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Cake/ Dessert/ Pies/Tarts

Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake

What would the world be without chocolate chips?

What would the world be without chocolate chips you say? Definitely not as sweet for sure.

I have to admit to occasionally buying chocolate chip cookies for my kids when they were young and they would probably have been Chips Ahoy by Nabisco. But, 99% of the time they would have had homemade, warm out of the oven, cookies waiting for them when they returned from school with a tall glass of milk.

When we lived in Chicago back in the 80’s and my daughter was in pre-school, I was guilty of talking her out of going to pre-school one day so we could go to Woodfield Mall. At the time, I think that was one of the largest malls in the U.S. and they had a Mrs. Fields Cookie shop which I absolutely in love with their Macadamia Nut White Chocolate and Chocolate Chip Cookies. These cookies were always warm out the oven. So on our little outing that day, which was a cold, snowy day, we checked our heavy coats into a locker and took out for a little shopping excursion. Ummm, I can still taste those warm cookies with large pieces of macadamia nuts along with all those chocolate chips. We didn’t make a habit of skipping school but that was one nice mother/daughter day.

I was looking for a dessert to make for our bunco group and wanted something memorable. I seldom sign up for dessert because there are always so many appetizer recipes I want to try out on everyone. While out to dinner one night, my friend, Peggy told me about this dessert she had seen on one of Ina Garten’s shows. I remember seeing this show in the past but the only thing I remembered about it was her talking about going to Tate’s Bake Shop to buy their chocolate chip cookies for this recipe. Since my cc cookies are not nearly this flat and crunchy I decided to try Tate’s recipe that was printed on’s website.

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Dessert/ Morning Foods/ Pies/Tarts

Cherry and Peach Strudel

Sweet, sweet cherries.

Last August my sister and I were picking some cherries for photo op up in Door County, Wisconsin. That’s when we were out of our minds and decided to do a Segway tour in Peninsula State Park and we both fell twice off them and I’m still having shoulder trouble a year later.

I love cherries, and in August they were really cheap in the markets. I think I paid $1.99 lb. for these cherries and the peaches are some leftover from my Trader Joe’s box I bought. Before the peaches went bad and the cherries were all eaten (by me) I wanted to make something with them.

While at Pike’s Market in Seattle I had a chance to taste some Rainier cherries. They are the golden looking ones that I always pass up in the grocery store for the red ones which I always thought were better. I was wrong, they are both delicious.

My oldest son, Scott, loves Cherries and when we were visiting Chicago a while back I asked our 4 year old grandson if he liked cherries (knowing that his dad liked them). Oliver was so funny, he said “yes I like them but mom can’t buy them because dad eats them all up”; and he proceeded to say the same thing about potato chips.

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Dessert/ Desserts/ Pastries/ Pies/Tarts

Peach Tart with Raspberry Sauce

So what are you doing with those fresh peaches from the farmer’s market this summer?

(I’m off in Seattle/Vancouver/Victoria right now and hope to have lots of new ideas to cook up when I get back.)

I missed getting my Fredricksburg peaches last year and this year so I was in search for the best peach I could find. On my way back from Austin one weekend I stopped at Buckee’s Truck Stop (or gas station, or mega everything store). At the checkout, there was a bushel of home grown peaches and they were the most beautiful peaches I have seen in years. The touch was great, the smell was like just picked freshness off some farmer’s tree so I bought a few for this recipe.

You never know what you are going to get in a peach. I have picked up beautiful peaches at the grocery, liked the feel of it in my hand when I gently pressed on it, loved the smell of the peach when I took a big sniff but then when I got home with it, chilled it, got out a big bowl to cut my peach in, only to find when I cut it open it is a mealy, tastless peach. Short of asking for a sample before buying a peach, and I’m likely to do that at a farm stand, I know no other way of finding a perfect peach.

So the sad end to those fresh Buckee’s Truck stop peaches is that I kept putting off making this dessert because I did need someone to eat it. I looked at the peaches each day and the first few days they were smiling back and me saying “we’re ready”. Then I waited, and waited, and waited and when I decided it was time to make it the peaches were in no mood to be made into this nice dessert. They had puckered skin and way beyond looking pretty in their pink skins. So I ate them.

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Dessert/ Pies/Tarts

French Apple Tart

Délicieuse tarte aux pommes!

My tart and other pictures below from French class mingled with my experience of making it.

Thanksgiving is behind us and Christmas will soon be here. Aren’t we all always looking for quick but beautiful desserts to make for the holidays?

What a delicious apple tart this is and one we learned to make in our cooking class in Arles, France last March. This is the perfect time of the year to be making anything with apples because they are the best of the year and the price is right.

What an experience making this apple tart for the first time (in France) was and one we will never forget. I absolutely love taking cooking classes. You would think at my age that I would know how to cook enough to get by but that’s not enough for me; I want the experience of going different places and cooking the local foods and it’s even more fun when doing it with husband, friends, or anyone who is going to enjoy it as much as I know I am.

For this apple tart, we shopped at the local market, (see pictures below) for the apples and all the other foods we were preparing for our fantastic meal. This is about the easiest tart you will ever make and I think after trying it a few times I will be able to make it as good as our teacher’s tart. One thing is his puffed pastry came in a considerably larger sheet than what we get from Pepperidge Farm frozen pastry. The next time, I’m putting two sheets together and roll them together giving more layers of the delicate pastry. Secondly, I will use a different apple, maybe a Braeburn instead of a Jazz, for more tartness.

I did add the cinnamon which Erick (our teacher) did not. To me, apples and cinnamon go together. I may try adding some golden raisins also the next time because I just happen to have some in my pantry.

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Dessert/ Desserts/ Pies/Tarts

Strawberry Shortcakes

You’re going to say “do what with the egg yolks”.

Summer is slipping away and you will want to try this dessert before those just picked strawberries are no longer available.

My daughter first tried this recipe after seeing it on a blog and I remember her telling me the shortcakes had BOILED EGG YOLKS in them. When I was in culinary school I NEVER heard of using boiled egg yolks in a pastry. According to a La Times article, a trick from chef Larry Forgione is to add a couple of hard boiled egg yolks to his shortcake because the yolks are high in fat and low in moisture and they add richness without toughening the dough. Go figure. Well, I guess he knows what he’s talking about because these are delicious.

I’m sure I have said before that my mother use to make strawberry shortcake by first making homemade pie crust (she always made homemade). She then cut it into strips and baked it until lightly brown and crunchy and then we would crumble it up in our bowls, top with sweetened strawberries and whipped cream. I know, I know, sounds like a lot of trouble but well worth the effort.

Others, I’m sure still buy those little round shortbread cakes that get soggy after you put on your strawberries and get that first bite into your mouth. That’s ok too. But this little shortbread cake seems to be the perfect platform for those strawberries or any other sweetened fruit you may want to try.

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Dessert/ Pies/Tarts

Raspberry Cheese Pie

Hurry up November! I want a piece of this pie.

I can’t wait for my daughter’s wedding this weekend; the last of my three kids to get married and the only daughter. I have dreamed of this day for years maybe even since the day she first made her appearance on this earth.

I remember as a kid having dolls and my favorite doll, I think, was my Bride’s doll. All decked out in her long dress and veil. I just loved playing with her. Now, watching my daughter plan her wedding (and believe me, she has done most of the work), all I can think about is what shouldn’t be going into my mouth. I have been trying to be good over the last several months, giving up desserts and wine and a lot of other things.

Other than dreaming about the wedding, my other dreams are consumed with what I’m going to EAT after the wedding. I’m making a list of things I really want. Top of my list is a burger on a real bun covered with cheese, chicken gizzards next on the list, maybe a doughnut or two (one usually makes me sick), and then of course there’s dessert. So, I may take a bite of this pie just so I can experience the berry goodness, but once the wedding is over, I’m having a whole piece. Maybe I will take a whole day and just eat everything I want and get it over with.

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Dessert/ Pies/Tarts

Lemon Meringue Pie

My perfect lemon meringue pie. Finally!!!

I always wanted to put a pie in an open window overlooking a beautiful meadow so the aroma of it would waif across the open fields to someone who had a sweet tooth and ready for dessert. Oh, well, it is a window even though it doesn’t open and no beautiful meadow to look at, but it is a delicious pie which is going to get eaten.

I’ve said before how my husband loves Lemon Meringue Pie and that the first month we were married I made seven trying to perfect the kind of pie he was yearning for. Last year for his birthday I made this Lemon Meringue Tart and this year for his birthday I decided to give the Lemon Meringue Pie another chance (or me another chance anyway to try and get it right).

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Dessert/ Pies/Tarts

Coconut Oatmeal Pie

Chess, yes, oatmeal, yes, buttermilk, pecan, yes! Pie, YES

Did your mother or grandmother ever make chess pie, or maybe buttermilk pie, coconut, pecan, or oatmeal pie? If so, you will love the taste of this Coconut Oatmeal Pie. I think it has flavors of all those pies combined.

I was in Hubble and Hudson grocery the other day (small gourmet specialty market) and, like always, I’m looking around for something new to try and I came across these all natural baby coconuts that are entirely edible. When I say baby, I mean teeny tiny. They are about the size of a nickel.

There’s nothing more fun to me than walking through small specialty grocery stores. My friend, Peggy and I always enjoy exploring markets. Now, I know you think that is really boring, BUT, when we were in Italy a few years ago, we found this small market and were fascinated by the different types of meats (rabbit for one), butchered and just laying there in the display case. And the butcher was so nice and explained what different items were. We’ve found very interesting and unusual items in Asian markets in China town in NYC and also San Francisco. So, when I walk through our local gourmet store, there’s always something that catches my eye.

Back to the baby coconuts. I just tasted one and they taste just like unsweetened coconuts and you can eat the shell.  I mainly bought these for a garnish for these cute little Coconut Oatmeal Pies.

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Dessert/ Pies/Tarts

Chocolate Angel Pie

One terrific pie and you will have angelic thoughts while eating it.

It seems like all I’m doing for this blog is desserts. I do promise to get back to some real food soon. This is another recipe that I was teaching at a technique class recently. As usual, I’m suppose to be teaching pie crust class (kind of boring) so I decided to teach one pie crust and instead of the cookie crust I was suppose to make (and who doesn’t know how to make a graham cracker crust anyway), I decided to do this recipe that my sister and I have shared for years. The pie’s crust is made with a secret ingredient — saltine crackers.

My twin sister and I have put together two cookbooks. One, Double Delight (oh yeah, we are twins) and the other, Two Peas In A Pod. We put both our recipes for an ANGEL pie in our last book. Both recipes had meringue crust make with, of all things, saltine crackers and nuts. Her recipe has a filling of whipping cream and cocoa and mine has whipping cream with melted German Sweet Chocolate folded into the cream. Both are delicious but I have settled on the German Chocolate version. This pie is so rich that you can easily get 10 slices from one pie unless you are a chocolataholic and then maybe you could just eat the whole pie.

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Dessert/ Pies/Tarts

Orange Tian

Uh oh, here comes another one of those challenges! and this one I’m definitely doing again.

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

We have a neighbor who is always bringing us things to try. We get vension when he goes deer hunting, country ham when he goes back to Kentucky for a visit and this trip when they came back from South Texas we received a bowlful of oranges. Since this challenge involves oranges, I though I would put these fresh oranges to work and take them a big piece of this dessert.

I have to admit, I have never heard of an Orange Tian. If you have, then you are one step ahead of me. This challenge involved make a pate sable (crust), orange marmalade, segmenting oranges, making a caramel sauce, and doing a whipped cream where you mix in gelatin. I decided to do mine in these cute little tart pans that have been gathering dust in my pantry.

I am doing a technique class at Williams Sonoma tomorrow on pie crust. I’m not doing the pate sable crust but we are doing a pate brisee and pate sucre and a crust made with saltine crackers. I have never heard of the pate sable crust but after studying up on what I’m going to be making in class found out that the sable crust has a lot more sugar and the sucre crust. I makes it more like a cookie crust.

After making this dessert I knew I would be making it again. It was/is a beautiful dessert.  It can defnitely be made in stages. The crust could be made days in advance and frozen. The orange marmalade can be done in advance and putting it together is a breeze.

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Dessert/ Pies/Tarts

Lemon Meringue Tart

It’s not a birthday cake but it’s what my husband is getting this year for his birthday.

After 40 years of being married and cooking 98% of the meals we have ever eaten, I have yet to make a decent lemon meringue pie.

In the first couple of months of marriage I think I probably made at least 7 lemon meringue pies. Or, should I say attempted. My husband always liked the clear type filling instead of the creamy custardy type. I just never mastered that pie, so I gave up trying and I moved on to other cooking endeavors.

I ran across this recipe 10 – 15 years ago, clipped it, thinking one day I would try my hand again. Never got around to trying it, I guess because I thought I’d have to chalk that up to another failure.

Then, I took another look at the recipe, and with 40 years of cooking experiences since my first attempts at pleasing my husband with some kind of lemon “delight” I decided to try something different from the traditional lemon pie.


With the thin slices of lemon covering the crust and the absolutely wonderful curd and meringue this was everything he wanted.


Now, what other things are out there that I want to master?


Next time, I will watch my meringue a little more closely because it got a tad too brown.

Lemon Meringue Tart


Lemon Curd:

  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 3 large egg yolk


  • 1 cup flour
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons ice water
  • 1 large lemon cut into 1/16″ slices, quartered


  • 3 large egg whites
  • 6 tablespoons sugar


Curd: Combine lemon juice, sugar, cream and yolks in heavy small saucepan and whisk to combine. Cook over medium-low heat until mixture thickens and just begins to bubble, stirring constantly about 7 minutes.

  1. Immediately transfer to a bowl. Press plastic wrap onto surface of curd to prevent skin from forming. Chill until cold, 2 hours.

For crust: Combine flour, 2 tablespoons sugar and salt in food processor. Add the chilled butter and process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually add 3 tablespoons water and blend using on/off turns until mixture forms moist clumps. If dough is too dry, add more water by the teaspoonfuls. Gather dough into a ball. Flatten to disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for about a hour.

  1. Preheat oven to 450. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 12″ round. Transfer to large baking sheet. Sprinkle dough with 2 tablespoons sugar. Place lemon pieces on dough, leaving 1 1/2″ border. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over lemon pieces. Fold dough border in over lemon pieces; press edges lightly to seal. Bake until crust is golden, piercing through lemon pieces with toothpick if crust bubbles, about 25 minutes. Cool tart completely. Can be made 4 hours ahead

For meringue: Preheat oven to 450. Using mixer, beat egg whites in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Add sugar and beat until mixture is stiff but not dry.

  1. Spread lemon curd over lemon pieces in crust, covering completely. spread meringue over, covering curd completely and sealing to crust edges. Bake until meringue is golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer tart to platter.
Dessert/ Fruit Dishes/ Pies/Tarts

Peach Melba Crunch

Summer’s best peaches put to good use.

This is the third peach recipe I promised in last week’s posting. After buying a sack full of peaches at the market, I had three recipes in mind. These peaches were not only beautiful, they were very tangy and sweet. The other two dishes I made were Peach and Arugula Salad with Pancetta Chips and a Peachy Raspberry Ice Cream. This recipe has two of my favorite fruits — peaches and raspberries.

As a kid, I remember picking mulberries and dew berries but I don’t think I remember eating fresh raspberries until I was an adult. Raspberries, blackberries, figs and blue berries go great with cheese and nut trays and I have also thrown in some dried fruits which makes for a nice presentation.

Years ago I remember making my first Peach Melba. It was an ice cream dessert and had vanilla ice cream, and poached peach halves and a raspberry sauce. You poached the peaches, cooled and then made ice cream balls, topped with a peach half (upside down) and then drizzled the raspberry sauce over all. I remember the recipe saying it will be as bright as the Pope’s hat. It was, and I think this dessert is just as delicious and vivid in color.


The raspberries were bought earlier in the season when I picked them up for 99¢ and of course I bought about twenty cartons to put in the freezer. I tend to go overboard when buying berries when they get down to 99¢. Last year I had a freezer full of blueberries I lost during the power outage from the hurricane. You would think I would learn my lesson but I’m always looking for a bargain.

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