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0 In food/ recipes

an insomniac oven

hazelnut chocolate cake pieces

I’ve struggled with sleeplessness since high school, and am a total night owl. I sometimes work or read until the wee hours of the morning, but more often than not, midnight finds me in the kitchen.  We do mostly homemade sweets around here, so sometimes I’m getting ahead on the next day’s to-do list- gotta keep dessert stocked! But most of the time I’m just relaxing and recipe testing, so I wanted to share a few of our recent favorites.

smore pie

This s’mores pie was rich and creamy and delicious.  David doesn’t love dark chocolate the way I do, so I used half dark and half milk.  I thought it was perfectly sweet that way, but it’s not supersweet like actual s’mores- some more or or even all milk chocolate will get you there.  And seriously, if you haven’t made homemade marshmallow yet, you need too- it’s much easier than it looks!

hazelnut chocolate pour hazelnut chocolate cake milk

Deb over at smitten kitchen mentioned that Chef Suzanne Goin served this brown butter and hazelnut confection as her own wedding cake, and I totally see why now. I adore the flavor of brown butter, and it balanced perfectly with the moreish texture of the nuts and the ganache draping. The cake came together quickly and disappeared from the cake plate in the same fashion.  I’ve more hazelnuts in the fridge, so I’m certain it will have a return engagement one night soon.

profiterole shouquette dorie greenspan

I’m totally on a cream puff kick.  In all honestly, we’ve had them two nights in a row, and I’m not even embarrassed by that-  they’re damn delicious. I’ve been using Dorie Greenspan’s pâté à choux recipe (currently reading her Baking Chez Moi),  filling them with a mix of vanilla custard and freshly whipped cream, dipping or drizzling them with ganache, and devouring by the plateful.

pb and j cake sparkler pb and j cake

Elaborate birthday cakes are the norm around here, as is replacing candles with fireworks. David mentioned wanting a pb&j inspired cake this year, so I ran with that one night. I stacked peanut butter cake with strained strawberry jam, then slathered it with fluffy brown sugar-peanut butter frosting, another slick of jam, and chopped salted peanuts. It was enormous (too big for the cake bell) and phenomenal.

pb and j cake shakeAnd the better the cake, the better the cake shake! Leftover cake into shakes is one of my very favorite revamps, and I love mixing up different flavors.  This version included pb&j cake, strawberries, peanut butter, vanilla ice cream, malted milk powder, and a healthy splash of amaretto. Sometimes I even get fancy… like whipped cream and a slice of cake on top.

I guess you could say night times are good times in the Coe kitchen.


1 In food/ recipes

galette des rois: french king cake

full-french-king-cake king-cake-plated

Carnival season is hands-down my favorite time of year, and king cake is one of those confections I just can’t say no to. Whether classic cinnamon swirl, cream-cheese-filled king cake or a traditional French galette des rois, it’s probably having a date with my mouth.


We were fortunate enough to have a dear friend ship us a king cake from the legendary Manny Randazzo’s, and it totally hit the spot.  Most years, I wind up making several king cakes throughout carnival season- this recipe from Sucré, on Magazine Street,  is my go to, and Randazzo’s and Sucré are by far the best king cakes available by mail.  but i have a serious affinity for the French king cake, or galette des rois… la Boulangerie makes my favorite in town.

king-cake-orange-zesting king-cake-baby-placing

But, according to #12 of my #16in16, this is the year of taking on those intimidating cookery projects. So after a brief foray of pricing out having galettes de rois shipped, it was game on. As luscious as this pistachio-and-citron version from Gontran Cherrier (who makes my very favorite croissants in Paris) looks, I decided to save that and focus on the traditional French almond frangipane filled confection. I worked with Clotilde and David Lebovitz‘s recipes, adapting them and making the frangipane from scratch.

crusting-kind-cake king-cake-scoring french-king-cake-egg-wash

I didn’t trust myself and my limited artistic talent to provide even decorative cut work, so lots of overlapping salad plate tracings did the job with style.  It’s super important to flute and seal the edges properly so that the frangipane doesn’t bubble out. And make sure your egg wash doesn’t drip down the sides- it will inhibit the pastry’s puffing.  With traditional king cakes, you’d bake in a ceramic fève, or insert a plastic baby into the baked king cake.  Here though, I went super old-school and baked in a whole almond  (and was a total five-year old and stole it from David’s slice to claim the carnival queen title.)



  • 1 package all-butter puff pastry, thawed.
  • 1 whole almond, piece of  candied fruit, or oven-safe fève
  • 1 cup (100 g) sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
  • pinch salt
  • zest of one orange
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100g) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons good rum
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with one tablespoon milk


  1. Working with one half of pastry at a time, roll out and trace a large dinner plate with a sharp knife.  Stack large pastry circles between peices of parchment paper, and refrigerate for at least a half hour.
  2. Meanwhile, make almond filling.  Pulse almonds with a few tablespoons of sugar until all finely ground.
  3. Move sweetened almond flour to bowl of stand mixer. Add rest of sugar, salt, orange zest.
  4. On medium speed, mix in butter  until completely incorporated. Add whole eggs one at a time, then rum and almond extract. (The mixture may not look smooth- totally okay.) Cover and chill.
  5. Preheat over to 375 Line baking sheet with parchment, and center one chilled pastry circle.
  6. Spread the almond filling evenly over pastry, leaving a 1-inch (3cm) border. Place almond,  candied fruit, or fève (prize) somewhere in the almond filling.
  7. Brush water generously around pastry edges.  Place the other pastry circle on top of the galette and press down to seal the edges very well. (At this point, you can chill the galette for ten minutes or so to make it a bit more workable.)
  8. Flute the sides of the dough (as shown in the photo) and use a sharp knife to create a design on top. Brush yolk-and-milk mixture carefully and evenly over the top. Use a knife to poke a few holes in the top, to allow steam to escape.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes, or until well-browned. Remove from oven and cool (galette will deflate). Serve warm or at room temperature.





0 In festivities/ home/ recipes

home for the holidays


As much as I love latkes, I can’t eat them for 8 nights straight if I want to fit into my clothes. So I make a point of experimenting with and serving other foods with Jewish and Israeli foods as we celebrate Hannukah.


Having made several variations of chocolate babka in the past, Smitten Kitchen’s simplification of Yotam Ottolenghi’s krantz cakes are hands down the best. I decided to up the ante a notch by raiding/catching up on my Valrhona x Trader Joe’s chocolate calendar  and including several different dark varieties, and it was a scrumptious life choice.

decktheH-bobka-1 decktheH-bobka-2braid decktheH-bobka-rising

The cutting and twisting stage can be a little iffy, but refrigerating the dough to stiffen the butter makes all the difference. And as long as you get it into the pan in some fashion, it will rise up just dandy. And yes, I have to use a mug of water to humidify my microwave as a rising drawer- even in sunny SoCal, our house is an icebox.


I lose all self-control around this yumminess- that little pan of ends was history before I’d even finished glazing the loaves. With Hanukkah falling early this year, we’re celebrating the miracle of light as we prepare and decorate for our annual holiday open house, which we’re hosting this weekend.


The babka made for some scrumptious Hanukkah bush decorating fuel. The moist and tender brioche was swirled generously with melted chocolate, and warm slices paired perfectly with glasses of icy cold milk.


We don’t go too overboard with holiday decor. As much as I love the way it looks, I have limited patience for the untangling and wrangling, putting up and taking down, organizing and storing, and David even less so.  My mom is a holiday superdecorator and I’m nowhere near her level,  so I’m just grateful that she gifted us the majority of those gorgeous vintage glass ornaments.


But I loooooooveee the smell of a live tree in the house, so every year we wind up at the tree lot. It’s the same story, different year- I try and talk David into a 9 footer or the like, he laughs in my face. Then we inspect no less than a dozen (more reasonably sized) trees until I find the perfect one. And once we get it home, I’m hanging onto the mantle or teetering on the arm of the couch to perch the sparkly fleur de lis on the top.


There’s a lot of love on this little table. The chanukiah was a wedding present, and my mother in law crocheted the tablecloth as a gift for me. We collected the pinecones hiking in Big Bear during our 2nd wedding anniversary getaway, then cleaned and glittered them.  I can’t help but smile when I see it all- it’s simple but special.

decktheH-menorah-openingpresent decktheH-kendras

David got me a new MacBook Air last month, and his new camera body arrived a few weeks ago. Since we’re already using and loving our big gifts this year, we’re exchanging  smaller treats each night. Some are useful, like the previous night’s Restoration Hardware foot duvets (graphite for David, grey for me), some are indulgent, like these gorgeous rose gold and brown abalone Kendra Scott earrings, and some are silly, like the box of practical jokes and disguises David proceeded to open.


With all the travel I’ve clocked this year (24 round trips in 2015) it’s been really amazing to have put up the suitcases for the year.  To just spend some time around the house, making it fun and festive, just gives me all the warm and fuzzy feelings.


0 In recipes

rainbow cookie cake

For as long as I can remember, I have been really into rainbow cookies.  As a child, I was notorious for raiding cookie platters at parties to have all the rainbows for myself, and for going straight-up Cookie Monster if lucky enough to find myself unattended with a plateful or bakery box. Some things never change- I’m still obsessed and David is now, too. The kosher bakery in my mom’s neighborhood makes my absolute favorite ones, (White Plains Bake Shoppe if you happen to be in NYC suburbs), and I always scarf them when I’m visiting… And fly back to LA with a box too.  But I can’t exactly fly cross country for cookies, and I have never, not once, found these on the west coast, which is a travesty.

So when faced with a craving one day, I went on a recipe hunt. I came across one for a rainbow cookie cake from Adam Roberts, and the game was on, y’all.

I’ve bumped up the almondy goodness a bit, and frankly, it’s freaking delicious.  It’s dense (in the best possible way), but super tender. It’s certainly rich, but semisweet chocolate and quality preserves keep it from being overly sweet. It’s a regular on the celebration rotation, for birthdays and holidays, and the leftovers, if any survive, keep beautifully in the fridge- the ganache gets even more decadent.

I always need to level my cakes to stack them evenly. Here, I layered the cake tops with homemade preserves,  just as I did the proper cakes, then used a biscuit cutter for some darling little mini cakes.  We had some happy neighbors this night.


Rainbow Cookie Cake 

(adapted from the Amateur Gourmet


  • 3 sticks butter, softened, plus more for greasing pans
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 14 ounces almond paste (two packages)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons real almond extract
  • 2 generous tablespoons Amaretto
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • gel food coloring- red, yellow, green
  • 1/4 cup red fruit jam (I used cherry, raspberry works too.)
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • chocolate sprinkles, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 350′. Butter and flour three 9-inch cake pans, lining the bottoms with circles of parchment.
  2. In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar till fluffy. Begin adding almond paste slowly into the running mixer- it’s easiest just to pinch off little bits by hand. Once you’ve added both tubes, mix for at least five minutes, until the mixture is smooth and appears lump free.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, then extract and amaretto, then milk, continuing to mix through and fully incorporating each addition. Don’t fret if the consistency goes a little haywire- it’ll smooth out.
  4. Add dry ingredients- flour, salt, baking powder- and mix just until incorporated. Divide batter evenly into three bowls, adding gel food coloring for bright pink, green and yellow batters.  Pour each into a prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.  Let cool completely, then level if necessary.
  5. Peel parchment off pink cake first, and place it on cake stand or platter. If appearances matter, go ahead and line the platter by slipping pieces of parchment under the edge of the cake- it will make the ganache frosting process much neater.
  6. Spread red fruit preserves to edges of pink cake layer, top with yellow layer. Repeat with apricot preserves and green layer.
  7. In a saucepan, warm cream on medium heat just till bubbles form. Add chocolate chips, then turn off heat. Whisk until the chocolate is all melted and the ganache is smooth.
  8. Pour and spread an even layer of ganache all over the stacked cake- an offset spatula is the best tool for the job. If desired, press chocolate sprinkles into ganache. Pull away the parchment around the bottom and take drips and excess along with it. Let set for an hour or two before serving.
0 In recipes

toasted fruit and nut muesli

This toasted cereal is a favorite around here. Chock full of nuts, seeds, and fruit, it’s gently spiced, not-too-sweet, and totally crave worthy.  I love including jars in care packages and gift baskets, and I generally double, if not triple, the recipe when I’m making a batch. 

I have a tendency to snack on this muesli by the handful- I can’t help myself! I also keep it simple- bowl, milk, spoon. It makes a scrumptious topping for hot cereal, the perfect textural contrast. And most mornings,  a bowl of greek yogurt, homemade preserves, and this muesli is David’s first breakfast.

One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it’s infinitely adaptable to mood, taste and pantry contents.  Use whichever nuts and fruits you’d like. I’m sharing my current favorite mix, but every blend I’ve tried has quickly vanished from the pantry. Let me know your favorite variations! 


Toasted Fruit and Nut Muesli

adapted from The Garden of Eden (via Whole Living October 2012)


  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup whole millet
  • 2 1/2 cups oats (not instant)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes or chips
  • 1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • Scant 1 cup raw mixed nuts (I use slivered almonds and whole pepitas)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • A few dashes of each allspice and cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice)
  • 1 heaping cup dried fruit (always golden raisins and tart cherries, blueberries also this batch) 
  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºf.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. In a small bowl, pour boiling water over millet, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes. 
  3. In a large bowl,  mix the drained millet, oats, coconut, seeds and nuts with the maple syrup, agave nectar, olive oil, salt, and spices. Stir to coat. 
  4. Spread the muesli mixture out onto the baking sheet.  Bake, stirring every 10 minutes or so, until the mixture is golden, about 30 minutes. 
  5. Let the muesli cool and then add dried fruit. Stir to mix. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. 

0 In recipes

our daily bread

Number four on my #15in15 list was to conquer homemade bread- mischief managed! After trying and tweaking a handful of recipes, I’ve landed on a no-knead bread that is easy enough to make consistently, tasty enough to enjoy, and healthy enough to justify. It’s not fancy in the least- it bakes in Pyrex bowls for crying out loud- but I’ve been making a batch every couple of days for the last few months, and it’s a slam dunk for our family.  

We eat an unreasonable amount hot from the oven, use it for toasts and tartines (salted butter-homemade preserves, avocado-lemon-Aleppo, Elvis toast, and goat cheese-honey-fleur de sel are our favorites). It makes delish grilled cheeses and other sandwiches, and leftover bits and ends become croutons, bread salad, or and bread puddings.

Some recipe notes:

  •  I bake this bread in the second-largest size of this Pyrex set, a 4 cup volume. Any oven-safe bowl of similar size will work.
  •  Seriously, butter your bowls generously. It’s crucial for getting the loaves to release easily- we’ve eaten more than one loaf squashed from being pryed loose.  If using a glass bowl, you want the butter to be thick enough to be opaque.
  •  I buy my yeast in bulk on Amazon, and keep it in the freezer- way thriftier and lasts forever.
  • Speaking of yeast, I’m including directions for proofing the yeast, which isn’t necessary if you’re certain your yeast is fresh or you are using instant yeast- I skip that step for speed and ease most days.

Everyday Bread (adapted from Alexandra Cooks)



  • 365 grams  (3 cups) all-purpose flour (do not use bleached)
  • 120 grams  (1 cup) whole wheat flour 
  • 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons brown sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons active-dry yeast
  • room temperature butter, about 3 tablespoons


  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flours and salt. In a small mixing bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over top, and let stand 10 minutes or so, till it’s a bit foamy.  Stir yeast-water-sugar, then add to the flour bowl, and mix until all flour is absorbed. 
  2. Cover bowl with a tea towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for at least an hour, until doubled. In our house, the sweet spot of timing is about 80 minutes, and since our kitchen is drafty, I use the microwave as a rising cupboard. 
  3. Preheat oven to 425ºF. 
  4. Grease two oven-safe bowls (such as the pyrex bowls I mentioned above) with at least a tablespoon of butter each. Use two forks to punch down your dough,  turning it over and into itself, and scraping it from the sides of the bowl. 
  5. Then, use your forks to divide the dough into halves, and place a portion in each greased bowl. This can get a little messy, since the dough is slippery. It works well to imagine a divider line and use the forks there to pull apart the dough, and then quickly scoop one half out.  I sometimes weigh and even out the bowls if they look unbalanced.  
  6. Set the dough in a warm spot to rise for 20 to 30 minutes, until it has risen to just above the top of the bowls.  
  7. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375º and bake for 15 to 17 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and turn the loaves onto cooling racks. If you’ve properly prepped the bowls, they should slip right out. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting.   
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