Tag: dessert

Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake

 

I want you to have a really great weekend. I want you to do and see all the things you want to; to sleep in late if that’s your thing, or get up with the sun and get ‘er done – whatever floats your boat.

I want you to have a relaxing weekend where you find snippets of peace and happiness in between your yoga class, your hurried trek to get the kids to swimming lessons on time, that unexpected drop in by your in-laws. I want you to have the sort of weekend where you say to your self: “Self, let’s do this!” and you go on, happily, calmly and without locking your keys in the car or putting the milk in the oven and the muffins in the fridge. Deep breath – don’t forget it’s the weekend.

I want you to have a delicious weekend: double long cappuccino with the foam just right, your favourite deli’s sandwich, perfectly wrapped in waxed paper, eaten joyfully in the sun on a park bench, maybe something grilled to embrace the warmer weather if it is indeed warmer where you are.

And this cake.  (more…)

Peaches and Cream Ice Box Pie

I have a dream and it involves an old house in the country. It’s a big old farm house, well worn and comfy. It’s painted yellow with a big white front porch and lots of trees around it. The yard is rambling and lush with fruit trees and a bountiful garden. It’s the kind of house that has lots of room for guests in its spare but comfortable bedrooms filled with light and maybe even a screened in back porch, perfect for sleeping in on balmy summer nights. It’s hallways are decorated with frames filled with family portraits, everyone sitting on the front stairs, each year looks different as everyone gets older. What doesn’t change are the smiles, the bare feet and the sun kissed cheeks of happy people. It is the perfect house for summer entertaining. In this vision I can smell the barbecue smoke mingling with the jasmine and lilac. I can hear the clink of horseshoes being tossed, people laughing, and birdsong. There in the middle of it is a long table outside, set for what is always an epic family dinner. It’s a cook and entertainer’s dream. Mismatched chairs, laundry-line-dried linens, jars and juice glasses filled with flowers, it sits at the center of things, constant and stoic, waiting for its guests to tuck in. There’s no texting, no worry about tomorrow’s commute, nothing but relaxation and fun.

Bliss.

This pie fits that dream. It suits the easy mood and tastes like summer. It is not overly complicated, not cloyingly sweet, but it certainly tastes like a treat and summarizes the culinary freshness of summer. When peaches are not quite in season, or unavailable, canned will work just fine, simply drain them well so they don’t make the creamy filling too soft.

 

Peaches and Cream Ice Box Pie

For the crust:

preheat the oven to 375°

In a large, deep pie dish, combine:

3 C graham cracker crumbs

1/3 C softened butter or margarine

1/4 C sugar

Using your fingers, rub the crumbs and sugar into the butter until it is the texture of damp sand. Spread the crumbs evenly over the bottom and sides of the pie dish, pressing to compact them and make the crust.  Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes until it has darkened, dried slightly and is fragrant. Allow to cool fully. Set aside.

For the filling:

4 C sliced peaches (fresh or canned if you want this out of season)

¼ C cold milk

¼ C hot milk

1 packet plain gelatin

2 cups whipping cream

2 C icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla bean paste or 1 Vanilla bean, scraped, pod discarded

1/2 tsp almond extract

Sprinkle the gelatin onto the cold milk and stir. Add the hot milk and stir again until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Set aside to cool. Whip the whipping cream to soft peaks, add the sugar, almond extract and vanilla. Slowly add the cooled gelatin mixture. Continue beating for 1 more minute. Scrape cream into the cooled, prepared crumb crust, smoothing the top. Arrange the peach slices on top. Chill the finished pie for at least 2 hours before serving.

Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies

Vancouver has had an unseasonably cold spring. Usually by now we are seeing fairly consistent sunshine and the afternoons and evenings have become a bit balmy. Instead, we have had temperamental rain, very cool temperatures over night (close to freezing!) and even if the sun is out and seems warm, if you step into the shade, you will shiver. This kind of weather is crummy when you’re ready for some heat and you want to see and feel the world thaw a bit.

The one thing that this weather is good for is baking. Occasionally you just want to whip up a batch of cookies or a quick loaf and when the weather gets warm, that starts to seem like a bad idea. If it’s still baking temperature where you are, give these humble beauties a try. They are soft, chewy, and fragrant with cinnamon. Don’t love cinnamon? Dial it back to just a pinch. Prefer your oatmeal cookies with a smattering of raisins? Chocolate bits? Chocolate covered raisins? Toss them in! Jazz them up or leave them plain and simple – either way, they are worth trying before it’s too warm to imagine turning on the oven.

Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies

preheat the oven to 350 degrees

1/2 a cup of butter or margarine

3/4 of a cup of brown sugar, gently packed

1 egg

1 tbsp vanilla

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup of flour

1 tsp of baking powder

1 tsp of ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp of ground nutmeg

2/3 of a cup of oats

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and mix well to combine. Add the vanilla and almond extract. Stir well.

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and spices.

Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Once fully mixed, stir in the oats.

Drop my rounded teaspoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. They will spread to be about 50% wider than their original diameter, so leave plenty of room. Bake for 14 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 16 – 20 cookies, depending on how “rounded” your teaspoonfuls are.

Tiramisu

Most of the time the recipes that I post here are my own version of something which I have imagined and then created. Occasionally I lean more heavily on a recipe from a book or website, but by and large, I just make this stuff up. I have a fairly extensive cookbook collection, but I rarely cook from them, I just use the recipes, anecdotes and pictures as inspiration. Before I make something, I deconstruct it in my head and try to figure out all the elements and how they fit together and in what proportion. Then I make it and see how it turns out. I’m proud to say I have a pretty good ‘batting average’ when it comes to new recipes, but even a ‘failure’ is usually consumable, just not all that it was meant to be. I share the ones that work and re-work the ones that don’t. Some recipes are a bigger ‘risk’ or better put: further out of my comfort zone or my immediate knowledge.

This tiramisu was a bit of a gamble.

I have had tiramisu many times, but I’d never made it. I understood the basic building blocks and I knew what the finished product should be like, but all the steps in between were a bit foggy. I considered looking up a few recipes online first, but decided against it. I wanted it, however it turned out, to be my version. So I jumped right in.

It worked. It has all the richness you could ask for but the unmistakable lightness as well. It’s boozy, but not over powering and the texture is soft and unctuous but not complete mush. Is it entirely traditional? No, I don’t think so. But it looks like tiramisu, smells like tiramisu and most importantly tastes like tiramisu. I’m going to go ahead and call this one a winner. Let me know what you think.

Tiramisu

1 400g package of crisp Italian ladyfinger cookies

1 cup of very strong coffee or espresso

2 tablespoons Bailey’s liquer

3 eggs

1 cup of sugar

1 tablespoon of vanilla

2 cups ( one 454g tub) of mascarpone cheese (substitute cream cheese if you can’t find mascarpone)

1/2 cup of sour cream

1 tablespoon of cocoa powder for sprinkling on top

Prepare the coffee and stir in the Bailey’s. In the bottom of a 9×13 dish, arrange an even layer of ladyfingers.

Drizzle with half the coffee mixture, ensuring each cookie gets doused. Whatever is in the bottom of the pan will be absorbed.

Next, make the mascarpone cream. Start by beating together the eggs and sugar with a wire whisk in a double boiler (or a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering – not boiling – water).

Cook the egs and sugar, stirring almost constantly for about 10 minutes until the mixture is a very pale and thickened custard. You’ll know it’s thickened enough when you lift your whisk the custard drips and makes an obvious ribbon on the surface.  Remove from heat, continuing to stir it until it is warm but no longer hot, about 3 minutes.

Add the mascarpone, 1 cup at a time, stirring to incorporate before adding more. Once the mixture is smooth, stir in the sour cream. Pour half the mascarpone cream over the layer of soaking ladyfingers, smoothing it with the back of a spoon to get it into the corners.

Repeat with a second layer of ladyfingers, drizzle on the rest of the coffee and top with the remaining mascarpone cream.

Sift the cocoa over top. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.


Brownies

There seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to brownies: some are cake-like and chewy, some are damp and dense and almost fudge-like. Since there is no leavening beyond the eggs, these brownies won’t rise. In fact they will puff slightly, develop a crust and then sink. This is thanks to a greater volume of chocolate than flour, much like a flourless chocolate cake. Many people will take brownies any way that they can get them, but for some of us, myself included, only the damp, fudgey ones will do. This recipe delivers just that. It is a simple recipe but decadent enough to be relegated to special occasions or extreme chocolate cravings. Enjoy!

Brownies

preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Melt together over a double boiler (or a heat proof mixing bowl set over a pot of simmering water):

1 cup of chocolate chips

1/2 cup of butter

3/4 cup of sugar

Stir frequently until the mix is fully melted and glossy.

Set the chocolate mix aside to cool slightly. As it cools, butter and line with parchment, an 8×8 inch baking dish. Allow the paper to hang over the edge to act as “handles” for lifting the brownies from the pan later. Lightly butter the paper as well!

To the now cooled chocolate mixture add:

1 tsp. vanilla

2 beaten eggs

Mix quickly and thoroughly then add:

3/4 cup of cocoa

1 tablespoon of very finely ground coffee or instant espresso

Once fully combined, add

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1 cup chopped walnuts (entirely optional)

The batter will be sturdy. Smooth it into the prepared pan and bake for 45 mins. When tested with a toothpick the crumbs attached to it will be quite damp. Don’t let this stop you!

Allow the brownies to cool for 15 minutes in the pan, then carefully lift our with the paper “handles” and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into 24 small pieces.