July 27, 2017

No-Bake Lime Cheesecake


When the temperature rises even I, as an avid baker, hesitate to turn on the oven.   Call me crazy, but when I was a kid growing up in the sweltering summers of California's San Joaquin Valley I used to bake all the time.  But mind you, I was wearing my bathing suit at the time - it was the only way I could tolerate the crazy hot weather.  These days you definitely won't catch me wearing that particular attire!

So when I was browsing the July/Aug 2017 issue of Martha Stewart Living the recipe for a No-Bake Key Lime Cheesecake immediately jumped out at me.   Even better, I had all the ingredients in my kitchen.  [Note: I used regular organic limes, not key limes.]  Graham cracker crusts are de rigueur for cheesecakes, but the twist with this recipe was it didn't require baking.  Instead you just pop it in the freezer for 15 minutes.  Genius!


The filling is super light, creamy and jam packed with lime flavor.  If you love citrus this cheesecake is right up your alley.  It's the perfect dessert for your next BBQ, but honestly I'd indulge in it for any occasion.   


July 15, 2017

Parmesan Focaccia


Apologies for the radio silence these past few weeks.  I was on a business trip to Europe and tacked on some summer holidays as well.  I live for vacation but I definitely miss my kitchen while I'm gone, especially my oven and stand mixers.

One of the first things I did when I got home after three weeks away?  Duh, bake of course!  
 

I'd been craving carbs big time so ended up making a pan of Parmesan focaccia.    Nothing better than warm, soft bread sprinkled with herbs and cheese.   I used an Anne Burrell recipe I found on The Food Network and just added cheese at the end.   The dough comes together so easily and is a dream to work with.   Only requirement is patience while the dough proofs twice.  

I served the focaccia with one of my favorite summer salads, prosciutto and melon, and it was so delicioso!  I can guarantee this will be on repeat!  


May 29, 2017

Wedding Cake & Favors


My friend Jesse was married over the weekend and it was a really beautiful event.  I was happy to contribute by making the wedding cake and cookie favors.  Can't deny that I really love how the cake turned out - simple, elegant and more important, tasty; just what Jesse wanted.  

I must confess though, in the past I shied away from making wedding cakes because the idea of it seemed so daunting.   But after the success of the baby shower cake my confidence with tiered cakes soared.  They weren't as difficult as I previously thought.


Per the bride's request, red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting made up the bottom tier while the top tier consisted of chocolate cake with chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream.  Both layers were covered in vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream.  The wedding florist decorated the cake impeccably with roses, the leaves and blooms.
 

For the evening reception each seat at dinner was set with a California cookie.  Jesse had requested the favors be decorated in blush pink, to match her wedding colors, with a gold heart placed for San Jose, her and Tyler's hometown.  They actually grew up across the street from each other!


As a baker the best compliment you can receive is that your bakes not only look good, but taste good too.  I was delighted when so many of the wedding guests came up to me during the reception to say they loved the cookies and the cake....the best seal of approval I could ask for! 

Congratulations Jesse & Tyler!!!


May 20, 2017

M&M's Cookies


What to do with a huge bag of plain M&M's that were leftover from the office ice cream sundae party?  Such was the predicament I found myself in recently.  Most people would just eat them, but that thought wasn't the most appealing to me since I've got more of a salty tooth than a sweet one.

Then I remembered those huge M&M cookies that you can find in almost every bakery and supermarket in America and I knew that was what I was going to make.  No mystery to them people.  They're basically chocolate chip cookies with the candies replacing the chips.  I under bake them just slightly so that they maintain a moist and chewy texture.   Give them a try!

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