Feb 23, 2013
This is the time of year I start craving spring. It always seems like it's so close until a crazy snow storm (like the one 2 weeks ago) or cold blustery winds come along to remind us that oh yeah...it's still winter.
I'm ready for open windows, warm breezes and splotches of green...but for now blankets and hot tea will have to suffice. And for some reason when I get antsy for the outdoors I start baking a lot. I love how the description of this cake says how winter, snowbound days are perfect for staying in and baking. It's so true, isn't it?!
If you have some spare time on your hands while you're waiting for spring to arrive or are looking for a little winter-pick-me-up this spicy cake with maple-flavored, cream cheese frosting is just what you need. Even if you're a chocolate lover like me, nothing beats a nice slice of spice cake (try saying that one five times fast!) every now and then. It has the perfect winter-y flavors and components and when garnished with mint and orange zest it gives you the brightness of spring.
Feb 14, 2013
Back in December I was asked to make my editor a cake for his birthday. When he sent me the recipe for a red velvet cake I was so excited! It happens to be his favorite, just like mine. I've been waiting (ever so patiently) since then for another excuse to make this recipe. And Valentine's day is always the perfect excuse for me to eat all the red velvet that I can.
Every year I get so excited for February because it seems to be the month of red velvet. You can find it anywhere and everywhere, in all sorts of shapes and sizes...ice cream, whoopie pies, cupcakes, cookies...you name it.
What I really love about this red velvet cake recipe in particular is the frosting. It isn't the traditional cream cheese frosting that you so often see paired with red velvet. It's a sweeter, lighter and more subtle frosting. Basically, it's perfect.
To get the recipe head on over to FOLK Magazine's blog.
I hope you all have a wonderful, red velvet filled Valentine's day!
Sep 12, 2012
Look at this gorgeous piece of new pottery from Vitrified Studio, that is now mine (all mine)! Oh, and the chocolate streusel bars that are in it are pretty cool too.
In all seriousness though, I love this new serving bowl. Shelley Martin, the incredibly talented artist behind Vitrified Studio, was kind enough to host a generous giveaway a few weeks ago. And guess who won....?!
I was so excited, I practically ripped it open when it came in the mail (actually that's exactly what I did). Her handmade ceramics are simply beautiful. Thank you so much Shelley! Go check out her shop here.
And now onto these delicious chocolate streusel bars...
These photos have been sitting in my Lightroom catalog for a week, work/life in general has been very busy, but alas, I'm excited to share this recipe with you all.
These bars are the perfect fix when you're looking for something sweet. The bottom chocolate streusel layer is a wonderfully crumbly & chocolate-y base for the next layer that resembles cheesecake. Then top it off with some left over streusel and there you go, very chocolate streusel bars. How easy and delicious can it get?
Very Chocolate Streusel Bars
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, powdered sugar and cocoa in large bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly.
Set aside 1 cup crumb mixture and press remaining dough firmly in greased, floured 9x13-inch baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
Beat cream cheese in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Pour over prepared crust.
Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture over cream cheese mixture. Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly.
Cool and refrigerate. Cut into bars and store in covered container. Makes 12-14 bars.
(I topped mine with some shredded coconut as well!)
Jul 23, 2012
I was at a farmers market and saw these beautiful plums. I didn't have a recipe in mind but bought them on impulse because they were so beautiful and I knew I wanted to photograph them.
They sat in my fridge for a few days and I almost forgot about them because I still couldn't make up my mind on what to do with them. I was starting to get anxious...I couldn't waste them!
One evening I was flipping through an issue of Martha Stewart Living and saw this recipe for a striped plum tart. Aha! Finally a use for my pretty little plums.
I had left over puff pastry in my freezer from the last tart I made, perfect. And I already had the almonds, heavy cream, apricot jam and of course the plums. Usually my blog posts are a much longer process, I always have to go shopping to get everything. This was so simple it was almost too good to be true. Don't you just love it when things fall together like that?
Short, sweet & simple...just like these tarts.
(I made individual tarts instead of one large tart. They baked for about 25 minutes.)
Jul 3, 2012
The fourth of July is my favorite holiday. The BBQs, fireworks, sparklers, s'mores, red white & blue desserts...all of it, I love. It happens to be my favorite time of year as well and I have such fond memories of fourth of Julys from the past.
Each year my family makes a different red, white & blue dessert. This year we made these little, patriotic berries & cream tartlets. It's my second recipe that I've made from my new Martha Stewart pies & tarts cookbook (here's the first). Being the chocolate lover that I am, I simply had to make a chocolate version of the crust by substituting a 1/4 cup of the flour for a 1/4 cup of cocoa powder. The cocoa tastes so good with the berries, and it's not too overpowering-ly sweet. The vanilla cream filling is just the same, a perfect hint of vanilla with a creaminess that marries the crust and berries in perfect harmony.
You can use any berries that you desire and if you're like me, you can go crazy designing different berry combinations and patterns for each tartlet!
I wrote all about my love for the fourth of July in the July/August issue of FOLK Magazine (which you can pick up here) and included another favorite red, white & blue recipe of mine. I have a couple of big blog posts coming from the past weekend and a new project I'm working on. But first, I have to send out my computer to be worked on, so while that's happening I'm off to the beach for an extra long weekend where I will be catching up on my reading and fitting in one shoot of a beach house! I hope you all have a wonderful fourth of July and get to see some fireworks!
Jun 27, 2012
I couldn't remember the last time I had a fudgesicle. Awful, right? So the other day I had to do something about it. I went searching for a good recipe and wasn't really satisfied with anything that I was finding. If I was going to make fudgesicles from scratch I wanted them to be better than the store bought ones. They had to be extremely fudgy and creamy... no watery or icy fudgesicles allowed. I didn't want chocolate flavored ice pops. I wanted chocolate in the form of an ice pop. Am I making any sense?
Maybe not, but I am happy to say that after experimenting and taking random bits from countless other fudgesicle recipes I finally put together one that is exactly what I wanted! These are fudgy, creamy, extremely chocolate-y and best of all...irresistible.
These are by far one of my favorite sweet snacks of the summer (second to s'mores of course) and they're so easy to make. Stirring in mini chocolate chips after the mixture has cooled adds an extra suprise to these fudgesicles.
Go have a fudgesicle, you deserve it!
Jun 18, 2012
The weather this season has been awful for all of the plants, especially the strawberries. But despite all of that we went out into the fields this week, determined to pick through the scattered crops and fill our baskets with these fresh, juicy strawberries that we love so much.
It was scarce, but we managed to do pretty well and it has definitely been rewarding to have these beauties to snack on...
I absolutely love strawberries but none of them ever taste as good as the ones we pick ourselves. On the way back from the farm they made our car smell so good and all I could think about was eating them dipped in warm, melted chocolate, my favorite!
But we had way too many strawberries to just eat them with chocolate, so why not use them to make something even better? And here you have it, strawberry pie!
This is the easiest pie that I have ever made and by far one of the best. Maybe it's because I love these fresh strawberries so much or maybe it's because of all that incredible whipped cream that I pile on top of my pieces. The vanilla pudding mix whipped with the cream is the best thing I've ever tasted. There's no way I could go back to eating store bought whipped cream after this! Just wait until you try it.
One slice of this and you'll be in strawberry heaven.
Recipe from, Gooseberry Patch: Patchwork Potluck
Jun 9, 2012
This is by far my favorite dessert that I have tried all year. And normally I'm a chocolate person, the sweeter and richer the better. But this cake...well it blows all of those decadent chocolately desserts that I love so much out of the water. It's light, citrus-y, fruit-y, just the right amount of sweet and so perfectly...(as much as I don't like using this word, I have too)..moist!
I took this recipe straight out of Better Homes and Gardens, their April issue. I wanted to make it a while ago because it sounded so good and of course, most importantly, I wanted to photograph it. But it got pushed back from all my work and I had practically forgotten about it, until I re-discovered it whilst doing some recipe research for a shoot a couple weeks ago. I'm glad I waited to bake it actually, because it's perfect for this time of year, it tastes like summer in a cake (seriously!).
It's the perfect dessert after a nice BBQ, a satisfying afternoon treat and I've even enjoyed a slice of this for breakfast a couple mornings! And believe me...you HAVE to make the raspberry jam glaze with it too. I can confidently say it's not complete without it. With the vanilla added in there it's not too tart at all and it's the perfect finishing touch that this cake needs.
And yes, this really did happen. Zora always keeps me company when I'm shooting but this time she actually layed right on my background. That was a first. She's too cute to tell her to get off though...so I took pictures instead!
May 18, 2012
I'm ending my week with something simple and sweet. It felt good to set aside time to bake and photograph for my litle blog. I've had such a busy week and a half that it got put on hold here for a bit.
But these brownies were a perfect way to get back into it because they are so delicious! I'm always looking for a good from scratch brownie recipe. My grandparents got me 2 cookbooks for my birthday last month (they know me so well!) and in one of them was this recipe for these "Everyday Special Brownies". I love the name, I can't put my finger on why, but I think it's cute and they're obviously the brownie that can make everyday special, which I couldn't agree with more!
The batter came out really thick and resembled the consistency of chocolate frosting that I made once. It was a pleasant surprise. I love how you can taste the buttery goodness when you bite into these brownies. They are cakey and moist and fudgey all at once. I think i can thank the 2 sticks of butter for that! I have to admit, I cheated and melted my chocolate and butter in the microwave, I didn't feel like washing my double boiler, I'm lazy, I know. But hey, it worked.
As I was lost in my own world styling these lovely little brownies, (which is often what I do when I'm working with food for pictures), and carefully wrapping each one in parchment paper and string, I came back to earth for a second and realized I was eating more than I was styling. And so was Zora, because I was dropping crumbs all over the floor! She loves when I photograph food, it usually means she gets a bite of something new/different from her normal dog food.
If you're looking for a quick little pick me up snack in the middle of the day, make these brownies, because really...they are quite special!
And here is a small sample of what I have been working on this past week. This is a collection of a few of my favorite rooms from the Kips Bay Decorator Show House that I photographed last week. There were a total of 32 rooms in two luxury Manhattan apartments on the 21st and 22nd floor of the Aldyn Residences. Each one was designed by professional designers and wow did they do an incredible job.
Lastly, here is another project that kept me busy this past week. I photographed jewelry designer, Caitlin Mociun's apartment in Brooklyn. I had a great time getting to know her a little and hanging out with her adorable cat who loved to jump in the shots! This will be featured in a wonderful article on Houzz as well and there will be tons more shots of her gorgeous apartment. Click here to check out her jewelry, it's really incredible.
Enjoy, and have a great weekend!!
Apr 4, 2012
I've been wanting to bake something with lavender for a while now. Before this, I had never eaten anything that had lavender in it but I was always so curious about what it would taste like. I love most things lavender scented, it has such a beautiful, distinct smell and I'm really excited to share this recipe with you all because now I know what it tastes like and it is even more unique than I ever imagined!
I was really excited when I found this recipe, I thought it was the perfect one for me to try out my first taste of the lovely herb. Luckily, I had a bunch of dried lavender because around here, it is very hard to find. I also discovered that you can buy it here if you're looking for it.
When I was making the batter, I tasted a little bit of it to see what I was getting into and the lavender was pretty strong! But after it was finished baking, it tasted totally different. If I didn't know that the cake had lavender in it I would have never guessed that that was one of the ingredients. It adds a slightly floral taste when you breathe in after you take a bite of the cake. It also has an almost peppery taste to it as well. I really have never tasted anything like it.
The lavender in the glaze tasted different than the lavender in the cake. It added the softest, sweetest floral taste, totally different from the floral taste that's in the cake (if that makes sense). It was sweeter and really unexpected, but very delicious. I put 1/2 teaspoon less than what the recipe called for (in the glaze) and it was just right, not too over powering at all.
This cake is absolutely beautiful and makes for a perfect springtime dessert. Garnish the slices with some dried lavender flowers for an extra splash of purple. And if you've never tried lavender before, it's very different but totally worth it! I can't wait to experiment with it more!
Recipe can be found here at Taste of Home.
Happy April by the way!
Mar 14, 2012
I’m probably about 3% Irish, but as a little kid I always got strangely excited for St. Patrick’s Day. In grade school we would go outside for recess and come back in to find the items in our desks were all messed up and rearranged and the teachers told us it was from the pesky leprechauns. I don’t know why but I thought that was the coolest thing ever. Then there was the corned beef and potatoes...LOVED it! We only have it once a year, March 17th of course, and it’s still one of my favorite things ever.
Fresh mint...minty fresh
This is another recipe from the book my wonderful friend Sarah got me. If you’re wondering what a peppermint cream is think of it as a slightly larger after dinner mint. That’s what it reminds me of. It works better if you use a miniature shamrock cookie cutter which is what the recipe calls for. But after I searched multiple stores up and down for a miniature one I had to go with a regular sized one, which is why mine look a bit big.
I love all things minty and I love them even more when paired with chocolate, so I strongly suggest you dip them in some melted chocolate. They taste amazing and quite refreshing!
I sprinkled some St. Patty’s Day sprinkles on mine as well.
If you’re asking yourself what’s with the green milk?..allow me to explain. Yes, it’s a styling thing, I love to color coordinate whenever I can. But I actually got the idea from my next door neighbor many years ago when I was babysitting her two kids. It was St. Patrick’s Day and they were both just as excited as I was when I was their age. They asked for some milk and I went into the fridge to get it and noticed the whole jug was dyed green. I was informed that the leprechauns did it. I thought it was the neatest idea ever. So if you ever see me dye my milk colors, that’s where I got it from!
Feb 27, 2012
I had a wonderful and busy 2 weeks in Boston and am now back in NY. I have to admit though, that I missed being in my own kitchen baking. I have been wanting to make this shortbread since my dear friend, Sarah, gave me that cookbook that I talked about back in December. Growing up, shortbread wasn’t a part of our usual baked goods that we had laying around the house, but the first time I tried it a few years ago I loved it. It’s crumbly but buttery so it isn’t super dry, which is a really awesome combination.
So, yes, this was my first time making shortbread and it was a piece of cake! It was so easy and actually really fun to mix the the dry ingredients with the butter using my hands and slowly watching it turn into a dough. Before this, I really had no clue how shortbread was made, so maybe I’m overreacting a little bit, but it was neat to make...I enjoyed it!
I have a feeling it will all be gone within a few days (especially since I’ve been snacking on it all day). Dipping it in melted chocolate as you eat it tastes euphoric.
I turned my back for one second and Zora tried to snatch a piece of shortbread. She’s so bad!
But other than that she is doing well. I can tell she missed watching me take pictures when I was away, because she was right there as soon as I got out my gear and props.
Want to be notified when I have a new post up? In my side bar to the right, you can now enter your e-mail and my new posts will be delivered to your inbox, awesome!
Feb 6, 2012
What screams Valentine’s day more than this heart shaped pink velvet cake!? When I was searching for Valentine’s day sweets to make for this blog I thought, why not make a pink cake? I already had the heart pan that would be perfect for it. Luckily, I found this pink velvet recipe on Taste of Home’s website, and let me tell you it is delicious. Seriously...you have to try this cake! It’s originally written to be cupcakes but makes a great cake as well. I even had some batter left over because my heart pan isn’t that big, so I made a few cupcakes too. The white chocolate ganache that goes along with it is heavenly. I’m not a huge fan of white chocolate, but it tastes incredible and perfectly compliments the cake. But I must warn you, this is a dense dessert! It tastes so good that I started stuffing it into my mouth (classy, I know) and then halfway through I stopped for some air and realized I was already full. So yeah, you could say it’s filling.
This is a great cake/cupcake recipe to have laying around, for any occasion, just leave out the pink die. It is super, super moist, thanks to that cup of butter. I had to adjust the baking time for the cake, I ended up baking it between 30-35 minutes. Just keep checking it with a toothpick. But if you’re using it to make cupcakes 23-27 minutes works well.
I kept the recipe as it was written for cupcakes but if you want to make a cake just adjust the time.
I topped mine with some really pretty pink sugar and big heart sprinkles. Kids will LOVE this pink dessert. (And so will you!)
Have a great Monday!
Feb 3, 2012
Happy Friday! I've had a busy week filled with a ton of shoots and I'm excited to share some of the new work with you all very soon.
There's no better way to end the week than with chocolate chip pancakes. Ever since I tried chocolate chip pancakes, I can't eat them without the chocolate in it. They are my absolute favorite breakfast food!
Now, who doesn't love breakfast in bed...especially on Valentine's day? Heart shaped chocolate chip pancakes, a bowl of raspberries and a glass of orange juice. Perfect.
Why not surprise someone you love with this tasty breakfast on the 14th?!
Zora had a lazy morning sleeping in the sun. She's smart laying in those sunny patches, they're like 5 degrees warmer! She also tried some pancakes herself this morning, and they are definitely "Zora approved". *Yawn
Have a great weekend!!
Jan 31, 2012
My second Valentine’s day dessert for you all are these decadent chocolate filled red velvet cupcakes. Red velvet is one of my absolute favorite desserts. I’ll eat it in any shape, size and form...cupcakes, cake, gobs, even red velvet ice cream (Ben & Jerry’s makes it, thank goodness!). Last spring, I assisted my friend Sarah on an environmental portrait shoot at a bakery in Springfield. As a thank you, she bought me a dessert of my choice (how kind!). Of all the delicious sweets they had I chose a red velvet cupcake with chocolate on the inside and topped with cream cheese frosting. It was the most delicious thing I’ve sunk my teeth into. So, when I was thumbing through the February issue of Better Homes and Gardens and saw this recipe my mouth dropped a little.
The recipe in the magazine recommends topping the cupcakes with raspberry preserves, after you let them cool for 10 minutes, which is yummy. But I had to have the cream cheese frosting so I made this recipe, courtesy of Martha Stewart. It’s the perfect combination.
These cupcakes are really easy to make and taste best served warm so the chocolate on the inside is all melted. If you don’t eat them all right away store them separate from the frosting. Heat up the cupcake in the microwave for a few seconds to warm it up and re-melt the chocolate, then top with the cream cheese frosting.
Nothing says "I love you" more than a red velvet cupcake with chocolate fudge in the center!
Jan 27, 2012
With Valentine’s day coming soon, the only thing on my mind is sweets! If you’re looking for a delicious dessert for the 14th, why not make chocolate mousse and top it off with these super sweet sugared raspberries?
This chocolate mousse recipe is very special to my family and I- and not only because it’s one of our favorite desserts. This recipe is my dads that he learned when he was attending the Culinary Institute of America. I dug it out of one of my moms cookbooks and the date on it was 1985. Usually my dad only makes this for Christmas every few years, but I convinced him to make it with me for this post. The recipe was in my dad’s writing, so I needed his help decoding it.
As we were making the mousse, my dad told me that he learned the recipe from a Charcuterie chef. I said, wait a minute, a meat chef taught you how to make chocolate mousse??! Yup! He walked into class one day and surprised all the students with this. I thought that was so strange, but it’s the best mousse I’ve ever had so obviously that man knew what he was doing!
There is a TON of whipping involved in this recipe, and my father whipped all that heavy cream by hand. Yes, by hand. I don’t recommend doing that unless you are incredibly strong and patient because it takes forever! Also, you really have to be careful when you’re combining all the mixtures towards the end, that you don’t whip them. It’ll take all the air out of the mousse and it won’t be the right consistency anymore. That’s the hardest part of making the mousse, gently folding it until it’s all mixed and a uniform color. It takes a while to get there but it’s definitely worth it in the end.
The sugared raspberries go so well with this mousse, not only because they look great for Valentine’s day but because they taste great too. They balance out the sweetness of the mousse. They’re real quick to make, very pretty and you can put them in a beautiful bowl for display. Also, you can sugar other fruits like grapes, cranberries and blueberries and place them on a cake stand to make a pretty centerpiece.
Incase you are unsure, here’s a picture of what cooking to the thread looks like:
To check, dip your thumb and forefinger in ice cold water to numb it and then stick them in the hot sugar water real quick. Slowly separate the two fingers and when it creates a thread like this then it’s ready. Keep cooking the mixture until it does this.
As usual, Zora was there with me when I was photographing the mousse. It was a little tougher to keep her back from this one because she absolutely loves chocolate and she really wanted a lick of it. But her face was too cute when she was staring at it, so I had to share it with you.
A little too close:
I hope you enjoy this mousse as much as me and my family do and make it for someone you love this Valentine’s day.
Jan 23, 2012
This weekend was a cold and snowy one. I was exctied for our first substantial snowfall since Halloween but now that its been drenched over with rain, it's just plain icky outside. I couldn't think of anything better to go with this winter weather than hot cocoa and marshmallows. I've been wanting to make homemade marshmallows for a long time but couldn't settle on which recipe to use because there are so many out there. After much research, I finally settled on Alton Brown's recipe. It looks like it's a lot of work and I was intimidated at first, but really it was one of the easiest things I've ever made. I didn't quite whip the marshmallows long enough so they didn't come out as fluffy as they should but they taste amazing. Ten times better than store bought ones. I was never able to eat more than one marshmallow by itself but with these I can...they're so tasty!
I got the hot chocolate recipe from the wonderful cookbook that my friend Sarah gave me. I will never ever use the powder mix for making hot chocolate again! This recipe came out so much better than I ever thought it would. It's thick, creamy and super chocolatey which is why I love it- plus it only takes a few minutes to make. I put 4 marshmallows in my cup while I was drinking it and the marshmallows started to melt into the cocoa a little bit and it tasted incredible. They absorbed the creamy cocoa making them even more mouth watering. The hot chocolate was so creamy and combined with the marshmallows I would actually recommend serving this as a dessert because it was SO filling!
The marshmallows were definitely sticky to cleanup but once you put everything in warm water it all washed away easily. Then I made even more of a mess with the cornstarch and confectioners sugar mix, lining the pan and taking the marshmallows out of the pan the next day and coating the sides of them with it. But it was well worth the mess. I was really happy that the big slab of marshmallow slid right out of the pan, no sticking or anything. It was so easy!
When we have a fire in the fireplace next I will definitely be toasting these and making s'mores! You can also make these at Christmas time and give them away as gifts with a mug and cocoa mix. Or if you're stuck inside on a snowy day make a batch of these with the cocoa and you'll be all set.
Store the marshmallows in an air tight container for up to 3 weeks.
Jan 17, 2012
We’re finally getting a glimpse of ‘real’ winter here in the Northeast, so yesterday I spent the day inside (where it’s warm!) baking and catching up on all my photography. This cake has been my father’s favorite forever. It’s a recipe from my grandma and she used to make it all the time for him. I have no idea why it’s called picnic cake, perhaps it would be a great dessert to take on a picnic (maybe?), but I do know that it’s a recipe from western Pennsylvania out in the country, where my dad grew up, and it certainly is a whole different culture out there!
But to me, someone who grew up in a very suburban neighborhood in NY, this cake is quite different. Its filled with pitted dates, chocolate chips and chopped pecans. You can substitute the pecans for walnuts if you prefer that. It really does change the taste of the cake quite a bit so I recommend making one with each. The actual batter itself isn’t too sweet but the chocolate chips and cocoa help balance that out.
I had a field day with all these browns when I was taking pictures. While I enjoy complimentary colors a whole lot, I really love having a color palette with all different shades of one color, and I’m beginning to like it more and more. And what’s really awesome to me is that all these different types of foods can share the same tint but have such opposite tastes. It’s possible that that’s just me obsessing about color but oh I love it!
I also recommend eating a slice of this right when it comes out of the oven. Of course let it cool a little, don’t want you to burn yourself, but when the chocolate is still gooey, the dates are soft and the cake is crumbling from the warmth it’s just perfect.
If you follow me on flickr you’ll have seen this yesterday but for those of you who don’t... I went to a garage sale type thing at an indoor storage unit this past weekend and found this beautiful sterling silverware. I was going through the pieces one by one, carefully picking which ones I wanted when the ladies said they’d give it ALL to me for only $5! I couldn’t pass that up and was very excited. I’m grateful for their kindness and can’t wait to use these beautiful pieces in my pictures.
So, if you’re in New England like me stay inside where it’s warm and try this cake!
Jan 9, 2012
Hope you all had a great monday! I spent some time this past weekend making these delicious, dense chocolate truffles. Being a serious chocolate lover, I thought it was quite sad that I've never attempted to make truffles myself, so I was really excited when I saw this recipe in the cookbook that my friend Sarah gave me. This batch was actually meant for her as a thank you for the book, but I'm afraid they won't make the trip through the mail in one piece because they're so fragile. It's going to be a little bit longer than I thought until we'll see each other again so, I think I'll have to make a new batch for then, especially since they keep disappearing one by one (they're too good to leave around the house)! But really these truffles make an incredible gift, especially if you wrap them up in a pretty box.
They were by no means hard to make, time consuming is actually how I'd describe it, but it's definietly worth the time to make these and make them look really pretty. Also, if you've never made truffles before or aren't too familiar with the process, you should know that this was the messiest thing I have EVER made. By the end of rolling each truffle...before I even dipped them in the melted chocolate, my hands were black from the bittersweet chocolate. They melted in my hands as soon as I scooped them out of the bowl. It was fun though, I'm always up for making a mess, especially when chocolate is involved!
Heavy cream and bittersweet chocolate, 2 of the ingredients involved in making these:
I wrote some suggested toppings that I used on the recipe card. Of course you can use whatever you would like, they make some really decorative sprinkles out there so look around if you really want to make these look special. I used chocolate sprinkles, cocoa powder, rainbow sprinkles and sliced almonds.
If you're giving these away as gift, wrap them up in a special box. They make a perfect thank you present when you go over to someone's house for dinner or for any occasion!
Overall, I think Zora was the one who lucked out the most with these truffles. She came in from outside right after I made these and I let her lick one of my hands that was covered in chocolate. But only one hand of course...I'm not trying to kill her off haha!
Hope you all get a chance to try this recipe out, I can guarantee you'll love these truffles.
Jan 5, 2012
The first week of 2012 was a busy one but definitely a good one for me. I got to see one of my closest friends, Sarah whom I met during my year at Hallmark, last week. She surprised me with this amazing cookbook and I've been looking through it all week. It's directed towards kids but when she saw the photography she thought of me (what a true friend!). I made my first recipe from it the other day, toffee apples and check out Sarah's blog because she made a batch of cranberry streusel muffins from the book!
What I like most about these toffee apples is that they're a quick, little snack that's sweet and healthy for you. I've never made anything like this before and I loved the combination of the sweet sugar and tart lemon that was in the toffee. And of course the lady apples are delicious.
If you want a real bright red color I recommend using red skinned apples but you can also use red food coloring. I added a lot of drops to my toffee mixture to get the color that I did. I dipped a few of the apples in the toffee mixture right after I added the lemon juice but it was too thin for me so, I let it sit for a couple minutes and it thickened up to a perfect consistency.
Dip them in finely chopped nuts or sprinkles if you'd like, too.
After the toffee hardens wrap them up in cellophane and give them away as little gifts.
I suppose it can be doubled for larger apples but this recipe really is perfect for kids. If you have children I recommend this cookbook!
Jeff is kindly letting me borrow his 50mm f/1.4, that I've always loved, for a few weeks. It's perfect for shooting food like this and I'm really excited to be using it. I can't wait to shoot more with it!
I hope you all had a great first week of 2012 and are looking forward to this new year.
Dec 21, 2011
There are so many recipes for all these different types of fudge out there, but honestly, there is only one recipe for fudge that I can eat endlessly without that, "Please no more fudge ever", feeling that I sometimes get. And that is this recipe for Ribbon Fantasy Fudge. My mom has made this every year since I was really little and didn't even know what fudge was. I remember watching her melt the chocolate and patiently waiting to lick the spoon.
I think the reason why this fudge appeals to my taste buds so much is because it's not just one flavor, like plain chocolate or peanut butter. It's a combination of both with an added ingredient that really blends the two together perfectly, marshmallow fluff. It's not a real heavy fudge either, so you can eat it without feeling like you overloaded on the sweets. Another plus is that it doesn't ever get crumbly or flakey like most fudge that I've eaten, it's very soft and smooth.
On Christmas eve, I'd always pick out the cookies to leave for santa and would put lots of fudge on the plate. One year, on Christmas day there was one piece of fudge left on the plate and it had a bite mark in it. I remember watching my mom pick it up and eat it and thought how incredibly gross it was that she just ate something that santa had already bitten. Years later I put the pieces together and thought wow, nice slip mom. I always think of that when eating this fudge.
You can use crunchy peanut butter also, if that's something you like.
4 more days to go! Can you believe it? Happy early Christmas!
Dec 10, 2011
This next Christmas cookie has been something that my mother makes every year, for as long as I can remember. The recipe is actually from my grandmother and she used to make it every year for my father when he was little. These cookies are called fudge cups and consist of marshmallow fluff and fudge in a little pastry shell and topped with pieces of crushed peppermint. To me, these cookies are what Christmas 'tastes' like because we only eat them once a year... in December.
This is the second recipe that I submitted to N.E.E.T. Magazine for their holiday issue and some of these pictures can be found there, but there are also some new ones here too! Red and white was a perfect setup for these cookies because of the peppermint. I used my wrought iron muffin pan that I got at a flea market in Northfield, MA (which is a very beautiful place!), to put the cookies in with tea lights, red beads, and whole peppermint candies. It makes a perfect centerpiece for your table at Christmas time. And if you're doing a rustic theme you can add sprigs of pine around the pan and put baby pinecones in it with the candles.
See how cute the cookies look, very festive.
Here is the recipe, it seems a lot more involved than it is so, if you have any questions, let me know!
(Store them in the freezer so they harden.)
With the marshmallow and chocolate together these cookies are the perfect combination of sweetness and aren't over sweet at all. The peppermint adds a splash of refreshment and really balances it out. When I was crushing the peppermint in a plastic bag it made the whole house smell so good. It has to be one of the most refreshing scents!
These aren't the type of cookies that you find in too many places because they're different so give these a try, they're definitely worth it!
Dec 6, 2011
The first Christmas Cookie on my blog! These cookies couldn't be any easier to make and when you add the edible gold star sparkles they make for a PERFECT holiday party cookie. If you saw my feature in N.E.E.T. Magazine, you've already seen these awesome stars in my sparkling punch shoot (which will soon be on here!). They make them in silver as well and you can pick them up at Hobby Lobby or Michael's. I really suggest you try these out, you can put them on anything you're going to eat and they add a beautiful sparkle that is really unique.
Anyway! back to the snickerdoodles...It's kind of a funny story of where I got this recipe. It's actually from my 6th grade Home & Careers class wayyyy back in the day! Strange, right? I remember it very vividly though. These were the first cookies that I ever baked on my own, and yes it was done in school haha! It was also the first time I tried snickerdoodles and it was love at first taste. So naturally, I saved the handout that had the recipe on it and whipped it out today to bake these.
Here is the recipe:
They are delcious and quite addicting! If you're like me and love cinnamon, these are the cookies for you. And when you top them with these sparkling stars, they can make a perfect centerpiece using silver plates and gold fabrics or decorations... Great colors for a Christmas or New Year's Eve party. Or eat them for a little snack with milk!
Aren't those stars the coolest thing?
Nov 21, 2011
With Thanksgiving coming this week, it could not be a more perfect time for this recipe. I've spent the last week shooting 3 different dishes and setups for N.E.E.T. Magazine's Christmas issue, so I almost accidentally skipped over Thanksgiving and went straight to Christmas! But luckily I found this recipe to remind me what month it is still.
I couldn't be more excited for Thanksgiving this week, we're going down to Maryland to visit my cousins. I haven't seen them in a while and am really looking forward to it. We have a list of things to bake for Thursday and I thought it would be great to bring one of these mini bundt cakes as a little gift for my Aunt. They make an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving dessert. I've never really liked pumpkin pie or any other pumpkin flavored dishes, but these cakes are so yummy, I can't stop eating them! I'm more of a chocolate person so the spicy-ness of pumpkin never really appealed to me. However, in cake form (that's not as 'spicy' as the pies), with a delicious lemon glaze over top, these cakes are very sweet and a new favorite dessert of mine.
You can either make one big bundt cake or 6 individual cakes with this recipe. There's something about an individal dessert that I just love!
As the recipe says, you'll have to play around with the confectioner's sugar and milk amounts to get the correct glazing consistency. And once you do, spinkle some extra lemon zest on top of the cakes. It adds a pretty little garnish of color and also tastes really good! The smell of fresh lemon zest will make your house smell amazing.
Display on a mini cake stand for an extra cute touch, or bring this as a little gift to your friends/family on Thanksgiving.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving this week and make sure you try out this recipe! It's a perfect dessert for this time of year, and it's really yummy.
Nov 8, 2011
It’s official to say I have a new favorite dessert...Apple Butterscotch bars. It was one of the many desserts I decided to try out and bake for my neighbor’s halloween party. As I was making it, I cheated and tasted the batter and oh my goodness was it delicious! I wasn’t particularly expecting to love these bars because I’m not a huge fan of cooked apples in dishes like apple pie or pork chops with apple stuffing. It’s a texture issue for me. I love the crunchy, crisp-ness of eating an apple, so when they are softer/mushier it takes all the joy out of eating them for me. But alas, that has all changed!
Once the bars came out of the oven I had to try them right away. They smelled so good and I wanted to make sure they’d be yummy for the party, of course. And let me tell you...they are so much more than yummy.
I’ve baked three batches already (and you should too!). They are just simply delicious with the combination of the apples, cinnamon and butterscotch. Their texture is between brownies and cake, so I want to make a real simple glaze to put over top of them- just to try out (I think it might be good!).
So here is the recipe..print this one out!!
I was very excited to share this recipe with you all because they are 100% delicious, very easy to make and perfect for this time of year. Serve them with chocolate ice cream or nice, cold apple cider too.
And here is a lovely behind the scenes picture of the role my dog plays in helping me with taking my pictures....she cleans up the crumbs that fall on the floor for me.
I really do hope you try these out and enjoy them as much as I do!
Nov 2, 2011
When I came across this recipe I immediately thought, “I have to try this!” How incredible is it to be only 5 minutes away from chocolate cake! It’s so easy to make and just the right amount for a sweet, little, individual dessert (or if you’re feeling generous, you can share with someone).
So, the other day I had some extra time and thought I’d try it out; I had to see for myself if it really is possible to make a chocolate cake in a mug! I gathered all the ingredients and got started. Here are the dry ones:
I almost didn’t think everything would fit in my mug, but it all did. If you want to be a little less messy, I suggest mixing everything in a medium sized bowl, then pouring it into the mug.
Here’s the recipe:
If you have a really strong microwave, you can cook it for a little less than 3 minutes. I do, and the first one I made was a little dry, due to overcooking it. You’ll see it rise up over the top of the mug once it starts heating up, but don’t worry, it won’t explode or drip down. And once it cools it sinks back into the mug quite a bit.
The best part about this is that are so many things you can do with it! I ate mine right out of the mug with a dollop of whipped cream and that was really delicious. But you can also tip it out onto a plate and ice it with frosting or eat it with fruit and ice cream too. It’s pretty dense, so it’s just the right amount and you can even share it if you’d like as well. Just imagine all the possibilities of having your own individual chocolate cake in a mug!
So, next time you get a craving for a little bit of chocolate cake remember this recipe- it’s just what you need!
And I just had to share this picture with you because I have the most curious german shepherd ever. She stares at me when I’m up on the chair taking pictures and always wants a piece of what I’m making. At least she’s an honest taste tester!
Oct 23, 2011
This week will be full of baking for our good friend’s Halloween party on Saturday. So, I’ve been looking through all my yummy fall recipes to see which ones would be perfect for the party. About a week ago I made these pumpkin shaped sugar cookies for a flea market and bake sale that a local church had.
This recipe is really easy and makes delicious sugar cookies. I usually use it around christmas time and make christmas cookies of all different shapes. But I thought it would be great to use my pumpkin and leaf cookie cutters and make them now for fall.
Here is the sugar cookies recipe:
Combined with the recipe I have for homemade frosting, they are irresistible. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a fan of the ‘icing in a can’ but ever since I started making this frosting I can’t (and won’t) go back. It’s so good you can eat a whole bowl of it by itself but you don’t feel sick afterwards like you do with icing from a can. (Believe me, I’ve tried). And the best part is that it’s SO easy to make. I just dyed half of it orange and the other half green and got out the pastry bags to decorate the pumpkins and leaves. I also put sprinkles on some of the cookies before I baked them to have a variety of decorations.
Here is the frosting recipe:
Serving them with candy corn adds a lot of fun and kids love it.
Oct 11, 2011
Apples, apples and more apples- I can’t get enough of them. Apple picking is by FAR my favorite thing to do in autumn. Especially at DuBois farm, it is SO beautiful there and they have such a great variety of fruit too.
With all the apples we picked we’ve been baking with them and eating them like crazy. Apple pies, apple sauce, apples and caramel dip, pork chops with apple stuffing and so much more.
Every autumn there’s always plenty of apple crisp to go around too. It’s super easy to make and goes great with ice cream! This year I came across a new apple crisp recipe and had to try it out right away: Peanut Butter Apple Crisp. Peanut Butter is my weakness so I knew this would be delicious.
Here's the recipe:
I absolutely love the cinnamon, peanut butter topping. The peanut butter is the perfect touch.
Serve it warm topped with scoops of ice cream along with hot apple cider and you’ve got the perfect dessert for autumn!
(My favorite is chocolate, but vanilla is great too).
What are you going to bake with your apples?!
Oct 4, 2011
Well it's October already and all the apples and pumpkins are out! I've been working on a post about a delicious peanut butter apple crisp in light of the new fall season- but I got a little distracted when I came across this recipe.
I've been eating black and white cookies ever since I was little. When my grandpa would come to visit he always brought a black and white cookie for me and my brother (the big ones, not the mini ones). They were from a wonderful Italian bakery in Denville, NJ. I'd always eat the chocolate side and leave the vanilla side behind for my parents (I was really picky when I was younger).
But when I saw the recipe for these cookies I couldn't help but think of my grandpa and the visits he always made to our house. My great-grandparents came to the U.S. from Italy in the early 1900s and my grandpa grew up in Brooklyn, NY. My mom showed me all of these old photographs from the 40s of him and my grandma and some papers that he had written on too.
Now, everytime I eat one of these b&w cookies I think of my grandpa, except now I eat the vanilla side too! And when they're mini, they make the perfect little snack.
So here is the recipe for the cookies:
And once you make the cookies, let them cool and work on the icings:
This recipe makes about 5 dozen cookies. Once you ice them and they dry you can keep them layered between wax or parchment paper so they dont stick to each other.
Eat them with milk and it's a perfect combo!
And as promised, the peanut butter apple crisp recipe is coming soon. But I hope you try out this recipe and let me know what you think!
Sep 13, 2011
These are my absolute favorite cookies!
And here is the recipe!
What you need:
1 bag Hershey Kisses
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
extra granulated sugar
What you do:
Heat your oven to 375 degrees. Remove all the wrappers from your Hershey Kisses. In a large mixer bowl, beat shortening and peanut butter until it is well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Then add the egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. In a separate bowl stir together the flour, baking soda and salt, then gradually add it to the peanut butter mixture. Next, shape the dough into 1-inch balls and roll them in granulated sugar and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake them for 10-12 minutes or until they're lightly browned. Immediately place the Hershey Kisses on top of each cookie as they come out of the oven, pressing down lightly.
*Bakes about 4 dozen cookies.
Tip: For each holiday, roll them in colored granulated sugar to make them seasonal!