Sunday, December 28, 2014

Hot Ham and Cheese Roll-Ups

I have been following Kevin and Amanda for years, in fact, theirs was one of the first blogs written by strangers that I began to follow.  This recipe looked like a lot of fun and the group I usually bake for on Sundays was going to be less than half it's usual number because of the holidays so I didn't have to worry about making four dozen of them.  

My husband pointed out that this was transportable protein.  Of course he is correct.  My weekend baking is almost always sweets and it was great to make something that had a little more heart to it for this weekend.  If you have a Superbowl party, a school party (or a school lunch to be packed) or a meeting that needs snacks that aren't sugar laden (do those exist?) this would be an easy and well congratulated choice.

The only thing I didn't like about the recipe was that it called for a pre-packaged pizza dough.  Even making just 24 pieces seemed easier if I made dough from scratch.  I've made lots of pizza dough but in my online research this week I found a fabulous recipe and demonstration pictures that made it easy even for folks who have never combined flour, yeast, salt and water.  This dough was so easy to roll out I don't just like it, I HIGHLY recommend it!  

There are 36 pictures on this page at Crunchy Creamy Sweet as well as the recipe.  Really, go check it out and let me know if you don't feel empowered to make it.  I'll invite you come to the house where you can watch me make it, or I'll come to you and help you make it.   :)  

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Scones from the Empress of Daily Baking

This article was published in my other blog back in 2008.  I still make scones using this recipe on a regular basis and thank Wendy from the bottom of my heart every single time.  In my current experiences as a baker I am often using recipes that I've never tried before, but this one I make over and over again, just in much larger quantities.   

Wendy J is a briner friend of mine from the Good Eats Fan Page. She bakes every day. Every. Day. Whenever I need a recipe for something baked, she's the first one I call on. It saves me not only a lot of research, but a lot of so-so recipe results. Recently I asked her for a scone recipe. Not the leaden rocks I've been finding at coffee shops all over town. She did not disappoint.  

This easy recipe went together in just a few minutes and cleaned up even faster, a serious consideration for me. But the best part is that it produced scones that were everything they should be, and served warm, they are AMAZING. Wendy says you can use half and half rather than heavy cream with similar results, I've made these with a handful of golden raisins or cinnamon chips as well as plain. Today's variety were orange scented chocolate chip (at Katie Blue's request) and they are good indeed. Enjoy!

Basic Scones Adapted from The Bread Bible 

2 cups flour 
1/2 cup butter cut into cubes frozen 
1 cup very cold heavy whipping cream 
1/8 tsp salt 
1/4 cup sugar 
1 tsp baking powder 
1/4 tsp baking soda 

Place all dry ingredients in bowl of food processor. Pulse to mix. Add butter cubes, pulse 20 or so times until butter is the size of petite peas. Dump the mixture into a mixing bowl and add the cream. Toss lightly to combine (I used a rubber spatula). Gather dough into a ball (it will be a bit ragged) pat into a circle on a cookie sheet lined with silpat or parchment paper.  Cut into 8 wedges and separate them out.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. 

Make tea, get a book and enjoy!

Snickerdoodle Blondie Bars

Don't these look delicious?  They are!  These wonderful blondies are the reason I started this blog.  More people have wanted this particular recipe than anything else I've done in the past year and I wanted an easy way for people to find it.  So here you go folks, by all means I encourage you to check out the recipe on Rachel's blog.  If you've never looked at her site, let me tell you I have made many of her recipes and every one of them has been successful.  I used a half sheet (large cookie sheet pan) for one recipe.  That means if you try this, you can many LOTS of blondies.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Italian Walnut Pillow Cookies

Have you ever been surprised?  Honestly, I could have told you that for a cookie to really turn the key   to my heart it must have chocolate.  I promise you this lovely surprise is worth being in error.

I have used many recipes from the great blog Brown Eyed Baker and let me just say that this cookie has become my new favorite which makes no sense at all.  It has walnuts instead of pecans.  It has glaze.  It has no chocolate.  How on earth is this my favorite?  I don't know, but I do know that I
LOVE them.  Even better, I love making them for other people.  It's not hard to do and it makes seven dozen.  By all means, go check out her blog for all kinds of wonderful recipes but definitely I recommend you see this particular post and enjoy getting to eat these Italian Walnut Pillow Cookies which are going to be made often during the cold weather that is settling on Atlanta.

St. Lucia's Saffron Rolls

I read a lot of recipes for this beautiful bread.  I am grateful to several blogs where I learned about working with the dough and the stories behind the recipe, both in Sweden and in Sicily.  Yesterday for a group of 8 women I made Lora's version which is shared on her blog Cake Duchess.  I love working with yeast dough and this saffron scented heap was like a gift for my heart.  I made the dough on Sunday evening and refrigerated it overnight.  The slow rise was very effective.  I woke up on Monday morning and completed dividing the dough and forming the rolls.  I'm not a complete nut about it, but I do like to divide dough as evenly as possible.  Using a scale made me happy, having unevenly sized rolls might make you just as happy.

I know that St. Lucia's eyes are represented in this particular shape, but in case you'd like buns that look a little less anatomical (giggle) you might want to check out Ostenssons Blogg where there are some beautifully shaped rolls.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Chai Tea Palmier Cookies

Earlier this year I was blessed to be able to take a class called "French Pastry 101" at Cook's Warehouse.  There were several things which were being taught that night but the reason I took the class was to learn what it was like to make puff pastry.  Now, let me say, I've seen it on TV and still was not inspired to try it on my own.  No, I needed to take this class to come to the understanding that I was an IDIOT for not trying it before now.  Okay, I wasn't an idiot, I was more than just a little intimidated.  The best thing I learned was that making mistakes (even with an entire pound of butter) are okay if you learn from them.  Someone in the class made an error like this and the teacher showed her how to repair the problem.  Wow.

I've now made puff pastry twice.  The first time worked fine, but I made the second batch this past weekend and it was MUCH better.  In part because I used the right flour this time... who knew bread flour worked best for this purpose?  Let me say for sure that homemade puff pastry is WAY better than Pepperidge Farm or any other frozen brand I've bought.  It doesn't take too much effort, well, okay, it takes some real strength, but only for a few minutes of a time out of each hour for a half of an afternoon while you're watching football or movies or kids or such.

So what did I do with the puff pastry?   Mmmmmmm.  I made these incredible cookies called palmiers.  These french lovely puffs of crispy dough and crystal sugars are something I have loved since I was a little girl, so I'll confess I was eager to try to make them with my homemade dough and see if they could be as good as the ones I had from bakeries.  (I was pretty sure I was going to hold up okay against pre-packaged version I have settled for when going to the bakery wasn't an option.)  This recipe for Chai Spice Palmiers really got my mind spinning.  Once you make the dough, making these cookies is very little effort.  I was able to make four dozen of them, rolling the dough, spicing it up, rolling up the cookies as the recipe describes and chilling it overnight.  I got up early on Sunday morning and cut the cookies, sprinkled them with more spice and baking them until crispy and delicious.  This was a little bit of heaven, the texture was perfect and the flavor was out of this world. I confess not all four dozen of them made it to the places I make regular deliveries.  I'm smiling as I write this, I don't usually hold any back but I'm glad the family and I had extras to enjoy.   I might use some of the leftover dough to make a single batch for the Christmas cookie platter.

I highly recommend you try this recipe out, whether it's for your family or for a lovely tea event or company party.   Check out Tutti-Dolci's recipe for chai-spice-palmiers.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Citrus Cranberry Cake

Another of Roxana's recipes.   I will say this one did not go together for me in quite the same ease as her Pumpkin Roll which I made last month.  However, the flavors are amazing and I can say I highly recommend playing with them.  The truth is that I wound up making a trifle with these ingredients the first time I made it (and it was delicious!) but I am looking forward to playing with the recipe more because her presentation is beautiful!!!  I'm thinking this would make a lovely traditional layer cake or even a sheet cake if you are intimidated about making the presentation she has done wonderfully.

This citrus cake is one of the best tasting cakes I've made recently, and while I was skeptical about the cranberry sauce working all I can say is I was wrong.  It worked perfectly with the lemon cake, not too sweet and jellied enough to hold to the cake without soaking it.  If you are looking for something tasty and beautiful to make for Christmas Eve this might be exactly what you're looking for.  Check out Roxana's Home Baking for the recipe:

Elvis Presley's Favorite Pound Cake

Maybe it's a southern thing, but around here a pound cake is a lovely thing indeed.  When I was growing up (in New England, if you can believe it) pound cake was something you bought that was made from Entenmann's or even Sara Lee.  Of course, my mom used to talk about a time when Entenmann's was excellent but it wasn't in my memory at all.  I am amazed at the wonderful homemade pound cakes I have experienced in the south.  These ladies do it right.  My mother-in-law, a lovely southern lady for sure, made a pound cake my husband loved.  I never tasted her cake but I felt blessed when she allowed me to make a copy of her recipe card.  I was a newlywed and was eager to try it out and every time I did it failed.  Honest to goodness, it's almost comical.  It's been many years since those days and I have found a recipe that works for me every time.  I should really go back and compare it to Miz Evelyn's recipe and see if it's really very different or if I'm just really a better manager of southern baking than I used to be.

Elvis Presley's favorite things are famous and this recipe is all over the place on the web but I found it  on and so I am presenting their version of it here.  I will tell you there is only one time I have made this and it didn't come out of the pan as pretty as their picture here.  I wound up making a butter glaze, you'll find the recipe for that below the cake recipe.

Elvis Presley's Favorite Pound Cake

Gourmet  | September 2005

Elvis Presley's Favorite Pound Cake recipe

photo by Romulo Yanes
Makes 10 to 12 servings
active time
20 min
total time
3 1/2 hr (includes cooling)
This is the best pound cake we have ever tasted. Its tender appeal is owed in part to cake flour and cream, and in part to beating the batter an extra 5 minutes.


  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for buttering pan
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring) plus additional for dusting
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 7 large eggs, at room temperature 30 minutes
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Special equipment: a 10-inch tube pan (4 1/2 inches deep; not with a removable bottom) or a 10-inch bundt pan (3 1/4 inches deep; 3-qt capacity)


Put oven rack in middle position, but do not preheat oven.
Generously butter pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess flour.
Sift together sifted flour (3 cups) and salt into a bowl. Repeat sifting into another bowl (flour will have been sifted 3 times total).
Beat together butter (2 sticks) and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes in a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment or 6 to 8 minutes with a handheld mixer. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add half of flour, then all of cream, then remaining flour, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down side of bowl, then beat at medium-high speed 5 minutes. Batter will become creamier and satiny.
Spoon batter into pan and rap pan against work surface once or twice to eliminate air bubbles. Place pan in (cold) oven and turn oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in middle of cake comes out with a few crumbs adhering, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Cool cake in pan on a rack 30 minutes. Run a thin knife around inner and outer edges of cake, then invert rack over pan and invert cake onto rack to cool completely.

Butter Glaze 

3 Tablespoons (and possibly more) milk
2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
1 stick of butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Stir this together, if it's too stiff slowly add more milk by the teaspoon until you are pleased with the consistency.

Vanilla Bean Apple Bundt Cake

I'm a sucker for recipes that use vanilla beans.  I don't know why it happens that way but I love cutting a bean open and scraping the seeds, I ridiculously will spend a long while trying to get every bit I can out of that pod.  This recipe has been sitting in my "try it out" pile for a bit and I was excited to give it a whirl last week.  One of the things I loved about it was that I could make the apples sauté the night before I was making the cake which made the assembly that much quicker.  The caramel sauce can also be made in advance which I loved on a day when I had to do six different cakes!  

Many thanks to Lauren at Keep it Sweet Desserts for posting a recipe for a cake that kept me warm for a long time before I ever got to bake it.  I loved how it made my kitchen smell!

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake

Back in the 1980's I had a co-worker who had created a triple chocolate cheesecake recipe and after she had done a year of competing (and winning) around the country she gave me a copy of her recipe.  I began making it with much success including winning some local contests.  I haven't made it in in many years, more than 10 I'm sure.  This month I had an event to do several desserts for and decided it was time to dust this memory off.  Unfortunately I looked and looked and couldn't find my copy of her recipe.  Well, it seems she shared it around the world, thank goodness.  I found several sites with this very recipe so I'm going to re-publish it here, especially because I remember it from the good old days of Prince, David Bowie and a much finer waist line, even when enjoying cheesecake!

Women's Day happened to publish this in a list of 15 excellent cheesecakes.  You might want to check it out for  more ideas, I know I will be doing so, after all, they published the triple chocolate cheesecake recipe that I loved.

triple chocolate cheesecake

Photo Credit: Deborah Ory
Serves: 16
Total Time: 1 hr 30 min
Prep Time: 45 min


  • 1/2  stick(s) (4 Tbsp) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cup(s) chocolate cookie crumbs (about 27 Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers or 20 Oreo cookies, finely crushed)
  • 3   (8 oz each) bricks 1/3-less-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel), softened
  • 1  cup(s) sugar
  • 2  tablespoon(s) cornstarch
  • 3  large eggs
  • 1/2  cup(s) reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1  tablespoon(s) vanilla extract
  • 4  ounce(s) milk chocolate
  • 4  ounce(s) white chocolate
  • 4  ounce(s) semisweet chocolate
Chocolate Glaze
  • 3  ounce(s) bittersweet baking chocolate
  • 2  tablespoon(s) stick butter
  • 1  tablespoon(s) light corn syrup


  1. Place a sheet of foil on oven rack to catch any drips. Heat oven to 350°F. You'll need an 8 x 3-in. springform pan coated with nonstick spray.
  2. In small bowl, rub butter into crumbs until crumbs are evenly moistened. Press firmly over bottom of pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes on foil sheet until set. Cool on rack. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.
  3. Beat cream cheese, sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl with mixer on medium speed until smooth, scraping down sides of the bowl several times with a silicone or rubber spatula. With mixer on low speed beat in eggs, one at a time, then sour cream and vanilla just until blended.
  4. Divide the batter evenly (about 2 cups each) among 3 medium bowls. Melt the chocolates separately. Stir milk chocolate into 1 bowl of batter, white chocolate into another and semisweet chocolate into third. Spread milk chocolate batter in prepared crust in an even layer. Carefully spoon white chocolate batter over milk chocolate layer to cover; gently smooth with an offset spatula (do not let batters run together). Spoon semisweet chocolate batter over white chocolate layer to cover; smooth with an offset spatula (do not let batters run together).
  5. Bake 1 1/4 hours or until set and center still jiggles slightly when shaken (cake should have pulled away from sides of pan; if not, carefully run a thin knife around edge of pan to release cheesecake). Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cover; refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.
  6. Combine glaze ingredients in a small saucepan; whisk over low heat until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat; let cool 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Remove pan sides; place cheesecake on serving plate. Spread glaze over top of cheesecake, just to the edge (some glaze may drip down side of cake). Refrigerate just until glaze is set or, if chilled longer, let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

Tres Leches Cake

A great adventure with a little fear.  Cooking for a hundred adults is one thing, baking for 30 teenagers is another thing altogether.  Especially when your daughter is going to be facing the comments of the audience for the rest of the school year.  I have never made a cake like this before and I've had a lot of slices of tres leeches where the best thing you could say about them was that they were wet with sugary milk.  (Not that kids would mind that, LOL.)  I really wanted to make a cake that would taste good, not be a complete mess to serve in a classroom and could be a part of discussion about Latino food.  My daughter's Spanish teacher spent the time I was volunteering in the room going on about her personal history with tres leches and I am very pleased.

I will say that I did not follow the directions exactly because the idea of flipping this cake out on a platter and then soaking it did not seem the best thing for a cake that would travel across town, into a school and then be served.  I made this one in a large ceramic pan which would contain any milk that did not get absorbed.  It wasn't the prettiest way to serve the cake, but I didn't end up having to have my car interior shampooed, either.  Now that I've made this I can say the milk mixture did get fully absorbed and I will probably try following the flipping advice if I make it for an adult event. 

Thank you Pati, I look forward to checking out your other recipes!

Pecan Pumpkin Roll Cake

This dessert was easily the best loved thing I've made for folks in recent history, in fact it is the thing that caused me to want to start this blog.  Lots of folks have asked for the recipe and I wanted to make it easier for people who enjoy my baking to find.  Now I can tell them there is a link on my blog.

I have been watching for years the growing popularity of pumpkin things.  I happen to love pumpkin soups, but my friend Bonnie loves pumpkin EVERYTHING.  I thought of her as I made three of these cakes.  People are still talking about them, they liked them this much and I'm thinking I should really make one for my pumpkin loving friend just to say "thank you" for opening my mind to pumpkins in desserts.

One of the things I loved about this recipe is that it did not require a glaze topping.  The cake was the perfect combination of ingredients to be sweet enough and not over done with the powdered sugar that made it look like a fresh snow blessed it.  Thanks Roxana, for your recipe!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Frosted Peppermint Gingerbread

Thanks to Karen at The Food Charlaton for this very Christmas-y recipe.  I can tell you the truth, I'm not a lover of gingerbread or peppermint but when you are baking for hundreds of people you get to do things that you would never do for your own family.  I can tell you the dozens of these were all eaten!  If you like gingerbread then by all means this is a recipe to try... Christmas is coming!

Amazing Orange Rolls

Now you have to know how important certain things are from childhood.  Perhaps your mom made mac and cheese or chicken soup or Chex Mix that has become part of your holiday experience.  My husband's mom (and his four sisters) made quite a few things that are attached to Christmas.  I am sorry to say that I have not become good at a single one of them (although I make a passable version of the meringue cookies) until this year.  After being together for more than 25 years I'm glad to say I found a great recipe for orange rolls and my husband is looking forward to having more on Christmas morning.  (Please, God, help me make the next batch as good as the last one!)

I am grateful to Jonna at Just Get Off Your Butt and Bake for the recipe.  I highly recommend you try it!

Beginning a new blog.... fear and trembling!

Well, those of you who knew me back when I was blogging a few years ago know the adventures of my last three years and my general laid-back attitude about writing before that.  However, I now have an adventure that happens on a weekly basis and people often ask for details so I'm glad to have a blog I can point them to for recipes and links.