Tag Archives: dessert

Pasteis de Nata

Explore the World with International Desserts

Delicious food and travel come together in desserts from around the world! One of the finest parts of travel is exposure to new regional food favorites. Even if a Eurotrip is not in your near future, trying dishes from around the world is one way to experience other countries and cultures from the comfort of your own kitchen. While ice cream, brownies, and patriotic berry pie are certainly enough to satisfy any sweet tooth, you must try these desserts from around the world at least once.


PastelDeNataPastéis de Nata

This egg-based pastry makes its way to American kitchens from Portugal. The outside is crispy and brown, and a creamy custard tops this dessert. Pastéis de Nata is perfect paired with decaf coffee after an evening meal.

If you want to create this Portuguese pastry in your own kitchen, get a muffin tin with 2 by 5/8 inch wells, and follow the recipe from Leites Culinaria.




Baklava’s hometown is Istanbul, Turkey, although this dessert is enjoyed all over the world. Light and flaky, baklava is perfect if you want something sweet but not too heavy. Often filled with nuts, the layers of this pastry are held together by syrup or honey. Beware – this dessert can be messy to eat!

Check out Epicurious.com for the how-to!




Flan is a favorite Mexican dessert that has become popular in many other parts of the world. Although there are several variations of this tasty treat, flan typically has a pastry-like exterior with a sweet filling in the middle.

Read here for full details on making your own flan! Prep time is only 20 minutes, which makes this dessert an easy one for beginners.



Regardless if you ever visit Portugal, Turkey, or Mexico, you nevertheless will have enjoyed staples of their cuisine. Want more delicious dessert recipes? Check out The Food Network!

Are there any other international treats that you recommend? Comment below and let us know!

Learn to Make Homemade Twinkies (In Case Hostess Shuts Down)

Learn to Make a Twinkie (In Case Hostess Shuts Down)

Time magazine February 6, 2012 cover

Time magazine Feb. 6, 2012

The sweet factory behind Twinkies, DingDongs and MiniMuffins might be closing its doors, but don’t fret: You can still get your sweet on with a slew of homemade Twinkie recipes.

Have you heard the potentially bad news about an iconic childhood treat? Hostess Inc., the creator of Twinkies, has announced it’s filed for bankruptcy—a second time. And while that’s enough to send the sweet tooth in all of us reeling, we’re determined that Twinkies are not disappearing anytime soon—whether through nostalgia alone, as mentioned in a recent Time magazine article, or through our resolve to make them ourselves.

Sure, growing awareness of the benefits of better eating may have made the Twinkie less of a staple in our lives and pantries than before. And maybe, just maybe, it’s a little of that, along with our own inventive spirit, that’s pushing the Twinkie out of business.

To celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2006, Hostess released a cookbook of all the creative ways Twinkie enthusiasts were using the cream-filled treat, from Twinkie sushi to Twinkiehenge and Twinkie-misu to Twinkie lasagna.

But that cookbook merely used already made Twinkies as components in fun or unusual presentations. I’m talking about making your own Twinkies–from scratch–using ingredients you can actually buy and pronounce. And it only requires something called a canoe pan and an injector or decorator pen to fill the cakes and breads baked in it.

Last year I was introduced to the homemade Twinkie phenomenon at a cooking class at Kitchens on the Square, an addictive, gadget-packed store in Savannah, Ga. The bacon and cheddar cornbread Twinkies were filled with a cheesy, cream cheese mixture and topped with bacon crumbles. They were so good that it prompted me buy the aforementioned pan and decorator set.

But that’s just the beginning. Later classes sampled red velvet Twinkies, carrot cake Twinkies, even peanut butter and jelly Twinkies. I’ve got my eye on an upcoming class with banana bread Twinkies. There’s just about no end to what kind of Twinkie you can create.

So, if losing the real thing comes at a price, at least we’re learning to make some tasty treats with which we can console ourselves.

Bon Appetit magazine's December 2011 issue

6 Tips for Making the Peppermint Meringues on Bon Appétit’s December Cover

Bon Appetit magazine's December 2011 issue

Bon Appetit magazine's December 2011 issue

For a unique winter treat, try cooking Bon Appetit’s Candy-Striped Peppermint Meringues. But before you do, read what Michelle Ryan learned about putting this recipe to the test.

I’ve been loving Bon Appétit’s magazine covers since about August, when they moved away from the white backgrounds that were showing up month after month after month. But December’s cover was particularly intriguing.

The nearly all-red cover set off with touches of white, silver and green features Candy-Striped Peppermint Meringues, which inspired me to make the treats, unusual in a sea of holiday cakes, cookies and more cookies.

The candies are easier to pull off than you’d think, but beware, it’s not one of those things you can whip up at the last minute. After putting the recipe to the test, here are six tips I’d recommend if you’re going to make them.

1. Start with a stiff meringue. As with all meringues, beating the egg whites until they’re stiff is key. I’m afraid I stopped short of the ideal fluffy peaks in my mixture. The meringues still turned out fine, but not quite picture-perfect.

2. Use a stand mixer. Maybe this goes without saying, but adding the ingredients while your mixer does all the work makes the process much more efficient. After all, it gave me time to measure out the confectioners’ sugar and peppermint without doing it beforehand.

Bon Appetit's peppermint meringues by Michelle Ryan

Bon Appetit's peppermint meringues by Michelle Ryan

3. Spoon all the meringue mixture into piping bag. Another faux pas, I added the mixture a little at a time. It made for quite a chore, not to mention an unsightly mess, effectively undoing all the efficiency afforded by my stand mixer. (Note: The mess can be avoided if you nail step one.)

4. Be patient. For starters, it takes up to 2.5 hours in a 200-degree oven for the meringues to dry. When they came out crisp, I feared I let them dry out too much. But as they cooled (which took another hour or so), they softened.

5. Be really patient if you’re in the South. I can probably thank my Southern humidity (yes, even this time of year) for the sticky meringues that needed even more time to crisp so they could (finally) be stored.

6. It’s worth the wait. For all the mess and the less-than-ideal meringue, the end result was delicious, dare I say addicting. The dry exterior quickly gave way to a melt-in-your-mouth center that had a hint of minty holiday flavor.

sweet potato cupcakes by Michelle Ryan

Better Homes & Gardens’ Sweet Potato Cupcake Recipe a Hit—With Some Changes

sweet potato cupcakes by Michelle Ryan

What better way to celebrate National Cupcake Day (Dec. 15) than with a Better Homes & Gardens’ treat that’s a perfect fit for the season?

Blame it on the season, I guess, but I’ve been obsessed with sweet potatoes lately. And for some reason, they taste better than ever–and that was even before I made Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting while I was home for Thanksgiving.

Inspired by the baked sweet potatoes, the roasted sweet potatoes and the sweet potato fries I’ve had recently, I wanted to make a not-so-sweet cupcake that would be seasonally appropriate too. I searched the Internet for a recipe for Sweet Potato Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting, and several worthy options came up.

It came down to one from Fine Cooking and one from Better Homes & Gardens. But the latter won out because the former included ingredients like cloves and ginger, and I feared it might be too much like a spice cake.

That’s not to say, though, that the recipe didn’t need a little tweaking–or at least I thought so. For starters, why use canned sweet potatoes when you can use fresh? That was the no-brainer substitute.

Others were more of a risk. The cupcake batter is flavored with vanilla and cinnamon, but I wanted to make it a little sweeter so it wouldn’t taste like a sweet potato bread. I added about a fourth of a teaspoon of maple flavoring, which I also added to the frosting.

I though the cream cheese frosting might need to be a little sweeter, so another fourth of a teaspoon of maple flavoring was in order. I cut the amount of milk (bourbon can also be used, according to the recipe) because I wanted the frosting to be of piping consistency.

Also, the addition of the maple flavoring added a nice brown sugar-colored tint to the frosting, which made it look very autumnal as well. Though the frosting was sweet, it was offset by the toned-down taste of the cake, which was a little more dense, but not as much as, say, a pound cake.

Overall, these got rave reviews, and I can’t wait to make them again. But I doubt I can wait until next fall!

OXO Be a Good Cookie spatula

How to Be a Good Cookie This Holiday Season: Support Cookies for Kids’ Cancer

Food Network Magazine's December 2011 issue

A number of magazines, like the December issue of Food Network Magazine, are featuring holiday cookie recipes this season. The charity Cookies for Kids' Cancer can satisfy your sweet tooth for a good cause.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and I’m not just talking about the trees and garland that went up the day after Halloween. Aside from the snowflakes, the music and all that red and green, you can tell Santa’s on his way because of all the cookies.

They’re gracing plenty of magazine covers. Special all-cookie issues are devoted just to them. And for every one holiday cookie cookbook, there have got to be at least 10 more that aren’t so ’tis the season.

For most of us, cookies at Christmas make creative garnishes, treats for guests or fun swaps with friends. Any other time, our obsession with cookies–with a side of a tall, cold glass of milk–makes us feel like a kid again.

But for people like Gretchen Holt Witt, cookies have taken on a hopeful new meaning. Gretchen and her husband, Larry, founded Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, a nonprofit dedicated to raising funds for pediatric cancer research, inspired by their 3-year-old son Liam’s own battle with the disease.

It began innocently enough–with a bake sale. But when volunteers raised more than $400,000 in just a matter of weeks, the sweet event took on even greater meaning. Now, almost four years later, though the Witts lost their son, their commitment to cancer research–and cookies–remains as strong.

Since cookies are a hot topic right now, you could always host a bake sale to help support this good cause. Or if holiday schedules are a little too hectic for that right now, there are some easy ways you can make a difference this Christmas.

If you’ve got a baker on your list who’s been especially nice this year, treat him or her to an OXO Be A Good Cookie Spatula. At just $7, it makes a thoughtful stocking stuffer, or paired with a cookbook (especially the organization’s Best Bake Sale Cookbook), a fun and functional gift. OXO will donate proceeds to $100,000 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.

If you and your pals are avid Facebookers, Glad is offering you a way to help support this cause with a just click of the mouse or tap of the touchpad. For every virtual cookie given, Glad will donate $0.10 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. To learn more, visit facebook.com/glad and click on “Glad Cookie Exchange.” The goal is to share 1 million cookies.