Tag Archives: dessert

Rhubarb Compote with Lemon and Sage

rhubarb sage tastefood

They say what grows together goes together and that certainly applies to this springtime compote. Green rhubarb stalks, flowering sage leaves and spring lemons comprised the latest bag of loot I came home with from the farmers’ market. The green rhubarb was stunning, it’s puckery astringency melding beautifully with bright citrus and, yes, sage leaves. Serve this compote straight as it is or add a drizzle of heavy cream. Vanilla ice cream wouldn’t be bad either.

Rhubarb Compote with Lemon and Sage

Serves - 2 to 3 (or never enough depending whom you ask)

1 1/2 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup sugar
2 to 3 fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Finely grated lemon zest for garnish

Combine the rhubarb, sugar and sage in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover and simmer over low heat until rhubarb softens, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.. Remove from heat and discard the sage leaves. Stir in the lemon juice. Cool. Serve garnished with lemon zest.

 

Valentine’s Chocolate


Flourless Chile Chocolate Cake

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of dark chocolate, and my friends know it. So when I was recently gifted a box of Swiss chocolate from a longtime friend visiting from Geneva, I did the natural thing: I hid it. I could say it was under the guise of recipe research, but who would I be kidding?

My preferred chocolate is very dark with little bling. However, with that said, I do from time to time like to mess with my chocolate. My favorite embellishments are almonds, sea salt and chili. None of these additions detract from the richness of the chocolate, nor do they add any cloying sweetness. Rather they seem to amplify the deep chocolate flavor, while tickling the taste buds and hitting a few always-welcome umami notes.

bark balslev

Aztec Chocolate Bark

So for a little Valentines Day present, I have for you not one but two recipes with a version of spiced up chocolate. After all, there’s nothing wrong with spicing anything up around Valentine’s Day. The first recipe is for Aztec Chocolate Bark which you can find in a column I wrote for The Weiser Kitchen on Swiss chocolate (of course). And since love and chocolate go hand in hand with abundance (or at least they should), I will share with you below this recipe for Chile Spiced Flourless Chocolate Cake. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Flourless Chile-Chocolate Cake
Serves 10 to 12

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 6 pieces
12 ounces dark (70%) chocolate, finely chopped
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Powder sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper and butter the parchment. Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler over barely simmering water making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not come in contact with the water, stirring occasionally. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the melted chocolate, vanilla, chili powder, cinnamon, salt and cayenne. Stir to combine. Pour into the prepared springform. Bake until the cake is set and the top begins to crack, about 40 minutes. (The center will still be moist.) Cool completely on a rack. Remove the side of the pan and transfer to a serving plate. (Cake may be made up to one day in advance. Cover and refrigerate.) Serve sprinkled with powder sugar before serving.

Apple Raisin Pecan Crisp

apple raisin crisp tastefood

Apple Raisin Pecan Crisp with Calvados Cream ~ 

It’s October, and in my book, that means it’s time for apple crisp. When it comes to a good recipe, I follow the popular adage: If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it. A fruit crisp should contain seasonal fruit at it’s peak in flavor, enhanced with a dusting of sugar and spice. The topping should be crisp, crumbly and not cloyingly sweet, allowing the natural sugar of the fruit to shine through. As for the garnish, I prefer the lightness of whipped cream to rich ice cream. I barely sweeten it so it won’t compete with the crisp,  and I always fortify it with a nip of spirits dictated by the fruit of choice.

Apple Raisin Pecan Crisp with Calvados Cream

Serves 8

Topping:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut in pieces
1/2 cup pecans (optional)

Filling:
8 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut in 3/4-inch chunks
1 cup raisins
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Calvados Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Calvados Brandy

For the topping: Combine the flour, sugars, cinnamon, cardamom and salt in bowl of a food processor. Briefly pulse once or twice to combine. Add the pecans and pulse a few times to break them up in large pieces. Add the butter and pulse until the topping resembles coarse meal. (Topping may be made up to one day in advance. Cover and refrigerate until use).

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Combine the apples and raisins in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Transfer fruit to a 9-by-13 inch gratin dish or 8 (3/4 cup) ramekins.  Cover evenly with the topping. Bake in the oven until topping is golden brown and fruit is bubbling, about 50 minutes for 1 large dish or 40 minutes for ramekins. Remove from oven and cool slightly before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature with Calvados Cream.

For the Calvados Cream:
Beat cream in the bowl of electric mixer until whisk traces are visible in the cream. Add the sugar and Calvados. Continue to beat until soft peaks form.

Fig and Raspberry Cake

Fig cake tastefood

It’s a virtual baking weekend, since it’s simply too hot to turn on the oven.
Instead I’ll dream about this Fig and Raspberry Upside Down Cake and share the recipe with you from the TasteFood archives.

Upside-down baking is  irresistable to me, whether it’s in the form of a tarte tatin or a cake. The common denominator is a gorgeous, gooey caramelized bottom, which, once inverted, becomes the top. Nestled in the sticky caramel goodness are chunks of seasonal fruit, which release their juice and perfume the pastry, while studding the topping like jewels in a crown.

The other winning quality of upside-down desserts is that they are generously flexible with the seasons. In the fall, pears and apples are the fruit of choice. In the summer, stone fruit, figs and berries display their wonders. Mix and match to your taste. It’s impossible to go wrong.

Fig and Raspberry Upside-Down Cake

Semolina adds a beautiful golden hue and a little crumble to the cake.

Serves 10-12

1/2 cup plus 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
8 large figs, halved lengthwise
3 ounces raspberries
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup semolina
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.)  Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter the parchment. Tightly wrap the bottom of the pan with foil.
Melt 1/2 cup butter and the light brown sugar together in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking to combine. Pour into the springform pan. Arrange the figs, cut side down in a circular pattern in the sugar. Fill in the gaps with the raspberries.
Beat 1 cup butter and the granulated sugar in a mixer with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the buttermilk, zest and vanilla. Whisk the flour, semolina, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add to the batter, mixing just to combine. Pour over the fruit and smooth with a spatula. Bake in the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto a plate. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Apple Cinnamon Cake with Raisins and Walnuts

apple cake tastefood

~ Apple Cinnamon Cake with Raisins and Walnuts ~

When things get busy and stressful, I head to the kitchen. Mind you, I’m normally in my kitchen anyway, developing and testing recipes, preparing meals for clients, and always making a dinner of some sort. But that’s not what I’m talking about. My to-do list is seemingly endless right now, and this weekend I needed a break. So I put aside my oil splotched recipe notes, shopping lists and white board (yes, I have a white board in my kitchen) and closed my laptop. I  asked my son what I should bake – something sweet, something frivolous, something unplanned. He instantly asked for an apple cinnamon cake I used to bake, and I knew exactly which one he meant. It’s a simple crusty-topped cake studded with fruit and nuts that my kids love and I used to make for afternoon coffee and tea – when I actually used to have afternoon coffee and tea in another life we lived in Europe.

The recipe I used back then was from an old Gourmet magazine and sadly long misplaced or packed. But I remembered seeing a recipe over at Food52 for a classic, popular cake they loved which closely resembled my memory of this cake. That I could find, and here it is:

Apple Cake with Raisins and Walnuts

adapted from Food52 and a distant family memory

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil, such as grape seed
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 tart apples, peeled, cored, cut in coarse chunks
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins

Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 by 12-inch baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment.
Beat the oil and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well.
Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Add to the batter and mix to combine. Stir in the apples, walnuts and raisins. Pour into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes clean, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. Serve at room temperature. (The flavors will develop once the cake has cooled).
Cut in pieces and serve sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Pear, Plum and Blueberry Crisp with Walnut Streusel

Plum Pear Blueberry Crisp

~
Nothing says summer better than a fruit crisp which effortlessly absorbs the season’s bounty. Let the market dictate your choice of fruit. Then fold the ripest gems – winey plums, tender pears, juicy blueberries – into your well loved and slightly worn ceramic dishes. Sprinkle with a little sugar and spice and crown it with a nutty streusel topping.

Plums Market

For this fruit crisp, I let the St. Helena farmers’ market do the talking.

Pears market

and ended up with this:

Pear, Plum and Blueberry Crisp with Walnut Streusel
and Armagnac Whipped Cream 

Serves 8 to 10

Streusel:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped

Armagnac Whipped Cream:
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons Armagnac

Filling:
1 pint blueberries, divided
6 ripe but not too soft pears, such as Bartlett or Anjou, cut in 1-inch chunks
6 plums, pitted, cut in 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Prepare the streusel:
In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except the butter and walnuts. Add butter and work into the topping with your fingertips until the it resembles coarse meal. Stir in the walnuts. Cover and refrigerate until use.

Prepare the whipped cream:
Beat cream in bowl of electric mixer with a wire whisk until thickened. Add sugar and armagnac. Continue to beat until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until use. (May be made up to 4 hours in advance.)

Prepare the crumble:
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish.
Place half of the blueberries and the remaining filling ingredients in a large bowl. Gently stir to combine. Pour into the baking dish. Scatter the remaining blueberries over the filling. Spoon the streusel evenly over the top. Bake in the oven until the crisp is bubbly, the pears are soft, and the topping is golden brown, about 50 minutes. Remove and cool slightly. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

Chocolate Hazelnut Pots de Creme with Praline

chocolate praline

 ~ Chocolate Hazelnut Pots de Creme with Praline ~

These little vessels of silky rich dark chocolate custard get dressed up with nutty, fragrant hazelnuts. Frangelico liqueur is the secret ingredient, an Italian noisette (hazelnut) flavored liqueur that tastes great straight up or laced in coffee or over ice cream. It’s also a great addition to an affogato. This recipe will make 6 generous servings for diehard chocoholics. If the portions are too intense, divide among espresso cups for the perfect sweet after dinner touch of chocolate. For best results, use high quality dark (70%) chocolate. And if you can’t find frangelico but still feel nutty, then substitute amaretto.

chocolate hazelnut tastefood

Chocolate Hazelnut Pots de Creme with Praline

Begin this recipe 1 to 2 days in advance of serving. Makes 6 (3/4-cup) ramekins or 12 espresso cups.

Pots de Creme:
1  3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
6 ounces high quality dark chocolate (70 to 72%), finely chopped
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons Frangelico or hazelnut liqueur

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon Frangelico or hazelnut liqueur

Praline:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted lightly and skinned, coarsely chopped (or almonds, lightly toasted, coarsely chopped)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Make the pots de creme:
Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.) Heat the cream and milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it reaches a simmer. Remove from heat and whisk in the chocolate until melted and smooth.
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until blended. Add the cream in a steady stream, whisking to combine. Whisk in Frangelico. Strain through a fine meshed sieve into another bowl and cool for 5 minutes.
Pour into ramekins or espresso cups. Place the ramekins in a baking pan. Fill the pan with boiling water half way up the ramekins. Cover ramekins with foil and transfer to oven. Bake until set, but still a little wobbly when jiggled, about 55 minutes for ramekins and 45 minutes for espresso cups. Remove from water bath and remove foil. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Make the whipped cream:
Beat the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer until traces of the whisk appear. Add sugar and Frangelico. Continue to beat until peaks form.

Make the praline:
Heat the sugar in a heavy small saucepen over medium heat until sugar melts, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until sugar turns amber in color. Add the nuts and sea salt and stir quickly to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and spread into a thin layer.. Do not touch with your fingers. Cool completely. Break into small pieces.

To serve, spoon a dollop of cream over the center of each ramekin. Top with chards or finely chopped praline.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

~ Strawberry Rhubarb and Lemon Cobbler ~

Strawberries, rhubarb and lemon muddle together in this impossibly bright cobbler crowned with a crumbly lemon flecked dough. The bubbling fruit can barely contain itself, and neither can we when this is served for dessert.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler
Serves 6

For the filling:
2 cups diced rhubarb
1 pound strawberries, hulled, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 egg
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Make the filling:
Combine all of the filling ingredients together in a bowl and toss to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.

Make the topping:
Combine the flour, sugar baking powder, salt and butter in bowl of a food processor. Pulse until dough resembles coarse meal. Add cream and egg; pulse until dough comes together. Pulse in lemon zest.

Spoon strawberries into a baking pan or individual ramekins. Drop spoonfuls of the topping over the fruit. Bake in a pre-heated 350 F. oven until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbly, 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. The flavors will develop as the cobbler cools. Serve with creme fraiche.

Strawberry Mess

Strawberry Fool

~ Strawberries, Whipped Cream, Mascarpone, Meringue ~

Sometimes presentation is overrated. Eton Mess is a British dessert that’s  an unapologetic mishmash of fruit, cream and crumbled meringues turned about and plunked in a glass or bowl. It’s the kind of mix that appeals to kids and adults alike. It’s messy appearance belies it’s swoonworthy results with gently sweetened and ethereal whipped cream punctuated by juicy strawberries and crisp bits of sugary meringue. You can’t go wrong with this recipe which is a great way to highlight summer’s fresh berries. The only effort required is a little cream-whipping – and trying not to get too carried away with licking the spoon.

Strawberry (Eton) Mess

For a little variation, I’ve added mascarpone to the whipped cream, which adds extra(!) richness and more body to the cream.

Serves 4 to 6.

1 pound (500 g) strawberries
3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 cup (250 ml) whipping cream
8 ounces (125 g) mascarpone cheese
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 (3-inch) meringue shells or 12 meringue buttons, coarsely crumbled

Set aside 3 unblemished strawberries.  Hull and quarter the remaining berries. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Turn to coat then set aside.
Whip the cream and mascarpone in bowl of electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until beginning to thicken. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat until soft peaks form. Fold the quartered strawberries into the cream, then fold in the meringues with any fine sugary dust. Spoon into glasses or serving bowls. Cut reserved strawberries in half lengthwise and arrange on top of cream as garnish.

If you like this, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Simple Strawberry Cake
Lemon Bars
Yogurt Parfaits with Rhubarb Compote

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Strawberries and Cream

flourless chocolate cake tastefoodStrawberries, Cream, Chocolate…

Or, more precisely, a wedge of luscious silky-rich chocolate cake with billows of  airy cream and sun-kissed strawberries. Parse it as you may, emphasize it as you must, this is one dessert that will please chocoholics and fruity fiends alike.

I made this cake for a crowd last weekend, and it easily served 12 with a few slices to spare. A tiny sliver goes a long way – or maybe not, depending on your inclination. Choose the best quality dark chocolate you can lay your hands on, because it makes all the difference. The gently sugared cream and naturally sweetened strawberries perfectly round out and balance the chocolatey richness, which, naturally,  helps you eat more.

flourless chocolate cake tastefoodThere was, I promise, a bounty of strawberries when I served this cake, but the berry eaters in the group devoured them before I could use the harvest as a photo prop.

Glazed Flourless Chocolate Cake
slightly adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe

Serves 12.

Cake:
12 ounces dark high quality chocolate (70-72%)
3/4 cup unsalted butter
6 large eggs, separated
12 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze:
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
4 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped, plus extra for grating

Whipped cream
Strawberries

Heat oven to 350° F (180 C). Butter a 9-inch diameter springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the parchment. Sprinkle with unsweetened cocoa powder and tap out the excess. Wrap the outside of the pan with foil to prevent leakage.

Combine chocolate and butter in a double boiler or heat-proof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir frequently until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

Beat egg yolks and 6 tablespoons sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until light and thick, about 3 minutes. Transfer eggs to a large bowl; thoroughly clean and dry mixing bowl and whisk attachment.

Fold the melted chocolate into the egg yolks. Stir in the vanilla. In the clean mixing bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar until medium-firm peaks form. Fold the whites into the chocolate in 3 additions. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake until top is slightly puffed and cracked and a knife inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on a wire rack.

While the cake is cooling, prepare the glaze. Heat cream and syrup in a small saucepan just until it begins to simmer. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth.

Gently press down on the top of the cake to even thickness. Remove pan side. Invert cake onto a plate. Remove and discard parchment. Pour the glaze over the center of the cake. Spread the glaze over the top and down the sides of the cake, using a flat icing spatula to smooth the glaze. Sprinkle with grated chocolate. Chill in refrigerator until firm, about 10 minutes. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

More chocolate? If you insist…
Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Muffins from Brown Eyed Baker
Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies from TasteFood
Chocolate Custard Cake from White on Rice Couple
Rich Chocolate Brownies from TasteFood