Category Archives: Dessert

Apple Dumplings

Apple Dumplings

Apple Dumplings

As I mentioned in my last post, we are hosting Thanksgiving this year and working hard at menu planning.  One interesting fact about Thanksgiving with Marc’s family is that it is mandatory that there are nearly as many desserts as there are adults joining us for the meal.  Marc’s mother is a great baker and his sister is a trained pastry chef so you can imagine how high the dessert bar is set.  So in addition to the obligatory pumpkin pie, we have a whole bunch of great desserts planned, including this one.

Fresh Apples

Fresh Apples

Of course, many people go the apple pie route.  It’s a great choice and a Thanksgiving classic.  We love apple pie around these parts which is one of the reasons why this recipe is a family favorite.  It has all the flavors of apple pie – the flaky pastry, the apple, and the sweet cinnamon-infused sauce – but in a neat little individual package.  Because the apples are whole you save time chopping and you only have one crust to manage (which makes life just that much easier).

Apples waiting for their wrapping

Apples waiting for their wrapping

This recipe is the one that my mother-in-law has been making for years.  It is delicious as is so we really didn’t make many changes.  If you like, you could increase the spices a little bit, maybe adding a dash of cloves for a little spicy flavor.  But really, this recipe is as good as it gets, just the way it is.  Make sure to have some vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream on hand for serving.  After all, it is Thanksgiving.

Pouring the sauce

Pouring the sauce

Apple Dumplings

Recipe from Charlene Marino

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups sugar, plus additional for sprinkling if desired

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbls butter, plus more for dotting the apples

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2/3 cup lard (or shortening)

1/2 cup milk

6 medium apples, peeled and cored

To Make:

First, make a simple syrup by combining the sugar, water, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium sauce pan.  Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Remove the syrup from heat and add 3 tbls of butter and the vanilla.  Stir until combined and set aside.

To make the pastry, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut in the lard until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add milk all at once and stir until flour is just moistened.  Turn the pastry out onto a lightly floured surface and roll dough into a 12×18 inch rectangle.  Cut the pastry into 6, 6-inch squares.

To assemble the dumplings start by placing an apple on each dough square.  Sprinkle apples generously with sugar, cinnamon, and freshly ground nutmeg and dot with butter.  Moisten edges of pastry, bring corners to the center of the apple, and pinch the edges together.

Place the wrapped apples about 1 inch apart in an ungreased baking pan.  Pour syrup over dumplings and sprinkle with more cinnamon and sugar if desired.  Bake in a 375 degree oven until the apples are tender, about 35 minutes.

To Serve:

Serve warm with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.  Serves six.  Recipe can be doubled.  Also, if you want your dumplings really saucy, feel free to double the syrup.

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Filed under Baked goods, Dessert, Fruit, Recipes

Earl Greyer Ice Cream

Earl Greyer Ice Cream

Earl Greyer Ice Cream

Did you hear that summer is back?  Seriously, it has been really warm here lately.  To celebrate, this recipe is about holding on to summer and not letting go.  We decided that we had to hold onto summer for just one more pint of ice cream.

Ice cream ingredients

Ice cream ingredients

Have you ever noticed how many popular morning beverages have been turned into ice cream flavors?  For example, hot chocolate and chocolate ice cream.  Coffee?  Sure, there are a lot of coffee ice creams.  Tea?  Hmm, what about tea?  Lots of people drink tea… where’s the tea ice cream?   Right now, it is in my freezer.  This is thanks to David Lebovitz and his fantastic book, The Perfect Scoop.  We have written about this book before.  It is our go-to ice cream bible and has a plethora of recipes to try.  In this case, we decided to use his recipe for black currant tea ice cream as a foundation.  But we adapted it to use one of our most favorite tea flavors, Earl Greyer from The Republic of Tea.  The black tea flavored with bergamot makes for a delicious and light ice cream.

Cream, sugar, and tea

Cream, sugar, and tea

One final note.  Don’t feel like you have to wait for dessert to eat this ice cream.  I suspect that many of you out there have had a scoop or two of ice cream for breakfast somewhere along the way.  But now, you have the perfect accompaniment to a hot scone or fresh donut.  Go ahead, after all, it’s tea.

Ready to strain and cook

Ready to strain and cook

Earl Greyer Ice Cream

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Ingredients:

1/2 cup whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

3/8 cup (75 grams) sugar

1/8 cup (8 grams) Earl Greyer loose leaf tea

3 large egg yolks

To Make:

In a medium sauce pan (with a lid) over medium heat, gently warm the milk, 1/2 cup of heavy cream, the sugar, and the tea leaves.  The idea is to heat the milk so the sugar is fully dissolved and you see some steam coming from the mixture.  Remove from the heat, cover and let steep one hour.

In a bowl, (using your wicked awesome) whisk the three egg yolks together.  In another bowl, pour in the other 1/2 cup of heavy cream and set a mesh strainer over it.

After an hour, re-warm the milk-tea mixture.  While whisking the egg yolks, slowly pour in the warm milk mixture.  Whisk constantly to avoid cooking the eggs.  Once the milk team mixture is incorporated in egg yolks, pour it all back into the sauce pan.  Heat the custard mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly.  To ensure that you have fully cooked eggs, the custard must reach a temperature between 170F and 175F.  An indication that this is done is when there is steam coming from the custard and it feels like it is starting to cook on the bottom of the pan.  To test if the custard is ready, dip a spoon into the mixture and run your finger down the back of the spoon.  If the trail left by your finger stays, the custard is ready.

When the custard has reached the right temperature, pour it through the mesh strainer and into the rest of the heavy cream.  Whisk to combine with the bowl set over in an ice bath to cool it quickly.  This must chill for at least eight hours.  Overnight is even better.  Once the custard is chilled, churn in the ice cream maker of your choice according to the manufacturer’s directions.

To Serve:

Eating the ice cream right out of the churner, which is very tempting, yields a lovely soft-serve texture.  Put it all back in the freezer for a few hours will yield something more like a traditional ice cream.  If you serve it frozen, it’s best to remove the ice cream from the freezer for about five minutes before serving.  Makes about 1 pint.

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Lemon Crackers

Lemon Crackers

Lemon Crackers

Sometimes, you want snack time to be more than just goldfish crackers, you know?  If you have little ones, then you know that snack time at play dates usually hits all the major kid food groups… crackers, juice boxes, and grapes.  While that’s menu gold for the kids, I think the adults deserve something a little more special.

Getting Things Ready

The ingredients

For example, maybe something with parmesan cheese, and butter, and with delicious hints of lemon and pepper.  Now that sounds like a grownup snack worthy of any play date.  Even better, the dough for these crunchy little gems can be made made the night before the get together and baked right before everyone arrives.  So whip together a batch of these crackers and be the star of your next playgroup.  These are so tasty that you might just have to wrestle them away from the kids.

The 11 inch Cracker Log

Cracker dough

Lemon Crackers

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp finely grated lemon zest

3/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

4 tbls cold butter, cut into small cubes

1 1/2 tbls water

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

To Make:

Whisk together the parmesan, flour, lemon zest, and black pepper in a mixing bowl.  Cut the butter into small pieces and toss in the cheese-flour mixture.  Using a pastry blender (or two knives), work the butter into the cheese flour mixture until the result looks like coarse bread crumbs.  Add in the water and lemon juice.  Use a fork to mix thoroughly until a dough ball is formed.  Transfer the dough to a sheet of wax paper.  Handling the wax paper (not the dough), roll the out the dough to a uniform log, about 11 inches long.  Wrap tightly in the wax paper and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to two days.

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Cut the log into 1/4 inch slices and place on a baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.  Cook only one sheet at a time for about 10 minutes, or until the edges start to turn to a golden color.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To Serve:

These make yummy little vessels for your favorite dip.  Or just eat them plain and enjoy their cheesy, mildly lemon flavor.  Makes about 40 crackers.

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Filed under Appetizers, Baked goods, Recipes

S’mores Cookie Bars

S'mores Cookie Bars

S'mores Cookie Bars

We are in the throes of the lazy, hazy days of summer around these parts.  With all the sun, my basil and hot peppers are loving life, though we have been wilting a little under 90+ degree days.  However, this weekend is glorious.  Sunny and warm days with cool nights, it is perfect weather for sitting by the campfire under the stars and toasting marshmallows.

Beating the dough

Beating the dough

Unfortunately, with all the birthday parties and visitors this weekend, there is no time to go camping.  Luckily, we found this recipe for s’mores that you can make in your oven.  While it might be blasphemous, I dare say these s’more cookie bars are even better than the original.   Layers of chocolate bars and marshmallow sandwiched between two graham-cracker flavored dough sheets, all baked until melty and golden… well, it’s pretty darn close to campfire heaven.

The layers

The layers

So if you can’t get to the campground this weekend, don’t despair.  Eat these cookies while sitting in your backyard, looking at the stars, and you will feel like you are truly roughing it… and you don’t have to sleep on the ground. 

Fresh from the oven

Fresh from the oven

S’mores Cookie Bars

Adapted from Hershey’s

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 6 squares)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4-5 (1.55 oz. each) HERSHEY’S Milk Chocolate Bars

1 cup marshmallow creme

To Make:

Heat your oven to 350°F and grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and beat until well blended.  In a small bowl, stir together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt.  Add to butter mixture and beat until blended.  Divide the dough in half and press half of it into the prepared pan.

Next, arrange the chocolate bars in a single layer over dough, breaking as needed to fit.  Spread the marshmallow creme evenly over the top of the chocolate.   Break off pieces of the remaining dough and gently press them over the marshmallow creme to form a solid layer.  If you feel like being a perfectionist, you can roll out the dough and place it carefully over the top of the marshmallow.  Either way, it tastes delicious.

Bake the bars until lightly browned, about 30 to 35 minutes.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.

To Serve:

Cut into 16 bars.  Enjoy outside with a glass of milk, campfire optional.

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Filed under Baked goods, Bars and Brownies, Dessert, Recipes