LunaCafe OtherWorldly Silky Fudgy Brownies

LunaCafe OtherWorldly Silky Brownies Stacked

What I really love about baking is that even if you don’t get the exact result you are going for, you sometimes get a nonetheless marvelous different result. That’s what happened with these brownies, which I intended to be the epitome of chewy chocolate YUM.

Peach & Blackberry Pie with Coconut Streusel

Peach & Blackberry Pie with Coconut Streusel

I love Peach Pie. There’s probably no pie I love more—when prepared with good technique and the right local peaches. But alas, not every peach makes a great pie. The right pie peach has full peach flavor, firm texture that doesn’t turn to mush when baked, and a balance between sweet and tart. I recently […]

Homemade Nutella: Two Ways (Chocolate Hazelnut Spread)

Homemade Nutella

To my palate, store bought Nutella tastes like overly sweet, poor quality chocolate, with way too much vanilla and the lingering taste of stale powdered milk. But wait, you can easily make your own! And it’s fabulous. There are five basic ways to make Homemade Nutella. This articles explores two of the best.

Chocolate Snacky Wacky Cake (Depression Cake)

Chocolate Cake Serving 2

This is NOT your average, common place, every-day, garden-variety cake. Frankly, it’s not normal or even respectable. It doesn’t play by the rules. If you are Merriam-Webster, you might call it bizarro, wacko, crazy, curious, eccentric, far-out, odd, kooky, offbeat, outlandish, peculiar, quirky, screwy, strange, or weird. In other words, this unassuming little snack cake is […]

Mexicano Chocolate Pudding Cake (Hot, Easy & Good)

Serving 2

When it comes to special desserts these days, I’m  into EASY. But I’m not willing to compromise on taste, so it’s got to be EASY and GOOD. And because Valentine’s Day is in two days, it’s also got to be HOT. And seriously, why can’t HOT, EASY, and GOOD go together? There are three components […]

Chinese Good Fortune Cookies

Chinese Good Fortune Cookies

Is there any cookie in the world more magical and enchanting than a Chinese Fortune Cookie? No way. My heart and the corners of my mouth lift every time I am presented with one in a restaurant. How in heaven’s name are they made? And what will my fortune say this time? Of course the fortune […]

Pumpkin Pie, Ginger High, Meringue in Your Eye, Oh My

Pumpkin Streusel Pie to Knock Your Socks Off_Dana Zia

Check out these fabulous and decidedly uncommon pumpkin pies from four Portland, Oregon food stars.

Caramel-Lime Blueberry Pudding Cake

Blueberry Lime Pudding Cake

I’ve had pudding cakes on my mind for quite a while now, so when I was leafing through old issues of Gourmet Magazine recently and saw the fabulous Blueberry Pudding Cake on the cover of the July 2005 issue, I knew the time had come. I had fresh blueberries and the other ingredients are kitchen staples. Of course I tweaked the recipe a bit, adding a good hit of lime and a caramel note to the sauce. And then my blueberry sauce didn’t sink through the batter as the original recipe said it should, so I tweaked the procedure for the sauce as well. The result was a hit with all four tasters. The only grumbling I heard was over the lack of ice cream accompaniment. Next time, I’ll make sure to have that on hand.

Blueberry Cobbler with Maple, Lemon & Sour Cream Cornmeal Biscuits

Blueberry Cobbler with Maple, Lemon & Sour Cream Cornmeal Biscuits

This Blueberry Cobbler is from a different universe than the soggy, ho-hum cobblers encountered in many restaurants these days. The berries are evocatively enhanced with maple syrup, lemon, and cinnamon. The biscuits are crisp on the top and tender on the interior, with a subtle tang from the addition of sour cream and lemon. And the whole dessert goes together in under 20 minutes.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Honey Creme Brulee

Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Honey Creme Bruleee

Who doesn’t love Creme Brulee? Or better yet, Chocolate Creme Brulee? And February is all about love and chocolate at LunaCafe. But, there are so many formulas for Chocolate Crème Brulee, I hardly knew where to begin. After some initial testing, I figured that the important thing was to first get the perfect proportion of egg yolks to cream, then the perfect types and amount of chocolate, and finally the perfect process. The romantic flavor pairing was added after I worked out the basic formula.

The Sticky Gingerbread of My Dreams

Gingerbread cake Serving 2

I began this exploration with a question. “What is the difference between sticky and regular gingerbread?” Put another way, “What makes sticky gingerbread, well, sticky?” A couple of rounds of baking later, I had identified the differences. Namely, sticky gingerbread starts with a fluid, molasses-heavy batter, which, if not over baked, creates a beautifully moist cake, which if wrapped and refrigerated for a day or two and then brought back to room temperature, has a dense, chewy, somewhat sticky texture.

Dreamy, Creamy, No-Bake Pumpkin Butter Cheesecake

Dreamy, Creamy, No-Bake Pumpkin Butter Cheesecake

I have developed dozens of cheesecakes over the years. At one point, I even launched a cheesecake company.

But a recent request from a reader made me realize that my focus has been almost exclusively on baked cheesecakes. A quick scan of my files shows only two no-bake cheesecakes. This post is one small and very tasty step toward correcting that omission.

Marbled Spiced Cranberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake

Slice of Marbled Spiced Cranberry & White Chocolate Cheesecake

I am very for­tu­nate that the newest mem­ber of our fam­ily, Christo­pher Weaver, LOVES cheese­cake. Because I love to cre­ate end­less vari­a­tions, and can’t afford all those calo­ries hang­ing out in the fridge taunt­ing me. Chris is a work­out machine, so he doesn’t worry a fig about calo­ries. If there are a few slices of cheese­cake left after a fam­ily din­ner, he saves me by tak­ing them home.

Decidedly Different Cranberry, Walnut & Currant Tart

Decidedly Different Cranberry, Walnut & Currant Tart

Every fall about this time, I am sitting cross-legged on the flour, surrounded by stacks of dessert cookbooks and culinary magazines. I’m looking for a cranberry tart for Thanksgiving. A UNIQUE, MEMORABLE, WOW-INDUCING tart worthy of the most spectacular meal of the year. And I’m willing (okay, eager) to try (okay, eat) several cranberry tart contenders before making the final cut.

Sweet Corn & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Sweet Corn & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Spiced Caramel Apple Sauce & Gingersnap Crumble

Never heard of sweet corn ice cream? Well then, you’re in for an ice cream flavor revelation. As my collection of American Southwest and Mexican cookbooks grew over the years, I occasionally encountered this “oddity” in one or another of the dessert chapters. Finally, I searched the web and lo and behold, the word is out.

Spiced Caramel Apple Sauce

Spiced Caramel Apple Sauce

You know the flavor contrast you get when you bite into a perfect caramel apple—first rich, creamy, sweet caramel, and then bracingly tart, juicy apple? Add half a dozen spices and that’s what this caramel sauce tastes like. At first, you think, “Oh yeah, luxuriously rich, wonderfully spiced caramel,” and then POW, the acidity of the reduced apple cider kicks in and your mouth goes, “Hey, whoa, what’s happening here?” I love this double-punch effect.

Blackberry Lime Syrup with Star Anise

Blackberry Lime Syrup with Star Anise Over Lemon Sorbet

This sweet-tart sauce is the essence of late summer. It transports me back to the country roads and beaches of Vashon Island, where I spent so many Septembers foraging for blackberries, baking for hours in the wilting sun, trying to get enough ripe berries for JUST ONE PIE.

Ginger-Lime Peach & Blueberry Crisp with Toasted Hazelnut Streusel

Ginger-Lime Peach & Blueberry Crisp with Toasted Hazelnut Streusel

Northwest farmers markets were overflowing with fresh peaches this past weekend. And the selection is just beginning.

So far, I’ve seen Red Rose, Suncrest, Angelus, August Lady, Blushing Star, Snow Giant, Hale, Red Gold, Regina, September Snow, Summer Lady, and Yukon varieties. There are so many choices that making a decision is difficult. I sampled peaches at the Portland Farmers Market on Saturday and then again at the Hillsdale Farmers Market on Sunday.

Ultimate Salted Caramel Pudding (with Butterscotch Pudding Variation)

Ultimate Salted Caramel Pudding with Caramel Sauce, Whipped Cream & Cocoa Nibs

This post began as a response to repeated requests from a tenacious reader for The Best Ever Butterscotch Pudding (her words). She was impressed with Ultimate Vanilla Pudding (Perfect Stovetop Custard) and Ultimate Chocolate Pudding and wanted the same perfect results with a butterscotch flavor. She had tried a few recipes on the web but was disappointed in the results.

Warm-Spiced Molten Chocolate Cake

Spooning into Warm-Spiced Molten Chocolate Cake

I know, I know! Molten Chocolate Cake, or Lava Cake, as it is sometimes called, is so YESTERDAY. I am almost perturbed today when I see one on a dessert menu.

I mean, really, can’t the pastry chef think of SOMETHING ELSE? Haven’t we moved beyond warm, fragrant, oozing, fudgy chocolate soufflé cakes and their requisite ice cream accompaniments?

Chocolate Ginger Chipotle Stout Cake

Chocolate Ginger Chipotle Stout Cake

I have a confession to make. This is not a new cake. I created it at the tail end of LAST YEAR’S All Chocolate! All Month! celebration, and then in the excitement of planning a slew of new spring recipes, forgot to post it. In fact, I forgot it altogether. Until yesterday.

Spicy Chocolate, Banana & Fresh Ginger Tea Loaf

Close Up of Spicy Chocolate, Banana & Fresh Ginger Tea Loaf

It’s All Chocolate! All Month! in the LunaCafe OtherWorldly Kitchen. As usual during the Month of Love, I am covered in chocolate: milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, white chocolate, and unsweetened cocoa powder. All in an effort to come up with the most delectable, memorable Valentine’s Day dessert ever.

Mexicano Chocolate Ebelskivers (Aebleskivers)

Mexicano Chocolate Ebelskivers

The first time I bit into the airy pillow of dough known as ebelskiver (pronounced ay bil skee ver), I could not quite categorize it. Was it donut, beignet, popover? Or something else entirely? The only thing I knew for sure was that I loved them—whatever they were.

Holiday Gifts from the LunaCafe Kitchen

Burnt Caramel & Lemon Chevre Brownies

Christmas is the season of giving, and no gift is more welcome than something personal from your own kitchen. Pack your creation in a pretty holiday tin, canister, or gift jar, and you’re ready to make merry. The following are some of my favorite holiday treats, all perfect for giving.

Spicy Pumpkin Butter Gingerbread Beignets

Pumpkin Butter Gingerbread Beignets

This concept should have been a cinch. After all, I developed White Chocolate, Cardamom & Coconut Beignet and they’re wonderful—ethereally light, tender, moist, and beautifully flavored.

But I made a classic mistake at the onset. I tried to pattern the new beignets after the earlier success. And that, my friends, was a disaster. I threw batch after batch of beignets in the trash after just one taste.

Something different went wrong with each batch: too dry, too wet, not sweet enough, not pumpkin enough, not spicy enough, and finally, just okay but nothing special. I almost gave up. Where was I going wrong?

Spiced Maple Pumpkin Butter & 20 Ways to Use It

Pumpkin Butter Closeup

I was at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago and spied a perky little jar of Pumpkin Butter. I must be years behind on this, but that was my first encounter with this luscious spread.

Lime & Vanilla Scented Rhubarb Clafouti

Lime & Vanilla Scented Rhubarb Clafouti

Clafouti (pronounced klah-foo-tee), a simple French custard-cake, is the perfect foil for the fresh fruit and berries of summer. Formulas vary wildly from one end of the spectrum (custard) to the other (cake). I love trying them all, and I’ve shared two of them with you already. What I am sharing with you today is a chewy, cake-style clafouti with a sweet-tart topping of lime and vanilla-scented fresh rhubarb.

Rhubarb Rose Petal Caramel Syrup + 4 Variations

Fresh Rhubarb Roundup: Rhubarb Rose Petal Caramel Syrup

One of the easiest and most effective ways to elevate a simple dessert to epicurean heights is to add a brightly colored, brightly flavored dessert syrup. You can serve a dessert syrup over ice cream or gelato, alongside panna cotta or baked custard, with tea cakes, or as the key flavoring of an Italian soda, lemonade, or limeade (recipe below).

Mastering Panna Cotta – with Six Variations

Fresh Chevre Panna Cotta with Rhubarb Sauce, Basil Syrup, and Almond Praline_Closeup

To my palate, this is the perfect Panna Cotta. It is lightly set and lightly sweetened with a good balance between fat and lean dairy ingredients.

To develop this master recipe for panna cotta, I created a recipe grid that compares key ingredients across examples from 20+ respected cooks. As you might imagine, the key proportion of gelatin to total amount of liquid is all over the place in these examples. You should not be overtly aware that there is gelatin in this dessert when you are eating it. That aspect should be quite subtle.

This article includes tips & tricks for creating the most wonderul Panna Cotta imaginable, plus six inspired variations.

Heavenly Almond Yogurt Cake with Fresh Strawberries, Strawberry Caramel Sauce & Basil Sauce

Almond Yogurt Olive Oil Cake with Fresh Strawberries, Fresh Basil Syrup & Cream Cheese Crema

When I happened upon the inspiration for this cake (Gourmet Traveler Magazine, Yoghurt & Almond Cake with Orange-Caramel Peaches & Vanilla Yoghurt), I puzzled over the ingredient proportions and procedure. Was there enough fat to produce a moist cake? Was there enough flour to produce a cake that could carry its own weight? Was the egg proportion too high?