Category Archives: Recipes (Sweet)

Blackberry Oatmeal Cake

Wake up to "Blackberry Oatmeal Cake.''
Wake up to “Blackberry Oatmeal Cake.”

This is not a fluffy, lavishly adorned, and fancifully frosted cake you indulge in wickedly.

Rather, this is a cake that will stick to your ribs and set you up for a long, arduous day ahead.

Yes, “Blackberry Oatmeal Cake” is far from dessert, my friends. It is unapologetically breakfast through and through.

It’s austere and hearty, loaded with a ton of oats, a big handful of toasted pecans, a little strawberry jam for the merest sweetness, and fresh blackberries for summery goodness.

The recipe is from the wonderfully titled new cookbook, “Life Is What You Bake It: Recipes, Stories, and Inspiration to Bake Your Way to the Top” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy.

It’s by Vallery Lomas, who knows a thing or two about the energy and sustenance it takes to forge ahead when the going’s not easy.

The Louisiana-native used to only bake for the holidays. But after taking a gap year in France after passing the bar exam, this lawyer found herself captivated by macarons. Who can blame her? So much so that when she returned to New York City to take her first job as an attorney, she somehow managed to set up a side business selling her own macarons, as well.

It wasn’t long before Lomas, who had begun the blog Foodie in New York during her last year of law school, started getting noticed. She was swayed to compete on “The Great American Baking Show,” and ended up not only triumphing, but became its first Black winner.

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A Peanut Butter Cookie with Finesse

Peanut butter cookies dotted with dried cherries and cocktail peanuts.
Peanut butter cookies dotted with dried cherries and cocktail peanuts.

Peanut butter and bananas — of course!

Peanut butter and jelly — you bet.

But peanut butter and dried cherries?

I admit the combo gave me the briefest pause when I first considered this particular cookie recipe.

I had been on the hunt to find a recipe to use up a big handful of dried cherries I had around. I didn’t want the usual oatmeal-cherry cookie. Or the standard chocolate chip-cherry one. Or even the typical cherry shortbread.

Been there, baked those already.

Martha Stewart’s “Peanut Butter Cookies with Dried Cherries” offered a peanut butter cookie not only studded with dried cherries, but also salted cocktail peanuts.

It also offered up a pleasant contrast to the usual heavy and indulgent peanut butter cookie archetype. As my neighbor murmured between contented bites when I shared some with her, these are “less in your face.”

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The All-Natural Red Velvety Strawberry Cake

A most unique red velvet cake.
A most unique red velvet cake.

Admittedly, the hoopla over red velvet cake has always left me perplexed.

Sure, the dramatic color captures your fancy — for a hot second.

Then, as quickly, reality tells you that’s all due to red food coloring. At which point, I say, “Pass me a wedge of all-real devil’s food cake instead.”

“Red Velvety Strawberry Cake,” though, sparked a far different reaction.

It had me all in from the get-go.

Nope, no artificial anything in this stunning cake. No food coloring whatsoever — only an entire bottle of red wine.

And if that doesn’t grab you, I don’t know what will.

Now, that my friends, is a cake.
Now, that my friends, is a cake.

To be fair, this cake doesn’t possess that vivid maroon you expect from red velvet. Instead, the wine, which first gets reduced before being added into the batter, adds the merest bit of rosiness to the dark chocolate-colored cake. The wine (I used a Pinot Noir) also adds a touch of acidity to balance out all the sweetness.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies

If you love chocolate chip cookies and adore brownies, these bar cookies are sure to satisfy.
If you love chocolate chip cookies and adore brownies, these bar cookies are sure to satisfy.

After this grueling past year and a half, you most certainly deserve a special treat.

Or two treats in one to be exact.

“Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies” is precisely that.

Let those words roll over your tongue and sear into your mind for a hot minute: Chocolate chip cookie. Plus brownies.

Stacked one on top of each other, these cookie-brownie bars are truly the best of both worlds.

And a riot of dark chocolate.

This decadent recipe is from “Martha Stewart’s Cookie Perfection: 100+ Recipes to Take Your Sweet Treats to the Next Level” (Clarkson Potter) from the Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living.

They are essentially Brookies, which are often made as individual circular cookies. This recipe streamlines that because you bake everything in one pan. Which, of course means you get to enjoy them even sooner.

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Fabulous Fig Clafoutis

Fig clafoutis baked at home -- the next best thing to being in France.
Fig clafoutis baked at home — the next best thing to being in France.

As much as I long to wander the cobblestone streets of France again, to nosh on freshly made crepes from a sidewalk vendor, and to sit at an outdoor cafe to watch chic Parisians flit by, I don’t think I’ll be getting on a plane anytime soon.

Yeah, thanks very much, Covid.

But I can still live vicariously and bring a taste of the French table to my own Silicon Valley kitchen, thanks to “À Table: Recipes for Cooking and Eating the French Way” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy.

The new cookbook is by Rebekah Peppler, an American food writer and stylist who makes her home in Paris now. (Yes, lucky her!)

The cookbook contains 125 recipes that are home-cook-friendly. They’re lavishly photographed by Paris-based photographer Joann Pai, whose images are bathed in that lovely golden light that brings the city to life.

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