This is the perfect dessert for Thanksgiving dinner. It can be made days ahead, doesn’t require any oven space and is decadent with flavor, but light enough to follow your Thanksgiving feast. The poaching liquid is homemade chai; a blend of sweet spices and black tea. A drizzle of chocolate ganache gussies up the dessert and makes it look like something you fussed over, even though this is one of the easiest desserts to create. No one needs to know that!
Be sure to pick firm, unripe pears for poaching. The harder the pear, the longer it will take to poach, which means it has more time to soak up the flavors of the chai. Slow poaching is key to great flavor.
Continue Reading Poached Pears: The Perfect Thanksgiving Dessert
I adore pumpkin. Its bright orange shell is such a relief, during a season when the grey of winter is settling in. But my love of pumpkin goes beyond its brilliant color. Its luscious texture and earthy sweetness make it perfect for baking all kinds of desserts: pumpkin creme brulee, classic pie, breads and cheesecake. When pumpkin is pureed smooth, it has a custard-like texture, so it lends itself beautifully to this silky cheesecake. For a nice contrast to cheesecake, add candied almond crunch and a dollop of Amaretto whipped cream.
Continue Reading Pumpkin Cheesecake with Candied Crunch and Amaretto Whipped Cream
This time of year all of the apple bins at the grocery store are framed with rows of gooey caramel apples, studded with nuts, candies and chocolate. I can’t blame my kids for being drawn in; they are irresistible. But, when you bite into them they are always just a touch disappointing. The apples are usually soft and the caramel is cloyingly sweet and tastes like it was from the previous generation.
I convinced my boys to walk by without taking one, but only after promising to make them some at home. We picked a bunch of fresh, crisp, juicy, tart apples. The caramel is easy to make and is rich, creamy, gooey and not over-the-top sweet. For a bit of contrast to the sweet caramel, you can dip the bottom in salted peanuts
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A galette is a French tart, or simply a pie without a plate. It is easy to make and there is no fancy fluting or lattice top crust to worry about. Right now apples are abundant, with many varieties to choose from. You can mix and match to suit your mood. Some will turn to sauce (McIntosh), some will keep their shape (Prairie Spy), others will be sweet (HoneyCrisp) and some will be tart (Haralson). The crust should be tender and flaky and just barely strong enough to hold up to the apples. It adds to the drama if some of the juices escape, which is why we bake on a sided baking sheet.
Continue Reading Easy as Pie: Apple Galette
As the weather gets chillier, at least here in the upper Midwest, we turn our attention over to apples and pears. The summer fruits and berries are no longer available, with the exception of Italian plums. They have a short season, so ACT NOW; they won’t last long. These little gems are good to eat, but even better to bake with. They aren’t quite as juicy or sweet as their American cousins, but they keep their shape well and their skin adds a gorgeous purple color to tarts and cakes.
The brown sugar cake batter and sweet crumb topping are a perfect compliment to the not-too-sweet fruit. It is great for breakfast with a cup of tea and/or with ice cream after dinner. This is a cake that also seems to get better the second day, if there is any left.
Continue Reading Make This Plum Cake Before It’s Too Late
This panna cotta is inspired by Vietnamese ice coffee, my favorite summer time drink. Take strong coffee, mix it with sweet condensed milk and pour over ice. I’ve taken those simple flavors and created an elegant, no-bake dessert. I like my panna cotta with as little gelatin as possible, just enough to keep it together. This version requires even less, because I leave it right in the glass.
Vietnamese Ice Coffee Panna Cotta
Makes 6 to 8
Prep time: 45 minutes
Refrigerator time: 2 hours
Skill: Easy, but several steps
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Red Velvet cake has become an American favorite, because of its lovely texture and fun color. Add blue and white for a show-stopping dessert this 4th of July. The inside of the cake is as striking as the decorative icing. Bring it to your holiday picnic and it will outshine the fireworks.
Red, White and Blue Velvet Cake
Makes: 12 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 30+ minutes
Decorating Time: 1 hour
Level: multiple steps, but all of them are easy
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Have you ever made a pineapple upside-down cake and had all the goodies stick to the bottom of the pan? I have. I hold my breath as I invert the pan and then sigh with either frustration or relief as I unveil the cake. Granted, prying the caramelized fruit from the pan and carefully putting it back on the cake easily remedies it, but there is a touch of disappointment nonetheless. Here is a simple and elegant solution — bake the cakes in jars and leave them rightside-up.
And if you really want to serve them upside-down, just flip the jar over onto the plate.
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Addiction warning: I can’t stop eating this fudge! I’ve been giving away bags of it to anyone I meet, just to keep from eating the whole batch. I like chocolate fudge with all kinds of stuff in it, especially nuts, but my boys are purists and just want uninterrupted chocolate.
This recipe is made by boiling down evaporated milk until it reaches just the right temperature and poured over really high quality chocolate. No marshmallow fluff! I’ve done those recipes as well, but I like the texture of this better and the flavor is more intense and not as sweet. It requires a candy thermometer, but don’t let that scare you, it is really very simple
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