Spicy Cheese Bread

I’m gonna make this post brief, cuz it’s Sunday night and I have a massive laundry pile to fold. I’m a recipe hoarder. Magazine hoarder. I hang onto recipes knowing at some point I will get around to it and tuck it away somewhere in a safe space. I’ve been know to loiter in the grocery store and screen shot a recipe out of magazine after finding some obsolete quiet corner to do the dirty deed. I’m not proud of it. I know more than a few of you have done the same, so don’t judge me. In this case I’m proud to admit I actually bought the magazine when thumbing through I saw this and a few others that looked like keepers. Spicy Cheese bread. You had me about spicy, but then you taunt me with cheesy and I’m all in.

This a an afternoon lazy day, weekend sort of recipe. You quick whip it together, let it rise, shape it and rises again (as you fold your laundry) and then you bake that big ol cheesy nugget of spicy goodness off.

Oh the smells coming out of the oven as it bakes. Heaven.

Spicy Cheese Bread

(recipe slightly adapted from Cooks Illustrated) “All time best Winter recipes 2020”

3 /14 Cups all-purpose flour

1/4 C sugar

1 Tbsp. instant rise (rapid rise) yeast

1 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes + more for sprinkling on top

1 1/4 tsp. salt (calls for table salt; I used Kosher) + more for sprinkling on top

2 large eggs + one yolk

1/2 C warm water (110 degrees) F

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter melted

6 oz. Monterey Jack cheese cut into 1/2 inch cubes, room temp

6 oz. Provolone cheese cut into 1/2 inch cubes, room temp

Additional for topping

1 egg lightly beaten for “egg wash”

2 pinches kosher salt

3/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp. soft butter

In a bowl of a stand mixer place the flour and the next 4 ingredients and whisk to combine, set aside.

Whisk eggs and yolk, warm water, and melted butter together in a liquid measuring cup. Fit the mixer with a dough hook and knead on medium speed about 8-10 minutes or until the dough clears the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Grease a large bowl with some vegetable oil. Remove the dough and shape on the counter (un floured) into a ball.

Transfer the ball to the greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap to rise for 1 1/2 -2 hours until it is doubled in size.

Grease a 9 inch round cake pan. Remove the dough to an un-floured counter and deflate the dough. Roll the dough into a 18 x 12 inch long rectangle with the long edge paralell to the counters edge. Distribute the cheese cubes evenly over the dough leaving a 1 inch edge border on all sides. Starting with the edge closest to you roll the dough tightly as you can into a log. Pinch the seam and edges to seal. Roll the log gently on the counter back and forth until it reaches 30 inches in length.

Starting at one end, wind the log into a coil (like a snail) and place in the prepared cake pan and cover with plastic wrap or tea towel to let rise until doubled in size; about 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Adjust the oven rack to the lower middle position and preheat to 350 degrees F. Brush the top of the bread with the beaten egg; just enough to cover the bread and sprinkle with the red pepper flakes and kosher salt (about 2 pinches of salt and 3/4 tsp. of red pepper flakes).

Bake the bread in the preheated over for 25 minutes, then turn the tray around and cover with aluminum foil and bake an additional 25-30 minutes or until an internal temperature check reads 190 degrees F.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and brush with the 1 tablespoon of soft butter. Let the bread cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool for 30 minutes until slicing. Serve warm.

I made a white bean, chicken and green chili yesterday and tearing off pieces of this dipped into warm soup is scrumptious.

Spicy Cheese Bread

Sweet Cherry Crumb Bars

The dark sweet cherries this week were everywhere in the stores and just begging me to bring some home. Mind you, I had no idea what I wanted to make with them; the possibilities of what to bake were swarming around in my little brain for days before I was prompted to finally dig them out of the fridge. I was in the mood for nothing too fussy, (decorating wise) so a cake was out as I just wanted to whip something together for a friendly potluck get together with my friends and neighbors. It bears repeating the the freshest ingredients and a simple bake can create something spectacular. It’s all about the wonderful fresh sweet cherries. It does take some time to pit and slice the cherries; but with a couple bowls on the table while watching TV; and a cloth to wipe my hands frequently, (it did look like a bit of a horror show with my red stained hands) they were pitted in no time. These were a huge hit and will definitely be a yearly favorite. The Husband who rarely comments on my sweets said he thought this one was a “keeper”.

Cherry Filling

5 Cups (615 gm) fresh dark sweet cherries

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. almond extract

1 Cup sugar

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. cornstarch

1/2 Cup all purpose flour

Prepare the cherries: Wash, remove stems and pit the cherries. Then cut the cherries in half and place in a large bowl. Toss with the lemon juice and extracts. Combine the dry ingredients and add to the bowl and mix gently to coat the cherries. Set aside while you prepare the crust; which is also the topping.

Crumb base and topping

3 Cups all purpose flour

1 Cup + 3 Tbsp sugar, divided

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 Cup unsalted butter, cubed and kept cold

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. almond extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a 9 x13 inch pan; spray with non-stick spray and then line with a parchment sling, so you have an overhang on the long sides of the baking pan. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add in the cold cubed butter and with a pastry blender combine the ingredients until the mixture is coarse crumbs.

In a small bowl whisk the egg and extracts with a fork to combine. Add into the flour mixture and stir to combine.

Divide the mixture in half. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Pour the cherry filling over the mixture; spread gently so it is even. Toss the remaining mixture of crumbs over the filling; leaving some larger clumps/crumbs and smaller crumbs so you have a variety of sized crumbs. Sprinkle the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar on top of the crumbs. Place the pan in the middle of the oven and bake at 375 F for about 50-55 mins. Check the bake around the 40 min. mark and if necessary cover the pan with tinfoil if the crumbs are getting too dark. Bake until the top is golden brown and the mixture just starts to bubble up around the sides of the pan. Remove and allow to cool over a wire rack.

When the bars are cool, lift out the parchment sling and cut into desired size. If you want cleaner less crumbly cut; you can chill the bars in the fridge before cutting.


Chocolate Malt Whopper Cake

This cake is not a strong hit you in the face malted flavor, but rather the wonderful crunch of the whoppers in the filling along with the really flavorful malty vanilla buttercream give it a nice change to your average traditional chocolate cake. If you really love whoppers you could go all out and even crush some on top of the cake. I just love the simple crown of whoppers adorning the cake. I made this for a dear friend of mine who happens to be a wonderful neighbor as well. She’s part of my squad if you will. There are six of us; 3 couples (my Husband and I), and the 2 other couples who are all neighbors and we get together at least once a week to hang out, swim in the pool, drink or just relax and have a great time. There’s always laughs and good food, and I always bring the cake if it’s a special occasion.

Chocolate Malt Cake

1 3/4 Cup Flour

2 Cups Sugar

3/4 Cup” Hershey’s Special Dark” cocoa powder, sieved (you can used original Hershey’s cocoa powder also)

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. kosher salt

1 Cup milk

5 Tbsp. malted milk powder

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 Cup vegetable oil

1 Cup very hot coffee

2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour three 8 inch cakes pans. Heat the milk in the microwave until very hot and whisk in the malted milk powder; set aside. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt. Whisk in the milk mixture until combined, then stir in eggs along with the oil and whisk vigorously until combined. Using the same whisk stir in the hot coffee and vanilla until batter is smooth. The batter will be very thin. Divide batter into equal parts into the 3 pans. Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 26 mins or until a skewer inserted reveals a few moist crumbs. Depending on your oven; you may want to rotate your pans half way through for even baking. Do NOT overbake or cake will be dry. Allow cakes to cook in their pans over a wire rack until cooled.

This is the chocolate bar I like to use to grate over the filling. I also comes in pound plus large bars. I love this chopped up in chocolate chip cookies in large chunks instead of traditional chips.

Malted Milk Vanilla Buttercream

2 1/2 Tablespoons hot milk whisked with 5Tablespoons malted milk powder (I used Carnation brand)

5 oz. pasteurized liquid egg whites by weight (141 g)

1 lb, plus 4 oz. by weight confectioners sugar, sifted (567 g)

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1 lb and 1/4 unsalted butter (2 1/2 C) , softened but slightly cool

2 tsp. vanilla

Whisk together the hot milk and malted milk powder as above and set aside to cool.

*You will need whopper candies and some additional dark bittersweet chocolate in bar form. I like the Trader Joes Belgium dark chocolate brand. See below for details.

In a bowl of a stand mixer whisk together by hand first (to avoid a mess) the egg whites ,salt and confectioners sugar just to combine, then using the whisk attachment whisk on high for approximately 6 minutes until thickened and combined; stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. With the mixer on med high, start adding in the butter a tablespoon at a time until fully incorporated; stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the vanilla until combined. Mix in malted milk mixture until combined, then switch to the paddle attachment and whip for a couple minutes; this helps to ensure the buttercream is really smooth.

  • Crush a couple handfuls of whoppers to break up so you have both small pieces and larger pieces.
  • Approx. 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate divided. Melt 1.75 oz -2 oz (in this case I used one small bar of Trader Joes 1.75 oz bar) of bittersweet chocolate and allow to cool; to use for decorating; the remainder will be used to grate over the filled layers to add in some chocolate flavor.

To assemble the cake; Fill the first and second layers with 2 1/2 ice cream scoop size of buttercream and top with a generous grating of shaved chocolate using a large hole rasp, then top with some crushed whopper pieces. Top with the third cake layer and do a thin crumb coating of buttercream. Chill the cake for at least 30 minutes before finishing with the rest of your buttercream. Frost the top and sides first with the malted buttercream. To achieve the ombre effect; save one cup to 1 1/2 cup of buttercream, and in a small bowl combine with some of the melted chocolate to achieve a darker shade of buttercream, spread this along the bottom 2/3rds of the cake and using a bench scraper smooth. Dot the rest of the melted chocolate along the bottom of the of the cake about an inch worth and continue to smooth and scrape and add in any random spots of melted chocolate to you reach the desired effect. Top the cake along the border with whole whopper pieces. Chill until ready to serve and let the cake come to room temperature to serve.

You can drag a little of the melted chocolate along the top of the cake for a marbled effect


Easy Lemon Curd Parfaits

This will make about 4-5 depending on the size of your glass jars or parfait glasses. I used 5 oz. repurposed yogurt jars that I had saved for small desserts.

Anyone from my pastry school days will remember me as a bit of a lemon head. I love love love anything lemon. I would always pick the lemon option when our instructor was passing out assignments. Recently the fine folks at www.Paradisefruitco.com sent me some complimentary candied lemon peel! and kindly asked me to come up a dessert or two and this is number 1 of a few that I’ll be posting, so come back in the near future for a couple more. Lemon lovers will love this super easy parfait that ticks all the boxes; tangy, sweet, crunchy and did I say super easy? You don’t even have to turn on the oven. If you’re not up to making lemon curd you can always purchase store bought curd.

*For this recipe you’ll need store bought lemon sandwich cookies. I purchased “thin” version lemon sandwich cookies (since they had less of a sweet filling , crushed to a coarse crumb in a food processor. (If you can’t find those you can use any other type of crisp lemon cookies, ginger snaps or any crisp type of cookie that you like.

Easy Microwave Lemon Curd

1 Cup Fresh lemon juice (not Meyer Lemon)

zest of one medium lemon

1 Cup castor sugar

1/2 Cup melted butter

2 large eggs

2 Tbsp. softened butter

In a 8 cup capacity measuring cup or bowl (such a Pyrex), place all of the ingredients (except the extra 2 tablespoons of soft butter) and heat on high in one minute increments; stopping each minute to whisk mixture. Continue heating until mixture coats the back of a heat proof spatula and registers at least 185 degrees F. (This will take about 7-10 minutes). Note: Do NOT place in a 4 cup measuring cup; the curd will expand around the 6 minute mark and you’ll end with it overflowing. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to catch any bits of egg material and also the zest (zest is just there for flavor). Whisk in the 2 tablespoons of soft butter and then place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd and chill until ready to assemble.

Cream Cheese “Fluff”

4 oz. Cream cheese, cold , cut into 1 inch cubes

1 Cup heavy cream, very cold

1 1/2 Tbsp. Non-fat dry milk powder

1/2 Cup Confectioners sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste or 1/2 tsp. vanilla is fine also

In a medium bowl beat the cream cheese until it is a spreadable consistency and free of lumps. Set aside.

In a stand mixer bowl or large bowl place the cold heavy cream, the non fat milk powder, confectioners sugar, and vanilla bean paste. With the whisk attachment beat until stiff peaks. Add the cream cheese and gently beat until combined; avoiding overbeating. Keep cold until ready to use.

To assemble the parfaits:

In the bottom of your dishes place a layer of crushed cookies, followed by some lemon curd, followed by some cream cheese “fluff”, followed by some bits of the chopped candied lemon peel over the fluff. Repeat once more with cookie crumbs, then curd and ending with the cream cheese fluff. For the last layer of fluff pipe a decorative swirl with a piping tip or simply a dollop, and top with a few more bits of the candied lemon. Keep cold until ready to serve.


Gingerbread ~ Cinnamon Chip Biscotti

Gingerbread Cinnamon Chip Biscotti:

(yield ~ 2 dozen) depending on size)

1 stick (1/2 Cup) unsalted butter, room temp

1/2 Cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 Cup granulated sugar

1/2 Cup unsulphured molasses (such as Grandmas)

2 large eggs

3 1/4 Cups all purpose flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1 1/8 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. allspice

1/8 tsp. ground white pepper

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp. mini cinnamon chips (you can find them online from King Arthur or sometimes in baking shops) If you can’t find them; you can leave them out.

Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy; about 3-4 minutes. Add in the molasses and mix til combined. Add in the eggs one at a time and mix on medium low speed until combined. In a separate medium bowl combine all the dry; from flour on down the rest of the list. Add in the dry ingredients 1/3 at a time until combined; taking care not to over mix. Stir in the cinnamon chips.

Preheat the oven to 325 F degrees. Divide the dough into thirds or half depending on how big you like your biscotti.

I did mine into small-medium form size and shaped a long rectangular shape into a parchment lined baking sheet into a 2 inch wide x 10 inch long shaped strip; the dough will spread (width wise) to about double once baked. Bake your cookie “slab” at 325 degrees for about 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let sit on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Decrease the oven to 300 degrees.

Cut the slab into diagonal 3/4 inch slices. Set onto a clean parchment paper lined sheet spaced apart and bake for another 10 minutes (stopping half way to turn over each cookie) or until firm. The cookies will firm up further once cool. Repeat with your other portioned out dough to bake off the rest or shape larger if you like.