• Gluten-free, Vegan Hermits
    Cookies,  Desserts,  Gluten-free,  Snacks,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Gluten-Free, Vegan Hermits

    To get a really great gluten-free vegan cookie, start with a really great cookie. One that plays well with gluten-free flour and won’t miss the eggs. In this case, it’s Dick’s Hermits. Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside, these classic New England molasses-spice cookies make the mouth tingle with delight. My mother-in-law Dorothy, nicknamed “Dick,” (see Dick’s Coffee Cake for that story) spoiled her kids with these cookies. With a little culinary sleight of hand, we now can spoil just about everybody. It doesn’t take much—just gluten-free “1-1” flour (from Trader Joe’s or King Arthur Baking Company, for example) and a little ground flaxseed. The flour swaps cup-for-cup for all-purpose…

  • Julia Child's Madeleines
    Cookies,  Desserts,  Other,  Snacks

    Julia Child’s Madeleines

    In the early 1900s, author Marcel Proust wrote 1,267,069 words in his seven-volume masterpiece In Search of Lost Time. And yet “madeleine” is the word that made him famous. Madeleines, little tea cakes baked in scallop molds, have been delighting the French since the 18th Century. And it was Proust who made them popular worldwide. She [my mother] sent out for one of those short, plump little cakes called ‘petites madeleines,’ which look as though they had been moulded in the fluted scallop of a pilgrim’s shell….And once I had recognized the taste of the crumb of madeleine soaked in her decoction of lime-flowers which my aunt used to give me…the whole of Combray…

  • Meringue Cradle Cake
    Breakfast,  Cakes,  Desserts,  Pastries,  Snacks

    Meringue Cradle Cake

    Fit for a celebration, Meringue Cradle Cake evokes all the drama of a layered pastry, yet it comes together as if by magic. A crust of chocolate-flecked meringue covers a luxurious golden cake. It looks complicated, but the heavenly contrast of crispy and tender springs from the simple alchemy of separating egg whites and yolks. Rarely have eggs performed so many tricks in one cake. Yolks pump up the flavor, moisten the crumb, and deepen the color. Whites whip into a brilliant built-in meringue topping. Everything gets used, so there’s no need for egg-white omelets later. Contrary to what others report, this recipe has nothing to do with the Baby Jesus. We discovered it…

  • Spiced Pecans
    Appetizers,  Candy,  Desserts,  Passover,  Vegan

    Spiced Pecans

    Except for those with nut allergies (apologies to one of our nieces) or those who avoid cinnamon (apologies to one of our nephews), just about everybody loves pecans with a sugar-spice crunch. The coating elevates the nuts to a luxurious treat—in just a few minutes and with the simplest ingredients. We like to give these away at Christmas, but they also make a perfect sweet for Passover. What’s more, they qualify as vegan and gluten-free without even trying. This recipephany came from The Boston Globe’s Confidential Chat (or informally, “Chatters”). An early form of social media, the column connected readers who mailed in recipe requests, recipes, and good-ole-fashioned kitchen advice. The Globe retired this…

  • Chocolate Cups With Chocolate Mascarpone
    Candy,  Desserts,  Gluten-free,  Pudding,  Snacks

    Chocolate Whipped Mascarpone in Dark Chocolate Mini Cups

    Our daughter once gave us a box of imported chocolate mini cups, which made any filling an instant dessert. Turns out, if you can melt chocolate you can make them yourself. Paint the inside of small paper baking cups with melted bittersweet chocolate, let harden, then strip off the paper. The crisp accordion pleats make these cups look so much like paper liners, your guests will try to peel them off. It’s such fun—the opposite of fake food. It’s both a craft project and a dessert. Better yet, fill these petite cups with mascarpone chocolate cream and you get a dreamy, deep chocolate that melts away with each heavenly bite. Mascarpone—the milder and creamier…

  • Breakfast,  Cakes,  Desserts,  Muffins,  Other,  Snacks

    Tibetan Bon Bons (Baked “Donuts”)

    Tasting just like donuts but without the mess of frying, these gems originated in the rustic hearth of the Nangzhik Monastery in Tibet. The monks offered these “righteously delicious” little cakes to pilgrims so they could keep up their strength and spirits on their strenuous hikes. The monastery subsequently became a Tibetan “Trek Stop,” welcoming travelers from around the world. One such adventurer, the famed J. Peterman, cracked the monk’s secret recipe in 1983 and named the small cakes “Tibetan Bon Bons” after Tibet’s ancient religion, Bon. He identified the secret ingredient, the key to the tender crumb and depth of flavor: finely chopped tart apples stirred into the batter. Actually, none of that…

  • Rugelach
    Cookies,  Desserts,  Pastries,  Snacks

    Rugelach with Raspberry Jam, Pecans and Mini Chocolate Chips

    Rugelach, the little rolled-up pastries filled with all manner of jams, nuts and goodies, have gone beyond their Jewish roots into general circulation. They’ve become so mainstream that cookie maven Dorie Greenspan, who apparently had trouble with the pronunciation, tried renaming them “Friendship Cookies” in one of her books. The chutzpah! Good thing Dorie’s rebranding didn’t stick. We should preserve the Yiddish, which means “little twist,” or “little horn.” Like “bubbellah.” a pet name my parents called me, “rugelach” has some sweet affection built right in. To make it even cuter, it’s both singular and plural, like “moose” or “Red Sox.” No, this recipephany didn’t come from my strudel-baking grandmother Lena. Instead, it’s from…

  • Liza Lou's Kitchen
    Desserts,  Other,  Pies,  Vegan

    Liza Lou’s Sparkly Museum-Quality Cherry Pie

    The thunderbolt of a recipephany can strike when you least expect it. This one walloped us during a visit to New York’s famous Whitney Museum. It’s a gem of a pie inspired by Liza Lou’s Kitchen, a full-scale vintage kitchen completely bedazzled in colorfully sparkling glass beads. The Art Brilliant and beguiling, Kitchen takes us to an enchanted world. Every object, every surface radiates joy. Even the dishes in the sink, soaking in the swirl of Starry Night-style beaded dishwater, gleam with the richness of the Crown Jewels. I define art as something that looks like it took a really long time to make. No doubt about it here. Lou spent five years in…

  • Cookies,  Desserts,  Gluten-free,  Other,  Passover,  Snacks

    Leah’s Fudgy, Flourless Chocolate-Almond Macaroons

    There’s no denying it—every fudgy bite of this flourless almond cookie says it’s the Macaroon’s Macaroon. I grew up thinking macaroons were those sugary coconut mounds sold in cans during Passover. They were such a holiday ritual that there should have been a spot for them on our Seder Plate. They were okay, but who’d ever want to eat them the rest of the year? Then along came “macarons,” the French almond-meringue, attitude-filled confections that look like pastel rainbows in pastry cases. They no doubt dropped the “o” to distance themselves from their macaroon relatives and signal that they are très cher. They make a lovely occasional treat, but nothing I’d ever crave. Now,…

  • Fudge squares
    Cakes,  Cookies,  Desserts

    Fudge Squares

    Baking in a tiny RV is a bit like being marooned on a desert island. We have limited space for tools and supplies. And not every recipe works under survival conditions. It has to have few ingredients, require minimal equipment, and bake without complaint in our small convection/microwave oven. On our trek West, I came to realize which recipes are my true loves—the cakes, breads and cookies I can’t live without. The revelation is like the finale of a cheesy rom-com, except there’s no race to the airport before the plane takes off. My heart and head picked a dear old favorite, fudge squares. A snack-style cake that looks and cuts like brownies, it…

  • Breakfast,  Desserts,  Egg dishes,  Pancakes,  Pastries

    Jennifer’s Dutch Babies

    If you like popovers, you’ll love these babies. These eggy, pie-shaped puffs need only a squirt of lemon juice, a shake of confectioner’s sugar, and some fresh fruit or jam to make a dramatic breakfast entrance. But “Dutch” Babies? Some say the name came from a corruption of “Deutsch,” since they resemble German pancakes. The Dutch also make Pannenkoeken with a similar batter, although they look more like crepes. Frankly, these are likely neither German nor Dutch. We contend that Dutch Babies are really Yorkshire Pudding in disguise. They’re sizzled in butter instead of meat drippings, and served for breakfast instead of with meat and gravy for dinner. If you wonder how a puffy…

  • Desserts,  Pies

    Chocopecankin Pie, the “Turducken” of Desserts

    The Turducken—a deboned chicken stuffed inside a deboned duck stuffed inside a deboned turkey—makes a showstopping Thanksgiving centerpiece. Carving it is a parlor trick at the dinner table, but the dish owes its popularity to its quirky mashed-up name. Remember Brody’s Second Law of Marketing: If you can’t name it, you can’t sell it. (Honestly, though, didn’t anyone consider its first four letters?) Ten years ago at Thanksgiving, our daughter Claire posed an intriguing question. With all the choices on the dessert table, why isn’t there a pie version of Turducken? And thus, she created the Chocopecankin Pie. Claire designed it like a target so that every slice—like the Turducken—would include each pie. To…

  • Cakes,  Cookies,  Desserts,  Other

    King Arthur Flour Chewy Whole Wheat Brownies: The Lost Recipe

    To: Bill Tine, Vice President of Marketing, King Arthur Baking CompanyFrom: Diane Brody, Recipephany.comSubject: Permission to Publish Recipe for Whole Wheat BrowniesDate: October 29, 2020, 1:20 PM Dear Bill, I have been a loyal subject of King Arthur for nearly 50 years, starting when I was your company’s account manager at the Boston PR firm, Robert Weiss Associates. My highlight was placing your affable bread-baking evangelist Bert Porter on talk shows. Already popular with New England audiences, this buttoned-down, down-home “Mr. King Arthur” required no selling on my part. Who else could demonstrate how to make a loaf of bread so well—even over the radio? As a bonus, I snagged Bert as my own…

  • Biscuits,  Breakfast,  Cookies,  Crackers,  Desserts,  Other,  Snacks,  Vegan

    Grahammies: Great Homemade Graham Crackers

    “How wacky,” you say. “You don’t make graham crackers, you make things with graham crackers—like s’mores and pie crusts. Why bother?” It’s no bother, and it’s totally worth it. A homemade graham cracker is like homemade pasta. Once you bite in, you can’t believe it could taste—and make you feel—that good. This recipe bakes up a graham cracker that’s crisp and sweet, with a toasted wheatiness and tang of molasses. Sure it’s familiar—you’ve had something like it before, from a box. But this is the real thing. This Boston Globe recipe lay dormant for 42 years in my recipe box. When I dug it out and gave it a whirl recently, it was like…

  • Cakes,  Desserts

    Queen of Sheba Cake (Julia Child’s Reine de Saba Gateau)

    This voluptuously moist French pastry-shop chocolate gateau has just enough structure to qualify as cake, but otherwise could pass for a chocolate truffle for 12.  A shiny glaze doubles down on the chocolate, making sure that no part of your palate escapes the wave of deep dark flavor. Prepare for a totally immersive chocolate experience. Julia Child wrote that Reine de Saba (Queen of Sheba) was the first French cake she ever ate, and she devoted her 100th show of The French Chef to this recipe way back in December 1965. First aired on WGBH-TV in Boston, this seminal cooking series went nationwide, catapulting Julia to culinary icon, and then on to her current…

  • Cakes,  Desserts,  Pudding

    Lemon Sponge Pudding Cakes for Lemon Sponge Pie Lovers

    You’ve heard me gush about “Ma’s Lemon Sponge Pie” for years. The tart and creamy lemon filling merges with an ethereal fluff that rises to the top as the pie bakes. So you’ve got the lemon curd on the bottom blending into an airy sponge cake that browns Maillard-style to add a hint of caramel. Lemon sponge pie is far better than lemon meringue pie in my book, since meringue can be wet, weepy, and have the foamy texture of something expelled by an undersea creature. A couple months ago, our friends Pam and Adam had us over for a splendid dinner of grilled delights on their rooftop patio. I brought Ma’s pie. They…

  • Desserts,  Passover,  Snacks,  Sorbet,  Vegan

    Leah’s Blood Orange Sorbet (Without an Ice Cream Machine)

    Sweet, tangy, and gorgeous in the bowl, this blood orange sorbet is stunningly delicious. Despite its ease, you won’t find better, even at a high-end restaurant. That’s because it was scientifically formulated by Leah Greenwald, Chief Food Technology Advisor at the Recipephany Test Kitchens. A curiosity about the science of cooking drives Leah to analyze, hypothesize and improve her recipes. She has been a great help here at Recipephany and is our own J. Kenji López-Alt (author of The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science). Coincidentally, they both studied architecture at MIT. But Leah (introduced to you in her recipephany for lemon vinaigrette) is an architect, mother of triplets, and a five-time champion on…

  • Breads,  Desserts,  Egg dishes,  Muffins,  Passover,  Pastries,  Snacks

    Whose Passover Popovers Win You Over?

    Before Passover is over, treat yourself to some popovers. Judy Geller, a dream client and the mastermind behind many industry-leading conferences and events, introduced me to these years ago. We would meet at a cafe where I could spread out advertising concepts and layouts for her to review. Then we’d linger and talk about family, holidays, and her family’s Passover Popover recipe. These popovers are so delicious, so un-Passover-ish, we might as well just call them “bread” and be done with the pretense. The other day when I called to ask if I could post the recipe, Judy asked, “Which one?” To my surprise, she has not one, but two family recipes for Passover…

  • Desserts,  Egg dishes,  Pies,  Snacks

    Caramel Custard Flan

    Ceci n’est pas une pie. It’s Pi Day. Ordinarily I’d bake a pie, but with the new “social distancing,” the two of us would have to eat the whole thing. So instead, I made some comforting caramel custard—AKA “flan”—from a forgotten can of Magnolia Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk in the pantry. The can had gone several months past its “best by” date, but rest assured the quality was fine and I had no sense of Russian food roulette. It really burns me how those dates trigger so much needless waste. Using this lost and forlorn can sparked joy—Marie Kondo-style—by both freeing up shelf space and inspiring this dessert. This recipe came right off the…

  • Cakes,  Desserts,  Snacks,  Vegan

    Sweetheart (please make me a) 1-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

    How about a Valentine’s Day quickie? Make a warm, double-chocolate little “mug cake” for your sweetie any time he or she implores you. Betty Crocker, that tart, makes it possible with her “Super-Moist Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix.” Measure some mix into a mug or small bowl. Stir in water and chocolate chips. Watch it circle around in the microwave for up to 60 seconds. Cool slightly—the chocolate chips will stay gooey—then top with whipped cream. Most of all, it means less time in the kitchen—a lovely indulgence for both of you. Sweetheart 1-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake Adapted from Joy Bauer’s “3-Ingredient Chocolate Mug Cake,” Savory Magazine (Stop and Shop), January 2020, p.39 Recipe doubles…

  • Candy,  Desserts

    Oscars 2020: Fudge v Ferraro Rocher

    It’s Oscars time, and we’re shifting our puns into high gear. My pick for Best Picture, Ford v Ferrari, has inspired Fudge v Ferraro Rocher, a chocolate-fueled dessert competition to help us reach the finish line without colliding into awards-night boredom. This head-to-head contest will pit hand-crafted fudge made from All-American Hershey’s cocoa against the iconic chocolate-hazelnut candy from the Ferraro company, Italy’s own Big Chocolate. To challenge a best-seller from the people who invented Nutella takes some chutzpah—especially since I’ve never attempted fudge before. Sure, there are quick fudge recipes that call for three ingredients: sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips and nuts. But no, I had to choose the thrill of making a…

  • Desserts,  Pies

    Meri’s Berries

    Is it a crumble or a crisp? A cobbler or a grunt? Or maybe a slump? Whatever the name, it’s a fruit pie without a traditional pie crust. It frees us from rolling, crimping, and the customary fretting about flakiness. And let’s face it…sometimes we just prefer more fruit and less pastry. With Meri’s Berries, you toss together a crumbly dough that bakes into a crisp cookie-like topping. Sugar and flour in the dough combine with the berry juice to turn it a bit syrupy. This syrup won’t get as thick as pie filling does, but then again there’s no crust to make soggy. Meri Cayem shared this recipe back when our sons, both…

  • Dick's Hermit Cookies
    Cookies,  Desserts,  Gluten-free

    Dick’s Hermits

    How did these classic New England molasses-spice cookies come to be called “hermits”? Some say it’s because they kept well when hidden away on ocean voyages. Others think they resemble hermits’ robes. Let’s just chalk it up to the region’s wacky names. For instance, Rhode Islanders call milkshakes “cabinets,” and they don’t have a good explanation for that, either. Since my mother-in-law Dorothy (known as Dick) grew up in western Massachusetts, the heart of hermit country, these cookies may have been passed down from her mom. My husband usually beat his siblings to them, often stealing a couple right off the cooling rack. When he introduced me to these these tender bars—completely new to…

  • Dad's Favorite Coffee Cake
    Breakfast,  Cakes,  Desserts

    “Dad’s Favorite Coffee Cake”

    If Do-It-Yourself were an Olympic sport, my father-in-law would have won gold. To Louis (everyone knew him as “Louie”), every chance to fix the unfixable was an opportunity to achieve a personal best. As a contractor, he could do everything. He was a wiring wizard and mechanical mastermind. To solve a problem, he would cobble together ingenious gadgets out of scraps from his garage. When he was in his 80s, he even developed a computer program for doing his taxes. So why was I surprised to hear that he baked? I suppose it’s because his wife Dorothy (everyone called her “Dick,” a nickname coined by her little brother) kept the household swimming in brownies,…

  • Cakes,  Cookies,  Desserts

    Chocolate Mini-Donuts

    Do we really need another recipe for chocolate cake besides our definitive Black Magic Cake, the first Recipephany? Yes, because we also need chocolate mini-donuts drenched in chocolate ganache. Black Magic makes ultra-moist full-sized cakes, but is doesn’t work so well for tiny sweets. With this recipephany, you can make these intensely chocolatey cuties in the time it takes to bake a batch of cookies. These mini-donuts have a lot going for them. Besides looking adorable on a dessert plate, they’re great for portion control. Instead of cutting a whopping slab of cake, you can pick up one of these and dispatch it in a couple of genteel bites. Then you can go back and…