Tag Archives: Dessert

White Chocolate Pomegranate Bark

17 Nov

It’s been quite the weekend. It all started off so well, and with some standard Saturday chores went so wrong.

You see, our washing machine broke. There are jumbo fans drying the carpets, and the contents of our closet now reside in the living room. We went glamping in the den to escape the fans.

So when I told my husband I really wanted to make something for the blog this weekend, he looked around, then back at me with a mix of panic and concern. Enter this recipe.

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I’m actually not sure it qualifies as a recipe. It’s just melted chocolate with toppings. But we’re rolling with it. When life breaks your washing machine, get a strong drink and make white chocolate bark.

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You’re going to start by halving a pomegranate and extracting the seeds. This is probably the most difficult part. I put mine in a bowl of water and worked out the seeds with my fingers.

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This leaves you with a pile of pomegranate flesh and a bowl full of seeds.

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Once you melt the chocolate, spread it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I had less chocolate so used a smaller pan. Again, we’re rolling with it.

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After that, it’s just a matter of sprinkling your toppings. I threw some chocolate sprinkles and (gasp) a little sea salt on mine. It was just the right balance between the rich white chocolate and the tang of the salt and pomegranate.

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I highly recommend for your holiday celebrations, or the next time you need a quick pick me up.

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White Chocolate Pomegranate Bark

Yields one 8 x 13 baking sheet of bark

Ingredients

1 lb white chocolate

1 pomegranate, deseeded

1 tbsp chocolate sprinkles (optional)

sprinkle of sea salt (optional)

Directions

Cut pomegranate in half and deseed in a bowl of water. Discard skin and wash seeds throughly to remove other pieces of pomegranate skin.

Melt white chocolate in a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Stir the whole time to keep the chocolate from burning. As soon as the chocolate is melted, remove from heat and pour over parchment paper into a baking sheet. You can spread over the entire sheet, or make it smaller for thicker bark.

Next, sprinkle pomegranate seeds and other toppings to your liking. Refrigerate for at least an hour, or until chocolate is hard. Break into pieces and store in refrigerator. Enjoy!

 

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Chocolate Macaroons

8 Jul

Weaknesses:

1. Barbecue potato chips. Ok…potato chips of any kind, but especially BBQ.

2. Surprise sample sales at Kate Spade. So many poor decisions made and wallets won.

3. Clueless on cable. I’m convinced that this movie is on tv at any given moment, and whenever I find it, I feel obligated to make sure Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd end up together. Teeeenderness, where is the teeeenderness. Sorry…

4. Tiny desserts. Enter macaroons.

Ever since afternoon tea at the Empress, I’ve been dreaming about the dessert tray. So many teeny desserts, including pistachio macaroons, lemon meringue tarts and little chocolate bowls of coffee cream goodness still haunt me. I’ve since been missing those lady-sized food bites, and decided my only option was to make more.

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I made mine a little more festive with sprinkles and chocolate buttercream. Consider these your go-to mini-sized party macaroons. They’re technically mac-uh-rons (almond flour, not coconut), but since I’m uh-mair-ican, I call them all mac-uh-roons. You’re welcome francophiles.

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And without further uh-do, the recipe!

Chocolate Macaroons from Macaroons

Yields about 32 1.5″ diameter macaroon halfs (16 sandwiches)

Ingredients

3/4 cup ground almonds

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

2 extra large egg whites

1/4 granulated sugar

Filling

Chocolate buttercream frosting from Birthday Cake

Directions 

Take two extra large eggs and separate the whites. Let the whites sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine ground almonds, powdered sugar and cocoa powder in the bowl of a food processor. Grind for 10-20 seconds to make sure ingredients are thoroughly mixed and processed. Sift mixture into a clean bowl.

Take your room temperature egg whites and put them in the bowl of a stand or hand mixer. Mix at high speed until frothy egg whites form and hold little peaks. Take your sugar and continue to mix, slowly adding the sugar to form a glossy meringue.

Next, take your meringue and slowly fold in dry ingredients, 1/3 at a time. Fold them into the egg whites using a spatula and once all are incorporated, keep folding until it forms a shiny batter. Put the batter in a pastry bag (or a plain ol sandwich bag will do) and pipe small circles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Let the baking sheets sit at room temperature for 30 minutes  (if you want to add sprinkles, do so at this point) until the tops of your macaroons are hard to the touch. Then bake for 10-15 minutes, and cool for 5 minutes before peeling them from the parchment paper. Let them cool completely before filling with buttercream or other desired filling. Sandwich and devour!

Lavender Creme Brulee

27 May

Thoughts for possible Eat Cake for Breakfast mini-series:

1. Arrested Development episodes (there’s-always-money-in-the-banana-stand, the cornballer, Ike and Tina tuna, etc.)

2. Things my husband casually suggests I make that…ahem…definitely aren’t his favorite (just mere suggestions)

3. Things I eat in Charlottesville that have no relevance to recipes. Just a list of everything I eat while in town (a lengthy mini-series)

All would be equally rich and compelling, but this time I choose #3 (and I’ll even give you a recipe!)

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Charlottesville is a magical place, and there are so many places I could tell you to go, but in light of the upcoming mini-series (only half kidding), go to Michael’s Bistro. Start with a snake bite and order the Thai chicken curry for dinner.

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Naturally, this was my order last time I was in town. While I usually politely turn down dessert in favor of cookies on the privacy of my couch, the lavender creme brulee beckoned…and beckoned hard.

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While my good friend Joanna and I mulled over the lavender-infused custard and caramelized shell, we joked about the blog-worthiness of the dessert. It went something like this:

Joanna: “You should make this for your blog!”

Me: “Ha, totally!”

Joanna: “No really, you should make this for your blog…”

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So I did! I’m also the new, proud owner of a butane torch. For all future creme bruleeing, merengue browning and tomato fire-roasting, I’m your girl.

This one’s for you, Joanna!

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The most gratifying part is definitely watching the sugar caramelize:

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Well, second most gratifying. Breaking that caramelized crust is worth every butane-filled moment. Swoon.

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Lavender Creme Brulee (adapted from Oprah)

Yields about 4 ramekins

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

3 tbsp dried lavender

6 egg yolks

1/4 cup granulated sugar plus extra for caramelizing

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and start heating tea kettle on medium-high heat.

In a small saucepan, combine whole milk and heavy cream over high heat and simmer until you barely see bubbles forming to boil, then remove. Add lavender and let sit for 1 hour to soak up the lavender flavor.

After an hour, combine egg yolks and granulated sugar. Whisk together and continue to whisk until the yolks take on a pale yellow color. Strain cream mixture into a clean saucepan to remove lavender buds (squeeze them to really get out all the cream) and heat the mixture again until barely boiling. Slowly pour the cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Once combined, skim off any foam (if desired) and divide mixture between ramekins.

Place ramekins in an oven-safe dish and fill with heated water from tea kettle until water level reaches half the height of the cream mixture in your ramekins. The water shouldn’t be boiling, but should be hot. Place the dish into an oven preheated to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until ramekins are just set. When the creme brulee is fully cooked, you should be able to gently shake the ramekin and see that the edges do not move, but the middle just barely wiggles.  Careful not to overcook!

Once set, remove ramekins from water and let them sit at room temperature for a few minutes before refrigerating to really let the custard set, at least two hours and up to 2 days. Before serving/enjoying, coat top layer with granulated sugar and fire up your torch. Holding the flame parallel and rotating the torch, slowly melt the sugar. If you don’t have a kitchen torch, turn your oven broiler on high and place ramekins underneath, watching closely until sugar melts. Let the brulee stand for a few minutes (torching/broiling are HOT) and enjoy!

Time

30 minutes active, additional 3.5 hours inactive

Angel Food Cake with Berry Sauce

2 Apr

How to make angel food cake in several easy, succinct steps.

1. Carefully separate egg whites. Carefully.

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2. Invest in an angel food cake pan. Yes, there are such things. Yes, the bottoms do release, making for easy cake removal. No, they don’t look like this…

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3. Triple sift your flour mixture for extra fluff and lightness (not jokes…I did this one right!)

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4. Show your egg whites some love. The finest meringue takes patience, cream of tartar, and a little song and dance. Perhaps I should say it turned out in spite of the last part. No shame.

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4. Invert your cake after oven removal. It keeps it from settling on itself while it cools, and makes great use of your empty wine bottles. Not that you have any, because you don’t drink that much…and you regularly take out your recycling…

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5. Make a berry sauce for accompaniment. The angel cake is light, airy and delicate. It begs for a little sin.

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6. Enjoy with loved ones. And when you’re alone, enjoy a couple extra pieces. You deserve it.

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The classic angel food cake recipe comes from Craig Claiborne in the New York Times Dessert Cookbook and the berry sauce is adapted from The South.

Angel Food Cake with Berry Sauce

Yields about 10 servings

Ingredients

1 1/3 cups fine sugar

1 cup cake flour

1/4 tsp salt

12 large egg whites, room temp

1 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

Sauce

1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp cornstarch

1/3 cup water

1 cup sliced strawberries

1/2 cup raspberries

1/2 cup blueberries

1 tbsp Chambord (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift 1/3 cup sugar, cake flour and salt in medium bowl. Repeat x2.

Pour egg whites into stand mixer and beat on medium until foam appears. Slowly add cream of tartar and continue beating until they turn white and hold soft peaks. With the mixer running, slowly add in remaining 1 cup sugar one tablespoon at a time until your egg whites hold stiff peaks. Carefully fold in vanilla and almond extracts.

Sift 1/4 of your flour mixture into the egg whites and carefully fold in until fully incorporated. Repeat until everything has been mixed together, then pour batter into an ungreased (important so your batter can “climb” the pan) 9″ tube pan. Trace a square shape into the bottom of your pan, about 2″ deep.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until the cake has browned and springs back when touched. Once you’ve removed it from the oven, immediately invert over a bottle and allow to cool completely (1 t0 1 1/2 hours). Run a knife or metal spatula around the pan sides to release.

For the sauce, mix sugar, cornstarch and water over medium heat until incorporated. Add berries and stir to coat. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce to low heat and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and is glossy. Add a splash of Chambord for an extra kick!

Time

1.5 hours

 

Caramelized Banana Ice Cream

25 Mar

This ice cream is B-A-N-A-N…ugh, sorry. You guys are better than that. Feel free to stop reading now. MAKE THE ICE CREAM!

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Somewhere in the depths of your kitchen there are bananas. Unlike a fine wine, they don’t get better with age.

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You neglect them, and when you realize they’re just a little too ripe, you think “I’ll make banana bread!” So you keep your rotten bananas and when you find time to bake, you decide that that trip to Nordstrom Rack is just a little more important. For shame.

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(Note: bears no resemblance to the actions of those affiliated with Eat Cake for Breakfast. Or not.)

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P.S. look at my manicure! This lasted about another two hours.

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But back to the bananas. Next time you find your ‘nanners expired, save them for this ice cream! The idea is the same as banana bread– the overly-ripe bananas really bring out extra flavor.

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One extra side note: takeout containers are great for storing ice cream. They fit one quart perfectly. Looks like Thai for dinner!

This recipe comes, once again, from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones, the Bi-Rite Creamery’s brilliant book. The bananas and brown sugar, along with the vanilla and (optional) bourbon create a taste similar to Banana’s Foster, just without the pyrotechnics. One of my favorites to date!

Caramelized Banana Ice Cream

Yields 1 quart

Ingredients

5 egg yolks

2 very ripe bananas, sans peels

1/2 packed light brown sugar (dark is fine, too)

1 3/4 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup 1% or 2% milk

1/4 tsp kosher salt

pinch of cinnamon

1 tsp bourbon (rum works too, but I had bourbon on hand)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Separate 5 eggs, mix together yolks and set aside. Peel your bananas and add to a medium saucepan with brown sugar over medium heat. Mash them together as the mixture heats and begins to liquefy. Stir constantly as the mixture starts to bubble and turns a golden brown color. This will take 5-7 minutes.

Remove from heat and blend in a food processor or blender until smooth. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat heavy cream, milk, salt and cinnamon over medium-high heat until it just starts to simmer, then reduce heat to medium. Slowly pour half a cup of your hot milk mixture into your egg yolks, whisking constantly. You want to temper your eggs so they cook without scrambling. Add another half cup while still whisking.

Take your egg-milk mixture and pour it back into your saucepan, stirring it constantly over medium heat. Continue to stir for another 2 minutes until your finger can draw a clear path across the back of a spatula coated with the mixture.

Strain through a mesh strainer into a clean bowl and place on top of an ice bath so it cools to room temperature. Stir occasionally.

Once cooled, whisk in your pureed banana mixture and let refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or as long as overnight. Before dumping into your ice cream machine, add your bourbon and vanilla and churn/freeze according to instructions. Enjoy your ice cream right then, or put it back in the freezer for a few hours to firm up. Good for a week after, unlike your rotten bananas.

Time

1 hour for base, plus chilling and churning time

Birthday Cake!

3 Mar

“Birthday cake is just about the happiest outcome flour can hope for.” Amen. There’s nothing quite as good as birthday cake, and no better excuse to make it than my sweet husband’s birthday!

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He’s a pretty traditional guy. Doors are opened for ladies (check), Fridays are for bow ties, and birthday cake has yellow cake and chocolate buttercream frosting. End of story.

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For his 33rd (er…fifth 29th) birthday, I also spelled out his name in sailing flags (a good nautical theme never goes amiss in this house).

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My awful confession is that I didn’t even finish putting the cake together until the day after his birthday! Hand over wife-of-the-year award any time. However, a tasty piece of cake and a cold glass of milk makes for a great Sunday breakfast. mmmm

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I used Smitten Kitchen’s best birthday cake recipe and Savory Sweet Life’s chocolate buttercream recipe to make the magic. The cake was moist and flavorful and the frosting was sweet, but without the grocery-store-cake-sugar-coma effect.

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So after assembling, slathering, sprinkling and slicing, we had our cake…and ate it, too. Birthdays are best as two day affairs, right? Happy Birthday, David!

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Birthday Cake

Yields two 9 inch cakes and 4-5 cups frosting

Ingredients

4 cups plus 2 tbsp cake flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs, room temp

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 cups buttermilk

Frosting

3 sticks butter, room temp

4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp table salt

3 3/4 tsp vanilla extract

6 1/2 tbsp heavy cream (or milk will do)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and set aside. In stand mixer with paddle attachment, mix butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (about 3 mins). Add one egg at a time and mix until incorporated after each addition. Add vanilla and mix until combined. Alternate adding your buttermilk and flour mixture, starting and ending with the flour (1/3 flour, 1/2 buttermilk) (add at low speed to avoid a flour dusting).

Once your ingredients are fully mixed, pour into buttered 9 inch cake pans and bake at 350 for 40 minutes, or until knife inserted comes out clean. Once removed, let your cakes cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then run a knife around the outside and invert to remove from the pan, and let cool completely for 1 hour.

For your frosting, beat butter in stand mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Sift flour and cocoa powder (I’m a big fan of sifting here, keeps you from having lumpy frosting!) into your stand mixer on low speed and mix until incorporated. Add your vanilla, salt and heavy cream/milk and beat on medium speed until evenly combined. If your frosting is too thick for your liking, add more cream/milk. If it’s too runny, add more powdered sugar.

Slather on your frosting and eat cake for breakfast! Or any ol’ time.

Time

1 hour

Skillet Brownies

18 Feb

You guys. My husband made me rack of lamb for Valentine’s Day. Being the thoughtful hunk he is, he did careful research on proper cooking methods. An iron skillet was requisite.

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The result was romantic. It was the sweetest thing. It was…tasty. Poor little lambie.

When February 15th rolled around, there was an empty skillet to be reckoned with. It beckoned for brownies. Fudgy, chocolatey brownies. I wasn’t about to protest.

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In the end I made two batches. Both were inspired by Martha’s version, but the first batch turned out…err…less than fudgy. If you’re wondering what the evolution of a recipe looks like around here, it’s a combination of mad scientist scribbles (below) and copious taste testing. Licking the spoon is quality assurance. Serious stuff.

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So after my failed attempt, I upped the liquids and reduced the cook time. The best part about skillet brownies? Fewer dishes! I took my skillet and melted…

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And melted…

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And mixed, baked, cooled et voila– brownies!

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Well, ok…they looked more like this. I got impatient (all part of the QA process).

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And then it got worse. mmmm…

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Fortunately, after all my careful research, I could sign off on the recipe. Tested start-to-finish to be fully worthy of your iron skillet. Enjoy!

Skillet Brownies

Yields 12″ diameter skillet o’brownies

Ingredients

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp brown sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

powdered sugar for garnish (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In small bowl mix together sugars, eggs and vegetable oil. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder.

Put butter and heavy cream in skillet over medium heat and simmer until butter is melted and the two are well combined. Add chocolate chips and stir until melted and mixed. Slowly add your egg mixture to the skillet, whisking constantly (like chocolate ice cream, if you don’t keep stirring, the eggs will scramble instead of tempering).

Once incorporated, add dry ingredients and mix until combined, smoothing out the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until knife inserted comes out clean. Cool for another 30 minutes and enjoy, one forkful at a time!

Time

1 hour

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