Archive for November, 2009


Candied bacon ice cream recipe. Just in time for the holidays!

This recipe’s from David Lebovitz, who trained with Lindsey Shere at Chez Panisse, the storied locavore/organic restaurant in San Francisco. I like the way this dude experimented with a bunch of different ways of doing the candied bacon to get it crispy. The texture’s going to be very important, since the last thing you want in a bacon dessert is to be chewing on some gristly piece of pig fat like a stick of Wrigley’s. Check out Lebovitz’s bacon ice cream recipe here:

If you’re juxtaposing bacon with an ingredient that’s already sweet, you could take a shortcut and not bother candying the bacon. When Mr. X-sXe and I made chocolate-covered bacon and bacon Rice Krispy treats for the holidays last year, we stuck with precooked bacon, which has a super crispy texture without the chewy fatty bits. We microwaved the bacon a bit longer than the package directions recommended (but not to the point where it burned), then blotted off any excess fat before crumbling it into our concoctions. Recipe for chocolate-covered bacon here:

Serving bacon treats at the holiday family gathering went over pretty well–even if your friends and family are initially wigged out, they’ll come around to the idea once they taste how the salty, smoky bacon brings out the sweetness of the dessert. It was fun to add some unexpected desserts to the standard pie-and-cookie fare. For a while, we had people guessing at what the chocolate-covered bacon was. A lot of folks mistook it for toffee.

BTW, if you’re up in Rehoboth Beach anytime soon, check out the bacon ice cream at The Ice Cream Store to get an idea of how this recipe will taste.


Dangerously Delicious Pies, coming to DC this month

I can’t wait to try the pies at this place, especially the rhubarb. With all the cupcake joints in this town, it’s about time DC took its pies seriously. Looks like Baked & Wired and Kramer’s better step up their game.

Dangerously Delicious Pies also does savory pies and quiches. The guy who owns this place, Rodney Henry, was on Food Network making his chicken pot pie with Paula Deen. I remember the episode well because the ingredients weren’t exactly healthy (they never are if you want a truly delicious, flaky crust and creamy filling). Dangerous for my cholesterol, indeed, but small price to pay for a good pot pie.

Dangerously Delicious Pies, 1339 H Street, NE, 202-398-7437


Recipes for the holidays: Barefoot Contessa’s gingerbread

The Contessa has never let me down. Her recipes are some of the most flavorful concoctions of all the Food Network stars. And usually pretty simple to make, to boot. Her food inspires such devotion that I once went through the entire database, printing out almost every recipe she’s got on there.

I modified this gingerbread recipe, since I don’t like candied ginger, and Mr. X-sXe doesn’t like raisins. In retrospect, leaving out those two ingredients made the gingerbread less spicy and sweet than you might want it (despite the cup of molasses, it was hard to detect any sweetness). So next time I make this, I’m going to add quite a bit more ground ginger, and probably at least 1/3 cup sugar. Also, instead of the orange glaze, I made the rum whipped cream to go with it (recipe also below).

Don’t worry about the fact that there are no eggs in the recipe. It rose just fine, with a light and fluffy, moist texture. Make sure to smooth out the batter in the pan before baking. Unlike cake batter, this one’s so thick that it doesn’t redistribute evenly in the oven.

***Update, 12/7/09: Read on for more gingerbread recipes I’ve road tested:***

Barefoot Contessa’s Old-Fashioned Gingerbread

  • 1/4 cup dark rum or water
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup minced dried crystallized ginger (not in syrup)

For glaze (optional)

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed orange juice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 by 8-inch cake pan and line with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Place the rum and raisins in a small pan, cover and heat until the rum boils. Turn off the heat and set aside. Place the butter and molasses in another small pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Pour the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cool for 5 minutes, then mix in the sour cream and orange zest.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and salt together in a small bowl. Mix with your hands until combined. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the molasses mixture and mix only until smooth. Drain the raisins and add them and crystallized ginger to the mixture with a spatula. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely.

When the cake has cooled, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice and pour it onto the gingerbread, allowing it to drip down the sides. Allow the glaze to set. Cut the gingerbread into 9 squares.

Rum Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum

Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar, vanilla and rum. Continue to whip until it forms stiff peaks. Serve cold.

Gingerbread recipe here:


Vosges turns Mo’s Bacon Bar into a pancake mix

Vosges has a knack for creating novelty, gourmet chocolate combinations that you actually want to eat again. I’ve yet to try this pancake mix, but I bet it takes chocolate-chip pancakes to a new level. It’s the perfect gift for those who like to alternate between bites of pancake and bites of bacon.

Pancake mix, $12 at


Best cake tattoo ever. Make that the best tattoo ever.

Steve H. and I were enjoying swine sandwiches at Porchetta in NYC when we noticed the woman behind the counter had this on her knuckles. I believe she’s training to be a pastry chef (correct me if I’m wrong and you’re reading this, woman-with-the-raddest-tattoo-ever).

Clearly this a kindred spirit who understands the passion that cake inspires in people. She likes pies, too, but obviously not enough for the “bake pies” knuckles tattoo. On second thought, we didn’t see her toes.


Home-grown DC whoopie pies from B. Hall, Baker

I know I’ve been harping on about how macaroons are the next cupcakes. But given the fact that whoopie pies are in every grocery store and bakery lately, I’ve had to reconsider. (Also, if you think about it, whoopie pies are close cousins to cupcakes. Just lop off the bottom half of a cupcake and reattach it to the top, like a cupcake sandwich. You end up with a whoopie pie-like creature.) 

The thing that bums me out about most whoopies pies is that they taste like a variation on a Devil Dog. So it’s exciting to see that B. Hall, Baker (featured in DailyCandy DC today, is bringing us ones made with gourmet ingredients. With flavors ranging from Raspberry Red Velvet to Dulce de Leche, this ain’t no Hostess creation.

These babies are available by mail order and for local pick-up on select dates.

And for you bakers out there, this white-chocolate whoopie pie recipe from The Washington Post is pretty good.


NYC sugar rush: Rice to Riches and Butter Lane Bakery

It’s hard not to marvel at the number of food places in NYC that specialize in one thing only, and somehow manage to cover their bills–even turn a profit. The Macaron Cafe (, a store dedicated to selling French macaroons in rainbow colors, is a prime example. Yeah, they do sandwiches too, but I’ve never actually seen a customer order one.

On a recent business trip there, I only had a couple of hours before I had to catch my train back. But I couldn’t go home empty-handed. My sweet tooth (and greed) wouldn’t allow it.


Thanks to Sex and the City and the national obsession with cupcakes, you can pretty much find a cupcake place every few blocks in NYC. So one of the things I picked up was a dozen organic cupcakes from Butter Lane. They have a limited number of cupcake bases that you can pair with their frostings. I believe the ones in the photo are caramel on vanilla cake and strawberry on vanilla cake. We thought they did a better job with the frosting (perfectly sweet, creamy and flavorful) than their cakes (the vanilla was dry, but the other cake options were more moist).

Rice to Riches, which JDang introduced to me a while back, specializes in a smorgasbord of rice pudding flavors (20+ kinds a day). I picked up the Coconut Coma and Hazelnut Chocolate Bear Hug. Check out the funky UFO-like packaging.


The coconut was disappointing, a bit bland with a faint sour taste to it. But I could probably bathe in the chocolate-hazelnut. Rich (more dark chocolate than milk chocolate, flavor-wise), creamy and nutty. It’ll be hard to go back to Nutella after you’ve tried it.


Butter Lane, 123 East 7th Street, (212) 677-2880

Rice to Riches, 37 Spring Street, (212) 274-0008


Trader Joe’s dark-chocolate covered pretzel slims

Trader Joe’s has been offering chocolate-covered pretzels at a great price forever. These are a variation on that product. There’s more surface area covered by chocolate on the slims than their regular pretzels, so these might be  a better option for chocolate lovers. Be prepared for the large grains of salt on these, which contrast nicely with the sweetness of the chocolate.

This bag was 6 ounces for $2.99. My guess is that ounce for ounce, the regular chocolate-covered pretzels are a better value. I’ll have to verify that next time I’m in the store, though.



Apple pie excess on Paula’s Party

It’s difficult not to like Paula Deen, no matter what you think of her super-rich, butter-saturated cooking. (Has she ever revealed whether she has high cholesterol? Lipitor, I smell an opportunity.) I don’t really watch her shows to pick up new recipes, but more just to bask in her Paula Deen-ness.

On Paula’s Party today, she had a lady on who made a caramel-crusted pie using 16 pounds of apples, like a giant hive of apple pie. What’s more, it actually looked like it was well worth the calories, sugar and saturated fats.

Recipe here:


Check out the comments under the recipe. Apparently some Food Network viewers think Paula has a “fowl [sic] mouth.” Have they seen what flies on primetime TV these days? 

Anyway, Paula Deen was actually in DC this past weekend at the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show. I bet her appearance was the first one to sell out.


A shop that only sells macaroons: Macaron Cafe, NY

Well, they actually do salads, sandwiches and coffees too. But their main thing is macaroons. The first time I came across this place in NYC, I was pretty baffled. As in, is-this-a-sustainable-business-model baffled. Then again, there are people making millions off of selling cupcakes alone.


I love the hat-box packaging on these. Their macaroons aren’t cheap (about $2 a pop) and the specially packaged ones are probably more. But they are larger than your average macaroon. And seriously, what macaroon fan wouldn’t want to get a giant box of these for the holidays?

161 West 36th Street
New York, NY 10018
T/F (212) 564-3525