Category Archives: Recipes (Sweet)

Cinnamon-Scented Sweet Tahini Rolls

Beautifully golden rolls swirled with cinnamon sugar and tahini.
Beautifully golden rolls swirled with cinnamon sugar and tahini.

In the early days of shelter-in-place, I felt as if I was living through a “Seinfeld” episode.

Specifically, the one where Elaine is beside herself when she learns her favorite contraceptive sponge is being discontinued. Guarding her precious remaining supply tightly, she’d pick apart any new suitor to determine if they were indeed “sponge-worthy.”

I did the same — only with yeast. Because it was scarce at supermarkets and I had only three packets left, I found myself loathe to try any new recipes using yeast lest they turn out to be disappointing failures.

After all, I simply couldn’t afford to waste those few precious packets. So, I made only tried-and-true recipes that I knew were absolutely, without a doubt, yeast-worthy.

Until now. Three weeks ago, my husband miraculously scored yeast at Whole Foods. Hallelujah!

Now, restocked and raring to go, I couldn’t wait to try some new recipes that used yeast. The first one to catch my eye was “Sweet Tahini Rolls” from the new cookbook, “Falastin: A Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.

The book is by Sami Tamimi, executive chef and founding partner of the Ottolenghi restaurant group, and Tara Wigley, a long-time Ottolenghi recipe writer. They titled the cookbook, “Falastin,” after the Palestinian newspaper that brought diverse people together.

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Big Daddy’s Cake

Bake your father a "Big Daddy's Cake'' this holiday.
Bake your father a “Big Daddy’s Cake” this holiday.

Big cake?

Big yeah!

We’re talking three sticks of butter and six eggs in this baby.

Could there be a more apt treat for Father’s Day than “Big Daddy’s Cake”?

This substantial cake — full of nuts, a “tunnel” of chocolate inside, and glazed with still more chocolate — is from the new cookbook, “Chocolate Is Forever: Classic Cakes, Cookies, Pastries, Pies, Puddings, Candies, Confections, and More” (Little, Brown and Company), of which I received a review copy. It’s by the legendary self-taught baker Maida Heatter, who passed away in 2019, but not before inspiring a legion of bakers, both amateur and professional ones.

This collection of nearly 100 chocolate-centric recipes features everything from “Sour Cherry Chocolate Torte” and “Hungarian Seven-Layer Cake” to “Key West Chocolate Treasures,” “Viennese Chocolate Ice Box Cookies,” and “Chocolate-Chip-Cognac-Coffee Ice Cream.”

This particular cake will bake up to the very top of a regular Bundt pan, so be sure to use a large-sized classic one, not one of the smaller, more fancifully designed ones.

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Claudia Fleming’s Honey Madeleines

Dainty madeleines flavored with honey and browned butter.
Dainty madeleines flavored with honey and browned butter.

When my mom suffered a stroke years ago, the only thing she wanted to eat for a long time was — inexplicably — lemon meringue pie.

When my elderly aunt was hospitalized last year, the only food that could comfort her was — surprisingly — madeleines.

Say what you will about the women in my family, but there’s no denying they like their sweets.

I readily admit I take after them, too.

When I would visit my aunt in the hospital, I’d pick up madeleines from a French bakery to take to her for a real treat. Because believe it or not, even though I bake up a storm at home on a regular basis, madeleines were not something I’d ever made.

Wanting to surprise my aunt, I bought madeleine pans this year. I was going to bake her some fresh to deliver in person. But then COVID-19 crushed those plans mercilessly.

As I wait out shelter-in-place until it’s permissible to drive an hour to visit someone her age again, I decided to break in my pans with a madeleine test-run.

I found the perfect recipe in the newly reissued classic cookbook, “The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern” (Random House) of which I received a review copy. The cookbook is by the incomparable Claudia Fleming, the former pastry chef at New York’s landmark Gramercy Tavern.

Originally published in 2001, the book became coveted not only by home-cooks, but top pastry chefs. If the latter prize it so much, you know it’s got to be worth having in your collection, too.

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Cute Little Cherry Upside-Down Cakelets

How cute are these cherry upside-down cakelets?
How cute are these cherry upside-down cakelets?

Glossy little cherries have an undeniable appeal at this time of year.

They’re even harder to resist when spotlighted in sweet treats like these “Cherry Upside-Down Cakelets.”

This Food52 recipe is by VVVanessa. When I received my first cherries of the season last week in a bountiful Farm Box, I knew I wanted to do something special with them.

Farm Box is a new start-up by the digital design company, 409 + Co, which was founded by Andreas Winsberg, whose father owns the Bay Area’s Happy Quail Farms, famous for growing the first coveted pimientos de Padron peppers in California.

Cherries from G.L. Alfieri Farms via Farm Box.
Cherries from G.L. Alfieri Farms via Farm Box.

This specialty produce box can be picked up at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza farmers market on Saturdays or the Menlo Park farmers market on Sundays; or delivered to your door on Saturdays for a $20 fee. Learn more about Farm Box in my post earlier this week.

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Republique’s Fig-Tahini Cookies

These fig-tahini cookies are not only pretty to look at, but have a wondrous chewy texture.
These fig-tahini cookies are not only pretty to look at, but have a wondrous chewy texture.

Mochi, gummi bears, springy noodles, and ideal chocolate chip cookies.

What do they have in common?

A certain chewiness that I can’t resist.

And “Fig-Tahini Cookies” possess that ideal attribute in abundance.

It’s evident not only in the consistency of the cookie, itself, but also in the chopped dried figs hidden throughout.

The recipe is from “Baking at République: Masterful Techniques and Recipes” (Lorena Jones Books, 2019), of which I received a review copy.

The cookbook is by Margarita Manzke, co-owner of Republique restaurant and bakery in Los Angeles. The book, written with former Los Angeles Times food writer Betty Hallock, features all the favorite pastries, cookies, cakes and pies from this fabulous bakery that’s a must-stop whenever my husband and I drive to Los Angeles.

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