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Archive for the category “Sweets”

Simply Suppers’ Lemon Pound Cake

My friend Rachel hosted a Saturday brunch a couple of weeks ago.  My contribution was Lemon Pound Cake from the cookbook Simply Suppers by Jennifer Chandler, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.  Thanks to Katie for sending me this cookbook; I’ve been loving many of its recipes.

Glazed Lemon Pound Cake
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened, plus extra to grease the loaf pan
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra to flour the loaf pan
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter-flavor all-vegetable shortening
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest

For the Lemon Glaze:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons water

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, shortening, and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and mix until well combined. Add the reserved flour mixture and mix until well blended. Add the milk, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and lemon zest. Stir to blend. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean,
about 60 to 70 minutes. While it is still in the pan, pierce several holes in the cake with a knife or skewer. Prepare the glaze and top before the cake is completely cooled or removed from the pan.

4. To make the glaze: In a small bowl combine the melted butter, sugar, lemon juice, and water.  Stir until the sugar has dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the glaze over the cake and let the cake sit in the pan until the glaze is fully absorbed, about 20 minutes.

5. Remove from the pan and transfer to a serving plate. Serve at room temperature.

Serves 8.

Recipe: Taste of Home’s Honey-Oat Granola Bars

I had a small gathering of friends over on Friday night to watch some livestream of TED 2010 in Long Beach.

We decided on a potluck approach to the evening so, among other things, I whipped up a batch of some Honey-Oat Granola Bars from the Taste of Home Cookbook, Cooks Who Care edition (by the people who publish Taste of Home cooking magazine- free issue offer on the website).

This is a pretty new cookbook, and it’s enormous with over 1300 recipes in every category imaginable.  A person’s name and hometown is associated with each recipe, which gives me that all-fuzzy-inside feeling.  You know, if Marlys in Cincinnati loves this recipe, it must be good 😉   I’ve noticed the ingredients tend to be budget-friendly and many of the recipes could likely be made with staples you already have in the pantry.

The Taste of Home Cookbook also features 21 heart-warming stories of people helping others through food-related efforts. The Cooks Who Care cookbook ed. celebrates the recipes and charitable acts performed by Cooks Who Care. The hope is that these stories and recipes will hopefully inspire others to make a difference in their communities.

I added a meyer lemon glaze to the top of mine to add a bit of festivity.

Honey-Oat Granola Bars with Meyer Lemon Glaze


4 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped salted peanuts
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup sunflower kernels
3/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, peanuts, chocolate chips and sunflower kernels. Stir in the butter, honey and vanilla until combined (mixture will be crumbly). Press into a greased parchment paper-lined 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan.

2. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack; cut into squares. Cool completely before removing from pan. Yield: 3 dozen.


1 Meyer lemon (can substitute regular lemon)
1-1.5 cups powdered sugar

1. Place powdered sugar in a small bowl.  Squeeze lemon over bowl so juice pours into bowl, being careful to catch any seeds.  Whisk until combined and smooth.

2. Pour over honey-oat granola bars.

Thanks to Anjali for sending me this cookbook!

Recipe: Raspberry Orange Muffins

It’s been fruit, fruit, fruit and more fruit lately.  I think I’m ready for spring and summer.

This Raspberry-Orange muffin recipe and photo come from Driscoll’s.  They are quite orange-y tasting which set them apart from other orange muffins I’ve had in the past (which have tended to be more orange colored than orange flavored).

Raspberry – Orange Muffins
My oh-so-typical substitutions: Whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour; walnut oil instead of canola oil; plain yogurt instead of sour cream.

1            6 ounce package Driscoll’s raspberries
1 ¾        cups whole wheat flour
1 ½        teaspoons baking powder
½           teaspoon baking soda
½           cup plain yogurt
½           cup packed brown sugar
¼           cup walnut oil
2-3         teaspoons grated orange zest (about 1 orange)
¼           cup orange juice
1            large egg

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Line a muffin tin with 10 paper liners or coat with cooking spray.
3. Rinse and drain berries. Pat dry with paper towel.
4. Stir together flour, baking powder and baking soda in a small bowl.
5. Combine sour cream, brown sugar, oil, zest, juice and egg in a large bowl. Stir in flour until partially moistened.  Add raspberries and stir in gently until evenly mixed.  Do not over-stir.
6. Divide batter evenly between muffin cups, filling each about ¾ full.
7. Bake 20 minutes until golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean.
8. Cool in pan 5 minutes.  Serve warm or remove and place on wire rack to cool completely.

Earl Grey Cookies

Earl grey tea leaves in crispy cookies make for a delicious and unconventional afternoon snack!

Earl Grey Tea Cookies
Adapted from The Kitchn‘s recipe

What I Changed (Reflected Below): Whole wheat pastry flour instead of white all-purpose flour for nutrition; Succanat instead of white sugar for nutrition; Pulverized tea leaves before adding to other dry ingredients to ensure tea flavor was distributed evenly.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup succanat (sugar)
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon Earl Grey tea leaves (emptied from 3 or 4 tea bags), pulverized in spice grinder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon water
1/2 cup unsalted butter

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Pulse together all the dry ingredients in a food processor until the tea leaves are pulverized.

2. Add vanilla, water, and butter. Pulse together until a dough is formed. Form the dough into a log onto a piece of wax or parchment paper. Wrap the paper around and roll the log smooth. Freeze now, or chill for at least 30 minutes.

3. When chilled, slice the log into 1/3 inch thick pieces. Place on baking sheets, keeping room for spreading. Bake until the edges are just brown, about 14 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.

Makes ~20 cookies

Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies with Peppermint Icing

After making my gingerbread house I had a bit of leftover dough (from this recipe).

I used the top of a water glass to make circular cookies; pushing the glass firmly through the dough and twisting the glass back and forth before removing will keep them looking perfect (or close enough).  Bake ~10 minutes or until edges begin to turn a bit darker.  When cool, I added some peppermint extract to the icing to make a tasty filling for sandwiched gingerbread.

Peppermint Icing for Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies

Adapted from Elise‘s Royal Icing

What I Changed (Reflected Below) and Why: Halved recipe since original was for gingerbread house; Added peppermint extract for flavor; Skipped the beating and other complicated steps of the recipe since the texture of cookie filling is more forgiving than icing used as gingerbread mortar; Included option to use water instead of egg white since, again, it’s just filling.

1 large egg white  OR 1 Tbsp water
2 2/3 cup powdered sugar, divided
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

1. Combine all ingredients in bowl.  Whisk rapidly until well combined and a bit fluffy.  This step can alternatively be done in a mixer.

2. Spread in between two gingerbread cookies (or another type of flat cookie).  Let rest for several hours or until firm.

Optional Step 3: Roll edges of cookies in crushed candy canes.  Do this before the icing is set so that candy canes adhere well.

Gingerbread House of Homemade Charm

Homemade gingerbread houses are fun to make at any age.

I am indebted to Elise‘s How to Make a Gingerbread House for making my first non-kit and non-graham cracker gingerbread house a success.

Per usual, I swapped whole wheat flour and succanat for the white flour and refined sugars.  I also used blackstrap molasses instead of regular molasses.

Another adaptation which turned out to be a lifesaver: using a cardboard six-bottle beer carrier as a structure around which to build the walls and lay the roof.  Without this my house would have certainly caved in.  It also meant I only had to cut out a cardboard pattern for the roof since for the walls I just placed the carton onto my rolled-out dough and cut around it with a knife.

By the time I finished it was late at night and I didn’t decorate.  The next day I elected to keep it the way it was.  I like having just the dark brown and bright white.

I constructed it atop a cake platter which worked well.  Now it serves as a holiday decoration that I can move as needed.

With leftover dough I made some gingerbread sandwich cookies.  Recipe to come!

Walnut Biscotti with Whole Wheat and Corn Meal

I learned in a magazine a few years back that biscotti is the plural of biscotto.

Now that is all I can think of when I hear or see or taste biscotti.  Like a multisensory tic.

Biscotti are great gifts because they keep for a long time.  This version is grainy, nutty and subtly sweet.  Give them away in multiples (thus avoiding having to say biscotto).

Walnut Biscotti with Whole Wheat and Corn Meal

Adapted from Made Healthier‘s Chocolate Chip Biscotti

What I Changed (Reflected Here) and Why: Half and half instead of milk because we rarely have regular milk in the fridge; walnut oil for “oil” (unspecified) to enhance nutrition and walnut taste; Replaced white flour with extra whole wheat flour for nutrition and simplicity; Replaced white sugar with succanat for nutrition; Replaced chocolate chips with walnuts for fun/nutrition.  In essence I made Made Healthier‘s recipe healthier.  My poor, poor friends.  Still, Isabel, didn’t you declare them tasty?

Note: This makes about 10 biscotti, which disappear fast.  I might multiply the recipe if you’re looking to give some as gifts or even just to have plenty to keep yourself.

1 egg
2 Tbsp half and half
1 Tbsp walnut oil
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup succanat
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup corn meal
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.  Mix the first five ingredients together with a whisk, then add everything else in and mix with a spoon until it comes together.

2. Spray nonstick baking spray on a nonstick baking sheet and mold a long, low mound of batter with a spoon.  Bake for 30 minutes.

3. Remove from oven and let cool a bit.  Cut the loaf diagonally into 1-inch slices.  Turn them onto their sides and return to oven (still at 350° F) to crisp up, about 8 minutes per side.

Serve with coffee, tea or cocoa.

Devoe Pear Custard Tart: Almost too pretty to eat

Gourmet Thanksgiving in Advance (described here) Recipe #7

I was worried this dessert was too pretty to eat until two of us ate the whole thing in one night. Luckily I got a photograph.

Devoe Pear Custard Tart

What I changed (reflected below) and why: Baked a pie crust I’d assembled and frozen previously; Substituted sweet vermouth for dry white wine because it’s what I had on hand; Didn’t strain juice from Bartlett pear shreds because that seemed cumbersome, and everything turned out fine; Substituted succanat for sugar for nutrition and molasses flavor; Devoe pears because I could find Seckel pears and Devoe were the next smallest; Omitted poire William because it seemed hard to find and would have been expensive.

1 pastry/pie crust of your choice, circular or rectangular, baked
1 cup sweet vermouth
2 ripe Bartlett pears
3/4 cup succanat
2 lb Devoe pears (about 10)
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (from a 1/4-oz envelope)

1. Put wine in a wide 4-qt pot. Finely grate Bartlett pears (including skin) into wine. Transfer wine mixture to a 2-cup measure and add enough water, if necessary, to bring total to 2 cups liquid, then return to pan and stir in sugar/succanat.

2. Carefully peel Devoe pears, leaving stems intact, then core through bottom with tip of vegetable peeler or a small knife to remove seeds.

3. Bring wine mixture to a boil, stirring until succanat/sugar has dissolved, then add pears, in 1 layer if possible. Simmer, tightly covered, turning occasionally, until tender, about 20 minutes. Carefully transfer pears with a slotted spoon to a rack set over a 4-sided sheet pan to drain and cool, standing them upright. Transfer pear syrup to cleaned 2-cup measure, adding any juices from sheet pan under pears (you will have 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups syrup), and reserve for custard and glaze.

4. Whisk together egg yolks and cornstarch in a small bowl, then whisk in 1 cup pear syrup. Transfer to a small heavy saucepan and scrape in seeds from vanilla bean, reserving pod for another use. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking, then cook, whisking, 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 Tbsp pear syrup (leftover from Step 3) and butter. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely, its surface covered.

5. Sprinkle gelatin over 2 Tbsp water in a very small bowl and let stand 1 minute. Bring remaining pear syrup to a boil in a very small heavy saucepan, then boil, if necessary, until reduced to about 1/3 cup. Stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Remove from heat.

6. Set out baked pastry/pie crust. Whisk cooled pastry cream to loosen, then spread in shell. Stand pears upright on pastry cream, arranging decoratively. When glaze has cooled and thickened slightly (to speed cooling, set pan in an ice bath), brush it on pears. (If glaze gels in pan, reheat very briefly.) Cut and serve!

Pumpkin Pie Mini-Soufflés: More rich, less filling

Gourmet Thanksgiving in Advance (described here) Recipe #5

At the end of a big holiday meal (particularly one with the Gourmet Thanksgiving dishes I have been making), you’re probably going to be pretty full.

Nonetheless, you’re going to want dessert. And face it, no matter how full you are, you’re not going to want baked apples or fat free pumpkin frozen yogurt. You want a real Thanksgiving dessert.

Enter: Pumpkin Pie Mini-Soufflés. Richer and more flavorful than pumpkin pie, yet crustless and pre-portioned in individual ramekins. Have your soufflé and eat it too, and feel great afterwards.

Pumpkin Pie Mini-Soufflés

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine’s Spiced-Pumpkin Soufflés

What I changed (reflected below) and why: Half and half instead of whole milk because I never have whole milk on hand; doubled spices for enhanced flavor; succanat instead of white sugar for added nutrition and molasses flavor; skipped the confectioner’s sugar on top, whipped cream and bourbon molasses sauce to save time and because I liked how the soufflés tasted alone.

1/2 cup half and half
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon succanat, divided, plus additional for coating ramekins
3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin (from a 15-oz can, not pie filling)
10 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Whisk together half and half, cornstarch, spices, and 1 Tbsp succanat in a small heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking, then simmer, whisking, 2 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and whisk in pumpkin. Transfer to a large bowl and cool to room temperature.

3. Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in lower third. Butter ramekins and coat with succanat, knocking out excess, then put in a large shallow baking pan.

4. Beat egg whites with salt in another large bowl using an electric mixer until they hold soft peaks. Add remaining 3/4 cup succanat a little at a time, beating, then beat until whites hold stiff, glossy peaks, 1 to 2 minutes more.

5. Fold one third of whites into cooled pumpkin mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly. Divide mixture among eight 6-oz ramekins, mounding it.

6. Bake soufflés until puffed and golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately. Soufflés will deflate with time.

    Recipe: Chunky Coconut Frosting

    When you want to emphasize the dessert half of a mufcake, chunky coconut frosting’s where it’s at.

    This recipe just makes enough for about six large mufcakes, which is convenient if you don’t want to have a lot leftover to eat straight from the bowl. But if that’s appealing, or if you’re feeding a crowd, by all means- double/quadruple the recipe!

    Chunky Coconut Frosting

    Recipe by Hilary

    1/4 cup cream cheese, room temperature
    1/4 cup butter, room temperature
    1/4 cup half and half
    1 cup powdered sugar
    1/2 cup shaved coconut

    Mix all ingredients together. Taste. If you want it sweeter, add more powdered sugar. If you want it chunkier and/or more coconut-ey, add more shaved coconut. If you want more to eat straight out of the bowl, repeat recipe from beginning.

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