Archive for December, 2009

Rocky Recchiuti Brownies

Photo Credit: Recchiuti Confections

I also found this brownie recipe on the Recchiuti website and thought I would make them in addition to the cookies since we are going to be up there for a few days, and lets face it, you can never have enough dessert lying around right?!  Although I haven’t tried these yet, they look amazing though and I am hoping they are better than the cookies turned out to be.  We shall see…


These brownies were a happy accident. Whenever I’d make marshmallows I’d be left with a bowl of oddly shaped trimmings that tasted great. My wife Jacky suggested I toss them in a batch of our brownies with some nuts and test them out at the Saturday morning Farmers’ Market. They were a hit. Make them and you’ll see why.

Yields: 16 brownies

Oven temp: 325

Bake time: Approx 45 min


  • Flavorless vegetable oil for the pan
  • 5-1/2 ounces 100% unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped, divided
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter with 82% butterfat, cut into 1-inch slices (I used regular salted butter)
  • 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, preferably Madagascar Bourbon
  • 1-1/3 cups granulated cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup walnut halves, roasted and roughly chopped
  • 6 Vanilla Bean Marshmallows, cut into quarters


Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and liberally coat the paper and the pan sides

Modeling my apron that was made by my great-great grandma, given to me recently by my grandmother. Love it!

with flavorless vegetable oil.

Put 3 ounces of the chocolate and the butter in a medium stainless-steel bowl and set over a pot of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter melt and are fully combined and the mixture is smooth. Lift the bowl from the pot. Set aside.

Sift the flour and salt together into a bowl. In another bowl, combine the eggs and vanilla extract and whisk together by hand until blended. Whisk in the sugar.

Whisk the egg mixture into the chocolate. Add the flour and the remaining 2 ½ ounces chocolate to the batter and, using a rubber spatula, mix well. Then mix in the walnuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Spread it evenly with a small offset spatula. Scatter the marshmallow pieces evenly over the surface and push them halfway into the batter. The tops should remain uncovered.

Bake on the middle shelf of the oven until the marshmallows are browned and a skewer inserted into the center of the brownie sheet comes out with some batter clinging to it, about 45 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.

Run a table knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the sides of the brownie, and then slide the brownie, still on the paper, onto a work surface. Using a ruler to guide you and a sharp knife, cut into sixteen 2-inch squares. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

From Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor, by Michael Recchiuti and Fran Gage. Click here to purchase your signed copy.

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Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Photo Credit: Recchiuti Confections

Who doesn’t love flourless cakes?  Moist, rich, downright decadent, I’ve never been disappointed in one.  So when I found this recipe for flourless cookies, which quite frankly I’ve never heard of before, I decided to give them a try.  About 14 of us are heading up to Haena (on Kauai’s North shore) tomorrow for a New Year’s extravaganza at our friend’s beach houses, and I figured these would be perfect to snack on.

I doubled the recipe and when my sister, mom and I tried the first batch, the reviews were mixed.  I like peanut butter but not when it is hugely overwhelming, and between the organic peanut butter and the chopped peanuts, to me they were definitely that.  My sister’s comment was that they weren’t very sweet, which was also true, however not necessarily in a bad way mind you.  My mom decided she loved them, that the balance between the peanuts/peanut butter, dark chocolate chunks, and the fleur de sel (super fine sea salt) sprinkled on top was quite delicious.  Personally I’m disappointed, and all I can hope is that my friends like them more than I do…

Here is the recipe, straight off of the Recchiuti Confections website because I think the background info and their tips and suggestions are important:


I’ve always liked the flavor of peanut butter cookies, but was turned off by the dryness and gritty texture that comes from using flour. This recipe is great because it uses organic peanut butter as binder rather than flour. While you’re making them, the dough might seem a little different than what you’re used to. It’ll be more wet seem to fall apart a little bit. Don’t worry. Once they’re baked, everything falls into place and you’ll really appreciate the flavor and consistency organic peanut butter gives these cookies.

Yields: 24

Oven Temp: 350

Bake time: 12-14 minutes


  • 1 cup organic unsalted peanut butter1
  • 3/4 cup granulated cane sugar
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
  • fine grain fleur de sel to finish cookies2

Bake the cookies

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line the bottoms of two 12-by-18-inch sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir the peanut butter, sugar, egg, baking soda and kosher salt until combined.

Stir in the chocolate and peanuts.

Using a small, greased ice cream scoop, measure out the dough in teaspoon sized balls.

Place the dough on the prepared pans, spacing them 2 inches apart.

Bake on the middle shelves of the oven, rotating the pans 180 degrees halfway through the baking time, until lightly golden and spread to a puffy mound, about 12 to 14 minutes.

Sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel.

Let cool completely on the pans on wire racks.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to week.

1 Look for an organic peanut butter where peanuts are the only ingredient listed. These nut butters contain no added sugar and have a great mouthfeel. The peanuts used are generally of higher quality and have been roasted darker for a rich flavor.

2 Make sure to use a fleur de sel rather than a grey sea salt. Fleur de sel is an unprocessed salt, hand raked and harvested from the premium, top layers of salt beds in France. “Fleur de sel” translates to “flower of salt,” which refers to the scent of violets the salt develops as it bleaches and dries in the sun. The flavor, like the aroma, is more floral and less briny than other sea salts.

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We’ve had a bunch of family and friends in town for the holidays, and the other night we all enjoyed a sunset picnic down at Poipu beach park.  On the menu was hummus and pita, seared ahi, and basil and cheese covered meatballs for pupus, followed by chicken curry salad, pesto pasta salad and a delicious fennel salad that our friend Vian Cafaro made.  It was the perfect meal and a wonderful evening visiting with everyone.  It had been Vian’s birthday the day before and her daughter and her son’s girlfriend had made her a decadent 3 layer mousse cake which she invited us over to help eat afterward.  So full I was feeling a bit sick, there was no way I was turning down cake and so we all headed over to their house down the road for dessert.

Today I stopped by the Cafaro’s to grab some basil, and while there I borrowed her magazine with the mousse cake recipe in it, and remembered to ask for the fennel salad recipe also.  Different, light, crunchy and delicious, this is definitely a salad I will be making in the very near future.  I just got the recipe in my e-mail so I thought I would share it before I forgot…



  • 2-3 bulbs of fennel with fronds attached
  • 4-6 clementines peeled and divided plus 3-4 more for juicing
  • 6-8 stalks of celery
  • 1/4 cup toasted nuts (sliced almonds, pine nuts or walnuts are all great in this)
  • 2 pomegranates


  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • good squeeze of honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • finely chopped fresh herbs like thyme


In a large bowl of cold water remove the seeds from the pomegranates (so the juice doesn’t stain everything).  The membranes will float to the top to be easily removed.  Drain the seeds and put into a small bowl of water and store in the frig while you make the rest of the salad.  Toast the nuts until golden, reserve.  Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice the fennel bulbs in half and slice thinly (like an onion).  Slice the celery thinly.  Put all of the veggies in a large bowl.  Peel and divide 4-6 clementines and add to bowl.  Cut the remaining 3-4 clementines in half and squeeze the juice all over the rest of the ingredients.  Add the drained pomegranate seeds.  Chop some of the fennel fronds and stalks very finely and add to salad.

Put all of the ingredients for the dressing in a small jar and shake up.  Dress the salad with the dressing lightly, so that it isn’t swimming in dressing.  Add the toasted nuts and toss.

Sometimes I serve this salad in individual small bowls that I have lined with a leaf or two of butter lettuce.  You can store the leftovers in a tightly sealed container – they are actually better the next day!

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Here is another yummy recipe from Mom! We had this tonight with our Christmas dinner of roast beef, potatoes, yams, and Yorkshire puddings and it was absolutely delicious. Brussel sprouts are so yummy and I think everyone who hasn’t had them should try them… they will be hooked!


  • 1 lb Brussel sprouts (about 2 cups)
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 2 tbsp Paul Newman’s Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup craisins
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds


  1. Wash and then cut brussel sprouts in half. Set aside.
  2. In a large frying pan, mix together EVOO and garlic at a low-med heat.
  3. Add brussel sprouts and salt and pepper in and mix everything together well.
  4. Cover and keep on low-medium heat for approximately 5-7 minutes.
  5. Add balsamic vinaigrette in at the very end and stir in.
  6. Add craisins and walnuts and mix in.
  7. Serve immediately.

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Every year for Christmas brunch, my family makes this Baked French Toast with Cardamom and Marmalade. This is the first time I’ve been home for Christmas in 4 years, and now I can understand why this dish is such a must-have on the brunch table! You can prepare it the night before, which makes for less fuss and more family time on Christmas morning. We paired our french toast with an artichoke frittata and the combination of all of the flavors were delicious! The recipe comes from the Colorado Colore – A Palate of Tastes cookbook and I highly recommend it to any french toast lovers!


  • 1 1/4 cups orange marmalade
  • 10 (1-inch) slices challah or egg bread
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • Confectioners sugar to taste
  • Maple Syrup


Grease a 10×5 inch baking dish. Spread the marmalade on 1 side of each bread slice. Cut the slices diagonally into halves to form triangles. Arrange the triangles marmalade side up crosswise and slightly overlapping in the prepared baking dish.

Whisk the milk, whipping cream, sugar, eggs, cardamom, orange zest, and lemon zest in a bowl. Pour the milk mixture over the preapred layer. Chill, covered, for at least one hour or for up to 10 hours. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Sprinke with confectioners syrup and drizzle with maple syrup, if desired. Serve immediately.

Serves: 10

Notes: We used skim milk instead of regular milk and half and half instead of whipping cream, to make it a bit healthier, and did not taste any difference! Also, we just used 6 full eggs instead of the 3 egg yolks and 3 eggs and it turned out perfectly.

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I wanted to make a gingerbread cake last year for dessert on Christmas, but it was too crazy and I never got around to it, so this year I was determined to make it! My mom has a great recipe for it from her The Silver Palate Cookbook, so we decided to make it. It’s very simple to put together and tastes delicious served as is or topped with whipped cream.

Serves: 12


  • 1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • Lemon Glaze (recipe follows)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. Sift dry ingredients together into a mixing bowl. Add egg, sugar, and molasses. Mix well.
  3. Pour boiling water and the oil over mixture. Stir thoroughly until smooth. 
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until top springs back wen touched and the edges have pulled away slightly from the sides of the pan.
  5. While the gingerbread is still hot, pour glaze over top and cool in the pan, set on a rack.

Lemon Glaze:

  • 2/3 cup confectioners sugar
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Sift sugar into a bowl; add lemon juice and mix well.

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Served in a festive bowl, these would be perfect for a holiday party! This recipe is another steal from Another Taste of Aloha. I know my boyfriend would love these, so I will be making them soon!

Serves: 10


  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp water
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg


Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Beat egg white lightly with water. Combine sugar, salt, and spices. Dip pecans in egg whites and roll in sugar mixture. Place on buttered cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove pecans from cookie sheet while they are still warm or sugar will caramelize and nuts will stick together.

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