Deconstructed Banana Split


I love ice cream, almost more than anything. Almost any dessert can be enhanced by a scoop of gorgeously silky cold ice cream.  A crisp, a tart, a pie, even a cookie is better with a bit of ice cream especially if the dessert your pairing it with is hot and crunchy. Cold, hot, creamy and crunchy is irresistible.

I recently purchased an ice cream book called ” Hello, My name is Ice cream “, by Chef Dana Cree. Its a wonderful book, laid out in a logical way with clear instructions.  She is very thorough in her discussion of the science of ice cream with useful information on stabilizers, emulsifiers and other elements necessary for turning out silky ice cream.  She goes over the variety of frozen desserts: sorbets. sherbets, Philadelphia and custard style ice creams.  At the beginning of each chapter she gives you what she calls a blank slate recipe. This allows readers to create recipes beyond those that Chef Cree has offered.  For me, that’s the best kind of book because it allows me to create.

Chef Cree’s recipe for banana ice cream is amazing and has inspired a few iterations.  I have spun it and added a thin stream of melted bittersweet chocolate at the end so I get a banana stratiatella. I have served it with a rum caramel ribbon and a fudge ribbon. But the prettiest plate I’ve done is a rif on a banana split. I love the flavor of bananas in a banan split but not the incorporation of banana slices.  This banana split has banana ice cream as the base, scooped up into three little scoops and each served with its own sauce: caramel/rum, bittersweet chocolate and fresh strawberry.

A word about ice cream machines.  I use an ancient Simac Gelataio Boy.  It churns ice cream in about 15 minutes. The day it dies will. be a sad, sad day for me. It has a built in compressor which keeps the base chilled while you are churning it.  Since my Simac was manufactured, they EPA made it illegal to use this particular type of freon in non commercial ice cream machines, or so I was told by Simac.  I had purchased another Simac  a few years ago with a removable bowl, thinking it would be easier to clean and I did not like it. It didn’t get as cold and took longer to churn the ice cream. Therefore, the ice cream was not as creamy. I can’t recommend another built in compressor machine. Perhaps Lussino or Lello or another Italian company.

I also have a freestanding Cuisinart  unit where you need to chill the bowl before you use it. For some ice creams they may be interchangeable but for at least one of my ice creams, the Simac gives it a much better texture.  So, I used the Simac for this banana ice cream and I don’t know how it will turn out with the Cuisinart.  Let me know if you try it. The advantage of the Cuisinart is that if you freeze multiple bowls you can make several quarts of ice cream. My Simac heats up so I can do two batches and then I have to let it cool down before I can use it again. Yep, I need a commercial ice cream maker. I just don’t happen to have 10k lying around.



Banana Split Componants

  • 1 quart banana ice cream
  • Strawberry sauce
  • bittersweet chocolate sauce
  • caramel/rum sauce
  • chopped roasted almonds
  • whipped cream

Banana Ice Cream

  • 500g bananas (Roughly 4 medium bananas.  Bananas should be very ripe with mostly dark brown and black skins)
  • 300g /1.5 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 400g/2 cups whole milk
  • 50g/1/4 cup glucose syrup (one could potentially use light corn syrup but I have not tried it with this recipe)
  • 150g/3/4 cup superfine or caster sugar
  • 100g egg yolks (5)
  • 1g/1/8 tsp sea salt (Chef Cree uses 1/4 tsp but I find it a bit salty)
  • 5g/1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3g/1tsp Cremodon 30 ( this is a stabilizer/emulsifier you can buy on Amazon)


  1.  Peel and place the bananas in a 2 quart heat proof container.
  2. Wisk together the Cremodin 30 with the sugar.
  3.  In a heavy bottom saucepan wisk the sugar into the dairy and add the glucose.
  4. Place the pan over medium high heat.  Wisk the mixture and bring to a full rolling boil then immediately remove the pot from the heat.
  5. Pour the hot base over the bananas and place the container in the refrigerator. I steeped my bananas for 24 hours for a full banana flavor but you can do less if you prefer or if you are in a hurry. I would advise doing no less than 4 hours.
  6. After steeping,  pour the base, including the bananas through a fine mesh sieve. Pick out any large pieces of bananas and discard.  Gently shake or stir the remaining contents of the sieve to allow as much liquid as possible to pass through. I used very ripe bananas and some of them fell apart in the base. I didn’t want any of the loose bananas particles in the base so I didn’t mash them through the strainer.
  7. Place the egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl and wisk together.  I like using stainless steel because I find that when I add the hot milk it thickens almost immediately and shortens the cooking time. Bring the base to a simmer and pour slowly over the yolks, wisking constantly so they don’t curdle. Place the mixture back in a clean pot and cook over low heat until the mixture thickens.   Cook the mixture until it coats the back of a wooden spoon and the edges of the mixture stay separate when you draw a line down the back of the spoon with your finger.
  8. Place a heat proof ziplock bag inside a heat proof container and fold the edges back over the rim. Pour the base through a fine mesh sieve, into the bag. Zip up the bag, expelling as much air as possible and place it in the ice water bath.  When the mixture is cool take the bag out of the ice bath, add the vanilla and place the bag in the fridge and chill overnight.
  9. Pre chill your ice cream machine.  Pour the contents of the bag in the machine and churn until the ice cream has the consistency of soft serve ice cream and holds its shape.

Strawberry Sauce

  • 1 quart strawberries
  • 2 Tablespoons of superfine sugar and more to taste
  • 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice and more to taste
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Purée sugar, salt and berries until puréed.  Push through a fine mesh sieve

Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce

  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate ( I like Lindt 70% or Valrhona)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  1. Chop chocolate into fine pieces and place in heat proof bowl
  2. Heat cream to a simmer
  3. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir gently until combined

Caramel/Rum Sauce

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup superfine or caster sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tsp dark rum
  1. Place cream in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Cover pot so cream stays warm.
  2. Place water in heavy 3 quart sauce pan.
  3. Pour in sugar and stir so sugar is evenly wet.
  4. Put pot on a medium high flame and bring to a simmer. Pick up the pot and swirl it around so the contents swirl as well.  If the sugar is not all dissolved, related the process until the syrup is clear and you can’t see crystals of sugar.
  5. Place lid on pot and raise heat to high. Let it cook for a few minutes and remove the lid. If you see sugar crystals clinging to the side of the pan, wash them off with a heat prof pastry brush dipped in cold water. The syrup will become thick and bubbly. When the syrup starts to color, pick it up and swirl it from time to time. When the syrup is a light caramel color remove it from the heat. Add the cream slowly.  Be careful it will bubble up and may splatter.  Stir over low heat until the caramel is smooth and any hardened bits are melted.  Pour into a heat proof container and let it come to room temperature.  Stir in the rum and a pinch of sea salt.


Place three little scoops or quenelles of ice cream on a plate and put a bit of sauce around each scoop. Garnish with fleurettes of whipped cream, chopped toasted almonds or bits of strawberry.  Or, put three scoops in a glass, pouring each sauce over the ice cream and garnishing with whipped cream.image

Michigan Grape Tarts


I rarely buy grapes in the supermarket. While they are sweet, they have no flavor. Occasionally I find Muscatel grapes at Whole Foods and those are wonderful. For the past few years I’ve found a Michigan variety of a petite, seedless grape with a lovely, delicate flavor. I believe the variety is called Candace. Each grape is the size of a hazelnut: rosy red with touches of pale green.  Right now, I am finding these grapes in my Midwest farmers market.  Go buy some and try this tart!



These little grapes make great tarts and provide a nice change from berries or stone fruits. You can make all of the components in advance and the assembled tart will hold up in the refrigerator for at least 10 hours.


  • 2.5 oz (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened but cool
  • 5 oz unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3.5 oz 10X powdered sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Eight 3.5″ non stick tart shells.
  1.  Slit open vanilla bean and scrape out seeds. Place on top of the butter. Whisk together sugar and salt. Cream butter until lightened in color and airy. Beat in sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in flour  just until blended. Press dough  into rectangle about one inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or up to 3 days.
  2.  If you don’t have non stick tart pans don’t worry. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and mix in 1 tablespoon of flour. Paint the tart shells with this mixture .
    Place your tins on a rimmed baking sheet. Line them up in the shape of a rectangle, two by two, with their edges touching.
  3. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it soften. Roll it between two sheets of plastic wrap, keeping the rectangular shape like the formation of your tart tins. Roll to 1/8″.  Peel off the top layer of plastic wrap and invert it over the tins. You will probably only be able to do 6 tins and then you can make the remaining two from re rolled scraps. Peel off the top layer of the plastic wrap. Run your rolling pin over the top of the tines. This will cut off the excess dough. Take a ball of dough, dipped in flour and use this to press the dough into the tins. It’s best to start at the center of the bottom and work your way around to the sides.
  4. Let chill at least another hour. Even better, freeze the shells and bake from frozen.  The tend to hold their shape better.
  5. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees farenheit. Bake the shells blind: line your tins with parchment paper or do what the ingenious Rose Levy Berenbaum suggests and use 3.5″ basket style coffee filters as liners. Line your tins and fill them to the top with pie weights or small dries beans.  Bake the tarts for 7 minutes on the rimmed sheets in the lower third of the oven. Remove them from the oven. The dough should not look raw anymore but it will still be pael. Try and gently remove the liners with the beans. If they stick put the tarts back in the oven for 1 or 2 minutes.  Pull them from the oven and try again to detach thenliners.   Once you remove the liners, lower the temperature to 375 degrees farenheit and bake until the shells a browned, roughly 13 more minutes. remove them from the oven and cool them in the tins.
  6. When they are cool, invert them. They should slip out of the pan.


Pastry Cream

  • 8 oz whole milk
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • pinch of salt
  1. Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Slit open the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the milk.
  2. Bring the milk to a simmer and turn off the heat and let steep for 15 minutes. Scrape out the contents of the vanilla bean and mix into the milk. Discard the bean.
  3. Wisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt until light and thick. Sift the flour/cornstarch mixture over the eggs and wisk until smooth.
  4. Bring the milk back to a boil. Temper the egg yolks with a little milk, wisk together and pour in the rest of the milk.
  5. Return the mixture to the pan and bring it to a boil, while wisking. When it starts to thicken whisk vigorously until it is thick, creamy and spreadable.
  6. Push it through a fine mesh sieve and 1 tablespoon of butter.  Flavor with
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. If you need it faster, put it an ice water bath


  • 4 oz Apple jelly
  1. Melt apple jelly over low flame until it is completely liquified. Set aside and reheat if necessary. It should be quite liquid when it is used.


  1. Spread each tart shell with roughly 2 tablespoons of pastry cream.
  2. Starting with the outside of the tart shell, place grapes around the perimeter. Make another circle inside that one and another until the bottom is filled. Place more grapes on top to get a mounded look.
  3. Brush a thin glaze of apple jelly over the grapes. You can decorate these tarts with edible flowers. In the photo below, I used phlox and violas.
  4. Return to the refrigerator until the jelly sets up. Serve any time after that although I do think it benefits from ripening in the fridge for an hour or two.
  5. You can enhance the flavors of this tart with a little glass of Muscat Beaumes de Venise, a sweet wine made from Muscatel grapes.

Lemon Semifreddo with Strawberry Sauce


The first time I ate a Semifreddo was at Vivoli Gelateria in Florence Italy many years ago.  While the gelato was wonderful, the Semifreddo had a unique texture that was silky, light and completely captivating.   Semifreddo means ” half cold ” and it feels less cold than ice cream or gelato.  Personally I feel that I taste the flavors more intensely because there’s no numbing effect of your tastebuds as there is with colder confections.

Semifreddo consists of a flavored base folded together with Italian Meringue and whipped cream.  The base can consist of a  Crème Anglaise (yolks cooked with milk and sugar), Pâte à Bombe (a base of  yolks beaten with cooked sugar syrup) or a base of puréed fruit.  However, the key component which needs to be included for the best texture is Italian Meringue.

So, as I often do, I tried to find Semifreddo in my hometown to no avail.  Then I began to collect recipes and try them, still without success.  Finally I stumbed upon the answer to my failures in an article authored by Marino Marini titled ” More Perfect than a Parfait”.  According to the article a semifreddo derives its origin from a French Parfait which is a Pâte à Bombe (egg yolks and sugar syrup beaten to a creamy consistency) into which whipped cream is folded. The Semifreddo can be differentiated from a Parfait because it includes Italian Meringue, the missing ingredient in all the recipes that I had tried.  Italian Meringue doesn’t freeze at zero temperature and has a silky mouth feel. Without it, you never get the correct texture.  This history feeds nicely into my narrative that the Italians (me and my ancestors) taught the French (my husband and his ancestors) how to cook, which began when Catarina d’ Medici brought her pastry chefs to France when she married Henri II of France. Clearly the Italians continued to school the French into the early 20th century  when the Italians transformed a very nice desert, the Parfait, into a spectacular dessert, the Semifreddo. Ha!

This is a dessert that you can definitely play with. An easy modification would be to do a raspberry coulis or a blueberry sauce.  Other flavor combinations come to mind: lime Semifreddo with blackberry coulis, passion fruit Semifreddo with mango coulis, orange/Cointreau Semifreddo with candied walnuts or pine nuts and caramel sauce; grapefruit Semifreddo with, well, I leave that up to you.  You can also forgo the daquoise and place the semifreddo directly on the plate or use a thin shortbread cookie, a ginger snap or cookie crumbs.  Try different combinations and make this recipe  yours.

A special thanks to blogger and author Grace Massa Langlois of for inspiring the design of this dessert.  Check out her book and her blog.  Her recipes are well written and trustworthy.


Lemon/Limoncello Semifreddo Dessert Componants

  • Whipped Cream
  • Italian Meringue
  • Pâte à Bombe
  • Strawberry sauce
  • Limoncello bubble sugar

Whipped Cream

  • 238 grams (1 cup) heavy cream
  1. The cream, beaters and bowl should be pre chilled
  2. Whip cream to soft peaks and place in the refrigerator until needed.

Pâte à Bombe 

  • 108 grams (6 large) egg yolks, room temperature
  • 80 grams (1/4 cup) subtle flavored honey (I like Acacia)
  • 80 grams (1/4 cup) glucose
  • 81 grams (1/3 cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 45 ml (3 tablespoons) Limoncello {Italian Lemon Liqueur}
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (use microplane)
  1. Beat honey, glucose, lemon juice, egg yolks and rind in a heat proof bowl.  This forms the top of your Bagno Maria aka Bain Marie.
  2. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water (this the bottom of your Bagno Maria) and wisk mixture with a balloon wisk until the mixture is 138 degrees Fahrenheit at which point the yolks will be pasteurized and the base will be thick and fluffy.  For my Bagno Maria, I use a large glass bowl set over a pot of simmering water. The bowl should be round and fit snugly in the pot.  The walls of the pot should come roughly half way up the sides of the bowl.  Make sure the water does not touch the bowl.  You should be able to simmer about 4″ of water in the pot.
  3. Once off the heat, wisk in Limoncello and strain out the lemon rind.  Let cool in an ice bath (a bowl of ice and cold water in which you put your bowl of flavored base) stirring occasionally.  Cooling it quickly in an ice bath discourages bacteria from developing.

Italian Meringue (use only half of yield)

  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) superfine sugar
  • 100 grams (1/3 cup) glucose
  • 80 grams (1/3 cup) water
  • 90 grams egg whites ( 3 large), room temperature

I suggest you read my page on Italian Meringue and take a look at the videos. The goal is to slowly pour 240 degree syrup onto egg whites which have been beaten to soft peaks and then to beat the mixture until it is cool.

  1. Clean out the bowl of your stand mixer with vinegar to make sure there’s not a trace of fat in it.  The fat can inhibit development of your egg whites. You can turn the bowl upside down to dry or dry it with a lint free towel. Place egg whites in the bowl.
  2.  Place sugar in a small, long handled pot with a lip, not a spout, and pour the water on top.  Place pot on a low flame and swirl the liquid in the pot until the sugar is dissolved.  Stirring can develop the formation of sugar crystals which is why the liquids should be swirled, not stirred. Once the sugar has dissolved (liquid should be clear) add the glucose and stir until dissolved.  I dissolve the sugar first because I find that when I add the glucose and sugar at the same time it takes the sugar longer to dissolve. Raise heat to high and cook until 230 degrees fahrenheit washing down the sides of the pan with a heat proof rubber basting, brush dipped in cold water, to remove any sugar crystals. You don’t have a lot of syrup so it won’t take that long to come to temperature.
  3. While the sugar syrup is cooking turn on your stand mixer to low (2 on a Kitchenaid).
  4.  When the syrup heats to 235 degrees Fahrenheit, crank up the mixer and beat the egg whites to soft peaks.
  5. When the syrup reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit, slowly pour a thin stream of syrup over the whites, with the mixer still on high. If the whites are not ready, just pull the sugar syrup off the heat until the whites are ready. Beat until the bowl is cool to the touch.

Make Semifreddo

Using a balloon wisk, fold together the Pâte à Bombe and 1/2 of the Italian meringue that you made (save the other half for something else) Then, fold in whipped cream. Pour in loaf pan or twelve 1/2 cup flex molds.  Chill at least 8 hours before unmolding.


  • 5 egg whites
  • 100 grams superfine sugar (in addition to the tant for tant)
  • 200 grams tant for tant made with blanched, grated almonds.

Tant for tant is 50 per cent nuts and 50 percent granulated sugar. If you can’t find almond flour you can grate your own blanched almonds. I use the medium grating disc on my food processor and then I finish chopping the nuts with the sugar.  This helps keep your mixture from getting oily.  So 200 grams of tant for tant is composed of 100 grams of sugar and 100 grams of almond.

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Line two cookie sheets with Silpat or parchment paper.
  3. Beat egg whites until soft peaks and gradually add the sugar.  Beat until stiff peaks.
  4. Fold in tant pour tant with a large balloon wisk.
  5. With a number 7 tip pipe out 12 circles of Meringue to fit the size of the bottom of your molds.  Alternatively, spread the meringue in a sheet pan to a thickness of about 1/4″.
  6. Bake for about 40 minutes, changing the position of the trays once.  The dacquoise should be an appealing tan color.
  7. Remove from the oven and immediately cut out your shapes if you used a sheet pan.  Let cool until you can easily pull the dacquoise off the parchment paper.

Strawberry Coulis

  • 2 pints fresh strawberries or unsweetened frozen if fresh are not good.
  • 56 g (1/4 cup) superfine sugar
  • Fresh lemon juice to taste
  1. Puree strawberries, sugar and juice in a cuisinart  and purée.
  2. Then push through a fine mesh sieve or tami (flat sieve).
  3. Chill.

Limoncello bubble sugar

  • 183 g (3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon) superfine sugar
  • 95 ml (1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon) water
  • 2 tablespoons liquid glucose or light corn syrup
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) Limoncello {Italian lemon liqueur}
  • 2 drops yellow liquid food colouring
  1. Heat sugar and water until sugar dissolves then add glucose.
  2. Take parchment paper and crumple. Smooth it out on a sheet pan leaving some wrinkles.
  3. Cook sugar to 310 degrees farenheit.
  4. Sprinkle or mist limoncello on to parchment.
  5. Tip sheet pan and pour sugar syrup across the top, letting it run down the pan.
  6.  Let cool and break into shards

Assembling and Plating

  1. Place some sauce on a plate.
  2. Pop the semifreddo out of the molds, place on the daquoise
  3. Place on the plate with an offset spatula.
  4. Garnish with a slice of strawberries and a shard of bubblesugar.


Chickpea Stew



  • For Chickpea Stew
  • 2 cans chickpeas
  • 1 box San Marzano crushed tomatoes (about 28 oz)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seed
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seed
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh mint chiffonaded (for garnish)
  • For Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 lbs sweet potatoes peeled and cut into even chunks
  • 1 stick butter
  • ½ cup honey
  • About 6 cups water (just enough to cover the potatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Sachet of a few sprigs of fresh thyme, 3 tablespoons whole peppercorn, 1 tablespoon coriander seed
  • For Kale
  • ½ pound kale stem removed
  • ¼ onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • A few splashes of tabasco
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup water


1. Boil sweet potatoes with honey butter and sachet. ProTip: They’re done when you stick a knife in them and it goes through without effort and the sweet potato doesn’t stick onto the knife. Remove sweet potatoes when done and reserve liquid for later.

2. Cook onions in olive oil, stirring frequently, over medium heat until they just start to caramelize then add garlic and stir for a minute.

3. Add kale and water and cover for 5 minutes. Then add the rest of the ingredients cover and cook on low until kale is tender.

4. Cook onions, cumin seed, and coriander seed in olive oil, stirring frequently, until onions just start to brown then add garlic and stir for a minute.

5. Add the tomato paste and stir for another minute.

6. Add in tomato, ground cumin, paprika, add sugar and cook for 5 minutes.

7. Add in braised kale, ¼ cup of the sweet potato liquid, and chickpeas and stir. Bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste

8. Serve chickpea-tomato stew with sweet potatoes on top and the chiffonaded mint.


Roasted Orange Juice Chicken


This is one of the simplest chickens I do and one of the best.  It comes from the Cookbook  ” The Scent of Orange Blossoms” authored by Kitty Morse and Danielle Mamane.

I first made this recipe when I was 13 years old for a project comparing Sephardic and Ashkenazy cooking.  I have used it so often since then that the book opens up right to the recipe.

For Chicken

  • 4 lb roasting Chicken
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 2 cubes chicken bouillon
  • 1 orange
  • Salt and Pepper


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit

2.  Clean the chicken and pat dry then place in a roasting pan.

3.  Salt and pepper the cavity of the chicken.

4.  Mix the orange juice with the bouillon.

5.  Spoon half of the juice mixture over the chicken and into the cavity and put the orange in the cavity.

6.  Roast for 2 hours, basting with remaining juice and pan juices frequently, or until the legs move loosely and freely and the skin is browned.

7.  Take the pan juices from the chicken and reduce them for about 10 minutes. Serve the chicken with a large spoonful of pan juices.




Lemon Poppy Seed Scones


The first recipe a cook masters holds a very special spot in their hearts. For me this spot is reserved for these lemon-lavender poppy seed scones. It was the first recipe I designed and remembered by heart and remains one of my specialties. A few years ago, I was flipping through Baking Illustrated when I saw a recipe for british cream scones. I became inspired and for the next month I spent any free time I had experimenting with scones. I love how scones are a great vessel for an infinite number of combinations. I must have made more than 15 batches of scones during that month ranging from classic plain to bizarre (but still yummy) strawberry with balsamic vinegar glaze. The lemon-lavender poppy seed stood out among the others, combining a classic flavor profile with a little twist. The top of these scones is crisp with a tangy and sweet glaze that has a tantalizing hint of lavender that keeps you coming back for more. The flaky crust is contrasted by a moist, buttery, cloud-like interior with a little bite from the poppy seeds and bright lemon zest studded into the crumb.  These scones are without a doubt one of the best confections I make, and now you can make them too.



  • For Scones
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • For Glaze
  • 1 ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons very soft warm butter
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons dried lavender (optional)


IMG_03051. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Put sugar and lemon zest into a small bowl and rub the zest into the sugar to release the oils.

2. Place flour, baking powder, and salt in large bowl and whisk together

3. Use a pastry blender, or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps.

4. Stir in sugar and poppy seeds.

5. Stir in heavy cream with rubber spatula or IMG_0306fork until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds. Then with your hands knead the dough a little in the bowl to pick up some of the dry bits. ProTip: The dough should look dry, crumbly and dense.

6. Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to countertop and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough ball.

7. Flatten into an even disk 8 inch disk. ProTip: Flatten into a disk in an 8 inch cake pan to make a perfect circle. Using a bench scraper cut into 8 even wedges and place on an ungreased baking sheet.

8. Bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

IMG_03079. While scones are baking, start the glaze. Warm up the lemon juice in the microwave for about 10-20 seconds. Rub the lavender in your hands to release the oil then let it sit in the lemon juice for at least 10 minutes. ProTip: The lemon juice should start looking purple before you use it in the glaze.

10. Put the butter, lemon zest, and powdered sugar in a bowl. Strain out the lavender from the lemon juice.

11. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of the purple lemon juice. Add more lemon juice as necessary until the glaze is thick but pours, about the consistency of ketchup. ProTip: If you want big lavender flavor, add back in 1 tablespoon of the strained lavender to the glaze.

12. Glaze the scones while they are still warm and serve.



Dream Bars (Potbelly)

I had been raving about the Dream Bars at Potbelly’s and finally my mom asked me to bring her one so she could try it.  As per usual, after a few bites of the sugary oatmeal, caramel and chocolate chip confection she said, ” I think we can do better, or at least as good”.  You can decide.

While Potbelly’s Dream Bars are soft, from being wrapped in plastic, ours have several distinct layers: crumbly oatmeal topping, creamy caramel and crunchy shortbread. Mom likes to add toasted walnuts or pecans to hers to cut the sweetness but for me and my  friends, the sweeter the better so I don’t add nuts.

Originally we used the wonderful but pricey Knudsen caramels but many sheet pans of cookies later my mom put her foot down and told me if I wanted to keep on baking sheet pans of cookies for my swim team I’d have  to make my own caramel and so she taught me. One day we’ll update the recipe to reflect our caramel recipe.



  • ½ sheet pan (18” by 13”)
  • Mixing bowls/tools
  • Measuring tools
  • Parchment paper


    • For Crust/Topping:
    • 1 ⅓ cup granulated sugar (about 9 1/2 ounces)
    • 1 teaspoon table salt
    • 32 tablespoons unsalted butter (4 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened to cool room temperature ProTip: To soften butter but keep cool, beat it with a rolling pin while in the package before cutting.
    • ½ cup packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
    • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (6 ounces)
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • For Filling:
    • 26 ounces good quality caramels
    • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream
    • 8 ounces good quality chocolate chips (Ghirardelli is preferred)


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Very lightly grease bottom of pan with cold butter then put a sheet of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan. ProTip: Leave overhanging “wings” of parchment paper to help lift bars out of pan when done cooking.
  • 2. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with flat beater, mix flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, oats and salt at low speed until combined. With machine on low, add 32 tablespoons butter one piece at a time; then continue mixing on low until mixture resembles damp sand. Sprinkle vanilla extract in and mix well.
  • 3. Measure 2 1/2 cups flour mixture (unpacked) into medium bowl and thoroughly mix in 2 tablespoons of softened butter set aside; distribute remaining flour mixture evenly in bottom of prepared baking pan. Using hands, firmly press mixture into even layer to form bottom crust. ProTip: After pressing mixture onto bottom with hands use the bottom of a measuring cup to press it down to form and even layer. Bake until edges begin to lightly brown, but is not fully cooked, 14 to 18 minutes. ProTip: Set timer to a minute or two before the recipe tells you how long to cook it (in this case set to 12 minutes) so you can make sure nothing burns. Once cooked, let cool until it is cool to the touch, about 20-30 minutes.
  • 4. While crust is baking, begin filling. Put caramels and cream into a medium sized pot and turn onto medium heat. Melt caramel into cream, stirring constantly, until there are no lumps. Let cool until it is about room temperature but still pourable, about 30-40 minutes.
  • 5. Spread filling evenly over crust making sure to bring the caramel to the edge of the pan; sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over caramel. Lump streusel topping into sizes ranging from peas to hazelnuts and spread evenly over filling (do not press streusel into filling). Return pan to oven and bake until topping is deep golden brown and filling is bubbling, 22 to 25 minutes.
  • 6. Cool to room temperature on wire rack, 2 hours; remove from baking pan. Using chef’s knife, cut into squares and serve.
  • 7. These will last 2-3 days in tupperware and freeze very well. ProTip: If you like them soft keep them in tupperware with a piece of bread in the container. If you like them crisp keep them in a tin.