Category Archives: Dessert

Pistachio Ice Cream


As we prepare for a hot summer, we are stockpiling our freezer with different flavors of home made ice cream. We received a great ice cream cookbook, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, as a wedding present from some friends who took us to a Jeni’s in Chicago. Since we don’t have one in San Diego, it’s time to make our own.


First up, some toasted pistachio ice cream. So rich and nutty, a little bit salty, a little bit tangy from the cream cheese. Most of Jeni’s recipes have a cream cheese base instead of an egg custard base. I can’t get enough.


As with all homemade ice creams, make sure that your ice cream maker is frozen well in advance of when you want to make ice cream, at least 24 hours. Also, I like to plan to make my base the day before I churn it, to give the cream plenty of time to chill in the fridge.


This ice cream is delicious and very flavorful on its own, but is spectacular with additional toasted pistachios and shaved dark chocolate.


Toasted Pistachio Ice Cream

  • Servings: 4 as a side
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Recipe from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home

1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachios (plus 1/4 cup if you want to add whole ones to your ice cream)
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces (3Tbsp) cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp almond extract


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the pistachios out on a small baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10-12 minutes, until fragrant and just starting to brown. Remove from the oven and pulverize 1/2 cup of pistachios in a food processor until the pistachios become a very smooth paste. Add the cream cheese and salt and blend until smooth.
Mix about 2 Tbsp of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry and set aside.
Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring , until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Chill in an ice bath for 30 minutes, or preferably overnight in the fridge.
Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister. Add the almond extract while churning. Follow the directions on your machine, churning until the ice cream is thick and creamy. Package, with or without additional pistachios, and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.


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Orange Cardamom Ice Cream with Candied Orange Peels


It must be a very robust citrus season in Southern California this year. After making Cranberry Orange Cardamom Scones and Vanilla Orange Marmalade, I’m still looking for ways to use up oranges (in addition to snacking on them all the time). The candied orange peels were a fun way to top a bowl of ice cream, and a tasty snack on their own. IMG_0419Homemade ice cream isn’t too difficult, but it does require planning and patience. The ice cream base has to cool for at least four hours before churning, so I try to plan on making the base the night before I plan on  churning the ice cream. After churning, the ice cream has to freeze for an additional four hours, so it’s best to start the process two days before you want to serve your ice cream. Keeping everything super cold is the best way to get the best texture. IMG_6190

Orange Cardamom Ice Cream with Candied Orange Peels

  • Servings: 2 pints
  • Difficulty: Hard
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Recipe from “The Perfect Scoop” by David Lebovitz

1 Tbsp cardamom seeds, crushed
1 1/2 c whole milk
1 1/2 c heavy cream
1 c sugar
4 oranges
6 large egg yolks

Heat the milk, 1/2 c of the cream, and sugar with the crushed cardamom seeds in a medium saucepan. Zest the oranges directly into the saucepan. Once warm, cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
Rewarm the cardamom infused mixture. Pour the remaining 1 cup heavy cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Stir until cool over an ice bath. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the fridge, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

4 oranges, lemons or grapefruit
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
pinch of salt

With a vegetable peeler, remove strips of peel 1 inch wide from the fruit, cutting lengthwise down the fruit. Remove just the colorful outer peel, leaving behind the bitter white pith. Using a very sharp knife, slice the peel lengthwise into very thin strips no wider than a toothpick.
Put the strips of peel in a small, non-reactive saucepan, add enough water to cover them by a few inches, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle boil and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, strain the peel, and rinse with fresh water.
Combine the 2 cups water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt in the saucepan. Fit the pan with a candy thermometer and bring to a boil. Add the blanched peel, reduce the heat, and cook at a very low boil for about 25 minutes, until the thermometer reads 230 F. Turn off the heat and let the peel cool in the syrup. Once cool, lift the peel out of the syrup with a fork, and serve atop ice cream. Or eat as a snack!
Store the peel in the syrup.

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Hazelnut Crescent Cookies

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I myself got wrapped up in everything and haven’t been here in a while. Hubby and I made a lot of different cookies during the month of December, and we agreed that these were our favorites. These Hazelnut Crescent Cookies are from the same cookbook as the  Chocolate Viennese Finger CookiesThe Cookie Lover’s Cookbook, that my Nana gave me a few years ago.


These cookies are soft, buttery, nutty, and not too sweet. They are absolutely delicious with a cup of coffee – dangerous!


Once you’ve made the dough, roll 1 Tablespoon of dough into a small crescent shape. The cookies will puff up a bit as they bake.


After they’ve been baked, drizzle them with chocolate or dust them with powdered sugar. I noticed that the chocolate didn’t really stick after we dusted them with powdered sugar, so if you want them chocolatey, definitely do that first. . They also don’t need the chocolate and are delicious either way.



Hazelnut Crescent Cookies

  • Servings: 24
  • Difficulty: Easy
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  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour (you can substitute all purpose flour, cookies will just be a bit denser)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp almond liqueur
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Powdered Sugar for dusting
  • 6 oz semisweet chocolate for dipping or drizzling (optional)


Sift flours and salt into a medium bowl, and stir together to mix well.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Farenheit. In a food processor, process the toasted hazelnuts until finely chopped.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter for about 1 minute until creamy. Add the sugar and beat for 1-2 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the  liqueur and vanilla extract. Gently stir in the flour mixture until just blended, then fold in the finely chopped hazelnuts.

With lightly floured hands, form 1 Tbsp scoops of the dough into small crescents. Place crescents on an ungreased baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges are set and the cookies are lightly golden, rotating the baking sheet from front to back halfway through the cooking time. Remove the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove each cookie to a  wire rack to cool.

Arrange the crescents side by side on a wire rack. If opting to drizzle them with chocolate, melt chocolate and drizzle over cookies. Finish with a dusting of powdered sugar.

I hope you enjoy!

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Chocolate Viennese Finger Cookies

A couple of years ago my Nana gave me two cookie cookbooks for Christmas. She always makes a great collection of cookies this time of the year, and I love that she shares that passion with me. I have been slowly working my way through the books and identifying new favorites. Over the weekend, hubby helped me make these Chocolate Viennese Finger Cookies that we both loved! They are the perfect coffee cookie – which means I have been eating way too many of them with breakfast.IMG_5535

The dough was very easy to make. Combine all of your dry ingredients, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla, and slowly add in your dry mixture.


Pipe out the dough into chocolate “fingers.” I actually think you could roll and cut these out, or even drop them onto the cookie sheet. They will look different, and the cooking time might vary slightly, but I think that it would work. Or you could pipe them into rosettes. We tried the “S” shape encouraged in the recipe, but did not have much luck.


Once the cookies have baked and cooled, dust them with powdered sugar.


And drizzle them with melted chocolate. A few tips: if your chocolate isn’t very “drizzly” – add a bit of crisco or butter. Also, I found it helpful to move the fork very fast in order to shake the chocolate off of the fork.


Chocolate Viennese Fingers

  • Servings: 30
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

Vegetable oil for greasing
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup unseated cocoa powder
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract
confectioner’s sugar for dusting
4 oz bittersweet chocolate melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray or grease 2 large baking sheets. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and cornstarch into a medium bowl.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter and confectioner’s sugar for 1-2 minutes, until light and fluffy. On low speed, gradually beat in the flour mixture and vanilla extract until a soft dough forms.

Spoon the dough into a large pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe about 24 3-inch fingers or S shapes 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until set and slightly firm when touched with a fingertip, rotating the baking sheets from the top to the bottom shelf and from front to back halfway through the cooking time. Remove the baking sheets to wire racks to cool for about 15 minutes until the cookies are firm. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
Arrange close together on a wire rack and dust with confectioner’s sugar. Drizzle with melted chocolate. Set on wax paper.

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Throwback Thursday: Thanksgiving Dishes

In honor of Thanksgiving next week and today being a “throwback Thursday,” I wanted to revisit one of my earliest posts on this blog, from Thanksgiving 2009. I will actually be making this apple pie again this year!


Thanksgiving is always a wonderful, family- and food-filled day in my life.  For as long as I can remember, anywhere from 20-30 people have gathered in my mom’s house for this holiday.  We are a bit ridiculous when it comes to the food: always a selection of appetizers that makes it hard to leave room for dinner, two (or more) turkeys will all of the trimmings, and a variety of pies and cookies to satisfy all.

After starting college, and learning how to make an apple pie without mom’s helping hands (which was hilarious in the dorm kitchen), I’ve been making apple pie for our Thanksgivings using a family recipe. This year, I tried a little decoration on the crust.

Last year was the first year I experimented with a new recipe, and brought a Wild Rice Stuffing with Goat Cheese and Chorizo. As expected, a few select family members loved it, and the large majority were somewhat wary of trying something new.  I’ve been told I like to make “weird” foods by some of the pickier members of my family.

This year, my mom encouraged me to try something new again.  I have been loving squash all season, so I went in search of something featuring Butternut Squash.

I came across this recipe from 101 Cookbooks.  I couldn’t find farro anywhere, so I took this opportunity to try Winter Wheat Berries, which I have been meaning to try for quite a while.  I also planned on substituting the walnuts for hazelnuts, since I have been enjoying those lately.  Unfortunately, I must not have been paying attention at the store because I bought UNSHELLED hazelnuts.  Since I do not have a nutcracker, I’m in a bit of a pickle until I can figure out how to get them out.  So, I substituted pine nuts out of the freezer, which ended up quite nice.  I really liked how the pine nuts were a similar size to the winter wheat berries.

Again, the majority of my family was not inclined to try a new dish, featuring a grain most had not heard of. The adventurous ones told me that it was indeed delicious, and all left overs were taken home.  So, I’ll count that as a success!

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Cupcake Throwdown Winner: Samoa Cupcakes

Over the weekend I participated in a “Cupcake Throwdown” as part of a pampered chef party. I made these Samoa cupcakes on my sister Holly’s suggestion, and won! First prize was a $25 gift certificate to Pampered Chef.

My competition was fierce.  Carrot cupcakes with beautifully decorated birds, italian cream cupcakes with lighter than air frosting, and peanut butter and jelly cupcakes that tasted just like the sandwich. When all was said and done, the Samoa cupcakes won for their excellent balance of salty and sweet.

The recipe I started with came from Bakers Royale. After a test batch a few weeks prior, I decided to double the batch of caramel, and fill the cupcakes with the extra. This made the cake extra moist.

Chocolate Cupcake

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla


  1. In a bowl, mix sour cream and baking soda together; set aside. Sift flour and cocoa powder; set aside. Using a mixer beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add in salt and beat until combined. Add in eggs and beat until combined. Add in egg yolks and vanilla and beat until combined.
  2. Turn off mixer and, using a sturdy spatula or a wooden spoon, add in sour cream mixture and flour mixture, alternating in thirds. Fold in each rotation, beginning with the sour cream and ending with the flour mixture, mixing each rotation until just combined. Fill cupcake liner two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

  • 2/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 12 tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 11/2 cup powdered sugar


  1. Add sugar and water into a saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Use a wet brush to remove any crystals that form on the side. Once sugar has dissolved increase heat to high. Now and then, using the handle give the pot a swirl to keep the mixture moving. Do not stir the mixture directly. The mixture will start to bubble after a minute. As the mixture darkens to a medium amber color, approximately 5-7 minutes add butter and cream to saucepan. The mixture will bubble wildly. Whisk to combine (bubbles will subside upon cooling). Add salt and stir to combine.
  2. Place butter and vanilla in a bowl and beat on high until butter is pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Turn mixer speed down to medium and add powdered sugar ½ cup at a time. Beat until combined. 3. Add in half of the caramel sauce and beat until combined.

To assemble the cupcakes:

Fill cupcakes with remaining caramel. I used a frosting pen with a filler attachment, but you can just poke holes in the cupcake and drizzle on the caramel. Once filled, frost cupcakes with the salted caramel buttercream frosting. Melt about 1/2 cup of milk chocolate and drizzle over the top of the cupcakes. Top with 1/2 cup of toasted coconut.

These are best eaten the day they are made. Otherwise the coconut looses a bit of it’s crunch. 

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Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Last year I attempted to make some pumpkin oatmeal cookies.  Couldn’t find a recipe for them anywhere, but melded together a couple to see what might work.  They turned out pretty good, but a little dense.  This year I’ve gotten the urge to try a pumpkin cookie again, this time a little different.  Still expecting the cakey texture of a pumpkin cookie, but incorporating the great fall flavors that go so well with pumpkin: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.

I started off with this recipe from, and tweaked it a little bit to make it like a snickerdoodle.  Also, since I was planning on bringing these to work, I did not want to deal with the cream cheese frosting.

For the cookies:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons Maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • For the topping: 1 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg

The cookies were a little to sticky to roll in the cinnamon sugar. Drop the cookies onto a an ungreased cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with the mixture of sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees.

So yummy! Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.  Perfect with a cup of tea.


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