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
Continue Reading Citrus Angel Food Cake with Peaches
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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Jell-O always seems a bit like magic to me. Add water to the brightly colored, sugary powder and in no time it’s solid and jiggles like a good belly laugh. The problem is, the stuff in the box tastes like congealed, watered-down kool-aid. There is no actual fruit involved, just artificial color and flavor. But, it is so easy and fun to create a fresh fruit version. There really is nothing better (or more summery) than the taste of fresh strawberries. Take those gorgeous berries, puree them and add just enough gelatin to set the fruit in a fancy mold. Knowing how to work with unflavored gelatin properly means you can set a liquid, without having it bounce like a rubber ball. You want to use just enough to keep its shape, but still have a smooth, luscious feel. It’s a fun, all-natural and festive treat for any summer gathering.
Fresh Homemade Strawberry Jell-O Recipe
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While drops of food coloring will enhance the layers of this patriotic July 4th cheesecake, its stripes are tinted naturally with seasonal flavors: red raspberry, white vanilla bean and blue blueberry. The fresh blueberry topping is held together with just enough gelatin to give it a gorgeous, glossy look and to make it easy to cut. In order to achieve the clean layers you’ll need to have some time to let each one set, so plan in advance. It is super easy and completely worth the extra time to present such a fun dessert at your holiday party.
Continue Reading July 4th Red, White and Blue Cheesecake
Peanut butter and jelly is a staple in most children’s diets. In fact, the average American kid will eat 1,500 PB&J sandwiches. I can believe it, since I’ve gone through what must be 100’s of pounds of peanut butter and even more jelly for my kids’ sandwiches. The combination is the perfect blend of rich peanut butter and sweet jelly. This cheesecake has all the fond memories of those childhood sandwiches, but it’s way more decadent and sophisticated.
Continue Reading PB&J for Grown-Ups
As bosc pears ripen the texture is as soft as a ripe banana, so I got the idea of making my banana bread recipe with chunks of pear. I added a bit of homemade granola, instead of the toasted coconut I usually put in the banana bread. It is essentially the same recipe, but the result is completely and wonderfully different, with a sweet spice flavor.
The trick to this recipe is using the pears when they are very ripe. This means they are at their sweetest and will breakdown when baking. Unlike other banana recipes, this one calls for chunks of fruit, instead of a puree. Try both the banana and the pear versions and let me know which is your favorite. See the banana bread at the bottom of the post.
Continue Reading One Quick Bread Recipe, Two Versions
Traditionally, fondue was nothing more than melted chocolate kept warm in a pot called a Caquelon, which was set over a sterno or other source of fire. This version is a ganache, which is thick enough to cling to the treats dipped into it, but thin enough to stay liquid without the fire. I’ve poured the chocolate into individual ramekins, so each person has their own “pot” of warm chocolate to dip into. Set out an assortment of fruits, cake, cookies, meringues and/or dried fruit. It is a fast, simple, fun dessert for a larger party or a romantic way to celebrate Valentine’s Day with someone special.
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Chocolate-covered toffee is one of my favorite candies and it’s easy to make. All you need is a candy thermometer and some time. The result is a buttery caramel, with a slightly toasty flavor. I added a bit of coffee to the toffee, giving them a slight bitter edge, which is a perfect complement to the sweet candy. To finish them off, dip some of them in milk chocolate or drizzle in dark chocolate and sprinkle with toasted almonds and sea salt. They make a lovely Valentine’s gift.
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup water
2 tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted
toasted nuts, optional
Sea salt, optional
Continue Reading Easy Gift Idea: Chocolate-Covered Toffee
The “compost” cookie at Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC inspired these crispy rice treats. They have everything but the kitchen sink in them: pretzels, Oreos, milk chocolate and potato chips. These are all added to the rice cereal and tossed with buttery marshmallows, and it’s seriously tasty. You can add any of your favorite snack foods to the recipe. Just chop them up so you can press the treats into a heart shaped cookie cutter. They are perfect to make with kids but, really, adults love them just as much.
Continue Reading Rice Krispies Treats Go Compost for Valentine’s Day