Tuesday, December 22, 2015



 5 1/2 cups all-­purpose flour, plus more for rolling/dusting
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
 4 teaspoons ground ginger
 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (In my opinion, this little detail...freshly grated...makes a  difference)
 1/2 teaspoon allspice
 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
 2 large eggs, room temperature
 1 1/2 cups unsulfured molasses

 Royal Icing for decorating

Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices in a medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium­ high speed until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in molasses. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Divide dough into 3 portions, and wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare heavy baking pans with a piece of parchment paper on each.  Sprinkle a generous amount of flour onto a cold, hard surface such as marble or granite.  (It does make a difference).  Roll a piece of dough to about 1/4 to 1/3-inch thick.  Brush off excess flour.  Cut out desired shapes. Transfer to parchment ­lined baking sheets, and refrigerate for about 15 minutes.  Remove from refrigerator, and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes (less if using small cutters).  The key is to watch the baking progress, and being careful not to burn the edges.  The cookies should be firm, but finger soft when touched.  Remove sheets from oven, and let cool in pans on wire racks for one minute; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Decorate as desired; let dry completely before storing between sheets of parchment at room temperature for up to one week.  These cookies freeze beautifully.  

Photo:  Mini Gingerbread Men stand guard around my Gingerbread Cheesecake.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

In celebration for the arrival of my first grandchild, a baby shower was held in March for my daughter-in-law. She asked me to make some goodies for the dessert table including an ombré cake with the ruffled frosting in soft shades of blue fading to cream. The cake itself was a butter white with a cannoli cream filling including mini chocolate chips, and flavored with a hint of orange zest. The ombre frosting was made from butter and cream cheese.

I decided to try Macarons for the first time, and after a few failed attempts, got the hang of the technique. My inconsistent oven didn't help, but they eventually turned out--forming the required "feet," and I filled them with chocolate and vanilla butter creams. Macarons are different from Coconut Macaroons.  These are made with egg whites and almond flour; finely ground blanched almonds, and are a perfect gluten-free confection.  They're not necessarily difficult for the experienced baker, but there are specific steps to follow that make them a bit more finicky than other meringue cookies.

The cookie treat bags were filled with Peanut Butter Shortbread, Vanilla Butter Cookies, and Cinnamon Biscotti. Just for fun, I also made Rice Krispie Lollypops dipped in blue-tinted chocolate.

Since it was a baby shower, I thought the little baby feet and quilted-covered bottom made from fondant would be a cute addition to the table.  My son--the proud dad-to-be, bit the toes off when it arrived home.  After it had been sitting in a box waiting for its display--not edible--purposes, it wasn't that tasty.  

So here are a few pics, and how thrilled we all were when my grandson arrived the next week--4 weeks early.  Being a Nonna is by far, the most amazing experience of my life.