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Mini Chocolate-Raspberry Cakes for Valentine’s Day

Roses are red, chocolate is divine and hearts are pure romance; all the essentials to the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert. These little gems are Devil’s food layers filled with raspberry cream and covered in glossy chocolate ganache.

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Grown-up S’mores

Smores Recipe

These sophisticated bite-size treats are a take on some of my favorite childhood flavors; they’re a combination of S’mores and a Mounds bar. Cinnamon graham cracker cookies are topped with milk chocolate ganache, candied pecans, sweet coconut and finished with an ethereal almond scented toasted meringue.

I get the meringue evenly toasted by using a blowtorch. You can use one from the hardware store or get a smaller one sold at kitchen stores for making crème brulee. It is one of my favorite kitchen tools.

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Light and Sweet: Pavlova for Dessert

Pavlova Recipe

Craving a decadent dessert, but still want to keep it light? It isn’t an impossible request. Pavlova is a sweet pillow of crisp meringue, topped with tart lemon curd and fresh berries. This low fat treat is full of bright flavors, so you’ll never miss the calories. You can even add a touch of bittersweet chocolate without giving up on your New Year’s Resolution. It is as lovely and elegant as the Russian ballerina it was named after.

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Holiday Desserts: Coconut-Frosted Carrot Cake

Carrot Cake Recipe

Too often carrot cake seems like a throw back to the 70s, when they were dense and tasted ultimately too good for you. This version is moist, sweet and has a complex combination of spices and zest that all come through. Adding a bit of lemon to the icing brings out the bright flavors of the cake and the Lyle’s Golden Syrup kicks over the top. I think the creamy topping is key to the success of the carrot cake! In fact, I make a really large batch and always have a bit left over to spread on toast.

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Baking Chocolate Cream Puffs

These magical little puffs are light, crisp and rich all at the same time. The dough is made on the stovetop, then piped into smooth mounds and baked into airy balloons. In French the dough is called pâte à choux, which translates as “cabbage pastry.”  This name must have been a funny attempt to describe the round shape; otherwise it is not at all descriptive of this tasty pastry. I have filled the cream puffs with raspberry preserves and topped with rich chocolate ganache, but they are also lovely sliced in half and stuffed with vanilla ice cream.

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Pizza Party Giveaway

Pizza Recipe

Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a DayMy co-author, Jeff, and I wrote our latest book, Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day, because we love pizza.You can’t bake these recipes without creating a party, whether it’s for an evening spent watching a movie or a big gathering of friends in the backyard. Pick the crust and toppings to suit your mood and within minutes you will have pizza — lots and lots of fresh pizza. It’s fast, easy and costs only $1.50 for the most delicious pie you’ve ever eaten.

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The More Sweets, the Merrier

Zoe Francois Inspiration Board

When planning the same holiday year after year, how do you keep your celebration fresh and interesting while maintaining a sense of tradition? We asked our favorite bloggers and food people to share what’s inspiring their Thanksgiving planning this year. From ancestor’s recipes and falling leaves, to beautiful piles of ingredients and thoughtful home decor, there was no shortage of imagination. See what motivates some of the most creative minds we know, and then start planning your annual feast.

Thanksgiving dinner isn’t really complete until dessert hits the table. Preferably there will be several to choose from, and at least one should be pumpkin. It is the time of year that this orange gourd graces our plates, and it deserves to be center stage. I adore traditional pumpkin pie, but by no means should you be limited to that alone. It is also fantastic mixed with apples and streusel in a cake, or baked with brandy into a cheesecake and adorned with candied cranberries.  One of my all-time favorites is pumpkin bread pudding, which can also serve as breakfast the next morning. Next to all the pumpkin desserts there should be a caramel spice pear cake, and perhaps a spiky coconut meringue layered torte.

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A Creepy, Crawly Spider Cake Recipe for Halloween

Before I had two boys it would never have occurred to me to put spiders on a cake.  Thank god for little boys! Of course, there are deeper things that I have learned since parenting, but seeing the world through their eyes has made me happier, younger and sillier, which is such a gift.

Spiders on a cake are just plain creepy and a whole lot of fun. The marble cake will satisfy your cravings for both vanilla and chocolate. Nutella buttercream and bittersweet ganache spiders are the perfect finishing touches.

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Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Peanut Butter Pie Recipe

This post is dedicated to our fellow food blogger Jennifer Perillo, of In Jennie’s Kitchen, who has inspired us with her lovely website, generous spirit and fantastic recipes. Her husband died suddenly and Jennie’s request of the world was to make a peanut butter pie to give to someone you love. Peanut Butter Pie was Mikey’s favorite and in his honor I created this version to share with all of you. I hope you will make it, enjoy it with someone you love and hold Jennifer and her family in your hearts.

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Beehive Cake

Beehive Cake

Since I was a little girl living in Vermont, my father has been a beekeeper. As a result I have always had a fondness for them and the delicious nectar they produce. We ate their precious honey on everything from homemade granola to freshly baked bread. This cake is a tribute to both the elegance and ingenuity of honeybees. The shape of the cake is based on an ancient beehive called a skep, which was made of a coiled basket. Under the hovering marzipan bees are layers of banana cake, pecans and honey-scented buttercream.

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