Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

Unrecipe of the Week: Quick Tiramisu

October 19, 2015

 

4556800185_compLast weekend, I hosted a party for my husband’s birthday. I served cocktails and dinner for about 20 people, offering a variety of foods to please just about any palate. Around 3:00 on the day of the party, my husband asked for a tiramisu as one of the desserts. Time was of the essence, so anything that required too much prep work, or actual baking wasn’t advisable at that point.

For those who may not know, tiramisu is an Italian dessert consisting of layers of espresso soaked sponge, and creamy layers containing sweet marscapone cheese.

Most of the recipes incorporate eggs into the cream mixture. Not one who likes to serve raw eggs to my guests, I needed to find a way to make an egg-less version, and to make it fast!

This ended up being so easy, that you could whip it up after work and it enjoy it later that evening, although the longer it has to chill, the better it will hold together when you take it out of the pan.

The flavors melded well, and the espresso soaked cookies functioned beautifully as the sponge layers. The rest, as they say, is history. Try this yourself and see how quick and simple it really is to make.

Quick Tiramisu:

Select a pan that is deep enough to house 2 or 3 layers of cookies and cream. I used an 8″x8″ square baking pan, but you can use a small cassorole pan, or a loaf pan.

Line the pan with either plastic wrap or parchment paper so that it is smooth along the bottom and sides of the pan, and hangs over the top. Place the wrap in both directions. This will help you ease it out of the pan later.

Brew a pot of espresso, or very strong coffee. Pour some in a bowl and allow it cool enough that you don’t burn yourself when dipping the cookies. You can add a little Marsala wine for authenticity if you like, or a bit of rum if you have it. I didn’t use any alchohol, and it was still very tasty.

Quickly dip store bought (yep, I went there) lady fingers into the strong coffee. Make sure they are fully saturated, but don’t let them soak, or they will fall apart. Line the bottom of the pan with the coffee dipped cookies. Be sure to cover the whole area, even if you have to use broken cookies to fill in the gaps. The wet cookies will start to merge together and you will not be able to tell if a cookie was placed in the opposite direction or broken once you are done.

Beat about 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream with about  1 1/4 cup of powdered confectioner’s sugar, until the cream forms soft peaks. Beat in a 16 oz. container of soft, room temperature marscapone cheese. Spread a thick layer of the sweet cream over the cookies, and repeat. You should be able to stack 2 or 3 layers of cookies, and cream in the pan. End with a cream layer on top.
Dust the top liberally with unsweetened cocoa powder. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight before serving.
To remove from the pan, use the over-hanging layers of plastic or paper to lift it out. Place it on a serving dish, cut it into squares, and enjoy!

Notes: The finished, chilled product should hold together well and easily come out of the pan. If you don’t want to take it out of the pan, or don’t have several hours to let it chill, use a large spoon to serve it. Put it in a nice glass and make it look like a parfait. Put a strawberry on top, and make it look like you planned it. Its all good.

I used store bought lady fingers, which I found in the cookie aisle at the grocery store.

Marscapone is a spreadable Italian cheese, similar to American cream cheese. It is found in the refrigerated dairy area of the market.

You can adjust the amount of the cream mixture to suit the size of the pan. This amount worked for my 8″x8″ pan, but you could cut it in half for a smaller loaf pan, or increase it for a larger rectangular pan. Just make sure the sides are high enough to build the layers.

The sides of tiramisu will be as smooth as the pan liner. If you don’t get the plastic or paper smooth, there will be creases in the sides of the cake. You can spray the pan with cooking spray before lining it to help the liner stick to the sides so it can be smoothed.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Plate Licking Good

July 5, 2013

Yesterday we gave you a peek at our stars and stripes tart before we served it.

Stars and Stripes Tart: BEFORE

Stars and Stripes Tart: BEFORE

 

Good thing we did, because about 5 minutes later it looked like this:

Stars and Stripes Tart: AFTER

Stars and Stripes Tart: AFTER

YUM!

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Unrecipe of the Week: Chocolate Chip Cookies

June 12, 2013

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Sometimes simple things are best.  Every time I make Toll House chocolate chip cookies, they get gobbled up. The recipe has been around forever, and it never disappoints. The rich buttery dough with almost melted chocolate chips is so easy to make, that there really isn’t a good reason to buy packaged cookies. The dough actually improves if left in the refrigerator for a few hours, or even overnight. It can also be frozen in a log, and a few cookies can be sliced off and baked so that you can have a fresh out of the oven experience at a moment’s notice.

Trust me, these are so easy, you can make them with one hand. I did!

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Toll House Cookies

Beat together 2 sticks of butter, ¾ cup granulated sugar and ¾ cup brown sugar. Add a teaspoon of vanilla and beat until fluffy.

Add 2 eggs and mix thoroughly.

In a separate bowl mix 2 ¼ cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt. With the mixer running, slowly add it to the butter mixture until fully incorporated.

Stir in 12 ounces of semi sweet chocolate chips. **

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Drop the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet, using a tablespoon* and bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes, until they are golden brown. Allow them to sit for a minute or two in the pan before transferring them to a rack to cool. Enjoy!

* I use a small spring-loaded ice cream scoop to drop the dough onto the pan. It is so much neater, and the cookies tend to be more uniform in size.

** If you want to experiment with variations, try using white chocolate, peanut butter or butterscotch chips in place of the chocolate chips, or use a combination.

Replace the chips with M&M’s for a fun look. If you like nuts, add a cup of the chopped nuts of your choice to the batter.

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Pie Pops

January 21, 2013

Last night we finally celebrated B’s birthday. This year, she wanted pie, clearly a trait she inherited from one of her favorite pie-lovin’ cousins.
These pie pops are a fun and festive take on the classic apple pie. Besides, doesn’t everyone need pie on a stick?

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Roll the dough out, and cut into circles, about 2″ in diameter.

Create fillings that are not too wet. Pureed fruit tossed in flour or cornstarch, a little sugar and perhaps some cinnamon is perfect.

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Place a dollop of filling in the center of each circle. Insert a stick and cover with another circle.
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Using a small fork, crimp the edges all around. Cut a small X in the center to allow the steam to escape

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Brush them with an egg wash and bake until they are golden brown.

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Allow to cool and arrange them in a glass or small vase until ready to eat. Enjoy!

( Yes Will, I will make you some too!!!)

photos: Indigo Jones

The Actual Diet Riot Dinner Pary

December 30, 2012

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Last night I hosted a dinner for 25 adults and children. I think I nailed the “diet riot” pretty well. By dessert time, even the gluten frees and calorie counters succumbed to platters of yummy bar cookies! Everyone had their favorite dishes to eat, and a few people enjoyed sampling it all.

Everything but a couple of the desserts were made the day of the party, attesting to the fact that simple, fresh and flavorful is always better than overly complicated  heavy fare.

Almost all of the recipes came from my Indigo Jones Unrecipe Cookbook, and are previously posted on the site where *.

We started with small nibbles:

*Parmesan Shortbread Crisps

*White Bean Dip with a choice of pita chips or baby carrots

Assorted Olives

*Spiced Nuts

For dinner, we served:

*Baby Arugula, Radicchio and Fennel Salad with Toasted Pecans and Cranberry Vinaigrette

*Herb Roasted Salmon

*Sticky Asian Chicken Wings

Marinated Pork Loin

*Brown rice, with Corn, Shallots and Fresh Mint

Roasted Green Beans

Assorted Rolls

Dessert was an assortment of bar cookies:

Chocolate Marble Cheesecake Brownies, Chocolate Chip Blondies, Pecan Toffee Bars, and Lemon Bars.

I had options for the gluten free, chicken averse, sauce avoiders, vegetable haters, and fish phobics. Weight watchers, cholesterol controllers, vegetarians, and the generally fussy were covered as well (I hope). Although some of the pickiest eaters found only 1 or 2 items to try, nobody went hungry; score!

The casual dinner went on until 2 a.m. so we can assume it was a success!

I hope all of your celebrations are happy ones. Enjoy!

Unrecipe of the Week: Countdown to Thanksgiving

November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving dinner always ends with pies and tarts at our house, and every great pie starts with the crust.
Many people find making piecrusts intimidating, but with a few tips and a little skill, they can be executed flawlessly every time.

Start with a simple recipe, and use good quality ingredients. Look for pure unsalted sweet cream butter, and consider splurging on French or Irish butters, like Kerrygold or President.

While many recipes call for mixing the dough by hand, it is quicker, easier and more consistent to use the food processor. It will literally mix the ingredients and roll it into a ball for you. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Most recipes also call for the dough to be chilled for at least an hour or two before rolling. While the dough should be cold, I find if it gets too cold it is more difficult to roll it out.  Use cold butter and ice water, to keep it as cold as possible while mixing it.

Roll the dough on a large clean dishcloth, or a piece of parchment or wax paper, instead of directly on the countertop. That way, once it is rolled to the desired size and thickness, the towel or paper can be lightly folded with the dough on it, gently laid into the pan (cloth side up) and the cloth can be easily removed. If you are using paper, wipe the surface down with a damp cloth first, so the paper doesn’t shift. Be sure to flour the cloth and the surface.

Handle the dough as little as possible. The more it is worked, the tougher it will become. For delicate dough, try to roll it out only once, if possible. If you need to roll it a second time, it will still be delicious…don’t worry!

If the dough tears, or there are areas that didn’t quite get filled, use the scraps to repair it. Just brush a little water onto the part of the dough being mended so it forms a bit of “glue” to help the added piece stick.

Here is a recipe for Pate Brisee (basic pie crust) that can be used with any filling:

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

2 sticks (1 cup) of cold butter cut into pieces

About 4 tablespoons of ice water

Place all of the dry ingredients into the bowl of the food processor. Add the pieces of butter and process with an on/off motion until the texture resembles a coarse meal. Do not overwork the dough!

If you do not have a food processor, use 2 knives or a pastry blender to cut the butter into the other ingredients.

With the machine running, add the ice water a little at a time until the dough comes together. If it is too sticky, add a little more flour. If it seems dry or crumbly, add a little more water. The trick is to have the dough reach the desired consistency, using the recipe as a guideline.

Gather the dough into a ball and flatten it into a disk. Wrap it in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, but not hard. As little as 15 minutes might do it.

If you need to do this in advance and roll it later, let it sit outside of the refrigerator for a few minutes until it is still cold, but pliable.

Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface (with a cloth or paper on it that is also lightly floured) until it is about 1/8” thick. Place it into the pie pan or tart pan.

If you are making a tart, roll your rolling pin across the top of the pan to trim off the excess. If you are making a pie, use a paring knife to trim the excess and crimp the sides or score with the tines of a fork.

Use a fork to prick the bottom of the dough, to allow the steam to escape during baking.

Chill the crust until ready to use, fill it with your favorite filling, bake and enjoy!

photos: Glasshouse Images

Unrecipe of the Week: Easter-over

April 8, 2012

Today we are celebrating “Easter-over”, a non-denominational hybrid of Passover and Easter. The beginning of the meal features classic matzoh ball soup, leading up to a salad of mache and figs, herb roasted leg of lamb, roasted new potatoes and vegetables, and ending with an array of Passover desserts.

This year, in addition to the sponge cake, made from my grandmother’s recipe and cooled upside down on a glass bottle, there are homemade coconut macaroons with a tiny chocolate center, and chocolate matzo brittle.

Matzo brittle is a fairly recent concoction, and not the type of thing I would normally make. I balk at things that start with processed ingredients, and with no disrespect to our state’s acting first lady, the idea of “Semi-Homemade” is unappealing. Yet, something made me want to try this one, and I am glad I did!
It is easy, yet a little messy, and absolutely addictive, regardless of what your heritage might be!

Matzo Brittle

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Cover 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil, including the edges.( you will thank me for this later) and then lay a piece of parchment paper on each pan.

Lay out sheets of plain matzo, using broken pieces to fill any gaps.

In a heavy sauce pan, melt 2 sticks of butter, and 1 cup of brown sugar, stirring until melted together. Allow the mixture to bubble up for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Remove it from the pan and pour it over the matzo, covering each piece evenly.

Put the pans in the oven, and bake for about 15 minutes. The mixture will bubble up.

Remove the pans from the oven, and sprinkle each one with a bag of chocolate chips. Pop back in the oven for about 5 minutes, and then use a spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the matzo.

Allow to cool, and then break into pieces.

Try not to taste it, or there won’t be any left for the guests.

To all of our readers around the world,Happy Easter-over! May you enjoy a wonderful celebration of the Spring season surrounded by friends and loved ones.

Enjoy!

Upper Crust

July 15, 2009

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Summer tarts are a perfect ending to a great meal. While they are simple to make, adding a creative touch makes them special and personal. I love to cut freeform leaves and berries to top my blueberry tart, instead of the standard latticework. Try your own variation, using flowers, stars or other shapes to create an interesting and delicious tart topper that is truly “upper crust”.

Shari’s blueberry tart:
Pate brisee:
2 sticks of butter, cut into small pieces
2 cups of flour
a generous pinch of salt and sugar
Put ingredients into the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until mixed.
With the motor running, add ice cold water, a tablespoon at a time until it forms a dough. ( usually about 4-5 tbs or so).
Gather the dough into a ball,wrap in plastic, and chill briefly before rolling.
Most people suggest chilling the dough for a longer period of time. I find it gets too hard, and prefer to roll it when it is cold, but hasn’t started to firm up yet.
I always roll on wax paper that is floured, so I can lift the crust up easily and just peel the paper away.

For the top crust, roll the dough out, and cut shapes as desired. While I like to create these by hand, you can also use small cookie cutters to get a similar and more uniform effect. Chill motifs as you go, as those small pieces will be easier to arrange when they are a bit firmer.

Filling:
3 pints of blueberries
1 cup of sugar
½ cup of flour
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Mix ingredients. Fill the bottom crust with fruit mixture.
Arrange topping elements artfully. Brush with an egg/water mixture and bake @400 for about 50 minutes until the crust is brown and the fruit is bubbling.
Be sure to set the tart on a cookie sheet as it is likely to run over a bit.
Let it cool before removing from pan
Did you create a unique “upper crust”? Share it with us!

photo:SpencerJones/Glasshouse Images


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