Gubana, a traditional nut-filled yeasted bread, hails from Fruili, in Northern Italy. Similar to babka and strudel, it delivers many of the flavor nuances that distinguish Eastern European and Slavic pastries. Copious amounts of marsala-drenched raisins, nuts and cocoa filling are rolled up in an orange-scented dough before being coiled into a round pan….
Winter months bring snow and magic moments in the kitchen. We bake for family and friends to gather together to feast for the holidays. It is my favorite time to bake goodies with the hot oven keeping my kitchen warm and toasty.
For long days spent skiing in the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe, nothing tastes better than a hot cup of cocoa; they are legendary together. This mix has a double dose of deep, dark chocolate and rich dutch cocoa, making a creamy, full-bodied hot cocoa that is decadent and satisfying (even for a hardcore dark chocolate lover like me). The beauty of this recipe is that you can add coffee, toffee, marshmallows, liqueurs and flavorings to customize the flavor….
It isn’t too often that I use ‘pre-made’ ingredients in the desserts we make, as I like making most everything from scratch. This dessert includes not one, but two ‘pre-made’ ingredients, Nutella and Biscoff cookies, both delightfully delicious on their own. Paired with an espresso mousse, this dessert becomes shamefully sublime and a top contender in the surreptitious world of guilty pleasures….
The heat is on, as in blistering 90+ °F (32 °C) days, each bead of sweat resonating loud and clear that summer has arrived. We adore our quaint 90 year old house, the only drawback being that my favorite space, the kitchen, is not air-conditioned. During the weeks when the kitchen’s average temperature hovers in the 80’s at night, only to push into the high 90’s during the day, use of the oven transforms this beloved space into a blazing inferno, making it even more unbearable. Going without sweets is not an option in my household, so ice cream, frozen and unbaked desserts reign supreme during the summer months.
A family favorite, this custard base ice cream is deliriously rich from an abundance of egg yolks and has a smooth, creamy texture that is flavored with freshly scraped vanilla bean seeds. Topping it off is a chocolate magic shell coating, stirring up memories of soft serve cones dipped in a chocolate coating, that magically hardens upon contact….
I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t like a brownie. For those who claim they don’t like chocolate (I find this nearly impossible to fathom and figure deep, down inside they’re really closet chocoholics), there are blondies, a cousin of the brownie. These brownies have a rich chocolate flavor enhanced with a touch of espresso. What pushes them over the top is the marriage of chocolate and raspberry jam, raspberry extract and big chunks of white chocolate. The scent of baking chocolate and raspberry wafting through the kitchen is euphoric, trumped only by the moist, fudge-like texture, crispy crust and insanely rich flavor. Being uber easy to prepare and nearly impossible to mess up, makes this one of our most cherished ‘go to’ recipes that never needs an excuse for making. Served with homemade vanilla bean ice cream, whipped cream or crème fraîche, makes this a dessert that can hold its own after any meal. Dressed up or down, this recipe never disappoints….
When we serve friends this chocolate potato cake, we often get a puzzled look as they try to wrap their brain around how this dowdy vegetable and the elitist, gourmet chocolate come together in a cake. A kind of culinary tale of the prince and the pauper. Any dubious hesitation when first tasting it is transformed by the delight of a divinely moist crumb, the soothing richness of deep, dark chocolate and the spirited buzz of the Bailey’s Irish Cream filling. Perfect for St. Patrick’s holiday, this cake is a salute to the Irish and their long, historic affair with the humble potato….
Winter’s harvest brings a barrage of root vegetables, their odd, earthy shapes giving us a glimpse into what goes on in the plant kingdom just below the earth’s surface. Although beets are a familiar root vegetable, many have a hard time remembering what they taste like. Really? I happen to love beets, not only for their sweet taste and texture, but just as much for their extraordinary color. My family does not share this passion, so I am always looking for creative ways to work beets into our diet. Dark chocolate is the perfect partner, not too sweet, but with intense flavor and color. Beets give this single layer cake a rich, moist crumb and an earthy sweetness….
A trip down memory lane
Reminiscing on some of our travels South of the Border, got me thinking about the foods and flavors we love the most. Everyone in our household is a full fledged heat lover and the bold flavors of the many chiles indigenous to Mexico and Central America are always hovering at the top of our favorites lists. Flashback to our time living in Costa Rica and the day my BFF’s grandfather, Miguel, taught us about making hot cocoa, rustic style, from the locally grown cacao beans.
After spending several hours roasting, crushing and working the cocoa nibs that would eventually become clumps of deliciously rustic chocolate, he wrapped it in a tattered cloth and proudly handed it over to his wife. …