Posts in the Desserts and sweets Category

No Bake Chocolate Nutella Avalanche Cookies

The Thanksgiving holiday is over and everyone is back to their usually scheduled program. Thanksgiving was a great celebration with close friends and family. Dinner was a success, though I actually made too much food. Mostly the standards: To start was a crudité with Green Goddess Dip, an assortment of cheeses and nuts, and my friend Juliet brought something we call “heart stoppers”. Long slabs of bacon wrapped around a crunchy water chestnut and smothered in some kind of sweet delicious sauce. Perhaps I can coax her into giving up her secret recipe. Not too much to start off with, but enough to stave off the wolves until the turkey gets carved. For dinner I served Green Beans with Cream of Portobello Mushroom Soup and Crispy Fried Onions, thank you Trader Joe’s for taking an American Classic and kicking it up a notch! Then sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, Bourbon Sweet Potatoes (thank you Cindy), three kinds of stuffing: traditional stovetop, Shitake Mushroom and Butternut Squash (made this on the fly with some gorgeous hand-picked shitake mushrooms from the Pleasantville Farmer’s Market), and the one stuffing that Thanksgiving would not be complete without, Citarella’s Sausage Stuffing (hand delivered by my friend Chris), Roasted Cauliflower with Chickpeas (Juliet again), Agata and Valentina Roasted Root Vegetables (special thanks to Roberta and Fred), cranberry sauce, and gravy. Whew! Oh wait then there was dessert. My favorite is always a stunning cheese cake from Simply Recipes (, Chocolate Bread Pudding (Cindy you are my idol), brownies (Sara they were perfect), Avalanche Cookies from Cookies and Cups (see my fun twist on this recipe below), Vanilla Melt-Away Sprinkle Cookies (adapted from Taste of Home), Chocolate Pudding Pie (Galloways Bakery), Levain Bakery Cookies (Brenda you have a lifetime invitation to Thanksgiving dinner), Apple Mosaic Tart with Salted Caramel from Smitten Kitchen, and the best Apple Pie in New Jersey straight from the Ritz Diner (Madi your one-finger cooking never fails). I realize that this is a giant run on paragraph but somehow that seems appropriate for a Thanksgiving dinner description!

These no-bake Avalanche cookies were 100 times better than I expected. They are lighter, easier to bite into and more delicious than at first glance. I used semi-sweet morsels instead of white chocolate, swapped out the peanut butter for Nutella and added some pretzel pieces. Here is the original recipe from Cookies and Cups I also plan to try a version with soy butter so that I can make these with my Young Chefs club.

img_7117 img_7118 img_7120 No Bake Chocolate Nutella Avalanche Cookies

INGREDIENTS: (makes 12 large cookies)

1 cup Rice Crispy cereal
½ cup mini marshmallows
½ cup pretzel pieces (I use the Glutino pretzel sticks)
1-cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
¼ cup Nutella


Line a rimmed baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl mix together Rice Crisp cereal, marshmallows, and pretzels. In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate chips. Start at 20 seconds, stir, and then continue melting/stirring at 10 second intervals. When melted add in the Nutella and stir well. Pour the chocolate mixture over the cereal, marshmallows and pretzels. Mix to coat. Using 2 spoons, drop tablespoon size mounds onto the prepared cookie sheet. Refrigerate until chocolate is set. Store in the refrigerator.


The trees right now are an amazing mix of brilliant orange, gold and burgundy colors.  My daughter and I were out the other evening taking a few photographs as the sun set at the end of a wondrous fall day. I was moved by a picture she took of me. She said, “mom, it really feels like you, out here in the freezing cold, racing against the setting sun and doing something you love”. What she didn’t realize, was that the best part of that evening was being out there with someone I truly love, her.  I stood there watching the expression on her face, pure joy, with her red tipped nose and beautiful smile and couldn’t imagine being happier.  I realize as I get older how important it is to recognize those fleeting yet magical moments in life.  This post was supposed to be light and fun, about chocolate covered apple mummies, and yet somehow when I sat down to write this is what came to mind.  There is something poetic and nostalgic about this time of year.


While Halloween has come and gone, fall is still alive and well. The smell of apples still lingers in the crisp air.  I have really enjoyed apple season this year. I have a new apple cake with crumb topping that has become a cult favorite in my house (adapted from I also made a wonderful applesauce from Simple Recipes and some better-than-expected Chocolate Apple Pops from (Lauren Miyashiro)….

Now chocolate covered anything is usually a hit, but sometimes there’s just too much stuff on a chocolate covered pop, making it hard to enjoy and ultimately better to look at than to eat. But these pops are really good. And easy. And a great treat to bring to a family dinner party. My mother-in-law told me they were so beautiful and professional looking that I could sell them! I’ve made them a few different ways, first the chocolate dipped pop with colorful sprinkles and then the chocolate apple mummies (or ghosts).

Chocolate Covered Apple Pop


4 large Honey crisp apples, cut into 4 thick slices each or cut into quarters (no core!)
16 Popsicle sticks
1 bag chocolate chips
¼ cup coconut oil or canola oil
1 cup white chocolate chips
Decorative candy: mini M&M’s, pretzel pieces, broken Oreos, candy eyes, chopped nuts, etc.


Take the cut apples, lay them flat, and insert a Popsicle stick through the bottom of the apple and parallel to the counter.

In a microwave safe bowl start to melt the chocolate chips. Start with 20 seconds and microwave in 10-second intervals until melted. The chips may be melted but still holding their shape. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of coconut oil until smooth and slightly thinned out. Use a bit more oil if needed. Dip the apple pops into the chocolate, allow the excess to drip off a bit and lay them out on a silpat lined (or waxed paper) rimmed cookie sheet. Put them into the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.

In a clean bowl melt the white chocolate chips the same way as the chocolate chips. Do not over melt. White chocolate is less stable and has a tendency to harden unexpectedly (especially from contact with water or heating too quickly). Whisk in the last tablespoon of coconut oil until smooth. Using a spoon or pastry bag, drizzle the white chocolate over the pops. Decorate with candy, lightly pressing the candy into the chocolate and allow to harden in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.


Chocolate covered apple mummies


Mini Chocolate Chip Cannoli's

My trip to Italy continues to loom large in my mind. I daydream about the sunny cobblestone streets, the centuries old ruins, and the glorious food that I ate non-stop. I even have a newly expanded waistline to prove it!   I only wish I had been able to stop in Sicily for some truly spectacular homemade cannoli’s. Their fresh ricotta cheese is supposed to be some of the best in the world.

Facebook does a wonderful job of making sure I don’t lose any of the extra weight I gained in Italy. It tempts me with red velvet cupcakes, chocolate covered s’mores, mac n’cheese, and so many more delicious treats. A recipe from Pillsbury recently caught my eye and I though it would be fun to try with my kids cooking club.

Tomorrow is the first day of my kids cooking class. Class begins at 3:10, and somewhere around 3:09 I hear what sounds like the running of the bulls. I should actually take that back as they walk very nicely down the hall to my room. Then they explode through the door with all the excitement of a mariachi band on Cinco de Mayo! Filled with questions and comments and pictures from their day. I dare say my excitement at seeing all those smiling faces almost matches theirs. The most often asked question is definitely what are we making today, followed quickly by 101 ideas about what it could possibly be (I try to save the “big reveal” for once everyone has arrived in class, washed their hands, and settled themselves at the table). So this is a big treat as I am announcing our first recipe in advance….we’re making Mini Chocolate Chip Cannoli’s!

Mini Chocolate Chip Cannoli's


1 Pillsbury piecrust
2 tablespoons sugar
1-teaspoon cinnamon

1-15oz. container good ricotta cheese (Polly is my favorite supermarket brand)
¾ cup confectioners sugar 9plus a bit more for garnish)
1-teaspoon vanilla
½ cup mini chocolate chips (plus a bit more for garnish)


Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the piecrust on a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon. Using a rolling pin, gentle roll the sugar/cinnamon into the dough.

Using a 2½-inch round cookie cutter, cut out about 16 equal circles. Using an ungreased mini-muffin pan, press each round into the pan. If you have round pie weights, put 2-3 in each cup. These cups might puff up a bit but they still work nicely.

Cook for about 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cook on a cooling rack.

While the cups are baking, mix the ricotta cheese, confectioners sugar, vanilla and chips in a medium sized bowl. Put in the refrigerator to set.

Before serving, fill each cup with about one tablespoon of filling. Put a few chips on top and sprinkle with powdered sugar. The filling might be a bit looser than traditional cannoli’s, but still delicious.

  • This recipe was adapted from Arlene Cummings at


S'mores Pops

It’s 60 degrees in New York and we are in full swing holiday mode. It’s the 7th night of Hanukah and 14 days until Christmas. I feel like we are living some bizarre episode of the Twilight Zone where Santa still shows up, but he’s wearing a bathing suit and sunglasses. Instead of cookies and milk, he’s hoping for guacamole, chips and a margarita (frozen, with salt). Maybe even a midnight dip in the pool. But I’ll take this gorgeous weather any day and just go with the flow. So let the festivities begin!

Tis’ the season for making fun food on sticks! There are lots of parties happening and gifts to be given . . . so plan on making some of these S’mores Pops. They are simple, delicious, nut-free, and easy to make gluten-free (just use gluten free pretzels and graham cracker crumbs). You can even add some colored sugar crystals to the graham cracker crumbs to make them more festive. Happy Holidays!


1-bag full size marshmallows
Thin pretzel sticks (I use Glutino’s)
Graham cracker crumbs (one cello package is enough)
1 ½ cup chocolate chips


Assemble the marshmallows and pretzel sticks first. I push the pretzel stick all the way into the marshmallow without it coming through on the other end.

In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers into a fine powder. Put the crumbs in a shallow bowl.

Melt the chocolate using a microwave, direct heat, or double boiler method. Then, using a spatula (the chocolate can be thick), coat the marshmallow with chocolate, dip it into the graham crumbs so they come up the sides a bit, and rest them on a rimmed cookie sheet with either a Silpat or wax paper. Put them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

*For tips on melting chocolate go to

**Alice Medrich is the chocolate expert. Her recipes and techniques are smart, simple and amazingly delicious. (Anyone remember the E.F. Hutton ads on TV? “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.” Alice’s tag line should be “When Alice Medrich talks about chocolate, people listen.”).


Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am a huge fan of a café called Aux Delice in Greenwich, CT. It’s a warm, unassuming shop with lots of great salads, sandwiches, and prepared foods. They have a lunch special where you get to choose any three salads for a fixed price. I always have shrimp salad, shaved brussel sprouts, and orzo with pistachios and dried apricots. In fact I live almost 30 minutes from CT, but frequently find myself there with no other purpose than to pick up lunch! Just as delicious as lunch, is dessert. While they have many tasty morsels to choose from, my favorites are the flourless peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.

When I returned home today from running errands, I was craving one or two (or 10) of these excellent cookies (I had bought 2 containers yesterday). Sadly, I only found empty containers in the pantry. Those little rascals I call my children somehow devoured all of them in less than 24 hours.

So I set to work to make my own (this was after all, a matter of survival). It was actually much easier than I thought. There are some recipes for 3 ingredient peanut butter cookies (peanut butter, egg, and sugar), some recipes for 5 ingredient cookies, some recipes that used almond butter instead of peanut butter, and a whole bunch more that all offered a twist or secret ingredient.  My recipe is quick, easy, and simple.

At home I eat Barney & Co. almond butter all the time, so I had a few jars on hand. In about 5 minutes the batter was ready and they were in the oven. These couldn’t be easier or more delicious. What I really like about these cookies is that 1 cookie goes a long way: they are rich, flavorful, and just soft enough.

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


1-cup creamy almond butter (I spray the measuring cup with a bit of canola oil to make getting the almond butter out a lot easier)
1 egg
½ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup old-fashioned oats (not quick cook oats)
½ cup chocolate chips
½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. baking powder
Pinch of kosher salt


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Put all of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix with a spoon until well incorporated. Using a 1” scooper, dispense 12-15 mounds per baking sheet (they don’t really spread) and press down with a fork in a cross hatch pattern. I like to use a Silpat on my baking sheets to prevent sticking. Put the remaining dough in the refrigerator until ready to use. Bake for 10 minutes. It’s okay if they seem slightly under cooked. Cool completely on a cooling rack.