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Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

Classic Fruit Tart

This is a great end-of-summer tart recipe. I used plums for this tart, but you can use any fruit really- the recipe is that simple. My Mom has made this a number of different ways (my favorite is the gooseberry!) prompting me to finally buy a tart pan and make it myself. She also gave me the book with the recipe for the tart dough- The Tenth Muse- My Life in Food by Judith Jones.  In the book, Judith Jones (Julia Child’s publisher) has a recipe for a Gooseberry tart and a Strawberry and Rhubarb tart that are delicious. Here is my take on it:

Tart Dough

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. sugar (only for sweet tarts)
  • 8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp. cold water

Directions

Mix flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the butter into small pieces, drop them into the food processor tube, and pulse for 15 seconds (or as Ms. Jones writes “long enough to say ‘alligator’ fifteen times”). Pour in ice water and process long enough to say “alligator” ten times. Transfer the dough to the counter and work it with the heel of your hand. Gather the dough together in a round. Sprinkle with flour, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate at least 20 minutes or until ready to use.

Plum Tart

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Thinly slice 4-5 plums. Set aside. Roll dough out into a circle (or long oval if using a rectangular tart pan). If dough is very cold, let it warm up slightly at room temp first. Transfer dough to tart pan, tucking it into the inside rim firmly. Trim dough if needed. Paint the dough with 1/4 cup of jam (I used apricot and raspberry).

Arrange the plums (or whatever fruit you are using) on top and sprinkle sugar over them. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees, then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 45 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s finally Fall- my favorite season! Although it certainly came late this year. Just two weeks ago, Tony and I went to “the country” for a weekend in Virgina and it was still 80 degrees! We pretended it was cool and crisp and the leaves were changing, nevermind the fact we were still in flip flops. It was a great weekend.

 We stayed at the Marriott Ranch B&B in Flint Hill, VA. We’ve stayed here before and it’s a great place!

We hiked around and played on tractors…

and had some close encounters with these guys!

We also went wine tasting and had a picnic.

And we went apple picking!

       

   

We came home with about ten pounds of apples, so I tried to find the most versatile recipe to make with them. I found a recipe for a “Breakfast” Apple Granola Crisp here and it was perfect- something you can eat for breakfast and dessert or really anytime of the day. It’s essentially an apple crisp, but the topping is a bit more “granola-y” so it passes for 1) healthy and 2) a breakfast food. Works for me! 

Breakfast Apple Granola Crisp

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds* apples (any mix of apples) (peeled, cored and cut into medium chunks**)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (I used a mix of brown and white)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, toss apple chunks with lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and pinch of salt.

Add to a 9×13-inch baking dish. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the honey. Stir in the flour, oats, almonds, coconut and another pinch of salt until clumps form. Sprinkle evenly over the apple mixture and bake in the oven for about 45 to 55 minutes, or until the apples are softened and bubbly. The granola will probably start to brown to soon, so cover the baking dish with foil for the last few minutes (as you can see I did it too late). After you remove the foil, put it back in the oven for a few more minutes to help the granola re-crisp. Cool to room temperature and keep in fridge for about a week.

Tastes great by itself or with plain yogurt (see- breakfast!):

*three pounds = approx. 9 medium apples.

** very helpful if you can get your husband to do this part

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These cookies are so good I’ve made them twice in the past month! The first time I made them to take on a boat trip with friends (they are excellent breakfast “cookies”) and then I made them again to take to a friend’s BBQ! They are so easy and yes, “healthy,” but they taste so good you can’t tell 🙂  It’s amazing- there is no flour, butter, eggs or sugar in these cookies (as a result, they are also gluten-free) and yet they are still delicious! Trust me. I used chocolate chips in the first batch, but I didn’t have enough when I made them the second time so I divided the dough and made half with chocolate and half with raisins (and extra cinnamon). I’m not sure which I liked better so in the future I will probably just do half and half again!   

Healthy Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from 101 Cookbooks

Ingredients

  • 3 large, ripe bananas, mashed (about 1.5 cups)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or safflower, or coconut oil)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup almond meal*
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened or sweetened)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (I added more to the raisin cookies)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 6-7 oz. chocolate chips (or raisins)

*Almond meal is easy to make yourself-  just pulse almonds in a food processor (I used my Cuisinart Mini Prep) until it’s the texture of sand. I used blanched almond slivers (found in baking aisle) but whole almonds would work too. Almond meal is sold in stores, but it’s pretty expensive. Just make your own.

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine bananas, vanilla and oil. Using a fork or potato masher, mash the bananas and mix together. In a separate bowl, mix together oats, almond meal, coconut, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. If you want to do half chocolate/half raisin cookies, now is the time to separate the batter into two bowls. Fold in the chocolate chips and/or raisins. Drop a tablespoon of dough, about an inch apart, onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until just slightly golden on top and underneath.  

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Key Lime Meltaways

For Father’s Day this year, I sent my Dad some Key Lime Meltaways. My parents went to Key West recently and upon our recommendation, experienced the magic of chocolate dipped frozen key lime pie. Yes, that’s right- a slice of key lime pie, frozen, dipped in chocolate and served on a stick! What could be better?!

When Tony and I were in Key West last summer we had one everyday. On the day we left we even had one for breakfast- literally while driving in our convertible rental car- the perfect exit!

I realized shipping a frozen key lime pie to New York was not economically feasible ($115 for 12 bars here, anyone?), so I decided to make the next best thing- key lime cookies! These are great summer cookies- small, light and refreshing!

adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Grated zest of 2 key limes (or two regular limes)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

 In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream butter and 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar until pale and fluffy. Add lime zest, juice, and vanilla; beat until fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt. Add to butter mixture, and mix on low speed until just combined.

Divide dough in half. Place each half on an 8-by-12-inch sheet of parchment paper. Roll in parchment to form a log 1 1/4 inches in diameter, pressing a ruler along edge of parchment at each turn to narrow log. Refrigerate logs until cold and firm, at least 1 hour (I refrigerated the dough overnight).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Remove parchment from logs; cut dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Space rounds 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Bake cookies until barely golden, about 13 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. While still warm, toss cookies with remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a re-sealable plastic bag. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 2 weeks.

I debated dipping them in chocolate, but it was late and I didn’t want to ruin my hard work! Next time when I’m not under a holiday deadline crunch, I will experiment!

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What is it about snow storms and baking? We got hit hard in D.C. this winter and are still digging out…

In talking with a lot of my friends, it turns out most of us turned to baking at some point during the storm(s). An excuse to use the oven to heat up the house perhaps? While we were snowed in during the last storm I looked in the pantry to see what ingredients I had to work with- I was not about to trek to the grocery store which  probably wasn’t even open or if it was, completely picked over anyway.

Miraculously, I had all of the ingredients to make oatmeal raisin cookies- one of my favorites!  I first turned to the recipe on the Quaker Oats can, but it made 4+ dozen cookies and I only had about a half a canister of oats left.  So I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen and they are the BEST oatmeal raisin cookies ever. They were still soft and chewy a week later.

I followed her advice and chilled the dough before I baked them (heck, I certainly didn’t have anywhere to go!).  I scooped the dough onto the baking sheets first and then stuck them in the fridge for about a half hour. I also added some chocolate chips because really, what isn’t made better by adding chocolate?

Ingredients

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup raisins

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins and chocolate chips, if using them.

Scoop the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and then chill the whole tray before baking them.  Bake  for about 12 minutes (time will vary, depending on how cold the cookies were going in), taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.

At least one of us is still enjoying this weather!

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Thanksgiving Pie

I baked an Apple Cranberry Pie and a Pumpkin Pie this Thanksgiving. Simple and Tasty. The classics rule during the holidays for both sides of our family and that is fine by me!

Apple Cranberry Pie with Crumble Topping

Filling Ingredients

  • 1 pie crust
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 clementine (or orange)
  • 5 cups of peeled, sliced apples (approximately 5 medium ap ples)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup fresh whole cranberries
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Topping Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Preheat oven to 400. Place dough in the pie dish and refrigerate while you make the filling and topping. To make filling, mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. To make topping, mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. The topping mixture should clump when pressed together. Add filling to cold pie crust and scatter topping all over the filling. Bake at 400 degrees until the juice in the center of the pie is bubbling, about 1 hour. If the crust or topping becomes too dark, cover the pie loosely with foil. Transfer to a wire rack; cool completely before serving.

To me the holidays are about tradition and I don’t feel there is any need to experiment or try anything different. Of course a new kind of Christmas cookie is always welcome or a new twist on a staple dish is fine, but in general Thanksgiving or Christmas is not the time to try out that new Baked Tofurkey recipe (remember that year Mom?). We expect certain dishes to be there every year and that is part of the comfort and excitement of the holiday.  Everyone looks forward to Tony’s Mom’s famous sweet potato pie.  My Dad makes the BEST mashed potatoes and they are mandatory.  And if my Mom’s mushroom croustade appetizers do not make an appearance at some point between Thanksgiving and Christmas the relatives get rowdy!

Every family has there own traditions that make every holiday special- even those unwanted traditions like the fruitcakes from your Great Aunt are special in that they become the source of an ongoing family joke. What are some traditions that you and your family incorporate every year? Any you wish wouldn’t stick around? Somehow Rochester Hots appeared on the Maurer Thanksgiving table this year and I fear they might make a reappearance next year if my Dad and Tony have anything to say about it!

Well, the holiday season has officially begun and I can’t wait to get decorating, wrapping and of course baking! We are getting our Christmas tree tonight and I can’t wait!

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Pear Cranberry Crisp

I celebrated my first (of three) Thanksgiving dinners this past Sunday with our friends.  Stephanie, Christopher and Andrea hosted our annual Family Dinner Thanksgiving  and they pulled out all the stops- it was delicious!

My dessert contribution was this Pear Cranberry Crisp:

Ingredients

  • 6 pears, peeled and cut into thin pieces
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups whole cranberries
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar (divided)
  • ½ cup white whole wheat flour (or regular whole wheat flour)
  • 1 stick butter
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and slice 6 pears. In a large bowl, toss pears with lemon juice, cranberries and ¼ cup light brown sugar. Transfer to a 3 quart baking dish.  In a blender, food processor, or Cuisinart Mini Prep (which is what I have), pulse ½ cup flour with butter for a few seconds. Add ½ cup brown sugar, cinnamon, oats, flax and a pinch of salt; pulse again until moist clumps form. This is much easier than using your hands, which is how I’ve always made crumble toppings before. Works just as well!

As you can see from the ingredient list, I tried to make this as healthy  as possible.  This is something to definitely keep in mind over the holidays when there will be baked goods around every corner for the next two months. Most often you can’t taste the difference. Some changes that are easy to make are:

  • Use white whole wheat flour instead of white flour
  • Replace white sugar for natural sugar or brown sugar
  • Reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe by 1/3
  • Substitute applesauce for oil
  • Add ground flaxseed

One new ingredient I’ve incorporated into my daily life is flax!

What is flax you ask?! A nutty tasting seed that is a great source of essential omega-3 fatty acids as well a laundry list of other healthy benefits and nutrients. It’s important to buy flaxseed meal, opposed to whole flaxseeds, because the nutrients in the ground seeds are easier for your body to absorb.

You can’t even taste flax when its incorporated in a recipe, like above. However it adds a nice crunchy, nutty taste to salads, yogurt, cereal, etc. I sprinkle a tablespoon on my cereal every morning now. I cannot honestly say that I am leaping tall buildings in a single bound since incorporating flax into my daily diet, but I like the way it tastes and the extra boost of nutrients can only help. Try it!

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