Bittersweet Chocolate Tart with Irish Cream

Bittersweet chocolate tart with shortbread crust and piped whipped cream with chocolate shavings.

By now I am sure you’re aware of my dear friend Sarah Kieffer of The Vanilla Bean Blog. If you’ve watched Zoë Bakes on Magnolia Network, you’ve seen us make her famous pan-banging cookies together. Sarah even photographed me doing the how-to photos in my latest cookbook, Zoë Bakes Cakes. We go way back.

So it makes me very excited to tell you about Sarah’s brand new cookbook, Baking for the Holidays! This book is so beautiful, but that’s what we’ve all come to expect from Sarah. It’s filled with more than 50 recipes for easy morning pastries, treats to serve at your holiday table, ideas for gifting (Caramel candies! Turtle bars! Peppermint bark!), and so many more recipes that will quickly become family traditions. She’s also a genius story teller and even included a section of music to bake to. You know how much I love dancing in the kitchen!

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Pear Cake with Cardamom Glaze from Zoë Bakes Show

Host Zoe Francois with her pear cardamom cake, as seen on Zoe Bakes, season 1.

When I heard about the Scandinavian concept of Fika, I knew this pear cake would be on the menu and I was going to really dive into the theme by adding lots of cardamom and almond paste, which are flavors I associate most with baking from Scandinavia.

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Snacks for Kids

Whether you’re looking for breakfast ideas before the kids head off to the bus stop, back to school treats to pack in their lunch boxes, after school snacks for kids, or a treat to wrap in a care package for your college student, I’ve got ideas for every palate (yes, even the most persnickety will find something here!).

Host Zoe Francois with her sons, Charlie and Henri, taste the squash scones, as seen on Zoe Bakes, season 1.
Tasting homemade squash scones with my sons Charlie and Henri on my new show, Zoë Bakes on Magnolia Network.
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8 Delicious Apple Desserts

Host Zoe Francois picks apples at Sweetland Orchard, as seen on Zoe Bakes.

Apple desserts are a staple of fall and winter baking. And if you have the opportunity, go pick your own apples! I happen to be very lucky because I live in Minnesota where the state fruit is the Honeycrisp apple, a delicious variety developed by the University of Minnesota, and where 29 other varieties have been released by the U of M since 1888 when the apple breeding program began.

It’s a wonderful feeling to learn about different types of apples, pick your own and then head home to make some apple desserts with your bounty.

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What could be better than picking your own apples and then using your bounty to make pies, cakes, crisps and applesauce?

In my new Magnolia Network show, Zoë Bakes, I had the privilege of heading about 40 minutes south of the Twin Cities to Sweetland Orchard where there are 5,000 apple trees and 100 apple varieties. Sweetland owner Gretchen Perbix showed me and my friend Stephanie March around the stunning apple orchard where we learned about new apple varieties and tasted some of Gretchen’s hard cider. It was a blast! I just love meeting the amazing people in our food community in Minneapolis.

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Baking at High Altitudes

Devils Food Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing on a tray.

I live in the Midwest, which is perhaps the flattest place in the country, so I am by no means the reigning expert on high-altitude baking, but I have baked in the mountains of Colorado, and this is what I learned.

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