Candy Cane Kisses

December 053 Edited Candy Cane Kisses

I am in a slump. I don’t feel like working, cleaning, baking, packing my bags to go on a trip to see people I really want to see or anything else remotely productive. As I was flipping through the radio stations in my car yesterday, I heard DJs  talking, ironically, about slumps. Their conversation centered around how the suggestions given to someone in a slump often involve the idea to just push through it. The DJs were convinced this is terrible advice. They believed sometimes you’ve just got to sit in it and let it pass.

Outside of work, the only thing I have been pretty consistent about during my slump is getting my butt to yoga. Tonight marked my sixty-second yoga class since November 1. Actually, it was my sixty-fifth class since October 29, but that is little more than a technicality. Suffice it to say, I am sick and tired of asana.

As I was stuck in a yoga studio for weeks on end, I wanted to get outside and go for a run. Oh, all right. It was a stroll in the sunshine more so than a kick-butt run I craved. For the past five months, I have paid my bills by writing nearly every day. I started this blog as much to exercise my writing muscle as I did to plow through a stack of recipes, so I no longer look forward to writing blog posts as much as I once did.

In case you had not yet noticed, the ever elusive butterfly in my life is finding a sense of balance. When we commit to balance, we often find we can lighten the load more so than we thought in one area while at the same time taking on more in others. I need to figure this out.

December 060 Edited Candy Cane Kisses

I had no idea what I was going to write for this post until I sat down and starting pecking out words, but a new theme of balance and a continuing theme of light seems to be taking hold. My heart still feels a little heavy, yet these cookies are as light as air. The photo of those baked-in air pockets up there come from my third attempt at meringue cookies, so they were also an exercise in patience.

This recipe for Candy Cane Kisses came from one of the prettiest cookbooks I have ever seen, Masala Farm. Its pages were full of color, and I liked the short stories found throughout the book. It was just overall nice. The original recipe  suggested adding one teaspoon of pulverized dried lavender to the meringues in place of the peppermint when baking outside of prime candy cane season.

Some believe the world will end tomorrow. Which is already today in some parts of the world (as I write, it’s just after 3 p.m. in Sydney). I would like to bring up two very good points I have heard (though I don’t remember where) about this theory. 1). If the Mayans were so good at predicting the end of the world, then why couldn’t they predict the collapse of their own civilization? 2). The Mayan calendar fails to take into account leap years, so technically, the world should have ended sometime in October.

Regardless, what we can all agree on according to the calendar is tomorrow marks the darkest (shortest) day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Most of us will also likely agree the darkest day came a week early this year. After the dark, the days must get light again. Enjoy.

December 054 Edited Candy Cane Kisses


  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon cram of tartar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons crushed peppermint
  • ½ cup mini chocolate chips
  1. In the bowl of stand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy.
  2. Add the vanilla, cream of tartar and salt to the egg whites and increase speed to high.
  3. Beat until soft peaks form, then add in the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. (If you fail to add the sugar slowly, you will end up with a very grainy cookie.)
  4. When the egg whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks, use a rubber spatula to very gently fold in the peppermint and chocolate chips.
  5. Place dollops of meringue onto parchment-lined baking sheets.
  6. Bake at 250 F until the tops begin to crack, about 45 to 50 minutes.
  7. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on wire racks.
To make red meringues, I suggest adding food coloring along with the vanilla, cream of tartar and salt. Folding it in with the crushed peppermint and chocolate chips tends to deflate the egg whites that were beautifully whipped into shape just seconds earlier.


Daring Bakers’ Challenge – Sans Rival

SAM 4616 Edited Daring Bakers Challenge   Sans Rival

Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host, and she challeneged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicous Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

To get us started, Catherine explained, “A Sans Rival is made with layers of dacquoise, typically using crushed cashews, with very rich French buttercream frosting. The dacquoise is allowed to bake and dry to a crispy layer so that there is the crunch of pastry and nuts with the buttery, silky frosting.”  Dacquoise?  Sounds complicated.  Silky frosting?  Sounds delicious!

I had an absolute blast making this cake. Now that I have managed to successfully whip egg whites into peaks of all sorts, I enjoy watching them transform from liquid to lovely, cloud-like puffs. I baked in batches since I had only two round cake pans, and I made one batch without the chocolate and one batch with the chocolate. I had a bit of difficulty getting the meringues as crisp as I liked, so as suggested, I put the layers back in the still hot oven after removing them from their pans.  This extra bake time definitely helped create a crisp texture.

SAM 4594 Edited Daring Bakers Challenge   Sans Rival

French Buttercream, why have I waited so long to make you? Was I intimidated by your sugar syrup? Or was it the large amount of egg yolks that required beating? Please forgive me for the misunderstanding, because both steps were too easy to have avoided you for this long.

Now that I have made French Buttercream, it pains me to think of all of the confectioners’ sugar frostings I  have used elsewhere on the blog. This buttercream is so rich and decadent that it fits perfectly with the crisp dacquoise layers, just like Catherine said it would. I flavored my French Buttercream with vanilla, and I decorated the top of my Sans Rival cake with additional chocolate frosting since my cake consisted of both white and chocolate dacquoise layers.

I had a bit of a difficult time cutting into the cake (it felt like I was crushing the layers), but the slices turned out okay. The cashews I used to decorate the sides made the cake taste a bit salty, so I would suggest buying unsalted nuts. Wondering what to do with those 5 extra egg yolks?  Make more French Buttercream!  Or bake up some egg bagels or egg yolk cookies.

SAM 4637 Edited e1321816112645 Daring Bakers Challenge   Sans Rival

This was a really fun challenge; it took some time to pull all the steps together, but none were overly difficult. I wanted to try the Bibingka, but I was under the influence of intimidation during my second Daring Bakers’ challenge.  Plus, there was something about the salted eggs and the lovely yellow color of the Bibingka that reminded me of Easter and spring.  By then, I should be up for the second part of this challenge. Enjoy!

Sans Rival
  • Sans Rival
  • 10 large egg whites, room temp
  • 1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) cream of tartar
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) (20 gm) (2/3 oz) Dutch processed cocoa (optional and not traditional)
  • 2 cups (480 ml) (240 gm) (8½ oz) chopped, toasted cashews
  • French Buttercream
  • 5 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) (225 gm) (8 oz) white granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) water
  • 1¼ cup (300 ml) (2½ sticks) (285 gm) (10 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Optional Flavorings: 2 oz (55 gm) unsweetened chocolate, melted, or 1½ teaspoon (7 ½ ml) almond extract, or 1½ teaspoon (7 ½ ml) vanilla extract, or any flavor you like
  1. Preheat oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
  2. Line cake pan bottoms with parchment paper and butter and flour the sides really well.
  3. In a large clean, dry glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium until foamy (2 mins.).
  4. Sprinkle with cream of tartar.
  5. Gradually add sugar, a couple of tablespoons at a time, continuing to beat now at high speed until stiff shiny peaks form. (about 7-10 mins.)
  6. Fold in nuts, reserving enough to use for decoration.
  7. Divide meringue into four equal parts. Spread in pans, evenly to edges. If doing batches, use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the meringue from the
  9. baking pans while still hot; allow to cool slightly. Peel off the parchment paper while it is still warm, it is difficult to remove sometimes when they have completely cooled.
  10. When cool, trim edges so that all 4 meringue layers are uniformly shaped. Set aside.
  11. To make the French Buttercream, put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Beat at high speed until the yolks have doubled in volume and are a lemon yellow.
  12. Put the sugar and water in a heavy pan and cook over medium heat, stirring the sides down only until all the sugar is dissolved and the syrup reaches 235°F/112°C (or thread stage).
  13. With the mixer on high, very slowly pour the syrup down the sides of the bowl, until all has been added. Be careful as the very hot syrup could burn you if it splashes from the beaters. Continue beating on high until the mixture is ROOM TEMPERATURE (about 15 mins).
  14. Still on high, beat in the soft, room temperature butter a tablespoon at a time.
  15. Add flavoring after you beat in the butter.
  16. Refrigerate the buttercream for at least an hour, and whip it smooth just before you use it.
  17. Assembly: Set bottom meringue on cake board with a dab of butter cream to hold it in place. Spread a thin layer of buttercream and then place another meringue on top. Repeat with a thin layer of buttercream, meringue, thin layer of buttercream, meringue, and finally buttercream the top and sides.
  18. Decorate with reserved nuts.
Note: You will need four layers which will mean that you might have to bake in two batches. Be sure to use fresh parchment paper and cooled pans for each batch. Finely ground cashews are best for folding into meringue. Coarsely ground cashews are best for decoration of finished cake.


A cheeseburger and a slice of pie: Graham Cracker Pie

SAM 3722 Edited A cheeseburger and a slice of pie: Graham Cracker Pie

After trying my hand at my first pie, I decided to make a second pie using a Graham Cracker Pie recipe I have had forever (well, a decade). I can not remember where I copied the recipe from, but it sat patiently waiting in my recipe box for years. I should have let it continue to wait.

This pie is one of those desserts I wanted to make for so long, but then once I did, I was let down by the end result.  In the pie’s defense, I think my maturing palette prefers fruit pie to other pies, so the custard-like filling in this pie did little to please my taste buds.

I was a bit surprised by this taste revelation.  When I was a little girl, my order at the Kewpee consisted of a cheeseburger and a slice of sugar cream pie.  I always ordered a slice pie in place of French Fries.  I never very much liked fries when I was a kid, but I grew out of it and love them now. (Side note: Which restaurant has better fries, McDonald’s or Chik-Fil-A?)

SAM 3725 Edited A cheeseburger and a slice of pie: Graham Cracker Pie

For those of you who may not be familiar, the Kewpee is a fast food restaurant chain headquartered in Lima, Ohio.  To my surprise, my research for this article revealed the Kewpee East, Kewpee West, and Kewpee Dowtown locations in Lima are not the only Kewpees in the chain.  There is also a Kewpee in Lansing, Michigan and another in Racine, Wisconsin.

The Kewpee is legendary, and people love it.  Dave Thomas allegedly built his Wendy’s chain off the Kewpee concept, offering square burger patties and a frozen chocolate malt he called the Frosty.  I like the Frosty, but it doesn’t hold a candle to a Kewpee malt.  My dad said Kewpee Downtown was really cool when he was a kid because you could pull in your car into the narrow lot, someone would be there to take your order, and then a large turntable contraption in the pavement would turn your car around so you could drive, instead of reverse, out of the lot.

My brother-in-law has to have a Kewpee burger nearly every time he and my sister visit my parents.  When I dined there with my honey at Christmas last year, he started calling it Kreepy’s because the naked Kewpie doll displayed in the restaurant creeped him out.  I recently opened an account at a new bank, and after learning I was from Ohio, the manager (he too was from Ohio) asked me if I had ever heard of the Kewpee.  I laughed and said yes, and he launched into a story about how he made it a point to drive through Lima last Christmas so his honey could also experience the Kewpee.

In middle school and high school, we would often get to stop for lunch at the Kewpee after a field trip to Lima for some sort of event.  And the volleyball and basketball teams I played on would often stop after a game at least one night of the season.  In the fall, the Kewpee ran a promotion where you could purchase a large drink served in a plastic cup that featured your high school’s mascot. Those were my favorite weeks to eat at the Kewpee…until Marchocolate.

SAM 3726 Edited A cheeseburger and a slice of pie: Graham Cracker Pie

When I lived in Ohio, I could not wait for Marchocolate.  After a cold, gray winter, the turn of a calendar page to March got your mind to thinking about the spring light at the end of the winter tunnel.  Then Kewpee started featuring chocolate pies throughout the month of March, and I was in a tiny slice of heaven.  My favorite Marchocolate pie was Cookies and Cream, though I ate my fair share of  French Silk pie when the restaurants ran out of Cookies of Cream. Delicious!

Though this graham cracker pie does not live up to any of the pies served at the Kewpee, those of you who like custard and meringue may find it quite nice.  And for those of you who might light to read an unbiased traveler’s account of the Kewpee (and see pictures of Kewpee Downtown), check out this article at Midwest Guest.  Until next time, enjoy!

SAM 3730 1 Edited A cheeseburger and a slice of pie: Graham Cracker Pie

Graham Cracker Pie
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar, divided, plus one additional tablespoon
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 eggs, separated with yolks slightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Stir together the graham cracker crumbs, butter and one cup of the sugar.
  2. Reserve ½ cup of the mixture and press the remaining crumbs into a pie plate to form a crust.
  3. Bake the crust at 400 degrees for approximately five minutes.
  4. While the crust bakes, pour the milk into a saucepan and heat until boiling.
  5. Lower the heat to medium and whisk in the remaining ½ cup of sugar and the cornstarch to the saucepan.
  6. Continue to cook for two minutes.
  7. Slowly stir a small amount of the milk and sugar mixture, about ⅓ cup, into the egg yolks, and then add the milk and egg mixture back to the saucepan.
  8. Stir until the custard thickens, about one to two minutes.
  9. Remove the custard from heat and allow to cool.
  10. While the custard cools, beat the egg whites with one tablespoon of sugar until stiff peaks form.
  11. Stir the vanilla into the cooled custard and pour into the crust.
  12. Spread the egg white mixture over the custard.
  13. Sprinkle the top of the pie with the remaining graham crackers.
  14. Place the pie in the oven for just two minutes or until the graham crackers turn a darker shade of brown.
  15. Remove the pie from the oven and allow to come to room temperature.
  16. Once the pie has returned to room temperature, chill for four hours before serving.
The pie can go straight from the oven to the refrigerator, but I like to return foods to room temperature before chilling them. This way, the refrigerator does not have to work so hard to cool the food. I have seen this information printed as an energy-saving tip in multiple places.