Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

Pie Off Pics, originally uploaded by cremarie.

The Pie Off was a total success – good friends, beautiful weather, delicious pies – what else could you ask for on a labor day weekend? I haven’t quite figured flickr out yet, so to see the Pie Off pictures (with comments), click on “Pie Off Pics” above and scroll through…

I gave this one my all, but failed to bring home the blue ribbon.  As you can see from the pics, it was a killer competition!

There’s always next year!

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Pie Off ’07

How excited am I for Labor Day?


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Did y’all know that Marshall’s sells kitchen ware?  I went in for work clothes and left with baking supplies.  Sigh…

The rose-shaped bundt pan was a rational purchase, I swear – I have loads and loads of carrots to be used.  Usually, we just juice them and swig carrot-ginger juice for the week, but we haven’t been motivated to take out the juicer for some reason.  So, I decided to go the opposite route – dessert!


Adapted from Epicurious:

Carrot-Walnut Bundt Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing

For the cake:

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
3 cups grated carrots 
3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

For the icing (my version is pretty lemony, because that’s the way I like it.  If you want it to be a little more cream cheesy, lighten up on the zest/juice):

3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 oz cream cheese at room temperature
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup (or more) heavy cream

The cake couldn’t be easier – grease your bundt pan and preheat oven to 350°.  Beat the sugar, eggs and oil until pale and fluffy, then add the flours, cinnamon, soda and salt.  Fold in the carrots and walnuts and transfer to the pan.  Bake about 50 minutes or until a toothpick (or knife) inserted near the center comes out clean.  In the midst of baking this cake, we discovered a free garden window on craigslist that would fit perfectly into our front wall – I’m a little addicted to the free section, and it was first come, first served.  I had to fudge a little on the baking time so we could get out of the house to retrieve our prize.  I upped the temperature while we got ready and turned off the oven before leaving the house – it was risky, but both cake and window were perfect at the end.

For the icing, simply blend together the first 5 ingredients, then blend in enough cream to thin the icing appropriately.  I kept mine fairly thick, but you can easily play with this for some more drip action.  I realize that I’ve totally hidden the rose design with this tactic, but it was worth it.  The ridges allow for more icing to seep through.  Ingenious.


Love carrots?  They love you too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7o56zGiRAcQ

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We had such a wonderful 4th of July holiday, even with it being in the middle of the week.  In the morning we surfed by our house for a bit, then headed up to Oceanside to spend the afternoon with our good friend Greg, his friend Tom and Greg’s nephew and his nephew’s girlfriend.  It was a treat to be with old friends and to make new ones!  Every time I go to Greg’s I’m inspired to cook because of his amazing kitchen.  I brought a ton of food and cooked the afternoon away.  We had roasted tomato chipotle salsa, grilled some steaks and tandoori-marinated chicken, feasted on an orzo, tomato, corn and basil salad, nibbled slices of fresh melon, and finished the all-American gorge-fest with these beauties:


When we left the house in the morning, I said “Oh, I forgot – we have to stop on the way to Greg’s for 5 Heath bars”.  Never one to argue with an excess of sugar, Chris simply said “Okay, sounds great”!  Unfortunately, I had an audience while making these, so everyone got to see just what went into them.  I think that the process may be shocking to some, what with the full pound of chocolate and all.  Truly, these are most appropriate on a holiday, or when feeling extremely blue. 

Adapted from Epicurious:

Giant Chocolate-Toffee Cookies

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1 3/4 cups (packed) brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 1.4-ounce chocolate-covered English toffee bars (such as Heath), coarsely chopped

Yeah.  These are going to be pretty crazy – you can tell already.  The original recipe called for toasted chopped walnuts as well, but I thought that might be a bit excessive, and might detract from the toothachy chocolate extravaganza I was going for.

Stir chocolate and butter in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water and cool mixture to lukewarm.

Beat the sugar and eggs in a bowl until thick.  Beat in the chocolate mixture and vanilla. Stir in the flour, powder and salt, then the toffee. Chill batter until firm, about 45 minutes.

As the name implies, these can be made into huge cookes (1/4 cupfuls), or you can size them like normal cookies.  I went for normal, so there’d be more to go around.  Bake at 350°F on lined or greased baking sheets.  They’ll spread a bit, so space them about 2 inches apart.  Bake just until tops are dry and cracked but cookies are still soft to touch, about 15 minutes. Cool on sheets. 

Decadent, rich, heavenly, evil – pick your descriptor, but would you pass me another?  Let’s go in for the closeup:



We finished off the day by paddling our boards out by the Ocean Beach pier, where fireworks blasted off right overhead as we bobbed in the water with scores of our neighbors.  That’s got to be enough to work off all these cookies, right?  …um, right?

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You may have noticed the creamy, luscious yellow-flecked accompaniment on my last post – evidence that my ice cream obsession has not yet passed.  We still haven’t made it through the last batch, but the farm share lemons from a couple of weeks ago were yelling at me from the fruit bowl.  Soft, beginning to wrinkle and heavy with juice, they were jealous of the attention that all these apricots were getting, and begged to be used.

I’m a giver, really.

Fresh Lemon Ice Cream from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

2 lemons, unsprayed (organic)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)

2 cups half-and-half

Pinch of salt

Zest the lemons directly into a food processor or blender.  Add the sugar and blend until the lemon zest is very fine.  Add the lemon juice and blend until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Blend in the half-and-half and salt until smooth.

Chill for one hour, then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Yum – this is definitely my favorite ice cream yet.  It’s smooth and light, and the most refreshing touch of tartness – the perfect summer cone.


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The fruit bowl is overflowing – something needed to be done to use up all these apricots.  Even all my neighbors coming to the door Halloween-style, hands cupped for more of these soft, ripe, sweet goodies isn’t making a dent.  In doing a frantic search for apricot recipes online, I ran across way more information than I’d bargained for.  Ever wonder how to say the word apricot in Arabic?  Just ask for mishmish!  I don’t think I’ll ever call them apricots again.


As always, my favorite cookbook comes through.  Even though I’m not a vegetarian, Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone is the cookbook that I reach for most often.  It’s huge, with 742 pages of delicious recipes.  I’ve cooked from this book for about two years, and have yet to find a dud.  Looks like the streak is still alive today, because her Apricot Galette is terrific.  The beautiful thing about a galette versus a pie is that, with galettes, the more rustic-looking (read: messy) a galette, the better.

First, for the dough – if you’re scared of butter, this might be a good time to look away. 

Galette Dough

This dough can be used for both savory and sweet galettes – in the winter, I fill this dough with butternut squash and sage, and it’s better than a winter dish at any gourmet restaurant.

2 cups all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp sugar

12 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (See?  It’s a little scary.)

1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water, as needed

Mix the flour, salt and sugar together in a bowl.  Cut in the butter by hand (I used a pastry blender), leaving some pea-sized chunks.  Sprinkle the ice water over the top by the tablespoon and toss it with the flour mixture until you can bring the dough together into a ball.  Press it into a disk and refrigerate for 15 minutes if the butter feels soft.  I actually left this covered in the fridge for a couple of days before getting around to the filling, and it fared just fine.


Apricot Galette

Galette Dough

1/3 cup crushed amaretti, biscotti, or dry bread crumbs

12 large ripe apricots, sliced in half

3 Tbsp butter, melted (you can probably get away with 2 Tbsp here)

3 Tbsp sugar or more to taste (again – 2 Tbsp did it for me)

Preheat the oven to 425°.  Roll the dough into a 14-inch circle.  Leaving a border of 2 inches or so, cover the center of the dough with the crumbs.  Arrange the apricots over the crumbs, cut side down, making a single layer or overlapping them if they’re very large or if you have extra fruit (Ahem…  Extra fruit, you say?  I’ll be overlapping).  Fold the edges or the dough over the fruit, overlapping it to make wide pleats.  Brush the dough with butter and drizzle any remaining butter over the fruit.  Sprinkle both the crust and apricots generously with sugar. 


Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375° and continue baking until the fruit is tender and the crust is browned, 20-25 minutes more.  Remove and let cool to lukewarm before serving.  If you have the self discipline of a monk.  Otherwise, promptly top a slice of this bad boy with some fresh lemon ice cream and prepare to burn your mouth.


To give some perspective of what we’re dealing with here – the small bowl pictured below?  That’s the amount that I used in this dish.  I’d better keep searching for more recipes.


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We all Scream

Thanks, lovely apricot tree!  Well, I tell you what – I’d better get good at photographing ice cream pretty soon, because the streak has just begun.  Somebody invest in cones.


From David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop:

Fresh Apricot Ice Cream

1 lb squishy-ripe fresh apricots (10-16, depending on size)

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup heavy cream

3 drops almond extract

A few drops freshly squeezed lemon juice

Slice open the apricots and remove the pits, then cut each apricot into sixths.  Cook the apricot pieces with the water in a covered medium, nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until tender, about 8 minutes, and stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until dissolved.  Let cool to room temperature.


Try to stop yourself from grabbing a spoon at this point.  It gets even better, I swear.

Once cool, puree the apricots and any liquid in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Taste a big spoonful; if there are any small fibers, press the mixture through a mesh strainer to remove them (I may have skipped this step.  Strainers are a beast to clean, and I don’t mind a little extra stringiness).  Stir in the cream, almond extract, and lemon juice.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

All I have to say about this is – wow.  It’s like our tree in cone form.  Something about this mixture made it set up really quickly in my normally slow-moving ice cream maker.  I left it alone, and when I came back it had almost overflowed with this fluffy, tart, beautiful ice cream.  Orange things make me pretty happy (thanks for the birthday dishes, Jen!), so this dessert is likely to become a staple. 

Oh, and be sure you have a good little helper to help you clean up:


We enjoyed a huge salad with apricots and goat cheese last night, and next up – apricot galette!  Any other sure-fire apricot winners out there that I should try?

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