Pumpkin Spice Whoopies

Click for the original blog post: Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Yield: makes 20 small whoopies (double recipe for larger whoopies)


For the whoopies

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp allspice (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg (fresh is best)
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling

  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 oz (1/2 package) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 Tbs maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Use parchment or silpat lined baking pans, or use a whoopie pie pan sprayed with cooking spray (Crate & Barrel has a good one, while you’re there, pick up a 1 tbs sized ice cream scoop)
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder and soda, and spices.
  3. In your mixer, mix on low the brown sugar and oil, then add the puree, then the egg and vanilla until incorporated.
  4. Add 1/2 of your flour mixture to the bowl and mix on low until just combined, then repeat with the second half.  Don’t over mix.
  5. Use a small 1 Tbs ice cream scoop and drop them onto your baking sheet or in your pan. Leave 1 ” in between for spread.
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes until cookies just start to spring back when touched.  This will give you a nice moist whoopie.  Let cool in pan for 3 minutes, then remove and let cool on wire racks until room temp.
  7. For the filling, cream the butter and the cream cheese together until there are no lumps.  Add the powdered sugar, syrup, and vanilla and beat until smoothe, but do not overbeat.
  8. Assemble cookies by piping or spooning a dollup of cream cheese filling inbetween two cookies.
  9. Keep chilled until ready to use, then remove and let come to room temp for a few minutes before serving.  They will keep in the fridge under plastic wrap for a few days.


Preparation time: 20 minute(s), cooking time, 20 minutes.

Copyright © TamaraEsq 2011.

Candied Nuts

Click for the original blog post: Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Poached Quince and Candied Nuts


  • 1 cup nuts: your choice- hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts all work well
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Grapeseed or peanut oil for frying


  1. In small sauce pan, bring nuts, sugar, and water just to boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  2. Simmer for about 15 minutes until sugar water thickens to a syrup consistency.
  3. In a separate pan, heat enough oil to submerge nuts.  Heat oil until thermometer reaches 325 degrees (if you don’t have a thermometer, add 1 nut to test temperature, if it makes bubbles when you add it to the oil, you’re good, if the oil is smoking, it’s too hot).
  4. Deep fry nuts until they turn a nice dark brown.
  5. Strain nuts from oil and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or silpat, keeping nuts separate so they don’t stick together as they cool.  If you want them sweeter or saltier, toss with sugar or salt as desired. When they dry they’ll be nice and crunchy.

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Copyright © TamaraEsq 2011.

Poached Spiced Quince

Click for the original blog post: Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Poached Quince


  • 2 medium sized quince
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 cups water
  • 3-4 star anise
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • 2-3 cinnamon sticks


  1. Add sugar and water to heavy pot and bring to slow boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  2. Peel quince, then cut 4 sides, cutting around the core like an apple (make sure you don’t get the hard fibrous core in your slices).  Slice each of the 4 sides in 1/2″ slices. Work quickly to avoid the quince turning brown.
  3. Add quince slices to pot, then add spices.
  4. Simmer, covered, for about 3 hours until quince turn deep amber red.
  5. Remove quince from syrup and set aside for use in dessert.  Strain spices and return red syrup to the pot.
  6. Create thicker syrup by reducing at a simmer, uncovered, until syrup thickens to desired consistency.  Put in squeezy tube to use cooled syrup artfully on plate.

Preparation time: 15 min

Cooking time: 3 hours

Number of servings (yield): 6-8

Copyright © TamaraEsq 2011.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta

Click for the original blog post: Buttermilk Panna Cotta

Summary: Adapted from The Wine Lover’s Dessert Cookbook


  • 1 1/2 t unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup heavy cream (it’s best to use cream with no additives like carageenan)
  • 1/4 cup evaporated cane juice (granulated sugar works fine too)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (optional)


  1. Prepare a muffin pan (I prefer the silicone type) or 6 small ramekins by putting vegetable oil on a paper towel and rubbing the muffin tin or ramekins with the oil.
  2. Pour 1/4 cup cold water into a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over water and let soften for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, gently heat cream and sugar in a saucepan until it’s just warm, not hot or steaming.  Scrape seeds from vanilla pod into cream and add the pod as well.  Stir well to dissolve sugar.
  4. Remove cream/sugar from heat once it’s just warm and stir in softened gelatin until it’s fully dissolved, about 1 minute.
  5. Stir in buttermilk.
  6. Remove vanilla bean pod before pouring.  Pour panna cotta mixture into muffin pan or ramekins.  Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour, then put into the refridgerator to set, about 3 hours (can be made up to 4 days in advance, just store in the muffin pan in your fridge).
  7. Run knife around muffin pan or ramekin and invert carefully on plate.

Number of servings (yield): 6

Copyright © TamaraEsq 2011.

Click for the original blog post: Dark Chocolate Truffles

Summary: Adapted from Le Cordon Bleu’s recipe



  • 8 oz good quality dark chocolate (Valrhona if you can get it)
  • 4 oz heavy cream
  • 1 oz butter
  • Flavoring of your choice:
  • 1/2 oz Grand Marnier + 1/2 oz Rum + 1 Tbs orange zest; or
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla; or
  • whatever you’d like


  • 8 oz good quality dark chocolate (tempering instructions below)


  1. Make the filling: chop chocolate and place in medium bowl. Scald cream in sauce pan. Pour hot cream over chocolate, add butter and whisk until melted.  Add flavoring and stir until combined.  Pour into an 8 oz container and chill overnight to set the filling.
  2. From your filling, scoop out bite size amounts and roll in your hands to make rounded centers.  Or use a small chocolate cutter or cookie cutter to make shapes.  Chill centers.
  3. Temper chocolate for shell:  Heat sauce pan of water until boiling, then turn off flame.  Place 8 oz. of dark chocolate in a bowl that sits over the hot water (double boiler).   Stir until chocolate melts.  Using a candy thermometer, make sure the chocolate reaches exactly 115 degrees then remove from the double boiler.  Place bowl over ice bath, stirring constantly until temperature drops to 82 degrees, exactly.  Once it drops the chocolate will be thicker.  To make it easier to work with you can put it back over the hot water to raise the temperature again to no more than 90 degrees. You now have tempered chocolate.  (This helps give it a nice shine and makes sure it will harden).  Make sure you use the tempered chocolate immediately and constantly test the temperature to ensure it stays between 85-90 degrees.  If you mess up any of these temperatures, don’t throw out the chocolate, just start over by heating it to exactly 115 degrees, then cool to 82 degrees, then back up to 85-90 degrees.
  4. Working quickly, dip your centers into the tempered chocolate.  Place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment.  Move them around on the parchment to ensure that a “foot” does not pool around the bottom.  You want nice round pieces.  This takes practice.
  5. Let them set, about 5 minutes.  Decorate by drawing with melted tempered milk chocolate if desired.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Copyright © TamaraEsq 2011.

Click for the original blog post: Chocolate Souffle

Summary: Adapted from Le Cordon Bleu’s recipe packet


Souffle Base

  • 1 1/2 oz bread flour
  • 1 1/2 oz butter, unsalted
  • 8 oz whole milk
  • 2 oz sugar
  • 3 oz egg yolks
  • 3 oz semi-sweet chocolate


  • 5 oz egg whites
  • 1 oz granulated sugar

Creme Anglaise

  • 8 oz whole milk
  • 4 oz heavy cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3.5 oz sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, or 1 1/2 tsp vanilla


  1. First make the creme anglaise.  Put the milk, cream, and about half of the sugar in a sauce pan.  Split the vanilla bean in half.  Using the back of your knife, scrape out the tiny brown seeds and add the seeds and the leftover bean to your pan.  Heat the milk mixture until it scalds (tiny bubbles on the sides of the pan, not a rolling boil).
  2. Whisk the yolks and the remaining sugar in a mixing bowl until yellow and frothy.  Temper the yolks by pouring in a tiny bit of hot milk mixture to the yolk mixture while whisking, then add a tiny bit more, continue to whisk, keep doing this until you’ve added about half of the milk mixture.  Tempering prevents you from cooking the egg yolks, that’s bad.
  3. Pour the tempered yolk mixture back in the sauce pan with your milk mixture so now everything is together.  Place back on low to medium heat and stir constantly.  You’re creme anglaise is done when the mixture thickens to “nappe” consistency (it coats the back of a wooden spoon), about 5 minutes.
  4. Place a clean bowl over some ice, and strain your creme anglaise through a fine mesh sieve into the clean bowl.  The ice will help it cool.
  5. Next make the souffle base.  Melt butter in a sauce pan on medium heat and add the flour. Make a roux by stirring the flour until it forms a smoothe thick paste.  Continue to stir for about 2 minutes over medium heat so the starchiness cooks out.  You don’t want your roux to start browining.  Remove roux from pan and set aside.
  6. In the pan, add 2 oz sugar and the milk and cook over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and milk scalds (small bubbles form on sides of pan. Not a rolling boil).  Remove from heat and add the roux back in.  Stir with whisk until a thick creamy paste forms and there are no lumps.  Taste to make sure it doesn’t taste starchy, like raw flour.  If it does, cook on low heat until the starchiness goes away.
  7. With whisk, stir in chocolate until melted.  Stir in egg yolks, one at a time, until smoothe and fully incorporated.  You now have souffle base.  Set this aside.
  8. Make a French meringue.  Add egg whites to mixing bowl.  Mix on high for about 30 seconds to get the eggs started.  Add 1 oz sugar to egg whites and mix until medium stiff peaks form. (Remove whisk attachments and invert.  If the whites left on the end just start to crest over like a wave, you’re done.  If they drip off, mix some more.  If they stand up straight you’ve gone too far).
  9. Carefully fold the meringue into the souffle base 1/3 at a time. Do not over mix and be gentle.  Stop when egg whites are incorporated.
  10. Prepare 6 3-inch ramekins by coating bottom and sides with butter.  Then add a little sugar and roll around until sugar adheres to egg.  Wipe tops and sides of ramekins clean.
  11. Pour souffle batter into prepared ramekins almost to the top of the ramekins.
  12. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes until souffle is set in the center.  Souffle will puff up a lot.
  13. Remove from oven and dust with powdered sugar.
  14. Serve immediately.  If you wait too long your souffle will deflate again, not pretty.  When it’s in front of your guest, split the souffle in the middle with a spoon and pour in 1 oz of creme anglaise directly in the center.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minute

Number of servings (yield): 6  3-inch ramekins

Copyright © TamaraEsq 2011.

Sacher Torte

Click for the original blog post: Sacher Torte

Summary: Adapted from Le Cordon Bleu’s baking recipe packet


For the cake:

  • 4.5 oz. unsalted butter, about room temp
  • 5.75 oz. baker’s (superfine) sugar
  • 4 oz. egg yolks (about 5)
  • 6 oz. egg whites (about 4)
  • 1.5 oz. cake flour
  • 1.5 oz. good quality cocoa powder
  • 1.75 oz. finely ground almond meal
  • 4 oz. apricot jam or preserves (no chunks)
  • 4 oz. simple syrup (1/2 c sugar, 1/2 c water) flavored with brandy or vanilla (instructions below)

For the glaze:

  • 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
  • 6 oz. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. light corn syrup
  • Optional: reserve an additional 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate to write on the cake


Make the cake (read through everything first before starting, more pictures are available in the original post, link above, to guide you)

  1. Cream the butter and just 3 3/4 oz. of the sugar in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.  Gradually add the egg yolks until incorporated.  Place this mixture in a large mixing bowl and wash out the bowl to your stand mixer.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift all dry ingredients together. (The almond meal may not go through the sifter as it is thicker than flour, that’s ok).
  3. In your stand mixer, make a meringue by beating the egg whites until foamy on high speed with the whisk attachment.  Add the remaining 2 ounces of sugar and continue to beat until medium stiff peaks form.  (To test your peaks: take the whisk out with a little egg white stuck to it.  Invert the whisk, and if the foam falls off completely it’s not stiff enough.  If the foam crests like a wave you’re there.  If the foam stands up straight, that’s stiff peaks and you’ve gove too far).  Do not over beat.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Carefully fold the meringue into the creamed butter/sugar batter, one third at a time until just incorporated. Do not overwhip your egg whites or your cake will be too dense, save as much air in those egg whites as you can when folding.
  6. Carefully fold in the sifted dry ingredients.
  7. Line an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper.  Add the batter, and bake until set in the center (until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean), between 20-30 minutes (test it to be sure).  Cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto cooling rack and remove torte from pan to finish cooling.
  8. When cooled, carefully slice the torte in half horizontally so you have 2 layers.  Make a simple syrup by combining 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water.  Heat on stove until sugar is just dissolved.  Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or 1 tablespoon of brandy to the syrup for flavoring.  Using a pastry brush, brush the simple syrup on the top and sides of each layer so it moistens the torte. Be generous with this.  You want a lot of moisture on the torte.
  9. Using a spatula, spread the apricot jam thickly on the bottom layer.  Put the second layer on top.

Make the Chocolate Glaze

  1. Combine the chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in a bowl.  Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water (double boiler) to melt these together, stirring frequently until melted.
  2. Divide the chocolate glaze: put 1/3 of it in a separate bowl and set aside.  Keep the remaining 2/3 in your original bowl and place this bowl over an ice bath (water and ice) to cool the glaze.  Whisk it the whole time while cooling.  If the chocolate freezes on the sides of the bowl, take out of the water bath, keep whisking to incorporate, and then put it back in the water bath to whisk some more.  After about 3-5 minutes the chocolate will get nice and thick as it cools and will have the consistency of spreadable frosting.
  3. Place the torte on cardboard.  Coat the entire torte with this frosting and make it smooth with your offset spatula.  Chill for 10 minutes.  Trim around the cardboard if necessary so it is the same size as the torte.
  4. Place the frosted tort on a wire rack and place the wire rack on a cookie sheet that is lined with plastic wrap.
  5. With the reserved 1/3 of the chocolate sauce, pour it right over the center of the torte and let it drip down the sides.  Try to coat the entire torte and get the sides smooth.  If you run out of chocolate sauce before the entire torte is covered, pick up the plactic wrap where the sauce dripped on it and pour the sauce over the torte again.  Let the chocolate set on the counter, do not refridgerate or you’ll lose all that cool shine on the chocolate.
  6. Optional: melt 4 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate over a double boiler.  Place melted chocolate in a pastry bag and cut a small tip off it.  Write “sacher” on the torte (traditional); or write whatever you want (modern).
  7. Serve the same day.  Congratulations.

Preparation time: At least 90 minutes.

Cooking time: 30 minutes, approx.

Number of servings (yield): 8-12

Copyright © TamaraEsq 2011.

Click for the original blog post: Quiche au Fromage / Quiche Lorraine


  • 1 mealy pie dough crust (recipe here)
  • 4 oz Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 6 oz whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch white pepper
  • pinch nutmeg
  • Herbs: thyme and chives work well
  • Optional: 1/2 cup bacon cut into lardons, or diced ham, or diced pancetta


  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Roll dough until it is 1/2 inch thick and line an 8 inch pie pan.
  3. Fill with pie weights (or dried beans or rice) and “blind bake” crust for about 15-20 minutes until it starts to brown lightly. Remove weights and bake another 2 minutes. Remove crust and let cool.
  4. In a bowl, whisk eggs, cream, milk, and white pepper and nutmeg until well incorporated.
  5. Sprinkle grated Gruyere and bacon/ham if using (for Quiche Lorraine) in the bottom of cooled pie shell.  Pour in egg/cream mixture.
  6. Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes until the quiche is set (no longer jiggles in the middle and golden brown on top).

Preparation time: 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 40 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

Copyright © TamaraEsq 2011.

Click for the original post: Basic Pie Dough


  • 20 oz Pastry flour (All purpose flour will work, but your dough will be much tougher)
  • 7 oz shortening
  • 7 oz unsalted butter, cold
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ice cold water as needed


  1. Sift flour and salt together.  Cut in shortening and cold butter using a pastry blender, or using 2 knives, or using your food processor, or your hands, whatever works.  You want your butter to be in the size of little peas.
  2. Add cold water, 2 ounces at first and gently incorporate into your dough.  Add another 2 ounces, up to 6 ounces until the flour is just incorporated.  It should still be mealy. It will stick together when pressed but will still have bits of flour and butter that flake off. Do not overwork.  You’ll still see lumps of butter in your dough, that’s good.
  3. Separate your dough into 2 parts.  Flatten each into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill.
  4. For flaky dough, stop here.  If your pie or quiche will have a lot of liquid in it, you want mealy pie crust to hold all that moisture and not get soggy on the bottom.  To make mealy pie crust, remove chilled disc of pie dough, roll out with rolling pin.  Fold in thirds.  Chill again.  Do this one more time.  Now you have mealy pie crust.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 2 crusts

Copyright © TamaraEsq 2011.

Click for the original post: French Baguettes


  • Water, room temperature, 14 oz
  • Fresh yeast, 3/4 oz. (or 3 tsp active dry yeast)
  • Bread flour, 24 oz.
  • Salt, 1/2 oz
  • 1 egg


  1. Add yeast to water, stir slowly to dissolve, about 5 minutes.
  2. Sift the salt and bread flour onto parchment paper.
  3. Add your sifted flour/salt to the yeast/water one third at a time, using a wooden spoon and then your hands to work it in.  Once the flour is mixed in, turn it out on a floured surface and knead gently for 1 minute to incorporate.
  4. Using a mixer on the 2nd speed with the dough hook, knead dough for 3 minutes. Rest for 2 minutes, then again for 3 minutes.  If you’re kneading by hand, knead for 10 full minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.  It should pass the “window”
    test: tear off a 1 ounce piece of dough and gently stretch it into a 2 inch square- the glutens should hold the strands together and not break apart in the middle of your “window”.  If they break apart, keep kneading.
  5. Place dough in very loose plastic wrap and let rise overnight in the refrigerator, or place it in a lightly oiled deep bowl loosely covered with plastic wrap, in a warm spot in the kitchen until it doubles, about 90 minutes.
  6. Separate dough into 3 11-12 ounce portions.  With each of the 3 portions, roll into a ball, pinching the bottom of the ball together and let it rest for 3 minutes with the pinched bottom facing down.  Then using both hands on a lightly floured surface, roll into a long caterpillar shape about 20 inches long, keeping the pinched seam down.  Place your 3 long rolls into the oven (without the heat running) and let them rise again.  Your unheated oven should be about 80 degrees.  If the air is really dry, spritz some water in the over before adding the bread.  The bread needs a moist warm area to “proof.”  The loaves will rise and soften and look a little like marshmallows after about 10-12 minutes.
  7. Take the loaves out, then preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  8. Using scissors or a sharp knife, make 5 diagonal slashes across the top of each loaf, evenly spaced.  In a small bowl, whisk the egg thoroughly, and brush the tops and sides of each loaf.
  9. Bake until golden brown in the center of the oven, about 30  minutes.  To ensure proper texture, put a baking dish filled with water in the oven as it preheats, then remove to bake the bread.
  10. Note: with no preservatives these baguettes will only stay fresh for 1-2 days max.

Preparation time: 2 hours

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Yield: 3 baguettes

Copyright © TamaraEsq 2011.

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