Half-Baked / No-Bake Blackberry-Vanilla Swirl Cheesecake

Blackberry and Vanilla Marbled Cheesecake

Blackberry and Vanilla Marbled CheesecakeWe call this “half-baked” instead of “no-bake” cheesecake, because the Graham cracker crust gets a few minutes in the oven, but the filling is the real prize: whipped vanilla and blackberry batters swirled into a beautiful pattern. Using freeze-dried berries lends stability and turns this into a year-round treat — though we love to top it with fresh berries to celebrate berry harvest season.

Even though we have a food blog (this. This what you’re reading now is a food blog. Honest to goodness it is.) we’re not great at keeping up with the regular “National FOOD THING Day” celebrations. Everything has a National Day. There’s a National Peanut Butter Day (March 1). A National Pickle Day (November 14). There’s even a day (August 16) which is simultaneously National Bratwurst Day and National Rum Day (if only someone would write a book which combines food and alcohol OH WAIT THEY DID). And last week, July 30, was National Cheesecake Day.

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Spiced Chai Cupcakes With Brown Butter Frosting and Pink Peppercorn Sprinkles

Spiced Chai Cupcakes With Brown Butter Frosting and Pink Peppercorn Sprinkles

If you like to celebrate Fall by reaching for the pumpkin spice, try its sophisticated cousin, Chai. Complex sweet, spicy and peppery notes combine to flavor these Chai Cupcakes, topped off with decadent Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting and a sprinkle of pink peppercorns.

It’s easy to knock pumpkin spice. It’s the low-hanging fruit – early-dropping leaf, perhaps – of the autumn zeitgeist. But don’t worry, we’re not heading into a cliched diatribe about hipsters and their spiced lattes and something something Williamsburg gentrification. We’re here to celebrate something with more depth, more sophistication, more … panache. Chai is not a new flavor by any means – in fact, it’s one of the oldest spice combinations in the culinary palette, dating from thousands of years back in India’s history. The nineteenth  century saw it added to black tea and given more of a global reach, but the essential spice base has lasting appeal beyond hot drinks.

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Sticky Toffee Pudding (warm date cake)

Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky toffee pudding is a hallowed British dessert which translates to American as “warm date cake drizzled with toffee sauce”. Either way you say it, it’s a deliciously rich and comforting treat, perfect for a chilly evening. 

This is a line that (I will pretend) gets thrown at me on a regular basis by drive-by shouters at Nerds Farm: “Oy, mate! You, nerd with knife! I thought you were British! Where’s the sticky toffee pudding, eh? Call yourself a food blog?” Well, firstly, no, I don’t call myself a food blog, and secondly, ha, joke’s on you, fella, because I’ve been making sticky toffee pudding on a weekly basis, and damn good pudding it’s been, too, I just haven’t blogged any of it. I’ve been told this kind of churlish behavior is unnecessarily cruel to our readers, so at last, here is the proof of the pudding, be it both sticky and toffee-flavored.

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Ultra-Chocolatey Brownies with a Pretzel Crust and Salted Caramel Drizzle

Pretzel Brownies with Caramel Drizzle

Fudgy, ultra-chocolatey brownies kicked up with a salty pretzel crust and caramel drizzle. Want to win a bake off? This is your guy. 

Have you heard? Have you heard the news about Great British Bake-Off? Have you? Have you heard it? Of course you have, I imagine it’s all people are talking about down your way. It’s certainly all they’re talking about in our neck of the woods. Of course, the show is not technically ending, but it’s been bought by Channel 4 and won’t have Mel, Sue, or Mary, and will no doubt be presented by Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell and Paul Hollywood all exploding in an underground parking garage or something.  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, bless your very face, and go and find an episode or three. It’s shown on PBS in the US, and they have to call it “The Great British Baking Show” because apparently Pillsbury has a legal lockdown on the term “Bake Off” and will send goons, floury goons, to give you a right drubbing should you flout compliance.

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