Hot Fudge Sauce

I have a new favorite hot fudge sauce. After years of using the same chocolate sauce (which is still fabulous and I haven’t given it up), I’ve found the thick, rich, chewy hot fudge sauce for which I have searched – for years.

It is smooth, in spite of the fact that it uses cocoa. It is rich, despite the fact that it doesn’t include an excessive amount of butter and has no cream. It has a thick, velvety quality that might normally come from the addition of corn syrup – but that isn’t in the recipe, either (yea!).

When it hits your ice cream, it sets up, but doesn’t completely harden (like a ganache would). This sauce works well inside of and on the side with our secret family ice cream cake – no thin sauce will do for that!

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Passover Brown Butter Almond Cake

I was determined to try a different recipe for WG’s birthday cake this year. His birthday fell during Passover and he keeps the holiday rather strictly. I didn’t want him to miss a birthday cake, though. We asked him what kind of cake he wanted, but he left it up to us. Grandma and WG are chocoholics, but we had a bunch of passover brownies during the holiday (not to mention matzo toffee crunch). So, I decided to try to make a good almond cake, cloaked in chocolate ganache. I went hunting on the internet for a recipe, but none suited my fancy. By combining a few, I came up with something that worked for us. I think it is a winner. In fact, I would make it all year round!
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Spring Has Sprung

L's Photo of Grape Hyacinth

I am sittling here at my computer and the sun is streaming into the window. I can see birds and bees flitting around the blooming trees. How did this happen? How has time flown by so quickly?

L turned thirteen last week, and we celebrated her bat mitzvah as well. What a tremendous milestone. The months (years) of preparation for the day, then, poof it is over. I am not really having the post event let down so much as feeling incredulous that it could be over and that we are on to the next thing. As L said, it felt like a 24 minute day. Almost like it never happened. Indeed.

We had the last member of our family hit the road on Monday night. They were supposed to have been on a flight in the morning, but the flight was cancelled and the earliest replacement they could get was the red eye. So, we had the pleasure of their company for an impromptu dinner. Steak, baked russet potatoes and sweet potatoes, asparagus, salad….and, because local strawberries are in the market, strawberry short cake. Actually, it wasn’t about the strawberries. It was about the fact that we had so much whipped cream left over from our Sunday brunch waffles, I needed an excuse to use it. And, because I like it better, I made a yellow cake instead of shortcake. I guess you could call it Strawberries and Whipped Cream Cake.

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Seafoam Frosted Birthday Cake

Sounds awful doesn’t it? Seafoam frosting? What the heck, I don’t think it is meant to look or taste like seafoam. Bad marketing, I guess.

Because the reality of this frosting is that it is incredibly delicious and luxuriously creamy, but fat free. Compared to most frostings, this one is actually not completely horrible for your health, even though it is so decadent tasting. Still, while there were oooooh’s and aaaaah’s at the table, the consensus was that the girls and S like my mom’s orange buttercream frosting better (the kind with butter and powdered sugar). Nonetheless, the plates were practically licked clean. And, the cake was so darn dramatic looking.

I made a few changes to my usual yellow cake, which is adapted from the Magnolia Bakery recipe for vanilla cupcakes. We were unified in our delight with the changes. The cake was more tender and moist because I added some acid. I was inspired by the chocolate cupcakes that I made a couple of weeks ago – they have apple cider vinegar in them. Those cupcakes are incredibly tender and yet sturdy, with a delicious crumb. So, I added apple cider vinegar with the milk in the recipe for vanilla cupcakes and substituted some baking soda for baking powder to react with the acid.

Here is the other thing: having jam between the layers of a cake makes an enormous difference to the flavor and texture of the cake. Raspberry is our jam of choice.
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Chocolate Cupcakes

A while ago, a friend of mine gave me a few recipes that she got from her Uncle Merv. One recipe was for chocolate cupcakes. My friend raved about these cupcakes and I was surprised to find, when I made them, that they were made with no eggs or milk – totally vegan. So incredibly easy and very delicious.

I’ve made these cupcakes many times, but I’ve added a couple of ingredients to suit my tastes. I’ve included a little salt, upped the cocoa, and splashed in some vanilla. Additionally, for an even richer chocolate taste, you can mix in some coffee with the water.

Uncle Merv frosts his cupcakes by dipping them in a warm chocolate ganache (I’ve seen Ina Garten do this, too). They are very decadent when prepared that way. This time, I frosted the cupcakes with 7 minute frosting which is made with granulated sugar and egg-whites. It is a marshmallow-y type of concoction that reminds me of my great-aunt’s christmas tree cake. I also sprinkled on some colorful non-pareils. The resulting cupcake looked almost like a soft-serve ice cream cone. I think coconut would be a great topping for this frosting, but L doesn’t like coconut.

L and J were “in heaven” when they tasted the frosting. Is there anything better than licking frosting from a beater?
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On to a New Decade

Luckily, I was in pretty good shape by the end of December so that S & I could host our annual New Year’s Eve dinner. While this year’s menu was not as elaborate as last year’s feast based on luck (hmmm, can’t decide if that one worked or didn’t), longevity and prosperity, we did have plenty to eat and I finally agreed to a pot-luck dinner, which was a good move. We were a smaller crowd than usual, but my friends JGK and LH came through with some delicious dishes.

We tried to have a somewhat Italian/Mediterranean theme, but coudn’t stray from our annual shrimp cocktail and pigs-in-blankets. The year just wouldn’t feel the same. And, I was going to make a chicken dish with fresh lemon and parsley that I learned to make at a class in Ravello, Italy, but then I remembered from my research for last year’s dinner that eating foul was bad luck because your luck could “fly away”. Instead, I went with a fish dish (large silver scales mean $$$) and risotto (also for abundance).

New Year’s Eve Menu

Pigs in blankets (LH)
Shrimp cocktail
Caprese skewers

Blood orange, orange beet and shaved fennel salad with arugula, and Parmesan, citrus dressing

Wild halibut Mediterranean style
Risi e bisi (risotto with peas and parmesan)

Dessert – JGK’s choice…Molten Chocolate Cake with whipped cream and mixed berries!! She used Paula Deen’s recipe.

New Year’s Eve Toast with Limoncello and Dark Chocolate with Dried Fruits and Nuts (mendiants)

For the fish, I used this recipe and changed it up a little bit by using nicoise olives (about 1/4 cup chopped), a big pinch of dried oregano, and the full 14 oz. can of chopped tomatoes with their juice. This recipe is one of my staples. It is so easy and so good. You can make the sauce ahead of time and reheat it when you prepare the fish. There was not a bit left on anyone’s plate on New Year’s Eve. Well, that is, except for JGK. She was talking and didn’t get to finish hers at the table. But, she finished it in the kitchen while she was preparing the dessert!

4th of July Recap

I’m still full. Actually, that isn’t true. I’m full from eating leftovers for lunch.

The new recipes that I tried for our celebration last night with JS and JO were a hit.

First off, we had wonderful starters prepared by JS. Perfectly ripe honeydew melon draped in shaved proscuitto and creamy, rich deviled eggs sprinkled with paprika were devoured by our intimate group.


I was too busy lounging around, kid-free, during the day to mentally time the meal and I forgot that I wanted to bake a fresh loaf of bread (from dough that I had made a few days ago – from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day). While it takes no time flat to make the bread dough, it still takes a while to let it rest out of the fridge and then to bake. And, I forgot about the beets. So, after we talked and talked, while I was getting the fruit tart ready, I looked at the clock and said, “Whoa, look at the time. Is it o.k. if we wait a little while for dinner?” “Sure,” S and our guests replied. I got out the bread dough, put it on a pizza peel to rise for 40 minutes and got started on the beets and beet greens.

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