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Homemade Pretzels

I haven't made homemade pretzels since we were in Alabama and I had forgotten how easy they are if not a little time consuming. I made these last week for Oscar night. They keep a long time in an airtight container. 1   (.25 ounce) package   active dry yeast 1 tablespoons   brown sugar 1  teaspoons   salt 1 ½   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 3   cups   all-purpose flour 1   cup   bread flour 2   cups   warm water (110 degrees) 2   tablespoons   baking soda 1-2   tablespoons   butter, melted 2   tablespoons  kosher salt Line two or three baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Place the yeast, brown sugar and salt in the 1.5 cups of warm water. Stir to dissolve. Stir in the flour. Knead for about 7-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and cover. Let it rise for an hour (I place mine in the oven with the light on). Combine the two cups of warm water with the baking soda in a square shallow pan. After the dough has risen, cut it into 12 equal pieces.  Roll each section into a

Barefoot Contessa's Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake

Despite the plethora of recipes lately on my blog, I'm actually on a diet and I've lost almost 10 pounds in the past month. Unfortunately my worst enemy is sugar and I love the sweet stuff.  I'm only allowing myself one day per week of indulgence. I made this a few weekends ago when we had company. It comes from Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) and it is wonderful.

The recipe calls for a thin chocolate chip cookie and she recommends a variety. But you can never find anything the TV chefs recommend in Florence. A recipe reviewer mentioned an Alton Brown thin chocolate chip cookie recipe and I made those to go in the cake. The cookies are awesome, very soft and perfect for this recipe.

Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake

  • 2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 12 ounces Italian mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Pernigotti
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 (8-ounce) packages chocolate chip cookies, such as Tate's Bake Shop
  • Shaved semisweet chocolate, for garnish


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, coffee liqueur, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla. Mix on low speed to combine and then slowly raise the speed, until it forms firm peaks. 

To assemble the cake, arrange chocolate chip cookies flat in an 8-inch springform pan, covering the bottom as much as possible. (I break some cookies to fill in the spaces.) Spread a fifth of the mocha whipped cream evenly over the cookies. Place another layer of cookies on top, lying flat and touching, followed by another fifth of the cream. Continue layering cookies and cream until there are 5 layers of each, ending with a layer of cream. Smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Run a small sharp knife around the outside of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Sprinkle the top with the chocolate, cut in wedges, and serve cold.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. I am trying not to drool. Congrats on the weight loss.

  2. Don't do this to me! Yummm...are the calories going to jump through the WWW?

    Yes, congrats on your weight loss. Stay healthy.

  3. Looks delicious. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Looks too good for mere mortals.

    Overripe figs are falling off the tree here. DH insisted that we pick more. I made fresh fig cookies.

    We caught the well-behaved dog who knows the rule about no lips on the table, stealing a cooling cookie. They are that good.

  5. In answer to your question about Japanese beetles, I don't know if they harm okra pods but I would pick them off mine, hateful things.

    I have aphids that just disfigure the edge where the pod attaches to the stem and that can be cut off. There are ant hills all around and ants are all over, encouraging the aphids. They aren't fire ants, just regular old ants that bite but don't make a terrible festered bump like a fire ant. So far I'm just blasting the aphids with the hose.

  6. Good grief, how did you lose that weight? I am trying to but instead of going down, I'm going up ;)

  7. NellJean, thanks for the info!

    Anon, basically just eating smaller portions and only eating rich desserts once per week. Also walking the treadmill daily helps!

  8. Good God.

    I must try to make this!

    Hope you enjoy your Sunday!

  9. That cake looks fab! I too have to watch out for the sweet stuff, I like it too much.

  10. I gained a pound just looking at it.

  11. Can you say hardening of the arteries? Mother has been making peach muffins and strawberry bread. I've been trying to discourage her from bringing them over. Mary

  12. Mmmm... I make something similar called Mexican Chocolate Icebox Cake that uses ladyfingers dipped in liqueur and is topped with whipped cream. This looks better. I'll try it. Thanks, and congrats on your weight loss!

  13. Congrats on the weight loss. That does look good. I love the sweet stuff too.

  14. I'm on a diet, too. This post didn't make it any easier.

  15. Oh my God this looks so good and i`m sure that it is delicious too. I think it is not a very difficult recipe so i will give it a try, thanks a lot for sharing.


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