Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Candy Corn Softbatch Cookies

This week will end with Halloween. Many parties already happened last weekend. I came across a recipe that by the looks of it instantly inspired me to make it --- soft cookies with candy corn! When I stood in front of the many varieties of candy corn at Target, original, pumpkin, marshmallow and fruit loop, I picked up the fruit loop ones. The pink tones looked extra cheerful.

The basic recipe is just like other soft, chewy cookies, with an addition of cornstarch or instant vanilla pudding mix (which is also basically flavored cornstarch). I stay pretty close to the recipe, and baked the first batch.
However, after 12 minutes of baking the cookies looked like this.
Flattened and the candy corn had melted out of the cookies. Ouch! I let them cool for 9 minutes, and the melted candy corn could be scraped off the silplat liner, and the creation of cookies/candy was ready. But that was not really the plan….. it was more of a Franken-cookie.
I read the instructions again, and it had a 1/2 cup more flour than I used, and it asked for ‘chill the cookies for 3 hours before baking’. So, I did.
The next batch looked better.
Still, the cookies are pretty tricky. As long as there is candy corn on the bottom or the side of a cookie it is likely to melt. It might be better to make the dough and press a few candy corn on top of the cookie ball before baking them.
Taste? Fabulous!!
Candy Corn Softbatch Cookies
1/2 cup/1 stick unsalted butter, soften
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons crème fraiche
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 1/2 cups candy corn (1o to 11 ounces)
1 cup white chocolate chips
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large bowl and electric hand mixer), cream together the butter, sugars, egg, vanilla extract and crème fraiche on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking soda and pudding mix.
  3. Put speed on low, and slowly added the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute; don't overmix.
  4. Add the white chocolate chips, and mix until just incorporated. (No candy corn yet!)
  5. Using a small icecream scoop, (or any size of icecream scoop you like based on the size of the cookies you would like to make) form heaping 1 – 1 1/2 –tablespoon sized mounds.
  6. Press about 3 candy corn inside of the cookie dough ball.
  7. Place mounds on a large plate, and slightly flatten mounds. Cover the mounds with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before baking. 
  8. Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with a silicon mat or parchment paper. Place mounds on baking sheet, ca. 8 cookies per cookie sheet, and bake for about 9 minutes. Do not overbake since the cookies will firm up as they cool. Baking longer than 10 minutes will make cookies spread too thin, the candy corn getting contact with the cookie sheet and starting to melt.
  9. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for about at least 5-10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooking. They will be sticky because of the slightly melted candy corn.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Ricotta Lemon Bundt Cake, my own take

There was a BBQ on a Saturday afternoon for a friends’ get-together, and it required a cake. A ricotta cake seemed like the perfect choice--- dessert-like, moist and rich like a cheesecake, but lighter and easier to handle with simply napkins. This cake came out great, received many compliments and I am sure to make it more often. A new go-to recipe. Unfortunately, the cake was gone before I could take a decent photo of a it at the BBQ.


Lemon Ricotta Bundt Cake
Regular sized Bundt cake pan
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (6 Ounces)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 15 oz whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 ts lemon extract
  • 1/2 ts vanilla extract
  • zest of 1  organic lemon (save juice for glaze)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2  ts baking powder
  • 1/2 ts baking soda
  • 1/2 ts salt

For The Lemon Glaze:
  • 1.5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 TB fresh squeezed lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a regular sized bundt or ring pan.
  2. In a large mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the ricotta cheese and blend well. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each. Add the extracts and lemon zest and mix until fully combined.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.
  4. Add the dry ingredients in several smaller parts, mixing just until incorporated.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spoon as needed.
  6. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until the cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Let cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.
    Cool completely.
  8. Whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth and thick.
  9. Drizzle the lemon glaze over the top of the cake.
  10. Let the glaze set for 30 minutes and then cut into wedges and serve.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Ricotta Cake

A citrus-y ricotta cake --- light, fluffy and a small size. Can I say more?

Recipe here

Apple Almond Cake

What a classic cake! Apple cake -- made extra beautiful with the sliced apples and a dough that flows around it. Original Swiss Betty Bossi recipe!

Recipe here (in German). 

Raspberry or Strawberry Sour Cream Cake (GF)

Another eye catching summer cake: a thin tart with a layer of sour cream, another layer of raspberries and then some crumbs. Perfect for those summer afternoon get-togethers.

Find the recipe here

Strawberry Mascarpone Layered Cake with Amaretti

This cake immediately caught my eye: a light, angel food like bottom layer with amaretti for extra flavor, and a thick layer of cream (a pound of mascarpone and a half pound of whipped cream!) and finished off with fresh in season strawberries berries, wild strawberries and amaretti crumbs. Holy summery festivity!

Original recipe (in German)

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Brownies on a Sunday

It is one of these Sundays. The work pile is sky high. The weather is dreary, cold and rainy, and all the new outdoor cushions only look good, and looking at them has to suffice. Plus, the new work week is near. One day ahead.


To infuse my day with a little bit of comfort, I baked brownies again. Typically I share my baked goods at work. but these I cut up into bite size pieces, and freeze them. They are really good, right out of the freezer with hot coffee. Or a desert snack.




Chocolate Brownies, almost vegan.

Makes large 17 by 11 inch cookie sheet of brownie, or 2 regular sized brownie pans.

  • 4 tablespoons +  4 teaspoons ground flax meal
  • 1/2 cup + 4 tablespoons warm water
  • 2 cups pure cane sugar
  • 2 1/2 cup + 4 tablespoons gluten-free flour  (oat, or a glutenfree all purpose flour like Trader Joes)
  • 1 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup + 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 9 ounces dark chocolate chips, about 1 1/2 cup standard sized chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  1. Preheat your oven to 325* F and lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 17 x 11 pan.  In a small bowl mix the ground flax and water and set aside so that it can thicken and gel.
  2. In a medium bowl sift and stir together the flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together until fully combined.  Set aside.
  3. Melt the coconut oil and chocolate together in  a microwave-safe bowl in 30 second increments —stirring each time, until fully melted.  Stir to combine.
  4. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and the flax mix. Add the instant espresso powder, vanilla, and almond extract until fully combined.  Now, add in the melted chocolate/coconut oil mix, mix until fully combined.
  5. Slowly add in the dry ingredients. Use a spoon, and add spoon by spoon so that it does too much. Keep the stand mixer on low speed. A thick but soft dough will form. 
  6. Spoon the dough batter into the pan and evenly distribute to the edges with a spatula or your fingers.  The dough should be very soft and easy to press/spread.
  7. Place in the center of your oven and bake for ca. 35 minutes. The sides will rise slightly higher than the center.  Allow to cool for 30-45 minutes.
  8. Once cooled it can be cut into bite-sized pieces and frozen.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Baby (bundt) cakes

Sunday. Time to kick off the shoes, make coffee, and eat a mini bundt cake baked on Saturday. Enjoy a sun bath in the French door windows.


The sun slowly melts the snow piles in the garden, the circles around the tree become larger every day. The deck floor emerges. It will still take weeks, …..weeks until there are buds on the trees. Last summer I planted a plum tree; it shed its leaves earlier than any other tree. With hope and slight concern I wait for it to come back to life this spring, to grow and blossom. Buds. Blossoms. Plums?


The bird feeder was empty again this morning. Hoof marks around the feeder, leading into the woods in an elegant line. Likely one of the hungry deer that decided to look for alternate food resource after a too long, too cold winter.

Time to melt some chocolate, glaze the ‘mother’ bundt cake, and to type up the recipe.


Lemon Almond Teacakes (GF)

Within 2 weeks we went from 4 feet of snow and freezing temperature to summer. Yesterday it was so warm, people had lunch at the tables on the sidewalk. I put the patio chairs and the first umbrella on the deck, and cleared out the garden from winter debris, uncovering the first herbs. It was so warm it was time to wear shorts. Life is good.

For the first patio Saturday afternoon coffee and cake get-together, I made individualized GF lemon almond cakes and coconut rum cakes.


The first cakes were inspired by the still ripening Meyer Lemons. One of them I had used in a wonderful lemon asparagus risotto. The zest would be wonderful in these tea cakes to infuse them with lemon aroma.



The second batch was inspired by coconut and rum --- a similar base dough but with different flavors. The texture of both is wonderful fluffy, not too sweet and slightly caramelized on the outside.


Individual cakes are a really good idea because not all of the cake might be eaten with a small group of friends, and the rest can easily be frozen for another time. Perfect to partition. The slightly bigger cakes are great to share for 2 people.


Lemon Almond Tea Cakes (glutenfree)

special equipment: Nordic Ware Garland bundt pan

  • 5 TB softened unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup blond cane sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon
  • zest of 1 organic Meyer Lemon
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2/3 cup glutenfree all-purpose flour (King Arthur)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fleur de sel

Preheat your oven at 350 F. Spray your mold generously with a baking spray.

In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and Fleur de sel; and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one after the other, incorporated well before adding the second egg. Add the lemon zest, the lemon juice, and the almond milk.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until homogeneous.

Fill the molds 3/4 full and bake the teacakes for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out dry. Let cool for 10 minutes before unmolding (important! they are kind of soft and will fall apart otherwise), leaving them to completely cool on a rack.

Coconut Rum Tea Mini Cakes (glutenfree)

special equipment: Nordicware rosebud platinum pan

  • 5 TB softened unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup blond cane sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 TB almond milk
  • 3 TB dried unsweetended coconut
  • 1/4 ts of coconut extract
  • 1/4 ts of rum extract
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 1/3 cup glutenfree all-purpose flour (King Arthur)
  • 1/3 cup quinoa flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Fleur de sel

Preheat your oven at 350 F. Spray your mold generously with a baking spray.

In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and Fleur de sel; and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one after the other, incorporated well before adding the second egg. Add the almond milk, extracts, and coconut, and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients and mix until homogeneous.

Fill the molds 3/4 full and bake the teacakes for about 30 minutes, or until the toothpick inserted in the middle of the cakes comes out dry. Let cool for 10 minutes before unmolding (important! they are kind of soft and will fall apart otherwise), leaving them to completely cool on a rack.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Single-serve cake

I am still working on the recipe. But, it is getting there... (start to look like Starbucks mini cakes)

Vegan Brownie Bites

The other day, I made baked Ashley’s vegan, GF brownies.  They are fabulous! I baked one baking pan, cooled them and cut them into squares. They freeze well, and are like chocolate ice cream bites, right out of the freezer.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Merry Berry Crumble (vegan)

In the fall, I buy a few extra bags of cranberries. They freeze well, and cakes with cranberries are so delicious.  This is a multi-season fruit crumble --- frozen rhubarb, fresh strawberries and blueberries and frozen cranberries.  A merry berry crumble, full of vitamin C, tart and wonderful for that Sunday afternoon cafe.


Merry Berry Crumble

(makes one large oval baking dish)

Fruit layer:

  • 2 cups of frozen rhubarb, cut into 1.5 inch pieces
  • 1 cup frozen cranberries (whole)
  • 1.5 cup fresh strawberries and blueberries
  • 4 TB sugar
  • 1/2 orange, juice


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine, melted

Heat oven to 350F.  Butter an oval baking dish (or any baking dish you’d like to serve it in). .
Mix all fruit layer  ingredients in a bowl, and pour into the baking dish.
Mix crumble ingredients in another bowl bake, and distribute over the berries.

Bake for 25 min.



Fast food, the home-made version

I do like good kitchen equipment, like the classic Kitchenaid Standmixer or a Vitamix.

This is about the next wave --- the Kenwood Cooking Chef Machine. So, what is different? This is not just a mixer but it includes induction heating, basically..,..you can mix your chocolate, butter and sugar for the brownies in the the kitchen standmixer AND melting it right then and there. Cool? Worth to pay $1,500 more? If it does not save money it saves kitchen counter space, for sure.

Another cool appliance is the Phillips Airfryer. It seems like a toaster oven married to a fryer. Only, instead of using oil it uses blasts over hot air to fry chicken and french fries. The benefit? It heats up really fast, and cooks very fast at high temperature.

How to make some 10 min pastry in the Airfryer..

or an entire family dinner... The price tag is ok-ish -- $299.

The new fast food wave…..

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Deadline champions

It is Sunday, overcast, the temperatures change from mild and spring-like slowly back to frigid. Maybe, more snow. The weather models can’t decide yet. I am on my last leg because of this deadline tomorrow which has not granted any time off for a while now while juggling everything else in life. Waking up tired and exhausted, and the day starts with coffee. And these beauties.


Yes, they are still available at Dunkin Donuts while Valentine’s day is long gone. I guess this is a hers and his version ? They are filled with nutella spread and despite their alluring appearance are really just 100% pure refined sugar.

A sugar rush fits well with this.


The breakfast of deadline champions.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

18 Minutes

The day proceeded almost as planned: with skiing and donuts. However, it took a slight right turn after I found a set of pristine donut pans in my pantry when I was looking for something else. Donuts!  Baked donuts! Exactly during the time they baked in the oven (18 min) I cleared the entire driveway of its 10 inches snow layer. Without a snow blower, it would take me about 2 hours.

My reward was a freshly baked, delicious donut, with glaze and still warm, a cup of coffee and the prospect of skiing in winter wonderland for the rest of the afternoon. Not bad.


Baked chocolate donuts (GF, vegan)
  • 1 cup all-purpose GF flour/baking mix (Bob Mill)
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup Dagoba cocoa powder
  • 2 TB almond meal
  • 2 TB fine coconut flakes
  • 2 TB ground flax meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 TB grapeseed oil (or organic canola oil)
Chocolate glaze:
  • 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons earth balance buttery spread
  • 2 TB almond milk
  • 1/4 ts rum extract
  • 1/2 ts instant espresso powder
  • Preheat oven to 350F and grease a donut pan.
  • For the donuts: Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir until combined. Make sure to remove all clumps with a sieve. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Let batter sit for 5 minutes for the flax seed to plump up and bind the dough.
  • Spoon the batter into the donut pan, filling each mold about a little bit more than half (I definitely overfilled mine). Smooth out the top of the batter with a spoon. The batter should be enough for 2 of these pans, not just 1 plus one extra donut.
  • Bake for 18-24 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Use a fork to remove the donuts and place on a cooling rack and allow to fully cool before adding glaze.
  • For the frosting: Add the frosting ingredients into a medium bowl and beat with electric mixer until smooth. Apply with large spoon.
  • Enjoy!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Calamondin Jam

The Calamondins in my potted indoor plant have been plentiful in their first season. Suddenly, they seemed to all be ripe, too many to add to salads. --- Time to cook citrus jam.

Calamondin are similar to kumquats, however, they lack the bitter quality of kumquats although they are about the same size. They just throw a puckery punch of orange flavor, and can be eaten with skin and flesh. They are so puckery that the best way to use them is… in a jam. A calamondin infused vodka would rival a limoncello.


I plucked them, washed them with a bit of baking soda and hot water, rinsed them, and sliced them up, removing the seeds and making sure to preserve all the juice they’d loose when cut up. They are cooked barely covered with water ‘until soft’.  In my case, I cooked them about 20 min, and then let them chill overnight. Since the calamondin membranes are a natural pectin and marmelade thickener, this ‘gel-ing’ happens in the wait period. Today, I measure the amount of base jam I had, equaled it with sugar, and cooked it for another 20 min.  Many tiny mason jars were filled (great gifts!) and 2 large ones for me. The cooking spoon taste taste says: insanely good! ---

They would be fabulous with raincoast crackers and soft goat cheese.


How to make calamondin jam?
  1. one pound of calamondin
  2. water
  3. large bottom heavy pot
  4. 3-4 cups sugar
  5. 1/2 cup orange juice
For preparation, sprinkle the calamondin with about 1 TB of baking soda, and cover with boiling water for about 3 min. Wash thoroughly under warm, then cold water.

With a sharp knife, slice calamondin into small slivers, and removed the seeds. Cut on a plate to make sure to capture the juice (if this is taking too long, you can also chop them in a food processor and work with the pulb, however, the thin slivers of calamondin skin look a lot prettier).


Place all the sliced calamondin in a large, bottom heavy pot, and cover barely with water.


Simmer under gentle heat until calamondin are soft (ca. 15 min). Remove from heat, and chill in fridge for 24h (I did about 18h).


The pectin in the calamondin develops, and thickens the jam.

Add the orange juice, stir, and measure the amount of base jam you have (I had exactly 4 cups). Then, add that much sugar.


Under much stirring and gentle heat do simmer for another 20 min (max). The jam changes its consistency, the sugar melts and the mixtures becomes dark and candy like.


Prepare mason jars by sterilizing them (and the lids) in boiling water for 10min.

Fill mason jar with jam, close the lids, and turn jars on their head to make sure they are sealed through the hot jam.


After 10 min, turn mason jar around. Let cool and set.  Enjoy!