Tag Archives: Dessert

Lemon Bars

For Paul Chazan, who can’t get enough of them.

Makes one 9- by 13-inch pan, or 36 bars

1 cup unsalted butter

21/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

21/4 cups sifted flour

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 tablespoons grated lemon peel

ATTNThere is an alternate crust recipe below if you prefer something with a bit of crunch from some cornmeal.

Preheat oven to 350° F. To prepare crust, beat

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar

until creamy. Stir in

  • 2 cups sifted flour

until evenly blended. Spread evenly into an ungreased 9- by 13- by 2-inch baking pan. Bake in a 350° oven for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.

While the crust is baking, prepare the filling. Beat

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar

until light and fluffy. Stir in

  • 1/4 cup sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoon grated lemon peel

Pour filling over hot crust. Return to oven and continue baking for 30 minutes, or until filling is set. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.

Make glaze by combining

  • 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons hot water

Stir until sugar is dissolved. This makes a sweet, fairly thick white glaze. We prefer a thinner, translucent glaze. Start with 1 cup of sugar and add water, or more sugar, as desired. Spread over top and finish cooling. Cut into bars. They keep well wrapped in foil or in an airtight container.

Adapted from The Old-fashioned Cookbook, by Jan McBride Carlton

I recently discovered an alternate crust I like for lemon bars, from the wonderful book Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy, by Alice Medrich.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 9- by 13-inch pan with aluminum foil. In a bowl, combine

  • 11/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

In mixer bowl, beat together

  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar

Add

  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 TBL buttermilk or yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat the least possible amount of time on the lowest speed to combine in the flour. Knead by hand to ensure flour is incorporated. Press into lined pan, prick everywhere with a fork, then bake for 25 minutes until deep golden brown. Continue by pouring filling over hot crust as describe above.

Hot Fudge Sauce

This started with a recipe from marthastewart.com, I am embarrassed to say.
Almost 2 cups

Chop into small pieces

  • 6 ounces of chocolate

Martha recommended semisweet chocolate, however I used dark chocolate (70%) from Trader Joe’s and the result was not too sweet.

In a medium saucepan over a medium high setting, heat until boiling

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup clear corn syrup

Reduce the heat and add all the chocolate. Whisk until it is completely melted and a smooth sauce forms. Remove from heat and add

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Let cool to a bit before serving as it’s a bit thin while still hot. The leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated. It won’t keep forever like the commercial stuff, but I’m sure it will be gobbled up well before that’s an issue. It’s delicious.

 

Rhubarb Crumble

Not particularly sweet — on purpose.
4 to 6 servings

Preheat oven to 350 F. Wash, dry and trim

  • 11/3 pounds of rhubarb

Cut it into short pieces across the stem. It will make about 4 cups (one quart).

Add

  • 3 TBL sugar
  • 3 TBL flour

Let stand for 15 minutes, while you mix the crumble topping.

In another bowl, combine

  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/8 tsp salt

When it is mixed thoroughly, add

  • 5 TBL butter, melted

mix together with your fingers. It should stick together.

Butter a 11/2 quart ovenproof dish. Dump the rhubarb mixture in. Dot with

  • 1 TBL butter

Place the topping over the rhubarb. You want to press it down so it holds together a bit. Bake in oven until bubbly and top is browned, about 35 to 45 minutes. Sometimes I put it under the broiler to finish the browning, but if you do that, keep an eye on it!

Delicious served in bowls with vanilla ice cream.

Coconut Mango Pudding

Inspired by an idea for a non-dairy no-cook pudding by Mark Bittman.
5 or 6 servings

Make a simple syrup using

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar

When it comes to a boil, stir and verify the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat to cool a bit.

Warm just enough to liquify

  • 3/4 cup coconut oil

In a blender, combine

  • 8 ounces silken tofu

along with the syrup. Process briefly. Add

  • 11/2 cup mango chunks (I used defrosted frozen mango)

Process until it’s thoroughly blended and no sign of any mango pieces remains. Add the coconut oil and process until blended. Pour into individual serving dishes and chill until solid, about 30 minutes.

The original recipe was for a chocolate pudding that used the fat from the chocolate to cause it to solidify when it got cold. Coconut oil is another product that does the same thing. I was suspect of using coconut oil until I read this article.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Pudding

Rich and delicious, with a thick, rich consistency.

Make a syrup by boiling together briefly,

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Allow to cool

In the jar of a blender combine

  • 16 ounces silken or soft tofu
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • Syrup, above
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Blend until mixed thoroughly. You will probably have to scrape the jar edge down once. It should take about a minute or less. Pour mixture into individual cups or one large bowl. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

 

Green Tea Pudding

Delicious, creamy and easy to make, too.

In the jar of a blender combine

  • 16 ounces silken tofu (soft tofu should work, but I haven’t tried with this variation)
  • 8 ounces white chocolate or 11/3 cups Nestle’s white morsels, melted
  • 4 tsp green tea powder

Blend until mixed thoroughly. You will probably have to scrape the jar edge down once. It should take about a minute or less. Pour mixture into individual cups or one large bowl. Refrigerate for at least one hour. It will not get as firm as the Dairy-Free Chocolate Pudding.

Note that this isn’t a dairy-free recipe: white chocolate contains small amounts of milk. The white morsels from Nestle’s don’t use cocoa butter, but are essentially the same thing. I’ve used both and it works fine.

 

Black Cake

Black Cake is made on many Caribbean islands around Christmas and New Year’s. I’d been wanting to make one since I first read about it in Laurie Colwin’s wonderful collection of essays, Home Cooking, but I never felt comfortable with her recipe —  something felt too relaxed, but that’s how most of her recipes are. When The New York Times published an article and recipe about Black Cake, I was inspired. From there, I made some adaptations.

Makes 2 9-inch cakes, 24 servings

At least two days before you’re going to make the cake, and more like ATTN two to twelve months before, combine

  • 1/2 pound prunes
  • 1/2 pound black raisins
  • 1/2 pound currants
  • 3/4 pound tart dried cherries (Montmorency preferred)
  • 1/4 pound dried bing cherries
  • 2 TBL dried citrus peel
  • 1 cup dark rum
  • 3/4 cup Manischewitz Concord grape wine (or cherry brandy)

Place mixture in a glass or plastic container and cover until you are ready to bake the cake, stirring from time to time. There is no need to refrigerate this mixture.

When you’re ready to bake, grind the fruit, adding

  • 2/3 cup blanched almonds
  • additional rum if the mixture is too dry

I used a meat grinder with the finer of two grinding plates and there was no need for additional rum, but whatever you do, ATTN don’t overtax your equipment and burn out the motor. If you need to add extra rum, the cake will just bake longer.

Prepare 2 8- or 9-inch round pans by buttering them and lining the bottoms with circles of parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 250 F.

In a small mixing bowl, combine and set aside

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

In the bowl of a mixer, beat

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter

until fluffy. Add

  • 11/4 cups dark brown sugar (1/2 pound)

Then beat in,

  • 5 large eggs, ATTN one at a time
  • zest of one lime
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp Angostura bitters

In a large bowl, combine the batter and the dry ingredients. Add the ground fruit and

  • 3 TBL browning (see note below)

The batter should be a medium-dark brown: it will get darker as it cooks. Distribute the batter between the 2 prepared pans and bake at 250 F for one hour. ATTN Reduce heat to 225 F and bake for another 2 hours. Using a cake tester, check that it comes out clean. Depending on how much liquid was in your fruit mixture, the cake could take up to another hour to finish — but mine didn’t.

Remove the cakes from the oven. Place on racks, and immediately brush with

  • 2 TBL dark rum

Let rest for 10 minutes, then remove cakes from pan and leave on racks to cool completely. Wrap in wax paper and then foil. They will keep, in a cool place for several weeks.

NOTE: Browning is a product that’s used to color gravy, but when you go shopping make sure you don’t purchase something that says “Browning and gravy flavoring” or something like that. The only ingredients in browning is caramelized sugar and water. Browning contains no salt and gravy flavoring does. If you can’t find browning, follow the directions for making burnt sugar in the recipe cited above from the Times.

Classic Cheesecake

We think this has the ideal consistency and tangy flavor.

Makes one 9- or 10-inch cheesecake, about 16 servings

  • 11/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon nonfat dry milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese
  • 11/2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together

  • 11/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cut in

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter

Separately, whisk together

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon water

Stir the liquid into the dry ingredients. The dough should be crumbly but hold together when squeezed.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Press the dough into the bottom and about 1/2-inch up the side of a 9- or 10-inch spring form pan. (Yes, that’s not an error – the crust goes a little bit up the side of the cake.) Use a piece of plastic wrap to cover the dough while pressing it in place. Remove plastic, prick the crust all over and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

Using an electric mixer, beat   on slow speed

  • 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese

until soft and no lumps remain. Stop to scrape down the bowl a couple of times during the process. Do this at a slow speed so you don’t incorporate air into the mixture. Add

  • 11/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

and mix until well blended. Add, one at a time

  • 4 large eggs

Make sure the mixture is smooth before adding each egg. Also, remember to scrape the bottom of the bowl between adding each egg. Stir in

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Stir just until the mixture is smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 325° for 45 to 50 minutes. The edges of the cake will look set and be a light golden brown and the middle should still jiggle when you nudge the pan. The internal temperature when measured an inch from the center should be 165° or higher. Turn the oven off, open the door slightly and let the cheesecake cool slowly in the oven for an hour. During this time the center will finish setting. Cooling the cake slowly will keep the top from cracking and ensure an even, smooth texture inside.

After an hour, remove the cake from the oven and run a knife around the edge to allow the cake to contract as it cools. Refrigerate overnight before serving. Top with fruit or whipped cream, if desired.

Adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

Revani

Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine in a mixing bowl:

  • 1/2 cup semolina
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 TBL baking powder

In another bowl, mix for a couple minutes:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 TBL olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 eggs

Combine the liquid and dry ingredients until mixed thoroughly. Pour into a greased 9-inch square cake pan and bake for 25 minutes. While the cake bakes, make a syrup by boiling together:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water

Boil for a few minutes. Remove from heat and stir in a some lemon juice. I used the very end of a lemon, so it wasn’t much. Perhaps 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. Let syrup stand.

When cake comes out of oven, cut cake into nine equal square pieces (or 12 if you want smaller servings). While the cake is still warm and using a spoon, distribute the syrup on top of the cake slowly, making sure the cake absorbs the syrup evenly.

Serve at room temperature, with whipped cream or thickened yogurt. Top with chopped pistachios.

Adapted from Binnur’s Turkish Cookbook

Date-Almond Truffles

Makes 28 pieces

11/4 cups slivered almonds

1 cup pitted dates

1 tablespoon orange blossom water

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

In food processor, whirl until finely chopped

11/4 cups slivered almonds

1 cup pitted dates

1 tablespoon orange blossom water

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Form into 1-inch balls, roll in

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

pressing to coat lightly.

Adapted from Sunset Recipe Annual, 1996 Edition

Palm Beach Brownies

These are dark, chewy, gooey, intense brownies. This is also without question the best brownie recipe ever. Don’t question it, just believe it.

Makes 24 or 32 brownies

8 ounces (8 squares) unsweetened chocolate

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter

5 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 teaspoon almond extract

21/2 tablespoons dry instant espresso or powdered instant coffee

33/4 cups sugar

12/3 cups sifted flour

8 ounces (2 generous cups) walnut halves or large pieces

Adjust rack 1/3 up from the bottom of the oven and preheat to 425°. If you’re using a pan with a dark finish, such as “Baker’s Secret” lower the temperature to 400°. Place in bowl

8 ounces unsweetened chocolate

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter

Cover and heat in microwave long enough to melt and blend. This takes 2 or 3 minutes in our microwave, but stir once per minute so the butter doesn’t boil or spatter.

Place the following in the mixer bowl

5 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

21/2 tablespoons dry instant espresso or powdered instant coffee

33/4 cups sugar

Beat at high speed for 10 minutes. Scrape bowl once or twice during the 10 minutes.

Line a 9- by 13- by 2-inch pan with foil and butter it while the mixer’s running. (See end of recipe for tips on how to do this painlessly.) Set the prepared pan aside.

On low speed, add the chocolate mixture and beat just long enough to mix. Add just until mixed

12/3 cups sifted flour

Stir in by hand

8 ounces (2 generous cups) walnut halves or large pieces

Turn into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 35 minutes, reversing the pan front to back as necessary during baking to insure even baking. Cover loosely with foil for the last 15 minutes of the baking time to prevent overbaking. At the end of 35 minutes, the cake will have a crisp, thick crust on top but if you insert a toothpick it will come out wet and covered with chocolate. Nevertheless, it is done.

Remove cake from the oven and let stand at until cool, several hours or overnight. Then cover with a rack or cookie sheet and invert. Remove the pan and the foil lining. Cover with a cookie sheet and invert again, leaving the cake right side up. The cake will be 11/4 inches thick.

Don’t try to cut these unless they are thoroughly cooled. Use a large, very sharp chef’s knife. It will be necessary to wash and dry the blade several times while cutting. Don’t worry if the edges are dark and dry, this means you baked the brownies correctly. Just trim 1/4 inch from the edges. Hide the trimmed edges from your friends and family, as they’re even better than the brownies. First cut the cake in half, cutting through the long sides. Cut into 24 or 32 brownies.

Package them in an airtight container. They keep well in the freezer, but taste best served at room temperature.

To line pan with foil: Invert the pan, cover it with a long piece of foil and with your hands press down on the foil around the sides and the corners to shape it like the pan. Dampen the inside of the pan slightly. Without tearing, press the foil into place in the pan. Now butter the foil with soft or melted butter. The easiest way is to place a piece of butter in the pan, place the pan in the oven while it is warming up, and when the butter is melted use a pastry brush to spread it all over the sides and bottom of the foil.

Adapted from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts

Dried Apple Cake

Makes one 9- by 5-inch loaf

3 eggs

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3 cups dried apples

21/2 cups sugar

1 cup raisins

1 cup currants

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon cloves

Allow

3 eggs

1/2 cup unsalted butter

to come to room temperature. Meanwhile soak together

3 cups dried apples

5 cups warm water

When the fruit has been rehydrated, about 30 minutes, drain fruit, reserving liquid. Chop apples and add

21/2 cups sugar

1 cup raisins

1 cup currants

(Chopped figs, prunes, dates or dried cranberries can replace some or all of the raisins and currants.) Cook with very little water (you can use the reserved apple-rehydration water if any remains) until the apples are soft. Let cool. Preheat oven to 350°.

In another bowl, combine

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon cloves

Beat eggs well. Add eggs and softened butter to the fruit mixture. Stir in the flour mixture and mix well. Bake in a greased and floured 9- by 5-inch loaf pan for one hour in a 350° oven.

Ricotta and Coffee Cream

Simplicity says it all. This is one of the best and easiest dessert recipes we know. Use the best ricotta when you make this.

Makes 6 servings

11/2 pounds fresh ricotta

2/3 cup sugar

5 tablespoons dark rum

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons very strong espresso coffee

36 espresso coffee beans, for optional garnish

Put

11/2 pounds fresh ricotta

2/3 cup sugar

5 tablespoons dark rum

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons very strong espresso coffee, cooled

in the food processor and process to a creamy consistency. Pour the mixture into six individual glass dessert dishes and store in the refrigerator overnight. Just before serving you may optionally garnish each with six crisp coffee beans. Serve cold.

Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan

Lime Curd and Toasted Almond Tart

The pure essence of lime.

Makes one 9-inch tart

2/3 cup sliced almonds

11/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs (from about twenty 11/2-inch cookies)

3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

4 large eggs

4 or 5 limes

Toast

2/3 cups sliced almonds

until golden. Cool almonds completely. Preheat oven to 350° and butter a 9-inch tart pan with a removable fluted rim. In a food processor, pulse the almonds with

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

In a bowl, toss the almond mixture with

1 cup vanilla wafer crumbs

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

until well combined. Sprinkle half of crumb mixture onto bottom of pan near rim, pressing evenly up side. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture onto bottom and press evenly over bottom, joining edge. Bake crust in lower third of oven 10 minutes, or until a deeper shade of golden, and cool on a rack.

To make the filling, in a heavy saucepan cook

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

4 large eggs, beaten lightly

1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)

over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubble appears on surface, 12 to 15 minutes. Immediately pour curd through a sieve into a bowl. Stir in

1 tablespoon freshly grated lime zest (from about 2 limes)

and cool. Cover surface with plastic wrap; refrigerate (up to one week). Spoon filling evenly into crust and cover surface with a buttered round of wax paper. Chill tart, covered, at least one hour and up to 24.

Adapted from The Best of Gourmet, 1997 Edition

Apple-Ginger Mini-Cakes

This started off from a recipe in the King Arthur cookbook, but I don’t like cooked raisins and it collapsed at the center even though it was definitely done cooking at the edge. I did some thinking and adjusted it a bit.

Preheat oven to 325 F. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine

  • 11/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar (I used about 1/4 cup of brown and the rest was white)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice

Combine and then add

  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch dice (about 21/4 cups once chopped)
  • 1/2 cup candied ginger, cut into raisin-size pieces or smaller (see note)
  • 2 TBL soft butter
  • 2 eggs

Mix until dough forms. Add

  • A hand-full of pecan halves

Stir to mix in the nuts and spoon into greased cake molds. The ones I used are silicone and a little bigger than a cup-cake tins, but with straight sides. I filled them almost up to the top, pushing down with a spoon to eliminate any air pockets. I also tried a ramekin, and it worked, but the cake didn’t rise evenly because it came above the sides a bit sooner. This made 7 mini-cakes. The ones in the silicon baked about 35 minutes; the one in the ceramic ramekin was overbaked after 35 minutes. I think 30 minutes would have been right for the silicon, 25 minutes for the ramekin.

NOTE: I really prefer using the “uncrystallized ginger” from Trader Joe’s because it isn’t coated with sugar.