Aperol for Dessert

I’m a Campari drinker myself, but after the classic Aperol Spritz came under fire by The New York Times, I thought this cake paid a nice tribute to our immortal summer refresher. Should you be of the NYT camp, skip the Aperol frosting – the orange peel infused cake is delectable on its own.

Orange & Aperol Cake

Adapted from Recipes.com


•             1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

•             Peel from 2 large oranges

•             1 cup unsalted butter, softened

•             3 large eggs

•             2 1/2 cups cake flour

•             1 tablespoon baking soda

•             1 teaspoon kosher salt

•             1/2 cup orange juice

•             1/4 cup whole milk or half and half

•             1/3 cup Aperol Apéritif


•             2 pounds powdered sugar

•             2 cups unsalted butter, softened

•             4 tablespoons orange juice

•             4 tablespoons Aperol Apéritif

•             Yellow, and red food coloring

•             Orange peel, for garnish

•             Mint sprigs, for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. grease three (8-inch) round cake pans OR two (9-inch) round cake pans with baking spray. Dust with cake flour, tap around the edges to coat, and toss excess by tapping each pan upside down over the trash.
  2. To prepare the cake, pulse the sugar and orange peel in a food processor until peel is finely chopped and resembles the texture of wet sand.
  3. Beat together butter and orange/sugar mixture with hand mixer in an extra-large bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.
  4. Whisk together remaining dry ingredients (cake flour, baking soda, and salt) in a separate bowl. Stir together orange juice and milk in a large measuring cup or bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk mixture. Beat on low speed just until combined, scraping down sides as needed.
  5. Pour batter evenly among prepared cake pans, and bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted into cake comes out clean, test with a toothpick after 30 minutes. Cool cake in pans on a wire rack and move cakes carefully to a wire rack to cool completely. Brush each cake lightly with Aperol.
  6. To prepare the frosting, beat together powdered sugar and butter in a large bowl using a hand mixer, until light and fluffy. Add orange juice, Aperol, and 10 drops of each food coloring. Beat until smooth and continue adding drops of each food coloring until desired color is attained.
  7. To assemble the cake, move sturdiest cake to a cake stand or flat platter. Spread one cup of frosting on top of the base cake layer, and spread to the edges of the cake. Top with second cake layer, and repeat process, to stack each layer you have baked and brushed. Top with final cake layer with frosting, and spread frosting on top and sides of cake until smooth and fully frosted. Garnish with orange slices and mint as desired.


Tucked under the sidewalk of a hidden Lower East Side block in the space previously occupied by Birds and Bubbles now sits Wayla. Serving “homestyle Thai food” Wayla offers up a robust menu of unique offerings, plus an incredible array of cocktails. I have a special place in my heart for the space itself, having spent much time at Birds and Bubbles managing PR for their opening, and Wayla has only maximized the windy small space, with a large bar area and neutral fixtures accented by warm lighting.

As for the food, I suggest going with friends to allow for maximum sharing, highlights include:

  • Nam Prik Platter – Overflowing with crunchy, fresh crudités, the platter not only offers an array of three delicious sauces, but Wayla brings in at least three vegetables you’ve never heard of
  • Moo Sarong – New to me, these tiny pork meatballs are wrapped in noodles and fried. Yes, a crispy-noodle-wrapped-meatball
  • Peek Gai Tod – Tiny delicate chicken wings are doused in plum sauce and fall right off the bone and into your mouth
  • Khao Pad Pu – Crab fried rice is one thing I can’t help but order any place that offers it – can’t go wrong
Nam Prik Platter

Extra credit, the space features a huge outdoor patio, made intimate by the surrounding buildings that shield it, but great for private parties or group gatherings.

Cheese Course

I was never a big fan of cheesecake until I made the association of cheesecake as a cheese course rather than a cake. On the rare occasion dining out that you might opt for what most would consider a hors d’oeuvre, a cheese plate certainly offers rich, decadent flavor, and often a fruity and/or acidic component to cut the fat and give balance. In this way, I equate a light, fluffy blueberry lemon cheesecake with what it really is – a cheese course.

Here is my in-progress recipe, adapted from Taste of Home

Blueberry-Lemon Cheesecake


1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon cold water


1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 16 squares)

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon lemon zest


3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

1 cup light sour cream

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon extract

4 large eggs, lightly beaten


  1. In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar and lemon juice. Cook and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the berries are softened. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; stir into the blueberry mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat and add lemon zest; cool to room temperature. Transfer to a blender or magic bullet; cover and process until smooth. Set aside.
  2. For crust, in a small bowl, combine the crumbs (I use a food processor to pulverize them), lemon zest and sugar; stir in the butter. Press onto the bottom of a greased 9-in. springform pan. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
  3. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the sour cream, flour and vanilla. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Pour filling over crust. Drizzle with 4 tablespoons blueberry mixture; cut through batter with a knife to swirl.
  4. Return pan to baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edge of pan to loosen; cool or refrigerate until serving. Serve with remaining blueberry sauce drizzles on each slice.


Recipe adapted from Melissa Roberts & Maggie Ruggiero


  • 2 cups boiling-hot water
  • 3 tablespoons instant-espresso or coffee crystals
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons coffee liquor (e.g. Godiva)
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum (e.g. Myer’s)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup dry Marsala wine
  • 1 pound mascarpone (2 1/2 cups or two small containers)
  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 36 savoiardi (crisp Italian ladyfingers; do not use the soft ones!)
  • Cocoa powder for dusting


  1. Stir together water, espresso powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and rum + chocolate liquor in a shallow bowl until sugar has dissolved, then cool. Set aside.
  2. Beat egg yolks, Marsala, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water using a whisk or handheld electric mixer until tripled in volume, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove bowl from heat. Beat in mascarpone until just combined. Set aside.
  3. Beat cream in a large bowl until it holds stiff peaks.
  4. Fold mascarpone mixture into whipped cream gently but thoroughly.
  5. Dipping both sides of each ladyfinger into coffee mixture, fill baking pan with 18 ladyfingers in 3 rows, trimming edges to fit if necessary. Spread half of mascarpone filling on top. Dip remaining 18 ladyfingers in coffee and arrange over filling in pan. I usually do an extra layer, it depends on your dish!
  6. Spread remaining mascarpone filling on top and dust with cocoa. Chill, covered, at least 6 hours.
  7. Let tiramisu stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving, then dust with more cocoa.



24 Hours in Iceland

For a long weekend in Iceland, here are some tried and true recommendations for the best bang for your buck!

– Coffee and pastries @ Reykjavik Roasters

– Brunch @ Snaps Bistro

– Dinner @ Fishmarket

– On your way out of town, grab lunch @ the Blue Lagoon’s Lava Restaurant

Triple Ginger Cookie

Recipe by Canyon Ranch

This cookie provides just the right chewy, spicy, molasses tang – and you’d never guess they’re only 80 calories per cookie!


⅓ cup unsalted butter
⅔ cup low-fat cream cheese
1½ cups brown sugar
1 egg yolk
⅓ cup black strap molasses
1½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole-wheat flour
½ tsp ground ginger
1½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger root
½ cup minced crystallized ginger



  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with canola oil spray.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, cream cheese and sugar on low speed with an electric mixer. Add egg yolk and molasses and mix on low until just combined.
  3. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add to butter mixture and mix on low for 10 to 20 seconds. Add fresh ginger and crystallized ginger. Mix briefly by hand. Portion heaping teaspoonfuls (or use a ¾ ounce scoop) onto baking sheet about 1½ inches apart. Bake for 7 minutes. Rotate baking sheet and bake an additional 2 minutes.


Chocolate Mousse Cake

A take on our family’s favorite birthday treat — Angela Mia Chocolate Mousse Cake. This version is slightly less dense and doesn’t include a chocolate chip siding (however, you could certainly add it, as you wish!) Best served with homemade vanilla ice cream!

Imperative ingredients: booze in the mousse– your choice, but Kahlua works extremely well. Also the darkest cocoa powder you can find for the cake as well as the ganache!

Optional additions: Berries on top, chocolate chips, jam or ganache layer within.

Chocolate Mousse Cake



2 cups boiling water
1 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 eggs
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Mousse

2 cups dark chocolate chips
1 cup whipping cream
3 Tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 Tbsp Kahlua or Godiva liqueur

Chocolate Ganache
1 1/4 cup high quality dark chocolate
3/4 cups whipping cream



Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease three 9-inch cake pans and lightly flour

Put 2 cups of water into a saucepan, mix in the cocoa and boil. Stir until combined and smooth, then turn off and set aside to cool.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla together.

Beat in the dry ingredients alternating with the chocolate mixture.

Beat just until blended, do not over mix.

Divide the batter into the three prepared pans and bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove cakes from oven, place on cooling racks and leave them in the pans for 5 minutes.


Chocolate Mousse

Melt chocolate in a double boiler, or a pot filled with water and bowl. Set aside to cool.

Whip the cream and sugar, to stiff peaks. When chocolate is cool, whisk into cream. Whisk in vanilla and Kahlua. Set aside or store in refrigerator.


Chocolate Ganache

Melt chocolate and cream in a double boiler, or a pot filled with water and bowl. Set aside to cool.

Put chocolate mousse in between layers. Then pour chocolate ganache over top of cake. Serve.

$27 Banana Split

Go to The Beatrice Inn for a hearty meat-centric dinner and stay for this dessert, if your wallet allows. On a girls night out we treated ourselves to the Banana Brulee Sundae with Chocolate covered Cherries, Amarena Cherry Ice Cream, Sponge Cake and Pedro Ximenez and suffice to say it did not disappoint. The limited dessert options are gluttonous so say the least – foie gras ice cream and fried apple pie are the other choices – but this was surprisingly light for packing such a decadent punch. The bananas were perfectly fried to a golden brown, but the truest highlight of the dish was the cherry infused vanilla ice cream and PX sherry – a match made in heaven!

Tomato Tuna


Ahimi Nigiri

This week I attended Menus of Change, a sustainable food conference for professional chefs and foodservice operators focused on food transparency and plant-forward eating. The conference is eye-opening, featuring speakers from all corners of the food innovation world from Kimbal Musk (Kitchen Denver) and Corby Kummer (The Atlantic) to McDonald’s and Sonic.

One standout moment this year, perhaps equal with the launch of Sonic’s blended burger, was an innovation by Ocean Hugger Foods called Ahimi – A faux tuna product developed by Chef James Corwell.

We all (okay not all, but if you’re reading this you probably do) know that blue fin tuna is an endangered species and somehow still shows up in fish markets. In fact seafood is now almost always the top issue noted in food sustainability discussions. So why not create a sustainable alternative designed to have the taste and texture of tuna, but made entirely plant-based. The sous vide tomato is clean and unprocessed (the finer details are kept a secret by Chef Corwell and Ocean Hugger) but essentially it’s just water, tomatoes, soy sauce, and vinegar.

“[Our] mission is to support sustainability of the oceans, protect wildlife, and create a world where people can experience the delicious culinary tradition of sushi without harming the oceans.”

Firm, juicy, and bursting with savory flavor, the world’s first plant-based alternative to tuna has set the bar high by demonstrating the endless possibility for sustainable innovation.