twinkie key lime pie

The Twinkie Key Lime Pie

So after doing extensive research for an up-coming blog post involving whiskey with a couple of friends who own a medical marijuana dispensary, I was on my way home when, for some unexplained reason, I had a sudden urge to consume multiple packages of Hostess Twinkies. Maybe it was spawned from recent reports announcing their soon demise (or perhaps I just had a sweet tooth), but I was suddenly jonesin’ for some serious sponge cake face time. Luckily for me (and those around me), I was not driving but had a sympathetic chauffeur who gladly pulled into the next 7-Eleven in order to shut me up, as well as to record my drunken, zombie-like stagger into the store on his iPhone.

While at the cake and cookie display I found that indeed the Hostess Twinkies were no longer being stocked. In its place was the ‘Cloud Cake’ made by Little Debbie which looked to be a Twinkie clone. I encountered two young skateboard enthusiasts who were eating out of opened packages of cherry pies and mini donuts. They had blazing red slits for eyes and looked to be in a mild state of euphoria as I reached across them and grabbed a box of those golden crème filled delights. “Dude, those are awesome!” said the taller of the two. “You’re gonna be soooo stoked!”

I thanked him for his support, paid for my treasures and then treated my chauffeur to a YouTube-worthy clip of me face planting after tripping over a parking curb. Thirty minutes later I was alone in my kitchen and just about to sample one of the Cloud Cakes when I noticed that on my counter was a large bag of un-used limes. For some reason a key lime pie also sounded like something that would taste really good at this moment and I realized that I had all the ingredients. I decided that now would be a good time to make that pie since I needed something to keep my hands busy as I was desperately trying to regain sobriety. I un-wrapped my first pack of Twinkies, eh…Cloud Cake, and then went to the freezer and pulled out my store-bought, pre-made deep-dish pie crust. And just as I was about to take my first bite of that bright yellow love log, it slipped out of my hand and fell into the pie tin. Suddenly, there was a bright light and the sound of angels singing! The room began to slowly spin and the music started to intensify! Could this be a sign from above?

Nah, I was pretty wasted. So I thought I’d combine the two and this is what I came up with.

Katt’s Twinkie (Cloud Cake) Key Lime Pie

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Almond Spice Cookies with Anise Frosting

These cookies are the answer to my love of Jingles cookies, but my dislike of crunchy cookies. I made an almond-gingerbread hybrid dough. The almond paste gives the cookie a nice chew and the ginger/molasses gives the cookie a hint of spice. A light anise buttercream frosting finishes these off with my favorite taste of the holidays.

Almond Spice Cookies with Anise Frosting

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Rosemary Sea Salt Blondies

I have a special place in my heart for all of my baked-good creations, but this one has an extra large piece of it. Blondies are my kind of dessert. I like brownies, but I really have to be in the mood for that much chocolate. Blondies are always delicious. They are like a thick, chewy cookie in bar form. Add a little savory rosemary and sea salt and you have a more sophisticated version, one that belongs in your holiday cookie tins.

Rosemary Sea Salt Blondies

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Baking for Friends: Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins

It was difficult for me to pick a recipe to share with you from Kathleen King’s Baking for Friends. This book is chock-full of baking recipes. from cookies to scones to cakes, made by King, the owner of Tate’s Bake Shop in the Hamptons.

I decided on these muffins because I adore lemon-poppy seed muffins, but have never made them myself, and have not eaten one in years. They were every bit as tasty as I remembered. Moist, tart, sweet and awesome. Here they are for you to try as well.

PS – Tate’s is offering our readers $5 off an autographed copy of Baking for Friends. Just enter the code BAKEOFF at checkout.

Tate’s Bake Shop Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins

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My One-Item Christmas Gift Guide

Christmas is coming, which means that it’s time for many of my favorite blogs, especially the food ones, to give me their annual list of suggestions for the foodies in my life (see here and here, for example).  Now, I enjoy reading what other people like as much as the next guy, but the problem with lists like these, for me,  is twofold.  Uno, the things are often super-specific. I can already tell you that my mom will not like tea that tastes like pine trees, or even sounds like it might taste like pine trees.  Two, the gifts on these lists tend to offend my delicately frugal sensibilities ($24 for 12 oz. of olive oil?  Seriously? In my dreams.)

And so, ESers, I bring you the only food gift you need this holiday season: the classic cast iron skillet.  Here are five reasons why it makes the perfect gift:

1. Everyone needs one, whether they know it or not, and if they already have one, they probably need it in another size.  (Come on, so cute!)

2. It’s perfect for a tight budget.  They are a good value to begin with, and I find them often at thrift stores where, after simple re-seasoning, they are at least as good as new.

3. Not only functional, if you hang it on the wall, it makes you look like you know what you are doing in the kitchen.  Just be sure to use wall anchors.

4. It offers endless cooking adventures.  My new fav: cake baking (see photo above and recipe below).

5.  Even for the non-cook,  cast iron skillets always come in handy:

Skillet Apple Cake

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Honeyed Almond Blackberry Pinenut Tart

You know, I consider myself to be a pretty lucky lady. Not win-the-lottery lucky, but my life is pretty good. Maybe it’s the holidays making me soft, but I’m really feeling my luck lately. I’m lucky in love. I’m lucky to have a job that I enjoy, I’m lucky that my children are healthy (even if they are terribly mischievous), and I’m lucky that I get to share my recipes with all of you. One of the perks of the latter is getting to try new and different products in my recipes. I received a sample set of honey from bee raw honey, and I couldn’t wait to try it out. The first thing I made was one of these tarts. I made one again the next day, and one the day after that. It has been thoroughly tested, and deliciousness is guaranteed. You’ll feel pretty lucky too, after you eat one.

Honeyed Almond Blackberry Pinenut Tart

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Shortcut Gingerbread Beignets

Howdy!  So, how’s everyone coming with those holiday gifts and such? I am being a big giant procrastinator this year, for sure!  I usually make gifts for peeps because 1) I like to get my craft on and 2) I’m super cheap.  That didn’t sound right.  I’m frugal.  Better word choice.. Anyways, I’ve only bought about 25% of my list (eek!) and haven’t made a darn thing yet.  Not panicking, not panicking…breathe.

OK, so seeing as how I have a lot on my proverbial plate, I don’t have a lot of time to make a yeast dough with rise time and blah blah blah. Clearly,  I don’t even have time to construct proper sentences.

So here’s a quickie recipe to brighten your holidays!

Shortcut Gingerbread Beignets

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