Archive | Desserts


I’ve added autumn flavors to these traditional churros. Try your own flavorings, too. You can add a variety of extract flavorings to the batter, dip them in melted chocolate or drizzle with jam. Any way you make them they are a treat, so have fun and make sure you share!

The frying part is definitely NOT for the kids to do, but have them help roll them in the sugar coating. It is simple and fun to do.

Yield: About 1 dozen 4-inch churros


  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 11/2 cups vegetable oil


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg


Pastry bag fitted with a large star-shaped tip. Note: Disposable pastry bags are available at any craft or kitchen store and they are great tools to have around the kitchen. If you do not have a star tip, a round tip will work as well.

Paper towels for draining the cooked churros of … Read More

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Torta di Gianduja con Amarena

We developed this recipe for a meal featuring Kobalt Cabernet Sauvignon Dessert Wine. We often bake this cake in individual silicone bombe molds and stuff it with sweetened mascarpone, but it also makes a simple, beautiful 9-inch cake to slice at your table.

For the torta:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted hazelnuts, skin on
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

For the glaze:

  • 6 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp. Amarena cherry syrup
  • 1 ounce unsalted butter

To garnish:

  • 1/4 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts
  • 4 ounces Amarena cherries
  1. Preheat an oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch spring-form cake pan.Cream together the sugar and butter in a stand mixer. Add the egg yolks one at a time and mix until just smooth. Add the chocolate and hazelnuts and mix until smooth.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and salt to soft peaks. With a rubber spatula, fold together the egg whites and the chocolate mixture. Transfer the batter to the buttered pan and bake for 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out of the center clean. Remove the cake
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Scone Mix

by Maria Helm Sinskey

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup zante currants or chopped dry fruit such as apricots, plums, tart cherries or cranberries
  1. Mix all ingredients together except for the fruit and place in a mason jar. Place 1/2 cup dried fruit in a separate bag and put in on top of the flour mix. Seal with lid.
  2. Tie a card with the following instructions to the container.

Currant Scones

Yield: 1 dozen

  • Dry scone mix
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter – cut into chunks & chilled
  • 1 cup heavy cream plus 1/4 cup for brushing the tops
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment baking paper.
  2. Place the scone mix in a large bowl, add the cold butter and cut in with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until the dough resembles coarse cornmeal with hazelnut-sized chunks of butter. Do not over mix at this point. Add the dried fruit and then the cream.
  3. Mix until the dough just comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead it lightly to incorporate the ingredients.
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Dark Chocolate Truffles by Maria Helm Sinskey

Dark, decadent and delicious.

Yield:3 dozen truffles

  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, 60-70% cocoa solids, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  1. To make the ganache, place the chocolate in a stainless steel or glass bowl.
  2. Bring the cream and salt to a boil and whisk it gently into the chocolate. Stir (do not beat) with the whisk, until the chocolate has completely melted.
  3. Stir in the butter until completely incorporated.
  4. Cool to room temperature. Place the ganache in the refrigerator for 2 hours until firm but still soft enough to scoop. You may also cover the ganache and chill it overnight or until you are ready to use it. Soften at room temperature until scoop-able.
  5. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Use a small 1/2 ounce ice cream scoop to scoop the ganache and place the balls on the prepared pan. Chill the truffles for 1 hour.
  6. Put the cocoa powder in a shallow pan. Remove the truffles from the refrigerator and roll them into balls between your hands. They do not have to be completely round or smooth.
  7. Place them in the cocoa pan a few at
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Pecan Date Cake

by Maria Helm Sinskey

I created this red wine scented date cake to complement the artisan cheese we serve at our winery in the Napa Valley. Wrapped well, these date cakes will store for up to 4 months in the refrigerator. Use toasted almonds or walnuts instead of pecans for a variation.

Yield: 6 wheels

  • 1 1/2 cups fruity dry red wine such as merlot
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 cups pitted, coarsely chopped dates
  • 2 cups pecans, lightly toasted
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a small saucepan, whisk together the wine and sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce to 1/2 cup. Cool.
  2. By hand or in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, slowly mix together the dates, pecans and cooled wine/sugar syrup until well combined, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Divide the mix into 6 equal pieces.Dampen your hands with cold water and shape into 1-inch-thick wheels. Wrap individually in plastic and tie with a ribbon.
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Chocolate Coffee Gingerbread with Hazelnut Poached Pears

Recipe courtesy of Bruce Aidells

For the Gingerbread

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup dark molasses
  • 1 cup mild olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup hot brewed coffee
  • ¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1 cup dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.Grease and lightly flour a 12-inch bundt pan.In a medium bowl combine the salt, spices, flour and baking soda and set aside.Combine the sugar, molasses, oil and eggs in a mixing bowl and beat with a whisk until smooth.Stir the dry ingredients into the wet then add the hot coffee, ginger and chocolate, the chocolate will melt.Pour into the prepared pan and bake 50 – 60 minutes or until the center springs back when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.Cool for 10 minutes, then unmold.

Serve warm or at room temperature, sliced, with a spoonful of hazelnut poached pears alongside and topped with a dollop of coffee-scented whipped cream (recipes below).

Yield:8-10 servings

For the Pears

  • 1 ½ cups Golden Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup Frangelico
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Cici Gelateria in Mill Valley handcrafts a seasonal rose petal gelato from Allstar Organics’ rose petals and rose water just days after the harvest begins in May.

Makes two 1-quart batches


6 cups Straus Family Creamery whole milk

11/4 cups organic sugar

1 Tbs local honey

Pinch of sea salt

3/4 cup Straus Family Creamery cream

1/2 cup Allstar Organics’ rose water

Handful of fresh, unsprayed rose petals (optional)


Combine milk, sugar, honey and salt in a blender and emulsify until sugar granules have dissolved (about 5 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and whisk in cream and rose water. Taste and adjust flavor—be careful with the rose water, too much and the gelato will freeze into a rose flavored ice cube. Add up to an additional 1/4 cup sugar and/or 1 Tbs additional honey. Freeze according to ice cream maker’s directions. As gelato begins to freeze, lay rose petals flat on top of one another and dice into confetti with a VERY sharp knife—if the knife is dull it will bruise the rose petals—then sprinkle rose petal confetti into mixture and finish freezing. Rose petals may also be folded into the gelato using a spatula after freezing … Read More

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Use any fruit you have on hand. Soft fruits like bananas, strawberries and peaches work best if you want the kids to be able to do the slicing using an egg slicer. This is a great use for all those gallonsized zip top bags you’ve been rinsing out and saving.

Makes 1 serving


  • 1⁄2 cup organic half-and-half, soy milk, goat’s milk or whole cow’s milk
  • 1⁄4 cup fresh fruit (peeled, diced or chopped, as needed)
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1⁄4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 sandwich-sized zip top bag
  • 1 gallon-sized zip top bag
  • 3 cups crushed ice
  • 1⁄3 cup rock salt


Place the first four ingredients in the smaller zip top bag and seal. Make sure it is tightly closed! You may want to double bag here for extra insurance against spillage.

Place the ice and rock salt into the larger zip top bag and then insert the small bag with the ice cream mix, snuggling it down inside the ice and salt. Seal the large bag.

Once you have assembled the bags, squeeze and knead the bags together until the ice cream has frozen—about 10 to 15 minutes. If you are making this with at least a couple … Read More

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