Sweet Inspiration – No. 5


I don’t know about you, but I love fall. And this weather that we are having in Chicago is my absolute favorite. It’s chilly enough that boots and jackets are pulled out of storage and scarves are draped around necks, but not too cold that gloves and mittens and hats need to be worn. This is also the kind of weather that has me dying to make a big batch of soup, or sauce, or beans that I can eat for days and makes my house smells amazing. AND chocolate comes into more prominence in my dessert cravings. And with that, here’s this week’s round-up. Have an amazing weekend (and maybe have some cider to celebrate the beginning of fall)!

Bittersweet Chocolate Tartlets with Flaky Spelt Crust and Creme Fraiche from The Vanilla Bean Blog
Cue Jon Lovitz as “The Stoned Guy” from friends just saying “tartlet” over and over. I love small desserts. They always make me feel better about consuming more than one (or more than three). And this tartlet looks beautiful. The pictures are literally making my mouth water!

Raspberry Molten Chocolate Cake (GF and Vegan) from Beard and Bonnet
A friend of mine is currently on a medical diet which is crazy restrictive, so I of course want to bring her comfort foods…except that she can’t eat anything that I typically bake. However, this molten cake just might fit the bill. PLUS, plus, raspberry and chocolate…is there a more perfect pairing (ok, I can hear all of you saying chocolate and peanut butter or nutella, and hey, what about peanut butter and jelly…I get it). Get on this.

Chocolate Oil Cake from The Pretty Blog
This looks awesome. Obviously, I’m craving chocolate. But, mmm, flourless chocolate cake? Sign me up. I love how it’s dusted with cocoa powder, which hides any imperfections (even though it’s impossible that this has imperfections)!

Beer Brownies from Joy the Baker
Helllloooo – It’s fall and tailgate season. Beer + Brownies = a thousand times yes! I am definitely pulling this recipe out for my next fall party. Enough said!

Chocolate and Toasted Hazelnut Milk from Smitten Kitchen
Because it wouldn’t be a round-up without a beverage, this nutella-inspired bev looks especially tasty. I bet it would be delicious warm with some marshmallows on top. (For those that aren’t quite ready to embrace fall, Deb also posted a cucumber lemonade recipe that looks awesome! just add some gin or vodka and you have a summer party.)


Bring on September – Sweet Inspiration No. 4


I hope you had a nice Labor Day! These past couple weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind with work and some leisure travel. B and I were actually in Napa during the earthquake…kind of terrifying. Excluding “napaquake”, the trip was just what I needed to relax and recharge. (Especially because it involved the above (insert dramatic pause) chocolate-dipped salted caramel macaron from Bouchon Bakery…you guys…omg.

Given all of the recent travel, I haven’t been baking up as many treats (but I still have some coming this week), so we are going to do the round-up out of order this week. Given that we are entering the best part of summer (in my mind), which is to say the part that is about to be fall, some of these recipes are just begging to be made in order to soak up the last bits of the delicious summer bounty.

Weeknight Cobbler for Two from Joy the Baker
Good-NESS this looks delicious. Plus, it’s individualized, which means I can’t say that I’m making dessert and that I will “bring it in to work”, but really just hoard it all myself.

No-Bake PBJ Cheesecakes from Sugar and Cloth
For those that still don’t want to turn on the oven, but are looking for something tasty (and a little nostalgic), this might fit the bill.

Mojito Ice Cubes also from Sugar and Cloth by way of Lulus
Because porch-sipping and weekend day drinking don’t only happen in the summer (Plus, gives you the taste of a mojito without the alcohol, if that’s your jam)

Caramel Strawberry and Brie Toasts from Lady and Pups
Can we all just agree that brunch should be allowed everyday and that this should always be served?

Cherry Preserves with Honey and Rosemary from Food in Jars
Canning and preserving was one thing that I really wanted to get into this summer, but still haven’t. Maybe it’s going to be on my agenda for the weekend because I want to do is spread these preserves on toast with some really good, really fresh goat cheese. Yum!

Weeknight Dessert

Sometimes the week just gets out of control and it becomes quickly clear that you are no longer winning the battle. And that’s ok. That’s when you throw together a little getaway in a bowl, a little something that makes your weeknight a little easier.

In walks Strawberries and Whipped Cream…


Just take a minute to appreciate the simplicity. You need 2 ingredients (ok maybe 4), but given that it’s summer, you might already have one of those in your fridge. I threw this together a couple of weeks ago on a work night when both B and I needed a little pick-me-up after dinner.

Go forth. Enjoy. Gussy it up for friends, because this would be excellent with some mint or basil, (or don’t and eat it all yourself — I’ve definitely done that)

Strawberries, cut into quarters
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla together until just stiff peaks form (or use any other whipped topping that you would prefer). Place some strawberries in the bottom of your serving vessel. Cover with whipped cream. Add more strawberries. Eat all of it and feel better about your week.

Summer Fruit Pie

So this week has been a little crazy to say the least! I actually sprained my ankle this week on my way to work and am now dealing with the unfortunate items that are crutches. Hoping to be up on my feet and actually walking soon (and then hopefully training for my Thanksgiving 8K).


In the meantime, at least we have pie. And not just any pie, but the kind of pie that makes the best use of the huge bounty of ripe juicy summer fruits at this time of year. I made this pie with cherries, blueberries, strawberries and the couple plums I found in my fridge, but use what you have on hand. I used a new pie crust recipe that I didn’t like as much, so I’m going to recommend my usual pie crust. Let me know what you think.

For methodology on working with pie crust, check out Smitten Kitchen here, here, and here. The key is to keep the dough cold so that the butter melts in the oven and not on the counter. Then you get flaky pies.

Summer Fruit Pie adapted from Sweet by Valerie Gordon

Crust (for a double crust pie)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surfaces
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small cubes
1/4 – 1/2 cup water, very cold (I pour 1 cup and add ice while I work, then measure 1/4 – 1/2 cup from it when I need it)

7 cups mixed fruit
3/4 cup sugar, adjusted to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons Pie Dust
1 egg
Raw Sugar (optional)

Pie Dust
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar

To make the crust, put the flour, sugar, and salt into a medium bowl and mix together. Add the cold, cubed butter to the dough and mix by hand until the bits of butter are about pea-sized and the dough looks like course crumbs. Slowly add the water over the dough and continue to incorporate until the dough just comes together. If at any point, the butter starts to melt too much, put the mixture in the fridge to cool. Form into 2 equal disks and wrap in plastic and place in fridge for at least 2 hours.

Put 3 cups of the fruit and the 3/4 cup sugar into a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit softens and releases some juice, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the remaining berries and toss. Taste for sweetness; add more sugar if needed. Stir in the melted butter, lemon zest, and cornstarch and let cool to room temperature.

Remove one disk of dough from the fridge and roll-out on a cool, floured surface, rolling into a 13-inch circle. Rotate the dough every roll 2 to 3 inches. Once the dough is the correct size, roll the dough up onto the rolling pin and then unroll into a 9-inch pie pan. Gently press the dough into the pan and sides, removing any air pockets. Trim any excess dough. Chill the crust for at least 15 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and center the rack in the oven. Cover the bottom of the crust with pie dust (created by whisking or sifting the flour and sugar together). Fill the pie with the fruit filling, being careful not to overfill. Roll-out the second disk of dough (if using both crusts). You can cover the pie entirely, but be sure to cut vents in the top crust, or you can create a lattice pattern by interweaving pieces of dough. I find it easiest to start with the top and interweave one row at a time. Be sure to work quickly. (the Smitten Kitchen links above have good advice on lattices). Crimp the crusts together and brush the top with a beaten egg and raw sugar (if using).

Place pie on a baking sheet (to catch any fruit spillage) and bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Cover the edges of the crust with a pie ring or with foil and continue cooking for another 25-30 minutes until the visible crust is golden brown. Once the crust is golden brown with no translucent areas, remove the pie ring or foil and bake for another 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rake to cool completely.


Sweet Inspiration – No. 3


What do you all have on tap for the weekend? That picture is what I have planned for my weekend. Porch and rooftop sitting with some wine or “day punch” (aka adult juice aka wine spritzer, but I like calling it day punch…it makes me feel better). These treats also caught my eye…

Red Fruit Galettes from Apt 2B Baking Co – I mean first off, these photos are straight up stunning. But then I was staring at them and realized (1) I was salivating and (2) that I was having a daydream about host a lovely dinner party in a Parisian flat where at the end of the party I walk into the room holding 2 of these galettes #swoon

Blackberry Thyme Muffins from The Faux Martha  – I.LOVE.BLACKBERRIES. full stop. Berry season is in full swing and these look so delicious. Plus, I love bringing in herbs that typically are used in savory dishes to let them shine in something sweet. I’m making these muffins when we get blackberries

Florentines from Fifteen Spatulas – Confession: I love cookies. Oh, you already knew that? Phew, then let’s make these. I love florentines. they are so delicate and caramel-y and this version is one that i’m aching to try (and try and try and not share and eat them all before you know it)

Deviled Eggs from Joy the Baker – Ok, Ok, so deviled eggs aren’t really “baking”. And they don’t use sugar or butter (ooo could we make them sweet?), but I can totally relate to Joy’s thoughts on deviled eggs and it totally has me dying to whip up another batch. Now I just need to find a party to take them to…

Popsicles from Lady and Pups and from the Faux Martha (twice in 1 round-up!) – I am so happy that popsicles are making a come back. If I had any room in my freezer right now, I would be running out to the nearest place that sells a popsicle mold (how is it that I don’t already have one, not sure?!) and just spending the whole weekend making popsicles of a grown-up variety…boy, I love summer

Have a great weekend!!

…and the wheels came off (plus a recipe)

Woah, last week, just woah. The wheels definitely came off my week last week. Sorry for not updating with any new content at all!! But I have still been in the kitchen whipping up some new goodies

Some of you might remember that a couple of weeks ago, I said how good Deb’s brownie ice cream sandwiches looked. Well, they were better than that. Plus, because it’s Deb, this recipe is pretty perfect on its own (but I just had to make some tweaks).

Considering that my family likes to stretch out all birthdays to last for at least a month week (because who doesn’t?), we had another celebration 2 weekends ago to continue the birthday festivities for my dad. I took it as another opportunity to make dessert for a purpose (so that I wouldn’t eat it all by myself…just some of it)

Let me just say that the ice cream sandwiches were a giant hit, but they did make a giant mess. I used a combination of 2 gelatos and let the pan sit in the freezer for an hour before cutting, but that was not long enough. But you should definitely make these…right now…why are you still reading?

Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the brownies
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1 stick unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt (I use vanilla sea salt…mmm)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

For the filling
2 1/2 cups ice cream (one or multiple flavors, I went with Sea Salt Caramel and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup)

Heat oven to 350°F. Line two 9×9-inch square baking pans with parchment paper, extending it up two sides. Butter the parchment and exposed sides of the pan or spray them with a nonstick cooking spray.

Using a double bolier method, in a large bowl over gently simmering water, heat chocolate and butter together until almost completely of the way melted. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Stir in sugar until fully combined, then eggs (make sure when you add the eggs that the bowl and contents have cooled a bit so as not to scramble the eggs), one at a time and vanilla. Stir in salt and cinnamon, then flour, until just combined.


Divide batter between two prepared pans and spread evenly. Bake on different racks for 10 to 15 minutes (or on the same rack if they will fit in your oven), rotating once top to bottom and front to back, until a tester comes out clean. Transfer pans directly to freezer. Chill until cold and firm, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove one pan from freezer, and, working quickly (like really quickly), cover with ice cream. (I followed Deb’s method and used an ice cream scoop to alternate flavors for mixed sandwiches.) Use the ice cream scoop to pat down all ice cream to remove gaps. Remove second brownie pan from freezer. Make sure the brownies are not sticking anywhere and use parchment sling to life the brownie out of the pan, remove the parchment and place it on top of the ice cream. Place the empty brownie pan on top of the brownie lid, to weight it, and press down a little. Keeping the weighting pan on top, return brownie-ice cream stack to freezer until fully firm, at least 1 hour (unless you have some magical freezer). Use the parchment sling to transfer the ice cream sandwich block to a cutting bard. Cut into squares, working quickly. (I started out with squares, but my ice cream was not firm enough – and I was cutting over the running dishwasher that was heating the counter – so I ended up doing rectangles like the ones from growing up near the end.)

Once each square/rectangle/sandwich was cut, I rolled all of the edges in multi sprinkles and then wrapped all of the ice cream sandwiches in waxed paper to make them more fun to eat and less messy.


Sweet Inspiration – No. 2

I have big plans this weekend that involve soaking up every ounce of lazy summer days (on my couch in sweats) because word on the street (and by the street I mean the weather channel website and the halls of my office) is that Chicago is due for some nice rainy weather this weekend.

I’m hoping to make some ice cream (and if I do, I promise to share…I have big plans for it). In the meantime though, these are other recipes that have my attention.

Coco decided to join me while I was drafting, so enjoy this little cuddle pic


Have a delicious weekend!

Chocolate Panna Cotta with Spiced Pepita Brittle from Food and Wine– you might not know this about me, but I love chocolate. Only love doesn’t adequately describe it…crave, desire, become a raving lunatic if I can’t get me some chocolate when the need arises. So being the chocoholic that I am, obviously this recipe looks amazing! (Plus Spiced Pepita Brittle = insert that one gif of Emma Stone saying yum here)

Flourless Chocolate Cookies from Adventures in Cooking – I’m realizing that I must have a chocolate deficiency today, but I’m sorry? Chocolate and no flour? hmmm I must investigate.

Rhubarb-Raspberry Streusel Tart with Lavender Whipped Cream from Wit and Delight – This sounds like such a wonderful summer dessert. Perfect for a baby shower/wedding shower/event where people give gifts. I’m dying to know how that lavender whipped cream is, because I think it would be epic on Jeni’s Goat Cheese Cherry Ice Cream

Flaky Bread from Bon Appetit (and Glasserie) – is it just me or does this bread totally remind of naan, and then your mind goes to butter and how you just want garlic naan and indian right.this.second…no? me neither. But I definitely want this bread in my house so I can make up things to put on it just so I can eat it, but then it would be in my house…hmmm

Blood Orange Sangria from Domino – Because sangria solves lots of problems and it totally easy and perfect for when you have people coming over but only have random half drunk bottles of wine from girls night the night before (never happens…I like to call it “Day Punch”)

Also sorry for the mishap with publishing! Still trying to figure out how to work my ipad!