Expect the Unexpected

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Archive for the tag “baking”

Say ‘I love you’ with the best Chocolate Cake

Black Magic Cake with Buttermilk Ganache

Black Magic Cake with Buttermilk Ganache

Valentine’s Day is this Sunday and you’re not sure what to get that special someone. (Or maybe you just want to treat yourself?)

Don’t go out and spend a gazillion dollars on some overpriced roses or flights of fancy. Make this chocolate cake. It’s super moist and screams, “Eat me with a glass of milk!”

This is the chocolate cake you can slather with ganache, or chocolate buttercream frosting, or white frosting, or nothing at all. You can make it as 2 layers, a 13 x 9 x 2 big cake, or as cupcakes.

This is the chocolate cake every baker needs in her or his repertoire. This is Hershey’s Black Magic Cake.

It’s so popular that other chefs, notably Ina Garten, have published this recipe under other names without crediting it to Hershey’s. Nonetheless, it came from The Hershey Company, so let’s give credit where credit is due. It’s a great classic chocolate cake!

Make this cake for Valentine’s Day and you will be St. Valentine.
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No Knead Brioche, Ooh La La

If I can make Brioche, you can too!

If I can make Brioche, you can too!

After failing miserably at making Jim Lahey’s No Knead Bread (The bottom was burned and the bread came out partially raw), I was reluctant to tackle No Knead-anything ever again.

But just saying I’ll never do something ever again, means I probably will do it again. So when I came across a good sounding recipe and accompanying video for No Knead Brioche, that light, slightly sweet, French favorite, I thought I would give it a whirl.

This recipe is wonderful. It makes one loaf of delicious Brioche, which is great on its own, or warmed/toasted with a bit of butter and jam. It also makes silken French Toast, and I think would be fabulous for bread pudding.

Traditional Brioche requires kneading and can be tricky. No Knead Brioche isn’t tricky at all. But it does require one important thing  — time. The dough needs to rest at least 24 hours in the fridge. (You can go several days and it’s fine). Plus, before you bake it, it will need a few hours at room temp to proof. (It does NOT double in height during the room temp rise, so don’t panic like I did thinking I blew it again.)

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Recipe Reveal: Lemon Roulade

Lemon Roulade

Lemon Roulade is a citrusy and showy springtime dessert.

Springtime is officially here now that the Peepers are singing, so when it comes to baking for a special occasion, my thoughts drift towards things that are light in appearance but still pack a nice punch of flavor.
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The American Baking Competition cooks up a storm

Francine's Peanut Butter Bacon Pie was a surprise hit with judge Paul Hollywood on The American Baking Competition.

Francine’s Peanut Butter Bacon Pie was a surprise hit with judge Paul Hollywood on The American Baking Competition.

american-baking-competitionThere’s a delicious show on CBS these days called The American Baking Competition, a reality show aimed at finding the best amateur baker in the United States.

Move over MasterChef, I think this is the best new cooking show to hit the airwaves.

Pies, cookies, cakes, bread, and über-skillful desserts like croissants, macarons and soufflés are all part of the delicacies the contestants have to make in their baking challenges.

As a home baker myself, I’m hooked on this show. And I almost missed it. After the first episode aired in late May, my sister Carol called. “Did you see the new baking show? It’s so good, you should be on it!” she said.

I hadn’t even heard of it. Read more…

Recipe Reveal: Lemon Budino with Strawberry Sauce


Lemon Budino is a “supporting cast” family favorite.

When it comes to dessert, does your family all have the same palate? Do they all like and dislike the same things?

If so, you’re lucky. Mine don’t.

My husband loves chocolate, hates all nuts especially peanut butter, and detests coconut. His sister can’t stand fruits, especially strawberries. My father-in-law doesn’t like chocolate, neither does Kevin. Hank is allergic to eggs. Katie doesn’t like sweet things like frosting. Only my mother-in-law enjoys everything. I love HER. Read more…

Cooking 101: Learning from mistakes

Katie and her Banana "Bread."

Katie and her Banana “Bread.”

Flat banana bread, soupy coffee cake, and molten barbecue beef stuck to the bottom of a pressure cooker.

My daughter Katie is learning how to cook.

It wasn’t until recently, at the age of 25, she decided to take the culinary plunge.

Growing up, she was never interested in cooking. She was barely interested in eating. She liked spaghetti, hot dogs, tacos, and pizza and that was about it. She turned up her nose at most meats, fruits and vegetables. When she found out chicken nuggets were made with real chicken, she cried and stopped eating them. Read more…

Recipe Reveal: Chocolate Almond Lace Cookies


Chocolate Almond Lace Cookies

Have you ever bought cookies that looked fabulous but were disappointing because they tasted terrible? Time to just say no to pitiful overpriced pastries!

Bakeries and grocery stores sell what they call “Chocolate Almond Lace Cookies” (aka Florentines) in my neck of the woods in Connecticut. They look great! Two crispy lace cookies filled with chocolate, what’s not to love?

Unfortunately, the cookies are usually soft and flavorless and come pre-packaged in bulk from some anonymous source. Oh the pain, Will Robinson, the pain, something that looks so good but is soooo bad.

But good news, you can make these cookies yourself! Crunchy almond disks with real chocolate in the middle. Great for a special occasion or just for fun! Read more…

Quoting mom on Mother’s Day

My mom, November 16, 1957.

My mom, November 16, 1957.

“Sooner or later we all quote our mothers.”

So true, Bern Williams.

I’m fortunate to have two mothers in my life.

My mom, Pat, raised seven kids with little help from her spouse. It was more like raising eight kids. But she worked hard, and was the glue that kept the family together through tough times. On holidays, especially Christmas, she worked midnight shifts as a police dispatcher in order to make enough money to buy us presents. Mom and I have had issues, but all’s resolved. It’s true what they say about time healing wounds. I have grown to admire this woman for her selfless sacrifices. Read more…

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