Charlotte aux fraises


“Every spring is the only spring, a perpetual astonishment.” –Ellis Peters

Looking for a make-ahead, no-bake, showstopping spring dessert?  Look no further.  This strawberry charlotte is it!  The lovely pink color comes from puréed strawberries which are passed through a sieve to give the filling a luscious, velvety texture.  The lady finger cookies are dipped in a lemon simple syrup giving the cake a fresh burst of flavor.  Easy to make, the cake looks sensational and tastes, well, like a slice of heaven!

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Chocolate~Mocha Icebox Layered Cake


“Life is uncertain.  Eat dessert first.”  Ernestine Ulmer

A layered cake is always a crowd pleaser at a party and looks like you went through a great deal of effort to make it.  This dessert comes together in minutes, is chilled overnight and is perfect for easy entertaining.  Because of its coffee flavoring, I served it recently at a summer brunch.  With Kahlua, espresso, chocolate and mascarpone, the filling ressembles tiramisu in texture and taste.  The fun secret ingredient is actually layers of chocolate chip cookies!  This is a Barefoot Contessa recipe that I adapted.  The original had 5 layers in an 8 inch springform pan but was hard to slice.  I made mine in a 9 inch pan with only 3 layers.  This yielded 12 servings instead of 8 and with a cake this rich, that was perfect. Continue reading

Red White and Blue Tiramisu


“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Nelson Mandela


There are many tiramisu recipes out there but my favorite is my Italian friend Lynne’s.  Her recipe originates from a friend of hers in Rome.  It is luscious with just the right balance of espresso flavoring in the cream filling without being too sweet.  It is a very simple recipe and can be made ahead.   I was surprised to learn that it freezes well.  Lynne generously shared one of her delicious desserts with us and I only take credit for adding the patriotic berries on top.  A tribute to the great melting pot of cultures that make up this great country! Continue reading

Very Berry Lemony Cheesecake Trifle


For a special celebration nothing compares to a luscious high rise dessert.  Trifles  are impressive and make a dramatic entrance yet they are surprisingly doable as each of their elements can be made ahead and assembled the day of the festivities.  This trifle is chock full of berries nestled between layers of lemony pound cake and fluffy creamy cheesecake whipped cream. That is right, cheesecake whipped cream and man, was it good!  The trifle is not too sweet allowing the natural goodness of the berries to shine.   On the top layer I created a pretty design with the berries.   The trifle was a huge hit!

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Luscious Layers: Peanut Brittle-Banana Pudding Trifle

Right out of college, my Pennsylvania Dutch husband accepted a job in North Carolina.  While living there, he fell in love with, not me, but banana cream pie!  He’s not a big dessert guy, nor that passionate about cake so I was never too sure what to make him for his birthday(my favorite cake usually won out!).  A few years ago I stumbled upon a recipe in Southern Living for a Banana Pudding Trifle.  I had never made trifle before nor owned a proper trifle dish.  I made it for him in a low, wide-mouth vase actually!  I have beeen searching for a perfect trifle bowl since and recently found it!  A young neighbor was having a Pampered Chef party and they had the best trifle bowl for sale.  This ingenius contraption had a separate pedestal base for easier washing, chilling  and storage plus it had its own lid. Image


Brilliant and just in time for Prince Charming’s birthday!  With a name like Peanut Brittle-Banana Pudding Trifle, you know this is going to be good!

PEANUT BRITTLE-BANANA PUDDING TRIFLE (adapted from Southern Living Magazine)

serves 10-12

1 1/3 c sugar

3/4 c flour

1/2 t salt

4 c whole milk

8 eggs yolks

1 T vanilla

12 oz of either vanilla wafers, Nutter Butter cookies or pound cake

3 T bourbon or rum

6-7 bananas, sliced

6 (1.4oz) peanut brittle candy bars, crushed(I used Munch bars)

2 c whipping cream

2 T powdered sugar


To make the pudding:  Combine sugar, salt and flour in a heavy saucepan. image Whisk in milk and bring to a boil while whisking continuously.  Remove from heat. Beat egg yolks in a separate bowl until thick and pale. image Gradually add about 1/4 of hot milk mixture to the egg yolks, mixing non- stop.  imageRepeat 3 times and mix until smooth and thick.  Add vanilla.image

Crush your candy bars. Break up your cookies roughly or cube your pound cake, if using.imageTo assemble the trifle:  Layer 1/3 of your wafers( I used pound cake) in the bottom of a 4 quart trifle dish. image Lightly brush with 1/3 of the bourbon.  Top with 1/3 of the banana slices.  imageSpoon 1/3 of the pudding over the bananas and top with 1/3 cup of the crushed candy.  image imageRepeat this layering twice more.  Beat the whipping cream with the 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar until soft peaks form.  Spread the whipping cream over the pudding-banana layers and sprinkle with the remaining crushed candy.

imageCover and chill 3 hours minimum.

image imageHappy Birthday, Honey!




And the Oscar Goes to…..Kir Royale Panna Cotta


imageWhy not toast your favorite movies on Oscar night with an easy, make-ahead, dazzling dessert worthy of the red carpet?  This Kir Royale Panna Cotta is drop-dead gorgeous, luxuriously creamy and can be eaten from the couch while you and your guests watch the Academy Award ceremonies. Continue reading