Peach-Pie Crumble Bars

It is going to be really difficult not to make these cookie-like pie bars with my next batch of CSA share peaches. They were really good. The thick bottom crust has a nice crumb but is also a little bit brown and crisp on the bottom. A great combination of textures. The center is a fruity, jammy, and chunky pie filling… Mmmmm…. I also love that the peaches don’t have to be peeled! The only downfall is how long it takes to cool before being sliced. :)

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I used a blend of my CSA share yellow peaches and white donut peaches. I also reduced the baking time for a convection oven and covered the pan halfway through baking to prevent over-browning. (I may reduce the temperature to 350 degrees next time and increase the baking time? This would allow the top to brown more evenly without over-crisping the bottom of the crust.) The original recipe suggests replacing the peaches with other seasonal fruit such as nectarines or apricots, and, in the fall, apples. I’m looking forward to trying it with apples. Great!

I’m bringing this summer treat to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #83 hosted by Elaine @FoodBod and Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook. Enjoy! :)

For the Crust:

  • 1 stick plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

For the Filling:

  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds peaches, pitted and cut into a 1/2-inch dice (3 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter an 8-by-8-by-2-inch cake pan. Line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides; butter parchment. (I used cooking oil spray.) (Consider baking at 350 degrees and increasing the baking time.)
  2. Make the Crust: Beat butter with sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down bowl. Add flour and salt; beat until dough forms clumps but does not completely hold together. Press 2 1/2 cups flour mixture into bottom and 1 inch up sides of prepared pan. (I used the bottom of a dry measuring cup.)
  3. Make the Filling: Stir together peaches, sugar, flour, lemon juice, and salt in a bowl.
  4. Pour the filling into the crust.
  5. Crumble remaining flour mixture evenly over top, squeezing to create clumps. Bake until bubbling in center and crust is golden, about 1 hour on convection or up to 1 hour, 10 minutes in a standard oven. (If browning too quickly, tent top with foil- I covered mine after 35 minutes in the oven.)
  6. Let cool 20 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour. Cut into 2-inch squares.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Banana Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Forget banana bread, this ice cream is the perfect use for super ripe bananas on the counter! ;)

I know that the trend is to make healthy banana ice cream, but this one is the real deal. It has puréed bananas in the custard base instead of milk. I added vanilla extract and chocolate chips to make it even more special. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. SO so SO creamy!!

Yield: About 1 1/2 pints

For the Fruit:

  • 4 very ripe medium bananas
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • ½ cup buttermilk

For the Base:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • ⅛ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

To Prepare the Fruit:

  1. In a blender, purée bananas, sugar, lemon juice and salt until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)

To Make the Base:

  1. In a small pot, simmer heavy cream, sugar and salt until sugar completely dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly whisk about a third of the hot cream into the yolks, then whisk the yolk mixture back into the pot with the cream.
  3. Return pot to medium-low heat and gently cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).
  4. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.
  5. Stir buttermilk and the fruit purée into base. Add the vanilla extract. Cool mixture to room temperature. (I place the bowl into an ice bath.)
  6. Cover and chill at least 4 hours or overnight. (I place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the base before placing in it into the refrigerator.)
  7. Churn the base in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. At the end of processing, add the chocolate chips; continue processing until evenly incorporated.
  8. Serve directly from the machine for soft serve, or store in freezer until needed. If storing in the freezer, directly cover the surface of the ice cream with plastic wrap before covering with the lid in order to prevent icing.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Gooseberry & Blueberry Galette

Gooseberries!?!? This galette was my first experience with gooseberries. When I received a pint of these colorful and tart berries in my CSA share, I really searched for the perfect use for them. Happy I found this one!

This dessert had an amazing crust that worked really well with the sweet and tart filling. Jammy and delicious filling oozed all over my pan as well- a little messy but SO good! This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Lindsey Shere. I added my CSA blueberries to the gooseberries- it was a great fruit share week. :) We ate it warm with vanilla ice cream on the side. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Pastry:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 -inch dice
  • About 3 tablespoons ice water

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For the Filling:

  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 pint gooseberries (about 2 cups), stems and tails removed
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving

To Make the Pastry:

  1. On a large sheet of parchment paper lightly dusted with flour, roll out the dough into a round about 14 inches in diameter; it doesn’t have to be perfect around the edges—its roughness is part of its charm. Lay it on a large baking sheet or pizza pan and refrigerate.
  2. Pat the dough into a disk, wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  3. Stir in the ice water with a fork. The dough should hold together when pressed; if it doesn’t, add a few more drops of ice water.
  4. Using a pastry blender, 2 knives or your fingers, cut in half of the butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with particles the size of peas. Then cut in the remaining butter until it forms chunks the size of peas.
  5. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and sugar.

To Finish the Galette:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° (convection).
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon.
  3. Mix 1 tablespoon of the cinnamon-sugar with the flour and sprinkle this mixture over a 9-inch area of the pastry.
  4. Spread all of the berries on top. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the cinnamon-sugar and sprinkle the remainder over the berries.
  5. Fold the edges of the pastry up over the berries to form a 9-inch free-form tart, making pleats and pressing them together lightly.
  6. Brush the pastry with water and sprinkle with the reserved cinnamon-sugar.
  7. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet (mine oozed delicious juices everywhere!) in the center of the oven for 35 minutes (convection) to 50 minutes (standard), or until the berries are bubbling and lightly browned and the pastry has caramelized in spots and is well browned on the bottom.
  8. Cut the tart into wedges with a sharp knife and serve with vanilla ice cream.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Selma’s Plum & Cinnamon Cake

When I first met Selma through Fiesta Friday, I let her know that the “About” page on her blog was truly one of the best and the most interesting I’d ever read. I even had my husband read it! She was a wonderful writer and described her life and culinary journey so beautifully. Her blog was no different- such great recipes with stories to go with them.

I particularly loved this post on Selma’s Table. (I’ve had it bookmarked to make ever since I read it the first time!) Not only did the cake look and sound wonderful, Selma told a great story about it that I could really relate to… She describes how her son Jake was always cooperative but frustrated waiting for his meals to be photographed. (My entire family may have the same complaint!) After making this delicious cake, Selma set it aside to rest overnight only to find a large slice messily cut out of it in the morning! I suppose her son’s patience had run out. ;) Maybe this cake was just that irresistible.

I am bringing this cake as a tribute to Selma at this special Fiesta Friday in her honor. I was shocked and saddened by her passing. She touched and influenced so many and will be truly missed. This recipe was adapted from Marian Burros’ Famous Purple Plum Torte and Deb Perleman’s Smitten Kitchen Purple Plum Torte, via Selma’s Table. According to Selma, this recipe was printed every autumn in the New York Times from 1983 until 1995! You know it’s good. Thank you, Selma. <3

Yield: Serves 8

  • 140 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 150 g granulated sugar
  • 115 g (8 T/ one stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
  • 2 large ripe, tart plums (I used red)
  • 4 small ripe, tart plums (I used black) (Selma used 8 medium plums)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 T turbinado sugar
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees on convection. Prepare a 9-inch springfrom pan by lining it with parchment paper and then buttering the base and sides. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  2. Halve the plums and twist to remove the pits, then cut each half into quarters; set aside. (Selma quartered the plums, and the original recipe halves them.)
  3. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl; whisk to incorporate the 3 ingredients throughly.
  4. Place the butter and sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl or stand mixer and cream until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated – scrape down the sides after each addition. It may look curdled but if you add a spoonful of the flour mixture all will be well again.
  6. Add the flour mixture and the vanilla paste/extract and beat only just until incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, scrape under to make sure that there is no raw flour and mix in if there is.
  7. Scrape into the prepared tin and smooth it out to cover the base. It will seem very scant but don’t worry – it will be enough!
  8. Arrange the plums from the outside into the middle, keeping it quite tight. (I placed mine skin side down- like Selma- but the original recipe places them skin side up.)
  9. Scatter the cinnamon and turbinado sugar over the top.
  10. Bake for 40-50 minutes. Insert a toothpick into the cakey part – if no batter is left clinging to it then it’s done. If there is batter clinging to it then pop it back in for 5 mins increments and keep checking.
    Try and make this the night before to let it mellow, covered and at room temperature, when it will be at it’s best.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Old-Fashioned Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

I had to make this wonderful dessert when I received rhubarb in my CSA share… even if I did have to go buy strawberries. ;) The two together always make a delicious and tangy filling.

The topping on this crisp is out of this world- very generous, delightfully clumpy, and perfectly sweet. My non-dessert-appreciating friend had a SECOND helping! Yay! This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff-favorite” recipe, contributed by Rollie Wesen.

Yield: Serves 8

For the Filling:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds rhubarb stalks, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 pound strawberries, preferably organic, hulled and quartered
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Topping:

  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

To Serve:

  • vanilla ice cream, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° on convection.
  2. In a bowl, toss the rhubarb with 3/4 cup of the sugar and let stand for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. In another bowl, toss the strawberries with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rhubarb to the strawberries; discard any rhubarb juice. Add the cornstarch, lemon juice and vanilla to the fruit and stir well. Transfer the mixture to a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.
  5. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender or your fingers, mix the ingredients together until large crumbs form.
  6. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Reduce the oven temperature to 325° and continue baking for about 20 minutes longer (or up to 30 minutes longer in a standard oven), until the fruit filling is bubbling and the topping is nicely browned.
  8. Let the crisp rest for 10 to 20 minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Note: The topping can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before using.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Fourth of July S’mores Bars with Marshmallow Meringue

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I love the 4th of July. Love fireworks. Love celebrating with friends. Love all-American desserts and an excuse to make them too! :)

This morning we ate breakfast outside listening to Pandora’s Patriotic station courtesy of my son. The music inspired my kids to come in and play patriotic music- my son on the cello and my daughter on the piano. Great! The celebration begins…

But now we may have a new July 4th tradition in my house… this dessert! A graham cracker crust topped with a rich Valrhona chocolate layer and then fluffy (and pretty!) marshmallow meringue- a genius upgrade of all-American s’mores! This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff-favorite” recipe, contributed by Cheryl and Griffith Day.

I’m sharing this deliciousness at Fiesta Friday #75‘s J & J show this week which I am co-hosting with Julie of Hostess at Heart. Happy Independence Day!!

Yield: 30 bars (or up to 60 bites!)


For the Crust:

  • 3 cups graham cracker crumbs (12 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the Brownie Filling:

  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped (I used Valrhona 71% Cacao Dark Bittersweet Chocolate)
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature (I put in a bowl of warm water)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

For the Meringue:

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

To Make the Crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° (on convection, if possible).
  2. Line a 9-inch-square baking pan with foil, allowing 2 inches of overhang on two sides.
  3. In a medium bowl, using a fork, mix all of the ingredients until evenly moistened. Press the crumbs evenly into 
the bottom of the prepared pan. (I used the bottom of a dry measuring cup.)
  4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, just until lightly browned. Let cool completely. Leave the oven on.

To Make the Filling:

  1. In a heatproof medium bowl set over 
a saucepan of simmering water, melt the butter with the chocolate over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 5 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sugar, vanilla and salt. Whisk in the eggs until smooth, then stir in the flour until just incorporated. Spread the batter evenly over the cooled crust. Bake for about 22 minutes on convection or up to 25 minutes in a standard oven, until the edge is set but the center is still slightly jiggly. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.

To Make the Meringue:

  1. Preheat the broiler, if using (I used a kitchen torch.).
  2. In a heatproof medium bowl (I used my stand mixer bowl) set over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk the egg whites with the sugar until the whites are warm and the sugar is dissolved, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Transfer the egg whites to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk. Add the vanilla and cream of tartar and beat at medium speed until firm.
  4. Increase the speed to high and beat the meringue until stiff and glossy, 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Mound the meringue on top of the filling, swirling it decoratively. Broil the meringue 8 inches from the heat until lightly browned at the tips, about 1 minute. (or use a mini kitchen torch instead.)
  6. Cut into bars and serve.

Note: The bars can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

If you like this you may also like:

Raspberry-Ricotta Cake

This recipe encourages the use of frozen berries! It was very quick to put together, had a lovely presentation, and most importantly was delicious as well. :) We ate this cake for dessert but it would also be an amazing coffee cake. This recipe is from Bon Appétit.

Yield: Serves 8

  • nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ cups ricotta
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries or blackberries, divided
  1. Preheat oven to 350° (preferably on convection).
  2. Line a 9”-diameter cake pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick spray.
  3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended.
  5. Then fold in butter, followed by ¾ cup raspberries, taking care not to crush berries.
  6. Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining ¼ cup raspberries over top.
  7. Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes on convection or up to 60 minutes in a standard oven. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding.

Note: Cake can be made 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Strawberry Slab Pie

Despite being overbooked with so many end of the school year activities- orchestra concerts, dance recitals, field days, parties- we have to squeeze in strawberry picking! The resulting year supply (a well-rationed year supply, mind you!) of strawberry-vanilla bean jam makes it SO worth it!!

After making my special jam, I love to try a new recipe to use our overflowing 8 quarts of mouthwatering strawberries. :) This year the first new one was this amazing slab pie. The juice from the fresh berries resulted in a very syrupy pie. oozing… It also had a lovely hint of orange flavor. The crust was over the top buttery as well. Mmmmm.

This recipe was adapted from a Food and Wine “staff favorite” recipe contributed by Joanne Chang. I adapted the recipe to bake in a convection oven. Fabulous!

Yield: 6-8 servings

For the Pastry:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and chilled
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cold whole milk
  • baking spray

For the Filling & Pie:

  • 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered (4 cups)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons sanding or turbinado sugar

To Make the Pastry:

  1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the flour, sugar and salt and mix at low speed.
  2. Add the butter and mix at medium speed until almost incorporated, with some pecan-size pieces remaining, about 1 minute.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the milk.
  4. With the machine on, drizzle the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix until the pastry just starts to come together, about 30 seconds; it will be crumbly.
  5. Scrape the pastry onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it together. Using the heel of your hand, smear the pastry against the work surface to work in the butter. Form the pastry into a 1-inch-thick disk, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350° (on convection, if possible).
  7. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving 
3 inches of overhang on all sides.
  8. Cut one-third of the pastry off of the disk. On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the smaller piece of pastry to an 8-inch square; transfer to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet and refrigerate.
  9. Roll out the larger piece of pastry to a 12-inch square, about 1/4 inch thick. Ease the pastry into the prepared pan, pressing it into the corners and up the sides; trim the excess pastry, leaving no overhang.
  10. Line the pastry with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake for about 25 minutes (convection) or up to 30 minutes (standard oven), until just pale golden and set. Remove the pie weights and parchment paper. Transfer the pan to a rack and let 
the crust cool completely.

To Make the Pie:

  1. In a medium bowl, toss the strawberries with the granulated sugar, cornstarch, orange zest and salt.
  2. Spread the filling in the pastry crust.
  3. Cover with the chilled piece of pastry crust, gently pressing it down around the edges.
  4. Brush the top with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the sanding sugar.
  5. Using a sharp paring knife, make six 2-inch-long slits in the top pastry.
  6. Bake for about 45 minutes (convection) or up to 50 minutes (standard oven), until the crust is deep golden.
  7. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool, at least 3 hours. Carefully lift the pie out of the pan and transfer to a platter before serving.

Note: The pie can be kept at room temperature overnight.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Mini Pear & Blueberry Upside-Down Cakes

My daughter has been asking for an upside-down cake! When I spotted this seasonal recipe, and had all of the ingredients on hand, I made it to surprise her. :) A springtime spice cake was such a nice change of pace. The spices worked nicely with the blueberries and pears too. The mini size was just the icing on the cake. ;)

This recipe was adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The New Classics. I used my pretty Daisy cupcake pan- so pretty!

I’m bringing this tasty dessert to share with my friends at Fiesta Friday #72– hosted by Quinn @ Dad Whats for Dinner and Naina @ Spice in the City. Enjoy!!

Yield: 6 small cakes

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for tin
  • 6 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 12 teaspoons packed light-brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup fresh blueberries, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 ripe Bartlett pear, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into thin wedges
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (I used freshly ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large whole egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees on convection.
  2. Generously butter the cups and top of a muffin tin with six 8-ounce cups. (My 8-ounce cup muffin pan is a Daisy Pan! I used cooking spray instead of butter to coat the details more easily.)
  3. Place 1 teaspoon butter in each muffin cup. Top each with 1 tablespoon corn syrup; sprinkle with 2 teaspoons light-brown sugar.
  4. Arrange 7 to 9 blueberries in each cup.
  5. Cut pear slices to fit the shape of muffin cups; place 4 or 5 pieces on top of the berries, spreading slices to cover berries.
  6. Arrange remaining berries over the pears, and set tin aside. (I didn’t have leftover berries!)
  7. Into a small bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger; set aside.
  8. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat granulated sugar and remaining 5 tablespoons butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add egg and egg yolk; beat until smooth.
  9. Combine the vanilla with the buttermilk.
  10. With mixer on low-speed, add flour mixture to butter mixture in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, and beginning and ending with flour.
  11. Pour 1/3 cup batter over fruit in each muffin cup. Gently tap bottom of tin against counter several times to evenly distribute the batter.
  12. Bake cakes until golden around the edges and a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 17 minutes on convection, or up to 25 minutes in a standard oven. Remove from oven; let cool in tin.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Mark Bittman’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

I feel somewhat compelled to try different chocolate chip cookie recipes- especially when they claim to be “The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER”…. (and I don’t think I’m alone!)

A couple of weekends ago, I had to make a dessert for my kids and their friends, so naturally I thought of chocolate chip cookies. I had seen this recipe adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything on Sarah n Spice.com. She said that they were “The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER”- even beating out a recipe from Alton Brown. (WHAT!?!?) I had to try this one.

I liked that the recipe incorporated both mini and standard semisweet chocolate chips. I adapted the recipe only to chill the dough prior to baking. We ate them as is as well as in chipwich form with French vanilla ice cream. SO good!! I have come to the conclusion that I just appreciate a really good chocolate chip cookie. It’s too hard to judge “The Best!”

  • ½ pound unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup semisweet mini chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 375 on convection.
  2. Start off by creaming together sugar and butter in a stand mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add in eggs one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add the dry to the wet ingredients and mix until the cookie dough comes together.
  5. With a spoon, stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour or up to overnight.
  7. Scoop tablespoon-size mounds on a baking sheet. (I used an ice cream scoop.)
  8. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool on the pan for 2 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Other Chocolate Chip Cookie Favorites:

Vanilla Rose Cake

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When my daughter saw photos of a rose cake on The Quiet Baker– she had to have it! The rose cake frosting pattern, originally from I am Baker, I believe, is actually quite simple and seems to be popping up all over the place. I think that the pink sugar pearls were a nice addition. What a pretty cake!

My daughter requested a yellow cake with cream cheese frosting; I aim to please. ;)  I used a yellow cake recipe adapted from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, via epicurious.com. The vanilla cream cheese frosting recipe is from Martha Stewart Living. This cake needs a LOT of frosting… I initially made 1 1/2 times the amount for a standard cake, but had to make even more! The recipe below may yield extra frosting (not such a bad thing)- but better safe than sorry. :)

The frosting needs to be warm enough to pipe, but not so warm that the roses slide down the sides of the cake. I had to repeatedly chill my frosting to prevent this from happening. I guess that is a drawback of warm weather… (Trust me, after this past winter, I’m not complaining!) I used a 1M pastry tip. Lovely. <3

Yield: Serves 12

For the Cake:

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup milk (I used whole milk)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (must be softened)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (on convection).
  2. Prepare 2 standard cake pans by lining with parchment paper and grease with cooking oil spray.
  3. In a medium bowl lightly combine the yolks, 1/4 cup milk, and vanilla.
  4. In a large mixing bowl combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend.
  5. Add the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides.
  6. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.
  7. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be about 1/2 full.
  8. Bake 25 to 27 minutes on convection or up to 35 minutes in a standard oven, or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
  9. Let the cakes cool in the pan on racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up and cool completely before wrapping airtight.

For the Frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 10 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • sugar pearls, optional
  1. Beat together butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 1 minute.
  2. Reduce speed to medium. Add confectioner’s sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Add salt, milk, and vanilla and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Note: If not using immediately, cover surface of frosting with plastic wrap. Frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week. Before using, bring to room temperature, then beat on low speed until smooth.

To Frost the Cake:

  1. Place 1 cake layer on a cake plate and spread 1 cup frosting on top. Place remaining cake layer on top.
  2. Crumb coat the cake. Chill for about 10 minutes.
  3. Using a pastry bag fitted with the 1M tip, pipe rows of rosettes, starting from the bottom edge and work upwards towards the center of the top. (Piping the side is a little more challenging than piping the top, so try to do a couple of practice rosettes on the side first, then scrape them off  being careful not to take off any crumbs.) (a 2D tip could also be used)
  4. Once the entire cake is covered in piped rosettes, pipe in little ‘stars’ to fill any areas between the roses.
  5. Add on edible sugar pearls, if desired.

Note: If frosting becomes too soft, refrigerate to firm up. The cake can be covered with a cake dome and refrigerated overnight.

**Bring the cake to room temperature before serving.**

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Black & White Crème Brûlée

When my husband works at night, he is home with me during the day. It is the best! Not only are we able to do yard work and other things around the house (fun!?!) together, we occasionally also go out for a special lunch while the kids are at school. Recently, we had an amazing lunch and splurged on dessert as well- it was a black and white crème brûlée- SO delicious. Such a nice surprise to have the taste of chocolate underneath the classic custard. It had to be recreated at home! :)

I started collecting recipes while living in Charleston, South Carolina- many years ago. Southern Living was my absolute favorite recipe resource. I had saved this recipe for many many many years and was so happy to have found it! (My crazy recipe collection payed off!) It was similar to the delicious dessert we had enjoyed. I adapted the recipe to decrease the portion size, adjust the cooking time, to incorporate dark bittersweet chocolate, and to torch the brown sugar topping.

The chocolate layer is baked first. When I poured the custard topping over the chocolate layer, some of it rose to the top. I don’t think that the baking time needed to be adjusted- next time I would pour the custard layer even more slowly over the top? I’m not sure if it would make a difference, but it certainly didn’t affect the flavor. SO rich and delicious! This recipe was adapted from Southern Living. We enjoyed it on Easter this year; it is perfect for a dinner party or special occasion because it is made a day ahead.

Yield: 8 servings (using 4 to 5 oz ramekins)

  • 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 5 oz dark bittersweet chocolate (I used 71% cacao Valrhona chocolate), finely chopped
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
  1. Cook 1/2 cup whipping cream and chocolate in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Pour into a large bowl.
  2. Whisk together remaining 2 cups whipping cream, yolks, sugar, and vanilla until sugar dissolves and mixture is smooth. Whisk 1 cup egg mixture into chocolate mixture until smooth. Cover and chill remaining egg mixture.
  3. Pour chocolate mixture evenly into 8 (4 to 5-ounce) custard ramekins; place ramekins in a 13- x 9-inch pan and a 8- x 8-inch pan. (I placed a silicone square underneath to prevent the ramekins from shifting in the pan.) Add hot water to pan to a depth of 1/2 inch.
  4. Bake at 325° (I used convection) for 15 to 20 minutes or until almost set. (Center will be soft.)
  5. Slowly pour remaining egg mixture evenly over custards, and bake 20 to 25 more minutes or until set.
  6. Cool custards in water in pan on a wire rack. Remove from pan; cover and chill at least 8 hours.
  7. Sprinkle each custard with 1 tablespoon brown sugar.
  8. Using a handheld propane kitchen torch, brûlée the topping until caramelized. Let stand 5 minutes to allow sugar to harden before serving.

Note: Make the custard a day ahead and torch the topping at the last minute.

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