Indulge: Delicious Little Desserts That Keep Life Real Sweet

Indulge: Delicious Little Desserts That Keep Life Real Sweet

by Kathy Wakile, Miriam Harris


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On The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Kathy Wakile is the one-and-only dessert expert. Ever since Kathy wowed everyone with a Thanksgiving dessert extravaganza, viewers can't stop talking about her luscious, inventive, bite-size desserts. Now, Kathy's Indulge, a treasure trove of some of her greatest recipes is here and she's serving up over 75 treats from the sweet life including:

- Almond Joyous Cheesecake Cuties

- Caramel Walnut Chocolate Tartlettini

- White Chocolate Blondie Bites

- Fabulous Gelati in mouthwatering flavors: Tanned & Salty, Chocolate-Covered Cherry, Orange Dreamsicle and more

- PB&J Baby Bundts

- Apple Ricotta Zeppoli

- Pumpkin Ginger Sticky Buns

- Chocolate Hazelnut Kisses

All the treats are small so you can indulge without over-indulging. As Kathy says "Indulge, it's not going to kill you.'" With family stories, backstage glimpses into The Real Housewives of New Jersey and beautiful color photography throughout, Indulge is the cookbook Kathy's legion of fans will be clamoring for next fall.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250051264
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 09/02/2014
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

KATHY WAKILE is the one-and-only dessert expert on Bravo TV's "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" and has used her reality t.v. platform to help raise awareness for both The National Brain Tumor Society and The Children's Brain Tumor Foundation.. Her dessert line called "Dolci della Dea" is soon to be in retail venues nationwide. Kathy regularly serves as an Honorary Professor at the L'Ecole Culinaire, an ACCSC-accredited culinary school that offers degree and diploma programs, sharing her passion and knowledge of culinary trends, and her unique experience bringing personally-developed food products to market. She lives in Wayne, NJ with her husband, Rich, and their children, Victoria and Joseph.

Read an Excerpt


Delicious Little Desserts That Keep Life Real Sweet

By Kathy Wakile, Miriam Harris

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2014 Kathy Wakile
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-6444-3



It's always a bit of a shock when, once again, the school year begins, along comes a hint of a chill in the air, and pretty soon the leaves are blazing with color, blowing down from the trees, and piling up everywhere. Every year for as long as I can remember, whether trudging to school with my sister, Rosie, or picking my way through a pumpkin patch with Rich and the kids, I can hear and smell the holidays coming when I walk through drifts of fallen leaves, amid the rustling sounds and in the woodsy aroma of the drying foliage.

As I sadly kiss summer good-bye, I savor all the colors and smells and flavors of autumn and take great pleasure in the gradual transition from outside to indoors. I love how the season forms a bridge from days that are bright and breezy and still fairly long to times when darkness comes sooner, cold takes hold, and so do cozier cravings. By early October it has usually become chilly enough that I'm no longer all about avoiding using the oven. Quite the opposite: keeping the house warm and full of roasty-toasty smells is such a delight — a great consolation prize for losing the superlong days of summer when it stays light till eight or nine o'clock. No more pool parties and barbecues, but here come the holidays!

Aside from all of the traditional celebrations, fall is full of everyday joys like kids coming in from running around kicking leaf piles, with rosy cheeks and noses. I vividly remember being one of those kids and how good it was to come in to a nice baked treat, and I have loved doing the same with my own children.

This chapter focuses on four of my favorite key ingredients to cook with in the fall. Two of them are pretty obvious: apples and pumpkin (of course!). The other two are equally seasonal, but maybe more particular to my Mediterranean background: figs and nuts.

The Not-So-Forbidden Fruit

Growing up back in the old neighborhood in Paterson, New Jersey, we had a fig tree in our backyard (we actually lived in three different houses and dug up and brought the tree with us each time we moved), and the annual fig harvest was one of the joys of late summer. The same was true (and still is) for many immigrants from the Mediterranean. Anyone with a patch of dirt grew a fig tree, and many of the trees were started from cuttings brought over from the Old Country — literally branches from the family tree back home, snipped off and carried in a pocket or baggage on the long boat trip to America. So it came to be that, half a world away from the Mediterranean, a treasured seasonal tradition has carried on for generations. Every year, just as summer began to fade, we loved to eat the figs as they ripened, straight off the tree and still warm from the sun.

Throughout the cold months, the tree was lovingly swaddled in burlap. I'm sure my American friends (as absurd as it may seem coming from a Jersey girl like me, everyone not Italian was referred to as "the American" — pronounced "Ameri-GAN") wondered what on earth it was, looking like a huge mummy sticking straight up out of the ground. I, of course, being young and American myself, thought everyone had a prized fig tree in their backyard.

My best beloved memory of those figs is from October of 1990, when Rich and I got engaged in the midst of the most gorgeous Indian summer Jersey ever had. He popped the question and presented me with a ring (in his parents' driveway–very gallant) on the fifth, which was a Friday. So that Sunday my parents had my future in-laws over for a celebratory meal, a traditional Italian Sunday lunch for about fourteen people — brothers, sisters, both sets of parents. Mom served up a beautiful feast: Sunday Sauce (yes, we call it sauce!), which is loaded with meatballs, sausage, braciole (yum!), plus antipasti, lasagna, veal Milanese, various verdure (veggies), and salad. It was such a happy occasion and of course everyone enjoyed the great meal Mom had prepared, but my parents and Rich's parents really didn't know one another yet, and there was a bit of a language and culture gap, since Rich's parents had come over from Lebanon when he was little, while my parents had both grown up in Italy. I'm sure both sets of parents were still trying to figure it all out.

But then, after dinner, my parents and my future in-laws walked outside to the backyard deck and my father presented them with a big basket of figs. The late heat had brought on the most bountiful harvest we'd ever had from our tree. This humble gift made such a connection between our families and our shared roots in the Mediterranean. Italians weren't the only ones bringing fig cuttings over from the motherland. Fig trees are growing all over America that started from branch tips carried over from Lebanon, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Turkey–all over the Mediterranean. Rich's mother and father's faces lit up. I could see it in their eyes: These people are like us.

Fresh Fig Pizzette Bar

This is a great way to enjoy one of the most luscious crops of the fall season. The do-it-yourself element — everyone topping their own crust however they like — makes it fun for any casual gathering. You can go all out and have a big spread, with lots of different cheeses and nuts and syrupy toppings, plus a variety of figs if you are in an area where they are plentiful. But it's no less delightful if you keep it simple — a platter of sliced figs, a single spreadable cheese, a little dish of toasted chopped nuts, and a little jar of honey (or even jam). Either way, it's a lovely intermezzo (if you want to serve a more conventional dessert later) or dessert itself — a wonderful, relaxed way to end a meal and finish off the last of the wine.



1 Rustica Pastry
1 egg white (reserved from pastry), for brushing
Coarse sugar or cinnamon sugar, for dusting


2 dozen fresh figs, stemmed and sliced

Cheeses, such as Orange Mascarpone to spread; creamy fresh ricotta or goat cheese; crumbled
Gorgonzola or feta; thin slices of fontina; a wedge of softened Brie; shavings of Asiago; the possibilities are endless

Nuts, such as toasted and chopped walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans Infused Honey Syrup, Orange Blossom Syrup (or whatever honey you like — light floral ones like orange blossom honey are especially nice with figs)

Sprigs of tender-leaved fresh herbs, such as spearmint; basil (scented ones such as lemon, cinnamon, or pineapple basil would be great if you happen to grow them or know someone who does); fennel frond; marjoram.


3 ½-inch round cutter, or a glass, can, or bowl with an opening of that diameter Two large baking sheets

Preheat the oven to 350°F with two racks positioned in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

On a smooth, lightly floured work surface roll out 1 disk of dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper to a thickness of between? and ¼ inch. Use a 3 ½-inch cutter to cut about 18 rounds, rerolling scraps as needed. Set the rounds on the prepared baking sheets, spacing the rounds about ½ inch apart, and use a fork to pierce each round all over. Repeat the process with the second disk of dough.

Beat the reserved egg white with 1 teaspoon water. Lightly brush the rounds with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar. (The rounds can be double-wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature before baking.)

Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

If you are using cheese that's best served soft (such as Gorgonzola or Brie), set out 30 minutes before serving.

Arrange everything on platters and let everyone make their own pizzette — like a taco bar. Everyone takes a crust, spreads it with whatever cheese(s) they like, tops with nuts, figs, herbs, and a drizzling of honey (that's the order that works best for the toppings to stay on, so it's a good idea to arrange your bar in that sequence).

Pan-Roasted Fresh Figs with Infused Honey Syrup and Orange Mascarpone

This sophisticated treat — on the savory end of the dessert spectrum — is popular with serious fig lovers. It's best served in very small dishes, like an amuse-bouche, and the toasted pistachios are essential to bringing the flavors and textures together.



One 8-ounce tub mascarpone cheese, at room temperature

2 teaspoons finely grated Valencia orange zest (zested orange reserved to juice for Infused Honey Syrup)


¾ cup honey
3 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
2 cloves
2 teaspoons finely grated Valencia orange zest
¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice from 2 to 3 good-quality Valencia oranges (one of them reserved from zesting)
1 dozen small fresh, firm but ripe figs, quartered
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
½ cup unsalted pistachios, toasted and chopped


Electric mixer Twelve 3- to 4-ounce serving dishes

To make the orange mascarpone, drain any watery liquid from the top of the mascarpone, then put the cheese in a bowl, add the orange zest, and beat the mixture with an electric mixer on low speed just until creamy and light. (Can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

To infuse the honey, combine the honey, cinnamon sticks, star anise, and cloves in a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan and cook gently over medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the honey to cool and infuse for at least 1 hour. (The infused honey can be made a few days ahead; remove spices and keep in an airtight container at room temperature.)

To make the honey syrup, use a slotted spoon to remove and discard the spices from the infused honey, then add the orange zest and juice to the saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, then lower the heat and continue simmering until the syrup is thickened and reduced to about ¾ cup, about 20 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and let the syrup cool to room temperature. (The honey syrup can be made a day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.)

To cook the figs, pour ¼ cup of the honey syrup onto a rimmed plate or small baking dish. Add the figs to the dish and turn to coat with the syrup. Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook the figs cut-sides down until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn and cook 1 to 2 more minutes per side, or until the figs are tender and slightly softened. As the figs cook, they will release a lot of moisture that will quickly become a thick syrup; take care not to let them cook so long that they collapse and lose their shape. Use tongs to lift the cooked figs out of the skillet, leaving their syrupy liquid behind. Add the Grand Marnier to the skillet and cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often, to reduce by half. Pour the reduction into the reserved honey syrup and whisk to combine.

To serve, center a dollop (generous tablespoon) of orange mascarpone in each of 12 small serving dishes. Arrange a few fig quarters in each dish, drizzle lightly with the syrup, sprinkle with pistachios, and serve, with additional honey syrup in a small pitcher on the side (leftover figgy syrup keeps in the refrigerator for weeks — and it's delicious with vanilla ice cream or custard).

Fresh Fig Borsettini

Borsettini is Italian for purse and is often used in names for filled pastas. I think the purse reference is to the money pouches from centuries past, because the pastas look like little bags that have been cinched at the top. Here, we have pastries that look more like elegant little clutches and — packed with aromatically spiced figs, drizzled with dark, figgy syrup, and sprinkled with toasted pistachios — taste amazing.



1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon cardamom
Pinch fine sea salt
2 dozen small fresh figs, stemmed and quartered
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup fresh orange juice, plus more as needed


8 ounces chèvre, softened
¼ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Pinch fine sea salt
2 tablespoons honey, optional
1 large egg yolk (white reserved for brushing dough)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 recipe Basic Pastry Single Crust
1 large egg white, for brushing
¼ cup coarse raw sugar, for sprinkling
½ cup pistachios, pecans, or walnuts, toasted and chopped, for serving


4-inch round cutter with plain or scalloped edges, or a glass, can, or bowl with an opening of that diameter Two large baking sheets

To make the fig filling, combine the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir with a fork to mix thoroughly. Add the figs to the bowl and mix to coat.

Melt the butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, tilting the skillet to distribute the butter evenly. Add the figs to the skillet, using a spoon or flexible rubber spatula to scrape all of the sugar-and-spice mixture off the sides of the bowl and into the skillet. Add the orange juice and stir gently. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook the figs, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until the liquid is very thick and gooey. Be sure to stir more frequently toward the end of the cooking time when the liquid is becoming thick enough to stick to the skillet and scorch. Turn off the heat under the pan and leave the figs to cool to room temperature. (The figs can be made ahead and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)

To make the cheese filling, combine the chèvre, cream, lemon zest, salt, honey, egg yolk, and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. (The cheese filling can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

To prepare the dough, lightly dust a smooth countertop with flour and roll each disk of the dough out to an even thickness of about? inch (not too thin, or it will become difficult to handle and fall apart). Tightly wrap each sheet of dough with plastic and return to the refrigerator for 15 minutes or until you are ready to cut the dough into rounds for the pastries. (Dough can be kept in the refrigerator overnight or double-wrapped and frozen at this stage for up to 3 months. Defrost for 1 hour before using.)

Preheat the oven to 375°F with two racks positioned in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Use a 4-inch cutter to cut each sheet of the chilled dough into about a dozen rounds, rerolling any scraps. (The cut rounds can be tightly wrapped and refrigerated overnight or double-wrapped and frozen for 1 month.)

Divide the dough rounds between the two parchment-lined baking sheets. Onto the bottom half of each round drop 1 scant teaspoonful of cheese filling and top with 2 fig quarters, using a fork to lift the figs out of their gooey syrup and reserving the syrup (for serving). Fold the top half of the dough over and seal the edge by pressing gently with a fork. Use the tip of a small sharp knife to make a teeny X in the top of each pouch.

Beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon water. Lightly brush the pastries with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. (Can be frozen on baking sheets, then transferred to freezer bags and kept frozen for up to 1 month. Bake without defrosting, adding about 5 minutes to the baking time.)

Bake the pastries until lightly browned, about 15 minutes, rotating halfway through the baking time. Let cool 5 minutes before serving, or serve at room temperature.


Excerpted from {Indulge} by Kathy Wakile, Miriam Harris. Copyright © 2014 Kathy Wakile. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


The Not-So-Forbidden Fruit,
How Do You Like Them Apples!,
Nuts for Nuts,
Now That's Using Your Googootz!,
For the Love of Cheesecake,
PB&J All Grown Up,
Chocolate-That's a Food Group, Right?,
Coffee and Cake,
La Crema,
Choux Maker's Daughter,
Love Nests,
... And Who Has More Fun?,
Mother's Day,
Granita Splendida,
We All Scream for Gelato!,
"Pick-Me-Up" (Italiano),
Tutti Frutti BBQ,

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Indulge: Delicious Little Desserts That Keep Life Real Sweet 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Madsgal More than 1 year ago
Wow. Very nice book.