Tags: baking, cake, dessert, holiday
It’s almost Christmas, and that means it’s time to get fancy in the kitchen! Something like a Gingerbread bûche de Noël sounds like the right way to celebrate. Way back in the early days of this space, I made another bûche. That one was all done up with stumps, meringue mushrooms and faux wood grain…this one’s easier in that it’s just a roulade but it’s still a showstopper and, of course, it still has several steps. In addition to a gently-spiced geniose-style gingerbread sponge cake, there’s a cream cheese filling, a marshmallow meringue frosting and, for crunch and sparkle, a pecan praline.
If you’re the organized type, you can actually break up the steps and knock out the praline and filling a day in advance, but I did it all start to finish in one afternoon, so I can tell you that it’s procrastinator-friendly, too. I did kind of goof up the cake a bit, and you can see it in the center of the spiral. I deflated the cake batter while mixing in the butter at the end. I was pretty annoyed with myself, and worried it would be like eating a rubber mat, but there’s a lot going on with this cake and we also had it with a scoop of eggnog ice cream, so it really wasn’t that noticeable. Next time, I’ll do better with that. Although the marshmallow makes a stunning, glossy, snow-white frosting, I had a lot left over…next time, I’ll also try cutting that amount in half. I’ll reduce the cream of tartar in the frosting a bit as well because I think it gave the marshmallow a slightly acidic taste. If you’re on the fence about gingerbread (I know not everyone is crazy about it), the flavoring here is very subtle…no molasses or cloves or other dark and mysterious flavors.
Tags: baking, dessert, holiday, tarts
If you’re still on the fence about what to make for this Thursday’s dessert, let me make your decision harder by throwing one more option your way. This Cranberry Crackle Tart from Baking Chez Moi is for people who don’t mind breaking a bit with Thanksgiving tradition. It has a cookie-like base of sweet tart dough (fondly known to those in professional pastry circles as “STD”…we keep it classy), a layer of jam (which you can’t see here) and a meringue topping with cranberries folded though. The topping is like a crispy-edged marshmallow– the sweetness is interrupted by little bursts of softened, tart berries. This is meant to be a larger tart, but I didn’t need so much for the two of us on a random weeknight, so I just made a couple of individual tartlets (they took quite a bit less time to bake, btw). The big one, with its pretty, swirly meringue top and ruby-colored berries peeking through, would make an impressive dessert for a crowd. And it’s a light one, too, after a big dinner.
The hidden jam layer can be any red jam, really, like strawberry, raspberry or cherry. I made a cranberry sauce ahead of time from the extra berries that weren’t going into the tart and I used that instead. We ate our tarts with whipped cream, and my husband said it reminded him of pavlova with a cookie crust.
Tags: baking, cake, dessert, fruit
I’ve had a busy September. It’s one of the nicest months of the year in New York City, but I’ve hardly been home to enjoy it. (Not that I’m complaining…I’ve been here and here instead, and it was all in the name of fun.) Luckily, I was able to squeeze in the Raspberry-Plum Crostata from Leslie Mackie before I began running around. This crostata recipe originally called for a raspberry-fig combo, but I swapped out the figs for plums, just because I already had them. I also tweaked the proportions a bit, and instead of a 1:1 ratio of each fruit, I used 2 parts plums to 1 part raspberries (keeping the combined weight the same 1.5 pounds called for in the recipe). I decreased the sugar in the filling a little, too.
The crust dough is soft and needs to be worked with gently and quickly. Despite its fussiness, it’s easily patched, and I liked the interesting sesame-almond flavoring it has going on. The filling was tasty, too, and that hot pink color makes me a happy girl. I’ll make this one again, and maybe next time I’ll go buy the figs.
Tags: baking, cake, dessert, fruit
These Oven-Roasted Plum Cakes from Marcel Desaulniers were an easy little treat to make with my CSA plums. The batter was a simple butter cake, flavored with orange zest. I made half a recipe (6 cakelettes), so I just mixed it by hand. I had to sub some plain yogurt for the buttermilk, but that worked out fine. The recipe calls for the cakes to be baked in ramekins or custard cups…I was worried that I’d never get them out (although sounds like I needn’t have been), so I used some shallower mini pie tins instead, buttered and floured.
These were good, although the plums (even though they turned very soft in the oven) wanted to jump onto our forks all in one piece. I liked them best with whipped cream. For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (there’s also a video). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: dessert, ice cream
Summer is about bright nail polish and ice cream cones. Why the heck have I waited till the tail end of it to both paint my nails coral and to make my first homemade ice cream of the season? The color is new for me, but the ice cream is sort of one I’ve already made here before. Am I allowed a redo? I hope so, because while this ice cream has the same flavors as the one I made six (gasp!) years ago, I found that one to be a little too fatty, a lot too hard and also too homogenized. This a totally different recipe and technique, with swirls of dark purple blueberry sauce in a tangy, scoopable base.
Most homemade ice cream aficionados out there have probably at least tried out Jeni’s technique, which concentrates and denatures dairy proteins by boiling off some of the water in the milk and cream, and uses cornstarch and cream cheese to thicken the base…these steps make the finished ice cream less icy and hard when frozen. I thought this eggless base would be a good match for blueberry sauce, and since it has a bit of cream cheese in it already, it would also go right along with the tang of sour cream.
This is ice cream and sauce in one– perfect for cones!
Blueberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream (makes about a quart)
inspired by and adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer
Steph’s Note: I like to store my homemade ice cream in a restaurant-style 1/6 pan with a snap-on lid. Freeze the empty stainless steel container while the ice cream is churning, and you’ll be good to go!
for the blueberry sauce:
1 cup blueberries
squirt of lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp cold water
-In a small pot over medium-low heat, add the blueberries, lemon juice and sugar. Stir occasionally for about 5 minutes, as the sugar dissolves and the berries begin to break down and release juice. (You can gently squish some of the berries as they cook to encourage “saucing”…I like to leave about half the berries somewhat intact for texture.)
-Meanwhile, mix together the cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl. Add to the cooking berries and bring to a gentle bubble for about a minute, stirring constantly. After about a minute, the sauce will thicken slightly (you are just looking to give it a little more body), at which point remove it from the heat, transfer it to a container and refrigerate it until completely chilled.
for the ice cream:
11/2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cream cheese
⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
½ cup sour cream
-In a small bowl, mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch to make a smooth slurry. In a medium bowl, add the salt and room-temperature cream cheese and whip it smooth. In a large bowl, make an ice bath (heavy on the ice) and set aside.
-Pour the cream, sugar, corn syrup, and remaining milk into a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, set a timer for precisely 4 minutes and boil for exactly 4 minutes—you will need to be right there with it, stirring and adjusting heat so as not to endure the cleanup that comes with a dairy boil-over! Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Return the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
-Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Do this a little bit at a time so that you can whip out any lumps of cream cheese. Whisk in the sour cream (or if you’ve had a hard time getting out lumps, place the sour cream in a separate medium bowl, strain the milk mixture over the sour cream and then whisk them together).
-If you are not making your ice cream until late in the day or the following day, place the bowl in your ice bath and when cold, transfer to the refrigerator until churning. If you need more immediate ice cream, do a fast chill by pouring the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag, sealing, and submerging the bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until very cold, about 30 minutes.
-Pour the chilled base (if you used the Ziploc bag method, you can do this by just cutting off a corner of the bag) into the frozen canister of your ice cream machine. Churn according manufacturer’s directions.
-Transfer to a container for freezer storage, press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze at least 4 hours before serving.
Tags: baking, cake, dessert
Markus Farbinger’s Viennese Poppy Seed Torte is one of the more unusual things I’ve baked. Now, I’m aware that poppy seeds are widely used in foods all over the world and are not unusual at all, but we Americans– especially those of us who are many generations and more than a couple hundred years removed from our ethnic roots– normally just mix a mere tablespoon of them into lemon muffins or white cake, or sprinkle them on top of bagels or crackers. Maybe it’s because we’re afraid we’ll fail a drug test, but any recipe that calls for two cups of poppy seeds sounds a little strange. The Austrians sure know their pastries though, so I knew this would be tasty, no doubt.
Those two cups of poppy seeds are whizzed up in a coffee/spice grinder, and along with cake crumbs (I used a frozen slice of leftover Vanilla Pound Cake, also put through the same coffee grinder) become the dry ingredients for the cake. The crowning jewels on top are poached apricot halves. I found the cutest little apricots with rosy cheeks at the Greenmarket. I didn’t bother to blanch and peel them before poaching…the skins slipped right off anyway once they cooled, and I think poaching them skin-on helped infuse the flesh with that rosy color. I’m saving the poaching liquid, btw, which I think will be nice as a fruity simple syrup for drinks or poured on top of raspberries and vanilla ice cream.
Based on visuals alone, I’d assume a dark colored cake like this would be dense and heavy. But it’s quite light and springy (thanks to the meringue that’s folded into the batter), moist and not too sweet. It really tastes like poppy seeds (as it should), and since they are ground into flour, they don’t get stuck in your teeth! I made a half-recipe..a full makes a big 10-inch cake…and debated the pan size for a while before settling on a 8-inch round.
Tags: baking, dessert, fruit
The promise of a blueberry pie made my husband finally agree to drive me out to the country for some berry picking last Saturday. It’s good to know that bribes do work, although I still haven’t made good on my end…this is obviously not blueberry pie. We came with a quart of U-pick raspberries, too, so using those delicate jewels became my first priority. Not turning on the oven became my second priority.
You may see the words “raspberry brûlée” and think immediately of Prince, or you may see them and think of crème brûlée…I assure you this is far less fancy than either, even though it looks and tastes like a million bucks. In fact, apart from straight-up fresh fruit, this might be one of the easiest summer desserts out there. It’s simply whipped cream folded with fresh raspberries and given a torched sugar top. It’s fresh and light as air, but with but with a sweet crunch.
A lot of times the broiler works as a reasonable alternative to a kitchen torch. I’m not sure how it would do in this case though, since whipped cream is not as sturdy as a custard. You want a bit of runny, melted cream just under the crispy brûléed top, but I suspect the boiler may take melting the cream a step further than a torch would.
Raspberry Brûlée- serves 6-8
adapted from Saveur Magazine, Issue 94
Steph’s Notes: The dish can also be made with tayberries (which I have never seen here before) or blackberries, and I’m sure diced peaches or nectarines would be tasty, too.
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
¼-½ cup powdered or superfine sugar (depending on how sweet you like it and how sweet your berries are)
splash of cassis or frambiose (optional)
2 pints raspberries
⅓ cup demerara sugar
– Put the heavy cream into a large bowl and beat until medium peaks form. Add the powdered or superfine sugar and the booze (if using) and continue beat to stiff peaks.
-Add the raspberries to the whipped cream and fold gently to coat. Carefully transfer raspberries to a wide serving dish or divide them between 6-8 individual gratin dishes and liberally strew the top with demerara sugar. Using a kitchen torch, evenly caramelize the sugar until it gets bubbly and darkened in some spots. A bit of the top layer of cream will start to “run” in this process, but if you don’t hold the torch too long in one place, what’s underneath will stay whipped.
-Refrigerate brûlée for about 15 minutes to let the sugar harden. If you’ve used one large serving dish, scoop servings into bowls, making sure that each scoop includes some of the crunchy sugar topping. If you used individual gratin dishes, just grab spoons. Serve immediately.