RLB Rugelach

butter and cream cheese in bowl

Here’s where I started this week. Butter and cream cheese. The cookie equivalent of spearmint and peppermint. Combined in this dough with just a little sugar they made a pastry-like dough that complemented the sweet, fruity filling well.

rugelach dough in mixer
Dough being formed.
ingredients at the ready
filling ingredients. That jam back there is the fruit. 🙂

I opted for the raspberry-chocolate filling, once again avoiding raisins so my kids would help Alan and me eat the end product.

cropped dough knife
this is as badass as my baking gets.

I’m making an indentation in the center of the dough. For some reason this photo reminds me of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum, with the knife as pendulum. It’s a vague resemblance at best. I guess I’m easily amused.

filled dough on sheet less messy

As you can see, I put my “pendulum” to far more prosaic and less sinister use. The center hole and space around it are free of filling, the better to roll rugelach.

rugelach on baking sheet
rolled rugelach

I usually avoid filled cookies because I feel like the effort/reward ratio is too high, and also because cookie filling tends to the adolescent-unfriendly. But these were surprisingly simple to put together, and anything with chocolate in it disappears in my house. Definitely a repeatable endeavor!

finished rugulach on plate

Alan ate one, then another, then a third while we were sitting at the table absorbed in separate tasks. I finally said, “You’re supposed to tell me you like them, you know” He said, “I wanted to, but I forgot what they’re called.”


RLB Hungarian Raisin Walnut Tartlets with bonus chocolate ganache

I started thinking about what to do with these tartlets as soon as I saw them come up on the Alpha Bakers schedule. They looked delicious, but figuring out what to do with the finished product was a challenge. My kids won’t go near anything with raisins, they’re too rich for me to eat many, and I work in a two person office. I toyed with the idea of just making the filling, but when I looked at the recipe closely, that didn’t seem like a great idea. It wasn’t until I was in the kitchen looking at the recipe that I saw the Chocolate Ganache Tartlets coming up in the rotation, and decided I’d make the pate sucree crust that goes with the chocolate tartlets and half a recipe each of raisin walnut and chocolate ganache filling.

brown sugar

This is the Sugar in the Raw after being finely chopped (can you chop sugar? Is that a thing? Is is ground, or whirred? In any case, it’s much finer than it was coming out of the bag)

brown sugar with eggs

Here’s the sugar with egg added

raisin walnut filling no nuts or raisins yet

this is the completed base of sugar, eggs, vanilla butter and salt.

raisins and walnuts raisins and walnuts with some filling

Now the raisins and toasted walnuts on their own and mixed with a little bit of the base.

chopped chocolate

This is the chocolate I chopped up for the ganache, but no pictures of the ganache cooking, or the pate sucre being made. I promise I did make them though. I’m going to blame my daughter, who sat down on the sofa near the kitchen and started asking  about plot points in Grey’s Anatomy, which I had on in the background. Of course I was the one who turned the TV on in the first place… At least I wasn’t distracted from the actual baking. I completed both tart(let)s.

One Hungarian Raisin One Chocolate Ganache

And they were both good! I had some extra walnut filling that I baked in a custard cup. It was good, but not as good as when it was part of a tart. And the ganache was fine on its own, but superb in tartlet form. Plus, I had some extra egg/butter mixture from the walnut tartlets that also went into custard cups with a tablespoon or so of ganache.  The result was a dense, buttery custard that was well-received by the raisin averse crowd.

final hungarian raisin

I left these on the counter this morning. When I returned early this afternoon, the counter was neat and clean. I think I made the right amount. 🙂



RLB ChocolaTea Cake

This was  not my favorite cake from the Baking Bible, for oh so many reasons. Not that it was a bad cake mind you, but it was another chocolate cake soon after the interesting but hellishly difficult FloRo Elegance, and while it wasn’t as much work, it used a novel technique, and -anyway. Sometimes when I am trying to draw my children out about their day I’ll ask them for a best and worst. It works surprisingly well to get a short but useful description out of them. So,the  best part of baking this cake? Watching the egg and sugar mixture balloon up in the mixing bowl. I’d never seen whole eggs increase in volume like that. It was fun. The worst part? There were really two worst parts. The first was the sinking feeling I got mixing the choocolate/flour mixture into the egg mixture, watching the eggs deflate and thinking, “this can’t be good”. The second didn’t happen until right before I sat down to write this blog post, when I realized I’d substituted bourbon for cognac when I meant to use brandy. They both start with B, right?

eggs warming for batter P1040732

Here’s the best part of this cake. I warmed the eggs up over simmering water, then beat them with my mixer’s wisk attachment. The eggs on the left are the identical to the eggs on the right except that the pic on the right is post whisking.

cake layer

Here’s the first contender for worst part, or rather the result of that contender, my squat cake layer. I was too distraught while mixing the chocolate and the eggs to take a picture.


Here’s the second contender. Even at the store I looked at the description and thought, “whiskey? I don’t like whiskey, do I?” At least I didn’t buy much.

Not a best or a worst, but coming in as a solid yum, was the frosting. Bittersweet chocolate, cream and creme fraiche, how can you go wrong? I even remembered to make it before I baked the cake so it had enough time to cool to the right consistency.

finished frosting

Shiny and chocolatey and yummy. No tea in here though, because we never use sugared powdered tea, so I skipped it. I did make bourbon-tea syrup to brush on the cake layers, though. It was fine, but not my thing. I don’t think it was the bourbon’s fault, either. Just not my thing.

finished cake 2

I will say it looks lovely in its finished form. Even sliced the squat layers look fine with a frosting finish.

slice bite

It is chocolate cake after all. How far wrong can you go?



RLB Meringue Birch Twigs


These meringues were delicious, and the perfect treat for book club, which was at my house last week. Everyone appreciated the fact that they provide a lot of taste without being too filling.

That they were a snap to make was an added bonus.

P1040703 P1040702

I started with egg whites and the sugar/cream of tartar mixture.


After the eggs were beaten into peaks, I added the sugar mixture, then the flavoring. I splurged on raspberry essence from Aftel Perfumes, and wow! The meringues really tasted like raspberry, not raspberry flavoring. I bought some dill essence too, because fresh dill is so fragile and my yard is too shady to grow it.


This piping bag looks good, right? I’m not showing you the top end where the meringue glopped out the top and onto my hands. 😉 But most of it went into the bag the way it was supposed to, and out onto the baking pan;



It was really hard to bake the twigs for a hour and 20 minutes then let them sit in a turned-off oven for two more hours without peeking, but my patience paid off!


The crunchy, raspberry-tinged meringue and the softer chocolate drizzle were wonderful together. There was lots of disagreement among the book club ladies about our chosen book, Fates and Furies, but everyone liked the meringues.