Pizza Bianca

On my recent trip to Italy, I was prepared to eat some amazing food. And I was especially prepared for some great pizza. What I wasn’t prepared for was how much I would fall in love with pizza bianca. Now, pre-Italy, when I thought of pizza bianca I though of white pizza – that is, pizza with a white sauce or olive oil in place of the usual red pizza sauce. But in Italy, pizza bianca is pizza dough served without any toppings, aside from some olive oil and sea salt. I like a good crust as much (ok, probably more) than the next person, but the idea of just eating plain pizza crust wasn’t too thrilling for me. Until I tried it. It is a typical breakfast in Italy, and when we tried it on our first morning I was instantly hooked. With just the perfect ratio of crisp, crunchy outside to soft chewy inside, I realized pizza bianca was a testament to how simple – done well – can be completely transformative. The second we got home I was looking up recipes to replicate this perfect breakfast.  Continue reading “Pizza Bianca”

Angel Food Cake with Lemon Icing and Strawberries

So, Labor Day is tomorrow, and while it’s the unofficial end of summer, I WILL NOT LET SUMMER BE OVER YET. To prove that it’s still summer (at least in my house), I made this cheery angel food cake full of sunny flavors. Even if fall is looming, it can still be summer in your mouth. And since no one really wants to do actual labor over Labor Day weekend, this cake is easy as pie to make (actually much easier!). This cake really makes you understand why they call it angel food – it is truly a heavenly dessert. The cake itself is light and airy while still being flavorful. The lemon icing really brightens things up, and is substantial without weighing down the cake. And the strawberries are the cherry on top… but you know, strawberries. Ok, I’ll stop using food idioms to describe similar but different foods.

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S’mores Cupcakes

I love summer, and I love the Olympics. And I really love the summer Olympics. But this year I will be in Italy for the bulk of the Olympics (I know, poor me), so I will be binging more on pasta and gelato than international sporting (again, poor me). So for my pre-Italy post I wanted to give a nod to both America (go Team USA!) and our rapidly dwindling summer. And what dessert says summer in the States than S’mores? None come to my mind. While I do want to keep this post short and sweet after last week’s behemoth, a recipe for S’mores seemed to be mailing it in just a bit too much. So I present, S’Mores cupcakes! These little guys honor the wonderful merging of favors of s’mores, as well as the sensory fun.

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Blackberry Lime Pie with Gruyere Crust

“Holy Moly!*” That’s what Andrew exclaimed upon his first bite of this pie, and I think it’s a pretty apt expression of my thoughts on it as well. (*He didn’t say moly…) This pie will be the gold standard against which I judge all my other pies. And professional’s pies, for that matter. This has been my favorite crust for a while, because, c’mon. Gruyere + buttery, flaky layers of pie crust? What’s not to love? Gruyere is less greasy than cheddar cheese, the more popular cheese for pie crust, and lends such a nice savory element to balance out sweet-tart pie filling. But the filling was new, and man, holy moly is right. Previously I’d only made apple pies with the crust, which were great, but the crust far outshone the filling. But this blackberry lime filling is different. It is a star in its own right–I literally licked the leftover filling off my place after every slice. And I’m not using literally figuratively.  This filling is the perfect compliment to the crust, with each bringing out the best of the other.

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Crunchy-Chewy Sugar Cookies

Ahh, sugar cookies. While one of my favorite types of cookies, I almost never eat them. While I think it’s hard to mess up a chocolate chip cookie, I think it’s difficult to make a good sugar cookie. It seems like every time I try a sugar cookie it is either bland, or lives up to the name a little too well and is overwhelmingly sweet. Or, in the case of most of the fancy sugar cookies decorated with royal icing, both. They also tend to end up really, really hard due to all the granulated sugar. So I set out to make a sugar cookie that could hold its own against it’s chocolate chip studded brethren. (Spoiler alert: I succeeded!). Continue reading “Crunchy-Chewy Sugar Cookies”

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake (with Chocolate Chips)

Coffee cake can get a bad rap. The stuff you get at coffee shops is fine, but certainly nothing you tend to remember past lunch. It’s just a quick sugar fix in the morning, or something pretty safe to grab off a continental breakfast buffet. But man, when it’s good, it is a totally different food! Crumbly, dense, tender, and moist all at once. The first time I made this I was completely floored by how good it was. And I’m always down for cake for breakfast – especially when it’s judgement free. Like muffins, where everyone just pretends you aren’t eating a cupcake, this coffee cake is deliciously decadent and no one will bat an eye as you casually serve cake for breakfast.

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Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

First, let’s acknowledge that chocolate chip cookies in general are pretty perfect. Have you ever met someone who doesn’t like them? I haven’t. Even a really bad chocolate chip cookie isn’t that bad. School cafeterias can make a decent chocolate chip cookie. Subway has pretty dang good chocolate chip cookies. SUBWAY! But for the chocolate chip cookie baker looking to impress, this actually creates quite the challenge. Everyone expects a chocolate chip cookie to be good, so when they try a new one and it’s good, there’s no reaction. Of course it’s good. It’s a chocolate chip cookie. To really wow someone, the cookies have to be exceptional. Perfect. And these are.

Obviously everyone has different preferences on how they like their chocolate chip cookies, and I’m not saying anyone is wrong. But some people are wrong. If you are looking for a dry, cakey chocolate chip cookie: look elsewhere. If you are looking for a flavorful, moist cookie that can be baked anywhere from ooey-gooey to crispy-crunchy, keep reading.

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Berry Patriotic Cake

One of my favorite things about summer is the fresh, light deserts. I especially love fruit-forward desserts that are still decadent. The 4th of July was the perfect excuse for a cake featuring strawberries, blueberries, fluffy cream cheese frosting, and a pun.

I planned on making a red, white, and blue cake with the red being a layer of strawberry cake, the blue being a layer of blueberry cake, and the white being the icing. I wanted a cake base that was light and fluffy and really let the fruit shine through, but still had some flavor and substance. And while I love the flavor of cream cheese frosting, I didn’t want a heavy red-velvet-style frosting. The solution to both: lots of meringue. There were a few mistakes my execution, but the end result is a light-but-decadent, fresh, fruity cake that’s perfect for summer.

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