Category Archives: Desserts

Recipes for Valentine’s Day

I really don’t like Valentine’s Day.  In fact, I hate it.  And, no – nothing happened.  Nothing traumatic or heartbreaking happened for me to feel this way.  I can think of several other occasions to celebrate love besides a holiday concocted for it.  But, I’ll tell you what.  The best Valentine’s I remember is the first one I spent with Binks.  Specifically, he brought me a box of chocolates, which we ate standing over the sink.  I would take a bite and then give him the rest.  We did this methodically with the entire box.  Best. V. Day. Ever.

So, aside from the creepy flying baby in his underwear, the tolerable thing about Valentine’s is the food.  The glorious decadent food.  In honor of, I’ve put together a list of foods that I think would be great for any Valentine’s.  Happy VD my sweet friends.

1.  Raspberry Coulis

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Drizzle this on – anything.  Pancakes.  Cheesecake.  Straight into your mouth.  Wonderful.

2.  Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

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A little on the nose, but who can resist a beautiful red velvet cake?   And, I promise you that this cake is irresistible.

3.  Garlic Bread

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This may not be on the nose and mostly on the breath but this garlic bread is completely worth it.

4.  Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

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I love making and decorating sugar cookies for Valentine’s.  It’s a creative and personal way to show someone you care.

5.  Cream Puffs

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Looking more difficult than it actually is to make, cream puffs are a delicious way to impress a Valentine.

6.  Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

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Pizza is a love in our house and this Chicago style deep dish is a decadent main course for a casual meal with anyone you love.

7.  Funfetti Cookies

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A classic sugar cookie gets an instant glam makeover by adding your favorite sprinkles.

8.  Donut Muffins

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I dare you resist donuts at any time.  Waking up to these in the morning will truly show a loved one how much you care.

9.  Pesto Macaroni and Goat Cheese with Roasted Red Peppers

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All my favorite flavors and ingredients combine to make a dish that makes me swoon.

10.  Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These are a favorite cookie in my house and everyone that tries them falls in love.

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Filed under Desserts, Favorites, Holiday

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

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I love coffee cake. I just do. More than just the perfectly crumb cake with a bountiful streusel topping, the cake signifies relationships. Impromptu gatherings or just meaningful conversations take place around these cakes. Usually accompanied by copious cups of coffee or tea, conversations abound with coffee cakes. And, this cake is a classic – simple to make and yields a bakery-like presentation.

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In addition to the decadence of having two layers of streusel, the cake, when cut, is a stunner. The sour cream is a wonderful addition to keep the cake from drying out without making it too heavy.

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And, when you’re with good company, the last thing you need is a fussy cake.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons real maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.
  3. For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.
  4. Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with half of the streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
  5. Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork.

7 Comments

Filed under baking, Cake

Prune Cake

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My mom get ideas. Usually ones that are well deserved of my eye rolls. Her latest? Prunes. Prunes! I tried. The baby tried. Binks, on the other hand, did not. My dad once attempted to make me try prune juice. I wanted to cut out my tongue.

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But, turns out when you cut it up and put it in a cake and top it off with a surprisingly magnificent buttermilk sauce, prunes are delicious. In fact, the prunes lend a great deal of moisture to the cake. So, when I make desserts like this, it bodes well for me to hide the ingredients from my husband. Presented as a spice cake, I gave him a small piece. Without stopping for air, he ate the whole piece and asked for more. My mom, who was also over, requested more than one piece. After I was sure my husband couldn’t deny enjoying the cake, I revealed the magic ingredient – prunes. He paused and said, “it’s amazing!’ Then, he asked for another. I looked over at my mom who looked at me, smiled and said, “I told you so.”

Insert eye roll here.

Prune Cake

barely adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:

CAKE:

  • 1 cup prunes
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk

TOPPING:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch baking pan.
  2. Place the prunes in a small saucepan. Cover them with water. Bring to a low boil and cook until soft and mashable, about 8 minutes. Drain the water and mash the prunes into small pieces. Set aside.
  3. Mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, and vanilla. Beat in the eggs to the oil and sugar, one at a time, until fully incorporated.
  4. Combine the four mixture with the egg mixture. Add and stir in the buttermilk until just combined – do not over stir. The batter may be lumpy at this point.
  5. Stir in the prunes.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes up clean.
  7. Meanwhile about 5-7 minutes before the cake is done, combine all the topping ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a slow boil over medium-high heat. Continue boiling until the icing turns a light caramel color, 5 to 7 minutes.
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and pour the topping evenly over the cake. Serve warm or cool.

4 Comments

Filed under baking, Cake, Desserts

Butterscotch Pudding

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My mother doesn’t waste food.  Like nothing.  It could be that she cooks everyday or that she doesn’t eat out unless we take her.  Whatever it is, other than my sister and my habit of stockpiling snacks, she doesn’t have more than what she needs – in food.  Her household hoarding habits are a different story to be addressed later.  

I confided in her one day that I hate wasting vegetables that I never get around to cooking.  She looked at me as if I had just revealed to her that I was working for the devil.  In an attempt to gain understanding, I asked her if she ever deals with that problem.  She just shook her head no.  Now, with just my grasping for a way out of this conversation, I told her the following:  “You know, when I come back from work, I just don’t feel like cooking so we pick up something.”  Like kryptonite to Superman.  Disappointment would be an understatement.

In short, my mom uses everything she buys.  And, I – well, I’m trying my best.

So, when I made this cake, I had four egg yolks left over (from here) that I needed to use.  Otherwise, the guilt would eat me alive.  And, I would much rather eat pudding.

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Oh and by the way.  No skin.  I know this is a heated debate, but no skin.  The fact that the word to describe that layer is called ‘skin’ is just enough to say no skin.  So, if you are like me and no skin – cover like above – place the plastic wrap on top of the pudding itself.  If you are a skin person, cover the top of the dish without touching the dish.

Butterscotch Pudding

Adapted from Taste of Home

Yields 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 5 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Add milk and egg yolks and stir until smooth.  Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil.  Cook and stir 1-2 minutes longer or until thickened.
  2. Remove from the heat; stir in butter and vanilla.  Cool to room temperature, stirring several times.  Pour into individual dessert dishes.  Cover and refrigerate until fully chilled, at least 2 hours.

6 Comments

Filed under Custard/Pudding, Desserts

Berry Vanilla Cake with Whipped Frosting

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My husband’s family doesn’t care much for birthday celebrations.  But, they do make an effort for their mother.  In a family full of boys one her, it’s quite sweet to watch them devise a plan to celebrate her birthday.  This year, we were short on time and put together a quick plan to accommodate a rowdy baby and a son who was only in town for a short period of time.

Taking into consideration my mother in law’s preferences for cake, I knew I had to construct something light, not-to-sweet and definitely included fruit.  As long as I’ve known her she’s ordered these magnificent cakes with glazed fruit, slivered almonds and whipped cream frosting.  With hours to make it, I found some supplies I had on hand to put together a cake she would love.

With my favorite American buttercream being too sweet for her taste and not having time to make Swiss meringue buttercream, my options were limited.  So, I tried something new based on what I had on hand.  I’m so glad I did.  This cake was a hit.  Bringing back memories of when she would bake cakes for her sons, she ate her cake happily.  It was a good day.

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Frosting using heavy whipping cream can be finnicky and not always the stable when you want to make a presentation.  Although you can stabilize it with powdered sugar, this frosting using Cool Whip is way more stable.  Especially with the addition of powdered sugar, I was able to keep the cake and frosting in its proper form through the afternoon while we ate pieces of the cake.

If I would have changed anything, based on supplies I had on hand, I would have added more blueberries on the top.  If you want to make more layers (cut each layer in half for a four layer cake), just make sure you double the filling and frosting.  I had just enough frosting for a filling layer, the outer layer and just enough for piping.

Berry Vanilla Bean Cake with Whipped Frosting
cake slightly adapted from My Baking Addiction and also used here
makes a two layer 8′ inch cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 2 and 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 4 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 and 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • seeds scraped from one vanilla bean or 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Filling:

  • 1 cups berries (mixed or pick one)
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar

Frosting:

  • 1 (8oz) container of frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 1 (3.5 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar. sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Garnish/Decorating

  • berries
  •  sliced almonds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. If you make cupcakes, line with cupcake liners. If you are baking cake layers, grease two eight-inch round cake pans.
  2. In a large and separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the milk and eggs. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, on medium heat, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds, until the mixture is very light/pale.
  5. Add the vanilla extract until fully incorporated.  Carefully add and mix in half of the milk mixture until all is combined.  Then, mix in half of the flour mixture until fully combined.  Add the remaining milk mixture until combined. Finally, add the flour mixture until incorporated.  Once everything is incorporated, beat the mixture for a good 2 minutes to ensure that everything is smoothly combined.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test.  Cool completely before frosting.
  7. Prepare filling:  While cake is baking, in a bowl, mash together the 1 cup of berries coarsely - I still like big chunks.  Pour in sugar and mix together.  Set it aside.
  8. Prepare frosting:  In your stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer (using a large bowl), whip together the heavy cream, instant pudding powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.  Mix until its smooth and getting thick.  Remove from the mixer and by hand, fold in the whipped topping until fully incorporated.  Do not over mix.  Once there are no white streaks, place in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.  Once firm, assemble and frost cake.
  9. Assemble and frost:  Place one layer of cake on a cake board.  Spread the fruit to within an inch of the border.  Then, spread the whipped frosting on top of the fruit and then place the final layer on top.  Frost the cake completely.

7 Comments

Filed under baking, Cake, Desserts

Baklava

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Meet one of my favorite desserts – EVER.  It’s not hard considering that I’ve admitted that my favorite food is all things Mediterranean.  Luckily, baklava is just as easy to make as it is delicious.  All in all, this recipe is just the same set of steps repeated over and over again to create a buttery and flaky dessert that’s sure to wow your guests.

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I am going to just say that baklava is an addiction.  It’s a rare treat reserved for special occasions in our house, but once available, I wish someone would ration this.

Baklava

adapted from Food Network

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 oz) package of phyllo dough, thawed
  • 1 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 16 oz  chopped roasted nuts (I prefer a mix of pistachios and walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup white granulated sugar

Syrup:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups of white granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 cup water
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 clove of cardamom (or a pinch of ground cardamom)
  • 1 tsp rose water (optional)
  • 1 2-inch piece of orange peel

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Using the melted butter, butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13 pan.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the nuts until you reach your desired consistency.  I prefer a mixture of finely ground nuts with some chopped pieces mixed in.
  3. Toss together the cinnamon, cardamom, nuts and white sugar.
  4. Unwrap the phyllo dough and place under a damp cloth so it does not dry out.
  5. Place two sheets of phyllo dough in the pan and brush the phyllo with butter lightly with a pastry brush.
  6. Repeat with two sheets until you have a layer that’s 8 sheets deep.
  7. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the nut mixture over the phyllo dough.
  8. Place another two sheets of phyllo and brush lightly with the melted butter.
  9. Repeat with the nuts and the phyllo dough.
  10. Top the last layer with another 8 pieces of phyllo dough.
  11. Using a sharp knife cut the phyllo dough (into diamonds or squares) within half an inch from the bottom of the pan.
  12. Bake for 45-50 minutes until the phyllo is golden brown and crisp.
  13. After placing the baklava into the oven, prepare the syrup.  In a saucepan, mix together the sugar and water and heat over medium heat until the sugar is melted.  Add the vanilla extract, honey, cinnamon stick, cardamom, rose water, and orange peel.  Allow this mixture to come to a boil and reduce heat to let it simmer for about 20 minutes.  Remove the cinnamon stick, cardamom and orange peel.  Let it cool while the baklava bakes.
  14. Once the baklava is done, remove from the oven and immediately pour the syrup over the phyllo dough.
  15. Cool and cut all the way through.

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Filed under Desserts, Favorites

Jalebi

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Indian desserts, to me, are hit and miss.  Jalebis are one of them.  Made wrong, the whole thing is a huge miss.  With that said, you wonder how a form of funnel cake soaked in sugar syrup could go wrong.

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I actually hated these as a child while living in India.  Once I left for the states, I missed them instantly.  A quintessential celebratory dessert, these are perfect for the holiday season or to make for a loved one for the new year.  Whatever the reason, get your stretchy pants ready.

My mother in law makes these every Christmas and this year, I decided to take a try.  I’m glad I did.  Once you get the form right, the whole process is fairly simple.  It helps to know that the batter should be a thinner pancake batter.  Also, make sure the oil is hot when frying and to soak in the sugar syrup as soon as the jalebi comes out.  If the oil isn’t hot or you wait too long to soak, you could have an oily soggy jalebi – a no no.  Also, a squeeze bottle dispenser is somewhat integral to make sure you get the right consistency in the spirals – similar to an empty mustard container or this.

 

Jalebi

adapted from my mother in law

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp chickpea (besan/gram) flour
  • 1 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 quart vegetable or canola oil for frying

Syrup:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of ground cardamom
  • a few drops of orange food coloring
  • 1/2 tsp of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of rose water, optional

Directions:

  1. Proof the yeast and lukewarm water in a large bowl (mix the two and set aside for 5-10 minutes until the mixture becomes frothy).
  2. To the proofed yeast mix, add the flours and mix until all lumps are gone.
  3. Mix in yogurt, sugar and 1/2 tsp oil until you get a thin pancake batter like consistency.  You want it to flow like fast ribbons.
  4. Put the batter aside for 1 hour to set in a warm place.
  5. After setting, mix the batter again.  You will notice little air pockets like pancake batter.
  6. Heat oil in a large frying pan.
  7. While the oil is heating make the sugar syrup because you want the syrup to be warm.  Boil the sugar and water together until the sugar has dissolved.  Add the cardamom, food coloring, lemon juice and rose water (if using) and whisk to incorporate.  Remove from heat immediately.
  8. You can test the oil to see if it is hot enough by dropping a bit of dough in the oil.  If ready, the dough should instantly float back up without burning or getting too brown.
  9. Fill the dough into the squeeze bottle.
  10. Squeeze the batter into the oil in a spiral shape about 3-4 inches in diameter.  Work fast so that the dough doesn’t unevenly cook.
  11. Fry until golden brown and flip the jalebi if necessary to cook evenly on the other side.
  12. Once fried properly, soak in the syrup until fully soaked (about 10 seconds) and then remove.
  13. Serve hot.  Store in an airtight container, which should last you about 4 days.  But, remember, the fresher the better.

 

5 Comments

Filed under Desserts, Indian