"Bake" covers all things sweet, in or out of the oven.

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Gina DePalma’s Baci di Cioccolato

I have a soft spot for Italian cookies. They are not delicate, intricate confections like the French macarons or madeleines. Italian cookies are made of sturdy stuff, like biscotti that will break your teeth if you dare to eat them without first dunking in coffee to soften, but somehow, when faced with Italian cookies, my usual resolve – to daintily eat sweets but a few pieces at a time – melt away faster than the Arctic glaciers. I simply cannot resist them.

So when my friend Gina DePalma, the fabulous pastry chef of Babbo in Manhattan, sent me her Italian dessert book Dolce Italiano, the first chapter I poured through was for the cookies. I didn’t get very far, mind you. I stopped at the very first one, these adorable Chocolate Kisses, Baci di Cioccolato, made from ground almond and sandwiched in between a layer, a kiss, of chocolate ganache.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake in-a-jar

Just in time for Thanksgiving, here’s an adapted version of my popular Cheesecake in-a-jar recipe, this time with pumpkin, and with a crust made from ginger snaps. It’s a perfect make-ahead dessert recipe that comes together super quickly in your food processor. Plus, you can gather up cute jars and vintage glasses in your collection to bake these little cheesecakes in.  Here I baked mine in these adorable tea-colored vintage glasses (about 7oz or 20cl) I found at Stripe in Santa Cruz. These cheesecakes bake in a low oven in a water bath, so most thick-ish glasses or jars you have around should work fine.

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Not Your Mom’s Sugar Cookies – I teach!

Not that I’m saying there’s anything wrong with yo’ mama’s sugar cookies. (Really, feel free to send some my way.) But you don’t need a class on that, do you? Oh, wait, you don’t know I teach? Well, now you do. I occasionally teach classes at the new Love Apple Farm’s super cool teaching kitchen. So far I’ve done sold-out classes on Thai curries and what to do with our beautiful local Meyer Lemons.

For this class, Not Your Mama’s Sugar Cookies- Unique Ideas for Holiday Baking, we’ll explore some fun new ideas for your holiday baking season.  You’ll learn unique recipes to produce delightful holiday gifts that’ll have your friends and neighbors talking about them well into next year.  You’ll also learn crafty packaging ideas so your sweet presents are every bit as pretty as they are delectable.  We’ll be making my famous Pain d’Epices (French Spiced Gingerbread) with pear, walnut, and marron glacé compôte, Salted Butter Caramels, Financiers, and Alfajores, and might even be more.

The class will be this Sunday, November 21, from 12.00-4.oo PM. Go sign up and I’ll see you there!

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Video: Pim makes a Rustic Fruit Tart & The Dough

The Foodie Handbook: Making a Rustic Fruit Galette from 4SP Films on Vimeo.

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Spiced Cherry Pie

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Now, here’s a timely recipe to try out my One Pie Dough to Rule Them All recipe I gave you last night.  Try it before the fleeting cherry season is over.  Do try, even if you’re one of those who couldn’t stand the generic, gloopy cherry pie – I’m looking at you Matt. Because this recipe, this ain’t your usual, generic cherry pie.  It might even be the best cherry pie you’ll ever tasted.  You try it and tell me.

The secret to this pie is the spices.  When I was tinkering with my cherry pie recipe, I thought adding some spices to it would be fun.  So I went to my spice rack and found a blend that I made for my French spiced bread, Pain d’Epices.  It’s got the usual cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, but also with a generous amount of ginger powder, giving it an interesting, unusual character.  It turned out beautifully in the first cherry pie I baked for the season.  Now I won’t ever bake my cherry pie without it again.

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