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La Vie Piquant

La vie piquant—the spicy life!  Everyday is filled with “piquant” moments that are pleasantly stimulation of exciting to the mind.  Whether it is in the form of food, style, design, love, entertaining, or any other inspiring idea or tangible object, “it” should be celebrated!  Here I will be sharing with you simple, beautiful, realistic, doable, and truly re-creatable recipes, entertaining ideas, and home décor pizzazz that will help you interject a little bit of “piquant” into your life – after all, we only live once.  Join me in living la vie piquant!

Filtering by Category: Desserts

Festive & Fabulous Last-Minute Holiday Ideas

Marc J. Sievers

I love the last few days leading up to Christmas, there is a frenetic buzz in the air, everything seems to smell like peppermint and cloves, and the decorations on the streets and in the windows are like no other time of year!  I was asked by WGN Chicago for my top tips on some last-minute holiday ideas and I think I came up with a few you are going to absolutely love - and best of all you can find everything at your local grocery store!  Below is the clip for you to watch and hopefully get inspired to some festive cheer to your home this time of year!  Here are the recipes for my Cointreau Chocolate Ganache and Cointreau Winter Cider.  Sending love, hugs, and well wishes from my home to yours - Happy Holidays! 


Strawberry White Chocolate Bark

Marc J. Sievers

Whenever I travel I like to bring home food and entertaining inspiration from some of the world’s most extraordinary stores.  When I was in Berlin in early December, I was shopping in the candy department at KaDeWe (it is an entire floor!) and came across a beautiful bar of white chocolate with dehydrated strawberries.  I snapped a photo and continued on.  After getting over my jet-lag, I headed into my kitchen in Chicago and I recreated my version using white chocolate chips that are readily found in all grocery stores and freeze-dried strawberries from Trader Joe's.  After a few batches, the addition of vanilla bean seeds and French sea salt where the magic ingredients!  The vanilla added depth of flavor to the chocolate and the salt took it from a sweet treat to an elegant homemade candy - a truly winning combination!


Strawberry White Chocolate Bark

Ingredients (serves 8-10)

  • White Chocolate Chips – 20 ounces
  • Vanilla Bean Seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Fleur de Sel – ¾ teaspoon
  • Freeze Dried Strawberry Slices – 1 ounce

Directions

  1. Using a pencil, draw a 9x11-inch rectangle on a piece of parchment paper.  Turn the parchment paper over and place it onto a half sheet pan.  Set aside.
  2. Add three quarters of the white chocolate chips to a heat-proof glass bowl.  Place the bowl in the microwave and heat on high for exactly 30 seconds.  Using a rubber spatula, stir the chocolate, return it to the microwave, and heat on high for another 30 seconds.  Continue to heat and stir in 30-second intervals until the chocolate is just melted. 
  3. Once it is just melted, add the remaining chocolate chips and vanilla bean seeds and stir until it's completely smooth.
  4. Pour the warm melted chocolate onto the parchment paper and spread it lightly to fill the drawn rectangle on the prepared sheet of parchment.
  5. Next, while the chocolate is still warm, evenly sprinkle over the fleur de sel.  Arrange the freeze dried strawberry slices to fill the entire chocolate surface. 
  6. Allow to sit at room temperature for 3 hours to set.  Break into pieces are serve. 

Tip: In addition to the whole slices of strawberries, I also use the “strawberry dust” at the bottom of the bag.  It adds even more flavor to each bite of chocolate bark and also looks fabulous!  


Watch: Store-Bought Cake Made Fabulous!

Marc J. Sievers

The word “zhush” means to make something exciting or more attractive, or to make it more fabulous (at least, that is how I use it!).  In this case, it is all about saving time by making a plain, simple, store-bought cake fabulous!  When I don’t have the time to make a cake from scratch (or don’t want to be bothered), I like to buy a small simple chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream to zhush up and turn it into something I am not only excited about serving, but also eating!  Grocery store bakeries are usually filled with cakes ranging in size and cost.  My approach for a Store-Bought Cake Made Fabulous is to buy the simplest and most delicious cake I can find.  Instead of relying of those pre-fab decorated cakes, focus on quality, and use these simple options to dress up even the most unassuming store-bought cake!


These are some of my favorite additions to zhush up a store-bough cake:

Edible gold leaf which you can easily find online and also in silver, adds a bit of glamour to fresh raspberries!  The same would be true for using strawberries, blackberries, or even blueberries.  Choose something that will complement the flavor of both the cake and frosting you choose.

Simple store-bought salted caramel makes a truly decedent addition to the top of a cake!  Once you start slicing, the caramel oozes down into the cake and makes each and every bite scrumptious.  I usually keep a little extra on-hand to serve alongside the cake.  For added fabulousness, you can also heat up the caramel and pour it over the cake as you present it!  Or, add a touch more of flaked sea salt for crunch. 

Colorful edible flowers which are typically in the produce department of grocery stores, makes for a very casual yet elegant effect.  I love dusting them with a bit of powdered sugar to help sweeten them (they are VERY earthy tasting) and to add a bit of texture and contrast.  This is especially elegant on larger rose petals!

Homemade whipped cream is also a wonderful decoration for almost any flavor of cake!  I like to use a piping bag fitted with a large round tip (or start tip) and pipe around the base of the cake when the cardboard disk meets the serving plate.  To make homemade whipped cream you need:

Homemade Whipped Cream

Ingredients

  • Heavy Cream – 1 cup, very cold
  • Sugar – 2 tablespoons
  • Vanilla – ¾ teaspoon, pure extract   

Directions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the cold cream.  Turn the mixer to medium-low and begin whipping the cream.  Once it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla.
  2. Raise the speed to high, and whip it until it thicken and begins to forms medium peaks.  I like it to still be a bit “soft” as the texture is much creamier.

Tip: Don’t overbeat, or you will end up with a very stiff whipped cream and it will not have any fluidity to it and will also turn into butter!


Cointreau Chocolate Ganache

Marc J. Sievers

A really good chocolate ganache is a fabulous recipe to have in your arsenal of quick and easy desserts because once it is made it has so many uses.  It can be used to glaze shortbread cookies, rolled into truffles, served warm over ice cream, used for chocolate covered strawberries, glazing cakes and cupcakes, or even whipped in a stand mixer until light and fluffy to use as a ganache frosting!  My Cointreau Chocolate Ganache is flavored with orange liqueur and Cognac, adding sophisticated (and boozy!) flavor of sharp orange and the warmth of Cognac, both of which happen to pair perfectly with dark chocolate.  Best of all, it takes just a few minutes to make and instantly makes even the simplest garnishes feel special and soirée-ready!


Cointreau Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients (makes 2½ cups)

  • Dark Chocolate – 1 pound, finely chopped
  • Heavy Cream – 1 cup
  • Honey – 4 tablespoons
  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon
  • Vanilla – ¾ teaspoon, pure extract
  • Orange Zest – 1 ½ teaspoons, finely zested
  • Cognac – 2 tablespoons (Remy Martin 1738 recommended)
  • Orange Liqueur – 3 tablespoons (Cointreau recommended)
  • Shortbread Cookies – store-bought (Walkers brand recommended)

Directions

  1. In a heat-proof bowl set over barely simmering water, heat the dark chocolate, heavy cream, honey, and salt until just melted, stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla, orange zest, Cognac, and Cointreau.  Stir to combine.
  3. Drizzle ½ of each shortbread cookie with just enough chocolate to coat it.  Set each coated cookie onto a paper baking cup that has been flattened.  Garnish with more orange zest if desired.  Allow the ganache to set at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.  

Tip: Stirring the ganache as it cooks with help make it shiny when it is used as a glaze, making for a professional and dramatic presentation.  The ganache will stay fresh in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week.  

Idea: Once the shortbread cookies set, do not refrigerate.  Store them tightly wrapped at room temperature.  


Warm Chocolate Pots with Grand Marnier & Cherries

Marc J. Sievers

Warm Chocolate Pots with Grand Marnier & Cherries from the desserts chapter of my cookbook Table for Two: Cooking and Entertaining for You and Your +1.  

When it comes to making desserts at home, I try to keep the recipe easy and elegant – and always with a twist!  My Warm Chocolate Pots with Grand Marnier & Cherries is the perfect dessert for the finale of a casual weeknight meal, yet special enough for a weekend soirée with a glass of Port or Champagne!

The twist comes from (first) a generous “splash” of Grand Marnier, which is an orange liqueur that adds a bit of warmth and depth of flavor to chocolate, and (second) the dried cherries add some sweetness and give it fabulous texture.  My Warm Chocolate Pots require zero (and I mean zero!) special kitchen equipment, and is easier than pie (I mean it!) to prepare.  The recipe uses simple ingredients from your local grocery store (in fact, you probably already have everything on hand!), and from start to finish it takes less than 20 minutes – making this the ultimate dessert to easily have at the ready when entertaining! 


Ingredients (serves 2)  

  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate – 3 ½ ounces, roughly chopped
  • Butter – 4 tablespoons, unsalted, plus more for preparing ramekins
  • Grand Marnier® – 2 tablespoons
  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon
  • Powdered Sugar – ½ cup
  • Cocoa Powder – 1 tablespoon, plus more for dusting
  • Vanilla – 1 teaspoon, pure extract
  • Eggs – 1 extra-large, AND 1 extra-large egg yolk
  • Dried Cherries – ½ cup
  • Flour – 3 tablespoons
  • Candied Orange Peel – for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Start by pre-heating the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Butter the interior of two ramekins (6 to 8 ounces each) and place on a baking dish.  Set aside.
  3. In a heat proof bowl, over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until just melted.  Remove from heat.
  4. Next, to the chocolate, add the Grand Mariner®, salt, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla.  Whisk until blended.
  5. Slowly whisk in the eggs.
  6. Toss the cherries with the flour, then stir into the chocolate mixture.
  7. Lastly, evenly divide the batter into the prepared ramekins.  Bake for exactly 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 2 minutes.  Garnish with cocoa powder and candied orange peel.  Serve warm.

Tip: You can actually make these ahead of time!  Bake and allow to cool completely.  Then, wrap each one tightly with foil and place in the refrigerator.  When it's time to serve, remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior.  Discard the foil and warm in a microwave for 45 seconds.  Dust with cocoa powder and serve immediately.

Idea: You can also swap out the Grand Mariner for Cabernet Sauvignon.  I like to add 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon to give it a little extra zing! 


S'mores Ice Cream

Marc J. Sievers

One of my favorite memoires as a child was making s’mores!  Whether it was a beach bonfire in Maine or by a campfire in New Hampshire, they still are one of my favorite indulgences.  I can remember also making them with my nan over the stovetop, using a fork as a “stick” to toast the marshmallow over the open flame – yikes!  Grandmas will do anything for their grandchildren to make them happy.

Now that I am well into my adult years (I call it “adulting”), I still make s’mores whenever there is a fire pit, bonfire, or even a charcoal grill.  On Ryan’s parents’ farm – regardless of the season – we always make a huge fire and sip wine and make these ooey-gooey treats!

I typically don’t buy or use specialty kitchen equipment – especially things that take up precious cupboard space.  However, there are two items that I cannot live without:  My ice cream maker and small kitchen torch.  Though they have very specific functions, they are what make my S’mores Ice Cream possible!  And not just possible, truly incredible!  The flavors from the homemade milk chocolate ganache, crusty and chewy toasted marshmallows, all enrobed in a velvety vanilla ice cream base will make the purchase of these two new kitchen accoutrement well worth every penny! 

In fact, homemade ice cream is simpler that you think!  It really is just about using a few quality ingredients like cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt.  The hardest part is waiting the 25 minutes while the machine “does its thing” until you have the most luxurious ice cream, ever!  Take a peek at my Salted Hot Chocolate Ice Cream, too!  


S'mores Ice Cream

Ingredients (makes 1 ½ quarts)

Ice Cream Base

  • Heavy Cream – 3 cups
  • Sugar – ⅔ cups, granulated
  • Honey – 2 teaspoons
  • Vanilla – 1½ teaspoons, pure extract
  • Fleur de Sel – ½ teaspoon

Chocolate Ganache

  • Heavy Cream – ¼ cup
  • Milk Chocolate Chips – 4 ounces
  • Fleur de Sel – ⅛ teaspoon

Add-Ins

  • Mini Marshmallows – 3 cups
  • Graham Crackers – 10 full sheets, broken into small and medium pieces, plus more for garnish
  • Milk Chocolate Chips – 7.5 ounces

Directions

Chocolate Ganache & Marshmallows

  1. In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely-simmering water, add the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and salt.  Stir until just melted.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Place the mini marshmallows onto a half sheet pan.  Using a small kitchen torch, toast the marshmallows until well-toasted.  Set aside to cool.

Ice Cream Base

  1. In a medium sauce pan set over medium heat, add the heavy cream, sugar, honey, vanilla, and salt.  Stir until the sugar is just dissolved, about 5 minutes.  You can tell the sugar is dissolved by rubbing a bit of the cream between your fingertips.  If there are no granulates, it is done.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap pressing it directly onto the surface of the mixture.  Chill until very cold, or overnight. 
  3. Once the mixture is very cold, add it to an ice cream maker and follow manufactures directions.

Assembly

  1. Once the ice cream base is finished, transfer to a large bowl and quickly fold in the cooled toasted marshmallows, graham crackers pieces, and chocolate chips. 
  2. Then, fold in the cooled chocolate ganache.
  3. Transfer to freezer containers and chill until firm. 
  4. To serve, garnish with more crumbled graham crackers.

Tip: I love the ease and simplicity of the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker.


Old Fashioned Banana Muffins

Marc J. Sievers

I think there is something so incredibly delicious about old fashioned recipes that have been re-tested with updated ingredients!  Sometimes, it can be as simple as just amping up the flavor using more of the dominant ingredient in a recipe, which in this case is fresh bananas.

When I was growing up, banana bread was one of the first recipes I learned to make from start to finish from my Nan.  She always kept bananas in her pantry to make her grandchildren toast with butter and sliced bananas—to this day it is still my all-time favorite breakfast concoction!  Inevitably, there were always overly ripe bananas in the pantry that would always magically turn into the most delicious banana bread.  I even included my version of “You’ll Go Bananas Bread” in my first cookbook Entertaining with Love.

For this new take on my old fashioned recipe, I really focused on making the banana the star (without any unnecessary extra ingredients or tricks), and created my Old Fashioned Banana Muffins!  These little muffins give you wonderfully aromatic banana intensity and flavor, and the texture is deliciously gooey with huge pieces of whole banana.  I think this may be the best banana muffin I have ever had!  Don’t take my word for it, make these yourself.  In fact, they are so delicious, I often give a big basket filled with them as a hostess gift for breakfast the next morning! 


Old Fashioned Banana Muffins

Ingredients (makes 16 muffins)

  • Flour – 2 cups, all-purpose
  • Baking Powder – 1½ teaspoons
  • Baking Soda – ¾ teaspoon
  • Sugar – 1⅓ cups, granulated
  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon
  • Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon
  • Honey – 2 tablespoons
  • Vanilla – 1½ teaspoons
  • Milk – ½ cup, whole
  • Eggs – 2, extra-large, at room temperature
  • Butter – 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons, unsalted, melted and cooled
  • Bananas – 4, very ripe (1 mashed and 3 diced ½-inch)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line each well of a standard muffin pan with a paper baking cup.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, add the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Turn the mixer to low speed and mix for 3 minutes until fully blended.
  3. Next, with the mixer still running, add the honey, vanilla, milk, eggs, cooled melted butter, and mashed banana.  Mix until just combined.
  4. Using a spatula, fold in the diced bananas.
  5. Using a 2¼-inch metal scoop, scoop the batter evenly into each well. 
  6. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until the edges are brown and the tops are golden. 
  7. Remove from the oven, place each muffin onto a cooling rack to cool.
  8. Re-line the muffin pan with another 4 paper baking liners, and follow the scooping and baking instructions above for the remaining batter.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!


Easter Brunch Menu

Marc J. Sievers

A well thought out menu can really make a soirée seem effortless, regardless of the time of day, theme, or occasion.  Instead of trying o make everything yourself (there is really no “knead” to make homemade baguettes!), I think a smart host/ess should always have a few tried-and-true store-bought secrets up their sleeve and at the ready.

I rely on few favorite brands that I have tested and know how to work with as ready-made components to enhance my menus and cut preparation time to a much more manageable proportion of my overall prep time.  With certain useful combos, and easy and elegant recipes, I make my guests feel welcomed, special, and most importantly I get to enjoy my own party without being on constant catering duty.  I keep flowers simple, the music light and airy, and set the table the night before.

For Easter, I love hosting a casual brunch filled with some homemade things, some store-bought things, and some easily-assembled things.  This year, Ryan and I will be spending Easter with his parent’s on their farm.  Rather than have a complicated and labor-intensive menu, we decided a brunch would be an easier idea.  Because the farm isn’t surrounded by big grocery stores and specialty food markets, I wanted to plan a menu that included things that were easy to make, had that WOW! factor, and could easily be transported from Chicago to Iowa.

Whether you celebrate Easter or not, I hope my brunch menu inspires you to host a wonderful soirée (with lots of bubbly!) filled with family and friends!  Happy Easter! 

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!


Easter Brunch Menu

French Savory Tart with Onions & Gruyere (make ahead)

Roasted Carrots with Basil & Dark Chocolate (day of)

Simple Green Salad with French Bistro Vinaigrette (make ahead)

Baguette with Salted Butter (store bought)

Chocolate Bunny Platter (store bought)

Champagne (chilled)

Fresh Orange Juice (store bought)

Sparkling Water (room temperature)

Grocery Store Flowers Turned Fabulous




Herbes de Provence Chocolate Truffles

Marc J. Sievers

 

The dried spice blend Herbes de Provence is such a fabulous ingredient to have on hand!  This South of France signature seasoning is a blend of aromatic spices such as lavender, basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, tarragon, parsley, fennel seed, marjoram, and sage.  Traditionally, it is used to flavor meats, poultry, and vegetables, however, I have used it in soups, breads, and now as the star (yet unexpected!) ingredient in my Herbes de Provence Chocolate Truffles!  I just love how the savory blend of herbs compliments the intensity of the dark chocolate and natural sweetness of the heavy cream – a match made in confectionary heaven!  Serve these sophisticated chocolates with a bold red wine, very dry Champagne, or alongside a cheese plate for an exciting twist!


Herbes de Provence Chocolate Truffles (makes 12-14 truffles)

Ingredients

·       Dark Chocolate – 6 ounces, finely chopped

·       Heavy Cream – ½ cup

·       Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted, at room temperature

·       Herbes de Provence – 2 teaspoons, dried

·       Cocoa Powder – ⅓ cup, unsweetened (Pernigotti recommended)

Directions

  1. In a small sauce pan set over medium heat, add the heavy cream and Herbes de Provence.  Bring to just under the boiling point, then turn off the heat and allow to steep for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, place the chopped chocolate and butter into a large glass bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Bring the heavy cream infusion back up to just under the boiling point.  Using a fine mesh sieve strain the mixture over the chocolate, pressing down on the herbs with a wooden spoon making sure to extract all of the cream.  Stir until completely smooth.  This creates the ganache base.
  4. Place the ganache into the refrigerator to firm up, about 2 hours.
  5. Place the cocoa powder into a shallow bowl.  Using a 1-inch scoop or tablespoon, scoop out balls of ganache and place onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
  6. After you have scooped all the ganache, roll each one by hand into a ball and then roll each truffle through the cocoa powder to coat.
  7. Arrange on a serving platter, or place into an airtight container.  Truffles can be stored for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. 

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!


Watch: Sparkling Raspberry Sorbet

Marc J. Sievers

It is no secret I love to entertain at home!  From menu planning, to setting the table, or spending time in my kitchen, I will find any excuse to throw a soirée!  While I certainly have a few tricks up my sleeve to ensure my guests are always having a fabulous time, my #1 tip is to never make everything yourself.  I like to choose two or three different dishes to prepare, then rely on favorite store-bought brands, bakeries, and gourmet markets to round out my menu.  It’s the simplest way to ensure that I have fun at my own parties!

They say the dessert is what people always remember from any party.  A really good dessert is always something I like to pay special attention to.  Whether I am making it myself or heading to one of my neighborhood bakeries, I make sure to always have something that will WOW! everyone – myself included!  That is exactly what my Sparking Raspberry Sorbet will do at your next party—it will bring that perfect WOW! factor.  This particular dessert relies on simple components; really good Champagne, really good store-bought Raspberry Sorbet, and the most flavorful homemade Four Berry Sauce.

Besides being a perfectly elegant dessert for any occasion, it is one of the easiest desserts to assemble.  Once you make the Four Berry Sauce (which uses frozen berries and can be stored in the refrigerator), it all comes together in just a few minutes!  I love to serve this in a small coupe, small bowl, or even in a martini glass.  Bottoms (and spoons!) up!


Four Berry Sauce

Ingredients (makes 1 ½ cups)

  • Frozen Berry Medley – 1 pound (raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, & blueberries)
  • Raspberry Preserves – 2 tablespoons
  • Raspberry Liqueur – 1 tablespoon, Chambord preferred
  • Lemon Zest – 1 teaspoon

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, add the frozen berries, preserves, liqueur, and lemon zest.
  2. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the berries have released their juices and are very tender, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.
  3. Place a fine mesh sieve over a glass bowl.  Transfer the mixture into the sieve. 
  4. Using the back of a wooden spoon press the mixture through the sieve.
  5. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.

To Serve: Layer this luscious berry sauce in a small coupe with a single scoop of raspberry sorbet and ¼ cup of very dry, chilled Champagne.  It is a perfect dessert for a grown-up celebration, very elegant presentation, and just an all around fabulous surprise for your guests.  

Tip: If you don’t have raspberry preserves, you can substitute strawberry, blueberry, or blackberry.  The pectin in the preserves is what will thicken the berry sauce slightly.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!


Salted Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

Marc J. Sievers

If you have never made homemade ice cream, you are in for a real treat!  A few months ago, I was making my Velvety Hot Chocolate from my first cookbook Entertaining with Love, and while I was measuring out the ingredients it occurred to me that they were very similar to the base ingredients for my ice cream recipe.  After a bit of tweaking (and lots of taste testing!), my Salted Hot Chocolate Ice Cream was churning away in my ice cream maker, ready for its close-up!

This is by far the best and most luxurious chocolaty ice cream I have ever had, let alone made myself!  The texture is similar to a velvety mousse—light, airy, and incredibly silky.  The flavors are so rich and intense, from using really good ingredients (particularly the chocolate and cocoa powder), and my secret ingredient:  Fleur de Sel caramel sauce.  Rather than make your own caramel sauce for a few tablespoons, I like to use a good store-bought one.  In fact, my favorite jar is from Trader Joe’s (also where I buy my chocolate bars by the pound).

For the ultimate ice cream enjoyment, allow each scoop to sit at room temperature for a few minutes and you will be able to taste the flavors much better than it being ice-cold.  The most perfect chocolate ice cream is calling your name – enjoy!


Salted Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

Ingredients (makes 1 quart)

  • Milk Chocolate – 4 ounces, finely chopped
  • Dark Chocolate – 4 ounces, finely chopped
  • Cocoa Powder – ¼ cup, unsweetened
  • Heavy Cream – 3 cups
  • Vanilla – 1 teaspoon, pure extract
  • Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce – 3 tablespoons, good store-bought variety
  • Fleur de Sel – ¼ teaspoon
  • Cinnamon – 1/8 teaspoon
  • Dark Brown Sugar – 2 tablespoon

Directions

  1. In a medium sauce pan set over medium heat, add the heavy cream, brown sugar, caramel sauce, and both chocolates.  Whisk until the chocolate is just melted.
  2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and cocoa powder.
  3. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap pressing it directly onto the surface of the mixture.  Chill until very cold.
  4. Once the mixture is very cold, add it to an ice cream maker and follow manufactures directions.
  5. Scoop out the ice cream into a freezer-proof container and freeze for 2 hours.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!


Fig & Cream Scones

Marc J. Sievers

Scones may be one of the easiest things to bake, and with endless flavor combinations!  They can be savory or sweet, and are the perfect addition to a brunch, afternoon tea, or even as a dessert warmed through with a scoop of ice cream.

The process of making scones is really combining just a few simple ingredients and then adding a signature flavor—in this case, dried figs.  Dried Black Mission Figs are a pantry staple in my house.  I love to serve them with cheese boards, as a nibble with drinks, in pasta dishes, and especially in my Fig & Cream Scones.

For this recipe, I increased the salt slightly as it helps to balance the natural sweetness of the figs and cream.  If you really want to up the flavor factor, serve these with English Clotted Cream (or unsalted French butter) and fig preserves – pure heaven!

Happy cooking!


Fig & Cream Scones

Ingredients (makes 8 scones)

  • Flour – 2 cups, all purpose, plus 1 tablespoon
  • Sugar – 1 tablespoon
  • Baking Powder – 1 tablespoon
  • Fine Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon
  • Butter – 12 tablespoons, unsalted, very cold, diced
  • Eggs – 2 extra-large, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • Heavy Cream – ½ cup, very cold
  • Dried Figs – 1 cup, diced ½-inch, Black Mission variety preferred
  • *Egg Wash – 1 extra-large egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water. 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, toss the diced figs with 1 tablespoon of flour and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the remaining 2 cups of flour, as well as the sugar, baking powder, salt, and cold butter.  Mix on low speed until the butter resembles the size of peas.
  4. With the mixer still running on low speed, add the cold heavy cream,  lightly beaten eggs, and figs.  Mix until just combined.  The dough will be very sticky.
  5. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat the dough into a disc. 
  6. Using a well-floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a square, roughly ¾-inch thick.  Cut the square into quarters, and cut each quarter in half, as a triangle.
  7. Place each scone onto the prepared sheet pan and brush with egg wash*.
  8. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the tops and edges are lightly brown.
  9. Remove from the oven, and transfer to a cooling rack to fully cool.

Tip: If you don’t have a stand mixer, use a pastry blender to quickly break the butter into pea-sized pieces.  Then, add the cold cream, lightly beaten eggs, and figs.  With your hand slightly cupped quickly work the liquid and figs into the flour.  Follow the remaining direction numbered 5 through 9.


White Chocolate Truffles with Butterscotch Schnapps

Marc J. Sievers

Whenever I really want to make a great culinary impression on someone, I bring them my homemade chocolate truffles!  While truffles look (and taste) like they take days to make (who has time for that?!), they actually take under an hour to create, and use the simplest of ingredients.  The real difference in taste and texture is made with very good quality ingredients, especially the chocolate.

There are endless flavor combinations for truffles, but one of my favorites are White Chocolate Truffles with Candied Pecans.  The white chocolate has such a delicate vanilla flavor on its own and is enhanced with Butterscotch Schnapps—a light booziness that rolls around on your tongue with a rich delight.  The crunch of chopped candied pecans is what makes this particular truffle even more flavorful and delicious! 

The creamy white chocolate ganache with the sweet crunch of the chopped nuts is a perfect flavor and texture combination.  Very rarely does it get any better—or any easier—than this!  Don’t take my word for it, make them and taste for yourself! 


White Chocolate Truffles with Candied Pecans

Ingredients (makes 20-22 truffles)

  • White Chocolate – 8 ounces, rough chopped
  • Heavy Cream – 1 ½ tablespoons
  • Butterscotch Schnapps – 1 tablespoon
  • Sea Salt – ⅛ teaspoon
  • Vanilla – ¾ teaspoon, pure extract
  • Candied Pecans – ¾ cup, rough chopped

Directions

  1. Place a heat-proof bowl over barely simmering water.  Add the heavy cream and chopped chocolate and stir with a wooden spoon until completely smooth.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the salt, vanilla, and Schnapps.  Stir until completely incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until firm. 
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Scoop rounded Tablespoon-sized portions of chocolate and place each one onto the lined baking sheet.
  5. Gently roll each one into a ball and immediately roll through the chopped candied pecans.
  6. Place in the refrigerator to set. Serve at room temperature.

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Pumpkin Spice Trifle

Marc J. Sievers

My Pumpkin Spice Trifle is one of my all-time favorite desserts to make during the holidays!  Filled with the most flavorful Spiced Pound Cake and luxurious Pumpkin Orange Pastry Cream, this trifle will be a fabulous addition to your holiday soirée.  While there a few steps for each component, a majority of them like the pound cake and pastry cream can be made up to three days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.  Then, all you need to do is make some Vanilla Whipped Cream, and then assemble the trifle!

You can also assemble this dessert in individual glass bowls or parfait glasses.  Simply follow the same assembly instructions but for each individual dish.  The dessert can sit out for a couple of hours, making it a perfect seasonal dessert for entertaining.  This is one of those desserts that you and your guests will always remember – and ask for year after year!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!


Pumpkin Spice Trifle

Ingredients (serves 8)

Pumpkin Orange Pasty Cream

  • Half and Half – 2 cups
  • Egg Yolks – 6 extra-large, at room temperature
  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted, at room temperature
  • Granulated Sugar – ¼ cup
  • Dark Brown Sugar – ¼ cup, lightly packed
  • Pumpkin Purée – ½ cup (not pie filling)
  • Cinnamon – ½ teaspoon
  • Orange Zest – 1½ tablespoons, finely grated
  • Vanilla – 1½ teaspoons, pure extract
  • Honey – 1½ tablespoon
  • Fine Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon
  • Cornstarch – ¼ cup

Spiced Pound Cake

  • Butter – 2 sticks, unsalted, room temperature, plus more for preparing pans
  • Eggs – 4 extra-large, room temperature
  • Flour – 3 cups, all-purpose, plus 2 tablespoons
  • Baking Powder – ½ teaspoon
  • Baking Soda – ½ teaspoon
  • Kosher Salt – ¾ teaspoon
  • Buttermilk – 1 cup, at room temperature
  • Vanilla – 1½ teaspoons, pure extract
  • Honey – ¼ cup
  • Sugar – 2 cups, granulated
  • Golden Raisins – 1 cup
  • Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon
  • Cloves – ½ teaspoon
  • Allspice – ½ teaspoon
  • Nutmeg – ½ teaspoon, freshly grated
  • Ginger – ½ teaspoon, dried

Vanilla Whipped Cream

  • Heavy Cream – 2 cups, very cold
  • Granulated Sugar – 2 tablespoons
  • Vanilla Extract – 1 tablespoon, pure extract

Components

  • Fleur de Sel Caramel – 5 tablespoons, store-bought
  • Gingersnap Cookies – 9 ounces, lightly crushed

Directions

Pumpkin Orange Pastry Cream

  1. In a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, both sugars, pumpkin purée, cinnamon, orange zest, salt, and cornstarch until smooth.  Set aside.
  2. Next, in a medium-sized sauce pan set over medium heat add the milk and heat until just under the simmering point.
  3. Remove from the heat and, very slowly, add the hot milk to the pumpkin mixture in small amounts while whisking constantly.
  4. Return the mixture back to the sauce pan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 7 to 9 minutes, until very thick.  Do not be alarmed when the mixture turns lumpy.
  5. Remove from the heat and add the butter and vanilla.  Whisk vigorously until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  6. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the custard.  Refrigerate until completely cool, or until ready to use - up to 3 days.

Spiced Pound Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly butter and flour (2) 9x5-inch loaf pans and set aside.  Toss the raisins with 2 tablespoons of flour and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  3. With the mixer turned to low speed, add the vanilla, honey, and eggs one at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate.  Turn the mixer off.
  4. Next, in a large bowl sift together the remaining flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.
  5. With the mixer running on low speed, add the flour and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour.  Then, scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl and fold in the raisins.
  6. Transfer the batter evenly between the prepared pans.  Tap the pans on a flat surface to release as many air bubbles as possible.
  7. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
  8. Once you have removed the loaves from the oven, allow them to cool in the pans for 10 minutes.  Then, turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Whipped Cream

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the cold cream and whisk on low.
  2. Gradually raise the speed of the mixer from low to high, making sure the cream does not splatter out of the bowl.
  3. Once the cream begins to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla.  Whisk until it forms stiff peaks, or about 1 to 2 minutes.

Assembly

  1. Cut the pound cake into ½-inch thick slices.
  2. Place a layer of cake in the bottom of a 2½ to 3-quart glass serving bowl, cutting the pieces to fit as necessary.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of caramel.  Top with a layer of the pastry cream, then a layer of whipped cream, then sprinkle with crushed gingersnap cookies. 
  3. Repeat the same process 3 more times.  The completed trifle will have 4 glorious layers.

A Helpful Preparation Timeline

  1. First, bake the Spiced Pound Cake - up to 3 days in advance.
  2. Then make the Pumpkin Orange Pastry Cream - up to 3 days in advance
  3. When you are ready to assemble, find your favorite trifle dish, have your store-bought components ready, and then make the Vanilla Whipped Cream. 
  4. Assemble the Pumpkin Spiced Trifle and serve!

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An Autumnal Feast! A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite

Marc J. Sievers

This year, Ryan and I are spending my birthday and Thanksgiving in Chicago and will be taking full advantage of our festive city leading up to the big feast!  On my birthday we have dinner plans at my favorite restaurant RL, then will walk over to The Peninsula Chicago to enjoy a cocktail and ice skating atop their Sky Rink—what a fabulous birthday!   On Thanksgiving Day, our menu will consist of things that are store-bought, a few recipes that can be made in advance, and the main course—Gruyere Cheese Soufflé—that will be made right before serving (Julia Child, thank you!). 

In addition to making some of the recipes in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I will also set the table in a palette of white, grey, and pumpkin colored plates, bowls, linens, and white un-scented candles.  Simple white roses, fresh herbs, and silver dollar eucalyptus arranged in silver bowls will take center stage!

Last year, my friend and watercolor artist Linda Marie Clark and I launched Watermarc – Art & Appetite, a growing line of vibrant and collectible occasion cards that are created around collections of my original vegetarian recipes and Linda’s whimsical watercolors.  We developed a series of cards titled “An Autumnal Feast” which had some of the most flavorful Fall recipes you could dream of!  That series has since been retired and I have wanted to share my recipes and Linda’s artwork that were a part of the original collection as they are just too delicious and colorful to keep locked up. 

These are some of my favorite recipes I have created as they’re classic delicious twists that really bring home the Autumnal flavors.  Whether you are looking to spice up your holiday menus, inject some variety for a weeknight/end dinner party, or completely revamp what you normally serve, I know these recipes will add the “Wow!” factor, up the flavor factor, and will have your guests asking for more! 

From our home to yours, Ryan and I wish you the most glorious Thanksgiving filled with good food, good wine, and the most important ingredients:  Big pinches of love and appreciation!

Cheers!

An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite

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Dark Chocolate & Salted Caramel Tartine

Marc J. Sievers

When I am hosting a party, I am always looking for impressive yet easy things to serve my guests.  I love when a recipe calls for both salty and sweet ingredients, like my Dark Chocolate & Salted Caramel Tartine!  The salty butter and salty caramel, bold flavor of the chocolate, and crunchy cashews are the perfect combination to satisfy even the pickiest of palates!

Serve this tartine as part of a cocktail soirée, cut in bite-sized pieces, or as a dessert.  Plan for one tartine per person.  Or just make one for yourself and enjoy it with a glass of red wine or champagne – c’est parfait!   

A tartine is a French open-faced sandwich, like the Italian version of a bruschetta, that can be topped with anything truly fabulous and flavorful.  Creating a tartine can be as easy as going through your pantry and refrigerator and choosing ingredients that will pair well and compliment one another.  The most important ingredient is the bread!  Try to choose a bread that is hearty, crusty, and full of flavor like a Tuscan Pane – my favorite bread for a tartine – keep the plain white bread for homemade breadcrumbs!


Dark Chocolate & Salted Caramel Tartine

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • French Boule – 1 large slice, lightly toasted and fully cooled (you can also use Sourdough, Wheat, or Tuscan Pane)
  • Salted Butter – 1 tablespoon, at room temperature
  • Dark Chocolate – 1 tablespoon, 72% cacao, shaved
  • Roasted Cashews – 1 tablespoon, unsalted, rough chopped
  • Fleur de Sel Caramel – 2 teaspoons, at room temperature, favorite store-bought brand

Directions

  1. Spread the butter evenly onto one side of the cooled, toasted bread.
  2. Sprinkle the shaved chocolate and cashews evenly onto the buttered side of the bread, and then drizzle with caramel.
  3. Lastly, cut into desired sized pieces and serve. 

Chocolate Maple Whiskey Cupcakes

Marc J. Sievers

A few years ago I was turned on to Crown Royal Maple Whiskey – and I haven’t looked back!  This particular whiskey still has the bite of a regular whiskey, but also a very smooth maple finish.  This time of year, when the weather starts to change, like clockwork I head over to my neighborhood spirits store and pick up a bottle (or two!).  It is the perfect aperitif to sip on a crisp Chicago evening while relaxing with Ryan.  Although he isn’t a fan, he says that when I drink this elixir, I smell like spicy pancakes in the morning.  I mean, things could be worse!

So in order to make him fall in love with this magical whiskey, I decided to use it as an ingredient in my Chocolate Maple Whiskey Cupcakes.  The cake component is intensely chocolatey with a maple twist, while the frosting has much more of a maple whiskey zing.  Have a giant glass of cold milk (or whiskey on the rocks!) at the ready – this could be your new “thing”, too!


Chocolate Maple Whiskey Cupcakes

Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes)

Cupcake Batter

  • Flour – 1 cup, all purpose
  • Cocoa Powder – 1/3 cup
  • Dark Brown Sugar – 1 cup, lightly packed
  • Baking Soda – 1 teaspoon
  • Baking Powder – ½ teaspoon
  • Fine Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon
  • Eggs – 1 extra-large, at room temperature
  • Maple Whiskey – ¼ cup (Crown Royal Maple recommended)
  • Buttermilk – ¾ cup, at room temperature
  • Vegetable Oil – ¼ cup
  • Maple Syrup – 2 tablespoons, Grade A
  • Vanilla – ¾ teaspoon, pure extract

Frosting

  • Butter – 1 stick, unsalted, at room temperature
  • Chocolate Syrup – 1 tablespoon
  • Maple Whiskey – 2 tablespoons (Crown Royal Maple recommended)
  • Confectioners’ Sugar – 2½ cups, sifted
  • Maple Syrup – 4 tablespoons, Grade A
  • Vanilla – ¼ teaspoon, pure extract
  • Chocolate Cookies – ½ cup, crushed, for garnish

Directions

Cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour a standard 12-well muffin pan.  Set aside. 
  2. In a large bowl, sift all of the dry ingredients.
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
  4. Next, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Whisk until just combined and almost smooth.
  5. Using a 1¼ -inch metal scoop, evenly scoop the batter into each well.  The wells should be ¾ filled.
  6. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 10 minutes inside the pan, then remove from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment set to low speed and cream together the butter, whiskey, vanilla, maple syrup, and chocolate syrup.
  2. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.
  3. Frost each cupcake using a flat knife or piping bag fitted with a round tip.  Garnish with crushed chocolate cookies.  

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Paris-Inspired Strawberry Country Cake

Marc J. Sievers

On my second trip to Paris in April I traveled with my friend Holly and she was very excited to visit a little salon de thé (tea lounge) named Mamie Gâteaux (granny cakes) in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood, and I was happy to oblige.  Most of the salon de thés I had visited before had been filled with glamorous desserts and gleaming silver tea pots.  This particular salon was rather different.  It was very rustic and country, and filled with the most casual and effortless cakes, pies, and muffins that were served on simple china and festooned with antique baking accoutrement.  Each dessert looked as if my Nan had loving baked it in her tiny kitchen.  As one dessert would sell out the kitchen would send out another one—different than what had sold out—looking even better than before! 

After I returned home to Chicago I was desperate for a simple cake, like the kinds I saw at Mamie Gâteaux.  There was something charming about those no-frills French desserts that I wanted to recreate here.  They were not overly sweet, or piled on with frosting, or done to death with marzipan.  They were, in two words, simply delicious.  They were simple, taking the best advantage of just a few basic baking ingredients.  And they were delicious, transcending the simple, with no need of complex technique or tricks, into nibbly crumbs that were satisfying, comforting, and encouraged savoring.

The French believe in cooking and baking with the best ingredients.  You start with the best and the techniques of French cooking have been developed to enhance those pure flavors.  You can taste it in something as simple as a French baguette—by French law it contains only four ingredients:  flour, water, yeast, and salt.  And yet those four ingredients in the hands (and oven) of a French boulanger transform into something truly delicious.

In my longing for a simple cake I kept the French approach in my mind—keeping it simple, and using the best ingredients.  One of my favorite (and simplest) recipes in my repertoire is my pound cake.  And as the French do, I decided to introduce a fresh fruit.  Pound cake can be a fabulous canvas on which to highlight a special flavor.  One of the best fruit flavors that can stand on its own, and serve both the sweet and tart parts of the palate, is strawberry.

Strawberries are just coming into season and with the start of our farmer’s markets in Chicago, I thought this would be the perfect way to bring together all the elements of my inspiration:  French gateaux, delicious ingredients, and a simple approach.  The result is my Strawberry Country Cake.  It is a twist on a classic pound cake, brimming with perfectly ripened strawberries from my local farmers market and flavored with lemon zest, vanilla, and buttermilk.

My Strawberry Country Cake is just lightly sweet and relies on the strawberries to do what they do best, making it a wonderful dessert to serve with tea (perhaps a Lady Grey with lemon) or to end a dinner party (paired with a glass of dry Rosé).  This is my new favorite cake—a cake that will always remind me of the casual and country essence of Mamie Gâteaux in Paris.


Strawberry Country Cake

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

  • Butter – 1 stick, unsalted, room temperature
  • Eggs – 2 extra-large, room temperature
  • Flour – 1 ½ cups, all-purpose
  • Baking Powder – ¼ teaspoon
  • Baking Soda – ¼ teaspoon
  • Kosher Salt – ¼ teaspoon
  • Buttermilk – ½ cup, room temperature
  • Vanilla – ¾ teaspoons, pure extract
  • Honey – 2 tablespoons
  • Lemon Zest – 2 teaspoons
  • Sugar – 1 cup, granulated
  • Strawberries – 1 pound, hulled, ¾ inch chopped  

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lightly butter and flour an 8x8 square pan. 
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  4. With the mixer turned to low speed, add vanilla, lemon zest, honey, and the eggs one at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate.  Turn the mixer off.
  5. Next, in a large bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. 
  6. With the mixer running on low speed, add the flour and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour.
  7. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl.  Gently fold in the strawberries and transfer the batter into the prepared pan.  Tap the pan on a flat surface to release as many air bubbles as possible.
  8. Transfer the pan into the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  9. Once you have removed the cake from the oven, allow it to cool in the pan for 20 minutes.  Run a sharp knife around the edges of the cake, then turn the cake out (very carefully to prevent the cake from breaking) onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Transfer to a serving platter, top with whipped cream, and serve.

Vanilla Whipped Cream

Ingredients

  • Heavy Cream – 1 cup, very cold
  • Sugar – 1 tablespoon, granulated
  • Vanilla – ½ teaspoon, pure extract

Directions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla.
  2. Gradually increase the mixer speed to high and whip for 1-2 minutes, or until it thickens.

Idea:  When transferring the cake from the pan and onto a cooling rack then onto a serving platter – do so extremely carefully.  The cake is very heavy in weight from the fresh berries and can break easily.  To get the cake out of the pan, rest the cooling rack directly over the baking pan and invert completely – the cake will easily release from the pan.  Follow the same process to transfer the cake to a serving platter.

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Lavender Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Marc J. Sievers

One of my favorite things to do at home is have a pot of tea with Ryan on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  Throughout the years I have collected antique silver and porcelain teapots, sugar bowls, creamers, and other accessories to create my own special and unique tea service at home.  I have also done a good job at building up my tea selection—both loose leaf and individual bags—and always keep a little tin of cookies or biscuits on hand to enjoy, as the English do so well.

When I want to make something homemade for a special treat my go-to recipe is my Lavender Lemon Shortbread Cookies!  They are buttery and crisp, and have such a well-rounded flavor that pairs perfectly with black tea (my favorite is Twinings Earl Grey) with honey and cream.

Whether you enjoy a cup of tea on the go (wrap a single cookie in parchment), set an elaborate table for tea time (serve these on a silver platter), or just want to eat scrumptious shortbread (these also make fabulous gifts), these are perfectly versatile and delicious.  I hope you love them as much as I do.  Now, if only I had a bigger tin!  Hats on, pinkies up, its tea time!


Lavender Lemon Shortbread Cookies 

Ingredients (makes 12 cookies)

  • Butter - 1 stick, unsalted, at room temperature  
  • Sugar - ⅓ cup, granulated
  • Vanilla - ½ teaspoon, pure extract
  • Flour - 1 cup + 2 tablespoons, all-purpose
  • Sea Salt - ⅛ teaspoon
  • Lavender - 2 tablespoons, dried, lightly chopped
  • Honey - 2 tablespoons
  • Lemon Zest - 1 ½ tablespoons

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment set to medium speed,  mix together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Add the vanilla, sea salt, honey, and lavender and mix until well incorporated.
  4. Next, with the mixer running on low speed, add the flour and lavender.  Mix until the dough comes together,
  5. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and gently shape into a flat disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the dough and place onto a floured surface. 
  7. Roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness and use a fluted edged cutter to cut out cookies.  Gather excess dough and repeat process of rolling and cutting.
  8. Place cookies onto a parchment lined baking sheet.  Place the pan into the refrigerator for another 15 minutes.
  9. Remove from the refrigerator, place into the preheated oven and bake for 17-18 minutes, until the edges begin to turn a light brown. 
  10. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Triple Chocolate Cookies

Marc J. Sievers

Developing new recipes allows me the opportunity to experiment with all kinds of ingredients.  Whether they are from my local grocery store, a gourmet food shop, or even an ethnic market, the possibilities and combinations are endless.  Sometimes navigating your way down the aisles and seeing the amount of variety there is when it comes to brands, packaging, and price (we have all had those “YIKES!” moments), can be a bit overwhelming.  Usually when I am testing a recipe that has a star ingredient, like chocolate, I go straight for the best quality I can find but still in my price range.  The outcome – my Triple Chocolate Cookies – so incredibly luxurious in both texture and taste that I have had to stop keeping some of the ingredients in the house because I can’t stop making (and ultimately eating!) them.

These cookies are filled with rich Pernigotti Cocoa Powder, Guittard Milk Chocolate Chips, and French Président Butter.  While most of my posts and recipes encourage you to shop at your local grocery, this recipe is one I highly recommend you splurge on these few ingredients.  If your local grocery doesn't have these particular brands, you can easily find them online and have them shipped directly to you, even the butter


Triple Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients (makes 12 cookies)

  • Flour – 1 cup, all-purpose
  • Sea Salt – ½ teaspoon
  • Baking Powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Baking Soda – ¼ teaspoon
  • Cocoa Powder – ¾ cup, unsweetened, Pernigotti recommended
  • Dark Brown Sugar – 1 ½ cups, lightly packed
  • Eggs – 3, extra-large, at room temperature
  • Honey – 1 tablespoon
  • Vanilla – 2 teaspoons, pure extract
  • Butter – 1 stick, unsalted, at room temperature, Président (or another European-style) recommenced
  • Unsweetened Baking Chocolate – 4 ounces, finely chopped
  • Milk Chocolate Chips – 11.5 ounces (1 bag), Guittard recommended

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a single baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa power.  Set aside.
  3. In another medium bowl whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, honey, and vanilla until there are no lumps from the brown sugar.  Set aside.
  4. In a small microwave safe bowl add the butter and unsweetened chopped chocolate.  Microwave on half power for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally until just melted and smooth.
  5. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and whisk until completely combined.
  6. Toss the chocolate chips in the flour mixture.  Fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture.  Allow the dough to rest for exactly 20 minutes at room temperature.
  7. Using a 2 ¼-inch scoop, scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet.  Only 6 cookies will fit per baking sheet, per baking cycle.
  8. Bake for 18 - 20 minutes until just set, rotating the sheet tray once halfway through baking time.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Repeat above steps to finish baking the other 6 cookies.

Idea: These cookies can be served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce drizzled over top – a truly decedent treat!

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