Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

h1

Chai Tea Brownies: Are these a sign of Stockholm Syndrome?

February 28, 2007

IMG_6267.JPG
IMG_6258.JPG

OK, I admit it: This is another solo-Husband dessert project that the wife can’t eat. Wait, hold your hexes and curses! Yes, I made this dessert while my wife is under doctor’s orders not to eat sweets until our son is born. But this dessert was not made with intent to torture. In fact, my wife played a key role in its design.

We were having guests for a dinner party and I was contemplating dessert (a must, in my mind, for dinner parties). Since we’ve had such bad weather of late, I had this overwhelming desire to make something chocolate, dense and almost tooth-achingly rich. At the same time, I wanted something slightly bitter to contrast nicely with sweet pistachio ice cream.

IMG_6135.JPG

I was going to make an espresso or coffee brownie. In fact, I was about to grind some beans and start brewing when my wife saw a can of chai tea powder in the cabinet and asked, “Why don’t you use that instead?” It was a moment of brilliance — not unlike discovering antibiotics from a stale cheese sandwich. Once added, the chai tea gave the brownies a tang, fragrance and spice, but didn’t interfere with the brownie’s density and tendency toward being gooey (which any decent brownie should have).

I will warn you, however, that I am not kidding when I say these are rich. Flavor-wise, an inch will get you a mile. These are not the brownies from your childhood; you can’t consume a quarter of the pan and wash it down with a glass of milk. So, if you serve them solo, small slices are the way to go. I personally think the best match is my pistachio ice cream. The creamy, salty, nuttiness of the ice cream cuts through the density of the chocolate and plays well with the spices from the chai.

IMG_6151.JPG

Alright, truth be told, you should probably still curse and hex me. I was making dessert that my wife had to sit and watch several others eat while she sat there, dessertless. I do provide some relief by keeping her cravings at bay with large quantities of blueberries. Isn’t everything made better with blueberries?

Then again, maybe I am a bit cruel and torturous. Perhaps I’ve just worn her down, and now she’s developed Stockholm Syndrome. That would explain why she gives me tips on how to make a better brownie. Hmmm… Well, can’t be bothered with logic and reason, back to the kitchen with me!

… I’ve got this idea for a cake, and I need to go ask her what she thinks about it.

Click here to download the recipe for Chai Tea Brownies.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

“Lessiez les bon temps rouler” or “Temptation of the pineapple doughnut.”

February 20, 2007

IMG_5802.JPG
IMG_5753.JPG

Today is Mardi Gras. For many, it’s the last day before Lent and its traditional sacrifices until Easter. Hence why Mardi Gras (translated as “Fat Tuesday”) is so important to revelers: It’s the last day you can gorge on delights that will be shunned for the forty days that make up Lent.

So today I bring you something to really challenge you during Lent, something terribly difficult to give up, something to make you truly appreciate the day. No, it’s not some beautiful king cake or similar dish. I give you beautiful, tropical pineapple doughnuts.

IMG_5680.JPG

And because my wife is under doctor’s orders to avoid simple sugars while pregnant, she is sidelined from this recipe. Today it’s a solo act. Sure, it’s a much less entertaining dog and pony show but, alas, what am I to do? She also wants me to point out that she’s got a head start on Lent because for two months she has gone without sweets. Oh, what we do for our children! But at least when my son is able to eat solid foods, he’ll eat well.

So, on to the substance of these pineapple doughnuts. These are cake doughnuts, which are built like quick breads with chemical leveners (baking soda and baking powder), similar to muffins and pancakes. This means they have a nice density to them and can be prepared relatively quickly because they don’t have to rise like a brioche or my pecan beignets (a take on a New Orleans classic).

IMG_5686.JPG

To me, what clinches this dish is the flavors — coconut milk and pineapple. In fact, I almost called this a pina colada doughnut. The coconut appears in the glaze and the body of the doughnut, and gives this breakfast treat that extra something special. But it was those pieces of pineapple stratified in the doughnut’s layers that are really king: Hence, pineapple takes top billing in the name.

A few technical notes: First, the doughnut’s hole is important. It allows the doughnut to cook up quickly and evenly. So while you can skip this step, I would recommend the hole for more then just authenticity’s sake — it makes a better doughnut.

IMG_5714.JPG

Second, I use canned pineapple in this recipe. I’m 99% positive you would have excellent results if you used fresh pineapple. I chose canned, though, because of its ease of use and because of its syrup, which I wanted to harness in making both the dough and glaze. Nevertheless, I encourage you to work with fresh if you want.

IMG_5758.JPG

Finally, one of the first steps in this recipe is reducing the syrup from the canned pineapple. I did this because I wanted the flavor, but not the volume of liquid. However, I think you would have excellent results without this step. So if you are hurried for time, feel free to skip this and follow the measured amounts.

Before I go off merrymaking on this day, I have to ask for a ruling from the reader: Is it doughnut? Or donut? Both are correct according to both Webster’s and Oxford American dictionary.

Click here to download the recipe for Pineapple Doughnuts.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Blueberry tres leches cake: An alternative to chocolate or a happy (or cruel) Valentine’s Day for Wife?

February 13, 2007

IMG_5617.JPG
IMG_5586.JPG

Under doctor’s orders to avoid sweets, my wife is spared the cruelty of commenting on this delicious dessert. (Sadly, she could only look longingly at it and poke it forlornly with a fork. It fell to me to do all the tasting.) So, for a change of pace, you’ll be treated to just the Husband’s thoughts on this recipe. (But fear not, dear readers, I promise to make this cake for her as soon as the doctor lifts the restriction on sweets.)

For the first time in a long time, Valentine’s Day vexed me. Was it that I couldn’t find the right gift? Or decide what to make for dinner? Or find flowers pretty enough to make my wife swoon? No, I was vexed by this this blog.

I was trying to think of ways to reflect romance on a plate. I wanted to create something that is Valentine’s Day. To me, that means dessert; specifically, getting out my bakeware and working with chocolate. Trouble is, when you look out at the universe of yummy Valentine’s Day offerings, the chocolate genre is well covered. Furthermore, my wife likes chocolate, but it’s not her favorite. As we’ve pointed out in previous posts, she’s all about the blueberry.

And what is more romantic: A box of chocolates? Or giving someone something that shows you know them? So, I offer up an alternative to chocolate… I give you “Blueberry Tres Leches Cake.” For those not familiar with tres leches cake, it’s a milk-soaked cake common to Latin American cuisine. Tres leches translates literally as “three milks.” So it’s actually soaked in a combination of evaporated milk, condensed milk and whole milk or cream.

IMG_5395.JPG
IMG_5589.JPG

Here, we put a twist on it by blending in some blueberries with our soaking milk. We also add a blueberry coulis (fancy word for strained purée sauce) to reintroduce the acidity and brightness of the blueberries. The coulis also has the benefit of playing down the gray coloring of a cake soaked in blueberry milk. And finally, we top it all with some fresh whipped cream and more blueberries. In essence, we are creating a blueberry-palooza in a cool cake.

Some technical notes before I’m done. First, you can use frozen blueberries in this dish. Aside from the garnish, there isn’t any reason you couldn’t. I actually used fresh here because I keep so many in our fridge to keep the wife and her passenger happy.

Second, this cake can be topped with whipped cream in the pan and cut out. In fact, most recipes use that technique. I don’t do that here strictly for presentation reasons. I wanted the brightness of the coulis to cover up the purple-blue gray of the cake. If I had coated the cake with whipped cream first, I would drizzle the coulis on the plate and/or over top of the whipped cream for the same effect.

IMG_5608.JPG

Finally, not to get “Semi-Homemade” with you, but I see lots of ways to cut the time and effort on this recipe. For example, you could use your favorite boxed cake recipe and likely turn out an even better version than mine. Or, you could buy a pound cake or similar boxed cake from the grocery and start by soaking that cake. A lot of shortcuts seem available, and you shouldn’t be afraid to grab them!

If this cake reminds you more of summertime then Valentine’s Day, well that’s to be expected. But my valentine would give up chocolate forever if I promised her blueberries every day. Since, I can’t do that for her, I made this. I hope you all have a good time with your special someone tomorrow.

Click here to download the recipe for Blueberry Tres Leches Cake.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Pistachio-date sticky buns everywhere, and not a bite to eat…

February 5, 2007

IMG_4975.JPG
IMG_4991.JPG
Imagine, if you will, the agony of the shipwrecked sailor at sea: Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.

That’s nothing, man.

At least, not when you compare it to having to drive 45 minutes to work trapped in a car with the aroma of freshly baked pistachio-date sticky buns filling the confined space (conjure the smell for full effect) and being able to taste nary a bite.

That is my husband’s special torture for me. Yes, me — his seven-months (plus) pregnant wife.

Indeed, I am with child (that misshapen lump is not a disastrous side effect from my husband’s cooking) and under doctor’s orders not to eat “simple sugars.” Like, say, the kind in pistachio-date sticky buns. Does that stop my husband from cooking said sticky buns? I think not. (I expect you to abuse him mercilessly for this in the comments section.)

So, because diets are so much easier to follow when the health of your first born is at stake, I was very obedient and did not even sample the delicious-looking — and incredibly fragrant-smelling — sticky buns. Hence, I am unable to describe to you the joy that must have come from eating them. Unfortunately, however, my co-workers were able to report back to me in vivid detail their fabulous sticky, sweet, nutty, fruity taste. I trust you can take their word for it — or, like me, you can settle for licking the photos of the sticky buns on your computer monitor. Bonus: That method of eating is completely calorie-free, though, sadly, tasteless and unsanitary.

Click here to download the recipe for Pistachio-Date Sticky Buns

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

What time is it? It’s pecan chocolate chip cookie time.

January 22, 2007

IMG_4683.JPG
IMG_4708.JPG

The ingredients may be humble: Flour, sugar, butter, egg, chocolate and pecans. But the results are extraordinary.

It may seem silly to lavish praise on cookies; after all, don’t most cookies taste pretty good? Doesn’t everybody have a go-to cookie recipe from which they can conjure a satisfying snack or dessert? True, I suppose. But every now and then you come across a cookie that stands crumb and chip above the rest… A cookie that rises above the tepid praise “it tastes pretty good” to the indecipherable and higher praise of satisfied eaters mumbling and nodding vigorously as they stuff portions down their gullet.

This is one such cookie.

Now, I am biased, because I get to eat these piping hot and straight from the oven — when the cookie is perfectly moist and steaming and the chocolate is oozing a bit from the seams of the crumbly mound of goodness. Yes, cookies do taste better warm. But I think these boys will also stand to scrutiny after sitting in Tupperware for a few days, too. The thing that distinguishes them from an ordinary — though good — chocolate chip cookie is the addition of pecans. The cookie itself is the perfect combination of not-too-chewy and moist, with the right balance of sweetness and butteryness, and the chocolate weaves its spell as expected… but the nuts add delightful depth and a subtle crunch; there’s just something about pecans and dessert. Am I right?

Well, there’s only way to find out. Fire up the oven, kids. It’s cookie time.

Click here to download the recipe for Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Pretty maids all in a row: Pistachio Madelines with meyer lemon glaze

January 7, 2007

IMG_4369.JPG
IMG_4343.JPG
IMG_4295.JPG

Madelines. Sure, they’re beautiful: Allluring golden exterior, perfectly molded scalloped shape… they even have a seductive feminine name. But are they tasty?

Yes, indeed.

At least the Madelines that my husband makes are. Continuing his pistachio theme — as evidenced by the handful of dead pistachio soldiers I’ve been sweeping up from our kitchen floor — he thought to include those yummy green nuts in his first foray into Madeline-baking. Brilliant!

The pistachio flavor here is subtle; the green nuts add most of their punch in the texture of the cake. As you sink your teeth into the delightfully fluffly Madeline, you get a taste of the green flecks of pistachio laced throughout. Meanwhile, your nostrils are filled with the breath of meyer lemon zest that the cakes contain. It was quite an experience for my wittle tongue, but my intrepid taste buds can handle it.

Can yours?

Click here to download the recipe for Pistachio Madelines w/Meyer Lemon Glaze

IMG_4366.JPG

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

The way to avoid those pesky shells: Pistachio crunch ice cream.

January 3, 2007

IMG_4179.JPG
IMG_4120.JPG

There’s hardly a happier sound than the sweet song of an ice cream maker churning.

That song was playing in my house last night. Its delectable finish? Sweet, creamy pistachio ice cream.

Yes, folks, my husband has done it again. There must be something about homemade ice cream that makes it that much more addictive than ordinary store-bought ice cream. How do I know this? Because I am tempted by flavors whose siren song I rarely hear in the heady bright lights of an ice cream parlor. When I amble up to that counter, I almost always ask for mint chocolate chip. At home, though, I’ve learned to love ginger ice cream and now pistachio ice cream with almost equal fervor.

I think I have a problem… and it doesn’t bode well for my waist line.

It’s OK. I’m cool with elastic-waisted pants as long as they’re accompanied by steady scoops of this pistachio ice cream. The creamy custard itself is delicious — almost achingly sweet and buttery — but it’s the ice cream’s texture that seals the deal. The nutty aroma of pistachio is laced throughout, and better still, so are nibbles of the nut itself. So amid your sweet creamy experience comes a wonderful and unexpected crunch. Trust me — and my clown pants — it’s good. Oh yes, it’s good.

Click here to download the recipe for Pistachio Crunch Ice Cream

Read the rest of this entry ?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 89 other followers