Category Archives: Sweet


Happy Hanukah! The ihatecupcakes test kitchen put something special together; click HERE for a holiday surprise.

“Celebrating Hanukah” for the heathens in my family always meant an excuse for Krispy Kreme.  But now, I have a good reason to take the holiday a little more seriously.  (They don’t have “Hot Donuts Now” anymore.)  The real deal in oil-centric desserts are the Israeli jelly donuts sufganiot.  Wanting to test several versions to give a definite recipe, we made a lot of donuts.

The two recipes we tried produced very different results:  the first, a scrappy and cinnamon-flavored dough with an overnight rise in the refrigerator, involved frying the donuts with the jam already inside; the second, including lemon zest and brandy and kneaded in the food processor to the consistency of pizza dough, had the donuts injected with jam post-fry.

Here are the first, pre-filled sufganiot.  Though tasty, they had gummy, uncooked centers and looked a bit squat.

The second batch puffed up impressively during the frying, with some so buoyant after cooking the first side that they wouldn’t stay flipped over, but had to be held down by force!  These had airy, fully-cooked centers…

…and were easily bottle-fed.

adapted from Aviva Goldman’s The Kosher Cookbook, translated from the Hebrew (Thanks, Niva and Avry!)
1 3/4 C warm milk
1 packet active dry yeast
2 t sugar, divided
4 C all-purpose flour
3 T butter, softened
1 t table salt
1 t vanilla
1 t lemon zest, tightly packed
1 T brandy
vegetable oil for frying
seedless raspberry jam
powdered sugar

Makes 2 dozen

1. Heat milk to 100 degrees F. Add ½ teaspoon of sugar and yeast. Let it rise for about 15 minutes.
2. Fit a food processor bowl with plastic blade. Add flour, butter, salt, remaining sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and brandy.
3. Blend until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 20 seconds.
4. Put the dough in a large bowl, cover with a warm damp towel and let rise for an hour in a warm place.
5. Roll the dough to ½ inch thick.
6. Cut circles with biscuit cutter or small glass, gathering and re-rolling scraps.
7. Place the dough circles on a floured surface, cover with warm damp towel and let rise another hour.
8. Heat 2 inches of oil in a large pot. Fry each side until brown, about 30 seconds each.
9. Let cool and inject with raspberry jam.
10. Sift powdered sugar over sufganiot.

Like any donut these are best eaten the day of, ideally when still warm, but a few seconds in the microwave can help revive them a bit.


Sweet Dreams

A spicer chocolate chip cookie with cinnamon and ginger, a Sweet Dream Cookie gets extra sweetness from rolling in powdered sugar before baking. This recipe comes from my aunt Janie who got it from her retired Swiss neighbor. Janie told me that at one point the recipe was lost in a move, but luckily she remembered giving my mom the recipe years before. Now it’ll be online so none of us have to worry.

These were the chocolate chip cookies of my childhood, and it was usually my job to roll them in the powdered sugar. When I was a freshman in college, my mom sent me a “care package” containing a Ziplock bag of these cookies. She tucked in a sweet little note that ended with “Sorry I fucked these up a little bit.” My roommate, Anna, may have been confused by the language but was very excited about the result. She claimed to prefer them that way, a little thinner and crispier than usual.

Well, I guess you’d be happy, Anna. The batch I just made turned out to be more on the crispy side than I wanted. I think this happened because I didn’t let the dough chill long enough. Or because I flattened the balls a bit after their sugar roll. Or, as I suspect, my oven lies to me about its hotness. It’s a modest oven.

Even though this may not be my dream batch, the cinnamon in them makes the apartment smell very Christmas-y. And they still look good in the cookie jar.  (Thanks Mr. + Mrs. Phillips <3)

adapted from Aunt Janie’s recipe, as given to her by neighbor Trudy Pedersen (and, as it turns out, Bon Appetit 1986.  See note at bottom)

1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter
1 1/2 C brown sugar
1 egg
2 C flour
1 t soda
1/2 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
1 t vanilla
12 oz (package) chocolate chips
powdered sugar for rolling

-Preheat oven to 375
-Cream together first 3 ingredients
-Add dry ingredients and vanilla
-Fold in chocolate chips
-Let chill until dough is firm (apparently longer than half an hour)
-Shape into balls
-Roll in powdered sugar
-Bake 8-10 minutes (8 for normal, 10+ for fucked up/delicious)
-Sweet dreams! *

*Note: Sweet Dream Cookies should not be eaten right before bed, as high amounts of sugar and deliciousness may cause restlessness. Eating Sweet Dream Cookies does not guarantee sweet dreams.  If bad dream occurs, eat a Sweet Dream Cookie and consult your milk carton.

Note for reals:  Wordpress adds additional links to the bottom of the page and recommended a fellow blog that posted about “Sweet Dreams” around this time last year.  Check it out here.

And What Are You Supposed to Be? (or I Get Tired of My Title Format.)

For me, Halloween wasn’t about the candy. It was about the pie. Not just any pie. THE pie.

If you’re part of my family (and if you’re reading this blog, there’s a 92% chance you are) you know what I’m talking about. We Garrissere/Threlfalls are fortunate to know the wonderful Hilda Cabral, independent of her apple pies. A friend of my grandmother’s since they were young, Hilda has always been one of the family. Her apple pies have graced many a Thanksgiving table, but my immediate family always had a taste the month before.

On Halloween, as the night wore on, we’d break away from the other families, saying we needed to be getting back home. But we actually had one more stop. Hilda would answer the door, let us in, we’d chat. Then, “I’m so sorry, but I didn’t have time to make a pie this year” And then a flurry of “Oh, Hilda, of course we don’t expect you…” But she’d be walking back from the kitchen, pie in hand, with delighted smile. She tricked us every time.

One weekend in fall, my dad decided he was getting that recipe. He talked to Hilda and he and I went over for a pie tutorial. I credit this particular afternoon to my love for cooking shows. We stood there in her kitchen with its cage of cheeping canaries and watched the master at work. My dad made the perfect cooking show host, jovially teasing Hilda as she divulged her secrets and I recorded them on a piece of binder paper in my careful child’s cursive: “Now, Hilda, that’s more than two teaspoons; Rosie be sure to put ‘two heaping teaspoons.'” I wish I had that unforgettable afternoon on tape, but at least I can taste the pie and recall it.

direct from the source

10 peeled and sliced Golden Delicious apples
1 C sugar
2 heaping T tapioca
1 T flour
3 T butter
sprinkles of cinnamon and nutmeg

-Stir ingredients and let stand

1 3/4 C flour
3/4 C Crisco
pinches of salt and sugar
5 T cold water

-Mash dry ingredients with potato masher for 5 minutes
-Mix in water
-Roll out 2 crusts, put one in 9″ pie pan, add filling and the top crust

coat with
1 egg yoke [sic]
1 t milk

-Bake @ 350 for 1 hour

Here is what I changed:
-Fewer, but superior, Golden Delicious: I found a great produce market en route to our local Home Depot. (I’d link to it, but Marina Farms doesn’t have a website. I’ll just have to take you there in person.) With an impressive selection of seasonal squash, roots, and pears, it was the apples that did it for me. I’m used to finding green-tinted, petite GDs at the grocery store. Not at Marina Farms where the Goldens are true to their names. And they’re HUGE: the beauty in the photo measures 10″ in circumference.
-Pre-cooking the filling: Learned this trick from Cooks’ apple-cranberry pie recipe. I made the filling and then microwaved for about 6 minutes to allow the apples to soften. This prevents the disappointment of a beautiful pie…with a crunchy filling.
-Less sugar: Pies, especially when made with high-quality fruit, can taste too sweet to me. To let the natural sweetness of the apples come through, I cut the sugar to about half a cup.
-Tapioca: Just a note NOT to change this. Tapioca works as a thickening agent and adds the distinctive flavor that our family recognizes in Hilda’s pie. But be sure to use the powdered kind, not the balls. I used the stuff in a small box labeled “Cook & Serve Pudding and Pie Filling.”
-On nutmeg: My mom has an inexplicable aversion to nutmeg. It’s not just a taste preference; it’s hatred…perhaps trauma. Try reading her an ingredient list and watch her recoil when you say the “n” word. This pie is a safe place, Mom. Show me on the recipe card where the nutmeg touched you.
-Crisco, crisco: I just can’t anymore. I know it’s not evil, and can even be non-transfat now. But I gotta go with butter.
-Do the mash?: I don’t. Though in Hilda’s defense, I recall she had a metal masher that cut the Crisco cleanly, whereas my plastic one smooshes. I just use my pastry cutter or my food processor, and only for as long as it takes to make the butter pea-sized.

Trick or Treat!

I Smooth It Over.

The moment in The Hours when Laura agonizes over her cake’s imperfections speaks to me. I too can set expectations on a dessert and feel a great let down if all goes wrong. Just the other day a simple apple pie ended in me gouging out holes in the beautifully-goldened crust to scoop out ladlefuls of uncooked apples, slopping them into Tupperware for a future use of some sort, and inevitably drowning them in the disposal days later. But it’s ok; this one is a happy story. After a series of baking fails, I treated myself to a new kitchen toy I’ve had my eye on: an offset spatula. O man it’s worth it. It was such a treat to decorate this cake and watch how smoothly the spatula laid on the frosting.

Sometimes, when you feel like you’re not making great leaps and bounds at anything important, it’s so satisfying to have a product you can look at with pride. And then eat.

Here are the frostings I used: the peanut butter one for filling the layers and the chocolate for the outside. The cake itself was also from Smitten Kitchen. I used three layers and froze the fourth. Because I’m health-conscious.

adapted from Bon Appetit’s Milk Chocolate-Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookie filling, Feb 2006

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 C creamy peanut butter
4 T powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 T whipping cream
3 T milk

Note: I doubled the original recipe, but can’t for the life of me remember adding 12 T of cream/milk (2 times the suggested 6 T of cream), so I’m pretty sure that in my inattention I thickened the frosting and made it more ganache-like. Oh darn.

-Add chocolate, peanut butter, powdered sugar, and salt in medium bowl. Heat cream and milk to boil and pour over mixture. Mix until smooth. Cool until ready to frost.

adapted from a Sky High recipe via Smitten Kitchen

makes 2 1/2 cups; this was enough to frost the outside of a three layer cake

3 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
2 C powdered sugar
1-and-a-half sticks salted butter, room temperature
3 T milk
1/2 T vanilla extract

Note: The original recipe calls for unsalted butter, which is what I used, but when I made it this way I wanted the frosting to be a little more salty. But I’m a salt and chocolate person, so it’s up to you.

-Process all ingredients in the food processor until smooth.

It was surely someone‘s  birthday.

I Snap, Crackle, and Post.

I feel like I haven’t seen these in a while. There they were at the checkout line, and there I was, back in the dorms again.

We had the requisite minifridge and microwave, but didn’t really use them for much more than Farmers Market apple juice storage and Peep fight arenas. Then, one day, someone had the genius idea to make Rice Krispie Treats. We had a microwavable (ish) bowl and a Rite Aid across the street; we had dessert. I don’t actually remember if we formed the sticky mess into any kind of pan or just grabbed a clump from the bowl. But I do remember those RKTs hit the spot.

Do they hold up, post-grad? Well, let’s just say yesterday I did make them in a pan, and today there’s only half a pan left.

adapted from the back of the Jet-Puffed Marshmallows bag, under the name “Marshmallow Crispy Squares.” Tricky.

-Half a stick of butter
(In this case, salted butter is better. Since we’re an unsalted household, I sprinkled salt on the top.)
-Half a 1 lb bag of Jet-Puffed Marshmallows
(We used a generic brand once and it was gross, proving that, with corn syrup, quality does matter.)
-Half a 12 oz box of Rice Krispies
(The bag says to use 13 ozs. Wrong. Trust me, our recipe was developed by honors students.)

In a very large microwave safe (enough) bowl, microwave the butter until melted, about forty seconds.

Add marshmallows and microwave one to one-and-a-half minutes, or until you’re sure they’re going to explode.

Find something in your room to serve as a spoon and stir. Add cereal a little at a time and stir until homogenous (in the meantime, make friends with a science major and learn what that means).

At this point, it’s better to stick it as far into the minifridge as space allows to let it cool long enough to finish a chapter or at least de-tag yourself from a dozen photos. Then eat it by scooping out however much you want and packing into a sphere or cube. But don’t spoil your dinner because tonight’s stir-fry is sure to be spectacular.

Welcome to the dorm life, hermano. If these don’t fill you up, you can always come over for dinner.

I Bike in a White Skirt and Heels.

biker kicksIt’s OK, Mambo, I wore a slip.

I’m a ladylike biker.







Wednesdays are my new fave days:  Farmers Market in the morning, So You Think You Can Dance at night.  Today I made an effort to document my route, but you just can’t get everything.  The homeless man with the tatters of his socks as he lies facedown on the grass (too liberal-guilt documentarian); the teen girls biking in front of me in their bikinis, one declaiming, “Omygaaawd, we TOTALLY shoulda worn Sun-In.  I just now thought of that” (too older lesbian creeper).  I was tempted to stop the surfer man wearing only the bottom half of his wetsuit.  But then I went over the conversation in my head:  

Me:  Hot Surfer Man, could I take your picture?  It’s for a blog feature.

HSM:  What’s the blog?

Me:  Oh, it’s a food blog.

HSM:  Then why do you need my picture?

Me:  Well, you look delicious.

But I stopped myself.  Sorry, ladies.  Here are other handsome finds:

tomatoes and nectarines

I was tempted by some “chocolate mint” but thought I’d wait until next time and use it for mint chocolate ice cream.  To celebrate this batch of produce, I think I’ll start ciabatta bigga tonight and put some fresh tomato slices on toast with the rest of the hotel butter made from last week’s lemon basil and shallot.  Wish I could link you to the ciabatta recipe, but Cooks Illustrated won’t let you load the page without membership.  Maitre d’Hotel butter’s easy though–while traditionally just parsley, lemon, and pepper, you can mix any combination of finely-chopped herbs, zest, spices, or garlicky things with softened butter and then allow to harden in the refrigerator.  Really, it’s just herb butter or “compound butter,” but sometimes it’s fun to sound more snobbishly familiar, right?

On my way home I stopped at the Border Grill for some quesadillas (and for the blog) and the Crossroads clothing store for some shoes (and for the blog).  But I made it quick because my raspberries were getting squished.  Not so great a tragedy, though, because their texture suited them nicely for cookie filling.  raspberries and chocolateDeb’s roll-out cookies were the perfect thing yesterday when I needed some chocolate but had no chips, only unsweetened cocoa.  I like to sift on a little powdered sugar when I make them, just for decoration.  And if you want to make similar fruit sandwiches, I’d suggest assembling them on a need-to-eat basis so they don’t get soggy.  

So, we’re at the end of the blog and where are these pictures from the road, you ask?  Once again, link to the cheap way to watch my videos by clicking here:

I Play Tourist.

buy fresh, buy local

In Thailand we had such full days. Organizing those 3000+ photos (a now pared-down number was just uploaded to Costco), I’m amazed how much we experienced in one day.  And it made me wonder—as I sit at my Mac laptop a la Sarah Jessica Parker—What if more days at home were like that?  How would a tourist appreciate the sights you take for granted or never think to check out?  With this mentality (and the freedom of being self-unemployed) I set out to the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market.  And, to add to my hippie field trip, I biked along the lovely (flat!) bike path that goes along the shoreline.  From the local beach to the Santa Monica Pier, I clocked in at a mere 20 minutes!  That means if I’m biking in downtown Marina del Rey and require a quesadilla with manchego and poblano peppers, I could be eating at the Border Grill within the half hour.  Ch-yeah! 

 Next time I bike this way I’ll have to bring my camera.  There’s the ocean, of course, but also the array of crazy Angelinos, the dudes around Muscle Beach, and the Venice Boardwalk burnouts.  And as you pass under the pier itself, at certain times of the afternoon the light passes through the slats just so to create a flickering, disco-like effect. 

 Now, I gave myself a $20 cash-back allowance for market spending.  This meant I couldn’t indulge in the fresh burrata from the cheese guys or the fragrant bunches of roses from the egg man’s garden, but it kept me on a “budget” (I felt very Food Network traveling show material).  I did just fine.  I enjoy the overwhelming walk-through almost as much as the actual shopping—plus, there’s always the samples.  In the end I went for a generous bouquet of lavender (watch for future posts when this becomes ice cream), a handful of vibrant green beans, grapes for that night’s chicken salad, lemon basil just because, and some gems to decorate a fresh fruit tart.

raspberries, strawberries, nectarine, not pictured (eaten) peach

 Inspired by Cook’s “Classic Fresh Fruit Tart,” I used their crust, Martha’s trusty pastry cream from her éclair recipe, and did some further tinkering of my own.  Martha makes a ton of custard, so I made a third. I also substituted extra flour instead of cornstarch.


Tart Crust

1 large egg yolk

1 tablespoon heavy cream

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2/3 cup powdered sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), very cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes


-Combine yolk, cream, and vanilla.

-Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor with the metal blade.

-Cut in butter by pulsing 10-15 times until the butter seems to disappear.

-Keep the processor running and add yolk mixture until dough comes together.

-Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for one hour.  I’d say flash freeze, but you’ve gotta wait for the pastry cream to chill at least that long.

-Roll out to a 13 inch round.  Press into tart pan (I Pam’d and floured mine out of nervousness and the ring came off really easily later), rolling over the pan to remove extra dough.  I’ll admit, mine didn’t come out pretty, so I did some patchwork.  Freeze for at least 20 minutes.

-Heat oven to 375.  Cover the tart shell with foil and pie weights (or all that extra change from the couch) and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and weights carefully and cook another 5-8 minutes until a deep golden brown.

-Cooks wanted you to fill the cooled tart and eat “within a half hour or so.”  Now, we’re good eaters around here, but we’re not that good.  So, to preserve the tart crust from the custard, to use up the mini chocolate chips, and to make it more delicious, I spread chocolate chips along the bottom.  I then let the shell cool in the fridge until the chocolate layer hardened, then added the custard, and then decorated!


Pretty good souvenir.