Hanukkah gets short shrift around here, even though we always got Ru and Otis in on the act in years past (much to their chagrin). Gil really only observes the high holidays, and our nieces live in the midwest, so Christmas is more of a thing with the NJ Roths. But since it’s the holiday of fried food — something I can definitely get behind with my own roots — we’d be remiss not to devote one day during Sweets Week to something appropriate for the season.

While latkes are understandably popular snacks associated with Hanukkah, sufganiyot captured my heart some time ago, as any jelly donut will. Darcie found a terrific recipe at Bon Appetit/Epicurious that turned out delicious, not-too-sweet sweets, just perfect to share with you today.

Day 12, Churros & Chocolate

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 12

When Gil and I visited Madrid for a week in October (it was for work! really!), I fell head over heels in love with the city. It wasn’t just the beautiful scenery (though it was a feast for the eyes), or that there seemed to be one restaurant per resident (though dining establishments were numerous and mostly quite good) or the flirtatious old men (though they were wonderfully, shamelessly mischievous). No, my friends, it was the churros.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 12

We needed a pick-me-up the day of our arrival, and I insisted upon visiting Chocolateria San Ginés, where I discovered the wonders of the churro. You may wonder why a gluten-free blogger went straight for fried dough. A fair question! When I travel, I throw aside gluten-free considerations and indulge, knowing I’ll pay the price. And while my joints got progressively worse, it was tolerable — nothing like the hobbling I’d experience here if I’d eaten even a fraction of that wheat. So yay, lucky me.

Now, these weren’t the thick, doughy churros sold at subway stops around NYC, but long, thin, crispy batons served with a cup of chocolate that fell somewhere between hot chocolate and pudding in consistency. I returned daily and probably could’ve ordered “the usual” by the end of the week. After a couple of days, I realized I much prefer to dunk them in café con leche than in chocolate, but that’s probably because I grew up eating beignets, for which café au lait is the preferred dunking medium.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 12

Another fun part of the trip was catching up with our friend Jessica, who flew in from Naples to visit with us for a few days. She played tourist with me while Gil was at his conference and graciously worked my daily visit to CSG into her schedule. One day, while the three of us were getting our nosh on, we noticed a few churros at an empty table next to us and thought it was funny that anyone would leave without finishing. Just then an older woman swooped in from down the street to pick up the leftovers and bounced back to her group of friends, proudly waving the churros before her like a prize. I ask you, when was the last time you ate something so delicious that people will steal it from a stranger’s plate? Never, I’ll bet.

I can’t say I was itching to recreate them when I got home because 1) I was a little over the experience and 2) I have a definite fear of frying. But with the reality of those churros fading from memory and Hanukkah in full swing (festival of fried dough!), I thought this might be the perfect time to try them out for myself.

And, well, they were not the biggest success I’ve ever had in the kitchen, which was entirely my fault. The dough is quite thick, and combined with my small pastry tips and low-rent pastry bag (a Ziploc, of freezer thickness, even), I had a blowout immediately:

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 12

One good thing about this experiment is that mistakes are totally edible, even if they don’t appear cookbook-worthy. So I regrouped and rebagged with my largest pastry tip (still far too small) gaffer taped for reinforcement and set about frying in earnest. By the time I was done, the bag was so patched up with black tape that it couldn’t have looked more Frankenstein’s monster-like if it had bolts and big shoes attached. Still, I think the churros turned out pretty swell, all things considered. And look, I randomly pulled a few interesting shapes from the oil:

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 12

The churros canes are very seasonal! The knot isn’t something I could reproduce if I spent a month trying! Overall, the churros were much crisper with less give than the authentic ones, but really good, especially after they’d been coated with cinnamon-sugar.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 12

Fried dough + sugar + chocolate = amazing, no matter the trials and tribulations.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 12

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Day 12, Churros & Chocolate”

Day 8, Macaroons

Chocolate-Drizzled Pecan Macaroons

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 8

For our Save the Date wedding cards, Gil and I originally wanted something along the lines of, “A Cajun Mennonite and a Jew walk into a bar…” Upon further reflection, we decided fielding questions or hearing the end of the joke from a couple hundred people while we were planning a wedding in another city wasn’t the brightest idea, so the card defaulted to more traditional wording. But you can see that, right from the very beginning, we knew how to blend.

While we both came into this thing with an appreciation for Mel Brooks and Faulkner House Books, Gil has taken on LSU football and the whole “Christmas with a large family + boudin” thing with gusto, and I’ve learned to appropriate a few of his holidays while putting a southern spin on them. Example the first: Pecan-Brown Sugar Macaroons.

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 8

. . . with bourbon vanilla extract and drizzled chocolate! Happy Hanukkah, y’all! (I know I should be frying something instead, but these are easier and leave my house smelling a whole lot better.)

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 8

I started with my go-to recipe from the past few years, but wasn’t sure what the added moisture from the brown sugar would do, so I used a little less. The pecans were a one-for-one swap for the almonds, and the bourbon-vanilla because you can’t have pecans and brown sugar without a little bourbon, amirite? (I’ll get to the finer points of making your own vanilla extract in an upcoming post, so stay tuned.) I probably don’t have to tell you how delicious these were, so I’ll just let Ru do the talking . . .

2012 Advent Calendar, Day 8

Honestly! I took Otis out for five minutes and came back to discover this. My initial surprise turned to wonder. Why did he leave three? Is he ok? Is he saving them for a midnight snack? To quote Ron Burgundy, “I’m not even mad; that’s amazing!” (And yeah, we got confirmation that Ru was the guilty party during our walk the next morning. That jerk.)

Chocolate-Drizzled Pecan Macaroons
Pecan Macaroons
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
55 mins

Pecan macaroons with bourbon and brown sugar, glazed with melted chocolate.

Course: Snack
Servings: 16
Calories: 68 kcal
  • .25 cup organic palm sugar, or brown sugar packed
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • .25 cup pecan pieces toasted and finely chopped
  • .5 teaspoon bourbon vanilla extract (or pure vanilla extract)
  • pinch coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon coconut flour
  • .25 cup bittersweet chocolate chips melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Whisk together sugar and egg white in a large bowl. Stir in the remaining ingredients and allow mixture to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  2. Form dough into sixteen 1-tablespoon mounds and drop each onto sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake macaroons until golden-brown on bottoms and edges, about 15 minutes. Cool on sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely.

  3. To finish, using a spoon, drizzle melted chocolate over cooled macaroons. Macaroons will keep, covered, for up to one week.

  4. Macaroons will keep, covered, for up to 1 week.

Recipe Notes

Recipe: Homemade Vanilla Extract

Adapted heavily from Martha Stewart.

Another Hanukkah, Another Macaroon

Hanukkah treat

I’m heading to Louisiana tomorrow for an extra-long (and warm-weathered) Christmas visit with my family! (Cue happy dance.) Gil has to work this week, so he’ll join us after spending a few days alone with the dogfaces. Since I won’t be around for the start of Hanukkah, I thought I’d make Gil a batch of chocolate-drizzled macaroons to remember me by.

I was still working on my drizzling technique with these first few, but they’re charming in a jolie laide sort of way, right?


Happy Hanukkah to all who celebrate it! Next up: something savory to balance all of the sugar I’ve been posting…

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Another Hanukkah, Another Macaroon”

Holiday Treats, Part the First

Hi, everyone. For the second year in a row, I’m afraid my schedule won’t allow for an annual Advent Calendar. (For honestly annual Advent Calendars past, see the 2007 & 2008 installments.) Part of the craziness is just my day job, which always astounds me with its busy-ness — you’d think I’d get used to holiday madness after working for a clothing retailer for 10 years, wouldn’t you? — but also

< < < < BIG ANNOUNCEMENT > > > >

I have a photo assignment! I’ll be shooting photos for a cookbook (not my own) starting next weekend!!!! It’s really just a dream come true, as clichéd and silly as that sounds, especially because I’ve toyed with giving up on this blog so many times. But without it I certainly never would have learned enough about photography to even consider doing this for a living. (Just putting it out there, universe…)

Anyway, instead of the Advent Calendar, I’m hoping to squeeze in a few posts on easy-to-make treats that might be nice for the holiday season. These little chocolate & pomegranate nibbles were inspired by something I saw in a comments section somewhere, but I just can’t remember the site. (If they look familiar, please leave a comment and I’ll give credit where it’s due.) Just melt chocolate in a double boiler, add pomegranate arils to achieve a chunky consistency, spoon onto a waxed paper-lined baking sheet and top with more arils, then chill until ready to serve. The juicy, tart arils really are a delicious foil to the smooth, bittersweet chocolate (or chocolate of your choice). I used only the two ingredients that were suggested, but I’d imagine they’d be delicious with the addition of chopped nuts, warm spices or a little liqueur.

And a little housecleaning:
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I didn’t make latkes this year for my husband because we’d much rather eat McDonald’s fries than any fried potato that comes out of my kitchen, but we did get the dogs to dress up for another portrait session. (One of the really, truly annual things on this blog. 2009 edition. 2008 edition.) Poor guys.

Happy Hanukkah!

not thrilled with this Hanukkah thing
Otis, rakish

Will there be treats?
Rufus, dubious

Stay tuned for Christmas photos next week.

Season’s greetings from the Roths


Hi all, and happy Hanukkah! We had slightly non-traditional latkes (fried in duck fat) for breakfast this morning as a late start to the festivities, but there’s been a distinct lack of cooking going on around here otherwise. I’ll try to do better by you, but can’t promise anything until next weekend.

Instead, you get cute holiday pictures of the dogs after the jump!

Continue reading “Season’s greetings from the Roths”