Baking For Others

Strawberries Brulée

Posted by on Friday Jun 26th, 2015

Strawberries are at the height of perfection, a sure sign of summer days. Add in a bonfire with s’mores, and there is nothing better. But since graham crackers are a no-no for those with gluten sensitivity, these bruléed berries are a delicious alternative. Whether dipped in chocolate first or not, dipped in crushed cookies or not, the combination of fruit and melty marshmallow topping is heaven at first bite. If you don’t have a little kitchen torch, try broiling these for just a second or two.

If you’ve made the Cappuccino Marshmallows, you already know the procedure to make marshmallow fluff. Beating this for a slightly shorter time keeps it soft and creamy, and, of course, there is no cappuccino component (though that may be a tasty addition!). The berries must be absolutely dry for the chocolate and marshmallow to stick, so be sure to pat them well with paper towels. Eat these right away for the best taste and texture.

Natalie of Good Girl Style joins us each month to share incredible desserts with Big Girls, Small Kitchen readers–desserts that are entirely gluten-free, but not like obviously gluten-free. That means no specialty flours or hard-to-find ingredients, just berries, chocolate, and homemade marshmallow.  Want even more GF desserts? Check out Natalie’s Chocolate-Covered Banana Pudding Pops.

I didn’t expect to come back from a trip to the Southern coast of Western Europe with a new idea about carrot cake. I wasn’t sure there were any. But I did. Here’s how it happened. One day, on the way to see some more Gaudi in Barcelona, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant, La Pubilla, in Gracia, across the street from the Mercat de la Llibertat. Throughout our trip, the restaurants near the markets seemed to have the best food, and as the kind of tourist driven by her stomach, I find solid consolation in eating lunch directly after browsing market ingredients that don’t make sense to buy if you don’t have a kitchen. (As it goes, we did have an apartment with a kitchen in Barcelona, but we wanted to be out and about, not at home. I did cook (burn) these padron peppers, though.)

Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake

Posted by on Wednesday Apr 15th, 2015

We seem to remember the gooiest desserts best. Puddings and cakes that feel familiar gratify us like no dolloped, perfectly assembled, fancy sweet ever can.

Almost every reference to Chocolate Pudding Cake comes with a heap of nostalgia. People remember the one-pan dessert when they think of their grandmothers, their church groups, and the way they cooked in the 1980s. The method is miraculous, and it wedges itself in your memory. Here’s how the process goes: after you stir together the thick batter, you sprinkle sugar and cocoa on top, then finish the assembly with hot water. The oven transforms this odd organization into a light chocolate cake that sits on top of a lush chocolate pudding. You scoop up from the bottom, so every portion gets cake and pudding and tastes like a fluffy brownie topped with hot fudge. Ice cream happily melts on top.


The recipe appeared on the HERSHEY’S Cocoa can in 1992, 1993, and 1997, though an early version appears in the archives as far back as 1981, according to Linda Stahl, manager of HERSHEY’S Kitchens. The recipe was already iconic by then, circulating among family and friends. The back-of-the-can recipe has a decent amount of sugar, some of it brown sugar, which heightens the chocolate-y taste from the cocoa.

Green Tea Chocolate Bark

Posted by on Tuesday Apr 7th, 2015

Mostly, when menu planning, I give dessert an exemption from a dinner’s theme. So long as the sweet fits the balance of the meal–airy after something heavy, rich in the wake of something light, or easy after a main that requires full attention–there’s no imperative to seek total authenticity in terms of nationality or style or tradition.

That’s why I surprised myself when, tasked with bringing dessert to a sushi-and-soba dinner at a friend’s, I fixated on green tea flavors and couldn’t dissuade myself once I’d begun. On the Wednesday before, I ordered a supply of matcha online and started to brainstorm.

My mom helped. My first idea was a green frangipane tart with apples or pears. She bested me with a matcha meringue pie. I spent a lot of time picturing an emerald-hued coconut custard filling topped generously with swirls of billowy toasted meringue. I bookmarked the best coconut custard recipes. But then I wondered if I wanted to hide the green color, rather than show it off. And, would my friends endeavor to cut and eat a whole slice of pie after dinner on a Saturday night? After more reflection, the matcha pie seemed overwhelming and hard to transport. I stored the concept away for an afternoon barbecue at our place.

After cycling through cookie concepts and ice cream ideas, I ended up where I should have started: with my irresistible, addictive, and delicious old friend, chocolate bark. In addition to tasting great and looking charming, bark is an accessible dessert, meaning that even those who claim they didn’t leave room will try some. Like mini cupcakes, bark wants you to acquiesce, and saying yes is as easy as nibbling on piece after piece–far less daunting than cutting into a meringue pie. 

No-Bake Key Lime Pie

Posted by on Saturday Mar 14th, 2015

Key lime pie is perfect for this in-between time of year. (Especially today–Pi Day 3.1415!) It’s green (extra points for St. Patrick’s Day), citrus is in season, and it tastes like summer when there is still snow on the ground. Depending on whom you ask, authentic key lime pie is either decidedly baked or not baked. This is a no-bake recipe. The pie comes together in a snap, and will transport you straight to the Florida Keys. In fact, it comes to you from Florida, and is a recipe my boyfriend has made since he was a little boy. He was born and raised in Florida.

Of course, fresh key lime juice will taste the best, but Nellie & Joe’s bottled key lime juice is the second best. You can find it in the juice aisle or perhaps by the cocktail mixers. The almond crust is a nice change of pace from graham crackers, and keeps the pie gluten-free. Feel free to use the filling in a standard graham-cracker crust if you don’t need to be gluten-free. I’ve also made this with a gluten-free gingersnap crust or chocolate crust. All delicious!

Natalie of Good Girl Style joins us each month to share incredible desserts with Big Girls, Small Kitchen readers–desserts that are entirely gluten-free, but not like obviously gluten-free. That means no specialty flours or hard-to-find ingredients, just lemons, lemons, and more lemons.  Want even more GF desserts? Check out Natalie’s Chocolate Cookies.

Cappuccino Marshmallows

Posted by on Friday Feb 20th, 2015

Natalie of Good Girl Style joins us each month to share incredible desserts with Big Girls, Small Kitchen readers–desserts that are entirely gluten-free, but not like obviously gluten-free. That means no specialty flours or hard-to-find elements, just sugary air fluff, aka marshmallow ingredients. Want even more gf desserts? Check out Natalie’s Lemon Pudding.

Cappuccino is such a delight this time of year. Frothy, fluffy, and satisfying, it’s made even more appealing with the addition of these cappuccino marshmallows, which are also frothy and fluffy as well as satisfyingly sweet. The sweet, coffee-y pillows pair equally well with a coffee drink as they do hot chocolate, or as a treat popped in the mouth as you walk by the kitchen. They are sure to go fast!

Imagine a cookie. Okay, now imagine a brownie. Which one do you want? If you answered one of each, then this recipe is for you.

In high school, when my sister Kate and I baked a lot, the cookie-brownie debate extended beyond what we felt like eating. It was more about what we were in the mood to bake. Cookies promised a little more of an activity–you had to cream the butter, choose the mix-ins, and roll ball after heaping-tablespoon-sized ball to place on cookie sheets. They baked quickly, however, and didn’t require much rest time in between baking and downing that first bite. Brownies came together miraculously quickly but baked for longer, and, technically at least, needed to cool some before becoming sliceable into neat squares. Back then, I wish we’d thought of this hybrid: if you’d like to make both cookie and brownie, this chocolate & peanut butter recipe is for you as well.

The chocolate chip cookie is the classic recipe, rich in brown sugar and chocolate chips. Instead of making cookies, you press all the dough into a pan and par-bake. This is the first layer.

The second layer, the brownies, almost acts like an icing–a peanut butter-studded icing. I poured rich, creamy REESE’S Peanut Butter Chips right into the brownie batter. The chips, to me, look like the yin to the cookie layer’s chocolate chip yang.

Before I give you the recipe–which was a huge hit with peanut butter lovers, chocolate lovers, cookie lovers, and bar cookie lovers–I wanted to share a note about Hershey and the company’s support of Dr. Mark Manary’s Project Peanut Butter. In Ghana, which maintains big peanut and cocoa production, malnutrition persists among children. Project Peanut Butter’s goal, therefore, is to distribute packets of nutrient-packed Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods. The core ingredient in the packets is the peanut; they also contain the vitamins needed to help kids survive malnourishment. Founded in Malawi in 2004, the project has been recognized by the United Nations, World Health Organization, and World Food Program as the standard of in-home care for malnutrition.

Then, in 2012, with funding from The Hershey Company, Project Peanut Butter announced an expansion into Ghana, where not only did it plan to distribute the remedies but to source the peanuts and produce the packets too. Over the summer, PPB’s Ghana team began test runs of the local factory they’d built along with Hershey’s manufacturing expertise, and hopes to feed two-thirds of Ghana’s hungry kids.  You can get updates about the Ghana project here.

Thanks for reading!

This post is sponsored by The Hershey Company. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that keep Big Girls, Small Kitchen delicious!