Sunshine Cookies – A Sweet for All Seasons


decorated Figolli

Sunshine cookies, my new name for Figolli, with semi-traditional Figolli decoration. (It’s semi-traditional because there should be a foil-wrapped chocolate egg somewhere on each cookie. I compromised with (one) golden Jordan almond.


Why sunshine? Because they’re full of citrus zest – lemon, orange and lime – and they have a rich almond filling spiked with orange flower water. These are all things that say “Mediterranean” to me, plus Figolli are from Malta.

And why ignore their perfectly good name to create another one? Because “Figolli” is totally married to Easter and I think the cookies are way too good to make only once a year.

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Popovers – They’re Easy (Really)

This post was inspired by Cindy Martin, who found the vintage baking pan story and wrote to ask what popovers were and whether I had a recipe.

How could there be anyone who doesn’t know what a popover is? thought I.

Then I realized – but of course! Popover innocence would be almost a given if no one in your family baked. These addictive quick breads are easy to make but  impossible to manufacture commercially. They don’t just have to be oven-fresh to be any good, they pretty much have to be oven fresh to exist whatsoever.  freshly baked popover, split and filled

A popover, split, buttered, drizzled with syrup from candied pineapple. Honey and jam are more common sweet additions, but it’s hard to go wrong. Alternatively, you can channel ladies’ lunch circa 1950 and fill them with creamed chicken or tuna salad.


Having grown up making and eating popovers without realizing there was mythology attached, I got ready to answer Cindy’s question by simply writing down the formula I learned when I was about thirteen. But then, just to be sure I hadn’t missed anything, I undertook some research.

To my surprise – I’m often the last to realize these things – popovers have a reputation for being difficult. Everywhere I looked, in print and online, recipes were full of warnings, injunctions, caveats and ironclad rules, many of them contradictory: Use a hot oven; use a cold oven; beat the batter thoroughly; don’t over mix the batter; let the batter rest; use the batter right away; be sure you develop the gluten; be sure you don’t develop the gluten. Oy.

Here’s what: advice about popovers probably offers the highest ratio of balderdash to useful information I’ve ever seen for a formula that has only 5 ingredients.

popover ingredients

Ingredients for popovers – I use bread flour but it’s not essential. I forgot to show the salt – please don’t forget to use some.

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Corn and Coconut Cupcakes

Four short years ago, in the course of extolling Black Mexican Corn, I strongly urged home gardeners to buy their modern sweet corn from local farmers, so they could devote their all their corn growing space to heirlooms.

Now I’m feeling that a retraction may be necessary: it’s getting more and more difficult to find farmers who sell the modern corn that’s a vegetable instead of dessert. All this chichi corn ice cream and such no longer seems like an affectation but instead an act of desperation – what else is there to do with this stuff?

corn and coconut cupcakes, with chocolate and coconut

Corn and Coconut Cupcakes, with and without Aztec Ganache.

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Triple Ginger Gingerbread – and the paths down which it led

Actually, Triple Ginger was the first stop on a path that started with a yen for old fashioned hot water gingerbread: soft, spicy, homely, simple to make –  the original brownie, if  by “brownie” you mean a rich dark snack cake to eat out of hand. (The chocolate kind is a cake-come-lately compared to gingerbread.)

I don’t make gingerbread very often, and thus felt in need of a reminder recipe. But instead of consulting any of several dozen cookbooks or, of course, the net, I made the mistake of trolling about in my own published works, where I stumbled on

Triple Ginger Gingerbread, whole

Triple Ginger Gingerbread*

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