Kwanzaa Culinarians 2014: Cacao Benne Cookies

Cacao Benne Cookies

Make a pot of tea or coffee, light a candle, grab a comfortable seat, and plate a few cacao benne (pronounced benny) cookies. How was your year? Since the time I’ve learned 14 isn’t my favorite number, I’ve cautiously waited for the year of 2014. It’s a painfully honest number. And, when the clock turned 2014 in the midnight hour on January first, I said a silent prayer. God help us. And, as I’ve imaged, this year is a roller coaster of emotions. Russia. Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ebola in West Africa. Mike Brown and other victims of the police. Family members passing. By the time summer arrived, my stomach was jumping to the tune of “War” sung by The Temptations. Since the beginning of human relationships, I’m sure there’s a country or region involved in war somewhere around the globe. Perhaps, due to my sensitivity to 14, this year’s wars and conflicts deeply troubled me. It’s 2014 communicating, “War… What is it good for?… absolutely nothing…”

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Parade.com: Dark and White Chocolate Brownies with Candy Cane

Dark and White Chocolate Brownies with Candy Cane

There’s nothing like a peppermint candy cane crushed into tiny pieces with its crisp flavor cutting through a decadent, dark and vanilla white chocolate brownie. The flavors sing, “Have a jolly Merry Christmas!”  Read more

Parade.com: Cardamon Snickerdoodles

Cardamon Snickerdoodles

It’s the various spices that define holiday baking with cinnamon being the most common of them all. Next to beautifully adored butter cookies, simple snickerdoodles rolled in cinnamon and sugar are one of my favorite cookies because of its soft and chewy texture. In this recipe, coconut sugar replaces white sugar for a less sweetened and a hint of caramel flavor. While white-whole wheat flour is tossed with all-purpose white flour for a slightly healthier treat. The other change? Cardamon replaces cinnamon for a different sweet and spicy flavor. Along with cinnamon, it’s a spice redefining the holidays among adventurous bakers.

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Parade Magazine: Maple Almond Pear Tarts

Maple Almond Pear Tarts

After returning to working a weekday schedule of 9 to 5, desserts with less prep work are appreciated in my schedule. Although pears and/or apples baked in buttery pie crusts are worth the extra effort and time, using puff pastry to make a tart turns out a quickie dessert.

This tart is topped with pear slices, warm spices, chopped almonds, and a maple syrup glaze with Tonewood Maple Flakes sprinkled on top. Of course, no dessert with baked pears is complete without a generous scoop of fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Sweet pies are great if there’s extra time in your schedule, but those with fewer hours can make these maple almond pear tarts with equal love.  Read more

How Sweet it Is

Coffee Almond Ice Cream and Brownie Cake with Chocolate Ganache

t’s our birthday and a major anniversary year for us. He’s seen the worst of me, and said I am beautiful. He’s my King and I’m his Queen. That’s love. I wanted to treat him to a nice birthday. To say thank you for the support over the years. I wish we could fly away for two weeks to a private island. For now, my love is expressed via low-budget creativity. It’s the type of gift for that one particular person as it warms the heart to communicate, “I listen, watch and think about you all the time.”

With extra money saved, two orchestra tickets to Motown the Musical were bought. Reservations to The Elm in Williamsburg were made. And, an ice cream cake made with a twist of his favorite (insert big brand name ice cream here) Vanilla Swiss Almond flavor.

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