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honeycrisp apple strudel

When winter hits, all I want to do is stay inside the house, keeping warm and nesting more than usual. And certain foods – like apple strudel – are just so comforting that it makes the cold more bearable. My favorite place for apple strudel is The Berghoff Restaurant. At home, I put my own spin on this classic by using Honeycrisp apples. Yum!

Honeycrisp Apple Strudel

Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Beat egg and water in small bowl with a fork and set aside.

In medium bowl, stir together dark brown sugar, flour and ground cinnamon. Add the apples and raisins in the sugar mixture, tossing to coat.

Sprinkle additional flour on a flat work surface. Unfold pastry sheet on the work surface, then roll pastry sheet into a 16×12-inch rectangle. With one of the shorter sides facing you, spoon the apple mixture onto the bottom half of pastry sheet to within 1 inch of the edge. Roll up the dough like and place the seam side down onto the prepared baking sheet. Tuck ends underneath to seal, then brush pastry with egg mixture. Cut several slits on top to vent during baking process.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Let pastry cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack. Let cool completely and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.



1 egg
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 large Honeycrisp apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons raisins
1 sheet puff pastry sheet, thawed
confectioners’ sugar for dusting


Number of servings: 6

Cooking time: 35 minutes

Desserts/ Snacks & Candies

bacon candy

bacon candy

My motto is “everything’s better with bacon.” And in the case, everything’s better with bacon candy!

Bacon Candy

Preheat your oven to 400° F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the dark brown sugar with the cayenne pepper and hickory smoked sea salt. Arrange the bacon strips on the foil and coat the tops with the brown sugar mixture. [I recommend that you sample the brown sugar mixture first to see if the heat level is to your liking. Remember, during the cooking process the sugar and pepper will caramelize with the bacon. The ratio in this bacon candy recipe will deliver a mild heat. You can add more heat (if you like) by increasing the amount of the cayenne pepper in proportion to the brown sugar.]

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until caramelized and crisp. Transfer the bacon candy to a wire rack set on top of a sheet of aluminum foil and let cool completely. Makes approximately 10 servings (2 slices per person).

Adapted from Bacon Candy Recipe – Bronson Van Wyck | Food & Wine.

Hickory smoked salt can sometimes be hard to find in your local store. In the Midwest, Hy-Vee usually carries it and Williams-Sonoma has a house brand of their own hickory smoked sea salt. Bacon candy can be made ahead of time. If made on the day of consumption, store at room temperature. Or you can store it in an air-tight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Best enjoyed slightly warm or at room temperature.



1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon hickory smoked sea salt
20 slices thick-cut bacon


Number of servings: 10

Cooking time: 20 minutes



Carob Brownies

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Lightly grease mini muffin pan with butter or shortening.

In medium bowl, cream butter and honey together thoroughly with mixer on medium speed. Add flour, carob powder and baking powder. Mix in eggs, one at a time, and then vanilla.

Use a small cookie dough scoop to fill muffin tins about 2/3 full. Bake for 8 minutes, or until sides of brownies start to pull away from pan. Remove from muffin pan and let cool completely on wire racks. Repeat until remaining batter is gone. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired. Makes approximately 3 dozen mini muffins.

This recipe substitutes several traditional ingredients for healthier options:

  • Honey instead of granulated sugar
  • Carob powder instead of chocolate or cocoa powder
  • Whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour

This brownie recipe is a good alternative for those who may be allergic or sensitive to chocolate, or who want to cut down on simple carbohydrates. And because these brownies don’t contain chocolate or processed sugars, you can even share them (in moderation) with your dog! [If you’re going to share these with Fido, I’d recommend leaving off the confectioners’ sugar as well.] 



1/2 cup butter
3 tablespoons honey
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup carob powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)


Number of servings: 36

Cooking time: 8 minutes


Desserts/ Snacks & Candies

cinnamon-pecan dark chocolate truffles

In medium saucepan, combine condensed milk with dark chocolate and butter. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until shiny and very thick (about 15 to 18 minutes).

Spread the mixture in a shallow dish and let cool for 15 minutes. Arrange 30 paper candy cups on a baking sheet.

In a shallow bowl, mix the pecans and ground cinnamon. Rub your hands with butter. Scoop up rounded teaspoons of the chocolate mixture and roll them into balls. Roll the candy in the pecan mixture and set them in a paper cup. Repeat to form the remaining candies. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.

The candies can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.  The candies can also be rolled in shredded coconut, sliced almonds, chopped pistachios or rainbow sprinkles.

This recipe is adapted from F00d & Wine.



14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 ounce dark chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon salted butter, plus more for rubbing
1 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Number of servings: 30

Cooking time: 30 minutes


brown sugar & ginger cookies

Preheat oven to 375° F. Beat brown sugar, butter, vanilla and egg in large bowl using electric mixer on medium speed. Stir in flour, baking soda and gingers.

Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into 1-inch balls and place two inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten to 1/2-inch thickness with greased bottom of a glass dipped in granulated sugar.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until cookie edges are set. Remove from baking sheet and transfer to wire rack to cool completely.



1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
2 tablespoons granulated sugar


Number of servings: 36

Cooking time: 10 minutes


blood orange vanilla panna cotta

Recipe by Berghoff Catering & Restaurant Group

Heat cream, sugar and vanilla in 8-quart pot, over medium-high heat.  Do not boil.  In a separate, small bowl mix the warm water and gelatin until the gelatin is dissolved. Add water/gelatin to pot with the cream mixture and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit until it reaches room temperature.  Pour mixture into desired serving glasses and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Place all ingredients into 8-quart pot.  Heat over medium-high heat, stirring periodically until mixture comes to a boil and eventually the liquid is reduced down to half, giving it a syrup consistency. Chill to room temperature, then pour over panna cotta. Garnish with zest of blood orange and mint sprig.

Note: Panna cotta should be consistency of flan or custard.

via Blood Orange Vanilla Panna Cotta — Berghoff Catering & Restaurant Group.



Panna Cotta
1 ½ cups heavy cream
2 ½ ounces sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ounce warm water
1 ¼ teaspoons gelatin powder

Blood Orange Vanilla Syrup
1 cup Cello Via Blood Orange Vanilla Liquor
2 ounces sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Juice from one blood orange
Blood orange zest, for garnish


Number of servings: 4

Cooking time: 20 minutes


cinnamon palmiers

Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Stir together sugar, cinnamon and melted butter until it forms a paste.

Roll puff pastry dough into large rectangle, about 12 inches by 15 inches. Using pastry brush or the back of spoon, spread cinnamon-sugar paste in a thin, even layer over the puff pastry dough. Starting at the longer ends of the rectangle, roll each side inward (loosely) until both ends meet in the middle. If needed, brush with egg to keep pastry together.

Slice puff pastry dough crosswise into 1/4-inch palmiers and arrange them on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until they puff and turn golden brown. Remove them from baking sheet and transfer to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.



1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 puff pastry sheet (store bought)
1 egg, beaten (optional)


Number of servings: 30

Cooking time: 12 minutes


hazelnut crinkles cookies

Preheat oven to 375° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Beat dark brown sugar, hazelnut spread, butter, vanilla and egg in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt.

Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into 1-inch balls. Roll in decorating sugar and place two inches apart on prepared baking sheets.

Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are set and middle is puffed. Cook on baking sheets for one minute, then transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

If you don’t have white decorating sugar, you may substitute with raw sugar or granulated sugar.



3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup cocoa hazelnut spread
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons white decorating sugar


Number of servings: 4 dozen (48)

Cooking time: 7 to 9 minutes


Root Beer Brownies

root beer brownies

These root beer brownies are fudgier, moister and have a deeper flavor the day after baking. Wrap tight and store in the refrigerator overnight. For authentic draft-style root beer flavor, use Berghoff Chicago Famous Root Beer.

Root Beer Brownies

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 16 servings


2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
8 ounces root beer
4 tablespoons butter
3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat your oven to 350° F. Lightly grease the bottom of a 9x9-inch baking pan with butter or shortening.

In a small bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and dark chocolate over very low heat, stirring constantly until mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar until well combined. Blend in cooled chocolate mixture. Stir in half of flour mixture, followed by half of root beer. Stir in the remaining flour mixture, remaining root beer and vanilla, just until combined.

Spread the batter in the prepared baking pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out nearly clean. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into 4 rows by 4 rows to make 16 root beer brownies.


Cherry Cabernet Brownies

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Lightly grease bottom of a 13×9-inch baking pan with butter or shortening. Set aside.

In small saucepan, combine dried cherries and 1/2 cup Cabernet Sauvignon. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Set aside.

In medium saucepan, stir 3/4 cup butter and baking chocolate over low heat until melted and smooth. Whisk in sugar. Then add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

In small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir dry mixture into chocolate mixture until combined. Fold in cherries and wine mixture.

Spread batter in the prepared baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes, or until sides pull away from the pan. Cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into 24 bars.

Brownie Points: Chocolate scorches easily, so don’t be tempted to increase the heat in order to speed the melting process.



3/4 cup cold butter
3 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup Cabernet Sauvignon wine
1 cup dried cherries, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda


Number of servings: 24

Cooking time: 35 minutes


cinnamon-sour cream pound cake

Preheat oven to 325° F.  Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt cake pan. Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add sour cream and mix just until incorporated.

Sift baking soda, cinnamon and flour together. Add flour mixture to sour cream mixture, alternating with eggs. Beat each egg one at a time.

Add vanilla and pour mixture into prepared baking pan. Bake for approximately 80 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.



1 cup butter, softened
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 cups all-purpose flour
6 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla


Number of servings: 10

Cooking time: 80 minutes

Desserts/ Snacks & Candies

pistachio brittle

Generously butter a standard baking sheet. Set aside.

Combine sugar and corn syrup in a 2-quart glass casserole dish. Stir to blend, then microwave (on high power) uncovered for 4 minutes. Stir after 2 minutes.

Stir in pistachios and microwave for 3 to 5 minutes more (until mixture is light brown). Then stir in butter and vanilla, blending well. If pistachios are unprocessed and unsalted, add a pinch of kosher salt (optional). Microwave for 1 to 3 minutes more. The mixture will be very hot. Add baking soda, stirring until mixture is frothy (about 1 minute).

Pour mixture onto prepared baking sheet. Let stand for 30 to 60 minutes, until hard. Break into bite-sized pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Substitute pistachios for your favorite nuts (cashews!) or peanuts. 



1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup white corn syrup
1 cup pistachios, shelled
1 teaspoon butter plus additional butter for baking sheet
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of kosher salt (optional)


Number of servings: 8

Cooking time: 12 minutes