If you live in any of the cold weather states, you have probably noticed the absence of good quality, seasonal fruits. There are your standard apples, oranges, strawberries and blueberries. Even these selections are shipped in from distant lands, beautifully ripened but void of any flavor. I did run into a small selection of what, I am guessing, is a leftover stock of stored plums at my local grocery store. After picking through a group of obviously-stored-too-long specimens, I found a few pounds of nice looking fruit that would be lovely in a fruit tart. Once baked in a buttery pecan crumb crust, the fruit could once again shine. And shine it did!
The children's book, Madeline, is a sweet story about a young girl and her escapades in Paris. It's a classic children's story that I have read to my daughter many, many times! As I baked the cookies, I imagined the spunky Madeline sitting down with her school mates, a spot of tea and a madeleine cookie in hand.
Kahlua; a simple concoction of vodka, water, coffee and sugar cane. If you made some homemade Kahlua using our delicious recipe, you know that the addition of a Beanilla vanilla bean made this liquor even more delicious!!! Kahlua is definitely a popular liquor to pour over ice and leisurely sip on after dinner. Did you know that you can utilize this liquor in a variety of desserts and baked goods?! One of my very favorite pairings is with chocolate. Simply add a small amount to chocolate ice cream bases, drizzle into your favorite mousse recipe or make a batch of chocolate Kahlua cookies!
Chocolate, cherries, oatmeal, coconut, smoked almonds; all delicious ingredients on their own. Combine and bake all of these individual ingredients with a touch of butter, a bit of locally produced fresh honey and something magical happens! Store bought granola is delicious but nothing can compare to freshly baked granola.
We all know that homemade granola is the perfect addition to our morning routine, but why does it just have to be limited to a breakfast staple? Bittersweet chocolate, melted and spread into a thin layer then sprinkled with a handful of homemade granola is the perfect mid afternoon pick me up snack. Portable and packed with protein, chocolate cherry granola bark will keep you going through the toughest part of your day.
From time to time, even professional Pastry Chef’s utilize store bought cake mixes! I have a recipe from my childhood that is the perfect example of this. The recipe is already multi-stepped without the addition of making a homemade batter; just like my mother used to make.
The first boxed cake mixes graced the store shelves in the early 1930’s by the Duff Company who even offered gingerbread and molasses cake mixes. The mixes required only water and were not as big of a success as the company had hope for…
As the 1940’s and 1950’s approached, Pillsbury and Duncan Hines emerged with mixes that required the addition of eggs. Eggs not only made the cake moist and rich but gave the average housewife (of the time) more of a feeling that they made the cake from scratch. Cake mixes are now on every shelf and I can guarantee from time to time we will all utilize this time saver in our recipes!
The origin of the crisp is decidedly an American invention. When it came to recipes, early settlers were often forced to use what was readily available and on hand. Early American settlers often improvised; they had limited access to ingredients or the ability to run to the store when needed. Quite often, each creation varied from the last; oats may not have been available so ground nuts were often substituted, or flour was used in its place. There are many variations of the crisp and many have different and interesting names given to them such as: grunt, cobbler, buckle, slump, pandowdy or even a sonker. Each recipe varies from region to region. The crisp or the cobbler is what many of us in the United States are familiar with. The cobbler has more of a biscuit or cake like crust while the crisp is traditionally made with oatmeal and ground nuts as a base.
Berry Chocolate crisp adds one more layer of flavor to a very simple and comforting dessert. Chocolate and Ugandan Vanilla beans! The addition of dark cocoa powder to the crisp topping adds a depth of flavor not often found in traditional crisps. Have you ever had chocolate covered strawberries? This dessert will satisfy your desire for chocolate, berries and a crisp topping all in one delicious bite!
The Danish is a small breakfast pastry that typically contains a creamy cheese or a sweet fruit filling. Traditional Danishes are labor intensive; unless you are making them commercially in large batches, making them will take you the better part of the day to create all the components necessary for the filling and dough.
I don't know about you, but I just don't have the time to spend part of a day on one pastry! A very quick and easy solution to this problem is "puff pastry". Making puff pastry from scratch is a true art and takes a considerable amount of time and ingredients. There are just not many great commercially made puff pastries on the market today (Even the professionals utilize these pre-made shortcuts!)
I have never met a doughnut that I didn't like. That being said, it is the New Year and we all are looking for ways to trim a few calories and dreaded fat from our diets. Traditionally, donuts are yeast or cake dough that is fried and then dredged in a sweet, creamy frosting or filled with a sugary fruit filling. Donut muffins satisfy the craving for a calorie-laden fried donut, but with fewer calories, and no frying! Simple to make with the texture of a classic cake donut, donut muffins are sure to satisfy even the diehard donut fan.
Donut muffins are the perfect way to begin your morning. Light, with a cake donut-like texture, they are easy to make the night before and hand out to tired and hungry family members as they leave for the day. Portable, baked and delicious, these muffins are a sensible replacement for the overly fried and sweet donut.
Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes are the perfect addition to any dessert table or as a gift for someone special.
Every chocolate cupcake I have ever had has had a certain level of denseness or ended up being dry and tasteless. That is not the case with this recipe. The deep chocolate flavor is brought out with the addition of coffee extract and the crumb is moist and delicious. The only thing that could possibly make this cake even better is the addition of a creamy and rich peppermint buttercream.
If you live in Michigan, Ohio or any of the surrounding Midwest states, you are most likely familiar with Buckeyes. For those of you who live in the Southern states, or on either of the coasts, and have never had a Buckeye, you must make these delicious candies a part of your holiday traditions!
The buckeye is the state tree of Ohio. It produces small nuts that have a dark outer shell, but the lighter colored interior of the nut is visible from the top. The candy resembling this beloved nut is made with a creamy peanut butter center and dipped in milk chocolate. The creamy center is visible from the top of the candy. The candy is reminiscent of a peanut butter cup, and is primarily made on and around the holiday season or during the Ohio State football season. Our buckeyes are traditional, but you can mix it up and dip the entire creamy center into the chocolate. Drizzle a bit of melted chocolate on top for a finished look.