Category Archives: Dessert

Cake for Breakfast

Remember the Bill Cosby routine from his comedy stand-up about feeding his children cake for breakfast?

“Good morn’, Daddy.”

And I said, “What do you want for breakfast!?”  The four-year-old has the ability to see through and find the wrong thing. The child saw through my body what was behind me. She saw the chocolate cake.

She said, “Can I have the chocolate cake?”

And I said, “Chocolate cake, where?”

She said, “Chocolate cake behind you.”

And I looked… and there was chocolate cake! The child wanted chocolate cake for breakfast! How ridiculous! And I said… and someone in my brain looked under chocolate cake and saw the ingredients: eggs! Eggs are in chocolate cake! And milk! Oh goody! And wheat! That’s nutrition!

“Chocolate cake coming up.” Sliced it for her and served it.

Eggs, milk, and wheat in the chocolate cake. And…I didn’t have to cook. And the other four came downstairs. And when they came downstairs…they saw the four-year-old eating chocolate cake.

And they said, “Dad! Where did she get the chocolate cake?” And they went to the child and said, “How did you get chocolate cake?”

She said, “Dad give me chocolate cake!” And they looked at me and said, “Father… could we have chocolate cake?”

And their father said, “Chocolate cake coming up!!”

And five children sat at breakfast and the morning music was playing and they were eating chocolate cake and singing songs to me: “Dad is great! Give us the chocolate cake!”

Well, I’ve been replaying that in my mind this week.  You see I made a carrot cake for Easter dinner, and I just love leftover carrot cake for breakfast.  I mean, it has carrots, and eggs, and wheat…that’s nutrition!

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes one 9 x 13-inch sheet cake

Cake:
1 cup pecans
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 lb carrots, peeled and coarsely shredded

Frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 – 2 cups confectioners’ sugar

To make cake:  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease and flour 9 x 13-inch cake pan.

Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 7 to 8 minutes, or until fragrant.  Cool and chop pecans.

In a bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, buttermilk, and vanilla.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugars at high speed until well blended, maybe 3 – 5 minutes.

Beat in the liquid ingredients.

Beat in the dry ingredients just until moistened.

Stir in carrots and pecans.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until golden and springy to touch.  Let cake cool on wire rack for about 30 minutes then remove from pan and let cool completely.

To make frosting: Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese at high speed until light.

Add about 1 1/2 cups of confectioners’ sugar and beat at low speed until incorporated.  Add more confectioners’ sugar if needed.  Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy.

Frost cake and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.

The flavors of this moist cake improve with time, so it is actually better to bake and frost the cake in advance.  The cake is best served slightly chilled or at room temperature.

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Game Day Eats – Harvest Blondies

I’ve said it before  and I’ll say it again…I really feel no get-together is complete without something sweet to eat.  Game watching or tail-gating is no different.

But, these gatherings are not really the place to bring out a tiered cake or serve complicated desserts.  Something simple is better.  Something that is easy to make and transports well and folks can serve themselves.

Bring on the bar cookie…

Harvest Blondies
Makes 16 bars

1 cup unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp coarse salt
about 3/4 cup M&Ms or other candy coated chocolates

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with butter; line pan with parchment paper with about a 2-inch overhang, and butter paper.

Melt butter then, combine with sugars until smooth.

Whisk in eggs and vanilla.

Add flour and salt; stir until just moistened.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top.  Arrange candies in rows on top of dough.

I used only autumn colors of yellow, orange, red, and brown, but you should do as you prefer.  You can use team colors, or mix them all randomly.

Bake about 45 minutes or until top is golden brown and a tester comes out clean.

Set pan on wire rack to let cool completely.  Then, using edges of parchment, lift from pan and transfer to a cutting board.

Cut into 16 squares.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.  If the cookies make it past the first night, they will last about 2 days in an airtight container.

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She’s A Firecracker

I have a  friend.  (Yes, I have more than one friend, smarty-pants, but today’s entry is just about one in particular.)  Anyway, I have this friend.  Her name is Wendy.  I’m jealous of her long lean legs and her beautiful red hair.  And, her charmingly cute kid.  And her fierce skills at first base.  Wendy is smart and funny and one of the kindest people I know.

But, watch out…she’s a firecracker.  She uses that intelligence and humor and sparks fly out of her mouth.  Those sparks can catch some folks off guard, but I love it, even when it is directed at me.  Wendy makes life fun and she reminds me to laugh at myself and to see comedy where it is not always obvious.  And, she reminds me that someone is always watching and reading and what I am doing is not a waste of time and energy.

Thanks for being my friend and a great audience member, Wendy.  I’m glad I got to help you celebrate your birthday.  I hope you liked your cake.  Kisses.

Red-Headed Firecracker Apple Cake with Caramel Glaze
Serves 8 to 10

For cake:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups of peeled, cored, and diced apple

For glaze:
4 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream

For cake:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease and flour an 8- to 10- cup Bundt pan.

Whisk flour, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg, salt, ginger, and cayenne in medium bowl.

Whisk canola oil, brown sugar, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend.

Add dry ingredients and fold until blended.

Fold in diced apples.

Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake about 40 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.  Cool cake in pan on rack for about 10 minutes.  Invert cake onto plate or rack.

For the glaze:
In a saucepan over medium low heat, melt the butter.  Stir in the sugars.

Cook the mixture, stirring, until bubbly, maybe about a minute.  Stir in the heavy cream.   Bring to a boil.   Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly.  Then, spoon the glaze over completely cooled cake.  It is quite messy, so you may not want to glaze it on your serving dish.

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Thyme for Chocolate

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I recently received a windfall of herbs from my friend Karen’s garden.  It was a lovely mixture and I’ve had a fun time experimenting with flavors and using the herbs in new ways.

Her generous food gift included a hefty portion of thyme.  This herb just smells and tastes green to me.  I also find it quite strong tasting.  I find that too many cooks overuse it and in some dishes it is all I taste.  That is not what I want.

Thyme is a little bittersweet and as I mulled over what to do with it I decided to make a dessert.  Sweet paired with bitter just seemed right.  And, as many of you know, I have trouble imagining dessert without chocolate.  And, thus it was decided.  Thyme and chocolate together at last.

Thyme Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Sauce
Makes about 1 quart of ice cream

Inspired by Thomas Keller

For Ice Cream:
1 1/4 cups whole milk
small handful of thyme sprigs
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups heavy cream

For Chocolate Sauce:
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 oz dark chocolate, chopped
4 Tbsp light corn syrup

To make ice cream:
In a small saucepan, combine milk and thyme sprigs and turn on burner.  Heat the milk until it starts to form bubbles around the edges.  Turn off the heat and leave to cool.

Cover and put in refrigerator to steep overnight.

The following day, heat again until bubbles form.  Then strain to remove thyme sprigs and leaves.  You will really start to smell the grassy thyme now.

In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks with sugar.

Slowly add the warm, thyme-infused milk to the beaten eggs in a thin stream, stirring constantly.  When you add something hot to eggs, you risk curdling or cooking the eggs.  If you add it slowly while stirring, you temper the two ingredients so they combine instead of cook.  Don’t panic if you do see a few little lumps, you can strain them out later.

Transfer to a clean saucepan and stir over low heat, without letting it boil, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

Remove from heat and strain through a fine sieve.

Stir in the heavy cream.  Cover and cool in refrigerator for several hours.

Follow manufacturers’ directions for your ice cream maker.

To make chocolate sauce:
Put cream, chocolate, and syrup in a saucepan and melt over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

The sauce should be ready in about 2 minutes.

Serve right away or you can keep in refrigerator for a few days and reheat in microwave.  Just heat for 30 seconds or less, stir and repeat once or twice.

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Sweet Taste of Homesickness

Boy, have I been homesick lately.  I know that Texas is in the midst of a horrible drought and suffering from record-breaking heat, but I still miss it.  I don’t need you to understand.

I know it is no surprise to any of you who read this blog to hear that I miss the food almost as much as I miss the people and places.  One thing in particular that I miss is my dad’s peach tart.  Made with Hill Country peaches, it is sublime.  You cannot beat butter and freshly picked fruit, right?  It makes the house smell wonderful when it is baking and it is a delicious finish to a summer meal.  And, I know I am loved when Dad sets aside the last piece and lets me have it for breakfast the next day.  It is just as good cold as it is warm.  Sigh.

Here’s how to share some love in your house…I only hope you have enough to save a piece for breakfast.

Peach Tart
Makes two tarts

Modified from Fine Cooking Magazine

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
16 Tbsp very cold unsalted butter
2/3 cup of ice water
approx. 1/4 cup brown sugar

Mix together flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut the cold butter into cubes and drop into flour mixture.  Cut in with knives or pastry cutter until it resembles tiny peas.  Add ice water all at once and mix just until the dough comes together.  Take care not to over mix.

Gather the dough with your hands and shape into two disks and wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  Sometimes if the kitchen is really hot or we are in a hurry, Dad and I will cheat a bit and put the dough in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  Be careful, though.  Don’t put the dough in the coldest part of the freezer or it could become tough.  Just so you know, Mom thinks we are taking too great a risk with her dessert and she doesn’t like that we do this.

After the dough has chilled, roll out each disk of dough between two sheets of wax paper to about 1/8-inch thickness.  Take care not to over work the dough and just remove one disk from the refrigerator at a time.  You can place the rolled dough in a tart pan or just lay out on a baking sheet for a free form tart or galette.

If you go with the rustic shape, place the rolled dough on a parchment covered baking sheet.  Put the fruit in the center of the dough round and fold up about 2 inches of the dough all around and pleat slightly to secure.

Slice the peaches and arrange on top of the dough in the tart pan.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.  You may decide to use a little more or a little less.

Regardless of the shape, bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for about 30 minutes.  The formal tart needs to cool on a baking rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the tart pan ring.  The galette should cool about 5 minutes, then slide off the baking sheet to cool on a rack.

Serve warm or cold.

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Bar Stool Fridays – Take Your Spoon Out of My Wineglass

This Bar Stool Fridays post is brought to you by my mother.  She thought my readers would enjoy this alcoholic summer dessert.  It is as good as it looks…so good you won’t want to share.

I was looking for a light, low calorie, and cooling dessert.  The apricots and mangos looked beautifully ripe at the store so we then went in search of a wine.  The type of Riesling we chose was a Spatlese and I think we chose wisely since it is a late harvest and the grapes were fully ripened and enhanced the over-all fruity flavor.

The beautiful color of the sorbet combined with the balance of sweet and tart made the perfect finish for a summer supper.

 

Apricot, Mango, Reisling Sorbet
Recipe By: Marie Ferrier
Serving Size: 6

4 Apricots, fresh, peeled, pitted
1 Mango, fresh, peeled, pitted
1/2 cup Sugar, granulated
1 cup Water
1/2 cup Wine, Riesling, chilled


Peel, pit, and slice the apricots and the mango for 2 cups of fruit.
Place cut fruits, sugar, and water in a saucepan and cook until fruits are tender for about 20 minutes.

Puree the mixture and and pour into a container, cover, and chill 24 hours.


Add the chilled wine to the fruit mixture.  Follow ice cream makers direction for freezing. I have a Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker attachment and it stirred about 12 minutes until it was the correct consistency.  Empty the mixture into a container with a lid and place in the freezer for at least 2 hours.

 

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Be Cool and Patriotic

Cool off at your US Independence Day party with these red, white, and blue popsicles.

My brother bought me some new popsicle molds that look like sailboats, so I’ve been playing around with different recipes.

I made these with my friend, Laura, in mind.  Her favorite holiday is the Fourth of July.  In fact, she likes it so much she even chose it for her wedding date.  Pretty cool, huh?

Now, I’m a sucker for the fun shapes of the popsicle molds (as my husband can tell you), but you don’t need them to make this recipe.  You can just use paper cups and wooden craft sticks.

Patriotic Popsicles
Makes about 6 popsicles (depends on size of molds)

about 1 1/2 cups strawberries, washed and cored
about 2 cups of blueberries, washed and stemmed
3 – 5 Tbsp agave syrup, divided
about 6 Tbsp vanilla yogurt (low-fat, no-fat, whole, or soy all okay)

Puree strawberries with 1 to 2 Tbsp of agave syrup in a food processor or blender.

Pour equal amounts into popsicle molds and place in freezer for about 20 minutes.  This is creating the top layer of your popsicles.

Puree blueberries with 2 to 3 Tbsp of agave syrup in a food processor or blender.

Pour  equal amounts into popsicle molds on top of slightly firm strawberry puree.  Place in freezer for another 20 minutes to create the middle layer of your popsicles.

Remove popsicle molds from freezer and spoon in equal amounts of vanilla yogurt to create the final layer of your popsicles.

 

Put in sticks or tops and place back in freezer to completely firm.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Pie in the Hand Is Worth…

A lot.

Hand pies are great, aren’t they?  I mean, the fact that a piece of pie doesn’t require a fork to eat it is pretty cool.  And, that is not just because I don’t have a dishwasher.  No, I’m more impressed by the ease in which it can move from the pan to my mouth.

I wanted some pie this weekend, and I liked the idea of not using forks, but I didn’t want to roll out and press a bunch of individual pies.  So, I made a slab pie instead.  (ASIDE: When I told my husband that what he was smelling was a slab pie baking in the oven.  He replied that he had never tasted slab, but he hoped it was good.)  No, silly, it is called slab pie for its shape, not its flavor.  It is long, flat, and rectangular, like a stone slab.  I figured it was a sturdy enough pie that once it was cut into slices, it could be eaten out of hand.  I was right.

Strawberry Blueberry Slab Pie
Serves 8 to 12

Crust:

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
18 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice (I mean it, really cold)
3 Tbsp cold vegetable shortening
1/3 cup cold water

Filling:

4 cups berries (I used equal parts sliced strawberries and blueberries)
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 Tbsp orange juice
1/2 Tbsp orange zest

To make the crust:
I experimented with a Fine Cooking recipe for pie dough because I wanted to use my food processor.  If you don’t have a food processor, you can still make this recipe by hand,  though.

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor.

Add the really cold butter and vegetable shortening.

Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  It took me about 10 pulses.  You want the fats cold when you mix with the flour so it will stay in little pieces and make your crust flakier instead of just melting together.

Sprinkle 1/3 cup cold water and pulse until it just starts to come together.  It took me about 8 pulses.  Be careful not to overprocess.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and with your fingers shape into a rectangle that is about 8 x 12 inches.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Make filling:
In a bowl, toss together  berries, salt, sugar, cornstarch, orange juice, and orange zest.  Set aside.

Assemble and bake pie:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

Retrieve the dough from the refrigerator and turn out on t0 a lightly floured work surface.  With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough to about 1/4-inch thick rectangle.  You can probably get as large as 12 x 18 inches, but it is okay if it is smaller.  You may need to add a bit more flour as you roll, so it doesn’t stick.  If you want it pretty, you should trim the dough and make the sides straight.  If you don’t care how it looks, just how it tastes, leave it alone.

Transfer the dough to your prepared baking sheet and turn it so the long side if facing you.  Spoon/spread the berry filling along the bottom half, leaving about a 1/2-inch border.  Because my berries were so juicy, I used a slotted spoon to move the berries onto the pie crust.

Fold the top half down to cover the filling.  I lifted the exposed bottom layer on top of the top layer to seal the pie, but you can line up the edges, if you prefer.

To seal the filled pie, press a fork along the seam or edges to secure the sides.  Press the fork down gently, just enough to create a good bond, but not so hard that you push through to the second layer of dough and pierce it, which could cause the filling to leak. (Like what I did.)

In a small bowl, beat an egg with about 2 tsp of water to create an egg wash.  Brush this mixture over the top of the sealed pie.

Using a sharp paring knife, cut 5 or 6 steam vents into the top of the dough.

Bake until the pie is golden brown, about 50 minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

When ready to serve, use a serrated knife to cut into slices.  It is best eaten within 24 hours, but it will keep for a couple of days, well-wrapped in the refrigerator.

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Chocolate on a Stick

I’ve been creating recipes since I was a kid.  Of course, some turned out better than others…Let’s just say I came up with some flavor combinations that I’ve chosen not to repeat.  But others…well, there are others that I’ve turned to again and again.

It will come as no surprise to folks who know me that I’ve spent my life thinking about what to pair with chocolate.  It is one of my favorite flavors and I think it makes so many things taste utterly delicious.

I especially enjoy chocolate ice cream.  As a kid growing up in Texas, I ate a lot of Blue Bell brand chocolate ice cream.  During strawberry season, my grandmother would make strawberry ice cream, but I didn’t want any.  I just wanted chocolate.  She couldn’t understand why I would refuse to eat homemade ice cream, in her favorite flavor of strawberry.  To humor her, I put strawberries on my chocolate ice cream, and a new love was born.  I enjoyed it so much I wrote to the Blue Bell Ice Cream company with a request to start producing chocolate strawberry chunk.

Blue Bell didn’t use my flavor suggestion, but I’ve used it many times.

Chocolate Strawberry Popsicles
Makes 6 popsicles (depending on molds used)

1/2 pint strawberries, washed and cored
1 – 2 Tbsp agave syrup, optional
2 cups milk (low-fat okay)
6 oz chocolate (semi-sweet or dark)

Finely dice strawberries.

You can also puree a portion of the berries, like I did.

If the berries are not sweet enough, you can mix in a little agave syrup.

In a small saucepan, combine milk and chocolate.

Warm over medium low heat, stirring until chocolate is melted.

Once the milk and chocolate have been blended, remove from heat and let cool.  When the mixture is no longer hot, stir in the strawberries.

Pour the liquid into popsicle molds and put in the freezer.

Mine took about 4 hours to firm  up.  They took much less time to eat.

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A Simple Sweet Ending

I just cannot fathom having folks over for a meal and not offering them dessert.  Having something sweet always makes for a happy ending to the evening.

This is a super simple cookie bar recipe that is perfect to serve at or take to a cookout or picnic.  My mother made them frequently during my childhood, and she thought my readers would enjoy them, too.

Brown Sugar Nut Bars
Yields about 40 cookies

1/2 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract (or almond or maple extract)
1 cup Pecans, chopped (or other nut)
Optional ingredients – 1/2 cup shredded coconut or 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over low heat and stir until butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Remove the butter and brown sugar from the heat.  Add beaten eggs, flour, baking powder, and stir until well blended.  Then add extract and nuts and stir.  Other ingredients can be added now.

Turn out the cookie dough into a well-buttered 13 x 9-inch pan.  Spread and pat down with fingers.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes.  The cookie dough will be lightly browned and will pull away from the sides of the pan and a tester will come out clean.

Let cool approximately 10 minutes in the pan.  Cut into bars and let cookies completely cool on wire racks.

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