Tag Archives: desserts

Individual Tiramisu

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In keeping with last week’s “mini” theme I thought I would post a great individual dessert you can serve to a crowd.  These were the perfect sweet ending to an engagement party I threw that I will post about next week.  The best part is that they have to be made in advance, so while there are a lot of layers, they are easy to do and can all be made a day before.  I used 8 ounce glasses from Ikea but any small vessel will do, even plastic.  Grab a bunch of these mini spoons and you are good to go.  If you don’t want to do individual tiramisus then just follow the instructions without breaking up the lady fingers and layer in one large pan.  The special couple had a sentimental attachment to this dish but it turned out to be a real crowd pleaser – almost like coffee and dessert in one!

Individual Tiramisu

  • 12 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup marsala wine
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 24 ounces room temperature mascarpone cheese
  • 2 cups of espresso (or 2 cups hot water with 6 tablespoons of espresso powder)
  • 1/2 cup coffee liqueur (like Kahula)
  • 36 lady fingers (found in the Italian section of your grocery store or in the cookie aisle)
  • cocoa for disting

Place the egg yolks, marsala wine and sugar in a heatproof bowl.  In a saucepan add several inches of water and bring to a simmer.  Place the bowl over the water (make sure its not touching) – this is called a double boiler.  Using a handheld mixer beat the egg mixture for 5 to 8 minutes, until the eggs have tripled in volume.  The mixture will be light in color and thickened.

Take the bowl off the heat (carefully) and fold in the mascarpone cheese, trying not to deflate the mixture (room temp is very important here so it incorporates easily).

Set aside.  In a shallow baking dish combine the espresso and the coffee liqueur.  Break the ladyfingers into a couple of pieces (I broke them into quarters).  Spoon a small amount of the mascarpone mixture into the bottom of the glass.  Dunk two ladyfinger pieces into the espresso mixture, quickly so they don’t fall apart, and pile them into the glass.

Repeat for 2 more layers and then dust with cocoa powder.  Repeat with the rest of the glasses (I did it in assembly line style which worked well).  Chill overnight and serve.

Individual Peach Crumbles

Years ago when Patrick and I were registering for our wedding at one of our favorite local shops, Hill’s Kitchen, I spotted these precious mini cast iron skillets.  What does a girl who already has everything register for??  Ridiculously cute and not very sensible baby sized pans.  Leah, the owner, convinced us both of their utility (she is a genius like that) and on the registry they went.  I will admit I don’t use them daily but when I do they put a smile on my face.  This peach crumble would of course work in ramekins or in one large pan (I would think a 8 by 8 inch baking dish) but just like how cupcakes are more fun than a cake, these individual crumbles will really wow your guests.  If you aren’t near Hill’s Kitchen you can also find them online.  They are also great to use as serving dishes for nuts, olives and the like or doing mini frittatas.  Buy them first and find more uses for them later!

This crumble recipe is super easy and could be adapted for whatever you have on hand – berries, apples etc.  Just keep on eye on how much liquid your fruit is giving off.  Since I used frozen peaches they were wetter than say fresh ones – another splash of bourbon or a knob of butter should fix that problem.  Basically you want the fruit to have a nice glaze on it but not be sitting in liquid before you add them to the pan.  Also sharing another good hint here – grating butter.  For a simple topping like this where you want the butter to distribute evenly through the dry ingredients you can use a food processor and pulse them together or just pull out the handy box grater and grate in super cold butter.  Do it quickly and you will get small pieces of butter that works perfectly in this topping.  Make them up to two days in advance, keep them in the fridge and then just pop them in the oven (don’t forget the ice cream!).

Individual Peach Crumbles 

  • 1 pound frozen peaches thawed and drained
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • vanilla ice cream

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a large skillet melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium high.  Add the peaches and 2 tablespoons of sugar and cook for 7 minutes until the peaches take on a little color and the butter and sugar melt into a syrup.

Carefully add the bourbon and cook for another 30 seconds.  Remove from the heat.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and equally divide the peaches among the 4 mini skillets on the baking sheet.

In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, salt and cinnamon.  Take the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter cold butter and grate the butter into the bowl.  Add the oats and stir to combine.  Equally pile the crumble topping on top of the peaches, making sure to cover all exposed peach.  Some will fall off on the baking sheet which is fine (that’s what the foil is for!).

At this point you can place the skillets in the fridge for several hours before baking them off if you want to make them in advance.  Bake for  30 minutes at 350 degrees until the crumble is lightly browned.  Remove from oven and let cool for several minutes then top with ice cream and serve.

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am a confessed saltaholic.  Have been since I was a kid – sweets just didn’t have the same allure as a nice salty snack.  So a couple of years ago when everyone started putting sea salt on desserts I knew I was going to have to add more spin classes to my schedule!  Salted caramel ice cream, yes please.  Crunchy Himalayan salt on your brownie?  Of course!  These cookies are incredible but it’s not just because of the addition of the sea salt.  A pretty exacting and somewhat complicated cookie (at least compared to the Toll House version) somehow all of the elements come together to create a nice chewy on the inside, crispy on the edges, decadent chocolate chip cookie.  A former colleague shared the recipe with me and as first I was off put by the different kinds of flour, the 24 hour chilling and the milk powder (???) but they are seriously worth it.  If you are a baker you probably have cake flour and bread flour on hand already – if not you can store flours in the freezer in plastic baggies to keep them fresh if you don’t use them often.  I went online and found this milk powder which supposedly lasts for years.

I guess you could bring it camping if you are into that kind of thing – my guess is once you make these for your friends and family they will request them so often you will work your way through these ingredients pretty fast.  The amounts here are very specific so I am going to recommend again you go out and get yourself a kitchen scale (reminder I like this one).  Even with a baking recipe that isn’t this specific you will always get a better result if you weigh your ingredients.  A cup of flour can vary a lot depending on how much you pack it down, if you fluffed it before you measured or if it’s not exactly level.  This small investment will pay real dividends.  This recipe makes pretty big cookies but don’t cut down on the size or you won’t get the right texture.  It’s actually better that they are so big as it can help you from eating multiple cookies in one sitting (I am not promising anything).  So bake up a batch, leave some for Santa and you will be assured everything on your list!  I will be taking Christmas day off but will be back in action next week with ideas for New Years.  Happy holidays!

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 8 1/2 ounces cake flour
  • 8 1/2 ounces bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons dried milk powder
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 10 ounces light brown sugar
  • 8 ounces granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 20 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
  • Sea salt

In a medium bowl combine the flours, baking soda, baking powder, milk powder and salt with a whisk.  Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes (or use a hand mixer).

Add the eggs, one at a time, then add in the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low so you don’t cover yourself with flour and add the dry ingredients.  Don’t overmix here – do it just until combined, then add in the chocolate chips and mix for another couple of seconds until they are mixed in.  Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours.  When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.  Make the cookies about the size of golf balls and space them apart with at least an inch in between.

Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes, then use a spaulta to transfer them to a baking rack to cool a bit more.

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Smores Bars

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or this!

I don’t do camping.  I am what you call a city girl – too many trees and fresh air I say.  One previous misguided attempt at camping was derailed by a leaf falling on the tent which sent me running.  So I was a little late in the game on the whole smores thing. but I am catching up quickly.  I mean who wouldn’t like gooey melted marshmallow partnered with luscious chocolate and that snap of graham cracker??  Thanks to the proliferation of fire pits one doesn’t need to venture into the forest to enjoy a good smore.  I like to enjoy them on our back patio with a nice glass of red wine.

But what if it’s too hot or buggy out?  What if the thought of your children holding sticks over open fire makes you nervous (or your husband for that matter)?  Then these bars are for you.  My BFF and I thought about wpid-20150524_195514.jpgways to make these even easier by using brownie mix and fluff or marshmallows – I am proud to say she even experimented with it herself (Kar – share in the comments section!).  However, the base recipe is actually pretty easy, especially if you have a stand mixer.  Meringue can take some getting used to if you havent made it before but hopefully the pictures help  Just be careful to not set your broiler to high like it did – 5 more seconds and the whole thing would have been up in flames!  Also make sure to have some milk on hand, as these bars are super rich.  They can sit for a couple of days too so make them today and enjoy tomorrow.  Best way to test a new recipe?  Find a willing taste tester – as you can see these were a hit with the younger crowd.  Since its a holiday I am going to take a break from the menu calendar but never fear the shopping list and menu suggestions will be back next friday.  Happy 4th everyone!

Smores Bars 

  • 3 cups graham cracker crumbs (almost an entire box – the rest are perfect for snacking)
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-inch-square baking pan with foil, allowing 2 inches of overhang on the sides.  This is an awesome way of baking things, especially sticky things, as you can just pull the whole thing out using the tabs and not have to worry about the sad odd-shaped brownie.

In a medium bowl, using a fork, mix the crumbs, butter, sugar and salt until everything is combined. Press the crumbs evenly into 
the bottom of the prepared pan.  Dont worry if it’s not perfectly even, just make sure the crumbs cover the entire bottom.

Bake for 8 minutes and then take it out and let cool completely but leave the oven on.   Create a double boiler – that is a fancy way of saying placing a bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Fill the pot with water but not so much it touches the bottom of the bowl.  This is the best way to melt chocolate – it can scorch pretty easily so you want to use indirect heat.

Put the butter and the chocolate in the bowl and melt them together over medium heat, for about 5 minutes.  It will go much faster if you chop the butter and the chocolate into small pieces and stir it a lot.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, vanilla and salt. Then whisk in the eggs until smooth, then stir in the flour until just incorporated. Pour the batter over the crust and use your spoon to even it out. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the edges look fully baked. Turn off the oven and let the bars cool, meanwhile preheat your broiler to medium or the lower setting.  Recreate the double boiler with a clean bowl and add the egg whites and sugar.  Whisk them together until the sugar has dissolved, a couple of minutes.

A good way of figuring out if the sugar is dissolved is to dip your fingers into the mixture and rub them together.  If you can still feel the grit of the sugar, keep it on the heat.  Once the sugar has dissolved transfer the mixture to your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Add the vanilla and cream of tartar and then start beating the mixture.  Start slowly and then increase the speed to medium for a couple of minutes until the mixture starts to firm up (almost like whipped cream).  Continue to beat at a high-speed until super glossy and pretty, about 6 or 7 minutes.  It should be able to form “stiff peaks” meaning when you pull the beater out of the mixture and turn it upside down the egg whites should be able to stand on their own.  Mound the meringue on top of the bars and smooth with a spatula (it doesnt need to be perfect, in fact the more texture the better the browning).  Put it in the broiler for 1 minute.  Check and see if it’s got enough color for you – do not walk away or these will burn!  Take it out of the broiler and let cool.  Use the tabs to pull out the bars and then cut and serve (it’s a little messy to cut so use a really sharp knife).  If serving later put them in an airtight container.

Chocolate Chip Cookies on Crack

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Yes that’s right – I said it – chocolate chip cookies on crack.  When this amazing recipe ran in the Washington Post back in 2009 I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  Kim O’Donnell was, I believe, the first food chat on Washingtonpost.com and had a genius way of making accessible food seem fancy and special.  I tucked this one away immediately and met my husband-to-be only two months later.  I can still remember the first time I made this for him and his BFF – not only did I secure his heart but got his buddies to think I was the. best. girlfriend. ever.  Even better?  It is stupid easy, you probably have all the ingredients on hand, and its ideal for making ahead of time.  Quite simply the best dessert recipe.  This was confirmed when my friend Matt asked to come over so I could teach him how to make CCConC- his first time baking and it was a smashing sucess.  Any dessert that is so good it gets a single guy to go out and buy ramekins is a winner in my book.

Chocolate Chip Cookies on Crack or CCConC 

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • ½ cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk (original specifies whole but I never have that on hand so I use skim and it works fine – just use what you have)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I like the classic semisweet here but you could do dark or milk chocolate to mix it up)
  • 1 pint of vanilla ice cream (coffee is also good here – really any kind but please don’t skip the ice cream!)

Mix flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and set aside.  Beat butter and sugars together with a stand mixer with paddle attachment (regular hand mixer is ok as well) on medium speed until well mixed, about 1 minute. Beat in egg and milk until absorbed, then mix in the vanilla.  Mixture might look a little chunky but don’t worry.

Slow the speed (please do this otherwise you will end up wearing the flour) and add in the flour mixture.  Stir in the chocolate chips and you are done with the dough.  From here you can proceed and make the CCConC or scoop into a plastic container and freeze (or store in the fridge for a couple of days).  Just defrost in the fridge overnight if you want to serve (or cheat and just take it out before making dinner and leave on the counter).  The recipe makes enough for 6 people so pull out as many ramekins as you need.  Spray with cooking spray lightly and fill about ½ full.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and place the ramekins on a cookie sheet (this isn’t necessary but makes life much easier when trying to get them out of the oven).  Bake for about 15-20 minutes, more so if the dough is really cold or semi frozen.  Basically you want a golden yummy cookie looking top.  Do not insert a tester cause it will come out all gooey – and that’s how you want it.  This is basically a molten cookie.  Let them cool a bit, then top with a scoop of ice cream.

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