Tag Archives: baking

Pave d’Amour – The Quintessential Celebration Cake


Pave d'AmourThis Pave d’Amour or Cake of Love is truly a celebration cake made for all the highlights of life.  It is one of those recipes that looks daunting but actually isn’t. It just requires a schedule and can be done over a number of days or even weeks as desired. While not as fast as some cakes, its complexity is what makes it so special.   Since May and June are such celebration months, I’m reintroducing this cake as one of my all time favorites because I think everyone should know about it.  Continue reading

Chocolate Orange Macarons


Chocolate Orange MacaronsThese chewy Chocolate Orange Macarons were inspired by candied orange rinds dipped in chocolate. Stiffly whipped egg whites, powdered sugar, almonds, and cocoa form perfect circles of chewy chocolate cookies that are naturally gluten-free. Then, sandwich two of these macarons with a chocolate-orange ganache that literally melts in your mouth. It is impossible to eat just one of these.

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Cheddar Pecan Date Bread – the Quick Version


This Cheddar Pecan Date Bread is a sleeper.  Normally, I’m not a big fan of savory quick breads.  But this one was quite a surprise and really quick.

The recipe to which I was referring used cheddar cheese, buttermilk, and bran but I had none.  I also didn’t have the recipe.  What I did have was cheddar, pecans and a bag of dates.  Armed with those I knew I could use them to good advantage.  This moist loaf with its cheesy overtones is the outcome.

Dates can be tricky to chop.  I cut them up with a pair of scissors.  It goes really fast and is so much easier than trying to cut them with a knife.

While you could use just all-purpose flour, the whole wheat flour, while not discernable, enhances the flavor of this Cheddar Pecan Date Bread even though it can’t be tasted.  This is definitely a quick bread to make.  Whisk together the dry ingredients.  Blend together the wet ones and combine them.  That’s it.  Bake, cool and enjoy!

Cheddar Pecan Date BreadIngredients

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (250 grams or 8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (70 grams or 2 1/2 ounces)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar (50 grams or 1 3/4 ounces)
1 cup sour cream (225 grams or 8 ounce)
1/2 cup milk
1 large egg
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (114 grams or 4 ounces)
1 cup chopped dates (114 grams or 4 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (60 grams or 2 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line the bottom of a 9×5” loaf pan with parchment paper.  Spray the entire pan with a non-stick baking spray.  Set aside.

Whisk both flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar together.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the sour cream, milk, and the egg. Liquid ingrediants mixwd

Add the dry ingredients, mixing completely.

Blend in the cheese, dates, and pecans.Cheese, nuts, dates for Cheddar Pecan Date Bread

Pour it into the prepared pan and smooth it out. Batter in pan

Bake for about 45 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.

The aroma of the Cheddar Pecan Date Bread is heavenly, but wait until the bread cools to eat it.

Store in a plastic bag where it will last several days.

If  you like this bread, I’ll bet you’d like these:

Crumb Topped Orange Date Muffins
Bacon and Cheddar Cheese Popovers
Four in One Amazing Quick Breads

Coconut Cream Pie with a Difference


Coconut Cream PieThis is a Coconut Cream Pie with a difference.  It has a great crust, lightened pastry cream filled with toasted coconut but instead of oodles of whipped cream topping, I have switched it to a meringue which I think allows the filling, which is the star of the dish, to stand out.

The coconut is toasted to bring out the full flavor.

I love whipped cream, but it often coats your tastebuds minimizing other flavors. It also doesn’t hurt that by substituting the meringue the calories and fat are reduced.  See what you think.

Pastry Cream 

For how to photos, go here.

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon cold water
1 1/3 cup milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar (100 grams or 3 1/2 ounces)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (40 grams or 1 1/2  ounces)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Soften the gelatin in the water and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat the milk until very hot but not boiling. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a non-reactive bowl. Whisk in the flour.  Add the hot milk slowly, whisking well and scraping the pan with a rubber spatula to make sure all of the egg yolk mixture is incorporated.

Strain into the top of a double boiler whisking constantly, heat until very hot and beginning to thicken. Remove the top of the double boiler and place directly over heat. Whisk constantly until it comes to a boil; cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat; add the vanilla.  Tear the gelatin into small pieces and stir into the hot liquid until it is completely dissolved.  There is no need to liquefy it, the heat of the mixture will do this for you.

Transfer to a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream, poke a few holes in it.  Cool to room temperature and then and chill at least 6 hours or overnight.

Yield:  2 cups

Single Pie Crust for the Coconut Cream Pie

For How to pictures, go here.

1 3/4 cups sifted cake flour (6 1/3 ounces or 180 grams)
1/3 cup sifted all purpose flour (scant 1 1/2 ounces or 40 grams)
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces and frozen until hard (90 grams or 3 ounces)
3 tablespoons shortening (like Crisco) frozen and cut into pieces (45 grams or 1 1/2 ounces)
2 tablespoons beaten egg
1 teaspoon lemon juice
5 tablespoons water, chilled and divided

Place both flours and the salt in the processor bowl. Pulse several times to mix.  Place the butter and shortening evenly over the flour and pulse until the butter and shortening are  in pea size pieces.

Combine the egg, lemon juice and water.  Pour  it in a circle over the processor contents.  Pulse until it forms clumps.  Pour out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Push the clumps together into a ball.  Knead 4 or 5 times for form a dough.  Pat into a circle about 1/2 inch thick.  Wrap in film and refrigerate a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out to a circle approximately 13 inches.  Place in the pie pan and fit into corners.  Cut the overhang an even 1 inch all the way around.  Tuck the crust under and flute the edges.

To bake blind, freeze for 30 or more minutes until hard. Spray a large piece of foil with a non-stick baking release  Place it, sprayed side down, on top of the crust.  Fill it to the top with beans or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes with the weights. Remove them by bringing the four corners of the foil together and lifting out.  Return to the oven and bake for approximately 13 to 15 minutes more until lightly browned and set.

Cool completely before assembling.


2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut (170 grams or 6 ounces)
1 cup 40% cream
3 tablespoons powdered sugar (22 grams or 3/4 ounce)
Pastry Cream, chilled

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Spread the coconut in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake for 5 to 10 minutes until a medium brown, stirring several times so it evenly browns.  Cool.

Combine the cream and powdered sugar in mixing bowl; beat until stiff. Fold into, along with the coconut into the pastry cream. Spread it evenly into the cooled, baked crust.

Meringue for the Coconut Cream Pie

For How to pictures go here.

4 egg whites from above
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 cup sugar (200 grams or 7 ounces)

Place the oven rack on the most bottom rung.  Preheat the oven to broil.

Place the egg whites and cream of tarter in a mixing bowl. Beat until soft peaks begin to form. Gradually add the sugar.  Beat to really stiff peaks.  Place in a piping bag fitted with a large open star (#8 or 9 open star) and pipe the meringue into swirls onto the  filling starting at the inside edge of the crust, making sure you are attaching it to the crust.  Fill any empty places with small stars of meringue.

Pipe more meringue on top of the already piped meringue until it is all used.  Alternately, just spoon it on and make swirls with the spoon making sure you are attaching it all the way around to the crust.

At home I use a small pastry torch to brown the meringue.  The important thing is to hold it about a foot away and keep it moving to avoid burning the meringue.  You can see a lot of pastry torches, sometime called Creme Brulee torches here.

Alternatively. place the oven rack to the most bottom rung. Preheat the oven to broil on high. Set the pie on a rimmed baking sheet and into the oven for about 1 minute and 15 seconds or until lightly browned.  Watch it carefully as the top most peaks of the crust will burn quickly.  Cool completely before cutting.   Store in the refrigerator.

Makes a 9″ Coconut Cream Pie  or 10 to 12 servings

You might also enjoy:
Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon Meringue Cake
Coconut Cream Cake

Neapolitan Butter Cookies


Neapolitan CookiesThese Neapolitan Butter Cookies are three flavors in one and so unusual, I decided to throw one more cookie at you for the holidays.

Originated by Amy Hoan avid baker in Canada there are myriad variations on Instagram. These are a simple butter cookie that goes together without effort and is easy to shape.  The dough itself is a breeze to work with right out of the mixer.  You can vary the flavors by substituting other powders for the cocoa and strawberry.

To obtain the strawberry powder, I processed freeze dried strawberries in the processor.  However, be sure to remove the package of desiccant that is in the package. Desiccant in strawberries I failed to do that once and when I saw the shreds of paper in the powdered strawberries I had to throw the whole batch out.  If you process the whole package, store the leftover powder in an airtight container with the desiccant to keep it dry.Desiccant in powder Trader Joe’s has these and other flavors.Trader Joe's Freeze Dried Strawberries for Neapolitan Butter Cookies

It is important not to over bake these Neapolitan Butter Cookies  or they lose the balance of flavors.  The bottoms should be barely browned.  The cookies will have crisp edges and soft centers.

Neapolitan Butter CookiesIngredients for Neapolitan Butter Cookies

1 cup butter, softened (225 grams, 8 ounces or 2 sticks)
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (250 grams or 8 3/4 ounces)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large egg
2 cups + 3 tablespoons all purpose flour (300 grams or 10 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons freeze dried strawberries or raspberries, powdered
2 tablespoons cocoa*
Red food color, optional**
Sanding Sugar or granulated sugar as needed

*Any cocoa will due but there are color variations.  Black cocoa is what I used and it gives the darkest color of all the cocoas.  Dutch cocoa would be next and natural cocoa gives the lightest brown.  For a deeper understanding of the types of cocoa, please see Cocoa Fundamentals Natural vs. Dutched.

** The use of red food coloring is optional but the cookies will look drab without it.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

Combine the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer.  Beat just to combine.  Add the egg and mix until blended.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until everything is incorporated.


Divide the dough into 3 parts about 270 grams or about 9 1/2 ounces each.  Return one batch to the mixing bowl and add 2 tablespoons of strawberry powder.  After the powder is mixed in add red food color to get a vibrant red.  (Some of it will bake out so it needs to be darker going into the oven.)  Remove to a bowl.

Wipe the mixer out with a paper towel if needed.  If a bowl scraper is used to remove the dough, it should be clean enough to continue.

Place a second portion of dough in the mixing bowl and add the cocoa powder.Cocoa Powder in Blend in completely.

It is easiest to scoop one flavor all at once then put them together.  Wash the disher/scooper in between.Scoops of Dough

Using a #100 disher/scooper, or about 2 teaspoons each, scoop each of the doughs and line them up on a baking sheet.  Cover each batch with film as you go along so they don’t dry out.

Place one of each color before you.Balls of colored doughGently push them together so they are one.  Roll them between the palms of your hands to form a ball. In hand

Rolled between hands

Roll the ball in the sugar and place on a baking sheet.

These cookies will spread considerably so place about 3 across and 4 to 5 down on a baking sheet.  Below is an unbaked cookie next to the baked cookie.Baked and unbaked Neapolitan Butter Cookies

Bake for 10 to 13 minutes. The white part will barely be brown and they will be slightly soft in the middle.  Do not over bake.Bottom of cookie

I’m not sure why this is necessary, but as the cookies come from the oven, bang the pan on a counter to flatten them. I did with one pan and I didn’t with the other – it didn’t make a big difference.

Yield:  About 26 Neapolitan Butter Cookies.  Store in a covered container at room temperature for 4 to 5 days.

If you enjoyed these other cookies:

Holiday Cookies
Baci di Dama