Archive for the 'Dessert' Category

Maple Cake with Maple Syrup Frosting

Maple Cake with Maple Syrup Frosting

The last two times we’ve gone skiing in Vermont, my non-skiing wife insisted that we take at least one day and go exploring.  For us, exploring consists of visiting cheese makers, ice cream makers, a brewery, and, of course, maple syrup producers.  It was an interesting experience visiting several different producers, trying the different grades, and then tasting the differences between different areas and producers.  Similar to wine, the terroir makes a difference.

After our last trip, we come home laden with more maple syrup, even though we had an unfinished bottle in the fridge from our previous trip.  With so much maple syrup in our house, when I first read the title of this recipe in Bon Appetit, I knew I had to make it.

I made it when we had planned to have several guests.  Instead, only Alison decided to join us.  So that meant a lot of cake for me to eat for breakfast and lunch during the week, even after we sent Alison home with some of the leftovers.

Surprisingly, given the article that this recipe was part of, this is not a typical cake.  It’s sweetness is muted.  The cake itself is subdued in flavor while the icing provides a good counterpoint with the dark maple flavor and the tangyness of the cream cheese.

This isn’t a particularly difficult recipe but I did have problems getting the maple syrup to mix with the butter and shortening in a smooth fashion.  I beat it until the fat particles were relatively small and, in the end, I don’t think it made much of a difference.  The original recipe calls for walnuts in the cake and in the frosting, but I omitted them because of Angela’s preferences.

Maple Cake with Maple Syrup Frosting
Adapted from Bon Appetit April 2010

Cake:
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking power
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1 tbsp chunks
2 tbsp vegetable shortening, softened
2 cups Grade B maple syrup
3 egg yolks
1 egg
1 1/4 cups whole milk

Frosting:
8-oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, cut into 1 tbsp chunks
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp Grade B maple syrup

  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
  2. Butter and flour two 8″ cake pans.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.
  4. In an electric mixer, beat the butter and shortening until creamy and fluffy.
  5. Add the maple syrup and beat until the mixture is smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add the egg yolks and the egg one at a time, pausing until the mixture is well combined before adding the next one.
  7. Beat in the flour in 3 additions, alternating with the milk.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans.
  9. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, then remove from the cake pans.
  11. To make the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar and maple syrup and beat until just combined.
  12. Make a layer cake, by icing the cake with the frosting.

Serves 10.

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Sablés

Sables

These are the most addictive cookies I’ve ever eaten.  Even more so than Thin Mints.  It took a significant amount of will-power to not eat just one more.

Well, that was until we ate them all.  They only lasted two days.  There was a slight bit of miscommunication in our household involving the cookies (“Matthew ate them all!”). Angela still isn’t amused by that.

Sablés are lightly sweet with a predominant butter flavor.  In many ways, they are very French.  They’re basically the cookie form of a sweet tart dough but they also manage to be just a bit better than straight tart dough would be.  It may just be the shape (or the added sugar coating).

The problem I always have with recipes that need to be refrigerated is that when I want to make cookies, I want to make the cookies right now.  I don’t want to have to wait several hours to have the sweet ambrosia; I want it now.

It was my good fortune to actually wait and make these cookies.  The wait was definitely worth it.  We were nearly fighting over the cookies; they were that good.

Sables Before Baking

Sablés
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
2 cups all-purpose flour
coarse sugar

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed.
  2. Add the sugars and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute.
  3. Reduce the speed to low and beat in 2 of the egg yolks.
  4. Turn off the mixer and add the flour.  Pulse the mixer at low speed 5 times to begin to combine the flour.  Mix at low speed for about 30 seconds or until the flour is well incorporated.
  5. Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and place on a work surface.  Divide the dough in half.  Shape each half into an approximately 9-inch long smooth log and wrap it with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  7. Working with one log at a time, brush it on all sides with beaten egg yolk.  Sprinkle all over with the coarse sugar.
  8. Slice the log into 1/3 inch thick cookies.  Place the cookies on a baking sheet, separated by 1 inch.
  9. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes or until they are lightly browned on top.

Makes about 50 cookies.

Watermelon Sorbetto

Watermelon Sorbetto

With the coming of summer, I’ve been tempted by all the various melons at the farmer’s market. It’s hard for me to resist those juicy orbs.

Unfortunately, I have the distinct tendency to bring a newly purchased melon home, put it in the refrigerator, and then promptly forget to eat it. Normally, discovering that I had some form of melon that I didn’t know I had (well, not too long after I bought it), isn’t a bad thing but I still have to figure out what to do with it.

I usually intend to chop it up and take it with me to work for breakfast. My problem is that at night, I’ll tell myself I’ll cut it up in the morning. And in the morning, I don’t feel like cutting it up in my half-awake state and that I’ll cut it up that night for the next day. Rinse, repeat, ad nauseum, and I wind up with the forgotten melon.

I finally had enough of the watermelon accusingly staring me in the face every time I opened the refrigerator and decided to do something about it. Hence, watermelon sorbetto.

This isn’t actually the first time I made a watermelon sorbet. I tried one sometime last year (I don’t remember what recipe I used) but I don’t remember being impressed by it. I think it might have been a texture issue. I find that texture is very important in frozen desserts so I made sure to strain the watermelon purée which made for a very smooth sorbet.

The sorbet ended up tasting more like watermelon than eating the watermelon straight did (which was good as I realized the watermelon was much closer to tasteless than I like). The mini-chocolate chips add a nice contrast to the sorbet as well as looking like seeds. Be aware that the sorbet freezes very hard and needs to be allowed to soften for several minutes before eating (or you may break your spoon).

Watermelon

Watermelon Sorbetto
Adapted from Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments

3 lbs. watermelon, seeded and cubed
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp vodka
2 tbsp mini chocolate chips

  1. Purée the watermelon in a food processor or blender. Run the watermelon purée through a fine mesh strainer. Measure out 3 cups of watermelon juice.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat approximately 1/2 cup of the watermelon juice along with the sugar and salt until the sugar has thoroughly dissolved. Remove from the heat.
  3. Combine the watermelon juice in the saucepan with the other watermelon juice and place in a medium sized bowl. Stir in the lime juice and vodka.
  4. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.
  5. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. During the last minute of freezing, pour in the chocolate chips.
  6. Remove from the ice cream maker’s bowl and place in a container. Place the container in the freezer to finish freezing.
  7. Several minutes before eating, remove from the freezer.

Makes about 1 quart

Caramel Ice Cream

Caramel Ice Cream

As long as I’ve known her, Angela has appreciated anything and everything caramel. Given I’ve found it’s in my best interest to keep her happy, I decided to make her some caramel ice cream.

I almost didn’t post this recipe because it didn’t work for me as written.  The original recipe had you add the heavy cream to the caramel and that was it.  Unfortunately, when I was making this, the caramel solidified in the presence of the heavy cream.  Luckily, I realized it would melt again if the heavy cream was heated but I did have to blaze my own trail through the recipe.

Sugar Ready to be Caramelized

I have to admit, however, that it may have been might fault. Given Angela’s preferences, I didn’t caramelize the sugar heavily. I think that the sugar simply wasn’t hot enough in comparison to the heavy cream. So, you may not have my issues and the caramel may stay liquid after you add the heavy cream.

Despite my difficulties, this was definitely worth it.  Homemade ice cream always has a taste premium over store bought but I think that caramel emphasizes that difference.  It was very rich but very good.

Caramelizing Sugar for Ice Cream

Caramel Ice Cream
Adapted from Room For Dessert : 110 Recipes for Cakes, Custards, Souffles, Tarts, Pies, Cobblers, Sorbets, Sherbets, Ice Creams, Cookies, Candies, and Cordials

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/4 tsp salt
6 egg yolks

  1. Sprinkle the sugar evenly on the bottom of a heavy sauce pan (perferably non-stick).  Add the vanilla bean.  Place over medium heat and cook until the sugar caramelizes and begins to smoke, stirring occassionally.
  2. Carefully add the heavy cream (it may boil violently).  If the caramel is not dissolved in the heavy cream, heat the heavy cream over medium heat stirring regularly, until the caramel has dissolved.
  3. Whisk in the half-and-half and the salt.
  4. Place the egg yolks in a bowl and whisk together.  Slowly whisk in 1/4 of the heavy cream mixture into the egg yolks.  Return the egg yolks and heavy cream to the pan.
  5. Cook over medium-low heat until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Remove from the heat.
  6. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl.  Allow to cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator until cold.
  7. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions then place in the freezer to complete the freezing process.

Makes about 1 quart.

Sanguinaccio (Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding)

CRW_1927

Chocolate pudding invariably brings back memories of childhood. I doubt that there have ever been children that dislike pudding. It’s got a cream texture and it comes in so many flavors that there has to be one that you enjoy.

During my childhood, I didn’t get the pudding in the now familiar pudding snack form (which my wife still likes). My mom would make pudding from the Jello box (and never the generic brand).

Every few months, I’d notice that there was a bowl of pudding chilling in the refrigerator and I knew it would appear on the table after dinner for dessert (which, despite the fact that he rarely made it, my dad insisted on presenting). Or better yet, I’d get to eat it for breakfast.

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This, however, is not the pudding of my childhood. It’s much richer and more chocolaty. The spices also make it a bit different. But, at it’s core, it’s still chocolate pudding.

I failed to properly melt all the chocolate in the pudding so there were small chunks floating around. Personally, I enjoyed having a bit more texture to the pudding but it isn’t the intended effect so, assuming you want smooth pudding, make sure to stir until all the chocolate has melted.

I liked the pudding, both for dessert and breakfast. It went particularly well with some whipped cream.

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Sanguinaccio (Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding)
Adapted from Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
4 1/2 cups whole milk
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, and sugar. Slowly whisk in the milk until it forms a paste than whisk in the remaining milk.
  2. Transfer the milk mixture from the bowl into a sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  3. Remove the milk mixture from the heat and return to the bowl. Stir in the chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon and whisk until the chocolate is completed melted.
  4. Allow the pudding to cool to room temperature then chill in the refrigerator.
  5. Serve the chilled pudding topped with whipped cream.

Makes 10 servings.

Peach Pie

Slice of Peach Pie

Recently, I found that I had a craving for a peach pie. What’s strange about this is that I’m fairly certain I’ve never had a peach pie before.

Luckily for me, it’s peach season here in California. To my taste buds, the peaches here aren’t quite as sweet as those on the east coast; Angela merely dislikes the fact that they aren’t Georgia peaches.

I bought some peaches at the farmer’s market, mainly on a whim. I had had the peach pie craving for awhile but had failed to look for any recipes before leaving so I had to guess as to how many to buy.

I did manage to guess correctly although I’m not entirely certain I got free stone peaches. I had more trouble with slicing the first couple than I did with the rest but they still held onto their pits pretty well.

This pie ended up being everything I was looking for in a peach pie. The peach flavor showed through. The peaches held their shape (one of my father’s complaints about peach pie is that the peaches get too soft; not these peaches).

The first slice of pie was for dessert but most of the rest ended up being my breakfast (what? peaches are good for you). After writing this up, I want to make a peach pie again.

Peach Pie ready to be covered

Peach Pie
Adapted from Deborah Tyler via The New York Times Dessert Cookbook

5 or 6 large free stone peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced 1/2″ thick
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup plus 2 tsp sugar
prepared butter pastry

  1. Preheat oven to 450ºF.
  2. Mix the peaches, cornstarch, butter, and 1/4 cup sugar in a bowl until combined.
  3. Divide the dough in half and roll out the first piece into an 11″ diameter circle. Place the dough into a 9″ pie pan and cut off any extra.
  4. Spread the peach mixture into the pie crust.
  5. Roll out the second dough half into a circle 11″ in diameter. Place the dough on top of the pie, crimping the edges, and cutting off any extra.
  6. Make 6 cuts on top of the pie crust to allow venting.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over top of the pie crust.
  8. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350ºF, and bake for 50 more minutes.
  9. Serve either warm or cooled.

Makes 1 pie.

Peach Pie


Butter Pastry
Adapted from Deborah Tyler via
The New York Times Dessert Cookbook

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups flour

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture has the consistency of cornmeal.
  2. Add 3 to 4 tbsp of water and pulse until the mixture forms a ball.
  3. Knead the dough briefly so that the dough comes together.
  4. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use, at least 15 minutes.

Makes enough crust for one 9″ double crust pie

Chocolat Tarte de Rue Tatin

Chocolat Tarte de Rue Tatin

The first time that I saw this recipe I just knew that I had to make it some day. It combines two of my favorite things for desserts: tarts and chocolate.

I kept forgetting about the recipe and refinding it when I ended up flipping through the cookbook. The idea of making this has been floating through my head for over a year now. I had finally decided to make it with the extra tart dough from the Meyer Lemon Tart but the dough wasn’t really workable when I removed it from the freezer so I had to discard the tart dough. However, by that point, I had already committed to making it and decided to make a fresh tart dough fo rit.

I’d like to say that it was then a transcendental experience upon eating this after such a wait, but it was merely good. It managed to be chocolately but not overwhelmingly so. The chocolate was at a good intensity and it wasn’t at all sweet. What I really noticed was that the chocolate seemed a bit dry. This is probably because I’m mostly used to chocolate desserts being sweeter than this one.

I should probably confess that we didn’t finish eating the tart.  It wasn’t possible for me to really eat a lot of the tart at once and it was too much chocolate for Angela.  It didn’t help that shortly after I made it I had to travel to the east coast for work.

I would reserve this tart for only the true chocolate lovers.

Diced Chocolat

Chocolat Tarte de Rue Tatin
Adapted from The Great Book of Chocolate

1/3 cup heavy cream
16 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 large eggs, at room temperature
one 10″ prebaked tart shell

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Warm the heavy cream in a large saucepan until the edges begin to bubble. Remove from the heat.
  3. Stir the chocolate into the heavy cream until the chocolate has completely melted. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. Whisk the eggs into the chocolate one at a time.
  5. Pour the chocolate mixture into the pie crust and smooth out as much as possible.
  6. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the filling is set but not too firm.
  7. Allow to cool to room temperature and serve with whipped cream.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.


Pâte Sucrée
Adapted from
The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook

1 1/4 cups (5 1/4 oz.) all-purpose flour
1 tsp nonfat dry milk (optional)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp butter, cold, cut into tablespoons
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp water

  1. Combine the flour, dry milk, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix the dry ingredients.
  2. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and water and pulse until the mixture forms a ball.
  4. Remove the dough from the food processor and roll out into a round to fit the tart shell. Place the dough into the tart shell. Prick the bottom of the tart shell multiple times with a fork. Refrigerate the tart dough for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  6. Place a layer of aluminum foil over the tart shell and place pie weights on top of the aluminum foil.
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the crust is set. Remove the aluminum foil and pie weights.
  8. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes or until the crust is browned.

Makes one 9 to 10″ tart shell