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Need a signature dessert! Can I steal yours?

In my husband's family, at every potluck gathering, the women bring their signature dessert. And now that we have been married for more than 10 years, my husband thinks it is time I came up with my own. I am already known as the best chopped liver, chicken soup. and noodle kugel maker in the family but desserts? Not so much. It's not that I can't bake-I once came in second in a national magazine's cooking contest for "Giant Pesto Pizza Muffins"-its just that I don't have a signature dish....yet.

This is where I need help. I need a recipe that is easy to make but yet impressive to taste and to look, versatile for a variety of occasions, and is not:

-a coffee cake
-an apple cake
-chocolate peanut chews

(these are the recipes that are already someone else's signature)


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  1. What about a trifle idea that you could change, depending on seasonal fruit that is available? That could also include a tiramisu, at least, to me. My signature dessert years ago was cheesecake--there is so much cheesecake out there but not the creamy dense ones that take the right technique. It's another dessert you can change with the season.

    1 Reply
    1. re: chowser

      I have used the pepperidge farms frozen puff pastry' cut into about a 4" square. place a Tbs. of chocolate chips in center, arrange square into "purse"; bake according to instructions' and sprink;ed w/ cpmfectioners' sugar; enjoy!

    2. Not traditional tiramisu, but ridiculously good! I got this recipe years ago from my father, who got it from the Ghiradelli website (I can't find it there anymore, but did find it here http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/egg...)

      2 Replies
        1. re: toveggiegirl

          It is crazy good! (I have to admit that I use the hard lady fingers and don't split them, and end up upping the liquid to make them softer).

      1. I was doing okay until i saw that you couldn't use a mandlebrot or a coffee cake recipe ( my sour cream coffee cake used to put my former father in law in transports of ecstasy) but
        I do get frequent requests for the old standard rum cake made with yellow cake mix. Or, since no one has claimed the pie area -- find a good apple pie or a chocolate pie and serve it with whipped cream.

        1. I don't have a signature dish either, but I make strawberry shortcake, German Chocolate Cake, Fresh Coconut Cake with Pineapple Filling, and pecan pie (all from scratch) when I need a large dessert. Creme brulee or tiramisu for smaller gatherings.

          25 Replies
          1. re: bayoucook

            There's a great recipe called Blueberry Boy Bait on smittenkitchen.com - I've made it with fresh and frozen blueberries and it's always a hit. I was originally intrigued by the name...


            1. re: janeh

              I bookmarked that one - can't wait to make it! Thanks.

              1. re: bayoucook

                It is very good - it's also in CI's Lost Recipes book, a v good one.

              2. re: janeh

                OMG this looks fantastic! Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to make this one.

                1. re: janeh

                  Geez, I've never had any luck removing a 9x13 cake from the pan. Looks so nice when it's out. I must try harder next time. Is their a trick to this besides the usual flour and grease?

                  1. re: millygirl

                    Butting in: You could use baker's parchment. Half a half-sheet pan size works in a 13x9. Cut the corners diagonally inward about 2 inches and it will fit into the corners of your pan (I spray the pan with Pam first and also spray the parchment).

                    1. re: millygirl

                      An easy way is just to insert a piece of aluminum foil to fit -- you don't need to spray or lube up anything. Make it a bit longer so you can lift it out easily -- the foil just peels right off.

                      1. re: walker

                        Yes this works too. Usually form it over the outside and wet the inside of the pan slightly to make it stick a bit better (I guess I'm a lubeaholic).

                        1. re: buttertart

                          Re aluminum foil - unless it's the treated non-stick kind, I would still spray it with Pam (or grease and flour it).

                          1. re: buttertart

                            Believe me, it always peels right off with no problem w/out Pam or crisco.

                            1. re: walker

                              I certainly believe it works for you, but have had problems with bare foil sticking in the past.

                      2. re: millygirl

                        I've usually made it in a 10" round pan and it comes out pretty easily. I've had a hard time removing cakes intact from 9x 13 pans, and that's why I tried it in the round pan.Made it at a friends' house in a 9x13 pyrex pan and just served it from the pan.

                        1. re: janeh

                          Is 10 inch round equivalent to 9x13? Can't be, can it? LOL my math sucks, or maybe that's algebra? Whatever.

                          1. re: millygirl

                            No, a 9x13 is closer to 2 8" pans. But, if it's a low cake, then you might be able to use a 10" pan and bake longer, watching carefully. With a rectangular pan, I use a sling as mentioned above. With a round pan, especially a larger one, I use silpat circles but you can cut a 10" round parchment paper and use that below. Butter both the pan and the parchment.

                            1. re: millygirl

                              12 inch round is equivalent to 9x13.

                          2. re: millygirl

                            i use something called bakers spray..i learned it from paula deen Its basically flour and oil in a spray can..GENIUS!!!

                            1. re: drewb123

                              Isn't it the same this as Pam for baking?

                                1. re: toveggiegirl

                                  Baker's Joy is what I sell and use. It does a great job.

                          3. re: janeh

                            Re: Blueberry boy bait

                            This is my Mother and was my (now deceased) Nanas signature summer dessert.
                            Everyone LOVES it!
                            I also made this for my in-laws the first time I met them 11 years ago.
                            It is yummy!

                            1. re: janeh

                              btw I just read the smittenkitchen recipe and this is not how my Nana made it. She seperated the egg whites and yolks. She creamed the yolks with the butter and then beat the whites until stiff peaks and slowly incorporated like you would a souffle. This made for an incredibly airy cake. I noticed the one pictured was quite dense.

                              1. re: foodsnob14

                                sounds like a genoise--the cake used for a jelly roll. Light and a bit (but not too) eggy. Spongey, too--absorbs flavorings very well.

                              2. re: janeh

                                made it twice this summer. Good an easy peezy to make

                              3. re: bayoucook

                                THe coconut cake sounds great! Which recipe do you use?

                                1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                  I've make this one about a dozen times; sometimes I substitute a lemon curd filling.
                                  It is always delicious and we get fresh frozen coconut here.


                                1. re: HillJ

                                  That's a wild looking cake! Thanks for the intro to foododelmundo - looks like lots of interesting stuff.

                                2. We make a really, really easy individually sized molten chocolate cake dessert that can be made ahead, stored in the fridge and baked immediately before serving in muffin tins (takes only about eight to 10 minutes to cook). Recipe is copyrighted so I won't list details here but source is: "Perfect Recipes for Having People Over" by Pam Anderson, page 264. (Amazon link below). Recipe may be online somewhere--don't know. Specific recipe called: Molten Chocolate Cakes with Sugar-Coated Raspberries.

                                  Recipe calls for serving cakes with sugar coated berries, which we've liked. Sometimes we serve them with ice cream, sorbet, gelato, or freshly whipped cream. It's a restaurant-like, oozing center, molten chocolate cake sure to please, and ohhhh so easy. It has become a staple here for parties because you can make many at a time (you're only limited by the size of your oven and the number of muffin pans you have) and you can serve everyone an individualized, hot dessert right at the table by the time the dinner dishes are cleared.

                                  Only two caveats: 1) they don't look done when you take them out of the oven--but they will turn out perfect. 2) It's hard to eat just one.....


                                  1. If you're willing to go the flourless chocolate cake route, Dorie Greenspan's "15 minute magic" one is excellent - uses amaretti cookies as part of the ingredients and is completely mixed in the food processor. Recipe is available on line. Everyone I've served it to loves it.

                                    3 Replies
                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        Oh, THANK YOU two for posting this! I've just started a gluten-free diet and have been feeling like I'll never be able to eat a good cake (not just involving ground almonds) again. And chocolate! Bonus points. Can't wait to try this.

                                        1. re: ChristinaMason

                                          It is great - don't want to rain on your parade - but not sure if amaretti are completely gluten-free?

                                    1. What about rugelach? It's infinitely adaptable and can be made with cinnamon sugar, apricot jam, or even chocolate and certainly goes well with your reputation as the queen of Jewish comfort food.

                                      1. I don't know if mine is actually worth stealing but most people seem to like it. It is a hot water chocolate cake originally printed on the Hersey's cocoa box. I like that it is not a super heavy cake and you can dress up with icing or just dust some powdered sugar the top (my preference).

                                        Oh, and it is easy and fast to make.

                                        20 Replies
                                        1. re: tcamp

                                          Sounds perfect. I think that I can definitely take that kind of recipe and Dr. it enough to make it my own. Care to share?

                                          1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                            I like that cake recipe too; it's 1-2-3 easy to make, people do really like it, you don't need to use Hershey's cocoa necessarily and you can dress it up, chocolate chips, nuts, other flavorings like orange zest. I use 1/2 cup brewed strong coffee for a sub of half the boiling water, similar to the Hershey's Black Magic Cake, recipe downthread. The frosting recipe with the cake is quite good also.
                                            Look on the back of the Hershey's cocoa box or go to: http://www.hersheys.com/recipes/recip...

                                            1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                              I guess my recipe has morphed a bit over the years from the Hersey's one that Bushwickgirl linked to below. Anyway, here it is:

                                              Cocoa Cake

                                              3/4 c. butter or margerine
                                              1 3/4 c. sugar
                                              2 eggs
                                              1 t. vanilla
                                              2 c. unsifted flour
                                              3/4 c. cocoa
                                              1 1/4 t. baking soda
                                              1/2 t. salt
                                              1 1/3 c. warm water (can sub some coffee if desired)

                                              Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, beat approx. 1 minute. Combine dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients alternatively with water to creamed mixture. Pour into greased pan(s) (can use 2 8" layers; I use an angel food pan). Bake at 350 for 35 to 45 minutes, depending on pan size.

                                              1. re: tcamp

                                                Looks like, with the advent of using oil as a fat, rather than butter, this recipe used butter for the newer version of subbing oil and milk. Times change...

                                                1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                  Yes, mine is old - probably 15 or more years.

                                                  Hey, I might have to do a side by side comparison....

                                                  1. re: tcamp

                                                    Yes, I was thinking the same, as I prefer cakes made with butter rather than oil.

                                            2. re: tcamp

                                              So I made this one tonight. I tweaked it just a touch by adding white chocolate chips. It was amazing! I baked it in a bundt pan with I think suits it great. It was so rich and chocolaty, I did not think it would need icing...and I was right.

                                              PS. The yummiest cake batter ever!

                                              1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                                That sounds like a nice variation that I will definitely try some time. I agree about not needing icing. Makes it that much better when you eat the slightly stale leftovers in a bowl of milk.

                                                1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                                  After I read your posts I knew I needed to give this one a try. It's in the oven as we speak.

                                                  I decided to make in bundt as you suggest TFF. Do you recall how long you baked it for? Just curious....I've been having trouble with the few cakes I've recently tried. Cooked in the ends but a little mushy on top.

                                                  1. re: millygirl

                                                    I cooked it for about 45 BUT I have a hot oven. And even though I used Pam for baking & it was perfectly moist & I let it cool, a tiny section still stuck to the top (or bottom) of the bunt pan and it didn't come out perfect.

                                                    1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                                      I often have that problem with mine - find you have to grease it well with Crisco or other solid fat, getting into all the nooks and crannies, and flour it for easiest full release. Pam with flour sprayed on very heavily can work too but sometimes doesn't.

                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                        Yup, same thing happened to me, but it sure is good. Thanks for posting tcamp.

                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                          In a twisted way I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one with that problem. My solution, which works most of the time, is to use room temperature butter, which I use to grease the pan with my hands. Then I flour it.

                                                          1. re: souschef

                                                            Thanks for the tips souschef. I did use room temp butter but did not use my hands, nor flour. I will try that next time because the cake is worth repeating.

                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                              I'm a hand greaser too. Any paper just gets in the way.

                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                If you're squeamish about buttering a pan with your hands, I had a friend who would put her hand inside a plastic sandwich-size baggie for a makeshift plastic glove.

                                                          2. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                                            Nick Malgieri has a great tip for bundt pans in his Modern baker book. Grease with shortening or butter and then sprinkle bread crumbs and respray with pam . I made a date walnut bundt cake and it released perfectly.

                                                          3. re: millygirl

                                                            For chocolate bundt cake in one of those fancy pans with lots of nooks and crannies my friend had me combine cocoa and butter and use a pastry brush to basically paint the pan. Works beautifully but time-consuming

                                                            1. re: julesrules

                                                              Hey great idea, using cocoa instead of flour. Thanks julesrules.

                                                              1. re: millygirl

                                                                Bonus about using cocoa for flour is you don't get white residue on the chocolate cake. Especially nice when you aren't frosting/glazing the whole thing.

                                                      2. Tiramisu was my signature dessert years ago, but it seemed like cheating when there was so little involved in making a good tiramisu (same reason I wouldn't call croquembouche my new signature). When called upon for something special, I usually make spicy chocolate mousse, dobostorte or Epicurious' Persian Love Cake. I have fallen head over heels with others' signature carrot cakes, carrot halvah and cheesecake.

                                                        1. This has just sort of become my "signature" thing, though it's nothing big, but it is always so enjoyed that I feel compelled to bring it no matter what else I bring.

                                                          It's simple but really good whipped cream.

                                                          I go all out with it though. Heavy cream and gelatin for stability of course, but then I scrape a vanilla bean into the cream and heat the cream with the bean then re-cool, use strong vanilla sugar (I make it a bit on the sweet side), and add vanilla extract. When whipping, I play "chicken" with the cream to get it as stiff as it will possibly go. It's also good with cocoa mixed in if you make it sweet....

                                                          1. Three delicious and unique recipes. :-)

                                                            Gramercy Tavern's Gingerbread Cake

                                                            Margaret Atwood's Baked Lemon Custard Cake

                                                            Dorie Greenspan's Cranberry Upside-Downer Cake

                                                            1. Hmmmm....signature...to my friends I imagine it's "Tsali Cake", which is just Martha Stewarts Devils food cake w/ Mrs. Millman's frosting (then eaten on a picnic table with friends which makes it taste even better)

                                                              To my family, I think I have been designated offical Coconut Cake maker. I use a 1234 cake, coconut pastry cream filling, and 7 minute frosting.

                                                              My Mom's signature dessert is very unusual. It's called Angel Pecan Pie. You make an eggwhite meringue, fold in graham cracker crumbs and chopped pecans, and mold it into a deep, thick "crust" in the bottom of a deep dish pie plate. Bake it, and it will be chewy. Then simply fill the middle part with lightly sweetened almond flavored whipped cream and garnish with more finely chopped pecans. The crust part puffs up, so it's not as much cream as you might suspect, although it's not exactly diet food. The bulk of the pie, is free of animal fat...but of course you would not mention that to guests ;-)

                                                              If any of those things sound like a specialty you'd like to swipe, I'll be happy to provide recipes.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: danna

                                                                They all sound great. That pecan almond angel pie sounds fantastic, I'm sure everybody would love the recipe.

                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                  Enjoy! :

                                                                  Angel Pecan Pie

                                                                  3 egg whites
                                                                  1 cup sugar
                                                                  1 tsp vanilla
                                                                  1 ½ cups chopped pecans
                                                                  1 cup graham cracker crumbs
                                                                  1 cup cream
                                                                  ½ tsp almond extract
                                                                  1 Tbsp. sugar

                                                                  Whip egg whites until it makes very soft peaks, add sugar slowly until meringue is glossy and holds stiff peaks. Fold in vanilla, cracker crumbs, and 1 cup pecans. Fill 8 inch pie pan, pushing up the sides of the pan with a spoon to form a crust. Bake 350 for 30 minutes. When crust is cool, fill w/ whipped, sweetened and flavored cream, sprinkle w/ remaining ½ cup pecans.

                                                                  Note: This is my Mom’s recipe. Since my pie plates are all 9 “ and since I prefer to use less cream, I make 1 ½ recipes, place in a 9 “ pan, and use about ½ the cream.
                                                                  I also buy low-fat g. crackers.

                                                                  You know, i never really thought about it before, but in a way, it's kind of a southern-ized pavlova.

                                                                2. re: danna

                                                                  This one sounds amazing! I think I might try it tonight as it is very dry in Toronto right now & I like to make meringues when it is not too humid.

                                                                  1. re: danna

                                                                    My Mom makes a meringue crust like that, then fills it with a lemon curd, and then freezes it. I'm telling you, it's the best thing to eat in a Missisippi summer.. Absolutely delicious

                                                                    1. I make a simple German chocolate cake every year according to a few different recipes I cobbled together from some blogs.
                                                                      Start by making this chocolate cake (not the apple variation) in a round 9inch pie pan:
                                                                      Make sure you put wax paper at the bottom of the pan so that you can take the cake out easier. Once it's done and cooled down, take it out of the pan and split in two. Spread dulce de leche on both the top of the bottom layer and the bottom of the top layer, then sprinkle the bottom layer with pecans and toasted unsweetened shredded coconut. Top with the top layer.
                                                                      Then make the ganache from this recipe (you can omit the corn syrup):
                                                                      Let it cool down in the fridge until it's spreadable but no longer runny, then frost the sides and bottom of the cake with it. Sprinkle the top with pecans and/or toasted coconut and enjoy! :)

                                                                      1. How about Chocolate Babka? I have a fantastic recipe, that actually isn't even all that bad for you... I can't remember where on earth this recipe came from, but here it is...

                                                                        Chocolate Babka
                                                                        1/3 cup milk
                                                                        ¼ cup water
                                                                        1 ½ TB butter
                                                                        2 eggs (one separated, reserving one egg white for bread wash)
                                                                        3 TB sugar
                                                                        ¼ tsp salt
                                                                        ¼ tsp vanilla extract
                                                                        2 ¼ cups flour 1 Pkt of Yeast (2 ¼ tsp)
                                                                        Put the above ingredients (minus the one egg white) in the breadmaker and start the dough cycle. [Alternatively, just mix this by hand – mix wet ingredients together first, then add in dry ingredients, and knead until dough is smooth and springy]
                                                                        Streusel Topping:
                                                                        1 TB softened butter
                                                                        ¼ tsp cinnamon
                                                                        3 TB powdered sugar
                                                                        3 TB flour
                                                                        Mix together with a fork until evenly combined. Set aside.
                                                                        3 TB cup unsweetened cocoa powder
                                                                        1/3 cup sugar
                                                                        1 ½ TB butter melted
                                                                        Combine cocoa (or cinnamon) and sugar and set aside.
                                                                        When dough cycle is complete, remove dough from bread maker and knead gently on a floured surface. Roll into a 10x20 inch rectangle. Brush the surface with the 1 ½ TB of butter for filling, leaving a ½ inch margin on all edes. Sprinkle the filling evenly over the melted butter.
                                                                        Starting with a 20 inch side, roll the rectangle tightly, jelly-roll fashion. Pinch edge to seal.
                                                                        Zigzag the roll back and forth into a well-greased 4 ½ x 8 ½ loaf pan. Let rise until almost doubled in size (~40 minutes). Preheat oven to 350. Beat reserved egg white with 1 tsp water. Brush egg white mixture over the loaf and sprinkle the streusel topping overtop. Bake until loaf is well browned, about 30 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and cool on a wire rack.

                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                        1. re: fearlessemily

                                                                          THis is EXACTLY what I was looking for. Every good jewish family needs a good babka maker!
                                                                          I do have a feeling, though, that I will have to make this one a few times before it becomes my signature. Any tips?

                                                                          1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                                                            Hi Toronto --

                                                                            Its actually a pretty fool-proof recipe. I like it a lot because its not too heavy, so I can eat a huge hunk of it without feeling sick! :-) I looked at the Martha Stewart recipe for chocolate babka as a comparison, and although it makes three loaves, it uses 5 sticks of butter and two pounds of chocolate! This loaf pretty much never makes it for longer than 24 hours in our house.

                                                                            My only note in reading the recipe over again is that if you make this by hand or in a stand mixer as I do (not in the bread machine), note that you need to let the dough rise once before you punch it down and roll it out into the big rectangle... This isn't specified in the text because the text says "when the dough cycle is complete" -- the dough cycle on a bread machine includes that first rise in it.

                                                                            Otherwise its pretty straightforward. When the recipe says "zigzag in the pan", the idea is that your roll will be about twice the length of your loaf pan (20 inches long, versus a 9 inch loaf pan), and you snake it back and forth in the loaf pan to take up that length, which will give it that characteristic babka look (rather than looking like a cinnamon loaf, where the swirl just runs straight the whole length of the pan).

                                                                            I think if you wanted it richer you could probably chop up some good chocolate and sprinkle it on top of the cocoa/butter/sugar mix before rolling it up...

                                                                            Hope you like it!

                                                                            1. re: fearlessemily

                                                                              Good to know that you can use the stand mixer for this. About how long does it take to mix? I've not made a lot of breads, etc and am always intimidated by the idea. Not sure what I need to look for to know when it's ready and fear over/under mixing. Thanks fearlessemily, it sounds wonderful.

                                                                              1. re: millygirl

                                                                                If you want to consider a completely over the top, in no way good for you but quite incredible chocolate babka recipe, consider the smittenkitchen recipe. I've made it several times and, in addition to be just amazing, it makes my AZ kitchen smell like a good New York bakery. I must admit, I was driven to search for a chocolate babka recipe by a Seinfeld rerun.....


                                                                                1. re: janeh

                                                                                  OMG that does look amazing! You know I've always wanted to attempt a babka. I've added this to my favs list to be given a try very soon. Thanks janeh. p.s. the apple yogurt cake on same blog looks amazing too!

                                                                                  1. re: millygirl

                                                                                    The directions sound a bit daunting, but it really is not a big deal to put together - go for it! I've made Mom's Apple Cake from that site and quite a few other recipes, always well tested and tweaked by Deb - it's my favorite food blog.


                                                                                  2. re: janeh

                                                                                    Hey there, well I made the apple yogurt cake last night and I hate to report, I tossed it. Like a few others, mine was a gluey mass. Almost like pudding. It looked fine but I did not care for the texture.
                                                                                    Yah win some, and you lose some. This was a total loss for me.

                                                                          2. You need a pie of some sort. What about lemon tarte in a large-ish 10" tart pan? It would be easy to transport and always in season. Most good recipes call for a cookie dough crust so you could do a double batch and freeze the second disk for next time.

                                                                            Banana cream would make you a star but would be a hassle to transport.

                                                                            Or lemon squares. But the tart you could decorate with a scattering of blueberries around the edges (or whatever) in summer, whipped cream and/or curls of zest in the winter.

                                                                            1. What about a chocolate mousse? I have a FABULOUS recipe that tastes exactly like haagendaaz chocolate ice cream that a swiss girl (who used to work as the pastry chef at Le Chat Bottee in Geneva, switzerland. And it's actually really easy (so long as you have plenty of bowls around)

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: lyntc10

                                                                                I would love to see that recipe! :)

                                                                                  1. re: lyntc10

                                                                                    Chocolate mousse is the one thing I cannot resist. May I have your recipe please!

                                                                                  2. i love Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread (as opposed to the cake recommended above): http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                                    personally i go a little heavier on the beer/molasses combo, ever so slightly lighter on flour, and a little heavier on Brown Sugar over white. i also make it in six individual loaf cakes that bake for 25 minutes... be careful to not overbake at all.

                                                                                    1. My signature, to the extent I have one, is cookies (which includes bars). What about World Peace cookies?

                                                                                      I have a few favorites, but I would be hard-pressed to choose something to make every single time--that's a lot of pressure on a single dessert!

                                                                                      I wonder if you could do a category, like say thumbprint cookies, that you could vary a number of different ways. Something like creme brulee would work for that too. Or shortbread.

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: foiegras

                                                                                        Plain old chocolate cake. It's my signature dessert. Either the Hersheys Black Magic Cake or Epicurious Double Chocolate.

                                                                                        Hersheys Black Magic


                                                                                        Double Chocolate Layer Cake (Note the number of reviews for this cake



                                                                                        1. My no-fail signature dessert is (as I'm sure others are now sick of hearing) plum (or other stone fruit) upside-down cake. It's beautiful and not too cloyingly sweet. It's very good with a sour cream or creme fraiche sauce or dollop of unsweetened whipped cream on the side. I like that it can be adapted to the seasons. Just do a google search for "foolproof plum cake" to find the recipe.

                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                            Yum, fruit desserts are my favorite, particularly in the summer when the farmers market is humming. I will look this one up.

                                                                                            1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                              Christina: I love that cake. I have a recipe that calls for some almond meal/paste which enhances the plums.

                                                                                              1. re: oakjoan

                                                                                                That sounds great. I should note, my recipe is a lightened-up version of Ina Garten's Plum Cake Tatin. I want to try it with a mix of sour cherries and peaches once they are in season.

                                                                                            2. The only dessert I can think of that I make, but have never been served, is fritters--hot fruit (banana) fritters with cooked cinnamon sauce poured over. Unfortunately they must be made fresh, can't really be brought to a potluck. Impossible to reheat. But they do please and excite when fresh and hot and crisp!

                                                                                              1. Teardrop mousse.... get a strip of acetate - the sort you can photocopy onto - about an inch wide. Spread one side with melted chocoate (or dip one side in choc). Clip the ends together to make a teardop using a paperclip (with the choc on the inside surface). Leave to set.
                                                                                                Pour in your fave mousse mixture and chill to set.
                                                                                                (Transport in a rigid box.)
                                                                                                Place each teardop on a plate. Unclip the paperclip, carefully peel off the acetate. Decorate however you like.
                                                                                                Looks sensational, takes very little time to make.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Peg

                                                                                                  Peg I hope you don't mind, I found (through Google Images) a pic of what you described--just one variation, of course. I was curious myself so thought others might like to see it.


                                                                                                  1. re: Peg

                                                                                                    You can also make tulip cups using partially blown up balloons....you rock the balloon in almost a "plus" sign and then on the diagonal in a multiplication sign (can you tell I'm a math teacher?)....then set them to cool on wax paper on top of either a plate or cookie sheet and chill in the fridge....simply pop the balloon and peel out gently when the chocolate hardens....and they'll have a flat base from the pooled chocolate!

                                                                                                  2. I was thinking since you want simple but elegant, my go-to dessert used to be chocolate mousse cake. I'd change the flavors of the cake and the nut base but it always turned out well.


                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                      Oh yum! I'm going to have to make this ... do I need to have a reason?? lol

                                                                                                    2. I don't have a signature dessert--more like I'm the one who makes dessert, yk? But some I've made a lot are amaretto cheesecake (w/an almond crust), berry cheesecake (depending on what's around), chocolate cake w/choc. buttercream, and carrot cake. Fairly simple but good.

                                                                                                      1. So now my husband is getting pickier about this signature dessert thing; he thinks I should aim for a square or cookie like dessert. He does not like the size limitation of a cake. I am thinking butter tarts...anything else?

                                                                                                        25 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                                                                                          Perfect Lemon Bars or Raspberry Bars?

                                                                                                          The Best Raspberry Bars from Cook's illustrated (the recipe that combines raspberry preserves and fresh raspberries) comes to mind. Their recipe for Lemon Bars is also excellent.

                                                                                                          1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                                                                                            are brownies out? too mundane?

                                                                                                            Seven Layer Bars or Nanaimo Bars are often scene-stealers despite their simplicity

                                                                                                            These Graham cracker Bars are also simple and lovely http://www.bhg.com/recipe/bars/graham... (they are decadent-able too if you feel like drizzle chocolate on top


                                                                                                            I prefer these cherry bars with white chocolate and a drizzle of hazelnut oil, but that's me..

                                                                                                            And if you like the raspberry or lemon... here's a combo: http://www.bhg.com/recipe/cookies/ras...

                                                                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                I make a similar one, but substitute Grand Marnier for the milk in the middle layer and add some orange zest. I also use pecans rather than walnuts in the crust just because I like them better. I get requests for my Grand Marnier Nanaimo Bars all the time, even had to make them for a wedding reception once.

                                                                                                                1. re: KailuaGirl

                                                                                                                  Love your subs on this! Nanaimo Bars make people happy, don't you find?!!
                                                                                                                  I saw a pumpkin version back in Oct that I've been dying to try and a riff on red velvet cake nanimo bars that made me smile.

                                                                                                                  1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                    Pumpkin Nanaimo bars??!!?? Do share.

                                                                                                              2. re: Emme

                                                                                                                I do love lemon and cherry...these are great starts, thanks. WIll let you know how it turns out.

                                                                                                              3. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                                                                                                For a Jewish family - rugelach! All these recipes are good.
                                                                                                                Light & Flaky Cinnamon Rugelach http://www.recipezaar.com/light-flaky...
                                                                                                                Easy Cut Rugelach http://www.recipezaar.com/Easy-Cut-Ru...
                                                                                                                Joan Nathan's Rugelach (Cinnamon, Chocolate, or Apricot) http://www.recipezaar.com/Joan-Nathan...

                                                                                                                Or, a couple of AMAZING cookie recipes:
                                                                                                                Chocolate Fudge Cookies With Toffee & Dried Cherries http://www.recipezaar.com/Chocolate-F...
                                                                                                                Triple-Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies http://www.recipezaar.com/Triple-Choc...

                                                                                                                Do you have a madeleine pan? If so, this recipe is very simple and reliable (and the cookies are beautiful).
                                                                                                                Gourmet's Madeleine Cookies http://www.recipezaar.com/Gourmet-Mad...

                                                                                                                If you want lemon bars, Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe is very, very good.
                                                                                                                The Ultimate Lemon Butter Bar http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                                                                                1. re: toveggiegirl

                                                                                                                  If you have a copy of the Holiday edition of Food and Drink magazine from the LCBO check out the Macademia Chocolate Orange squares. It's probably on line as well. They were divine. The ever so gentle hint of sea salt is what made them so special. Definitely worthy!

                                                                                                                  1. re: millygirl

                                                                                                                    THanks. I do have that. I will check it out today.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                                                                                                      By the way, I didn't have the macademia nuts so used walnuts instead and it came out fantastic. Probably less fat too, which is a bonus. Everyone loved and raved about them. The picture in the mag doesn't look all that special but trust me, they are a winner.

                                                                                                                      1. re: millygirl

                                                                                                                        Could you please possibly post the recipe, for among others a poor Canadian expat forced by cruel circumstance (kidding) to live in New York City and thereby without access to the magic LCBO holiday cooking magazine that's been coming up a fair amount on this board lately? Thanks a million in adv.

                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                          Salted Orange Macadamia and Chocolate Squares:

                                                                                                                          1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
                                                                                                                          1/4 c. sugar
                                                                                                                          1/2 tsp fine sea salt
                                                                                                                          1/2 c. unsalted butter

                                                                                                                          2 eggs
                                                                                                                          1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
                                                                                                                          1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
                                                                                                                          1 tbs finely grated orange zest
                                                                                                                          1 tsp vanilla
                                                                                                                          1 c. roasted and salted macadamia nuts
                                                                                                                          1 c. chocolate chips or chunks
                                                                                                                          1 tsp Maldon sea salt flakes

                                                                                                                          For crust, put everything together in a food processor or crumb it by hand. The dough will not not come together (will be crumbly). Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and put parchment paper in a 8-inch square pan. Press dough in the pan and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and let cool while you prepare the filling.

                                                                                                                          For the filling, whisk the wet ingredients, add nuts and chocolate, mix until coated. Spread over the cooled dough and bake in the oven for 25 minutes, until brown and bubbling. Cool completely before chilling (at least 2 hours) then slice into squares. Best served at room temperature but can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

                                                                                                                          1. re: toveggiegirl

                                                                                                                            Yup, these are them...thanks toveggiegirl.

                                                                                                                            Buttertart, most of the recipes can be found on their website, just click on food and drink and there they are. Not as much fun as looking through the mag but still.

                                                                                                                            1. re: millygirl

                                                                                                                              Millygirl, that's great to know that they are online. That is way easier. Here is the recipe link:

                                                                                                                              1. re: millygirl

                                                                                                                                Thanks millygirl and toveggiegirl, the squares sound great and will take a look at the website.

                                                                                                                              2. re: toveggiegirl

                                                                                                                                Those squares sound yummy and easy to put together, I've copied the recipe to my file, thanks!

                                                                                                                                1. re: toveggiegirl

                                                                                                                                  I know it is a bit late to comment on this, but that recipe sounds fantastic! I'll just have to convert it so my Aussie brain can figure out the measurements. Cheers for sharing!

                                                                                                                          2. re: millygirl

                                                                                                                            Looking at this recipe it strikes me that it's more or less a sexed-up butter tart square recipe. Not that there's anything wrong with that!

                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                              This type of crust is used for a variety of fillings, citrus curds, other nut combinations, chocolate, it's a variation on a theme. I have more than a few recipes with the same base. Nothing wrong with it, though, as you said.

                                                                                                                              1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                The crust is your standard shortbread type but the topping is much better than simple butter tart. The combinations of citrus and chocolate work really well together. But what makes it extra special is the sea salt. Like I said, they were a big hit over the holidays.

                                                                                                                        2. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                                                                                                          If brownies are not too mundane, you can't go wrong with Nick Malgieri's Supernatural Brownies (discussed in detail with paraphrased recipe on this board). Most crowd-pleasing version - add a cup of pecans and one of chocolate chips before putting in the pan.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                                                                                                            Martha Stewart's pecan shortbread is excellent. I make these in a shell-shaped madeleine pan (I know they're all shells, but this is a rounder, deeper shell that's really beautiful).

                                                                                                                            I would recommend looking through Maida Heatter's cookbooks to see what appeals. Her recipes are ultimately reliable, and if you like the ingredients, delicious. She has a great lemon bar ... I made the date on top variation to take to a Middle Eastern themed potluck.

                                                                                                                            The world peace cookies I was mentioning are a refrigerator cookie, so they would be great for preparing in advance, and even freezing the dough if you wanted, then slicing and baking.

                                                                                                                            Maida also has a number of great brownie recipes. Many of her recipes are made commercially ... sometimes I'll buy a brownie and recognize her recipe.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                                                                                                              What about millionaire's shorrbread? It's like a grown up Twix bar.


                                                                                                                                1. re: smokeandapancake

                                                                                                                                  If so, there is a very tasty looking recipe for one at salon.com

                                                                                                                                2. I agree that citrus is a flavor that is missing from the other desserts, but people generally like. For something different, try lemon meringue bars. Here's one


                                                                                                                                  Or Ad Hoc at Home also has a recipe.

                                                                                                                                  My favorite recipe is Alice Medrich's in pure dessert - it is VERY lemony but I guess some find too strong.

                                                                                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: jsaimd

                                                                                                                                    If you're looking for a citrus dessert Ina Garten's Lemon Cake is absolutely gorgeous. I poked holes in before spooning over the glaze, made it even more lemony.


                                                                                                                                    I'm making it again today.

                                                                                                                                    ETA: I remember someone posting that they turned the loaf upside down before poking the holes...instead of poking the top. It makes for a nicer presentation with the glaze.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bubs

                                                                                                                                      You know I've bookmarked that a number of times and keep forgetting about it. Definitely making this one over the weekend....thanks for the reminder Bubs.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: millygirl

                                                                                                                                        She has another slightly different lemon loaf recipe, that I'm also making today.


                                                                                                                                        I'll be getting people to taste test and choose their favourite ;)

                                                                                                                                    2. re: jsaimd

                                                                                                                                      I just finished baking the two lemon loaves and since I had some lemons and buttermilk left over I tried this recipe that I had bookmarked a while ago


                                                                                                                                      Great result! Lovely lemony flavour and it's really cool the way the custard separates from the light cakey top. I'm bringing these tonight too, but of course I couldn't wait and had to try one for myself.

                                                                                                                                      jsaimd those lemon bars look amazing. I find lemon brightens up the coldest winter days!

                                                                                                                                    3. the Chocolate Stout Cake from the Barrington Brewery (can find it on epicurious) is a huge hit, I have to make it for my husbands birthday every year. I've halved the recipe and done it as cupcakes or 2 layer cake . the full recipe of 3 layers is huge and impressive.

                                                                                                                                      I also make a Basil Cake, a basic vanilla cake with about 1/4 cup chopped basil, some lemon zest and orange zest. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and fresh berries. I lent' out that cookbook but I'll try to find a copy of it somewhere and share if interested.

                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: mickeygee

                                                                                                                                        Basil cake...wow, that sounds right up my alley. If you find the recipe I'd surely be interested!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Funwithfood

                                                                                                                                          Preheaat oven to 375. Oil a 9" springform pan. Mix in medium bowl 2 1/2 cups cake flour, 2 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt. Cream 1/2 cup butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Add 2 large eggs, beaten, 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, 2 tbsp lemon zest (I sometime do a mix of lemon and orange) and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

                                                                                                                                          Then mix in flour alternating with 1 cup + 2 tbsp of buttermilk in 3 passes. Pour into pan, bake for 35 - 45 minutes. Top with mixed berries.
                                                                                                                                          Variations: mash the berries and add whipped cream or chocolate ice cream.

                                                                                                                                          From "Your Organic Kitchen" by Jesse ziff Cool

                                                                                                                                          1. re: mickeygee

                                                                                                                                            Hey thanks! I'm surprised it has vanilla extract (with basil & lemon zest). How would you describe the texture and flavor of the cake, and with which menu do you see it complementing? TIA

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Funwithfood

                                                                                                                                              The lemon def. stands out in the flavor, especially if you serve it the next day. The basil flavor is subtle. To me, I always think of it kinda like a pound cake/coffee cake type of texture. (of course, I never have cake flour, so it might be lighter if I used that).

                                                                                                                                              I've used it alot in the summer at family potlucks. So with everything from burgers and dogs to grilled steaks and pasta salads.

                                                                                                                                      2. Not sure how you feel about pie, but this one gets raves, and can be made with a variety of different fruits, depending on the season. It's very versatile. I posted it before somewhere, but would love to share it again:

                                                                                                                                        Pre-bake a pie shell, toss in toasted pecans, slivered almonds, chopped macadamias, whatever on the bottom. Cream one 8-ounce pkg very soft cream cheese, whip in a half cup (or more, depending on how sweet you want the filling) of XXX sugar, until sugar dissolves completely. Add in a little vanilla/almond/whatever fits the fruit. In another bowl, beat 1 cup of cream until stiff, fold into cc mixture. Pile into crust and top with seasonal fruit. I've even used canned mandarin oranges or frozen peaches in winter. In summer, sometimes I add just a tad of dissolved gelatin to the cc/cream mixture, helps the filling hold it's shape when it's hot outside.

                                                                                                                                        I hope you find something wonderful on this great thread!

                                                                                                                                        1. I did my week 2 trial last night: Butter tart squares. For a first attempt, they weren't half-bad. My husband thought they might be a contender and my son loved them but I just liked them...not gooey enough for me. The recipe I used did not have corn syrup. Is there a good gooey recipe for these without corn syrup out there?

                                                                                                                                          13 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                                                                                                                            Maybe you could bake the same reicpe a bit less? I use the Canadian Living recipe for those and they're quite good. If you want them really runny you'll have to make butter tarts Im afraid.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                              WIth a name like buttertart, I am going to trust you. I was thinking of either cooking them shorter or increasing the amount of filling...

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                                                                                                                                If you're considering something lemoney, I made the lemon mousse /souffle from the latest LCBO Food and Drink magazine and it was wonderful. My guests lapped it up, commenting how light and fresh tasting. I was really impressed by how well it came out. I didn't even bother with the whipped cream on top - there was no need for it. I garnished with fresh raspberries. It was very special.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                                                                                                                                  They were my mom's specialty (I'm from London, Ont. originally).

                                                                                                                                              2. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                                                                                                                                One of my standards is Choc Chip Peanut Butter Bars. I use more peanut butter than the recipe calls for (1 cup, maybe a little more) and they come out very gooey. The texture is similar to cookie dough even after it bakes. My friends have nicknamed them Crack Snacks. They're especially good with vanilla ice cream!


                                                                                                                                                I also have a great recipe for an anise cake if you're interested. (If you prefer, you can substitute lemon extract for anise.) Very moist and delicious.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: robyn76

                                                                                                                                                  Pls post the anise cake, love anything anise.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                    Anise Ring Cake

                                                                                                                                                    ¾ cup butter or vegetable shortening
                                                                                                                                                    1 cup granulated sugar
                                                                                                                                                    2 eggs
                                                                                                                                                    3 cup flour
                                                                                                                                                    3 tsp baking powder
                                                                                                                                                    ¼ tsp salt
                                                                                                                                                    ¾ cup milk
                                                                                                                                                    1 oz (1 small bottle) pure anise or lemon extract

                                                                                                                                                    6 tbsp melted butter
                                                                                                                                                    1 ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
                                                                                                                                                    1 – 2 tbsp hot water as needed
                                                                                                                                                    1 tsp vanilla
                                                                                                                                                    Nonpareils or snowcaps

                                                                                                                                                    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 12 inch or larger round pizza pan or a cookie sheet large enough to hold an 11 inch circle. Set aside. Makes 20 servings.

                                                                                                                                                    1. Cream ¾ cup butter and granulated sugar. Add eggs and beat until well blended.
                                                                                                                                                    2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a smaller bowl and add (alternating with milk and extract) to egg mixture.
                                                                                                                                                    3. Spoon dough onto the pan in a ring, coming to about 1 inch from the edge of the pan. (Batter spreads, so pile it high; when cooked, it will fill the whole pan.)
                                                                                                                                                    4. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes. (Insert toothpick after 15 – 18 minutes. If clean, remove ring from oven.) Don’t brown too much or it will be dry.
                                                                                                                                                    5. While cake is baking, prepare glaze by combining melted butter, confectioner’s sugar, hot water and vanilla.
                                                                                                                                                    6. Glaze ring while it is still warm and sprinkle on nonpareils immediately after glazing so they will stick.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: robyn76

                                                                                                                                                      Very interesting! Must try. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: robyn76

                                                                                                                                                    My husband needs something with peanut butter to influence a member of his tech committee. This looks good but one question when you say you use more peanut butter than the recipe calls for do you use 1 cup or 1 3/4 cups? Also any particular brand or texture (crunchy?) of peanut butter? TIA

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod

                                                                                                                                                      The recipe calls for 3/4 cup chunky peanut butter and robyn76 has indicated above that she uses 1 cup, and sometimes even a little bit more than that. I hope this helps.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: millygirl

                                                                                                                                                        That is correct. I use about 1 cup of Skippy creamy peanut butter. I've made this recipe so often that I've stopped measuring the peanut butter.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: robyn76

                                                                                                                                                      These are crazy-good! I made these last night, had some last night, for breakfast this morning and about to have more with some hot cocoa. I hope there are some left by the time our guests get here for dinner!

                                                                                                                                                      My question: they didn't brown up much and the toothpick didn't come out clean, so I left them in the oven for another 8 minutes or so. Should I stick to the 22 minutes??

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Foodie in Friedberg

                                                                                                                                                        I usually let them go for 25 to 28 minutes (depending on the oven). As soon as the edges start to brown, then you can take them out.

                                                                                                                                                    1. Martha Stewart's Blondies are incredibly easy and delicious. I get rave review everytime I make em.


                                                                                                                                                      1. This is THE BEST cheesecake recipe ever. i make it for my dad and his friends... they love it! i've been asked for the recipe lots of times!
                                                                                                                                                        2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese
                                                                                                                                                        3/4 cup white sugar
                                                                                                                                                        2 eggs
                                                                                                                                                        1 teaspoon vanilla extract
                                                                                                                                                        2 tablespoons cornstarch
                                                                                                                                                        1 cup sour cream
                                                                                                                                                        1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
                                                                                                                                                        6 tablespoons melted butter
                                                                                                                                                        1/4 cup white sugar

                                                                                                                                                        -heat oven to 400 F
                                                                                                                                                        -mix butter, 1/4 c sugar, graham cracker in a bowl, spread in 9 inch cheesecake pan and freeze for 10 minutes
                                                                                                                                                        -beat cream cheese and sugar until just smooth
                                                                                                                                                        -add egg until just combine- do not overbeat!
                                                                                                                                                        -mix vanilla and corn starch
                                                                                                                                                        -stir (with spoon or spatula) sour cream unitl just combined
                                                                                                                                                        -pour into frozen graham cracker crust
                                                                                                                                                        -bake at 400 F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 200 F for 45 minutes. turn off oven and let cheesecake sit in it until oven is completely cool
                                                                                                                                                        you dont have to use a water bath for this recipe- i've never had it crack and I've made it at least 10 times!
                                                                                                                                                        it is truly delicious! i hope you like it :]

                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chalkalot

                                                                                                                                                          I've been looking for a good, plain cheesecake recipe! Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                        2. I didn't read through every single answer, so I can't swear no one has suggested this to you already, but the following chocolate pie has earned me a great reputation in my community, as it is my go-to when I bake for a family with a new baby or if they are sitting shiva (mourning period in Judaism for a close relative, as most, but not all, know). It's the easiest thing in the world to throw together, and most feel it tastes great.

                                                                                                                                                          Chocolate Pie

                                                                                                                                                          2/3 c. chocolate chips
                                                                                                                                                          4 oz. margarine
                                                                                                                                                          1 c. light corn syrup
                                                                                                                                                          2 large eggs
                                                                                                                                                          2 T. Kahlua (opt.)
                                                                                                                                                          1 t. vanilla (opt.)
                                                                                                                                                          graham cracker pie crust

                                                                                                                                                          Melt chocolate chips and margarine. Add the corn syrup and mix well. Add the eggs and mix well. Add the kahlua and vanilla, if using. Pour into pie crust. Microwave at high for 5 minutes, and then at medium for 7 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                          Now, the last part of the recipe might strike you as odd. Here's the deal . . . when I first made this, I had no oven, just a microwave. I actually forgot that you are not supposed to put a foil tin into the microwave, so I did it without thinking. Nothing bad happened, and when I realized it later, I figured there was no problem with continuing to do it this way. I still make it this way today, close to 20 years later, and have never had a problem: no sparking, nothing. If you are not comfortable doing this, it can be baked in the oven, but I'm not sure how long to suggest, and at what temp. I would guess 20-30 minutes at 350 would do it. You could also make your own graham cracker crust and put it in a microwave-safe pie plate.

                                                                                                                                                          1. Here is another chocolate babka recipe which was delicious, worked first time, from The Art of the Dessert by Ann Amernick

                                                                                                                                                            Makes 2 loaves, 6 slices each
                                                                                                                                                            Serves 12
                                                                                                                                                            This recipe was inspired by the chocolate babka in Joan Nathan's The Jewish Holiday Baker. It contains apricot and chocolate and is absolutely wonderful for brunch or dessert. A good babka should have a soft, yeasty, tender dough redolent of the filling inside. The filling and streusel should be made first, as you don't want the yeast dough ready before the filling is prepared. I actually like to prepare the filling and streusel the day before and refrigerate them overnight. Then, while I am making the dough, the filling and streusel are brought to room temperature. The dough is twisted and placed in a loaf pan, then dusted with streusel and baked. It rises high in the pan and is simply wonderful to eat warm from the oven. It freezes so well that it is a perfect dessert to have on hand. Just thaw it wrapped in aluminum foil, then, when it comes to room temperature, heat it, still foil-wrapped, at 325 degrees F for 15 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                            Babka Filling
                                                                                                                                                            Yield: 2-1/2 cups
                                                                                                                                                            • 3/4 cup apricot preserves
                                                                                                                                                            • 1 cup dry pound cake crumbs (the Cassata, on page 44 of the book,
                                                                                                                                                            • or The Cleveland Park Cream Cakes, on page 66, make suitable crumbs)
                                                                                                                                                            • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
                                                                                                                                                            Make the Filling
                                                                                                                                                            Puree the preserves in a food processor until smooth. Combine the cake crumbs, pureed preserves, and butter in a small bowl and mix until smooth; set aside.
                                                                                                                                                            Streusel Topping
                                                                                                                                                            • Yield: About 1 to 1-1/2 cups
                                                                                                                                                            • 6 tablespoons (57 grams) all-purpose flour, sifted
                                                                                                                                                            • 3 tablespoons sugar
                                                                                                                                                            • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced and chilled
                                                                                                                                                            Make the Topping
                                                                                                                                                            Place the flour and sugar in a small bowl and mix well. Add the butter using your fingers to mix it together until crumbly; set aside.
                                                                                                                                                            Babka Dough
                                                                                                                                                            Yield: Enough For 2 Loaves
                                                                                                                                                            • 1-3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (265 grams) all-purpose flour, sifted
                                                                                                                                                            • 3/4 cup (90 grams) cake flour, sifted
                                                                                                                                                            • 1/8 teaspoon salt
                                                                                                                                                            • 1/3 cup sugar
                                                                                                                                                            • 1/4 ounce or 2-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast,
                                                                                                                                                            • or 1 cake (0.6 ounce) fresh yeast
                                                                                                                                                            • 1 tablespoon warm water (90 to 100 degrees F)
                                                                                                                                                            • 1/2 cup milk, heated and cooled to room temperature
                                                                                                                                                            • 2 to 3 large eggs (125 grams or slightly over 1/2 cup)
                                                                                                                                                            • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
                                                                                                                                                            • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
                                                                                                                                                            Make the Dough
                                                                                                                                                            Combine the all-purpose and cake flours, salt, and all but 1 tablespoon of the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed. In a small bowl, stir the yeast with the warm water and reserved tablespoon of sugar just until the sugar and yeast have dissolved. Reduce the mixer to low speed, add the yeast mixture, milk, eggs, and vanilla, and beat until the dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic, about 20 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                            Add the butter by spoonfuls until thoroughly incorporated, then beat on low speed for about 5 minutes. When finished, the dough should be silken and rich like very thick ice cream. Transfer to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside. When the dough has doubled in bulk, after 2 hours, punch it down, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
                                                                                                                                                            • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
                                                                                                                                                            • Babka Dough
                                                                                                                                                            • 2-1/2 cups Babka Filling
                                                                                                                                                            • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
                                                                                                                                                            • 1 to 1/2 cups Streusel Topping
                                                                                                                                                            Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 8-1/2 x 4-1/2-inch loaf pans with overlapping, perpendicular pieces of parchment paper, with one piece lining the bottom and two short sides and the second piece lining the bottom and two long sides. Don't let the paper come more than 1 inch above the top of the pan.
                                                                                                                                                            Assemble the Babka
                                                                                                                                                            Grate the chocolate by hand on the large holes of a box grater or in a food processor. If using a food processor, be careful not to overprocess or you might run the risk of the chocolate's melting. Set the grated chocolate aside. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll one piece of the dough into a 12 x 8-inch rectangle. Use an offset metal spatula to spread half the filling over the dough within 1/2 inch of the edges. Sprinkle with half the grated chocolate. Beginning with a long side, roll it up tightly. Holding one end of the babka in each hand, twist it lengthwise to create a spiral. Place the babka in a prepared pan. It is important to press the babka down firmly in the pan at this point. Brush the top with some of the melted butter and sprinkle with half the streusel topping. Make the second babka with the remaining dough, filling, chocolate, butter, and streusel. Cover loosely with plastic wrap.
                                                                                                                                                            Let the loaves rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the babka to cool for 30 minutes before cutting. Slice the babka and serve warm.
                                                                                                                                                            I bake the babka in a high-blower convection oven for 20 minutes, rotate the pans, then bake for about 25 minutes or more, turning the blower to low in the last 15 minutes or so. If you are lucky enough to own a convection oven or an oven with convection capabilities, definitely use it here.
                                                                                                                                                            I often like to cut the babka into hearty slices and serve with scoops of homemade chocolate-chip ice cream. I add 2 cups of chopped chocolate to 1 pint of freshly turned, still soft vanilla ice cream (page 259 of the book). I sometimes also throw in chopped white and milk chocolates, to make it triple chocolate-chip ice cream.

                                                                                                                                                            1. and another fabulous jewish cake which uses whole oranges based on the recipe from the book of Jewish food by Claudia Roden:

                                                                                                                                                              2 oranges
                                                                                                                                                              6 eggs
                                                                                                                                                              250g sugar
                                                                                                                                                              2 tbsp orange blossom water
                                                                                                                                                              1 tsp baking powder
                                                                                                                                                              250g ground almonds

                                                                                                                                                              boil whole organges (unpeeled) for 90 minutes
                                                                                                                                                              allow to cool, cut in half and removed any pips
                                                                                                                                                              blend skin and all
                                                                                                                                                              beat eggs with sugar until pale, add orange blossom water, baking powder and almonds
                                                                                                                                                              mix in orange pulp
                                                                                                                                                              pour into 23cm prepared tin
                                                                                                                                                              bake at 375 F for about 1` hour

                                                                                                                                                              may need to cover in foil to prevent burning
                                                                                                                                                              check is ccoked with a skewer

                                                                                                                                                              this is a very aromatic cake with a hint of bitterness

                                                                                                                                                              generally liked as it is a bit unusual

                                                                                                                                                              good luck!

                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: rosciolit

                                                                                                                                                                Sounds interesting, and simple to make. Does it taste at all like marmalade? I love oranges, but hate marmalade.

                                                                                                                                                                I assume that you use oranges with a thin skin and thin pith.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                  Doesn't taste like marmade at all, IMO. No bitterness.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: rosciolit

                                                                                                                                                                  I have made this no-wheat flour orange cake several times, using Nigella's recipe. It's wonderful. The texture is sort of spongy yet dense. It is unusual, but in a good way.

                                                                                                                                                                3. Here is one of mine. I'm not sure why it is called "Mexican Wedding Cake", but it is really good and this recipe was passed to me - My family loves coconut.


                                                                                                                                                                  1. GET A DISH: My suggestion for a signature dessert dish is literally a dish---a trifle dish (tall straight glass sides so you can see the dessert inside) always presents a spectacular dessert. You can alternate layers of any cake, layers of any custard or pudding, layers of strawberries or sliced peaches or bananas, a layer of glace fruit, raspberry jam, crumbled almond macaroons, grated chocolate, toasted almonds---a sprinkling of rum or sherry--let the top layer be whipped cream---the sky's the limit. If this is about family gatherings, let your trifle dish be the constant and keep 'em guessing as to what will be in it this time.

                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                      Querencia - you are so right! I used to have a large stemmed dish that I made desserts in as well as things like 7-layer salads, etc. but it got broken. You have reminded me how much I missed it and I will get another. Great suggestion for the OP.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                                                        Great idea!! I didn't have sherry once so I used Bailey's in my custard and sprinkled on my cake! It was really excellent. I've done it that way ever since...but every time I make it I think I really should get a nicer dish.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. I haven't read through all these replies, but how about the Carmelized Matzoh that you can bring for Passover this year and then bring all the other times of year that people beg you to do it?

                                                                                                                                                                        1. And another thought -- how about Pavlova? You can tart it up with some melted chocolate, ground almonds in with the egg whites, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. I recommend my key lime pie with raspberry sauce. It is easy. I always get rave reviews at pot lucks. The raspberry sauce makes it special.

                                                                                                                                                                            KEY LIME PIE

                                                                                                                                                                            1 EA 9” graham cracker pie shell ( hand made is even better)
                                                                                                                                                                            1 EA 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
                                                                                                                                                                            3 EA egg yokes (whites not used)
                                                                                                                                                                            ½ cup key lime juice (I use Nellie & Joes brand)

                                                                                                                                                                            Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
                                                                                                                                                                            Combine milk, eggs and lime juice.
                                                                                                                                                                            Blend until smooth
                                                                                                                                                                            Pour filling into pie shell and bake for 15 minutes.
                                                                                                                                                                            Let cool on a baking rack for at least 10 minutes before refrigerating.
                                                                                                                                                                            Just before serving, top with whipped cream.


                                                                                                                                                                            Put lime or orange zest in whipped cream.
                                                                                                                                                                            Serve with raspberry sauce (recipe below) (I highly recommend this option.)
                                                                                                                                                                            Triple the recipe and put in spring form pan
                                                                                                                                                                            Garnish with lime slices or maybe sugared lime slices

                                                                                                                                                                            Raspberry Sauce:

                                                                                                                                                                            1 pint raspberries
                                                                                                                                                                            ¼ cup sugar
                                                                                                                                                                            3 ounces water
                                                                                                                                                                            1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
                                                                                                                                                                            2 tbls lemon juice

                                                                                                                                                                            In a medium saucepan on medium heat, combine the raspberries, water, sugar, cream of tartar, and lemon juice. Stir the sauce to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook the sauce until it comes to a slight boil. Then remove the saucepan from the heat and add the contents to a blender. (I ust use an immersion stick blender.) Blend the sauce until smooth. Pass the sauce through a strainer or cheesecloth to remove any seeds.
                                                                                                                                                                            Pour into a squeeze bottle and refrigerate.


                                                                                                                                                                            Add 1-2 tbls of orange or raspberry liqueur.
                                                                                                                                                                            For thicker sauce, add ½ cup seedless raspberry jam.
                                                                                                                                                                            (I do both, usually with orange liqueur.)

                                                                                                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tonka11_99

                                                                                                                                                                              Great idea! I love key lime pie, but always bake mine much longer. is yours really done in just 15 minutes?

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                                                                                                                15 minutes is all it takes.

                                                                                                                                                                                Do you use the same ingredients?

                                                                                                                                                                                My ingredients pretty much fill one of the store bought graham cracker shells. It would be way over done if it went longer. It still wiggles a little when just out of the oven but by the time it cools it is completely stable.

                                                                                                                                                                                By the way, You can use regular limes. It just won't have the key lime twang to it.
                                                                                                                                                                                I'm telling you that the raspberry sauce really makes this pie, too. I cooked it for years without and was perfectly happy until I tried it at a local restaurant called Cheddars. They served it with raspberry sauce and it took it to whole new level. I always use the sauce now.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: tonka11_99

                                                                                                                                                                                  Serious inquiry: I'm curious as to what the cream of tartar does in the raspberry sauce. Never seen a use for tartrate in a fruit sauce before.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                    Hate to admit it but I don't know. got it off a recipe. Let me know if you find out. I know sometimes I use it and sometimes I don't. Lately I have been using a raspberry jam to cook it down with. The pectin makes a little thicker plus you don't need sugar with the jam.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: tonka11_99

                                                                                                                                                                                    I can totally see what the sauce would do to the flavor of the dessert -- I can almost taste it now -- tart and sweet and tart and sweet . . . and pretty, too, I bet.
                                                                                                                                                                                    I have to confess that I always double the recipe and bake it in a springform pan (with foil around the bottom,) thus the long baking time, but the first time I made it, single recipe, it still didn't seem baked. Ah, well. I'm sure it's working for you and delicious as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                                                                                                                      You might check the temperature of your oven because I have never had a problem with it. I have made that recipe dozens of times because, at the heart, I am lazy.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: tonka11_99

                                                                                                                                                                                  thanks for the raspberry idea. really a nice complement.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                    Wnat about a layer of fresh raspberries i/o the jam? I think that would be wonderful too - if the tart were to be going to be consumed in a short time.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                      I bet that would taste great. hopefully it wouldn't look gross. you're right, though, definitely needs to be consumed quickly.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                        I think it could look kind of sexy, like those fraisiers with the strawberries showing.

                                                                                                                                                                                3. I make a wonderful pumpkin flan. It's nice and light and very easy to make. I'll post it if you like.

                                                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                      Pumpkin Flan
                                                                                                                                                                                      2 c sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                      1 1/2 c hvy cream
                                                                                                                                                                                      1 c milk
                                                                                                                                                                                      5 lg egg plus 1 yolk
                                                                                                                                                                                      15 oz can pure pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
                                                                                                                                                                                      1 tsp vanilla
                                                                                                                                                                                      1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
                                                                                                                                                                                      1 tsp ground ginger
                                                                                                                                                                                      1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
                                                                                                                                                                                      1/4 tsp salt
                                                                                                                                                                                      For caramel: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place a 2 quart souffle dish on the middle rack to heat up as you prepare the caramel.
                                                                                                                                                                                      Cook 1 cup sugar in a dry heavy stockpot over medium heat, untouched, until it begins to melt. Continue to cook stirring occasionally with a fork until the sugar melts into a golden caramel. Pour the caramel into the heated dish and swirl to coat bottom, then let harden.
                                                                                                                                                                                      In a 2 quart hvy saucepan bring milk and cream to a boil. Remove from heat. Whisk together the eggs, yolk and remaining sugar. Add the pumpkin, vanilla and spices and mix to combine. Add hot cream in a slow stream, whisking. Pour custard through a fine sieve into the prepared souffle dish. Bake in a water bath until golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, then chill, covered, at least 6 hours.
                                                                                                                                                                                      To serve:
                                                                                                                                                                                      Run a knife between the flan and the side of the dish to loosen. Place a platter on top and then invert (caramel should pour out over flan).

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: berna

                                                                                                                                                                                        That sounds good. I made a pumpkin pana cotta and was disappointed; the slight graininess of the pumpkin worked against what should have been the smooth texture of the cream.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                          I think that putting it through a sieve takes care of that. This flan comes out smooth and silky.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: berna

                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for posting, it sounds yummy. Will save for next Thanksgiving or fall, can't wait!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. This lemon pie recipe was making the rounds of my parents' retirement place in Arizona last January. It has to be the easiest dessert you'll ever make, especially if you use the refrigerated Pillsbury pie dough from the grocery store. The beauty is it still looks homemade.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Arizona Sunshine Lemon Pie

                                                                                                                                                                                    1 large lemon
                                                                                                                                                                                    4 eggs
                                                                                                                                                                                    8 tablespoons (1 stick) melted butter
                                                                                                                                                                                    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
                                                                                                                                                                                    1-½ cups sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                    1 unbaked pie crust

                                                                                                                                                                                    Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Cut the ends off lemon and then into quarters and remove seeds. Cut quarters into small chunks leaving rind on. In a blender or food processor, blend together lemon chunks, eggs, butter, vanilla and sugar until mixture is smooth and creamy. (It should be fairly runny.) Pour into unbaked piecrust. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

                                                                                                                                                                                    If crust becomes too brown, cover gently with foil and finish baking.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I think this sounds great. Must make. Wonder if you could do with a nice big juicy lime, too?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                        I might have to try that sometime, but I suppose you would need to use at least a couple of limes. There are an abundance of lemons (my parents have a lemon tree in AZ) so that's how it all got started.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. A very simple dessert is also memorable. Strawberries, sour cream and brown sugar. You dip the strawberry in a little of each and I swear it tastes like strawberry shortcake!

                                                                                                                                                                                      You will get a lot of strange looks but make them try one. They will go for more.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: tonka11_99

                                                                                                                                                                                          My Mum used to make a fruit dip that was sour cream, brown sugar and a shot of Kahlua. She took a platter of fruit and her special dip to many pot lucks.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I think I've found my new signature. I just made Martha Stewart's Lime Bars (http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/l...), skipping the zest, subbing butter cookies for the graham crackers, and adding a layer of raspberry jam. I used a 9-in. springform pan, which produced a pretty torte. Yum!

                                                                                                                                                                                          12 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                            Christina, or anyone interested, I noticed that you requested an olive oil pound cake recipe, this is the one I mentioned I dream about in the mock olive oil thread. The recipe is from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert; I don't have the cookbook it came from and can't tell if the recipe was adapted by the blogger, but it is truly phenomenal:


                                                                                                                                                                                            There's a few other olive oil pound cake recipes floating around on the internet but they don't compare at all to this one.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                Nope, that's the recipe straight out of Pure Dessert (I have the cookbook). I agree, this is a terrific cake. Wonderful texture, and great flavor from the combination of olive oil and sherry. Hmm, that reminds me that I still have a mini one in the freezer left over from the holidays (I gave them as gifts). Must pull that out this week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'm happy to hear that it's the original pound cake, although the blog recipe was so good I couldn't imagine it wasn't, thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  HillJ's recipe sounds intriguing, but I've never used agave nectar and can't easily get it in my neighborhood (although iIm sure it's available in NY.) Is there something i could sub? Any ideas?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Agave is readily avail at Whole Foods, Costco, Stop & Shop, health food stores and I've even seen it in Pharmacy. However, you can sub maple syrup or honey for the agave without issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                        bushwickgirl, one question: have you ever made your olive oil cake in a bundt or tube pan? I'm wondering if it would be too sticky for my old-school bundt. The pan's pretty thin and it's not coated in non-stick. The last time I made the Gramercy Tavern cake in that pan, despite greasing and flouring really well, it stuck like hell.


                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have a "nonstick" Bundt pan my mother gave me a long time ago and unless I grease it with Crisco LIBERALLY, flour it and put PAM on top of that, cakes stick. Butter doesn't work in any quantity. I bet they don't have Crisco or PAM in your neck of the woods, do they?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I made the notderbypie olive oil cake in my old bundt pan (NOT nonstick--from my mother, prob from the 70s) for New Year's and it popped right out. But I always grease and flour that thing very well. I've never had a cake stick in it, so can't say that yours would do the same. I love my bundt pan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Well, that wasn't my reply, Christina, but it was certainly the experience I've had with tube pans. I had an old tin plate tube pan with a beautiful top design but everything stuck like hell, as you put it, except the raw apple cake recipe from Ronald Johnson's The American Table, for some odd reason. My current tube pan is only old year old and nothing sticks at this point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I find the older Bundt pans (circa 1970's-80's) non-stick wears out after awhile.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      My sister has something like the pan you describe and it's almost not worth baking in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Follow buttertart's recommendation and you should be fine with the olive oil cake. The blog recipe makes two loaves or a 10-cup tube.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      BTW, I would think they'd have Crisco or a reasonable substitute and Pam, where you are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ronald Johnson! Ronald Johnson! Ronald Johnson! One of my very very favorite cookbook authors. Sort of the American Jane Grigson. Must try that cake this apple season. Thanks for mentioning him again!

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I'm not Jewish, but I dated a Jewish man for 6 years and the recipe I always had to bring was Bonnie Stern's Rum Raisin chocolate cake. It's incredible! Dense, intensely flavoured,
                                                                                                                                                                                                  rich, moist.... completely unique. It's flourless too, replacing the flour with cocoa powder. It's pricey since it has MONDO chocolate, but always a HUGE hit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dianne0712

                                                                                                                                                                                                    A google didn't bring up the recipe. Mind sharing?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Wow! Am I ever late! I only found this because I had a message in my email for this link about chocolate mousse and I was wondering if they were talking about my very un-pc version.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Anyway, here's Bonnie's recipe.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 cup raisins
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1/3 cup dark rum
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1/3 cup water
                                                                                                                                                                                                      8 oz bittersweet chocolate
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 cup unsalted butter
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 cup cocoa
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 1/2 cups sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                                      6 eggs Glaze: 6 oz bittersweet chocolate
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1/2 cup unsalted butter
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Tbsp corn syrup
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Tbsp dark rum
                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 oz white chocolate
                                                                                                                                                                                                      heat raisins, rum and water until raisins are tender. Beat eggs and slowly add cocoa and sugar mixed together. Beat in a cup of butter and chocolate melted together. Add raisins and all of theliquid they were in. Pour into a greased 10" springform pan dusted with cocoa. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. (batter will be very runny when you put it in)
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Invert onto cake plate and cool. Melt all glaze ingredients together over low heat and pour over cake. Me;t white chocolate and drizzle in a zig zag pattern over glaze.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: dianne0712

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hi Dianne. I just took a shot at this - I halved the recipe & cooked it in a loaf pan. It came out dense, as you said, and kind of a moist-brownie consistency. Is that your experience? I love the drunken raisins. Really, what I want to do is scoop some of it (warm) into a little dessert dish & top it with good vanilla ice cream...

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: THewat

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, it's very dense and moist. It works better if you have a flat wide pan. I think a loaf pan might make it not cook completely in the middle. I notice a big difference even between a 8" round and a 9" round.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. Update on my quest for signature dessert: the caramel matzoh crunch is definitely it for this time of year. I made it this year, with the addition of sea salt and it became legendary overnight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                                          i made mine with sea salt as well this year. matzoh crack, it is always called...

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Toronto Fastfoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                          It's also good made with soda biscuits / Saltines, the salted kind pls.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Tarte a la bouille - it is a cajun custard pie. It is excellent. John Folse has one on his site. I make something similar to caramel matzoh crunch using graham crackers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. just put the cupcakes that came out way too dry but were complete with the frosting/glaze on them already, in the MagiMix for crumbing. I'll use that as a topping mixed with butter and flour on the simple coffee cake I plan to make for tomorrows back yard family feast.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          it's not a signature recipe, it's just what I plan on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          here is what I often times make because goodness knows I have all the ingredients on hand always. simple easy elegant and delicious, plus foolproof.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          "Black Forest CheesePuffs"

                                                                                                                                                                                                          What you'll need:

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Puff pastry
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cream Cheese
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Dark brown sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                                          White sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Lemon juice
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Medium egg, beaten
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Dark chocolate chips
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cherry Pie filling
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Heavy cream

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Take out your puff pastry from the freezer and let it thaw.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Cut it into 6" squares
                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. Brush each one with melted butter.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          4. Cover loosely with moist clean tea towel so they won't dry out.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          5. Mix 8oz. softened cream cheese with 3 T dark brown sugar 1 T flour
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 t vanilla 1 T sugar 1 T lemon juice egg pinch salt pinch cinnamon, mix/blend to combine.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          6. Gently spread cream cheese [maybe 2 T] onto each square leaving 2" all the way around without any for folding.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          7. Dot 1 T of chips over top of cream cheese.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          8. Now put 2 T of cherry pie filling over the chips.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          9. Fold the sides over onto themselves so that it all meets in the middle.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          10. Crimp to seal top.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          11. Lightly brush heavy cream over top.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          12. Bake 350* in middle rack of oven for about 20 minutes or until browned.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          13. Let cook a few minutes before serving. Can present with good quality vanilla ice cream.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                                                                                                            13. was supposed to read let cool before serving. I need a proof reader

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Chocolate Mousse Torte....It's easy, beautiful and tastes great! I use my regular Chocolate cake recipe, Hersheys Chocolate Mousse recipe with whip cream and shaved chocolate for decoration. Make the cake in whatever size pan you need, slice the cake in half, fill with the mousse, frost the cake with whip cream and shavings (or whatever you want) Sometimes I use rum or rum flavoring in the whip cream. I used to sell this cake to a restaurant. It was a big seller.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: marji8788

                                                                                                                                                                                                              did you post the recipe or do we look up Hershey's Chocolate Mousse recipe

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I have 2:
                                                                                                                                                                                                              Danny Boome's Chocolate Molten Baby Cakes (ood Network) filled with Chambord & Raspberries

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Unbelievably easy. Incredibly impressive. It's definitely my go-to for a great end of meal presentation (everybody remembers the desert...and completely forgets the entree.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              7 people have asked me for the recipe so far. I baked for 11 minutes (versus Danny Boome's 9), used Chambord and raspberries for the filling - and commented under Joan (ignore the fact that I also said baked it for 9 minutes...it's 11 minutes).

                                                                                                                                                                                                              OMGosh...I only wish I had one right now! :)


                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ina Garten's Lemon Yogurt Cake....AGAIN...FAB...truly. MOIST. Incredible. Have gotten the recipe request thing again. Can't get the link from foodnetwork at the moment...BUT you MUST try this one. I insist. This will travel. The baby molten cakes...make 'em at home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Enjoy! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: JTLES

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Question: Did you incorporate the chambord into the batter, or just briefly soak the raspberries and then discard? Trying to picture this. Did you need to do anything to make up for the loss of OJ?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. How about Tres Leches Cake?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's a light sponge cake drizzled with a mixture of evaporated milk, sweetened consensed milk and cream. It's frosted simply with sweetened whipped cream. You can give the "three milks" a little punch with a bit of rum.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                You can serve as a single layer 9x13 or stack two layers with a vanilla or mocha custard filling. I love the mocha version; brush the bare cake top with espresso or strong coffee, and add a tiny bit of chocolate syrup or cocoa to the cream before whipping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's dreamy and creamy. Unusual too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                photo illustrated recipe here: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/20...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Toronto Fastfoodie- Not sure if you're still looking for a butter tart squares, but I thought I'd share my mom's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  BUTTER TART SQUARES

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 1/4 cups flour
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1/2 cup butter
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1/4 cup brown sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1/3 cup butter
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Tbl cream
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 tsp vanilla
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 cup raisins (optional)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 cup brown sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 egg, beaten
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Tbs flour

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mix first 3 ingredients and press into a 9 inch square pan. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes. Mix remaining ingredients and spread over base. Return to oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. You can double this recipe and use a t 9 x 13 inch pan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for sharing the tres leches cake recipe. We moved to a new area and couldnt find a bakery that made it so I made it for my daughter for her birthday and it was horrible :( I hope this recipe is better then the one I found :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Midwest Foodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      was it a sponge cake? Tres Leches just will not work or taste right with a butter cake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      As the recipe states, trim the browned sides off the cake, then you'll have leftovers to make parfaits which would be a big hit with kids. Just layer torn bits of cake with the filling and some custard if you wish, into a tall clear plastic to-go cup. Top with more whipped cream and a cherry. Serve with a long spoon (ice tea or soda spoon)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I don't see where it says to trim the cake edges, in the pioneer woman's version? I've never trimmed the edged when I've made it--when do you do it, and why?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Oreo Truffles! they are DELISH! my best friend made them for my bday and i can not get enough now..i had to have the recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 18-oz package Oreo's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 8-oz package Cream Cheese
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 lb baker's Chocolate (white chocolate tastes the best!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    crush oreo's into small pieces (i put all oreo's in a gallon ziplock and use a rolling pin to crush them completely)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    mix crushed oreos with cream cheese
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    roll into golf ball sized balls

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    melt bakers chocolate in the microwave for a few seconds..
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    dip balls into white chocolate, allow excess chocolate to run off, and place on waxed paper.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    place tray in refrigerator for one hour, or until chocolate hardens. ENJOY!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jenniafer24

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Jen, I suggest that you try it with a chocolate that is of higher quality than Baker's; anything is better than Baker's. They will taste even better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jenniafer24

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There's (at least) another whole thread about oreo truffles. My favorite variation is to use Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe Joe's (seasonal).


                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I have two suggestions (sorry if someone has already made them, didn't have time to read all the replies):

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Based on the other signature desserts, it seems that the family tends toward sort of home-y, classic desserts. If you want to do something that would complement the others in this genre, I would suggest carrot cake. This is a huge favorite in my family; here's our recipe:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        CARROT CAKE

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2 cups all-purpose flour
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1½ t. baking soda
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2 t. baking powder
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2 t. ground cinnamon
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ½ t. ground nutmeg
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4 large eggs, at room temperature
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 cup vegetable oil
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2 cups granulated sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2 cups carrots, shredded
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ½ cups walnuts or pecans, chopped
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        8 oz. pineapple, crushed

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Grease and flour a 9x13 baking pan, 12 cup bundt pan, or 9-inch springform pan.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Using a stand mixer, beat eggs just until blended.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Add oil and sugar, beating until thoroughly mixed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Add flour mixture to egg mixture, stirring just until blended.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Mix in carrots, nuts, and pineapple.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only a few crumbs clinging to it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack. When cool, transfer to a serving plate.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Makes 12-15 servings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4 oz. cream cheese, softened
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4 T. butter, softened
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 t. orange zest
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 t. vanilla extract
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3 cups confectioner’s sugar

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Using a stand mixer, beat until smooth cream cheese, butter, and orange zest.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Add vanilla and 2 cups of sugar; beat until creamy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Gradually add remaining sugar as needed; beat until creamy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. If you want to do something more gourmet, this chocolate tart is AMAZING both to look at and to eat (and it is amazingly easy to make). It is my go-to dinner party dessert and it never wins anything less than rave reviews. I use the best-quality chocolate I can find and I like to sprinkle a little sea salt on top.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. First off, Yippie, YIPPie, YIPPIE for all you amazing people on Chow, giving from the heart your input and recipes. I never cease to be amazed by the gorgeousness of the chowhound community.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My latest signature dessert is generously shared from Whipped The Blog. Bless her soul.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I made it and gave one of those sighs I seldom do. Mmmmmmmm.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Just look at her photo, you don't need my convincing:


                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I found the icing a large quantity for the amount I felt I like on it. But that is a matter of preference. Enjoy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Heavenly Banana Cake
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1/2 teaspoon salt
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 teaspoon baking soda
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 teaspoon baking powder
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 cups cake flour, sifted
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1/2 cup butter
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 1/2 cups sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 egg + 1 yolk well beaten
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 cup ripe bananas, mashed
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3/4 cup buttermilk
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 teaspoon vanilla extract

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sift flour once. Put in a bowl with other dry ingreindents and mix them all together with a whisk. Cream butter and add sugar gradually. Add eggs and beat well. Add mashed bananas and beat again. Add flour to mixture alternately with the buttermilk, a little each time. Beat after each addition until smooth. Add vanilla and mix in. Bake in 2 greased round cake pans (or line bottom of each pan with parchment). Cakes should bake about 25 minutes. Watch them for light brown top – toothpick should come out of the center clean. Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes then turn onto a rack to cool completely.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cake Flour Substitute: If you find yourself without cake flour, fill the one cup measure with 2 Tbsp corn starch and then fill with regular flour

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Super Special Cream Cheese Frosting
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3 ounces cream cheese softened
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Tablespoon pure maple syrup
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Tablespoon sour cream
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3 to 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Pecans or walnuts (optional – see assembly


                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Beat together butter and cream cheese. Mix in next three ingredients. Add sifted powdered sugar little by little until stiff enough to frost cake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cake Assembly
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I frost the middle and top of the cake only. Then sprinkle the top with pecans or walnuts. For me, it creates a better frosting:cake ratio and it’s easier! If you want to frost the sides too, double the frosting recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Canadiana at its very very best!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            NANAIMO BARS!! for heavens sake
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            RAISIN TARTS or I make a large raisin tart in square pan with removable bottom deco with whip cream

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I have two that I make. Martha Steward's: “Grand Raspberry Trifle” I included the link below. I also add sliced peaches & when in season I add macerated blackberries. You can buy a nice trifle bowl at “Bed Bath and Beyond” for well under $20, leads to a nice presentation & will make transport to your next “potluck gathering” easy!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The other dessert is from the Epicurious website: “Warm Chocolate Raspberry Pudding cake” guaranteed to satisfy.... Be sure you use the best chocolate and cocoa you can find, I recommend Valrhona or Callebaut.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Martha Steward link

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Epicurious link


                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I've almost always brought dessert when asked to bring something, so I have a number of "signature" desserts. It mostly depends which group of friends or family is doing the eating.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                With one group, it's flourless chocolate cake. I use the cake recipe from Michael's of Santa Monica, with Maida Heatter's ganache from her Queen Mother's Cake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Another group asks for my German chocolate cake, from Ethan Becker's JOY OF COOKING (the one that came out in the 1990s). I also use the cake recipe with chocolate buttercream and ganache.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And there's another chocolate cake that comes from a Hershey's cookbook (and on the back of some cans of cocoa). I use either buttercream or ganache on that, too. If I do ganache, I often will put raspberry jam in the center layer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Also, fruit tarts, particularly using Martha Stewart's Perfect Nut Crust from ENTERTAINING.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The 1-2-3-4 cake is the basis for a lot of desserts. I especially like mixing that with lemon curd, fruit, and whipped cream. You can do that as a cake or a trifle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Another is strawberry shortcake using leftover biscuit dough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And crisps and crumbles and cobblers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And creme caramel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If any of these ideas sounds good to you, use it. Maybe people will come to think of it as your signature dessert.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                (The only things I don't make are pies, cookies, brownies, and cheesecake: everyone else makes better piecrust; I never time cookies right, and hate making 3 dozen little things instead of one big thing; no brownie recipe has ever yielded something I actually liked; and I cannot for the life of me understand eating cheesecake.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                23 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hooray! Someone else (apart from me) who does not care for cheescake. Everyone else seems to love it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Re cheesecake, gents: http://www.dianasdesserts.com/index.c...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Or any other recipe for Japanese cheesecake. A cross between génoise and cheesecake, not gummy, stiff, or overrich, none of the usual cheesecake sins.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Please try it, it's one of the best things I make. Just barely cooled it is heaven (chilled too is wonderful).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My MIL (no mean baker herself) always has me make several when we go see her - they can be frozen.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Only one of the wonderful gifts poor Japan has given the world (and patisserie).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I was looking over the recipe and the reviews .. some questions:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. the recipe does not indicate when to add salt; when should I add it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. do you use a springform pan? Some have had trouble with water leakage, even with layers of foil wrapped around.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. do you let it cool, outside of oven, in it's water bath?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'd love to make this but want it to come out right the first time. (I don't know if I have 8" pan, know I have 9", including a 9" square that I use for brownies, etc.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Beat it into the cheese.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I usually use an 8", 3" deep Wilton pan for it, I'm done with the springform pan in water nightmare, not worth it (this unmolds if you're very gentle, once it's cool). If using a 9" use a round one, the square one's capacity is too large.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. On a rack out of the water bath.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Another really good recipe but the pics aren't attractive - it looks like the one in the first link: http://www.food.com/recipe/japanese-c...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So, you grease the bottom and sides and then cut out parchment paper to fit bottom and sides? I hear you on springform pans. Why would the square one being too large matter? I have plenty of round 9" ones, so that's not a problem.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Funny it calls for 9 oz cream cheese .. the pkgs come in 8 oz!!!! Just so happens I have a partly used one in the fridge so that's not that much of a problem.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The 9oz of cream cheese means that the recipe originated in a country that uses the metric system. 250 gm is 8.8 oz.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Considering that it was Buttertart who recommended it, I'm going to give it a try, but I'm not promising that I'll like it ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't like the cloying texture of cheesecake, even when my sister (a great baker) makes it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have no problem with wrapping the bottom of a springform pan with a double layer of heavy-duty foil, something I have done numerous times when making RLB's Chocolate Oblivion Torte. The leakage is minimal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I use PAM on my pan and line the bottom only with parchment.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The 9" square pan area is 81 square inches, the round pan area is 64 inches (good day to figure this out, it being 3/14) so the liquid capacity of the square is greater and you'd get a thinner cake.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The texture is nothing whatsoever like what you expect, trust me. Have I ever steered you wrong?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I like Rose Levy Beranbaum's suggestion in her Beautiful Cakes to use an (otherwise useless) 9" silicon cake pan to seal a springform - I hae always had leakage with foil, not sure why.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Go with the second recipe I posted, it's the one I usually use - I posted the other link because the photo was better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh, so you think the second recipe (w/out photo) is a better recipe?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I was thinking of using PAM. I have a great recipe for banana bread (with walnuts) (it has both fresh and powdered ginger) and I use those 6 at a time attached little loaf pans. I use PAM for these and everything comes out perfectly every time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It appeals because it uses less cream cheese (and I've made it about 10x since last summer).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I almost always use PAM, except with my Bundt pan and madeleine pans, for which I prefer the Wilton cake release stuff. (Homemade version is equal parts shortening, vegetable oil, and flour, mixed smooth together. I just buy it.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    BT that really does look good and I've never had it; will give it a whirl sometime.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's the happiest recent addition to the regular repertoire.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Buttertart, I thought of you last night as I made my Japanese cheesecakes x 2, and again this morning (yes, I had to redo them) to rectify my baking mishap the night before.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've come to the conclusion that this cake has to be cooked at a higher temperature (in my oven). This puzzles me because my oven thermometer was reading the right internal temperature. The cakes have fallen twice, and it isn't due to sudden temp. changes. (Sometimes I continue to cook with oven turned off before opening a crack). Mine also doesn't brown as quickly as others have claimed it would, so I'll have to work with the temp.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The only changes I made to the recipe were increasing the sugar only slightly, and I substituted 1/3 milk for sour cream. I pretty much followed teochew's tips.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Almost forgot, I thought the cakes fell the first time because I forgot to double the flour, so I wasn't on to the temp. theory till the second time around. This is why I had to redo them, but I am truly filled with sorrow as they did not remain tall for me. Definitely a great dessert, one of the cakes was at least presentable. Will try again soon ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Please take pictures the next time. I'd like to see a picture of the inside.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Flour conversion was completely off and I didn't double check. Serves me right, but of course I'd need a hotter oven if my cake is wet :P

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              60g cake flour (2 ounces) <correction 2/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon?>
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              20g corn starch (1 ounces) < ~ 1/7 cup?>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yep souschef, I can feel your snicker. This chick's not gettin a scale, kay? Just sayin... ;D

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              edit: Missed this one too
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              140 gr superfine sugar (5 ounces) <correction 3/4 cup?> I really have to go back and recheck my measurements, but I'm sure what I had was completely off to begin with.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'll be using these measurements after having a chance to doublecheck. I think these should be okay, unless someone sees something I need to change. Most of you don't need this but posting anyways ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Japanese Cheesecake from Dianasdesserts.com (measurements converted to volume)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3/4 cup superfine sugar, a slight more than in original
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                6 egg whites
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                6 egg yolks
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 (8-ounce) brick + 1 ounce Philadelphia cream cheese
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3 fluid ounces + 1 scant Tablespoon fresh milk (will sub in some sour cream
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                )2/3 cup cake flour
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 rounded Tablespoons corn starch
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1/4 teaspoon sea salt
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice (I used 1/2 Meyer lemon)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Not getting this the first and second time bothered me so much that I will probably do this again hopefully before Sunday. If I don't it will be a thorn in my side for sure, and I don't want to be a grouch ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Buttertart, dying to know if you'll get the chance to compare versions. As soon as I get this done I'll eventually do the same.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You know, I did the one with 3 eggs, 7 oz cream cheese, no flour, just cornstarch. (the recipe w/out a photo). I followed the recipe EXACTLY and it came out perfectly. I think I liked it even better the next day after it'd hung out in the fridge. If you want a bigger cake, couldn't you double this one or do 1 1/2?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I did the apricot glaze and I thought that made it just right.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'll be trying that one soon too, but there were several reasons I wanted to try this one first ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I haven't made the other one yet but I shall. The cakes (7 oz cheese one) do deflate a little when removed from the oven but are still about 2" deep in an 8" pan after they cool. I wonder if the melting of the cheese has an effect on the stability of the cake (you don't melt the cheese for the 7 oz one).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    <suppressing snicker> what do you have against scales? They make life so much easier. And they are not expensive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    When you measure 2/3 cup you could well be off by 1 Tablespoon.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    How do you measure 1/7 cup ?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    20g cornstarch is not 1 ounce. You are 40% off.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have always wondered - what is a "scant tablespoon"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Just funnin' you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Cake Bible has handy conversion tables for people who refuse to buy scales.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What fun is that? This is my way of running with scissors ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: lilgi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But then you could waste ingredients and end up tearing your hair out wondering why the recipe did not work. Oh well, if you tear your hair out you could use those scissors to even out the mess :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Oh BTW, 1/7 cup is 2-2/7 Tablespoons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: souschef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks souschef, my corrections above only show 2 Tablespoons. If I get jinxed again I'll be hissing at another item in my kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. I got into Gulab Jamun a couple of years ago. It is something people look forward to and are disappointed if I make something else. To those who are not familiar with it, it essentially fried milk balls. You use powdered milk and cream mixed into a dough and fried and then they go into a syrup, sugar, water and rose water. I garnish it with chopped pistachios and dust it with edible gold dust. The gold dust is available in most good cooking and gourmet shops.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It is not difficult to make. Keep the balls light and fry until golden brown. I was never so disappointed as when I ordered it in an Indian restaurant. They must have been serving leftovers from some days previous. They were heavy and leaden. Fresh, they are light and fluffy,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You can Google up recipes. I use the recipe in Andrea Nguyen's book Asian Dumplings. There is not bad recipe in the book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I just Googled up some recipes and most had too much flour. What i use is 1C powdered milk+/-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1/4 c. flour
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        pinch of soda
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1/2 C. whipping/heavy cream


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Mix it all together. If the dough seems a bit dry and crumbly, add a bit of water a tsp at a time. Roll the dough into a log and divide it iinto 12 even pieces. The on line recipes will give you the syrup recipe. The gold or silver dust is my idea. It "gilds" the lily :-)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        neutral oil for frying

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. If you need something simple and relatively cheap, Buttermilk Panna Cotta is lovely. Both the Nancy Silverton/Campanile and the lighter Grammercy Tavern versions are excellent. Add a little vanilla paste.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Another wonderful cake is the banana cake with chocolate ganche from The Cake Bible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JudiAU

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I make a kind of combo of a tiramisu/trifle using pound cake instead of ladyfingers. It is really heavy and dense-I describe it as a "gut bomb". In a pinch to provide a last minute dessert for my husbands squadron lunch I made this and until we moved, I was always requested to make it for promotions, retirements ect. It is actually too rich and heavy for me. I cut the pound cake into slices, dip in a combo of espresso and coffee liquer and layer in pan, top with a combo of mascarpone cheese and whipped cream sweetened with powdered sugar and rum, then a layer of grated chocolate and coco powder. Build as many layers as you like and finish with the coco powder and chocolate curls. Yikes!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I make a chocolate mousse pie, from a recipe by Spice Islands. It was in an ad with a coupon. It is easily found online:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I also make a bourbon pecan tart with chocolate drizzle, from a recipe by Cooking Light. I admit to bumping up the pecans I put in, which takes it out of the category of "cooking light"!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            On the lighter side, I also make this citrus salad with ginger yogurt.