Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category
I really enjoy apricot jam layered in cakes and as a filling for tarts. This combination of flavours worked well together.
1 ½ cups shredded unsweetened coconut
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cups packed brown sugar
1 tsp salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
½ cup rolled oats
1 cup apricot jam (recipe below)
Put the dry ingredients in a food processor. Pulse a few times. Then pulse in the melted butter just until a dough forms.
Press half the dough into a 9″ by 13″ pan that has been lined with parchment paper, or greased well. Spread the apricot jam on the dough. You will not need all of it. Save some to put on toast in the morning. Crumble the rest of the dough on top of the jam. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350°F.
1 lb dried apricots
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 oz ginger root, peeled, grated
1 T lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
Place all of the ingredients in a crockpot for 2 hrs on high, add salt and lemon, then cook for 2 more hours on high. Stir occasionally.
75 g butter
75 g brown sugar
100 ml 35% cream
Melt the butter and sugar for about 5 minutes then slowly add the cream.
115 g sugar
45 g all-purpose flour
60 g orange juice
60 g unsalted butter
Melt the butter, and set aside. In a bowl combine the flour and sugar, whisk in the orange juice, then the melted butter and orange zest. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for about 1/2 an hour or more. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place well-spaced rounds of tuile batter on a silpat. The batter spreads quite a bit, so use a tablespoon of batter at the most. Cook for 10 minutes. Cool slightly before removing the tuiles from the silpat.
Coconut Lime Sorbet
2 cans of coconut milk
170 g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tsp vanilla
Whisk together all the ingredients until sugar and salt dissolve. Chill the mixture. Process in an ice cream machine.
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The cakes are essentially mini baked donuts — coated in cinnamon sugar. All the elements on the plate combined in your mouth, taste like coffee and donuts. In Canada we would call this a donut with a double-double (double cream and sugar in the coffee).
Cakes that taste like Donuts
225 g all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp ginger
1/3 cup vegetable oil
125 g sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cups milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
1 T cinnamon
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and spices in one bowl. In another bowl, combine the oil, sugar, egg, vanilla and milk. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until everything just comes together. Do not over mix.
I used miniature silicon muffin pans for this recipe which makes muffins about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter. Fill about 3/4s full and bake for 15 minutes at 350°F. Allow the muffins/donuts/cakes (whatever you want to call them) to cool and then pop them out.
Meanwhile combine the sugar and cinnamon in one bowl and the melted butter in another. First dip each cake in the melted butter, coating completely. Transfer that to the cinnamon sugar bowl, and roll it around until completely covered. Alternately, you could put the cinnamon sugar in a plastic sandwich bag and toss the muffins around in that.
Ricotta makes a lighter cheesecake than cream cheese. In the summertime that might be just the ticket.
This recipe is based on an epicurious.com recipe. I added a good dose of rosewater to the batter, because I like the flavour and it compliments the rose petal – apple jelly used as a garnish. The red currants I found riding my bicycle in the Don Valley Park. I stopped because I spotted a mulberry tree, and underneath the tree there was a red currant bush teeming with berries. Nice!
2 lbs ricotta cheese
1 cup sugar
6 T all purpose flour
zest of 1 lemon
2 T rose water
2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 320° F. Butter a 9½ inch springform pan. Place parchment paper on the bottom and around the sides.
Place the ricotta and lemon zest in a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add the sugar and flour and keep beating. Mix in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for about one hour, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out cleanly. Cool on a wire rack. The cake will sink a bit. No cause for concern.
Serving this with some seasonal fruit — like a pile of raspberries — is not a bad plan.
This orange cake recipe is a slightly modified version of a recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook. I enjoy the small shots of licorice imparted by the anise seeds, combined with the orange and lemon flavours.
½ cup butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
grated zest of 2 oranges
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons anise seeds
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 10″ bundt pan. I used individual small cake molds and as a result the cooking time was reduced.
Cream the butter. Gradually add the sugar. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time, and the orange zest.
Sift the flour with baking powder, soda and salt. Add dry ingredients alternately with the orange juice to the batter. Add the anise seeds.
Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold them into the batter.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes if making one large cake.
The lemon sauce is from the classic tome on Canadian Mennonite cooking Food That Really Schmecks by Edna Staebler. It’s easy to make, and doesn’t involve eggs like a curd recipe would.
½ cup sugar
1½ tablespoons cornstarch
juice and rind of 1 lemon
¼ tsp salt
2 tablespoons butter
1½ cups boiling water
Combine sugar, salt and cornstarch. Slowly add water and cook in a double boiler until the mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the butter until melted, then stir in the lemon rind and juice.
Panforte from Sienna, Tuscany — literally ‘strong bread’ in Italian — isn’t really a bread, or a cake, but more of a chewy dried fruit, nut, honey and spice confection. Think of it as an 800-year old powerbar recipe.
Normally it is eaten around Christmas, served at the end of a meal with a glass of fortified wine. Here it has been cut into small cubes for snacking anytime.
This recipe is based on Kate Ramos’ Fig and Nut Bars recipe on CHOW.
1 cup toasted almonds
1 cup toasted cashews
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 T cocoa powder
zest of 1 orange
1 T fennel seeds, grind half, leave half whole
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 cups dried figs, chopped
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Chop the toasted nuts coarsely. Butter and flour a 10″ circular pan, or line the pan with a parchment paper base and collar. Mix the flour, cocoa, orange zest, fennel seeds, cinnamon and cloves in a large bowl. Add the toasted nuts and fruit and mix well.
In a saucepan melt the sugar, honey and golden syrup and simmer over medium heat until the mixture reaches 245°F on a candy thermometer. Carefully pour this caramel over all the other ingredients and stir to combine. Work fast — the mixture hardens in no time. Pour into the prepared pan. Dampen your fingers and press the raw panforte into the baking pan.
Bake for about 30 minutes until the panforte puffs up a bit. Place the pan on a rack to cool. Wait until the panforte has firmed up before slicing.
Torrone — Italian nougat — has been made in one form or another since the time of ancient Rome. It’s a mixture of honey, egg whites, vanilla and roasted nuts, usually eaten around Christmas, but can be enjoyed anytime.
2 large egg whites
pinch of salt
150 ml water
120 ml honey
625 ml granulated sugar
1 T vanilla extract
75 g pistachios, roasted, skinned
75 g hazelnuts, roasted, skinned
75 g candied ginger
Line a 9″ x 13″ pan with plastic wrap, making sure there is some excess on all sides. In a large saucepot heat the water, sugar and honey until it reaches 143°C on a candy thermometer. A big pot helps because the mixture will expand and foam. The bigger the pot the less chance of spills. Hot sugar burns are some of the worst.
Meanwhile, beat the egg whites and a pinch of salt with an electric mixer until frothy. Turn the mixer to medium and slowly add the hot sugar syrup. At this point add the vanilla extract, and mix on high speed for about a minute.
The next step is to take this syrup and egg white mixture, and transfer it to a double boiler to cook out some of the moisture. (Nougat is great, but it starts to be a pain about now. It firms up and becomes difficult to scrape out of the mixing bowl. It’s also sticks to whatever it touches. Best to work quickly.) Stir the nougat in the double boiler until the mixture comes off the bottom of the bowl easily. Remove from the heat, then stir in the nuts and ginger. Again, work as quickly as possible, because the warmer the mixture is, the easier it will be to stir.
Transfer the nougat to the prepared pan, smoothing it down evenly. Place a piece of parchment paper on the top. Fold the excess plastic wrap over the parchment paper, and leave to cool. I eventually put the pan in the refrigerator to make it easier to cut. A good serrated knife helps. Cut slowly to get cleanly through the hazelnuts and pistachios.
Pictured are ‘Chocolate Crackle Cookies,’ recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart. Notwithstanding your feelings regarding insider stock trading, these are some particularly delicious cookies. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. Chocolate. Goodness.
The pattern that’s formed by the icing sugar and cookie dough after baking makes for an appropriate name change.
I didn’t modify anything other than adding buttermilk in place of milk. I used regular bittersweet chocolate chips. Pretty standard supermarket stuff. Of course, finer quality chocolate will make these cookies even better. For those who like the flavours of orange and chocolate, I was thinking some grated orange zest added to the mix would be a successful option. Another option would be the addition of a tablespoon or two of liquor, like Baileys for example. In that case, cut down on some of the milk. It goes without saying that these cookies are well-nigh irresistable with a glass of cold milk or some vanilla ice cream.
Chocolate Crackle Cookies – recipe by Martha Stewart
Makes about 4 dozen
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups light-brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more for rolling
Heat oven to 350°F. Chop bittersweet chocolate into small bits, and melt over medium heat in a heat-proof bowl or the top of a double boiler set over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add melted chocolate. With mixer on low speed, alternate adding dry ingredients and milk until just combined. Chill the dough in the refrigerator until firm, about 2 hours.
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and scoop out a piece of about 1 or 2 tablespoons. Working quickly, roll into a ball and completely coat in confectioners’ sugar.
Note: make sure the dough is covered by an abundance of icing sugar. That way the cookies turn out better. I shook the excess sugar off of some of the cookies, and the patchwork effect was too muted — basically light-brown instead of white. Overdo the icing sugar!
Place the cookies 2″ apart on a Silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake until the cookie flattens and the icing sugar splits, 12 to 15 minutes.
Transfer from oven to a wire rack to let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
This is based on the Date Cake recipe by May Bsisu in her book “The Arab Table.” The only modifications I have made here are the additions of crystalised ginger and ginger powder, which makes the cake into a hybrid of Jamaican Ginger Cake and Middle Eastern Date Cake. This is extremely flavourful and stays moist for as long as it lasts.
½ lb honey dates, pitted, coarsely chopped
½ cup crystalized ginger, fine dice
1 cup boiling water
½ tsp powdered ginger
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
Put the chopped dates and crystalized ginger in a bowl and pour the boiling water over top. Put aside for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375°F . Grease a 7″ by 11″ baking pan.
Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. The Kitchenaid helps here. Meanwhile mix together the flour, baking powder and powdered ginger in a separate bowl.
Mix in the baking soda and the vanilla to the bowl of dates and water.
Add the egg to the creamed sugar and butter and beat well. Add the flour mixture in a few additions, then blend in the date water mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out cleanly from the centre of the cake.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.
The original recipe has a sugar, butter and cream icing poured over, but I find the cake already amazingly sweet and moist without that. Especially with some caramelized bananas placed on top. And ice cream.
Almond cookies from Siena, Tuscany. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. Perfect with a cup of coffee (or a glass of vin santo if you have it). The apricots are not traditional but work well with the almonds, as well as adding a nice textural contrast.
Apricot and Almond Ricciarelli
150 g almond flour
2 egg whites
40 g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
70 g icing sugar + extra for dusting the cookies
200 g granulated sugar
1 tsp almond extract
100 g almonds, toasted, rough chop
100 g dried apricots, rough chop
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Combine the granulated sugar with the almond flour. Add in the baking powder and the all-purpose flour. Combine thoroughly.
Beat the egg whites until stiff. Gently fold the almond mixture into the egg whites. Add the almond extract, nuts and apricots.
Place some icing sugar in a bowl. Form one tablespoon of dough into a quenelle, flatten it to form the traditional almond shape and then press the top of the dough into the icing sugar. Place the cookies on a silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes until crackly and golden.
This recipe has 3 separate components, but it’s not difficult and is really delicious.
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup water
3 T sugar
5 green cardamom
1 cinnamon stick
Put the apricots, spices and water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the spices and mash the apricots and remaining water to form a pulp. Stir in the sugar. Leave to cool.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Beat butter and icing sugar until fluffy. Stir in vanilla. Stir in flour, combining well. I used some english muffin sized ringmolds placed on a silicone pad. Butter the insides of the ringmolds. Fill the molds halfway (about 1/2″) with the shortbread mixture and pat down with the underside of a metal spoon. Bake for about 12 minutes until slightly golden. Leave in ringmolds to cool.
1/3 cup oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 T cold unsalted butter, cubed
Cut the cold butter into the flour. Stir in the ots and the sugar to form a texture that resembles coarse crumbs.
Spread some apricot mixture on top of the cooled shortbread inside the ringmolds. Scatter some of the crisp topping on the apricot mixture. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool and carefully remove the tart from the ringmold. A sharp knife run along the inside of the ringmold can help if there are any sticky bits.
Sheep’s Milk Yogurt Brûlée
5 large egg yolks
50 g sugar
100 ml heavy cream
225 ml sheep’s milk yogurt
1 vanilla pod
Split the vanilla pod and put it in a small pot with the cream. Heat until the cream starts to simmer. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla pod back into the pot.
Meanwhile whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl. Slowly add the hot vanilla cream. Then whisk in the yogurt.
Pour the mixture into small ramekins and bake in a bain marie at 325°F for about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the ramekins.
The yogurt gives this dessert a nice tang and makes it considerably lighter than a typical crème brûlée.
Just returned home from a vacation in Nova Scotia. It’s a very beautiful part of the world.
Aside from seafood, blueberries are in abundance. We were staying at a friend’s house in Fall River which is near Halifax. The day we arrived I went outside next to the small woods, where some wild blueberry bushes were growing on the rocks. Picking the berries on the low-bush plants is back-breaking work. There are also high-bush berries that are bigger and easier to pick, which tend to be the ones we get in the supermarket. The wild berries are generally smaller and more intense in flavour.
The red squirrel was chattering away above me, perhaps expressing some concern that I was in his patch. The final tally was 2 ½ cups — enough for a classic Nova Scotian dessert.
Wild Blueberry Buckle
6 T butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 T yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 cups wild blueberries
3 T butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8 by 8 baking pan with parchment paper. Cream the butter and sugar, then add the eggs, yogurt and vanilla extract. Mix well.
In another bowl mix the flour, salt and baking powder. Stir into the wet ingredients. Put the batter into the lined cake pan. Put the berries on top of the cake batter, pressing the berries in.
For the topping, cut the cold butter into the flour and sugar to form a coarse mixture that looks like small pebbles. Sprinkle on top of the berries.
Bake for about 40 minutes. Test the centre of the cake to make sure it has cooked through.
Serve with ice cream or vanilla yogurt.
Looking back I’m thinking this dessert would be best served British-style, which to me is the tart with lashings of crème anglaise poured over the top, not around the perimeter. Red currants, mint and icing sugar are completely optional. A good cup of milky tea is in order.
This shortcake recipe was adapted from Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey R. Shere. What resulted were light, little cream cakes — not the crumbly shortcakes that are more like a scone.
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup plain yogurt
(Instead of yogurt, the original recipe called for 3/4 cup of thickened cream + 2 tablespoons to brush on the top of the cakes.)
Preheat your oven to 425°F. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Cut in the butter until it resembles cornmeal. Gently mix in the yogurt. Turn this out on a floured work surface and knead just until the dough comes together. Try not to overwork it.
Roll the dough 1/2 inch thick. Use a circular cutter or the rim of a glass to cut rounds of dough. Place rounds on a baking sheet. If you like you can brush the tops of the cake rounds with some cream or egg wash. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes or until the tops are golden. Cool on a rack.
Cut open the rounds and fill with berries and whipped cream. The whipped cream has some sugar and vanilla seeds in it. I found the cakes reheated well even when eaten the next day. Here I have drizzled some passion fruit syrup on the plate and hidden an extra dollop of whipped cream behind the mint (which some might appreciate).
Ripe nectarines and a freshly cut piece of parmigiano-reggiano. Late-afternoon on a beautiful day; wisps of cloud in a clear blue sky. A chilled glass of sauvignon blanc was not unwelcome. Add in some wildflower honey and toasted nuts for a more substantial repast.
Summer is here at last…
I have to admit that I’m not entirely convinced about the combination of dark chocolate and roses. Rosewater and pistachio nougat — absolutely — that is a traditional Middle Eastern dessert. Nougat and chocolate — sure, why not. I think I’ve seen chocolate coated nougat before. It’s basically chocolate and marshmallow flavours. That said, there is a chocolate bar I recall from the far past called a ‘Big Turk’ which was chocolate-coated Turkish Delight. I just did a search on it and it’s actually still being made by Nestlé. Who knew?
Perhaps if the cake was made with white chocolate? I will try that in the future.
Anyway, following are the recipes for each of the components of this plate.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
The ubiquitous ‘molten chocolate cakes’ that still exist on many restaurant menus. This recipe is from a restaurant I used to work at.
1 lb bittersweet chocolate
¾ lb unsalted butter
1 ¼ lbs sugar
8 large eggs
8 egg yolks
1 oz orange liquor
4 tablespoons cornstarch
Chop the chocolate into small pieces and melt it with the butter in a bain marie. Meanwhile combine the sugar and cornstarch in one bowl and whisk the eggs and egg yolks in another bowl.
I use a stand mixer for this. First put the melted chocolate and butter mixture into the mixing bowl with a whisk attachment. Start the mixer on slow speed. Slowly add the sugar and cornstarch to the mixing bowl. Once that is well incorporated with the butter and chocolate, gradually add the egg mixture, and finally the shot of orange liquor.
Mix the lot until it looks glossy and paler in colour. It will also bulk up somewhat.
I use this to make individual small cakes. Basically take some ringmolds and butter and flour them. Then use a collar of parchment paper to line the inside. This may be overkill. Using either parchment paper collars or butter/ flour should be good enough to make for a non-stick result. Put the prepared ringmolds on a baking pan lined with a silicon mat, or a sheet of parchment paper. Scoop about 4 to 6 oz of chocolate batter into the ringmolds and bake at 375°F for about 20 mins.
The idea is to see a raw circle in the centre about the size of a silver dollar. When you re-heat the cake later, the centre will still be slightly wet, hence the ‘molten’ in molten chocolate cake.
Rosewater Ice Cream
5 T rosewater
1 vanilla bean
2 ½ cups 18% table cream
2 large eggs
120 g sugar
dried rose petals
Split the vanilla pod and place the pod and seeds with the cream in a pot. Heat until the mixture just comes to the boil.
Meanwhile in a bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together then slowly add the hot cream to the egg mixture. Beat this constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.
Remove the vanilla pod and place everything back in the pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens slightly to the consistency of a light custard. Do not boil the mixture or the eggs will curdle.
Pour the lot into a bowl and refrigerate until well-chilled. Add the rosewater and rose petals and process in an ice-cream machine.
Something about the texture of this ice cream reminded me of Indian ice cream, aka kulfi. 5 tablespoons of rosewater is enough to let the flavour burst through, but you may want to add an extra tablespoon-or-two if you really love rosewater.
Pistachio Nougat…recipe posted later…