Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chocolate Hazelnut Panna Cotta with Macarellas

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

In order to customize this challenge to the personal tastes of people in this apartment, I chose to create a luscious chocolate hazelnut panna cotta, topped with roughly chopped, toasted hazelnuts. Macaraellas - thin cookies of coconut and sugar sandwiching a healthy dose of Nutella - are the perfect crunchy accompaniment.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Union Square

New York, NY
© Dolcetto Confections | Allison M. Veinote, 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Soft Peanut Butter Cookies

What comes to mind when you think of peanut butter cookies? My thoughts drift towards a big cookie jar sitting on a grandmother’s kitchen counter, with the lid sightly ajar to allow the fresh-from-the oven cookies to finish cooling. Although I was blessed enough to know two of my great-grandmothers and my grandmother, I do not recall ever such a picturesque cookie jar scenario.

Of course, it is entirely possible they did in fact make peanut butter cookies, but other peanut butter obsessed family members may have gobbled them all up before my little hands had a chance to reach into the cookie jar. I have two culprits in mind, who just happen to be sister and brother - my sweet mother and loving uncle.

Most recently, they have begun battling over who receives the most peanut butter baked goods from me. You may remember this battle last year; it was neither mature or pleasant to witness. This gets a bit worrisome on this day each year, my uncle’s birthday. This year, unsatisfied with just about every old-fashioned peanut butter cookie recipe I have tried, I decided to develop my very own recipe of peanut butter cookies - a recipe exhibiting the perfect combination of soft and crunchy. I mailed the results to my uncle for a sweet birthday surprise, which I think he will enjoy.  I am fully prepared to endure the wrath of my mother, deprived of peanut butter cookies, as soon as she reads this post or she receives a call from my uncle, bragging about his birthday gift.

Happy Birthday Uncle David!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Luke's Lobster


Originally hailing from Maine, I learned several vital lessons in the six short years before my family migrated south. I learned an afternoon of blueberry picking is a hot, prickly adventure, but rewards you with the best blueberry muffins, pancakes, and pies imaginable. I was taught how to bake a proper whoopie pie and that marshmallow fluff is not an acceptable filling ingredient. Finally, the day after a family gathers for a large lobster feed, the menu will include a simple lobster roll - chunks of leftover lobster meat, held together with just the slightest hint of mayonnaise, spilling out of a toasted, buttered roll.

After college, I moved to New York City, or The Land of Pinstripes and Weird Chowder as deemed by my loving uncle, and was horrified to find mayonnaise-laden, untoasted, unbuttered, overpriced impostors of a decent lobster roll.

So imagine my delight when a boy named Luke moved in around the corner last spring. A young Mainer with boyish good looks who could turn out a mean lobster roll. More specifically, the entire team at Luke’s Lobster could serve up this lobster roll, with a genuine smile, in the lobster shack-esque atmosphere. New Yorker’s everywhere have fallen head-over-heels in love with Luke’s Lobster and there are now a total of three (three!) locations that can fulfill my worst cravings for a taste of summer days, embodied in the form of a perfect lobster roll. And if you happen to get such a craving on a chilly winter day, their perfect cup of clam chowder will be waiting to warm you up.


Luke’s Lobster
East Village: 93 East 7th Street, New York, NY (phone: 212.387.8487)
Upper East Side: 242 East 81st Street, New York, NY (phone: 212.249.4241)
Upper West Side: 426 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY (phone: 212.877.8800)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream


Writing a food blog keeps me honest, but not in the sense of being truthful (which I am) or not providing faulty recipes (which I don’t). By honest, I simply mean I am forced to try an array of different recipes, no matter how much I may just want homemade graham crackers with a cold glass of milk everyday for the rest of my life.

The big downfall to this honesty is that after pursing our inspiration in the kitchen, meticulously recording ingredients and methods, writing a thoughtful post, and photographing the finished product, bloggers - including myself - tend to wipe our hands clean of improving upon the published recipe. Despite the notes I make on what to try differently or how to improve the recipe the next time, I rarely consult these notes in attempts to devise an even better version.

A few weeks ago, a certain someone looked over at me longingly and whimpered, “What does a boy have to do to get some mint chocolate chip ice cream around here?” To remedy the situation, I consulted the recipe I developed and posted last summer. But just as I was poised to shatter the first egg’s delicate shell, my notes flashed through my mind. I gently set the undisturbed egg back in its crate and consulted lots of different recipes for this ice cream, comparing the ratios of each, in attempts to achieve the changes I desired. The result was the best mint chocolate chip ice cream I have ever tasted. This, I promise you, will be the version I will keep and make each time someone bats his baby blues my way.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

McSorley's Old Ale House

New York, NY
© Dolcetto Confections | Allison M. Veinote, 2010

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

City Bakery Hot Chocolate Festival 2011


On Sunday, Mike and I ventured downtown to meet a friend over a special cup of hot chocolate. This wasn't just any cup of hot chocolate - it was spicy hot chocolate, the flavor of the day of The City Bakery's Hot Chocolate Festival 2011. We sipped our thick, spicy hot chocolate, complete with a fluffy homemade marshmallow, alongside my favorite treat: a flaky, salty pretzel croissant.

If you have not yet had the chance to indulge in a special cup of hot chocolate, there are still thirteen flavors to be sampled. But hurry - these flavors will disappear as February melts into March.


The City Bakery
3 West 18th Street
New York, NY 10011
Phone: 212.366.1414
Hours: Weekdays 7:30am-7pm, Sat 8am-7pm, Sun 10am-6pm

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! In case you are still looking for the perfect homemade-sweets to give your valentine, here are three perfect recipes. Each recipe is ready in under 30 minutes, leaving plenty of time to sip champagne and cuddle with your sweetheart.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

La Dolce Vita

Milan, Italy
© Dolcetto Confections | Allison M. Veinote, 2010

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Day Monster Cookies


We all have those days - the ones where nothing seems to go right and each frustration is followed by another. The days that drag on forever with no end in sight. It is equally frustrating when these inevitable days happen to a loved one, leaving me helpless to offer better advice than, “Life sucks sometimes. I’m sorry.”

While I may be at a loss in offering eloquent, inspiring words, I always know I can whip up a quick batch of cookies to provide comfort at the end of a bad day. Monster cookies are a perfect choice - mixing them up is effortless - and I can customize the colors of the M&Ms to whatever the occasion might be.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies


You might think this is just another recipe for a basic chocolate chip cookie, but you would be wrong. These cookies are how Mike and I survived living four hundred miles apart for two long years. Every time I missed having him nearby, which was often, I would attempt to cure my loneliness by baking up a batch of these cookies, wrapping them up tightly with a love note and a kiss, and mailing them off to New York City. There were weeks he received three batches of these cookies.

Luckily, he never grew tired of receiving those little care packages and we are now lucky enough to see each other each morning and kiss each other every night - perhaps a simple thing, but something I never take for granted.

This is still my favorite recipe for chocolate chip cookies and they are especially sweet all packaged up for Valentine’s Day. Aren’t these treat bags the cutest?! They are courtesy of Serena from The Farm Chicks and they are just perfect to dress-up this special cookie recipe.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Donut Pub


While donuts might not be my sweet of choice, there is something undeniably comforting about stepping into an old storefront, hopping up on a counter stool, and ordering a black coffee and sugar-laced donut. The Donut Pub in Manhattan just happens to be the perfect place to do so.  A few Sundays ago, Mike, our friend Vic, and I passed a few moments on a wintry day, sipping coffee (or milk), and tasting three different cruller flavors.


The Donut Pub
203 West 14th Street
New York, NY 10011
Hours: open 24 hours
Subway: A,C,E,1,2,3 to 14th Street; L to Eighth Avenue

Monday, February 7, 2011

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

I love the excuse to be a bit kitchy and cute for Valentine's Day.  Any holiday involving hearts and the color pink refuse to allow you to take yourself - or your baking adventures - too seriously.  Chocolate covered pretzels are not only the ultimate salty-and-sweet treat, but are easy enough to ensure you'll be spending more time cuddling with your sweetie than laboring the day away in the kitchen.

Chocolate Covered Pretzels
active time 5 minutes
total time 25 minutes
makes 8 pretzels

I love using my all-time favorite pretzels from Martin's Bakery for this simple treat. UTZ's Hard Pretzels are a more commercially available version. You can omit the heart decorations or substitute a variety of colors and shapes to customize your holiday.

8 sourdough hard pretzels
1 cup semisweet chocolate, chopped
Heart decorations, if desired

Preparation Instructions
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Let cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the pretzels and stir gently until coated. Using a fork, transfer the pretzels to the parchment paper, letting the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. Sprinkle heart decorations over chocolate. Refrigerate the pretzels until the chocolate is set, about 20 minutes.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Happy Nutella Day!

Happy Nutella Day!  While I am a big proponent of eating spoonfulls of Nutella straight from the jar, here are two of my favorite Nutella-centered recipes to inspire you today!  Enjoy!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Superbowl Picks

Happy Friday! The Superbowl is this weekend, have you heard? The local news may not be reporting anything about the crisis in Egypt, but at least they give me an update of the weather in Dallas every twenty minutes. Nevermind that the game will actually be played indoors.

Is your team playing on Sunday? Or are you like me and still seething that your team forgot to show up and play football during the playoffs? Either way, good food is in order for this football-devoted day, so I put together a few of my top picks to share with you - enjoy!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Parmesan-Paprika Triangles


After a day exploring the beautiful city of Barcelona, Mike and I rested and refueled over lunch at Gresca. We placed our order, clinked our wine glasses together, and relaxed a bit further back into our chairs. Before the first appetizer arrived, our waitress returned with two perfectly crisp crackers - standing upright in a crystal clear glass. They were an unexpected treat to begin what would be one of our favorite meals in the city.

It has been almost three months since we returned from our European vacation and I find myself longing to return to those sunny days together in Barcelona. While my bank account may not support hopping the next plain across the Atlantic, I can certainly attempt to recreate some of our favorite dishes from those relaxing days. This recipe is quite close to the parmesan-paprika triangles we shared over lunch; I imagine the missing ‘extra something’ is only found over a table for two, with a bottle of wine, free from the responsibilities and stresses of everyday life.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Bourbon Ice Cream

Sometimes I wonder if I am the type of girl who people think would enjoy bourbon. Ladies are supposed to enjoy sipping champagne, big glasses of wine, and sugary cocktails. And while I do rather enjoy my wine, some moments in life require a glass of Maker’s. Neat, please.

Around the holidays, I started seeing recipes for bourbon eggnog, which you think may have peaked my interest. But drinking warm milk and eggs, even with a boost of bourbon, just is not my type of thing. However - frozen milk and eggs with bourbon? That combination seemed heaven-sent. I had no idea if this brilliant idea would actually work, facing the little technicality that alcohol does not actually freeze. More specifically, a certain ratio must exist between the components, to ensure the ice cream will still freeze, even with the added alcohol.

I am happy to tell you that the below recipe holds the perfect ratio of milk, cream, sugar, eggs, and Maker’s. Each scoop of ice cream emerges effortlessly and unimaginably smooth from the container. The usual ‘burn’ of the bourbon is chilled, only revealing the oak-y, vanilla flavor behind the alcohol.

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