Archive for ‘Desserts’

November 23, 2010

Pumpkin Tiramisu

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June 8, 2010

Raspberry Cream Cheese Stuffed Crêpes

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June 8, 2010


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February 3, 2010

Crème Brûlée

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December 20, 2009

Budino di pane

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December 20, 2009

Bon Bons

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November 25, 2009

Cranberry Scones

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November 16, 2009


zeppole 26

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January 1, 2009

Coconut Pecan Frosting

There is only one reason in my opinion to ever eat a chocolate cake – and that reason is this frosting.  It doesn’t get any better than this.  I like to spice my frosting up a little with some adult flavouring, and that just doesn’t blend in well if you try to add it to the Betty Crocker tubs at the store.  Plus, making your own frosting is sooo much easier and on the plus side, you know what is in it.


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January 1, 2009


This recipe came from a Filipino friend of our family when I was a kid. It is heavenly but extremely sweet. I have made it for gatherings mostly because it make so much and to eat more than like a 2 inch square is enough to put about fifty pounds on.


2 packages frozen shredded cassava, 16 oz each*cassava
2 cans frozen coconut milk, 16 oz each*
1 egg yolk
2 cans sweetened condensed milk, 14 oz each
1 can coconut cream, 8 oz**

*These items can be found at Oriental grocery stores if your local grocer does not carry a variety of ethnic foods.
**Coconut cream is NOT the same as coconut milk. If you cannot find this item at the grocery stores, almost all liquor stores carry this as it is used in mixed drinks.

  • Thaw cassava and coconut milk packages at room temperature for about 30 minutes before you begin.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a large bowl mix the thawed cassava with 1 1/2 packages of thawed coconut milk and 1 1/2 cans sweetened condensed milk. The mixture will be very thick and almost dough like texture. Spoon into a 9 x 13 glass dish, spreading evenly. Bake for 30 minutes or until a golden brown.
  • While the base is baking, in a medium bowl, mix egg yolk, remaining coconut milk, remaining condensed milk, and coconut cream.
  • Remove base from oven when golden brown and pour milk mixture evenly over top. Return to oven for 15 minutes or until a nice medium brown.
  • Cut into 1 – 2 inch squares while still warm.

It can be served warm, but I think it is better when cooled.

January 1, 2009

Raspberry Tarts

Tarts are typically an open faced pie, no top, and most generally have fruit with a custard type filling; not to be confused with torte, which is a European cake.  They are historically a British dish, though they have found themselves on the menu of many restaurants across the world.  Random trivia for your guests:  What was believed would happen to you if you ate a tart made by a witch?  Answer:  You’d become mean.

If you have used my recipes in the past you will know I don’t do pastry breadings – not pie shells, puffs, dough, etc.  I fail at it.  So for this recipe I use pastry puffs which you can buy at your local grocery.  You can also layer phyllo dough in a well buttered dish, or use a flaky deep dish shell.  This recipe will fill about 18 pastry puffs – so you can cut it down if you need to pretty easily to 6 puffs.

There is nothing I love more in the fruit department than raspberries, their smell, their taste, their everything.  And while you can make this recipe with just about any fruit you desire – strawberries, cherries, rhubarb, blueberries, blackberries, peaches – I love raspberries.  And the only thing that trumps raspberries is raspberries with cream cheese.  You can serve this as a dessert, snack or even as a breakfast dish.


8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 1/2 cup half & half cream

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup fresh raspberries, rinsed

  • In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese at medium to high speed for 2 minutes, scraping walls.
  • Add in sugar slowly, beating at a high speed until well blended.
  • Add in eggs, one at a time, continuously beating.
  • Add in vanilla and cream and beat at high speed for 2 minutes more, scraping walls.
  • In a small saute pan or skillet over low heat, warm raspberries, shuffling often in pan.  Be careful not to stir them as they can break up.  Heat only until they begin to bleed and remove from heat.
  • Strain raspberries well and fold into cream cheese mixture.
  • Discard raspberry juice.
  • Pour mixture into prepared puffs*.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20 – 25 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

*Puffs should be baked in advance to a golden hue, just barely crisp.  Cool them at room temperature or even for fifteen minutes in the freezer if you are under the gun before you pour the filling in.  Otherwise the cream cheese mixture may crack and separate from the shell.


January 1, 2009

Kiwi Lime Cheesecake

This was my final fling of summer.  I caught a great deal on kiwi fruit at the grocer and kind of needed a means of getting rid of them all.  So I present to you a kiwi lime cheesecake.  It turned out a bit bland in colour, so you might want to add a drop of green food colouring to yours to liven it up, but I thought about that a bit late in the game.  This turned out with the citrus tang of a key lime pie but the kiwi mellowed it out slightly.

One of the biggest problems with baked cheesecakes is the cracking.  There are a few tricks to prevent this.  Firstly, the most critical part is beating.  You want to smooth out the creams very well before adding the eggs.  Use the back of a spatula after beating with a mixer, pulling the cream from the centre and then pressing against the sides of the bowl.  When you add the eggs, they should be your final step and blend them in by hand.  If you beat them with the mixer you run the risk of bringing too much air in and then you get air pockets.  Also, make certain you really prepare your springform pan with plenty of grease or butter or spray.  If the sides of the cake while cooking are able to pull away from the pan, that will reduce the risk of it cracking in the centre.  Lastly, I use two different sized springform pans.  The larger one I fill with water once my batter is in the smaller pan.  The water helps keep the oven humid and makes the cake cook evenly.

Ingredientskiwicheesecake 19

2 cups (16 ounces) cream cheese, softened (not the whipped kind, it is too airy)

2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese

1 cup sour cream

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup flour, unsifted

5 eggs, room temperature

4 kiwis

1 lime

1 Tablespoon vanilla



  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sour cream and ricotta until well blended.
  • Add flour and sugar and beat at a medium speed until mixed thoroughly.
  • Cut kiwis in half and set one halve aside.
  • Juice remaining halves, allowing for pulp, but no skin.*
  • Halve the lime and juice one half.  Set aside the remaining halve.
  • Add vanilla and lime to kiwi puree and fold into cream mixture using a spatula.
  • Break eggs into a separate bowl and beat with a fork only enough to blend yolks.
  • Fold eggs into cream batter.
  • Heavily butter the walls of a springform pan or round cake dish.
  • Pour in batter.
  • Set springform pan or cake dish into a larger dish.  Fill larger dish halfway with water.
  • Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.  The centre will be slightly jiggly, but remaining cake will be firm when ready.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool at room temperature for at least one hour before chilling.
  • Slice remaining lime and kiwi for decoration.
  • Serve chilled.


*I used the juicer for the kiwi puree as it worked better than trying to skin them and then puree the meat of the fruit.

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January 1, 2009

Gnocchi alla Cannella

I love the unique flavour of gnocchi, which is kind of comical because I avoided eating it for several years, mostly because someone had described it as tasting like pierogis, which I really am not a fan of.  But truth be told, the similarity stops at potatoes.  They are very light in texture, it’s difficult to put into words – but they are very tender and airy.

You can use either my recipe for homemade gnocchi, or store bought gnocchi.  Gnocchi is very light and this sauce blend is not overly sweet so it works well as a unique side dish or a dessert.  You want to make the sauce promptly before serving or it will crystallize as it cools, and gnocchi become chewy if cooked too long or reheated.  The preparation time for this is only about five minutes, so you can easily make this up while the dinner dishes are being cleared.

IngredientsGnocchi alla Cannella19

Gnocchi (either 1 package of prepared gnocchi or one single batch of my recipe)

1 stick unsalted butter (note that I didn’t say margarine)

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons sugar


  • In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter.
  • Add cinnamon, paprika and sugar to melted butter mixture and whisk til blended.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Boil gnocchi 3 – 5 minutes, until it floats.  Remove as soon as they float to surface!
  • Drain and add sauce mixture to gnocchi.
  • Serve warm.

Gnocchi alla Cannella1Gnocchi alla Cannella6

    January 1, 2009

    Cannoli Filling


    I am posting this recipe in two parts for a few reasons, primary because with the shells recipe and the filling, this becomes a grossu entry.  Also, if you are using store purchased cannoli shells, you won’t need to weed through the shell recipe to make filling.

    The filling for cannoli has a very simple base recipe that allows you to get very creative.  After you create the base, you can fold in diced dried candied fruit – such as you would use for fruit cakes, chocolate chips, shaved candy bars – I prefer Andes mint shavings, minced nuts – like pistachio, spices – like cinnamon or nutmeg, liquor – such as Kahlua or brandy or rum, citrus zest – oranges work well, marachino cherries, or you can leave it plain.  Keep in mind that a cannolo is about five inches long and so your filling is four inches long by one inch diameter – in other words, a little goes a long way.

    When filling cannoli, only do it right before serving, as the filling can make the shell soggy.  It is also best if you chill the filling in your pastry bag (or as you will see me use, a zip loc baggie) for about 20 minutes in the freezer before filling, so that it is very firm.

    Ricotta should be whole milk, not even reduced fat.  The skim or low fat ricotta tends to have more run off which will cause the filling to be more runny – not a good thing at all.

    You can dress up your serving plate with a powdered sugar dusted paper doily, drizzled melted chocolate, or powdered sugar.  I serve mine with a fork, but that is more for just scooping up any filling that falls out.  Cannoli was meant to be picked up and eaten as it is a carnival treat in Sicily.


    1     15 oz. container of whole milk ricotta

    3/4 cup powdered sugar

    • In a large mixing bowl, blend both ingredients throughly on low speed with an electric mixer.
    • Do not over beat, only beat until mixed.
    • Using a spatula, fold in any selected add ins.
    • Pack filling into an air tight container or pastry bag.
    • Chill before using to fill cannoli tubes.

    If using add ins, I have listed below the measuring amount that you want to use.  Remember for all solid add ins, to reduce the amount of each if you are adding in more than one:

    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon*
    • 1 teaspoon liquor
    • 1 tablespoon dried candied fruit, diced
    • 1 tablespoon citrus zest
    • 1 tablespoon semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 1 tablespoon coconut, shaved
    • 1 tablespoon pistachio nuts, minced
    • 1 teaspoon ice cream sprinkles
    • 1 tablespoon chocolate candy bar, shaved or grated

    *McCormick makes a cinnamon spice with a built in grater that is awesome for grinding fresh cinnamon.  Each bottle is less than $2 and I absolutely love this!


    January 1, 2009

    Grape Salad

    I don’t know if this recipe was my grandmother’s or if she got it elsewhere, she was a very creative cook; but it was one of my favourite fruit salads she would make and every time I make it people tell me how much they love it and ask for the recipe.

    Ingredientsgrape salad

    4 cups of seedless grapes*
    8 oz tub whipped cream cheese
    1 cup sour cream
    1 cup whipped topping
    1/4 cup powdered sugar
    *I like to do half red and half green but my dad had written down just green, I seem to recall grandma using both colours.

    • In a medium bowl, blend cream cheese, sour cream, whipped topping and powdered
    • sugar.
    • Thoroughly wash and remove stems from grapes. Drain and shake dry.
    • Fold grapes into cream mixture and transfer to serving dish.
    January 1, 2009

    Chocolate Ravioli

    When I was a little girl, my parents would get Nutella quite often and I absolutely loved it.  But after moving to the states, we didn’t get it any more and it wasn’t until after I had children of my own I spotted that amazing little jar of goodness on a shelf at the grocery store when I was reaching for peanut butter.  It was the equivalent of spotting the Holy Grail for me.  I picked it off the shelf, debated on grabbing more, in case this was a one time stocking.  If you have never tried it, this recipe is a great excuse to try out the blend of chocolate and hazelnut, blended to the texture of a thick peanut butter.

    Serve warm alone or with a side of your favourite ice cream.  These can be made 1=2 days in advance if preparing for a party.  Just reheat in the oven at 150 degrees F for about 15 minutes before serving.

    (I apologize for the dimness of some of these pictures, my daughter didn’t realize the soft flash setting was on so they came out a bit yellowish on a few shots.)

    Ingredientschocolate ravioli21

    1 package wonton wrappers

    1 egg, well beaten

    1 jar Nutella

    Powdered sugar

    4 Tablespoons vegetable oil


    • Lightly dust a working surface with powdered sugar.
    • Lay out one wonton wrapper.
    • Spoon in one spoonful of Nutella into the center of the wrapper.
    • Using a basting brush or your fingers, paint on a light coating of egg around two edges of the wrapper that form a corner.
    • Lift the opposing corner over and press firmly to seal the wrapper.
    • I lightly dust a glass dish with powdered sugar to stack my uncooked ravioli, but wax paper will work as well.
    • In a skillet over medium to high heat, heat vegetable oil.
    • One by one, lay ravioli into the skillet and cook until a light golden brown, on each side.
    • Remove from pan and place into a glass baking dish.
    • Sprinkle hot triangle ravioli with a few pinches of  powdered sugar or use a sifter to shake a bit on the tops.
    • Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
    • Bake for 10 minutes.
    • Serve warm.

    chocolate ravioli6 chocolate ravioli8

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      January 1, 2009

      Whipped Cream

      If you’re a fan of Cool Whip, you should know there is no cream or milk but rather oils and preservatives and lots of air.  I will say that at least Reddi Whip includes cream along with vegetable oil.  But real whipped cream is simply cream and a little sugar.  And the taste is miles better than anything you’ll ever find at the grocery store, and when you consider that it takes almost no time to make it – there is no reason not to.

      Ingredientswhippedcream 8

      1 cup whipping cream

      1/4 cup granulated sugar

      1 teaspoon vanilla extract*

      *not flavouring


      • Chill mixing bowl and beaters in freezer for ten minutes.
      • Pour in cream and begin to beat at a medium speed.
      • Add in sugar.
      • Beat until peaks form.
      • Voila!  I told you it was easy!

      chilledbowlwhippedcream 3


      January 1, 2009

      Cassata Arance

      If you are accustomed to cream cheese based cheesecakes, this may take an adjustment for your tastebuds.  Sicilian cheesecakes, or cassatas, are made with ricotta cheese and are not as sweet and unlike American cheesecakes, they are lighter and have almost a baked custard texture.

      And as for oranges, forget Florida.  It doesn’t get any better than a Sicilian blood orange or arance.  Their centers are blood red like a pink grapefruit.  If your local grocer doesn’t carry blood oranges, which there is a good bet that they don’t, you can substitue with mandarins for this recipe.  The key is finding a sharp tart orange, the smaller the better the concentrated flavour.

      It is critical that you have a springform pan for this recipe, a round cake pan just will not suffice.  The water used in the glass dish allows for the cake to remain moist while baking.  This will reduce the chance of the cake cracking or separating.

      I hope you like this dessert as much as I do, it displays beautifully and is just so tasty!


      2 16 oz. containers of ricotta cheese (typically found near cottage cheese in the grocery)

      1/2 cup sugar

      6 large eggs

      1/3 cup flour, sifted

      2 blood oranges

      1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

      1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

      2 teaspoons vanilla extract

      • Preheat oven to 275 F.
      • Grease and lightly flour springform pan.*
      • Using aluminium foil, wrap the base of the springform pan to prevent seapage.
      • Set pan in a glass baking dish, 13 x 9.
      • Fill glass dish halfway with tap water.
      • In a large mixing bowl, beat ricotta at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
      • With a whisk, stir in sugar and flour into ricotta until well blended.
      • One at a time, beat eggs into mixture.
      • Add spices and vanilla, blend thoroughly.
      • Using a zester or the rough side of a peeler, grate a few spoonfuls of orange peel into a bowl.
      • Peel oranges and segment.
      • Pour one half of batter into springform pan.
      • Gently lay orange segments onto the batter, do not stir.
      • Pour remaining batter over top.
      • Sprinkle orange peel zest over top.
      • Bake for 1 hour, or until knife comes out clean.
      • Remove springform pan from water and allow to cool for at least one hour before unhinging.
      • Serve after slightly cooled.

      *If you can find them, there are aerosol sprays that have flour and oil combined and work perfectly for this purpose.  I prefer Baker’s Joy brand.

      January 1, 2009

      Fried Ice Cream

      When I was growing up, my birthday was always a very special time.  Not entirely because it was my birthday, but because I got to pick the restaurant we would go to.  I would usually alternate between a local place called Daryl’s and Chi-Chi’s, which was a chain Mexican restaurant.  The downside of Chi-Chi’s was they would place a huge sombrero on your head and make a huge ordeal out of your evening, but the pay off was choice dessert – fried ice cream.  And I loved fried ice cream.

      After several attempts, I finally found a means of making it myself.  And it is one of those dishes I still whip up whenever I can muster the patience.  This dish takes a few hours and a good deal of patience, but the result is so worth it!  And your hands will get dirty with this.


      1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream

      4 eggs

      2 cups crushed graham crackers

      1/2 cup brown sugar

      1 Tablespoon cinnamon

      • Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, round up two to three large spoonfuls of ice cream.
      • Work into a ball, roughly 3 to 4 inches diameter, it should be about the size of a softball.
      • Set balls onto a plate and place into freezer for thirty minutes.
      • Prepare 2 eggs by beating until well blended in a medium sized bowl.
      • On a flat surface, blend graham cracker crumbs, sugar and cinnamon.
      • Remove ice cream balls from freezer and dip into egg mixture, covering them fully.
      • Roll over crumb mixture and return to freezer for thirty minutes.
      • Using remaining eggs, beat well and repeat coating process.
      • Return balls to freezer for thirty more minutes.
      • Heat a deep fryer, or oil over low to medium heat until bread crumb tans and spins in oil.
      • Using a large spoon, lower ball into oil, rolling gently so that all sides are crisped in oil.
      • Remove from oil and set on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
      • Serve immediately while shell is still warm.
      January 1, 2009

      Budino al Cioccolato

      Chocolate pudding, Italian style.  Bill Cosby’s peddling can’t even come close to competing with this stuff.  And coming from a gal that abhors chocolate, this is actually pretty tasty because the chocolate doesn’t overwhelm the taste and texture.  This is very thick, almost like a mousse.  It is very easy to screw up, believe me, I speak from experience.  Don’t microwave the chocolate, don’t use coffee that is over 70 degrees, don’t overbeat the eggs or the whipping cream.  One wrong move on any of these steps and you’ll curdle the pudding or it will be flat instead of airy.

      Separating egg whites from egg yolks is a little step that I used to hate.  My grandmother helped me master it.  I’ve tried the little gadgets that will separate them for you – but they are a waste of effort.  Once I finally got the knack of this down, I felt like I was ready to be the next greatest chef in the world of food.  And I love the awe and amazement look I get from my girls when they watch me do it effortlessly.  The trick is in breaking the egg.  If you can break it in the middle with a sharp break, you can use the egg shells to capture the yolk in a little two handed juggling act until just the yolk is tossed back and forth.

      I top mine with homemade whipped cream, which is miles better than anything you’ll find at the grocery store and so easy a caveman could make it.

      Ingredientsbudino 25

      6 squares (1 oz. each) semi-sweet baking chocolate

      1 cup heavy whipping cream

      1/2 teaspoon iodized salt

      4 egg yolks

      6 Tablespoons granulated sugar

      8 ounces Ricotta

      2 Tablespoons strong coffee, room temperature


      • Moisten the outside of a large mixing bowl and place into the freezer for fifteen minutes.  Place your electric beaters into the bowl and allow all to chill.
      • Use a double boiler to melt the baking chocolate over low heat.  If you don’t have a double boiler, use a set of mixing bowls.  Fill the larger bowl with boiling water.  Lower the smaller bowl in, making sure that it floats on the water and none overflows into it.  Lay the chocolate squares into the smaller bowl and cover with a dishtowel and set aside.
      • Remove your chilled mixing bowl and pour in whipping cream.  Toss in salt and beat at a low speed until it starts to form peaks.  Don’t over beat.
      • Place in the fridge to keep cold.
      • In a medium mixing bowl, blend egg yolks and sugar thoroughly.
      • Add in Ricotta and coffee.  (If your coffee is too hot it will cook the eggs and curdle the cheese.  It needs to be room temperature.)
      • Stirring continuously, scrape in chocolate.
      • Using a fork, fold in whipped cream mixture.  Only blend until well mixed.  If you over beat it, it will fall.
      • Pour into a mold or oven safe serving dishes, bake at 150 degrees F for 20 minutes.
      • Remove and chill for about 3 hours.
      • Serve.

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