All posts for the month November, 2011

Nutella Banana Bread

Published November 27, 2011 by ciannucci

What did I say? I promised I would add more nutella recipes…well here is another one. Bananas…one of my favorites. Nutella…another one of my favorites. Combine the two…watch out!!

Gooey Nutella Banana Bread


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups mashed ripe banana
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 heaping cup Nutella 


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8×4-inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda & salt.

3. In a separate large bowl, beat sugar and butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add banana, milk and vanilla. Beat until blended.

4. Add flour mixture, beat at low speed just until flour is incorporated (don’t over mix).

5. Spoon Nutella into a small dish and soften in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Add 1 cup of the banana bread batter to the Nutella and stir until blended well. Spoon Nutella batter alternately with plain banana bread batter into the prepared pan. Swirl batters together with a knife.

5. Bake 50 to 60 minutes, it will seem a tiny bit undercooked but that’s what makes it good. Cool for at least 15 minutes in the pan, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.




Nutter Butter Nutella Cream Pie

Published November 27, 2011 by ciannucci

Who can honestly say they are not a fan of the wondrous goodness of the creamy hazlenut spread we know as Nutella? Nutella was actually introduced to me around the age of 10 by my italian neighbor. I used to go to her house to play and she always fed me a nutella sandwich. One sandwich and her house quickly became my second home. I have never heard of anyone say they do not like nutella. It is simply pure heaven. This year I am trying to see how many recipes I can actually create with nutella in it. Did I also mention I am a peanut butter lover? Mix these two ingredients and your life will be complete. Here is my first nutella recipe.

Nutter Butter Nutella Cream Pie

for the crust-
24 nutter butter cookies
1/4 cup butter

for the filling-
2-8 oz. packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup nutella
1/2 cup whipping cream

for nutella ganache {optional}
1/4 cup nutella
1/4 cup cream {or more if you like a thinner ganache}


Spray 9-inch pie plate with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

{1}Place nutter butter cookies into food processor and grind until they are fine crumbs. Stir together with melted butter.

{2}Press into prepared pie plate. Place into refrigerator to chill.

{3}For the filling, whip cream cheese and sugar together until well blended. Stir in vanilla and nutella. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly. Stir in cream and then increase speed and whip 3 minutes or until very thick.

{4}Pour into pie crust and smooth the top. Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours.

To serve, prepare nutella ganache by microwaving nutella and cream together until a thin sauce forms. Drizzle over pieces of pie.

 Bet you can taste this through the picture…


Brown Bag Apple Pie

Published November 27, 2011 by ciannucci

…I know what you are thinking… Brown Bag?? What does that mean? Well, actually, it means exactly that. I baked an apple pie INSIDE of a brown bag. And let me tell you…it was the most BEAUTIFUL apple pie ever created. I promise you. The crust turns out to be the most gorgeous flaky crust you’ve ever witnessed and the filling is perfectly cooked. I like apple pie, but I am a bigger fan of apple crumble. Instead of a hard shell, I like the little buttery, soft crumbles that layer on top of the apples. Here is a recipe that will blow your mind. Oh… and don’t burn your house down. I am serious.

Brown Bag Apple Pie

Let’s start with the crust.

Place the following in a mixing bowl:

1 1/4 cups of King Arthur Unbleached all purpose flour
heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening

Mix to combine.

Add 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces.

Work the butter into the flour until the mixture is unevenly crumbly. You can use a pastry blender or mixer to do this, but really, your fingers are the best tools for the task.

Add 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork as you sprinkle the water into the dough

When the dough is moist enough to hold together when you squeeze it, transfer it to a piece of parchment or a lightly floured surface.

Gently pat it into a smooth disk. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

While the dough is in the fridge, make the filling.

You’ll need 8 cups sliced apples, which translates to about 3 1/2 to 4 pounds purchased weight.

Peel and core the apples.All you have to do is cut the slices into smaller pieces.

Put the apples in a big microwave-safe bowl, and add the following:

¾ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons boiled cider, optional but tasty

Stir until the spices are fully distributed. Microwave the filling, uncovered, for 5 minutes. This softens the apples just a bit, and gets their juices flowing. Skip this step if you like; it’s not critical, though I think it helps.

Start preheating your oven to 425°F.

Next, spray a 9′ pie pan, one that’s about 1 1/2″ deep, with non-stick spray.

Why the spray? It makes it easier to get slices out intact, and helps counteract the stickiness of any potential filling leak.

Take the dough out of the fridge. If it’s been chilling longer than 30 minutes, give it 10 minutes or so to warm up a bit.

Place the dough on a well-floured surface; a rolling mat works well here, and makes cleanup a breeze.

Roll the dough into a circle, making sure to keep the underside well-floured to prevent sticking. A giant spatula is a big (well, a giant!) help here.

Roll the crust until it’s between 12″ and 13″ diameter.

Transfer the crust to the pan. Again, that giant spatula comes in handy.

Settle it gently into the pan, without stretching.

Did you know that stretching your pie crust is one of the reasons a crust sometimes shrinks as it bakes? It pays to be gentle.


Mix the following until crumbly:

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (2 1/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter, cut into pats

Spoon the apple filling into the crust.

Spread the streusel on top.

Ah, here comes the paper bag part. Put the pie in a large brown grocery bag. Paper, not plastic!!!

Fold the opening closed, and secure it with staples or paper clips.

Note: If you have ANY hesitation at all about doing this – contaminants in recycled paper, lead-based inks, you’re afraid of the bag catching on fire, whatever – substitute parchment paper. Staple two pieces together to fashion a bag; you’ll want to make sure your pie pan doesn’t have an overly wide rim, so it fits in the “bag.”

I baked the pie a paper grocery bag, and it turned out fine. This doesn’t guarantee results for everyone. As I said – any hesitation, use parchment, OK?

Put the pie in its bag (paper, or parchment) on a baking sheet.

Bake the pie in a preheated 425°F oven for 50 min.

Remove the baking sheet and pie from the oven, and carefully slit the bag open, watching out for steam.

…Golden crust, light-gold streusel…

Let the pie cool for an hour or so before cutting. Serve it warm, or at room temperature.

Vanilla ice cream is always welcome.


Bananas for Bananas

Published November 27, 2011 by ciannucci

I don’t know about you but I am CRAZY about bananas! Therefore; it was no question that I was going to make something banana-ish for one my my thanksgiving desserts. I decided on a banana pudding with chessman cookies. I skipped the nilla wafers and decided on the chessman cookies instead because the nilla wafers aren’t as rich and buttery. The more butter…the better. Out of all the desserts I made for thanksgiving, I think this one takes the cake…if that even makes sense. If you are a butter cookie/banana fan you must go to the store, get these ingredients, and make this right NOW.

Banana Cookie Pudding


1   12-ounce container frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whip
1   14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1   8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
2 cup milk
1   5-ounce box instant French vanilla pudding
6-8   bananas, sliced
2   bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies



Line the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch dish with 1 bag of cookies and layer bananas on top.

In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer.  Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth.  Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture.  Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended.  Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.




Caitlin’s Carrot Cake!!

Published November 15, 2011 by ciannucci
Yes!!! I am SUPER excited about this recipe because Carrot Cake is one of my all time favorite desserts. Every birthday, I INSIST on a carrot cake. I can’t get enough of the cream cheese frosting…I LOVE IT! This cake is currently selling at The Twisted Vine Restaurant as a special. Oh yeah…did I mention that I am making desserts for the restaurant every week. So PLEASE stop by and try one of my creations. Who doesn’t like a good dessert? The first special was the pumpkin crunch cake…for halloween I sold a graveyard cake..and finally this past week they are selling carrot cake. There is only a few slices yet so you better go get em!
Caitlin’s Carrot Cake


  • Cake:
  • 5 eggs room temp
  • 3 C. sugar
  • 1 C. oil
  • 1 C. buttermilk, or 1 C. plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla
  • 3 C. flour
  • 1 Tbs. baking soda
  • 1 Tbs. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 C. shredded carrots
  • one 20-oz crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 1/2 C. sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup nuts, optional
  • Cream Cheese Icing:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 C. butter, room temperature
  • 4 C. sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 C. chopped nuts, optional



To Make Cake
Preheat oven to 325º. Mix together eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk and vanilla until well mixed. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into wet mixture, half at a time. Add carrots pineapple, coconut, and nuts. (I usually omit the nuts, since I don’t care for nuts in things) Mix well. Pour 8 cups of mixture into 9×13 pan or 10″ round pan. Bake in preheated oven for 55-60 mins, or until done. Cool on wire rack.

To Make Cream Cheese Icing
Beat cream cheese and butter untill fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until smooth; stir in vanilla. Spread over cooled cake; sprinkle with nuts, if desired


Walnuts to garnish….you may choose to do without.


Vegan Peanut Butter Banana Cookies

Published November 15, 2011 by ciannucci

Hi lovers! Hope everyone is having a stress-free week…if not, eat a cupcake. Or a cookie. In fact, make THESE cookies and have one of those. Your stress will float away.

I went out on Friday night with a bunch of my favorite girlfriends in Hartford. One of my friends Kim told me about a vegan cookie recipe she always makes. At first I was hesitant…I don’t usually do vegan. But I figured it was worth a shot! Hey what’s better then a delicious cookie???? A HEALTHY delicious cookie!

Banana & Peanut Butter Flaxseed Cookies

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 medium banana, mashed
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup unsalted natural peanut butter
2 tsp pure vanilla
1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine flour, flaxseed, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, mash banana with a fork. Stir in maple syrup, peanut butter and vanilla until well combined. Add flour mixture to banana mixture, stirring just to combine; do not over-mix. Fold in chocolate chips, if desired. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer sheet to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 2 minutes.
Remove cookies from sheet and let cool directly on rack.


Now you don’t actually have to use flaxseed. I only had flaxseed oil and not flaxseed meal so I left it out altogether and they came out GREAT. Now here is the test….TRY to eat just 1. That’s the problem…they aren’t so bad for you. Not filled with unnecessary sugar and fatty oils. However; there’s no way you are getting away with 1. The first time I made these…I ate 4. My dad…5. My mom….6. Yes, they are that scrumptious.

Shortbread Surprise!

Published November 4, 2011 by ciannucci

Hi friends! Today was a busy, chaotic, and tiring day. However; I did manage to get some baking in. Success! What was on the menu? Well, I had to get rid of the extra candy corn lying around the house so I made another batch of the butterfingers. This time I used dark chocolate instead. The chocolate started to harden as I was dipping the bars so they didn’t come out as pretty as last time. Just as scrumptious though!

Today’s new adventure was my Shortbread Surprise cookies! I like shortbread. It is not my absolute favorite…as you know, I am more of a CHOCOLATE person. BUUTT, my mom, dad, and brother all LOVE shortbread. Therefore; shortbread it is. And, since I couldn’t just settle for shortbread alone…what did I dad? You got it. Chocolate.



1 cup of shortening

1/3 cup of sugar

1/3 cup of light brown sugar (packed)

1 teaspoon of vanilla

2 cups of flour

1 cup of mini chocolate chips, M&Ms, or whatever you choose ( I did mini peanut butter morsels)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, beat shortening, sugars, and vanilla until well blended.

3. Add flour and beat until smooth.

4. Stir in Mini hershey kisses, M&M’s, or peanut butter morsels

5. Mold the batter around the unwrapped hershey kiss to form a ball.


6. Place onto ungreased cookie sheet.

7. Bake 10-12 Minutes

8. Cool slightly and remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.

9. Prepare chocolate drizzle if desired and drizzle over each cooled cookie. (I cheated and used magic shell)

10. Eat and enjoy 🙂