April 14, 2014

Blueberry Dessert Sauce

Posted in Desserts at 6:53 pm by Sheila OConnell

This is good and easy!

Blueberry preserves (I used “Bonne Maman” brand.)
Fresh blueberries

Spoon about a cup of blueberry preserves into a small saucepan.
Squeeze some lemon juice into the pot.  (I used about a quarter of a lemon.)  Use enough lemon juice to offset the sweetness of the preserves somewhat.
Sprinkle in a little cinnamon.
Add a pinch of salt.
Heat the pot just a few minutes until everything is warm and mixed.  Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
Take the pot off the heat and stir in about a cup of fresh blueberries and mix gently.
Serve over vanilla ice cream and possibly a slice of pound cake.






December 31, 2013

Fudgy Brownies

Posted in Desserts at 10:40 am by Sheila OConnell

2 squares (1 oz each) unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup margarine (half a stick) (do not use tub margarine)
1/4 cup butter (half a stick)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350.
Heat chocolate, margarine and butter on low heat in 2-quart saucepan, stirring frequently, until melted; remove from heat.
Mix in sugar, eggs and vanilla.
Stir in flour, salt and nuts.
Spread in greased 9 X 9 X 2 pan.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes.

Serving note: cut with a plastic knife or plastic brownie server for best results (less tearing).

December 30, 2012

Pecan sandies

Posted in Desserts at 9:03 pm by Sheila OConnell

These are a classic around the holidays.

1 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup finely chopped nuts

extra powdered sugar


Heat oven to 400. Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and vanilla. Mix in flour, salt, and nuts until dough holds together.

Shape dough into 1″ balls. Place about 1″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until set, but not brown (about 10-12 min)

Roll in powdered sugar while warm. Cool. Roll in powdered sugar again.

Posted by Sophie / Mom

June 15, 2011

Helen’s Oatmeal Pecan Cookies

Posted in Desserts at 5:36 pm by Sheila OConnell

Grandma used to tell me Grandpa would eat these every day if he could, and after trying them again this weekend, I doubly believe her!

  • 1 cup margarine (or, if trans fats are not your cup of tea, butter), softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  •  1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups uncooked 5-minute oatmeal
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and continue to mix. Combine dry ingredients and add gradually. Add oatmeal and pecans. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 15-17 minutes or until lightly brown.
Posted by Sophie

January 2, 2011

Tunnel of Fudge Cake

Posted in Desserts at 8:58 pm by Sheila OConnell

This recipe is based on the 2nd-place cake in the 1966 Pillsbury Bake Off Competition and is one of America’s Test Kitchen’s all-time favorite recipes.


  • 3/4 cup (2 1/2 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus extra for the pan
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 onces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups pecans or walnuts, chopped fine
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 20 tbsp (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for the pan

Chocolate Glaze:

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. For the cake: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a Bundt pan and dust with cocoa powder. Pour the boiling water over the chocolate in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature. Whisk the cocoa, flour, nuts, confectioners’ sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Beat the eggs and vanilla in a large measuring cup.

2. With a hand-held mixer, beat the sugar, brown sugar, and butter at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. On low speed, add the egg mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the chocolate mixture and beat until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Beat in the flour mixture until just combined, about 30 seconds.

3. Scrape the batter into the pan, smooth, and bake until the edges are beginning to pull away from the pan, about 45 minutes. (The inside should be slightly underbaked – this helps form the fudgy center.) Cool upright in the pan on a wire rack for 1 1/2 hours, then invert onto a serving plate and cool completely, at least 2 hours.

4. For the glaze: Cook the cream, corn syrup, and chocolate in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and set aside until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes. Drizzle the glaze over the cake and let set for at least 10 minutes. Serve.

Posted by Sophie

December 4, 2010

Swedish Nuts

Posted in Desserts tagged , at 8:10 am by Sheila OConnell

This is a great – and easy – holiday treat that also is a good gift.  I made a batch last night to divide between two parties that we are going to this weekend.  If possible, get the pecans from a store like Wegmans or Whole Foods that has nice plump ones in a bin – don’t get the little shriveled up ones that come in sealed bags.

   4 cups pecan halves
   dash salt
   1/2 cup butter or margarine*
   3/4 cup sugar
   2 stiffly beaten egg whites
   1 tsp vanilla

Using a large cookie sheet with sides, toast pecan halves about 5 minutes in oven at 300 degrees.  Remove from oven and increase heat to 350.

Beat egg whites until stiff.  Fold in sugar and salt, and add vanilla.  Stir nuts into egg white mixture.  (Usually I use a small bowl to beat the egg whites and another larger bowl to mix all together.)  Melt butter in the cookie sheet, or you can melt it in a pot and add it to the cookie sheet.  Spread the nut mixture over the butter in the cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 until light brown and butter has soaked in to nuts, stirring twice while baking.  For margarine, this will be about 30 minutes with stirring every 10 minutes; for butter, stir every 7 minutes or so and it may be done between 20 and 25 minutes.

* You can use butter or margarine.  If you use butter you will have to watch the nuts closely because they can burn easily.  When I use butter I decrease the baking time from 30 minutes to about 25 minutes or less.

posted by Sheila

March 27, 2010

Old-Fashioned Pound Cake

Posted in Desserts at 8:46 pm by Sheila OConnell

This is my favorite cake to eat and to make.

   2 sticks butter, softened
   2 cups sugar
   5 eggs
   2 cups + 1 tbsp sifted cake flour
   2 tsp vanilla
   1 tbsp lemon juice
   1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 and position rack in middle of oven.  Using electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in whole eggs, one at a time.  Sift flour before measuring 2 cups + 1 tbsp.  Sift again and add to mixture.  Add vanilla, lemon juice and salt.  Pour into greased and floured tube pan.  Put pan into oven and turn heat down to 325.  Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown on top and cake tester comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan until the pan is cool enough to handle, then run a sharp knife around the edge to loosen the cake, then push the tube pan bottom up and out.  Let the cake cool the rest of the way, then run a sharp knife underneath the cake to loosen it, then slide a couple of metal spatulas or large knives underneath the cake to lift it from the metal bottom and transfer it to a plate.  The top crust will get sticky if you cover it with plastic wrap; use aluminum foil instead and don’t cover it too tightly.

The original recipe called for 2 cups flour and 325, but sometimes a little batter would leak out of the pan and burn on the bottom of the oven.  I started adding the extra 1 tbsp flour and preheating the oven to 350 and it doesn’t leak any more.

I love this cake!  I have other pound cake recipes, but when I make one of them I always wish I made this one instead.

March 8, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Posted in Desserts at 9:00 pm by Sheila OConnell

Every time I’ve tried Alton Brown’s chewy recipe, I’ve been told they are “the best chocolate chip cookies ever”. Two tips to really hit the ball out of the park:  buy fat, nice-quality dark chocolate chips, and, when you get to this step, try cooking the sugar in the melted butter for a couple minutes to enhance the cookies’ caramel flavor.


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour (all purpose will also work)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat. Set aside to cool slightly.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. Pour the butter into a stand mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 2 minutes. (You can also do this by hand to build some muscle.)

Meanwhile, whisk together the whole egg, the egg yolk, milk and vanilla extract in a measuring cup. Reduce the mixer speed and slowly add the egg mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.

Gradually integrate the dry ingredients, stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Once the flour is worked in, drop the speed to “stir” and add the chocolate chips. Chill the dough for 1 hour. (You can skip this step if you’re hungry, but I think it makes the cookies better.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place racks in the top third and bottom third of the oven.

Scoop the dough into 1 1/2-ounce portions onto parchment-lined half sheet pans, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake 2 sheets at a time for 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove from the oven, slide the parchment with the cookies onto a cooling rack, and let cool.

Posted by Sophie