There are a number of reasons why food bloggers might plan a get together.

Perhaps it’s to finally meet long-time fellow food blogger friends in person.

Many times we get together for a worthy cause.

Since we love what we do, we are always looking for ways to learn and improve our craft; we’ll get together for that.

However, regardless of the circumstance that might bring us together there is one thing you can be certain of… rarely does one show up empty-handed.

Those who know me, know that I usually show up with a batch or two of french macarons. And, anyone who knows Rachael of La Fuji Mama knows without a doubt that she will most likely show up with a delicious batch of Fuji Nana’s Deadly Chocolate Almond Toffee.

Which, while we are on the subject I really think should be renamed to “Fuji Nana’s Dangerous Chocolate Almond Toffee” because:

a)You run the risk of not being able to control yourself once you have possession of said toffee.

b)You can end up with a chocolate dipped chin or a chocolate dipped lens.

c)You might turn your head at the bowl of oatmeal you had planned on having for breakfast, and have this instead.

So consider yourself warned…

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Toffee
inspired from Fuji Nana’s Deadly Chocolate Almond Toffee

1 cup roasted unsalted hazelnuts
1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon hazelnut liqueur
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup finely chopped or ground walnuts

1. Line a baking sheet with foil or a Silpat, spinkle the hazelnuts in a single layer over the over baking sheet to cover an area of approx 9 X 12; set aside.

2. In a heavy saucepan or copper pan combine butter, sugar and salt. Cook over high heat stirring constantly until the candy reaches 300 degrees F (Hard Crack stage) this step takes between 5 – 7 minutes. Remove for heat, stir in hazelnut liqueur, and quickly pour candy over the hazelnuts; allow to cool completely.

3. Melt chocolate in the microwave oven in intervals of 40 seconds at 50% power and stirring inbetween until chocolate is soft enough to spread. Spread chocolate mixture over cooled toffee and sprinkle with your favorite ground nut. Allow chocolate to cool completely before breaking toffee into bite-size pieces.

Here’s a batch of Fuji Nana’s Deadly Chocolate Almond Toffee I made a couple of weeks ago. Mmm Mmm Mmm…

Bookmark and Share


One afternoon during my recent trip to Mexico, my mom went into the kitchen and pulled out a plastic bag from the pantry. She called me over and said: “Hijita… mira, ven. Esto es para ti.” (Little daughter… take a look, come here. This is for you.).

Inside the bag there was a wide assortment of clipped, handwritten, and typed recipes along with a notebook which contained recipes written by one of my aunts who used to run a hotel in the country, circa 1950. My aunt gave the notebook to my mom a few years after they decided to close the hotel and move to the city.

My mom later on added her own recipes to this notebook; she also tried to write down as many recipes as she could remember from dishes my grandmother used to prepare.

The plastic bag and it’s contents have now transferred ownership and although I have bittersweet feelings about said transaction I’m trying to embrace them.

This Prune Flan recipe didn’t make it into the famous notebook but I found it in the stack nonetheless, so I decided to give it a try.

Straight out of the archives


Prune Flan – Flan de Ciruelas

1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (100 g) pitted prunes
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

The flan will be baked in bain-marie (baño-maria) so you will need a 13 X 9 pan deep enough to hold your oven-proof flan dish.

Fancy Schmancy Mexican Copper Pot
In a heavy bottomed saucepan or cool Mexican Copper Pan melt sugar until it turns a golden amber color. Remove the pan from heat and pour caramel into the oven-proof flan dish, then quickly drizzle the vanilla over the caramel and swirl around in dish, as much as possible.

Caramel coated flan dish
Set the dish inside the 13 X 9 pan. Carefully add 2-3 cups of water to the pan making sure not to get any water onto the dish coated with caramel.

In a blender add the pitted prunes followed by the remaining ingredients. Blend on low speed for about 1 minute then increase speed to medium-high for an additional minute.

Prune Flan in baine-marie
Pour the flan base into the dish lined caramel and bake for 30 minutes or until the flan is set. Carefully remove the pan from the oven and remove the baking dish from the pan. Let the flan rest for at least 20 minutes. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Prune Flan - Flan de Ciruela

Bookmark and Share


July 2010 – Daring Bakers’ Challenge

This month’s Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Sunita of Sunita’s World – Live and Food. The challenge she chose for us was a Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake inspired from this recipe from Taste of Home.

Chocolate Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake
The components of this challenge consisted of:

The challenge was a bit time consuming but totally worth it, the cake was fabulous. I followed Sunita’s recipes as outlined below. The only thing I changed up a bit was the filling, I decided to add mini chocolate chips to the filling so it would provide a little crunch factor and contrast the creamy smoothness of the ice cream and the light and fluffiness of the cake.

Chocolate Swiss Roll
6 medium sized eggs
1 C / 225 gms caster sugar /8 oz+ extra for rolling
6 tbsp/ 45gms/ a pinch over 1.5 oz of all purpose (plain) flour + 5 tblsp/40gm /a pinch under 1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted together
2 tbsp /30ml / 1 fl oz of boiling water
a little oil for brushing the pans

2C / 500 mls/ 16 fl oz of whipping cream
1 vanilla pod, cut into small pieces of about 1/2 cm (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
5 tblsp / 70gms/2.5oz of caster sugar
(I added 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips to the filling)

Preheat the oven at 200 deg C /400 deg F approximately. Brush the baking pans ( 11 inches by 9 inches ) with a little oil and line with greaseproof baking paper. If you have just one pan, bake one cake and then let the pan cool completely before using it for the next cake.

In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar and beat till very thick; when the beaters are lifted, it should leave a trail on the surface for at least 10 seconds.

Add the flour mixture, in three batches and fold in gently with a spatula. Fold in the water.

Divide the mixture among the two baking pans and spread it out evenly, into the corners of the pans.

Place a pan in the center of the pre heated oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes or till the center is springy to the touch.

Spread a kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle a little caster sugar over it. Turn the cake on to the towel and peel away the baking paper. Trim any crisp edges.

Starting from one of the shorter sides, start to make a roll with the towel going inside. Cool the wrapped roll on a rack, seam side down. Repeat the same for the next cake as well.

Grind together the vanilla pieces and sugar in a food processor till nicely mixed together. If you are using vanilla extract, just grind the sugar on its own and then add the sugar and extract to the cream.

In a large bowl, add the cream and vanilla-sugar mixture and beat till very thick. Divide the cream mixture between the completely cooled cakes.

Chocolate Swiss Rolls filled with Vanilla Chocolate Chip Whipped Cream
Open the rolls and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges (a border of 1/2 an inch should be fine).

Roll the cakes up again, this time without the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge till needed, seam side down.

Chocolate Swiss Rolls

Vanilla Ice Cream

2 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, minced or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Grind together the sugar and vanilla in a food processor. In a mixing bowl, add the cream and vanilla –sugar mixture and whisk lightly till everything is mixed together. If you are using the vanilla extract, grind the sugar on its own and then and the sugar along with the vanilla extract to the cream.

Pour into a freezer friendly container and freeze till firm around the edges. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

Hot Fudge Sauce
1 cup caster sugar
3 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and water.

Place the pan over heat, and stir constantly, till it begins to thicken and is smooth (for about 2 minutes).

Remove from heat and mix in the butter and vanilla. Keep aside to cool .

Chocolate Ice Cream

2 cups whipping cream
1 cup caster sugar
3 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

Grind together the sugar and the cocoa powder in a food processor .
In a saucepan, add all the ingredients and whisk lightly.
Place the pan over heat and keep stirring till it begins to bubble around the edges.

To Assemble
Cut the Swiss rolls into 20 equal slices (approximately 2 cms each).

Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with cling film/plastic wrap.

Arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides of the bowl.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm (at least 30 minutes).

Chocolate Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake
Soften the vanilla ice cream. Take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the cling film cover and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till firm (at least 1 hour)

Chocolate Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake
Add the fudge sauce over the vanilla ice cream, cover and freeze till firm. (at least an hour)

Soften the chocolate ice cream and spread it over the fudge sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4-5 hours till completely set.

Remove the plastic cover, and place the serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic lining. If the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water. The bowl will come away easily.

Keep the cake out of the freezer for at least 10 minutes before slicing, depending on how hot your region is. Slice with a sharp
knife, dipped in hot water.

Chocolate Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake

Bookmark and Share


Today I’m going to share with you how this yummy white peach ice cream came to be.

It all started almost 3 years ago when I stopped by our local nursery while they happened to be having a buy 1 get 1 50% off sale. Being a sucker for a bargain I walked out of the nursery with a white peach tree, an avocado tree, a blood orange tree, and a one gallon pot of horsetail.

That same weekend we planted all three fruit trees, and I took the pot of horsetail and transplanted it to cover a long slim stretch of dirt that runs along our side fence.

Fast forward to present time… the blood orange tree is now about 2′ tall and it has bloomed twice. Unfortunately the gardeners haven’t been too careful while mowing around the tiny tree and have managed to knock off the baby oranges off it’s fragile branches two years in a row.

The avocado has yet to produce any fruit, the horsetail I planted against the side fence has spread nicely and is about 6 ft tall now, and the peach tree… well, this is how it looked Sunday afternoon.

White Peach Tree
I wish I had checked the tree sooner because most of the peaches were overripe.

From tree to kitchen counter
I was thinking of making a pie with them, however when I started cutting them up I decided to make ice cream instead. :)

White Peach Ice Cream
Adapted from Cafe Johnsonia

6 ripe white peaches (approx 3 cups chopped)
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1 vanilla bean

Peel and chop the peaches into large chunks. Save the skin and pits.

In a medium saucepan, place the peaches 1/2 cup sugar, lemon juice. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise to get to the seeds, then cut the vanilla bean in half. With a knife carefully remove the seeds from 1 half of the vanilla bean, and place them into the sauce pan along with the vanilla bean itself. Bring to a boil, then lower the temperature and cook for 20 minutes or until the peaches are tender, let it cool and place in the refrigerator until completely chilled.

Peaches & Vanilla Bean
In another saucepan, place the whole milk, the seeds and 1/2 the remaining vanilla bean along with the reserved peach skin and pits. Bring to a simmer then turn off the heat and let it steep for at least 30 minutes or let it cool and place in the refrigerator overnight.

After the skin and pits have steeped in the milk long enough, strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Set aside until ready to use.

Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light and creamy.

Warm up the peach infused milk until very hot–be careful not to boil it. Slowly pour a ladle or two of the hot milk into the egg and sugar mixture while stirring constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.

Slowly pour the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepan along with the peach infused milk. Cook the ice cream base over medium heat while stirring constantly until it thickens.

Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl, stir in the heavy cream, for a chuncky texture remove the cooked peaches from the refrigerator and add them directly into the bowl, for a smoother consistency mash them through a sieve into the bowl then stir well to incorporate. Cool over an ice bath then finish chilling the ice cream base in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Pour ice cream base into your ice cream maker and follow your manufacturer’s instructions. Pour ice cream into a sealable plastic container and place in the freezer until thoroughly frozen.

White Peach Ice Cream

White Peach Ice Cream
I ran out of peaches so I decided to garnish the ice cream with a couple of slices of nectarine.

Bookmark and Share


If you’ve been following my blog for a while you might remember that last February I flew to New York on behalf of Foodbuzz and Electrolux to participate in Kelly Rippa’s Cake-off for a cause. With the help of the Cake Boss – Buddy Valastro, a group of selected Foodbuzz Featured Publishers including myself decorated 5 beautiful cakes and asked you to vote on them in an effort to help raise awareness and funds for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF).

Well, Kelly Rippa has dreamed up a new, fun, delicious, and oh so appropriate summer dessert to be the focus of this summers’ campaign.

A few weeks ago Foodbuzz helped Electrolux and Kelly Rippa raise money for the OCRF by sending two Foodbuzz Featured Publishers and their children to New York to make banana splits.

Serendipity 3
This time Kelly reached out to the Emperor of Ice cream Stephen Bruce, founder of the famed Serendipity 3 in New York City (basically an Ice Cream lover’s paridise) for guidance.

Here is a tiny sampling of Serendipity 3’s handy-work my family enjoyed when we visited Las Vegas last December, and of course the aftermath…

Serendipity 3 Goods
But I digress… Foodbuzz being so very generous is offering it’s Featured Publishers an opportunity to take over it’s Top 9 page for 1 day by posting a Banana Split themed post; in addition to donating $50 towards the OCRF for every Featured Publisher Banana Split themed post they receive.

And, just like with last winter’s Cake-off for a cause you have the opportunity to help raise funds as well by creating your own virtual banana split on

I now give you my version of the perfect banana split…

Monochrome Banana Split Ingredients
Monochrome Banana Split
Monochrome Banana Split

1 scoop dark chocolate ice cream
1 scoop peanut butter brittle ice cream
1 scoop vanilla bean ice cream
1 medium banana
2 tablespoons hot fudge sauce
2 tablespoons hot peanut butter sauce
whipped cream
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts (optional)

Slice the banana lengthwise.

Place the scoops of ice cream between the two banana slices drizzle with hot fudge and peanut butter sauce.

Top ice cream scoops with whipped cream, drizzle more peanut butter sauce and sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

Note: I would have loved to make my own ice cream for this post. However, since I had been out of town on vacation I didn’t get a chance to and didn’t want to miss the opportunity to participate in the challenge for this very special cause.

Peanut Butter Sauce
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons blue agave sweetener

Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan, place over low heat and stir to combine. Remove from heat when mixture is smooth and creamy.

Mini Monochrome Banana Split
Effects of Serendipity 3
We had an opportunity to enjoy only a couple of Serendipity 3’s amazing desserts while we were in Las Vegas this past December. Next time I go back I’m ordering the Banana Split (Coward’s Portion).

Bookmark and Share