Buttermilk Biscuits and small batch Blackberry Jam

My little Seth is a biscuit fiend. He loves a good biscuit, and quite frankly who doesn’t ??  I had some leftover buttermilk from the cake I made earlier in the week and I always try to use it up when I can before it goes bad, so I decided to treat him and make some biscuits.  I’m making chicken noodle soup today for dinner, so these biscuits will be a nice treat with the soup and for a quick breakfast with jam.

This blackberry jam is stress free jam. No sterilizing, no canning, no pectin; just a few simple ingredients and some time on the stove stirring, and voila you’ve got something scrumptious to slather on a fresh biscuit. Blackberries can be quite pricey, so when I saw them on sale I grabbed a couple of containers which is just enough to make this lovely jam. The jam will last about a month in the fridge if it’s stored in an airtight container.

Buttermilk Biscuits and Blackberry Jam

Biscuits: (yield: 8 biscuits)

1 Cup cake flour

3 Cups all-purpose flour

1  1/4 tsp.  sugar

3  1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. kosher salt

1  1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inches pieces, (kept cold until ready to use)

1  1/3 Cup buttermilk (kept cold until ready to use)

half-n-half  (to brush on top)

kosher salt (optional) for sprinkling on top

1. Preheat the oven to 400 º  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Place both the flours, sugar, baking powder, and kosher salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the chilled cubes of butter and with a pastry blender combine until the mixture resembles coarse peas. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add in the cold buttermilk and with a fork combine until it comes together.

3. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and gently knead the dough a few times and pat into a thickness that is about 1-1 1/4 inch thick. Cut out biscuits with a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet and brush with the half and half. Bake for about 20- 25 minutes until the tops are golden brown.

4. Remove the tray from the oven and brush the tops with butter and sprinkle with a pinch of kosher salt.

5. Serve warm.

Small Batch Blackberry Jam (yield: 1 generous cup)

2 Cups fresh Blackberries; washed

1 Cup sugar

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. In a small saucepan combine all the ingredients and with a heat proof spatula or wooden spoon; bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue stirring occasionally until the mixture is thick. Let the mixture cool slightly and strain through a strainer to remove seeds (or not if you don’t mind the seeds). Refrigerate any leftover jam in an airtight sealed container. It will keep about a month in the fridge.

Printable Recipe:


Happy Baking,


Pumpkin Orange Spice Cake

Pumpkin Orange Spice Cake

Fall is officially here according to the calendar. This is exciting for us San Franciscans because it means finally our fog is lifting and we are coming into our “Indian summer”. The sky is suddenly blue instead of white, the sun is shining, the days are shorter but the smell of fall is in the air, and it’s such a fabulous time. This means pumpkins and orange colors of every hue. Big pumpkins, orange pumpkins, white pumpkins, cute little mini pumpkins and everything pumpkin in terms of baking.

I make this cake every fall and I always make the marzipan pumpkins that go on top of the cake. I actually taught my son Seth how to make the marzipan pumpkins and once he starts there is no stopping him. Seth loves to make anything out of marzipan. Everytime I whip out the marzipan he begs me to get involved. Molding shapes out of marzipan is like playdoh for adults. I think that’s why Seth really likes the marzipan……..you see I sort of banned playdoh in our house when he was little. Don’t judge…It’s just that I got tired of picking pieces of hard gunk out of the carpet….but I digress. This cake is very moist because of the pumpkin in the batter. It is a great way to welcome in the beginning of Fall.

Pumpkin Orange Spice Cake (yields 8 inch 3 layer cake, or 10 inch 2 layer cake)

3/4 C Unsalted butter, softened (1  1/2 sticks)

1 C Light brown sugar

1 C Sugar

3 Lg. eggs

1 C Pumpkin puree

1/2 C Buttermilk

2 tsp. Vanilla

2 oranges; zested

2 C All-purpose flour

2 tsp. Baking powder

1 tsp. Baking soda

1  1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/2 tsp. Nutmeg

1/4 tsp. Ground ginger

1 tsp. Salt

1/2 C Toasted walnuts or pecans (+ more for sides of cake)

1/3 C candied orange peel* (optional) [around this time in the stores you can start to find it in little shallow tubs packed in syrup] or you can make your own. (I make my own; but that is a recipe for another time).

Mascarpone cream cheese Icing (recipe below)

1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Prepare your chosen pans by spraying with baking spray and lining with parchment circles; spray again lightly.

2. Combine the pumpkin, buttermilk, orange zest, and vanilla. Set aside.

3. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt; whisk to combine.

4. Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars on medium  high speed until smooth and well combined.

5. Add in the eggs one at a time; stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition.

6. Starting with the flour, alternate adding the flour and pumpkin mixture; scraping bowl in between each addition and ending with the flour mixture.

7. Divide the batter evenly into the pans and Bake at 350º for ~ 25-30 minutes or until the edges are browned and a toothpick coms out clean.

8. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then remove to cool completely on the rack. Ice the cake with the cream cheese icing when completely cool.

Mascarpone cream cheese icing

(3) 8 oz. bricks cream cheese; softened

8 oz. container  mascarpone cheese; softened

1/2 stick (1/4 C unsalted butter, softened)

1  1/2 tsp. vanilla

5 Cups confectioners sugar (measure, then sift)

1. Sift the sugar, then set aside.

2. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment; beat the cream cheese, mascarpone, and butter until smooth. Add in the sugar a little at a time on low speed until combined. Add the vanilla and beat on medium high speed until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Marzipan pumpkins


orange food coloring (gel type) * found at cake supply stores


whole cloves (or chocolate jimmies)

Method: Wear latex free gloves or use a plastic bag to color your marzipan.  Add a little bit of orange coloring to the marzipan and knead in the coloring with your hands until desired color. I like to do two different colors of orange; one a bit darker. Once the color looks evenly distributed; pick off a ball of marzipan and roll into a ball. Using a toothpick rock the toothpick against the sides of the ball lightly to create pumpkin lines. Flatten the top of the ball slightly. Stick the whole clove or chocolate jimmy into the top. Warning; if you use the cloves; warn your guests not to eat the cloves; they are only for decoration or you can use the chocolate jimmy if you have small children or are concerned. I love to use the cloves because it the stem looks more real and also it gives off a nice scent.

Printable Recipe:


Happy Baking,


“Payday Cookie Bars”

Is there a happier word than payday?…. Okay, maybe “weekend”.  These bar cookies are a bit like a payday candy bar. They are salty and sweet.

I love salty/sweet. Yin and Yang, Lucy and Desi, Tom and Jerry, opposites are good, no?

Have you noticed there seems to be a lot of salty/sweet recipes these days? If you like salty/sweet treats, this is your recipe. I adapted this recipe slightly from a cookie recipe found in the cookbook: The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle. I made this recipe once a couple of years ago and brought them to work. People asked, what are those things? [in a good way]. I needed a favor from a co-worker and I told her I would make her ANYTHING SHE WANTED for a favor and this is the cookie she chose, so there ‘ya go. The next time you are craving something salty/sweet

(or you need to bribe someone) give these a try. 😉

Payday Cookie Bars

recipe adapted from “crunchy peanut bars” in  The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle


1   1/4 C all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/2 C firmly packed light brown sugar

Peanut topping

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter (1/2 stick)

2/3 C light corn syrup

1   2/3 Cups (10 oz.) peanut butter chips

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2   1/4 Cups (12 oz.) salted “party” peanuts

Caramel drizzle

20 Kraft caramels; unwrapped

1 Tbsp. heavy cream

fleur de sel (sea salt)

Make the crust:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9×13 inch pan by lining the pan in both directions with double thickness aluminum foil; allowing about 2 inches of overhang on each end.  Lightly spray the foil with non-stick spray.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and salt; set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment or beaters, beat the butter with the brown sugar at medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. At low-speed, add the flour mixture and mix just until crumbly, 10-15 seconds.

4. Pat the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick the dough well with a fork. Bake the crust for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool while you prepare the topping. Leave the oven on.

Make the topping:

5. In a large saucepan,, combine the butter, corn syrup, and peanut butter chips and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

6. Pour the topping over the crust, using a spatula to spread it to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle the peanuts evenly over the topping, and press them lightly into the topping. Bake the bars for 18-25 minutes, until the topping is bubbly. Cool the bars completely in the pan on a wire rack.

7. Lift out the bars from the pan in one whole piece and carefully peel off the foil. *Make the caramel drizzle as below.  Drizzle the caramel over the bars in a diagonal pattern. Sprinkle with fleur de sel or sea salt. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut into bars.

*Caramel drizzle:

1. In a medium nonstick saucepan on low heat combine the caramels and the heavy cream until melted. Save the fleur de sel to sprinkle over the bars once you drizzle the caramel.


Happy Baking,


Baking Tip: How Make Self-Rising Flour Or Cake Flour

Flour Substitutions: I don’t have a cute picture or story today. Just a couple quick tips on flour. Just the facts Mam.

You may notice sometimes recipes will call for “Self rising flour”. I notice a lot of Southern recipes call for self rising flour. I’ve heard you can make your fried chicken extra crunchy if you use self-rising flour. Have not tried it, that’s just what I’ve heard. You can make a quick batch by taking 1 Cup flour and adding baking powder and salt. If you need cake flour and don’t have any, you can also make a quick batch and here is the recipe below.

Self Rising Flour:

1 Cup All-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. salt

1  1/2 tsp. baking powder

(whisk to combine)

Cake Flour:

3/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp. All-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

(whisk to combine and voila~ you have 1 Cup of cake flour)

Happy Baking!


Coconut- Lemon- Passion Fruit Cake

Coconut-Lemon-Passion Fruit Cake

I like the combination of coconut and passion fruit. I was lucky to find this passion fruit jelly a couple of months ago and I bought the jelly with the intention of making passion fruit buttercream. I really liked how it turned out. I also used Monin passion fruit syrup to brush the cakes with and the passion fruit flavor really came through. I kind of whipped out this cake on a busy weeknight so I used a jar of purchased lemon curd, but you can certainly use the leftover egg yolks to make fresh lemon curd. If you don’t like passion fruit or can’t find passion fruit jam or jelly, the cake would be great with either vanilla buttercream, coconut buttercream; flavored with cream of coconut (such as coco lopez brand)  or cream cheese frosting and you could cover the cake in coconut.

Coconut Cake: (yield: 2 layer 9 inch cake)

3  1/4 Cups sifted cake flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 C  unsalted butter, room temp

1  1/3  Cup granulated sugar

6 large egg whites

1  1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste

1/2 tsp. coconut extract/flavoring

1 small lemon, zested

2/3 Cup coconut milk

3/4 Cup whole milk

3/4 Cup sweetened shredded coconut

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying the bottom and sides with baking spray (I use the kind with flour in the spray). Line the bottom of each pan with a parchment paper round.

2. Combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt in  a medium bowl; whisk to combine and set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment; cream the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and beat on med-high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the egg whites a little bit at a time until combined; stop the mixer to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl every so often to insure the eggs combine thoroughly. Add the lemon zest and stir to combine.

4. Combine the coconut milk, whole milk, coconut extract and vanilla bean paste together in a measuring cup.

5. With the mixer on low-speed, add about 1/3 of the flour mixture, alternating with the milk mixture, stopping the mixer after each addition to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Make sure to end with the last bit of flour mixture. Stir in the coconut by hand.

6. Divide the batter equally into the two pans and smooth the tops. Rap the pans on the counter sharply to release any air bubbles.

7. Bake the cakes for 25-30 minutes until the tops are just lightly browned around the edges and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. You will not see the cakes turn much color; they will retain a light color, so be careful not to overbake.

8. Cool the cakes in the pans for about 15 minutes and then invert the cakes, peel off the parchment paper, and place onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Filling: Purchased lemon curd (I like Dickinson’s)* you can make homemade lemon curd; I’ve used jar variety here to save time on a busy weeknight after work and one jar is exactly the right amount to fill the cake.

Passion fruit syrup: Purchased Passion fruit syrup (Monin brand)

Passion Fruit Swiss Buttercream:

5 large egg whites

1 Cup granulated sugar

4 sticks unsalted butter (1 lb.)

6 Tablespoons passion fruit jelly (also known as lilikoi)

1 tsp. vanilla

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites and sugar and whisk to combine. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water as a double boiler setup and whisk the mixture until the temperature registers 160º degrees on an instant read thermometer.

2. Remove the bowl from the double boiler, and place on the stand mixer on medium high; using the whisk attachment,  whisk the egg/sugar mixture until you have stiff, glossy peaks and the bottom of the mixer bowl is not warm to touch; this will take about approx. 5 minutes.

3. Add one tablespoon of butter at a time and beat on medium high-speed. You will notice that  the mixture will start to take on a curdled appearance and separate, (this is because of the high water content in the butter)  but continue to add in the butter and the buttercream will come together. Add in the vanilla and combine. Add in the passion fruit jelly and turn the mixer down to low-speed and combine.

Cake Assembly:

Brush one cake layer with passion fruit syrup. Pipe a ring of frosting on the top of the cake layer around the outer edge around the cake circumference to create a dam so the lemon curd does not squirt out. Spread the lemon curd on top of the brushed cake layer within the buttercream dam; brush the 2nd cake layer with passion fruit syrup and invert the cake layer so the brushed layer rests over the lemon curd. Brush the top of the cake with more passion fruit syrup. Frost the cake with the buttercream frosting in your desired choice of design. Store the cake in the refrigerator until one hour before serving. Let the cake come to room temperature for about hour before serving. Serve at room temp. Chill any remaining cake in the refrigerator.

Printable Recipe:


Happy Baking,


Almond Joy Cookies

Apparantly I’m a jam hoarder. I didn’t realize how bad this habit of mine was until we recently got a new refrigerator. Jams, preserves, jellies. Whenever I see jam on sale I can’t stop myself; if it’s something I even fancy I’m apt to buy it and squirrel it away. It’s not that I eat it on toast. I rarely eat jam on toast. It’s more about what you can do with jam. You can take an ordinary buttercream and make it raspberry by just adding a bit of jam. I was shopping one day and right next to the jams and preserves I came across coconut curd. I have never seen “creme coconut curd” in my life.

When I saw this little jar of Dickinson’s creme coconut curd   www.dickinsonsfamily.com  you know I had to buy it. On the way home from the store I was already thinking of ways to use it. In between soft chewy cookies, as a filling in cake…the possibilities started swirling in my head as I drove.

The sublime combination of chocolate, sweet chewy coconut and almonds which make up an almond joy are the inspiration for these cookies. The cookie portion of this recipe is similar to a parisian macaron type cookie but because I live in serious heavy fog; I created the recipe to suit the weather here. (Macaron’s do not come out well when the weather is foggy). The result is a very fudgy, soft, and chewy cookie.

Almond Joy Cookies


1  1/4 C almond meal

2 cups confectioners sugar

1/4 C dutch processed cocoa powder (I like Valrhona)

3 egg whites (from large eggs)

pinch salt

pinch of cream of tartar

3 Tbsp. granulated sugar

*whole salted almonds (save for garnache-for the top of the cookie)

Purchased Dickinson’s creme coconut curd 

OR Coconut buttercream filling: (see recipe &  method below)

Coconut Buttercream: (see method below)

2 egg whites

1/2 C granulated sugar

1  1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1 tsp. coconut flavoring/extract

1/2 cup dried dessicated coconut

Bittersweet Chocolate ganache (see method below)

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips

4 oz. heavy cream

Method for cookies:

1. Combine the almond meal, cocoa powder,  and confectioners sugar in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment; whisk the egg whites, pinch of salt and cream of tartar on high until foamy. Add the granulated sugar and continue whisking on high until the meringue has stiff peaks; about 3-4 minutes.

3. Add about a third of the sugar/almond meal mixture to the meringue and fold until combined. Add the rest of the almond/sugar mixture until the cookie dough is combined and flows like lava when you lift the spatula and let it fall in the bowl.

4. Spoon the cookie dough into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch tip (I use a # 806 Ateco). Pipe the cookies on a parchment lined tray about 1 inch in size and leave about 2 inches in between each cookie. After you have piped all the cookies; take the tray and rap it on the counter to help release any air bubbles in the cookies. Let the trays sit out for 1 hour so the tops become fairly dry.

5. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and bake for 10 minutes, drop the temperature to 300 º degrees and continue baking the cookies for another 6 minutes. Turn off the oven and let the cookies it in the oven for about 30 minutes-40 minutes or until the cookies are able to be pulled from the parchement paper without falling apart. (This takes long at my house because of the high humidity/heavy fog where I live). Check the cookies- they should be set and look wrinkly on top, and you should be able to pull them off the paper easily upon lifting.

6. Remove the cookies and let sit on a wire rack to cool completely.

Method for coconut buttercream:

Place the egg whites and sugar set over a bain marie and cook until the sugar is dissolved and the temperature is 160 degrees. Remove from heat. Whip the mixture with a handheld beater (in a large bowl) or on a stand mixture until the bottom of the bowl is no longer warm to the touch. Add one tablespoon of butter at a time while continue whisking; you will see the mixture start to separate (that’s normal) and continue adding the butter a piece at a time until all the butter is incorporated. Add in the extract and dried coconut and whip until combined.

Method for ganache:

Place the chocolate chips in a small bowl. Heat the cream in a measuring cup in the microwave until the cream is hot. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for 1 minute before stirring the mixture to become smooth.

Assembly: Dip half of the cookies in the ganache and let sit for about ten minutes and top with one whole almond.  The other half of the cookies pipe or spoon about 3/4 tsp. of coconut filling onto one cookie half; carefully place the ganache topped cookie on top of the half with the coconut filled cookie and twist gently into place.

Printable Recipe:



Fried dough of any type brings out my call of the wild.

AWwww ye aw ye aw ye awwwW..

Beignets, elephant ears, doughnuts, funnel cake. It’s all good, but there is something about a churro.

Churros and hot chocolate. Mmmm.

The weather this summer in San Francisco is really- how shall I put this delicately- SUCKING BIGTIME.  Basically just like any other fog laden summer here in “The City” but this summer’s fog linger is really hanging on. The active button on my direct Tv says the temp in my neighborhood is 57 with a footnote that exclaims “feels like 57”.  Err- yeah, thanks for that clarifier Direct Tv because I would not have been able to distinguish that on  my own.  Churros + 57 degree weather + hot chocolate =  a really freakin lazy ass Sunday. I have spent way too much time in my flannel pajamas lately…

Good thing for Oscar, because the dog gives me a reason to actually leave the house. Yes, I have walked the dog in my pajamas. No I’m not proud of it.  Yes, I did at least put a coat on over the jammies. And just for the record, I do not go to Safeway in my pajama pants. I do have limitations. My coat is not long enough. That’s the limitation. Hee hee.

Churros are one of those comfort foods that evokes a warm toasty feeling in you. Maybe it’s  the smell of frying dough, maybe it’s the cinnamon smell. Maybe it’s the smell of  frying dough 🙂  Yeah, I think that’s it.  Definitely the smell of dough frying. The beauty of making churros yourself is that you can enjoy them when they are still super crisp and hot. They are mucho easy too, and people will think you are a rock star. Try it the next time you are having a lazy Sunday. I like to make hot chocolate and add in a pinch of cinnamon to go along with them.  I highly recommend it.


(recipe from Mark Bittman from New York Times)

yield: 1 dozen 4-6 inch churros

Corn, grapeseed, canola or other neutral oil for frying

1/2 Cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 stick butter

1/4 tsp. salt

1 C water

1 C all-purpose flour

3 eggs

1. Mix 1/2 C sugar and cinnamon in  a shallow bowl or plate. Set aside.

2. Combine 1 Tbsp. sugar, butter, salt and 1 Cup water in a saucepan over high heat, and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, and add flour, all at once. Stir constantly until the mixture forms a ball, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat, and beat in eggs one at a time stirring until smooth after each addition. heat the oil in a large saucepan (3-4 quart) or deep skillet to come to a depth of at least 2 inches; heat to 350 º degrees.

3. Spoon dough into a pastry bag with a large star tip (or you can drop spoons full of batter into oil). Drop strips of dough about 4 inches long into the hot oil and press the tip against the side of the pan to “cut off” the end or use a sharp knife and cut off the dough so the strip lands in the oil. Cook for about 7-10 minutes, turning with a fork or tongs every now and then to ensure even browning.

4. Remove the churros from the oil, and drain on paper towels for a few seconds, then roll them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Serve hot or warm.

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