Lemon Almond Cake

Since most of us indulged during December, I thought I'd post a somewhat lighter cake for dessert during the in-between-holidays week.
It's a delightful cake and originally from the island of Majorca in Spain. Almonds are a major crop of the island, first grown in the 19th century after Majorca's wine industry was wiped out from disease. Mallorcan farmers decided to plant almond trees in their place. Considered high quality almonds, there are more than 100 types grown here and more than 5 million almond trees.

The cake is traditionally served with almond ice cream, but I don't think it needs that....a slice of it with a cup of espresso or cup of tea is absolute perfection. It's delicious, very lemony and it has a lovely light crumb.

Flourless Lemon Almond Cake
From Simply Recipes

4 eggs, separated into 4 egg yolks and 4 egg whites, room temperature 
2 Tbsp lemon zest, packed
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup white sugar, divided 1/4 cup and 1/4 cup 
1 1/2 cup finely ground almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon white or cider vinegar
Pinch of salt
Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350°F   Place a round of parchment paper on the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, and grease it and the sides of the pan with butter or cooking spray.

In a large bowl, beat together with a wooden spoon the egg yolks, lemon zest, and 1/4 cup sugar until smooth.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond flour, ground cardamom, and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the egg yolk mixture and beat by hand until smooth. It will be very thick.

With an electric mixer and the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, starting on low speed and gradually increasing the speed. When bubbles start to form, add a pinch of salt and the teaspoon of vinegar. As the egg whites begin to increase in volume, sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, a little at a time, as you continue to beat the eggs whites.  Beat until soft peaks form.
Fold the beaten egg whites into the almond mixture a large scoopful at a time.  It will be difficult at first, keep folding scoops at a time and soon you'll be able to gently fold in the whites in such a way as to create a light batter.

Pour the batter into a the prepared springform pan and place in the oven. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake helping it to separate from the side of the pan. Release the springform pan sides, and gently move the cake to a cake serving plate. Sprinkle with a little powdered sugar before serving.


Profiteroles with Eggnog Ice Cream and Rum Sauce

What better way to end your Christmas dinner than with eggnog ice cream? And don't stop there, make some profiteroles and top it all off with a divine rum sauce. What a show-stopper!
I always make out a schedule when entertaining and try to use recipes I can make ahead. You want to spend time with family and friends and NOT in the kitchen. (Unless you've got the kind of family that loves gathering in the kitchen and they really help!) The good news is all the elements in this recipe can be made days before.
Have a Happy Christmas my friends!

Profiteroles with Eggnog Ice Cream and Rum Sauce
From :pastry studio

For the eggnog ice cream
1 1/2 cups milk 
4 egg yolks 
1/2 cup sugar 
1 1/2 cups heavy cream 
1 teaspoon rum
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
generous 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
slight pinch of cinnamon
even slighter pinch of ground cloves
salt, to taste


Bring milk to a simmer over moderate heat. 

Whisk the yolks and sugar together in a bowl until thickened and light yellow. Gradually add the hot milk, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook the custard over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Be very careful not to let the mixture heat too quickly or boil.

Immediately pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean container and stir in the cream, rum, vanilla and the spices. Whisk thoroughly. Add salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until chilled thoroughly.

Freeze in an ice cream maker. Pour into a container, cover and put in the freezer.

For the profiteroles

1/2 cup water
2 oz (1/2 stick) butter, cut into pieces
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs

egg wash:

1 egg 
splash of water
small pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Bring the water, butter and salt to a boil. Reduce heat and add flour all at once. Cook and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until it’s smooth, pulls away from the sides of pan and leaves a noticeable film on the bottom of the pan. This will take a couple of minutes. 

Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with a paddle for a few minutes until there is no longer any steam rising from the dough. (I did it with a hand beater.) Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. The dough will go from looking lumpy to very smooth. Continue to add eggs one at a time and beat until you have the same results, scraping down the bowl after each addition.

Make an egg wash combining an egg, a splash of water and a tiny pinch of salt. Set aside.

Line a baking sheet with  parchment. Place the pâte à choux into a pastry bag fitted with 1/2" plain tip. Pipe 1 1/2" mounds. (This will make about 1 dozen small profiteroles. I wanted a larger size so used an ice cream scoop. I got about five large.) Wet your index finger with cold water and smooth the tops of each piece of piped dough. Brush each piece lightly with egg wash.

Bake until golden brown and puffed, about 22 to 24 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Rum Sauce


1 oz (2 tablespoons) butter
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoons rum
salt, to taste


Melt the butter over medium heat and combine with the brown sugar. Lower heat a bit and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the cream and continue cooking for another 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and rum. Add a pinch of salt, to taste. Cool.

To serve:
Gently slice the profiteroles in half crosswise and place on serving dish. Place a scoop of eggnog ice cream into each profiterole and replace the tops. Drizzle lightly with the Rum Sauce and serve immediately.


One Last Cookie Before Christmas: Coconut Cranberry Chews

The cookie of the century? Really? That's quite a label to live up to. Sometimes I wonder how I miss popular recipes like this one. It seems it was the grand prize winner in Sunset magazine's cookie contest of 2001 and entered by Nancy Jamison. I did a little research and found out that:
"Nancy created this recipe over about a month's time, continually refining and testing before submitting it to Sunset's contest. Sunset awarded Nancy the grand prize winner, but she was surprised that Sunset adjusted the original recipe when they printed it in their December 2001 issue."
The differences? She originally included twice as much salt (1/2 t), the additions of baking soda (1 t) and orange oil (3/4 t), less orange zest (2 t), and additional fat in the form of Crisco shortening (1/2 cup). I can't imagine more fat, but the cookie is dry when you mix it and perhaps her addition alters that. Next time I make these, I might try Nancy's original recipe and see what happens. 
While these turned out beautifully (yes, they are very addictive) and I don't mean to discourage you from making them, but "cookie of the century" is a bit of a stretch. 
Have you made them? Let me know what you thought.

Coconut Cranberry Chews
From Sunset Magazine, December 2001

 1 1/2 cups (3/4 lb.) butter or margarine, at room temperature (butter needs to be really soft)
2 cups sugar 
1 tablespoon grated orange peel 
2 teaspoons vanilla 
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries 
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked dried coconut 

In a large bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat 1 1/2 cups butter, sugar, orange peel, and vanilla until smooth.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture, stir to mix, then beat on low speed until dough comes together, about 5 minutes. Mix in cranberries and coconut.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on buttered 12- by 15-inch baking sheets. Note: I flattened the dough a little bit...they turned out better-shaped.

Bake in a 350° oven until cookie edges just begin to brown, 8 to 11 minutes (shorter baking time will yield a chewier cookie; longer baking time will yield a crispier cookie). Note: they took almost 15 minutes in my oven. If baking two sheets at once in one oven, switch their positions halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on sheets. They are delicate at first and when I transferred them to a rack, a couple fell apart. I left the rest to cool on the baking sheet and all was well.


More Cookies for Christmas: Coffee Walnut Cookies

These shortbread type cookies turned out more delicate than I expected. They are a slice and bake cookie which you know I love because you can keep the roll of dough in the freezer or fridge until you're ready to bake. I removed some of the first batch from the pan too soon (following instructions) and they fell apart. I had better luck letting them cool right on the parchment paper.
Because of the finely ground coffee plus the single bean in the center of each cookie, you'll find the coffee comes through strongly, giving this cookie an intense flavor and even a bit of a caffeine buzz. Interesting addition for your holiday cookie tray, but perhaps not for your kids. This time of year, children don't need any more of a buzz than they already have!

Coffee Walnut Cookies

From Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich via the LA Times

2 cups flour
1 cup walnuts
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh, finely ground medium-roast (not espresso-roast) coffee beans, plus about 
70 beans for garnish
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) butter
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brandy
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Combine the flour, walnuts, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the walnuts are finely ground. Add the ground coffee and pulse to mix. Add the butter (cut in several pieces if firm) and pulse until the mixture looks damp and crumbly. Drizzle in the brandy and vanilla extract and pulse until the dough begins to clump up around the blade. Remove the dough, press it into a ball and knead it by hand a few times to complete the mixing.

Form the dough into a 12-inch log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or preferably, overnight, or up to 3 days. The dough can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a sharp knife to cut the cold dough log into one-fourth-inch-thick slices. (If the dough crumbles when you cut into it, let it soften for several minutes.) Place the cookies at least 1 1/2 inches apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Press a coffee bean into the center of each cookie.
Bake the cookies until light golden brown at the edges, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking. Let the cookies firm up on the pans for about 1 minute (Note: not long enough...let them cool on the parchment until completely cool), then transfer them to a rack with an offset spatula. Cool completely. These cookies are delicious fresh but are even better the next day. They can be stored in an airtight container for at least a month. 


Chocolate Mint Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches with White Chocolate Ice Cream

These pretty holiday ice cream sandwiches are nice to have in your freezer for unexpected company. Make a batch to have on hand. Try not to gobble down all the cookies before you make them into sandwiches; trust me, you'll be tempted! You can go two ways with the ice cream. I made it from scratch (recipe below) for this recipe (and served the leftover ice cream with some bittersweet sauce, making yet another company dessert), but another time I bought it ready made at Godiva. 

Chocolate Mint Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches 
The cookies were originally adapted from Martha Stewart Living, December 2008

1 cup all purpose flour plus more for surface
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 325°. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl.
Beat butter and sugar with a mixer for 1 minute. Add egg, then yolk, beating well after each addition. Beat in peppermint extract. Slowly add flour mixture and beat just until incorporated. Mold dough into 1 large disk and cut in half. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least an hour (or up to two days).
Roll out 1 disk on a lightly floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness. Use a 2" cookie cutter to cut out circles and place them on parchment paper. Freeze until firm, at least 15 minutes.
Repeat with remaining disk. 

Bake until cookies are dry to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer parchment, with cookies, to wire racks and allow to cool. Try not to eat all the cookies at this point. Freeze the cookies.

Make the ice cream (recipe follows) and after it's frozen, allow it to soften somewhat and place a nice fat layer between the cookies. Smooth the sides and dip into broken pieces of peppermint sticks. Freeze again until ready to serve.

White Chocolate Ice Cream
From Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

2/3 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
a pinch of salt
8 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped 
5 large egg yolks

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, the milk and salt.  Place the chopped white chocolate in a large bowl and place a fine mesh strainer over the bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, then gradually add some of the warmed milk and sugar mixture to temper the egg yolks.  Whisking constantly as you pour in the warmed milk. Then transfer all of the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Continue to cook over low heat. Stir constantly until the custard is thick enough to coat a spatula or the back of a wooden spoon. Strain the custard into the white chocolate, and stir until the chocolate is completely melted.
Add the 2 cups of heavy cream and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator (preferably overnight).  
Once the mixture is completely cooled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.


Flaky Dinner Rolls

These dinner rolls turned out to be fun to make and fun to eat....I love all the layers. I peeled them off one by one to get to that extra soft and somewhat buttery inside. Didn't you do that as a child? We never grow up, do we?

Flaky Dinner Rolls

From Cooking Light, Kathryn Conrad, November 2005

3 tablespoons sugar
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 cup warm fat-free milk (100° to 110°)
3 cups all-purpose flour (about 13 1/2 ounces), divided
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened
Cooking spray

Dissolve sugar and yeast in warm milk in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 3/4 cups flour and salt to yeast mixture; stir until a dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth (about 5 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly sticky). Cover dough with plastic wrap, and let rest for 10 minutes.

Roll dough into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle on a lightly floured baking sheet. Gently spread butter over dough. Working with a long side, fold up bottom third of dough. Fold top third of dough over the first fold to form a 12 x 3-inch rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap; place in freezer for 10 minutes.

Remove dough from freezer; remove plastic wrap. Roll dough, still on baking sheet (sprinkle on a little more flour, if needed), into a 12 x 10-inch rectangle. Working with a long side, fold up bottom third of dough. Fold top third of dough over the first fold to form a 12 x 3-inch rectangle. Cover with plastic wrap; place in freezer for 10 minutes.

Remove dough from freezer; remove plastic wrap. Roll dough, still on baking sheet, into a 12 x 8-inch rectangle. Beginning with a long side, roll up dough jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam to seal (do not seal ends of roll). Cut roll into 12 equal slices. Place slices, cut sides up, in muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat tops of dough slices with cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Bake dough at 375° for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan, and cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack. Serve rolls warm.



Spice Cookies

These spice cookies are related to an Italian spice cookie and are very popular at the Ottolenghi bakery counter over Easter and Christmas. The recipe was adapted from The International Cookie Cookbook by Nancy Baggett.
After tasting these, I say YUM! Christmas flavors with a divine lemon glaze.

Spice Cookies
From Jerusalem by Ottolenghi

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons currants
2 tablespoons brandy
scant 2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons good quality cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 ounces good quality dark chocolate, coarsely grated
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/2 large egg
1 tablespoon diced candied lemon peel for garnishing

For the glaze:
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Soak the currants in the brandy for 10 minutes. In a bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, dark chocolate, baking soda, baking powder and the spices.
In a stand mixer, beat butter, sugar, vanilla and grated rinds for about a minute. Add the 1/2 egg, beat another minute. Slowly add flour. Mixture will be very dry. Add currants and mix until it comes together somewhat. Remove the dough and knead it until it until it comes together. 
Break off pieces about 1 3/4 ounces each and form into a ball. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. I pressed down to flatten each ball a bit. Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375. Bake the cookies for 15 to 20 minutes until top is firm, but still soft. Cool for 5 minutes, then glaze with 1 tablespoon of the glaze mixture. Top with a couple pieces of candied lemon peel.


Dawn's Gingerbread Bark

There are so many photos and recipes for barks around holiday time...any holiday. They're easy to make, fun to eat, your kids can help and they make great gifts. When I saw this bark on Dawn's Vanilla Sugar blog I was certain I'd never seen (or tasted) anything like it. She's so darn clever! I was half way there...gingersnaps in the pantry and I'd made some gingerbread cupcakes a couple weeks ago and froze them for the holidays. All I needed was some white chocolate.
My friends, this bark is totally scrumptious! Perfect balance of a crisp base, lovely white chocolate and soft gingerbread crumbs on top. Really, I had to give it away immediately so I didn't eat all of it!

Dawn's Gingerbread Bark
From Vanilla Sugar Blog

2 cups finely crushed gingerbread cookies (use a hard cookie) 
1 stick (8 ounces) unsalted butter, melted 
a few generous dashes of cinnamon 
a couple pinches of sea salt 
1 cup high quality white chocolate chips or chunks (Ghirardelli is good) 
1-2 tablespoons half & half or heavy cream 
½ - 1 cup of gingerbread cake crumbles (I used some gingerbread cupcakes I'd made)


For the crust: 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Mix the crushed gingerbread cookies with the melted butter, add the cinnamon and a couple pinches of sea salt. 
Using a 8 or 9 inch tart pan (one with a removable bottom is perfect), spray with nonstick spray. Place the crust mixture into the bottom and spread evenly in pan, making sure to get all the corners. 
Bake for 12-16 minutes or until crust is almost crisp. 
Remove from oven and let cool. 
Temper the white chocolate with the half & half until you have a nice white glossy ganache. Using a spatula, spread the ganache over the cookie crust evenly. 
Try not to let it go to the sides of pan if you can. While chocolate is still warm, sprinkle the top of the bark with the gingerbread crumbles. (Dawn used a lot less gingerbread than I did.)

Let set up at room temp for a bit, then transfer to fridge to harden.


Pear, Blue Cheese, and Walnut Rugelach

It's a day for giving thanks for our many blessings. 
I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving filled with friends and family around the table.

"What we're really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets. I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?" -- Erma Bombeck
Pears are absolutely delicious right now, so I decided my Thanksgiving post would be a recipe you could use anytime for the coming holidays. Perfect with a glass of wine, these are some of my favorite flavors: pears, blue cheese and walnuts.

Pear, Blue Cheese, and Walnut Rugelach
From Baking Moment

For the Pear Filling
4 bartlett pears 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
3 tablespoons light brown sugar 
pinch of kosher salt 

For the Dough: 
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened 
6 ounces cream cheese, softened 
4 ounces blue cheese, slightly softened 
2 tablespoons honey 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
¼ teaspoon kosher salt 

egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon heavy cream, milk, or water) 
1 cup walnut pieces, finely chopped 

To Make the Filling: 
Peel and core the pears. Shred with a box grater or food processor. Heat a small skillet on medium high heat with the butter. Add the pears, brown sugar, and salt and cook until slightly softened. Drain off any excess liquid and refrigerate until chilled. 

To Make the Dough: 
Cream the butter, cheeses, and honey in a large mixing bowl until smooth. Add the flour and salt and mix until combined. 
Divide the dough into 4 equal balls and refrigerate for one hour. Roll each ball to a thickness of 1/8 inch, and top with an even layer of pear filling. Cut into quarters, and then cut each quarter into thirds. Starting at the widest end of each triangle, roll gently towards the point and then shape into a crescent. 
Refrigerate for 30 minutes minimum. 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
Brush the rugelach with egg wash and top with chopped walnuts. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until golden brown. 

Can be served warm or at room temperature. 


Cornbread-Stuffed Cornish Game Hens with Corn Maque Choux

If you're not having a huge group at the Thanksgiving table, this recipe might fit the bill. Game hens in place of turkey have always been my answer when cooking for two or three. (Unless you love those turkey leftovers!) Here you have the individual servings everyone loves and  even a little stuffing, made with apples, cider and some cheese. The side dish of corn maque choux is divine...please try it even if you don't serve it with the game hens.

Cornbread-Stuffed Cornish Game Hens with Corn Maque Choux
By Bruce Aidells for Bon Appétit, October 2008


3 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 cups diced peeled cored Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups 1/2-inch cubes purchased cornbread or corn muffins (about 11 ounces)
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 2 ounces)
6 tablespoons (about) fresh apple cider or fresh apple juice

Game hens:
4 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-pound Cornish game hens, rinsed, patted dry
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 bacon slices, each halved crosswise

Corn Maque Choux recipe below.

For stuffing
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery; sauté until beginning to color, about 5 minutes. Add apples; sauté until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Mix in sage, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; transfer to large bowl. Let stand until almost cool, about 10 minutes.

Mix cornbread into vegetables. Add egg and toss to blend. Mix in cheese, then enough apple cider by tablespoonfuls to form stuffing that is moist but not wet.

Game hens: 
Sprinkle cavity of each hen lightly with salt and pepper. Pack 1 cup stuffing into each (place any leftover stuffing into buttered ramekins and cover with foil). Skewer cavities closed with toothpicks or turkey lacers. Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together to hold shape. Mix sage, coarse salt, and pepper in small bowl; sprinkle over hens.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place 2 hens in skillet. Sauté until brown, turning often with wooden spoons (to prevent tearing skin), about 10 minutes. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet, breast side up. Repeat with remaining hens. Drape 2 bacon strip halves over breast of each hen. Using kitchen string, tie bacon strips in place. (Place any ramekins of stuffing on baking sheet with hens.)

Place hens (and extra stuffing) in oven. Roast hens until cooked through and juices run clear when thigh is pierced, about 45 minutes. (Roast stuffing 30 minutes.) Cut strings off hens. Transfer hens to plates. Spoon maque choux around hens and serve with extra stuffing.

Corn Maque Choux

2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from 3 medium ears of corn)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon (or more) hot pepper sauce
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Coarse kosher salt

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper; sauté until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add corn; sauté 2 minutes. Add cream, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce. Simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Mix in green onion, parsley, and basil. Season to taste with coarse salt, pepper, and more hot pepper sauce, if desired.


Pumpkin Pie Panna Cotta Verrine

Here's yet another fall pumpkin dessert. It's a pumpkin verrine and I do love these layers of flavor and they make such a pretty presentation. Again, the best part is you can make it the day before! I wouldn't put the crumble on until just before serving, but you can make that ahead too and just keep in a covered container. Don't want to make the pie part? Just go to your favorite market and buy one. (Costco makes a great one.) You could also use your leftover Thanksgiving pumpkin pie to make these verrines. I loved the tart smoothness of the panna cotta with the pie and the crunch of the crumble topping. Lovely combo for the holidays!

Pumpkin Pie Panna Cotta Verrine
Adapted from Jasmine Cuisine


For the panna cotta:
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup half and half
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 1/2 sheets of gelatin, previously rehydrated in cold water (I used 3/4 packet granules in a tablespoon cold water)
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt

For the pumpkin filling:
15 ounces  unsweetened pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 cup half and half
1 tablespoon dark rum
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pinch salt
1 pinch of pepper

For the spiced crumble:
scant 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup of almond flour
50g cold butter into small cubes
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon of ground mace
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 pinch salt
1 pinch of pepper
1/2 cup chopped pecans

For the panna cotta:

Boil sugar, cream and vanilla in a small saucepan over high heat. Remove from heat, add the gelatine and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.  After the pause, stir in yogurt with a whisk, mixing well. 
Pour the cream into 6-8 pretty glasses up to a third of their height . Refrigerate and let set for at least 6 hours. 

Preheat oven to 325F. 

For the pumpkin:
In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, cream and rum whisk . Add brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, mace, cloves, salt and pepper and mix well. 
Divide the filling between 6-8 ramekins. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until filling is set. 
Cool completely on wire rack, then refrigerate at least 2 hours. 

For the spicy crumble:

Preheat oven to 400F. Place some parchment on a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, almonds, brown sugar, spices and butter and mix with a fork until coarse crumbs (texture of coarse sand). Add the chopped pecans. 

Spread the filling on the prepared baking sheet, not evenly, because you want clumps of different sizes. 

Bake 20 minutes (this was way too long...mine was well done in under 10 minutes) until the crumble is crisp and dark. Cool completely. Break up in uneven pieces.

To serve:
Remove the pumpkin filling ramekins with a spoon and place on the panna cotta packing well, taking care to leave a quarter empty glasses. Fill the glasses with the remaining crumble spices. 

Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving. 


Winter Squash and Goat Cheese Pockets

These are lovely savory little hand pies....perfect for appetizers and great for football-watching snacks. So many different ways to put them together, too. You can make the crust from scratch, or use packaged. You can make them small (one mouthful) or bigger...two bites. You can make them with any kind of squash: butternut, acorn, pumpkin, and you can even use canned pumpkin if you're in a pinch. (I used acorn squash) I like goat cheese, so did use that, which married nicely with the squash, but I suppose you could use any cheese you like. Super recipe for fall!

Winter Squash and Goat Cheese Pockets
Adapted from Give Me Flour

For the dough:
2 cups flour
1 and 1/3 stick of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
black pepper
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons heavy cream

For the filling:

1 1/2 cups squash puree
1/2 small onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
salt and pepper

4 ounces goat cheese


For the dough:
Note: I made the dough in my food processor, pretty much followed how I usually make crust, but used this recipe.
Place flour, salt and butter in a big bowl. Work with your fingertips or with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  You want to keep some visible pieces of butter
Beat together egg and 3 tbsp of cream. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients.
Using your fingertips, mix them smoothly by making circular movements. Don’t knead the dough. The dough should get together quickly and if it doesn’t happen, add one more tbsp of cream.
Don’t worry about spots, visible pieces of butter and stripes of cream; they are a good sign. Press to form a ball, cover with plastic film and keep on the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

For the filling:
If using canned pumpkin puree:
Sauté chopped onions and garlic in olive oil. Add all ingredients, mix well and let it cool completely before using.

If you are using fresh squash:
Cut squash in quarters, scoop seeds out and cut each quarter in half. In a big bowl, mix the slices with other ingredients. Arrange everything in a baking sheet and bake it for 30 min. or  until tender and the skin comes out easily.  Puree pulp and let it cool completely before using.
Preheat oven to 350F°. Cut the cheese in approximately 24 pieces. (I didn't make that many)

Place dough in a floured surface and roll it out into a 1/8 inch thin layer. Using a 4 inch round cookie cutter cut the dough into circles. Place the squash filling in the center of the circle, place a piece of cheese on top. Dip your finger in some water and spread it around the outer edge of the circle and then fold the dough over into a semicircle. Press the edges and arrange  in a baking sheet.  It makes approximately 24 pies. 
Note: I must have used a slightly bigger cutter as I didn't get nearly that many.
Brush with egg wash, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake for 30 minutes or until golden in color.


Frozen Maple Mousse Pie

Keep this dessert in mind for the coming holidays, whether for family or for an upcoming dinner party. With the fall flavor of maple and a splash of gorgeous candied cranberries for a colorful garnish, this mousse is rich and has special occasion written all over it. The roasted pecan base adds yet another flavor and texture.
And you know me, I love that you can make it in advance and keep it ready to go in the freezer. I found it in Food and Wine's Great Fall Desserts slideshow; I picked out several to try in the future...check it out, there are some gems there.

This is one of those lick the spatula clean recipes, especially right after incorporating the hot maple mixture...oh my. You'll find it doesn't freeze as hard as ice cream, so it's a snap to slice.

Frozen Maple Mousse Pie
Kathleen Callahan via Food and Wine

For the crust:
 2 cups pecans (8 ounces)  
 3 tablespoons light brown sugar  
 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg  
 Pinch of salt  
 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened  

For the mousse: 
 1 cup pure maple syrup  
 2 large egg whites, at room temperature  
 Pinch of cream of tartar  
 Pinch of salt  
 1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream  
 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract  

For the candied cranberries: 
 8 ounces fresh cranberries (2 cups)  
 1 1/4 cups sugar  
 3/4 cup water  

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool completely.  

In a food processor, pulse the pecans, sugar, nutmeg and salt until the nuts are finely chopped. Add the butter and pulse to incorporate. Press the crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan in an even layer. Refrigerate until firm.  

In a medium saucepan, bring the maple syrup to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until slightly reduced and a candy thermometer inserted in the syrup registers 235°, about 8 minutes; be careful it doesn't boil over.  

In a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt until firm peaks form. With the mixer at medium speed, drizzle the hot syrup onto the whites and beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and beat the meringue until cooled to room temperature, about 5 minutes.  

In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream with the vanilla until soft peaks form. Fold the meringue into the whipped cream until blended. Scrape the mousse into the crust and spread evenly. Freeze until firm, at least 8 hours but preferably overnight. 

Put the cranberries in a large heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the syrup over the cranberries and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook undisturbed over very low heat until the syrup is rosy and the cranberries are tender but not broken down, about 45 minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and let the cranberries cool completely. Refrigerate until chilled.  

Remove the ring from the springform pan. Cut the mousse pie into wedges and transfer to plates. Spoon the candied cranberries over the pie and serve.  

You can freeze it for up to 4 days and the cranberries can be in the fridge for the same amount of time. 


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