Showing posts with label Dessert. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dessert. Show all posts

Monday, September 22, 2014

Gray's 1st Birthday: Spiced Applesauce Cake

“when i have said my evening prayer, 
and my clothes are folded on my chair, 
mama and papa switch off the light, 
i'll still be 11 months old tonight. 

 but from the very break of day, 
before the children rise and play, 
before the darkness turns to gold, 
tomorrow i'll be one years old… 
one kiss when i wake, 
one candle on my cake. 

 a goodnight kiss for the eleven month old 
to send him to sleep and to dreaming. 
and blessings to the one year old 
who'll be carried from bed in the morning.”

And so it happened. Today, on the first day of fall, our baby turns 1 year old. I've held this body and looked at this face change every day and night for 365 days. We have only been apart for an hour or so here and there. Gray has completed our family. It's a bittersweet ending to the infant chapter of life at our house. And, as the old story goes, it went by so fast.

Spiced Applesauce Cake
from Smitten Kitchen

For cake
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup walnuts (optional), toasted, cooled, and chopped

For frosting
5 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter an 8- or 9-inch square or round cake pan. I had no trouble getting my cake out of a nonstick pan by just buttering it, but if you don’t have a nonstick cake pan or are a little nervous, line the bottom with parchment paper and butter that too.

Make cake: Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in applesauce. At low speed, mix in flour mixture until just combined, then stir in walnuts (if using). The batter will look a little curdly and uneven but don’t worry, it will all bake up perfectly in the end.

Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until golden-brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen, then invert onto a plate. Reinvert cake onto a rack to cool completely. You can speed this up, as I always do, in the fridge.

Make frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until fluffy. Sift confectioners sugar and cinnamon over cream cheese mixture, then beat at medium speed until incorporated. Spread frosting over top of cooled cake.

Friday, September 19, 2014

After School Snacks: Wholesome Banana Bread & Chia Pudding

This year I was armed and ready for the after school crash. Dylan is just 4 years old and his preschool days really drain him and sometimes that draining turns after school time at home into crazy town. Happily, that hasn't happened much this September but maybe we are in the honeymoon phase? Either way, I have been surprising him with sweet homemade snacks for after school (remember his serious sweet tooth!) and audio books queued up for a rest on the sofa. So far, banana bread made with date sugar and walnuts and chia pudding made with coconut milk and nectarines have been winners. Both are special, filling, and healthful.

PS. Photos snapped on my phone from one of our recent walks.

Wholesome Banana Bread
makes 1 9-inch loaf or 2 smaller loaves

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup date sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
3 1/2 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 F. In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. In a separate bowl beat together the sugar and eggs for about 5 minutes then drizzle in the melted coconut oil.

Add the bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla and mix just until combined. Using a spatula, fold in the flour mixture and nuts just until evenly mixed. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours for a 9-inch loaf and about 45 minutes for 2 smaller loaves. It's done when the top is golden brown and the center springs back when you touch it. Let the bread cool in the pan for 30 minutes then pop out to cool completely.

Cooking with chia seeds was totally new to me but it was so super fun and easy! I didn't realize all you do is shake the seeds in a liquid mixture and they magically turn to pudding. This is a total science experiment (and involves aggressive shaking) so it's perfect for kids.

Coconut-Nectarine Chia Pudding
makes 6-8 snacks

1 can lite coconut milk
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup chia seeds
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup peeled and diced nectarines (you can use any fruit you like - banana, mango, blueberries)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch cinnamon

Put all the ingredients in a large mason jar, stir, secure the lid and shake for 1 full minute. Let the jar rest on the counter for 15 minutes then shake again. Put the jar in the fridge and wait 2-3 hours for the pudding to thicken. When you are ready to serve, scoop it out and top with anything you like from extra maple syrup to fruit slices, nuts, or toasted coconut.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Roasted Sweet Cherry Fool

I trace my love for meringues and whipped cream back to Angel Pie. If you've never heard of it, Angel Pie first appeared in the 1950s Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook and is a meringue crusted pie filled with soft custard, curd, or chocolate and topped with whipped cream. As a kid, Angel Pie was a staple at all of our family events - birthday parties, Thanksgiving, and Easter. There is just something about the chewy meringue and fluffy cream that is completely comforting and addictive. So when I was flipping through The Nourished Kitchen and spotted Roasted Sweet Cherry Fool I knew it was next on my list.

A fool is essentially a deconstructed and mashed up Angle Pie. Every bite has a bit of fruit, cream, and meringue. This was my first experience roasting cherries and man oh man I'll do it again. The smell is incredible and the little fruits just leak blood red juice.

Roasted Sweet Cherry Fool
serves 4 to 6
From The Nourished Kitchen

2 pounds sweet cherries, such as Bing
1 tablespoon unrefined cane sugar
Pinch finely group unrefined sea salt
1 tablespoon kirsch
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla bean powder or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 meringues, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Remove the pits from the cherries, and, as you do, drop the cherries into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, salt, and kirsch, then toss the cherries until evenly coated. Transfer the cherries to a 9 by 13 inch baking dish and spread them into a single layer. Roast for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring once, until they release their fragrance. Allow the cherries to cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Pour the cream into a bowl and add the vanilla. Whip with a whisk until the cream holds soft peaks. Stir the cherries and their juice into the whipped cream and fold in the chopped meringues. Serve in individual glasses or bowls.

The Fair grounds are officially deserted but Dylan picked up his ribbons this week and is seriously psyched on them. His fair entries included: a scarecrow, crayon Titanic drawing, and zucchini bread. I love how those three items perfectly sum him up. It'll be fun to see how his fair entries change over the next few years.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Chocolate Cake

I'm envious of parents who can write beautiful letters to their children on their birthdays each year. I sat down around Dylan's first birthday to do just that - write him something that describes our love for him, what he likes to do at 1 year of age, and what I hope for him. Year after year I think about it and wish I had it in me but I just can't get any words on paper. I've realized there are two major roadblocks in my way. 1. The stress of writing something important 2. I just start to cry.

To celebrate his fourth year, I decide to make him chocolate cake instead. Dylan was born a chocoholic - for real. I like chocolate fine but that's about it so I never understood when people described their obsession. Now I see it, I'm living with one obsessed. I mean, he tries to sneak full sized Ghirardelli chocolate bars into our cart at the market. 

To go along with this very chocolatey chocolate cake we picked a few berries from the surprise berry bushes in our backyard. Who knew we had berry bushes? Something is eating the ripe ones really fast (the turkeys?) so we haven't enjoyed many but it was a pretty awesome discovery.

We celebrated the big 0-4 with a party at Felix Neck. The kids walked to the pond, caught critters, and met a friendly snake.That morning Dylan and I made sub-par chocolate cupcakes. They were disappointing because the recipe looked delicious (how can chocolate cupcakes with sour cream and lots of butter taste just okay?) but we made up for it here.

When Elspeth said this chocolate cake was good I knew it was the one for this year's birthday. There is only 1 tablespoon of flour and lots of chocolate, butter, and eggs, making a sense and rich (amazing) cake.

Chocolate Cake

7 ounces (200 grams) best-quality dark chocolate
7 ounces (200 grams) unsalted European-style butter (the high-butterfat kind, such as Lurpak or Beurre d’Isigny), cut into ½-inch cubes
1 1/3 cup (250 grams) granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1 Tbs unbleached all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and butter an 8-inch round cake pan. Line the base of the pan with parchment, and butter the parchment too.

Finely chop the chocolate (a serrated bread knife does an outstanding job of this) and melt it gently with the butter in a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring regularly to combine. Add the sugar to the chocolate-butter mixture, stirring well, and set aside to cool for a few moments. Then add the eggs one by one, stirring well after each addition, and then add the flour. The batter should be smooth, dark, and utterly gorgeous.

Pour batter into the buttered cake pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until the center of the cake looks set and the top is shiny and a bit crackly-looking. (I usually set the timer for 20 minutes initially, and then I check the cake every two minutes thereafter until it’s done. At 20 minutes, it’s usually quite jiggly in the center. You’ll know it’s done when it jiggles only slightly, if at all.) Let the cake cool in its pan on a rack for 10 minutes; then carefully turn the cake out of the pan and revert it, so that the crackly side is facing upward. Allow to cool completely. The cake will deflate slightly as it cools.

Serve in wedges at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or dollop of whipped cream.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nectarine & Blueberry Crumble

I like the summer side effect of people talking about books. It makes sense - more leisure time and vacationing leads to more reading. On our last day in Truro we went swimming in a kettle pond and our quick chat with strangers focused on summer reading. The friendly older man taking a swim and I both just finished The Goldfinch and we liked it. Have you read it?

We arrived home on the Island Sunday night and fell into bed. One con of family vacations is infant sleep relapse (mama is tired). Nick and I turned on the documentary Bill Cunningham New York and thoroughly enjoyed it. So if you have a travel hangover I suggest curling up with this movie. One pro of family vacation is eating not one but two dishes of Nectarine & Blueberry Crumble. We made this dessert early in the week and had to make it again.

Nectarine & Blueberry Crumble

3/4 cup all-purpose flour,
1/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
2 tablespoons pure cane sugar 
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes 
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking) 
1 cup fresh blueberries
5-7 nectarines (depending on size), peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

First, preheat the oven to 375 F degrees. In a large bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, salt, and cane sugar. Using your hands, mash butter into flour until the mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Add oats, and use your hands to toss and squeeze mixture until large, moist clumps form. Transfer to freezer to chill while you prepare the fruit.

In another large bowl, toss fruit with lemon juice and cinnamon. Transfer to a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with topping mixture. Bake until golden and bubbling, about 45 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Grape-Nut Ice Cream

Well, that was interesting. As many of you kind people noticed this site was down last week. Suffice it to say, it was a frustrating time. I will save you the gory details but there was law breaking, internet scamming, and money demands involved. Some days I felt like I was a character in some weird movie. The good news is that it is all over with.

The whole event made me realize, more than ever, what this site means to me. I have been writing this blog for almost 7 years. It has allowed me to have a space of my own, a sliver of life separate from my children and household. It has made me see and strive for career goals that once felt off limits. It has made me feel connected, supported, and encouraged after long days alone with my kids.

If I haven't said it enough then please hear me now - thank you for checking in here, cooking this food, sharing it with friends, and saying hello. I am very grateful.

I have a pile of recipes ready to share. A couple weeks ago we explored The Polly Hill Arboretum with friends. The arboretum has these genius backpacks for kids filled with magnifying glasses, compasses, identification guides, and binoculars. We also broke out our ice cream maker this week. If you have never tried Grape-Nut ice cream you totally should. It is a flavor I used to order as a teenager and have always had a soft spot for. (I think the emotional roller coaster of this week sparked the craving). The Grape-Nuts add a little crunch to the creamy vanilla. This is the first time I've made an egg yolk based ice cream and really like the way it came out.

Grape-Nut Ice Cream 

2 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons agave nectar 
dash of sea salt
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup Grape-Nuts
In a sauce pan, combine half and half, whole milk, heavy cream, 3/4 cups of agave, and salt. Whisk to combine.
In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of agave. Over medium-high heat, heat milk mixture until agave dissolves and it begins to simmer. Slowly pour about one cup of the simmering milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Add egg mixture to sauce pan, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Turn heat off and add the vanilla extract.
Pour the ice cream mixture into a large bowl, cover, and place in fridge to cool (about 3 hours). Once the mixture is cold, stir in Grape-Nuts, and make ice cream according to your machine's instructions. I like to top mine with extra Grape-Nuts. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chocolate Banana Popsicles

Preschool is a pretty amazing place - the tiny chairs, cubbies, and endless supply of washable paint. Dylan walked in the door on the first day an unsure and wary kid. This week, he walked out full of pride, comfort, and best friends. I couldn't be more proud of our little guy and surprised him with these Chocolate Banana Popsicles to celebrate his year. We spent the last day of school at crab corner with a dozen sandy preschoolers carrying nets, climbing the jetty, and snacking together. Being 3 is a sweet gig.

For Banana Layer
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
For chocolate layer:
  • 2 small frozen bananas
  • ¼ Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1½ tablespoons cocoa powder
  1. Combine 2 frozen bananas, milk, Greek yogurt, honey and vanilla in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds. Freeze for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile towards the end of the 45 minutes, blend 2 frozen bananas, Greek yogurt, milk, cocoa powder. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour over banana layer in popsicle molds. Freeze for about 5 hours, until solid.
  4. Run warm water over molds for about 30 seconds. Popsicle should release easily. If not, repeat.
- See more at:

Chocolate Banana Popsicles
makes 6-8 pops depending on mold
Banana Layer:
2 bananas
1/4 cup whole milk yogurt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Layer:
2 bananas
1/4 cup whole milk yogurt
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

For Banana Layer
  • 2 frozen bananas
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
For chocolate layer:
  • 2 small frozen bananas
  • ¼ Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1½ tablespoons cocoa powder
  1. Combine 2 frozen bananas, milk, Greek yogurt, honey and vanilla in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds. Freeze for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile towards the end of the 45 minutes, blend 2 frozen bananas, Greek yogurt, milk, cocoa powder. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour over banana layer in popsicle molds. Freeze for about 5 hours, until solid.
  4. Run warm water over molds for about 30 seconds. Popsicle should release easily. If not, repeat.
- See more at:

First, blend the banana layer ingredients together and pour into popsicle molds (filling 1/2 way). Place mold in the freezer to set up for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, blend the chocolate layer ingredients together and store the mix in the refrigerator until banana layer is set. 

After 45 minutes, top banana layer with the chocolate mix. Place in wooden sticks and freeze until fully set (about 3+ hours). Run pops under warm water for an easy removal. 

Ps. You may have noticed that is down. Yes it is (and very frustrating-I can feel the gray hairs growing) but the url is up and running. I'll be in touch with any updates as soon as I have them.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Frozen Strawberry Pie

Wow, what a weekend. There was a wedding - like a wedding done perfectly. My friend of almost twenty years became a Mrs. on Saturday under the most brilliant blue sky. There were coral lace dresses, blue sea in every direction, best friends, and a super party.  It was a blast.

To top off the weekend, we celebrated my mom's birthday on Sunday. I made her this Frozen Strawberry Pie which was a big hit and something I will make again.

Frozen Strawberry Pie
slightly adapted from A Year of Pies by Ashley English

For the crust:
10 ounces gingersnap cookies (about 2 1/2 cups)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
2 cups whole-milk vanilla yogurt
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional garnish:
1/2 cup strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced

To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter a 9-inch pie pan and set aside. Crush the gingersnaps either by pulsing them in a food processor or placing them in a plastic freezer bag and rolling over them with a rolling pin.

Combine the crushed cookies and melted butter in a medium-size bowl. Stir until fully mixed. Press the mixture into the pan, covering the bottom fully and pressing the crumbs halfway up the sides. Bake the crust 10 minutes, then remove from the oven and cook completely before filling.

To make the filling: Combine the yogurt and honey in a large bowl. Stir in the 2 cups strawberries. In a medium-size bowl, using a mixer or whisk, beat the cream and vanilla until billowy peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the strawberry mixture.

To assemble the pie: Pour the filling mixture into the cooled crust. If desired, arrange sliced strawberries in a circle around the outer edge of the pie.

Freeze at least 4 hours before serving. If you freeze it completely through, let the pie sit on the counter to soften up before slicing (about 20 minutes).

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