Homemade Chocolate Cake with Candy Cap Mushroom Frosting

Candy Cap mushroom, also known as Curry Milk Cap mushroom, is a peculiar mushroom variant often used as a natural sweetener and flavor enhancer in various desserts. Yes, you’ve read that right, desserts.

Highly obvious by their scent, which has been compared to maple syrup or butterscotch. It’s signature sweet scent may be quite faint in fresh mushrooms but becomes stronger as it dries. As a matter of fact, drying it indoors can produce an aroma strong enough to perfume an enclosed space for days. If you buy them fresh, be sure to dry them before use to intensify your infusions. I made this recipe for my friends over at Far West Fungi Co. And its Candy Cap season- I’m excited!

Candy Cap season moves fast , so don’t wait. Call Far West , tell em Chef Gigi From KSCU 103.3 FM sent you.

The San Francisco Mushroom Store

1 Ferry Building Shop #34San Francisco CA, 94111Phone: (415) 989-9090 Store Manager: Naomi Wolf

The Santa Cruz Mushroom Store 

224 Laurel St. #A101Santa Cruz CA, 95060 Phone: (831) 226-2626
Manager: Ian Garrone

You’ll Need: 

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans

3/4 cup good quality Dutch processed cocoa, sifted

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup neutral-tasting cooking oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling coffee

Good quality cooking spray

Candycap Mushrooms from Frosting ( See recipe below)

Here’s How:

Preheat the oven to 350°F degrees, spray and flour three 8-inch round baking pans, tapping out any excess flour. Place on a lined sheet pan and set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the granulated sugar, flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

In a separate bowl, crack and mix the eggs into a slight scramble and add to the dry ingredietns with the milk, oil, and vanillla beat the ingredients on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the boiling coffee and continue to mix for an additional minute. The batter will appear thin. Pour the mixture into the prepared pans, dividing it evenly, about 2 cups or approximatly 16 ounces in each cake pan.

Bake the cakes on sheet pans for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean or the cake slightly bounces back to the touch. Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Then invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans, turn the cakes right side up, and let them cool completely.

Make the Candy Cap Mushroom Frosting.

Candy Cap Mushroom Frosting

You’ll Need: 

1 1/3 cups good quality Cocoa, sifted

3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/2 cup whole milk or cream

8 ounces of unsalted butter

2 ounces of dried Candy Cap Mushrooms from Far West Fungi Co.

Here’s How: 

In a small saucepan, heat the cream and the mushrooms until a simmer. Remove from heat and allow to steep for a minimum of an hour to over-night. Cool to room temperature. Strain and discard solids.

In the bowl of your standing mixer, beat the butter until velvety. Add the cocoa, and alternate between confectioners’ sugar and infused milk beating after each addition until you achieve a thick, but spreadable consistency. If a lighter frosting desired, add additional cream, a little at a time, until you’ve reached your ideal texture. 

Place a single cake layer on a platter or cake stand and spread a good amount of frosting on top. Place the second cake layer on the first and frost the sides and top. Garnish with chocolate truffles or meringue mushrooms with candied pine and roasted, crushed almonds or hazelnuts or a combination.

Sweet Bunny Bread

Billowy soft, enriched with both eggs and butter, slightly sweet. Great for breakfast with butter and jam or a welcomed Sunday Brunch. I can eat this all to myself. Sigh!

I’m looking forward to springtime and chocolate bunnies, so why not shape our bread into something to remind us sunny days are ahead. This recipe will yield a few bunnies, depending on how big you make them. The ingredients will fill your stand mixer to the brim, so use your largest quart-sized mixer or a handheld mixer fitted with a dough hook and a colossal mixing bowl.

You can also form this dough into any shape you like. Including a beautiful braided Brioche.

You’ll Need

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

1/2 cup honey 

1 package quick-rise yeast about 2 1/4 teaspoons

7 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

8 large eggs at room temperature, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cup, unsalted butter, softened, about 3 sticks 


Hazelnuts or chocplate kisses for eyes

Sliced almonds for teeth

Here’s How

In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the water and honey and sprinkle the surface with the yeast. Set aside and allow the yeast to reactivate until frothy. If your yeast is fresh, this should only take about ten minutes. Just make sure to use closer to room temperature ingredients cause if it is too warm, you can kill this tasty little organism. In the meantime, fit your mixer with your dough hook. 

In another medium bowl, sift the salt and flour. Toss to combine.

When the yeast is frothy, add the dry ingredients in a few batches, adding the egg in between flour additions. Allow your mixer to knead the dough until it forms a shaggy mass, about 4-5 minutes, add melted butter slowly. The dough will be super slippery but don’t worry; it will soon come together in a dough ball. 

Turn out into a sizeable clean, and oiled bowl and allow to rest covered for about two hours in a draft-free area of your kitchen. This dough is very sticky to use after the initial rise; dust your hands well. I prefer to allow the dough to rest in the fridge overnight. Once it is chilled, it is effortless to handle. The dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. So, easy, peasy. 

Shaping the Dough

Preheat your oven to 350′ F Degrees, and then line baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Remove the dough from the refrigerator. 

Divide the dough into 1-ounce pieces for the nose’s side and 2-ounce pieces for the ears, prominent nose, feet, and upper paws. 3 ounces for the head, 5 ounces for the belly, or like me – take your best guess. 

Roll all the pieces into balls on a lightly floured surface. Gently shape them. ( We don’t want to take all the billowed Co2 gas out the yeast has formed by possibly over manipulating the dough at this point. )

Move on to shape the dough ears with your hands or a rolling pin. You want the ears to be a bit thick; if they are too thin, they will be out of proportion after baking. Gently brush the bunnies with egg wash, and attach all body parts. The egg wash will act as glue and hold them together. Press chocolate kisses upside down for the eyes. 

Place the baking sheet in the fridge for 15 minutes; this will help bunnies keep their shape, and then bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown if any part of the bunny is over-browning mid-way through, quickly cover loosely with foil. Test for doneness by looking for no spring back on the belly—careful not to indent your work. 

Let the bunnies cool slightly on the baking sheet. If desired, you can use a pastry brush to brush them lightly, brush the ears’ interior, round belly, and tips of toes with melted butter, and then deliberately sprinkle with granulated sugar.  

Have fun! 

Spring Cruffin

Locked up in 2020 for so long and the anticipation of warmer weather, I’m beginning to feel like a Sping Cruffin! Uhhh, Yes, I just wrote that. That’s how long Ive been in the house. Covid go away already! Like the Cronut, a modern-day mash-up of croissant-doughnut pastry invented by New York City pastry chef Dominique Ansel, this is a Cruffin – a combo of, yes, you guessed it, a croissant and a muffin! Perfect for upcoming Spring brunch menus!

You’ll Need

3-4cups all-purpose flour sifted

2 tablespoons dry yeast

1 teaspoons salt 

2 teaspoons sugar 

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 egg 

1/2 cup currants, mixed raisins or dried fruit, rehydrated in water or brandy. ( optional )

1/2 -1 stick of softened butter set aside (for filling) 

Additional Ingredients for Baking

Non-stick cooking spray and flour for dusting the pan

Powdered sugar for dusting 

Special Equipment

Tall Specialty Cylinder Baking Vessel or Coffee Can

Here’s How

In the bowl of your stand mixer, add the water, milk and sprinkle the surface with the yeast. Set aside and allow the yeast to reactivate until frothy. If your yeast is fresh, this should only take about ten minutes. Just make sure to use room temperature ingredients cause if it is too warm, you can kill this tasty little organism. In the meantime, fit your mixer with your dough hook. 

In a medium bowl, sift together the sugar, salt, and flour. Toss to combine.

When the yeast is frothy, add the dry ingredients in two batches, adding the egg in between additions. Allow your stand mixer to knead the dough until it forms a shaggy mass, about 3 minutes. Add the plumped dry fruit and toss the hydration liquid; unless your dough looks dry add Add the butter and allow the mixer to knead your dough for an additional 5 to 8 minutes. The dough should look smooth and spring back to your touch. 

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm location to rise for about 45 minutes. 

After your dough has doubled in size, turn the dough out onto a clean non-floured work surface and roll roughly into a 13 x 8 rectangle. Spread the dough with softened butter roll it up into a log.

Cut the roll through the middle, twist the bottom end and, fold it up in half, and twist the bottom again, fitting it deep into a generously greased and floured coffee can or cylinder baking vessel. Rest it again covered for 30 minutes before baking.

Bake in a preheated 350″f Degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until puffy and golden. 

Remove, cool slightly, and remove from the vessel. Dust with powdered sugar and enjoy.


Add any dried fruit you like- dried, blueberries, peaches, pears, plums, or dried apricots. Just make sure to chop them into bite-sized pieces first and rehydrate in some liquid. The best place to purchase these are at Napa Nuts in Northern California. They have the best-dried fruit and nutmeats I’ve ever used in my career. 

Try adding pecans, walnuts.

Use cinnamon or sugar filling for a twist. 

If you want a deep savory flavor, add sea salt on the butter or everything bagel seeds.

Portion dough into equal-sized pieces instead and use a muffin pan instead. 

Have fun with this one! I certainly did! 

Roasted Kabocha Squash Fondue

Drool! Fragrant melted cheese served in a communal pot, or a traditional caquelon or fondue pot over a little réchaud brought to temperature with a candle or various other types of flame material. Small-bit-sized foods are consumed by dipping bread, assorted vegetables, and proteins dunked right into the warm, mouth-watering melted cheese using long-stemmed pronged forks. 

Fondu was created to promote a national dish in Switzerland. I think they nailed it. It became so popularized in North America in the 1960s the term “fondue” has now been coined for other dishes in which a portion of food is dipped into a communal pot of warm liquid kept hot. We have all heard of chocolate fondue, fondue au chocolate, in which pieces of fruit or pastry are plunged into a melted chocolate mixture, and fondue bourguignonne, in which elements of meat are cooked in hot oil or broth. 

Can you imagine writing this recipe and having it go down in historical reference like fondue? Mindblowing deliciousness!

Either way, you enjoy it, sweet desserts or savory choices are up to you. I’ve been on a savory Fondue craze this winter and just wanted to share with you.

You won’t even need a fondue pot to enjoy melted cheese. I used a winter squash, and at one point, I hollowed out a giant round loaf of walnut bread. Cut up and pre-roast some sweet baby potatoes and various veggies I knew my family would enjoy. I especially love to dunk roasted baby carrots and raw red bell pepper. The challenge is eyeballing how much of the fondu you’ll need to fill your squash or bread round and then trying not to eat all the ingredients during prep time. 

When it comes to the perfect serving portion — it’s another variable. I always prep about two to three pieces of each selection, equalling about a dozen bites per person—some on the side for those with larger appetites, like myself. Shhhhh! 

Take a quick peek at the recipes below. 


You’ll Need

1 whole kabocha squash or any winter squash of your choice, about 5-8 inches in diameter

3-6 cups of fondue to fill squash or bread round ( feed 6-8 pp)

1 large clove of peeled garlic- smashed 

Here’s How

Preheat your oven to 350’F degrees. Prepare your squash as you would for carving out a pumpkin for Halloween. Cut off a ‘lid’ and scoop out all the seeds and membranes. 

Gently rub the insides with a hefty knob of butter and a good sprinkling of salt. Smash the clove of garlic and rub it all over the interior. Drop the clove to the bottom of the squash leave it throughout the roasting process. Place the lid back onto the squash and sit the whole pumpkin on a sturdy baking tray. Foil the stem of you, think it will be at risk of burning.  

Bake until cooked through but still firm to a knife. About 30-60 minutes to depending on the size of your squash. I like to roast my squash until I can poke a sharp knife through the flesh and then add the fondu making sure it doesn’t fall about all soggy. Remember when choosing your squash’s size, the larger the squash, the thicker the walls, the dense the meat, and the longer the cooking time. Don’t forget you will roast an additional few minutes when the fondu is added.

 While the squash is roasting in the oven, prepare your fondu filling. 

For the Cheese Fondu

Use this recipe to yield about 3 cups of fondu and adjust accordingly to your bread or squash bowl size. I usually double the recipe for a sizeable sourdough round.

You’ll Need

1 cup Emmental, grated

1 cup Gruyère, grated

1 cup mature white Cheddar, grated

2 tablespoon of cornstarch

3/4 cup of crème fraîche or lite sour cream

1/4 cup tablespoons of dry white wine or splash of bourbon or sherry

1 shallot, cleaned, and cut in half 

2 garlic clove, smashed

pinch of nutmeg ( optional )

Here’s How

In a medium-sized bowl, toss the grated cheeses with the cornstarch until the cheese is completely coated. 

On the stovetop over medium-low heat, add all the fondu ingredients and slowly warm until melted, stirring occasionally.

The last 15 minutes of roasting, remove the squash from the oven. Remove the lid and set it aside for a serving garnish.  

Remove the garlic clove and discard. Carefully pour the melted fondu mixture into the baked cavity of the squash—place back into the oven and continue to baking for an additional 10-15 mins or until the fondue bubbling and slightly brown and the flesh of the squash appears to be baked and creamy. 

Place on a platter and surround the squash with various pieces of bread and veggies for dipping. Supply your guests with spoons so that they can scoop out chunks of soft, roasted pumpkin with the melted cheese after the dipping session. 

Suggestions for Dipping 

Crusty bread, cut into bite-sized pieces

Crunchy breadsticks 

Al dente roasted vegetables

Raw vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces

Roasted butternut squash cubes

Whole raw scallions



Use any variety of squash or choose individual ones for each of your guests.

Charred Black Garlic Chicken Skewers with Grilled Flatbread and Tzatziki

Black Garlic is hitting the food scene in America hard, and it’s about time. If you have not tried it, you are certainly missing out. You will love the mellow, robust garlic flavor containing the benefits of umami. You’ll pick up some fruity notes like ripe dates, and a finish of smoked caramel. My Friends at Momiki Inc. sent over a few bottles of their new sauce for me to try. I loved it. It’s perfect for grilling marinades or adding to your salad dressings. Momiki’s Umami Black Garlic sauce in this recipe contains all the great flavors that pair well with grilled foods. You are going to love this!

You’ll Need:

2 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and cut into pieces

1/4 cup Momiki’s Umami Black Garlic Sauce  portioned in two

1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt

1/2 lemon juiced

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pinch Cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and Pepper 

Grilled flatbread or Naan

Tzatziki Sauce

Special Equipment: 

Wooden Skewers ( soaked in water overnight 

Here’s How:

Salt and pepper the chicken. In a medium non-reactive bowl, combine 1/2 of the Momiki’s Umami Black Garlic Sauce, yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Stir well. Place the chicken in the marinade and toss to coat. Store the coated chicken in an air-tight container within the refrigerator a minimum of 8 hours up to overnight.

About an hour before you are ready to cook, remove the chicken from the cooler and bring it close to room temperature. Thread the chicken pieces onto a lightly-oiled-skewer and lay them on top of a foil-lined baking sheet. 

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Oil the grill grates until glossy. Immediately place the marinated chicken on the pre-heated grates and grill undisturbed the first 8-10 minutes. Carefully turn the skewers over and continue to grill the chicken until golden brown and charred in some areas. Cook to an internal temperature of 165’F / 74’C. 

The last 4-5 minutes of grilling baste the chicken with the remaining Momiki’s Black Garlic Sauce. Transfer the skewers to a platter. Garnish elaborately with chopped chives, dill, or parsley.

Serve with grilled lemon halves, freshly grilled flatbreads, and chilled tzatziki sauce. 

Makes approximately 6-8 servings

Japanese Grilled Tacos with Momiki Black Garlic and Spicy Yuzu Scallion Salsa

Crafted in Miyazaki, Japan, Momiki Inc is famous for their black garlic and has a new line of healthy sauces containing Japanese staple condiments. Soy sauce, mirin, and sake with hand-crafted kombu-shiitake mushroom broth. The mature taste, of black garlic and the citris addition makes it incredibly versatile for all kinds of cooking styles, most of their line plays exceptionally well with grilled foods!

You’ll Need

2-pound flank steak

1/2 cup Umami Black Garlic Sauce from Momiki  ( portioned in two ) 

Fresh ground cracked black pepper

Kosher salt to taste

Spicy Yuzu Scallion Salsa ( see recipe below

12-14 small white corn or flour tortillas, lightly toasted on the grill

12-14 slices of mild Havarti cheese 

Pickled Daikon Radish ( see recipe below

1 bunch garlic chives, chopped 

Microgreens for garnish or cilantro

Here’s How

Remove the steak from packaging and puncture all over with the tins of a fork. Place in a shallow dish and marinate ( reserving the other 1/4 cup ) of Momiki’s Umami Black Garlic Sauce. Marinate a minimum of 30 minutes up to 2 hours. Right before cooking, allow the steak to come close to room temperature.

Preheat the outdoor grill to high heat. Season the beef with cracked black pepper on both sides. Lay seasoned beef across hot, oiled grates and do not disturb the first 4-5 minutes. This step will help you achieve a deeply caramelized sear. Flip, reduce the flame to medium and continue the cooking until the desired internal temperature. I like mine medium-rare. 

Douse with the remaining 1/4 cup Black Garlic Sauce, a minute or two before pulling off the heat. Remove to a cutting board, and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

While the steak is resting, reduce the heat on the grill and place white corn tortillas on indirect heat exposure ( no flame zone. ) Spritz with a little water to steam. Add cheese, and close the grill lid for 30-40 seconds or until cheese melted and tortillas are warmed. 

Slice the beef, and assemble the tacos by placing the meat directly on the melted cheese tortilla, slather the Yuzu Scallion Salsa and top with Pickled Daikon, cilantro, or your favorite microgreens. 

Yuzu and Black Garlic Scallion Salsa

Delicious Momiki Inc. Black Garlic Products from Japan

You’ll Need

1/2-1 small Serrano chili, cleaned and de-seeded

3 bunches fresh scallions, sliced thin horizontally

2 teaspoons neutral-tasting oil 

1 bunch garlic chives chopped

1 English cucumber, de-seeded and cut into small dice

1 red bell pepper, de-seeded and fine dice ( optional )

1 teaspoon or to taste Momiki’s Hot Yuzu Black Garlic Sauce  

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper or to taste

Here’s How 

In a small bowl, combine the chili pepper, scallions, chives, cucumber, red bell pepper, lime juice, and Yuzu Black Garlic Sauce. Whisk in the oil. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper or more citrus. Place salsa into an airtight container and pop into the fridge until ready to use.

Pickled Daikon ( Optional )

You’ll Need

1 large Daikon, sliced paper-thin

1 cup apple cider vinegar 

2 tablespoons sugar 

Pinch of salt

10 peppercorns 

1-2 clove garlic, peeled and smashed

1 Birds Eye Red Chili ( optional )

Small glass container with a tight-fitting lid for packing

Here’s How

Add the sliced daikon, peppercorns, and garlic to a glass mason jar, and set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt, and heat stirring just until the salt and sugar dissolve about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add the garlic cloves and chili pepper. Gently pour the brine over the radish and seal the jar, allow the liquid to cool. Seal with a tight-fitting lid, and place in the refrigerator for minimum 30 minutes before eating. The Daikon may be stored chilled for up four weeks. 


To assemble a Taco, lay one or two pieces of the juicy grilled steak on top of the melted cheese, top with sliced grilled steak add scallion salsa and pickled daikon, fold over to make a taco. 

Variations: skip the pickled Daikon and serve with Cueso Fresco ( mild mexican cheese ), a classic Pico de Gallo, or Charred Grilled Onions!


Sous Vide Fried Chicken and Waffles!

The consistancy of using a Sous Vide machine will result in perfectly fried chicken everytime!

We all want that bite. You know the one….that succulent, juicy tender center with that traditional crunch- golden crispy and perfectly brown everytime! Sometimes it’s hard for home cooks to achive the same results getting the interior of the chicken properly cooked while the outside may over cook.

This recipe allows the cook to achive a perfected piece of fried chicken, inside and out, every- single time!

You’ll Need:

For the Chicken

6-8 pieces of chicken, wings, legs or thighs or breasts

Salt and pepper

1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground Italian seasoning

5 cups good quality, high smoke point vegetable or peanut oil for frying

For the Flour Mixture:

3-4 cups self-rising flour

2 teaspoons Kosher salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1 tablespoon dry Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the Egg Mixture

4 eggs, beaten 

Fresh ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon ground Italian herbs

For the Waffles:

2 large eggs

1 3/4 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup pecan or your favorite nut meal ( optional ) 

2 tablespoons palm or granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Here’s How: 

The Waffles

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients, stirring just until nearly smooth; a few small lumps may remain.

Spray your waffle iron with a non-stick cooking spray before preheating it. Cook waffles according to the waffle irons manufacturer’s directions. For an 8″ round waffle iron, use about 1/3 cup batter; cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the iron stops steaming. 

Serve hot, or cool and crisp in the toaster before serving. Top with room temperature butter.

The Chicken:

Set your SV Precision Cooker to 155’F Degrees / 68.3’C.

Season the raw chicken with salt, pepper and a light dusting of Italian seasoning. Place into a resealable freezer or vacuum bag. Seal airtight.

Place the sealed bag of chicken into the water bath and circulate for 2 hours. 

Prepare the waffle batter and set aside. 

When the chicken is almost done, preheat the oven to 200’F degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and a baking rack. Set aside.

Once cooked, remove the bag from the water bath. Prepare a dredging station with two casserole dishes side by side-one containing beaten seasoned egg mixture, and the other with the seasoned flour. Set aside.  

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed fry pan or Dutch oven to exactly 350’F degrees. While the oil is heating, remove the chicken from the bag and begin dredging by gently patting the cooked chicken dry and then running the chicken pieces one-at-a-time through the egg mixture, then through the seasoned flour mixture. 

Only when the oil reaches the proper temperature, carefully lower each piece of dredged chicken into the pan. Working in batches, with tongs, turn the chicken parts after a few minutes to achieve a crisp golden-brown crust on all sides. 

Once the chicken is completely golden brown on all sides, remove from the oil, pat off any excess the oil with a paper towel, sprinkle with kosher salt. Set on the rack-lined baking sheet and place it in a 200’F degree oven until ready to serve. 

Make the waffles while chicken stays warm and crispy in the oven. Be sure to serve hot with warm maple syrup or honey!

Chef’s Note: 

Do not allow the temperature of the oil to go below 350’F degrees to achieve the optimal crunch and have oil return to the pan.

No Buttermilk? No Problem!

Combine 1 Tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice mixed into 1 cup of whole milk. Let the milk stand for 10 to 15 minutes until it thickens very slightly and curdles- boom- you have buttermilk!

Homemade English Muffins

This recipe is so user friendly and satisfying. I like to use buttermilk for a pleasant, sour tang. The use of bread flour is for an incredible chewy bite. The dough will naturally be sticky, In essence, this is a good sign; the mixture contains optimal hydration, which will yield the traditional nooks and crannies that English muffins are known for. Be sure to split open with a fork to reveal your labor. This dough tastes best when you ferment the mixture overnight, but it is not necessary. Toast them on the stovetop then finish them in the oven. So easy to make, you will be amazed. 

You’ll Need:

5 cups unbleached bread flour

3 teaspoons granulated sugar or honey

2 teaspoons salt

2 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast

1/4 water, room temperature

1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Cornmeal for dusting

Cooking oil

Special Equipment:

Cast Iron Skillet


Here’s How:

In a small bowl, add the yeast to the water, stir. Set aside and allow the yeast to begin activation. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the dry ingredients—flour, sweetener, and salt. Fit with the dough hook and mix on low speed to combine. 

Add the activated yeast, all but 1/4 cup of the buttermilk, and the butter. Mix on medium-low speed until the ingredients form a ball. If there is still loose flour in the bowl, drizzle in some of the remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk. Continue to knead for about 8-10 minutes until the dough looks soft, but still feels tacky and pliable. 

Dust your fingertips with flour, and remove the dough from the bowl and gently form it into a ball. Spray the bottom of your mixing bowl with cooking spray and place the dough back in the mixing bowl. Turn it once to oil, to prevent a crust from forming. Cover lightly with a clean kitchen towel, and allow to rise 90 minutes in a quiet, warm location of your kitchen, or place in the refrigerator and allow the dough to ferment overnight for optimal flavor.

Prepare three sheet pans with non-stick liners and dust two with cornmeal. Set aside. 

Wipe the counter with a damp cloth and release the dough gently from the bowl. Flouring the work surface is not necessary. Divide the dough into equal pieces weighing about 3 ounces each. Gently shape the pieces into small rounds practicing special attention not to deflate.

Transfer the dough balls to the sheet pans dusted with cornmeal, spacing them about 3 inches apart. Mist them lightly with spray oil, sprinkle them loosely with cornmeal, and cover with a clean towel.

Set aside and proof the rounds at room temperature for an additional 90 minutes or until the pieces nearly double in size.

Preheat the oven to 350˚F Degrees with the oven racks distributed evenly. 

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, drizzle the pan and a wide spatula with cooking oil. 

Uncover the muffin rounds, slide an oiled spatula under rounds, and gently transfer each one to the hot oiled pan, spacing them about an inch apart. Cook undisturbed for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until the bottoms are nicely brown and both sides slightly deflate to the characteristic of an English Muffin. Carefully flip and continue to cook on the other side for 5 to 8 minutes.

Transfer the pan-cooked muffins back to the original sheet tray and immediately place them in the oven. It’s essential not to wait for the remaining rounds to cook; they will deflate further.

Bake in the oven for an additional 7-8 minutes to ensure that the center bakes through. Cool, and cut open with a fork to display the nooks and crannies.

Makes 16

DYI Marshmallow Peeps!

You know Spring has sprung when Marshmallow Peeps are on the shelves in every drug store imaginable! This season, make your own and avoid almost all the crazy ingredients found in the large manufactured varieties. Plus… soooo much fun to make!

You’ll Need

For the Colored Sugar 

3 cups granulated sugar

Yellow or pink vegetable colorants

For the Marshmallows

3 tablespoons or 2 packets of powdered gelatin

1/3 cup cold water, to activate gelatin

1 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup water

pinch salt

1 teaspoons vanilla or another flavoring of your choice

1 tablespoon chocolate chips, melted ( for the eyes ) or a little food-safe black dye

Special Equipment

Here’s How

For the Colored Sugar

Preheat the oven to 170′ F Degrees. Line a high-sided cookie sheet with parchment and set aside. Place the granulated sugar into the bowl of your food processor. With a toothpick, add a few dabs of the yellow gel coloring. 

Pulse the processor until the sugar becomes bright yellow, while cautiously not to pulsing to a powder. Once the color is to the desired hue, turn out onto the prepared cookie sheet. Place in the oven for about an hour, occasionally stirring to help the sugar to release any additional moisture. Set aside.

For the Marshmallow

Soak the gelatin in the cold water inside the bowl of your standing mixer with the whip attachment. Stir to combine and set aside to develop for about 8-10 minutes.

In a large stock-pot, fitted with a candy thermometer, dissolve the sugar with the corn syrup and 1/4 cup of water over medium-low heat. Stir until combine, careful not to gather any sugar up the sides of the pan. Raise the temperature and bring to a boil. Boil steadily for about 15 minutes without stirring until your candy thermometer reads 240 ‘F Degrees. 

Drizzle the hot sugar mixture in a slow and steady stream down the inside of the standings mixer bowl onto the gelatin. Once the entire mixture is in, increase the speed to high, add flavoring and continue to whip for approximately 10 to 12 minutes until thick, white, and tripled in volume.

In the mean-time, spread half the colored sugar onto a clean large parchment-lined, high-sided sheet pan. 

Piping Bag Technique 

New to a piping bag, or not comfortable working this fast-setting batter? Try the silicon mold technique below.

Fill the bag a little more than halfway. Twist the open end shut and pipe 2 inch long flat ovals, about 1 inch wide. Make sure to quickly snap your wrist by pulling the tip away promptly at the end of the piping stroke. This technique will create the chick’s tail. Repeat additional bases right next to each other, slightly touching. Try to work quickly because the batter will set quickly.

Now create the crest of the chicks’ head by refilling the bag and holding it in the upright position ( 12 o’clock to 6 O’clock ) with even pressure squeeze down and pipe a large circle onto the smooth end of the oval body about as wide as the oval. As you are piping the round, slowly raise the piping bag as you continue to apply pressure creating a pyramid-type shape of marshmallow, ending the pyramid by tilting the bag 90 degrees. Stop squeezing, quickly pull up and away from the mound, forming the head and beak. Be sure to pinch off the string of marshmallow with a wet knife, fingers or oiled scissors to create the beak. 

Dust the marshmallows in the colored sugar before they set.

Use the melted chocolate and a toothpick to dot on the eyes. or black food coloring with a toothpick. Alloe the Peeps to dry. Store in an airtight container.

Silicon Mold Technique 

Lightly spray your mold with cooking spray and set it aside. With an oiled spatula, scoop the sticky mixture into your piping bag, and pipe the blend into the lightly oiled molds. 

Allow to set for about 10 minutes. Gently push the Peeps out of the mold into the sanding sugar and gently dust.


Kid Friendly Plant-Based Mac and Cheese!

My readers know how much I prefer to cook outside-the-box and supply modifications to my recipes. Parents need to pivot at any moment, and that means anything in the pantry could be on the menu. This high protein plant-based version of my Mac and Cheese recipe is also vegan. Whether you are eating plant-based or not, this twist on traditional family favorite will have your kids eating clean without dairy, dyes, or stablizers. A win-win for all! 

You’ll Need:

1 pound Elbow or Fusille Bucati pasta, cooked to manufactures directions 

1-2 tablespoons Olive oil for cooked macaroni to prevent sticking

1 can ( 15 oz ) organic Cannellini beans

3-4 tablespoons Cashew milk, or your favorite substitute

1/2 – 1 cup Daiya brand vegan cheese shreds, white or yellow cheese substitute flavors. Add additional cup if baking the optional casserole recipe

1/2 teaspoon Kosher or pink Himalayan salt 

1/8 teaspoon Garlic powder, or to taste

2 tablespoons Miyoko’s creamery European style cultured vegan butter or good quality olive oil 

Pinch of ground Turmeric

Pinch of ground Nutmeg

Pinch of ground Cayenne pepper ( optional ) 

Here’s How: 

Cook and drain the pasta according to the manufacture’s directions. Toss in a few tablespoons of olive oil or Miyokos butter to prevent the pasta from sticking. Set aside. You’ll thank me later.

Drain and rinse the beans, reserving liquid. Add the beans to the bowl of your food processor or standing blender with the remaining ingredients, except the cheese, butter, and seasonings. 

Blend on high to liquefy. Add additional cashew milk, or reserved liquid from the beans if your family prefers a thinner sauce.

Transfer to a medium, high-sided pot and continue to warm on medium-low heat. Add the cheese and butter, occasionally stirring, until cheese shreds are melted. 

Add the cooked pasta, stir to cover with sauce. Add seasonings and adjust to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley, or fresh basil leaves for additional sweetness. Serve warm.


Can’t find Vegan Cheese? Substitute with 1/4 cup nutritional yeast. If using nutritional yeast, add 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar.

No Beans? No Problem. Substitute with additional vegan cheese. I love cashew cheese because it provides the lovely nutty notes we love in Mac and Cheese. 

Instant Pot Version. Place blended mixture in your instant pot and heat on manual for 5 minutes, season when done.

Try not to Substitute Cannellini’s due to their level of creaminess, but if you need to, Great White Northern beans would be a close match.

Bake it!  Place your completed mac and cheese a 9 x 13 heatproof baking dish and top with additioal cheese , seasoned bread crumbs or Panko and bake 350′ F Degrees until cheese is melted and breadcrumbs are toasty brown. 

Add Cooked Green Peas and tell the kids the recipe is, “Mac and Sneeze”! Trust me- they’ll love it!

Not just for Pasta! Use this delicious sauce to plunge or pour over veggies!

Nutritional information if you need it: 

Based on 1/4 cup sauce using Cashew milk and Nutritional Yeast. If including Miyoko’s vegan butter, add 10 calories and 1 additional gram of fat per serving. 

Approximate Serving Size: 2.5 ounces. Based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Calories: 37 

Calories from Fat: 5

Total Fat: 0.5

Trans Fat: 0

Cholesterol : 0

Sodium: 148 mg

Potassium: 15 mg

Total Carbohydrates: 5.7 grams

Dietary Fiber: 1.9 grams

Protein 2.6 grams

Vitamin A: 1%

Calcium : 5%

Iron 5%

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