Category Archives: desserts

Maple Panna Cotta

As I was thinking about some of my favorite flavors to welcome Fall, of course maple syrup comes quickly to mind. I decided to incorporate the maple taste into an easy elegant dessert – panna cotta, This is a dessert that I enjoyed many times on my visits to Florence, Italy. Maple seems a nice way to give it an american touch. For many years, I was reluctant to try panna cotta, it seemed daunting , using gelatin leaves and then removing from the mold before serving, but was I wrong , this dessert could not be easier to make.  If removing your panna cotta from the mold is preventing you from trying this lovely dessert then don’t bother. You can serve your dessert in some other little containers such as little jam jars as I did below, or a tea cup or pretty glass. If you are feeling ambitious serve some pepita brittle along side the dish. As always enjoy!
From by the bay wishing you sweet maple food memories!
Maryann
blog maple panna cotta
Maple Panna Cotta
Serves 6
Ingredients
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup ( optional extra for serving )
3 sheets gelatin leaves
vegetable oil
Directions
Prepare 6 – 4 ounce custard cups by lightly oiling them with canola oil. Place the gelatin sheets in a bowl and cover with water. Set aside. In a medium saucepan add the cream, sugar and maple syrup . Place on medium heat and cook until sugar is dissolved , stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat. Remove the gelatin sheets from the water, gently squeeze to remove excess water. Add to the sweetened cream. Stir until dissolved. Ladle into the custard cups. Cover and refrigerate until firm, several hours or overnight. To unmold, run a knife under hot water, wipe it dry and then run the knife around the panna cottas and invert onto plates. Serve immediately, with a little maple syrup on top.
Optional: if you don’t want to unmold the panna cotta serve in the custards cups as is or in
another glass or porcelain container. I like to use a small glass jelly jar.
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Irish Coffee Apple Caramel Crisp

I love traditions, but sometimes we need new ones. I wanted to make a dessert that delivered just a subtle hint of Irish Coffee to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. This Irish Coffee Apple Caramel Crisp does just that! Apple and caramel is a perfect marriage of flavors. There is just a touch of coffee in this rich caramel apple filling, topped with a crunchy crumb. The crisp is covered with a cloud of irish whiskey whipped cream.  It’s hard to make whipped cream taste better but using a touch of irish whiskey or bourbon does just the trick.  This is the perfect topping to any dessert. When you combine all the these flavors you have a winning dessert perfect for any
celebration. You can start a new tradition too!
From by the bay wishing you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Maryann
blog irish apple crisp
Irish Coffee Apple Caramel Crisp
Serves 6
Ingredients
Filling
3 apples such as Gala, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon coffee
1/4 teaspoon salt
Topping
3/4 cup all purpose flour
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degree F. In a bowl mix all toppings ingredients together, making moist clumps. Place in refrigerator to chill. To make filling, add butter and sugar into a saute pan on medium heat until smooth sauce forms. Add coffee to pan and cook, stirring until caramel starts to thicken and foam, about 5 minutes. Add salt and then apples. Toss the apples until coated evenly about 1 minute. Divide filling between 6- 4 ounce ramekins, placed on parchment lined baking sheet. Remove topping from refrigerator and divide the crumb topping over each ramekin. Place into the oven for about 1 hour. The crisp should be golden brown and the filling bubbling. Let stand to cool for at least 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Irish Whiskey Whipped Cream
Ingredients
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon Irish Whiskey
Directions
In a large bowl whip the heavy cream into soft peaks. Add the sugar and whiskey to the cream and continue to whip into hard peaks. Place into refrigerator and serve cold. ( Do not make too far in advance, I prefer no longer than an hour).

 

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Mini Peanut Butter Cups

I love movies and like people all over the world, I’ll be watching the Academy Awards to see who will be walking on to the stage to accept each award. It’s fun television and although I might be boring and watching those awards home in my pajamas, I definitely like to make the evening a little bit of an event. I like to serve some champagne while watching and indulge some bit size food, including the dessert. For this year, I’m planning on making these mini peanut butter cups. They are decadently delicious and yet easy to make. Now, let’s get down to business , which film is winning Best Picture??
From by the bay, wishing you starry food memories!
Maryann
blog peanut cup
Mini Peanut Butter Cups
Makes 12 mini cups
Ingredients
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
6 tablespoons ground graham crackers
2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 ounces milk chocolate
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoons light corn syrup
Coarse Sea Salt , such as Maldon
Baking Spray
Directions
Take a non stick mini muffin tin and spray with your baking spray or line each cup with a paper liner. In a bowl add the sugar, cinnamon and graham cracker crumbs, mix and set aside. Use a glass bowl to microwave peanut butter and butter in 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval until mixture is smooth. Usually, doing this twice will work. Add this mixture to your graham cracker mixture and stir to combine. Use a teaspoon to place mixture into the bottom of each muffin tin. Place filled muffin tin into the refrigerator to set. Now add the chocolate to the microwave and melt using 30 second intervals to stir the melting chocolate 2-3 times should do it. Once the chocolate is melted add the cream and corn syrup. Stir until smooth. Take the peanut butter filled muffin tin and fill with melted chocolate. Sprinkle coarse sea salt on the top. Place back into the refrigerator and let set for another 30 minutes before serving. You can remove the peanut butter cups from the tin and store in a plastic container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Variations: to the ground graham crackers , cinnamon and sugar mixture you can omit the cinnamon and add 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder to have a chocolate peanut butter bottom, or you can use bittersweet chocolate instead of milk chocolate and omit the light corn syrup to top your peanut butter cups.

food peanut cup 2

White Chocolate with Pink Peppercorns

blog white peppercorn choco
I love homemade Valentine’s, I’ve beem making them since I was a little girl. There is nothing like taking the time to make something yourself to show you care. I thought making a flavored chocolate this year would be fun. I did a little research and testing and came up with this white chocolate base mixed with touch of lemon zest for tang and some ground pink peppercorns to give a little of heat. The two ingredients offer the perfect harmonious taste when mixed with the white chocolate. What better way to say , ” I love you”!From by the bay, wishing you sweet food memories and a Happy Valentine’s Day!
Maryann
blog white choco 2
White Chocolate with Pink Peppercorns
Ingredients
16 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
2 teaspoons pink peppercorns, ground
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
Directions
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the chocolate in a glass bowl and place in microwave at high for 30 seconds. Remove bowl and stir chocolate with a spatula. Repeat again by placing into microwave for another 30 seconds, remove and stir. Repeat this process until chocolate is melted, which varies althought ususally in total it is 2 -3 times. Stir chocolate until it is completely smooth. Once chocolate is melted add the lemon zest and ground pink peppercorns. Stir well. Pour melted chocolate onto the parchment paper and spread into a rectangle shape. You can top with some additional pieces of pink peppercorn if you like. Place into the refrigerator to cool. Once cool, break the chocolate into large pieces.

 

Double Chocolate and Toffee Cookies

Sometimes, it’s my pantry that inspires an adaption of a recipe or a new combination of tastes. This cookie was inspired while exploring my pantry. I was looking at what candy and chocolate was still lingering from Christmas. Every Christmas we receive a gift of toffee  with almonds and there was still quite a bit still left over , as well as various chocolate bars received as gifts in food baskets or left from the holiday cookie baking. I decided to bake cookies using the leftover sweets. The cookie dough recipe is a favorite of mine from Ina Garten, which results in a cookie that is soft inside but crispy on the edges. I tossed the toffee into a resealable plastic bag and smashed it with a meat tenderizer, a rolling pin would have worked just as well. I created essentially toffee rubble. Along with the toffee, I chopped up the chocolate into pieces the size of large chocolate chips. I like using bittersweet chocolate but any chocolate would work and the proportions could shift and change based on what sweet left overs you have around as long as you have 1 1/2 cups in total to add to the cookie batter. You can get creative with what you want to add, it could be dried fruit and chocolate or chopped nuts and chocolate instead of the toffee. Make this cookie your own, based on what you like to eat! Happy Baking!

From by the bay wishing you , sweet baking food memories!
Maryann

blog double choco cookie

Double Chocolate and Toffee Cookies
Adapted from Ina Garten, “Barefoot Contessa Parties!” published in 2001
Makes 20 to 24 Cookies

Ingredients
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened ( 1 stick)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg
1/3 cup good unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup toffee, chopped

Directions
Preheat over to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl add the butter and sugars. Use an electric mixer and beat ingredients until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla  and the then egg and beat in well. Add cocoa and mix well. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture slowly and mix at a low speed. Next add in the chopped chocolate and toffee and combine. Drop dough in rounded teaspoons of dough onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from oven. The cookie will appear soft, let cool on the pan a few minutes and it will then take shape. Remove and cool on wire racks. Store in air tight containers.

Eggnog Pudding

Well the holidays are officially done and I would venture to guess that just like me , you are probably looking at various leftovers when you stare into your refrigerator. As I looked at the carton still half filled with eggnog, I considered several different uses and landed on making some pudding. This was a quick and delicious way to use what was left and give new life to the holiday eggnog!

From by the bay wishing you rich and creamy food memories!
Maryann
blog egg nog pudding
Eggnog Pudding
Serves 4
Ingredients
2 cups eggnog ( if you don’t have 2 cups of leftover eggnog , use milk to get 2 cups of liquid)
1/2 cup fine granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
optional: nutmeg to sprinkle on top of the pudding
Directions
In a small bowl mix 1/4 cup milk and cornstarch. Mix well until smooth and set aside. Place into a saucepan eggnog and sugar on medium heat and bring liquid to a simmer to dissolve the sugar. Add the cornstarch mixture and continue to whisk until the mixture starts to thicken, it will have the consistency of soft pudding and start to bubble at the edges. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and continue to whisk to keep the pudding smooth. Pour into 4 serving dishes. Cover the top of each pudding with plastic wrap to prevent from forming a skin on top, pressing wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding. Place into the refrigerator to chill for at least two hours before serving. Sprinkle with nutmeg when serving.

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Champagne Cookies

I was looking to make something special for New Year’s Eve and decided to adapt my German Wine Cookie recipe by using champagne in place of the wine. I cut the cookies into the shape of champagne corks and decorated them with a little edible glitz. I love the result and you will too! The recipe is super simple, so give it a try,
From by the bay wishing everyone a wonderful 2013 and a New Year filled with joyous food memories with your friends and family!
Maryann

blog champ cookie 1

Ingredients For Cookies
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup fine granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup dry champagne
2 1/2 to 2 3/4 cups  all-purpose flour

Ingredients For  Icing

1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
plus sprinkles or decorative sugar 

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, vanilla and champagne. Add 2 1/2 cups flour and mix well. Dough will be stiff. If not sprinkle a little more flour in and mix well. Roll out dough, on well-floured pastry sheet, to a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutter.  I prefer to use a champagne cork cookie cutter. Bake on a non-stick cookie sheet for 10 minute, until bottoms just start to brown. Once cookies have cooled, make icing by combining above ingredients. Frost cookies and  top with decorative sugar and or sprinkles, Let icing harden on cookies by sitting on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container. 

blog champ cookie 2

 

Pepita Brittle



One of my guilty pleasures is subscribing to the mouth watering daily menu of Thomas Keller’s amazing restaurant in Napa Valley- “Ad Hoc”. Not too long ago Pepita Brittle was on the menu and I knew I needed to make it. While searching the internet I found the Smitten Kitchen Blog for Pepita Brittle. It was inspired by the same Tom Colicchio recipe I adapted last fall for my Thanksgiving and Christmas peanut brittle. Below is my version of pepita brittle and it is fantastic.  This is one of the best brittle recipes and I have tried many.  The recipe always works and it doesn’t need a candy thermometer. I found that brittle is not only a great addition to your dessert table but it also makes for a wonderful holiday gift. But be forewarned this brittle is highly addictive.

From by the bay wishing you sweet holidays!
Maryann

blog pepita brittle

 

Pepita Brittle

Adapted from “Craft of Cooking” by Tom Colicchio and Smitten Kitchen Blog from 11/1/2008

Makes one 12 x 16 – inch pan


Canola -oil spray

2 cups sugar

1/4 pound unsalted butter

6 tablespoons corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 pound  or 1 1/2 cup shelled raw unroasted pepitas ( pumpkin seeds)

1 1/2 tablespoons Maldon sea salt 


Directions

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray parchment paper with Canola oil. Take a large non-stick pot and add sugar, butter, corn syrup and 1 1/3 cups water. Place on high heat melting sugar until the caramel turns amber color, stir occasionally as this is cooking. This might take awhile, it will thicken as it boils before it finally turns amber. At this point add the baking soda and salt, then remove from heat and add the pepitas. Stirring well, then quickly pour onto the baking sheet and spread out evening with a spatula. An alternate method for a smoother brittle is slide the parchment paper out of the baking pan and onto a smooth counter top. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and use a rolling in, to smooth the brittle and roll it out thin. Once the brittle is rolled out you can remove the top sheet of parchment paper and  let the brittle cool and then break into pieces. If you can resist eating this , store in an air tight container.

Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Brown Sugar Streusel

blog pumpkin coffee cake 1


If you read New York Magazine, you would have heard that pumpkin is the new bacon ( See link below). I’m not sure I would agree with that statement , however, I sure do love to cook with pumpkin this time of year. I can’t think of a better way to help celebrate Halloween than baking , especially with pumpkin! I was experimenting in the kitchen with some of my favorite ingredients to come up with this delicious and rich coffee cake. It has everything I like best in a good coffee cake, a wonderful streusel topping , with the added crunch of some walnuts. In my family we love the crumbs on top, so this recipe has plenty of crumbs and they are large and chunky when I toss them on top of the batter. The cake is moist from using both pumpkin puree and sour cream. To add to the richness is a nice layer of brown sugar filling. When baking the house is just filled with the delicious aroma of cinnamon and brown sugar. You’ll want to eat this the second it comes out of the oven, but it really needs to cool so that you can enjoy all the layers of flavor. Try to resist or you’ll just to have to eat some twice, warm and then cool as well. The trouble is this cake will just disappear……….probably the ghosts and ghouls have gotten to the cake !

http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/pumpkin-2012-10/

From by the bay wishing you pumpkin, cinnamon and brown sugar food memories!
Maryann

blog pumpkin coffee cake

Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Brown Sugar Streusel
Serves 6-8
Ingredients

Streusel Topping

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup
 granulated sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Filling
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

 

Cake

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs
1/2 cup pumpkin puree ( canned)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour an 8” square baking pan. ( I find an 8″ square glass baking dish works best).  Make the topping for cake by combining all dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir in melted butter and make large  chunky crumbs, between 1/4″ to 1/2″ inch depending on preference.  Place crumbs onto a parchment lined baking sheet and put into the refrigerator to cool for about 15 minutes.  To make filling combine the dark brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.To make cake batter sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. Use an electric mixer to cream butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well. Mix in the flour alternately with the sour cream and pumpkin puree and mix well. Once combined pour half the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread out with a spatula. Sprinkle the filling evenly atop the batter. Spread the remaining batter on top of the filling. Use a table knife to gently swirl the filling into the batter. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the batter. Place in the oven to bake until golden brown  and a cake tester comes out clean, when inserted into the center of the cake. This is approximately 50 to 55 minutes. Remove the cake from oven and let cool on cake stand about 20 minutes before removing from pan to serve.

New York City Wine and Food Festival with Train



The New York City Wine and Food Festival just wrapped up. I attended the Trucks and Train event on Sunday night. It was sponsored by the New York Times and Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co. and hosted by Andrew Zimmern. There were 24 terrific food trucks. Some of the highlights from the food trucks were succulent hand rolled and pan- seared Tibetan dumplings in broth from Chinese Mirch,  warm charcoal grilled pork wrapped in pita with tzatziki from Souvlaki GR, who won the honors as best truck ,a delicious take on a cuban sandwich from the Bongo Brothers which was made with slow roasted pork, smoked honey ham, swiss cheese and homemade pickles on medianoche bread and for dessert the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck went with an awesomesauce sundae and awesome it was with a vanilla soft serve ice cream, spicy chocolate sauce, crunchy candied pepitas topped with fresh whipped cream. There was also plenty of  fine wine provided by the San Francisco Wine Co. – Calling All Angels Chardonnay, California 37 Cabernet and Drops of Jupiter Red.  As if all this good food and wine was not enough there was a special performance by the grammy- award winning group Train. They gave a powerhouse performance which rocked Pier 36 where the event took place. It was a fantastic event and a beautiful evening in one of the best cities in the world.

http://www.savemesanfranciscowineco.com/  



Participating Trucks



The Big Gay Ice Cream – awesomesauce sundae, inspired me to make a spicy chocolate sauce and candied pepitas to make my own sundae. Here are my recipes for those two ingredients!

Spicy Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions
Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and place over low heat. Stir together until chocolate and butter have melted and the ingredients come together. Let cool before serving on top of ice cream.

Candied Pepitas

Ingredients
1 cup pepitas, crumbled
5 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg white beaten
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place all ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Spread them on a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until the pepitas are golden brown, approximately 10 minutes. Let cool before using.

http://voices.yahoo.com/worth-holding-food-musings-singer-songwriter-11812335.html?cat=22