Tag Archives | dessert


Rum Balls

The Perfect Boozy Bringalong

Story by Dy Godsey
Photography by Jen Janviere

I love the whole holiday season. There are lots of people who think this is profoundly uncool. Ten years ago, I would have agreed. Time, and the wisdom that comes with time, has taught me that the Season of Giving is what you make it, just like everything else in life.

I’m not a lunatic; I know that scheduling everything you want to accomplish and enjoy is harder in December. The stakes feel higher when I’m swimming in an ocean of other people’s expectations and anxieties. Then I remember: they are getting tossed about in the waves. I am swimming.

When we talk about the seasons in Wisconsin, we are usually referring to the weather, but this season-within-a-season is different. We suspend our normal lives for a few weeks in winter when everything changes. We get out of ourselves and listen carefully to those closest to us, as we try to crack the code of the Perfect Gift. Then we plot and scheme to keep it a secret, so we can spring delight on our loved ones and watch their faces glow.

One of my favorite things about … Read More

Continue Reading

The Easy Elegance of a Trifle

Deceptively Simple and Delicious

Story by Christina Ward
Photography by Joe Laedtke

Trifle. The word is a McGuffin—a misleading name to throw you off the scent. You could not be blamed if you easily dismissed it as an abomination of Cool Whip and canned fruit. You’d be wrong.

The dessert often mocked as the worst excess of 1970s advertising pamphlets (and endlessly featured in online roundups of disgusting masses of gross gooey goop) is actually a delicate and elegant dessert.

Trifles have been done a great injustice. My mission is to redeem them! To put the trifle back on your holiday table in a place of honor to be admired and savored by all.

The origins of trifle are much more interesting than the poorly rendered color photos of the 1970s would have you believe. It is a dessert of nobility with many variations and wonderfully endless
flexibility for the cook.

Traditionally thought of as wholly English, the trifle has many European cousins. In France, it’s referred to as a “charlotte.” When French chefs came to Moscow, it morphed into “Charlotte Russe.” In Italy, we see it as “tiramisu,” “cassata” and “Zuppa Inglese.” The pastry wizards of central Europe built … Read More

Continue Reading

Cherry Pie


  • 2½ C pastry flour
  • 1 t fine salt
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2¼ C cold, unsalted butter (cut into tablespoon-sized pieces)
  • 6 to 8 T ice water

Mix flour, salt, and sugar together in a sturdy bowl. Cut in (using a pastry cutter) the butter until the entire mixture has a crumb-like consistency. Sprinkle ice water over the mixture and continue to blend with pastry cutter; just until the dough sticks together. (Add the rest of the ice water if the dough isn’t quite sticky enough.) Don’t overmix. Divide the dough into two flattened disks and wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper. Refrigerate a minimum of one hour. When ready, place parchment onto counter/table surface. Place dough disk onto parchment. Place another piece of parchment on top of the dough disk; roll dough to desired thickness. (Recommend: ¼ inch). Repeat for second dough disk. Place rolled dough crust into pie plate.


  • 6 cups Door County cherries (You can use fresh, jarred or canned. The type of cherry you choose will determine how sweet or tart your pie will be.)
  • ½ C sugar
  • Pinch fine salt
  • ¼ t ground cinnamon
  • 3 T Cointreau liqueur
  • ¼ C cornstarch (or clear
Read More
Continue Reading

What Is This Pie?

The agony and the ecstasy of an American classic

Story by Christina Ward
Photography by Erika Kent

Marlys Pavlicsek grew up in Germany. Orphaned shortly after World War II, she was taken in by a family who had returned to Germany after living in the U.S. Mrs. Pavlicsek trained as a household cook, including making the classic German pastry: strüdel. At that time, every hausfrau worth her salt could make a strüdel from scratch.

But she also fondly remembers the first time she tasted American-style Apple Pie as made by her foster mother. She told me, “I opened my eyes wide and asked her, ‘What is this Pie?'”

When I met Marlys recently, her innocent, childhood question became my inspiration. What is this pie? Homey, delicious and versatile, it has become both a source of pride and torment to home bakers. We’re teased with pictures of luscious fruits encased in a perfectly flaky crust. But when we attempt to take our garden bounty and make that most American of pastry: failure. Soggy crusts, runny middles, burnt edges, mushy or under-cooked fruits, unset custards and flat meringues. Sigh. All these familiar disasters have made many swear off pie-making forever.

All is … Read More

Continue Reading

Pro Tips from the Cookie Masters

Start Your Own Holiday Cookie Tradition


Story by Christina Ward
Photography by Joe Laedtke


Put down that cookie! That rock-hard tasteless disc of grinning green snowman extruded from a tube o’ plastic. It’s that time of year when we all feel the pressure to perform, then slink into the grocery store and sneakily grab that slab of pre-made frozen cookie dough. Sure, the kindergarten class might be satisfied. But you know. It’s not the same. Those are not the cookies Grandma made.

You can look back onto the faded scrap of paper written in a precise, spidery handwriting… it’s a recipe but only just. No title, just a list of ingredients with arcane measurements of ‘pinch’ or ‘add flour until dough is sticky’. How are you supposed to make that?

The favorite holiday cookies handed down through generations are the simplest. Butter, flour, sugar, salt, vanilla. That’s the core of all the recipes shared here. It’s the slight variations in spices and technique that make them different. And it’s the love with which they’re made that makes them special.

I checked in with some of my favorite home bakers and asked them to reveal their secrets to successful … Read More

Continue Reading