Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bringing Home the Biscotti (with Bite!)

Yes, it's true, I've been pretty bad about blogging lately. I'd like to blame it on too much egg nogg and the tsunami of rain that LA has had the past few days, but being cooped up indoors drinking merry delights screams blog-time. So, I must admit laziness, blog-laziness of course. I'm always baking!

I know it's almost Christmas, and waaaaaay too late to give out holiday party snacks ideas, or even great gifts for the giving. So all I can suggest is bookmark this blog for next year, when this lil' Christmas Elf is back on her A-game. (It's new year's resolution time after all...)

In the meantime, here's a fun recipe for Brilliant Biscotti, the kind that's sweet, tangy, and kicks you in the kisser with a surprise bite!

They make great holiday gifts... for next year...

And hey, for extra cool-points, I took the photos for this blog post all by myself! (Sure, maybe I got a few tips from my photographer boyfriend, but these photos are all me!). Yee Haw!

Cracked Pepper, Dried Cherry, and Chocolate Chip Biscotti
(Makes about 3 dozen pieces)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups dried cherries
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper


1) Position one rack in the center of the oven and another rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2) In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

3) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.

4) With the mixer on low speed, add the sifted ingredients in two batches, beating after each addition until the flour disappears. Do not overmix. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cherries, chocolate, and pepper. (Note: if you don't have a pepper grinder, you can crush pepper corns with the flat side of a butter knife).

5) Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface. The dough will be a bit sticky. Divide the dough in half. With floured hands, roll each half into a log 1 1/2 inches thick and about 15 inches long. Place both logs about three inches apart on a nonstick or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until lightly firm to the touch (about 25 minutes). Remove from the oven and let sit for ten minutes.

6) Place one log on a cutting board. With a sharp serrated knife and using a sawing motion, carefully cut the log on a slight diagonal into 1/2 inch thick slices. Place the slices on their sides on their sides on the baking sheet. Repeat with the second log, using an additional baking sheet (if needed). Bake until dried out and lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Turn each slice over and bake until lightly golden, about ten minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

7) To decorate, place five or six pieces of biscotti in a cellophane bag and tie with paper raffia/ribbon. (Bags and raffia can be found in a local craft store).

8) Share and be merry!


My long haired long term boyfriend and I sent out the following Christmas card last year. It seemed appropriate for this baking blog! Happy Holidays!

All the photos were taken by my boyfriend. Check out this year's card and other great photos at: or

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween Trick-or-Treat Extravaganza!

Have you recovered from your Halloween candy coma yet?

Well if you haven't, then steer clear of this post because it may make your sweet tooth start to scream! Yes, I hosted a spooky Halloween soiree this year and of course this little baking bug went into hyper-drive. So here's a sweet sampling of some of the delectable and deeeelicious treats I made for the party (and the silly names my friends and I made for them). Trick-or-Treat!

The spook- tacular snack spread!

Chocolate Black Widow Bites! They're mini chocolate cupcakes with black sprinkles and black licorice strings for legs. Arachni-fabulous!

Vanilla Monster Cupcakes! Faces are made with various candies including mini-marshmallows, black and red licorice strings, gum drops, jelly beans, and sour candy tape.

The sweets table!

Bloody Blackbird Pie with Fingernail Crust! Disgusting (or deeeelicious). It's really a Blueberry Pie. The crust is colored with burgundy gel food coloring and black sprinkles. The fingers are fake, and came from a Halloween party shop. Almond slivers are used for the fingernail crust.

Lady Ga Ga (Me!) serves up some finger-lickin- good pie!

Magnum P.I. has a new case to crack - there's a finger in his pie! Now where's the dead body?

Would you like some Vanilla Phlegm Brulee? Ask Lady Ga Ga to get out her blow torch and serve you up this snotty sweet!

There's a spider in my Phlegm Brulee! Hot Nurse and Chilean Miner don't care, they still want to give it a try!

Ghost Sugar Cookies (made with real kitten tears)!

Russell's Heart, made of cherry jell-o smashed to smithereens! Love hurts!

Lime green Wobbly Brains! J-E-L-L-O!

Are you thirsty? Maybe you'd like some Blood, or a sip of our home made Vampire Blend (made of 50% 0-Negative, 20% AB-Positive, and 30% B-Negative). Perhaps Warewolf Urine is more your style. Watching your witchy figure? Try out some healthy Unicorn Plasma, it's antioxidant rich!

Feeling cheesy? How about some Skin-Wrapped Brie, Bloody Vampire Chevre, or the Franken-Fungus!

We got these flown in special for the party. It's hard to get pickled Monster Members, Dill Pygmy Peckers, Goblin Balls, Sweet Hobbit Knobs, and my favorite the Spicy Warewolf Testicles.

No Halloween party is complete without a little Festive Maggot Salad!

Devil's Eggs!

Get daring and dip your fried banshee tongues and fairy wings into a little Pico de Vomit, Persian Zombie Puss, or Monkey Poo!

I hope your Halloween was as tasty as ours!

A special thanks to Russell Gearhart Photography for the fantastic photos, and for donating his Jell-o heart for our fabulous feast! See all the creative costumes our guest wore at the Russell Gearhart Photography Facebook Page! Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Star-tastic Blueberry Pie

With Halloween just around the corner I thought I'd do a blog post about...


Okay, pie has nothing to do with Halloween. Except I will be making some spook-tacular finger nail pie in the next week. Not to mention the harry arachnid cupcakes and the snot brulee. But lets not get ahead of ourselves.

In the meantime, lets think pie, blueberry pie. Or more accurately lets think STAR-TASTIC blueberry pie! Sure this pie is screaming 4th of July, but really stars are not only for those who are patriotic. And frankly, you can be patriotic all year round (even on Halloween). Particularly if pie is involved!

(makes one pie)

1 recipe Pate Brisee
6 cups of blueberries
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter (cut in pieces)
1 egg
1 tbsp milk

1) Make one recipe of Pate Brisee for the pie dough.
2) Mix berries, sugar, flour, cinnamon, zest, and lemon juice in a large bowl.
3) Put pie crust in bottom of pie pan, then fill with berry mixture and dot with butter.
4) Cover with second crust. To make it star-tacular, cut stars out of the crust with a star-shaped cookie cutter. Adorn crust with star shapes you've cut out.
5) Chill pie for 30 min.
6) While pie is chilling pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
7) Whisk egg and milk together and glaze the top of the pie.
8) Bake pie for 20 min at 425 degrees. Then turn temperature down to 350 degrees and continue to bake for another 30 to 40 minutes.
9) Eat!!!

Star-tacular thanks to Russell Gearhart Photography for the star quality photographs!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Name is Brulee, Creme Brulee

If James Bond had a favorite dessert, I bet it would be Creme Brulee. The man is a sexy international spy, so it's only natural that he would desire something sophisticated and irresistible, (which of course also requires a blow torch). The name's Brulee, Creme Brulee! *Cue James Bond music, followed by an extensive car chase and million dollar explosions.*

That's right, now we're baking dangerously.

Okay, despite the set up, Creme Brulee is actually not that difficult to make. Yes, it does require a blow torch. But if a huge flame-o-phob like me can get over it (with much prodding by my long haired long term boyfriend) then so can you. Follow these simple steps and you just might find yourself in Her Majesties secret baking service. They call me double-O Cupcake, baby!

Classic Creme Brulee

(Serves 8)

1 quart heavy cream (this is the key ingredient so don't skimp on it. I buy the fancy organic stuff, and boy does it make a difference in the flavor!)
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar (for the baking)
1/2 cup sugar (for the brulee-ing)
6 large egg yolks

Blow Torch (I use one from Home Depot, it's cheaper than the fancy-shmancy baby ones at the kitchen boutiques, and works just as well. Plus it makes you look hard core!)
8 Ramekins


1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2) Place ramekins into one or two deep cake tins or casserole dishes.
3) Heat cream and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan at a medium-high temperature. Bring to a boil, and then remove pan from heat, cover, and let cream sit for 15 minutes.
4) In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of sugar and egg yolks until light in color.
5) Stirring constantly, slowly add the cream to the bowl.
6) Pour or ladle the mixture into the 8 oz. ramekins.
7) Create a water bath by filling the cake tins/casserole dishes with water so that the water is about half way up the sides of the ramekins.
8) Bake the ramekins in the water bath for 40 to 45 minutes. The tops of the custards should wobble a bit. Be very careful when you remove the pans as the water will be very hot.
9) Let ramekins cool in the water bath for about 10 minutes.
10) Place ramekins in the fridge and let cool for a minimum of 2 hours.
11) When ready to serve, remove ramekins from fridge and sprinkle a thin layer of sugar over the top of the custard (about 1/8 of an inch thick).

12) Flip a bowl upside down (or an unused ramekin) and place the custard you wish to brulee on top of it.

13) Fire up the torch baby!

14) With the flame about one inch long, hold the flame about 1/2 an inch to one inch above the sugared top of the custard. You will see the sugar bubble and melt. Slowly move through the whole custard so the top is melted in all areas. Take your time, it may take a minute or so.

15) Garnish with fresh berries or chocolate bits, and serve immediately!

Mmmm Mmmmm Good!

A fantastic shout out to Russell Gearhart Photography for documenting this process and for not catching on fire!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Asparagus Croissants!

Did someone say Asparagus? Isn't this a baking blog? Look lady, if you start pitching me on asparagus cake, I am outta here!

Calm down. Just because something is green and a vegetable doesn't mean you can't bake it. And yes, it's true my blog has tended toward the sweet and not the savory, but that doesn't mean we should turn a blind eye. In fact, I think it's time for the salty side to be invited to the party.

Here, let me show you a picture....

Mmmmmm! Now don't you want to know how to make that? (You know you do.) Well, asparagus croissants are surprisingly simple! Soooooooooo simple! That's right, simple, savory, and satisfying. Let's get our veggie on people!

Asparagus Croissants
(Makes eight croissants)

1 bunch of fresh asparagus
1/4 lbs of prosciutto
1 can of Pillsbury crescent rolls
2 to 4 tbsp of butter or margarine

1) Preheat oven to temperature mentioned on Pillsbury crescent roll package. (It's usually somewhere around 350 degrees.)
2)Wash and dry asparagus, and chop off any old or dead ends.
3) Unwrap Pillsbury crescent rolls and unroll dough. Break dough up into 8 equal triangles.
4) Butter the triangles with desired amount of butter.
5) Place strips of prosciutto on top of the buttered dough.
6) Take one to three stalks of asparagus and roll up the croissant. Start with the thick end and roll toward the triangle point.
7) Place rolled asparagus croissants on a cookie sheet.
8) Bake croissants for the normal amount of time listed on the crescent roll package. (It's usually between 8 and 10 minutes.)
9) Serve hot! Mmmm Mmmmmmmm Good!

Thanks again to Russell Gearhart Photography for the mouth watering photographs!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My First Wedding... (Cake)!

*Cue the Music* Don Don Da Don, Don Da Da Don... Here comes the cake, heeeeere comes the cake!

You didn't think I was getting married did you?! Nope the lovely Erin Sprauge (now Wusterbarth - yes, say that three times fast!) got married two weeks ago. But many months before the two graciously asked me to make their wedding cake.

I was delighted! (I was horrified.) What an honor! (What if I dropped the cake?) I get to be a part of their special day. (What if I added salt instead of sugar? What if little green men abducted the cake the night before the wedding?! Eeeeeek!)

Despite the nightmares I imagined in the weeks leading up to the big day, everything baked-off and iced-on without a hitch. It was smooth decorating! Therefore, I present to you, Erin and Andrew's beautiful sea shell wedding cake:

The happy couple cut the cake!

Me and the finished cake!

Those are all hand made white chocolate shells!

And of course you can't just admire the cake, you've got to eat it too!

Please excuse my amateur photographs. Hopefully I'll be able to get some nicer ones from the wedding photographer in weeks to come. The wedding photographer (by the way) also told the bride that this was the BEST wedding cake she'd ever seen at a wedding! *Ingrid blushes* and then *Ingrid jumps up and does a happy dance.* Wedding Cake Superstar!

Congratulations Erin and Andrew!

Bananas about Banana Bread!

Oh dear sweet baking blog, I know it's been many-a-week since I've posted. You must think me bananas! But I've been rubbing elbows with the flour and the sugar. I swear, I'm still friendly with the fruits and nuts.

So right...back to the blogging thing...

Banana bread was the first baked good I ever made my long-haired long-term boyfriend. And he has been sweet on my baking ever since. So occasionally I have to go back to a classic. So for all the pretty ladies out there who want to drive their boyfriend bananas, it's time to start baking something in the oven. (I'm talking about bread here, people, not babies).

Banana Bread
(makes one loaf)

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 ripe bananas

1) Preheat oven at 325 degrees.
2) Mix together sugar, butter, eggs, flour, soda, and bananas.
3) Pour banana bread batter into a greased and floured pan.
4) Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Did you say you wanted nuts in your banana bread? Gross. I like my banana bread pure! (But I suppose if you're nutty could add some.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Farmer's Market Peach Pie

As summer swelters and the heat fogs our good judgment, delirium giving way to thoughts of snow banks and ice angels, we must remember the produce! That's right the produce. Because summer is nothing if not ripe with the sweet nectar of farmers market peaches, plump cherries, and brilliant berries. For which we crank up our air conditioning in order to bear the fact that we must bake. And bake we will because all the heat and sweat and delirium will be worth every drop of fresh farmers market pie!

You don't believe me?

Well when winter comes around and all you have are syrupy sweet canned peaches you'll dream of summer breezes and fresh peach stick out the sticky weather and run through the sprinkler before you bake up this little piece of pie heaven.

Farmer's Market Peach Pie

(Makes One Pie)

8 to 10 fresh farmer's market peaches (Pitted and sliced. Feel free to leave the skins on. I did.)
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 tbsp of peach or apricot jelly
1 recipe of pate brisee (pie dough)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix flour, sugar, and butter in a bowl to the crumb stage.
3. Roll out and place one disc of pie dough into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate.
4. Line bottom of pie plate with peaches. Then sprinkle the butter crumb mixture onto the peaches. Line with more peaches, then crumb mixture, and continue in this fashion till all have been added.
5. Roll out second disk of pie dough and cover the top of the pie. Be sure to cut slits into the dough to provide steam ventilation. Or you could do a lattice crust. Whatever floats your boat.
6. Bake pie at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
7. Allow pie to cool and glaze with some peach or apricot jelly and a sprinkle of raw sugar.
8. Eat!

Note: You can also add other fruit to this pie as well. I also made a second pie with peaches and fresh farmers market strawberries. Mmmmmm good. Have fun!!

A special peachy thanks to Russell Gearhart Photography for the mouth watering photographs!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

4th of July Cake!

Happy Birthday America!!

I hope you all celebrated freedom with grilled meat, parade candy, and explosions in the sky! I spent the day elbow deep in frosting making my first 4-tier cake! It was a battle between man and gravity as I attempted to make sure everything was bigger and taller - as it should be - this is America!

And to my stacking glee, gravity did not get the best of me, and I successfully surmounted these four tiers of butter cream bliss. This was actually a test run, as I will be making a 4-tier cake for a family member's wedding in August. So never fear, bride-to-be, your cake will be tall and tasty! Though I may need to do a few more butter cream smoothing exercises before the big day.

I also want to thank my friends, students, and office workers of friends - who all kindly ate these four-tiers of cake-y goodness. Because cake should not be wasted! And thanks (as always) to Russell Gearhart Photography for the fantastic images!

Bring on the cake America!!!