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June 2013

Almond Crusted Amaretto Brownies

Almond Topped Amaretto Brownies1 

Almond Crusted Amaretto Brownies

This is a classic moist fudgy brownie enhanced with Amaretto and almonds, but you could also make them with hazelnuts and substitute Frangelico for the Amaretto. They work best in a 9” square pan so make sure to check the size of your pan. Perfect to take to a summer picnic, or serve slightly warm with vanilla ice cream and drizzle with a little extra liqueur. 

Download Almond Crusted Amaretto Brownies recipe


¾ cup plus 2 T flour

½ teaspoon salt

3 ounces semisweet chocolate

3 ½ ounces unsweetened chocolate

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

1 ½ cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon almond extract

4 large eggs, at room temperature

2 tablespoons Amaretto

1 cup coarsely chopped almonds, lightly toasted

1. Adjust rack to middle position and preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease 9 inch pan with butter; set aside.

2. Sift the flour and salt; set aside. 

3. Melt both chocolates and butter in the top of a double-boiler placed over simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

4. Place the sugar and extracts in a medium size bowl. Add the chocolate mixture and mix on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape bowl down with spatula.

5. With the mixer on medium-low, add the eggs one at a time, blending until the yolk is broken and dispersed, about 10 seconds. Then scrape the bowl and blend until very velvety, about 15 seconds.

6. Add the flour mixture on low speed and mix for 10 seconds. Scrape bowl and complete the blending by hand with a few strokes.

7. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and sprinkle the amaretto over the batter. Tip the pan from side to side to ensure even coverage.

8. Sprinkle the nuts over the surface and bake the brownies on the center rack 45-50 minutes.

9. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 1 hour. Cut into 2” squares. 

Almond Topped Amaretto Brownies pan

Quick Fresh Summer Tomato Basil Sauce


Quick Fresh Summer Tomato Basil Sauce

Nothing beats fresh tomato sauce made with your own (or someone else’s) garden tomatoes. The few simple ingredients combine to make a truly delicious and authentic pasta sauce. This recipe can easily be doubled if you have an abundance of tomatoes, and it freezes really well, so it’s worth making a big batch. Perfect with angel hair, but any favorite pasta can be used. 

Download Quick Fresh Tomato Sauce

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

5-6 cloves garlic , minced

2 pounds ripe red tomatoes (Beefsteak, Roma, or the best you can find), cored, peeled and diced (for easy peeling, just drop tomatoes in boiling water for about 15 seconds)

½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1/8- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Pinch of sugar, optional

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

Ground black pepper, to taste

1. Stir oil and garlic together in large skillet. Turn heat to medium and cook until garlic is sizzling and fragrant, about 2 minutes, do not let it burn. Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt and red pepper flakes. Increase to medium high and bring to rapid simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, reducing heat if sauce begins to stick to bottom of pan, until thickened and chunky, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in basil and season with salt and pepper to taste (add a pinch of sugar if the tomatoes are too acidic.

Fresh Tomato Sauce diced

Fresh Tomato Sauce garlic oil simmer

Fresh Tomato Sauce simmer

Fresh Tomato Sauce skillet

Fresh Tomato Sauce freezer container

Chocolate Raspberry Sacher Torte

Chocolate Raspbery Sachertorte
If you’re looking for a more sophisticated dessert for your next dinner party, try this Austrian classic. America’s Test Kitchen updated the recipe and it’s pretty easy to do. I made it recently for a small dinner party and was able to prepare it in the morning and refrigerate it until we were ready for dessert. For the best flavor, it’s important to let it stand at room temperature about an hour before serving.  Use the best bittersweet chocolate you can find, Callebaut, Valrhona, or Ghiradelli.

Download Chocolate-Raspberry Sacher torte


8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon instant espresso powder

1 ¾ cups (about 7 ounces) sliced almonds, lightly toasted

¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour (1 1/4 ounces)

½ teaspoon table salt

5 large eggs

¾ cup (5 ¼ ounces) sugar

½ cup fresh raspberries, plus 16 individual berries for garnishing cake

¼ cup seedless raspberry jam

2 teaspoons Kirsch (optional)


5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream


1.  Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line bottom of two 9-inch-wide by 2-inch-high round cake pans with parchment paper. Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Stir in vanilla and espresso powder.

2. Process ¾ cup almonds in food processor until coarsely chopped, six to eight 1-second pulses; set aside to garnish cake. Process remaining cup almonds until very finely ground, about 45 seconds. Add flour and salt and continue to process until combined, about 15 seconds. Transfer almond-flour mixture to medium bowl. Process eggs in now-empty food processor until lightened in color and almost doubled in volume, about 3 minutes. With processor running, slowly add sugar until thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Using whisk, gently fold egg mixture into chocolate mixture until some streaks of egg remain. Sprinkle half almond-flour mixture over chocolate-egg mixture and gently whisk until just combined. Sprinkle in remaining almond-flour mixture and gently whisk until just combined.

3. Divide batter between cake pans and smooth with rubber spatula. Bake until center is firm and toothpick inserted into center comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 14 to 16 minutes. Transfer cakes to wire rack and cool completely in pan, about 30 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto cardboard rounds cut same size as diameter of cake and remove parchment paper. Using wire rack, reinvert 1 cake so top side faces up; slide back onto cardboard round.

4. TO ASSEMBLE TORTE: Place ½ cup raspberries in medium bowl and coarsely mash with fork. Stir in raspberry jam  (and Kirsch, if using) until just combined. Spread raspberry mixture onto cake layer that is top side up. Top with second cake layer, leaving it bottom side up. Transfer assembled cake, still on cardboard round, to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet.

5. FOR THE GLAZE: Melt chocolate and cream in medium heatproof bowl set over saucepan filled with 1 inch simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and gently whisk until very smooth. Pour glaze onto center of assembled cake. Use offset spatula to spread glaze evenly over top of cake, letting it flow down sides. Spread glaze along sides of cake to coat evenly.

6. Using fine-mesh strainer, sift reserved almonds to remove any fine bits. Holding bottom of cake on cardboard round with 1 hand, gently press sifted almonds onto cake sides with other hand. Arrange raspberries around circumference. Refrigerate cake, still on rack, until glaze is set, at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours. Transfer cake to serving platter, slice, and serve.

Sachertorte batter 
Sachertorte batter streaks 

Sachertorte layers

Chocolate Raspberry Torte 1a