Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

Looking to pimp your everyday Rice Crispy Treats recipe? Look no further! All you have to do is brown the butter (a lot of butter), and add a little sea salt.

While many of you out there may have made New Years resolutions to lose weight, my husband is on a quest to gain 15lb. by the end of April, for his trip to Everest. So these treats are right up his alley!

Salted Brown Butter Rice Crispy Treats

4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 10-ounce bag marshmallows
1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
6 cups crispy rice cereal (Rice Krispies)

1. Coat an 8-inch square cake pan with cooking spray (or use butter).

2. In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. You’ll need to be patient and vigilant during this step… the butter will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden, then finally start to turn a light brown. Stir frequently and keep your eyes on the butter – if it cooks for too long, it will burn.

browning the butter

3. As soon as the butter turns a light-brown color, turn the heat off and stir in the marshmallows – the heat from the melted butter should be enough to melt them (if it is not, turn it back on low until the marshmallows are smooth.)

add the marshmallows

melt the marshmallows

almost there!

4. Add the salt and cereal; stir to combine.

add the rice crispies

5. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Press down firmly and evenly with a piece of wax or parchment paper, or a spatula.

dump into baking dish

press to flatten

6. Let it cool completely, then cut into squares and serve.

let cool

let it cool

cut into pieces and enjoy

Serves 9-16 – depending on how you cut them

If you make 9:

  • 1 serving = 5 Weight Watchers Points
  • calories: 264
  • fat: 10.5g
  • carbs: 40.8g (5g fiber, 16.5g sugars)
  • 1.6g protein

If you make 16:

  • 1 serving = 3 Weight Watchers Points
  • calories: 148
  • fat: 5.91g
  • carbs: 22.95
  • 0.9g protein

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The first time I made zucchini bread was in high school, in my Food & Nutrition class. When the teacher gave us the recipe, I remember thinking that it was going to be the most disgusting bread ever. I mean, how could anyone possibly incorporate zucchini into a sweet and tasty bread?!

One taste of the finished product and I was convinced; I loved it! But I never made it again…. until last week…

This time, Stas was the skeptical one (and I don’t blame him… he doesn’t even like zucchini much). But he liked it too – and even took some to work. (or maybe I made him take some to work :))

The zucchini doesn’t add any strong taste to the bread. I think it serves mostly for moisture and a nice, chewy texture. Whatever purpose it serves, it does it well!

the finished loaf

the finished loaf

Zucchini Bread
from Cooking Light

2 cups coarsely shredded zucchini
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place shredded zucchini on several layers of paper towels, and cover with additional paper towel. Let stand 5 minutes, pressing down occasionally. Set aside.

3. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder in a large bowl and stir well; make a well in center of mixture. Combine zucchini, applesauce, egg substitute, oil, and vanilla; add to dry ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.

4. Divide batter evenly between 1 large 9 inch loaf pan (or 2 smaller 7 1/2 x 3-inch loaf pans) coated with cooking spray.

before going into the oven

before going into the oven

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool in pan(s) for 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove from pan(s), and let cool completely on wire rack.

straight from the oven

straight from the oven

Serves 28

1 serving = 3 Weight Watchers points

I used 1 large loaf pan for my bread. I think this way, the center of the bread stays more moist- and you get that yummy section of almost-but-not-quite-fully-cooked part… the part that’s extra moist and chewy… the best part!

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This weekend in Massachusetts, we got hit with our first real snowstorm of the season. It started Friday afternoon and lasted all the way until tonight – when it switched over to a nasty snow/sleet/rain mix.

This meant that we couldn’t get out much this weekend. Stas and I did manage to get to the gym on Saturday afternoon, and we met my siblings and parents for dinner that night. But today’s wintry mix was a little too nasty to be on the road.

So I was bored!!! Seriously, seriously bored! Stas and I tried to walk to the grocery store, but we were getting too wet and I didn’t want to ruin my fur hat, so we turned back. I channel surfed for awhile, but there was nothing on.

… so I headed to the kitchen and flipped through my Joy of Cooking cookbook. These cookies immediately caught my eye.

I had seen a version of these cookies on the Gourmet site – apparently, they were a favorite in the 1950’s. I made the Joy of Cooking version instead because I’ve always had good results with that cookbook, and Gourmet kinda comes across as snobbish. I do like how their cookies look, though. I’d like to try their recipe soon to compare the results.


“Benne” is the African word for  “sesame.” It’s still used in the South – particularly South Carolina.


These cookies were easy to make – and tasty! They almost taste like they have peanut butter in them. And they’re  not too sweet, which means that Stas really likes them.

Sesame Seed (Benne Seed) Wafers

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sesame seeds, toasted*
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for dipping:
1/2 cup white sesame seeds, toasted*, or 1 cup chopped pecans

*to toast the sesame seeds, place in a single layer on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, 1/2 cup sesame seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

3. In a separate bowl (I used my stand mixer for this step), cream together butter and brown sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla.

4. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture.

5. Pull off pieces of the dough (or use a small cookie scoop) and roll between your palms to form 1-inch balls. Dip the tops of the balls into the additional 1/2 cup sesame seeds (or 1 cup chopped pecans). Place the balls, seed side up, about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Using the bottom of a coffee mug, flatten the balls into 1 1/2 inch rounds.

6. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, for 6-8 minutes, or until the edges just start to brown. Let stand briefly and then move the cookies to a rack to cool.

Makes about forty-two 2-1/4 inch cookies


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Marzipan Mice


Aren’t they so cute?!! I saw them in a Rachel Ray magazine at the gym and just couldn’t resist!!!


Stas and I went to a holiday party at my friend Amy’s house last night – I brought these little guys and they were a hit. I was supposed to use black licorice instead of the red, but I don’t like the black, and I could only find red 🙂


These are perfect for any occasions where you want to “wow” people, but don’t have a lot of time, or you’re not a great baker (no baking required!).


Marzipan Mice
from Rachel Ray Magazine

one 7-ounce package marzipan
almond slices
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
licorice laces (black or red), cut into 24 tails and 24 dots for eyes

1.Remove the marzipan from the wrapper.Divide the roll into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into an oval. Pinch one end to make the nose and eyes:


after shaping the the eyes

2. To make the ears: working with one mouse at a time, wet 1 end of 2 almond slices and stick them into the marzipan above the eyes. At the same time, stick a toothpick into the round side of each mouse:

after getting ears and toothpicks

after getting ears and toothpicks

3. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. In a small bowl, microwave the chocoalte chips at high power, stopping to stir every 20 seconds, until smooth, about 1 minute.

4. Insert a toothpick into the wide end of each mouse. Working with one at a time, dip 12of the mice into the chocolate. Tap gently to remove any excess. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.

5. Remove the toothpicks and replace them with 1 1/2 inch strips of licorice (for the tails). Use the licorice dots for eyes (for the white mice only)

Makes 24 mice


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Each year at work, we have something called “The Twelve Days of Cookies”. It’s pretty self-explanatory… every day, for 12 days, someone brings in cookies. I think that for some people, it’s the highlight of the year.

Today was the 3rd day, and my 1st day on the sign-up sheet. I’m signed up for tomorrow, too (you’ll just have to wait and see what I have in the oven!)

For my first day, I wanted to do something festive, and something that I hadn’t made before. Originally, I was going to make just plain ol’ eggnog cookies – I originally planned to use a recipe that made a harder dough, that you rolled and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. But then I found these and just couldn’t resist! It doesn’t require chilling the dough, doesn’t require cookie cutters (I don’t have any!!), and has a rum frosting (eggnog + rum is a perfect combination)!

The verdict? AWESOME! My coworkers raved about them.

And they’re so festive 🙂

The only problem is that now I have a bunch of eggnog left. I don’t drink it because it’s too fattening and Stas tried it yesterday for the very first time and thought it was nasty (but he did love the finished cookies)! So I’ll probably end up making another one or two batches for him to take to work.


Eggnog Cookies with Rum Butter Frosting

for the cookies:

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
2/3 cup prepared eggnog
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

for the frosting:

1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons dark rum
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

(sprinkles are optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Cream the brown sugar and butter until smooth and light (I used the whisk attachment in my KitchenAid stand mixer). Beat in the egg until well-blended. Stir in eggnog.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and ginger. Blend into the creamed mixture until smooth. Using a cookie scoop, scoop even amounts of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets (I used 2), about 2 inches apart.

4. Bake about 15 minutes, or until the cookies are golden. Let sit on the pan for a minute to harden a bit, then use a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

5. Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter and rum in a small bowl. Stir in the powdered sugar and blend until smooth. It will thicken slightly as it sits.

6. Once the cookies are completely cooled, spread icing on the top of each and garnish with sprinkles, if desired.

Makes a little over 2 dozen

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This tart is good. Really really good! I don’t normally try stuff like this when I make it (I prefer to stick to healthy eating), but this was absolutely irresistable!

Today at work we had a pre-Thanksgiving potluck. I’m known for being a great cook/baker, so I couldn’t disappoint. When I saw this recipe from Gourmet magazine, I knew it was the one.

The recipe seems long and complicated (at least it did to me when I first saw it), but it’s surprisingly simple and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients. The only things I needed to go out and buy was heavy cream and chocolate graham crackers.

The tart is basically three layers of chocolate: a chocolate crust, a truffle-like dark chocolate filling, and a dark-chocolate glaze.

Chocolate Glazed Chocolate Tart
from Gourmet, September 2008


for crust:


  • 9 (5”x2 1/4”) chocolate graham crackers, finely ground (1 cup)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar

for filling:


  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 9 ounces bittersweet (not more than 65% cacao) chocolate, chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

for glaze:


  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 3/4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon warm water

1. Make the crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with rack in the middle.
Stir together all ingredients and press evenly onto the bottom and sides of a 9” tart pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack for 15 to 20 minutes.

imgp3629baked tart crust

2. Make the filling:

Bring cream to a boil, then pour it over chocolate in a bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Gently stir until smooth. Whisk together eggs, vanilla, and salt in another bowl, then stir into melted chocolate.

Pour filling into cooled crust and bake until filling is set about 3 inches from the edge, but center is still wobbly, 20-25 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack, about 1 hour. (Center will continue to set as tart cools)

imgp3636chopped chocolate… mmmmm

3. Make Glaze:

Bring cream to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in chocolate until smooth. Stir in corn syrup, then stir in warm water.

Pour glaze into tart, then tilt and rotate the tart so that the glaze coats the top evenly. Let stand until the glaze is set, about 1 hour.

imgp3642(a little blurry)

… and a few more for your chocolate-loving enjoyment…



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11-04-08 Napoleon

I wanted to make something special for Election Day. I knew I would be working from home today, so it didn’t take long to reach a decision.


Napoleon isn’t hard to make – it just takes a lot of time. Which is why I only make it a couple times per year.

The first time I made it was in 2005 for Stas’ birthday (it was our first birthday together). Wanting to do something special for him, I “sneakily” learned that it was his favorite.

At the time, I spent a long time scouring the internet, searching for the best recipe. Most recipes I found were in Russian or poorly-translated English. It didn’t help that I had never even seen or heard of the torte before – so I wasn’t even sure what I was looking for, or how to tell when I had found “the” recipe.

I think the recipe I finally settled on came from recipezaar.com. I’ve been using the same one ever since, with one modification: Instead of making my own puff pastry, I buy the frozen Peppridge Farms kind – it’s just easier that way.

Napoleon Torte

  • 1 package Peppridge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets
  • Filling #1:
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    5 tablespoons flour
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    2 cups milk, scalded
    4 egg yolks, beaten
    1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Filling #2:
    2 (14 oz. each) cans sweetened condensed milk
    6 egg yolks, beaten
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    1/2 lb butter, softened

Step 1: Gather all ingredients and preheat oven to 400 degrees F:

11-04-08 ingredients

Step 2: Prepare puff pastry. Open the box and unfold the sheets. If they’re still too frozen, leave them out on the counter for 5-10 minutes. There are 2 full sheets in the box – I cut each sheet into 6 equal pieces, for a total of 12 pieces.

Take each piece and roll them out one by one on a well-floured surface, until paper-thin. I then trim them into equal-sized squares, using a square plate as a guide.

Poke each piece with a fork all over and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a cooling rack.

Here’s one of my sheets, rolled and trimmed:

11-04-08 puff pastry

and here’s my stack of finished (baked) sheets, plus a bowl of baked scrap pieces. These will come in handy later, for the finishing touch:

11-04-08 puff pastry (2)

Step 3: (Prepare filling #1)

Scald the milk in a small pot.

Mix sugar, flour and salt in the top of a double-boiler (or if you’re like me and don’t have a fancy double-boiler, make your own using a glass bowl and a pot). Gradually add the scalded milk, stirring constantly:

11-04-08 step 3

I switched to an immersion blender to mix in the milk and break up any chunks:

11-0408 step 3 (2)

Cook and stir until thickened. Temper the egg yolks and add them to the mixture. Cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cool and chill. I place plastic wrap over the top while cooling to prevent a crust from forming:

11-04-08 step 3 (3)

Step 4: (Prepare filling #2)

Pour the sweetened condensed milk into the top of a double-boiler and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened. This will take anywhere from 30-90 minutes (the recipe I use says 30, but I cook mine for 90).

**This step is very important because under-cooking will result in a runny, messy filling. It took me a few times to figure this step out.

Before thickened:

11-04-08 step 4

Thickened (90 minutes later). Notice that it got a bit darker:

11-04-08 step 4 (2)

Add tempered egg yolks in a thin stream, stirring constantly. (again, I use the immersion blender here).

Add vanilla. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. It will become a bit thicker and darker:

11-04-08 step 4 (3)

Remove from heat, cool and chill. (Like filling #1, I cover it with plastic wrap to prevent a crust).

Step 5: Once filling #1 has chilled, stir in the vanilla.

Step 6: Once filling #2 has chilled, beat the butter until fluffy, then slowly add it in.

Here are the 2 finished fillings. Filling #1 is on the left and #2 is on the right:

11-04-08 finished filling

Step 7: Assemble the torte. Start with a puff pastry sheet. Cover with some of filling #1. Add another puff pastry sheet. Cover with some of filling #2. Continue doing this, alternating puff pastry, filling #1, puff pastry, filling #2, etc. until you have used all of the pastry sheets. End with one of the fillings.

Here is my torte after a few layers. Don’t put too much filling in each layer, and don’t worry about going all the way to the edge. As it settles, the weight of the torte will press the filling out and over the edges. And definitely don’t worry about being neat. You’ll cover the whole thing with puff pastry crumbs at the end:

11-04-08 step 7

Step 8: Crumble the puff pastry scraps and sprinkle all over the top and sides:

11-04-08 napoleon and cheburashka

(Cheburashka loves Napoleon)

Step 9: Place in refrigerator for several hours at least – but it’s better to leave it in overnight before eating.

My Napoleon isn’t the prettiest – it’s certainly not as even and perfect as one you would see in a store, but it’s yummy (so says Stas). As it sits in the fridge, it’ll settle and compress a bit and the layers of puff pastry will absorb some of the moisture of the fillings and soften.

I always have filling left when I’m done. I normally throw it out, but I think this time I’ll buy some wafers from the Russian deli and make a Napoleon-type dessert with them… something to bring to work and share with people.

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