Archive for the 'Dessert' Category



Meyer Lemon Tart

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This recipe is specifically posted for Christina, my cousin Jesse’s wife. They came to visit us in California and, after I had served the Meyer Lemon Tart as well let slip about this food blog, Christina asked if it was going to be posted here. Well, Christina, here it is. And the rest of you can read it too.

I made this mostly by accident. Shortly after making the Meyer Lemon Sorbet, some one at work left a bag filled with Meyer lemons in the kitchen area. Given the success the previous recipe was, I snatched up more than my fair share (I initially took less but when there were some left over as I was leaving, I grabbed a few more). To make me seem like an even worse person, the Meyer lemons have sat in my fridge since then.

After awhile, I decided that it was finally time to do something with the Meyer lemons. While more sorbet always is good, I wanted to do something different with them. So I finally decided on this recipe because I like tarts and Angela likes lemons (there’s a joke in there somewhere but I can’t quite find it).

I’m pretty sure this is the only recipe I’ve ever made that required more than a dozen eggs. This recipe is not for the faint of heart. It is rich and over-the-top. It uses just under a pound of butter, a good amount of sugar, and the previously mentioned eggs. But, then again, when you’re going to do something, you might as well do it right.

As you might’ve guessed given the prior statement of a recipe request, it was pretty good. To me, it was the perfect balance between lemon, sweet, and tart. Angela though it wasn’t tart enough (but she’s wrong). We didn’t need to eat a lot of it as a small piece was quite enough to suffice. It went quite well with the Lucas & Lewellen 2005 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc.

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Meyer Lemon Tart
Adapted from The New York Times Dessert Cookbook

1 1/2 cups plus 3 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
8 large egg yolks
1/2 tbsp milk
12 oz. all purpose flour (about 2 1/3 cups)
1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp salt
1 cup Meyer lemon juice
zest from 5 or 6 Meyer lemons
5 large eggs

  1. Allow 1 cup of butter to soften then cut into tablespoons.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the softened butter and 1/2 cup sugar.
  3. Add 1 egg yolk and the milk and mix to combine.
  4. Mix the flour with 1/4 tsp salt and then slowly add it to the electric mixer. Continue mixing until the flour is incorporated.
  5. Divide the dough into two balls, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Reserve one ball of dough for a future use.
  6. Grease a 10-inch tart pan. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll it on a lightly floured surface to 1/8″ thickness. Place the dough into the tart pan and prick the bottom with a fork. Place the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  7. In a nonstick saucepan, place the lemon juice, lemon zest, 1 cup sugar, 11 tbsp butter, and 1/8 tsp salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the butter melted.
  8. In a bowl, combine the whole eggs and the 7 remaining egg yolks and whisk until well blended. Temper the lemon mixture into the eggs slowly. Return the lemon and egg mixture to the saucepan.
  9. Heat the saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to a pudding like consistency. Remove from the heat. Strain the lemon curd into a bowl.
  10. Remove the tart pan from the freezer. Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the tart shell and fill with pastry weights. Bake for 10 minutes.
  11. Remove the aluminum foil and pastry weights and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until the tart shell is golden.
  12. Pour the lemon curd into the tart shell and smooth with a spatula. Bake for 30 minutes.
  13. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving.

Serves 8.

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Black Raspberry Ice Cream

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I like ice cream. I like ice cream a lot. And really, who doesn’t? Unlike many of you, my favorite flavor is a little bit more unusual. I don’t prefer chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry. No, my favorite is black raspberry. It doesn’t hurt that it also goes well with chocolate (sprinkles or syrup).

There’s one disadvantage to liking black raspberry ice cream so much: it’s only available in the mid-Atlantic states. I have yet to figure out why exactly this is. The same brands that make black raspberry in Maryland don’t sell it in California (I’m looking at you Breyer’s). I couldn’t even find it in Upstate New York when I was in college.

For a long time, black raspberry ice cream was one of those things that I made sure to enjoy when I visited my parents (usually, steamed crabs are one of the others). However, one of our wedding presents was an ice cream maker.

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This only solved half of my problem as I had no idea where to buy black raspberries. In fact, I had never seen one. But, perusing the frozen foods aisle at Trader Joe’s, I noticed they sold them frozen! I finally had the last part of the equation.

And then the black raspberries sat in my freezer throughout the winter. Now that the warmer weather has come, I decided to indulge myself.

And I can’t believe I waited this long. After dinner, I’ve taken to eating directly out of the container with a bit of chocolate syrup drizzled on top.

The recipe I adapted from one for raspberry ice cream. It does come out a tad bit sour so it could use more sugar if you like desserts sweeter but that will decrease the prominence of the black raspberries. Served with chocolate syrup it’s pretty good as it is.

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Black Raspberry Ice Cream
Adapted from Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments

2 10 oz. bags of frozen black raspberries, defrosted
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1 tbsp lemon juice

  1. Run the black raspberries through a food mill fitted with a disc with the smallest holes to create raspberry purée.
  2. Warm the milk and 1 cup heavy cream in a medium saucepan.
  3. Pour the cream into a large bowl with a strainer over top.
  4. In a different bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly temper the warm milk into the egg yolks, then return the milk to the saucepan.
  5. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat until the mixture because thick enough to coat the back of a spatula.
  6. Pour the milk-egg mixture into the bowl of cream via the strainer.
  7. Mix the raspberry purée and lemon juice into the bowl.
  8. Allow to cool and then refrigerate until cold.
  9. Mix in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Makes about 1 quart.

Devil’s Food Cake

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When I was younger, there was a period of time where I was convinced I didn’t like cake. Sure, on my birthday, I’d have a birthday cake. I’d eat a piece because that’s what you do and it’s polite. But it never was particularly good.

I blame box cake mixes for this. Box cakes are always too dry and the canned icing is always too sweet. But my real problem with cake mixes is that they really don’t save that much effort. So I don’t have to mix together the dry ingredients? That takes me all of 30 seconds. And I need to use oil instead of butter? And this makes it better?

Maybe I’m unusual in that I usually have all the proper ingredients for a cake at home (although I did have to delay making this by one day because we were out of eggs). Maybe a modicum of effort is too much for the average person.

I read that one possible explanation for the poor initial sales of cake mixes was that powdered eggs were included and that a house wife wanted to contribute to the cake by adding the eggs herself. I’m not sure if I buy that explanation (if you look at the time when sales of cake mixes increased it corresponds particularly well with an increase in women working).

Usually, when I want to make a dessert, I either want something a bit more sophisticated than cake (excepting chocolate chip cookies because they’re just good). But every once-in-awhile, I really get a craving cake. Not something extraordinarily chocolatey. Nor an ornate texture. Just something simple and good.

Enter Devil’s Food Cake. This cake was exactly what I wanted (and even the chocolate hater liked it). It wasn’t chocolate overload. It was sweet overload. It was just a simple chocolate cake with a simple chocolate icing. And it was just about perfect at what it was.

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Devil’s Food Cake
Adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook

12 tbsp butter
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, salt, baking soda, and vanilla until fluffy, several minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa powder.
  4. With the mixer running on low, add the eggs one at a time. Make sure each egg is well incorporated before adding the next egg.
  5. With the mixer running on low, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, then half of the milk. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, the remaining milk, and then the remaining flour.
  6. Grease two 9-inch cake pans and pour half of the batter into each one. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
  7. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow them to cool. Remove the cakes from the cake pans and add the icing.

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

3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp butter
1/8 tsp salt
5 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp milk

  1. Using the medium power on the microwave, melt the chocolate in a heat proof bowl about 3/4 of the way.
  2. In an electric mixer, beat together the butter and salt until the butter is fluffy.
  3. Add half of the confectioners’ sugar and beat slowly until it is well blended.
  4. Add the vanilla and half of the milk and beat until fluffy.
  5. Add the melted chocolate and beat until well mixed.
  6. Add the remaining sugar and milk and beat until fluffy.
  7. Ice the cake immediately.

Meyer Lemon Sorbet

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I realize it’s a bit strange to make sorbet in the middle of winter. But this is southern California and cold is a very relative concept around here (it was actually the recent rain that was bothering me).

However, winter also is lemon season (the fruit schedule from the farmer’s market claims that lemons are year round but I only see them in winter). I actually missed Meyer lemons the first time they appeared at the farmer’s market as I thought I had a bunch of lemons at home that were given to me by a coworker (turned out they were actually limes).

Angela and I were showing a friend of her family’s around and we went to Huntington Beach. It just so happened that they were having a farmer’s market that day and there was a vendor selling Meyer lemons. Given that I had passed them up the first time, I decided to snap them up while they were around.

Neither of us had had Meyer lemons before. They don’t really grow on the east coast (where ultimately we are from). I had, however, heard of their near-mythical flavor which is what drew me to them. It doesn’t hurt that Angela loves lemons.

While there are other lemon vehicles out there, none are quite as pure as sorbet. Plus I had a recipe for Meyer lemon sorbet. The sorbet is almost full proof to make. My only problem was I didn’t have quite enough for a full recipe.

The sorbet was quite good. I find the less bitter flavor of Meyer lemons to be significantly better than Eureka lemons. It was a cleaner flavor.

Angela thought that it could use to be a bit sweeter so you may want to add additional sugar in the future (and you think that’s a recipe note but it’s really a note to myself). I also think I’d replace the vodka with Limoncello next time.

And some kind soul left some home grown Meyer lemons in the kitchen area at work. I may have taken a few more than my fair share but I’ll put them to good use.

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Meyer Lemon Sorbet
Adapted from Room for Dessert
1 2/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 Meyer lemon
2/3 cup Meyer lemon juice (about 6 lemons)
1 tbsp vodka

  1. Place the water, sugar, and lemon zest in a small sauce pan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Stir in the lemon juice and vodka into the water mixture. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. Strain the mixture through a sieve and freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Place in the freezer until ready to serve.

Makes about 3 cups.

Tartlette aux Framboise (Raspberry Tart)

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Growing up, my parents had a raspberry bush in the back yard. I used to love going down to eat them right off the bush. I even picked them and sold them in a mini-road side farm stand. It was all on the honor system and no one took advantage of me. Someone did eventually steal the Fisher Price picnic table that I used for displaying the produce but they may have assumed it was sitting out for the trash. Unfortunately, the raspberry bush is no longer there (it reached it’s fruit producing lifespan and my parents opted to not replace it) but my love of raspberries is.

On my first visit to France, there was a small bakery across the street from our hotel. The first couple days I partook of the hotel’s continental breakfast but was not particularly impressed. I went to the bakery for breakfast instead and settled on the raspberry tart. My French is practically non-existent but by a combination of half remembering framboise and pointing I was able to get what I wanted.

It may be the haziness of memory, but it was good. Really good. I did a little more traveling in France and couldn’t find anything similar. I’ve looked elsewhere and never found something quite as good. I found a raspberry tart in San Francisco but it used a lemon curd base which wasn’t what I was looking for.

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A while ago, I had decided that I would make myself a raspberry tart. I may not be a pastry chef (I don’t have the patience for that) but what better way to make something that you like? Aside from inertia, the main reason I had never attempted to make one before was simply that raspberries were expensive and I didn’t want to waste them by making a bad tart.

The other day, I was walking by Farm Boy and noticed they were advertising a half-pint of raspberries for $1.00. That was too good of a deal to pass up (regardless of the unknown provenance of the raspberries).

I really haven’t made any tarts before so it was an issue of figuring exactly what to use in making it. A tart consists of the tart shell, the cream used in the shell, and then the topping. I settled on pâte sablée and creme pâstissière because they seemed closest to what I’d had in the past and they both seemed fairly simple and classic. I’m not entirely sure it was the right choice.

The tart was good. Quite good. But the creme pâstissière seemed to overpower the raspberries a bit. The pâte sablée also didn’t have great structural integrity so the creme pâstissière started spilling out and making a mess. I ended up having to eat it with a fork.

This recipe may need a bit more work but it’s still good. It isn’t overly sweet. It would make a good afternoon snack.

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Tartlette aux Framboise (Raspberry Tart)

Pâte Sablée
Crème Pâstissière
1 cup raspberries

  1. Pat the dough into 3 four inch mini tart pans. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  3. Place a layer of aluminum foil over the tart pans. Place pastry weights on top of the aluminum foil.
  4. Place the tart pans on a baking tray and bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the tart pans from the oven, remove the pastry weights and aluminum foil, and return to the oven. Bake for 7 more minutes.
  6. Remove the tart pans from the oven and allow to cool completely. Remove the tart dough from the tart pan.
  7. Rinse and dry the raspberries.
  8. Place a layer of crème pâstissière in each tart. Cover with the raspberries.
  9. Chill completely and serve.

Makes 3 mini-tarts.


Pâte Sablée (Shortbread Dough)
Adapted from The Roux Brothers on Patisserie

250 g flour
200 g cold butter (about 7 tbsp), diced
100 g powdered sugar
pinch of salt
2 egg yolks

  1. Sift the flour onto a work surface and make a well in the center.
  2. Place the butter in the well and work with your fingers until it is very soft.
  3. Add the powdered sugar and the salt to the butter and cream them together with your fingers.
  4. Add the egg yolk to the well and mix well.
  5. Slowly incorporate the flour into the butter mixture. Mix until it is just homogeneous.


Crème Pâstissière (Pastry Cream)
Adapted from The Roux Brothers on Patisserie

6 egg yolks
125 g sugar
40 g flour
500 ml milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Place the egg yolks and 1/3 of the sugar in a bowl. Whisk together until pale ribbons are formed. Whisk in the flour.
  2. In a sauce pan, combine the flour, remaining sugar, and vanilla extract. Heat over high heat.
  3. When the mixture begins to bubble, remove from the heat. Temper 1/3 of the milk mixture into the bowl with the eggs, stirring constantly. Pour the milk and the eggs back into the sauce pan, stirring constantly.
  4. Heat over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.
  5. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely.

Normandy Apple Tart

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This was actually made over a week ago. I had queued up a couple recipes as we last Friday we headed to the airport to fly to visit Angela’s parent’s for Christmas. We made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Our flight took off on time and it looked like our trip would be uneventful.

And then we arrived over Milwaukee. And entered a holding pattern. We circled for about an hour until we were told we were running out of fuel and had to divert to Madison. Flaps were out, landing gear was down, and we were approaching the run way. I could just see the landing lights through the fog and then the pilot gunned the engines and pulled up. Turned out we had to abort the landing as air traffic control wasn’t sure whether or not there was another plane on the runway. We were able to turn around and land successfully.

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And then we had to wait to get our luggage. And then take a bus to Milwaukee where we found out we could get a flight out the next day. The airline was nice enough to give us a hotel to stay in (of course, they gave us the wrong name of the hotel first and once we got the correct name gave us incorrect information as to how to contact them).

The next day was as fogging as the last. And pretty quickly our flight was canceled. We rebooked for the next day and went to another hotel.

So, after two days, the fog cleared and we showed up at the airport again, a bit hopeful, a bit apprehensive. At first, our flight was going to be delayed. And then it was on time again. When we saw the plane at the gate, Angela did a happy dance. And when, sitting at the end of the runway, the pilot revved the engine and we started accelerating, I had one of the biggest smiles on my face ever (not quite as big as my wedding day).

And I’ve never been happier to be in Florida.

Of course, this has nothing to do with the apple tart. I like apple tart’s quite a bit and am always looking for new ones to try. For some reason, I tend to like them better than apple pie. It may not be very American of me but it’s true (call homeland security!).

This apple tart is mostly apple sauce in a tart shell covered with sliced apples. It’s very simple. It doesn’t even use cinnamon. It’s apples at their simplest.

When I made it, the green apples we had were extremely tart. So tart that I felt the need to sprinkle sugar on top of the tart even though the original recipe didn’t call for it. And it was still tart. So be aware.

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Normandy Apple Tart
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

1 9-inch partially-baked sweet tart shell

For the applesauce:
2 lbs. red apples
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1-4 tbsp sugar (optional)

For the topping:
2 medium green apples
egg wash of 1 egg beaten with 1/2 tsp water
2 tbsp sugar

  1. Cut the apples into chunks and place in a large saucepan. Mix in the water and brown sugar. Cover and heat over medium-low heat. Cook at just below a simmer until the apples are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and run the apples through a food mill fitted with a disc with the largest holes. Taste the sauce and add sugar if necessary. Allow to cool to room temperature. The sauce may be refrigerated for several days.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  4. Fill the tart shell almost to the rim with the apple sauce.
  5. Peel and core the green apples. Slice them thinly. Arrange the apple slices in a spiral pattern on top of the apple sauce. Rub the cut apples with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar.
  6. Bake the tart for 45 to 50 minutes.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 8.


Partially-Baked Sweet Tart Shell
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp salt
9 tbsp cold butter, cut into 1 tbsp chunks
1 egg yolk

  1. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix briefly, until the ingredients are well combined.
  2. With the mixer at low speed, add the butter 1 tbsp at a time. When the butter is fully added, increase the speed to medium, until the butter and flour mixture forms pea sized granules.
  3. Reduce the speed to low and add the egg yolk. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is slightly sticky.
  4. Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and press it into a fluted 9-inch tart pan.
  5. Put the tart pan in the freezer and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  7. Press a greased sheet of aluminum foil onto the tart dough. Bake for 25 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and remove the aluminum foil. Press down any places the dough has puffed. Allow to cool before using.

Green Tree Cookies

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My mom always made a lot of cookies (and fudge) around Christmas time. While I liked the Russian tea cakes and chocolate chip cookies, the green tree cookies were always my favorite.

I’m not entirely sure why I liked them so much. They aren’t overly sweet. They don’t have a particularly strong flavor. It may just be that I could eat a lot of them without getting overwhelmed by them.

Whenever I have these cookies, I always think back to high school when I had lunch with a friend of mine. At the time, I wanted her to be a bit more than a friend and so, I, of course, shared some of the cookies with her. The cookies didn’t help with that situation but it wasn’t the cookies fault.

They’re still my favorite Christmas cookie. And as it was getting closer and closer to Christmas, I realized that I had to make them fast or I’d miss out this year. So I decided to whip up a batch.

It’s a pretty easy recipe. It just required me to dig out our cookie press (last used for these cookies last Christmas). And, as usual, I had trouble getting the cookies to stick to the baking sheet after pressing them. They’d much prefer to stick to the cookie press, much to my chagrin. It didn’t help that I made the mistake of greasing the cookie sheet at first (I corrected that pretty quickly).

I’m not sure the provenance of this recipe. I got my copy from my mom who has claimed that it’s a variation on a different recipe (apparently the almond extract and shape are her derivation). I did have a friend who claimed that her mom made the exact same cookie so I’m not entirely sure. I don’t know where the original recipe is from. It may have been the Betty Crocker Cooky Book.

Still, they’re quite good.

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Green Tree Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 tsp almond extract
10 drops green food coloring
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
extra sugar for dusting

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  2. In an electric mixture, cream together the butter and sugar at a medium-low speed.
  3. Add the egg and mix until combined. Add the almond extract and food coloring.
  4. Add the flour and salt and mix until well combined.
  5. Place the cookie dough in a cookie press fitted with a Christmas tree die. Press cookies onto an ungreased baking sheet about 1/2″ a part.
  6. Bake until the cookies are set but not browned, about 6 to 9 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle sugar over the cookies immediately after removal from the oven.

Makes about 6 dozen cookies (depending on your cookie press).