A Taste of Pesach {review and giveaway}

A Taste Of Pesach

I am really pleased to be able to share my thoughts on this exciting new cookbook with you!  Artscroll has done a fabulous job in presenting over 150 triple tested Pesach recipes.  There are pictures for every recipe, which I always enjoy.  I want to know what my dish will look like so I don’t have to guess at what I’m preparing.  After all, Pesach is stressful enough!  This beautiful cookbook was 6 years in the making.  Each Pesach for the past 6 years, 6 women have been sharing their fabulous Pesach recipes with their community.  There has been so much positive feedback about these pamphlets year after year, that these recipes were finally published into one gorgeous cookbook.

The cookbook is divided into 10 chapters: appetizers, soup, salad, fish, poultry, meat, sides, dessert, cake & cookies, and gebrokts.  Believe it or not, almost the entire cookbook is made up of gluten free (non-gebrokts) recipes.  With so many people living with gluten allergies, this is the absolute perfect cookbook for not only Pesach, but year round use.  As a Pesach cookbook, the variety in recipes is amazing.  Many of the recipes have useful tips or little stories paired to make this book more personal.  There are even hand written notes throughout from those who have truly enjoyed these recipes after making them for friends and family.

I am a professional baker and pastry chef, so the huge dessert and cake & cookie section really impressed me.  My family and friends always expect me to prepate fabulous desserts even on Pesach when so many of my staple ingredients are off limits.  This cookbook is my new secret weapon!  I can’t wait to try the glazed chocolate cake, chocolate crinkle cookies, shehakol freezer cake, and the chocolate cupcakes!  Yum.

While the dessert section is definitely impressive, as a wife, mom, and daughter, I am equally excited by the huge salad section.  There are over 20 salad recipes to choose from. I like including salad as a part of every meal, it’s fresh, and healthy.  Pesach can feel like an eating marathon, and some meals I’m just looking for a lighter option.  I love that I can turn to this new cookbook for answers!  I’m sharing this recipe for Sweet Potato Crisps Salad from A Taste of Pesach; reprinted with permission from the copyright holders: ArtScroll/Mesorah Publications.

Sweet Potato Crisps Salad

Sweet Potato Crisps Salad
Serves: 8

  • 1 8 ounce bag Romaine lettuce
  • ½ red pepper, sliced into strips
  • ½ yellow pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 8 ounce can hearts of palm, drained
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ⅓ cup vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. imitation mustard

  1. Prepare sweet potato crisps: Peel sweet potato. Using a vegetable peeler, continue to peel wide paper-thin strips of sweet potato.
  2. Heat oil in a deep skillet. When oil is hot, add sweet potato strips a few at a time. When golden and crispy (about 5-7 minutes) remove with a slotted spoon. Can be made a few days in advance; store in an airtight container at room temperature.
  3. Prepare the dressing: Place dressing ingredients in a small container. Shake to combine.
  4. Assemble salad: Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with dressing. Place sweet potatoes on top right before serving.

Now for the amazing giveaway sponsored by ArtScroll!  Enter to win a free copy of A Taste Of Pesach! Contest open to US mailing addresses only.  One winner will be chosen at random. Giveaway ends on Monday, April 7th at 11:59PM EST. Please provide a valid email address; winner will be notified via email. Winner has 24 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Cookbook Review | 10 Comments

Tiffany Blue and White Quilted Cake

Tiffany Blue Quilted Birthday Cake

Here is a pretty, simple, and elegant birthday cake I made for a birthday.  Shira’s mother in law ordered the cake to celebrate her birthday.  She wanted it elegant but didn’t want it to look too much like a wedding cake.  We agreed that making the cake in this Tiffany blue color would be the perfect idea.  I quilted the tiers and added edible pearls for extra glam.

Gum Paste Fantasy Flowers

I had a kind of flower in mind to add to this cake.  I really wanted to add cabbage roses like the ones seen in this purple ruffle cake.  So I made them and allowed them to dry.  Then Shira’s mother in law called and decided she really loved these fantasy flowers that I had made for this black and white engagement cake.  So I started over and made these instead.  I really like how they look on this cake, and they are fun to make!  I just use different sized scalloped round cutters to form the bottom layers.  Then I used any flower cutters I could find to fill in the center.  I added a few edible pearls that I colored blue to match the cake.  Simple and gorgeous!  Happy birthday Shira!

Posted in Celebration Cakes | 5 Comments

Gumball Machine Cupcakes

Gumball Machine Cupcakes

I thought of this idea for a gumball machine cupcake a while ago.  I have seen similar ideas around, but nothing exactly like this.  Let me explain with lots of pictures how I made these cute edible favors.

Vanilla Cupcakes

I started by baking vanilla cupcakes in these cute individual paper liners.  I love these cupcake cups by Paper Eskimo.  These paper cups can be baked right on a baking sheet, no need for a special cupcake pan.

Royal Icing Topped Cupcakes

Once the cupcakes were cooled I covered the tops in royal icing and turned them directly onto these silver cardboard disks.  They are like tiny little cake boards.  I found them at my local craft store.  I allowed the icing to dry for a few hours to make sure the cupcakes were good and stuck.

Cutting Holes In Cupcake Cup Bottoms

I used a craft knife to slice holes into the bottom of the cupcake cups.  Then I poked a dowel through the slits to make the holes a little larger.  The final step is to fill a Christmas ornament with gumballs and fit it upside down into the hole of the cupcake.  I ordered my ornaments from Oriental Trading and didn’t realize they were very small.  The opening in the ornament was super tiny, and I couldn’t find gumballs small enough so I used candy coated chocolate Sixlets.

Wrapped Gumball Machine Cupcakes

They looked super cute all wrapped up!  Wilton sells these treat bags with the silver board and a ribbon (I used silver twist ties instead) in a great little pack.  Everyone loved these cute little party favors and I can’t wait to make them again.  They can be made with any color cupcake cup and filled with any colors of candy to match every party color scheme!

Posted in Cupcakes | 6 Comments

{Video} Tips On Forming Perfect Hamantaschen

I have always loved shaping hamantaschen for the holiday of Purim.  There is something so calming about trying to create perfect little triangles.  I have to say, I think I got my method down to a science.  In this video you can see how I fold the circles and pinch just the seams.  If you want my no-fail recipe, you should try my recipe for classic hamantaschen.  If you are more adventurous, I have a great recipe for peanut butter and jelly hamantaschen and pina colada hamantaschen as well.

Here are some tips I can offer on forming good looking hamantaschen.

  • I like to roll my dough out directly onto a floured piece of parchment paper so I can transfer the whole sheet onto a baking sheet as soon as the hamantaschen are formed.  It’s a lot less handling of the dough.
  • Make sure to use enough flour when rolling out your dough, or the dough will stick and the cookies will lose their shape when you try to work them into cute triangles.
  • I don’t use water or egg wash to keep the hamantaschen together, I just keep pinching the seams until they are sealed.  Try not to pinch the corners, just the top seams.
  • Use a pastry bag and straight round tip (or ziplock bag with the corner snipped off) to fill the hamantaschen.
  • Do not overfill the hamantaschen with filling. The filling puffs in the oven and will bust your perfect little triangles open.  Use about a teaspooon or two, but it really depends on how large your round cutter is.
  • For a medium sized hamantaschen, I use a round cutter that is 2 3/4 inches in diameter.  Anywhere from a 2 inch to a 3 inch round cutter will yield nice sized hamantaschen.
  • Be gentle with your dough.  Try not to stretch out your circles of dough or your hamantaschen can look misshapen.

If you have any questions or other tips, let me know in the comments!  Happy Purim!

Posted in How-To Videos | 11 Comments

Mickey and Minnie Engagement Cake

Mickey Mouse Engagement Cake

I am really proud of this cake and just realized that I never shared it here!  When my sister in law got engaged in Disney World, I knew I had to make her a Mickey Mouse themed engagement cake.  But how do I make it look elegant?  After many internet searches I came across these Mickey Mouse shaped sprinkles.  They come in a variety pack of black, white, and red sprinkles.  I made the bottom tier white, quilted it, and added black Mickey sprinkles.  Then I did the opposite for the top tier.  I finished off the cake with gum paste fantasy flowers that I made up as I went along.  They are made from different sized scalloped round cutters.  For the centers I used a flower cutter and added some black Mickey sprinkles to tie the whole theme together.  They loved their cake and most people didn’t even notice the hidden theme at first.  Mazel tov Miriam and Tuvia!

Posted in Celebration Cakes | 4 Comments

Pina Colada Hamantaschen

Pina Colada Hamantaschen

Pineapple and coconut is one of my favorite flavor combinations, so for my favorite holiday, I combined the two into the perfect pina colada hamantaschen. My favorite hamantaschen of all time are the prune flavor I make with my classic recipe.  Yet, classic hamantaschen are kind of boring lately.  So in the past I shared my recipe for peanut butter jelly hamantaschen that were a huge success!  I had this cookie idea for Purim last year, but I never got around to testing it out.  I’m glad I planned a little early this year, because here it is!

Coconut Hamantaschen with Pineapple Filling

The cookie is crispy, yet tender and soft, and full of coconut flakes.  I added coconut extract for double the flavor and intensity. The homemade pineapple filling is so easy and delicious, you won’t believe it!  I know a classic pina colada cocktail is supposed to contain rum, but I skipped it to keep it simple and kid friendly.  If you are missing it from this recipe, try adding a rum icing over the top of each cookie. Simply mix 1½ cups powdered sugar with 3 tablespoons of rum until smooth.  Then drizzle a little bit of icing over each and enjoy!

Pina Colada Hamantaschen

Coconut Dough:
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. coconut extract (I like the Lorann Coconut Bakery Emulsion)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut, slightly ground
  • ¾ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbs. pineapple juice
Pineapple Filling:
  • 1-20. oz can crushed pineapple with juice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 Tbs. corn starch
  • pinch of salt

Prepare the filling:
  1. In a medium pot, combine the canned pineapple with the juice, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Stir to make sure the sugar and cornstarch are combined. Heat the mixture on medium heat for 3-5 minutes until thickened and clear; no longer cloudy. Make sure to stir frequently so the pineapple doesn’t burn. Remove from heat, cover directly on the surface with plastic wrap so a skin does not form, and chill in the refrigerator until cool, at least 3 hours. Filling makes 2 ½ cups and can be make a few days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
Prepare the dough:
  1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the shortening with the sugar and coconut extract until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and egg yolk and mix until combined. Add in the flour, ground coconut, baking powder, and salt and slowly mix on low speed. Pour in the pineapple juice and mix until a dough is formed. You can use the dough right away. If the dough is too sticky, wrap and chill in the refrigerator for a half hour.
Form the hamantaschen:
  1. On a lightly floured surface, or on a floured sheet of parchment paper, roll out a piece of the dough until thin. Use a round cutter (2½ to 3 inch in diameter) and cut out circles of dough. Fill each round with a tsp. of filling and pinch the seams together to form a triangle. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet and bake in 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool and enjoy!

Posted in Cookies | 3 Comments

Textured Safari Birthday Cake

Textured Safari Birthday Cake

This cake was based on safari cake I made 2 years ago!  I love coming up with new ways to create similar cakes, I hate making the same cake twice.  Since then, I got a new camera and I think my photos have gotten much better!  My cake skills have also gotten better, my fondant work looks so much more polished.  To give the cake more interest, I used silicone texture mats to give the bottom tier an alligator skin look.  The polka dots on the top tier got a classic leather look.  To keep the cake fun and childlike, I added some fondant stars and fondant ribbon curls all over the cake.  The colors are really non-traditional and I love that about this first birthday cake.

Safari Celebration Cake

The cutest touch about this cake is the fondant swirled candle that tops off the birthday cake.  There is something so festive about it.  Happy first birthday William!

Posted in Celebration Cakes | 3 Comments

Monkey in the Jungle Cake

Monkey in the Jungle Cake

Themed cakes are probably my favorite to make.  I think I say that about every cake though, I really love designing cakes!  For this birthday cake I was given the birthday party invitation as inspiration.  It was shades of green and yellow with a cute monkey on it, so that’s exactly what I created.  Owen’s mom wanted a really cute monkey cake, but nothing with polka dots or anything too childish.  She loved the idea of palm trees and grass and I love how those features came out.  I gave the grass and tree trunks some texture with a special textured rolling pin that is meant to look like fabric.

Gum Paste Monkey Cake Topper

Here is a closer look at the hand cut gum paste monkey topper.  I also hand cut the number one and the light green “Owen” sign.  I used white gel food coloring to paint a graphic stitch mark around the edges, but it’s a little hard to see it in the picture.  Happy first birthday Owen!

Posted in Celebration Cakes | 3 Comments

Lemon Ginger Whisky Fizz

Lemon Ginger Whisky Fizz

I don’t often share drink recipes over here, and I’m not really sure why.  I love coming up with drink recipes, it’s just as fun as cooking and baking, and it’s definitely an art and a skill I’m always trying to master.  Recently, we received a SodaStream as a gift to replace all the bottles of soda and seltzer we were always schlepping home.  After sampling almost every flavor of soda syrup and not being impressed, I wondered if I could make my own syrups.  I love ginger-ale and sprite and wanted to use those two sodas as inspiration.  I boiled a batch of lemon ginger simple syrup and let it chill in the fridge for a few hours. Then I mixed a few tablespoons of my syrup with the soda water, poured it over ice and enjoyed my fresh glass of lemon ginger soda.  Yum!

Lemon Ginger Whisky Fizz

I could have just stopped there and been a happy camper, but then I thought of my husband and his favorite drink, the whisky sour.  I wondered what would happen if I added some Kentucky straight bourbon whisky to the lemon ginger soda.  Success!  It was more of a whisky sour soda than just a straight cocktail, but my husband polished it off and I knew I had created something exciting and delicious.

Lemon Ginger Whisky Fizz
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 8

Lemon Ginger Simple Syrup
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup (2 oz.) fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • zest of one lemon
Lemon Ginger Whisky Fizz
  • 4 ounces lemon ginger simple syrup
  • 1 ounce Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky
  • 4 ounces soda water

Lemon Ginger Simple Syrup
  1. Combine the sugar, water, lemon juice, ginger, and lemon zest in a small pot. Heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and allow the ginger and lemon zest to steep for 10-15 minutes. Strain the syrup and allow to cool in the fridge.
Lemon Ginger Whisky Fizz
  1. Fill a glass with ice. Pour the simple syrup and whisky over the ice. Top off with the soda water and enjoy!

Posted in Beverages | 4 Comments

Pink Ombre Sugar Cookies

Pink Ombre Heart Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookies are so versatile, they can really be made in any shape and color.  I’ve even used this recipe to make stained glass or window cookies and it worked like a charm.  Icing and sprinkles can make for a really cute cookie but these cookies are delicious fresh out of the oven, just simple and classically delicious.  I have dyed my sugar cookie dough before to make patriotic cookie pops and loved how those looked.  I thought that ombre heart sugar cookies would be perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Pink Ombre Sugar Cookie Dough

I started by mixing up a batch of my perfect sugar cookie dough.  Then I divided into three parts; you can do this by eye, but they happen to be 1 pound each if you have a kitchen scale.  Then I used Americolor gel paste to dye each piece of dough.  I used deep pink, hot pink, and tulip red to achieve these colors.

Cutting Out Ombre Sugar Cookie Dough

Starting with the darkest color, I cut out large hearts.  Then I cut out the centers using a medium heart shaped cutter.  I set those aside.  On a second piece of parchment paper, I rolled out the medium colored dough.  I used the medium sized cookie cutter and cut out lots of hearts.  Then I used the smallest heart shape cutter to cut out the centers.  I put these hearts into the freezer while I worked on the smallest hearts.  On a third piece of parchment, I rolled out the lightest pink dough and cut out the smallest hearts.  Place these in the freezer as well.  Now it’s time to assemble.

Ombre Heart Sugar Cookie Assembly

Start with the largest hearts, insert the frozen medium sized hearts inside.  Then insert the smallest hearts in the center.  Bake for about 8 minutes; the separate colors will bake together, forming a solid cookie.  I realized I could make the ombre go both ways, from light to dark, and from dark to light, and that would use up all of the dough equally.  The center color remains the same.  You just need to roll half of the darkest color out and cut it with the largest heart cutter.  Use the other half of the darkest color for the smallest heart. Then repeat with the lightest color of dough.

Ombre Heart Sugar Cookies

I can’t decide which pattern I like better, they are both so cute!  I’m glad I went with both, that way I don’t have to choose.

Cookie Snacking Time

My son Charlie really enjoys these cookies.  He couldn’t wait for his turn to be in the picture!

Posted in Cookies | 3 Comments