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New England Maple Sugar Candy

28 Aug

When I heard about Shannon’s Maple Sugar candies- i had to ask her to guest post. This is one of my favorite kinds of candy- can’t wait to make them- thanks Shannon!

mape sugar candy

Guest post!

New England Maple Sugar Candy- by Shannon

With fall just around the corner, this candy recipe is perfect for the changing seasons! In particular, this recipe is another great use for all that maple syrup you’re sure to pick up while leaf peeping throughout New England and parts beyond.  As quick as it is simple, this is one of the few recipes you’ll encounter that is not only easy, but where the ingredients are fewer than the supplies needed.


Thick bottomed sauce pan (cast iron or otherwise)

Candy Thermometer

Wooden spoon

Candy molds or small pan with a raised lip, covered in lightly oiled foil

Ingredients (below makes about 30 small round candies):

1 cup maple syrup

1 cap full vanilla extract

1 tablespoon butter


  1. Add the Maple syrup, vanilla and butter to sauce pan over medium heat. Stir with metal spoon until butter is dissolved.
  2. Place candy thermometer so the tip settles firmly in the syrup.
  3. Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, until the temperature just reaches 235C, or soft ball stage (about 10 minutes)
  4. Once 225C is reached, remove pan from heat and let the syrup sit, without stirring, until the temperature reached 174C (about 10 minutes)
  5. Begin stirring with the wooden spoon, slowly moving the syrup around.
  6. Do this until the resistance and color of the syrup JUST begins to change. Begin quickly spooning into molds or pouring onto the foil covered baking pan.
  7. Let the candy sit and cool for at least 15 minutes before either popping out of molds or cutting up into squares (or other desired shape)
  8. Cadies can be consumed immediately, or put into plastic or glass container to be stored in the fridge for up to one month.

Ultimate Peanut Butter Brownies

10 Feb

PB brownies

Ever since I made David Lebovitz’s Mint Brownies at Mrs. Weiner’s house- I have been dreaming of creating a peanut butter version. One time, in the Adirondaks, we attempted a peanut butter swirl—but this current version is really PB done right. The idea- like the peppermint patty- was to make a homemade peanut butter cup layer. Success! Of course- you can cheat and just put Reeces cups in the middle- but where is the fun in that?

Also made in blizzard– Vegetarian Chili– yum.

Because it makes such an absurd amount- I decided to halve the mint brownie recipe for an 8×8 pan.

Homemade Peanut butter Cup (double below if making 9×13)

8 oz bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate

¾ cup smooth creamy peanut butter (I read once that you aren’t supposed to use natural kind for this- so I used Trader Joes brand)

¼ cup sifted confectioner sugar

2 tablespoons butter

Measure out 8×8 on a sheet of parchment paper (I did this just by folding the edges over an 8×8 pan- then placed demarcated sheet on bigger flat cookie sheet). In a pyrex bowl set over low simmering water, melt 4 oz of chocolate. When melted, spread on your 8×8 square. Freeze. Mix peanut butter, sugar and butter for your filling. Once chocolate is hardened, spread on PB layer. Freeze again. I left this for like 20 mins so PB could harden a bit. Melt the other 4 oz of chocolate. Gently spread on your PB layer- freeze again. [Can be made ahead- I left mine in the freezer overnight. Can also just enjoy as is!]

David’s Brownies- originally a Maida Heatter recipe. So I halved the recipe below for 8×8. [see brackets]
8 ounces (225g) unsweetened chocolate [4 oz]
8 ounces (225g) unsalted butter [4 oz- 1 stick]
5 large eggs, at room temperature [2.5 eggs. I cracked two in. Then cracked one in a mason jar- scrambled up. And approximated half an egg]
2 teaspoons vanilla extract [1 tsp]
1/4 teaspoon salt [generous 1/8]
1 tablespoon instant coffee or espresso [approximated this to 1 ½ tsp]
3 1/2 cups (350g) sugar [1 ¾ cups]
1 2/3 cup (170g) sifted flour [5/6 cup flour, approx. 3 oz or 85g if you have a scale]

1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF (218ºC).
2. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with foil, shiny side down. Smooth the foil then butter it lightly or coat it with nonstick spray- see Just the Tips #2.
3. Chop the chocolate and cut the butter into cubes, then warm them together in a medium bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat as soon as both are melted and smooth.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or by hand, whip the eggs, vanilla, salt, instant coffee, and sugar on high speed for about ten minutes until foamy and stiff.
5. By hand, stir in the chocolate mixture, then the flour.
6. Smooth half of the batter into the pan. Place a layer of PB cup- can break up but I just measured an inserted giant slab.
7. Pour the rest of the batter over the mints and smooth the top.
8. Bake the brownies for 35 minutes [my 8×8 I left in for 25 mins. They were probably a touch underdone], rotating the brownies midway during baking.
When the brownies are done, they will have a firm crust on top but a toothpick inserted into the center should come out wet. Do not overbake the brownies.
9. Let the brownies cool completely [this took several hours], then lift them out of the pan and slice into rectangles. [I was impatient about this- bad idea- but melted PB- so effing good. I left in the fridge overnight to firm up]
Storage: The brownies will keep at room temperature for up to three days. They can be frozen, well-wrapped, for up to two months.

QuickPost: Banana Choc Chip Muffins

8 Dec

banana muffin

Banana Choc Chip Muffins- I just followed the  banana bread recipe– w. very minor adjustments- that i made based of Doris greenspan’s various muffin recipes.

Change temp to 400 and baking time to 18-20 minutes.

Change baking soda/powder to 2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda

Makes 12 muffins. To get evenly size, use an ice cream scoop. To make the scooping even easier, douse the scooper in a bit of grapeseed, canola or other neutral oil before using.


Whole Lemon Bars

27 Nov

If you are not already familiar with David Lebovitz’s blog- well, you should be. Growing up, I never really had a thing for lemon bars. But consider me a convert. I argue that this is the best recipe out there for them. The genius of it- is it uses a whole lemon- all food processed up- giving it super lemon flavor. I will not reprint the recipe here- but rather refer you to the original post on David’s blog. I had forgotten the deep shade of brown that the bottom crust turns- but was relieved to see David’s look the same—and they taste delicious and rich and not at all burnt.

The other part of the post is a DIY project and challenge. Can’t remember the blog that I found this on last spring. But you know you are traveling with a treat- that will need a last minute dusting of confectioner sugar- and you don’t have or want to bring a sugar shaker. Don’t you just hate that? (ha!). Well, instead you can take a mini-mason jar, a hammer and a nail. And just hammer out some holes in the lid. I could probably stand to make a few more than I did- just to get more sugar pour out. Admittedly, I could also just invest in a mini-mesh strainer, which would probably work better and those cheap drain ones are like $1. But this is cute- and so very portable. When transporting, I keep place a non-punched lid over the other, so won’t spill.

And here is the challenge. Because I am an over-user of mason jars- I think they are a great way to gift cookies. Anyone have ideas about good thing to gift bars such as these in? Looking for something as durable, portable and cheap as jars. Tins are great- but my stock ups from the Container store never last. And I’d love to repurpose something that is just laying around the house. Jess P. and I already starting discussing ideas of shirt boxes or cereal boxes— and my experimentation w. an egg carton was not so pretty. So I am asking you, dear reader.

One more quick note about David Lebovitz. I might have mentioned from a previous post- but seriously, every ice cream I make is from him. Buy his book Perfect Scoop. Most notably- some flavors I have made- but never published here- are a cookie dough ice cream- w. special dough just for it (sans eggs). A great chocolate base that I used for these s’mores sundaes (which i made in efforts to recreate this s’mores ben & jerrys ice cream sam and i ate too much of in high school. I can’t remember how i made the fluff- thats what i get for not posting sooner- but i think it was just a meringue base. yet another use of jars, shut up already tessa.)  And watermelon sorbet.

And while I am obsessing about him, love David’s egg salad too.

S’mores Sunday

Cookie dough ice cream

watermelon sorbet. photo courtesy of Jordan K. I got all martha stewart when jordan and her BF alex came over for dinner- i froze the watermelon rinds to use as dishes.

Ginger Molasses cookies

26 Sep

so i received this email the other day from Anonymous (who i’m sure you’ve come to know through his/her comments on the blog):

dear tessa,

why don’t you love us? it’s fall, so you should love us the most this
time of year.


cinnamon and nutmeg


Dear cinnamon and nutmeg,

so lovely to hear from you! I am sorry i waited so long to bring you guys back out- but it hadn’t really felt like fall yet. but now, the weather has changed and i’m craving you. last week, i made you a home in a delicious apple crisp. And today, you really shined in these ginger molasses cookies. So thank you! Keep doing what you do

looking forward to seeing much more of you in the coming months,



See apple crisp recipe for new pic and peeling apple trick learned in Ireland!


This cookie recipe comes from Flour Bakery- my new favorite spot in Cambridge. It is such a great cookie- because as she describes, these spicy fall flavors have this great soft presence. I don’t need that overwhelming bang from 7 kinds of ginger- and i dont see why i should have to choose between a molasses cookie or a gingersnap. I have to say- these are fucking good.  you know like that first day of fall– you feel it in the air- and smell it too- right Danny T? that’s what these cookies are like. you should be sad summer is over- and you kind of are. but you remember, fall is a great season too.

Erring on the lower side of the baking time keeps them delightfully chewy. More time- more crunch.

Ginger Molasses cookies by Joanne Chang, Flour Bakery

12 tablespoons (6oz, 168g) unsalted butter

1 cup (220g) tightly packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup (85g) molasses  ** ah! i don’t know how i did this- but just fixed had accidentally written 1/2

1 egg

2 cups (288g) all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp clove

1/2 tsp salt

small bowl of sugar for tossing cookies (regular granular sugar or turbinado works fine)

Preheat oven to 350 and put rack in the center of the over.

Melt butter in a small saucepan and let cool for at least 30 min or until warm, not hot, to the touch. [i left mine about an hour- and it reached this unexpected semi-solid state– (jess P you know what im talking about). Anyway- looks weird- worked great.] Using a stand mixer w. paddle attachment, combine butter, brown sugar, molasses, and egg and mix for about 20 seconds until well mixed. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, soda, ginger, cinnamon, clove and salt and fold this into butter/sugar mixture by hand until well mixed. I refrigerated my dough overnight because was not baking off until the following day.

Scoop out 1/4 cup balls (size of ice cream scoop) and place them one by one in a bowl of sugar and toss gently to coat on all sides. Place cookies on a sheet, 2 inches apart and bake for 16-18 mins (i did 16) until the cookies are crackly on top and barely firm to touch (if you like them chewy i’d kinda ignore the firm to touch- the ones that i let go that long turned out crunchier). Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for 20-30 mins (yes, i actually did that). slide cookies of sheet and cool rest of way on rack. Cookies can be stored up to 2 days in airtight container, dough can be stored up to week in the fridge in an airtight container.

Makes 16 cookies.

1/4 cup balls are very big but gorgeous cookies. I made my second batch a little smaller– but i dunno, go big or go home.

Peach & Raspberry Popsicles

20 Aug

Just got back from 2 weeks at Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland. It was an amazing time– and i have tons of photos and recipes to share. I thought I’d start with something super simple and very seasonal. Rory, our teacher, said they only make these a few weeks a year when the peaches are at their best. This can made into a sorbet (put in your ice cream machine), as a granita (put in freezer and bash up- like Sam did with her tangerine ice) or in popsicle molds. I studded my pops with a few raspberries. Others served their peach sorbet with a whipped cream that had mashed raspberries swirled in. These will always remind me of Cecile- one of my housemates at the school- who is fabulous, very french- and pronounces them “pop-cycles.”

This recipe is by Rory O’Connell
1 1/2lb ripe peaches
3/4 cup caster sugar (which is white sugar that has been pulsed through a processor a few times- i think regular would work fine but caster just dissolves more easily. i used a bit less sugar– but do know the mixture should be sweet. the sweetness dials back when frozen. But the amount you use depends on the sweetness of your peaches so be sure to sample them.)
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Start by peeling the peaches. First- score the peaches on the top and bottom with a small cross and place in a deep bowl. Pour over boiling water and keep them immersed for a few seconds. Strain immediately and put in cold water. Drain again and peel off skin– it will come off easily. Slice flesh away from pits and put in blender with sugar and lemon until mix is smooth and sugar is dissolved. Freeze in machine or pour into ice pop molds. Wait until set- then enjoy!

Banana Cream Pudding

10 Jul

Guest Post by Jessica P.

Here I present to you, Snackbacko fans, the recipe for Magnolia Bakery’s Famous Banana Pudding. It seems like I have been making this consistently once a year around spring or the start of summer since you don’t need an oven, is great for parties (it makes so much!) and seems so weather appropriate. Finding a pretty way to serve it is fun – try Martini glasses that may or may not be hanging around your workplace along with a glass trifle bowl…

*Note– you have to start this recipe ahead of time as it requires several hours of fridge chill time.

Banana Cream Pudding

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1½ cups ice cold water
1 (3.4-ounce) package Jell-O instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups heavy cream
1 (12-ounce) box vanilla wafers
4 cups sliced ripe bananas
Pudding: Phase 1

On medium speed of an electric mixer, beat together sweetened condensed milk and (remember: ice cold) water until well combined for about 1 minute. Add the pudding mix and beat for about 2 minutes or until combined. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight

Pudding: Phase 2

On medium speed of an electric mixer, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form to make whipped cream. Gently fold the pudding mixture into the whipped cream until well blended, making sure no streaks of pudding remain.


It is best to use a large wide bowl (preferably glass) with a 4-5-quart capacity. Cover the bottom of the bowl with one-third of the wafers, then one-third of the bananas and then one-third of the pudding. Repeat the layering twice more. Feel free to garnish the top with wafers or wafer crumbs.

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours (the longer the better so that the wafers get soft).

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