Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Eat Local this Week in Orlando!

Eat Local Week is going on right now in area estab - lishments all around Orlando who use local ingredients in their cuisine or sell them at their markets. Eat Local Week is sponsored by Slow Food Orlando, a chapter of Slow Food USA and the idea is simple, spread the word and go patron the eateries who patron our local farmer's and artisans. Let's create a strong local food community! Coincidentally, I covered a handful of establishments in 2009 which are already a part of the Slow Food Orlando Movement. Check out my coverage of those eateries and more on Eat Local Week in Orlando!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Twice-Baked Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

I seriously can not get enough of the Creamy Buffalo Chicken Dip tested for I've had the dip form, the BBQ Pizza form, and now the twice-baked, twice-delicious potato skin form. I think this dip may have nine lives, and I intend to uncover and cook all nine of them. But for now, let's chat about these twice-baked potato skins.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of having all four of my wisdom extracted in one foul swoop! Gnarled teeth be gone! Due to my post-op condition, I am limited to only to a soft foods diet and I have to avoid hot temperatures. Total appetite bummer. To combat the sadness that is not eating what I want when I want, I decided to turn the frown upside down and make some soft foods I would love. Yea! Kitchen crafting to distract my mind from a swollen, painful face and deadly boredom! One of those soft foods I would love was supposed to be Rosemary Green Onion Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes; which would have probably been a lovely and simple dish I could have prepared and enjoyed with relatively light pain. But of course after staring at my pretty little organic Idaho potatoes I thought what a shame it would be to annihilate the petite yet voluptuous, round potato shape. Then, upon examining the contents of my fridge, my eye caught the leftover Creamy Buffalo Chicken Dip and the Twice-Baked Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins were on like Tron, or even on like Donkey Kong. I. E., it was on.

To kick off this dish, I wanted to bump up the skins' flavor a bit on their own so I whipped up a quick herb crust with fresh rosemary, dried basil, dried thyme, sea salt, coarse black pepper, butter, and bread crumbs to cover the outer portion of the skins. I mixed the potato flesh carefully eradicated from their skins with some butter and heaping tablespoons of the already made Creamy Buffalo Chicken Dip and mashed the dickens of all that together. When the skins were finished baking, I began to build my tower-o-flavor. First, blue cheese crumbles followed by the buffalo chicken dip infused mashed potatoes. Topping this potato skin tower-o-flavor I used cheddar cheese crumbles, pre-cooked bacon pieces, and a lavish line of Sriarchi. For the tippy-top topping to enhance flavor, texture, and color are fresh scallions, or green onions.

My, oh my, I couldn't wait to house all 6 of the skins I twice-baked, but oh woe was me! Even though the potato skins were soft they still required a large bite and chewing that caused me deep, dreadful pain. I struggled through two skins when I had to give in and make oatmeal so I wouldn't pass out from starvation. Luckily Pete enjoyed the skins very much and polished them off calming my ego from a total soft food fail.

Twice-Baked Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins
Serving Size: 6 skins, appetizer for 2 people.
  • 3 medium organic Idaho Potatoes
  • 2 heaping tblsp. of Creamy Buffalo Chicken Dip
  • 2 tblsp. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt + sprinklings
  • 1 tsp. coarse black pepper
  • 1 tblsp. fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried time
  • 2 tblsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • cheddar cheese crumbs
  • blue cheese crumbs
  • pre-cooked bacon
  • 2 fresh green onions, chopped.
  • 2 tsp. Sriarchi hot sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Wash, dry, and then poke potatoes all over with a fork. Wrap in paper towels and microwave on high for 9-1o minutes or until fully cooked.
  3. Let potatoes cool a few minutes so they can be handled more easily.
  4. Cut cooked potatoes in half vertically.
  5. Using a pairing knife, carefully extract the potato flesh from each half leaving the skin in tact and stable enough to stand up.
  6. Put the potato flesh in a separate bowl.
  7. In a small dish, melt the 1 tblsp. of butter. Mix in the bread crumbs and butter with your fingers. Mix in all the herbs and seasonings.
  8. Brush the in and outside of the skins with canola oil. Season the inside with sea salt and coarse black pepper.
  9. Roll the outside of the skins in the herb seasonings. Place the coated skins inside-down on a baking sheet.
  1. Bake at 450F for 18 minutes.
  2. Remove from oven and lower heat to 400F.
  3. In the bowl with the reserved potato flesh and 1 tblsp. of butter and microwave for 30 seconds. Mash the butter and potato together. Add the Buffalo Chicken Dip and 2 tsp. of Sriarchi and mash all together.
  4. In the baked skins, first add blue cheese crumbles inside the skin. Follow with the mashed potato/buffalo chicken dip mixture. Make mounds. Finish with sprinklings of cheddar cheese, more blue cheese crumbles, pre-cooked bacon, and a last line of Sriarchi.
  5. Bake at 400F for 12-14 minutes. Garnish with fresh sliced green onion and serve!

My God, I can not wait until I can eat like a real foodie again.

P.S. - I ate grits today for dinner, and enjoyed them. (Holds head in hand in utter disbelief). Now you know I am desperate.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Honey Nut Cheesecake Squares

We covered dips and pizzas in our last two posts for Pace Picante Salsa and Philadelphia Cream Cheese, but there has been no attention in the kitchen paid to a Superbowl Party dessert. So, what gives? Sports fan love sweets too! It is highly unlike me to overlook the reason why most of us even eat vegetables in the first place; to earn the right to indulge in dessert. Making sure sweets have their place at your party's buffet table, the second recipe tested for is a re-working of Kraft's Philadelphia Holiday Desserts 2009 "Caramel-Nut Cheesecake" into my Honey Nut Cheesecake Squares.

  • 2 cups Honey Maid Honey flavor graham crackers. 1 1/2 packages pulsed to a small crumb in a food processor = 2 cups.
  • 3/4 cup Planters Nutrition South Beach Diet Recommended Mix + a handful to decorate & chopped into small pieces.
  • 1/4 + 3/4 cups sugar
  • 7 tlbsp. unsalted butter melted
  • 3 pkg. (8oz. each) Philadelphia Cream Cheese: 2 Philadelphia Cream Cheese Honeynut flavor + 1 1/3 Less Fat Original Flavor.1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Kraft Breakstone's Reduced Fat Sour Cream
  • 3 eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Line a 13x9 inch pan with foil extending the foil on all sides beyond the rim of the baking dish. *I used the Perfect Brownie Pan Set.
  1. In a food processor, break-up 1 1/2 pkg. of graham crackers and pulse about 10 times, then left it run for 15 seconds until you have a small consistent crumb. Empty graham crumbs into a medium size mixing bowl. Put 3/4 Planters Nutrition Nut Mix into the food processor and repeat the small method until you have a small consistent crumb of nuts.
  2. Empty nuts into bowl with the graham cracker plus 1/4 sugar. Using your fingers blend the mixture thoroughly. Add the melted butter and mix through with your hands.
  3. Press the crust evenly into the dish. Reserve some to sprinkle on later as a topping.Bake crust for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese, 3/4 sugar, and vanilla with hand mixer until w
  5. ell blended. Add sour cream and mix-in. Add the eggs one at a time beating until just mixed in. Be careful not to over beat after adding the eggs! Over beating can lead to a cracked top.
  6. Pour over crust.
  7. Bake for 35 min. or until the center is almost set. Let cool 5 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle an evenly, thin layer of crumbs on top while still warm. Use your fingers to gently press the crumb topping into the cake. Garnish with silvers of chopped mix nuts or one nut. Chill for 4 hours before serving.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Creamy Buffalo Chicken Dip & BBQ Pizza

As the Superbowl Season of party food favorites for rowdy and ravenous crowds continues, this post highlights what simple Philadelphia Cream Cheese-based dishes can be crowd pleasers for you and your party guests. Side dishes and finger food such as Salsa Rosemary Chevre Dip and Mexican Pizzas keep appetites (and hopefully also tempers) at bay while your main dish event perhaps of some slow-smoked ribs or burgers on the grill are getting ready to come in for some serious offensive eating. The key for the host or hostess with the mostess to churning out stellar side dishes and finger foods are one, ease of preparation and two, big flavor-boom. In a case of superb timing, recently contacted me about testing recipes of my choosing from the Kraft Philadelphia Holiday Desserts pamphlet. Thanks to that window of opportunity I am able to present Creamy Buffalo Chicken Dip and BBQ Buffalo Chicken Pizzas.

Creamy Buffalo Chicken Dip
Adapted from the Kraft Philadelphia Holiday Desserts recipe "Easy Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Dip"
  • 1 pkg. (8oz.) Philadelphia 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese.
  • 1 1/2 cup finely chopped cooked chicken*if cooking chicken, see below.
  • 1/2 cup Blue Cheese Dressing**see homemade recipe below.
  • 1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce; 4 tblsp. butter melted and mixed with 1/4 cup hot sauce.
  • 3 green onion stems
  • Paprika & chili paste to increase heat.
*Optional. Cooking the chicken:1 1/2 cups of chicken = 6 raw tenderloins.
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • garlic powder

Bomb Blue Cheese Dressing
Yield - about 1/2 cup
  • 2.2 oz. blue cheese crumbles
  • 3 tblspn. buttermilk
  • 3 tblspn. Kraft Breakstone's Reduced Fat Sour Cream
  • 2 tblspn. cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 shakes of sea salt

Dressing Instructions:
  1. In a small bowl using a fork, mix the blue cheese crumbles and buttermilk together.
  2. Stir in sour cream, vinegar, sugar, black pepper, and the sea salt.
  3. You can make and refrigerate this ahead of time.

Dip Instructions:
  1. Cut small rings of the green onions until the pale green becomes white. Stop there.
  2. In a medium microwave safe bowl, mix all the ingredients of the dip and microwave on high for 3-5 min.
  3. ***Optional: Taste the dip and if you want to increase the spiciness, add 1/4 tsp. paprika and 1-2 tblsp. of a chili paste or chili sauce like Sriarchi.
  4. Stir and serve with celery and carrot sticks and/or crackers.

BBQ Buffalo Cheesy Chicken Pizza
Serving Size: 2 individual 8" pizza crusts, or 12 mini-slices for appetizers.
  • 2 8 in. Boboli Pizza Crusts
  • 6 tblsp. Kraft Spicy Honey Barbecue Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Kraft Cheddar Cheese Crumbles
  • 4-6 tblsp. Creamy Chicken Buffalo Dip
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup pre-cooked bacon pieces

Pizza Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees.
  2. Spread 2-3 tblsp. of Kraft Spicy Honey Barbecue Sauce on each crust.
  3. Spread 2-3 tblsp. of Creamy Buffalo Chicken Dip over the bbq sauce.
  4. Sprinkle 1/4 of Kraft Cheddar Cheese Crumbles evenly over the dip and to the edge of the crust.
  5. Sprinkle pre-cooked bacon pieces evenly over the entire pizza.
  6. Place the pizza directly onto the top rack of the oven. Make sure a baking sheet or tinfoil is under the top rack to catch any debris.
  7. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until the crust is brown and the cheese is lightly browned.
  8. Let cool 5-7 minutes before cutting.
  9. Sprinkle with finely chopped celery and serve.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pace Picante Salsa Dishes Spice up Your Superbowl Party

With the 2009 holiday season laid to rest its important to keep the celebratory spirit alive by menu planning for the 2010 Superbowl Party Season! I am a Philadelphia Eagles fan myself and even though they lost to the Dallas Cowboys (ugh, really?), I'm still all geared up with party food recipes made with the samples of Pace Picante Salsa provided to the Foodbuzz Tastemakers Program. Even though I won't be doing the touchdown dance for an Eagles victory, I still think my Pace Picante Salsa inspired dishes, Salsa Rosemary Chevre Dip & Mexican Pizzas, are not only winners-they're champions. Hut 1! Hut 2! Ready!? Set! Cook!

Salsa Rosemary Chevre Dip
Serving Size: 4-6. Double for more guests.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped or pressed
  • 1 cup Pace Picanta Salsa
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tsp habanero hot sauce, or cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4oz. of goat cheese or chevre
  • rosemary springs for garnish
  1. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan.
  2. Add the garlic and cook one minute.
  3. Add the Pace Picante Salsa, lemon juice, habanero hot sauce, chopped rosemary, and the tomato paste.
  4. Stir to combine and allow to simmer a few minutes to reduce.
  5. Spoon the mixture into an oven proof dish.
  6. Cut the goat cheese in medallions and line them in a diagnoal or vertical line splitting the mixture.
  7. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
  8. Let cool 3-4 mintues before serving.
  9. Garnish with fresh rosemary.
  10. Serve with crackers or slices of the baguette.

Mexican Pizza
  • Serving Size: 2 8" Boboli Mini Crust*
  • 4 tblsp. Pace Picante Salsa
  • 4 tblsp. Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 4 tblsp. Hormel Chili with no beans**
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 4-5 jalapeno slices per crust
  • 1/4 cup small chops of green peppers
  • *This recipe can easily be multiplied and varies in serving size according to your number of guests. If you're having a smaller get-together, perhaps each guest can be served their own individual 8" mini Mexican pizza. If you have a larger party, you can also use 12" crusts and cut slices to be served as snacks or appetizers.
  • **Use whatever chili mixture you like. We aren't the biggest bean fans in our house, so we omit those. This recipe is so easy and versatile, it even works with beans.
  1. Preheat the oven to 400. To prepare a 8" pizza:
  2. Smear 2 tblsp of cream cheese around the crust evenly.
  3. Add 2 tblsp Pace Picante Salsa and 2 tblsp. Hormel Chili. Also spread evenly around the crust.
  4. Add green pepper pieces and jalapeno slices.
  5. Sprinkle 1/3-1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese all the way to the edges of the crust.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minute or until the cheese is browning and the bottom of the crust
  7. crisps up.
  8. !IMPORTANTE! Tha Pizza Cutta says, "LET COOL BEFORE CUTTING!" This pizza can be a little oozey, so let it cool at least 7-10 minutes before slicing it up.
  9. Serve to happy or really peeved football fans!

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Birthday Meal Fit for The King

Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to me! Happy beeeerrrrrthday, happy birthday to me!

Today is my birthday foodies & foodettes and although I am flattered everyone out there wants to celebrate my birth, some folks might also be celebrating the birthday of the King of Rock and Roll, the one and only Elvis Presley. Yes it's true Elvis and I (and David Bowie) all share the same birthday. And yes, I am no where near as famous or influential as my birthday mate but perhaps I will be one day. Heck, I knew stars were in my future in the first grade when I approached my mom while she was blow drying her hair listening to Elvis on the radio on my seventh birthday and flatly said, "It's a shame Elvis didn't live to meet me." Commence stunning. Mom almost dropped the dryer in the sink over how assured I was that it would enrich Elvis Presley's life if he and I were acquainted. Oh boy was I precocious!

Hard to believe that moment was about twenty years ago. Did I just date myself? Eek! Oh well. As I was commuting home yesterday contemplating the next year of my life and my more-famous birthday counterpart, I was struck by a hunka-hunka burning inspiration to cook a Birthday Meal Fit for The King to celebrate the fact that we both have graced this earth. After a trip to the market and some extensive Internet searching of Elvis' favorite foods plus my southern food favorites, I finalized the honorary menu: Southern Fried Chicken, Savory Collard Greens, Cinnamon Cornbread, and The King & I Peanut Butter Custard.

Of course my research on Elvis' food choices began the design of each dish and then my personal food choices completed each dish. I may be a Yankee, but I am also an indoctrinated southerner giving rise to love of all things fried and real BBQ. Yet, I still cannot get down with grits. I'm sorry, to me grits will always be gruel I don't care how much butter and cheese you put in them. I am not enticed. Therefore there will not only be no grits, but there are also no bananas in a Birthday Meal Fit for The King. Everyone knows and loves the tale of Elvis' guilty pleasure being a fried banana and peanut butter sandwich. I, however, am allergic to bananas and I don't think The King wants to hang out with me just yet in the afterlife.

"Wise man say, only fools don't read recipes," so please continue on!

Southern Fried Chicken Tenderloins
Serving Size: 2
  • 6 large white meat chicken tenderloins
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk pancake mix
  • fried chicken batter seasoning*
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • Sriarchi
  • *everyone's fried chicken seasoning is secret. I will tell you it involves at least salt, black pepper, paprika, and cumin.
  1. Make sure chicken tenderloins are dry.
  2. Bring your oil temperature in fryer up to 375 degrees. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  3. Pour buttermilk in one shallow bowl and have your flour +seasoning mixture in another shallow bowl.
  4. Dredge each tenderloin in the flour mixture, then in the buttermilk, and then again in the flour mixture. Be sure to let some buttermilk run-off before going through the flour a second time.
  5. Put battered tenderloin directly into fryer.
  6. Let each tenderloin fry 10-12 minutes or until a golden brown color is reached.
  7. After frying, let each tenderloin drain on paper towels. If you are still cooking and need to keep these warm while you prepare the rest of the meal, put the tenderloins on a lined baking sheet in the 250 oven until its time to eat.
  8. Because hot sauce and fried chicken are flavor besties, add your favorite hot sauce for the finishing touch! We love Sriarchi, so hot and yummy!

Cinnamon Cornbread

Serving Size, 9x4 cake pan
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 vegetable oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and generously grease cake pan with butter.
  2. In a bowl, combine all the dry ingredients well.
  3. Mix in egg, buttermilk, oil until well combined.
  4. Pour batter into greased cake pan.
  5. Bake for 23-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  6. Let cool for 5 minutes in pan before cutting pieces.

Quick Savory Collard Greens
Serving Size: 2
  • 1/2 bunch of collard greens
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion straws
  • 1/2 chicken stock
  • olive oil
  • 1 tblsp. balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper
  • cumin
  • nutmeg
  1. Over medium heat in a large saucepan, heat olive oil.
  2. Add minced garlic and red onion straws and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add collard greens and let wilt for a few minutes.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and cumin.
  5. Add chicken stock and vinegar and bring to a simmer.
  6. Let simmer 5-7 minutes and serve.

The King & I Peanut Butter Custard
*This recipe is a work in progress. Admittedly, my custard did not set all the way yielding a consistency that I didn't think was custard-y enough. Stay tuned though for a post re-visiting this delicious dessert's recipe. *

PS - this is also L&S's 100th post. w00T! It's a celebration bitches!! I'm out. ^-^

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year Muses & Hazelnut Tiny Italian Cakes with Tangerine Cream Cheese Frosting

Alo Gorgeous! You beautiful new year, you! I'm zen for 2010. I'm at ease, I'm calm, and I'm ready for the next horizon. First posts of a new year traditionally include resolutions, so why should I go about making new waves? I am a believer in setting resolutions and materializing them into realized goals to enjoy the rewards from these personal achievements that will flow forth. Last year I made a few resolutions and I am proud to say, for the majority of 2009's "I will do's, " I was successful. I saved some money, paid off some debt, invested in my passions, excelled in my less strong areas at work, spent as much time with family as possible, mended some old wounds, and put my health in the priority number one spot. 2009 was also a year of wins and losses. For example, my brother and I video-auditioned for a Food Network show and were denied, but I attended an event and meet Iron Chef Cat Cora. I visited Julia Child's Kitchen Exhibit at The Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. after giving my first forty-five minute conference presentation (killed it might I add). I traveled to Vermont for a job interview in the food industry for a position in New York City and I didn't get the job, but I was able to see Vermont for the first time in addition to driving on an old school road trip with my big bro. PS-People still hitchhike there, for real. I was so dumbfounded I was gagging with laughter. For the cherry, the Vermont hitchhikers were shiny, happy, and smiling people with their hemp back packs and long pigtails! "Did we just do a time-wrap? I thought this was just a rental car..."

Tarbox Farm Stand in Upstate New York. We stopped there leaving VT. I purchased some large Dahlia's for my Aunt and Jeremy brought back some fresh provisions to his Brooklyn flat.

The mascot of The Tarbox Farm Stand.

I think in 2010 I'm going more general and free-form for my resolution, I want to take the last road traveled on the journey of self-discovery at all costs. Percentage-wise, I am about 75% aware of the being I should and am able to be, and I am bubbling with anticipation to face the last perilous 25%. Why perilous and why not joyous? Well, its kind of both, isn't it? After vanquishing a personal fear with utter dominance, your whole self will rejoice with triumph and victory. Hence, the interconnected emotional relationship of peril from fear and joy from eliminating that fear from your life forever. Maybe I'll make it to New York, or maybe I will finally start on that travel dream and spend serious time out of the country, or maybe I will do both or neither or something completely different. To be open is a freeing and thrilling thing.

What will not change in 2010 is feeding Laptops and Stovetops with my love of the culinary arts. And on that note, thank you, thank you, thank you so much to all my family and friends for their fabulous foodie gifts. I am so geared up for foodie fabulousness in 2010, it's truly not even funny. Pete my love hooked me up with a stellar light box for photographing the L&S food models, and a bevy of needed utensils like the bomb knife sharpener and a gangster all-black pizza cutter for Tha Pizza Cutta persona to ball-out with in 2010. Plus a garlic press (Oh the rapture of not having to mince garlic by hand!). Ah, thanks boo! His parents, the wonderful Triolo's gifted me with a humongous food basket pouring over with Italian delights like Sicilian White Wine, Loacker Tiramisu Wafers, canned sardines, spicy garlic, pepperdews, and much much more. I was so touched I almost cried.

iPhoto pic sent to my bro after receiving his gift of a handmade Honduran apron on Christmas day.

"Ima Cut you Pizza!" LOL! And that's all I have to say about that.

Add to that three aprons-one from my brother's trip to Honduras which means I'm international for sure-a set of white decorative plates, and a perfect brownie tray both from Pete's brother and his girlfriend. Katrina, Pete's brother's girlfriend, also had her friend create this caricature of me as Tha Pzza Cutta! Do you love it?!?! I also want to wish Katrina Good Luck! as she starts her term at The Miami Ad School after winning a prestigious full-ride scholarship. You better work! Last but not even near the least is all the encouragement gifts from these beautiful people represent to keep on growing, cooking, and posting! Can I measure my gratitude? Maybe not, but I hope I've showed and returned the love I received and will continue to do so through this whole new year.

In that vein of motivation, let's talk about cake and frosting now. :) Just before Christmas I was once again presented with our lab holiday party and a chance to bake. Using this opportunity I looked up a cake I was chomping at the bit to make since November,'s Torta di Nuci or Italian for 'nut cake.'

Quick snap of the RETRO lab Holiday Potluck Extravaganza!

Of course I heart Italian food, but a detail of my love for Italian baked goods is the simpleness of their sweets. A few ingredients, a sincere flavor profile, and an un-complicated texture are strong notes that sing to my pallet and are ever present in the torta di nuci. For festive purposes, I piped a tangerine cream cheese frosting to ice it and a fresh cherry plus stem to top my Hazelnut Tiny Italian Cakes with Tangerine Cream Cheese Frosting. Without further lingering muses, here is my adaptation of the recipe plus the frosting how-to.

Recipe: Hazelnut Tiny Italian Cakes
Serving: 12 cupcakes (tiny cakes) + 1 9 x4 Loaf Pan
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick + 1 tblsp. unsalted melted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 130 grams toasted, crushed hazelnuts
  • 50 grams chopped sugared dates
  1. Preheat to 375. Butter and flour cupcake pan and loaf pan.
  2. Beat sugar and eggs together until light and creamy. Slowly add the melted butter and flour and mix well but with a low setting on either a hand or stand mixer.
  3. Add the nuts and dates and fold them into the batter with a spatula.
  4. Fill each cupcake unit 3/4 full with batter and bake for 30-35 minutes. Put the rest in the loaf pan.
  5. Check after thirty minutes using a toothpick to test. The loaf pan may take a few minutes longer.
  6. Once baked, let cupcakes cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan and then using a butter knife remove the individual cakes to finish cooling on a rack.
Hazelnut Tiny Italian Cakes cooling.

Recipe: Tangerine Cream Cheese Frosting
Serving: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients for the tangerine cream cheese frosting. Please forgive the extract error. The recipe calls for and uses Lemon Extract, not the Vanilla.

The zest in tablespoon form.

Final stages of mixing the tangerine cream cheese frosting.
  • 8oz. softened cream cheese
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
  • 1 tblsp. grated tangerine zest
  • 4 tblsp. tangerine juice
  • 5 cups confectioner's sugar
  1. Beat butter and cream cheese on medium together until creamy.
  2. Add zest, juice, and extract until combined.
  3. Gradually add the sugar 1 cup at a time. Mix sugar thoroughly before adding the next cup.
  4. Chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Once the tiny cakes are cooled, and frosting chilled, use a piping bag to ice the cakes, and lastly put the metaphorical and physical fresh cherry on top!
Slices of cake from the loaf pan, not frosted. Perfect for breakfast with an espresso.

All the pretty holiday Hazelnut Tiny Cupcakes iced, cherried, and all in a row!