Yes, I know – for most, pumpkin season is over. But when you have 3 jumbo cans of pumpkin puree taking up valuable space in your (small) pantry what else are you going to do. And when the end result is a two fluffy pumpkin cookies with cream cream filling sandwiched between them oozing from the sides, you just can’t resist.
This recipe comes to you all from the owners of the phenomenal Brooklyn bakery Baked. I reviewed them about a year ago and after sampling a bunch of their stuff and bought their book shortly thereafter. If you are considering adding a fun baking book to add to your collection with great twists to old time favorites, pick up a copy of Baked: New Fronteirs in Baking. Read more
I have been a bit of a slacker with regards to my Sweet Melissa Sundays posts. So get ready to see them featured on A Chica Bakes a lot more, as I will be trying my best to bake along with current selections and make-up for some I missed last year.
This pick for Chewy Peanut Butter Cookies was made by Stephanie of Ice Cream Before Dinner last August. And what a great one it was. This recipe is a winner on multiple fronts – super simple (and few ingredients), short baking time and amazing flavor. These cookies taste better than ANY store bought peanut butter cookie. If anyone wants to challenge me on this one, well…go right ahead. Peanut butter plays the leading role and the flavor comes through beautifully in the finished product. Read more
I have taken a huge liking to pumpkin that I never thought would happen. And this bread is partly to blame (not sure why they calls these things bread cuz they are really cake baked in a bread pan). I’m not sure if it the pumpkin or the wonderful spices that dance their way around the nuts here but this “bread” is super delish. This “bread” was also my first venture into the wonderful world of King Arthur Flour and whole grain flour at that. No one that tired this “bread” could tell that it was made with whole grain flour. Heck, had I not made it myself, I wouldn’t have known either. Read more
In the wee hours between January 1st and 2nd last year I decided to embark on a blogging adventure. The last year has been an incredible journey. What I have enjoyed the most is how blogging has allowed to find a little bit of myself. I know this sounds a bit utopian. But in a time when many are trying to find themselves or figure out who they want to be when they grow up, I’m glad to have found an outlet that allows me to be, well, little old me, and share it with everyone. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. But while I figure it out, baking and blogging keeps me busy.
Thank you so much to all of you who subscribe and follow A Chica Bakes. And even more thanks to all of you who leave such wonderful comments. I am still amazed at how many new friends I have made since starting the blog and look forward to engaging in more wonderful conversations with you all in 2010. Read more
My apologies for the recent radio silence at A Chica Bakes. Despite being a bit MIA, I’m still having some baking fun. And not all of it is in the kitchen. A couple of weeks ago Nigella Lawson did a book signing at Williams Sonoma in NYC and I had the honor of getting a copy of her latest book signed by the witty British cook (or is it chef…I dunno…hehe). This is now the third of Nigella’s books in my collection. All of her books are an excellent value because they come packed with TONS of recipes and gorgeous photos.
Her latest book “Nigella Christmas” is no different. “With her no-nonsense approach, her inspirational ideas and empathy for the practical realities of the season – combined here with reliable easy-to-follow recipes and reassuring advice about planning and cooking ahead – Nigella Christmas is guaranteed to bring comfort and joy and make sure the season of good will stays that way.” Read more
Since getting married a couple of months ago, a question I get at least once a day is “Has anything changed since you got married?” I can happily say that while a handful of things have changed (for the better) most things are the same. See after being with someone for over 7 years, you develop “things” – the things that make you a unit and the things you share in the privacy of your union.
My husband and I have a ton of “things” that make us Bareli (yes…we combined our name before it was being done for celeb couples). One of our favorites is Bareli Sundays. Read more
I’m starting a new series on A Chica Bakes in anticipation of the holiday season. If you are anything like me, you tackle the holiday shopping the following way – you make your list and get everything you need to get before Thanksgiving and then find some deals for yourself on Black Friday. hehe
With my new “Baker Gifts Series” I hope to take the stress out of your holiday shopping by offering suggestions for the perfect gift for the baker in your life. If you don’t have a baker in your life, I’m sure just about anyone will love these gems.
I’m starting with a somewhat nontraditional gift for a baker – a candle. My husband has his own blog that caters to men’s fragrances and as a result our home is full of all sorts of sweet smelling treasures. Every now and then he gets his hands on something that is not just for men, which excites the heck out of me. As was the case with this candle.
I present you LaVanila Laboratories
Vanilla Lavender Healthy Candle
. Now why would I want to start a series about gifts for bakers with a candle? Well – I’m a self-proclaimed Vanillaholic. While chocolate gets all the glory, it’s vanilla that is the background flavor to many of the world’s baked goods. Not only does vanilla taste great but the smell is incredibly warm, soothing and calming. There’s nothing like coming home to filled with the sweet aroma of vanilla after a stressful day in the office. The highly aromatic vanilla bean is known to be one of the world’s most identifiable and comforting scents/flavors. Vanilla is associated not only with warmth, softness and purity, but medically proven to reduce stress and anxiety.
But there is more to this candle than the fact that it smells great. LaVanila’s co-founders Danielle Raynor and Laura DiGirolamo set out to create a luxury fragrance that was actually good for you, one that was full of natural, skin-friendly ingredients free of the complex mixtures of synthetic chemicals found in traditional fragrances that can be absorbed into the bloodstream and irritate the senses.
With their Healthy Candle, LaVanila created an all-natural and 100% healthy three-wick candle that is non-polluting, soot-free and eco-friendly. Created with pure essential oils and beeswax, a renewable resource, this candle burns 90% cleaner and 50% longer than traditional paraffin candles. Completely free of paraffin, formaldehyde, petrochemical, phthalates and other harsh chemicals, the soothing blend of Madagascar vanilla, soft freesia and rich heliotrope uplifts the body and soul.
Change things up a bit and instead of baking with it, add vanilla to your daily routine with this candle and I promise you won’t be disappointed.
To learn more about LaVanila’s Healthy Candle
visit their website – http://www.lavanila.com/
. At $32 a piece with 60 hours of burn time it’s a great value and surely to make the baker in your life a happy camper.
Prix-fixe menus conger up mixed feelings for most. While they are practical, you don’t usually get spectacular food from them as in many restaurants the really good dishes never make it on their prix-fixe menu.
Now what if a prix-fixe menu that offered three courses of dessert was put in front of you? My eyes opened wide a few weeks ago when I visited ChikaLicious in New York City and was given a menu with three courses of dessert with wine pairings for each course.
ChikaLicious Dessert Bar is a dessert aficionado’s dream come true. By aficionado I don’t mean someone whose idea of fine pastry to be Pizzeria Uno’s Brownie Bowl, Friendly’s Ice Cream Cake or Applebee’s Maple Butter Blondie. While I have had all of these myself and don’t think there is anything particularly wrong with them, ChikaLicious is on a whole other level. If you’re looking for a small bite of something succulent with out of this world flavor combinations that looks as beautiful as it tastes, this is where you want to go. Eating here once will raise your expectations for what desserts should be for the rest of your life.
“Est. 2003, ChikaLicious Dessert Bar features fresh, fun and innovative individual desserts, as served in NYC’s top restaurants. This intimate, 20-seat eatery is built around an open kitchen where the chefs and sommelier work and serve customers directly. If you are passionate about food, here is your chance to enjoy fabulous desserts while watching both their preparation and plating.”
“The 3-course prix-fixe menu, described as American desserts, French Presentation and Japanese tasting portions, is $14; and includes an amuse, dessert of your choice and assorted petits fours. Additional Desserts (add-ons) are $7. [They] also offer a select list of wines, dessert wines, ports and champagne, along with organic coffees and teas. The menu provides suggestions for the best pairing for your dessert.”
Your amuse and petits fours are chosen for you by the chef. Your dessert or “main course” comes off of a menu that changes almost daily. My friend Teresa and I chose their two signature desserts that always on the menu – cheesecake and chocolate tart. The first and third courses are quite small. But what you have to keep in mind is that ChikaLicious is about quality not quantity. Our amuse was a yogurt sorbet with a piece of kiwi infused in a lavender syrup and it was fantastic. The sorbet was soft, icy, tangy, and sweet. And paired with the kiwi and lavender syrup, my only issue was that I wish I had more. Our petits fours consisted of toasted coconut marshmallow, lemon poppy seed cake and chocolate chocolate chip cookie. All were delicious but my favorite was the marshmallow as I really enjoyed the contrast of the gooey marshmallow and toasted coconut.
Our main courses were ridiculously sick! (as in good ridiculous and good sick) The chocolate tart was a bit of a surprise. The center is soft and when you dip you spoon into it warm chocolate oozes all over your plate and mixing it with the pink peppercorn ice cream gives you a perfect pop of flavor in your mouth. Pink peppercorn ice cream is one of the most interesting things I have ever tasted – it’s cold, creamy, hot, warm, spicy and sweet all at the same time. I wish they sold it by the tub. And as for the cheesecake – I wouldn’t necessarily call this cheesecake. I would call it a dessert made with cheese and a phenomenal dessert at that. No cream cheese here; this “cheesecake” is made out of fromage blanc and its texture is more reminiscent of a mousse. Served cold inside a bowl nestled in another bowl full of shaved ice, this lightly sweetened “cheesecake” for the sophisticated palette melts in your mouth and was the highlight of my evening.
With a minimalist approach to desserts, ChikaLicious makes you sit and use your palette instead of stuffing yourself with an oversized sundae. It’s an overall great “fine dining” experience. If you want to indulge and experience a special treat, make sure to give ChikaLicious a try. I will definitely become a regular and take my camera next time to update this post with some pictures.
ChikaLicious Dessert Bar
203 East 10th Street
New York, NY 10003
Last week, my Latin Flair took you all to Cuba. This week I continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by bringing you to Mexico with some Mexican Wedding Cookies. Traditionally served at Christmas and at weddings, these cookies have become increasingly more available due to their growing popularity in recent years. Originally from Spain, they are light, airy cookies that are often infused with the aromatic flavors of cinnamon and anise. Other common variations include orange, almond, sesame seeds, and even the non-traditional chocolate. The ones I bring you here are more traditional, flavored with vanilla and pecans and rolled in powdered sugar to finish.
When I first looked at this recipe, I was shocked (and a little worried) that it didn’t contain egg. And for a second, I thought Gourmet made a mistake. (I know, I know, I’m crazy) After doing a bit of research, I learned traditionally this cookie is made without egg. Sans egg, I was worried the dough wouldn’t keep together and crumble all over the place. So I used a small ice cream scoop to tightly scoop out the dough. Then I pressed it a bit more with my hands. Once I had tight balls of dough, I refrigerated them for an hour for extra security. And after just 11 minutes in the oven magic happened. Well, when they came out they weren’t necessarily the prettiest looking cookies. They puffed up slightly and retained their round shape but they were pale, colored only by flecks of pecan. Once baked, these cookies actually looked like raw cookie dough. But after taking my first bite I was in heaven. The flavor was perfect – lightly sweetened and robustly “pecany” and the texture was just as great – crumbly with little bits of pecan.
Let it be with your morning cup of coffee or your afternoon tea, straight out of the oven or as it is traditionally served with a dusting of powdered sugar, you definitely want to give this one a try. Click here for the recipe.
And now on to announce the winner of my Hispanic Heritage Month giveaway. Note that this giveaway was not sponsored by the Estefans or the book publisher. Random Integer selected comment #6 as the winner – which is Shari from Whisk: A Food Blog one of my favorite food bloggers! Congrats Shari.
Make sure to check back for another giveaway next week to celebrate the end the Hispanic Heritage Month.
Sometimes you can just look at a recipe, let it be for something sweet or savory, and just know it’s going to turn out good. Although I had never baked with pumpkin before, I knew these little beauties would not let me down. Why? Well, not so much because of the pumpkin but because of all the incredible spices that go into the batter – ground ginger, cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. YUM-O!
These are the first cupcakes I have made as a member of the Martha Stewart Cupcake Club, where on a monthly basis, members bake their way through Martha’s (she’s my girl, so we’re on a first name basis…she just doesn’t know it) incredible cupcake book. If you don’t have the book and you love cupcakes, it’s a must have. It’s PACKED with tons of recipes and beautiful photos along with great tips on making cupcakes that look just as good as they taste.
One of the club’s membership rules is that we aren’t allowed to post recipes from the book, in an effort to encourage people to buy it. What I can say is that the recipe’s spices are key to making this cupcake a winner! And the use of cake flour instead of all-purpose made the babies incredibly light and fluffy. Trust me when I say it’s going to be hard to eat just one. The accompanying cream cheese frosting was good but just a tad but sweet for my taste. I prefer this recipe which incorporates more cream cheese and less sugar.
If you like pumpkin, this recipe is for you. If you’re not a huge fan, I bet you will still like these. So make sure to give these a try. And an added bonus to making these – your house/apartment will smell incredible.
Before I sign off – don’t forget to enter my giveaway. Deadline is tomorrow (Monday) 9pm.