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Archive for the ‘dessert’ Category

A Late-Winter (or Early-Spring) Tart

I’ve always thought that citrus is nature’s way of giving us hope that sunnier, warmer days are right around the corner. Think about it: these tart-sweet, refreshing, bright fruits are like sunshine in a bite. And the height of their season is the coldest part of the year. Although it’s been in the high 70s and low 80s here in Florida, I’ve heard it’s been a frosty last few weeks of winter in the rest of the country. Citrus to the rescue! I’ve already told you how I was lucky enough to grow up with oranges, grapefruit, lemons, tangerines, and kumquats in my backyard (literally). I love citrus, so when Food52 announced this contest, I knew what I was going to make. (Unfortunately, due to user error I’m sure, my tart didn’t make it into the entries. My computer froze, I never went back, and realized it a day too late. Nerds.)

But I’m still glad I made this tart. It’s a little time consuming, but the steps are simple. And it’s worth it to bite into the creamy, dreamy center and taste the sunny orange slices and rich chocolate crust. The filling reminded me of a dreamsicle, all creamy and smooth and just orangey enough to be fresh. The chocolate-crumb crust is made even richer with a layer of dark chocolate ganache, an addition that gives the tart a lovely, silky texture. Even though it didn’t make it into the contest, Jason and I loved it, and I hope you will, too.

Creamsicle Tart with Chocolate Crust
Makes 1 (9-inch) tart

If you have unsalted sliced almonds, just add a bit of salt to the crust. It shouldn’t taste salty, but you should know the salt is there.

8 chocolate graham crackers
1/4 cup (heaping) salted sliced almonds
1 tablespoon sugar
7 tablespoons butter, melted

Creamsicle custard filling
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup whole milk
Zest of 2 large oranges
6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

Orange topping
4 large oranges, peel and white pith removed, cut into segments and patted dry with paper towels

For the crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine graham crackers and almonds in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely ground.
  3. Place crumbs in a bowl and add sugar and butter, stirring with a fork to combine. Pour mixture into a 9-inch tart pan with removable sides. Push crumbs into bottom and up sides of pan, making sure the crust is even.
  4. Bake until firm, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

For the creamsicle custard filling

  1. Combine cream, milk and orange zest in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine.
  2. Bring cream mixture just to a simmer, then remove from heat. Set aside to steep for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl.
  4. Add steeped cream to the egg yolk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly.

For the chocolate ganache

  1. Heat cream in a small saucepan or in the microwave until hot.
  2. Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour cream over chocolate, and stir until chocolate is fully melted and mixture is smooth.

Assemble tart

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Pour about 3/4 of the chocolate ganache into the bottom of the crust, and gently spread to edges.
  3. Pour custard filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring cup or bowl with a spout.
  4. Place crust (in pan) on a baking sheet, and place the baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven.
  5. Carefully pour custard filling into crust over ganache. Fill almost to the top of crust.
  6. Bake tart until filling is mostly set but still wobbles slightly in the center, about 30 minutes.
  7. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then gently remove ring, and cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate tart until set, at least 3 hours.
  8. Top with orange segments.

Posted by on March 15th, 2011 4 Comments

Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake

This is a multipurpose cake—one you can make for guests, or one you can throw together on a weeknight when you just want dessert. It comes together superfast…really, almost as quickly as a boxed mix. I’ve had a version of this cake made with a boxed devil’s food mix, chocolate pudding mix, and sour cream, and honestly, the from-scratch is better. And I’m willing to bet that the only thing you might need to buy for this is a carton of buttermilk (and maybe some mini chocolate chips).

Dense, moist, and absolutely delicious, this is an impressive yet everyday kind of treat.

Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake
Recipe from Oxmoor House

Baking spray with flour
1 3/4  cups  all-purpose flour
1  cup granulated sugar
3/4  cup Dutch process cocoa (Katie note: my grocery only has Hershey’s Special Dark, which is what I used)
1 1/2  teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2  teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup strong brewed coffee
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate mini-chips
1 tablespoon sifted powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Heavily coat a 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan with baking spray; set aside.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat eggs and next 5 ingredients with a mixer at medium speed 1 minute or until just combined. Add flour mixture to egg mixture; beat at high speed 1 minute. Stir in chocolate mini-chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes on a wire rack. Remove cake from pan; cool completely on wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar.

Posted by on October 18th, 2010 3 Comments

Autumn Is Here Apple Crisp

It’s been cooler—and far, far drier—here in central Florida than it usually is in October, which is a welcome and unexpected break from the heat and humidity of summertime. It actually feels like fall, and that’s pretty unusual for early October.

The last three years, we lived in Birmingham, Alabama, which (among its other delightful aspects) actually has four—count ’em, four—distinct seasons, something we just don’t get in central Florida. So I was, let’s say, a little wistful on the first day of fall, knowing I was back in the two-seasons-at-best Sunshine state. But then…oh, then…the air dried out, the temperatures dropped to a chilly 75 degrees, and we had fall.

So, what do I do in response? I make apple crisp. I had planned to make apple brown betty, but I decided that the chunkier texture from a crisp or crumble is really what I wanted. I am not really a dessert person, and I am certainly not a baker. But I love a fruit crisp. This, really, is what autumn is all about, no? Eating warming, seasonal foods that remind us that the seasons (like life) are always in motion, are always changing, and are something to be celebrated.

Classic Apple Crisp
serves 4 to 6
My version is light on the sweetness, so adjust the sugar accordingly if you know you like your desserts super sweet. If you don’t have pure maple syrup on hand, please do not use pancake syrup. Substitute with brown sugar (and go buy some pure maple syrup!). Whole wheat flour adds an extra hint of heartiness, but if all-purpose is all you have, by all means, use that. Finally, you can easily double this recipe using a 9×13-inch baking dish.

4 small gala apples
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1 to 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, depending on the sweetness of your apples
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons room-temperature butter

Preheat oven to 350º.

Peel apples; slice the “cheeks” off of the cores, and discard cores. Slice apples into 1/4-inch slices, place in an 8×6-inch (or similar) baking dish, and toss with lemon juice and maple syrup. Taste a slice, and see if it tastes sweet enough; if not, add a bit more maple syrup. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, almonds, and cinnamon. Using your fingers, work in the butter until the mixture resembles wet sand, and it sticks together in clumps. Taste, and add more sugar if you think it should be sweeter.

Pour topping over apples in the baking dish. Bake for 22 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and apples are just tender. Cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream for extra oohs and aahs.

Posted by on October 5th, 2010 2 Comments

Chocolate Syrup from Scratch

To me, Hershey’s Syrup is only good for only one thing: making chocolate milk. It’s too sweet and the texture is weird to be used for anything else. I’ve never enjoyed it over ice cream, and I certainly wouldn’t dream of licking it off of a spoon. This chocolate syrup, though, I both enjoyed it drizzled on vanilla ice cream…and I ate it straight out of the container, on several occasions.

I originally set out to make hot fudge as a special dessert for my college-bound little brother. Store-bought hot fudge contains all sorts of unpronounceable  preservatives and weird stabilizers and other things that I figure we’re all better off without having in our bellies, so I decided to make some from scratch instead. I found several recipes that looked great…only they all called for cream, and I didn’t have any. But then I found this recipe from David Lebovitz, which only called for a few ingredients that I already had on hand. Brilliant.

Here’s the thing…I should have known from the recipe title that this is, indeed, chocolate sauce and not hot fudge. I confess that I did not think about or realize the difference between these two confectionary treats. And then I made a few, small adjustments to the original recipe, and the result turned out less like thick fudge sauce, and more like a richer, tastier, more complex Hershey’s syrup. But as such, it’s actually much more versatile—it’s great over ice cream, drizzled atop a brownie, or even stirred into plain yogurt for an afternoon snack. (Yes, I went there…and yes, you should, too.)

Homemade Chocolate Syrup
Adapted from David Lebovitz’s Best Chocolate Sauce
Makes about 2 1/2 cups

The amount of sugar you use can depend on how dark your chocolate is and how sweet you want the resulting syrup to be.

1 cup water
1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably the Dutch-process kind)
3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Combine water, sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Whisk in cocoa powder until mixture is smooth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Once it’s just bubbling, remove from heat and stir in chopped chocolate until smooth. Cool for at least 2 hours before using. (You can reheat it before serving, if you like.)

Posted by on August 24th, 2010 5 Comments

Icy Treats for Hot Days

I don’t know what summer is like where you live, but here in Central Florida? It’s hot. As in plants-are-wilting, hair-is-sticking-to-your-neck, asphalt-is-melting, feel-like-fainting-after-one-minute-outside hot. It’s all we can do to take the dogs to the park in the morning before the sun gets so oppressive even they don’t want to spend time outdoors. (And who ever heard of a dog who didn’t want to go outside?)

On days (or weeks, or months) when the heat is such that even turning on the stove to boil a kettle of water seems inhumane, the meals we crave tend to be cool, light, and easy to make. Snacks should be the same, and that’s exactly what these popsicles are—cold, refreshing, and so simple. I have always been a popsicle fan…I lived for the tri-color rocket pops that counselors handed out in the afternoons at summer camp. If I spotted a Frozfruit coconut bar in a freezer case, I had to have it. I loved the strawberry popsicles in the Disney World ice cream cart so much that one time, my tongue got stuck to the bar when I couldn’t wait even one second to take my first lick. (The painful incident was eased by the sweet pink treat.)

I digress. Popsicles are lovely, satisfying summertime snacks, and when you make your own, you can experiment with lots of different flavors. Below are two we’ve been enjoying on these endlessly blistering, humid days.

Watermelon Popsicles with Lime and Salt
Makes 8 (1/4-cup-capacity) popsicles

3 cups diced seedless watermelon
1 to 4 tablespoons sugar, depending on the sweetness of your watermelon
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges, for serving
Coarse sea salt, for serving

Combine watermelon and sugar in a blender; puree until very smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Pour into popsicle molds, and freeze overnight.

Serve popsicles with a lime wedge and a small pile of salt. Squeeze the lime over popsicle, and sprinkle with or dip into salt.

Striped Tropical Popsicles
Makes 8 (1/4-cup-capacity) popsicles

1/2 cup diced seedless watermelon, pureed and strained
1/2 cup guava nectar
1/2 cup passion fruit juice

Pour watermelon puree evenly among popsicle molds. Freeze for at least 4 hours, or until frozen solid. Top with guava nectar; freeze for 4 hours, or until solid. Top with passion fruit juice; freeze for 4 hours, or until solid.

Posted by on July 26th, 2010 6 Comments

Sugar's Sweet

These yummy little bites are inspired by the brilliant minds at Martha Stewart. I am not huge on baking, mostly because I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. And the patience some baking requires…well, I don’t have it. So I love recipes like this where there’s very little actual measuring or baking involved. These crispy, nutty, chewy little bars were reminiscent of Samoas Girl Scout cookies {a fave of mine}, and they a big hit at the party. Jason doesn’t even like coconut, and he enjoyed these.
Like so many other sweets, the end result of these is so much greater than the sum of it parts. I made a few substitutions to the original recipe…and I thought the end result tasted more like toffee than butterscotch, so I just rewrote it and linked the original. Finally, I didn’t count how many graham crackers I used…just fill your baking sheet; you’ll have enough toppings.

Loaded Toffee Bars
adapted from

1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
12 to 15 cinnamon graham crackers, plus more as needed
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350º. Spread walnuts and coconut on baking sheet; bake until golden, 5 minutes. Cool thoroughly; toss with chocolate chips.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. (katie note: mine was 17.25×11.5) Break graham crackers into quarters; fit in pan in single layer.

In saucepan, whisk butter and sugar over medium heat until smooth; slowly and carefully pour over crackers. Bake until bubbly, 10 minutes. Sprinkle with nut topping; press gently but firmly. Cool; press fillings again, and separate rectangles.

Posted by on December 14th, 2008 Comments Off on Sugar's Sweet

The Sweet 100

So even though I’m not really a sweets person, I thought this was too fun to pass up. Remember the Omnivore’s Hundred? Well, this one speaks to my sweet tooth…and from the looks of some of these that I’ve never tried, I’m going to be spending some time baking!

  1. Red Velvet Cake
  2. Princess Torte
  3. Whoopie Pie
  4. Apple Pie either topped or baked with sharp cheddar
  5. Beignet
  6. Baklava
  7. Black and white cookie
  8. Seven Layer Bar
  9. Fried Fruit pie
  10. Kringle
  11. Just-fried (still hot) doughnut
  12. Scone with clotted cream
  13. Betty, Grunt, Slump, Buckle or Pandowdy
  14. Halvah
  15. Macarons
  16. Banana pudding with nilla wafers
  17. Bubble tea
  18. Dixie Cup (*Can someone fill me in on what this is, exactly?)
  19. Rice Krispie treats
  20. Alfajores
  21. Blondies
  22. Croquembouche
  23. Girl Scout cookies
  24. Mooncake
  25. Candied Apple
  26. Baked Alaska
  27. Brooklyn Egg Cream
  28. Nanaimo bar
  29. Baba au rhum
  30. King Cake (find the baby!)
  31. Sachertorte
  32. Pavlova
  33. Tres Leches Cake
  34. Trifle
  35. Shoofly Pie
  36. Key Lime Pie (made with real key lime)
  37. Panna Cotta
  38. New York Cheesecake
  39. Napoleon / mille-feuille
  40. Russian Tea Cake / Mexican Wedding Cookies
  41. Anzac biscuits
  42. Pizzelle
  43. Kolache
  44. Buckeyes
  45. Malasadas
  46. Moon Pie
  47. Dutch baby
  48. Boston Cream Pie
  49. Homemade chocolate chip cookies
  50. Pralines
  51. Gooey butter cake
  52. Rusks
  53. Daifuku
  54. Green tea cake or cookies
  55. Cupcakes from a cupcake shop
  56. Crème brûlée
  57. Some sort of deep fried fair food (twinkie, candy bar, cupcake)
  58. Yellow cake with chocolate frosting
  59. Jelly Roll
  60. Pop Tarts
  61. Charlotte Russe
  62. An “upside down” dessert (Pineapple upside down cake or Tarte Tatin)
  63. Hummingbird Cake
  64. Jell-O from a mold
  65. Black forest cake
  66. Mock Apple Pie (Ritz Cracker Pie)
  67. Kulfi
  68. Linzer torte
  69. Churro
  70. Stollen
  71. Angel Food Cake
  72. Mincemeat pie
  73. Concha
  74. Opera Cake
  75. Sfogliatelle / Lobster tail
  76. Pain au chocolat
  77. A piece of Gingerbread House
  78. Cassata
  79. Cannoli
  80. Rainbow cookies
  81. Religieuse (French cream puffs)
  82. Petits fours
  83. Chocolate Souffle
  84. Bienenstich (Bee Sting Cake)
  85. Rugelach
  86. Hamenstashen (A Purim dessert)
  87. Homemade marshmallows
  88. Rigo Janci (Hungarian chocolate mousse/cake)
  89. Pie or cake made with candy bar flavors (Snickers pie, Reeses pie, etc)
  90. Divinity
  91. Coke or Cola cake
  92. Gateau Basque
  93. S’mores
  94. Figgy Pudding
  95. Bananas foster or other flaming dessert
  96. Joe Froggers
  97. Sables
  98. Millionaire’s Shortbread
  99. Animal crackers
  100. Basbousa

Posted by on October 7th, 2008 1 Comment