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Italian Recipes

Dessert Recipes

Dessert Recipes
Dessert Recipes

Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake

Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake

I suppose it is pretty nice to wake up to a slice of fresh strawberry yogurt cake. I suppose it is pretty nice to have a slice when it's right out of the oven with a hot cup of coffee.

I suppose I should admit that is pretty much what's happened here the last couple of weeks!!

As soon as it was the beginning of Florida strawberry season, the berry baking frenzy began! It's a perk from living in Florida growing land. The citrus is nice, but the berries are even better!

This is a cake I make all year round. It's such a great batter to play a little with. Meaning that you can add plain yogurt or flavored (I usually only use vanilla or plain Greek yogurt). I love the richness it adds to the texture of the batter. To my non-yogurt eating older child, it was quite a shock when her kid brother blurted out, "Hey, did you know mommy put yogurt in this?!?". A look of shock and disgust. She couldn't believe I tricked her into eating yogurt in the guise of a lovely and tempting cake for all these years. Once the shock was over, she finished her slice and said she will pretend like she didn't hear it has yogurt. My son on the other hand, was smiling in glee for being the one to give the big baking secret reveal: IT HAS YOGURT IN IT! I decided to go gentle with her and not add extra-virgin olive oil. I occasionally add olive oil instead of vegetable oil and the texture is smooth as velvet but there is a slight olive oil taste. I did also bake this recently with butter subbed for the vegetable oil. I didn't like the texture as much as I did with using oil. So for the choice of vegetable, olive oil or butter: for the moment, vegetable oil is winning! And of course, use your favorite Greek yogurt!






Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake

Some of the latest happenings around the garden. February in Florida is definitely full spring mode! Lots of color. Lots of flavors happening everywhere!









Some shots I shared on Instagram of Miami Beach last weekend. We happened to arrive during the boat show. Lots of beautiful yachts to admire!!















Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups flour (I used 1/2 cup of whole wheat pastry flour)
  2. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  3. pinch of salt
  4. juice and zest of one lemon, separated (I used Meyer)
  5. 2/3 cup sugar
  6. 2 large eggs
  7. 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  8. 1/2 cup of your favorite Greek yogurt
  9. 1 lb. strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced
  10. 1 Tablespoon turbinado sugar

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan with removable bottom. Add the lemon juice to the prepared strawberries, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Toss in the lemon zest and with your hands, mix it into the flour mixture to release the lemon essence.
  3. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the sugar and eggs until creamy (about 5 minutes). Beat in the oil and the yogurt. Mix well.
  4. Beat in the flour mixture a half up at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with spatula and mix well after every addition.
  5. Fold the strawberries into the batter (reserve about 10 slices to place on top of batter). Pour the batter into prepared pan. Arrange the reserved strawberry slices on top. Sprinkle on the turbinado sugar.
  6. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Check cake at about 35 minutes. Every oven is different. If cake is browning, cover with aluminum foil for remainder of baking time. Let cool for about 20 minutes before removing from cake pan. Best served warm.




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Sweetheart Mini Pies

Sweetheart Mini Pies

Valentine's Day is a day to remember the one you love. A card or a box of chocolates is really nice. A dozen roses is very sweet! I love to bake for my little loves. I baked them these delicious sweetheart mini pies. They are filled with their favorite strawberry jam.
Sweetheart Mini Pies


I haven't been baking pies here that often. I think it's been since Thanksgiving that I baked some homemade pies. I came across these mini pies in Parade magazine this Sunday. I used my favorite dough recipe that is so easy to put together. For convenience sake, you could certainly use ready-made pie dough. Fill it with any jam you like! I had some delicious strawberry jam on hand and that seems to be the favorite flavor (besides our homemade mango jam!!). This is a fun breakfast idea or the perfect afternoon pick me up with a hot cup of tea or coffee!!

Sweetheart Mini Pies


Some crazy Valentine's facts:

1. There are 3 actual St. Valentine's...it's hard to know which one the day actually honors!

2. St. Valentine of Rome was beheaded for performing secret weddings.

3. In 2012, 230 million texts were sent out! 11 million more than any other day in February.

4. 13.9 billion dollars is spent every year on Valentine's day!

5. 200 million roses are produced just for this special day.


I found this on The Frisky.

You know the drill in America; when you’re little, you hand out perforated cards and hope your crush gives you one of the good ones instead of the obvious “just friends” version. And as adults, the pressure is on to have a special date night and be showered with gifts, or be forced to acknowledge that you are completely and utterly alone in the world. But, just like any other holiday, every country has its own way of celebrating. (Or not celebrating—Valentine’s Day is banned in many countries because of its evil consumerist Western roots.) Here are a few other traditions that might be fun to try.

South Korea has one of my favorite traditions. On February 14th or White Day, men give candy or gifts to women. Then on April 14th or Black Day, the women who didn’t get anything on White Day go to Chinese restaurants to eat black noodles and mourn the disaster that is their love life. Actually, the 14th of every month is celebrated in some love-related way in Korea. Some holidays are much more popular than others and include such gems as Kiss Day, Green Day, Wine Day, Movie Day, and Hug Day. As one South Korean woman put it, “I had a miserable time on Valentine’s Day, felt even lonelier on White Day and now I’m crying over a bowl of black noodles. Things better be different next year.”

Meanwhile, Slovenia celebrates February 14th with the proverb “St. Valentine brings the keys of roots.” This is thought to be the day that plants and flowers start growing—so it’s the day that farmers and vineyard workers plant seeds. Slovenians also believe that birds get engaged or married on Valentine’s Day. Children traditionally make little boats holding candles from wood or paper and send them downstream, which is meant to symbolize the fact that they no longer need work lights since the days are longer. Meanwhile, March 12th is Saint Gregory’s Day, which was traditionally the day of love and the first day of spring until Valentine started taking over the territory.

In Norfolk, Britain, someone referred to as Jack Valentine brings presents and candy to the doorsteps of children and fancier gifts for adults. He knocks on the door and disappears, which freaks out some kids. As one BBC writer put it, “I hope [Jack Valentine's] got a good lawyer. I love Jack dearly, but when Santa finds out what he’s up to there’s going to be trouble! Let’s face it—turning up out of thin air once a year, leaving presents and disappearing without a trace—it’s the same act. It’s a law suit just waiting to happen.” For the day, people traditionally run around town with a bad full of goodies, celebrating with their friends in the streets.




Happy Valentine's Day! Hope it is filled with lots of love and something SWEET!!

Sweetheart Mini Pies
Yields: 13 
Ingredients
  1. 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  2. 1 teaspoon salt
  3. 2 Tablespoons sugar
  4. 3/4 cup (a stick and a half) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
  5. 1/2 cup of all-vegetable shortening (8 Tbsp)
  6. 6-8 Tablespoons ice water
  7. filling:
  8. 1 cup strawberry jam (or whatever jam you like)
  9. egg wash:
  10. 1 beaten egg
  11. icing:
  12. 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  13. 2 Tablespoons milk
  14. a drop or two of red food coloring
Instructions
  1. Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse it one time to mix. Add the butter pieces and pulse 4 times. Add shortening one tablespoon at a time and pulse each time you add a tablespoon. The mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal, with butter bits no bigger than peas. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of ice water over flour mixture one tablespoon at a time. Pulse once after you add each tablespoon of water. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If the dough doesn’t hold together, keep adding water, a tablespoon at a time, pulsing once after each addition, until the mixture just begins to clump together.
  2. Clean off your counter really well or use a pastry board or a nice cutting board. Flour your hands generously. Take the dough out of the food processor. Tilt the rolling pin and sprinkle it with flour as you rotate the rolling pin. Divide the dough into two balls and flatten each into a 4-inch wide disks. Sprinkle a little bit of flour on each disk and then wrap both separately in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour before rolling. When you are flattening the disks, you are not working the dough. You are just simply flattening the shape into a disk. If you are making the tarts that day, make sure you refrigerate for at least an hour. It can stay for up to 2 day in the refrigerator.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  4. When it is time to roll the dough, I take it out of the refrigerator and I usually let my dough sit out for about 5 minutes before rolling. It’s hot here in Florida. Doesn’t take more than 5 minutes to get to the perfect rolling temperature.
  5. In between two sheets of plastic wrap, roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness.
  6. With the first disk, cut out the heart shapes (I used 4-inch heart shapes) and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. (I cut out 12 which made 6 filled hearts. With the other disk I cut out 14 hearts and got 7 filled cookies)
  7. Place about a Tablespoon of strawberry jam in the center of the heart. With your finger, trace around the perimeter of the heart with egg wash. Gently place a heart on top. Press down gently around the edges to seal it. With a fork, press gently around the edges.
  8. Repeat the process with the other disk of dough. Brush on the egg wash.
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes or until a nice golden brown.
  10. While baking, whisk together glaze ingredients to your desired consistency.
  11. Let hearts cool a baking rack. Drizzle on the glaze and add sprinkles! enjoy!
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Double Chocolate Cupcakes

Double Chocolate Cupcakes
The month of February means to me getting in touch with as many chocolate sweets as I can! I don't necessarily go crazy for chocolate sweets. I am aware that I am not the norm...a sort of anomaly. But take these double chocolate cupcakes...these tempt me a little! They are rich and so easy to make.

Seriously, there is no excuse to not want to indulge a little in chocolate when these are around. For example, just now I had one for breakfast. With the light dusting of confectioner's sugar, they aren't too sweet and went wonderfully with my espresso. Actually, I will add a dash of espresso to the next batch!! Chocolate and coffee, yes! Although I once had a heated debate with someone about chocolate and coffee. They claimed that chocolate should be left in its purest state. Do not mix it with coffee, caramel, or GOD FORBID: MINT!! I had to defend chocolate and caramel...come on!?! That is just a magical combination! And chocolate and coffee: divine!


Double Chocolate Cupcakes

Double Chocolate Cupcakes




So my kids had a cupcake urge late yesterday afternoon. My daughter dragged out from the baking supply cabinet these adorable Oh, la la cupcake liners with the French poodles to decorate on top. She found some background papers I bought a couple years back when I used to try to make my photos look cute and trendy with some pops of color. She took some photos for me (the ones that are below). I felt bad for her as it was getting darker and I don't have any fancy lighting. I rely on Florida's glorious natural light.

This morning I had plenty of just that: glorious natural light! I dusted some confectioner's sugar on a few and snapped some shots for you to see that these cupcakes are even quite perfect without any glaze or frosting. I prefer things on the less sweet side.


Double Chocolate Cupcakes

Double Chocolate Cupcakes

Are you craving chocolate...today??? Go ahead, check your cabinets. You probably have all the ingredients to make these cupcakes. I used dark chocolate chips and a little bit of dark cocoa powder (hence, the very dark color). You don't have to use fancy French polka dotted liners like we did. Any liner will do just fine! The best part of this recipe? You can mix the ingredients together all in one bowl. The perfect recipe to do with your kids!!

This is a recipe I've used for years from Martha Stewart. You can use the chocolate frosting recipe I shared here. Or this fluffy white icing (marshmallow frosting).

Double Chocolate Cupcakes

by Savoring Italy
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: approx 20 minutes

Ingredients (12 cupcakes)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
icing
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1-3 Tablespoons milk
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. 

Add eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed. 

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full (I use a one scoop ice-cream scooper). Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

for icing:
While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the glaze:

In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and the milk; add more sugar if needed to thicken it. Drizzle on the glaze. Add sprinkles if you'd like!


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Korean Steamed Eggs -Guest Post with Hip Foodie Mom #FoodMemory

Korean Steamed Eggs

As I mentioned at the beginning of my #FoodMemory series, I never know exactly what to expect when I receive the stories from my guest posters. I have reached out to some really talented blogging friends of mine.

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Panettone Perfection with Pastry Chef Maurizio Bonanomi

 maurizio.1


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Chocolate Chip Challah Bread - #TwelveLoaves

Chocolate Chip Challah Bread

February is here and that means another #TwelveLoaves challenge. We took it a little easy with our bread baking in January and had a "Keep it Simple!" theme. Even the simple breads were just amazing!

But February is the month to go a little more decadent...a little more daring. February is the month of love and also a month for loving CHOCOLATE!
Chocolate Chip Challah Bread

 #TwelveLoaves February: Chocolate. We were good all January with our Keep it Simple theme, now it's time to get a little decadent. February #TwelveLoaves is all about Chocolate! Choose a recipe featuring chocolate. (It could be a bread accented with chocolate chips, baked with cocoa powder, chocolate spreads, whatever you love!). Whatever you bake (yeasted, quick bread, crackers, muffins, grissini, braids, flatbreads, etc) have fun and let's have a delicious month of bread with chocolate. Let's get baking!





#TwelveLoaves is a monthly bread baking party created by Lora from Savoring Italy.

Looking for some CHOCOLATE inspiration? Here are the fantastic Twelve Loaves bakers and their bread for February:





Notes
Yields 2 challah breads

Chocolate Chip Challah Bread

by Savoring Italy
Prep Time: approx 2-3 hours
Cook Time: approx 35-40 minutes

Ingredients (2 challah breads)
  • For the dough
  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast (I used Red Star Yeast Platinum for this recipe)
  • 1 cup warm water (no more than 110°F [43°C])
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups bread flour, or 5 1/2 to 6 cups bleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup peanut, corn, or canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (or whatever type you prefer)
  • To sprinkle on top:
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • For the egg wash:
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • whisk it together and brush on bread prior to baking
Instructions
In a mixer, with a dough hook attachment, add the warm water and yeast. Mix until blended. Add the sugar and mix about a minute. Slowly mix in 1 cup of the flour until combined. 

Mix in the eggs one at a time until they are combined. Add another 2 cups of the flour, oil, and salt. Mix together on medium-low speed stopping the machine to scrape down the sides of the bowl. 

Slowly add the rest of the flour (the remaining 4 cups) and mix until combined. Stop the machine as you add each cup of the flour to scrape the sides of the bowl and incorporate the flour. Mix on low speed for 12 minutes until dough is incorporated. Be sure to give your mixer a break and as you don’t want to burn it out. Add flour if needed 1 tablespoon at a time. The dough will be a little sticky but also firm.

Take dough out of mixer bowl, knead in the chocolate chips.

Form the dough into a ball and place into an oiled bowl (when I put the dough in the bowl I swish the dough around the bottom of the bowl and then flip it over so all of the dough is covered in a light film of oil). Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size (about 1-1 1/2 hours).

Punch down the dough. Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball, and allow it to rest with plastic wrap on it for 5-10 minutes.

Roll each dough ball into long piece .Braid 3 strands together to form a loaf. Repeat with the other 3 strands. Cover and let rise in a draft free place for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

When ready to bake, brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with sliced almonds.

Bake the challah for 35-40 minutes. The bread should be golden brown. Ovens may vary so check your challah at about 30 minutes and see how it’s doing. You test if it’s done by tapping the bottom of the loaf. If it sounds hollow, it needs a bit more time.* Be careful to not burn your fingers like I did when you do that test. Let it cool and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
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