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Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Sweets

Irish Coffee Brownies

Irish Coffee Brownies from Karista's Kitchen

These Irish Coffee Brownies should come with a warning label! They’re rich in flavor and moist in texture and it’s hard to stop at just one.

I remembered this brownie recipe this past week as I was thumbing through dessert recipes. I had an unshakable urge for a sweet and decided it was time to bake. Although I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, when it does show up, I want something decadent and indulgent. These Irish Coffee Brownies met both my requirements.

Baking is very much a science and takes a lot more patience than I’m used to. However, for me there is something quite therapeutic about baking. I turn up the music, usually Vivaldi when the clouds are low and it’s a cold rain outside, light some candles around the house to set the mood and then bask in the solace of the kitchen.

Irish Coffee Brownies from Karista's Kitchen

Although I love to sample my baking project, I don’t always need to eat them. Just the mere exercise of taking the time to bake something delicious feeds my hungry soul.

Irish Coffee Brownies are a delicious way to make the winter weekend just a little sweeter.

Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love to ya!


Irish Coffee Brownies

16 Brownies

Irish Coffee Brownies


  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 cup good quality dark cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tablespoons instant espresso
  • 4 tablespoons Irish Whiskey
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 -2 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream


  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  • Place the butter, dark cocoa powder and instant espresso in a sauce pan and heat over medium heat. When the butter begins to melt, whisk until the ingredients are smooth and incorporated. Take it off the heat and whisk in the Irish whiskey.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together the eggs, vanilla and sugar. Then add the butter and cocoa mixture to the egg mixture to combine.
  • Next, in a small bowl mix together the flour, salt and baking soda. Then stir the flour mixture into the liquid mixture. Then fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Butter a 13x9 baking pan and pour the brownie batter into the baking pan, smoothing out the top. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the center is mostly firm.
  • Remove the baking pan from the oven and while the brownies are cooling prepare the icing. In a small bowl mix together the powdered sugar and the Bailey’s Irish Cream. Once the brownies are cool, slice and place them on a platter and then drizzle with the icing.
  • Notes

    Using a good quality cocoa powder is key to making these brownies, as some cocoa powders can have a bitter taste.

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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Sweets

    Orange Ricotta Cake with Whipped Sweet Mascarpone

    Orange Ricotta Cake with Whipped Sweet Mascarpone // Karista's Kitchen // Perfectly creamy, dreamy and slightly sweet

    It seems I’m on a ricotta roll and quite possibly a citrus kick.

    Last week I posted these lovely Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Lemon Curd and Vanilla Bean Maple Syrup and this week I’m all about zesty orange and ricotta cheese with this divine little Orange and Ricotta Cake.

    What can I say except it’s February.  The time of year I reach for all things citrus because “tis the season” for citrus and a little something dreamy and creamy to get me through the end of winter.

    Orange Ricotta Cake with Whipped Sweet Mascarpone // Karista's Kitchen // Perfectly creamy, dreamy and slightly sweet with a burst of Orange!

    Italian desserts aren’t terribly sweet in flavor, which makes them just as lovely to serve for breakfast as it is for dessert.

    This fragrant Orange Ricotta Cake is slightly dense like a cheesecake but lighter in texture and pairs deliciously with the sweet whipped mascarpone – tasting a bit like summer sunshine, teasing the palate with bright, happy flavors of zesty orange.

    A fun new feature I’ve added to the recipe print function is the BUY INGREDIENTS tab right under the recipe ingredients.  I’ve added this handy new tool from Chicory to help make purchasing ingredients and cooking just a little simpler.  Chicory helps you find the best food delivery service should you be in a pinch and need items for a last-minute dinner party, brunch or even a cupcake party at your children’s school. Or maybe you’re just too busy to stop at the market on the way home.

    Chicory automatically detects your zip code when you click, and will recommend the grocer that’s best for your area.  In some areas, up to three grocers are available, currently.  As for products, they make the best product match possible based on the name of the ingredient listed.  If there are two “oatmeals,” say, that match well, then they default to the most cost-effective option. You have the option to swap out products using the “Change” feature.

    Just a little added convenience for creating delicious and healthy food for you and your family.  🙂  Let me know if you try it and how you like it. Thanks!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Orange Ricotta Cake with Whipped Sweet Mascarpone

    Serving Size: 8

    Orange Ricotta Cake with Whipped Sweet Mascarpone


    • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
    • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
    • Pinch of salt
    • 4 eggs
    • ½ cup dark brown sugar, packed and heaping
    • 2 cups whole milk ricotta
    • 2 large oranges, zested
    • ½ teaspoon orange extract
    • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
    • ¾ cup of whole milk
    • 1 8-ounce container of mascarpone cheese
    • ¼ - 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F .
  • Butter and flour a 9-inch spring form pan. Shake out the excess flour and set aside.
  • Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In an electric mixer, whisk the eggs and brown sugar until light and creamy. Then whisk in the ricotta cheese, oil, orange zest, orange extract and milk until blended.
  • Next, mix in the flour and baking powder mixture until thoroughly incorporated. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50-55 minutes or until the top of the cake is golden brown and firm to the touch.
  • Let the cake cool for about 5-10 minutes, then turn it onto a cake plate.
  • While the cake is baking, whisk together the mascarpone, heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy.
  • When the cake has cooled completely, spread the sweet mascarpone on top of the cake and serve. Garnish with additional powdered sugar if desired. This cake can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  • Notes

    I originally created this for Home By Design Magazine's Dec/Jan 2015 Issue.

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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Life Around My Table Sweets

    Chocolate Brownie Trifle with Salted Caramel Sauce

    Chocolate Brownie Trifle with Salted Caramel Sauce

    The mere sight of a salted caramel sauce makes me swoon. Creamy, indulgent, with a deep golden color and sweet, salty flavor that completes this chocolate brownie trifle.

    I woke up this morning, sipped my coffee while Tank not so gracefully plopped in the center of my lap (his name is Tank for a reason) and caught up on Sunday morning news, when I realized it was my running day.  The weather outside is so horrific I decided to pass on a run and thought I’d move on to yoga this morning.  As you can tell I am not doing yoga right now.  Instead, I’m sharing this over the top decadent dessert because I’ve had this lovely little sweet on my brain the last few days.

    I adore trifle.  Any kind of trifle.  I think it’s the creamy texture of the pudding combined with cake or cookies or English biscuits, ladyfingers or even brownies.  

    It also carries a little sentimental value. My Grandmother used to make me her version of trifle.  She’d make pudding and then layer it with her English biscuits.  She’d bring it to the table for tea time and we’d share a dish while chatting about good manners and table etiquette and learning how to properly sip tea.  A moment suspended in time, in my memories, creating my love for life around the table.

    Chocolate Brownie Trifle with Salted Caramel Sauce

    As I was thinking about this Chocolate Brownie Trifle the past few days, I thought it would make a delicious addition to the Christmas dessert table.  Served either in one large trifle bowl or in smaller individual glasses or dishes – which is how I serve trifle most often.  I find this dessert so tempting, so audacious, that one needs to claim their own container of this Chocolate Brownie Trifle… not to be shared with anyone.

    Now that I’ve shared, I’m off to practice yoga while Tank sits at the end of my mat staring me down because we haven’t gone for our walk.  Enjoy your Sunday and take a little time for some indulgence today. 🙂

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Chocolate Brownie Trifle with Salted Caramel Sauce

    Serving Size: 4-6

    Chocolate Brownie Trifle with Salted Caramel Sauce


    • 4 -5 cups 1-inch chocolate brownie squares
    • 4 cups prepared custard or vanilla pudding
      For the Salted Caramel Sauce:
    • 1 stick of butter, 8 teaspoons
    • 1 cup of dark brown sugar
    • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
    • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
    • 1 teaspoon of fleur de sel (sea salt)
      For the Whipped Cream:
    • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
    • ¼ cup powdered sugar


  • To prepare the caramel sauce:
  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Slowly whisk in the brown sugar until combined.
  • Add the cream and then bring it to a boil. As soon as it reaches a boil, reduce to a low simmer and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Stir in the vanilla and sea salt until combined. The mixture will thicken as it cools so you will want to warm it slightly before using.
  • To prepare the whipped cream:
  • In an electric mixer, add the heavy cream and whisk on medium speed. While mixing add the powdered sugar and then mix on high until the whipped cream is stiff and dollops nicely.
  • To assemble:
  • Using four to six shallow glasses, wine glasses or martini glasses place a layer of brownies at the bottom of each glass. Top with a drizzle of salted caramel sauce, then a layer of custard. Repeat with another layer of brownies, sauce and custard.
  • Top with a dollop of whipped cream and then drizzle salted caramel sauce over the top and serve.
  • Notes

    I created this yummy little dessert for the good folks over at Home By Design Magazine. 🙂

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    Grilling Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

    Grilled Summer Peaches with Butter Rum Sauce

    Grilled Summer Peaches with Butter Rum Sauce // Karista's Kitchen

    The brilliant orange and red summer peaches are certainly delicious all on their own. Ranger Craig and I can certainly testify to how juicy, fragrant and sweet a flat of summer peaches can be.

    Still heavily imprinted on my brain is our drive home from a farm market stand in Central Washington one summer; trying so hard to wait until we got home before digging into the peaches.  Our will-power did not stand up to the test.  I think we might have consumed 1/3 of that flat before pulling into our driveway.

    Summer peaches feel like the crown jewel of summer… other than those backyard tomatoes that I am so patiently waiting to turn a perfect shade of red-orange.

    I love using peaches in sweet and savory dishes, simply pairing them with grilled fish and pork or just tossing them on the grill and serving with a big scoop of ice cream and a butter rum sauce.  Which is a lovely way to serve dessert since it’s been so hot here in the Pacific Northwest.   And who doesn’t love a buttery rum sauce?

    The summer is passing quickly and my days seem busier than spring; so this post is short and sweet. Literally. 😉

    Wishing you all a most delicious weekend!

    Loads of Love,


    Grilled Summer Peaches with Butter Rum Sauce

    Grilled Summer Peaches with Butter Rum Sauce


    • 4-6 ripe yellow or white peaches, halved and pitted
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • ½ cup butter
    • ½ cup brown sugar
    • ½ cup heavy cream
    • ¼ cup rum or 2 teaspoons rum extract
    • Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
    • Fresh mint for garnish


  • Pre-heat the grill to 350F.
  • In a sauce pan whisk together over medium heat the butter, brown sugar, heavy cream and rum or rum extract. Bring to a boil and then while whisking, simmer for a minute or two until the sugar has dissolved. Take the pan off the heat and reserve.
  • Brush the peach halves with olive oil and then set them cut side down on the grill. Let them cook for about 3-4 minutes each side until soft and tender. If the peaches are very ripe you may only want to grill cut side down. Moving the extra ripe peaches too much may result in a broken peach.
  • Once the peaches are done, transfer them to a platter or plates and top with vanilla bean ice cream and drizzle with Butter Rum Sauce. Garnish with a mint leaf if desired.
  • Notes

    Most summer peaches are perfect for grilling, but I especially like white peaches. Sweeter in flavor and perfect for grilling.

    I created this recipe for Home By Design Magazine June/July 2015 grilling issue.

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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

    Lemon Yogurt Cake with Lavender Icing

    Lemon Yogurt Cake with Lavender Icing//Karista's Kitchen

    When I was a kid I remember walking down the quiet country road near our house, passing a little gas station and quick market that sold the best bologna and cheese sandwiches, to our neighbor’s house.  Our neighbor, Ms. Nancy, was one of the best home cook’s.  She could cook anything but her specialty was pie, cake and donuts.   Aunt Nancy, as we called her, would welcome me in and cut me a slice of pie or cake without even asking if I’d like a slice.  I think she could see the excitement in my face as I eyed the sweets on her counter.

    It’s these brief memories that always remind me how food brings people together.  It’s love and comfort, nourishment and medicine, not only for the body, but often for the soul.  These are the moments I remember most.  My life around the table.

    This delicately sweet lemon yogurt cake with lavender icing reminds me of my time spent in Aunt Nancy’s kitchen.  It also reminds me of summer and the sweet memories visiting lavender fields with my children when they were little.  We’d sample lavender ice cream, lavender creme brûlée, lavender chocolate, lavender tea and my oldest gal’s favorite a lavender steamer.

    Lavender pairs beautifully with lemon and gives this lemon cake just a hint of fragrance.  It’s light and simple and is lovely for breakfast or a dessert.  It’s one of those cakes you can leave on the counter for a quick treat or if you’re a member of my family, a quick bite in passing.  As a result, I always find a selection of used forks in the sink. 🙂

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    Lemon Yogurt Cake with Lavender Icing

    Serving Size: 6-8

    Lemon Yogurt Cake with Lavender Icing


    • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon extra for dusting the pan
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • Zest of one lemon
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1 cup plain, whole milk Greek yogurt
    • ½ cup vegetable oil, plus a little extra for greasing the pan
    • 1 standard loaf pan (8 ½ x 4 ¼ )
      For the Lavender Icing
    • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
    • 1 tablespoon dried lavender buds
    • ½ cup boiling water


  • Prepare the Lavender tea by combining the dried lavender buds with the boiling water. Let this steep for 15 minutes.
  • While the lavender tea is steeping, prepare the cake.
  • Grease the loaf pan with oil and then lightly dust with a tablespoon of all-purpose flour, shaking out the excess.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 350F.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, Greek yogurt and vegetable oil.
  • Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients making sure all the ingredients are incorporated.
  • Pour the batter into the baking pan and bake for about 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • While the cake is baking, strain the lavender buds from the water, making a tea. Mix together the confectioners’ sugar with 2 tablespoons of the lavender tea. If you feel the icing is to thick to be drizzled on, add a dash more lavender tea to thin the icing.
  • When the cake is done, let it cool for a few minutes before removing it from the pan. Then drizzle the lavender icing over the warm cake. Slice and serve.
  • Notes

    I originally created this recipe for Home By Design Magazine April/May 2015 Issue.

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    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

    Rosemary Creme Brûlée

    Rosemary Creme Brûlée from Karista's Kitchen for Home By Design Magazine

    It was the moment when a subtle woody, fragrant scent wafted in my direction that I knew cooking and baking with fresh herbs would forever be in my culinary repertoire.   One of my first classes at culinary school, an intensive course in the use of fresh herbs, we prepared a Rosemary Creme Brûlée.  I couldn’t imagine how it would taste or if I’d even like it.  But I had to like it.  I was in culinary school and I couldn’t be the only student that appeared to have the palate of a five year old.  I was over the moon in love with every other dish we’d made in that unit, but what is traditionally a savory herb was now being paired in a sweet custard. It totally worked!  Since that day sixteen years ago, I’ve been using fresh herbs in all my recipes, savory as well as sweet.

    If you know me or you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know another herb I can’t seem to get enough of is lavender. I adore lavender shortbread cookies, lavender scones, pinches of lavender combined with other fresh herbs over roast chicken, lemon thyme biscuits, Arugula Lemon Risotto, Arugula Chimichurri, and the list goes on.  It’s a rare occasion that I don’t incorporate some type of herb or spice in my recipes; they simply enhance and elevate flavor and create food moments to remember.

    Rosemary Creme Brûlée is definitely memorable.  Although I prepare this dessert at home and for friends and clients (I originally created this photo and recipe for one of my favorite clients, Home By Design Magazine), I don’t think I’ve ever posted it here. Until now.

    Creme Brûlée is a lush and silky custard that is so perfect any time of year.  I prepare this dessert most often around the holidays but I also make it during the warmer months because I can make it in advance, pop it in the fridge and then serve it when I’m ready.  Pairing it with fresh herbs changes the flavor profile but not the well loved custard.  I’ve used my beloved lavender a few times as well as lemon thyme, but rosemary has to be my favorite herb in creme brûlée.

    I’ve prepared this recipe a few different methods, but I think the best method is when the fresh rosemary is gently steeped in the cream, allowing the oils to subtly scent and flavor the custard.  It’s a simple yet impressive dessert that will WOW your guests and your family.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


    Rosemary Creme Brûlée

    Serving Size: serves 4

    Rosemary Creme Brûlée


    • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream
    • 1- 3 to 4 inch sprig fresh rosemary
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 2-3 teaspoons sugar
    • 4 egg yolks, cold
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Pre-heat the oven to 325F.
  • Place four ramekins into a baking dish or cake pan. Heat enough water to fill the bottom of the baking dish and come halfway up the side of the ramekins. This is called a Bain-Marie, a hot water bath.
  • In a sauce pan heat the heavy cream and sprig of rosemary over medium heat. Bring the heavy cream to a boil and then remove the sauce pan from the heat and let the heavy cream and rosemary hang out for about fifteen minutes or so, allowing the rosemary oil to infuse the heavy cream.
  • In an electric mixer, whisk the sugar and egg yolks until the mixture is light and creamy, adding in the ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract.
  • Strain the heavy cream removing any and all rosemary leaves and then while whisking, slowly add the rosemary infused cream to the egg and sugar mixture.
  • Divide the custard evenly among the four ramekins and place the baking dish carefully into the oven.
  • Bake for about 40-45 minutes, just until the custard is set. Allow the custard to cool in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  • Remove the crème brulee from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving. Sprinkle the top of each custard with about ½ teaspoon of sugar. Using a culinary torch*, scorch the sugar creating the traditional burnt sugar topping.
  • Serve immediately.
  • *Culinary blow torches can be found at most kitchen and bath stores or larger home and garden stores.
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    Appetizers Karista's Kitchen Sweets vegetarian

    White Peaches in Sangria with Fresh Mint

    White Peaches in Sangria // Karista's Kitchen  The perfect summer dessert!

    This is one of those summer desserts that I love to prepare when it’s super hot outside and something sweet and refreshing is in order.  Not to mention, all that needs to be done is peel and slice the peaches and add them to a bowl of sangria to marinate for 30 minutes.  It’s also a great way to use a flat of local sun ripened white peaches.

    A few years back Ranger Craig and I bought a few flats of white peaches from a local farmer.  We ate peaches all the way home (a two hour trip).  Windows down, warm air filling the jeep while drips of the sweet, juicy peaches slid down our chins.

    Super excited about our white peach stash, I made a pie with the white peaches and local blueberries, I added them to pancakes, muffins and a lovely steak salad with gorgonzola.  Froze a few bags for a peach pie and slow roasted pork mid-winter, but I still had plenty left to use.  That’s when I decided we’d be using the rest for some White Peaches in Sangria.

    White Peaches in Sangria // Karista's Kitchen The perfect summer dessert!

    Most often I purchase the sangria but you can certainly make your own.   I have a few sangria recipes I adore, but most of the time I’m so deeply involved in preparing the starters, entrees and sides… I forget to make the sangria.  So I always keep a bottle in stock.   I’ve found a few lovely sangrias at several Spanish food shops and my local market.  Something light, sweet and a bit spicy will do.  If you don’t have a favorite Sangria recipe, HERE is a fabulous article from Wine Enthusiast “The Anatomy of Sangria“.  I highly recommend the article.

    I’m going to be MIA for a little while, we’re moving again and I know it’ll take some time to put a kitchen back together as well as set up my office.  It’s not a big move like last year, but nonetheless, its still packing, unpacking and trying to figure out where to put things.  As well, I think I’m going to enjoy the weather a bit and spend a little time with my lovely family.  I hope you have the chance to do the same!

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love,


    White Peaches in Sangria

    Although I typically serve these White Peaches in Sangria for dessert, often I will serve this as a light cocktail starter.  It’s refreshing and the perfect warm weather starter for a gathering mid-summer.


    White Peaches, peeled and sliced


    Mint leaves


    Place white peach slices in a large glass or non-reactive bowl.  Pour Sangria over the peaches and let them marinate for about 30 minutes.  Then ladle peaches and sangria into martini glasses and garnish with a sprig of mint.





    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets

    Cardamom Coconut Flour Donuts with Vanilla Icing

    Cardamom Coconut Flour Donuts with Vanilla Icing // Karista's Kitchen

    It’s a miracle!  I have now posted two sweets in one week.  Thought I’d never see the day this would happen but I couldn’t help myself.

    My sister, Kristin from Little Lace Box,  mentioned it’s National Donut day and I should post a donut recipe.  That’s code for “Hey, I need a donut recipe to make for my family this weekend.”  🙂 I love requests!

    I’m more of a savory foods kind of gal but there are moments when a donut sounds like a lovely indulgence. However, truth be told, I’m terribly picky about my donuts.  You could say I’m a bit of a donut snob.  I like a real, honest to goodness quality ingredient donut.  The kind that my sweet neighbor used to make in her little country kitchen.

    Cardamom Coconut Flour with Vanilla Icing // Karista's Kitchen

    Aunt Nancy, as we so lovingly called her, made the best donuts I’ve ever eaten.  She made cake donuts and yeast donuts, putting loads of love into every donut that came out of her oven or her big cast iron pot of sizzling oil.

    Then she would slather them in icing or powdered sugar, set them on her kitchen table and serve them with glasses of fresh whole milk.  Such a delicious memory!

    Today, when I do indulge in a donut it’s usually from Top Pot Donuts in Seattle or VooDoo Donuts in Portland.  Alas, I’m nowhere near either of those locations this week, so I made my own donuts.  These are what I call “Bennett friendly” donuts.  With all the food allergies in this house I had to come up with something everyone can enjoy.

    Coconut flour, coconut sugar, coconut oil, eggs and few other ingredients makes for a delicious donut that has the texture of a cake donut.  I know, I know, this is not a traditional donut like Aunt Nancy used to make.  But these are delicious and if you are craving a sweet indulgence, this will definitely keep your swimsuit eating plan in check, as well as avoid those nagging food allergies.

    I top my donuts with a rich vanilla icing drizzle and sprinkles or white chocolate chips.  The fragrant cardamom shines through but doesn’t over power; and the vanilla icing brings all the flavors and textures together for one lovely, enticing sweet.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


    Cardamom Coconut Flour Donuts with Vanilla Icing

    Makes 6 large donuts or 9 mini donuts


    ½ cup coconut flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Flour)

    1/3 cup coconut sugar or organic brown sugar

    ¼ teaspoon baking soda

    ¾ teaspoon baking powder

    ½ teaspoon ground cardamom

    Pinch of salt

    2 eggs, preferably room temperature

    3 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil

    ½ cup warm water

    Donut pans (I got mine from Bed Bath and Beyond)

    Vanilla Icing

    1 cup powdered sugar

    1 -2 tablespoons milk

    1 teaspoon real vanilla extract


    Pre-heat the oven to 350F.

    In a medium bowl, mix together the coconut flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cardamom and pinch of salt.

    In an electric mixer, mix together the 2 eggs, oil and warm water.

    Once the wet mixture is nicely blended slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until you have a smooth but firm batter.  If will feel almost like a dough.

    Spray the donut pans with olive oil or coconut spray and then fill them evenly.

    Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until done.

    Let them cool a bit and then turn them onto a cooling rack.  When the donuts are cool you can frost or drizzle the icing onto the donuts and decorate with pretty sprinkles or mini white chocolate chips.

    This batter also makes excellent muffins or mini muffins!

    Recipe adapted from

    Karista's Kitchen Kid Friendly Sweets vegetarian

    Lavender Panna Cotta with Dark Chocolate Ganache

    Lavender Panna Cotta with Dark Chocolate Ganache

    By choosing to click and read this blog post, you confirm you are of legal drinking age in the country where this site is accessed.

    I’m still talking about Tuscany – the food, photographs, memories.  All in constant re-play.  And although I visited this enchanting location last fall, Tuscany will forever remain in my heart.

    DaVinci wine is created in a magical place. Tuscany is a treat for the eyes as well as the palate. The air smells of sweet, sun ripened grapes and fresh herbs, muddled with the earthy scent of mineral rich soil.

    The beauty of the Tuscan region mirrors the beauty of its people and its food.  A culture rich with history and laced with passion – a passion that transcends all boundaries and flows effortlessly onto the family table.

    lavender panna cotta with dark chocolate ganache from Karista's Kitchen

    Among all the plates of gloriously delicious food, It seems only fitting to include a dessert laced with an herb that grows freely in Tuscany.  Lavender bushes dot the landscape and scent the air with its sweet and earthy fragrance.

    It happens to be one of my favorite herbs to incorporate into a sweet.  So, a lavender laced panna cotta with dark chocolate ganache felt the perfect dessert to end this storyteller’s meal.  And… a perfect beginning to spring.

    You can find this lovely dessert on the DaVinci Wine Facebook pageClick here.  Also check out the other three multi-talented Storytellers: Jim O’Donnell, Kristina Laurendi Havens and Leela Cyd.

    Delicious Wishes and Loads of Love!


    Lavender Panna Cotta with Dark Chocolate Ganache


    Makes 8 – 10 servings

    2 cups whole milk

    2 cups heavy cream

    2 teaspoons crushed dried culinary lavender buds (found in the spice area of your market)

    ½ cup plus two tablespoons sugar

    4 teaspoons powdered gelatin

    6 tablespoons cold water

    For the Ganache

    8 ounces of your favorite dark chocolate

    1 cup heavy cream

    Heat the chocolate and heavy cream in a double boiler.  Whisk until thoroughly combined.  Let cool and then ladle over the panna cotta.


    Heat the milk, heavy cream, sugar and crushed dried lavender buds in a sauce pan.  Stirring, let the milk heat and sugar dissolve.  However, don’t bring it to a boil or it could scald.

    Let the milk and cream mixture sit for about 30 minutes to allow the lavender to infuse the milk.

    Place the 6 tablespoons of cold water in the bottom of a large bowl.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let it stand for about 5 minutes.

    Strain the warm milk mixture to remove the lavender.  Then pour the milk mixture over the gelatin and whisk until the gelatin is dissolved.

    Ladle the panna cotta into small serving dishes and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but will be firmer if  refrigerated longer.

    Before serving prepare the dark chocolate ganache and top each panna cotta with the warm chocolate.

    Garnish with fresh mint leaves or candied cherries.




    Karista's Kitchen Sweets vegetarian

    Classic Pound Cake with Rum Raisin Sauce from Chef Laurie Pfalzer

    Classic Pound Cake with Rum Raisin Sauce from Pastry Craft Seattle

    Classic Pound Cake with Rum Raisin Sauce


    What an honor it is to have my good friend and colleague, Chef Laurie Pfalzer, guest post today on Karista’s Kitchen.  Not only is Chef Laurie Pfalzer one of the most talented and brilliant Pastry Chef’s of our time, she’s an impressive and passionate culinary educator.

    Chef Laurie Pfalzer founded the pastry school, Pastry Craft, with a list of  hands on classes that bring a wealth of knowledge and professional techniques to the passionate home chef.

    I met Laurie several years ago while working with our local culinary school, PCC Cooks; we instantly became friends. I so admire Laurie’s love of pastry, but as well, her love and commitment for culinary education – demystifying pastry and baking for home chef’s.  If you live in the Seattle area, you can find a list of Chef Laurie’s classes here.  If you live outside the Seattle area and would love to snag a few of  Chef Laurie’s delicious recipes, check out her website here.

    With love and thanks my friend for creating this most decadent dessert for Karista’s Kitchen!

    Classic Pound Cake with Rum Raisin Sauce –  by Chef Laurie Pfalzer of Pastry Craft

    Last week I started thinking about rum raisins. I couldn’t get them off my mind and I wasn’t sure why. It’s cold and dreary outside and maybe that prompted me to think about this comforting combination. Maybe it was also all of the raisins (both dark and golden) in my cupboard, leftovers from the holidays. Thinking like a restaurant pastry chef, I needed to use what I had on hand.

    But what to pair with the rum raisins? Ice cream? A frozen mousse I remembered from my Nantucket days at The Wauwinet? Classic Pound Cake? Yes! The name says it all to describe the original cake made with a pound of everything – one pound butter, one pound granulated sugar, one pound eggs and one pound flour, and no leavener (baking powder or baking soda). Before leaveners there was creaming (butter and sugar that is). After some years of bakers making this classic cake, baking soda and baking powder came into common use and bakers and home cooks started using them to lighten the crumb, as well as change-up the ingredients.  To go back to the original though and understand exactly how pound cake works is a fun experiment – as well as a tasty one.

    Pound cake is all about creaming butter and sugar. I find myself talking about the creaming technique in many of my baking classes because it is one of the major mixing techniques. (You’ve probably done it many times.) Room temperature butter and sugar are brought together and mixed well to create tiny air pockets. (I use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle at high-speed or you can do it by hand with a lot of elbow grease.) The more air created, the more rise and better crumb you will have in your cake. Usually, a recipe will say, “cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy”. That’s the signal that you can let the mixer go at high-speed for several minutes, scraping down the bowl a few times. The mixture will become almost white as air is incorporated. This is the key to any pound cake, but particularly to a Classic Pound Cake that relies only on creaming to create air. The result is a yellow cake, beautifully risen with its trademark “crack” on the top and a consistent, fine-textured crumb. Be aware that Classic Pound Cake is more dense and drier than pound cake you might be used to. This makes it a great accompaniment to a cup of tea, some Warm Sautéed Citrus, or the following Rum Raisin Sauce.

    This simple Rum Raisin Sauce depends on Meyers Dark Rum and a little whiskey to mellow the rum, as well as a special addition – black tea. The black tea came to me as I considered the sharpness of the rum/whiskey combination. I needed another component to round out the flavor and create depth – the sugar and butter just weren’t doing it. My long-time pairing trick – I smell the main component (rum/whiskey) and then smell the possible addition (black tea) to see if it goes together. Works every time.

    Serve this Classic Pound Cake at room at temperature or slightly warm, with the warm Rum Raisin Sauce spooned over the cake. Due to the density of the cake, the sauce can sit spooned over the cake for 20 minutes or so before serving. (A little whiskey whipped cream probably wouldn’t hurt either.)

    Classic Pound Cake

    Yield: 1 – 5 x 9 inch pound cake (serves 10)


    1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (10 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature

    1 ¼ cup (10 ounces) granulated sugar

    1 teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt

    1 ¼ cup eggs (about 6 eggs or 10 ounces), room temperature

    2 ¼ cups (10 ounces) unbleached cake flour, sifted


    Preheat the oven to 350°F.

    Prepare a 5×9 loaf pan with a light oil spray. Then make a “sling” with parchment by cutting a piece of parchment that is just the length of the pan and extends about 1 inch over each long side of the pan. (The ends of the pan will not have parchment covering them.) This allows for easy removal from the pan later.

    With a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar and salt. Increase the mixer speed to high and cream the butter until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes, scraping the bowl and paddle at three intervals.

    Scrape down the bowl once more. On medium speed add the eggs in three parts, scraping after each addition. It’s important to let each egg addition combine completely with the butter before adding the next addition.

    Scrape the bowl again just before adding the flour. Add the flour all at one time. Mix on the lowest speed until the flour is almost combined. Scrape the paddle and bowl well and mix on low-speed again just until the batter is smooth and consistent (about 40 seconds).

    Spoon the batter into the loaf pan. Gently smooth the top and then drop the loaf pan on the counter once to prevent air pockets.

    Bake the pound cake for 45-55 minutes, or until the top springs back and is no longer wet. You can also insert a wooden skewer to see if it comes out clean.

    Let the cake cool for 20 minutes in the pan. With a knife, gently loosen the ends of the cake and lift out the cake by the parchment “sling”. Cool the cake on a rack. Keep the cake wrapped at room temperature or freeze it for up to two months.

    Rum Raisin Sauce

    Serves: 6


    1 cup (4 ounces) Meyers Dark Rum

    6 tablespoons (3 ounces) whiskey (such as Jack Daniels)

    ¼ cup (3 ounces) honey

    ¼ cup (2 ounces) raw sugar, demerara sugar or brown sugar

    1 cup (6 ounces) dark raisins

    ½ cup (3 ounces) golden raisins

    ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces) unsalted butter

    ¼ teaspoon salt

    ½ vanilla bean, split

    1 teaspoon black tea (such as English Breakfast)


    In a medium saucepan, combine the rum, whiskey, honey and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and add all of the raisins. Cover the pan and steep the raisins for one hour.

    Strain out the raisins, reserving all of the liquid. Return the liquid back to the saucepan. Add the butter, salt, vanilla bean and black tea. Bring the liquid to a boil. Remove from the heat and steep uncovered for 20 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve or cheese cloth. Add the raisins back to the strained mixture. If you’re using the sauce immediately, keep it warm near the stove. Otherwise, store the rum raisins and sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator. (The raisins will take on more flavors the longer they sit in the sauce.) Re-warm the sauce slightly to serve.



    Kid Friendly Sweets

    Shortbread Toffee Bars

    Once in a blue moon we must have a dessert post.  I’m not big on dessert mind you, only because when I make dessert I end up consuming much of what I’ve just prepared… with no leftovers!  

    I have a huge sweet tooth for warm baked cookies, cakes, puddings, souffles, French pastries, and anything chocolate.  And I couldn’t be more enamored with this simple but divine little cookie bar.

    My friend Heidi is one of my “sweets” recipe suppliers.  Yes, she keeps my sweet habit in existence with her yummy and tantalizing baked treats.  This delish little bar is one of the dessert recipes Heidi recently sent me.  And of course, I just had to share!

    Put on a kettle of tea and treat yourself to a simple but delicious little treat this winters day.  Happy Baking!

    Makes 12-16 Bars


     2 cups all-purpose flour

    1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt

    1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

    3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

    1 cup finely chopped chocolate covered toffee bars PLUS 1/2 cup coarsely

          chopped toffee bars.  (SKOR or Heath bars, about 8 total.)

    1/4 cup heavy cream


    With rack in upper third, preheat oven to 300. 

    Spray or butter an 8 inch square baking pan.  Whisk flour and salt together in a medium bowl.

    In a separate larger bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium high until creamy, 2-3 minutes.  Gradually add brown sugar, beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes more. 

    Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture, mix just until combined. 

    Press dough evenly into prepared pan.  (It should be as flat as possible.) With plastic over dough, chill 45 minutes in refrigerator.

    Pierce dough all over with a wooden skewer.  Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until golden brown and center is firm, about 60 minutes. 

    Transfer to a wire rack, let cool 10 minutes.  You may need to pierce the dough again, as many holes may have baked shut.

    Meanwhile, heat finely chopped toffee bars and cream in a saucepan, stirring constantly, over medium low until smooth.  Pour over shortbread in pan, and then sprinkle with coarsely chopped toffee.  Let cool slightly.  Cut into squares.  Let cool completely. 

    Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week, but chances are they won’t last that long!

    Recipe compliments of Heidi Rodgers

    Kid Friendly Sweets vegetarian

    Lavender Shortbread Cookies

    I absolutely have a love affair with lavender!  It’s one of my favorite scents in lotions and soaps as well as one of my favorite herbs to cook and bake with.  I adore this unique and beautiful herb so much you’d think I were French!  (Actually, Ranger Craig is French so I suppose I’m French by marriage)

    Lavender can be used in savory dishes as well as baked sweets.  I use it in chicken salad, on roasted chicken, in vinaigrettes, mixed with pepper and sprinkled over fish, and in these divine little shortbread cookies.  Honestly, I use it whenever I can!  It’s now a running snicker in my house when one of my family members tastes a little lavender in the food.  Yes, Mom found another use for her large stash of lavender buds. 

    My two sweet gals in a lavender field

    This lovely herb has a most unique scent and when used for baking or cooking, adds the most delicate flavor to a dish.  It almost feels like a special treat to taste this delicious little cookie with a hint of lavender. 

    I especially love these shortbread cookies with tea or with my morning coffee.  They also make a lovely dessert for a brunch, or a sweet gift for a special teacher or friend.  Add a little fun to the cookie and drizzle with a quick icing of powdered sugar, lemon juice and a drop of purple food coloring.  You can find the purple food coloring in the “neon” collection of food colors in your grocers baking aisle.  

    Enjoy a quiet moment with some tea and a few of these delicious lavender shortbread cookies!  (And pretend you’re in France!)

    Lavender Shortbread Cookies

    Makes about 2 dozen 


    2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

    3 teaspoons dried lavender

    2/3 cup sugar

    ¼ teaspoon salt

    2 cups all-purpose flour (or a gluten-free baking mix)

    1 egg


    Pulse together in a spice mill or coffee grinder ¼ sugar and the dried lavender.  In a food processor add the butter, sugar, lavender sugar, salt and egg.  Pulse a few times to blend and then add the flour.

    Pulse the mixture just until it’s nicely blended.  Pour the dough out onto a floured surface and work into a rectangular shape.  Roll the dough into a log, or two logs, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 325F.  Cut the logs into ½ inch coins and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until golden in color.  As soon as they come out of the oven sprinkle with a dusting of sugar.

    OPTION: If you’d like to frost the cookies, mix together some powdered sugar with a little lemon juice or water until it reaches a good consistency for drizzling.  Add one little drop of purple food coloring and mix.

    NOTE:  For gluten-free cookies it may not be possible to roll, refrigerate and cut.  However, you can these make drop cookies using a gluten-free flour mix. 

    When the cookies have cooled, lightly drizzle the icing on the cookie making little stripes or circles, whatever makes you happy!