I’m pretty sure we can all agree that the week before Christmas is the most INSANE WEEK IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. We’re all bustling, hustling and working (and werking) to get everything wrapped up and done before everyone peaces out for the rest of the year.
Next week I have a massage booked. I’m going to Palm Springs for a few days to rest up and do absolutely nothing. During this time, I plan on writing a few things down: my goals for 2015 (proof I’m getting older, I never used to do this), things I learned in 2014 and a few things I’m grateful for. It sounds like a cheesy little thing to do, but these tasks organize my thoughts. It’s like going to The Container Store for my brain.
Next week, there will be pie. Because, pie. And because there always should be pie.
There’s also a chance I might listen to the last episode of SERIAL again because OMG Ronald. NO! I’m not buying that, attorney-who-I-respect. UGH! Jay did it.
I do things at the holidays I don’t always do during the year: I (attempt) to decorate every corner of my apartment; I bake any chance I get; and I put antler ears on Amelia and force her to take pictures with me. Basically, what I’m saying is that I embrace the season and try and make the most of it. A big part of taking advantage of the season is creating things, arranging things, and making my home look as pretty and magical as possible.
Today I teamed up with Target to show you a pretty and fuss-free dessert table. Treat-making is my favorite thing to do but I do know that during the holidays it’s tough to tackle a gigantic project for a party (I tackled a buche de noel on Saturday, more on that later!), so I wanted to give you something super easy: Cappuccino Truffles! The best part about this recipe is the fact that it requires a lot of downtime, allowing you to turn your attention to making the dessert table look as cute as possible. I wanted the dessert table to feel cozy (I know, surprising), neutral and natural, and rely on gold and silver to bring some sparkle.
The recipe starts with heating cream and pouring it over chopped chocolate, after a little stir action, it goes in the fridge to chill.
During this time, I hung this cute tree garland around the table. I also hung this wall garland I made a few days prior that consisted of some cedar, pine cones and tallow branches. All you need a bit of floral wire and a few nails! Super easy.
I hope you’re inspired to make some treats and make your space cute and cozy. ’Tis the season!
Prep Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: 16 truffles
Serving Size: 16
1 cup heavy cream
16 ounces bitter-sweet chocolate, chopped (chips are also fine!)
1/4 cup coffee granules, finely ground
1/4 cup instant milk powder
1 tablespoon powdered sugar, plus more for garnish
In a small saucepan, heat heavy cream until it reaches a light simmer. Pour the hot heavy cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir until smooth. Pour the chocolate into a shallow dish, such as a 9-inch pie dish, and transfer to the fridge to chill for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, add the coffee, milk powder, salt and powdered sugar. Pulse until finely ground and mixed. Transfer to a shallow bowl and set aside.
Using a #20 ice cream scoop (or a melon baller), scoop out mounds of the chocolate mixture onto a piece of parchment or wax paper (they’ll look a bit like wonky circles—don’t worry!). Transfer to the fridge to chill for an additional hour. Remove from the fridge and using your hands, roll the mounds of chocolate to form a circle (don’t worry if they’re not perfect circles) and then immediately transfer to the fridge to chill for an additional 15 minutes. Roll the chocolate balls in the coffee mixture and place in mini cupcake liners. Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to serve, at which time, allow to stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes, just to take off a bit of its chill. Garnish, if you like, with a teeny dusting of powdered sugar.
I have turned into a full on holiday baking psycho woman. It wasn’t my intention but there’s something about a cold drafty apartment, a twinkling Christmas tree in the living room and sticks of butter in the fridge calling my name, that gets me in the mood to bake.
I spent the better part of Saturday, baking, sculpting and arranging a bûche de noël with my friend Hourie. It was a bit of a challenge. There were a few mini meltdowns (the recipe we were using wasn’t foolproof) but at the end it was really pretty. And I remembered why I love this season. Why I love baking with friends. Why I do what I do.
I may sound super ignorant about pound cakes but it was just a few months ago that I learned a pound cake is supposed to have a pound of butter, a pound of sugar and no leavening. Those two work wonders with one another and create a dense cake that isn’t too, too dense. I dunno about you but that’s a lot of damn sugar.
No one, and I mean no one, loves cheesecake more than my dad. I have no idea why because the man doesn’t even like cheese. WHA!! Yes, I know. He doesn’t like cheese. It’s the oddest thing in the entire world, but his favorite dessert of them all—and he loves mostly everything sweet—is cheesecake.
He’s extremely critical about cheesecake because he eats a lot of it. As I was recipe testing this here cheesecake, I’d send him photos throughout the process and he’d remark skeptically, giving his harsh criticisms and recommendations. Mostly I think it’s just funny that he takes cheesecake so seriously.
I’m not sure how this will live up to my dad’s cheesecake expectations, but I loved it. It’s perfectly tart; the texture is smooth; and the chocolate crust gives it a nice decadent element. The marble topping is kinda pretty, quickly making it the favorite at a holiday dessert table…or, to you know, eat by yourself by the Christmas tree. And while marbling anything may seem a bit difficult, it’s actually pretty easy.
The one thing I hate about making cheesecake is a using a damn springform pan. They’re insanely frustrating, flawed in how their made. Most of them leak, which means, water comes in when you bake it in a water bath. The solution to this for many, is baking a cheesecake in a cake pan. With this though, because of the pretty top, I needed to use a spring form pan (I had one anyway). The solution was to wrap the entire bottom in a few sheets of foil. No water seeping through!
One thing I learned about marbling is this: if you want tighter swirls, use a smaller skewer to swirl the cranberry sauce around. If you want bigger swirls (I did), use a larger skewer and get messy with it. I promise it’ll look pretty regardless.
And that’s really it!
My dad is making this recipe this weekend. Hopefully he’ll leave a comment with the results.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
24 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
5 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon orange zest (from about 1/2 naval orange)
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs, sugar, salt and melted butter. Dump the crust mixture into a nine-inch (10-cup) springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom of the pan until packed tightly. Transfer to the oven to bake for 8 minutes (unfortunately since the crumbs are so dark you can’t really tell when they’ve toasted so it’s important to pay attention to the clock). Remove from the oven and cool completely before adding the filling. Wrap the bottom of the spring form pan in a few sheets of foil and set aside.
To the bowl of a stand-up mixer, using a paddle attachment, add the cream cheese and goat cheese. Whip until smooth and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Next, mix in the sugar. With the machine one, add the eggs, one at a time, waiting until each egg is incorporated before adding the next one. Lastly, mix in the salt and vanilla extract.
In a small saucepan, add the cranberries, white granulated sugar, water, orange zest and salt. Cook over medium heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the cranberries become soft. Press the cranberries with a back of a spoon or spatula and cook for an additional minute until they’re softened. Pour the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve, pressing the cranberries to release any excess juice. The mixture should resemble a loose jam—it’ll thicken as it cools. Transfer to a squeeze bottle. (If you don’t have a squeeze bottle, then no biggie, just transfer it to a measuring cup with a spout—it’ll be easier to pour.)
Pour the cream cheese mixture into the springform pan and smooth out the top with a spatula. Make sure it reaches the edge of the pan. Make little dollops of cranberry sauce all over the surface of the cream cheese. Take a skewer or popsicle stick and run it through the dollops creating a marbling effect. Make it as messy or neat as you like. Place the springform pan in a roasting pan, or another pan that’s as big. Transfer to the rack of the oven and fill up the roasting pan with about 2 inches of water. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until it looks set, yet it’s still a bit wobbly in the center. Place on a cooling rack for 30 minutes and then place it in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours. (I let it set overnight.) Slice it up and serve.
*I used Nabisco famous chocolate wafers, found at most grocery stores. I blitzed them in a food processor until totally crumby.
Thanksgiving is all about pie. But if you can believe it, there are people out in the world that dislike pie. I know many of them; they prefer cake or cookies or ice cream. While part of me would like to talk all sorts of trash on them, I sort of get it.
I used to dislike fruit pies and would skip the fruit part all together and just dip the crust in whipped cream. That was before I learned that there are apples in the world that should be baked and others that should never ever be touched with heat. This made the world of difference.
Because these people who hate pie exist, I wanted to give you an alternative. This persimmon pudding is like a spongy cake with hot salty and sticky toffee sauce poured on top. It’s warm and soft and salty and sweet and ahhh! I made this a couple times and each time I was like, This might be better than apple pie!
Are you a corn syrup hater? You probably are. Everyone is and I get it. I do.
Since I use it so sparingly, I’m not that weird about it. There are some instances when it offers results that are pitch perfect. Examples: Fudge sauce (the sheen that corn syrup provides is dreamy) and marshmallows (man, oh man, it’s just a must).
I do hate corn syrup in ice cream. Oh good gracious. I can actually taste the acid in the corn syrup in the back of my throat. It’s awful. A lot of ice cream makers have started to include corn syrup because it provides such a glorious and smooth texture to ice cream. I get it. I do.
But there are other instances where corn syrup can easily be swapped out and I take those opportunities any chance I get. Namely, pecan pie. And in this case, walnut pie…with bitters because YAAASSSS!
It’s not every weekend when I get the opportunity to gather my friends together and host a dinner party, so when I was invited to be a part of the #BertolliGoldLabel Italian Progressive Dinner Party, I said a-ok!
I’m a pretty casual person; this means I like my dinner parties to feel very fuss-free. Here are some guidelines I like to follow:
1. I kinda start to stress out when I see the host get up a million times. I feel like I should help! I don’t want my friends to feel like this so I make sure everything is ready (entree included), on the table, served family-style. This means from the time they arrive everything is very laid back.
2. At least one course is completely store-bought. In this case it was the sauce from Bertolli (more on that later), cheeses, charcuterie, figs and grapes and olives. Easy breezy!
3. Wine matches the food. My friend Whitney helped with this, selecting the perfect, super affordable Italian wines to go with our Italian-inspired dinner.
Pumpkin everything. Pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pie, pumpkin every which way.
That is the style of October, amirite? I’ve been thinking a lot about pumpkin these days, and desserts. I’m pretty sure it’s my bodily reaction to want more dessert and soup once the weather dips below 65. It’s all nature’s game plan.
We’re hurling toward November. How did this happen? I want October back! This week includes meeting some deadlines, figuring out (finally!) want Amelia is going to be for Halloween (maybe a banana?), and more recipe brainstorming. There’s a holiday at the end of this month and I need to be prepared so you can all be prepared, you dig?
Amelia and Joy the Baker have never met. But I know they would get along because they’re both what I could consider “peanut butter enthusiasts.”
Amelia, in her little time on this planet, has tried peanut butter every which way: cheap creamy peanut butter (read: Jiff), all-natural chunky peanut butter, smokey peanut butter, and even peanut butter mixed with honey. She prefers her peanut butter vessels to be human spoons, slices of apple, bananas or even sneakily off the side of a bowl. She does not discriminate.