Category Archives: Desserts & Sweets

A collection of wonderful desserts and any other sweet treat recipes I’ve whipped up.

Domestic Dispute Retreat [Bozeman Office Bonding Experience]

Last spring, our office was getting pretty tense. We decided we needed to “air our grievances” and “do some bonding.” Or something like that. So we went to  cabin at an undisclosed location near Pony, Montana, former home of the Duck Races, for our Domestic Dispute Retreat. At least that’s the story we told the bosses.

The cabin is one of my coworkers little hideaways and it was effing adorable and perfect. The location is up a dirt road along a little creek. There is no internet and terrible, if any, cell service. No one is anywhere near you. There is a main cabin with a kitchen, living room and bathroom and then three sleeper cabins down a little boardwalk.

Look at that stove! And the farm sink!
Required fireplace
And that bath!
Sleeping Cabins

We had ribs that were being smoked with a secret recipe, lots of booze and bobcat cornhole. And that was basically what we did all afternoon until dinner was ready. I did whip up a quick Raspberry – Rhubarb Tart for dessert.
Note a hydroflask is an excellent rolling pin in a pinch
After dinner we headed down to the famous Pony Bar for a few drinks and pool. We stopped by the horse on the hill for a required team building exercise: getting J on the horse and in the correct photo position.
Watch your step
Once we made our way back to the cabin, the guys stayed up playing poker and the girls crashed. The next morning our host made an amazing egg bake thing in a dutch oven over a camp fire before we all headed home with our hang overs. All grievances cleared and ready to head back to the office on Monday, until the snow clears this spring…


My Version of Mango Sticky Rice

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine hosted a delicious dinner party. Some people brough beer, some brought carrots and cucumbers to go in the bi bim bap, and as usual, I signed up to bring dessert. I really wanted to make Sweet Red Bean Paste Balls that we had many times in while in Asia. It was really hard to find a recipe and they seemed to take a lot more time than I had. So I went to my back up favorite Asian inspired dessert, Mango Sticky Rice.

That's a lot of mango!

That’s a lot of mango! I need to remember to take picture before it’s about to be devoured…

Since I am no longer in New York, finding sticky rice wasn’t so easy, so I found this recipe instead for Coconut Rice Pudding with Mango, which was basically the same thing. It used Jasmine rice instead of sticky and I didn’t need a rice steamer. I don’t know why I have not made this before. It was super easy and tasted the same, so good. There was only one person who didn’t like it and I wasn’t that surprised that he didnt, so I don’t think it counts. It’s also really fast to make while being pretty hands off.

I made a larger batch since there was going to be six of us, but it made enough for ten or better. You could use half of what I have below and feed six easy. Since the rice keeps well in the fridge for a few days and I was having dinner with another friend later in the week,it became dessert more than once. Typically you serve it warm, but it’s fine cold too. Just make sure you get some good mangos to go with it, they will make or break it.

Coconut Rice Pudding with Mango

Makes 10 servings

  • 1 1/2 cup raw Thai jasmine rice
  • 10 oz. water
  • 2 1/4 cups coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ripe mangoes, peeled and sliced
  1. Add the rice and water to a 2-quart pot on high. Stir it once and let it set uncovered as it comes to a boil.
  2. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low, cover and allow the rice to absorb the water, about 10 to 15 minutes. 
  3. Once the rice has absorbed all of the water, add to the coconut milk, sugar, and salt. Give the mixture a stir and bring it to a hard boil over medium heat. Allow the rice pudding to boil hard for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Remove the pot from heat and let the rice pudding sit, covered and undisturbed, for 10 minutes. Stir once and let the rice pudding sit again for 10 minutes covered.
  5. Cut the mango up while you wait for the rice. A tip to make it a little easier from a friend (though I still kinda suck at): once you peel it, cut the top off so you can see the seed. It’s long and flat. When you cut the top off, you can see where it is and cut around it much easier.
  6. Serve immediately, let it cool to room temperature or serve it chilled with the fresh mango on top.



Bourbon Soaked Birthday Cake

Oscar party (15)Our Oscar party doubled as a birthday party for our friend Ben. I love baking birthday cakes and ridiculous things for parties like this, so I decided I would make a Bourbon Soaked Mocha Cake with Buttercream Frosting. And dip chips in dark chocolate. Luckily M was stuck here another day and was able to help me get it all together before the party.

I didn’t even bother with the sugared/candied fruit, not enough time, patients or care really. I mean, it’s a BOURBON SOAKED CAKE!  Do you really need to add sugary fruit to the top? I think not. You should also note that this thing has a lot of alcohol in it. You kinda thought you were eating a delicious chocolaty shot.

Oscar cake (5)It is actually really easy to make. I don’t have a double boiler, so I melted the chocolate in the microwave, the main thing is to watch it and not let it burn, it will happen fast. I used tin pans, so I skipped the parchment paper step. I figured I could tear the tins apart if needed, The cakes came out fine with all the butter, so I am not sure why you need it to be honest. If you are going to bake this, remember to allow time for the cakes to sit in the fridge. We baked the cakes the day before (and dipped the chips).

Oscar cake (3)

Right before the party, I started the frosting then M finished whipping it up while I was getting ready for the party.

Oscar party (12)

Frosting in a poofy dress | Picture thanks to Robin

Then I put everything together over at Mikki’s so it wouldn’t fall apart on the way. We put some candles on it, sang a song and enjoyed it. You should do the same.

Oscar party (29)

There are a lot of candles on that thing & my dress did not go up in flames | Picture by Mikki

Makes 16 servings

For the cake:

  • 2 sticks butter, softened, plus more to grease pans
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder, plus more to dust pans
  • 5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup instant espresso
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup good bourbon like Bulleit, plus more to drizzle onto cake layers
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp good vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

For the mocha buttercream:

  • 5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 5 oz milk chocolate, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tbsp instant espresso
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp good vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted

The cakes:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Using a pastry brush, paint a thin layer of softened butter all over two 8-inch round by 2-inch high cake pans. Be sure to paint along the crease.
  3. Dust the pans with cocoa powder, tapping and tilting until the interior is completely coated. Empty leftover cocoa powder from first pan into the next and repeat until it also is well-coated.
  4. In a microwave safe dish, melt bittersweet chocolate on high for 1 minute. Stir and continue cooking in 10-15 second intervals until just smooth. Allow to cool a bit.
  5. Boil some water. Combine cocoa powder and espresso in a heatproof measuring cup. Pour enough boiling water in to reach the 1 cup line and stir until dissolved. Add salt and stir to dissolve, then pour in bourbon. Set aside.
  6. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add sugar and beat until well incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, baking soda, and chocolate. Continue mixing on medium high, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture is well combined.
  7. Add about a quarter of the bourbon mixture to the mixer bowl and with the mixer on low, blend well. Next, add about a third of the flour, mix well. Repeat like this until you finish with the last of the bourbon mixture.
  8. Pour batter into prepared pans, smooth the tops, and smack the pans onto the counter a few times to settle the batter.
  9. Place into the oven and rotate the cakes halfway through, baking for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean.
  10. Cool cakes in pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then invert onto rack.
  11. Drizzle a tablespoon or so of bourbon over each cake. Wrap in cellophane and chill for at least an hour, as long as overnight.

The buttercream:

  1. In a microwave safe dish, melt the chocolates on high for 1 minute. Stir and continue cooking in 10-15 second intervals until just smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Using boiling water a couple tablespoons or so of boiling water, dissolve the espresso powder by swirling it in a small dish. Allow to cool for a few minutes. (I didn’t let it cool enough and it took awhile mix with the butter, let it cool if you can!)
  3. With an electric mixer beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add in the espresso and beat to incorporate. Add the chocolate and beat until well mixed, then add the vanilla and kosher salt. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, mix everything together.
  4. With the mixer on its lowest setting, add the confectioners sugar in stages and beat until creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Beat for a few more minutes once well incorporated, until mixture becomes even lighter and more fluffy. (You can  also refrigerate this over night if you want)

To Assemble:

  1. After having chilled the cakes, remove cellophane from one and set on top of a piece of parchment. Carefully slice each layer in half so you have 4 equal layers, each about 1″ thick.
  2. Place one layer on your cake stand. With an offset spatula, work a quarter of the frosting from the center outward and in back-and-forth gestures to spread it towards the edge.
  3. Place the second cake layer, centered and level with the first. Press down lightly with your hand flat on the surface of the cake to even cake and frosting.
  4. Continue stacking layer atop frosting, until everything looks level and top it off with one more layer of frosting. Chill the cake until you are ready to present and share!


Oscar party (19)

Peanut Brittle

My mom called me before Christmas to ask me if I wanted to make some peanut brittle for grandpa. I had more free time. She told me the recipe was fool proof. in fact her exact words in the email were, “This is really easy and I have never had it fail.” I couldn’t screw it up. Well I screwed it up.



Maybe for the better though. I don’t really like peanut brittle, too brittle for me. This stuff never set up and was kinda taffy like instead. And I really liked it. Grandpa and dad were happy with it too. The problem is, I don’t really know what I did wrong. We think maybe my ancient microwave wasn’t powerful enough, so perhaps you can just under cook it to get the same consistency. Or cook it on a lower power level. I’m not sure I should try again because I will eat it all and that won’t be good for my jean size.


Yields about 1 pound

  • 1 ½ cups raw  shelled peanuts, skins on  Dad says to use dry roasted
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 1/8 teas salt optional
  • 1 teas butter
  • 1 teas vanilla extract
  • 1 teas baking soda
  1. Stir together peanuts, sugar, syrup, and salt in a 1 ½ quart microwave safe container.
  2. Microwave 4 minutes on HIGH; stir, microwave 4 more minutes. 
  3. Stir in butter and vanilla.  Microwave 2 minutes longer on HIGH. 
  4. Add baking soda and quickly stir until light and foamy. 
  5. Immediately pour onto lightly greased baking sheet, spread to ¼ inch thickness.
  6. When cool break into pieces or in my case, cut into pieces. Store in airtight container (if the chewy kind, store between sheets of wax or parchment paper. 


Making Ice Cream [YMCA DIY Class]

My time since all my traveling in June has been filled with getting learning units for my license, parties and DIY classes. Melissa found a whole list of classes being offered at the Upper West Side YMCA that are all $20 or less and benefit their Strong Kids Campaign. We signed up for the Frozen Treats Class that was being taught by Pastry Chef Anna McGorman of Dominque Ansel Bakery. In case you did not catch it, that happens to be the place we attempted to get Cronuts at. We were hoping she might bring some to the class as a surprise. That did not happen. Dang it.

Our Awesome Teacher Anna

Our Awesome Teacher Anna

Anna was really funny and a great teacher. We learned the different kinds of frozen treats from water based to milk based. I now know what the difference is between ice cream and gelato, it has to do with the amount of air in it. Most importantly I learned how to make ice cream. You would think that someone who grew up on dairy should already know how to make ice cream. Not true. I assume my dad and probably mom know how to make it, I know mom has churned her own butter way back when, but we have never made ice cream at home. Maybe it’s because it takes some attention, even if its not a lot. Maybe it’s because we don’t have a device to churn or spin the ice cream. Either way, I didn’t know how to make ice cream.

Mixing up some Granita

Mixing up some Granita

I will be investing in some sort of ice cream making machine once I find a place to move. This ice cream making business is very easy. And it’s not an exact science like baking tends to be. You can play with the flavors, the sugar level, etc. We made three bases. One was the Philadelphia base, which has no eggs, and we added some orange zest to it. The other ice cream base was a French base that is more of a custard type base, this one you would use if you wanted to add more chunks in the ice cream like fruit or chocolate. In the Philly style, it doesn’t hold the piece in suspension, it lets them drop to bottom. We let those two bases thicken while we made a granita. Melissa and I combined Strawberry and Blood Oranges with some basil for ours. It tasted pretty good as semi-liquid. We just needed to get it home to freeze.

Checking on the Granita

Checking on the Granita

Anna had made a blackberry granita before the class started and through out the class, she was scrapping and check on it, showing us how to do it. At the end of the class we got to test the granita, so very very good, and the two ice cream bases. They were not frozen, just allowed to set up for awhile. The Philly-style with the orange was delicious, I ended up taking it home to freeze in to delicious popsicles. The French style was definitely thicker and creamier. It had no flavor in it and it was still so tasty. Melissa had the great idea to mix the blackberry granita with the custard. AMAZING. I could eat that all day. Anne also brought in three different flavored ice creams for us to try that she made earlier. One had dry caramel in it, one was pineapple coconut and the last raspberry coconut. Since no one knew what dry caramel was, we got an bonus lesson on a quick way to make caramel without the water. I like this very much.

Three flavors to try, and maybe you want to add some rum to the recipe, I'm just saying.

Three flavors to try, and maybe you want to add some rum to the recipe, I’m just saying.

Melissa taste testing

Melissa taste testing

Making Dry Caramel

Making Dry Caramel

This was such a fun class. If they keep doing these, and I hope they do, you should attend. In two hours, I learned a lot and we walked away with a granita and ice cream base, a hand full of recipes, three demos and lots of ideas for our own ice cream. I am very excited for this ice cream making business, Maybe I need to move somewhere that is warm year round so I can use it all the time…

As an extra bonus,

Coconut Milk Cake with Berries [Dessert for the Fourth]

Sparklers! Picture by Hillary

Sparklers! Picture by Hillary

I hope everyone had a nice and relaxing Fourth of July, including the weekend after. For the Fourth, a couple friends asked the group if we wanted to BBQ in Prospect Park. Plenty of people said they were making salads and bringing some kind of meat to grill, so I went with what I know best, dessert. For the fireworks, I was heading over to Jersey City to my friends house, just like last year, and figured some cake would be necessary there too.  I needed something for a larger group and I wanted it to be summery. So as I was flipping through my binder of recipes and came across Martha Stewart’s Coconut Cake with Berries and Cream, I was sold.

Picnic in the park

Picnic in the park

This cake is basically a Tres Leches Cake  with a twist. You replace one of the milks with coconut milk. You also add some toasted coconut to the batter. It adds a nice light coconut flavor that is not over powering and delicious. One WARNING about this cake. It need a lot of time to sit and soak up all the milk. I went to buy the ingredients I was missing the night before and when I got home double checked how long it would take: 11.5 hours! What? I missed that… this was suppose to be easy. So I made the cake that night so it could sit and soak over night. Right before heading to the park, I whipped up the cream topping and added the fruit. It was still super easy. Just remember that if you ever want to make this guy, and you should, it takes setting time. I followed the recipe exactly, except I don’t have a glass baking dish and it didn’t seem to matter. The result was still a delicious coconuty, creamy, red, white, and blue creation!


Coconut Milk Cake with Berries

Serves 12 to 18

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for pans
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flaked unsweetened coconut, toasted and finely ground
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1 can (13.75 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 cups (about 12 oz.) mixed fresh berries ( I used blueberries & Strawberries), for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together egg whites, baking soda, and salt in a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment on medium speed, until soft peaks form, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add egg yolks to egg-white mixture, and whisk until completely combined. Gradually add sugar, and whisk until combined. Fold in butter and coconut with a rubber spatula.
  4. Sift 1/4 cup flour onto mixture; fold to combine. Repeat with remaining flour, folding in 1/4 cup at a time.
  5. Pour batter into pan; bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, whisk together 1 cup heavy cream, the coconut milk, and condensed milk. As soon as cake is removed from oven, pour cream mixture over cake. Let cake cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cover cake with plastic wrap, and refrigerator at least 5 hours and up to 8 hours.
  7. Just before serving, whisk remaining cup heavy cream until soft peaks form, and spread over cake. Sprinkle berries on top or serve on the side.



A New Chocolate Chip Cookie

They were so good, I forgot to take my own pictures. Via

I came across this Brown Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies via Heather Dishes and couldn’t resist making them right away. The dough was SO GOOD. Seriously. The cookies were really good too, but they lost some of the flavor while baking. I could just eat the dough by the fist full. Correction, I was eating it by the fist full. It was becoming and issue and I had to remove myself from the room while they were baking.

The only change I made to the recipe was that I used instant oats, even though she specifically said not to, I didn’t feel like going to the store for something else. They still turned out great. Who knew browning the butter could make such a difference? Keep in mind that you need to refridgerate the dough a bit so factor that into your baking time. This is my new favorite. Make them.

Brown Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes 24 cookies
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2  tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup instant oats
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  1. In a small sauce pan, heat the butter, whisking constantly until browned.  Remove the saucepan from heat and continue to whisk for an additional 30 seconds.  Set aside and let the butter cool completely.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and oats.  Set aside.
  3. Once the butter has cooled, mix it with the two sugars until combined.  Mix in the egg and vanilla.  Add the flour mixture and combine with hands until a dough forms.
  4. Add the chocolate chips and mix well.
  5. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Form dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on a prepared baking sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the edges and bottoms are golden brown.