Chocolate Chip Cookies

No matter how many fancy, exotic desserts that I conjure up, when I ask my family what I should make for dessert they almost always say, “ chocolate chip cookies, please!” I can’t blame them. There is something wonderful about biting into a warm, chocolaty morsel that is crisp on the outside and soft in the inside. It brings every adult back to when they were a child and turns every child into a little cookie monster. These anointed orbs are worth getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar. The reason for this recipe being so wonderful is because it’s my grandma’s recipe and that means they are truly special. Growing up, I never saw her make these cookies, they just magically appeared on her counter the second we walked through the door. And even more magically, they disappeared in a blink of an eye. I learned the art of being stealth at a young age because of these cookies. I would crouch down on the floor and slowly reach my hand over the kitchen island and onto the plate without being noticed. At that point, I snuck as many cookies that I could in my hands and went into the cupboard to eat my stolen treasures in peace and quite. The only indication of my escapade might have been a few crumbs in the pantry and the tiniest sound of munching. Victory never tasted oh so sweet!

Little Keebler elves couldn’t take the supply and demand for these little nuggets sent from above. My grandma finally told me the secret in having them stay so moist… the molasses in the brown sugar. Beware these cookies are quite addictive. So what if I had three in my mouth while taking this photo, if that’s so wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Recipe: Makes 24 cookies

Note: If you have time, allow the dough to rest overnight in the fridge. This step allows the flavors to develop more in the dough, but if you have cookie monsters biting at your heels, just bake straight away! Also, using dark brown sugar instead of light brown sugar will give the cookies a deeper molasses flavor and create a more gooey cookie. 

2 ¼ cup of flour, sifted

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

¼ cup sugar

1 ¼ cup of  brown sugar (light or dark, depending on preference)

2 sticks of butter, room temperature

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

2 eggs

12 ounces of milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 3750

 Mix flour, baking soda and salt together in bowl. Set aside. Combine butter, sugars and vanilla in mixing bowl. Beat ingredients together until creamy. Add eggs one at a time until combined well. Add dry ingredients a little at a time, making sure that all ingredients are incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Using a tablespoon, spoon batter onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for 10-13 minutes. Let cool on cooling rack.


Ginger Molasses Cookies

These cookies are my mom’s favorite. When she was little, she would secretly go into her grandmother’s pantry, unscrew the lid of the dark, sticky liquid gold, take her finger and dip it into the molasses. I can imagine the look on her little face as she devoured the contraband lick by lick in the dimness of the pantry.

Whenever my sister and I worked at a café in Orlando, we ordered these special ginger molasses cookies for the store. Instead of selling the cookies, the staff ended up gobbling them down within a matter of seconds. Any time an order of these delectable, dark brown cookies came in, my sister and I brought a box home to mom. We would all sit down, relax and enjoy a cup of Community Coffee with these little bundles of joy. My mom’s face would always be full of happiness and a little mischief after eating these ginger molasses cookies.


Adapted from the wonderful Martha Hall Foose’s Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Makes 24 cookies

 2 ¾ cups of all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

Pinch of salt

2 ¼ tsp. of pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp. of ground cinnamon

¾ cup of brown sugar

1 ½ sticks of butter, softened

1 egg

¾ cup of molasses

½ cup of sugar

Preheat oven to 3500

 Whisk flour, baking soda, salt and spices together in a bowl and set aside.

Cream together the brown sugar and butter. Once the ingredients are creamed together, add egg and molasses. Mix together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix. Slowly add the flour mixture a little bit at a time. Make sure that all of the ingredients are incorporated before adding more flour. Once all of the flour is in the dough, form the dough into balls with a tablespoon. Roll the dough in the granulated sugar. Place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake for about 13 minutes until the cookies are slightly golden and cracked on top. Immediately place the baked cookies on a cooling rack. Enjoy!


Bananas Foster

Pie is lovely and pralines are sweet, but there is one dessert that is somewhat sinful. Creamy butter, spicy cinnamon and sweet-as-molasses brown sugar melds together in a pan, each one getting acquainted with their own lovely accents. The smell of spice fills the air, the creaminess of the butter combined with the sugar creates an exquisitely, thick, melt-in-my-mouth-please sauce. Then the stars are stripped of their bright yellow jackets to reveal a pale, soft yellow center. They jump into a pool of heaven that Augustus Gloop would be tempted to dive into as well. The heated sugar Jacuzzi softens the fruit ever so slightly and once they are relaxed and at ease, they are bombed with rum! Mwahahahaha (insert best evil laugh here)! The stunned and sensational concoction is then poured over anything cold, creamy and decadent. The survivors slowly slide across the velvet cream and alas find peace. There in lies my soul and my heavenly yet sinful bananas foster. Voila, the Big Easy in a bowl.

 *This recipe is usually served with vanilla ice cream, but I decided to serve it with creamy cheesecake!

 Recipe: Serves 4: Adapted from Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans

½ a stick of butter

1 cup of brown sugar

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

4 bananas, peeled and sliced at a diagonal

¼ cup of good, dark rum

Ice cream or cheesecake or by itself!

In a sauté pan over low heat, combine sugar, butter and cinnamon in pan. Stir until dissolved and add the bananas. Whenever the slices begin to brown and soften, carefully add the rum. Allow the flames to subside. Carefully spoon the mixture onto ice cream, whipped cream, cheesecake, or your mouth!



Nutella Croissants

Croissants are a true weakness of mine. The fluffy, golden layers of loveliness call to me. Dinners at grannie’s house usually included a basket full of little, flaky croissants. I would watch the oven in amazement as these little pale pieces of dough would rise and rise. When they were done, my little hand would wisp a croissant off the cookie sheet and I would sit on the porch with my treasure. Before I took a bite, I would hold the pastry up to my mouth to look like a smiley face. I thought of it as a last request from the buttery croissant.  Then, I would devour the pastry quicker than I could realize my mouth was burning from the piping hot croissant. I never learned my lesson though. To this day, I still swipe croissants off the cookie sheet without thinking twice, and sometimes, in private, make a smiley face with the pastry.

-This particular recipe came from my sisters and me in desperate need of a fast, chocolate dessert late at night. We used what we had on hand: Nutella- check, puff pastry-check, future happiness in our mouths-check.

Recipe: Makes 12 pastries

1 package of puff pastry (thawed)

½ cup of Nutella

1 egg, slightly beaten

4 Lindt Truffles (optional)

Preheat oven to 400o

Lay out each sheet of pastry on a cookie sheet layered with parchment paper. The pastry will be creased in thirds (which is perfect for this recipe!). Just cut along the creases and you will have three equal pieces. Then, cut each piece in two long triangles. You will have 6 pastries on each cookie sheet. Lightly brush the egg mixture on the edges of the pastry, this acts as the glue to the pastry and also is a line that the chocolate dares not cross! Put about half a teaspoon of Nutella on a spoon and spread the Nutella across the pastry (starting on the fatter end makes this easier). Then you can add a nugget of truffle at the fat end, this is completely necessary the chocolate lovers. Then, starting at the fat end, gently roll up the pastry to the skinniest end. Lay the pastry on the cookie sheets and brush more egg wash on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and lovely. Eat (or devour) immediately!


Crème Brûlée

I come from a humble background. Meals were about making the best of the ingredients we had and spending time with family. There were no bells, whistles or crème brûlée dishes. But still, the idea of having a crème brûlée for dessert reminds me of the south. It’s a comforting dessert. It’s cream and sugar and goodness in a tiny dish. There is something magical about the warm cream and berries marrying together in a steam bath. The conversation that takes place between the custard and berries would make you blush. So what happens in the oven stays in the oven. But then, it turns into Christmas as the custard and berries gets christened with white sugar. And it makes a great sacrifice and endures being torched for our own delight, but oh the satisfaction to take the back of a spoon and crack the sugar into infinitesimal shards. It’s heavenly, it’s destructive, it’s comforting, and it must be Southern.

Recipe: Adapted from John Besh’s My Family Table: Serves 8

 2 Tbs. butter

1 quart heavy whipping cream

1 ¼ cups sugar

1 vanilla bean, split

10 egg yolks

¼ cup berries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom of crème brûlée dishes or 3-inch ramekins. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cream, 1 cup of sugar and vanilla bean. Bring to a boil and stir to make sure that the sugar dissolves. Once it comes to a boil, remove from heat and let the vanilla steep for 5 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean.

In a mixing bowl, mix the egg yolks with a whisk and slowly add the cream mixture until well incorporated. Place the berries at the bottom of the buttered dishes. Pour the custard into the prepared ramekins and put into a larger pan. Fill the pan halfway with water. Bake the custards in the water bath for 30-40 minutes, until the custard is no longer giggly in the center.

Carefully remove the pan from the oven and remove the ramekins from the pan. Let the custard cool completely. Before serving, sprinkle the tops with a few spoonfuls of sugar. Caramelize the sugar until is melts, gets darker and covers to custard tops. You can brown the tops with a broiler or a torch.


Blackberry Turnovers

Hot, steamy Louisiana summers became a little more bearable with a bowl filled to the brim with blackberries and honey. I remember lugging a pale, pink wash bucket that matched my pink flower bucket hat to the blackberry bush in my grannie and paw-paw’s backyard. The bucket was the chosen vessel for my little, plump, black treasures. My paw-paw taught me how to pick blackberries. I remember his strong, patient voice warning me of the thorns, how to gently pull the fruit off the bush without breaking the stems, and what the color of a perfectly ripe berry looked like. So I heeded his advice, slowly reached my little arm into the bush and lightly picked the fruit from the plant.  Within moments, my bucket was filled to the top. With all of the courage in my arms and my legs, I lifted the bucket to my neck and hugged the pink pale all the way to my grannie’s utility room. My treat would be a bowl of blackberries sweetened with either sugar or fresh, local honey. I loved the way the little berries burst in my mouth. You could always tell whenever I got into the buckets in the utility room, the confirmation lied on my teeth, stained dark purple from the berries. I could never hide the evidence because I could not help but smile after devouring the little gems.


Recipe: Makes 8

2 cups of blackberries

½ cup of sugar

¼ cup of water

1 teaspoon of pectin

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 package of puff pastry, thawed

1 egg, beaten

1 Tbs. raw sugar

Combine blackberries, sugar, water, and pectin in a saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat. Add vanilla. Boil for 20-30 minutes, skimming the foam on top. Cool for 30 minutes before using.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Unroll puff pastry on cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. Cut each sheet into 4 equal squares. Fill the center of the squares with 1 Tbs. of blackberry filling. Seal the edges with egg wash. Fold corners together to form a triangle. Crimp edges of the pastry with a fork and puncture the top of the pastry enough to allow the steam to escape. Brush the top with the egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream!




King Cake


Growing up, I believed everyone in the world celebrated Mardi Gras. I thought everyone had off for Mardi Gras holidays or as we religiously called it in our private school, “Hallelujah Holidays.” And I was shocked to know that the rest of the world was deprived of king cake, sha. King cakes are traditionally baked in a circular shape that represents a king’s crown. Hidden inside of each cake is a tiny, plastic baby that represents Jesus (don’t choke on baby Jesus, that’s bad luck). Whoever finds the baby is supposed to buy the next king cake and will have good fortune in the future. The colors purple, gold and green that are used to decorate the cake represent justice, power and faith. These cakes were the best part of Mardi Gras to me whenever I was little. We grew up Christian, not Catholic, so the only tradition that we were able to engage in was eating king cake. I loved finding the little baby inside these cherished cakes. When left alone, my sister, Hope, and I would try our hardest to dig in the cake with seamless efforts. Without much astonishment, we failed every time. Baby Jesus would not tolerate cheating apparently…

 Recipe: Serves 6

* This recipe calls for puff pastry instead of the traditional brioche bread recipe. Also, most king cakes use purple, gold and green colored sugars, but I use colored royal icing. The grocery store that practically all of my king cakes came from in southwest Louisiana, Market Basket, used icing instead of sugars to decorate their cakes.


1 package of puff pastry, thawed

1 Tbs. of butter, melted

2 Tbs. of sugar

2 Tbs. of brown sugar

2 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup of blueberry filling (if you use canned, I won’t tell a soul)

1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 4000

Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface. Lay two sheets of pastry side by side and crimp the two pastries together. Makes sure that there are no seams. Leaving a 3-inch border, brush the melted butter onto the pastry, and then sprinkle on both brown and white sugar. Layer the cinnamon on top of the sugars. Press down lightly with your fingers. Add the filling on top of the sugars and cinnamon. Starting with the end closest to you, gently roll the pastry up jellyroll style. Connect both ends together to form a circle with the pastry. Transfer to a cookie sheet layered with parchment paper. Brush egg wash onto the pastry and bake for 25 minutes or until brown. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before icing the cake.

To make the icing:

3 cups of powdered sugar

2 egg whites

1 tsp. of lemon juice

Purple, gold and green food gels

Combine the sugar and egg white in a mixing bowl with a whisk attachment. Whisk together until shiny and can hold its shape. Add the lemon juice (add more if the icing is too thick). Take 3 mugs and line them with Ziploc bags. Spoon 2 tablespoons of white icing in each mug. Add the 3 different color gels in the 3 individual mugs. Close the bags and mix the color into the icing until you have the desired hue.

Once the cake has cooled, put a thin layer of white icing. Push the icing to a corner of the bag and snip a tiny piece of the corner off. Gently squeeze the icing onto the cake, one color at a time until you have all 3 colors displayed onto the cake. Let the icing harden slightly before serving.











Coffee Chocolate Mousse

My family has a love-hate relationship with mousse. They love to partake of the sweet, airy chocolate dessert but hate whenever I whip it all together. I personally find the soft hum of the kitchen-aid mixer soothing, but apparently I am alone in my principles. The mixer stays on constantly for 30 minutes while preparing the mousse. In the meantime, I dodge dirty looks and the ungodly high volume that the television is set on to punish me. I am eventually forgiven for my madness once they each receive their little offerings of cloudlike loveliness. Sorry for all the ruckus, but it’s all out of love! Happy Valentines Day to all of you! With love from my kitchen-aid mixer to yours!


Recipe: Makes About 4 Cups

11.5 ounces of milk chocolate

2 cups of heavy whipping cream

1 tsp. vanilla

4 Tbs. of sugar

4 eggs, room temperature

¼ cup strong coffee

Whip heavy whipping cream, vanilla, 2 Tbs. sugar until stiff peaks form when the whisk is flipped upside down. Transfer the cream to a separate bowl and keep in fridge.

In a mixer, whisk the eggs and remaining sugar on a medium speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

In a heat-proof container, melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double broiler. Add coffee to the melted chocolate.  Stir together quickly.

Pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl, gently stir in the egg mixture until incorporated. Fold in the whipping cream. Be very gentle! Transfer the mousse to a container and let set up in the fridge for at least 4 hours.


Caramel Apple Crumble

Growing up in the south, I had many great, rich desserts. Pralines were plentiful. Lemon pie was invited to every meal. Pecan cookies and homemade vanilla ice cream always had a spot at the table. But there was one desert that I never remember encountering in my desperate attempt to satisfy my sweet tooth…. apple pie. Apple anything to be exact. I was apple deprived. So as I got older, I became obsessed with making an apple pie that everyone would like. That I would like. So I decided to pair the fruit with a salted caramel. I thought it would be like a bananas foster but with apples! So flavor combo- check. The next task was the texture. Crunchy apples were not allowed in my pie. So I decided to cook down the apples before baking… oh sweet goodness. Heavenly texture -check. This recipe made me into an apple pie lover. If you’ re an apple pie hater, I double dog dare you to try this. I make turnovers, crumble and straight up pie from this recipe. Crumble won the toss today!

Recipe: Makes 6 Crumbles

Apple filling:

3 golden delicious apples

3 honey crisp apples

Juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbs. flour

1 tsp. apple pie spice

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/3 cup raw sugar

1/4 stick of butter

Peel, core and slice apples. Put apples in a large bowl with lemon juice to prevent browning. Add flour, apple pie spice and cinnamon to bowl. Mix to combine. In a large pan, melt butter and sugar in pan. Add apples to the pan. Cook down on medium heat for about 25 minutes. Let cool before handling.

Salted Caramel:

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 stick of butter

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. sea salt

Combine sugar and water over low heat until dissolved. Add butter and bring heat up to medium. Bring to boil. Keep an eye on the pot! Whenever the liquid turns amber, take it off the heat and add the cream and vanilla. It will splatter a lot so stand back. Keep stirring until smooth. Bring back to low heat and add salt. Let cool for a few minutes.

Crumble: Inspired by Bon Appetit April 2010

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. cinnamon

1 stick of melted butter

1 ¼ cups of flour

Mix sugars, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. Add melted butter. Whisk in flour.


Preheat the oven to 375o

 Butter 6 ramekins and place on a cookie sheet. Place the filling in the ramekins along with the caramel and place the crumble topping onto the filling. Load up on the crumble! Bake for 25 minutes or just until the crumble is crunchy and golden brown. Eat and enjoy!