Category Archives: Recipes (Sweet)

The Chocolate Cake For When Times Are Uncertain and All-Purpose Flour Is MIA

This chocolate cake may look plain, but it is a showstopper in taste and satisfaction.
This chocolate cake may look plain, but it is a showstopper in taste and satisfaction.

No doubt you’ve heard that Americans are drinking far more during this pandemic.

Me? I’m gorging on a whole lot more chocolate.

And that’s saying something since I consider the consumption of chocolate to be practically a daily requirement.

After all when the going gets tough, the tough get dark chocolate.

Thankfully, “Chocolate Cake” by renowned Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten satisfies on every level. It’s from his cookbook, “Home Cooking with Jean-Georges: My Favorite Simple Recipes” (Clarkson Potter, 2011), in which the Michelin-starred chef shares favorite casual recipes he makes for his family

First, this cake uses hardly any all-purpose flour, for those who are running low on it like me. In fact, it calls for just over 1 tablespoon of the stuff. It’s such a small amount, though, that you could probably get away with substituting any other kind of flour for it.

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The World’s Easiest Cookies — And That’s No April Fool’s Joke

Yup, I made these three different cookies from one recipe that really requires only four ingredients.
Yup, I made these three different cookies from one recipe that really requires only four ingredients.

At a time when so many baking ingredients are scarce at supermarkets, come these cookies to the rescue.

They require no all-purpose flour, no eggs, no granulated sugar, and no butter.

Which means they are gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free. It also means they are vegetarian, vegan, and paleo.

“The World’s Easiest Cookies” live up to their name. It’s a recipe from the cookbook, “World’s Easiest Paleo Baking: Beloved Treats Made Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Dairy-Free, and with No Refined Sugars” (Lake Isle Press, 2016) by Elizabeth Barbone, which I spied on the Kitchn site.

These cookies use only four ingredients: finely ground almond flour, baking powder, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.

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Sheet-Pan Pancakes

Is it breakfast? Or dessert? It's kind of both.
Is it breakfast? Or dessert? It’s kind of both.

I’m sure I’m not alone these days when it comes to inventorying my kitchen.

Lately, it goes something like this:

All-purpose flour. Oh, thank gawd there’s still some!

A half-pint of blueberries grabbed at the last minute at the grocery store a week ago. Half a pint? That’s it??? Why didn’t I think to get more?!?! What a moron.

Half a gallon of heavy cream that expires in five days. Wait. What??

A bag of walnuts. Woo-hoo, precious protein, baby.

A nearly empty bag of almond flour in the far reaches of the freezer. When did I even open this? (Dips finger in to try some.) OK, I think it still tastes OK. I haven’t keeled over yet.

And so it goes.

That, my friends, is what led me to try making Martha Stewart Living’s “Sheet-Pan Pancakes.”

Because let’s face it, we all need a respite from CNN, daily press conferences, and ever-growing statistics on this pandemic that’s remade the world as we knew it.

What we need is pancakes. Because pancakes have had the uncanny power to put a smile on our faces as far back as, well, the invention of pancakes. When you start the day with pancakes, you know it’s going to be a good day. And we can all surely use more of those kind of days right now.

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Bigger Bolder Irish Shortbread For Trying Times

We all need a big, buttery cookie in these trying times.
We all need a big, buttery cookie in these trying times. Plus, you can play Jenga with it!

In a crisis, some people hoard toilet paper.

I bake.

And apparently, from the looks of social media, I’m not the only one. Peppering the updates of so many of my friends lately are photos and confessions of baking to ease the mind or merely distract from the news of late.

I readily admit that I sometimes fall victim to procrastibaking — ignoring writing deadlines only to bake a batch of cookies instead. Stress baking is merely its close cousin.

Psychologists have explained that those who hoard toilet paper or empty grocery shelves in a panic are only trying to exercise control in a world that now seems very much out of our hands. We can’t guarantee we won’t catch a deadly coronavirus. But darned if we can’t make sure our pantries and cupboards are filled to capacity.

And so, I bake. Because if I’m going down, I’m doing so fighting — and with a ready-steady supply of buttery sweet treats.

“Bigger Bolder Irish Shortbread” is ideal at times like this. It’s from the new cookbook, “Bigger Bolder Baking: A Fearless Approach to Baking Anytime, Anywhere” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019), of which I received a review copy.

It’s by Gemma Stafford, an Irish-born chef and creator of the YouTube baking show, “Bigger Bolder Baking,” who now makes her home in Los Angeles.

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Iced Matcha & Lemon Loaf Cake

St. Patrick's Day calls for a green cake.
St. Patrick’s Day calls for a green cake.

St. Patrick’s Day calls for something green — and sweet.

Thankfully, Mother Nature provides the perfect natural green food coloring in the form of matcha, the Japanese ceremonial tea.

That’s what gives this cake and frosting its vivid hue.

“Iced Matcha & Lemon Loaf Cake” is a lovely dessert, both to look at and to eat.

It’s from the book, “Good & Proper Tea: How to Make, Drink and Cook with Tea” (Kyle, 2019), of which I received a review copy.

The book is by Emilie Holmes, an avowed non-coffee drinker in the United Kingdom, who started her own company, Good & Proper Tea, to source and sell top-notch whole-leaf teas. With crowd-funding resources, she first started an adorable mobile tea bar out of a converted 1974 Citroen in 2012 before opening a brick-and-mortar tea shop and cafe in 2019.

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