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Blog2018-03-29T13:11:32+00:00

Cinnamon Pecan Bundt Cake

My Favorite Vietnamese Spice: Cinnamon Pecan Bundt Cake - After tasting four varieties of ground cinnamon from Penzeys, an on-line spice company, their Vietnamese variety was an easy pick as my favorite, then as well as now, for this Cinnamon Pecan Bundt Cake. At the restaurant where I worked at that time, we chose to go with this brand when we were looking for spices with distinctive flavor.....

Blackberry Cobbler

Blackberry Flashback: Blackberry Cobbler - This is how I became inspired to create this Blackberry Cobbler. A few years ago, when I lived in Lenox, Massachusetts, a small blackberry bush with a few scraggly berries, just appeared in my garden one summer. It must have been wild since I didn’t plant it. Nevertheless, there it was, right at the front of the garden calling to me. After the snow had cleared

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Coconut Oil

Butter v. Coconut Oil: Chocolate Chip Cookies with Coconut Oil - I had never baked with coconut oil until I received Bravetart, a new baking book by Stella Parks, and saw that quite a few recipes called for it. Inspired, I ventured off into into a project to see what coconut oil would do for one of my proven recipes: Chocolate Chip Cookies. My experiment included a group of tasters and three separate.....

Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake

3 Ways to Jazz up a Bundt Cake: Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake - Of course, you can drizzle a simple glaze onto a Bundt Cake and make it look beautiful, or just dust it with powdered sugar, but in this post, I’m going to show you how you can make them even more special with my “three ways to jazz up a Bundt Cake”: 1) A Cascade of Fresh Raspberries    2) A Handful of Edible Flowers    3) An Inverted Rose.....

Banana Brown Bread

Cooling on the kitchen counter: Banana Brown Bread - The Inspiration for Banana Brown Bread: When I first started my blog, my son sent me an email with recollections of a few items that he remembered me baking when he was growing up. One of those things was this Banana Brown Bread. In the email, he reminisced about banana bread “cooling on the kitchen counter”. I knew immediately which.....

Lemon Chiffon Mousse Cake

A Cake for Mom: Lemon Chiffon Mousse Cake - I can see this day so plainly even though it happened many years ago when I was in high school: my mother (I always called her “Mother”) is driving and I am hemming my red dress, which has a voluminous full circle skirt−a “ballerina” skirt. I am not looking at the road or the scenery; with thimble, needle and matching red thread, I am totally focused on the.....

Chocolate Fondue

Easy-to-make Warm Chocolate Dessert: Chocolate Fondue - Chocolate Fondue is a fun dessert, as well as an easy-to-make dessert, where your family or friends can gather around the fondue pot and dip all kinds of goodies into warm melted chocolate and no one worries about the drips. Or, it can be an intimate dessert for just two people. The goodies might start with fresh fruit and berries and then swing off.....

Chocolate Praline Palet D’Or Cake

How to make a Palet d’Or Cake: Chocolate Praline Palet d’Or - Before I jump into showing you how to make this Chocolate Praline Palet d’Or, I thought I should answer this question: what exactly is a Palet d’Or? The answer is: #chocolate #chocolatecake #chocolatemousse #chocolatemoussecake #chocolateglaze #gateau #fancyfrenchchocolategateau #goldleaf #paletdor.....

Devil’s Food Chocolate Cupcakes

Last-Minute Valentine Cupcake Tray: Devil’s Food Chocolate Cupcakes - I know it’s getting to be “last-minute”, with Valentine’s Day just a couple of days away, but if you need a tray of beautiful Valentine cupcakes, try these Devil’s Food Chocolate Cupcakes. Of course, they are delicious anytime, not just on Valentine’s Day. With just a few components, you can put together a pretty presentation.....

Shirl’s Brooklyn Blackout Cake

Blog……Interrupted: Shirl’s Brooklyn Blackout Cake - It’s been awhile since I posted to my website, but today I am re-posting a recipe that I originally posted almost a year ago (March 2016): Shirl’s Brooklyn Blackout Cake. My life was interrupted, so too was my blog. I lost my voice; for months, I’ve simply had nothing to say. A year ago I could look out my kitchen window at a snow-covered.....

Strawberry Tarts with Diplomat Cream

A Visit to Fauchon in Paris: Strawberry Tarts with Diplomat Cream - Since cooking school, I had always been told that if you ever go to Paris, you have to go to Fauchon. I finally got my chance a few years ago, but I was not prepared for what I would see there. A visit to Fauchon was like heaven on earth for a passionate pastry person like me. It was amazing with the most beautiful foods you will ever see.....

Biscuit-Style Strawberry Shortcakes

An Old-Fashioned Shortcake: Biscuit-Style Strawberry Shortcakes - This is the best strawberry shortcake you will ever have. It is a follow-up to my last post: Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding (6.24.16) because both recipes were inspired by the same book, authored by Chef Larry Forgione, whose New York restaurant, An American Place, was getting a lot of buzz in the mid-1990’s.....

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding

My secret tip for a silky-smooth pudding: Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding - I had this pudding for dessert at lunch about twenty years ago and never forgot it. The lunch was at a restaurant called "An American Place" in New York City, owned by Larry Forgione. His cookbook, by the same name, had just been published and I bought a copy that day at the restaurant. The chef signed my book.....

Raspberry Almond Frangipane Tart

What you need to know about Frangipane: Raspberry Almond Frangipane Tart - If you like to bake, you definitely want to know about Frangipane because it is such a versatile and delicious filling, which is also easy to make. It is a creamy almond filling with a base of ground almonds and sugar, called TPT (tant pour tant−so much X for so much−or equal parts) in the French pastry lexicon.....

Lemon Chiffon Roulade

Mother’s Day Menu: Lemon Chiffon Roulade - One of my favorite tasks when I was a restaurant pastry chef was writing menus; this dessert−Lemon Chiffon Roulade−is lifted right from the Mother’s Day Menu 2011 at The Old Inn On The Green (New Marlborough, MA). Each year, my Mother’s Day Menu would have three dessert choices: definitely something chocolate, probably something fruit-y.....

Sally Lunn Cinnamon Buns

Seriously Cinnamon: Sally Lunn Cinnamon Buns - I’ve been in love with Sally Lunn dough for a while now. Although it is a brioche-like yeast dough, it is a little easier to make because the butter in this recipe is melted and added to the liquids instead of being thrown into the mixer in chunks at the end of mixing like a classic brioche. You can read more about Sally Lunn, the dough and the story.....

Ginger Lemon Scone Thins

Wonderful Crust: Ginger Lemon Scone Thins - #breakfastcookie #coffeebreak #coffeeklatch #teatime - I love the concept of thin scones, which was inspired by Rose Levy Beranbaum. What’s so great about these is all the crust and crunchiness; when you bite into one, it’s truly a mouthful of crust. Regular scones have a soft center with crust on the top and bottom. With Scone Thins, you get just.....

Sally Lunn Bread Pudding

Reaching into my Memory Pool: Sally Lunn Bread Pudding - Ok, so far I’ve made five batches of Sally Lunn Buns (2.01.16 Post) trying to get the recipe just right. I wanted the flavor to grab you, I wanted the texture to be just right, and I wanted it to be baked as perfectly as possible. Having done all that to the best of my ability, I’ve hopefully created a memorable recipe. But now, I have a situation.....

Chocolate Glazed Fudge Brownies

Party Dress: Chocolate Glazed Fudge Brownies - This is a follow-up to my post “The Brownie Lesson: Triple-Chocolate Nut Brownies” (1.25.16), where the brownies are very home-y and kid-friendly. In this post, the brownies are glazed and garnished: all dressed up for a party. When deciding how to decorate a dessert or batch of brownies for a party, it’s an easy leap for me to think of the project.....

Sally Lunn Buns

The Legend of Sally Lunn: Sally Lunn Buns - Close your eyes and imagine a scene in Bath, England over three hundred years ago. In the scene, a young woman is carrying a big basket of “buns” and selling her wares in the lanes around Bath Abbey, near the pastry shop where she works, in Lilliput Alley. If you peek into her basket underneath the big white napkin, you will see large round loaves with the.....

Triple-Chocolate Nut Brownies

The Brownie Lesson: Triple-Chocolate Nut Brownies - When I was a little girl, I learned how to make brownies from my mother, who had a well-worn paperback cookbook called New Recipes for Good Eating (1949), published by the Proctor & Gamble Company, and featuring their vegetable shortening: Crisco. Mother loved that little cookbook and she always used Crisco.

Cranberry Cream Cheese Scone Thins

Inspired by Rose: Cranberry Cream Cheese Scone Thins - I became a big fan of Rose Levy Beranbaum when her first cookbook, The Cake Bible, came out in 1988; since then it has become a classic. As each of her many cookbooks were released, I kept buying them and continued to be an avid fan. I have baked many of Rose’s recipes, always with great success. Besides giving you great recipes, one .....

Bite-Size Almond Cakes (Amandinas)

The Visual Language of Pastry: Bite-Size Almond Cakes (Amandinas) - Early in my pastry career, I had the chance to combine a week of classes at Lenôtre with a vacation in France. The vacation was very memorable but the highlight was the Petits Fours (literal translation: small oven−or tiny pastries also known as mignardises) class, held at the Lenôtre professional pastry school in Plaisir, located.....

French Apple Pie

Not Your Mom’s Apple Pie: French Apple Pie - I couldn’t decide how to describe this pie. I knew it was a little unorthodox, a little nonconformist and somewhat unconventional by American standards of what defines an apple pie. My inspiration for this reconfigured apple pie comes from François Payard, one of my all-time favorite pastry chefs, who I once took a plated dessert class with at the French.....

Caramel Popcorn with Cashews & Cranberries

A Big Bowl of Hospitality: Caramel Popcorn with Cashews & Cranberries - As I was thinking about a story that would illustrate this recipe, I thought of a long ago and far away food memory involving my Great Aunt Jen.........When I was growing up, our family was always taking road trips. There were five of us, Mother and Daddy, and the three kids: my younger brother Dan Jr., my little sister Kay, and.....

Financier Batter

Classic French: Financier Batter - You will recognize Financiers as those little brick-shaped mini cakes known as petits-fours in the classic French pastry lexicon. If you are ever wondering about the definition of French pastries or other foods, I love this blog/website for its French-to-English Food Glossary: Clotilde Dusoulier’s Chocolate & Zucchini. Her definition: “a small almond cake shaped.....

Chunky Apple Filling

Cook it or Bake it: Chunky Apple Filling - This filling was designed to be used as an all-purpose apple filling that can be used for pies, tarts breakfast pastries, or anything else that you might think of. It can either be cooked in a skillet on top of the stove or baked in the oven, depending on your mood. Either way is easy. The flavorings include honey and Calvados. Although there is no cinnamon, there’s.....

Pie Dough Express

Easy as Pie: Pie Dough Express - Sometimes when you are in a hurry and a little stressed, you think of ways to cut corners just to save a little time. This was my frame of mind when, without really thinking about it too much, I put a disk of soft freshly-made pie dough on a Silpat mat, covered it with a sheet of plastic wrap, rolled out the dough quickly, rolled the whole thing up on the rolling pin and stuck it.....

Apple Financier Cakes

From Fancy to Home-y: Apple Financier Cakes - The name “Apple Financier” evokes both “fancy” and “home-y” at the same time. Financiers are classic French petits fours: tasty little almond cakes made with lots of almonds, buerre noisette (browned butter), and egg whites. They get baked in tiny rectangular petits fours-size pans (or molds) that are shaped like little gold bricks. Even though this.....

Sultana Scones

The Handmade Scone: Sultana Scones - Sultana Scones have both Irish and British roots and the word “Sultana” is their term for what we call golden raisins. These Sultana Scones are not only speckled with plump golden raisins, they are golden brown and crusty, with a soft interior crumb. They are great as a breakfast treat, or afternoon tea, if you happen to be in the British mode.

Morning Glory Muffins

The “All Things are Possible” Muffins: Morning Glory Muffins - “Heavenly Blue” Morning Glories for me are the epitome of promise, of optimism, of hope. As their azure blue blooms unfurl in the bright morning sun, they give me the feeling that for today “all things are possible”, a feeling of happiness and sunniness. I’ve always made this connection between Morning Glories and good things since.....

Snickerdoodles

Baking a Memory: Snickerdoodles - This is a post for Berek, (aka the Snickerdoodle Kid), my grandson by marriage. When he heard that I was creating this blog, his one request was a recipe for Snickerdoodles. Berek is in college now, but when he was little I spoiled him with homemade cookies: Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, and.....Snickerdoodles.

Blueberry Crème Brûlée

Serendipitous: Blueberry Crème Brûlée - This seems implausible and a little too fantastic to be believed: I go to an island, I find a kitchen store, in the store I find a book, and inside the book is a message telling me where to go for dinner tonight. It is dusk on Nantucket, the end of an almost perfect day: sunshine and blue skies with no wind. It’s not just any day though; it’s the 4th of July.....

Mango Vanilla Gelato

The Mango Tree: Mango Vanilla Gelato - Often inspiration arrives unexpectedly, as it did this past April in the form of an email. As I browsed through my new email list, one item stood out. Aside from the fact that it was from my son, Greg, who I am always happy to hear from, the subject matter definitely alerted my curiosity; it just said “mangoes”.....

Shirl’s Gelato Mix

A Gelato Journey: Shirl’s Gelato Mix - I was bitten by the gelato bug about ten years ago and have been making gelato ever since, both professionally, and more recently, at home. When the December 2005 issue of Pastry Art & Design, a professional pastry magazine—now an on-line magazine called Dessert Professional—arrived, I read it cover-to-cover; the whole issue was about Gelato.

Creamy White Strawberry Shortcake

Decoration Day: Creamy White Strawberry Shortcake - This is just a snippet of a food memory from the time when I was growing up in Oklahoma—a flashback really. It is morning sometime in early June and Grandma Anderson (my mother’s mother) is busy in her kitchen putting together Strawberry Shortcake for the picnic that we will have later in the day at the cemetery.....

Creamy White Shortcake

A Basic Cake-Style Shortcake: Creamy White Shortcake - This is an almost white cake, the idea borrowed from my Grandmother, as you will see in my next post: Creamy White Strawberry Shortcake (6.15.15). The white comes from using mostly egg whites (there’s only one yolk in this cake). The creamy color goes beautifully with all kinds of berries.....

Lemon Curd & Sablé Breton Bars

Shirl’s List of Ways to use Lemon Curd: Lemon Curd & Sablé Breton Bars - This is a follow-up to my last post, Lemon Curd (3.09.15). Since I made a large batch of Lemon Curd in the process of creating that post, I was motivated to create something new to show an example of one way to use it. A flash of inspiration produced Lemon Curd & Sablé Breton Bars.....

Lemon Curd

Today’s Lesson: Lemon Curd - The three of us are standing at the stove, our eyes focused like lasers on the sumptuous and thickening daffodil-yellow liquid in the big pot before us. We take turns stirring the precious golden mixture, using a wooden spoon, having been instructed that it will be done when you can draw your finger over the back of the spoon and the mark.....

Irish Soda Bread: 3 Variations

A Glossary of Variations: Irish Soda Bread - Everything that I have read about traditional Irish Soda Bread and its beginnings points to a very spare and frugal recipe consisting of only four ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk. This bread, because of its frugality, was popularized by necessity in the mid-19th century during the great famine in Ireland.....

Coco-Almond Macaroon Cookies

Ratios: Coconut Almond Macaroon Cookies - There are many well-known ratios in cooking and baking; I learned about ratios in cooking school and have used them ever since. Probably the best explanation of ratios that I have seen is a paperback called Ratio by Michael Ruhlman (2009), which explains “the simple codes behind the craft of everyday cooking”.....

Cranberry Muffins

Sweet, Tart, & Crunchy: Cranberry Muffins - Eating one of these muffins delivers sweetness, tartness, and crunchiness all in one neat little package. What makes the flavor of these muffins so great is the combination of dried and fresh cranberries. In one bite, you get the sweetness of a dried cranberry and in the next bite fresh cranberry tartness. Then, as a bonus, there’s that.....

Creamy Pumpkin Pie

Dear bon appétit: Please Don’t Ban the Pumpkin Pie! - Dear bon appétit: I picked up my November 2014 copy of bon appétit magazine last week, and was very disappointed in the headline for your Thanksgiving dessert section: “YOU DON’T NEED A PUMPKIN PIE ON THE TABLE: What you do need is plenty of other (more decadent, more delicious) desserts”. There are so.....

Pumpkin Ginger Muffins

“When the frost is on the punkin": Pumpkin Ginger Muffins - When I was growing up, as soon as the fall leaves started swirling and the first cold-front hit Oklahoma, my father would go around saying: “When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!”. As a former English teacher, turned school superintendent, he was able to quote quite a bit of James Whitcomb Riley’s poem.

Blueberry Muffins Shirl

Muffin Love: Blueberry Muffins Shirl - I grew up in Oklahoma, but I did not grow up with muffins. My mother always made cornbread. One grandma made biscuits and the other grandma made “light bread” every Friday before the Sabbath. Muffins, for me, lived in some faraway muffin fantasy world. I think I saw them one time in one of mother’s magazines: those big, beautiful, and voluptuous creations.....

Cream Cheese Pie & Cobbler Crust

BASIC RECIPE: Cream Cheese Pie & Cobbler Crust - This is one of the best tasting crusts you will find. It is also an easy dough to work with, not finicky at all, because I know how we all hate temperamental pie dough.  I developed this recipe to go with my Blackberry Cobbler, but it is great with any fruit or berry pie or cobbler. 

Lemon Zest Purée

Lemon Zest Purée Print AUTHOR: Shirl Gard Lemon Zest Purée is a homemade frozen convenience [...]

Orange Zest Purée

Orange Zest Purée Print AUTHOR: Author: Shirl Gard Orange Zest Purée is a homemade frozen [...]

Buttercream

Buttercream Print AUTHOR: Shirl Gard This is my go-to buttercream recipe. It is a simple [...]

Rum Sauce

Rum Sauce Print AUTHOR: Shirl Gard This booze-y custard sauce is the perfect sauce for [...]

Diplomat Cream

Diplomat Cream Print AUTHOR: Shirl Gard There is no better filling for a strawberry tart [...]

Cinnamon Syrup

Cinnamon Syrup Print AUTHOR: Shirl Gard This syrup was created to serve with Cinnamon Pecan [...]