Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

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

February 5, 2007

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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

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

January 22, 2007

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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.

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

January 7, 2007

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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

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

January 3, 2007

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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

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Savor a slice: Blood orange bundt cake

December 28, 2006

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I’m running out of adjectives.

That’s right: I unfurl such effusive praise of my husband’s cooking that I start to sound like a broken record. Now, when something truly noteworthy rears its beautiful, bundt-cake head, I’m hard pressed to express its majesty in words.

But you can’t blame a cake-lover for trying. Here it is folks, a blood orange bundt cake. It was B-E-A-utiful coming out of the oven… completely golden and perfect for devouring. It filled our kitchen with that luscious smell that only a perfectly cooked cake can emit. Part vanilla, part ambrosia, that fragrance whirls up the nostrils and sets the tummy rumbling.

But wait… there’s more. My husband next drizzled sweet, blood-orange flavored icing all over that golden dome. It ran into a sweet confectioner’s sugar stream under the cake, perfect for dipping your finger into. (You know as an appetizer or something.) Finger-lickin’ never was so sweet.

The finished cake had a subtle blood orange flavor that was reinforced by its fragrant icing. The slices were moist, warm and delicious. I’m only sorry that we had to give the rest to our cabdriver on our way out of town! (But you can’t just let good cake like that go to waste!)

If you’ve got blood oranges and a hankering for cake, you’re in for a treat. Enjoy!

Click here to download the recipe for Blood Orange Bundt Cake

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Five cookies that are worth sliding down a chimney

December 20, 2006

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You’re Santa. You’ve been laboring for months as a supervisor in a toy factory. You’ve gotten your creaky butt up in the middle of the night, hauled it into a sled weighed down with packages, and are now diligently directing eight cantankerous reindeer (of all things) all over the world to deliver these packages.

You’re tired. You’re cranky. You have hardly a “ho, ho, ho” in you… Until you squirm down the chimney and see a beautiful plate of cookies in the offing. Yes, tucked next to the fireplace (or other magical entrance) is a nice tall glass of milk and some mighty fine Christmas cookies. Suddenly, you feel a spring in your steps. Your belly shakes like a bowl full of jelly (or, more accurately, Christmas cookies) as you laugh with delight. You wolf them down and brush the crumbs from your beard, ready to face Christmas night again.

Those are some darn fine cookies.

Yes, Christmas cookies are magical — and not just because they get Santa through a harrowing night and contribute to his legendary waistline. Making cookies is a holiday rite of passage, and one that we couldn’t neglect. The trouble is, we’re not cookie-masters, and we don’t want to disappoint Old Saint Nick.

The solution? Call on the expertise of our baking fellow bloggers. Yes, we baked a variety of Christmas cookies and have others’ genius to credit. Each is tasty, delicious, and different from the next. And it just goes to show what amazing bloggers there are out there. No doubt Santa will reward them.

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Backgrounder…
Santa is a big man with big cookie issues, and this holiday season my wife had the same issues. This little project was completely her idea. She got it in her head that we needed to make cookies for her co-workers as gifts (Hence, the picture of the tissue paper forest on our dining table).

Now, I don’t mind making food for other people. Heck, I often send baked goods I’ve cooked on with her to the office. This minor obsession by my wife became a full on brilliant idea when she suggested we cook other people’s cookies. So she did all the research and found four others she liked plus our own Crème Fraîche Clouds. So in these final days of the holiday season, these recipes got the MHC seal of approval, plus the approval of many of my wife’s office mates. So if you are looking for ideas to bake, then go head and click the links while the oven preheats.

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1. Chocolate Shortbread Fingers from Bake or Bake or Break—These are great. I love shortbread with its beautifully buttery flavor. In this version, the chocolate with a sprinkling of sugar truly make a dramatic impact. One of the best cookies I’ve ever had.

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2. Korva Cookies from Dessert First—If you love chocolate, this is your cookie. It is rich, crisp and intoxicating. It’s pure chocolate perfection. It’s a bit harder to make then the other recipes here, but if you have the need for chocolate, make these. I just want to note quickly that we add the powdered sugar for a visual effect here. We also used a very dark cocoa powder. Dessert First’s cookies are prettier and perfect.

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3. Snickerdoodles from the Kitchen Wench—A classic cookie and well done. My wife loves snickerdoodles. When she thinks of cookies, I’m pretty sure she thinks of snickerdoodsles. These from the Kitchen Wench are beautifully spiced and have a touch of nutmeg which really adds depth to flavor while keeping that combination of soft and crispness that make snickerdoodles so great. If nothing else, who doesn’t like to say, “Snickerdoodle.”

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4. Toasted Pecan Toffee from Cookbook 101—Okay, you win. It’s not technically a cookie. It’s a candy. But, it’s the holiday season so we can all be generous. For the candy making novice, this is a great recipe to get your feet wet with. It’s delicious, impressive and not overly complex. Also, when you break your toffee for service-sized pieces, be sure to save the little pieces for ice cream or other cookies.

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5. Crème Fraîche Clouds from MHC—Yeah, we decorated them for the season. These delicious derivation from tradition sour cream cookie really are great. They are simple to make and I enjoy them, but the best part was spray painting them to look festive. Yes, I said spray paint. The local grocery didn’t have the colored sugar we usually use this time of year for cookies, but did have this colored spray.

Boy did we get a chuckle out it. I felt like I was tagging my food. I wanted to start my own gang of bakers and cooks after doing a couple dozen cookies. But alas, I didn’t get that far with my gang. I don’t think my wife even wanted to join. So alas, I’m back to cooking as a family project. Enjoy the baking. Enjoy the season.

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Mmmm zesty and sweet!: Meyer lemon pound cake with meyer lemon curd

November 29, 2006

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Sorry, but the wife’s witty remarks won’t appear today. So you are stuck with just me, the Husband, today.

So where was I? What do I want to rant about? Oh right, Meyer lemons… For most of us on the East Coast of the US, getting these little gems is a treat. Confined mostly to the West Coast of the US because of their thin skin, meyer lemons are usually just the flavoring in large commercially produced products. Yet about a month ago, I saw them in my local grocer and decided I had to have them.

Now that I’ve stated my wanting for these lemons, I guess I should explain why they are so special as to ellicit such desire from a married man. Meyer lemons are not really lemons in the way most of us here in the US think of them. They were introduced to this country about a century ago from East Asia and are likely a hybrid between a lemon and a sweet orange. The result is a juicy citrus fruit that has an intense fragrance and a juice that is both sweet and tart. The problem is that they tend to have a thin skin, making them harder to get if you don’t live near where they grow. So when they appeared in my grocer, I bought.

So now that I had a bundle of these left-coast fruits, I wanted to make something that really allowed the fruit to show off. I mean these are out of town guests, you really have to show them a good time. So I gave them a simple place to shine—a pound cake with a nice lemon curd topping. The results were good.

The recipe has a pleasant lightness and tang of flavor from the curd, yet it has a nice filling feeling to it from the density of the pound cake. This combination is also flexible. I served this as dessert for a dinner party with a tiny bit of ice cream and some powdered sugar over the plate to fancy it up. Or, it can be served like it is in the photos for a simple treat.

I really love this recipe with all its flavor and little effort. The cake takes time to bake, but very little preparation time—the equivalent of making brownies. The curd is also very simple (though you do need to stand over it for 10 min), but can be used in many ways and as a topping for other things. If you can’t get meyer lemons, you can use regular ones. However, I would use at least one extra lemon in both recipes if you do. Meyer lemons are very juicy. I hope you enjoy a bit of springtime here in winter.

Click here to download the recipe for Meyer Lemon Poundcake with Meyer Lemon Curd

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Mmm…. stuffing. Mmm… pie.

November 23, 2006

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Happy Thanksgiving!!! Well, it’s one of those super busy days for us cooking fools. Luckily, this year I avoided the duty of cooking Thanksgiving dinner. We are enjoying it with my family in North Carolina. This means my step-mother has the job of cooking for 10 or more. I suspect I will be in the kitchen offering to help, but have a feeling I’ll be turned away. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Don’t bogart that cranberry cobbler

November 22, 2006

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Cranberries + cobbler = Happy

Face it: Cranberries are a requisite ingredient in the upcoming holiday gorging event. As my husband (mockingly) describes below, I enjoy me some canned cranberry sauce. Preferably Ocean Spray, still bearing the telltale cylindrical marks on its wobbly sides, delicately sliced straight from the can.

As much as I enjoy that cranberrified-jelly-goop, I realize it’s not the apex of cranberries’ culinary potential. And my husband has opened my eyes to still better uses for that red gem… cobbler, for instance.

Cobbler is delicious, particularly when the biscuit topping is crumbly and delicate — and perfect for mopping up any escaping sweet syrup from the hostage fruit filling. Cranberry cobbler is no exception. The berries’ tart flavor yields to a long roasting in sugar, juice and spices — and the resultant heat from that cooking helps to cook the undersides of those crumbly biscuits. It’s a culinary masterpiece, and not that hard to make, to boot.

So, fellow canned cranberry sauce lovers, I urge you to branch out and sample a berry that’s never seen the inside of a can. You won’t be sorry.

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Cookies soft like a cloud… crème fraîche clouds

November 19, 2006

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Mmmm….. Cookies.

I’m all about a cookie’s taste. I don’t care for those fussy, frosting-laden creations, even if the resultant cookie is beautiful enough to merit hanging on our bathroom’s walls. Give me a humble, tasty cookie any day.

Well, these cookies fill the bill. They’re humble… little dollops of drop cookie that take abstract shape depending on the shape of your spoon and the tilt of your oven rack. Their only attempt to fit in at a fancy-dress party is an optional sprinkling of colored sugar over their uneven, pillowy tops. And they’re tasty; they have a wonderful, springy, cake-like texture and subdued sweetness that is complemented by a breath of nutmeg. They’re beautiful, moist and slightly spicy cookies that can be devoured by the fistful.

My mom always made these sour cream sugar cookies around Christmas time (they were then sprinkled with the obligatory red and green colored sugar), using a recipe drawn from a much dog-earred and crumbling, hand-written local cookbook. Once my husband tasted these cookies, he became a huge fan and would demand that I make them whenever we had sour cream, sugar, eggs, flour and nutmeg on hand. Which is not an infrequent occurrence.

Now my husband has found a way to expand that ingredient list to include crème fraîche, meaning that cookies can be in his future on an even more frequent basis. Bonus: He’s learned to make them himself. Not that I’m complaining… I may like these cookies even more than he does. You will, too, if you try them! Read the rest of this entry ?

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