Lemon Poppyseed Cheesecake

There’s not a lot of chances you get to enter a cheesecake contest. But when my office suddenly decided to wage a battle of the best baker, I knew I would have to break out something new and exciting.

The simplicity of the lemon poppyseed cheesecake is the whole point. Lemon poppyseed muffins are the best muffins. Lemon poppyseed bread is the best bread. Lemon shortbread cookies are, well, they’re great cookies. On both flavor and style, this is hard to beat.

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Waffles For Every Occasion

You don’t need an expensive waffle maker to make great waffles. And we can prove it.

Sure, we wish we could summon Waffle House waffles to our homes, from those impressive devices that flip the batter and time it out perfectly. But who’s got the money or counter space? And more importantly, why should waffles be a special occasion treat?

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Pretzel Bread With Everything Seasoning

Bread can be an intimidating challenge, so we decided to start easy. Pretzel bread, which we crave constantly, only takes a couple hours and simple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.

Fresh out of the oven, pretzel bread is a perfect snack to tear apart and eat with butter or honey mustard dipping sauce. But unlike a regular pretzel, you can also slice it into the best sandwich—or grilled cheese. Our eventual goal is to turn it into a bread bowl, but we’re still working on that.

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Sweet Potato-Ginger Soup With Crispy Pork Belly

Here’s the secret of soup: It’s actually about texture. You can cook the broth from scratch, make the most tender meat, but if it’s all one texture, it’s instantly forgettable. That’s the brilliance of so many of our favorite Asian soups—from tom yum to phở to ramen, you’re served a mixture of crunchy and fatty and tender and firm, every bite different from the next.

We created this sweet potato-ginger soup with texture in mind. Often, soups made from sweet potato (or its orange friend, butternut squash) taste mushy and bland. Ginger and our favorite chili sauce, Sambal Oelek, add a tangy balance. But the crispy pork belly? It brings the party.

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Tom Yum (Thai Coconut Curry Soup) Will Cure What Ails You

This here is a soup household—specifically, an Asian soup household. Phở, ramen, egg drop, you name it. But it wasn’t until a cooking contest called that we attempted our spicy favorite: Tom yum, a Thai red coconut curry soup.

An office soup cook-off provided just the challenge we needed, and an opportunity to knock the socks off some spice-averse coworkers. After some research, we ended up with something pretty close to what we remember tasting and smelling at our favorite Thai restaurants. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that we won the contest.

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Deconstructed Nutella Cheesecake

Anyone who’s tried Nutella knows just how addicting it can be—I’ll eat it with a spoon right out of the jar. It perfectly mixes hazelnut and chocolate together in a creamy spread that is, frankly, absolutely delicious. No wonder there are Nutella cafés popping up across the country.

But not enough people know how delicious Frangelico is, and that needs to change. Frangelico is an Italian hazelnut liqueur, perfect not just for a sweet cocktail but also for a decadent dessert like this.

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