Kathy Wakile Dishes on Her 'Sweet' New Cookbook

Plus: she shares some of of her favorite recipes from 'Indulge.'

The Queen of the Cannoli is back!

This week, Kathy Wakile returns with her new cookbook, Indulge: Delicious Little Desserts That Keep Life Real Sweet, a collection of 75 of her favorite treats.

Featuring everything from Almond Joyous Cheeseckae Cuties to White Chocolate Blondie Bits, it's a labor of love for the Real Housewives of New Jersey star. In fact, she tells the Dish, she spent a year testing and retesting the recipes. Not that she ever broke a sweat: "I had so much fun during this process, cooking and sharing my creations is both a joy and therapy for me," she says.

Perhaps her biggest beneficiaries? Kathy's sister Rosie Pierri, husband Richie and her brothers, who all taste-tested the treats throughout the process. "I can always count on them to be completely honest," Kathy says. "Victoria and Joseph's friends were also great too...and I can't forget Jacqueline Laurita. She was always a willing tester."

With the book hitting stores today (available at Amazon), Kathy is already looking to her next project. Don't expect desserts this time. "It will be a savory book, appetizers and small plates," she says. "I love appetizers and serving small plates. It's the best way to entertain!"

As if you needed more proof to pick up a copy, we've got recipes from the book. Click through to get details on making Caramel Apple Ravioli, Strawberry Shortcake Puffs and more. (Warning: you may get serious hunger pangs!)

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Caramel Apple Ravioli
Ravioli is one of the best-loved items in traditional Italian cooking. What’s not to love? Especially when you’re treated to homemade ones—tender dough pockets with tasty filling. They’re dumplings, for crying out loud! Yum! For my sweet spin on ravioli, I brought the all-American and superautumnal flavors of caramel apple into the mix. Fair warning: These take some time to make, but they are so worth it. I created them early on in the process of developing the idea for this book, and my family went bonkers for them. Joseph, who’s my all-American boy when it comes to desserts, insisted these were “keepers” for the book—can’t say no to that! Then I brought a batch with me when I went to meet my prospective publishers in New York City—knocked their socks off. (Seriously, I think these little electable helped me land a book deal! Never underestimate the power of pastry, my friends.) So, yeah, they are a little labor intensive; I make the most of my efforts by making them in bulk—this recipe doubles (and triples!) really well, and the whole unbaked pastries can easily be frozen, so I always make extra to pop into the oven anytime.

Makes 20

PASTRY
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon cardamom
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½-inch cubes
⅓ cup ice water, plus more as needed

APPLE FILLING
2 medium crisp apples (about 1 pound)
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Pinch fine sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup packed light brown sugar

CHEESE FILLING
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Pinch fine sea salt
1 large egg yolk (white reserved for brushing dough)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup walnuts or pecans, lightly toasted and finely chopped, optional
1 large egg white, for brushing
Coarse raw sugar, for sprinkling
Caramel Drizzle (page 180), for serving
Toasted chopped walnuts or pecans for serving, optional

EQUIPMENT
Food processor
Electric mixer
Large rimmed baking sheets

To make the pastry dough, combine the flour, salt, nutmeg, and cardamom in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the standard blade. Pulse to mix, then add the butter and pulse a few more times, just until the mixture resembles very coarse cornmeal. Add N cup ice water, then pulse the machine a few more times. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing only enough to uniformly combine the ingredients—just until the mixture begins to gather together, but not long enough to allow it to form a ball.

Turn the dough out onto a large sheet of wax paper. Lightly press the pieces together through the paper. Then divide the dough in half and lightly pat each half into a rectangle about ¾ inch thick, wrap tightly in the wax paper, and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour.

To make the apple filling, peel, core, and finely dice the apples, transferring them to a large mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice, tossing to coat. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, and salt and mix well to combine.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the brown sugar until melted, then add the apple mixture to the pan, raise the heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender and the liquid in the skillet has evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature. (The apple filling can be made a day ahead and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)

To make the cheese filling, combine the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, ricotta, lemon zest, and salt in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat to incorporate. Stir in the nuts. (The cheese filling can be made a day ahead and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator.).

Preheat the oven to 375°F with a rack positioned in the center. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Lightly dust a smooth work surface with flour and roll out one portion of the dough as a 10 by 15-inch rectangle, with an even thickness of J to ¼ inch (not too thin or it will become difficult
to handle and fall apart).

Use a pastry cutter or sharp knife to cut the dough lengthwise into 2½-inch-wide strips. Then cut each strip crosswise into 2½-inch squares. (You should end up with 20 squares.)

Arrange the first set of pastry squares on the parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Spoon 1 scant teaspoon of cheese filling onto each square. Use the back of the spoon to spread the filling in an even layer, leaving a ½-inch border around the edge. Top the cheese with about 1 teaspoon of apple filling.

Roll out and cut the remaining rectangle of dough into 2½-by 2½-inch squares. (You should end up with another 20 squares, to top the filled ones.)

Lightly beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon water. Use a small brush to lightly coat the edges of the filled dough squares with egg wash. Lay a square of dough over the top of each and gently press the edges together with a fork to seal. Carefully use the tip of a very sharp paring knife to make a tiny, X-shaped vent in the top of each pouch (this will allow steam to release during baking).

Lightly brush the tops and edges of the little pouches with the remaining egg wash, then sprinkle the ravioli with coarse sugar. (The pastries can be frozen at this stage for up to 3 months.
Freeze on the baking sheets, then transfer to heavyweight plastic freezer bags. Don’t thaw before baking; just add a few minutes to the baking time.)
Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until tops and edges are golden brown, rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time.

Let cool 1 to 2 minutes, then carefully transfer the ravioli to a wire rack. Serve slightly warm, drizzled with caramel and sprinkled with toasted nuts.

CARAMEL DRIZZLE
Makes about 1 1/3 cups
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch fine sea salt

Heat the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until the sugar melts and darkens to a pale amber color, 3 to 5 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and add the butter all at once (the sugar will be bubbly, so be careful) and continue whisking until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth, about 1 minute. Carefully add the cream, vanilla, and salt, whisking until smooth and fully incorporated, about 1 more minute. Let the caramel cool about 10 minutes (it will continue to thicken as it cools), then transfer to a jar; or cool completely and pour into a small squeeze bottle.

This can be made ahead and stored in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for weeks. Before serving, reheat gently (by transferring to a saucepan and warming over low heat, stirring occasionally; or by transferring to a bowl and microwaving at half power in 15-second intervals, stirring between each interval) until warmed through. If you keep the caramel in a squeeze bottle, the best way to rewarm it is to stand the squeeze bottle in a bowl of hot water for several minutes.

Variation: Sea-salted Caramel Drizzle
Instead of the pinch of fine sea salt, use ½ teaspoon fleur de sel or other sweet, flaky sea salt.



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Strawberry Shortcake Puffs
Swap in choux for shortcake, fill with strawberry cream instead of plain whipped cream, and finish with a simple strawberry sauce—every bit as sweet and comforting as the all-American original, but with the airy magic of a cream puff.
Makes about 4 dozen
12 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled, or one 12-ounce bag frozen strawberries, thawed
2 tablespoons Chambord or other berry liqueur
½ cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup cold heavy cream
4 dozen cream puff shells (page 98)
Chantilly cream (page 183), for serving
Sliced fresh strawberries, for garnish

EQUIPMENT
Food processor
Stand mixer

Combine the strawberries, liqueur, and sugar in a medium bowl, stir to mix, then leave to macerate at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Transfer the soaked fruit to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a standard blade and process it to a fine purée.

Scoop ¼ cup of the purée into a small bowl; cover and refrigerate until well chilled.

To make the strawberry drizzle, transfer the remaining strawberry purée to a small saucepan and bring it to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer 5 minutes, then press the fruit through a fine-mesh sieve set over a small bowl, pressing with a spoon. Scrape into the bowl any fruit mixture that clings to the outside of the sieve. Discard the solids trapped in the sieve and transfer the strained mixture back to the saucepan. In a small bowl combine the cornstarch with 1 teaspoon water and stir until completely dissolved and very smooth. Add the slurry to the pan and stir the mixture constantly until it thickens, about 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat, cool to room temperature, and transfer to a squeeze bottle or pitcher.

To make the strawberry cream, in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, whip the cold cream to very stiff peaks. Gradually add the chilled berry purée and whip until well combined. Cover with plastic
wrap and refrigerate until ready to use; rewhip if needed before spooning into cream puffs.

Make the cream puff shells, baking and cooling them, then cutting off the tops as directed on page 98. Spoon chilled strawberry cream into the puffs. Top each with a small dollop of Chantilly cream and a zigzag of strawberry drizzle. Garnish with sliced fresh strawberries.

SHELLS
6 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons whole milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
¾ cup sifted all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
Confectioners’ sugar, for serving
Long, thin strips of lemon zest, for serving.

EQUIPMENT
Stand Mixer
Two Large Baking Sheets

To make the choux, preheat the oven to 425°F with one rack positioned in the top third of the oven and one rack positioned in the bottom third. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine the water, milk, butter, and salt in a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the flour all at once and stir vigorously until a dough forms and pulls away from the sides of the saucepan, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue turning the dough 1 to 2 more minutes (it will form a ball), then remove the saucepan from the heat.
Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer and let it cool for 5 minutes. Put the paddle attachment on the mixer, turn on the machine to medium-low, and add the eggs 1 at a time, blending in each egg before adding the next. Continue beating the dough until it is smooth and shiny, 2 to 3 minutes.
Working in batches, transfer the dough to a large pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch plain round tip and pipe 1-inch rounds, spacing them 2 inches apart, onto the prepared baking sheets. Smooth the tops with a wet finger. You can also scoop rounded tablespoons of the dough onto the baking sheets, but piping is much neater. (You can freeze the unbaked dough on the baking sheets, then transfer to freezer bags. Bake without thawing, adding a couple of minutes to the baking time.)
Bake the puffs for 15 minutes at 425°F. Then quickly rotate the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back, and lower the oven temperature to 350°F. Continue baking just until the puffs are dry, firm, and golden brown, about 10 more minutes, keeping a very close eye on them to prevent overbrowning. Cool the puffs on baking sheets. Do not fill until completely cooled to room temperature.(The baked, cooled, unfilled puffs can be frozen for up to 3 months. Freeze on the baking trays, transferring to ziptop freezer bags once frozen. Thaw at room temperature before filling.)
To fill the puffs, use a small sharp knife to cut the top quarter off of each puff. Pull out any soft dough that remains in the bottoms of the puffs.

Chantilly Cream

Makes about 2 cups

1 cup cold heavy cream
Seeds from ½ vanilla bean, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, optional

Combine the cream, vanilla, and sugar in a large bowl and whip to soft peaks.

Recipes Courtesy of Indulge by Kathy Wakile, with Miriam Harris. Copyright © 2014 by the authors and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, LLC. Photos by Andrei Jackamets


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