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Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

Chocolate Pecan Pie

November 30, 2012 9 comments

Katie Bug – Our New Dog

Matt’s birthday was this past weekend. Since his birthday is around Thanksgiving, pumpkin often figures into his birthday dessert. I’ve made an effort to change it up over the years and have made him a mocha ice cream pie, panna cotta, pecan pie, and bread pudding. Matt is not a huge cake fan, except for carrot cake (maybe next year?!?). This year, we had a few friends over to celebrate Matt’s birthday and to meet our new dog – Katie. Yes, that’s also my name. When you adopt a senior, special needs Aussie you can’t just change her name, so we call her Katie Bug, Katie Jr., Katie Pup (I’m now known as Katie Human to our friends), etc. I hope she can one day join me on a rug in the kitchen while I cook. Right now, she is too scared to venture into the kitchen unless it is a quick visit for a green bean treat. She loves her green beans! I loved that Will kept me company in the kitchen. I didn’t mention it, but we lost him in July. He was almost 15½. He was a wonderful dog and is greatly missed. We are thankful to share our home with another dog. We adopted Katie on November 17th, she is a sweetie and a welcome addition to our family. 

I baked Matt one of his favorite desserts for his birthday – a chocolate pecan pie. I made it completely from scratch. Haven’t done that in years. Yes, I cheat sometimes and use store-bought crust (Immaculate Baking Company’s refrigerated pie crust is good and easy). When I say “by scratch,” I mean it: gathered the pecans while walking through our neighborhood, shelled them on the front porch (yes, we live in Alabama!), and made the crust (thank you Ina Garten). Then topped the pie with a little “Matt Man” cutout :).  Hope you like it. It’s great for a birthday (or any day!).

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie (Print recipe)

Crust:

6 tablespoons cold salted butter

2½ tablespoons cold vegetable shortening

1½ cups flour

1½ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

3 to 4 tablespoons ice water

Dice the butter. Put the butter and vegetable shortening in the refrigerator while you prepare the dry ingredients. Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is about the size of peas. With the processor pulsing, gradually add the ice water. Pulse until the dough begins to form a ball. Pour dough onto a floured surface and form into a ball. Take care not to overwork it. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll into a circle on a floured surface, gently fold, place in a pie dish, and crimp the edges.

Filling:

3 eggs

1 cup white sugar

1 cup corn syrup or golden syrup

1 tablespoon melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ salt

2 cups pecans

¼ to ½ cup chocolate chips (depends on how much you like chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Lightly beat the eggs. Stir in the sugar, syrup, butter, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips. Pour pecan filling into pie crust.

To prevent over-browning, you can cover the crust edges with pie shields or pieces of aluminum foil. Bake on center rack of oven for 60 to 70 minutes (see tips for doneness, below). Remove crust shields after about 45 minutes. Cool for 2-4 hours on a wire rack before serving.

Doneness Hints from the Karo website:

Pie is done when center reaches 200°F. Tap center surface of pie lightly – it should spring back when done.

Variation:

For something different, add ¼ to ½ cup of shredded coconut.

Credits:

The crust is based on a crust recipe from Ina Garten and the pie filling is based on the Karo Syrup recipe.

 

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Pumpkin Bread Pudding

November 21, 2012 4 comments

Not sure I’ve posted a recipe without a photo. But I am tonight, because I don’t have time to make the dish and take a photo. Plus, I wanted to get it posted before Thanksgiving. Ok, so there isn’t a lot of time to make this in time for Thanksgiving, but it is quick. And you might be making a pumpkin pie anyway, you could have leftover bread, so you might have all the ingredients already. And maybe you feel like trying something new.

This Pumpkin Bread Pudding is a nice alternative to a traditional pumpkin pie. It combines the best of two worlds–pumpkin pie and bread pudding! It’s not just for Thanksgiving time; you can make it year round. I keep a bag of bread cubes in the freezer. If we have an extra chunk of bread, it goes in the bag. When I get enough, then I make it.

Hope you have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving. Many thanks to all of you.

Bread Pudding

5 cups stale firm bread “cubes” (crusty French bread, cinnamon swirl bread, etc.)

3 tablespoons melted butter

1⅓ cups sugar

3 large eggs

2 cups half-and-half (or 1 cup milk and 1 cup cream

15 ounces pumpkin purée (canned pumpkin is fine)

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon cloves

¼ teaspoon ginger

¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated

½ teaspoon vanilla

½ cup golden raisins (or dried cranberries)

½ cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)

Optional toppings: whipped cream, warm dulce de leche or caramel sauce, whiskey sauce, and/or a sprinkle of pecans.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Melt the butter in an 11×17 baking dish. Swirl it around to coat the bottom and sides. This is a lot of butter, but you will later pour the excess into the pumpkin mixture. Tear or cut the bread into medium pieces and place in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the bread with ⅓ cup of sugar, toss it around, and let it sit while you prepare the pumpkin mixture.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add 1 cup sugar, half-and-half, pumpkin, excess butter, salt, spices, and vanilla. Mix well. Pour the pumpkin mixture over the bread and stir. Place half in the baking dish, sprinkle with raisins and pecans. Top with remaining mixture. Top with the other half of the mixture. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until firm and lightly brown. Serve warm with one of the toppings or enjoy it plain! 

Peach Cubes

August 6, 2012 7 comments

Fresh AL Peaches!

Peaches are plentiful at farmers markets throughout North Alabama. We bought a small basket at the Greene Street Market last week. I enjoy eating them fresh, but there were a bunch in that little basket. So, I thought of ways to put them up and enjoy them this winter. Usually, I slice them and freeze them. Sometimes with a little lemon juice to keep them from browning. I might also add a bit of sugar. Frozen peaches are great for making cobblers, smoothies, peach pies, etc. However, depending on how you freeze them you can end up with a huge block of frozen peaches! Not the easiest to handle; unless you measure the quantity you need for a specific recipe and only freeze that amount in each container (I freeze 5 cups of peaches for cobbler).

I freeze pesto, tomato paste, yogurt, herbs, etc. in ice cube trays so why not pureed peaches!?! This weekend, I made pureed peach cubes! While making them, I vaguely recalled my mom doing this when I was a kid. The peach cubes are kinda boring looking, so I did not take a photo of them. A special thank you to Marilyn Evans for the beautiful photo of peaches available at the Greene Street Market at Nativity. I will take photos when the cubes are transformed in a recipe…maybe a smoothie, daiquiri, popsicle, fruit slush, something.

Peach Cubes

1 pound peaches, pitted and sliced  (you can peel them if you want or just spot-peel as needed)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Put the peaches and lemon juice into a blender container (or food processor container). Puree until smooth. If you want to leave a few large pieces, that is fine, whatever you prefer! Pour into ice cube trays. Freeze. Remove cubes and store in resealable plastic bags in the freezer.

Coming soon…what you can do with the peach cubes!

Butter Cookies

July 28, 2012 2 comments

Butter Cookies

Not sure why my thoughts have turned to Christmas cookies, but they have. The temperature is in the 90s, the humidity is horrific, and it feels like we are in the 100s. Maybe that is why I am thinking about Christmas cookies at the end of July! Not to wish my life away, but I am longing for cooler days and nights.

Sorry for another post so soon after Friday’s post, but at least these cookies go well with the iced coffee! When I started this blog, I wanted to post 50 recipes a year, but I am shy of my goal. If I post three recipes before the end of Monday, I’ll meet it. I hope you will please bear with me :).

Doesn’t matter if you call them Russian Tea Cakes, Butter Cookies, Nut Balls, or Mexican Wedding Cookies, they are good! Hope these cookies put you in a cooler frame of mind.

Butter Cookies (Print recipe)

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

⅓ cup sugar

2 cups flour

½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

2 teaspoons half-and-half (or milk)

1½ teaspoons vanilla

½ teaspoon salt

Powdered sugar, for rolling

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour, nuts, half-and-half, vanilla, and salt. Mix well. Chill dough in the refrigerator. Roll dough into small, quarter-sized balls. Preheat oven to 375° F. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden. Place cookies on racks to cool for a few minutes. Roll in powdered sugar. Return to cooling racks and cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Makes: about 3 dozen cookies.

Shortcut Dobosh Torte

Today’s post is in honor of my dad, Grady. Today would have been his 78th birthday. My mom’s writing encouraged me to start this blog. But it was my dad’s love of food and cooking that inspired me to cook. 

Dad (aka Poops) was not a fan of desserts but he loved this Shortcut Dobosh (Dobos?) Torte. Growing up, I made it for Father’s Day and his birthday almost every year. After reading the Wikipedia link for Dobos Torte, I am not convinced this is a true Dobosh Torte, but it certainly is a fast version. The secret to this quick torte/cake is pancake mix! I know it sounds odd, but it makes a nice torte. The cake layers are dense and spongy, yet light and airy at the same time. I have no idea where we acquired the recipe – it’s another faded clipping in my mom’s old photo album cookbook. It’s been a family favorite for as long as I can remember. I’ve made a few changes over the years, but it’s roughly the same recipe.

Back in 2006, Penzeys Spices, published a cooking magazine, Penzeys One. Each issue had a theme and they asked readers and catalogue subscribers to submit recipes matching the theme. For this particular issue (Volume 1, Issue 4), Penzeys issued a call for recipes from folks named Smith. Well, I’m a Smith so I submitted a few recipes. This torte recipe was selected (along with my Roasted Rosemary Walnuts recipe). They wrote a nice article and included a few photos. If you click on the photos, at the end of this post, you might be able to read the article if you are inclined. Or, if you want, you can even order back issues of the magazine. They are $6 plus $2 shipping. You can usually get back issues at Penzeys retail shops, too.

Hope you will give this recipe a try, even though it sounds odd since it’s made with pancake mix! Enjoy…

Shortcut Dobosh Torte (Print recipe)

Cake:

5 eggs

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla (Penzeys of course!)

1 cup sugar

1½ cups pancake mix (We use Bisquick. I wonder if the gluten-free mix would work?!?)

 

Filling:

2 cups whipping cream

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

¼ cup cocoa powder (Penzeys :)

pinch of espresso powder (or instant coffee), optional 

 

Garnish:

2 squares (2 ounces) semisweet chocolate, shaved or grated

¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, salt, and vanilla. Beat until thick and lemon colored, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar. Fold in the pancake mix. Pour into two* greased and wax paper (or parchment) lined 9×1½ inch round cake pans.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Then, remove the cakes from the pans. Peel off the waxed paper or parchment paper. Let the layers cool completely on a cookie rack.

Now the tricky part…using wooden toothpicks as guides, split each cake into two layers (so you end up with four even layers). My layers were usually lopsided. So I came up with a different method…

*I pour the batter evenly into three round cake pans. So no slicing of the layers is needed. It doesn’t matter if the cake is three layers or four layers. You could even use two pans and keep them whole. You would have extra frosting that could be used to frost the sides. So it would be a 2-layered cake instead of torte. It would still taste good!

Please use the method you prefer (which might be limited by the number of round cake pans you have!).

Make filling by combining whipping cream, vanilla, confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, and espresso powder. Whip until creamy and thick.

To assemble torte, place cake layer on serving plate cut side down (if you sliced your layers). Spread with 1 cup of filling; sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of  the shaved chocolate. Repeat for the remaining layers.

Garnish: Sprinkle toasted almonds and grated chocolate on the top layer. Serves: 10-12.

Extra Sorbet

Scenario: you make sorbet for dessert. However, you eat too much dinner. So, what do you do with the leftover sorbet? Well, we ran into this situation over the weekend with extra berry mojito sorbet. Can you say too much pizza?

Sorbet needs time to ripen (firm up) in the freezer. However, it can freeze really hard. So firm, that it is difficult to scoop out of the container. The good thing is, sorbet is very forgiving – you can soften it and refreeze it without altering the texture (unlike ice cream which makes weird crystals). I kinda thought there might be too much sorbet on Friday evening, so when I was serving dessert, I made a few extra scoops and re-froze them. That way, they were in convenient serving sizes for repurposing into tasty beverages. First, I made a sorbet spritzer on Saturday evening. Then, on Sunday morning, I made a sorbet kefir smoothie. I think they were both good ways to enjoy the deliciousness that was the extra berry mojito sorbet. Hope you also enjoy them

Print Recipe Feature

I also hope you like that I finally have a print button! I know lots of folks who use tablets, smartphones, and laptops in the kitchen and I do too on occasion. Though generally, I am a Luddite and I like an old-fashioned printed recipe (often I add handwritten notes in the margins). But I do not want to print an entire blog entry because I try to be mindful of printing too much. Now, with the handy-dandy Print recipe link, you can print a plain version of the recipe. Thanks to Anastasia at While Chasing Kids for the inspiration. Her blog is awesome and she has used this feature for some time. So I peeked at the code and we figured out how to do it on my posts. Eventually, I will go back and add it to some other posts (especially long recipes).

Sorbet Spritzer
(Print recipe)

2 scoops sorbet

Sparkling water, chilled (Pellegrino, club soda, seltzer, etc.)

Garnish: few berries (or whatever fruit is in the sorbet), mint leaves, and/or lime wedges

Serves: 2

Put a scoop of sorbet in each glass. Top off the glass with sparkling water. Garnish and enjoy!

Fruity Sorbet Kefir Smoothie
(Print recipe)

2 scoops sorbet

2 spears of fresh pineapple, sliced

2 fresh peaches, sliced (pits removed)

Splash of low fat plain kefir (or yogurt)

Serves: 2

Put all the ingredients in a blender. Cover. Process until smooth. Enjoy. 

Other ideas for repurposing sorbet:

  • Sorbet ice cubes: Just before you ripen the sorbet in the freezer, take some and freeze in ice cube trays. Then you can use the cubes for spritzers or smoothies. Probably easier than making scoops, freezing them, and then storing them. Just keep the cubes in a resealable plastic bag.
  • Sorbet popsicles: You can make little square popsicles by placing a toothpick into each cube once it is semi-set. Then freeze until firm and enjoy. Or, if you have popsicle molds, even better! I guess little jars or cups with popsicle sticks would also work.

Berry Mojito Sorbet

Here’s another recipe using the mint simple syrup recipe from a few weeks ago. Having simple syrup already in the refrigerator makes a quick sorbet since it saves a step. Also, there is no need for extra time to cool the hot syrup.

For this sorbet, I used a combo of frozen blackberries and blueberries because we had leftovers from last summer. Fresh berries would also be great in this recipe.

Berry variations:  You could use all blueberries or all blackberries. Just adjust the quantities. If you use only blueberries, use 4 cups. If you use a mixture of berries, use 2 cups blackberries and 2⅔ cups blueberries. If you use all blackberries, which I’ve never tried, use about 6 cups. The reason is that when you strain the puréed mixture, you will lose some purée the seeds are removed. The blackberries I used were very “seedy” so I had to supplement with some extra blueberries. You want to end up with just under 4 cups of puréed fruit.

I decided to make this Berry Mint Mojito Sorbet to take to our friends’ house last night. I’ve only made it one other time. Nothing like cooking experiments among friends! Marshall and Melanie recently built a brick pizza oven in their backyard and they invited us over to celebrate our recent job news with a pizza dinner. Matt received a promotion at work and I love my new part-time editing job. Woo hoo, job-wise it was a good week at the Smith-Jordan house.

Back to the pizza and dessert…we all provided different toppings and made our own pizzas (most of the toppings came from our gardens!). I knew we would eat a lot, so I wanted to make a light dessert. However, I had no idea we’d eat that much. Oh my goodness, the pizzas were incredible! Aside from the pizza in Italy on our honeymoon, these were the best pizzas I have tasted. They were so worth the gluten splurge. By the end of the pizza fest (or pizza feast), I was glad we had a light and refreshing frozen dessert. Melanie had sliced fresh peaches with honey and citrus, a perfect accompaniment to the sorbet. Fresh berries and mint leaves are also nice additions. Hope you enjoy this refreshing summer dessert:

Berry Mojito Sorbet

2 cups blackberries

2⅔ cups blueberries

¾ cup mint simple syrup

2 tablespoons lime juice (I only had lemon juice, but it worked)

1-2 tablespoons rum (optional, but the alcohol helps the texture)

Pinch of salt

Optional garnish: berries, sliced peaches, and sprigs of mint.

Serves: 8-10

Heat half of the berries in a saucepan on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes. You want to heat them until some of the berries pop. Remove from heat and add the other berries. Purée them in a blender or in a food processor until almost smooth. Strain the berries using cheesecloth, a sieve, or a chinois conical strainer to remove excess seeds. I strain the mixture directly into my large quart Pyrex measuring cup because it has a spout and this makes it easy to pour the base into the ice cream freezer. [Plus, this container fits perfectly in an ice bath (to speed up the chilling time). You can skip the ice bath step, just make the base and let it chill for several hours or overnight. You want the base as cool as possible before you churn it.]

Add the simple syrup, lime juice, rum, and salt to the strained berry purée. Taste and adjust as needed. Depending on the sweetness of the berries, you might want to add more simple syrup or more lime juice if they are very sweet. Place the Pyrex container in an ice bath for a quick chill. Then chill the mixture in the refrigerator for a few hours. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Let ripen (firm up) in the freezer before serving. Serve with berries, peaches, and sprigs of mint if you want.