Tis the Season

The last month of the year yanks our emotions up and down. It’s great to be out celebrating and seeing friends. It’s also overwhelming to be burdened with errands.

December is the month of gift-giving, but life is easier with online and phone ordering. Here’s an unabashed suggestion: go to fatwitch.com to order a gift. At Fat Witch, we look at each order and communicate with you if something seems amiss. We strive to make your order perfect, but we won’t correct spelling errors on message cards (we figure they are intentional) and cannot anticipate incorrect addresses, e.g. 4 vs 14.DEC14 PHOTO1

Our Manhattan store inside Chelsea Market is open 9am to 9pm Monday through Saturday and 9am to 8pm on Sundays. We can have your order ready for pickup, but be sure to call us first 212-807-1335 if you live in NYC or 888-419-4824 if you live outside of NYC (M-F 9am-6pm EST).

Holiday note: our store inside Chelsea Market and our phone order desk will close at 3pm EST December 24th until Friday, December 26 at 9am EST.

Here’s some practical (and admittedly un-asked–for) advice about dealing with mail-order folks during the month of December, especially at small artisanal companies. Remember, the person on the other end WANTS your order to go smoothly.

  • The more you know about what you want to order and when you want it sent, the more someone can help. If possible, check out the website first.
  • Most phone order personnel have been trained to respond patiently and courteously (smile when talking with a customer), but they cannot always be on-target with your needs unless you communicate.
  • If you have a list, some companies like Fat Witch Bakery will accept an email or fax order.
  • Never put your credit card information in the body of an email. Send in an attachment. Or you can send in a secure fax. Call the business to let them know you will be doing this.

If you are in Manhattan, don’t forget to wander by Rockefeller Plaza and see the giant tree. It is always thrilling.
DEC 14 rock ctr treeAnd if in that nabe, stop by for Brazilian food on West 46th Street (Little Brazil), just don’t remind them about the World Cup.
DEC 14 PHOTO3 And, of course, wander down the Manhattan map and come by for a taste of Fat Witch Brownies at our store inside Chelsea Market.
DEC 14 photostorebrowniesYou may not be a baking fiend like me, but you might want to put something in the oven and call it yours. Our Fat Witch Original Brownie mix is easy and delicious when you need to bring a home-made treat to a party.
DEC 14 photomixesOn the other hand, you might enjoy baking even after a long day of work. I like to make Emerald City Brownies when Tis the Season. See the recipe below.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

The Witch </:)

DEC 14 RecipeEmerald City Brownies

Ingredients
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces bitter sweet chocolate chopped into even sized pieces
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
3 large eggs
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup unbleached flour
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup mint chips
½ cup green sugar sprinkles

Directions
Grease a 9” x 9” baking pan with butter.  Dust the pan with flour and tap out the excess.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently.  Remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly before mixing in the peppermint extract.

Cream the eggs, sugar and vanilla together in a large bowl.  Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix until well blended.

Measure the flour and salt and sift together directly into the batter. Mix until well combined and no trace of the dry ingredients remains.

Stir in the mint chips.  Mix well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and top with the sprinkles.

Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only crumbs, not batter, on it.

Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack for at least 1 hour.  Cut just before serving.

Makes 12-16 brownies.

Giving Thanks

It is the month to give thanks. I must give a huge tip of the witch hat to Oprah who put a Fat Witch Baby in her VIP bag for her tour, The Life You Want. Many attendees have called to say how much they like the brownies. Everyone was charming and friendly, thank you! There are two more tours in November, one in Seattle and one in San Jose.

The fall is my favorite season. Perhaps it’s because there’s a cool breeze behind me when I’m on my broom. There is nothing more fabulous than looking down at the gorgeous colors. You might be surprised how many trees we have in NYC! Here’s some of the foliage of Central Park – who wouldathunk right in the middle of Manhattan there are trees old enough to show off leaves like these?
fallfoliageOur busy season at Fat Witch starts in the fall with folks craving a personal chocolate treat and also wanting to send a sweet gift. Then it gets wild from mid-November to just before Christmas. So if you are thinking of using Fat Witch as your corporate or personal holiday gift – get your order in soon! You can pick a future ship date.

FAQs about December might be helpful.  We bake thousands of brownies each day, but the sooner we have your order, the better.

browniesEnough about The Witch, let’s get back to you. What are you serving for Thanksgiving? Oh, I’m not talking about the traditional protein/carb bonanza, I’m asking about dessert. I’m hoping you’ll make brownies and bars part of your Thanksgiving tradition. </:)

Of course everyone does a pumpkin pie. Even if you purchase one, you‘ll want to dress it up with whipped cream. Please make the whipped cream from scratch and add some flavoring! Here’s what I do: I buy one of those small containers (a little more than one cup) of heavy whipping cream and pour in a bowl. I get out my hand-held mixer and go to it. I add a couple of drops of vanilla extract. If you want it sweeter, sift in some confectioner’s sugar (start with less than one teaspoon and add to taste). Whip until peaks form; it usually takes 5 minutes. Do this just before serving. One small container makes 12 healthy dollops to garnish slices of pie.

whippedcreamDo you know that Black Friday goes back to the Depression Era and Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency? Just like now, but without the media marketing, it was developed to encourage people to go out and shop. We’re old-fashioned and love the concept. We’ll be open for a few hours on Thanksgiving morning, but come and see us on Friday, November 29! Our store is located inside Chelsea Market in Manhattan on Ninth Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets. We often have samples for tasting up until 5pm. We’ll be open from 9am to 9pm.

storeBesides having traditional pumpkin pie with your artisanal whipped cream, you might want to bake a delicious dessert to bring to the party (even if it’s your own). Here’s our Pecan Bar recipe below.

The Witch

PecanphotoPecan Bars

Crust Ingredients
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
7 tablespoons unsalted butter almost at room temperature, cut into even-sized pieces
¼ cup chopped pecans

Filling Ingredients
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup loosely packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 ¾ cups chopped pecans

Directions

1)      Grease a 9” x 9” baking pan with butter. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2)      For the crust, measure and mix the flour, baking powder, salt and brown sugar with a fork in a large bowl. Add the butter, one piece at a time, mixing until well combined. Stir in the ¼ cup of chopped pecans.

3)      Spread the mixture evenly on the bottom of the prepared pan. Use your fingers to tap down. Bake for 15 minutes until the crust is golden and the edges pull slightly from the side of the pan. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside.

4)      For the filling, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool. Mix the brown sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the cooled butter and mix until just combined. Add the egg and mix until well blended.

5)      Pour the filling over the hot crust and sprinkle the pecans on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is brown and small cracks form on the surface.

6)      Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack for 2 hours. Cut just before serving (and top with whipped cream!).

Trick or Treat

Let’s give Americans credit where credit is due! While we may not have invented the concept of tripping out with the dead, we have made Halloween a fantastic holiday by giving out treats. Now it’s no longer ONLY the USA’s idea of how to have fun.

Lit-up pumpkins line the Champs-Élysées in Paris. The Italians incorporate their ‘strega’ holiday with our trick and treating. Mexicans of course have the Day of the Dead celebration, and their papier-mâché décor is simply the best. Even the Swedes wear witch-y costumes.
swedishhalloweenposterOn Halloween night, I’m at our Chelsea Market store to see charming costumed children come in for a treat. Chelsea Market is decorated to the max. Check out their website for the hours when stores will be handing outtreats. At Fat Witch we even hand out to adults, if in costume. We make not a dime on October 31, but giving away thousands of Fat Witch Baby brownies is the best fun of the year.
Fatou 11 copySo, have you thought about your costume? In my youth, moms made the costumes, but now there are amazing choices online and at local stores for a ghoulish get-up.

If you are going as a witch this Halloween, send us a selfie. We’d love to share. Simply tag #FatWitch on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Back to treats – what are you handing out? If your neighborhood won’t allow kids to beg for home- baked goodies, how about putting packaged candy in a decorative bag?
IMG_8576If you’re going to a party and want to impress by bringing baked goods, try whipping up a batch of Fat Witches. Our mix makes it easy, but you can also use this Fat Witch recipe listed below!

Happy Halloween!
The Witch

IMG_8573Fat Witch Brownie Recipe

Ingredients
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

Directions
Grease a 9” x 9” baking pan with butter. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter and chocolate in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. When melted, set aside to cool.

Cream the sugar, eggs and vanilla together. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix until well combined.

Measure the flour and salt. Sift together directly into the chocolate mixture. Mix the batter gently until no trace of the dry ingredients remains.

If desired, stir in walnuts or other extras.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking pan and bake 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or with only crumbs on it.

Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a rack for at least an hour. Cut just before serving.

Makes 12-16 brownies

Month with an “R”

Even though I misspent some of my youth in Boston, I learned the rule to eat oysters only in a month with an “R.” When September rolls in, I go straight to New York City’s Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal (it’s the beginning or end of the line, not a station). I confess that for this blog, I went at the very end of August to have some Long Island Blue Point oysters.  I not only like oysters, but also seek out Guastavino’s tile work. He did the Oyster Bar ceiling.
Oyster Bar CeilingGuastavino was an architect from Spain who developed a unique method for creating ceramic tiled vaults that can hold a great deal of weight. It was a revolutionary construction concept in the early 20th century.  I hadn’t been to the Oyster Bar since their recent renovation, and was aghast at the results.

What have they done with his tile-work? New Home Depot pieces? And why the tiny white Christmas tree lights over a magnificent architect’s work???? This Witch is not going back even though she loves the restaurant’s emphasis on local oysters…  but it’s your call to visit if you are in NYC.
IMG_8012In August, I traveled with family to Denmark. What’s not to love about Copenhagen?  Strolling along the canals and eating varieties of hot dogs are winners for this Witch.

IMG_7465And, if you’re a foodie about restaurants, you already know that NOMA in Copenhagen is considered the best in the world. We did not have the foresight or the budget to book a table ahead of our arrival.

However, we did eat amazing food wherever we dined. The Danes have a knack for unique combinations. Lobster with slices of fresh plums work for you? Vanilla gelato topped with slivered, salted trumpet mushrooms is better than it sounds. We loved both of these at Geist.

One of our family highlights was going to the Maritime Museum in Helsingor. The train ride from Copenhagen is 30-40 minutes and this museum is not to be missed, if you have time.  It is a tribute to Danish transport on the seas over the centuries. It was built into a dry dock, so if you casually walk by, you might not think to look down to find the museum entrance.
CaptureKronborg Slot is a close 10-minute-walk from the Maritime Museum. After a tour of Hamlet’s Castle, we took a ferry to Elsingborg, Sweden for drinks and dinner.

IMG_8214After dinner, we took the train to Malmo, Sweden that crossed a new-ish bridge spanning the sea to Copenhagen, Denmark. We did this part at night, so we missed the magnificent views. My recommendation is to do it the opposite way we did – start in Sweden!
IMG_8133To be or not to be: the Danes are baking brownies. Methinks Fat Witch should be thinking about a Nordic location.

September is back to school month.  We celebrate with PB & J Bars as our Witch of the Month. They are available only at our Chelsea Market store (too soft to ship, so no online orders). If you don’t live in NYC, you can make them at home and savor every gooey bite. The recipe is below.

The Witch

PB+J_002PB&J Bars

Ingredients:
1 cup unbleached flour
Big pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup quick-cooking oats (not instant)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup chunky peanut butter
10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, at room temperature
1 cup strawberry jam

Directions:
Grease a 9” square baking pan with butter.  Dust with flour and shake out the excess.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Measure the flour, salt and baking soda and then sift together into a large mixing bowl.  Mix in the oats and sugars and combine well.
Add the peanut butter and mix well.  Add the butter pieces, a few at a time, and mix until well combined.

Using clean hands, spread two-thirds of the mixture evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan.  Bake for 15 minutes or until the dough starts to turn brown.  With a spatula, spread the jam gently and evenly over the hot crust.  With your hands, crumble the remaining dough on top of the jam.  Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly even or if every inch is not covered.

Return the pan to the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes.  The jam should be a little bubbly and the top golden.

Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a rack for 2 hours.  Cut just before serving. Makes 12-16 bars.

Hot and Happy

It’s hot in the city. I think concrete sidewalks make the temps seem even steamier. That’s the downside of summer in New York City. The upside is that many locals (especially the richer ones) have left town. They are out relaxing in the Hamptons, New Jersey seashore, Adirondacks, Cape Cod and Maine coast.

What makes me happy about that? Reservations! Those written-up-impossible-to-get-into restaurants become charmingly happy to see you on an uneventful August evening. Oh, but do call for reservations, no matter what time of year.

Here are a few restaurants I’ve been to lately and loved. And, if you haven’t already guessed, I am a fish lover.

Sushi Azabu

Sushi You

Navy

Esca

Decoy 

Estela

Prune 

IMG_7019New Yorkers eat out in restaurants a lot, usually 2-3 times a week. I think the reason is that most of us live in small apartments with tiny kitchens. We dine at hole-in-the-wall faves to fancy places as well as beloved neighborhood spots, which for me is Cocina  near Union Square. Is this my go-to place because Jean-Georges himself came up to my table and asked how I liked everything? Not in the least. I would go back for drinks and the crispy chickpeas any day of the month.

IMG_7059As a true New Yorker (lived here longer than in any other city), I adhere to the local tradition of wearing black no matter the season or weather. I admit black is heat-enhancing. Truth be told, I iron linen blouses every Sunday evening so I don’t appear too wrinkled at the start of each day.

When summer starts sizzling, this Witch needs to cool off. I like to do it with an artistic touch of class. Here are my picks for Manhattan cultural spots that have AC.

IMG_7048Metropolitan Museum of Art The cafeteria has a salad bar with specials for kids. Chicken fingers in a taxicab container work for your pre-teens? metmuseum.org

MoMA The cafeteria is absolutely adequate for any age group while The Modern is for up-scale dining. moma.org

Museum of the City of New York There is a tiny snack bar that will quell immediate hunger pangs, but not give long-term satisfaction. mcny.org

Food and art sums up my August focus. I am incredibly happy not to be doing recipe testing during the heat of August. I feel like a Disney character saying, be happy about small things. I’ll soon be back from Copenhagen with tales to tell.

Happy August!
The Witch

I know it’s hot and baking might not be high on your to-do list, but you might need to bring something to a party this August. Here is my recipe for Cranberry Blondes.

CranberryBlonde_007Cranberry Blonde Witches

Ingredients
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups dried cranberries
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest

Directions
Grease a 9” square baking pan with butter. Dust with flour and tap out the excess. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Add the egg yolks and mix until well combined.

Measure the flour and salt and then sift directly into the batter. Mix gently until no trace of the dry ingredients remains.

In a small bowl, stir together the cranberries, sugar and orange zest with a fork. Add the batter and mix by hand with a wooden spoon.

Spread the batter in the prepared baking pan, using clean fingers to press it down lightly and evenly.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with only crumbs. The top will be golden brown.

Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack for 1 hour; Cut just before serving.

Makes 12-16 bars.

Figs, Mermaids & Lemon Bars

At the end of last month, I finally found figs in the local markets. Phew! There is a Fig Manhattan Bar recipe in cookbook #2 and it’s one of my favorites to bake at home. Despite searching for figs for the photo shoot everyday in May, this baker could not get her hands on any. Figs are seasonal, but this year was beyond challenging. New York had a long, snowy, cold winter and then a thaw, and then a violent April cold snap. Apparently, fig trees didn’t know whether to burst forth with fruit or wait.

figs These gems were a long time coming and I’m baking tonight. I will be rushing back to the photo studio in Red Hook, Brooklyn tomorrow to shoot a piece of this delicious bar. I hope the publishers will let me sneak another photo in the book.

mermaid paradeOn June 21, I did the ultimate in NYC kitsch – I went to the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. Some of the mermaids are bare-breasted, so this parade may not be for everyone. The crowds were unbelievable, but it still was fun to see the floats with homemade touches of brassy local color. And it’s always good to have a REAL Nathan’s hot dog, even if the wait was over 30 minutes.

hotdog

Here’s an unabashed plug: if you find yourself on the west side of Manhattan on the Highline, afterwards, slip into Chelsea Market. Cull and Pistol is my go-to place for fresh lobster cooked to perfection.

lobster2In terms of ya never know who you’ll sit next to,the last time I was there, a friend and I were next to a couple from Denmark. I found out about the bridge between Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmo, Sweden. I plan to be on that train that traverses these Scandinavian coasts when I am in Copenhagen in early August. Will write about it for September’s blog. I can hardly wait!

And, of course, after dinner, stop in at Fat Witch Bakery – a few shops towards Ninth Avenue on the other side of the concourse from Cull and Pistol. We’re open until 9pm Mon-Sat and 8pm on Sun. Our wrapped Witches will last 5 days at room temperature and 3 weeks in your refrigerator.

We were just talked about in Japion. Here’s the link. I can’t read Japanese, so if you do, let me know what it says!

LemonBars_008Last but not least, I’m going to start posting our recipes on Pinterest. Since it’s July and lemons are nice and juicy, I’m posting my favorite lemon bar recipe. I make it all the time during the summer. We bake them for our Chelsea Market bakery also, but they often sell out before 5pm. They’re too delicate to ship, so are available in our store only.

The Witch

Butterscotch Flip Ingredients

Brownie Bottom
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 large eggs
½ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup unbleached flour
Pinch of salt

Top Butterscotch Layer
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached flour
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup butterscotch chips

DIRECTIONS
Grease a 9” square baking pan with butter and dust with a little bit of flour.  Tap out the excess.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the brownie bottom, melt the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat.  Take off heat before completely melted and then stir until blended thoroughly.  Set aside to cool.

Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until frothy.  Add the cooled chocolate and mix until well blended.

Measure the flour and salt and sift together directly into the chocolate mixture.  Mix gently until combined.  Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking pan.  Set aside.

For the top butterscotch layer, melt the butter and set aside.  Beat the brown sugar and eggs together and add the vanilla and beat until well combined.  Add the melted butter.  Beat together.  Measure the flour, salt and baking powder and sift directly into the batter.  Mix gently until smooth.  Add the butterscotch chips, stirring in by hand.  Spread the butterscotch batter over the brownie bottom.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or only with crumbs.  The top should be a golden butterscotch color.

Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for at least one hour.  Cut just before serving.

Yield:  12-16 pieces

Lemon Witches Recipe

Lemon Witches

Ingredients

Crust

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup confectioners’ sugar

½ teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, not yet to room temperature and cut into even-sized pieces

Filling

3 large eggs

1 cup sugar

½ cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)

1 ½ tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest (1-2 lemons)

3 tablespoons all purpose flour

Pinch of salt

LemonBars_008Directions

Grease a 9” square baking pan with butter. Dust it with flour and shake out the excess. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust, sift the flour, confectioners’ sugar and salt into a medium sized bowl. Add the butter and mix into the flour, first with a fork and then finish with clean fingers.

Pat the dough evenly into the prepared baking pan and bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Let the crust cool while you make the filling.

To make the filling, beat the eggs until frothy. Slowly add the sugar and mix until combined. Beat in the lemon juice and zest and mix well.

Measure the flour and salt and sift directly into the filling mixture. Mix gently until blended. Pour the filling over the crust and bake 15 minutes or until the top is set. It should have tiny bubbles on the surface and the edges should be tinged brown and slightly pulling away from the pan.

Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a rack for at least one hour. Cut just before serving. Refrigerate what’s not eaten.

Just Lucky

It’s June and I feel lucky the photography sessions for cookbook #2 are a thing of the past. Every morning we packed up the treats baked the day before and drove to the studio in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge was horrendous almost each morning, and the rain didn’t help.

photo1The long days were not always what I would call ‘fun,’ but we worked with a fantastic photographer, Alexandra Grablewski and she made it all good.

photo2Setting up for a photo shoot is amazing – at least to this amateur. A “stylist” rents props. Don’t even ask me the details on this. Would a prop shop exist in Nebraska? I am often blown away with the odd-ball stuff available for rent in NYC, and luckily our bakery is in NYC!

photo3 photo4Art directors from the publisher Rodale came out and helped with the cover shot. It may or may not be what is finally selected, but here is the set-up shot before we added all the sweets. Fat Witch Bake Sale is the name of the book and it has my personal recipes.

coverWe don’t do many cookies or any cakes at our store, but believe it or not, I still bake a lot at home. This was an easy cookbook to do, as I opened my box of index cards and pulled out the ones I like the most. It was a lucky break for this book. These cookies are one of my favorites – Milk Chocolate Thumbprints.

photo6I know, I know, I am behind on updating our Pinterest boards. I confess to being overwhelmed with other things and decided to hire someone to do the heavy lifting. More revisions are coming soon, but check out our boards here!

It’s Witchino season at our Chelsea Market bakery. Witchinos are our frozen frosted drink that I must confess are amazingly delicious. They have fewer calories than a Starbucks frappuccino. We post each day’s flavors on our Twitter feed, and usually feature something chocolate (mocha espresso, anyone?) and something else (green tea sound good?).

witchino-poster-webLast but not least, our brownies were in a NY food fair at Hankyu Department Store in Osaka, Japan for a week in May. We created a new Baby Witch especially for the sale. Matcha Baby is made with white chocolate and laced with green tea powder. We’re selling some at our Chelsea Market bakery and folks seem to be liking them!

matchababies

Back on the Home Front

One of the wonderful things about being a New Yorker is that friends and family actually do come visit. I wonder if I lived in Iowa whether I would get as many emails about upcoming vacations.

In April, I wrote about the sewers of Paris. I am all in favor of off-the-beaten-trail sites to visit. Here are a couple of my FREE favorites in NYC.

sif1The Staten Island Ferry is at the top of my list. These free ferries run 24 hours, departing from the southern tip of Manhattan. The boat ride across the harbor is glorious. Don’t forget to snap a selfie with the Statue of Liberty in the background.

fraunces1After the ferry ride, refuel at the historic 18th century Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan. George Washington didn’t sleep here, but he sure ate here! There’s an interesting museum upstairs that costs $7 admission.

IMG_9940Further uptown is another fave: the home of Teddy Roosevelt. His childhood home is part of the National Parks Service so admission is free. Before he was a president, Teddy was a naturalist. Don’t miss the giant stuffed bear in the lobby that he shot – FYI teddy bears are named after him!

Exciting news… Cookbook #2 will be out in January 2015! The photo shoot will happen this month, and in June you will read all about it. What goes into a photo shoot, you ask? Orchestrating the baking, transporting the pastries to a Red Hook, Brooklyn studio, setting up the baked goods (it’s called “styling” in the photography world), keeping my mouth shut, generally being in the way and then approving the pictures to be sent to the publisher.

Just out of the oven are my Fig Manhattans. Yes, it’s a riff on Fig Newtons in bar form. The recipe will be in the The Unexpected chapter. You might think it’s a complicated recipe, but trust me – it’s as easy as 1-2-3-yummy! Only word of caution: fresh figs are not available year-round, so look for them in the summer. I tried taking a photo, but it didn’t look as good as it tasted.  You’ll have to wait until the professional takes it for the cookbook.

IMG_6820Finally, inspired by my Paris trip (tired of hearing about it?), I decided meringues are something we will do at least once a month for the store inside Chelsea Market. These pictured are a vanilla batch made for spring baskets in April. We’ll be baking lemon ones for Mother’s Day. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @fatwitch so you know when we have them in store. We won’t sell them online as they need to be eaten within a couple of days after baking.

The Witch