Tiramisu Poke Cake

In another edition of, “I’m pretty sure this is not what the Italians had in mind when they made the first Tiramisu”, I present to you a cake of epic proportions:


Don’t be fooled by what looks like a measly slice of cake. Ok, ok, it is a measly slice of cake, I had to scrounge and trim because a certain someone (Sabrina) found the slice I had set aside for photography purposes.


J and I hosted a small get together about two weeks ago for a few of his business associates, and this cake was at the top of my list of things that I wanted to make/try. It had all the components I look for when we have company – it’s good for a crowd, it can be made ahead, and gets better as it sits.

Too bad someone ate the last slice….

Tiramisu Poke Cake – adapted from Will Cook for Smiles

  • ½ cup of butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites, room temperature (save the yolks!)
  • 2 cups all purpose  flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1⅓ cups buttermilk

Mascarpone Cream:

  • 8 oz mascarpone cheese
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tbs granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3 tbs granulated sugar
  • 4 tbs amaretto
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder for dusting
  • 1/2 cup strong coffee, sweetened with 2 tbs granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9×13 baking pan.

In a bowl, beat butter for about thirty seconds, then add the sugar. Beat for about a minute, until light. Add egg whites one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the bowl, add vanilla, and mix until combined.

Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder together.

On low speed, alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk in two parts, starting and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Transfer the batter into the baking pan, spread evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely before proceeding

Mascarpone Cream:

Beat the cream and 1 tbs of sugar in the cold bowl of an electric mixer, until soft peaks appear. Set aside. Without cleaning the bowl, whip the egg yolks and 3 tbs of sugar thoroughly, on medium-high speed, for about 3 minutes, until light yellow, thick and frothy. Lower the speed and add the mascarpone cheese and amaretto. Mix on low-medium speed just until well blended. Using a large spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone cream.

To assemble:

Poke holes all over the cake.

Pour the coffee evenly over the top of the cake. Spread the mascarpone cream over the top, then dust heavily with cocoa powder.

Chill for several hours before serving.

Dad’s Bucatini Pie

If there’s one item that is 100% guaranteed to make an appearance on the dinner table every single week, it’s pasta.

Long or short, sauced with marinara or prepared with cacio e pepe, baked until bubbly or served hot out of the pan, we unfailingly consume it with gusto.

Along with bread and extra sauce for dipping, thankyouverymuch……

This version, from the new issue of Food and Wine, is very similar to the Cacio e Pepe Pasta Pie I made a few months ago. The primary difference between the two  is the quantity of eggs versus milk. This recipe has a higher proportion of eggs, which in my opinion, made the finished product a bit lighter. Honestly though, both recipes are outstanding and I’d be hard pressed to choose a favorite.


Dad’s Bucatini Pie – adapted (barely) from Vinny Dotolo

  • 4 tbs. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 pound bucatini (I used spaghetti)
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (I used half mozzarella, half parmigiano)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbs. minced garlic
  • 1 tbs. freshly ground pepper

Warm marinara sauce, for serving

Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly grease a 10-inch cast-iron skillet.

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the bucatini until not quite al dente. Drain well. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the butter, eggs, cheese, milk, parsley, olive oil, garlic, pepper and salt. Add the pasta and toss to coat thoroughly. Scrape into the prepared skillet and bake for about 30 minutes, until just set. Remove from the oven. 

Preheat the broiler. Broil the bucatini pie 6 inches from the heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve with warm marinara sauce.

Anadama Bread

Yesterday, it was a fly. Today, it was hair. At least it was my hair…

I’m referring to my morning coffee, and the items I’ve discovered in it that don’t belong there. Tomorrow, I’m fully expecting  to find a dog biscuit floating in my mug.

That would be…. interesting, to say the least. If my dogs can open up the biscuit container, I need to get them an agent, stat.

At any rate, we are well into October and I am counting the days until I can make a pumpkin based dessert, like pie. I’m tempted to buy a real sugar pumpkin from the market (I’ve never actually cooked one before)and make the puree from scratch. At that point, I run the risk of Sabrina and I eating all of it before I’m able to make anything with it.

That’s a chance I’m willing to take.

Besides, my pie pans are all packed….

Anadama Bread – adapted from Food52

3 cups bread flour
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs coarse yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup warm water
5 tablespoons molasses
1 envelope active dry yeast

Put the flour the bowl of a stand mixer.  In a small saucepan, mix together 2 tablespoons of the butter with the milk and bring to a simmer. Add the 1/2 cup of cornmeal and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Add the cornmeal mush to the bowl of flour and mix to combine well.

In a small cup, combine the warm water, molasses, and yeast. Pour the liquid into the flour mixture and beat until it comes together in a smooth, non-sticky dough. If you feel that the dough is too sticky after 5 minutes, add a few teaspoons of flour. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Take the dough out and press it into a rectangle, no thicker than 1 inch and no longer than 9 inches. Fold the dough in thirds lengthwise and pinch the seam closed. Place the shaped loaf in a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise until doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and brush it over the surface of the loaf. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cornmeal.

Bake the loaf in a 350° F oven for 40 to 45 minutes. The crust should be golden brown. Let the loaf cool for at least 15 minutes in the pan, then turn it out onto a rack to finish cooling.

Thoughts and randomness

The fly in my coffee this morning was a clear indicator that Armageddon is coming. No, wait…. it’s here now.

How do I know this? While packing up the hall pantry earlier today, I discovered that my 7 quart crockpot is cracked. I now have a cracked crock! And to add insult to injury, the replacement liner costs more than a new crockpot. That’s egregious!

Well, if someone was to look for the silver lining in this scenario, I suppose it’s a good reason to buy a new, updated model.

If that someone was so inclined.

Yep – I am.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Parfaits

I really hope that finding a fly at the bottom of my iced coffee this morning wasn’t an ominous beginning to the day. The morning started off so promising, too…… I was able to sleep in a little later than usual, and after downing my green probiotic juice, I headed straight for the big, perfectly chilled glass of coffee that I had safely stashed in the fridge. I added a few ice cubes, a splash of mocha almond milk, and took a nice, long draw through my hot pink straw.

Then it hit me….. strange, what’s this squishy thing in my drink? I don’t remember adding chia seeds or anything like that to it. I spit it out, looked closely, and that’s when I realized it was a fly.

** ugh **

Official cause of death? Overdose of caffeine. Sucks for him… Needless to say, that iced coffee went down the drain, and I headed back to the machine for a fresh one.

Thankfully, I have this dreamy concoction of peanut butter and chocolate to look forward to after dinner tonight.


Who am I kidding? It won’t make it past 11 a.m…….

Peanut Butter Chocolate Parfaits – adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place a fine-mesh sieve over a medium bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, off heat, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and cocoa powder. Gradually  whisk in milk, taking care to dissolve cornstarch. Whisk in egg yolks.

Whisking constantly, cook over medium heat until the first large bubble forms and sputters. Reduce heat to low; still whisking, cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; immediately pour through sieve into bowl. Stir butter and vanilla into hot pudding.

Place plastic wrap directly on surface of pudding (to prevent skin from forming); chill at least 3 hours. Layer pudding and peanut butter cream between individual parfait jars, and cover until ready to serve.

Peanut Butter Cream:

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

In a medium bowl, whip cream to stiff peaks. Whisk in sugar. In a medium bowl, fold whipped cream into peanut butter.

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread

I implemented “Operation Start Packing” this weekend, and boy oh boy, are my legs sore from all the trips up and down the stairs. Great exercise, yes, and I even wore the dogs out because they kept following me, wondering what I was doing and why the house was being torn apart. Mostly though, they just wanted to play with the bubble wrap.

Wait, that was Sabrina……

But I digress.. the packing process started out innocently enough – taking down pictures, boxing up infrequently used appliances, pot, pans, stemware, etc….

And I somehow ended up packing all my baking pans without realizing it.

I may have to resort to buying a few disposable pans to hold me over for the next few weeks…….

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread – adapted from Food52

  • 2 1/2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 1/2  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/4 cup bittersweet dark chocolate (at least 70%), chopped
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted ( I used coconut oil)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat an oven to 350° F. Grease an 8″ loaf pan and set it aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. Stir in the dark chocolate.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together the butter, buttermilk, egg, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth, then stir in the zucchini. Fold the dry ingredients until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake, rotating at least once half way through baking, until a skewer inserted into the bread comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.

Let cool in the loaf pan for 15 to 20 minutes before inverting out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling completely.

Vanilla Pots de Creme

These darling little pots de cremes are Sabrina’s new favorite dessert. And, I must admit she has really impressed me with her inspired creativity on how to prepare them.

The first time she ate one, she had it topped with a little fruit. The next time, she sprinkled on a few mini chocolate chips, and declared it even better. Emboldened, she rummaged through the spice cabinet and topped the next one with what she thought was cinnamon sugar. The first spoonful quickly brought to light the fact that it was granulated garlic powder – not sugar. After becoming thoroughly disgusted with her error, she silently wept as she threw it away. I laughed so hard I almost fell off my chair.

She was not amused.

Fortunately, there was one jar left, so she topped it (correctly) with the cinnamon sugar mixture. And while that was good, the next day she decided to take it one step further, and used my nifty blow torch to burn the cinnamon sugar into a brulee-type crispy shell.


With or without a topping (and preferably not the savory kind..), these are super simple to make and a perfect little sweet to end the day.

Vanilla Pots de Creme – adapted from NY Times

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbs vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks
  •  cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and cream just to simmer. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light in color, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the hot milk/cream mixture, whisking constantly until well blended. Stir in the vanilla extract. Strain the mixture into a large measuring cup, then pour the mixture into 4 6 ounce jars or ramekins. Place the jars into a large casserole or baking pan, and fill the pan halfway with hot tap water.

Place the pan in the oven, and bake the cremes for 45 minutes, or until the center is just a bit wobbly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.