Tarte Tatin

Photo of a Tarte Tatin on a tableUpside Down You’re Turning Me
Let’s be real, France has created and produced some of the best sweet stuff on this earth. From flakey pastries to smooth chocolate, you can find something crazy-delicious to soothe your current craving. If I had to choose one dessert that screams France though, it would be the Tarte Tatin.

Tarte Tatin is the O.G. of upside-down desserts. Apples and caramel are combined with puff pastry in a trifecta of perfectly matched classic flavors. Flip it over onto a platter, add a little vanilla ice cream on top and it becomes mind-blowing. Mastering the caramel can be tricky but once you have it down the results are the greatest reward for your hard work. Of course, even the “bad batches” are pretty good too…

Tarte Tatin Recipe
Yields 5 servings Read more…

Amy’s Buttercream

Amy’s Buttercream Frosting in various colors on cupcakesIt’s Like Buttah
It is not uncommon for me to come home from a day of work to find my daughter in the kitchen whipping something up to take to school for a friend who is having a birthday the next day. Or, sometimes it’s because there was a conversation in class about baked goods and she has a bit of a reputation as a baker. Either way, more often than not I am out of the ingredients I thought I had.

Cupcakes are her go-to for occasions like these Though, it depends on who she is baking for. (One of her good friends is addicted to her macarons and lemon bars). Cupcakes are relatively easy to make. And, if you prefer to use cake mix from a box, there are ways to make it better. The one place you absolutely must not cheat is the buttercream frosting.

To me, cupcakes are basically just a vessel to deliver good frosting into my mouth. Would I prefer a very tasty devil’s food or Red Velvet? Sure. But frosting is key. I want it full-fat and full-flavor. And, for me that means good old-fashioned butter cream.

Full disclosure, I like more salt than most in my frosting because I like that rich butter flavor that salt can bring to the table. Therefore, I use salted butter in my frosting. And I am not afraid to add a pinch or two more if needed. You just need to taste it along the way to get it how you like it.

This is not the frosting to use if you are bringing cupcakes to a picnic. There is a lot of butter. Butter will melt. If you need something to hold up to decoration and weather, try one of these options. But, if you need a quick hit of cake and frosting, try my Amy’s Buttercream recipe below. It’s perfect for a late afternoon or evening craving…assuming someone didn’t use up all of your ingredients.

Amy’s Buttercream Recipe
Yields about 2-1/2 cups Read more…

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

Photo of Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies in a white box on a dark backgroundChocolate Chip MVP
I don’t usually consider a chocolate chip cookie to be decadent. I do consider them awesome and worthy of binge eating—but not necessarily decadent. That was until my sister made some cookies for my Super Bowl party.

Since I was in charge of the main meal, I asked my sister to bring something sweet. She rolled up with some of the best cookies I have tasted in a long while. If you were fortunate to get a box of Sees candy for Valentine’s Day, you may have encountered the piece they call a Butterscotch Square. It is one of my all-time favorites. It is a mouth-wateringly-tasty morsel of brown sugar goodness covered in chocolate. And, it was the first thing I thought of when I bit into those chocolate chip cookies.

This recipe for Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies has no regular granulated sugar. It is all about the brown sugar. And, I am here for it. That is what makes them so gloriously rich and decadent. I am usually good for at least two but usually three chocolate chip cookies when given the chance but not these. I could only handle one.

Doesn’t mean I didn’t go back later and try again…

Full disclosure, the original recipe calls for using milk chocolate. We both agreed that while the milk chocolate was tasty, it didn’t provide enough chocolate oomph for our tastes. Therefore I am suggesting using bittersweet chocolate. Feel free to adjust the amount to your liking.

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies Recipe
Adapted from All About Cookies by Christina Tosi
Yields 12 to 18 cookies Read more…

Classic Tiramisu

Classic Tiramisu served on a gold plateStimulating Dessert Conversations
When deciding what dessert to serve for Valentine’s Day, it should come as no surprise that the predominant choice is something chocolatey. Valentine’s Day is, among other things, a chocolate gifting day.

The options for beautiful boxes of chocolates are as plentiful and varied as the thousands of bouquets that will no doubt accompany them. Personally, I look forward to the Sees heart from Dad with great anticipation every year. (As does my husband…sigh) There is such a thing as too much chocolate, though. (Blasphemy!!) For that reason, I am here to offer an equally special and, dare I say sexier, alternative.

Maybe it’s the flavors or maybe it’s the perceived decadence. But, I consider a classic tiramisu a sexy dessert. (And that was before I did some research.) This is the kind of dessert that you share with your favorite someone over coffee and great conversation after an amazing dinner for two.

When doing research on the origins of one of my favorite desserts, I was amused to find out that Tiramisu was created in 1800 by the Maitresse of a house of pleasure in Treviso, Italy—as an aphrodisiac dessert to offer her clients at the end of the night as a means to reinvigorate them before heading home. (I’m not kidding…)

As an unapologetic reader of romance novels, I found this information hilariously believable—and absolutely wonderful. Thankfully, Classic Tiramisu is also one of my husband’s favorites. Now, please excuse me while I go find the ingredients…

Classic Tiramisu Recipe
Yields 6 to 8 servings
Adapted from Allison Roman and NY Times Cooking Read more…