Awhile back I had some fresh strawberries I wanted to use up, but I didn’t want to do the usual strawberry shortcake. Looking around in my fridge, I noticed a block cream cheese, then I remembered I had just received a jar of delicious raw honey from BlakeMakes…this was turning into a yummy idea! I whipped up the cream cheese with the honey, a little sour cream, sugar, some vanilla paste and a splash of Grand Marnier and BAM! Instant (awesome) fruit topper! This would be fantastic tossed with a fruit salad, as a fruit dip, or like I did, just spooned over fresh strawberries. This is so amazingly simple and so amazingly TASTY. Whip some up this weekend!
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons good quality honey
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract (you can get vanilla paste at specialty food stores or William Sonoma)
1 splash Grand Marnier (or any orange liqueur you like)
Combine all ingredients and chill until ready to use. Serve over fresh fruit or in fruit salad.
You know how when you say something like, “I love this pencil sooo much!”, and then the other kids at the lunch table say, “then why don’t you marry it?!”? Well, I’ve decided to marry this brownie pudding. That’s right. It’s the newest love of my life. Forget hubby (sorry, honey). From now on, I shall make this brownie pudding my one and only. What, you think that’s crazy??? Well, have you tried this brownie pudding?? Have you experienced the delicious, gooey, chocolaty, HEAVEN that is brownie pudding??? Because, until you’ve tried it, you can’t understand how magical it is. For years, I’ve said that “brownie goo” is my favorite food; you know, the warm, undercooked center of the brownies? (Seriously one of life’s greatest pleasures). Well, Ina Garten gives us something better – a whole DISH of brownie goo!!! I’ve had this recipe flagged for a long time – now I’ve finally experienced it. Simply said, this dessert will knock your socks off. I think I may have slightly undercooked mine (you can tell I was soooo upset over that…) – it says to cook it for exactly one hour, which I did, yet it was still slightly under-baked. Gee, too bad, huh?
-Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the dish
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup good cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon framboise liqueur, optional
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter a 2-quart (9 by 12 by 2-inch) oval baking dish. Melt the 1/2 pound of butter and set aside to cool.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.
When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds, framboise, if using, and the cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix only until combined. With mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.
Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean. The center will appear very under-baked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.
Allow to cool and serve with vanilla ice cream. *Obviously, I did not allow mine to cool…that’s brownie blasphemy.
The word ‘parfait’ always reminds me of my good friend Michael. There’s a quote from the first Shrek movie about parfaits that we used to think was so funny; so naturally, we quoted it all the time (Michael does a really good ‘Donkey’ impression).
Anyway, hubby and I have started running every evening, getting healthy, etc; so naturally, we’ve altered our diet a little (chocolate chip cookies stay, though. There will never be a world in which I exist without chocolate chip cookies. Never.). We’ve been eating a lot of plain non-fat yogurt sweetened with honey in place of desserts, which is great; especially with some fresh fruit mixed in. So of course I was excited when I received a box of the new Special K Granola to try out and review. And what better treat to make with granola than parfaits!
A little yogurt/honey mixture, a little granola, some blueberries and bananas and presto! – delicious parfaits (I could’ve stacked each layer neatly in a pretty glass like real parfaits, but this was much easier)! The crunch of the granola is great mixed with the soft fruit and sweet yogurt- a great dessert, breakfast or snack. I also received a box of Special K fruit crisps, which honestly, I didn’t really like, so I just won’t go there. But the granola really is good – it would be great in Dorie Greenspan’s Granola Grabbers, which are some of my favorite cookies.
Next time you need a healthy dessert or breakfast, try one of these parfaits – they really are satisfying and delicious! I won’t post a recipe, because really, you don’t need a recipe, you just pile stuff in a bowl and go wild. Enjoy!
Yes, that’s right – I’ve been truffle-making! Last night I realized I had everything on hand to make 4 kinds of chocolate truffles, and things like that tend to excite me…it almost never happens that I have everything on hand to make anything. So I turned on my Harry Connick, Jr. Christmas music (love me some HCJ..), got busy and came up with 4 very tasty assortments of truffles:
Peppermint Crunch Truffles
Truffles are really so simple. Start by making a chocolate ganache (chocolate and cream melted together), let it chill, then roll out little balls and voila! Here’s how I did mine:
1 cup heavy cream
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup sugar (I like mine a little sweeter)
Bring the cream and sugar to a boil over low heat, pour over the chocolate and stir until smooth. (At this point I separated mine into 4 different bowls; one for each flavor.)
For the Peppermint:
Add 1 or 2 drops peppermint extract to the ganache and stir to combine.
For the Orange:
Add a sizable splash of Grand Marnier orange liquer and stir to combine.
For the S’Mores:
Add 1 or 2 drops pure vanilla extract (I used vanilla paste) and stir to combine.
For the Raspberry:
Add a sizable splash of Chambord Raspberry liquer and stir to combine.
Cover and chill the bowls for at least 4 hours or overnight. Roll into walnut size balls, roll in desired topping and chill until ready to serve. As far as toppings, I used crushed up candy canes for the peppermint, powdered sugar for the orange, and cocoa powder for the raspberry. For the S’Mores truffles, I chopped up marshmallows and placed a small piece inside of each truffle, then rolled them in graham cracker crumbs.
So simple! I think I might take these to my hubby’s office for his co-workers this afternoon….I thought it might be a nice surprise for everybody. I hope they go over well!
Silly title, I know – but chances are, most of you can probably relate to the relationship I have with canned pumpkin. When it’s the end of summer and still sweltering hot outside, I find myself walking down the ‘Baking/Spices’ aisle of the grocery store, just to get a glimpse of the empty spot on the shelf where the Libby’s canned pumpkin would normally be. Just to check and see if they have any yet…we all know it’s not really the calendar that tells us when Fall gets here – it’s the good people of Libby’s who decide when Fall begins. The day I see the cans of pumpkin puree on the shelves of the grocery store is the first day of Fall, as far as I’m concerned. And recently I discovered just how precious my canned pumpkin is to me…as you all know, it’s been near impossible to find it lately. None of my stores had any. What a tragedy. Autumn with no canned pumpkin??! I think not! However, just recently, the pumpkin-shortage nightmare was ended and Libby’s was on the shelves once again. Needless to say, I grabbed as many cans as I could carry! For a week or so now, I’ve been thinking of ways to use my beloved canned pumpkin…pancakes? Cookies? Bread? Possibly, but not just yet. Pumpkin blondies? Yes, please! Blondies filled with pumpkin, spices and full of white chocolate chips…perfect! (*For those of you who aren’t familiar with blondies – they’re just like brownies, but minus the chocolate)
If you’ve got a can or two just sitting around in the back of your pantry, crack one open and re-discover the goodness and joy to be found in baking with canned pumpkin!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice (I doubled this)
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¼ cups granulated sugar (or brown sugar)
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup white chocolate chips
½ cup chopped, toasted nuts (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with foil. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. Stir together and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla until well combined. Mix in the pumpkin puree. With the mixer on low speed add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Fold in the white chocolate chips (and nuts, if using) with a rubber spatula.
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs, about 35-40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting.
To serve, lift the cake from the pan using the foil and transfer to a cutting board. Peel off foil and using a sharp knife, cut into 24 squares.
This week’s pick is Flaky Apple Turnovers, chosen by Julie of Someone’s In The Kitchen. I love apple turnovers (honestly, my favorite kind is the store-bought frozen kind that comes with the little triangle of frosting….mmm…), so I was excited to see these on this month’s line-up. Basically the filling is just chopped apples, sugar and cinnamon; but Dorie says you can also add a little jam, so I added some homemade peach preserves as well as homemade plum jam. I was really glad I did this because it added a lot of extra flavor.
It was nice to have a dessert involving apples (I’m finding myself getting a little tired of chocolate lately…weird!) just as the weather has started getting a little cooler and “Fall-y”. If you’d like the recipe for these turnovers, check out Julie’s blog! Go make you some flaky apple turnovers and enjoy the weather!!
This week’s dessert was certainly a nice change of pace from all the chocolate desserts and cakes I’ve been making lately. Something with apples sounded perfect to me…I was really looking forward to making these bars. Thanks to Karen of Something Sweet by Karen for choosing these Applesauce Spice Bars…they hit the spot! The cake (or bars, I should probably say) itself is really moist and light with dark rum, pecans and chunks of apples baked in, and the glaze…oh man, the glaze…sweet, sticky and caramel-y; the glaze made these bars. I followed a few fellow bakers’ advice and doubled it, and was very glad I did – that glaze was by far my favorite part! My hubby really liked these; needless to say, they didn’t last long!
See that glaze??? Oh boy….it’s just calling my name!! And look at those nice, big chunks of apples and pecans…and the flecks of spice…beeeeautiful!! If you’re looking for a nice change of pace – head on over to Karen’s blog and get the recipe; you’ll love ‘em, I promise!
You may find this hard to believe, but I have never had figs before. I mean, of course I had tried Fig Newtons when I was younger, and like most kids, hated them. But when I saw that my local grocery store had a big, beautiful display of them, (and despite the fact I had no idea what to do with them) I just couldn’t resist. So, I spent all last week trying to find or think of ways to use my big, beautiful figs. Finally, I just rolled out a sheet of puff pastry and went from there.
I sliced them up and scattered them all over the puff pastry along with brown sugar, cinnamon, sliced almonds and butter, rolled it up, sliced them into little pinwheels, threw them into the oven and hoped for the best. I couldn’t believe how beautifully they turned out! Just like I’d hoped!
There are still tons of fig recipes I’d like to make in the future, but I was really glad I decided to start with this one. These would be great with coctails, or for dessert – very versatile, in my opinion! Hubby really loved them, and while I’m still getting used to the taste of figs – I thought they were great too.
Fig and Brown Sugar Pinwheels
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
6-8 fresh figs, sliced length-wise (I used Brown Turkey figs, but you could also use Kadota or Mission)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup slice almonds
2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled (In the picture above, I didn’t melt the butter – I just placed little pieces of butter over the top of the figs, but I think melting it would be better!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry slightly. Brush the melted butter over the pastry, then top with brown sugar. Spread the sliced figs evenly over the whole surface, then top with cinnamon and sliced almonds. Roll the puff pastry up like a jelly roll, then slice into little pinwheels – you should get 10-12 rolls. Pinch the edges of each pinwheel to keep them from coming unrolled. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Enjoy!
This was by far, one of the stranger recipes I’ve made so far with TWD. A Raspberry Blanc-Manger, chosen by Susan of Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy (who is a fellow musician, by the way! Woot, woot!). You’re probably wondering what the heck a blanc-manger is…I know I sure was! Basically, it’s sort of a creamy jell-o, if you will….Panna Cotta meets flan…sort of. Honestly, it was just weird to me. Ground almonds, milk, whipped cream, gelatin and fresh raspberries get mixed together and chilled for a few hours, then topped with rasperry coulis. Sounds good, right?
I was very tempted to just skip this week, as I wasn’t really in the mood for anything that sounded all French and snooty-like, but I’ve been a little neglectful of my TWD duties lately, so I decided to give it a go. This probably shouldn’t have been as complicated and time-consuming as I made it…but for whatever reason, it was. And I couldn’t really get over the fact that the whole time I kept tasting it…it reminded me of Cream of Wheat (you know, the hot breakfast cereal?). I guess it was the ground almonds in there with the cream and milk – it just tasted…breakfasty. Still, once I added the raspberries, let it set in the fridge, and topped it with a really delicious raspberry coulis (I threw in a splash or two of Chambord liquer…yum!), it tasted pretty good.
I loved the light, airy texture of it – that part was fantastic. It felt really fancy – this would probably really impress company. I probably won’t make this again – just not my cup of tea, I guess. However, as always, I’m still really glad I tried it…plus, I like saying the name. Blah-mah-jay! Fun. As always, if you’d like the recipe, head on over to Susan’s blog. She’ll have it posted.
Yippee! This week’s recipe was chosen by my good buddy, Jessica, of My Baking Heart! Great pick, Jess!! These were sooooooooo easy! They literally took me 5 minutes to put together! Now that’s a recipe I can get behind!! All you need is some frozen puff pastry, an apple, brown sugar and butter…that’s it! And you get a gorgeous, flaky, buttery tartlet….it’s like a little apple birds nest! So cute!
I am SO looking forward to making these again with other kinds of fruits – peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots….oh man, I’m getting all excited just thinking about it! My mother and nephew are coming for a few days this week and I’m thinking these are going to be the perfect little treat to welcome them!
I made two tarlets and sneaked a few bites as I was photographing them….a “few bites” quickly turned into me standing in the kitchen scarfing the remaining tartlet with my hands, with juice running all down my wrists. Talk about food guilt. I think Izzy and I will go on a nice, long walk tonight.
Go visit my good buddy Jessica’s blog and get the recipe from her- these would be perfect for company – they look like they were so much trouble, but really they’re embarassingly easy! Perfect!