Christmas Recipes

Christmas Recipes
Christmas Recipes

Italian Recipes

Italian Recipes
Italian Recipes

Dessert Recipes

Dessert Recipes
Dessert Recipes

Candy Corn Cupcakes

There are Snickers, Skittles, Laffy-Taffy, and Nerds.

Milky-Ways, Three Musketeers, and Tootsie Rolls.

But there is something about a candy corn.


Marie-Helene's Apple Cake -French Fridays with Dorie


When I saw that the next recipe from Dorie Greenspan's book was an apple cake, my eyes got really big and I started to smile. :)

I love apple desserts. I checked the ingredients and found that it was very similar to a recipe I make often that is my mother-in-law's.  The cake was buttery and full of sweet apples. It is void of spices, yet bursting in flavor. Perfect with a cup of caffe' latte or a nice hot tea. Or a big glass of milk.

Pumpkin Cookies with White Chocolate Chips and White Chocolate Icing

Oh boy. This pumpkin problem is bigger than what I had thought. I just can't stop.

My husband said I have to stop baking like this. I think we all just need to up our exercise regimens. Because the holidays are just around the corner...and it will only get worse.

Fall M & M Blondies

Who knew there were M and M's made in fall colors? Did you? I found these cuties at Target the other day. They were staring at me as I was checking out. They beckoned me to purchase them with their rich fall colors full of empty promises of cooler weather.

I didn't even have my kids with me.

I know, I am so weak.

Hachis Parmentier -French Fridays with Dorie

I finally received the fabulous book by Dorie Greenspan called, Around my French Table. This cookbook is gorgeous. I stayed up for hours late the other night looking dreamily at all of her incredible recipes. I even dreamed about the book. I seriously dreamed about it! For this week's French Fridays with Dorie, we made a French comfort dish called Hachis Parmentier. Dorie writes about this ultimate fall comfort food and reminisces about Daniel Boulud, one of the most talented French chefs,  being fond of Hachis Parmentier.

Pumpkin Tiramisu Cupcakes

Confession: I may have a slight pumpkin dessert problem. Problem, as in I want to eat every single pumpkin dessert recipe I see during the holidays.

Another confession: I am a mess. I am working on my organizational skills. I am trying really hard. It is bad Feng Shui to have a pile of dishes (clean or dirty) piled up in your sink. As soon as I clean and clear out, there is another pile. I do my best.

Here is the problem: pumpkin donuts, pumpkin crumbles, pumpkin breads, and pumpkin cheesecakes.  In my opinion, any thing with pumpkin is the way forward and it is all good! I told you, it is a slight problem.

Pumpkin and a mascarpone frosting (not pronounced MARScapone, it is MAS-carpone) all are in trouble. That is all I'm saying.

Dangerously irresistible. My most sincere apologies.

Don't let the mascarpone intimidate you. It is an unpretentious cream that is only 60-75% milk fat.  In Italy they use it in so many desserts, pasta sauces, and other incredible ways.

Fuzzy slippers. Hot cocoa in front of a warm fireplace. Snuggling with my kids and a good book. Good times.

A Pumpkin Tiramisu Cupcake. The way forward.

I don't have a fireplace. But I often dream of having a fireplace.

These cupcakes are so moist. I ate several. The frosting to me was the perfect sweetness. It wasn't to my daughter and her friends. They said a little more sweetness. You could adjust the frosting to make it sweeter. I liked it just the way it was. Perfect. If you can't find mascarpone, you could add cream cheese to your frosting.

Pumpkin Cupcake
adapted from David Leite

makes18 cupcakes

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 350° (175°C). Line a cupcake pan with 18 liners.

In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper into a medium bowl.

Add the eggs 1 at a time to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth. Scoop the batter among the cupcake liners — they should be about 3/4 cups full. Rap the filled pans once on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on racks completely.

Coffee Syrup

Makes enough for 18 cupcakes.

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly brewed very strong coffee (or espresso)
1 ounce cinzano or marsala (you could use just the coffee/sugar too and it will be fine)
1/4 cup sugar

Mascarpone Frosting
adapted Martha Stewart
Makes about 2 cups

1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

Add the heavy cream to a medium sized bowl. With an elextric mixer on medium speed, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  In another bowl, whisk together mascarpone and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Gently fold whipped cream into mascarpone mixture until completely incorporated.

Assemblying the cupcakes:
To finish, brush tops of cupcakes evenly with coffee syrup. I only added it to the cupcakes the adults were having. God knows my children don't need any more energy. Then pipe or spoon on the mascarpone frosting onto your little beauties (the cupcakes). Dust some cocoa powder on it. ENJOY!

Brushing on the coffee syrup:

Yum. That's all I have to say. Oh, and thank you for reading my blog and leaving me comments. Y'all are so sweet and kind. I wish I could have a cupcake right now with each and every one of you. And giggle a little. Or alot!


Southern Caramel Cake

The sun was just setting in the sky. When I put my head back on the sweet smelling grass and looked up, I saw vivid pastel colors streaming around gigantic puffy clouds that looked like cotton candy. I could hear the rocking chair swaying back and forth the way it always did every evening on our front porch. 


Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Bleh days.

I know you have these kind of days. Days where you feel like you don't want to talk to moms at drop-off because you didn't brush your teeth and there are crumbs from the morning's pancakes on your shirt. Days when you don't care that your son didn't cut out "one" picture to put under the word "one" and got red admonishments all over his assignment. We all needed a translator for that assignment.

Days when you don't want to check your email, walk the dogs, decide what to make for dinner. Fold laundry.

Bleh! That is pretty much every day.

Then there are days replete with sweet smelling flowers and colorful sprinkles. Days you don't care if your kids are arguing senselessly over a green cup. Days you aren't even remotely flustered by them fighting over who won the staring contest. Days you just know you are blessed.

You dream of what fatty and buttery recipe you will create to make every thing a little better. These cupcakes will make you smile. Smile. Look at them! You can't take your eyes off of them. They are just good. Cupcakes have that effect.

Of course these cupcakes are good. They should be with a whole stick of butter and a half a cup of sour cream in them. The bananas have to be perfectly ripe. Not ripe where they are baby food consistency. That is just gross. Toss those bananas away. You could maybe even eat them without the peanut butter frosting. Not the best choice. But still good.


1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
2 very ripe large bananas, peeled
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 t vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 12 standard (1/3-cup) muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Mash bananas with fork in another medium bowl until smooth. Mix sour cream and vanilla into bananas.Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and egg yolk and beat until well blended. Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with banana-sour cream mixture in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until blended after each addition. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups (generous 1/4 cup for each).Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center of each comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to rack and let cool completely.

Peanut Butter Frosting

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (I think I added a couple extra Tablespoons)
1  8 oz. package cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (not natural)
chopped, salted roasted peanuts

Sift powdered sugar into large bowl. Add cream cheese, butter, and peanut butter. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until smooth. Spread frosting over top of cupcakes, dividing equally. Sprinkle lightly with chopped peanuts.

A man waiting for a bus on Miami Beach. A cupcake would have made him smile. September 2010.

Sunset on Miami Beach, September 2010. Sunsets make me smile


Fall Carrot Cranberry Cake

Life is good. Life is better with good food. Life is the best with great Italian food. Occasionally, you may come across my strong opinions here on Cake Duchess. I am passionate about great Italian food. I am very picky about what I consider great Italian food. You may know my husband is an Executive Chef from Italy. I spent part of my childhood in Italy. I have spent alot of my grown-up years in Italy. I know great Italian food. I'm a little snobby about it. There is one blog out there in this vast internet that KNOWS great Italian food. Paula from Bellalimento is an Italian food connoisseur. Not only is she super talented, she is also really nice. Sometimes we talk about how much fun we would have if we were neighbors. One day we will have a farm in Italy. Paula told me she'd clean the chicken coops and I will gather the eggs. Not a bad deal, right? I told you she was nice.

I love carrot cakes. I love really moist and flavorful carrot cakes. Carrot cakes remind me of  when I was a little girl. I remember my mom always making carrot cakes. Mom knows how to make an amazing carrot cake. It seriously is the BEST carrot cake I have ever had. I have taken mom's recipe and changed it just a little. I didn't want mom to get too mad at me. I know you will add this recipe to your collection and share it with all your friends. You can omit the nut part if you are allergic. It will still be fabulous.

Look at my fall flowers. Aren't they gorgeous?!? I have pink, hot pink, and lavender bougainvillea in my yard. I also have those splendid golden trumpets. Forget the flowers...look at that cake! Please visit sweet Paula at  Bellalimento and her gorgeous blog to get the recipe. You will spend hours just browsing through it. Paula is also a contestant in Project Food Blog. Show your support and cast a vote for her!

Thank you! Grazie! Merci! Gracias!



Butterscotch Drop Scones

Butter and butterscotch chips. This is a marriage that will not end up in divorce or even in a little bit of therapy. Not that there is any thing wrong with therapy. And not that there is any thing wrong with divorce. There are just some couples that shouldn't stay married. Heck, I don't even know why they got married in the first place! I know some people that have had great results from therapy. I am a child of divorce. Maybe my parents should have gone to therapy? Hmm...deep thoughts on this Wednesday morning are getting me into a funk.

I know a way to get happier: Butterscotch Scones!

Every single time I make these scones, there is a line in my kitchen. As soon as the smell comes wafting through the kitchen, you will see the beggars. They are all lined up by the stove begging to know, "How much longer?" They also ask me, "How many do I get?"

Pear Tarte Tatin with Crumbled Toffee

Goals have been on my mind this past week. Goals, and of course cake. But mostly goals. I've been working on a paper for my class and it was on short and long-term goals as an educator. I was majorly distracted and a little frustrated. I began to wonder if I  maybe have adult ADHD.To deal with my frustration, I baked. And baked some more. Eventually, I finished my paper. In a haphazard manner, it was complete and I felt incomplete. I was left wondering:  do I really want to teach?

The other day I woke up to see I was number 1 on the top 9 on Foodbuzz on Wednesday for my Upside Down Banana Dulce de Leche Cake. I took a shot of the screen when I saw it. Dorky? A little. But hey, I was excited.

That was a pleasant and wonderful surpise!(Thanks to all the foodbuzz peeps that buzzed my recipe!) A family member told me it was great, but also posed an important question, "How are you going to make money with this?"

A profound question. After some careful thought and lengthy consideration, I present to you some ways I could make money with this:
1) I could write a best-selling baking book. It would outsell Ree from The Pioneer Woman  and possibly even Paula Deen.

2) I could open the hottest and trendiest bakery in South Florida. People would stand in line for hours like they do for the Cake Boss to sample one of my galettes or cakes. Ensuing bakeries would open all over Italy.

3) The Food Network would discover my talent by some glorious miracle. I would be as popular, or more popular, than Giada de Laurentiis (God, she has the cutest smile!). My cooking line would be in every Target on this continent. I would be a star. A rich star.

4) I could run a famous cooking school in an old castle in Italy. Any part of Italy will do fine. Laura  from Ciao Laura will book the tours to visit my incredibly informative and witty classes. We will both be reveling in this sweet success.

"Lora, wake up! Wake up!!" OMG! This is so embarassing. I just fell asleep and had the most amazing dream that I was a rich and famous food blogger/cookbook writer/FoodTV star/bakery owner. More famous than Ree Drummond, Paula Deen, and Giada! I was getting ready for my book signing and picking out what shoes to wear. Yes, I am a geek. 

Back to humble me.  My reality is I am still just blogging on my little blog for you, my dear readers. And for now, it's all I want to do. I leave you with a Pear Tarte Tatin recipe to enjoy. If read this, you like it, and even attempt to make it, that will bring me abundant joy and immeasurable satisfaction. This is why I do this.

Let's talk about the Pear Tarte Tatin. I love to make crusts. This crust recipe is simple and to me, crust perfection. It still was flakey and with the perfect firmness the next day. My husband said he hadn't had a Tarte Tatin like this since he was working in this castle in Italy and there was a French Pastry Chef that used to make them. Now that was a compliment. The pears have to be Bosc. They were made to be the co-star of a tarte tatin. They hold their shape. Don't use them over ripe. Mushy pears are not easy to peel and clean and will fall apart while making the caramel. A little ugly, but could still taste good.

This could happen:
*When you flip your tarte, the fruit may slide around. That is no problem. Reassemble them. No one will know!

*When you make the caramel, it is ready when it turns amber color. I made this a few times recently. On a recent time, I had to take care of a kid emergency (put Dora on TV!). There were some hard pieces of caramel. It gave me an idea. Keep those delicious toffee pieces and save for when the tarte is done. Smash them up and sprinkle on top. Ingenious and very delicious!

For the pastry
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
1 tablespoon lard (or shortening)
3 tablespoons ice water

For the Filling
2 lbs firm pears, peeled, cored and halved lengthwise (I used Bosc)
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger

In a food processor, add the flour, salt, sugar and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and the lard (or shortening), and pulse until there are coarse crumbs. Add the water to the dough mixture a tablespoon at a time until when you pinch the dough, it sticks together. Take the dough out of the processor and form into a disc. Leave in the refrigerator for at least an hour.

When you are ready to roll out, roll it out to about a 1/8-1/4 thickness and it should be about 11 inches in diameter for a 10 inch skillet. I like to roll the dough out either between two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment paper. You can leave the dough in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

The pears

Preheat the oven to 415 F.

Cut the pears in half. Core the pears and take off the stems. Add to the bowl with 1/4 cup of sugar and lemon juice. Let it sit aside for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a  9" ovenproof skillet. I used my ancient cast-iron one. Add the 1 cup of remaining sugar and cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat. It will turn golden brown and start to caramelize. As soon as it changes color, remove from the heat. Drain the pairs and arrange the pears over the caramel mixture. Cut side down and the stem end should go towards the center. Sprinkle the cinnamon and ginger over the pears.

Return the pan to the stove top and cook over medium high heat for 10 minutes. Make sure you keep the temperature at medium high, letting the sugar boil and caramelize. The high heat will help the sugar caramelize and the pears to cook a little. Now when I made this the other day, I got some crunchy pieces of caramel. I took those off and saved those to add to the top after when it was ready. Toffee crumbles topping! It is all good! You really can't mess this up. Gently toss the pears around so they get nicely coated. Stir You want it to reduce until the you have a thick buttery caramel sauce. This syrup will be very hot, so don't be tempted to touch it for a taste

Now it is time to lay the pastry over the top. Quickly and carefully tuck the pastry down right into the edges. I used a thin knife to tuck in the edges. Cut four 1/4 " steam holes in the center. Bake for about 25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown. You could bake over a cookie sheet in case you don't want to mess up your oven with caramel drippings. I didn't have any thing overflow from my skillet the last few times I made it. It's up to you:)

Run a knife along the edges of the cast iron to make sure that none of the puff pastry edges are sticking to the pan. Next, place a large plate or serving platter on top of the cast iron and, using two giant pot holders, invert quickly and carefully because the skillet weighs a ton and is burning hot. You will feel the skillet become lighter and know that it has inverted correctly. Life the cast iron and  don't worry if any of the pears moved around or if some stuck to the pan. You could carefully remove them if they stuck to pan and reassemble. If they moved when you flipped the skillet, just simply place them the way they were before in the tarte. One time when I made the caramel, it was too liquidy. That could happen. If you feel there is too much liquid when you are making your caramel, you could pour some of it carefully into the sink before you add the skillet to the oven.  Serve warm. It is even amazing at room temperature. Enjoy your beautiful tarte tatin.

Here is the dough ready to put in fridge.
Here are the pears caramelizing with some ginger and cinnamon sprinkled on them. I'm telling you, this smells crazy good!
When they are ready, this is how the dough should look on top. I added the four scores with a think knife right in middle (forgot to take a photo of it!).

Here is that toffee thing I told you about! I used a meat tenderizer and smashed them up. Toffee will fly every where. It is really good. Save some for the tarte.

Sprinkle some on the tarte. If your caramel doesn't form any crunchy pieces, you could use toffee bars if you like. This only happened once in the last few times I've made this. I may use the toffee bar idea next time. Those are really good too!!

This tarte is just gorgeous. It reminds me of a cool, crisp day in France or Italy. Or even North Carolina. A cup of caffe' latte. Steaming hot. Maybe a dollop of creme fraiche on top.

Random photo from other day of my lil' guy telling me he could put the yogurt on the flat bread by himself because, "I'm a chef mommy." He was so proud when he said it too.

And in case you want to see what I look like and my profile picture is a little boring. Here is me with a cake on my past birthday. As Mariskaneni (my Hungarian great-aunt would say for a pose), "This is how I look." Not ever, "How do I look?" Lol!


Gnocchi con Patate e Zucca con Ragu' alla Bolognese (Potato and Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Bolognese Sauce)


If you have a kid in pre-school, you may get the occasional stamps on their work:
The "I made this all by myself" stamp.
Or, the "I made this with assistance" stamp.

This is one of those dishes that "I made with assistance." Whole family assistance. If you are doing it by yourself, good luck. There are quite a few steps. If your family rolls their eyes when you call them over to make gnocchi, try  a neighbor. They get to eat amazing homemade gnocchi afterwards. Just don't share afterwards with your ungrateful family. They could've helped you out. Sheesh.
Hubby was home the other night a few weeks ago, and he shouted out: "Facciamo i gnocchi sta sera?" Translation, "Let's make gnocchi tonight?" Hell to the YEAH! I was a little shocked, because he never wants to do fun cooking stuff like that with us at home. He does it all day at work. He asked me how many potatoes I had. Not that many! But I did have some gorgeous butternut squash that was just perfect for this fall recipe. Italian comfort food. (Did I mention I love all Italian recipes!)

I know y'all are so excited to see my gnocchi! And as an added bonus, I am giving you also my Ragu' di Bolognese sauce recipe! I am feeling kinda generous.

I posted this sort of backwards. Look below for the sauce recipe first and get that going. It needs to simmer. Or you could make the gnocchi, freeze them for the next day. Then, do your sauce, and eat it all tomorrow. I'm not picky. Whatever you prefer.

Important notes while making dough:
1) cool the potatoes/squash before adding to flour/eggs.
2) mash the potatoes/squash while they are hot.
3) don't forget to add flour to your working surface so it won't stick while you are working it.
4) don't over mix or it will become mushy.
5) cook in boiling/salted water.
6) don't stir while cooking or they will stick.
7) they will float to top when they are ready.

Phew! Sorry, it's sounding so complicated. But. so worth the effort!

I know, super exciting. Calm down and listen carefully:

How we did it:

Gnocchi Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs potatoes           700 grams
2/3 cup butternut squash  300 grams  (this is weight w/out the skin)
2 cups flour                       250 grams
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk                     (the addition of this yolk will help make dough firmer)
salt/pepper to taste
Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (to sprinkle on after it is ready)

First, we made the dough:
Wash the potatoes and boil them until they are very soft (boil with peels on). Cut the butternut squash into chunks, take out the seeds, you can leave the skin on, and boil them. They will finish faster so you could boil them in a separate pan like we did. When they are soft, time to mash the potato and butternut squash. You should use a ricer, if you have one. Or just mash it up with a potato masher. You need to wait until the potatoes and squash or cool.

Once they are mashed, mix the potatoes with the squash, egg, and salt in a large bowl. In small portions, add the flour. Knead it until the texture is smooth. Keep adding flour in little bits if the dough is sticky. Knead the dough on a floured board (or your counter, if it's clean).

Place a large pan with salted water on high heat.

This is how the dough should look:

Now you have to separate the dough into the portions. We did about 6 portions. (I say "about" because one roll may have been used like play-doh). Roll out each individual portion. Have a cookie sheet ready with parchment paper on it and a little flour. That is where you will put them when ready and flour will stop from sticking. Gnocchi are very sticky. You have to move swiftly and adeptly. (I'm not joking!)

With each rolled out portion, you cut your little gnocchi. You make about a 1/2 inch thick rope, and cut each gnoccho out of the rope.

When the cut-out pieces are ready, time to roll them off back of your fork. You take each piece, dip one side in flour, the other side, roll off fork.

You know what the indentation is for from the fork? It is to hold the sauce. Ingenious! Now remember, you are moving swiftly and adeptly. Each time you make your indented creation, put it on the cookie sheet with parchment paper. Don't toss them on top of each other. They will stick together. Make sure you have flour on the parchment. A little, not a ton.

Your pot of boiling water should be ready by now. Time to add the gnocchi. Carefully add them to the water. They will cook in about 5 minutes. 6 minutes tops. They will float to surface of water when they are ready. You may get a premature floater.

Now you should have made the sauce ahead and you should have it heating up in a pan on medium-low.

Take out the gnocchi with a slotted spoon and add immediately to your bowl. Add the sauce on top of the gnocchi. Add your grated cheese. Add extra salt and pepper if you want.

Here is the Bolognese sauce recipe I use. Make a day or two ahead if you like.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup of onion chopped (you can use sweet onion or yellow onion)
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrot, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 pound pancetta, chopped (optional)
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef (you could do a mixture of pork/beef or however you prefer)
1 cup dry white wine
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (I use San Marzano)
6 fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
I add a touch of salt and a little bouillon.


In medium size sauce pan or a Dutch oven heat the oil on medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the celery, carrot, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes more. If you are adding the pancetta, now is the time to add it and cook for 5 minutes, then add the beef and saute, stirring frequently

Break up any large lumps and cook until meat is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley and basil and cook over medium low heat until the sauce thickens. Add the wine and the remaining ingredients and simmer.

I simmer my ragu for about 2 hours.

Here are the vegetables and beef cooking up nicely.

After you have cooked up your gnocchi, add the sauce and sprinkle on some Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. You could also use Grana Padano.

Here is the almost ready sauce.

Upside-Down Banana Cake with Dulce de Leche

I think I mentioned I live practically in Cuba.

There are some definite pluses to living in South Florida. I'm talking about food things.
  • Amazing fruits and vegetables from all the Latino countries that surround this bountiless peninsula.
  • A rockin' caffe' con leche on any corner...just like you would find in say, little Havana.
  • Miami.
  • Cool little Argentinine and Cuban bakeries with pastries like: guayabas, guayabas con queso.
  • And the number one reason: DULCE DE LECHE
Dulce de leche is kind of like Nutella. You open the can or jar and grab a spoon and just sit back and enjoy. It is crazy sweet and I have been baking with it recently. If you don't have dulce de leche in your supermarket, you could use caramel.

Update to post: October 6, 2010 I posted this summer how to make your own yummy caramel with sweetened condensed milk. A couple of my sweet readers mentioned how you can make your own if you can't find Dulce de Leche. Here is the link to make your own caramel . As a bonus, you can see my pancake recipe. It is really good! I make them every day. Not exaggerating.

This is the brand I used from my supermarket:

Upside-Down Banana Cake with Dulce de Leche

8 tablespoons unsalted butter,room temp
2 -3 ripe bananas peeled and sliced on an angle in thick slices (about 1/2 inch thick)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 cup milk
6 tablespoons dulce de leche


1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place 4 tablespoons of dulce de leche in an 8 inch square cake pan. Heat in oven until it softens, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven; spread evenly around bottom of pan. Arrange banana slices to cover bottom of pan evenly.

2. In a large bowl, cream 8 tablespoons of butter with sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until combined after each.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in three batches., alternating with the milk and starting and ending with the flour. Fold in the remaining 2 tablespoons of dulce de leche in the batter.

4. Spoon batter over pans carefully and spread it with a flat end spatula to even out. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 50 minutes (my oven was about 40 minutes). Let cool 10 minutes, then invert cake onto your serving dish.

These are some other reasons why I like living here:

beautiful beaches

cool Florida plants on the beach.
gorgeous tropical fish.

and my most favorite reason why (besides the food stuff), walking on beach w/my family:



Savory Galette with Potatoes, Onion, Zucchini, and Gorgonzola (Torta Rustica con le Patate, Cipolle, Zucchine, e Gorgonzola)

"Narcissus was the son of Cephissus, the river god, and the nymph Leiriope. By the time he was sixteen everyone recognized his ravishing beauty, but he scorned all lovers - of both sexes - because of his pride. The nymph Echo was hopelessly in love but she was hindered by her inability to initiate a conversation. Eventually Narcissus rejected her. She wasted away in her grief to a mere voice. A young man, similarly spurned, prayed that he would love himself unremittingly. The goddess Nemesis answered this prayer by arranging that Narcissus would stop to drink at a spring on the heights of Mount Helicon. As he looked in the water he saw his own reflection and instantly fell in love with the image. He could not embrace his reflection in the pool. Unable to tear himself away he remained until he died of starvation. But no body remained - in its place was a flower. " (Ovid)