White Chocolate-Dipped Biscotti

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This post is a little overdue, given that I’ve been hoarding these photos since Christmas….but I figured they’re just as appropriate now, given my current location in Italy (which, actually, has been rather lacking in biscotti…)

Honestly, these biscotti are delicious any time of year, and the white chocolate gives them that extra kick of sweetness. I’m not even a huge fan of biscotti (seeing as I have a major sweet tooth), but these are killer. And so easy to make!

This recipe is from Giada and is a version of her traditional biscotti with a Christmas spin. If you don’t have white chocolate on hand or prefer your biscotti plain, you can easily skip the dipping part of the recipe. See below!

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 12 ounces good-quality white chocolate, chopped
  • Sugar crystals, for garnish

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Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in the pistachios and cranberries.
  3. Form the dough into a 13-inch long, 3-inch wide log on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.
  4. Place the log on the cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely.
  5. Stir the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate melts. Dip half of the biscotti into the melted chocolate. Gently shake off the excess chocolate. Place the biscotti on the baking sheet for the chocolate to set. Sprinkle with the sugar crystals. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 35 minutes.

Enjoy!

How To Cook Perfect Crêpes

There is nothing quite like a piping hot homemade French crêpe, topped with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of sugar. I remember making these in French classes back in the day, and we always looked forward to taking the class time off to make this quintessential French treat.

Cooking the perfect crêpe, however, can be a difficult task. You want the batter to be spread as thinly as possible in the pan and you need to flip it without tearing it. And you can pretty much bet that the first crêpe you make is going to have to be tossed out.

You need to work quickly when making crêpes, but once you get the hang of it, they really are a cinch to make. The batter comes together in minutes and in one bowl, and it only takes a minute or two to cook each crêpe, depending its size and thickness. Make sure the pan is hot before you pour the batter in, and immediately swirl the pan in your hand to get the thinnest possible coating of the batter for the crêpe. After that, it just becomes a matter of flipping the crêpe halfway, removing it from the pan, and topping it with whatever your heart desires (I personally prefer mine with a little lemon and sugar).

Crêpes are a fantastic and versatile classic. The crêpe itself is not very sweet, so you can go with sweeter or more savory fillings. They are great to have around for family breakfasts or brunches with the girls, and you can have an assembly line going so everyone can fill their own crêpe as they come out of the pan. They are best served fresh, but you can also store the crêpes in the fridge and reheat them for a few seconds in the microwave before filling and eating.

One of my very first French teachers introduced me to this recipe — it’s simple and easy, and I’ve been using it for years. I posted it a while back on this blog, here, and am re-posting it now (along with new pictures!) just for easier referencing. It really is a fantastic recipe.

Crêpes

Adapted from La Technique by Jacques Pépin

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions:

  1. Wisk until smooth: flour, eggs, sugar, salt, and half the milk. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
  2. Heat skillet or crêpe pan on medium-high heat. You do not need to grease the skillet, but if you like, a small dab of butter before you make the first crêpe could help. Add approximately 3 tablespoons of batter to the pan per crêpe, and adjust as necessary for different pan sizes. Be sure to stir the batter thoroughly before adding it to the skillet, as it can become clumpy.
  3. Cook crêpes on medium heat for approximately 50 seconds or until the thin edges begin to curl up and small bubbles form in the middle. Flip, then cook for about 30 seconds on the other side.
Fill your crêpes just before eating and roll them closed. I love to keep mine simple with a squeeze of lemon and some sugar, but other possible fillings include Nutella or chocolate sauce, caramel, jellies, fresh fruit (with whipped cream, if you like), ham and cheese, etc. Enjoy!

{Images: photographs by me — please feel free to use, just leave a credit/link!}

Edible Art

{Chocolate Spice Moroccan Market Table for Brides Magazine | Amy Atlas Events}

As anyone who has kept up with this blog for some time (and you are champs!) would know, I do seem to have a certain penchant for desserts (don’t we all…). And I’m also a huge fan of stylish decor. When hosting parties, I’m always nitpicking over every single detail to make the atmosphere perfect — and so, these beautiful dessert tables are a huge inspiration to me. The displays are stunning and definitely help set the tone for the event. And the food looks delicious, of course!

Here is just a sampling of some of the yummy dessert table inspiration I’ve found — be sure to check out the designers’ websites for even more photos! (Trust me, their portfolios are drool-worthy…)

{Bridal Brunch Dessert Table | Amy Atlas Events}

{Poolside Dessert Table in the Hamptons | Amy Atlas Events}

{Missoni-Inspired Dessert Table for InStyle | Amy Atlas Events}

{Candy Shop Dessert Table | Amy Atlas Events}

{Graphic and Glitz Dessert Table | Shauna Younge Dessert Tables}

{Bridal Party Dessert Table | Shauna Younge Dessert Tables}

{Ice Cream Dessert Table | Jillian Event Design & Styling | Source: 100 Layer Cake}

{Lemon Dessert Table | Design 2 Decor | Source: Sweet Tooth}

I am blown away by the creativity and detail that goes into crafting these tables. The results are simply stunning and I wish I could post tons more photos. (If you want more inspiration, be sure to check out the portfolios of the designers featured in this post.) As you can see, there is quite the mix of styles out there, and something to suit every taste. I can’t wait to draw on these photos for inspiration when the opportunity comes for me to make my own dessert table!

{Sources: All images are property of their respective owners, as noted.}

chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes

Chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes. Try saying that five times fast.

Yeah, it’s a mouthful. No pun intended! (Okay, fine. Pun completely intended. I even spent a good three minutes setting that one up!)

But seriously, bad jokes aside — these cupcakes are too die for. For some reason, my friends and I all have an incurable obsession with cookie dough. It’s delicious and honestly who wants chocolate chip cookies? The batter is ten times better! (Try saying that five times fast too!) But I digress.

When my friend first proposed the idea of making these, I scoured the blogosphere for a good recipe to try out. Many called for baking the cupcakes first and cutting a hole in the baked cupcake to insert the cookie dough, but I wanted to find a recipe where the dough was actually baked inside the cupcake. I finally came across this recipe on Lovin’ From the Oven. (Well, it’s actually three separate recipes she compiled from various sites. This girl’s a genius!) They are not nearly as beautifully decorated as hers, as I am not skilled (at all!) with piping frosting. I can assure you they tasted heavenly though!

I used these adorable cupcake holders, which you can’t really make out on the finished cupcake. If you doubled the holders, though, I’m sure you would be able to see the pattern clearly.

You can see the cookie dough center here (although it blends in with the cake somewhat). I would recommend using mini chocolate chips if you can, as the larger chips can be a bit much. Also, the frosting is divine. A little sweet, but it balances the cupcake quite nicely and is fluffy and has the perfect subtle hint of cookie dough. Don’t skimp on this stuff!

The recipe I used was for 12 cupcakes, so I doubled all the ingredients to make 24. You will want to make the eggless cookie dough (for the filling and in the frosting) the night before. With the doubled recipe, I set aside about 3/4 cup — 1 cup dough (if you want a stronger cookie dough flavor use more) for the frosting and put that in the fridge. I then added the chocolate chips to the batter and rolled out 24 balls of dough and put those in the freezer overnight. You have to make sure they’re frozen before you make these, otherwise they’ll bake in the oven if they’re not cold enough!

Another thing I found was that I had a lot of extra cupcake batter (because the dough balls in the cupcakes displace some of the batter) and plenty of frosting (perhaps from doubling the recipe?) so if you want to make more cupcakes, make a little extra cookie dough and you’ll probably get 5-10 more, depending on how much batter you put in the cupcake holders.

These cupcakes require a little extra work than your run-of-the-mill chocolate and vanilla treats, but they are well worth the effort!

{ Source: Images by me. Please feel free to use — just leave a credit/link! }

the best crêpe recipe

I’ve had this crêpe recipe for quite a few years now. One of my old French teachers used to make these for our class (and let us make them with her as well), and they were always a treat! I always had mine with a little lemon and sugar, but the wonderful thing about crêpes is that you can get creative with the toppings. As long as you start with a good base crêpe (the freezer ones — if you can find them — just don’t compare), the final result will be delicious.

According to the Word doc I’ve had saved on my computer all these years, the recipe is from La Technique by Jacques Pépin.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 sticks butter (melted)
  • 1/2 cup water

Preparation

  1. Wisk until smooth: flour, eggs, sugar, salt and 1/2 of the milk.  Add remaining ingredients and stir well.
  2. Use a teflon-lined pan, 5″ to 6″ in diameter. Heat skillet on a medium to high flame. You do not need to grease the skillet. Hold pan slightly tilted and pour about 3 tablespoons of batter onto the pan, quickly rotating it so that the batter has a chance to cover the hot pan. (The thinner the coating the better the crêpes.)
  3. Cook crêpes on medium heat for about 50 seconds, then loosen the crêpe with a wooden spatula, flip the crêpe over and cook approximately 30 seconds on the other side.  You will notice that the side which has browned first is nicer than the other, stack them with the nice side down so that when they are rolled or folded they look nicer.

These are honestly quite easy to make. Although a crêpe pan would be ideal for making these, I just use a regular skillet and that always works fine. And if you have to scrap a few (or more than a few) crêpes in the beginning, do not be daunted! Flipping them takes some time to get used to, and the first couple usually get thrown out regardless of one’s culinary skill.

Finally, what would be the purpose of crêpes without filling? Try experimenting with your own — almost anything is possible — or try some of the ones my French teacher suggested:

  • Fresh-squeezed lemon juice and sugar (my personal favorite)
  • Chocolate — Hershey’s, Nutella (yum!), etc.
  • Jellies in any flavor
  • Fresh fruit (try mixing with whipped cream!)
  • Ham or chicken & cheese
  • Tomato & cream cheese

Enjoy!

{ Source: Images used in collage (clockwise from top right) from foodnetwork.com (separate recipe included), closetcooking.blogspot.com, vanillabasil.blogspot.com, and taste.com.au }