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Rice Krispies Treats Go Compost for Valentine’s Day

The “compost” cookie at Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC inspired these crispy rice treats. They have everything but the kitchen sink in them: pretzels, Oreos, milk chocolate and potato chips. These are all added to the rice cereal and tossed with buttery marshmallows, and it’s seriously tasty. You can add any of your favorite snack foods to the recipe. Just chop them up so you can press the treats into a heart shaped cookie cutter. They are perfect to make with kids but, really, adults love them just as much.

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An Upside Down Cake Brightened Up for the Holidays

The color of this cake alone is enough to bring me great joy on a dreary day. The ruby top is a mixture of tart cranberries and sweet raspberries. Raspberries both sweeten the cake and also create a luscious texture. I personally love the tartness of cranberries alone, but they have so much natural pectin that the consistency was more like tight jam then I wanted. The cake underneath is rich with butter and almond flour. Serve with ice cream for dessert, and then enjoy it for breakfast the next morning with coffee.

Cranberry-Raspberry Upside Down Cake Recipe

Makes: 8-inch cake
Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Skill: Easy

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Monkey Bread Made Better

Monkey Bread Muffins Recipes

Everyone adores monkey bread. Who doesn’t love the gooey mess of making it, almost as much as the caramel goodness of eating it? Truth told, when I leave the house for any amount of time, my husband makes monkey bread with my sons. He waits until I leave, because he knows the ovens won’t be in use and he can sneak the tube of biscuits into the house. As a result, I never get to eat them, which may be part of his master plan.

So I came up with my twist on the classic, with chocolate tucked into homemade biscuits. I’ve baked them as individual monkey bread muffins to make them even more festive for a party or Sunday brunch.

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Poached Pears: The Perfect Thanksgiving Dessert

This is the perfect dessert for Thanksgiving dinner. It can be made days ahead, doesn’t require any oven space and is decadent with flavor, but light enough to follow your Thanksgiving feast. The poaching liquid is homemade chai; a blend of sweet spices and black tea. A drizzle of chocolate ganache gussies up the dessert and makes it look like something you fussed over, even though this is one of the easiest desserts to create. No one needs to know that!

Be sure to pick firm, unripe pears for poaching. The harder the pear, the longer it will take to poach, which means it has more time to soak up the flavors of the chai. Slow poaching is key to great flavor.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake with Candied Crunch and Amaretto Whipped Cream

Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe

I adore pumpkin. Its bright orange shell is such a relief, during a season when the grey of winter is settling in. But my love of pumpkin goes beyond its brilliant color. Its luscious texture and earthy sweetness make it perfect for baking all kinds of desserts: pumpkin creme brulee, classic pie, breads and cheesecake. When pumpkin is pureed smooth, it has a custard-like texture, so it lends itself beautifully to this silky cheesecake. For a nice contrast to cheesecake, add candied almond crunch and a dollop of Amaretto whipped cream.

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How to Make Caramel Apples

How to Make Caramel Apples

This time of year all of the apple bins at the grocery store are framed with rows of gooey caramel apples, studded with nuts, candies and chocolate. I can’t blame my kids for being drawn in; they are irresistible. But, when you bite into them they are always just a touch disappointing. The apples are usually soft and the caramel is cloyingly sweet and tastes like it was from the previous generation.

I convinced my boys to walk by without taking one, but only after promising to make them some at home. We picked a bunch of fresh, crisp, juicy, tart apples. The caramel is easy to make and is rich, creamy, gooey and not over-the-top sweet. For a bit of contrast to the sweet caramel, you can dip the bottom in salted peanuts

Caramel Apples:

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Easy as Pie: Apple Galette

A galette is a French tart, or simply a pie without a plate. It is easy to make and there is no fancy fluting or lattice top crust to worry about. Right now apples are abundant, with many varieties to choose from. You can mix and match to suit your mood. Some will turn to sauce (McIntosh), some will keep their shape (Prairie Spy), others will be sweet (HoneyCrisp) and some will be tart (Haralson). The crust should be tender and flaky and just barely strong enough to hold up to the apples. It adds to the drama if some of the juices escape, which is why we bake on a sided baking sheet.

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Make This Plum Cake Before It’s Too Late

Plum Cake

As the weather gets chillier, at least here in the upper Midwest, we turn our attention over to apples and pears. The summer fruits and berries are no longer available, with the exception of Italian plums. They have a short season, so ACT NOW; they won’t last long. These little gems are good to eat, but even better to bake with. They aren’t quite as juicy or sweet as their American cousins, but they keep their shape well and their skin adds a gorgeous purple color to tarts and cakes.

The brown sugar cake batter and sweet crumb topping are a perfect compliment to the not-too-sweet fruit. It is great for breakfast with a cup of tea and/or with ice cream after dinner. This is a cake that also seems to get better the second day, if there is any left.

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Vietnamese Ice Coffee Reinvented as Panna Cotta

Ice Coffee Panna Cotta Recipe

This panna cotta is inspired by Vietnamese ice coffee, my favorite summer time drink. Take strong coffee, mix it with sweet condensed milk and pour over ice. I’ve taken those simple flavors and created an elegant, no-bake dessert. I like my panna cotta with as little gelatin as possible, just enough to keep it together. This version requires even less, because I leave it right in the glass.

Vietnamese Ice Coffee Panna Cotta
Makes 6 to 8
Prep time: 45 minutes
Refrigerator time: 2 hours
Skill: Easy, but several steps

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Star Sugar Cookies

Star Sugar Cookies

I love sugar cookies, but sometimes they are more about the pretty shapes and decorations then they are about the flavor. This recipe is both festive and delicious. I add lemon juice and zest to give the cookies and icing a bit of a zing. The decorating can be as simple as spreading the icing over the cookie and sprinkling them with icing sugar. If you want a more sophisticated look, you can go all out and have a perfectly smooth finish, which takes a little more time, but the cookies are a show-stopper for a 4th of July party.

Star Sugar Cookies
Makes: 60 small cookies or 30 large
Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 8 to 10 minutes
Decorating time: depends on the finish you like
Skill: Easy, but several steps

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