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Passover: Flourless Chocolate Cherry Nut Cookies

With the hours ticking by, bringing us closer to the Passover Seder, I thought it was fitting to share a recipe for flourless cookies. I must fore-warn you though, these cookies are so good, that when I made them they didn’t last past the day. They are super simple to make and don’t even require a mixer. *GASP* No electronics needed besides the oven? Shocker, I know.

Flourless Chocolate Cherry Nut Cookies:

3 oz. Walnut Halves (toasted & chopped)

3 oz. Pecans (toasted & chopped)

3 oz. Dried Bing Cherries (Roughly Chopped)

3 c. Confectioners’ Sugar

1/2 c. plus 3 TBL Cocoa Powder

1/4 tsp Salt

4 large Egg Whites, room temperature

1 TBL Vanilla Extract

Toast Nuts:

Preheat oven to 350°

Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for approximately 9 minutes, until they turn golden.

Allow nuts to cool and roughly chop them.

Cookies:

Position the oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

Set oven to 320°

Line two baking sheets with parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk the confectioners sugar, cocoa powder and salt together.

Add the nuts and cherries.

Add the eggs and vanilla and continue to mix with a spoon or spatula until ingredients are fully combined.

Spoon the batter onto the baking sheets leaving 2 inches between each cookie.

Bake 16 to 20 minutes (for larger sized cookies) until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked. Rotate the baking sheets half way through the baking time.

The cookies may seem a bit soft in the middle. Do not over bake. They should be chewy and have softer centers.

Allow cookies to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Adapted from Francois Payard’s Chocolate Epiphany

Mexicali Cookies

We recently made cookies for a couple getting married. The soon-to-be husband is of Mexican decent and they wanted to give a nod to his heritage. We decided to make bright, festive cookies in the shape of Sombreros and Hearts.  I liked that the color scheme really picked up on the Mexican theme while still keeping the cookies simple and elegant.

There is something so exciting about seeing a box filled with cookies!

 

 

South America

As promised, here begins the coverage from my recent travels in South America. It was an amazing adventure and I am so excited to share my food finds as well as some of the pictures from the trip!

There were quite a few wonderful bakeries in Buenos Aires. They had a signature cake design (see below) of piped thick “ropes” of whipped cream, cheese cake or frosting on the top of the cakes to create a  spoked wheel pattern.

In Salta, Argentina they had this cute little candy shop set up in a park

Alfajores are the mainstay of South American snack-food desserts. They are basically sandwich cookies filled with Dulce de Leche (Caramel). There are tons of variations on Alfajores, every company creates their own twist on the classic item. I saw everything from triple decker to peanut butter to Oreo Alfajores.

Hot Chocolate is served completely differently as well. I was served a glass of hot milk with a chocolate in the shape of a submarine. After sinking the boat and letting it settle for a few minutes I took a long spoon and mixed it creating hot chocolate.

Dulce De Leche can be found in almost every dessert item. Here they were placed in waffle cigars.

Bariloche, Argentina is known for its chocolate. It is basically a mini Switzerland. Every other shop in town was a chocolate shop. I loved the way they displayed the chocolate, stacked one on top of another. There were also some unique chocolates like Aero Chocolate that has little air bubbles in it. Or what I called “Ruffled Chocolate” which had thin ribbons of chocolate  scrunched together.

Ok, now that the sweet tooth has been sated, I have to do a quick note on the meat. As you know Argentina is known for their amazing meat! Besides for glorious satin steaks that just melt in your mouth, I was intrigued by the other meats that were common place. The two major meat offerings are Asado, which is “grill meat” and Milanesa. Asado usually is for two or more people and it is a compilation of different sausages and meats that are grilled. Milanesa is a thin beef steak that is then coated in bread crumbs and deep fried. It is sometimes made into a Pizza pocket by putting cheese & tomato sauce in the middle and then folding it like an omelet.

This was in the refridgeration isle of a local gorcery store in Puerto Natales, Chile

The window display of a restaurant I passed in Buenos Aires

Many of the restaurants in Buenos Aires had an open kitchen design so we could watch them make the dishes. Such beautiful pieces of meat!

 

Leaving food completely, here are some of the “Best Of” pictures from the trip

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Salt Flats

Salta, Argentina

Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

Fitz Roy, Argentina

Torres del Paine, Chile

First look at the towers, albeit shrouded by clouds

Torres del Paine, Chile

 

Next up, I will give you a recipe to make your own Dulce de Leche.

Stay Tuned!

Wedding Cookies à Gogo

We recently had a wedding cookie order for a local hotel’s Bridal event.

We made individually wrapped wedding dresses and wedding cakes for all the guests to take home. So cute!

Bridal Bliss

We recently did a cookie and cupcake order for a Bridal Shower. I found the wedding gown cookies to be the most fun to decorate since I had carte blanche when it came to the dress design. I was able to channel my inner Vera Wang! The champagne glasses were also cool since we made them a little bit “Mod” with the white bubbles.

It’s worth double clicking on the dresses to see the detailed designs!

What do Art and Dessert have in common?

Urban Sweets!

I was incredibly excited when I got a call to do a dessert bar for an art opening. I love the energy of the people and environment at art galleries.

We kept the design very simple with a light, uncomplicated color palette so as not to compete with the art itself. The flavors though were another story – lemon, pumpkin, grand marnier, and peppermint to name a few!

And here are some pictures of the event itself. I want to thank Beth Dubber for taking amazing shots of the event!

Fall Fete

Winter has finally arrived in LA. We are going on day two of a rainstorm and I am loving the fog outside the kitchen window. Here at Urban Sweets, we have started to transition into our winter desserts – heavier dessert items that focus on spices and preserves rather than fresh fruit. I love having our menu follow the seasons and what is naturally in season this time of year.

Last week we did a Dessert Buffet that featured items from our Fall line. We created a menu that primarily focused on winter confections but added in a few “last of summer” lighter and fruiter flourishes.

dessert buffet

The center focus was the cupcake tower that had individual dessert bites lining it. The desserts were placed in a cascading order of density. Starting with the “farewell to summer” desserts at the top and leading down to the heavier more winter oriented items.

The top tier had mini Lemon Meringue Tarts

lemon meringue tarts

Below the Tarts were mini Brownies infused with Raspberry Preserves and latticed with Bittersweet Chocolate.

brownies

The base tier had individual Persimmon Cheesecakes. When thinking about winter foods, squash and pumpkin usually come to mind. Staying true to Urban Sweets ethics (that of introducing new and unique flavor combinations to the dessert lover) I opted to stray from the traditional. Persimmons are just coming into season and have such a rich, sweet flavor; I was delighted to incorporate them into the cheesecakes. This was another way to take a dessert commonly served during the warmer months and make it the perfect addition to a party taking place on a cool and crisp evening. Who would ever think that cheesecake could be paired with hot Mulled Cider? Well now it can!

cheesecakes

To round out the Dessert Buffet, we also had Pecan Bars, Ginger Snap Cookies, Candies and Decorated Sugar Cookies that we placed on lollipop sticks – they were a huge hit with the kids!

cookie lollipops

ginger snaps and sugar cookies

acorn cookie

leaf cookie

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