Category Archives: Desserts and Cakes

Rustic French Apple Tart

Dave will tell you that I’m the worst baker ever. My creative approach to baking almost always ensures failure. As an enthusiastic optimist, however, I can’t help but always try.

This recipe is fail-proof for baking fools like me. It’s easy, delicious, looks great and comes together in a snap.

This recipe comes from Jenn Segal at Once Upon a Chef. For all you bakers and non-bakers out there. This one is a winner!

For the Crust

  • 1½ cups all purpose flour, levelled
  • teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1½ sticks (12 TABLESPOONS) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • ¼ cup very cold water


  •  baking apples (3 large) (see note)
  •  sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt


  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  •  2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apricot jelly or jam, optional for glaze

Click here video and instructions!


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New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies with super secret ingredient

14SESAME6-master675-v2I know you have all heard this before in some form or another but this time I’m not kidding.  There are many kinds of chocolate chip cookies that are outstanding and I even have a recipe on this site that I’ve already ranted and raved about. But this one, no joke, is THE best. My friend Erica came over the other day and said she would bring cookie dough over to bake for dessert. Who am I to argue? She never said what was in the chocolate chip cookies just that it was  a new recipe. Well guess what? These cookies were amazing and I couldn’t figure out what made them so delicious, and nutty and buttery and yummy all at the same time. Was it the extraordinary amount of chocolate chips in the recipe? The butter? The sea salt?  You practically don’t need anything else…but she did put something else in and it was shocking and amazing to discover that it was Tahini. That’s right. Sesame butter. That amazing ingredient that makes hummus so damn delicious.

I just say throw away all other chocolate chip cookie recipes and just use this one. It’s THAT fantastic. Thank you Smish for sharing this little gem.

Thanks New York Times for sharing this fantastic recipe. You can find the original link and recipe here.


  • 4 ounces/113 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
  • ½ cup/120 milliliters tahini, well stirred
  • 1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons/150 grams all-purpose flour, or matzo cake meal (See tip)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 ¾ cups/230 grams chocolate chips or chunks, bittersweet or semisweet
  • Flaky salt, like fleur de sel or Maldon
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, tahini and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg, egg yolk and vanilla and continue mixing at medium speed for another 5 minutes.
  2. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt into a large bowl and mix with a fork. Add flour mixture to butter mixture at low speed until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to fold in chocolate chips. Dough will be soft, not stiff. Refrigerate at least 12 hours; this ensures tender cookies.
  3. When ready to bake, heat oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or nonstick baking mat. Use a large ice cream scoop or spoon to form dough into 12 to 18 balls.
  4. Place the cookies on the baking sheet at least 3 inches apart to allow them to spread. Bake 13 to 16 minutes until just golden brown around the edges but still pale in the middle to make thick, soft cookies. As cookies come out of the oven, sprinkle sparsely with salt. Let cool at least 20 minutes on a rack.

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Easy Peasy Christmas Stollen


I LOVE Christmas stollen. I’ve had an irrational relationship with this festive German nut and fruit cake since I was a kid. Last year I bought and ate two (by myself) before Christmas. This year I thought I would try and make an easy version of this. I found this recipe here  (Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice) and LOVED it. It’s light, delicious and ridiculously easy to make.

I made this with spelt flour – and I skipped the candied fruit except for the raisins to make for a slightly less sweet version of this bread.

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Yield: 2 (1 pound) stollen loaves

Stollen is a German sweet bread filled with dried fruit and nuts.


2 + 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup mixed dried fruit: 1/2 cup golden raisins + 1/2 cup of your favorite dried fruits, chopped to pieces (I used 1/4 cup each cherries and cranberries)
1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted and cooled
6 tablespoons butter, melted
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar


  1. Preheat your oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment.
  2. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Cut the cold butter into small chunks, then blend it into the flour with a pastry blender or two knives used scissor fashion to form uneven crumbs.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the cheese, egg, vanilla, and zest. Toss the fruit and almonds with the flour mixture until evenly distributed. Combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing until most of the flour is moistened.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead it two or three times until it holds together. Divide in half. Roll each piece of dough into an 8 x 7 oval about 1/2-inch thick.
  6. Fold each piece of dough in half lengthwise, leaving the edge of the top half about 1/2-inch short of the edge of the bottom half.
  7. Use the edge of your hand to press the dough to seal about 1-inch in back of the open edge; this will make the traditional stollen shape.
  8. Place the shaped stollen on the prepared baking sheet and bake until light brown around edges about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from center.
  9. Remove the stollen from the oven, and transfer to a rack. Brush each one with 2 to 3 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle heavily with confectioners’ sugar.
  10. Once the stollen are cool, brush with butter again and sprinkle with sugar. Wrap in plastic wrap until ready to serve. Plastic-wrapped stollen will keep well for 2 weeks or so at room temperature.

Thanks to Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice for sharing this fantastic recipe!


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Vanilla Bean Caramel Corn with Pecans & Macadamia Nuts Rivals Most Dangerous Rum Balls as Most Fabulous Treat

Vanilla Bean Caramel CornMy friend Lorraine  had a bunch of us girls over for a fantastic dinner a while ago and  sent us all home with goodie bags. What happened to be in these goodie bags was her and her sister’s homemade caramel corn. Call me crazy but I have never (ever) had caramel corn in my life.  Having no idea how much work this took, I asked Captain Kirk if I could pay her to cook me up a batch for Dave’s birthday.

So Lorraine generously obliged and I ended up coming home with the first birthday present that wasn’t returned. Last night we polished off the last few morsels  and in some ways I feel relieved, even thankful because I have obsessed steadily for the last week about C. Kirk’s CC. I think about it all day at work and when I come home I think about how I shouldn’t eat all of Dave’s birthday corn, but then I eat some more anyways, trying desperately all the while not to eat all the best bits (but I do anyways) like the candied pecans and macadamia nuts. So I’m just saying, this treat does come with a stern warning – it is equally as dangerous as the Dangerous Rumballs.

So make this at your own peril! I haven’t actually made this yet – the version I received used pecans instead of almonds and macadamia nuts instead of something else. I think you can use whatever nut you fancy. Go ahead and try this fabulous recipe. When we’ve recovered from this lot we’re making our first batch! Let me know how it goes. And now without further ado your key to caramel corn fabulousness.

And thank you Lorraine for sharing this great recipe – which came from the Globe & Mail.

1/3 cup natural popcorn kernels (about 12 cups popped)

1 cup unsalted almonds

1 cup unsalted cashews

1 vanilla pod

1-teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup corn syrup

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/2 tsp salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

fleur de sel


Preheat oven to 250 F. Pop 1/3 cup natural popcorn kernels (about 12 cups popped). Set aside in a large bowl and stir in 1 cup unsalted almonds and 1 cup unsalted cashews.

Scrape the beans out of 1 vanilla pod and mix into 1-teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Set aside.

In a large heavy bottomed pot melt 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup corn syrup, 1/2 cup unsalted butter and 1/2 tsp salt. Allow it to come to a boil over med-high heat and leave for 5 minutes without stirring. Pull off the heat and add 1 teaspoon baking soda and the vanilla mixture. (The mixture will be extremely hot so be careful.) Pour over the popcorn and stir quickly to coat everything. Divide onto 2 to 3 parchment line cookie sheets, sprinkle with fleur de sel and put in the oven for 1 hour. Stir occasionally to further coat the popcorn evenly with caramel. Remove, allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

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Almond Cake from the South of Spain

I might possibly be the only food-loving traveller in Italy who actually lost weight while I was there. Not being able to eat gluten had its challenges in a country that has made an art of pasta, pizza and pastries. I made up for not being able to eat pasta by eating a lot of the local seafood dishes, grilled veggies and fabulous salads that are served ubiquitously. I made up for pizza by order a large gluten-free pizza from Panago when I got home – but the pastries were the ones that really got me. I stood longingly before many, many bakery windows staring and salivating at all the wonderful pastries.

Venice1 copySicily specializes in marzipan – beautiful, fabulous, perfect, marzipan all artfully formed in the shape of fruit. I had my fill there. But there are numerous versions of almond cakes that equally whet my appetite but which I couldn’t enjoy. So I came home determined to find an almond cake I could eat. I have a few on my list to try but this is the first of them which I found on Simply Recipes. This cake is made with almond flour, eggs, and sugar. No butter, no wheat – easy to digest for those of us with monster stomach problems. Adding a touch of whipped cream to serve makes this cake almost perfect. It’s super light and not too rich. (not that that would never stop me from eating a cake:)
Go check out Simply Recipes. Lots of great recipes on there in general,

Here goes:

4 eggs, separated into 4 egg yolks and 4 egg whites, room temperature
2 Tbsp lemon zest, packed
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup (100 g) white sugar, divided 1/4 cup (50 g) and 1/4 cup (50 g)
1 1/2 cup (170 g) finely ground almond flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder (make sure your baking powder is fresh!)
1 teaspoon white or cider vinegar
Pinch of salt
Powdered sugar for sprinkling
* If almond flour is not available at your market, you can grind up blanched, slivered almonds in a food processor until finely ground. I would start with a little more than 1 1/3 cups, perhaps 1 1/2 cups. Our local Whole Foods carries a Bob’s Red Mill brand of finely ground almond flour which is what we used for this recipe.

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F (175 °C). Place a round of parchment paper on the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, and grease it and the sides of the pan with butter or cooking spray.

2 In a large bowl, beat together with a wooden spoon the egg yolks, lemon zest, and 1/4 cup sugar until smooth.

3 In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond flour, ground cardamom, and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture and beat until smooth.

4 With an electric mixer with a very clean bowl and clean whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, starting on low speed and gradually increasing the speed. When bubbles start to form, add a pinch of salt and the teaspoon of vinegar (both the salt and the vinegar will help the beaten egg whites maintain better structure, as will the sugar in the next step). As the egg whites begin to increase in volume, sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, a little at a time, as you continue to beat the eggs whites. Beat until soft peaks form.

5 Fold the beaten egg whites into the almond mixture a large scoopful at a time. You won’t get much lift with the first third of the egg whites, but as you add more, you’ll be able to gently fold in the whites in such a way as to create a light batter.

6 Gently scoop the batter into a the prepared springform pan and place in the oven. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake helping it to separate from the side of the pan. Release the springform pan sides, and gently move the cake (on parchment) to a cake serving plate. Sprinkle with a little powdered sugar before serving.

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Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Triple Ginger Ginger Cookies via @ShinyTomato

Triple Ginger Cookies

Triple Ginger Cookies

These cookies are a Gluten Free adaption from my friend Bonnie who posts all kinds of delicious things over at her and her sister’s blog called Shiny Tomato.

Wheat-eaters visit Shiny Tomato for the details – there are a few important differences for the GF crowd.

Triple Ginger Cookies
Adapted from Bon Appetit and taken from Shiny Tomato:)

  • 2 cups Bob Redmill  flour
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Quatre Épices, or a combination of baking spices (nutmeg, allspice, cardamom)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar (I used brown sugar)
  • 3/4 cup softened butter (I used Earth Bound spread)
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
  • Sugar (for rolling)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray. Whisk first 6 ingredients together in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar and Earth Bound  in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in molasses, vanilla, egg, and fresh ginger. Stir in crystallized ginger, then dry ingredients.

Refrigerate for an hour to stiffen dough. Fill small shallow bowl with sugar. Shape 1 teaspoonful of dough into ball; roll in sugar. Place on prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing cookies 2 inches apart.

Bake cookies for approximately 11to 12  minutes until golden and dry-looking. Cool on sheets. Alternately, you can freeze the dough and roll it into balls later after un-thawing it.

Enjoy! I love the bits of candied ginger in these!

Thanks Bonnie!

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Gluten-free – Dairy-Free Blueberry Banana Muffins

These are aweome. I gluten-freed them from the original recipe which I found on


2 med. extra-ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
2 eggs
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. Earth Bound Spread, melted (or margarine or butter if you prefer)
3/4 c. frozen blueberries, thawed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 c. Gluten-Free Flour
1 tsp xantham gum
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

Combine bananas, eggs, sugar and butter until well blended. Stir in blueberries and vanilla extract. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Carefully add flour mixture to banana-blueberry mixture. Spoon into muffin cups.
Bake in 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Thanks to the awesome folks at and you can get the standard version (that is wheat and butter) of the recipe right here.

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Best Rum Balls Ever


Here they are  in all their glory! This year’s batch is ready to be shared! Dangerous Rum Ball Recipe here.

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Shockingly Delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free variety)

I suspect the one and half cups of sugar this recipe calls for has something to do with the delicious factor of these very tasty GF chocolate chip cookies that even your wheat eating friends would love. But darn it people, these are a mighty fine confection. If you’re looking for a crispy cookie than this isn’t your recipe. These are chewie and maintain their chewiness long after baking…..if they last that long. For people who bake with kamut I have also made these using 1/2 kamut flour and half GF flour (I can eat kamut but can’t eat wheat). Both ways are great. I suspect using all kamut would make for a heavier but nevertheless still delicious cookie. As a note, Dave who hates my baking thought these were great!


3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
1/4 cup egg substitute (I used one real egg)
2 1/4 cups gluten-free baking mix (I have also used kamut flour same proportions)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F ( 190 degrees C). Prepare a greased baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar. Gradually add replacer eggs and vanilla while mixing. Sift together gluten- free flour mix, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir into the butter mixture until blended. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips.
Using a teaspoon, drop cookies 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes or until light brown. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks.

I found this recipe from the nice folks over at

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Melt-in-your-mouth Short Bread Cookies: Gluten-free


I don’t usually cook with butter because my stomach can’t handle it or at least it can’t handle a lot of it. But who can resist the fabulous taste of fresh butter cookies. Not me. Here goes:

1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup rice flour
3/4 cup butter

Sift cornstarch, sugar and rice flour together. Add butter.
Mix dough with hands until soft dough forms. Refrigerate one hour. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place about 1-1/4 inches apart on greased cookie sheet; flatten with lightly floured fork. Bake at 300 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
Form balls as above. Roll in finely crushed corn flakes or crushed nuts. Press top of ball with thumb. Add a dab of jelly.
Mix in 2 tablespoons finely chopped peel and/or 2 tablespoons finely chopped nuts. Flatten with lightly floured fork.

I got the original recipe right here.


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