Some times you feel like a nut, some times you don’t. In this case, we are talking pecans—not loosing your marbles. With the dark chocolate morsels, they elevate flavor another notch above your typical chocolate chip cookie.
I like to add a whole pecan on top of each cookie after you drop them onto the cookie sheet and before they go into the oven. This takes the guess work out of wondering if they contain nuts for those who deal with nut allergies; or for those who have an aversion to particular nuts, such as walnuts (ahem, my other half).
Make sure your butter is softened, otherwise you won’t obtain a creamy base with which to start.
Healthy-ish. A closer look at the ingredients of whole wheat flour, ripe bananas, fresh blueberries, dark chocolate and 2% Greek yogurt, you can’t help but feel a bit smug when eating something so decadent. No butter, honey instead of refined sugar, and you are patting yourself on the back.
This combines parts of two previous banana bread recipes I’ve made in the past. And it is a treat anytime of day—for breakfast with more fresh fruit, a snack in the afternoon, or dessert in the evening with perhaps a dollop of good French vanilla ice cream. OK, so maybe the ice cream isn’t in keeping with the healthy factor, but sometimes you just need some self-love, right?
No mix master needed. Simply get a large mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas, add the other ingredients and then pour batter into your prepared loaf pan. Top with a smattering of additional blueberries and chocolate pieces, pop in the preheated oven for an hour. Voila, masterpiece accomplished!
A popular item to share at a Sunday brunch. If it is not all eaten right away, wrap in plastic wrap followed by a layer of tinfoil and keep in the refrigerator, or freeze.
Healthy Blueberry Banana Bread with Dark Chocolate
In my mind, blueberries are synonymous with late summer. Growing up in Michigan, August was the best time to harvest the sweet blue globes, gobbling them up as we picked the fruit from the bushes. Then of course, whatever was left by the time we got home, Mom would add them to muffins, bread, fruit salad, and an array of desserts. If by chance there were still leftovers, they were frozen for another time.
This classic Blueberry Galette is the perfect easy treat to whip up using all those fresh blueberries. This rustic version is basically a lazy girl’s blueberry pie, way easier to make than a homemade pie and every bit as tasty. All you have to do is place the blueberries on top of the dough, and fold the dough however you want. Serve à la mode with a dollop of good French vanilla ice cream for the ultimate summer dessert!
Top the crust with sugar — This is a nonnegotiable step. Topping the crust with sugar will give your pie crust a beautiful golden brown, sweet, crunchy finish that is both beautiful and delicious!
Place the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add the cold butter to the food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand and no large chunks of butter remain.
Add in the vodka (or water), one tablespoon at a time. If your dough has come together, don’t add any more vodka. You want just enough to bind the dough into a ball.
Turn the dough out of the food processor and form into a flat oval disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in fridge for at least 30 minutes, but up to 3 days.
Once your dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 375°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Sprinkle a work surface with flour. Roll your dough out into a 12-inch circle. Place dough onto prepared baking tray. Place a 9-inch cake pan in the center of the circle and press down ever so slightly. This will create an indentation to show exactly how far out to place your filling!
In a large bowl combine the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, salt and cornstarch. Stir to coat the berries evenly.
Place the blueberry mixture in the center of the pie crust into an even layer. Lift the edges of the pie dough in towards the center, folding every 3-4 inches as you go around.
Mix egg with 1 tablespoon water and brush over crust. Top with coarse sugar if desired. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the blueberry filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream!
According to Milk Street, good olive oil is the secret to this rich, moist chocolate cake. Chocolate and olive oil might seem an unlikely pair, but in the Mediterranean, they are soul mates. And while the combination shows up in numerous desserts—from cookies to gelato—nowhere is this affinity more apparent than in the deliciously moist olive oil-based chocolate cakes made across Spain, Italy and Greece.
Your mouth watering yet? “Of all the ingredients that go into a cake, fat is one of the most important. Fat coats flour, which limits gluten formation to help cakes bake up fluffy, not chewy. Oil is particularly good at this, creating a plusher mouthfeel and softer crumb than butter because it is liquid at room temperature. Butter solidifies as it cools, resulting in a tougher texture.” So there you have it!
Double down by using both bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder. Then enhance those flavors even further with two of chocolate’s other surprising bedfellows: espresso and lemon. Use espresso powder to amplify chocolate, as its roasty depth underscores the chocolate’s pleasant astringency. And lemon juice balances both with a shot of citrusy brightness.
Please don’t overbake the cake. Be sure to test it by inserting a toothpick into the center; it should come out with a few moist crumbs attached, as if baking brownies. Don’t be alarmed when the center of the cake deflates as it cools; this is normal. We brought it to a party and the guests gushed, giving it rave reviews. So friggin’ fudge-alicious that we made it a few weeks later for another party!
1/4 cup cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed, plus more to serve (optional)
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
1 cup white sugar, divided
4 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Heat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Mist a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
In a medium saucepan over medium, bring about 1 inch of water to a simmer. Put the chocolate in a heatproof large bowl and set the bowl on top of the saucepan; be sure the bottom does not touch the water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove the bowl from the pan. Add the oil, cocoa, espresso powder and 107 grams (½ cup) sugar; whisk until well combined. Add the egg yolks and lemon juice; whisk until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and gently whisk until fully incorporated.
In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, whip the egg whites on medium-high until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. With the mixer running, gradually add the remaining 107 grams (½ cup) of the sugar, then beat until the whites hold soft peaks, 1 to 2 minutes. Add about one-third of the whipped whites to the yolk-chocolate mixture and fold with a silicone spatula to lighten and loosen the base. Scrape in the remaining whites and gently fold in until well combined and no white streaks remain; the batter will be light and airy.
Gently pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake until well risen, the surface is crusty and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes; do not overbake.
Set the pan on a wire rack and immediately run a narrow-bladed knife around the edge of the cake to loosen the sides. Cool in the pan for at least 1 hour before serving; the cake will deflate as it cools. When ready to serve, remove the pan sides and, if desired, dust with cocoa.
Here’s another cookie without eggs as an ingredient. And you might be a bit confused because they get baked in muffin tins. Chef/author Dorie Greenspan claims, the purpose of which helps to caramelize the bottoms—thus the name. However, I think that’s stretching the truth a bit. The butter in the tin cups does make them easy to remove but doesn’t necessarily give them a noticeable caramelized bottom—but by no means takes away from the wonderful flavor of the cookie.
Once the dough has been refrigerated, it’s just a matter of cutting the logs into 1/2-inch slices, popping them into the muffin cups, and baking. Dorie says “You might be tempted to use a baking sheet, but I hope you won’t—the texture is really best in the muffin tins.” Seeing as how they disappeared quickly after baking them, I’d say they were a hit!
2 sticks unsalted butter, (8 oz.) cut into chunks, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 heaping cup of chunks of dark chocolate, or large chips
In a large bowl, beat the butter, both sugars, and the salt together on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour all at once. Pulse a few times, just until the risk of flying flour has passed, and then beat on low speed until the flour is almost completely incorporated. Don’t beat too much—you want the mixture to be more clumpy than smooth.
Add the chocolate and fold in with a flexible spatula.
Knead the dough if necessary so it comes together. Divide it in half, and shape each hunk into a 6-inch-long log; they will be a scant 2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours. (The logs can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 2 months.)
Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter a muffin tin—two if you have them. Mark one log at ½-inch intervals, then cut into rounds with a chef’s knife, cutting hard through the chips. Place each puck in a muffin cup. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until the cookies are browned around the edges and slightly soft in the center.
Let the cookies rest for 3 minutes, then gently pry each one out with the tip of a table knife and let cool on a rack. Let the pan cool, then repeat with the remaining log. Serve the cookies warm or at room temperature.
Shortbread is a celebration of simplicity—a combination of butter, sugar, and flour that adds up to so much more. Add M&Ms and a chocolate drizzle and you’ll knock it out of the park! And no eggs necessary.
Never made shortbread before? The “short” part refers to the lack of gluten development in this cookie. Liquid activates gluten, but because there’s no liquid in the recipe, the gluten doesn’t have a chance to develop protein that give other baked goods their chewy texture. Since the gluten is kept “short,” you get a tender, crumbly cookie that melts in the mouth.
Of course, you don’t need to know the science behind the dough to end up with tasty cookies!
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, optional for drizzle
2 tsp. shortening, optional for drizzle
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Mix butter, sugar and vanilla thoroughly using an electric mixer. Gradually blend in flour and corn starch.
Form into 1-inch balls and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Gently flatten each cookie using a flat-bottomed drinking glass rubbed with softened butter and dipped in sugar to prevent sticking. Press M&M’s into top of cookies.
Bake for 30 minutes or until bottoms begin to brown.
Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.
Drizzle melted chocolate* over the cooled cookies, if desired.
*Optional Chocolate Drizzle:
Place 1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips plus 2 teaspoons shortening in a small bowl. Microwave on high for 60 seconds, then stir thoroughly. (If necessary, microwave another 15-30 seconds.) Transfer melted chocolate to a small pastry bag or squeeze bottle and drizzle over cooled cookies. Let dry completely before storing.
Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake. Okay, if I’m honest, no dessert is worth perishing over, especially given the fact that I rarely eat it. But when I first saw this posting on FB, it screamed “try me,” and it seemed many of you agreed. This cheesecake from MyIncredibleEdibles.com is just as incredible as it sounds—a thick creamy cheesecake with cinnamon throughout and drizzled with cream cheese icing.
Now the bad news… It took an additional 45 minutes—that’s 50% longer—to come to 150° in the 200° oven, a total of 2 hours and 15 minutes! So take the timing with a grain of salt. (We think our oven is on the fritz, and we may be replacing it soon.) It is tricky trying to determine exactly when a cheesecake is done. It will still appear jiggly in the middle, but not overly so. Take a look at this quick video:
The secret to testing a cheesecake for doneness: Jiggle it. Gently shake the cheesecake. If the cheesecake looks nearly set and only a small circle in the center wobbles slightly, it’s done. Also, you can tell if a cheesecake is done by checking the internal temperature with a quick-read thermometer. Stick the probe halfway into the cake—a baked cheesecake should read 150ºF.
An underbaked cheesecake will ripple and wobble noticeably. The key to a perfect cheesecake is a subtle wiggle—not a sloshy jiggle. You might worry a runny middle means raw cheesecake, but it’s totally safe and normal. The center will firm up as it cools on a cooling rack, then sets in the fridge overnight.
The filling will reach to the top of the springform pan and might even puff over the sides a bit while in the oven. But after it rests and cools in the fridge, it will settle somewhat. Use a sharp knife to run around the inside edge before removing the pan. Then pipe on your icing creating a design or an abstract effect.
A couple of tips to remember: You are going to want to wrap the cheesecake in plastic wrap and let it chill overnight or a minimum of 8 hours. When you go to serve the slices, always have a hot washcloth nearby to be able to wipe the knife clean after each cut, it makes for a much more beautiful piece!
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9” springform pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
Start with the crust by adding about 1 package + 3 sheets of graham crackers into a food processor. Pulse until you get a fine crumb. Add in all remaining crust ingredients and pulse until well combined.
Pour the crust mixture into the bottom of the prepared springform pan and using a clean hand or a spatula, press down to form the crust. Be sure to take some up the sides of the pan as well.
Bake on 350 for about 10 minutes.
Combine all ingredients into a medium size bowl and use a fork to combine them until you have a nice crumble. Set aside.
Start by adding your room temperature cream cheese into the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a paddle attachment. Cream until light and fluffy and you do not see any bumps. Add sugar and flour and mix for about 1 minute.
While the mixture is on low speed, add vanilla extract and each egg one at a time. Allow each egg to combine fully before adding the next.
Once all the eggs are combined, set your mixture to a medium-high speed and mix for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, add in the heavy whipping cream and mix for an additional 1-2 minutes.
Pour about 1/3 of the cheesecake filling into the prepared crust. Top with about 1/3 of the crumble mixture using your fingers to crumble into small pieces. Add another layer of cheesecake filling and continue for two more layers. Add the remaining crumble to the top of the cheesecake.
Place the cheesecake in the center of your oven and bake at 350 for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 200 degrees F. and bake for an additional 1 hour and 30 minutes
Once the hour and a half are up, turn off the heat and let the cheesecake sit in the oven for 30 minutes, do not open the oven door.
After 30 minutes, crack the oven door and allow the cheesecake to sit for 5 minutes. Then take out and chill. (Letting it chill overnight is best.)
Cream Cheese Topping:
Once the cheesecake is set, add all ingredients for the cream cheese topping into a medium bowl and use a hand mixer to mix well until light and smooth.
Add into a piping bag or sandwich bag with a small corner hole and pipe a design on the top of the cheesecake.
Use a hot wash cloth to wipe the knife clean after each wedge.
Christmas cookies are practically synonymous with kids. Cookies and milk for Santa? Decorating cut-out sugar cookies with mom? Sneaking extra cookies at Grandma’s house—well, because she lets you.
But what about a cookie just for the adults during the holidays? These pretty, festive Campari Shortbread Cookies With Crunchy Orange Sugar, from the new cookbook Cookies by Jesse Szewczyk, prove that Campari isn’t just for Negronis—and cookies aren’t just for kids.
I first saw the recipe in the Sunday newspaper supplement Parade Magazine and thought, these would make a nice addition to the array of cookies I bake every holiday season. Although, I knew instinctively that the dough should be rolled out to a 1/4″ thick and not 1/2″ as indicated (change noted below). They took the entire 19 minutes to perfectly bake at 1/4″ thickness.
Also, having decades worth of experience icing cookies, I decided to scale back on the amount of frosting, it just seemed too much for slightly more than a dozen shortbread wafers. My altered amounts worked out perfectly and are indicated under ingredients.
If gifting, please make a note to the recipient that these cookies contain alcohol.
Campari Shortbread Cookies With Crunchy Orange Sugar
2 Tbsp. coarse white sugar, such as turbinado or sanding sugar
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1 1⁄2 cups powdered sugar
3+ Tbsp. Campari (or Aperol)
1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
In a small bowl, combine coarse sugar and zest. Use your fingertips to massage zest into sugar until very fragrant. Scatter sugar in a single layer on a plate. Let sit at room temperature (up to overnight), uncovered, to dry while making cookies.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats.
In a large bowl, combine butter, 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and 1 tsp salt. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes or until smooth and fluffy. Turn mixer off; add flour. Beat on low speed 2–3 minutes or until a dry dough forms.
Transfer dough to a piece of parchment paper lightly dusted with flour; press into a ball. Dust dough with flour and top with a second sheet of parchment paper; roll dough to 1⁄4-inch thickness. Remove top piece of parchment paper. Use a 2½-inch round cutter to cut out rounds; place 1½ inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Press dough scraps together into a ball; repeat rolling and cutting process. Freeze cut cookies 20 minutes.
Arrange 2 racks in upper-middle and lower-middle of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Bake both sheets 15–19 minutes, swapping positions halfway through, until tops of cookies are light golden brown. Cool completely on baking sheets.
In a large bowl, whisk remaining 2¼ cups powdered sugar, Campari, vanilla and a pinch of salt until smooth. (If glaze is too thick, add more Campari; if too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar.) Dip tops of cookies in glaze, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Sprinkle cookies with orange sugar; let set 1 hour. (When glaze is completely dry, cookies can be stored in a single layer up to 1 week in an airtight container.)
Technically, who knows? The FDA can, and has, given the OK for any orange-colored squash to also be labeled pumpkin. So that can of pumpkin you’ve been buying all these years? BINGO, it doesn’t have any actual Halloween pumpkin in it at all! So now let me rock your world…
Scoop that autumnal glop out of a can, even one labeled “100 percent pure pumpkin,” and you just may be cooking up a delicious little lie. Libby’s Pure Pumpkin—the quintessential American canned pumpkin brand—is responsible for 85% of canned pumpkin sold in the world.
Libby’s grows a proprietary strain of tan-skinned Dickinson squash, which looks like a pale, slightly misshapen butternut squash. And although Libby’s does refer to its fruit as “pumpkin,” in appearance, taste, and texture, it more closely resembles squash. In fact, its closest high-profile relative is butternut squash. Who knew?
If it’s a real deal breaker for you, go ahead and make your own pie filling from scratch. Or, you could just pop open a can and accept the fact that if it was good enough for mom, it’s good enough for you…. and that’s exactly what The Hubs did…
He made the pie from scratch, including the crust, and used butternut squash instead of canned pumpkin. According to chef/auther Melissa Clark, “Making your own fresh purée from sweet winter varieties will give you the best possible pumpkin pie, one that’s both ultracreamy and richly flavored. Just don’t be tempted to halve the whole squash and bake it still in the skin. Cutting it into cubes allows for the most evaporation and condensation for the best texture and taste.”
If using a glass or ceramic pie pan, you might want to parbake the crust. Since glass doesn’t conduct heat as well as metal, the crust may not cook through if you don’t parbake.
Let it just be said, I am not a pie person, nor do I ever eat dessert, but I did taste a sliver just to know what I was going to write about. The Hubs claims it was very light and up there with some of the best he’s ever eaten; and while I did like the flavors and creamy texture, I am no pie convert yet…
To make it even more special and really rock your world, why not top it with an extravagant Bourbon Whipped Cream from Cook’s Country? Recipe follows.
2 lbs. butternut squash (1 small squash), peeled, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (about 3 cups)
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
All-purpose flour, for rolling out the dough
Dough for a single 9-inch pie crust
3 large eggs
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground allspice or pinch of ground cloves
1 Tbsp. bourbon or dark rum, or use 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
Place two racks in the oven: one in the lower third and one in the upper third. Place a rimmed baking sheet on the lower oven rack and heat oven to 400 degrees.
Line another rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread butternut squash on it. Drizzle squash with 2 tablespoons of the heavy cream, sprinkle with granulated sugar and dot the top with butter. Roast on the upper rack, stirring once or twice, until squash is very tender, 40 to 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, on a lightly floured surface, roll pie dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to a 9-inch metal pie pan. Fold over any excess dough, crimping the edges. Transfer to the freezer for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours. (This helps the crust hold its shape so the edges don’t slump.)
When the squash is soft, transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes (and up to a few hours). Raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees.
In a food processor or blender, purée the squash with the remaining cream until smooth. Add eggs, brown sugar, spices, bourbon and salt, and pulse to combine. The mixture should be very smooth.
Pour mixture into the chilled pie shell. Carefully transfer pie to the hot baking sheet on the bottom rack. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 300 and continue to bake until the crust is golden and the center jiggles just slightly when shaken, 35 to 45 minutes longer. Transfer pie to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before serving. Pie can be baked up to 24 hours ahead of serving; do not refrigerate before serving.
The Hubs decided to treat himself with dessert for Father’s Day and when he eyeballed this Flourless Chocolate Torta in the latest Milk Street magazine, he knew it was the ticket! Rich, light and flourless, this Italian cake is a fudgy, brownie-like dessert created by Eugenio Gollini of the medieval town of Vignola back in 1886.
In reinventing this cake, Milk Street found that peanut flour, one of the most distinctive ingredients of the original Gollini torta, could be omitted without sacrificing flavor or texture. Instead they use almond flour which provides an equally flavorful and moist cake—and is much easier to source.
Instant espresso powder accentuates the deep, roasty, bitter notes and a dose of dark rum lifts the flavors with its fieriness. Serve with lightly sweetened mascarpone, whipped cream, or with vanilla gelato or ice cream—in our case, it was with a non-dairy oat vanilla brand that our lactose intolerant guests loved.
Don’t use natural cocoa. The recipe will still work, but the cake will be lighter in color and not quite as deep in flavor as when made with Dutch-processed cocoa. Take care not to overbake thecake. Remove it from the oven when a toothpick inserted at the center comes out with a few sticky crumbs clinging to it. After 30 to 45 minutes of cooling, the cake is inverted out of the pan; don’t worry about re-inverting it. True torta Barozzi is left upside-down for cutting and serving.
10 Tbsp. salted butter, cut into 10 pieces, plus more for the pan
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1 Tbsp. instant espresso powder
4 large eggs, separated, room temperature
¾ cup white sugar, divided
1 cup almond flour
1/2 tsp. table salt
3 Tbsp. dark rum
Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Butter an 8-inch square pan, line the bottom with a parchment square and butter the parchment.
In a medium saucepan over medium, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, cocoa and espresso powder. Let stand for a few minutes to allow the chocolate to soften, then whisk until the mixture is smooth; cool until barely warm to the touch.
In a large bowl, vigorously whisk the egg yolks and ½ cup of the sugar until lightened and creamy, about 30 seconds. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk until homogeneous. Add the almond flour and salt, then whisk until fully incorporated. Whisk in the rum; set aside.
In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, whip the egg whites on medium-high until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. With the mixer running, gradually add the remaining ¼ cup sugar, then beat until the whites hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes.
Add about a third of the whipped whites to the yolk-chocolate mixture and fold with a silicone spatula to lighten and loosen the base. Scrape on the remaining whites and gently fold in until no streaks remain. Transfer to the prepared pan and gently shake or tilt the pan to level the batter.
Bake until the cake is slightly domed and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 to 45 minutes; the cake will deflate slightly as it cools.
Run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake, then invert onto a platter; if needed, peel off and discard the parchment. Cool completely. Dust with cocoa before serving.
It was son David’s 29th birthday and he requested a Tres Leche Cake as his dessert choice. Well, neither of us had ever made one, but you know how we enjoy a culinary challenge—and boy, were we thrown a curve ball or two…
Since there were going to be only four of us for dinner (and one of us doesn’t eat dessert), the ability to easily halve the ingredients was a game changer—after all, the full recipe feeds up to 16!
So the half-cake batter was made exactly as noted in the directions and put in the preheated oven. After 25 minutes, it was no where near done. At 30 minutes, the center was still jiggly and The Hubs used a toothpick to test for doneness—still too wet. We added another 10 minutes which rendered the cake a light golden color, but also caused the middle to sink 😦
Several other reviewers mentioned that when they made the half version, they also experienced sunken centers. We think perhaps poking it for doneness caused it to deflate, maybe? The Hubs first inclination was to deep-six it and start over but that would have meant a trip to the grocery store for more ingredients. So after some quick rethinking, we decided to move forward.
The milk amounts were cut in half too, and most of the combination was poured over the cooled “forked” cake. Because of the inward slope, the liquid was drizzled around the top edges and the pan was tipped and turned to try and keep as much of the moisture near the top instead of all gathering in the sunken center. We used the majority of the milk mixture to fully saturate the cake, tossing the remainder. Into the fridge it went for a good nights rest.
The whipped topping would not suffice if we made only half of the amount because of that sunken middle, thus the decision to make the entire amount. Fiasco number two. The cream never got stiff, in fact, after switching from a hand held mixer to the mighty Kitchen Aid with whipping attachment, it only got more watery, so down the drain it went, and to the grocery store The Mister went.
Our next topping attempt was going to be an altogether different recipe found in Fine Cooking, which sounded like the perfect antidote. But of course, when The Hubs got to the store (the only one that happened to be open on Easter Sunday), they were completely out of heavy cream! Defeated, he just grabbed a can of ready whip and called it a day…
David commented that “It’s best to preface this blog by mentioning that Tres Leche is not a presentation-worthy cake, but it is a delicious one, with originality and authenticity.” (Maybe if you discount that canned whipped topping.) The Hubs said “I always used to have a glass of milk with cake. This was like pouring the milk on the cake and then eating it.” And girlfriend Vikki noted “It’s like cotton candy melting in your mouth—a little more cakey, but it’s better that way.”
No lying, the cake would not have won any medals in a bake-off, but all those that ate it, loved the taste. I’ve learned in life you can’t always have a win-win, but you can learn from mishaps and move on. The Hubs is determined to make it again—next time around with a few changes.
Notes: This recipe can be halved. If doing so, bake the cake in an ungreased 8- by 8-inch baking dish and reduce baking time to 25 to 30 minutes. (Although in our case, it took 40 minutes!) Be sure to thoroughly chill the cake prior to serving. You could even pop it in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes right beforehand.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 325°F.
Combine flour and baking powder in small bowl; set aside.
In bowl of stand mixer, beat egg whites and salt with whisk attachment on medium-low speed until whites begin to froth, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and beat whites until soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. The mixture may look a bit thick.
Add egg yolks and beat just until combined. Decrease speed to low and add flour in three additions, alternating with the milk, scraping sides and bottom of bowl as necessary. Add vanilla and beat just until combined.
Scrape batter into an ungreased 13- by 9-inch baking dish (or 8- by 8-inch for a half cake). Bake until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer cake to cooling rack and cool completely in pan, 60 to 90 minutes.
Once cooled, poke cake all over with fork. Combine evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and 1 1/2 cups heavy cream in large bowl. Pour mixture evenly all over cake. While cake soaks, make whipped cream.
In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer on medium speed. When it begins to thicken, slowly add the sugar and vanilla and continue to beat just until it holds firm peaks, 3 to 4 minutes (be careful not to overbeat).
Spread whipped cream over cake and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours. Serve.
If you’re looking for an easy pear dessert that lets the fruit shine, look no further. The Hubs came across this lovely recipe in his new acquisition by Cook’s Illustrated (CI) “The Compete Mediterranean Cookbook.” Poached pears are a classic French dessert, and yet simple enough to make at home.
Because our bosc pears were a bit too firm yet, the simmering process took longer to render them tender enough. We also lengthened the sauce reduction time to get the syrup to the correct consistency. Making them the day before our dinner party gave the pears ample time to refrigerate overnight.
They can be served as is, or with crème fraîche… perhaps even a shortbread cookie on the side…
NOTES from CI: For the best texture, try to buy pears that are neither fully ripe nor rock hard; choose those that yield just slightly when pressed. Use a vegetable peeler to peel strips of lemon zest, but take care to avoid the bitter pith beneath the skin. For the white wine, a medium-bodied dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay is recommended.
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seed scraped out and reserved
½ cinnamon stick
⅛ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. juice from 1 lemon
6 ripe but firm pears (about 8 oz. each), preferably Bosc or Bartlett
Crème fraîche, for garnish, optional
Bring the wine, sugar, lemon zest, mint, thyme, vanilla seeds and pod, cinnamon, and salt to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves completely, about 5 minutes; cover and set aside until needed.
Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with water and add the lemon juice. Peel, halve, and core the pears following the illustrations in the related quick tips, adding them to the lemon water to prevent browning.
Drain the pears, discarding the lemon water, and add to the wine mixture. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until pears are tender and a toothpick or skewer can be inserted into pear with very little resistance, 10 to 20 minutes, gently turning the pears over every 5 or so minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fruit to a shallow casserole dish. Return the syrup to medium heat and simmer until it is slightly thickened and measures 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer, then pour over the pears, discarding the strained solids. Refrigerate the pears until well chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
To serve, spoon portions of fruit and syrup into individual bowls or on plates. Drizzle crème fraîche over the tops, if desired.
This unique syrup-soaked chocolate cake was the perfect dessert for our Christmas dinner, however you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to make it.
Floral honey and piney, resinous rosemary combine for a surprisingly delicious match for chocolate, their flavors and aromas complementing and lifting the dark, bittersweet notes.
Erika Bruce for Milk Street
The cake has a fine crumb similar to pound cake, yet is tender and light, and the syrup makes it extremely moist. If you can, plan in advance and make the cake a day ahead; its texture improves as the syrup slowly soaks in. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.
Tips: Don’t measure the ¾ cup water and then bring it boil it or too much will steam off as it heats. Instead, boil a larger quantity of water in a kettle or saucepan, then measure the ¾ cup. Don’t underbake the cake or it will sink as it cools. When testing doneness, make sure the toothpick comes out clean and dry from the cake’s center. Finally, to ensure even absorption, drizzle on the syrup in four applications, with a brief rest between each. If applied all at once, the syrup will pool on the surface and turn the top soggy.
10 Tbsp. (1¼ sticks) salted butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
For the Honey Syrup:
⅓ cup white sugar
⅓ cup honey
3 sprigs rosemary
Pinch of kosher salt
To make the cake, heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Mist a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray, then dust with flour; tap out the excess. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate and cocoa. Pour the boiling water over top, jiggling the bowl to ensure all the chocolate is submerged. Let stand for 1 to 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth; set aside.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup sugar on low until just combined. Increase to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
Reduce to medium and add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl once halfway through.
Reduce to low, then add the chocolate mixture and vanilla; scrape the bowl. With the mixer running on low, add about a third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk, then scrape the bowl. With the mixer running, add half of the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining buttermilk, then finish with the remaining the flour mixture. Fold the batter by hand to ensure it is homogenous. The batter will be thick but pourable.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until the cake forms a thin, crisp center crust and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, honey, rosemary, salt and ⅓ cup water. Bring to a boil over medium, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Transfer to a liquid measuring cup and cool to room temperature.
When the cake is done, cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the rosemary from the cooled syrup, then drizzle about a quarter of the syrup onto the warm cake. The syrup will not be immediately absorbed; let stand for about 5 minutes to allow it to soak in. Drizzle on the remaining syrup in 3 more applications, allowing a 5-minute rest between each.
Cool the cake completely in the pan, at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight (if storing overnight, wrap the pan in plastic and store at room temperature). To serve, run a paring knife around the pan to loosen the cake, remove the sides of the pan and cut the cake into wedges.
A work of art—and not by me. Recently we enjoyed a fabulous dinner at the home of friends Rosanne and Gary (Mr. and Mrs. Z, as you may recall). And the showstopper was the Rustic Pear Crostata, a recipe Mrs. Z. got from well-known chef Lidia Bastianich.
Now I know I’m not much of a dessert eater, but the crostata was a thing of beauty—and I’m sure those purple edible butterflies may have had something to do with the attraction. Yes, that’s correct, I did say edible butterflies. I was so intrigued, I questioned where Rosanne got them.
The answer? From http://www.DecoMachineLLC.com where they sell edible dessert toppers or, “pictures you can eat.” These are very thin and almost translucent (see through), similar to a “communion wafer” and are virtually tasteless, not sweet at all and, are sugar-free.
The Hubs LOVED his portion! He’s a pear man to begin with, and then served with a generous dollop of homemade whipped cream, you’d think he died and went to Heaven. He certainly didn’t decline the offer to take some of the leftovers home…
Couldn’t resist giving a shout out to my gal-pal for the fabulous dinner with the eye-catching finale! Drum roll please…
8 Tbsp. very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 Large egg
Ingredients for the filling:
¼ cup apricot jam
2 Tbsp. sugar, plus more for sprinkling
3 Firm-ripe bartlett pears, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 Large egg, beaten with a pinch of salt
For the dough, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor. Pulse just to combine. Scatter in the butter pieces and pulse until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the egg and 2 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl and pour over the flour. Pulse just until the dough comes together in loose crumbs. (Add a little more water if the dough is too crumbly or a little more flour if it is too wet.)
Mound the dough on a work surface and knead a few times to make a cohesive dough. Wrap in plastic and flatten into a disk.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to overnight. Let rest on the work surface for 10 minutes before you begin to roll it out.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, with a baking stone, if you have one, on the bottom rack.
For the filling, warm the jam in a small bowl in the microwave to thin it out, then stir in the sugar. Toss the pears, cornstarch, and lemon zest and juice until the cornstarch is absorbed. Drizzle with the jam mixture and toss to combine.
Roll the dough on a piece of parchment to a circle with a 13-inch diameter. Mound the pear mixture in the center, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Dot the top with the butter pieces.
Fold the crust over the top of the fruit, pleating as you go. Slide the crostata, still on the parchment, onto a baking sheet. Brush the crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake until the filling is bubbling and the bottom of the crust is crisp and golden, about 40 minutes. Remove to a rack and let cool at least 30 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature. If desired, shake on some powdered sugar just before serving.