Dark Chocolate Orange Biscotti

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Cookies are good. Yes, I enjoy cookies. When Christmas ended, I was at least happy to know that there were leftover cookies in the freezer. But that time has ended. No more Christmas cookies. Sad, I know. However, there is hope. For a long time, we would get individually wrapped biscotti in bulk for the ride to work. They were good. But then my wife starting MAKING biscotti. I will never buy individually wrapped biscotti from a big box store again. Biscotti baking is not complicated – just follow the damn directions!

Wifey can make vanilla bean biscotti, chocolate, chocolate macadamia nut, the list goes on. One of my favorites is what I bring to you: Dark Chocolate Orange Biscotti. Subtle hints of orange come through in the actual biscotti, all then dipped in a smooth layer of dark chocolate. What’s not to like?

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Ooey, Gooey, Better-Than-Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

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Ooey, gooey cinnamon rolls. Isn’t that the only way cinnamon rolls should be described? Hot damn. My wife (Italian) overdoes herself in almost all cooking and baking endeavors (to my advantage typically). One day, we received a shipment of flour and all other sorts of baking materials. Of course, my scrooge-like instincts kicked in and asked “what the hell do we need all of this for?” The response was cinnamon rolls. Skeptical, I muttered this and that under my breath and hauled in yet another package from our porch to the spare bedroom.

Weeks later, Christmas morning came along and these amazing cinnamon rolls were served. Holy crap. I never need to even salivate at the thought of a Cinnabon cinnamon roll in the mall. These will do the trick every time. The dough was moist  and buttery, breaking apart by pulling at it with your fingers. The cinnamon filling was so good I could eat it alone. Usually, the table fights for the icing, but every ounce of this thing was spot on. Of course, speaking of icing, the cream cheese icing was a great balance to the cinnamon filling. I think each one of us hacked away at two in one sitting.

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New Year’s Resolution: Drink More Coquito

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Cocktails, beer, wine, does it really get any better? The holiday season brought us several additional pounds, great food, and obviously tons of booze. BUT, you may have missed out on one of the best parts of the holidays: the Coquito. Coined as “Puerto Rican Egg Nog,” the Coquito brings Christmas flavors to the palate in addition to sweet flavors of coconut and rum. Sounds awful, I know.

I jealously overheard a co-worker saying, “they should fill Nalgene bottles of that shit” and was instantly intrigued. Turns out it was some kind of amazing concoction of coconut, rum, cream and spices. Some use egg, others do not. I spent the rest of my day dreaming of booze and Christmas. When I come home to the wife, she has a small bottle of “some kind of Puerto Rican drink.” BOOM. Santa WAS good to me! Unfortunately, the bottle went quickly and I now need a recipe. Not the kind of recipe you find online. I want a genuine Puerto Rican recipe with all the secrets in it. Anyway, you may still be wondering what it tastes like.

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Baking Gone Wild! Top 10 Over-the-Top Baked Goods for the Holidays

I’ve been sucked in. For some reason, I can’t stop watching The Great American Baking Show. I don’t know if it’s the soothing voices of Nia Vardalos and Ian Gomez, the adorable British version of your grandma in Mary Berry (seriously – even her name), or the hunkish looks and personality (yes, I am comfortable with my sexuality) of Johnny Iuzzini. Whatever it is, I’m hooked. Then I started thinking about the 150 million dozen cookies my wife baked, the bread we are baking for Christmas dinner, the delicious cinnamon buns we have Christmas morning, the list goes on. We are in the heart of the season of baking. Some savory bakes, others totally sweet. Either way – we have it all. After much thought, eating, and more eating, we have the top ten breads, cakes, and bakes for the holidays. You’re welcome.

In no particular order…

10. Rolo Cheesecake Bars

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Thank god for bakers, right?

9. Six Layer S’mores Bars

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When a dessert is described as “oozing” with peanut butter, chocolate, and marshmallow, I’m in. Don’t tell me anything more.

8. Chocolate and Toffee Pecan Pinwheels

That is puff pastry. Yes, it does make everything even that much better. Carry on.

7. Pistachio Rum Mini Bundt Cakes

Pistachio Chewy Bite Mini Rum Cakes

Sure, you could make a chocolate bundt cake. But let’s be real – you’re making it from a box and nobody’s going to finish the whole thing. Try these for a change.

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Endless Christmas Cookies: Fluffernutter Candies

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I’m pretty sure my wife has made more cookies than Mrs. Clause does this time of year. Awful, I know. There’s the nostalgic cookies that remind us both of our families, then the cookies made because they are Italian and that’s what Italians do, the experimentals … the list goes on. This year, we introduced fluffernuter candies to the list. First off, if you like peanut butter, then you’ll love these. Secondly, they are very easy to make – no baking required.

These crack-like substances are made from four things: Ritz crackers, peanut butter, fluff, and chocolate. Sandwich a rich and luscious mixture of peanut butter and fluff between two Ritz crackers. STOP. DO NOT eat the sandwich. You will be tempted for sure. Then, dip these scrumptious sandwiches in melted chocolate until submerged. That’s it. Friends and family will be impressed (if you have any left by the time the holidays come around). Make sure you find a good spot to forget about them until then…because you can’t eat just one.

In case you need a “real” recipe, here it is:

Ingredients:

  • Ritz Crackers
  • Peanut Butter
  • Fluff
  • Melting Chocolates
  1. Mix together peanut butter and fluff to a ratio of your liking (half and half works well)
  2. Spread mixture onto cracker and top with another cracker
  3. Melt melting chocolates in microwave
  4. Dip/cover sandwiches in melted chocolate and let them cool

Yes…it is that easy. You’re welcome.

Every Day is Pie Day

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I know Easter is just around the corner, but I hope it’s not too late to share this recipe that came in earlier in the month for Pi Day — aka the dorkiest holiday since Festivus.

Pi Day, March 14, celebrates the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, 3.14 – and those of us who love dessert as much as we love diameters tradionally celebrate with pie. Well, in my book it’s never too late to celebrate with pie.

Viki Sater, founder of Viki’s Granola, whipped up this function-over-form crustless pie, perfect for your Easter, Passover, Pi Day or just any-day-of-the-week stuffing your piehole festivities.

Viki’s Granola Mixed Berry Crisp

Topping Ingredients:
•    ¾ cups all-purpose flour
•    ½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
•    1 cup Viki’s blueberry almond granola 
•    1 stick unsalted butter
Filling Ingredients:
•    4 cups frozen mixed berries (don’t thaw)
•    1/3 cup of sugar
•    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Directions: 
•    Preheat oven to 375oF.
•    Lightly butter oven safe ceramic bowl.
•    Place topping ingredients into a bowl, working the butter into the granola mixture. Once complete, set aside.
•    Place filling ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
•    Pour the berry mixture into the buttered ceramic bowl.
•    Pour granola mixture evenly on top of the berries.
•    Bake for 40 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the fruit juices are bubbling.
•    Let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.

 

tangerine souffles

Bake Better in 2016: Tangerine Soufflés

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If your 2016 resolution was to be a more accomplished baker, the good people of Paulding & Co. (a cooking school/space that has been featured on Top Chef and more – very cool) have a recipe just for you. (And lots of other good recipes on their site, too.) Soufflés are considered one of the trickier baked goods to pull off… we all have our stories of that fallen soufflé. Personally, I’m scared to even attempt one these days.

Paulding & Co. has some good tips, though:

What’s the secret to a good soufflé? Beating the egg whites with the sugar until they are stiff and still very shiny, then folding them into the flavor base carefully in two or three additions so that the whites do not deflate.

Hmm. Okay. So, no DeflateGate here. (You’re welcome for that year-old sports reference, by the way.) Now that we have unleashed the secrets, it’s time to try the soufflé… with a twist. It’s a sunny tangerine version!

Tangerine Soufflés

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