Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Desserts’ Category

Date & Almond Spice Bread

image

Welcome November! The weather here around Boston is starting to cool down, dusk arrives noticeably sooner and so it’s time for cozy, spice breads.

image

This one is jam-packed with marinated dates, almonds, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and lots of orange, making it wonderfully fragrant and perfectly seasonal.

image

Enjoy!

Recipe (adapted from Ina Garten)

Date Nut Spice Bread
Yield 1 loaf

Ingredients:
2 cups coarsely chopped dates, pitted
1/3 cup Cointreau or Triple Sec
4T unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1t vanilla extract
1T grated orange zest
2cups all-purpose flour
2t baking powder
1/2t baking soda
1t ground cinnamon
1t ground nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
1/4t ground cloves
1t kosher salt
3/4cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4cup coarsely chopped pecans or almonds

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter bottom of 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then spray or butter and flour the pan.
2. Pit dates if they are not yet, chop and combine with orange liqueur in a small bowl and set aside for 20-30minutes. Stir occasionally.
3. In a large bowl with wooden spoon (or in electric mixing bowl), combine butter and brown sugar for one minute. Scrape down the bowl. Add the egg, vanilla, and zest, stir carefully but do not over mix. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Stirring carefully (or with mixer on low), add the flour mixture alternately with the orange juice to the butter & sugar mixture, mixing only until combined. By hand, stir in the dates with their liquid, and the nuts.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Storage: Wrap or cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a week.

– Kristan

Advertisements

Summer Sorbets

image

Happy Summer! Time to feel the heat and enjoy delicious ways to temper it. With the abundance of juicy berries in season and the summertime love of refreshing lemons, here are three sorbets to keep in your freezer for a quick chill down, lovely on their own or happily mixed and matched.

Strawberry Sorbet
image
So simple and sweet, all you have to do is remove the strawberry tops and you’ve done all the work.

Strawberry Sorbet, from Cook’s Illustrated
3 cups strawberries
1 cup sugar (K note: you can decrease sugar to 3/4c)
pinch salt
1/2 cup water
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon vodka (optional)

1. Pulse berries, sugar and salt together in food processor until combined, about 15 pulses. With processor running, add water, lemon juice and vodka, if using, and continue to process until sugar is dissolved, about one minute. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer into large bowl and refrigerate until completely chilled, about one hour.
2. Transfer mixture to ice-cream machine. Churn until mixture resembles soft-serve ice cream. Transfer to airtight container, press firmly to remove any air pockets, freeze until firm, at least three hours. Can be frozen for roughly 1-2 weeks.

Blueberry Sour Cream Sorbet
image

If you have enough will power to resist eating every single luscious blueberry you pick, and manage to make it home with a cup, this sorbet recipe calls also for sour cream, resulting in a tangy sorbet, almost like cheesecake, but lighter.

Blueberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream, from Dorie Greenspan
1 cup blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
pinch salt
grated zest and juice of 1/4 lemon (or lime if you prefer), or more juice to taste
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sour cream

1. Put blueberries, sugar, salt and lemon zest and juice in a medium nonreactive saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture boils and the berries pop and soften, about three minutes.
2. Turn the berries into a blender and whir until you have a fairly homogeneous puree, about one minute. (It will never be completely smooth, and that’s just fine). Add the heavy cream and sour cream and pulse just to blend. Taste and, if you’d like, add a squirt more lemon juice or a tiny bit more sugar.
3. Pour the custard into a bowl and refrigerate until it is chilled before churning into ice cream.
4. Scrape the chilled custard into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Pack the ice cream into a container and freeze for at least two hours, until it is firm enough to scoop. Can be frozen for roughly 1-2 weeks.

Lemon Sorbet
image

This is my new favorite lemon recipe: bright and clean and zesty with just the right amount of tartness.

Super Lemon Ice Cream, from David Lebovitz
2 lemons, preferable unsprayed
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeeze lemon juice (from about three lemons)
2 cups half-and-half
pinch salt

1. Zest the lemons directly into a food processor or blender. Add the sugar and blend until the lemon zest is very fine. Add the lemon juice and blend until the sugar is completely dissolved. Blend in the half-and-half and salt until smooth.
2. Chill for one hour, then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Enjoy!

Pain d’Epices – Honey & Spice Cake

image

This ‘cake’ is a marvel of baking chemistry. Pain d’Epices (which translates to ‘spice bread’) has a roughly 450 year old rich history in France, resulting in countless variations. Dorie Greenspan’s latest book ‘Baking Chez Moi’ has a version that suddenly moved me to action. Think of a teacake or loaf cake, and historically, one that relies primarily on only honey for sweetness, a varying list of spices and no eggs. Even more interesting, Master Greenspan instructed to wrap the cake well and leave on the counter for a few days to ‘ripen’, as this cake is best aged. I was intrigued. When her opening ingredients included orange, peppercorns, fresh ginger and lavender to steep together to be added to the dough, it was officially time for me to make my first one.

image

After steeping these ingredients in water, you strain them and, to this uber-fragrant infusion, stir in melted butter and honey. In a different bowl, you grate citrus zest over the sugar and rub them together and this is added to the flour and baking powder. You then mix wet and dry ingredients, finally stirring in dried cherries and placing into loaf pan. But the real magic is the ‘ripening’. The cake is perfectly acceptable soon out of the oven as a tea cake for dunking, but after two days, the flavors are layered, you taste the honey, then the lavender, then the ginger, and by five days after, suddenly the texture too has changed, shifting from a crumbly cake for dunking to a soft, doughy bread with great flavor depth. I love the concept of a cake being at its best days after the baking itself, and I wish I had another slice right now. Bundle up everyone (cakes included).

Honey Wheat Cookies

image

Happy Autumn! These little ‘cookies’ are more like little cakes, thanks to their chewy texture. The recipe calls for good honey, lemon zest, and wheat germ which is a handy pantry item (good to add to chocolate shakes) and even handier when needed for a cookie recipe. Thank you to the wonderful Dorie Greenspan and her book “Baking, From my home to yours”, p. 81.

image

A quick dough, refrigerated briefly, then scooped into balls and rolled in a final dusting of wheat germ.

image

image

Bake at 350F, and you will have the perfect afternoon (and morning and evening) cookie. They are wonderfully surprising because of the layers of flavor: first the lemon, then the honey, the perfect saltiness, and before you know it, you will need to mix another batch of batter.

Here’s to blustery Saturday mornings, an cup of your favorite coffee or tea, and a big plate of these cookies.

Homemade Peppermint Patties

Homemade Peppermint Patties

How much fun is it to discover you can make – in your very own kitchen – your favorite treat in the world, say peppermint patties? That’s exactly what happened, and you won’t believe how simple it is. In a small bowl, mix corn syrup, water and mint extract, then slowly begin adding the powdered sugar.

image
image

Knead dough gently and it will come together.

image

No rolling pin needed! Just stretch the dough out to desired thickness, and let dry for an hour or so. Even with plenty of powdered sugar on the silpat, the dough wants to stick, so be sure to just rotate and flip every 10minutes or so.

image

Cut out your shapes and place on parchment paper. Melt chocolate (I like extra-dark or bittersweet) in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, and quickly dip each mint into the melted chocolate; then place on the parchment. Try very hard not to eat them all right on the spot. Cool on counter, chill in freezer, devour. Delicious!

Recipe from David Lebovitz, The Perfect Scoop p. 206

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

3 Tablespoons light corn syrup

2 teaspoons water

1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract or oil

6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

1. Line baking sheet with plastic wrap or parchment paper and dust with about 1T of confectioner’s sugar

2. In a bowl, mix the corn syrup, water, and mint extract. Gradually stir in the remaining confectioner’s sugar. As the mixture thickens, knead it with your hands until it forms a smooth ball (it will seem dry at first, but it will come together).

3. Pat the dough out onto the sugar-dusted baking sheet about 1/3″ (1cm) thick and let it dry, uncovered, for at least 8 hours or overnight (Kristan: I couldn’t wait 8 hours! Allowing one hour drying with regular rotation of dough worked fine).

4. Melt the chocolate in a clean, dry bowl set over simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Line a dinner plate or baking sheet with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Cut the mint disks into six triangular wedges (Kristan: or preferred shape), brush off any excess powdered sugar. Using two forks, dip each piece in the chocolate, coating both sides, then transfer to the plastic lined plate.

5. Chill in the refrigerator or freezer until the chocolate has firmed up, then chop into bite sized pieces.

Thank you Mr Lebovitz!

Lavender & Lime Cookies

Lavender & Lime Cookies

My, oh my, oh lavender. I love the fragrance of this dried flower, but could never dream of how intoxicating its undertones could be nestled in a butter cookie with a lime glaze. When I recently sampled a friend’s mother-in-law’s cookies with this combination, I knew I would have to beg for the family recipe, which was so kindly shared. If you do decide to bake with lavender, be sure you purchase culinary lavender (vs ornamental).

image

A quick bake, with the cookies perfuming the kitchen, a full cool down, and a zesty, sweet lime glaze, we arrive at cookie bliss.

image

Dreamy.

Ginger root & Ginger cake

Ginger root & Ginger cake

Ginger root is a wily superhero. Knobby ends with smooth tan skin, it appears quite unassuming until you slice away a corner and are overcome with its impressive fragrance, sweet and strong and medicinal. Nearly every cuisine uses it in some form: fresh, powdered, pickled, candied, juiced or steeped. I often buy the root to freshly grate into stir-fry or noodles dishes, or to use in cookies and cakes, as done here.

image

This is a David Lebovitz recipe for Fresh Ginger Cake, made with molasses, cinnamon, cloves, and lots of freshly grated ginger and baked in a springform pan. It is a lovely, light dessert alternative to chocolate or lemon, and works year round. Accompaniments could be sweet whipped cream, or rhubarb compote, or in this case, pineapple coconut ice cream. Enjoy!

Hello Mr. Jellyroll

Hello Mr. Jellyroll

When was the last time you nibbled on a jellyroll? Never? Me too, as far as I could recall, but I had a sneaking suspicion that this treat was a forgotten treasure. Sweet vanilla cake, rolled around tart raspberry jam? I was on a mission to create. The wonderful Cook’s Illustrated was my starting point and they were great leaders, as always. The batter was tasty and simple to bring together, and I poured it onto a large baking sheet lined with a silpat (you can use another non-stick mat) and baked to soft golden color. The silpat made it a breeze to peel away and invert flat on a clean kitchen towel, as instructed (though I made a side note to also sprinkle kitchen towel lightly with powdered sugar to avoid any possible stick on the other side).

image

You roll the cake up with the kitchen towel actually to cool briefly so the cake will ‘remember’ the space for the forthcoming filling. Then unroll and slather with fillings. While I love raspberry jam, I also experimented with chocolate ganache and nutella…

image

And indeed, my sneaking suspicion was confirmed: jellyroll is the new black! Or at least merits your consideration. Next up, perhaps a few new fillings for Spring & Summer, apricot and strawberry rhubarb?

Milk Stout Chocolate Ice Cream

Milk Stout Chocolate Ice Cream

I was recently introduced to Nitro Milk Stout by Left Hand Brewery and not only is it a lovely stout, it worked beautifully in a stout gingerbread recipe I posted in December. When I came across a Guiness Milk Chocolate Ice Cream recipe by David Lebovitz, I knew it would be another great experiment to swap with this heady, slightly sweet stout. Indeed, a mostly very milk chocolate ice cream with a stout-y layer, it’s a treat. Especially with our chilly February temperatures, because after all, doesn’t smooth and sweet ice cream taste best in winter?

Snow Cream!

Snow Cream

We are midday through a nice little snowstorm today, a beautiful one actually, with loads of fluffy snow (10″ and counting) and mild temps in the mid 30’s. A perfect snow for a walk in the woods which we may do after lunch. It is also perfect snow for Snow Cream:

Snow Cream
1 cup freshly fallen snow
1 1/2-2T sugar
3T heavy cream
1/4t vanilla extract
dash salt

Stir, stir, stir and enjoy! Multiply and tinker as you see fit.