Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009 ~ Cookies for Santa

Hope you had a Merry Christmas!

Did you leave Santa a glass of milk and a plate of cookies?
No time to bake...hope you picked up a few cookies from
LEVAIN BAKERY in New York City.

Levain's trademark: Each cookie is approximately 6 ounces each! Enormous!

Levain Bakery sells four varieties:

Chocolate Chip Walnut
Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip
Oatmeal Raisin
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip

Pam Weekes & Connie McDonald are owners of Levain Bakery.

I stopped by and tried the Chocolate Chip Cookie.
It is like a meal, so huge!

Connie McDonald took a minute out of her busy day to take a pic with me.
Connie and her employees were very friendly. They were very busy too.
Lots of orders going out.
Enjoy the photos of Levain Bakery.
Visit Levain Bakery soon!

Levain Bakery
Upper West Side - Manhattan
167 West 74th St
New York, NY 10023
T: 212-874-6080 • F: 212-874-6413
Hours: Mon-Sat 8am-7pm, Sun 9am-7pm

For the holiday season, I recorded a Christmas favorite, Silent Night and posted it on YouTube. This version is composed by Kirby Shaw. I was so busy I didn't have time to post it to my blog in time for Christmas. But, here it is...Enjoy...

Silent Night

(Kirby Shaw - composer)

Carmen ~ Vocals & guitar

Jonathan Kelly ~ Piano

Photos ~ Carmen and flickr friends

Video Production ~ Bonni Salles

Peace, Carmen

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Let it Snow...Cookies & Cakes

It's was busy in my kitchen the night before.

I've baked ~
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Almond Coffee Cake
  • Coconut Cake
for a
Children's Holiday Party at Society Hill at Somerset III

today, December 12, 2009.

The holiday time is a time to bake for family and friends.

It's also a great opportunity to share with others through charity.

Find an organization or party function where you can

donate your baking creations

to those in need, less fortunate or because you simply want to.

The "gift of baking"
is always sure to brighten someone's day.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Peace in baking, Carmen

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Coquito ~ Puerto Rican Eggnog

Coquito (Eggless Eggnog & Bacardi Rum)
pronounced [koh-kee-toh]

What is Coquito? It is eggnog.

It’s a Puerto Rican Holiday Drink named after the island’s mascot,
Coqui, a frog.
There are several variations of eggnog. My preference is an Eggless Eggnog.

So what is a Coqui? It's a small frog.
It’s Puerto Rico's mascot.

“The specie ''Puerto Rican coquí'' sings co-quí, co-quí, co-quí at dusk
and changes to co-quí-quí-quí, co-quí-quí-quí, co-quí-quí-quí, at dawn.
It is arboreal - climbing to the top of trees in search of insects.
There it remains until dawn when it changes its song
and jumps down nesting until the evening.”

Want to hear a Coqui? Click on the youtube link:

Take a glimpse of Puerto Rico ~ La Isla del Encanto

As I mentioned, there are several versions. This recipe is my version of Coquito.

(Carmen's Eggless Eggnog & Bacardi Rum)


1 - 15 oz can cream of coconut (Coco Lopez brand) *recommended brand
2 - 12 oz cans evaporated milk
1 ½ cups Bacardi Rum (white) [you can use a little less if preferred]

1 Open the cream of coconut can and scoop out contents into a bowl.
2 Microwave for about 20-30 seconds until all the cream has melted.
3 Stir until cream is dissolved.
4 Shake the two cans of evaporated milk.
5 Open the cans of evaporated milk and pour into the bowl of cream of coconut.
6 Pour 1 ½ cups (or less) of White Bacardi Rum into the milk mixture.
7 Sift twice through a strainer. * optional
8 Pour in a fancy glass and Enjoy!

I do not refrigerate the Coquito. But, you can.

Enjoy your Coquito! Viva Puerto Rico!

~ Carmen

Recipe shared with

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Baking is my Zen...sweet nibbles for the soul

It finally happened...Baking is my Zen LLC is now in business.

It's my dream come true! I am passionate about my business and I look forward to bringing many smiles to those who enjoy an edible favor from Baking is my Zen.

Cupcake Wedding favors is the specialty of the business.

Cupcake favors are also available for other occasions.

In time, I hope to expand and offer other types of sweets as favors.

T-Shirts with the 'Baking is my Zen' logo can be purchased from the website.

I truly believe in giving back to the community.
A portion of all sales will go toward helping those in need.


Their mission is to make sure

no child go hungry

in the United States.

Blessed are those that can give without remembering

and take without forgetting.

Elizabeth Bibesco ~ British Poet

Peace in baking, Carmen

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Chocolate Chip Cookies...with a finishing salt (fleur du sel)

...what's not to like?

I was asked to bake a few cakes for a Halloween Party of approximately 20 kids and parents.

To bring it up a knotch, (like Emeril Lagasse would say) I placed the cakes in a decoration of sorts.

I bought a plastic caldron and put the cake in the caldron. Added black tissue paper and creature features. Voila! A decoration for a cake presentation.

I baked this for Trick or Treaters.

Really delicious! You've got to try these!

Sprinkled on these cookies is a finishing salt...Fleur du Sel.
What's so great about adding the salt?
You experience the sweet, then the salty.
It's a YIN/YANG experience for your tastebuds.

His recipe calls for Valrhona chocolate. I used Ghiradelli. I also added walnuts.

Happy Halloween! Be Safe!

Peace in baking,

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Welcome to...BAKED by Melissa

BAKED by Melissa - a review by me (Carmen)

I am not posting a recipe today...just sharing with you a place you might want to stop by and enjoy some cute cupcake creations.

In my travels to NYC, I decided to stop by and try some of the cute mini-cupcakes offered by BAKED by Melissa.

I ordered three cupcakes: cost $3 bucks

1- Peanut Butter Cup

2- Red Velvet

3- S'mores

Cupcake Selections in box ~
top left: S'mores
top right: Peanut Butter Cup
bottom left: Red Velvet

The cupcakes were moist and delicious!
I was a very happy customer! It's just enough to satisfy a sugar craving.

I've taken pictures for you to enjoy. If you haven't visited
yet...put it on your to do list...Stop by after lunch or dinner...

is located in New York City's SoHo area:

529 Broadway
New York, NY, 10012
Mon - Sun:
11:00 am - 8:00 pm

Located on Spring St. between Broadway and Mercer.

Till next post,

BAKING is my ZeN

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Summer Breeze (like dessert) Makes Me Feel Fine

As the song from Seals & Croft goes,
"SUMMER BREEZE makes me feel fine"...
I would say desserts make me feel fine too!

The scent of lemons and limes remind me of summer.

I found a cookie recipe which included both lemons and limes.
The scent of lemons and limes as I zested away was absolutely heavenly.

Thumbprint Lemon-Lime
Meltaway Cookies

Recipe can be found in ~

"The Secrets of Baking"

by Sherry Yard
Spago's award-winning Pastry Chef

You can pick up Sherry's book at

Just a Note: This recipe was a little labor intensive in that there were steps in the baking process that required a 'waiting' period.
- The lemon curd had to cool before use.
- The brown butter had to be completely chilled.
- The dough required chilling.
Save this recipe for a day where you have extra baking time.

Found the recipe online... check it out HERE.

~ ~ ~

On a trip to the shore this summer, I met up with my friend Larry. We enjoyed sites in Atlantic Highlands and Sandy Hook.

We stopped by the Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club , where Larry docks his catamaran.

Sandy Hook Point Lookout

The view was spectacular from Sandy Hook Point Lookout.

Sandy Hook's the oldest working Lighthouse.

Twin Lights was used as the primary lighthouse for New York Harbor and was known as the best and the brightest light in North America.

Sailing ~ Beautiful to the background is the Atlantic Highlands and The Highlands.

279 Bay Ave
Highlands, NJ 07732-1525
(732) 291-4729‎

We had Pizza...DELISH!
I enjoyed listening to the water flowing from the bamboo water fountain near us.

I love water fountains!
Mosaic of boats flower planter~

Had to take a picture of fitting for the shore area.

Summer is nearing its close...hope your summer of baking was fun!

Peace in Baking,

I'd like to leave you with a great song for your listening pleasure...
(click on the song title)


by Seals & Croft




Thank You.

~ Carmen Ortiz - blogger (Baking is my Zen)