A gazillion cupcakes for Children’s Heartlink with Honey Tuile Hearts

Devil's Food Cupcakes Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

First I have to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dad, Craig Neal! He is leading a trip in the boundary waters today or I’d bring him some cupcakes.

Last night I delivered a gazillion mini cupcakes to the annual Children’s Heartlink Gala event. I was part of the live auction with my friends Michelle Gayer (owner of the Salty Tart and pastry chef who wrote Charlie Trotter’s Desserts); extraordinary pastry chef Khanh Tran; Kevin Ryan (the author of Betty Crocker Why It Works); Sue Zelickson, the grand dame of food in the Twin Cities; Andrew Zimmern; Marjorie Johnson (the author of The Road to Blue Ribbon Baking and frequent guest on Jay Leno) and the Kare11 host Belinda Jensen. We are having a bake-off-party at General Mills with the highest bidder. It will be a fabulous event for an incredible cause.

Michelle and I went to the Gala and served up some sweet treats to try to entice people to bid on our auction package. She came with a brown butter pear tart with maple cream and a black pepper tuile. I decided to go CHOCOLATE and made my Devil’s Food cupcakes with Outrageous Mocha Buttercream with a honey tuile heart as the garnish. To make the honey tuile and see pictures of the event: Read More

Clean-out-the-Fridge Lemon Curd Cheesecake Tart!

Lemon Curd Cheesecake Tart | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Today I was inspired to clean out my refrigerator and freezer. Partly because I was procrastinating like crazy. I just couldn’t force myself to sit at the computer all day and work on the new book. The January deadline is getting bigger and more menacing, and yet today I just couldn’t do it. I really did need to clean out the fridge to make room for more buckets of dough and for the hundreds of mini Devil’s Food Cupcakes I have to make for the Children’s Heartlink Gala this Friday. ** Read More

Pear Pomegranate Tarte Tatin

Fresh Cut Pomegranate | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

I’m dying to go apple and pear picking. I’ve decided that it is fall and my mind has shifted to the autumnal fruit. Well, there is nowhere to pick yet, so I went to the co-op and bought some seckel pears, from who knows where? I like to bake with seckels because they are very firm, which means you can cook them in the caramel longer and they don’t turn to mush.

It is also the season for one of my favorite treats, the pomegranate. It is one of those foods that is more about the experience than the flavor. Don’t get me wrong, I love the taste, but the fun is picking the seeds out and biting into their tart juices. My boys love them too, because they are a serious mess. I send them out onto the back steps and they eat, with the red juices flying everywhere.

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Creamy Chai Cheesecake (or is it Pots de Crème?)

Creamy Chai Cheesecake Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

As some of you know my oven blew up last week, literally! I am still waiting with bated breathe for the UPS driver to deliver the new heating coil, so I can resume doing the thing I love most. It should finally come tomorrow and believe me I am regretting not paying the extra $37 to have it delivered overnight! Patience is clearly something I need to work on.

Just before the oven combusted I’d made this creamy chai cheesecake. I guess it would be more aptly called a chai cream cheese pots de crème. Unlike the dry, grainy version so many of us are used to and frankly don’t care for, this cheesecake is so smooth and creamy that it is just barely set. It is baked in a cup or ramekin, like a pot de cream, without the distraction of a crust. Read More

Sugar Plums with Fresh Ginger and Sparks Flying in My Oven!

Fresh Sugar Plums | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

These California Sugar Plums showed up at our market, like a little gift at the end of summer. They are so sweet and lovely that the first bunch I bought were gobbled up, pure and simple. I returned and bought two more quarts of them with the intention of roasting them. Their flavor is so wonderful and the sugars so developed they didn’t need much adornment. When you cut into the plums the flesh is slightly green, and against the purple skin it is really quite beautiful. I left the skins on, as I am apt to do, but this time I’ll admit that the skins, although pretty, were a little too tough. I was afraid that as the flesh baked the skins would remain too firm.

Well I never got far enough to find out. My oven exploded while I was preheating it. Yes, exploded! Read More

Ultra Chocolate Wedding Cake

Chocolate Wedding Cake Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

This weekend I had the greatest honor and pleasure of making a chocolate wedding cake for my friend Maggie and her wonderful husband Steve. She is a fabulous midwife and delivered my two boys. It is an understatement to say she went above and beyond for me during my pregnancies and births. Maggie is the type of person who brings joy and love to everyone who has the good fortune to meet her. It meant so much to me when she and Steve asked me to participate in their special day.

Steve is a chocoholic and they decided to break with convention and go with a tower of over-the-top chocolate. I couldn’t agree more! I, of course, started with my Devil’s Food recipe and added a deep chocolate ganache-fudge icing. Read More