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Posts from the ‘Recipes’ Category

Adventures in PDX Eats: Brunch

Welcome to a new installment of Adventures in PDX Eats!  If I had to pick one defining characteristic of the Portland food scene, it would be the importance Portlanders place on brunch.  Today I’ve teamed up two of my favorite ladies in Portland – Meredith of Martha Chartreuse and Erin of Bakery Bingo – for a fun collaboration they do called Thursday Tours PDX.  I’ve written a post about a few of my favorite brunch places around the city, which I promise will not disappoint.

So head on over to Martha Chartreuse to check out my recommendations!


Chocolate and Lemon Biscotti

Oh look, another biscotti post.  “Really, Mary Ellen?”  Yes, really!  They are my true love.  Okay, maybe not my true love, but they are certainly my biggest baking vice.

So imagine my joy when earlier this year, an entire book of biscotti recipes came out.  It even has a cute name – Ciao Biscotti!  It’s almost as if Domenica Marchetti wrote this book just for me!  I’ve tried 5 of her recipes so far, but have so many more to go – including a number of savory biscotti varieties such as Mountain Gorgonzola and Walnut, and Cornmeal with Rosemary and Parmigiano.  But this one – a chocolate and lemon biscotti – is one of my favorites.  I’m not always a huge fan of citrus and chocolate together (especially if that citrus is orange), but the flavor combination here works well.

Besides the flavors, I love the ease of the recipe.  The biscotti are made up of half lemon dough and half chocolate dough that you twist together before baking, but as you will see in the instructions below, you make one base cookie dough, then at the very end of dough-making process, you flavor one half with lemon, and the other with chocolate.  Not needing to make two separate doughs saves a lot of time, and makes the recipe that much more impressive!  I’m happy to add it to the pantheon of Pâte à Chew’s biscotti recipes.


Pâte à Chew’s Biscotti Round-Up:

Almond Cornmeal
Chocolate Cherry
Chocolate and Lemon
Fig and Walnut
Maple Walnut

(Seriously guys, I have the beginnings of my own biscotti cookbook!)

Chocolate and Lemon Biscotti

Bakers note: You can make these cookies smaller by creating 2 logs out of the dough, as the original recipe suggests.  I have made them this way, but have also made the cookies larger (longer) by rolling the dough out as one large log, and I think I prefer them this way.  But either way will be great!

Recipe adapted from Ciao Biscotti by Domenica Marchetti

Makes around 40 small biscotti, or 24 large


2 cups/255 grams all-purpose flour
1 cup/200 grams sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of sea salt
1 cup whole almonds, toasted and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or paste
1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ounces/85 grams bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat.

2.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add the roughly-chopped almonds and mix on low speed to combine.  Next, add the butter in pieces while mixing on medium-low speed to combine.  The mixture will look like damp sand.  Add the eggs and vanilla, and mix on medium speed until a soft, slightly sticky dough has formed.  Scoop out half the dough (eyeball it) and set aside.

3.  Make the lemon half: Add the lemon zest and lemon extract to the dough in the mixer, and mix on low speed until just combined.  Scoop the lemon dough from the mixing bowl and place on a lightly-floured work surface, and pat into a disk.  I just do this right on the baking sheet.

4.  Make the chocolate half: Return the other piece of dough to the mixing bowl.  Add the cocoa powder and melted chocolate, and mix on low speed until fully incorporated.  Scoop the chocolate dough from the mixing bowl and place on the same lightly floured surface, and pat into a disk.

5.  If you want to make smaller biscotti, cut each disk in half so that you have four pieces of dough.  Using lightly floured hands, roll, pat, and stretch each piece into a thin rope, about 14 inches long and 1 inch wide.  To make larger biscotti, roll each disk into a thicker rope, 14 inches long.  Bring together one chocolate and one lemon rope and carefully twist them together a few times, then pat them together until you have a uniform log about 2 inches wide (much wider if you’re making one log).

6.  Bake logs for 25 minutes or until set – springy to the touch with cracks on the surface.  Move the baking sheet to a cooling rack and cool for 20 minutes.  Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees.  Transfer the cooled logs to a cutting board and cut them on the diagonal into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Arrange the slices cut-side up on the baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes.  Turn the slices over, and bake for another 15 minutes until they are crisp.  Cool completely on a cooling rack.

The biscotti will keep for up to 10 days in an airtight container.

Banana and Chocolate Crunch Cake with Graham Cracker Frosting

Thanks for all the great feedback on my first PDX Fit post – there might be some more coming your way in the future!  But for today, back to our regularly scheduled baking programming.  And I’m back with a good one!


If you’re not familiar with Michelle and her fabulous baking blog Hummingbird High, you should be.  It’s one of the most inspiring baking blogs out there, full of creative, delicious recipes and beautiful photos.  Michelle recently posted a recipe for Banana Chocolate Crunch Cake with Graham Cracker Frosting, and it immediately went to the top of my To-Bake list.  Once I had a good excuse to make it – a friend’s housewarming party – it was game on.

This is one of the best cakes I have ever made.  I love banana cake, and this is a truly great one.  It’s a cross between your typical light-but-moist cake and banana bread, making it dense but not-too-dense.  Before baking, each layer is topped with a mixture of chocolate chips and crunchy chocolate pearls, giving the cake not only a lovely, rich chocolate flavor, but a slightly crunchy texture that totally works.


And let’s talk about the frosting; the graham cracker frosting is amazing.  I’ve never had anything like it.  Many of you are probably familiar with cookie butters like Speculoos – this frosting is made with graham cracker butter, which turns out is simply graham cracker crumbs blended with milk.  So simple, but so genius.  Genius, Michelle.  It goes perfectly with the banana and chocolate flavors of the cake.

Overall, this is my new favorite celebration cake!


Banana and Chocolate Crunch Cake with Graham Cracker Frosting

Recipe adapted slightly from Hummingbird High

Instead of re-writing her recipe here, I’m sending you over to Michelle’s site for the full recipe, along with her excellent baking notes.  My own notes:

  • Michelle makes this cake in three 6-inch cake pans; I made my cake in two 8-inch cake pans.  The cakes were done baking around the 30 minute mark, but start checking for doneness at the 25 minute mark
  • I sliced each cake in half lengthwise to create 4 (very) thin cake layers.  Because I had an extra layer to frost, and because my cake was already larger in circumference, I needed to make an extra half-batch of frosting.
  • The Valrhona crunchy chocolate pearls (available at Valrhona and Amazon, and I’m told Whole Foods) are pretty spectacular, but they are a little pricey.  If you don’t feel like buying them, the cake will still be delicious without them; just add an extra 1/4 cup of chocolate chips.

Happy baking!

Lemon Polenta Pistachio Buttons

My blog doesn’t have much of at “theme;” I pretty much do whatever I want.  The majority of my posts are about baking, but this is not exclusively a baking blog.  I’m someone who generally watches what she eats and makes exercise a priority in her life, but this is most definitely not a healthy eating blog (see recently these, or these, or even these).  Butter, flour, sugar, chocolate – these are the things that make life worth living.  But everything in moderation, right?

That’s why I love new book Baking with Less Sugar, by Joanne Chang, the pastry chef–owner of Flour Bakery + Café in Boston.  For her book, Joanne developed recipes using natural sweeteners, such as honey, maple syrup, and fruit juice.  She also includes recipes that simply use (much) less refined sugar, which allows the other flavors in the recipe to shine.  These Lemon Polenta Pistachio Buttons are one of those recipes.  They are a lemony, just-sweet-enough cookie with a lovely crunchy texture from a healthy dose cornmeal in the dough.  Topped with a little sweetened crushed pistachios, they are a treat perfect for any occasion.

Overall, they are easy to make (no mixer or fancy equipment required!) and taste fantastic, while being summer wardrobe-friendly.  Thanks for the great book, Joanne – can’t wait to try more recipes!

IMG_2675 (3)

Lemon Polenta Pistachio Buttons

Baking with Less Sugar by Joanne Chang of The Flour Bakery + Café

Makes 10-12 cookies

Total active time: 45 minutes


6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Sugar dipping mix

2 Tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped, roasted and salted pistachios
1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

1. Pour butter into medium bowl and add the sugar, lemon zest, vanilla, and egg; stir together with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.

2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt, stir to combine. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until well-combined. Cover and chill the dough in the fridge until firm, about 1 hour (or up to overnight).

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center of oven.

4. Make the sugar dipping mixture: combine sugar, pistachios, and lemon zest in a small bowl.

5. Roll the cookie dough into balls the size of a large walnut; I ended up with 11 cookies. Roll the dough balls in the dipping mix – press firmly to allow the mix to adhere to the dough. Place cookies on a lined baking sheet 2 inches apart. Press them flat with the palm of your hand, they will not spread much when the bake. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown on edges and pale in the center. Let them cool on the sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Honey Nut Brownies

I love honey as a natural sweetener; while I certainly eat my fair share of refined sugar, I often replace sugar with honey where I can, like in my morning cup of coffee or tea.  It’s not often you find honey replacing sugar in baked goods, so when I found a recipe for “honey nut brownies” in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours, which uses honey in an unexpected place (brownies), of course I had to try it.

Everything Dorie touches turns to baking gold, so not surprisingly these honey nut brownies are fantastic.  Just like regular brownies, they are easy to throw together and bake up in under an hour.  But these are not the dense, fudge-y brownies you might be used to.  Don’t get me wrong, dense, fudge-y brownies are hands-down my favorite kind of brownie.  These honey nut brownies have enough chocolate to qualify as brownies, but honey is definitely the star of the show.  The brownies have a moist, cake-like texture, thanks to the addition of a full cup of honey.  And the flavor of that full cup of honey adds a richness and depth to an otherwise lighter brownie.

If you’re looking for a lighter version of a brownie (or even a simple chocolate cake), this is a great recipe to try!


Honey Nut Brownies

If you wanted to up the chocolate factor, you could add 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped chocolate or chocolate chips.

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan

Makes 16 brownies


1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
4 to 5 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup honey (Dorie recommends a mixed blossom honey)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (I used pecans, but walnuts or almonds would be great as well)

1. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter until just smooth. Set aside.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a 9 x 9 inch pan with foil, then butter or non-stick spray the foil.

2. Working with a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and salt together on medium-high speed until light and foamy.  Add the honey, sugar, and vanilla and continue to beat for two minutes, or until well blended and smooth.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the chocolate-butter mixture, mixing only until just incorporated.  On low speed, add flour and mix until it just disappears into the batter. Using a spatula fold in, the nuts then scrape batter into prepared pan.

3.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the brownies have risen and are beautifully brown, and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack, peel away foil and invert onto another cooling rack. Cool to room temperature right side up, then dust with either cocoa powder or confectioners sugar.


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