with these breakfast beauties.  Like I said in my post for Ham and Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches, I’m not big on sweet starts to my morning.  But there is something I find irresistible about the chewy-crisp texture and sweet cinnamon aroma of a good sticky bun.  And man are these things sweet!

The perfect treat for a large breakfast gathering, few can turn down such a stunning and decadent offering.  With Christmas just around the corner, I can’t imagine a more ideal match than a cup of coffee and one of these warm-from-the-oven buns while opening up presents by the tree.

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Coffe Cake

This coffee cake has been a breakfast/brunch staple in my family for as long as I can remember.  One of my Mom’s ace in the hole recipes, I’ve seen her whip one up in a moment’s notice for unexpected house guests, countless potlucks and even as a last minute housewarming gift.  With an incredibly moist ginger and cinnamon-spiced buttermilk cake base, it’s the crumbly sweet topping of chopped pecans and brown sugar that makes this recipe a true standout.  Having been lucky enough to try the genuine article from Margaret Fox’s, Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino when I was a kid, I can confirm that the homemade version lives up to it’s legendary roots — not bad for a recipe that can be put together from start to finish in just under an hour.

A definite crowd-pleaser, there are few combinations better than a warm cup of coffee and this extraordinary breakfast treat on a lazy Sunday morning.  With the holidays around the corner, consider foregoing a trip to the bakery for pastries and give this coffee cake recipe a try on your friends and visiting family.

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