Tag Archives: dessert

Berry Picking Time

Every year I have visions of going to a local farm, spending an afternoon picking strawberries, and then skipping into the kitchen to make jam.  Then I remind myself that I made a pie for Easter and I haven’t had time to post it here until now so I probably don’t have time for berry picking.  Reality is cruel that way sometimes. Whether you have time to visit a farm and pick your own berries or you’re more like me and will be picking your berries at the farmer’s market or supermarket this summer this is a fantastic way to make use of strawberries.

This is a great warm-weather dessert because once you’re done with the crust you’re done with the baking.  So if you happen to have some extra berries and you’re not looking to heat up the kitchen too much this ideal.  I will confess that the pie I made for Easter didn’t entirely set.  More recent attempts have been perfect.  The only variable I can think of is that I might not have heated up the cranberry juice enough to set the gelatin.  Be sure to heat the cranberry juice until it is steaming and you should avoid having a runny pie.  Confession number two- even if you scoop a runny mess out of the pie plate it is still delicious.

strawberry chiffon pie

Strawberry Chiffon Pie


for the pie crust:

  • 1 1/4 C. all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher or sea salt
  • 9 Tbsp.  chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 3-4 Tbsp. ice water

for the pie filling:

  • 2 pounds fresh strawberries, stems removed, 6 berries reserved for garnish if desired
  • 3/4 C. plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 C. cranberry juice or water
  • 1 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin (about 2 packets)
  • 2 C. whipping cream, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 medium-size strawberries, halved


Start by making the pie crust.

In a medium bowl whisk the flour, sugar, and salt together until well-combined.

Sprinkle the butter over the flour mixture and use your fingers to work the butter into the flour mixture.  Do this by rubbing your thumb against your fingertips, smearing the butter between them. Do this until the mixture looks like cornmeal and only pea-sized pieces of butter remain.

Sprinkle 3 Tbsp. of the ice water on top of the mixture and stir with a fork until the dough comes together.  Use another Tbsp. of ice water if needed.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and kneed just enough to make a cohesive dough (about 3 times), do not over-mix.

Shape the dough into a ball and then flatten it slightly into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out the pie crust into an 11 inch surface.

Transfer the crust to a 9-inch deep dish pie plate, gently pressing the dough into the plate and fluting the edges (press your thumb around the edge of the crust).

Lay a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil over the pie crust and then fill the pie crust with dried beans or pie weights to keep the crust from puffing up.

Bake for 30 minutes until crust is golden brown.

Remove the pie weights and let the crust cool before filling.

While the pie crust bakes and cools start on the filling by stirring together the strawberries, 3/4 C. of sugar, and lemon juice.  Use a potato masher, pastry cutter, or heavy spoon to mash up the berries as you mix the ingredients.
Chill the berry mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Warm the cranberry juice in the microwave for 15-25 seconds until just steaming (microwave it longer if you don’t see steam).
Stir into the gelatin and whisk the mixture until smooth.
Stir the gelatin mixture into the berry mixture and chill for 20 minutes, until partially set.
Using a stand or handheld mixer, whip 1 C. of the cream into medium peaks and stir into the berry mixture.
Pour the berry and cream mixture into the prepared pie crust and chill until firm (at least 1 hour).
Whip the remaining 1 C. of cream with remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar and the vanilla until firm peaks form.  Spread or pipe over top of pie.
Garnish the pie with reserved strawberries if desired  (cut into halves or slices if desired).

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A Walk in the Black Forest

Two weeks ago we celebrated Lane’s birthday.  In keeping with tradition, the birthday boy was allowed to choose a cake.  The conversation went something like this:

Me: What kind of birthday cake do you want?

Lane: Oh that’s right, that’s coming up.

Me:  Yep, and I want to plan for the cake when I make my grocery list so what kind do you think?

Lane: What kind were you thinking?

Me: (sighs) It’s your birthday, you get to pick.

Lane:  Anything you make would be great.

Me: It’s your birthday.

Lane:  I like cake.

So I offered German chocolate or Black Forest because neither of those could be bad, and because Lane likes all of the components of either.  Black Forest was the winner mainly because it has cherries and those are a fruit and fruit is good for our diet. It seemed like a legitimate solution at the time.

Basically, a Black Forest cake is layers of chocolate cake filled with cherries and whipped cream and then frosted with more whipped cream.  The three components are incredibly simple and when you put them together it’s really amazing.  The chocolate cake is just dense enough, and the whipped cream is just sweet enough to offset the cherries.  Cherries aren’t at all in season here yet so I used frozen whole cherries that I thawed overnight in the refrigerator and I thought the texture was just perfect.  It was a cake completely fitting our first married birthday celebration.

black forest cake

Black Forest Cake


for the cake:

  • 2 C. sugar
  • 1 3/4 C. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 C. cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C. whole milk
  • 1/2 C. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 C. boiling water

for the cherries:

  • 12 oz. frozen dark sweet cherries (such as Dole) thawed and drained OR 1 20 oz. can of cherries, drained
  • 1/4 C. Kirsch or brandy (optional- if omitting, reserve 1/4 C. of liquid from draining cherries)

for the frosting:

  • 1 1/2 C. heavy cream, chilled
  • 1/2 C. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract


Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla to the bowl and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).

Divide batter between the two prepared pans.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then remove the cake from the pans onto wire racks to cool completely.

Reserve 12 cherries for decorating the cake, and combine the remaining cherries with the Kirsch (or reserved cherry juice) and set aside.

To make the frosting, combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla and whip until almost-stiff peaks form.

Refrigerate frosting until ready to use.

When the cakes are completely cool, level the tops and place one layer on a serving plate.

Remove the cherries using a slotted spoon and place them on the plated cake layer.

Top the cherries with 1/2- 3/4 C. of the whipped cream frosting, covering the cherries and spreading into an even layer.

If desired, reserve about 1/2 C. of whipped cream frosting for decorating at the end.

Top the first layer of cake with the second cake, and frost the cake with the remaining whipped cream frosting.

If you reserved some frosting for decorating, put it into a piping bag or plastic bag with a corner snipped off and pipe small mounds of whipped cream frosting evenly around the edge of the top of the cake.  Top each mound with a reserved cherry.

Makes 12 servings.

Source: adapted slightly from Brown Eyed Baker (who adapted the cake recipe from Hershey’s)

black forest cake top

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Mrs. P.L. Travers

The Oscars are on tonight, and that means the last of the 12 Days of Oscar over here.  Today’s film is only nominated for one Oscar, and many agree that it should have been nominated for more.  Saving Mr. Banks is nominated for Best Original Score.  If you haven’t seen it- and you really should- Saving Mr. Banks tells the story of Walt Disney’s pursuit of the film rights to Mary Poppins.  Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) is reluctant to let Walt Disney (Tom Hanks) turn her book into a film and in the course of her negotiations with Disney, we learn about her childhood as well.

During what becomes a series of meetings, Walt Disney’s secretary routinely wheels carts of food into the meeting rooms.  Travers objects nearly every time that this is too much food, and at one point tells Dolly (Melanie Paxson) to turn the cart full of food right back around and to not leave it in the room.  More than once we see plates full of doughnuts and other sweets:

Yes, those are Hostess Sno-Balls on that tray.  Chocolate cupcakes with a cream filling covered in marshmallow and rolled in pink coconut- it doesn’t get much more “spoonful of sugar” than this.  Sitting in the theater watching this movie, I knew this was the perfect excuse to make my own Sno Balls at home.  They are more time consuming that I previously thought, definitely more of a kitchen marathon than a sprint, but they are well worth it.

sno balls

Sno Balls


for the cupcakes:

  • 2 oz. unsalted butter
  • 5 oz. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 3 oz. all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 oz. cocoa powder, sifted
  • 5 oz. buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

for the marshmallow coating:

  • 1/2 oz. gelatin
  • 10 oz. water, divided
  • 7 oz. corn syrup
  • 18 oz. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

for cream filling:

  • 6 oz. heavy whipping cream

for coconut topping:

  • 8 oz. unsweetened coconut flakes
  • red food coloring


Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease a cupcake pan and set it aside.

Cream together the butter, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder for 3 minutes in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

Add the egg and mix for 1 minute until fully incorporated.

With the mixer on low speed, add in the flour all at once, then add the cocoa powder.

Drizzle in the buttermilk and vanilla.

Continue mixing just until combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the 12 cavities of the prepared pan.

Bake for 12 minutes.

Cool for at least 2 hours before filling and frosting.

Make the marshmallow coating and filling by combining the gelatin with 5 oz. of the water in a small bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Stir with a fork to ensure there are no lumps of gelatin, then set aside.

In a medium pot, combine the remaining water, corn syrup, and sugar over medium heat.

Stir gently with a spatula to make sure the sugar dissolves.

Cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer, then shut off the heat and let the mixture cool to 210 degrees.

Once the mixture has cooled to 210 degrees add the sugar syrup to the gelatin mixture and whip on low speed until the gelatin has fully dissolved.

Increase the speed to medium high and whip until light, fluffy, and tripled in bulk.

With the mixer running, add in the salt and vanilla.

Using a spatula, transfer all but 4 oz. of the mixture to a pastry bag and set aside.

Return the remaining 4 oz. of fluff to the mixer and set to low speed.

Add the cream all at once and continue mixing for another minute. The fluff and cream will have a broken appearance.

Increase the speed to medium and continue whipping until they gradually become homogeneous, then increase the speed to medium high and beat the mixture until stiff.

Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and refrigerate until needed.

Release the cupcakes from the pan and place them upside-down on a parchment paper lined baking pan.

Use a paring knife to poke a small hole in the bottom of each cupcake.

Using the piping bag filled with the whipped cream mixture, insert the star tip about 1″ into the cupcake and pipe one good squeeze (about 3/4 oz.) of filling into each cupcake.

Take the bag of marshmallow fluff and hold it directly above a cupcake.

Pipe a generous amount of marshmallow onto the top of the cupcake so that it flows down the sides of the cupcake and encases it.

Repeat until all cupcakes are covered in marshmallow.

Tint the coconut by putting the coconut into the work bowl of a food processor.

Add a few drops of red food coloring and process the mixture for 30 seconds, check for color and add more food coloring if necessary, then process for another 30 seconds.

Coat each cupcake generously with coconut and let sit for 1 hour.

Use a paring knife or round cookie cutter to trim away any excess marshmallow from around the bottom of the sno ball.

Roll the newly exposed edge of the sno ball in the pink coconut.

Source: Serious Eats

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Night Into Day

Now that the Winter Olympics are over, we’re at the halfway point in the 12 Days of Oscar series.  Today’s film is the 2001 film Monster’s Ball.  Halle Berry won the award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Leticia, who falls for a widowed prison guard (Hank, played by Billy Bob Thornton) following the execution of her husband.  The film is so much deeper and more complicated than I can explain here without giving too much away.  Monster’s Ball was also nominated for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen but lost to Gosford Park.

Early in the film, Leticia works as a waitress in a diner that Hank frequents.  He orders chocolate ice cream, and it is served to him in a white bowl with a white plastic spoon.  This is just one of the many encounters he will have with Leticia, and one of the many ways color is used in the film.

This chocolate ice cream recipe is my new favorite thing.  It blows away any other ice cream I’ve ever had or ever made.  Use a good cocoa powder, because that’s the star of this show.  Chop the chocolate fairly finely so that it melts a little more quickly and save yourself a little elbow grease.  Also, be sure to have enough ice on hand to make an ice bath for the mixture, to cool it before it goes in to churn.

chocolate ice cream

Chocolate Ice Cream


  • 1 C. whole milk
  • 4 tsp. corn starch
  • 1 C. heavy cream
  • 1 C. evaporated milk
  • 2/3 C. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1/3 C. unsweetened cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process
  • 3 oz.  bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract


Mix a few Tbsp. of the milk in a small bowl with the corn starch until smooth.

Heat the remaining milk, cream, evaporated milk, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4 quart saucepan.

When the mixture comes to a moderate boil, whisk in the cocoa powder, then let the mixture cook at a modest boil for 4 minutes.

After 4 minutes, whisk in the cornstarch mixture then continue to cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate and salt, stirring until completely melted and smooth.

Stir in the vanilla extract.

Transfer the ice cream mixture into a resealable plastic bag, then submerge the bag in a bowl full of ice.

Let it sit until completely cool, about 30 minutes, adding more ice during the cooling period if necessary.

Remove the bag from the bowl of ice and wipe off any excess water.

Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s directions.

Source: David Lebovitz, originally from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

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Bang the Drum

In Olympics news yesterday, U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin won gold in the ladies’ Alpine skiing slalom event, making her the youngest person ever to win a medal in a slalom event.  U.S. men’s speed skating team won silver in the 5000 meter short track relay competition.

Our second-to-last installment of the 2014 Winter Olympics feature brings us to the last Winter Games, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.  In Vancouver, freestyle skier Alexandre Bilodeau won Canada’s first gold medal on home soil.  The Canadian men’s hockey team also won gold.  U.S. snowboarder Shaun White debuted his move, the “Double McTwist 1260″ and won gold.

I remember two things about the Vancouver Winter Olympics very distinctly- the famous red maple leaf mittens, and Nanaimo bars were on food blogs everywhere.  While the exact origins of the Nanaimo bar seem to be unknown Nanaimo, British Columbia has claimed these bars as its own.  I made a peanut butter variation for this entry, but you can find recipes for bars with plain vanilla custard, or mint, or chocolate . . . .

nanaimo bars

Nanaimo Bars


for the base:

  • 3/4 C. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 C. graham cracker crumbs
  • 3/4 C. shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/3 C. cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, melted

for the filling:

  • 1 1/4 C. creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 C. unsalted butter
  • 3 C. powdered sugar
  • 1/3 C. milk

for the topping:

  • 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. butter


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, sugar, and eggs.

Use a wooden spoon to stir in the graham cracker crumbs, cocoa powder, and coconut until combined.

Pour the mixture into the baking pan and press evenly into the bottom of the pan.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until firm and no longer shiny.

Place the pan on a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before preparing the filling.

To make the filling, microwave the peanut butter and butter in a large bowl until completely melted and smooth.

Whisk in the powdered sugar 1 C. at a time, alternating with the milk and whisk until smooth.

Spread the filling evenly over the base and refrigerate for 1 hour until firm.

To make the topping melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler (or in a microwave on 50% power).

Spread the chocolate mixture over the peanut butter filling and leave at room temperature or refrigerate until set before cutting and serving.

Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Source: Brown-Eyed Baker

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Winter Flame

In Sochi yesterday, U.S. skier David Wise won the gold medal in men’s halfpipe, an event that is making its debut as an Olympic sport at these Winter Games.  Tina Maze of Slovenia won her second gold medal of the 2014 Olympics in the women’s giant slalom.  For the first time in seventy-eight years, Norway won silver and gold medals in the men’s Nordic combined event.

The 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics are the next in the Winter Olympics series.  This year, NHL players were allowed to play on the men’s ice hockey team due to a three-week suspension of the NHL season.  Women’s ice hockey was an Olympic event for the first time in Nagano, along with curling and snowboarding.

Oyaki are a popular street food in Nagano.  These dumplings start out with a simple dough that can be stuffed with just about any filling imaginable.  They are then fried, or steamed, or baked (or some combination of the three).  Red bean paste is one popular filling, as is a seasoned ground meat.  I also saw a pumpkin and a sweet potato variation that look fantastic.  I should have plenty of opportunity to try them all because we are hooked on these things.  I made these with a simple apple filling because Nagano is also famous for its apple crops and it was like wrapping the best apple pie you’ve ever had in a soft fried dough.  I can easily see why these things are so popular- as soon as you have one, you want another.

apple oyaki

Apple Oyaki


for the dough:

  • 200 g. all-purpose flour (1 1/2 C. to 1 3/4 C.)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 C. water
  • oil, for cooking

for the filling:

  • 1 medium apple, peeled and grated
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla


To make the dough, combine the flour, salt, and water in a mixing bowl.

Knead with your hands until a soft dough forms, adding more flour as necessary.  The dough will have a consistency similar to pizza dough when it is right.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest refrigerated or at room temperature for 1 hour.

To make the filling, combine all of the filling ingredients in a small saucepan.

Stir to combine.

Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the butter has melted, the sugar has dissolved, and the apple has softened.

Divide the dough into eight equal pieces.

Roll each piece of dough into a ball and then flatten the ball into a circle 3-4″ in diameter.

Divide the apple filling evenly among the 8 dough circles.

Stretch the dough to wrap it around the filling and pinch to seal up the dumpling.

Pour enough oil (canola is suggested) into a skillet to just cover the bottom, and heat over medium-high heat.

When the oil is hot, place the dumplings into the skillet, seam-side down.

Cook for 1-2 minutes until the bottom browns, then flip over and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes to brown the other side.

Pour 1/4 C. water into the skillet and place a lid over the top, allowing the water to steam the dumplings.

If the dough isn’t cooked through by the time the water has evaporated, add more water and continue to steam until cooked through.

Remove the dumplings from the skillet and serve warm.

Makes 8 dumplings.

Source: dough adapted from Macrobiotic Kitchen

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