The ultimate July 4th meal is eaten outside. It doesn’t matter where — sitting on your front porch, on a picnic blanket in the park, on a city roof, beachside — so long as you’re enjoying a warm summer night under the stars (and, if you’re lucky, watching fireworks). There is just something about the patriotic holiday that makes it best enjoyed in the company of a celebratory crowd (friends, family, neighbors, strangers). These red-white-and-blue cakes are the perfect ending for your festive meal. In addition to having the star-spangled palette, the cakes’ brown butter icing will hold up well at your alfresco gathering.
July 4th Red, White and Blue Berry Cake
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Cinco de Mayo (the fifth of May) is an annual celebration of Mexican heritage — which for many revelers means gratuitous consumption of tacos, guacamole and margaritas (oh so many margaritas). Whether you’re looking to cap off your festive meal with something sweet or want to honor Mexican culture in slightly more subdued fashion, consider this sweet take on a chimichanga. Instead of meat, rice and cheese, these deep fried burritos are stuffed with bananas and chocolate-hazelnut spread. The tortilla bundles are then fried, dipped in cinnamon sugar and drizzled with the rich caramel sauce, dulce de leche. Though nontraditional, this dessert combines many authentic Mexican dessert flavors and ingredients, and it will likely be the hit of your fiesta.
Chocolate-Hazelnut and Banana Chimichangas
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Cooking Channel readers, meet quesitos. These wonderful little pastries are sold at bakeries throughout Puerto Rico, eaten most often at breakfast alongside a cup of coffee. The cigar-shaped treats are filled with sweetened cream cheese and various fruits, like guava paste, passion fruit and, as used here, pineapple. The tangy-sweet fruit surrenders to its sugary side when sauteed with butter, brown sugar and vanilla, making the quesitos taste even more decadent. They’re beautiful in a shabby-chic kind of way, nothing fussy — just rustic goodness with a generous dusting of powdered sugar. The best thing is that you can whip them together in about 10 minutes and instantly satisfy your craving for something sweet. But piled high on a platter, they just as easily translate into a beautiful dessert for spring entertaining.
Continue Reading Pineapple Quesitos: A Spring Breakfast (or Dessert) Treat
These may seem a little upside down. We usually think of meringue piled high above the lemon pie filling, not the other way around. In this simpler twist on the classic, there is no crust to deal with. So they are lighter and faster to make, but contain all the same tangy-sweet allure. The meringue shell is whipped until it is light as air, then spooned into little clouds that are baked until they are set but still slightly soft in the middle. Once cooled, the meringues are topped with lavender-scented lemon curd. The tartness of the curd is a perfect match for the sweet meringue, and a bit of lavender creates a gentle floral touch, without going overboard. It tastes just like spring.
Continue Reading Lemon-Lavender Meringues
As you ready yourself for the spring holidays and general turn-of-the-season entertaining, consider adding this simple (yet impressive-looking) recipe to your arsenal. Elegant, party-ready foods needn’t take much of your time to prepare, or be particularly difficult to execute. Here, I use a sheet of puff pastry, onion, herbs, cherry tomatoes, feta and French olives (all of which happened to be in my refrigerator) to make these bite-size tarts. This combo makes a great Mediterranean-inspired dish, but really any mixture of pantry items will do. Consider it my contribution to your spring cleaning.
Continue Reading Quick Onion Tarts for Spring Entertaining
Cooking Channel fans and Devour readers are well-acquainted with Zoë François’ fanciful baking and dessert creations — from showstopping holiday cakes to everyday sweets — and the helpful step-by-step guides within each of her posts. And while Zoë’s recipe library on Cooking Channel contains grilled buns and quick breads, you might not know that one of her greater passions — and fodder for multiple cookbooks — is traditional bread baking.
On sale this week, The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook is the revised and enhanced version of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, the 2007 brainchild of CIA-trained Zoë and co-author Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., combining their culinary and scientific strengths. Born of a discussion during their kids’ music class, Artisan Bread aims to empower readers to bake bread daily by “mix[ing] enough dough for several loaves and stor[ing] it in the refrigerator.”
This revolutionary concept drew a sizeable audience, making Artisan Bread a best-seller and resulting in the creation of artisanbreadinfive.com, a destination for new recipes and photographs and a hub for a community of bread bakers. The questions and comments that arose in this forum fueled additional cookbooks, and now, the revision of that first successful endeavor.
Continue Reading Cookbook Giveaway: The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
As we give up the sunny days of summer, nature presents bright orange pumpkins to cheer us up. Much like with zucchini, there is an endless bounty to be made from these winter gourds. Here is a spiced pumpkin cake that is absolutely delicious and needs no adornment to be appreciated. But decorate it like a sugar pumpkin and it becomes a centerpiece for any fall holiday table; the addition of the words “Trick” and “Treat” turn these cakes into perfect Halloween desserts.
Halloween Pumpkin Cake
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At this time of year, when juicy ripe peaches are plentiful, I try to come up with creative ways to make use of the sweet fruit. This month, my local co-op had a bin of the most beautiful, fragrant peaches — I think maybe the best crop I’ve had in years — and I couldn’t wait to put them to good use. I cooked them with just a touch of honey and a vanilla bean. This light-as-air angel food (great for these hot end-of-summer days) has a healthy dose of citrus zest, which nicely balances the sweet peaches.
Citrus Angel Food Cake with Peaches
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This is a very tossed-together Black Forest Cake, or, as I like to say when I am too lazy to bring out the piping bag and tips, it’s “rustic.” It has all the components of the classic German torte, but without the fuss. Layers of dark chocolate cake are sandwiched with fresh whipped cream and sweet cherries spiked with kirschwasser (“cherry water,” or clear sour cherry brandy). These flavors are among the most celebrated combinations in the history of pastry making — and for good reason. This swoon-worthy homemade version of the cake is super-fast and easy to put together.
Rustic Black Forest Cake Recipe (aka Cherry Chocolate Cake)
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This pie was baked by my 14-year-old son. He made the dough, mixed a filling of tart rhubarb and sweet cherries, and then he created the lattice. I sat back, trying not to take over, and just watched in amazement as he figured it all out. It was a thing of beauty to see him moving so confidently in the kitchen and his pie, well you can see for yourself, the kid has skill. I was in heaven. There is nothing sweeter than a kid in the kitchen and especially when he’s baking my favorite pie.
Rhubarb-Cherry Pie Recipe
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