Tag Archives: desserts

Roasted pears with vanilla

I made this for dessert a bit back and it was good…not chocolate, but good. It was, however, an insanely delicious breakfast. Plus, it’s easy to do in advance and serve for a group. Just serve it with some doctored up greek yogurt (honey & walnuts, splenda and almond extract, etc. ) or with oatmeal. Serious crowd pleaser. This adapted from an adaptation that also suggested it as an accompaniment to a cheese platter. I rarely make cheese platters (too dang pricey compared to other apps), but that does sound super good, especially for you perverts that like blue cheese.

Finally, I would just like to note that pears + butter + sugar * roasting = pear caramel sauce. The pears may be the movie stars of this dish, but the sauce is the starlet in the background, silently plotting a revolution.

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
1 1/2 pounds firm medium pears, peeled, halved though the stem and cored
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoon unsalted butter

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Place the sugar in a small bowl. With a thin, sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise in half and scrape out the seeds. Stir the seeds into the sugar.
  2. Carefully toss the pears with the lemon juice, then sugar mixture. Arrange the pears in a large baking dish, cut-side up. Nestle the vanilla pod among the fruit (I first slit my halves lengthwise into quarters). Pour the water into the dish. Dot each pear with some butter.
  3. Roast the pears 30 minutes brushing them occasionally with the pan juices. Flip the pears over and continue roasting, basting once or twice, until tender and caramelized, 20 to 25 minutes longer. My pears were big and took about 50 min total, but if the pears are small, test for doneness after 35 or 40 minutes of cooking- – a paring knife poked into the thickest part of one should meet with no resistance.
  4. Serve warm, spooned with the caramelized pear drippings from the pan. If your pear caramel separates a bit, just combine it in a small saucepan over low heat.

Taa-daa! Raspberry buttermilk cake

One of my all-time easiest, most delicious desserts. Adapted from Gourmet, via Smitten Kitchen. They say you can sub other berries for raspberries, but I haven’t tried.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick  unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1  teaspoon pure almond extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh raspberries

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.
  1. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together and set aside.
  2. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about two minutes, then beat in almond extract. Add egg and beat well. (NOTE: I only have a hand mixer and my stuff never ever gets light and fluffy until I add the egg. Don’t fret if it is just crumbly and weird until then)
  3. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.
  4. Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Distribute raspberries evenly over top, cup side up, and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp sugar.
  5. Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. (Note: Original recipe says 25 minutes, but I have never had it take that long. The first time you make this, start checking around 15 and note the time. The sugar on top is a neat natural timer. It’s usually done by the time the sugar turns golden). Cool in pan 15 minutes
  6. Eat it up!

Make your own buttermilk: No need to buy buttermilk especially for this or any recipe. Add one teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to one cup of milk and let it sit until it clabbers, about 10 minutes. Boom!

Roasted rhubarb

I really liked this recipe, but didn’t luh-uv it. I think I just liked it more in theory than in practice. The thing is, I’m sick of oranges, apples, grapes and bananas! So, I came home from the grocery with rhubarb, a mango, a pineapple, the first good batch of strawberries (yay!) and some raspberries (that’s for my raspberry buttermilk cake– recipe comes later this week…you’re welcome).   It’s great with yogurt for breakfast. Tart, a little sweet and so pretty.

2 lb. rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
½ cup sugar
½ cup crisp white wine (Sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, etc)
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

  1. Set a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Put the rhubarb in a Dutch oven or other deep oven-safe pot. Add the sugar, wine, and vanilla bean, and stir to mix.
  3. Bake uncovered for ~20 min, or until very tender, stirring gently midway

Turtle brownies

I just made 3 humongous pans of turtle brownies for my niece’s wedding and they were seriously yummy.  Let me be clear, I did NOT make homemade brownies. I only believe in homemade brownies if someone else is making them. Otherwise, I believe in a) Ina Garten’s brownie mix, b) Ghiradelli’s brownie mix, or c) Trader Joe’s truffle brownie mix. Let some other superstar baker spend their time making something that is only marginally more delicious than a mix, but far more time consuming. If you disagree, try to convince me with samples of your homemade goodies. I will try to remain open-minded.

On to the goodness, I adapted a recipe from the Joy of Baking that transformed my Ghiradelli mix into a salty, chewy, sweet, crunchy brownie delight.  Use the following topping on any brownie recipe you like, but try to make the brownie on the thinner side. Just use the largest pan option given (I used 13×9).

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

5 tablespoons water

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups pecan halves, well toasted and salted**

  1. Prep ingredients while brownies bake. You should start the process the minute you pull the brownies out of the oven.
  2. In a three quart heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt. Over medium heat, stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a boil.
  3. Once it boils, stop stirring and cook the mixture until it turns a golden caramel color, about 10 – 12 minutes. (Swirl the pan as needed so the caramel cooks evenly.)
  4. Remove from heat and carefully add the cream and vanilla (the mixture will sputter and steam so be careful). Stir in the pecans and immediately pour over the still warm brownie layer, spreading evenly.
  5. Let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate brownies for 2-3 hours until the brownies are firm.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Toss 2 C pecan halves with 1/4 C veggie oil or melted butter. Roast on low heat, stirring every 30 minutes for about 90 minutes, or until dark and toasty. Immediately sprinkle with salt (~1-2 T).

Light desserts

Ok, so it’s Sunday afternoon and I’m planning the menu for this week. Things I try to avoid- 1) going to the grocery on Sunday, 2) going to the grocery more than 1x a week and 3) wasting food. So, I think it’s worth it to sit down and really plan out the week.  I work from home, so breakfast and lunch are usually fast, healthy and yummy. My hubby and I eat at home most nights, so add a few dinners to the list. Anywho….here’s how it’s looking so far:

Breakfasts: Berry protein shakes, grapenuts with berries, english muffins with natural PB and marmalade, cheerios with bananas (5 days)

Lunches: Pita pockets with hummus, cucumbers and turkey (x2), leftovers (x2)

Dinners: Pescado Veracruzano and no-knead bread (Mon), Lamb patties with Greek salad, pita and yogurt sauce (Wed) and Thai green curry with rice (Thurs)

Snacks: Pineapple and cottage cheese, hummus and carrots, apples

So, that brings me to desserts. I cannot freaking help it. I believe it is my God-given right to end every dinner with something sweet. That doesn’t mean I want something decadent every night, you know? Just a little sweetness. Which brings me to the thing that is bugging me. I looked in a few cookbooks and websites for light desserts and every single one provided light versions of cookies, cakes, etc. If I am going to the trouble of making chocolate chip cookies or pound cake, I want the real deal! Not some crappy light version. Why not provide people with examples of real, naturally light deserts. Examples, please….

  • Sprinkle pineapple rings with a bit of brown sugar and saute on med-high heat in a bit of butter. Deglaze with rum and serve with frozen yogurt
  • Mix Greek yogurt with almond extract and splenda. Toast almond slices and add honey to make clumps (sort of an impromptu brittle). Serve yogurt with berries on top and brittle sprinkled over
  • Warm apple sauce with a dollop of creme fraiche

You get the point, right? Reasonable low in fat and calories, but not some bastardized version of the original.  Alice Waters does a good job of this without even trying. You wouldn’t find her within a mile of Splenda, but she has some great, naturally lower fat/cal desserts. I heart AW