Banana Whoopie Pies

Today I baked banana whoopie pies with my kids (students). I taught them never to be shy when adding the cream cheese frosting.
These cookies were tasty in flavor, but the texture was slightly delicate. If I make these again I’d probably pipe out the frosting first as some cookies broke during the process.

Banana Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Filling

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mashed banana
1/2 cup greek yogurt
3/4 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
16 ounces cream cheese
1 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

1. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in one bowl, set aside.
2. Beat butter and both sugars until light in color.
3. Add in sour cream, banana, egg, and vanilla extract.
4. Pour flour mixture into banana mixture. With a rubbber spatula, gently stir just until combined.
5. Drop batter by the heaping teaspoonful onto parchment. Leave about one inch of space between cookies.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool and pipe cream cheese filling onto half of the cookies. Top with remaining cookies…Enjoy!

Blood Orange Segments with Windfall Farm Greens

I know, I usually make desserts — but having a good friend that is a farmer at the best vegetable farm on the East Coast, I had to share. These greens were combined with this odd looking blood orange I found at my grocery store. I mean, really, have you seen an uglier fruit? Plus, check out that 1/2 inch pith!

My friend Hubert is a farmer at Windfall Farms and he brought us these beautiful winter pea shoots. He said the best way to eat delicate greens likes these is to simply dress them with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice — and of course, enjoy. In addition to the blood orange segments, I also added a shaved parmesan cheese. The dish was very crisp and refreshing, and the greens were, well, just damn good. If you are in the New York area I suggest strolling through The Farmer’s Market in Union Square and tasting these lovely greens.

PHOTOS: Danielle Bilton

You can find Windfall’s lime green school bus every Wednesday and Saturday at the Union Square greenmarket.

Sherry Yard’s Homemade Twix Cookies

Photo: Danielle Bilton

I usually have a lot of success with any/all of Sherry Yard’s recipes; this was not one of them. For this post, I chose to make her “Homemade Twix Cookies”. It all sounded and looked great, but when I actually bit into one of these cookies, it was not what I had expected. There was way too much caramel and too much chocolate — the chocolate was a mistake on my part. I decided to change the recipe a little and I am going to give you a full shortbread recipe but with half the caramel. I would also recommend skipping the ganache layer as it was just too sweet. Also, to give the cookie an extra layer of texture, try adding chopped toasted peanuts to the caramel.

Source: Sherry Yard’s Desserts by the Yard

51/2 ounces (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 tablespoons ground rice (regular rice processed until ground, then passed through a sifter to get rid of chunks) (optional, I think. I didn’t use rice)

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Lyle’s Golden Syrup (available at most supermarkets and at whole foods stores)
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  1. MAKE THE SHORTBREAD: Place a rack in the lowest position of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-X-13-inch baking pan with pan spray and line with parchment paper. Spray the parchment.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the flour and ground rice and allow the dough to come together.
  3. Remove from the bowl and press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pan. Place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Rotate the pan from front to back and bake for another 8 minutes, until the shortbread is a deep golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a rack to room temperature.
  4. MAKE THE CARAMEL: In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, golden syrup, water, and lemon juice. Brush down the inside of the pan with a little water, using your hand to feel for stray granules of sugar. Cover the saucepan and place it over medium heat for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes, remove the lid, increase the heat, and bring to a boil. Do not stir from this point on. Keep an eye on the pan. The mixture will be very bubbly. When stray sugar crystals appear on the sides of the pan, brush them down with a clean wet pastry brush. As the sugar cooks, the bubbles will get larger.
  5. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  6. After 5 to 6 minutes, the sugar will turn golden brown. Insert a candy thermometer and when the temperature reaches 300°F, remove the pan from the heat and let it sit for 1minute, or until the bubbles subside. Carefully whisk in the heavy cream. Stir until smooth, then whisk in the condensed milk. Whisk until smooth.
  7. Return the pan to the heat and stir constantly over medium heat until the caramel reaches 240°F. Remove from the heat and pour over the shortbread. Allow to set.
  8. MAKE THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE: Melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl at 50 percent power for 2 to 3 minutes or in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir with a rubber spatula until smooth. Pour over the caramel and smear evenly. Let sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator until set.
  9. Cut into the desired size and serve. (The cookies will keep, stored airtight, for 1 day.)

Out To Lunch

Hello all! Happy 2010! I have been away due to staging job and writing classes I was taking at N.Y.U., and of course the holidays. I hope you all will join me in my food new adventures.
Below is a photo of my latest eggs benedict. These consist of a parmesan lemon pepper biscuit, thick cut bacon, dippy egg and homemade hollandaise sauce (do they even sell pre-made hollandaise?) Yes, I know what your thinking, “Holy FAT with a side of FAT?!” But we don’t eat like this everyday; this is our weekend brunch. (Although, I may have leftovers for breakfast today… I know… don’t judge!) OK, more posts coming soon!


This cake was for my husband’s birthday and I didn’t have time to get a great shot of it. It was a chocolate cake with a chocolate pastry cream filling, vanilla bean butter cream and topped off with chocolate ganache. Finally, I served it with a fresh raspberry coulis. The best part of making this cake was the pouring the ganache and watching it find its own path on the cakes walls. While I was pouring the ganache, I paused and looked up to see about 20 of our friends circling around me watching the chocolate drip off the sides in hopes I would offer them a swig.

The next cake was for a sweet 16 birthday party. I was told by my client that the birthday girl loved oreo cookies. Wanting to surprise the birthday girl after the candle blowing, I chopped up some oreo cookies and baked them into the chocolate cake layers.

The zebra print is hand cut fondont on buttercream and brushed with edible silver glitter.

PHOTOS: Danielle Bilton

Summer Fruit Crisp

With all the this summer heat I like to keep my time in the kitchen short — and my time spent in front of a hot oven even shorter.

This summer I’ve been drawn to crisps. I’ve been trying to avoid letting pie dough chill, then rolling it out, letting it rest, and so on… With a crisp you just get your hands in there and mix up the toppings. The fruit is the same, toss, mix and into the oven it goes.PHOTOS: Danielle Bilton

1 3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup flour
1 lb. brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed, and chilled

2 1/2 lbs stone fruit, pitted, and quartered into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Rub the butter into topping dry ingredients with fingers, until there is no more dry mixture.
3. Stir all filling ingredients together, and pour into a 2 quart oven save dish.
4. Cover fruit filling with topping. Place baking dish on a cookie sheet, as the crisp will bubble over when done. Bake for 30-40 minutes until top is golden and filling is bubbling through.

Aysa’s 1st Birthday Cake

A 2-layer chocolate cake, with fresh banana pastry cream filling, and covered in vanilla bean buttercream: I think that’s a pretty unforgettable 1st birthday cake. Friends of ours commissioned me to make their adorable daughter’s 1st birthday cake. It was a luau themed party. So, as requested, I made orange hibiscus flowers and scattered hibiscus petals around the cake. I was very happy with the final product, as was little Miss Aysa. Photos: Danielle Bilton.

Almond Gnocchi in Lamb Ragu

This post is very exciting for me because it’s my first virtual potluck! The wonderful hostess’ of this potluck are Tara Desmond and Joy Manning of Almost Meatless.

The recipe I chose was the almond gnocchi in a lamb ragu. The lamb is seared and then braised in the tomato, red wine and herbs mixture for about and hour to an hour and a half. By the time you’re cooking in the gnocchi the lamb is falling off the bone.

PHOTOS: Danielle Bilton

I’ve never made gnocchi before; it just never appealed to me. But when I saw that there were almonds used in this recipe I jumped at the chance to make it. Plus, making the gnocchi is easy. Though, I would recommend getting a family member or a friend to help out as it can be a time consuming task. This also helps ensure that every piece of gnocchi has its own personality.

When it was time eat the fruits of our labor, the table was silent — in an Italian household, this is a good thing. Eating the gnocchi was like eating little puffs of almond pasta covered in lamb and saucy goodness. I topped off my ragu dish with crispy sage fried in butter and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Thank you again to our wonderful hostess’ Tara Desmond and Joy Manning for creating such meat lite and vegetable hearty dishes in their cookbook, Almost Meatless. You must go and check out the recipes other talented food bloggers made from their book. You can find the list of bloggers on Tara or Joy’s blog. Till my next pot luck!

Lemon Meringue Cake

This was a birthday cake for a woman who does not like buttercream. I came up with this alternative: meringue frosting with bavarian lemon cream filling and fresh raspberries.

I didn’t have the right size cake ring. So I taped clear film around the cake and just hoped for the best while I poured in the filling.  As you can see, the filling seeped out the sides, but eventually set and stayed put.

To finish off the cake I bruleed the top with a torch and placed candied lemons in the middle. The band around the bottom is fondont covered in gold sugar.

PHOTOS: Danielle Bilton