Chocolate Hazelnut Cranberry Biscotti – TWD

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Don’t be like me.

I am the girl who basically has to chanta reminder over and over in her head so she doesn’t forget to buy eggs.

I am the girl who doesn’t do anything but air dry her hair. Sometimes… I don’t even condition it. I’m lazy.

I’m the girl who is so scattered it takes all day to handle a few simple chores. I’m easily distracted. To the extent which I don’t think you could ever fully appreciate.

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I am the girl who decides to decorate her lovely biscotti with white chocolate drizzle then takes them outside (for natural light, of course) to photograph and forgets that it’s almost 100 degrees outside. So all of my chocolate melts. Then promptly finds its way on to my fingers, camera, nose, shorts, and glasses.

Do yourself a favor, don’t be like me. Unless you don’t mind licking chocolate off of your camera outside your apartment door for all your neighbors to see.

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Melty chocolate aside, these biscotti were phenom. They are chocolate overload and I love every second of it. I used part black cocoa, part rouge cocoa powder, hazelnuts, dried cranberries and semi-sweet chocolate chips and boy, oh boy were these awesome.

Normally I’d pawn biscotti off to my mom but she is a self-proclaimed chocolate hater (kind of like someone else I know, ahem) so these were all for me. Ok, maybe half of them are for me… the rest have to go before I turn into a biscotti myself!!

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For the recipe, head on over to Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes. (Click here for the recipe)

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Classic Banana Bundt Cake – TWD (Rewind)

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I know, I know. This isn’t what you came to see.

It’s Monday night and I finally remember the impending TWD. I quickly consult my lovely Blackberry Memo clearly marked “Baking (TWD)” and find that I don’t have everything that I need and let’s face it, I’m not going out. I’m lazy, see? So instead I become as resourceful as I can, grab the bible…erm book and flip through it looking for great recipes that I previously missed out on, telling myself it’s ok to miss a recipe once in a while.

My intentions are good, cross my heart. As long as I’m virtually feeding you SOMETHING delicious, I get a free pass… right?

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So instead of this week’s TWD pick you get to hear about the black bananas I found in the back of my fridge (that I’m almost certain have been there for a month) and see this beautiful mini bundt instead of the caramel pots de creme you came to see. Let’s pretend it’s a fair trade. 🙂

I halved the recipe, used greek yogurt (which may explain the thickness of the batter) and baked in a 6 cup bundt pan.  This bundt cake is dense and tender. It comes together like a dream! You mash your bananas and everything else is toss in and mix. Dorie says to rap the pan against your counter to release some of the bubbles and to even the batter but my cake batter was so thick and heavy (think: a thick muffin batter) that it was impossible and unnecessary to do so. I leveled it off with my spatula, popped it in the oven, said a mini prayer and baked it up. It baked up beautifully golden brown and smelled amazing. The cake is delicious on its own but I just couldn’t stop myself from adding some honey glaze all over it! Sue me. But I did forget the ceremonious chocolate chunks. Sadness.

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For the honey glaze I whisked together 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons of honey and a light splash of heavy cream until uniform. If it’s too thick to pour add a small bit more cream.

For the recipe to this fab cake, click here.

If you love banana, try this one. I bet it would be great baked up in a square pan topped with cream cheese frosting, caramel drizzle, or even a peanut butter buttercream. Then served right out of the pan to friends with forks in hand.

Picture 122 copyFor the caramel pots de creme, head on over to Peggy the Baker for the recipe. I’ll be making it soon. But I’m sunburnt. And lazy. End excuses.



A Tourtely Apple Tart – TWD

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At this precise moment in time, the following things are 100% true and undeniable:

I am sunburned which renders any itch on my arms or legs unscratchable. I am watching a soap opera with the grams and I am not ashamed. I had half a bagel for breakfast but all I can think about is having a second breakfast (such a thing exists, no?). And to top it off, I’m worrying about what everyone thought of this tart.

Making this choice was a lot less painful than I thought it was going to be (definitely less painful than this sunburn, ack). If there’s one thing that I’ve learned with my time as a part of the TWD gang, it’s that you can’t go wrong with baked apples and buttery tart dough.

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Was I right in my assumption? Please say yes, I’d really love to not worry about this anymore 🙂

Making Dorie’s tart dough is so simple: toss everything into my food processor, give it some whirls and I’m done! The most taxing step in making the filling is peeling 5 apples (and I’ve gotten pretty darn efficient at that). From there just assemble it all and bake away! Serve a slice (or two, who’s counting?) with ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream and you’re in business.

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As a few of my dear TWD friends have pointed out, these really do resemble the apple pies you can get from McDonald’s. Now whether that’s a culinary stab to the great Dorie herself, I don’t know. But I DO know that if you love the cinnamon-y pies from the golden arches, you’ll love this pie as it is a dressy, grown up, flaky version that makes you swoon.

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A Tourtely Apple Tart

Tourte is the French term for a covered tart, and it wasn’t until after I created this sweet that I realized that I had created a tourte. What I had in mind when I went into the kitchen to start baking was a slimmed-down apple pie, something not quite so generous as the all-American favorite, not so high, not so fully packed and not so rustic looking. What I ended up with was a trim, sleek but still come-hithery double-crusted tart with the warmth and appeal of an applesauce cookie. The crust is made from almond sugar cookie dough and, if it were cooked down just a tad longer, the filling, which is spiced, spiked with cider and smoothed with browned butter, could be grandmother’s best applesauce.


A double recipe of Sweet Tart Dough with Nuts (recipe below)

For The Filling

2 pounds (about 5 medium) tart-sweet apples, peeled, cored and cut into 2-inch chunks
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2tablespoons apple cider, apple juice, or water
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup ground almonds
¼ moist, plump raisins (dark or golden, optional)
Pinch of ground cinnamon, freshly grated nutmeg, allspice and/or salt (optional)

To Make The Crust: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Divide the almond tart dough in half. Wrap one half and refrigerate it. Press the remaining soft dough over the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan, allowing the dough to extend just a bit above the rim. Butter a piece of aluminum foil and press it, buttered side down, lightly against the crust. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
When the second packet of dough is chilled enough to roll, place it between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap and roll it into a circle that is between 1/8 and ¼ inch thick. Using a pot lid as a guide, cut the dough into a 10-inch circle. Use the wide end of a piping tip or sharp knife to cut a small circle (a steam vent) out of the center. Slide the dough onto a cutting board or a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

To Bake The Crust: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Put the tart pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Fill the foil-covered crust with dried beans, rice or pie weights and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until just lightly browned. Transfer the tart pan to a rack and cool to room temperature.

To Make The Filling: Put the apples, brown sugar, cider and nutmeg in a medium saucepan over medium heat, cover and bring to a boil. Check the heat — you want the mixture to stay at a medium bubble – and continue to cook, still covered, for about 10 minutes, or until the apples are so soft you can almost, but not quite, mash them with the back of a spoon. While they’re cooking, stay close by – the mixture has a tendency to boil over. Remove the cover and, stirring constantly, cook until the liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes more. Scrape the filling into a bowl, and wipe out the pan.
Put the butter in the pan and set the pan over medium-high heat. Cook until the butter boils and turns a deep golden brown. Don’t walk away – the time between brown and burned is quick. When the butter is brown and smells nutty, stir it into the apples, along with the vanilla, almonds and raisins, if you’re using them. Taste the applesauce and decide if you want to add the additional spices and/or salt. Press a piece of plastic wrao against the surface of the applesauce and cool. (The applesauce can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated.)

Getting Ready To Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the over to 425 degrees F. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Fill the crust with the applesauce and smooth the surface. Lightly moisten the edges of the crust with water and place the chilled top crust over the tart. If the top crust is very cold and therefore a little brittle, let it stand at room temperature for about 5 minutes before proceeding. When the crust is still cold but pliable, run a rolling pin over the top crust to seal the tart; trim off the excess dough.
Bake the tart for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and cover the tart loosely with a foil tent. Continue to bake for another 20 to 25 minutes (total baking time 40 to 45 minutes), or until the crust is golden. Transfer the tart to a rack and cool until just warm or at room temperature before serving.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
Serving: This is a winner topped with crème fraîche or plain vanilla ice cream.
Storing: Tarts are best served the day they are made, but this one is good served chilled the next day.

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Sweet Tart Dough With Nuts:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup finely ground almonds (or walnuts, pecans, or pistachios)
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, ground nuts, confectioners’ sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine.
Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in — you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas.
Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses — about 10 seconds each — until the dough, whisk will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds.
Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change — heads up.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and , very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

DSCN4394 copyFor many more versions and beautiful pictures of this tart, head on over to the TWD bakers page.

Thank you all for baking along with me!!

Strawberry Rhubarb Double Crisp – TWD

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Rhubarb is one of the least utilized fruits in this house next to papayas.

I’m not averse to it. Heck I’m the girl who used to run around the house with a stick of it and a small bowl of sugar and closely follow my fool proof rhubarb eating regimen: lick rhubarb, dip in sugar, bite, swoon.

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But that was a long time ago. I haven’t had fresh rhubarb since I was a little girl and a little part of me rejoices when a rhubarb dessert is chosen. I usually use frozen rather than fresh as it’s much more accessible here.

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This crisp was delicious. Not one, but TWO layers of oatmealy, nutty crisp and in the center a wonderful combination of strawberries and rhubarb bubbling merrily away. Top that with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you’ve got yourself a winner.

For the recipe head on over to Sarah’s blog Teapots and Cakestands (click here to be taken directly to the recipe)

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Tune in next Tuesday for my TWD pick!! A billion years of waiting and it’s finally my turn 🙂

Citrus Cranberry Sunshine Muffins – TWD

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One weekend away from the blogging world can put you so out of touch.

But I am happy to report that my three-day weekend was completely worth it. I’ve been in dire need of a change of scenery, just to get away from the big city and sit on a ridiculously beautiful balcony and stare out at the water and think about absolutely nothing. Just… be.

And I was.

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The hubby’s birthday fell on our weekend getaway. I usually make him a cake or something to celebrate but this year was pretty low key (and I wasn’t convinced he would eat it all anyhow) I did make these muffins and although he didn’t eat any of the muffins (and neither did I) he certainly wasn’t above taking a picture with them 😉

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They came together SO quickly and the batter tasted amazing. It was bright and just sweet enough. I didn’t have the dried currants called for in the recipe but I figured that dried cranberries went just as well with the citrus flavors in this muffin. They smelled amazing coming out of the oven and were THE perfect texture.

I’ll definitely have to actually TASTE one of these next time I make them.

Thank you to Lauryn of Bella Baker for choosing this recipe. Click here for the recipe.

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Whole Lemon Poppyseed Cake

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Before I began baking, lemons weren’t a central part of my life.

I didn’t need them in my fridge. I didn’t use the zest. And I wasn’t that concerned if I didn’t get every drop of juice out of them.

Now that I am an avid baker… lemons are a must in this house. You never know when you’ll need one or a dozen. I used the juice for cakes, the zest for cookies and the sad remains to deodorize my cutting board and disposal.

Waste not, want not… right?

This pound cake is the perfect example of not wasting anything from this wonderful fruit. It uses everything… juice, zest, pith, everything!!

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Whole Lemon Poppyseed Cake
Adapted from the Sweet Melissa Baking Book

Yields 1 loaf

For the cake:
1 & 1/2 lemons (do NOT use 2 whole ones, it will be very bitter)*
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs
12 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds

For the lemon glaze:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

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Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a 1 1/2-quart loaf pan.

1. Using a sharp knife, remove the little green stem from the lemon skin. Cut the lemon into 8 pieces.

2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the lemon pieces (skin and all!) and 1/2 cup of the sugar until pureed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, so that no large lemon skin pieces remain.

3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until smooth. Stir in the lemon pulp. whisk in the melted butter to combine.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds to combine. Sprinkle over the lemon mixture and, using a rubber spatula, gently fold until just combined.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. The cake is done when a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes before unmolding the cake onto the rack for glazing.

6. For the glaze: In a small saucepan, combine the lemon juice, and sugar at a high simmer. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, or until reduced by half.

7. Using a pastry brush, brush the hot glaze all over the cake while it is still warm.

The cake keeps tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for 2 days. For longer storage, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze well wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 3 weeks. Defrost still wrapped at room temperature.

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* If you don’t already have a use for the other half of the lemon consider slicing it and adding it to a chicken or salmon dish. Or deodorize your wooden cutting boards (sprinkle your board with salt and scrub with the lemon half). Or deodorize your garbage disposal (put 1 cup of ice and half a lemon in your garbage disposal and let it run, rinse with cold water).

Day 21: Cardamom Crumb Cake

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I’m going to cheat a bit today and use my TWD post as Day 21’s treat.

I miss baking with TWD, although I haven’t really missed more than 2 assignments (I think) but life gets busy and sometimes you gotta kill two birds with one stone.

Metaphorically, of course. Killing birds isn’t up my alley. It makes me sad.

No birdies were harmed in the making of this crumb cake.

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If you like cardamom, orange and coffee flavors, this crumb cake is for you! Whip it up for brunch or for breakfast or even for company that drops by. It comes together quickly and is best served warm the day it’s made with some coffee and a side of cinnamon infused freshly whipped cream.

Jill chose this cake and made the comment that this is a good holiday cake… and I agree. That’s why it is for Day 21 of my Christmas baking extravaganza!

I have never done anything with cardamom before but I went ahead and bought some cardamom and I can’t wait to find new ways to use it. I halved this recipe and made it in a 8×5 loaf pan, which is why it’s a bit on the thin side, but it still worked.

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You can find the recipe on her blog. Click here to be taken directly to it.

Day 13 – Cranberry Dark Cherry Coffee Cake

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Cleaning out the freezer always seems like a treasure hunt!! Or should I say an adventure…? Would adventure make you feel better?

Treasure implies finding something fantastic rather than the only-god-knows-how-old bananas you’ve pulled out of the back. Or the sticky neon blue and orange mess you have to clean up from busted Pop-Ices. Or frost bitten ground beef that you’re SURE you just bought a few weeks ago.

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None-the-less, sometimes cleaning out that frozen garbage disposal can yield some great things! Like a bag of frozen cranberries that you were smart enough to wash and freeze at their prime, or black berries, blueberries even rhubarb!

I tell ya, sometimes… I’m a pretty smart cookie!

And if you are a smart cookie and tucked away some cranberries, you should be an even smarter cookie and make this coffee cake. It’s divine.

It’s day 13 of my Christmas baking Extravaganza!! And cranberries are quintessential on my holiday table. And this is such a lovely coffee cake. Fluffy, tender, not too sweet cake bursting with plump red berries and topped with a clinically insane amount of pecan crumble. Yep, it’s pretty much perfect!!

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Cranberry Coffee Cake
Adapted from Joy The Baker

4 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream mixed with 2 Tablespoons of milk
3 cups cranberries (frozen works great)
1 cup halved black cherries (frozen works great)

Crumble Topping:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, well-softened
2/3 cup finely chopped pecans
1/3 cup quick oats (optional, but I skipped it cus I was out)

Put a rack in middle oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9×13-inch pan and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl.

Combine butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in vanilla extract.

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and sour cream mixture in alternate batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and mixing until just incorporated. Fold in cranberries. Spoon batter into baking dish and spread evenly.

For the topping, place the flour, brown sugar, nuts, cinnamon and oats in a large bowl and stir well with a wooden spoon. Work the butter into the mixture with your fingertips until evenly distributed. Take two full handful of the topping and spread it over the cake batter. Use a knife to swirl the topping into the batter. No need to massacre it, just a few swirls and you’re good to go. Spread the rest of the topping evenly over the cranberry cake batter.

Bake until golden brown and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Serve in big warm slices with a cup of creamy coffee.

Shipping Safe: NO. This is a make and share treat. Make this for your family on a coooold morning.
Make ahead and Freeze: NO, but not certain. There could be a loss in cake texture if you were to freeze it. This is best enjoyed the day it is made 🙂

TWD – Cranberry Shortbread Cake (catch up!)

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First, the name of this dessert is technically ‘not-just-for-thanksgiving cranberry shortbread cake’ but that’s a mouthful I wouldn’t wish upon my worth frenemies.

Second, I know what you’re thinking: shortbread and…. cake? Yes. It IS possible and yes, it is as phenomenal as it sounds.

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Cranberries are dolled up with sugar, fresh orange zest and orange juice and cooked down until you have a beautifully thick, dark and sweet/tangy compote. Then it is spread between two layers of shortbread crust and baked until the magic happens in your oven.

I decided to go the square pan route which makes sharing this a bit easier. I also threw in 4 ounces of frozen black cherries and 2 tablespoons of strawberry preserves because I wanted a slightly thicker cranberry filling.

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The result: bliss. Buttery delicious shortbread layers sandwich a delightful fruit filling. Amazing. Completely Thanksgiving table-worthy!!

A big thanks goes out to Jessica of Singleton in the Kitchen for choosing this recipe!! I told you I’d get around to it 😉 Head on over to her blog for the recipe, or simply click here. You’ll want it. Pinky promise.

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SMS – Strawberry Muffins with Fresh Lemon and Rosemary

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Rosemary makes my heart skip a beat. I don’t know what it is about that spice but it’s powerfully aromatic and strong flavor sets my taste buds alight.

The pairing of rosemary and strawberries seemed a bit odd to me but I figured this was one muffin I wanted to try.

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These muffins worked out pretty well this time. Usually the dough is thick and heavy and much too dry and dense to be considered muffins but the baking fairy must have waved her magic wand because these were moist and fluffy. Although, I have realized that I’m not a big fan of chunky strawberries in my baked goods. Next time I think I’ll puree them and fold it in at the end.

The flavor pairing is weird but it works! If you’re feeling adventurous, try these!

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For the recipe, head on over to Shandy’s blog Pastry Heaven. While you’re there, oogle her baked goodies. They are drool-worthy!