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Blog2018-03-29T13:11:32-04:00

Creamy Pumpkin Pie

I created this pie recipe to be be memorable and to prevent many of those pesky problems that many people have when making pumpkin pie. Not only have I tested and tweaked it in my home kitchen, but professionally as well. So I feel confident in sharing this recipe with you.

My Trusty Pie Dough

This has been my go-to pie dough recipe for a long time and it never let's me down, that's why I call it My Trusty Pie Dough. I hope you find it as trusty as I do. It's easy to work with, probably because it has an additional ingredient that most  recipes don't have: a small quantity of egg. Also, ease of handling requires you to keep it chilled while working with it. Any warm pie dough will tear easily, including mine. If you work with cold dough and never stretch it,  you'll be successful.

Candied Kumquats

I developed this recipe as a garnish for plated desserts in the restaurant where I was the pastry chef, especially for Creamy Pumpkin Pie.   It consists simply of sliced fresh kumquats simmered in a sugar syrup until tender crisp. But it's just as good for home desserts or as a topping for vanilla ice cream. Candied Kumquats are so pretty and are also an easy to make treat.

Caramelized Pecans

I learned how to make caramelized nuts when I took a professional Petits Pours class at Lenôtre in France. The original recipe was for hazelnuts, but I have adapted it for pecans. Actually, the recipe works for any kind of nuts. I've also made caramelized walnuts. It's just a good basic recipe to have in your repertoire. The photo you see above shows the Caramelized Pecans garnishing my Creamy Pumpkin Pie, along with Red Wine Poached Cranberries and Candied Kumquats.

Red Wine Poached Cranberries

Poached Cranberries are the most eye-catching garnish you can  put on your holiday plates or platters. They look like shiny red jewels, unless you would rather have them frosted with a light coating of granulated sugar. I like them either way. It's a simple process: just take a box of fresh cranberries and toss them into a skillet of red wine syrup made with equal parts red wine and sugar. There's no water in the recipe so they keep for weeks in a plastic container in the refrigerator. So if you make them for Thanksgiving, make enough to last until Christmas.

Shirl’s Cranberry Almond Granola

10 Tips for Making: Shirl's Cranberry Almond Granola. All granola recipes are not created equal. This one has been tested, tweaked, and re-tested over the years since I first developed it years ago, when the chef asked me to create a house-made granola that he could use on the breakfast menu. This recipe was the result. The biggest challenge was getting the ratio of dry ingredients to liquid ingredients correct. If there’s too much liquid, the granola will be soggy; if too little, the ingredients will not bind together enough to create little clumps and clusters. In addition to the balance or ratio, a good granola recipe must have a memorable flavor. I think this one does.

Cranberry Cream Cheese Scones

Cranberry Cream Cheese Scones I’m one of those scone lovers−who prefers them thick and crusty or thin and crunchy−but not so fond of that in-between thickness. It’s just one of my quirky preferences and is more about the esthetics, how they look, than flavor. The flavor will be the same scrumptiousness no matter  how you shape them. This recipe is for one of my favorite chubby thick scones.

Nectarine Almond Cake

Easy Weekend Cake: Nectarine Almond Cake [Variation: Almond Plum Cake] This recipe for Nectarine Almond Cake makes a moist cake underneath a colorful arrangement of sliced fruit baked on top. It is easy to make in two important ways. The cake batter, which uses almond paste, is easy because it can be made in a food processor. If you haven’t used almond paste before.....

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.....