Baci di dama


Recipe adapted from Chocolate-Filled Hazelnut Cookies by The Best Of Gourmet-A Year of Celebrations, published by Conde Nast Publications Inc.

The recipe for these cute cookies comes from a cookbook that I purchased in Rhode Island while I was shopping with Mark’s Mom; she knows all the places to get good deals.  I only paid $3 for the 20th anniversary edition of Gourmet- A year of Celebrations. 

This recipe is from the chapter entitled Father’s Day Tuscan Dinner.  Baci di dama (Italian for Lady’s Kisses) are pretty easy to make, however I did veer a little from the original recipe; I used almonds instead of hazelnuts, I infused the dough with Fiori di Sicilia,  I added 2 extra Tablespoons butter to the dough because it was so crumbly it would not hold together well, and I made my cookies twice the size of the original recipe.  They were dangerously delicious so I sent most of them in to work with Mark and they were well received.  Enjoy!


3/4 cup almonds, toasted and cooled

1 cup confectioners sugar

1 stick (8 Tablespoons) plus 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, well softened, but not melted

1/4 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia, optional

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup cake flour

3 ounces fine quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), preferably 70% cacao, chopped (I used Scharffenberger)



1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Line baking sheet with parchment paper, or a Silpat.

3. Grind cooled almonds with confectioners sugar, in a food processor until powdery, being careful not to process into a paste.


4. Mix together butter, zest, Fiori di Sicilia, salt, and nut mixture in a large bowl with a wooden spoon until creamy.

5. Add flour and stir just enough to mix, do not overwork the dough.


6. Roll dough into small balls (the original recipe suggests the balls be the size of marbles, mine were about twice that size).  Arrange balls of dough about 1-2 inches apart on baking sheets.  Bake until very pale golden, about 12-14 minutes.  Remove baked cookies from baking sheets and place on a rack to cool.


7. Melt chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir, melt for 30 seconds, stir.  Continue this pattern until chocolate is completely melted.  Scrape chocolate into a plastic zip-type bag and snip the bottom corner of the bag off.

8. Squeeze melted chocolate onto the flat sides of half the cookies, top with the other half of the cookies.  Press down to adhere the cookies to the chocolate.


Chocolate Guinness Cake


Recipe courtesy of Feast by Nigella Lawson, and

Chocolate and Guinness…mmmm!  This decadent recipe is from the British food writer, Food Network star, and Domestic Goddess herself, Nigella Lawson.  It is an easy cake to put together; you start by melting the butter and Guinness in a large skillet on the stove, and mix in the rest of the ingredients right in the skillet.  After the cake bakes and cools, you mix up a quick frosting that only goes on top, simulating the frothy head of a Guinness draught.

I love that you can mix this whole thing up in the skillet, however, you’d better use a big one.  My cast iron skillet is 12 inches across and nearly 2 1/2 inches deep, and the cake batter filled it.  I had to whisk slowly so as not to sling chocolate and flour all over the place.  If you are like me (an aggressive stirrer), then you may wish to transfer the butter and Guinness mixture to a heat-proof bowl so that you can just go to town on it when you add the other ingredients.

This is a great birthday cake for that person in your life that loves beer (especially Guinness) and doesn’t want the typical sweet bakery confection.  This cake is dense, moist and not overly sweet.  Plus, it looks pretty cool.  Enjoy!



1 cup Guinness (save the cap to float on top of the cake for decoration)

10 Tablespoons butter

3/4 cup cocoa (Dutch-processed is best)

2 cups superfine sugar ( regular, granulated sugar, works fine too)

3/4 cup sour cream

2 large eggs

1 Tablespoon vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda



1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Butter a 9 inch springform pan and line the pan with parchment paper.


2. Combine the Guinness and butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat until the butter melts.  Remove from the heat, whisk in sugar and cocoa until blended.

3. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla.  Mix well.


4. Add to the Guinness mixture in the pan.  Add the flour and baking soda, whisk until smooth.

5. Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake 45 minutes-1 hour (mine took 50 minutes), at 350 degrees, until cake is risen and firm.

6. Place pan on a wire rack and allow cake to cool completely in the pan.


Frothy Head on the Guinness 

1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Using a food processor or mixer, break up any lumps in the confectioner’s sugar.  Add cream cheese and blend until smooth.  Add heavy cream and mix until smooth and spreadable.

2. Remove cake from the pan and place on a platter or cake stand.  Ice the top of the cake only, so that it resembles a frothy pint of Guinness.  Float the cap of the bottle on the top of the cake, or draw a shamrock in the suds, like the bartender does when you get a Guinness on draught.



Recipe courtesy of Victory Postcards and Souvenirs

A brand new football season is right around the corner.  In honor of our beloved Ohio State, the reigning National Champions, I present to you another kind of Buckeye…this one is made of chocolate and peanut butter.  Buckeyes are the traditional candy of our state and you can’t host an Ohio State party without them (nor would you want to).  They are perfect for tailgating and so addicting that you can never eat just one.  Peanut butter and chocolate…what’s not to love?

These go together pretty quickly and you only need 4 ingredients.  This recipe makes a ton of Buckeyes, which is good if you have a house full of taste testers, but dangerous if you are by yourself.  You want the peanut butter mixture to be quite stiff, so a stand mixer works the best for this recipe.  As you can see from my photo, I did not allow enough chocolate to drip off of the peanut butter balls before I placed them on the waxed paper.  This caused the chocolate to puddle underneath as it hardened.  My taste testers did not seem to mind this, however they don’t look as pretty with a big honkin’ chocolate pedestal attached to the bottom of them.  Be a little more patient than I was and yours will come out just right, Go Bucs! Enjoy!




3 cups creamy peanut butter

1 1/2 sticks softened butter

2 pounds powdered sugar

16 oz. chocolate, melted



1. Mix together the peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar.  Form into small balls.




2. Using a toothpick, dip peanut butter balls into chocolate until almost covered, leaving a little of the peanut butter mixture exposed on top.  Allow excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl.  Place dipped balls on waxed paper.  Refrigerate.



Cocoa-Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Coffeecake


Recipe adapted from Baking by Flavor by Lisa Yockelson

published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York

I drooled over the pages of this book trying to decide what to bake, and finally decided on this rather magnificent coffee cake.  As I pulled the ingredients from the cupboards, fridge and pantry, the unthinkable occured; I ran out of chocolate chips.  It came as quite a shock because this might be the only house in town that never runs out of chocolate chips.  So instead of all semi-sweet chips, like the recipe calls for in the batter, I substituted with bittersweet chocolate…yum!

This cake has a humble, deceiving appearance and is in reality very sumptuous.  My cake turned out a little less sweet because of the use of bittersweet chocolate, but I figured there was enough sugar in this recipe to go around.  Between the soft, moist cake and the crunchy, buttery top, it really is delicious.  This could be a special Mother’s Day treat, just wave the magic wand over the top and remove all the calories.  Enjoy!


Chocolate Chip Pecan Crumble Ingredients

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cups granulated sugar

3/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar, sieved to remove the lumps

big pinch of salt

12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small chunks

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

3/4 cup mimi semi-sweet chocolate chips


Chocolate Chip Pecan Crumble Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray a 9×13 inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.


2. Thoroughly mix the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl.  Add the butter chunks and with a pastry blender (or two forks if you don’t have a pastry blender), cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is reduced to small pieces.  Stir in the pecans and the chocolate chips.  Work the mixture with your fingertips until it comes together in large and small moist, sandy-textured lumps.  Set aside.


Cocoa-Sour Cream-Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake Batter Ingredients

3 cups bleached all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons cocoa

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 cups mini semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used 1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1/2 cup Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate wafers-chopped a little, and 3/4 cup E.Guittard bittersweet chocolate wafers-chopped a little.  It pretty much cleaned out a lot of my chocolate stash)

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened

2 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 cups thick, cultured sour cream


Cake Batter Directions

1. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt together, into a large bowl.  In a medium sized bowl, toss the chocolate chips with 1 Tablespoon of the sifted mixture.

2. Cream the butter in the large bowl of an electric mixer for about 4 minutes. Add the granulated sugar in 3 additions, beating for 1 minute after each portion is added.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.  Blend in the vanilla extract.

3. On low speed, add the sifted mixture in three additions with the sour cream in two additions, beginning and ending with the sifted mixture.  By combining the batter in this way, you end up with a soft, even textured cake.  As the ingredients are added, scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula to keep the batter even textured.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Sprinkle the entire bowl of crumble mixture lightly and evenly over the top of the cake batter.  DO NOT press it in.   This creates a generous topping and allows the cake to bake evenly.


5. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, or until set and a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist pieces clinging to it.  The cake will pull away slightly from the sides of the baking pan.  Cool the cake in the pan on a rack.  Serve the cake, warm or at room temperature, cut into squares.

Chocolate Cake Roll


Chocolate Cake Roll courtesy of Creative Cook’s Kitchen

published by International Masters Publishers AB


There is a commercial about a grown daughter who gives her Mom a Mother’s Day card, and then the Mom pulls out all the old cards given to her by the daughter.  It’s very sweet, and I’m such a sap that I always cry because I have those same cards from my kids when they were little (you know…the ones written in crayon and full of hearts, glitter, and stick people).

If you are planning a special meal for Mother’s Day, and want to be able to spend time with your Mom and not in the kitchen, this is the perfect cake to serve for dessert.  Not only is it versatile in that you can change up the fillings, but it also tastes yummy, looks really pretty, and can be made ahead of time.  I filled this cake with softened ice cream, but you could also use whipped cream, Cool Whip, or a light frosting.  The cake can then be rolled up and frozen until the day you need it.  You can serve it with a dollop of whipped cream, fresh fruit, chocolate sauce, or plain, just sprinkled with powdered sugar.  Enjoy!


1/3 cup cake flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1/2  teaspoon espresso powder, optional (this is my addition, it brings out the flavor of the chocolate)

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs, separated

3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided

confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)


1 8-oz. container of Cool Whip, or whipped cream, ice cream, light frosting, etc.



1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line a 15×10 inch jelly roll pan with waxed paper (I used parchment paper).  Grease and flour lined pan; tap out excess.


2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Mix well.  In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar until fluffy.


3. In a small bowl, using clean beaters, beat egg whites on high until foamy.  Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, beating until stiff, but not dry, peaks form.


4. Fold 1/3 beaten egg whites into egg yolk mixture.  Make sure you are FOLDING and not mixing, it takes a little longer, but that is how you retain the volume from the beaten egg whites.  Alternately fold in remaining whites and flour mixture.  Pour batter into pan; gently smooth top.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 15 minutes.

5. Dust a clean cloth with liberal amounts of powdered sugar.  Turn cake out onto prepared cloth; remove waxed paper (or parchment paper). Trim the cake’ edges with a serrated knife.

6. With a wide side facing you, tightly roll up the cake with the cloth. Transfer the cake, seam side down, to a wire rack to cool.



7. Unroll the cake; remove the cloth.  Spread softened topping of choice over the cake and to within 1/2 inch of the edges.  Re-roll the cake.   At this point, wrap with plastic wrap and freeze.   The cake slices cleaner if you use a serrated knife and the cake is a little frozen.

Bailey’s Irish Cream Truffles


Recipe courtesy of Cosmopolitan magazine, published by Hearst Communications Inc.

Back when I had my first apartment (circa 1978), Cosmopolitan magazine was known as the modern girl’s guide to love and sex.  These truffles, meant for sharing with your lover, are easy to make and taste scrumptious, just don’t go crazy with the orange rind, or it will over power the flavor of the truffles.  Enjoy!



1 pound plus 2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (I used half semi-sweet and half bitterweet chocolate)

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish Cream

1 teaspoon freshly grated orange rind

1/4 cup cocoa, sifted




1.Chop chocolate into small pieces and place in a medium-sized bowl; set aside.


2. In a saucepan, heat cream and Bailey’s Irish Cream to a boil.  Pour boiling cream over chocolate and stir to combine and melt the chocolate.  Blend in the orange rind.



3. Chill until mixture sets, about 1 hour.  Roll into small balls and dust with the cocoa.



4. This mixture makes a lot of truffles, more than you will need for a dinner party.  Treat your co-workers, your kid’s teachers, your friends, etc.  Otherwise you will end up eating them all.  After the chocolate and creams are blended smooth (before it is refrigerated), you have ganache.  The glossy confection looks very elegant poured over a layered cake.


Peanutty Chocolate Banana Muffins


Recipe adapted from More Stoneware Sensations by Doris Christopher

A Pampered Chef Cookbook

These are the best banana muffins you will ever sink your teeth into.  They have been the favorite of countless classrooms and teachers, Mark’s co-workers and my co-workers as well.  They are super moist and the mixture of peanut butter and chocolate is beyond yummy.  Enjoy!



2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (that’s about 2 medium bananas, I always use 3 bananas)

1/3 cup milk

1/3 cup peanut butter

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 egg

1 cup milk chocolate chips, divided (I use 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips and about 1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chips)

1/3 cup chopped peanuts



1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.


3. Add bananas, milk, peanut butter, oil, and egg.  Stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Stir in the milk chocolate chips.

4. Spoon or scoop the batter into prepared muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 full.

5. Sprinkle the peanuts and the mini semi-sweet chocolate chips over the batter ( I prefer the mini chips because the taste of the two kinds of chocolate is nice, plus the mini chips just look cuter on top of the muffin).


6. Bake about 18-20 minutes.  The muffins will be lightly toasted looking.  Cool in the pan for a few minutes, then place on a rack to finish cooling.  This makes about 16 muffins.


When you have bananas that look like this…it’s time to make banana bread.