Posts Tagged dessert recipe

A Perfect Scone

As we all know, I love brunch—especially when that brunch involves a waitress bringing me eggs Benedict and mimosas. But, I have been known to love a potluck brunch at a friend’s house or to even host a brunch or two myself.

As much as I’d like to say that when I host brunch I make eggs Benny for everyone and the hollandaise sauce comes out perfectly, I am a mostly honest person. I do a lot of make-ahead recipes. And, this one that I found on epicrack is probably the best of the bunch. Quick to make the night before, easily portable, and generally a winner across generations (read as kids love ’em and they won’t bother the denture wearing set).

Chocolate Chip Scones

Makes 6 ridiculously large scones

  • 2 C unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ C plus 2 T sugar
  • 1 t baking powder
  • ½ t baking soda
  • ½ t salt
  • 6 T (¾ stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • ½ t grated lemon peel
  • ¾ C miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ C chilled buttermilk
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • Milk or buttermilk (for glaze)

Butter and flour baking sheet. Preheat oven to 400°.

Sift flour, ⅓ C sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into large bowl. Add butter and lemon peel; rub in with fingertips until butter is reduced to size of rice grains. Mix in chocolate chips. Whisk buttermilk, egg yolk and vanilla in small bowl to blend. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients; mix until dough comes together in moist clumps.

Gather dough into ball. Press dough out on lightly floured surface to 8″ round; cut round into 6 wedges. Transfer wedges to prepared baking sheet, spacing 1″ apart. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) This is the part I found most irritating. This is an extremely wet dough and will not cut nicely. Here are a couple tips:

  • Make this into 8 wedges (easier to cut than 6). The scones will still be plenty big.
  • Use a long, flat-edged, thin spatula (if you have one for frosting cakes that would be best) or a long chef’s knife. Dip it in water before each slice.
  • Use a wide spatula to move each piece to the baking sheet and then reform it a bit into a triangle. When these cook out, they will lose a bit of their triangular shape, so don’t worry if it’s not perfect.

Brush scones lightly with milk; sprinkle with remaining 2 T sugar. (I used large grain, sugar in the raw for this part so you could actually see the sugar after baking.) Bake until scones are crusty on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Serve warm.

Results

This recipe is also very forgiving when swapping out the chocolate chips. For one batch, I used ¼ C chocolate chips and ½ C dried cranberries. I soaked the cranberries in about ½ C orange juice for a few hours. Then, replaced the lemon zest with orange zest. The dough was a bit wetter due to the additional liquid, but they still came out lovely.

Although the recipe says to serve warm, they work just as well the next day. So, these scones have become my go-to recipe for brunch potlucks and work breakfasts where my husband needs to take a dish to pass. Oh, and kids seem to love them even though they’re not as sweet.

Scones

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Let’s Cannibalize the Gingers

Mr. Moo only goes to daycare twice a week. As such, we usually miss the fun days. (Not to say that his daycare is a sweat shop where he toils away at making wee little garments for teeny, tiny baby dolls… I’m just saying, we miss stuff like the Halloween costume parade. Although, now that I think about it… his nimble fingers could quickly sew up a few garments… I smell a home business a brewin’.) Anyway, when his teacher said that the holiday party was going to be on a day when Mr. Moo partakes in daycare living, I said sign us up.

Of course, the teacher replied, “The sign-up sheet will be available on Tuesday.” (Not a daycare day.) “Hmmm… just put me down for whatever and let me know.” She put me down for holiday cookies. I am so not a holiday cookie type of gal, but I want my child to be accepted and recognized by his peers, so I manned up and started searching for toddler appropriate holiday cookie recipes.

Basically, I needed a cookie without nuts or peanut butter, that a small child could chew without difficulty, that was large enough to pose no choking hazard, and that didn’t contain a week’s load of sugar or chocolate. (The last item was mine. I still can’t get behind the whole my child needs sugar.)

Gingerbread anyone? And, I found a perfect recipe in the oddest of places: Paul Deen. That’s right. Paula Freakin’ Deen is going to help Mr. Moo be a joiner of the toddler set.

Gingerbread Boys and Girls

  • ¾ C packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter or margarine, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ C molasses
  • 3¾ C all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting work surface
  • 2 t ground ginger
  • 1½ t baking soda
  • ½ t ground cinnamon
  • ½ t freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 C confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1-2 T milk
  • Food coloring, as desired

Using an electric mixer at low speed, cream the sugar and butter until thoroughly combined. Add the eggs and molasses and mix until combined. Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and combine with a spoon or spatula.

Remove the dough from the bowl and wrap in plastic wrap; place in the refrigerator until firm, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, until pliable. Take about ½ C of dough at a time and roll onto a floured board until about ⅛” thick. Cut out with gingerbread boy and girl cookie cutters. You can re-roll the scraps. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies from the board to the prepared cookie sheets. Refrigerate the cookies for 20 minutes, then bake until they just begin to brown at the edges. (The online recipe says 10 minutes, but when I printed that same recipe… the directions said 18-20 minutes. Mine took about 13 minutes.) Transfer to wire racks to cool.

To make the icing, combine the confectioners’ sugar and milk. Divide the mixture into thirds; leave ⅓ white, and color ⅓ green and the final third red. Decorate piping eyes, mouths, buttons, and bow ties.

Results

First, aren’t these about the cutest things? I purchased the sprinkles are at the grocery store (made bye Wilton). I used the smallest plain tip I had to do the piping. This is only a small selection. I made about 30 large guys and gals and a handful of the smaller snowmen you see in the upper left corner. The amount of cookies obviously depends upon the size of your cutter.

Gingerbread Cookies

Secondly, they taste like crap. If you eat them the same day, they don’t have that crispness that one comes to expect from gingerbread people. So, I let them sit out overnight. Also, if I’m going to go all cannibal on the gingers, I want them to taste like gingers (soulless bastards that they are). This recipe didn’t have enough ginger-i-ness to it. Perhaps fresh ginger would be better. Or maybe I’m used to a snap and not a bread tenor to my handheld ginger desserts.

And, I’m not even going to go into the difficulty of the dough. I don’t even want to call it dough. I want to call it crumbs that when whacked hard enough with a rolling pin will coalesce to form some semblance of something that can be cut with cookie cutters.

So, is my child now shunned from class forever and ever? Actually no. Apparently, kids love bland mush cookies. Win for Mr. Moo and his class. I am still on the hunt for a holiday cookie.

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Winter Dessert

When last we spoke, I did a rundown of what I made for Thanksgiving—leaving off the dessert. I feel like this dessert shouldn’t be tied to just one night of turkey debauchery. This might be my go-to cake when eggnog is in season. (Yup, you heard me. This is a busting out the Yule log kind of sweet.)

Of course, it came from epicurious.com. Because I’m such a lousy baker, I didn’t make any changes for fear of destroying something tasty.

Spiced Apple Cake with Eggnog Sauce

  • ½ C raisins or dried cranberries (I did a mix… half raisins, half Craisins)
  • 3 T Applejack, dark or golden rum, or warm water (I was not about to buy an entire bottle of Applejack so I used dark rum… and yes, I have dark rum on hand… judge me.)
  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • ½ t baking soda
  • 1 t ground allspice
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ t ground cloves
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 C (packed) light brown sugar, sifted
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ½” dice (about 4 C)
  • 1 C (4 oz) pecans, coarsely chopped
  • ⅓ C crystallized ginger, finely chopped (They sell these in bulk at Whole Foods, except apparently the week of Thanksgiving. So, I had a mild heart attack and then found them packaged in the candy aisle. Obviously, you don’t want to get the hard ginger candy, but the soft stuff for easy chopping.)

Special Equipment: 10″ bundt pan (3¼” deep; 3-qt capacity)
Garnish: confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Accompaniment: 3 C eggnog, chilled

In small bowl, combine raisins and rum. Let stand until raisins plump, about 1 hour. Drain, discarding rum, and set aside.

Position rack in middle of oven and preheat to 350°. Lightly butter bundt pan, then dust with flour, knocking out excess.

In large mixing bowl or bowl of electric mixer, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Add brown and granulated sugars, butter, eggs, and vanilla. Using electric mixer, beat on high speed, scraping down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed, until batter is pale and smooth, about 3 minutes for handheld mixer or 2 minutes for standing mixer. Stir in apples, pecans, ginger, and raisins. Spoon into prepared pan and smooth top.

Bake until wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean and cake just shrinks from sides of pan, about 1 hour. Cool cake in pan on rack 10 minutes, then invert and unmold onto rack and cool completely. (Cake can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored at room temperature, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.)

Just before serving, sift confectioner’s sugar over cake. Serve accompanied by eggnog.

Results

Well, I have to say that is the easiest sauce I’ve ever made. Crack open a carton of noggy goodness and pour it on. I served the eggnog in my gravy boat. Yes, I washed the gravy boat between the meal and dessert. What kind of person has more than one gravy boat? (Mom, I’m looking at you.)

Also, I’m now the proud owner of a bundt pan. (I know… I was totally surprised that I didn’t have one, too!)

Anyway, this is a pretty easy cake to make, smells amazing baking in the oven, and keeps moist wrapped in plastic on the counter. So, epicrack didn’t lie on that score. Oh, and this makes a great breakfast cake.

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Paul Does Pumpkin Pie

This is guest writer Paul, Lizzie’s usually patient husband. So, we have had a tradition of going to a pumpkin patch as a family every fall for the last four years or so. Well, except last year when I had to miss it since the Rugby World Cup final was on (in my defense, it was New Zealand vs France, my two favorite teams). Anyway, it is my own personal tradition to get a couple of sugar pumpkins and make pumpkin pies out of them.

Sugar Pumpkins

This has worked out fairly well in the past, but I wanted to do something more molasses-y this time around. So, I made the following recipe: (Lizzie note: Paul found the recipe on about.com.)

Molasses Pumpkin Pie

  • ¾ C sugar
  • 1 T flour
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • ¼ t ground cloves
  • ¼ C unsulphured molasses
  • 2 C mashed, cooked pumpkin
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 C undiluted evaporated milk or light cream
  • One 9”, unbaked single-crust pie shell

Mix together the sugar, flour, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Add the molasses, pumpkin, and eggs. Mix well. Stir in evaporated milk or cream.

Pour mixture into the pie shell. Bake in a preheated hot oven (400°) 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool pie before serving.

Paul’s Notes

First of all, you are perfectly free to use pumpkin puree from the can, but since the whole point of my exercise was to use the actual pumpkins, I went the extra-authentic route. It’s quite easy: First you cut the pumpkin in half horizontally. This is the hard (as in physically) part; I suggest you use a sharp knife with a serrated edge to start the cut, then insert a cook’s knife at the edge of the cut to make the crack elongate. When it cracks more, yank the knife out and reinsert it at the new edge of the crack in the shell, and so on and so forth.

Once you have opened the gourd, scoop out the soft bits in the middle and discard them, saving the seeds so you can roast them later. Set the halves upside down in a lined baking sheet and cook for one hour at 325°. Afterwards, scoop out the insides and there you have it. You can put it in a blender for extra smoothness at this point, but I find that to be unnecessary.

For the pie itself, I used a ready-made crust. Make sure to let the crust warm to room temperature before you unroll it, or it will be very frustrating. I made the mistake while mixing the goods together of pouring in the entire can of evaporated milk, only to discover to my horror that the can contained 12 oz of milk while the recipe called for 8. So, we troubleshooted (troubleshot?) and solved the problem by adding a bit more flour without any ill results. And, make very sure you are using unsulphured molasses, I have some blackstrap molasses for home-brewing purposes and I once thought it might be delicious to put it on toast. I was wrong, it is quite bitter. Unless you are making a silky-smooth porter in your basement, opt for the more refined product.

Results

Next time, I would add more molasses. But, I really like molasses. Due to my sloth, I did not make the pie until the day before Election Day. But when I brought it to work the next day, I was able to use that to reinforce the socio-historical make-up of the pie itself. I sent out an email first thing in the morning proclaiming that the molasses represented one leg of the triangular trade that for better and worse shaped our colonial economy. The pumpkin was reminiscent of our aboriginal inhabitants and the sharing of foodways that we remember on Thanksgiving. And finally, the pie was quite awesome, just like the fact that we get to choose our leaders every few years. Whether my coworkers were inspired or just puckish, the pie was gone within a half hour.

Molasses Pumpkin Pie

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Inspired by Our Northern Neighbors

I was going to be lazy and not do a post today since I’m a day off due to the election. (It’s a holiday in my house. Feel free to judge.) But, apparently my dinner is going to be another two hours. I really need to learn how to read the entire recipe before I decide to make it for dinner. I’ll tell you all about the veal loaf and baked lima beans cooked in a “slow oven” at a later date.

Tonight, I’m going to tell you about the other election party dessert I made. So, we had cake for the Americans, and there were a few Canadians in attendance as well. Now, we all know that Canadians don’t like cake. (I just made that up. The Canadian I live with is not enthusiastic about cake, so I use him to make assumptions about the entire nation.)

Anyway, I decided to make a few pots de crème, but with maple syrup. Because as we all know Canadians can’t get enough of the stuff. (Hey, why stop with just one base assumption? Let’s go for a trifecta.) This recipe is a bit from my culinary school recipes and a bit from my head—hence the mix of weights and standard recipe measurements. Have fun.

Maple Pots de Crème

Makes 4-6 servings depending upon the size of your ramekins

  • 4 oz eggs (usually about 4-5)
  • 2 oz egg yolks (1 should do it)
  • 4 oz sugar
  • ¼ t salt
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 1 C milk
  • ⅓ C maple syrup
  • Nutmeg, for serving

Arrange custard cups in a shallow baking pan and preheat your oven to 325°.

Combine the eggs, egg yolk, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Mix until thoroughly blended, but do not whip.

Scald the cream and milk in a double boiler or in a saucepan over low heat. Once scalded, add the maple syrup. And, stir until completely blended.

Gradually pour the milk into the egg mixture, stirring constantly. (Don’t forget to temper your eggs with a few spoonfuls of hot liquid before beginning to pour in or you’ll end up with sweet scrambled eggs.)

Skim all the foam from the surface of the liquid. Carefully pour the custard mixture into the cups. If bubbles form during this step, skim them off.

Set the baking pan on the oven shelf. Pour enough hot water into the pan around the cups so the level of the water is about as high as the level of the custard mixture. Bake until set, about 45 minutes.

Carefully, remove the custard from the oven and cool. I find that it’s easiest to remove some of the hot water with a turkey baster, putting it into another bowl before trying to remove the pan from the oven. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.

Results

Well, I tried to make a maple leaf on the top with nutmeg. (For those of you keeping count… there’s your trifecta.) It didn’t turn out so well. In fact, it looked so awful that I had to just shake it around to look like this:

Maple Pot de Creme

But they tasted good. Sweet, but good. Happy American elections for Canadians!

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Spot of Tea Bread?

After a few needed weeks of vacation and traveling, I’m back in the kitchen. I’m easing my way back into the swing of things with easy, fool-proof recipes. I found one such recipe at epicrack.com. OK, it was two recipes that I combined into one. (I’m creative like that…)

Basically, I needed something that would travel well without refrigeration. I was traveling in a car, so it’s not like I needed something that would withstand the heat of the desert whilst on camel-back. I just needed something that would make it from my house to the car rental office and then on a two hour car journey. Oh, and it had to be a breakfast item. I came up with tea bread and fruit because I feel like anything you serve for tea can also be eaten first thing in the morning.

The best tea breads are like the best coffee cakes—dense and not overly sweet. I present Lemon Tea Bread with strawberries. The strawberries are amended with lemon sugar and lavender syrup. Hey, I said I liked my tea bread less sweet… I didn’t say a damn thing about the crap I put on top of the bread. As I mentioned you can find the original recipes on epicrack (I made some minor changes which are below). The tea bread recipe makes two loaves and the strawberry recipe serves eight which is enough for the two loaves.

Lemon Tea Bread

  • 2 large lemons
  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • ½ t salt
  • 1½ sticks (¾ C) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2½ C sugar, divided
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ C whole milk
  • ¼ C sour cream
  • 2 T poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour two 9- x 5- x 3-inch metal loaf pans, knocking out any excess flour.

Finely zest both lemons. (The original recipe calls for you to measure out just a wee bit of zest, but I like a zesty, sassy bread. If you’re going to make the strawberries below, set 1 t of zest aside to use in that recipe.) Squeeze enough juice to measure about ½ cup.

Into a bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter, 2 cups sugar, and zest until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low speed add flour mixture and milk/sour cream alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and beating just until batter is combined well.

Beat in poppy seeds and 1 T lemon juice and divide batter between loaf pans, smoothing tops. Bake loaves in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, about 1 hour.

While loaves are baking, in a small bowl stir together remaining lemon juice and remaining ½ cup sugar until sugar is dissolved. (As a note, I juiced the lemons into a larger measuring cup and then just whisked the sugar in. No need to dirty another bowl, people.)

Cool loaves in pans on a rack 15 minutes. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert loaves onto rack. Turn loaves right side up and pierce tops all over with a thin skewer. Repeatedly brush lemon glaze over tops of loaves until all of glaze is absorbed.

Cool loaves completely. Tea bread keeps, wrapped in wax paper, in an airtight container at room temperature 4 days or, wrapped in foil and frozen, 1 month.

Strawberries with Lemon Sugar and Lavender Syrup

  • ⅓ C plus ½ C sugar
  • 1 t finely grated lemon peel
  • ½ C water
  • 2 T honey
  • 2 t dried lavender blossoms (Whole Foods has them in the bulk section.)
  • 3 pounds strawberries, hulled, sliced
  • Crème fraîche or sour cream (If you’re putting these on top of the bread, I’d skip this part as the bread will serve a similar sweet-reducing function.)

Mash ⅓ cup sugar and lemon peel in small bowl to blend well. (Lemon sugar can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and store at room temperature. And, as an additional note, it tastes lovely in herbal tea if you end up with extra.)

Bring ½ cup sugar, ½ cup water, honey, and lavender to boil in heavy small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until lavender flavor is pronounced, about 3 minutes. Strain syrup into small bowl. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature. Re-warm syrup before continuing.)

Place berries in large bowl. Pour warm syrup over berries; stir to coat. Divide berries and syrup among 8 bowls. Spoon crème fraîche over berries, sprinkle with lemon sugar, and serve immediately.

So, I drizzled the berries with the syrup, put them on the bread, and then sprinkled the sugar on top.

Results

Well, stupidly (and rather typically, let’s be honest), I only took a picture of the bread as it cooled on the rack. But, notice the pleasant glaze marks on the side.

Lemon Tea Bread

I should have taken a picture of my awesome combo bread/strawberries, but it was early in the morning when I was assembling it. Anyway, let’s not dwell on my faults. This makes a rather nice sweet breakfast, a lovely tea snack, or an adult dessert. With the lemon flavor, I don’t think the young ‘uns would dig it. Although, my weirdo Mr. Moo liked the bottom (non-glazed portion).

And, I bet lavender syrup would be a nice switch on top of blueberry pancakes. Just a thought for next time.

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Get Your Hands Gooey

I just can’t get enough of The Care Bears’ Party Cookbook. Earlier this week, I made frozen bananas which were in turns messy, gross, and weirdly difficult to make. In retrospect, that’s kind of what cooking with children should be… make a mess, learn something new. Hopefully, it should taste good.

I wanted to try another recipe with a more child-friendly frame of mind. My sister requested the Rainbow Fruit Sticks (cut up fruit on toothpicks seemed a bit TOO easy). I found a recipe ostensibly called tarts, but were really fun balls of goo. And, for those of you unfamiliar with the Care Bears, Tenderheart was the brown one with the big red heart on his belly.

Tenderheart Tarts

  • 1 C smooth peanut butter
  • ½ C honey
  • 1¼ C dry milk
  • Raspberry jam
  • A big bowl
  • A wood board

Put the peanut butter in the bowl. Pour in the honey and mix with a spoon.

Add the dry milk.

Mix everything together with your hands. Squeeze it! Pound it! Roll it around! (Make sure your hands are very clean! [Thanks for saying that AFTER we’ve been squeezing peanut butter.]) This is what my dough started to look like:

Peanut Butter Tart Dough

Keep mixing with your hands until you have a soft, smooth ball of dough.

Break off a small piece of the dough. Roll it on the wood board into a ball about the size of a big marble.

Press the ball down to make a round cookie. Then make the cookie into a heart shape. You will be able to make about 30 hearts.

Put the dab of jam in the middle of each heart. Now it is a tart! Put the tarts on a plate. Keep them in the refrigerator for one hour or more.

Results

Here is what I learned while making this recipe:

  1. A half cup of honey is a deceptively large amount of honey.
  2. A cup and a quarter of dry milk is not a deceptively large amount of dry milk, but it does give me pause about what people do with dry milk. (Well, besides bread machine bread and adding it to my son’s regular milk to help him gain weight.)
  3. Mixing this strangely sticky and powdery concoction was not unlike playing with Play-Doh. And, that’s exactly what you want a recipe for children to be… like playing, not like working. I miss Play-Doh and can’t wait until Mr. Moo wants some and then I will curse as I pick little, bright green bits out of my carpet. (I also miss Silly Putty, but that’s more for the chewing and Sunday comic transfers. I hope we still have Sunday comics by the time Mr. Moo gets old enough to appreciate Silly Putty.)
  4. Circles hold jam better than hearts. Sorry, Tenderheart, that’s just cold, hard reality.

Tenderheart Tarts on a plate

Oh, and the taste? Who cares if it tastes like a big ball of gritty peanut butter? It was a fun 15 minutes. And, Paul loved them.

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