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Monday, June 1, 2020

Family history, traditions, and comfort foods

Baking sweets has always been a big part of my life. Thinking back to when I was a child...baking with my mom and family provides happy memories for me. I do not remember most of my childhood from the age of 4 until I was 12. BUT, I do recall Christmas Eve gatherings with my family and all of the cooking and baking we did together.
 I always say that baking soothes my soul and brings peace to my spirit. Since the happy memories, I have as a child revolve around food, I can understand why baking makes me feel this way.

Those happy memories and family traditions are always present in my mind. Each time I bake with my daughter, who is 5 years old, and every time all 4 of us (myself, my husband, my son, and my daughter) have a cookie decorating night for each Holiday, I am reminded that I am creating happy, peaceful, and fun memories for my children.

My mom passed away when I was nineteen years old. Thankfully, mom taught me how to bake up a mean cheesecake when she was here with us. Mom made her cheesecake without a crust. It was a thick, rich, creamy, New York-style cheesecake. I was born and raised in New Jersey, and let me tell you, northern, Italian women know how to cook and bake! Mom fit right into that mold.

Because of the skills my mom and my Aunt (her sister) taught me, I entered into a Taste of Italy contest with Taste of Home Magazine several years ago, with my, Mascarpone Cheesecake recipe, and I won 2nd place! Thanks, mom and Aunt Jeannie!

The love of food has brought me where I am today. I have this food blog, a home bakery, and I am writing a cookbook (comfort food-related). I have been featured in several Gooseberry Patch cookbooks, Taste of Home Best Of cookbooks, Taste of Home Magazines, and online with
I have written 3 novels and in the back of each one, I share recipes that were made in the book (that are all my personal recipes).
I am the administrator of several pages and groups on Facebook: all food-related!

Do you agree with me when I say that I have a passion for food and recipes?

You can also find me:
Instagram: The Fiery Whisk Baking

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Rustic Tart Anyone? Berry tart recipe...

I'm a rustic baker at heart. I like my pie crusts to look homemade. I like the unevenness of a pie crust. I like my cookies lumpy and I like my brownies gooey and messy.

I enjoyed making this tart because when you say "tart", I believe a rustic look is implied and understood. At least in my rustic mind, it is.

I used my pie crust recipe for the crust of this tart and added a touch of cinnamon to make it pop. There is nothing fancy about the look of this dessert and it is not overly sweet one bit!

Rustic Berry Tart Recipe

  • 1 stick butter (salted), cut into pieces
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 to 6 Tbsp cold water
  • pinch of salt*
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400*.
Line cookie sheet with non-stick foil.
Combine all ingredients together in a large bowl.
Form into a ball.
Roll out between 2 pieces of wax paper sprinkled with flour.
Roll dough over the rolling pin and move to the prepared cookie sheet, unroll it flat.

Fruit filling
  • 3 to 4 cups strawberries and blueberries (mixed)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces
Add the first 4 ingredients into a bowl and stir until well combined.
Spoon into rolled crust, leaving a 2-inch border around the edges.

Fold the crust over filling (center will be open to the fruit).
Spray crust with butter spray or brush with an egg wash.

Dot butter over fruit filling.

Bake for 20 minutes.
Turn sheet and bake for 20 to 25 more minutes. The tart is ready when the crust is lightly browned and the fruit center is hot.

Coating (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. jam*
  • Hot water
  • Sugar
*I used orange-pineapple jam

Mix jam with a dab of hot water to create a thin coating. Brush with a pastry brush over the dough and sprinkle with sugar.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

The Baking Project: Podcast

I am excited to announce my new podcast: The Baking Project with The Fiery Whisk! Here, I will talk about all things baking and food-related.

I have 2 podcasts so far:
Cheesecakes 101
COVID-19 Baking Project

I make the podcasts on Anchor, but, they can be found all over the podcast world, including, but not limited to Spotify and Apple.

If you do not have Anchor, you can download the free app and sign up for FREE and listen to me :)

I have more interesting podcasts coming up, so hop on board and follow me!

Ready to read more?

Cheesecake 101: Cheesecake tips and tricks

Peanut butter and chocolate ribbon fudge 

My favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Peanut butter and chocolate ribbon fudge

What is better than chocolate and peanut butter? Not too much in my opinion! This recipe was given to me by my friend Kathy. We often exchange recipes and this is one of my favorites.

Ribbon fudge is perfect as a weekend treat or Holiday sweet. You can easily make it as a gift or as an indulgence just for yourself! 

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Ribbon Fudge Recipe
(with adjustments made by yours truly)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup margarine
  • 2/3 cup evaporated milk
  • 6 oz. mini chocolate chips
  • 7 oz. jar of marshmallow creme
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • no-stick foil
Chocolate layer:
Combine 1.5 cups sugar, 6 Tbsp. margarine and 1/3 cup milk in a saucepan.
Bring to a full boil, stirring constantly.
Boil for 4 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.
Stir in chocolate chips until melted.
Add 1 cup marshmallow creme and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.
Stir well to combine.
Pour into no-stick foil-lined 9x13 baking dish.

Peanut butter layer:
Combine 1.5 cups sugar, 6 Tbsp. margarine and 1/3 cup milk in a saucepan.
Bring to a full boil, stirring constantly.
Boil for 4 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.
Stir in peanut butter until melted.
Add 1 cup marshmallow creme and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.
Stir well to combine.
Pour over chocolate layer and cool at room temperature.

More recipes:

Reese's Fudge

Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies

Peanut butter chocolate Chex mix 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Cheesecake 101: Cheesecake tips and tricks

Would you like to know the best cheesecake baking tips so you can impress your crowd? I've got you covered.
Have you ever tried to bake a cheesecake? Was it cracked on the top? How about lumps, did it have more lumps than a room full of camels? I have solutions for you. Baking is a precise craft and there are a few things that can help you bake a successful cheesecake at home...

Click here to listen to Cheesecake 101 on my Podcast: The Baking Project

Pans, Pans, Pans
You may ask, what type of pan does one use to make a cheesecake? Well, generally, cheesecakes are baked in a springform pan. The average size of a springform pan is 9 inches around. This type of pan has 2 parts. It has a round bottom piece and a circular piece with a hook-like closure that allows the round bottom piece to nestle into its bottom groove.
You can also make a rectangular cake and use a 9×13 pan for baking.

Crust Or Not To Crust
Have you ever tried a cheesecake without a crust? It is actually very good. My mom gave me an original New York-style cheesecake recipe many years ago. It was passed down from her mother and her mother (who came over to the US from Italy). The recipe did not call for a crust. You can omit the crust from any cheesecake recipe if you desire. (Except of course, from a no-bake cheesecake recipe) But, in this article, we are discussing the baked kind of cake.

I like a good crust. You can go with a simple crust consisting of graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar. You can also get creative and try Nilla wafers, gingersnaps, chocolate or chocolate chip cookies (the crunchy kind) or chocolate graham crumbs in the place of the basic graham crumbs.

The Cheese
You may ask: what kind of cream cheese should I use in my cheesecake recipe? My opinion is to use the full fat, full flavor cream cheese. I have tried low-fat cream cheese in my cheesecake and it really took away from that creamy taste, texture, and rich flavor.

Note to self: If a recipe calls for a full-fat ingredients, stick with it.

OK, so why do you have a fault line down the center of your cheesecake? Several issues can cause this. First, over beating the batter can cause cracks in the cake. Incorrect oven temperature can cause it as well. But, when it comes down to it, cheesecakes are fragile cakes and tend to crack. There is a way to help your cake stay in one piece. You can place the pan that contains your unbaked cake, inside another pan that contains about 1-inch of water, while the cake bakes. We call this a “water bath”.

Lumps, Lumps and More Lumps
Why is my cake so lumpy? Well, was your cheese at room temperature before you began to mixing? If it was not, that is likely the cause of your lumps. Be sure to start preparing your cheese when it is at room temperature. And be sure you beat it enough, to remove the lumps.
Be sure not to over mix your ingredients, though. Over mixing can cause the cheesecake to sink in the center!

I Am Ready To Eat
I know, I know, you want to immediately indulge in your cheesecake as soon as it emerges from the warm oven. NO! Don’t do it! Hold yourself back. Your cheesecake may fall apart if you remove it from the pan too early. Plus, a cheesecake always tastes better the next day, after it has been sitting in the refrigerator overnight. If you do not have the time to wait that long, let it sit in the fridge at LEAST 4 hours before cutting.
Oh, don’t forget to add the sugar! I made that mistake once and it was just not edible.

More on cheesecake: 

Friday, May 15, 2020

Just Bakecause: Interview with CEO Amanda Jonsay

I had the pleasure of meeting Amanda after I signed up for her free course on how to open a home bakery. Yes, I already have my own home bakery, but there is always something I can learn.

I was so impressed with her and the business she has created, supporting moms who want to start a home bakery, that I suggested we do an email interview. I asked Amanda the following questions and here are her answers:
  1. Please tell us your name, where you live, and what type of business you have created for yourself.
  2. What is your passion?
  3. How did you turn your passion into your business?
  4. What can people expect to learn after they make a decision to take your course?
  5. Can you please share your contact information with us? (Please include social media links)

1. My name is Amanda Jonsay, and I live in the Bay Area, CA. I help home bakers all over the world create their dream businesses. My online program, "Launch your Home Bakery," is an 8-week program that helps bakers build a sustainable brand, attract their dream clients, and turn their passion into a unique experience.

2. I value DIVERSITY and believe that more women of color need to be represented, especially in this industry.
When I started my business, I would have loved to see more women who looked like me, but there was such a lack of diversity that I believed I wouldn't be successful or even noticed, because of how I looked.
There are so many talented, undervalued women out there who I want to acknowledge and uplift.
My mission is to tell women: If you've ever felt like you weren't good enough to make an impact or start your business, I see you, and I want you to know that you are WORTHY, and you have something so special to offer that no one else can. The world needs you exactly the way you are.

3. I started Just Bakecause selling fondant cakes. My very first order was for a baby shower, and I had no idea what I was doing. The fondant slid all over the cake, and it was a mess!
I eventually transitioned into buttercream cakes, got into the wedding cake industry, and specialized in modern, minimal cakes as well as pavlovas (if you haven't tried these yet, you're missing out!).
I did this as a side business for a while (about five years!) until I quit my corporate job and pursued my cake business full time. I've always known that whatever career I ended up in, I wanted to serve and inspire other people.

Flash forward to today - I now help home bakers all over the world create their dream businesses. That is why I created my online program: Launch your Home Bakery, because when I was researching what I needed to do before starting my cake business, I couldn't find a mentor or coach who I connected with or offered the type of guidance I needed. I struggled so much with self-confidence, anxiety, overwhelm, and no one in the industry addressed this.
I wish I had someone tell me how much self-work I needed to build a business, and what I should focus on, because I believed the lie that I needed to do it all, and do it all by myself!  
This is why I strive to show up and be there for all the bakers who desire community and to be seen and heard.

4. My students can agree that what they receive out of my program is: clarity, confidence, and community. Here are some things my students have said:
"I joined Amanda's course because I was tired of not knowing where to start. Since taking the course, I've stopped feeling lost and overwhelmed - I know exactly what steps I need to take. Amanda has really opened my mind up to not just building a business, but a brand. I know what kind of bakery I want to have, and how I want to serve people. If you're feeling stuck, then I highly recommend joining. I won't lie; it was one of the best decisions I've ever made and an investment I'll always thank myself for making."
"Before this program, I felt lost and discouraged because I didn't know what to do and where to start. There are so many websites giving tips and advice on how to start a baking business, but the more I read them, the more I am lost because they are too general. I want the advice for ME! Amanda is so encouraging, positive, friendly, and attentive.
She's responsive and knows every one of her students. She's helped remind me why I started."
"This course is really getting me together. I just realized how scattered my thoughts (and menu) are. I can tell that I'm putting way too much energy into what I see on others' social media pages and spending time trying to perfect their craft...instead of my own. This is a HUGE discovery for me, as I've always thought that would make me happy and "successful." It started to feel like the draining work I was doing when I was in the corporate world which made me begin to question why I left in the first place. I've found new energy, and it feels so great."

More from The Fiery Whisk:

Monday, May 11, 2020

My favorite chocolate chip cookies

We all have our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes, right? Well, the following recipe has been one of my favorites for a long time! I have 3 favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes and have decided to share this one with you.

Take a look at how to bake these delicious morsels:

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips (18 ounces) OR 1 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla.
Beat in your eggs and then add your dry ingredients (batter will be stiff).
Add chips. Mix well. 
Drop by spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes.