Tag Archives: dessert

Peppermint Hot Cocoa Challah

Yield:
1 large loaf or 2 smaller loaves

hot cocoa challah w text

The holiday season is sort of a strange time for me. Like many American Jews, I grew up celebrating both Christmas and Hanukkah. When I decided to firmly embrace my Jewish side, I felt like I had to give up Christmas and some of the secular joys of the holiday season. To complicate matters, Christmas reminds me terribly of my mother who passed away when I was sixteen, and so while it is a connection to her, it is a bittersweet memory.

My mom really got into holidays – all holidays – whether it was Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas, she was ready with some tacky earrings, decorative salt shakers and surely an ugly sweater or two as well. She loved Christmas music, and from early December through New Year’s we would be subjected to a rotation of possibly the two worst Christmas albums ever made: Johnny Matthis and Amy Grant. I cringe just thinking about those CDs of hers.

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Nevertheless, the season is bittersweet as I balance my desire to connect to these memories of my mother, participate in some kind of festive activities while maintaining the strong Jewish identity of my family. I admittedly tread a fine line: baking holiday cookies every year for my husband’s office, (though not in red or green or Santa shapes) listening to The Nutcracker with my daughter and combining the flavors of chocolate and peppermint in various forms to pay homage to the season. After all, should Christians really get to drink all the skinny peppermint mochas at Starbucks!?

Two years ago I started making a chocolate peppermint bundt cake that my husband and I absolutely adored. And while I have been whipping up lots of batches of peppermint hot cocoa for my little one, I wanted to take these flavors to the next level by adding them to, what else: challah.

What makes this challah so special is not only the deep dark chocolate dough, or the melty,chocolate chips inside, but also the super gooey marshmallows dotting the top. When my daughter spotted the finished product her eyes lit up and she wanted to break into the chocolaty masterpiece right away. Who am I to say no, especially when it makes for such an adorable picture. And yes, she is wearing her ballet costume because she had been practicing her Nutcracker dance moves.

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It may not be overtly Christmas-y, nor is it exactly what I did with my mother. But somehow creating something new, that touches upon the joy and spirit of the holiday season, brings me comfort, connects me to my past and allows me to create new memories for my family.

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Peppermint Hot Cocoa Challah

Posted on December 22, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Beer Battered Pumpkin Rings

Hanukkah would have to be my favorite time of year. I was born on the fifth night and I even got married on my birthday! No, I don’t usually get three presents, but I always felt lucky to be surrounded by so much mazal on my wedding day.

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With so much to celebrate during the holiday I try to switch things up during all the frying. There’s only so many latkes and jelly donuts you can eat (ok, maybe not). Fried zucchini parmesan chips have become a family favorite, so this year, I decided to go sweet with a different type of fried veggie: delicata squash.

pumpkin rings prep

Delicata squash is such an easy squash to prepare because the peel is edible, so you can just slice and bake – or fry! To take the squash flavor a step further, I decided to make a pumpkin beer batter and I finish it off with a Greek yogurt dipping sauce, to honor the Hanukkah miracle, and the tradition of eating dairy during the holiday. I love how they look just like donuts, but you get to without quite as much guilt because, after all, you’re really getting in a serving of veggies.

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Beer Battered Pumpkin Rings

Posted on December 11, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Peanut Butter & Jelly Donuts

single PB&J sufganiya4

Donuts were never really my thing. That is, until I was pregnant a few years ago and my husband brought me to New York City’s famous Doughnut Plant where I sampled several amazing flavors, including their peanut butter & jelly variety. I was in love, and it wasn’t just the pregnancy hormones.

Check out my elated face.

Shannon w doughnut

So this year when I was thinking about something fun and sweet to make for Hanukkah, I knew I wanted to try my hand at making an Israeli-style sufganiya, but with a classic American flavor pairing. After all, who doesn’t love peanut butter and jelly?! And most importantly, I love it, and I loved making these donuts. They were so delicious I might have eaten two. (I did).

If you have a peanut allergy in your family, you can swap out the peanut butter for almond butter, cashew butter or even sunflower butter. Instead of adding chopped peanuts to the top, add chopped salted almonds or cashews.

PB&J sufganiyot1

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Peanut Butter & Jelly Donuts

Posted on December 8, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Milk Chocolate Butterscotch Monster Cookies

Yield:
3 dozen cookies

Halloween is almost here, did you know? Hard not to notice with pumpkins, spiders and candy corn everywhere.

And Halloween actually falls on Shabbat later this week, which for some people, I know, will be problematic. Some Jews don’t think we should celebrate Halloween at all. And some Jews think American Jews can and should embrace the celebration.

Milk chocolate monster cookies

I fall into the camp of celebrating and I just love making fun treats, especially now that I have a daughter to share in the fun. And last week I made cookies that are equal parts fun for kids and delicious for adults. I brought a batch of these cookies to my share with family this past weekend, and by Sunday, they were totally gone; even all the skinny, dieting women in my family devoured them.

I love baking with dark chocolate usually, but these milk chocolate and butterscotch cookies are seriously delicious. The dark cocoa powder sets off the sweetness of the milk chocolate. I also like to add a pinch of thick sea salt before baking, which really elevates the flavor.

Want to add the candy eyes? They are made by Wilton and you can easily order them on Amazon. Another tip: I swear by using Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder.

milk chocolate monster cookies

This recipe is based on Martha Stewat’s Milk Chocolate Cookie Recipe, which can be found in her cookbook Martha Stewart’s Cookies: The Very Best Baking Treats to Bake and to Share

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Milk Chocolate Butterscotch Monster Cookies

Posted on October 27, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

S’mores Brownies

Yield:
6-8 servings

It’s no great secret that I hate pareve desserts. Or perhaps I should more accurately say: I hate bad pareve desserts. Some might even say I have made it my mission in life to dream up pareve desserts that don’t suck. And this brownie recipe is one of those.

While I generally prefer boxed brownie mixes (gasp!), this brownie recipe is nearly a match. But if you would rather use a boxed mix in this recipe, you can and should. No one will know you didn’t whip it up from scratch. If you do make it from scratch, you will be surprised how easy this recipe is to throw together, even at the very last minute.

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I love enjoying these brownies with a relaxing cup of tea after dinner, with a glass of milk as an indulgent afternoon treat and they are especially delicious if you store them in the fridge so they are cool and fudgy. Did I mention these brownies are great when made nondairy? Your guests won’t even know they are pareve.

This recipe is based on Martha Stewart’s recipe for Fudgy Chocolate Brownies

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S'mores Brownies

Posted on October 14, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Pumpkin Spice Babka

Yield:
3 babka loaves

pumpkin babka

Everyone loves pumpkin these days, eh? Every cafe carries their own version of a pumpkin latte and pumpkin-themed candies overflow on supermarket shelves this time of year. ‘Tis truly the season of pumpkin, and I am not really complaining.

I love finding news ways to cook and bake with pumpkin including white pumpkin cheddar ale soup, pumpkin pizza and pumpkin corn ricotta enchiladas, which is a perfect dish this time of year when pumpkin is first coming into season and fresh corn is still in abundance at local farmers markets. Some other fun pumpkin recipes to try? Pumpkin Flan, pumpkin challah and of course some classic pumpkin bread.

pumpkin babka

As with many recipes I dream up, I was merely staring in my fridge when a leftover can of pumpkin puree sparked the idea: pumpkin babka!

Well, I whipped up a batch of babka dough, impatiently let it rise, and filled it with pumpkin puree, brown sugar and cinnamon. After 35 minutes of baking, my apartment smelled like a perfect piece of autumn heaven, and a new pumpkin recipe was born.

This babka is perfect to serve at your Yom Kippur break-fast, brunch gatherings or just with a cup of coffee for breakfast. Because you can use canned pumpkin, you can make this recipe year-round, so you can enjoy a little slice of pumpkin spice even when pumpkins aren’t in season.

How to roll babka

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Pumpkin Spice Babka

Posted on September 29, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Sour Cream Apple Coffee Cake

When the nice folks at The Nosher asked me to share my favorite Rosh Hashanah recipe, I knew exactly what I wanted to share. And it made me realize that there are meals and desserts, that – no matter how delicious or well-loved – I only make at specific times of year. This cake is a perfect example.sour-cream-apple-cof-cake-3

Moist and tender, not overly sweet, and laced with a heavenly streusel topping and filling, this coffee cake has got it all. And it’s super easy too.

sour-cream-apple-cof-cake-5Yet I only trot it out during the New Year. Sometimes it’s a Rosh Hashanah dessert, sometimes it’s served at break fast. But I never make it at any other time. I think that’s what makes it extra special. You can fill this cake with sliced pears, peaches or apples – but I use the apples, in keeping with the tradition of the New Year. And if I’m feeling extra cheeky, I’ll use Honey Crisps. As this cake also freezes beautifully you can make it in advance, saving a little work when preparing your holiday meal.

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I hope you enjoy it – maybe it will become a holiday tradition for you too (but I won’t judge if you make it in January….).

This recipe is adapted from The Cake Bible. You will need a 9 inch springform pan to make it. 

Sour Cream Apple Coffee Cake

Posted on September 2, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Best of Summer Ice Pops

Even though Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah seem like they are just around the corner, summer isn’t quite over yet and so there are still plenty of cool treats to enjoy.

Forget ice cream – ice pops are definitely the new ‘it’ treat. Like ice cream, the flavor combinations are endless. But unlike ice cream, it’s much simpler to make a quality ice pop than to make ice cream with great flavor and the right consistency.

All you need is an ice pop mold, a great recipe and just a little patience. Try any one of these beautiful, delicious ice pop recipes and take your summer up a notch, that is, before it really is over.

iced coffee ice pops

Iced Coffee Ice Pops from Sheri Silver

Root Beer Float Pops from Sheri Silver

strawberru coconut pops

Strawberry Coconut Pops from Gluten-Flee

Homemade Fudge Pops from Brown Eyed Baker

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Halva Popsicles from Molly Yeh

Watermelon Ice Pops from Jeanne Benedict

Strawberry Lemonade Greek Yogurt Pops from Naomi Sugar

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Posted on August 14, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Very Berry Shortcake

Yield:
10-12 servings

Berry season is a very happy time of year for me and my family. Both my daughter and I adore fresh berries and for the second year in a row our family enjoyed picking strawberries from a local New Jersey farm together. Of course my daughter does far more eating than picking, but that’s all part of the fun.

While we mostly enjoy eating the strawberries with breakfast, in smoothies or as a snack, I was hankering for a special berry dessert this year.

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I grew up eating traditional strawberry shortcakes, made often with Bisquick mix and lots of freshly whipped cream.

But my own preference is for moist, spongy CAKE. So my version of berry shortcake includes a triple layer of simple white cake, made from my dear friend Brittany Wayne’s recipe. Layered with macerated strawberries and simple whipped cream and the result is a taste of summer indulgence at its finest. Who cares if it isn’t quite traditional; to me it’s even better.

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Very Berry Shortcake

Posted on July 2, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Strawberry Lemonade Greek Yogurt Pops

Yield:
8-10 popsicles

After living in New York City for nearly nine years I rarely sigh and complain with the refrain “only in New York.” Most of the time the hustle and bustle of NYC is music to my ears. And many days I walk down the street in awe of this city, it’s rhythm, energy and totally unique personality. But last summer, I had one of those “only in New York” experiences.

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I was walking to pick up my little one from daycare when two adorable siblings caught my attention with their home-made lemonade stand. These kids were excellent salespeople, and since I cannot resist homemade lemonade, I opted for a cup (for more than a dollar, hello New York!) and asked the kids what they were doing with the money. In my day, we either donated the money to charity, or bought a fun, new beach toy. Not these kids. They were on the fast track to Harvard. Filled with pride, the precocious 10 year old told me she is planning to donate her portion to pediatric cancer research (amen, sister) and her younger brother (all of six or seven years old) was saving up for his college education. Good for them. A combined age of 17 and these kids were doing it right. They had created a complete brand for their lemonade sale, were strategically placed, and not afraid to tout their business and fundraising plan. Well played, kids, well played. Alas, only in New York is lemonade more than a dollar, and a literal investment in a child’s future.

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These popsicles are a hybrid of my childhood memories, and also my NYC surroundings. They are sweet, tart, refreshing and just a touch more sophisticated than your average popsicle.

If you have leftovers (which I did) try filling the ice cube tray and popping it in the freezer. This way, you have tiny little treats whenever you want – they’re the perfect size for toddlers, and a delicious addition to your morning cup of orange juice.

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Strawberry Lemonade Greek Yogurt Pops

Posted on June 24, 2014

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy