You Made That - Dessert!

Cause 2 out of 3 ain't bad...

Sometimes things just hit right on the first try, and that is soooo satisfying! Such was the case with this fudge, and the pumpkin bread.

Truth be told, I've been playing around with this pumpkin bread for years, but so far this is the incarnation I like best. It's studded with chopped walnuts and mini chocolate chips. If you don't like mini chocolate chips -- well, there's something kinda wrong with you, but anyway -- you could swap in raisins, currants or dried cranberries, or just leave that out altogether and add a few more nuts.

As for the fudge, this is the "fake" kind, made without benefit of a candy thermometer. But since my book is aimed at kitchen novices, I figure, why make it difficult? This fudge is just as smooth and rich, without the risk of ending up with a grainy mess that you sometimes get making it the "real" way (not that I would, uh, know from personal experience or anything...). I stuck chopped hazelnuts in here because I used up the walnuts in the pumpkin bread -- I liked them, but Mark scrunched up his nose, so next time I'll stick to walnuts or pecans (chopped salted peanuts or cashews might be good too, hmmm).

So what's the third? This morning I tried out a blueberry buckle, and the flavor was good but the texture needs work. The blueberries sank to the bottom and the topping kind of mixed in with the batter. So back to the drawing board on that one. I've been trying to develop recipes using things that are in season, and clearly berries are not (I used frozen) -- but since it's spring/summertime in the publishing world and I'm hard at work by day creating the May, June and July recipe lineups for the magazine, sometimes I find myself hankering to make a warm-weather dessert. Oh well. I'll keep you posted on how the buckling goes...


A slice of life

Hello and welcome to my version of classic coffee cake. This one is made with sour cream, and it has a ribbon of brown sugar and cinnamon in the middle, plus a yummy, drippy cinnamon glaze.

Mark brought it to work and put out some cards for people to comment on, and it got mostly great marks, with one dissent (the negative review said that it was a little dry and not sweet or spicy enough). Funny how we always find it easiest to focus on the bad reviews, isn't it? (Or maybe it's just me?) Still, I was truly so encouraged by how much everyone else seemed to like it, and I'm glad the person who didn't was honest.

Anyway -- that was last weekend's project (sorry I'm a bit behind on my posts..), and today I made pumpkin bread and a nice, easy fudge -- as soon as they're ready and have their photo op, I'll tell you more about them.


Have another cookie...

These yummy little bites are my mom's Mexican Wedding Cookies. Kind of funny that my mom -- a little Jewish lady from New York -- has a recipe for Mexican Wedding Cookies. But she does, and they're DELICIOUS, and I'm putting the recipe in my book. I made these on Sunday and Mark is still nibbling on them. I always thought they had pecans in them, but my mom's recipe said walnuts or pecans and I had walnuts in the fridge, so that's what I used -- what do you know? They still came out delish, and just like I remember hers tasting.

One great thing about these buttery, crumbly, nutty little treats is that they freeze really well -- very handy for holiday gifts.


Have a cookie

Last night's project was cranberry-cornmeal cookies -- but I only had dried cherries handy, so that's what's in these. They also have white chocolate chips and sliced almonds. The nuts were a last-minute addition, but I think they helped a lot with texture and cutting the sweetness a bit. Overall these were good -- I could leave them as-is. But I'm going to do one more round, upping the cornmeal and using a bit less flour, to give them a little more crunch.

Those of you who know me are likely snickering, "Of course you had dried cherries handy," because I'm obsessed with cherries. See, I'm not afraid to admit it. Especially tart cherries (also known as "sour" or "pie" cherries), which look like little rubies and are only in season for about 10 minutes every summer, but make the all-time best pies. Thankfully, dried tart cherries are readily available, year round.

Also on my desk right now is a tasty cherry juice called Cherry Pharm, made from tart cherries and a bit of apple juice concentrate for sweetness, which the Cherry Pharm people were kind enough to send me. Terrible name, I know, but YUMMY juice. If you see it in your local grocery or health food store, grab it -- it's delish.


If you come over, you have to eat

I took the day off from work yesterday, just to use up one of my leftover vacation days, and spent a good part of the day in the kitchen. On the agenda was developing recipes for 2 items: tres leches cake and pumpkin mousse.

The pumpkin mousse started out as a baked pudding, but that was such a disaster that I couldn't even figure out how to fix it. Mark very generously ate his portion and said it wasn't "that bad," but really, it was. He suggested turning it into a mousse, which is what I did, and it's much better, though it will require one more round. It wasn't quite light enough (needs a bit more whipped cream folded in to balance out the gelatin) and it wasn't quite sweet enough (I like desserts on the less-sweet side, so I start there, but this was too much so). So I'm going to make it one more time with a bit more sugar and cream, and also probably a bit more pumpkin pie spice.

The tres leches was one of those gems that just comes together and works on the first try. Usually tres leches is made with sponge cake, but since my recipes are aimed at people who are relatively new to baking, I thought I'd start with a basic yellow cake, and avoid the egg separating, whipping egg whites, etc. I'm happy to report that the yellow cake worked beautifully, absorbed all of the milk syrup (which I doused with a bit of dulce de leche liqueur) and held up like a charm.

It was also fun to make tres leches because it has such a happy association for me: It was our wedding cake!

Anyway, if you have feedback about what I've been making or ideas for recipes you'd like me to work on, please let me know! (Email me at Thanks! And, if you find yourself hungry and in the Brooklyn area, please come over and test out some desserts. Our fridge runneth over!

p.s. The photos today are not mine - they're from Jupiter Images.