I noticed a tub of mascarpone cheese in the fridge and was inspired to make the "Mascarpone Gingerbread Bars" from Samantha Seneviratne's latest cookbook, The Joys of Baking. I bought the cookbook at The Strand bookstore during a weekend trip to New York City at the end of February.

I really like Seneviratne's contributions to New York Times cooking and her previous cookbook The New Sugar & Spice, so when I heard that she had a new cookbook coming out last fall, I planned to buy it right away. But when I discovered that it doesn't include weight measurements for the ingredients, I decided to take a pass. I honestly don't understand why The Joys of Baking uses volume measurements only because The New Sugar & Spice and Seneviratne's recipes for The New York Times include weights.

I made two kinds of hamantaschen for Purim this year: an epicurious recipe for "All-The-Seeds Hamantaschen" that I kept seeing all over the internet, and the "Apricot-Hazelnut-Brown Butter Hamantaschen" from Smitten Kitchen. I had no idea at the time I selected the recipes how different the resulting cookies would be,

The seed hamantaschen have a dough made with butter, sugar, cream cheese, egg, orange zest, flour, baking powder and salt.

While I had matcha powder out to bake blondies, I decided to also try Molly Yeh's recipe for Matcha Shortbread Cookies with Black Sesame Seeds. The recipe seemed like a great opportunity to do something with the black sesame seeds I bought on impulse the last time I was at the Asian grocery store.

To make the dough, you cream softened butter and brown sugar; add almond extract; and mix in flour, matcha powder, and kosher salt.

I keep much smaller quantities of white chocolate on hand compared to milk and dark chocolate (I usually buy white chocolate by the single pound or kilo, but I typically purchase milk and dark chocolate in either 5-pound or 5-kilo quantities), so I can be a little hesitant about trying recipes that require significant quantities of white chocolate.
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I had never heard of an apple dapple cake before, but apparently it's a thing. Shauna Sever's version from Midwest Made adds coffee into the batter and a brown sugar caramel-like glaze on top, but it's still a snap to put together.

To make the cake, you beat softened butter with sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy; stream in canola oil; beat in eggs; and alternately add the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and freshly grated nutmeg) and lukewarm coffee.

I volunteered to make the cake for a retirement party for my friend Heather, someone whose good humor, great instincts, and first-rate legal skills I have relied on many times over the years. The party planners came up with a terrific theme, dubbing Heather's exit from our agency as "Heaxit." That gave me the idea for the cake design, which I decided to center around a homemade lace crown.

I kept the cake small, a quarter-sheet size.

For Mardi Gras last month, I made the Mardi Gras King Cake from King Arthur Flour. I chose this recipe because it includes a cream cheese filling; a few years ago I made a king cake with no filling and decided that I don't particularly care for a king cake that is just bread.

It's easy to make the dough in a stand mixer.

My former boss Mary likes bourbon balls, so I volunteered to make some for her going-away party. I decided to try a recipe from Rhonda Ruckman in Garden & Gun. I made one big change to the recipe. It calls for shortbread cookie crumbs and I was making so many other things for the party that I didn't have time to make my own shortbread.
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We recently hosted some of Tom's wine friends over for dinner and I used the occasion to try a recipe that's been on my to-bake list for a while: Erin Clarkson's (from Cloudy Kitchen) "Cream Puffs with Oak Aged Vanilla Diplomat Cream Filling." The recipe is from a digital booklet I received as part of my reward when I backed a Kickstarter project from Heilala Vanilla to develop a line of flavored extracts, including the oak aged vanilla used in this recipe.

I love cream puffs.

My beloved boss Mary recently left our agency. I can't tell you how devastating this was for folks in our office; Mary is not only a skilled lawyer but also an incredibly gifted manager. I have never seen so many people crying at my office as when we commiserated about her departure. But I was determined to make Mary a special going away cake.

Mary is a big NASCAR fan, so her going away party had a NASCAR (or in a play on the name of our division, a DAPCAR) theme.
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