In life, if you are lucky, you have many groups of friends. Some stay in your life longer than others, but all impact and touch you in certain ways.
Let me introduce the Bad News Bitches (aka: BNBs). My husband, Keith, nicknamed us after all the adventures he’s seen us go through. It’s fitting. Trust me. We have our own coffee table book!
These 3 women have been in my life since middle school – oh, yes, we knew each other during those awkward teenage years and have seen each other through heartbreaks, hopes, loneliness, triumphs, marriage, divorce, babies, and many trips to Miami.
My feelings of affection, admiration and love for these 3 women have only deepened over the years, and during this holiday season I wanted to showcase their talent in the dessert department.
Please note: I have no knowledge of desserts and I don’t pretend to! I’d rather eat two appetizers and an entrée and completely skip that last course… I have been known to order pasta for dessert.
I did realize with the holiday season in full swing, a post on sugary goodness would be nice. These 3 ladies are my experts and I hope you enjoy their recommendations and recipes.
For my recipe I chose a traditional and easy dessert that I make with my sister in law at most holidays. She has been wonderful with embracing the Portuguese culture in her cooking to appease my brother & our family. On her first trip to Portugal she tasted one of my favorite desserts, Serradura (sawdust), and vowed to make it again at home. Now it’s become a staple dessert at every family event. It’s deliciously rich and simple to make!
Linda’s Favorite Bakery
As for my favorite bakery, without a doubt, it’s Magnolia Bakery – http://www.magnoliabakery.com/ I know its cliché, but to this day, I still ask my friends every time we go into the city, “Are we by Magnolia Bakery?” Their cupcakes, in my opinion, are the best cupcakes I have ever tasted. There is something so unique about the buttery richness of their frosting. And let’s not forget the Banana pudding! I could (and have) eaten it by the pound! I dare you to walk by their bakery and not be lured in by the delicious smells of their treats.
Too Much Chocolate Cake Recipe:
I don’t have any recipes that I’ve managed to make my own over the last few years, but this is one of my favorites:
Lauren’s Favorite Desserts at a Restaurant:
- Toll House Cookie Sundae: The Wine Bar, Atlantic Highlands – http://ahwinebar.com/winebar/
While I feel compelled to name something classy, I have to go with the warm chocolate chip sundae cookie. The warm, freshly baked cookie is topped with vanilla ice cream and makes me nostalgic for the simple desserts of my childhood (when I thought that a Friendly’s sundae was a culinary delicacy). Sadly, this is only on the seasonal menu so it is an infrequent treat for me.
- Chocolate Covered Cannoli: Egidio’s Bakery, Bronx – http://egidiopastryshop.com/
My first time visiting Egidio’s was during college. Despite sampling cannoli’s in various bakeries for the last decade, I can’t find anything that comes close to Egidio’s. The filling is rich and creamy, with the chocolate shell providing the perfect ending!
Since it’s the holidays, my recipe contribution has to be Venetians (aka Rainbow cookies or Italian Flag cookies). I’ve been making these every single year since I was 12 years old (even further back than our Holiday dinners at Lauren’s!) and they continue to be a holiday tradition my family won’t let me give up. I’ve made them in more kitchens across more apartments than I care to count and it wouldn’t feel like Christmas if I didn’t make them.
Prep time: 2 hours (1 hour each day, with an overnight setting period)
- waxed paper
- 3, 13×9 pans (just buy disposable aluminum pans)
- 8 ounces almond paste
- 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
- 1 cup white sugar
- 4 eggs, separated
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- red food coloring
- green food coloring
- 1 1/2 cups apricot jam
- 1 pound bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped
- Grease 3 – 13 x 9 inch pans. Line with wax paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
- Grate almond paste or chop into small pieces.
- Combine almond paste, sugar, butter, eggs and almond extract. Beat for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add flour and salt.
- Divide dough into 3 -1 1/2 cup portions. Add red coloring to one of the portions, and green to another, until you get the color you like. Leave the last third uncolored.
- Spread the batter in the 3 separate prepared pans (they will be thin layers).
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Use the wax paper to remove cakes from pan immediately. Cool thoroughly.
- Heat jam on the stovetop until it thins out and use a colander to remove the larger fruit pieces. Retain the more liquid jam.
- Place green layer onto a stable surface (I use a cookie sheet) and spread with the strained apricot jam. Add the white layer and spread jam on that. Top with pink layer.
- Cover the 3 layers in plastic wrap and place another cookie sheet on top. Weigh down the layers (to compress them and ensure they stick together when cut) with a few heavy books and place in the fridge overnight.
- Melt chocolate over a double boiler (chocolate in a saucepan, on top of a frying pan of water works fine).
- Spread chocolate over the cake and allow to set, but not get too hard (can refrigerate to speed it up).
- When chocolate is set, trim all the edges of your “cake” so that it is a true rectangle. Then, cut the cake into 1-inch squares.
- NOTE: It will be easier to cut the squares if you keep a glass of hot water and a towel handy. Heat the blade of your knife in the water, dry with the towel, and make each cut. Use the hot water to heat and clean the blade between cuts.
*Store cookies in the fridge for up to one week
Tricia’s Favorite Desserts at a Restaurant:
I realized that my favorite restaurants have seasonal menus, so a dessert I may have enjoyed a few months back isn’t offered today. That said, these are my 2 favorites on-the-go:
- Levain Bakery – http://www.levainbakery.com/ I have to give it up to my neighborhood favorite, which also happens to be the best cookie in NYC. Chocolate chip walnut is the classic, but the dark chocolate chocolate is pretty amazing too. They chill the dough before baking, so you end up with a cookie crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside. The line on the UWS is ridiculous during weekends, so be prepared to wait. If you can’t stand it, Jacque Torres Chocolatier has excellent cookies for sale right around the corner.
- Lady M Confections – http://www.ladym.com/ The Lady M Mille Crepe cake is divine. It consists of a stack of paper-thin crepes layered with an airy vanilla cream and topped with creme brûlée. It is both decadent and light, creamy and crispy. There is a green tea version which is also very popular. Lady M has an outpost in the Plaza Food hall, as well as on the Upper East Side and Bryant Park.