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

Two Winners and a Loser!

The FAIR has come to a close and with it the end of food-on-a-stick season, although I have a feeling I’ll continue just a bit longer. Someone astutely commented that “everything tastes better on a stick” and I think you are really on to something. My kids will apparently eat anything if it is impaled by a skewer, which immediately turns into a mighty dagger. The end of the FAIR also brings the winners of our raffles!!! Read More

Wild Blueberry Tart

Wild Blueberry Tart Recipe | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

The end of August brings a shift in everything from the weather, to the fruit and our schedules. This week we went to meet my sons’ teachers and visit their classrooms, a day filled with excitement and a touch of dread. They are excited to reunite with all of the kids they haven’t seen over the summer, but the freedom of their/our summer schedule seems to be coming to an abrupt end. All of a sudden we are more conscious of their bed time and reluctantly reconnecting with the basic properties of writing a sentence. Oh, so much is forgotten in the heat of summer. Our carefree and shoe free days are ending, as is berry season.

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Fig, Champagne Grapes and Raspberry Cake, for my 17th Anniversary!

Fresh Figs and Fruit | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

This time of year brings with it all of the sensual fruits. They seem more decadent, rich and sweet and just a little bit adult. To me they are the fruits of romance. Perhaps it is because the first time I ever ate a syrupy ripe fig was on my honeymoon in the South of France. We had a small house on a hill over looking Saint-Tropez and a fig tree on the terrace. We’d sit under the tree, drink our morning coffee and pluck figs off to eat them while looking at the Côte d’Azur. It is hard not to associate anything in that picture with romance. But the figs were the star. Every year I look forward to eating them on our Anniversary. Read More

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Salty and sweet is a classic combination. I’ve always upped the salt in my cookie recipes. Together they create just the right balance for the perfect cookie. I was intrigued by the the use of sea salt in the Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookie recipe that was featured in the New York Times last month. At the bitter end he sprinkles the cookies with course sea salt as they enter the oven. Great idea! I have to say his recipe is fantastic and I’ve made them a bunch of times with great reviews. Then I added a secret ingredient that made them something truly unique and absolutely addictive: Bacon.

Yeah, bacon. I’d gone to Cooks of Crocus Hill to pick up some kitchen essential and there it was at the check out counter, the Vosges Mo’s Bacon Bar. I’d had smokey bacon as a garnish on a caramel sundae and loved it, but in chocolate. This was something as a culinary professional I was obligated to try.

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