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Dessert Recipes, page 1

 


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Apple Dumplings 

To me, Apple Dumplings just mean Fall. Apple trees have given their fruit and there are all sorts of varieties to be had outside the ones invariably found in the grocery. My sister-in-law has two old apple trees that produce magnificently and of which apples I am a recipient. Unfortunately we don't know the names of the apple varieties. I can tell you they are excellent for baking and they make the absolute best apple dumplings EVER.

Makes 6 Apple Dumplings

SYRUP:
1½ cups water
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 - 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly grated is best)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

DUMPLINGS:
pie dough recipe for double crust pie
6 medium sized baking apples, pared, cored
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut in 6 pieces


For the syrup: In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and bring to a boil, ensuring the sugar is dissolved completely. Add the butter and set aside.

For the dumplings: Roll out the pie pastry as for pie, but trying to keep it in a relatively square or rectangle shape. Cut the pastry into 7 to 8-inch squares. Set one apple on each square. In a small bowl, combine the ¼ cup granulated sugar, teaspoon of cinnamon and ½ teaspoon nutmeg, tossing well to evenly distribute the spices. Using a small spoon, place about 2 to 3 teaspoons of the cinnamon/sugar/nutmeg mixture into each core of the apples. Place one of the little pats of butter on top of the sugar mixture in each core. Have a small bowl of water handy. Bring one corner of the pastry to the top of the apple (I usually start with a corner that may not be quite perfect). Dampen the top, then bring up the next corner of the dough and press into place. Repeat with the last two corners of the dough. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 on Convect).

Do this for the remaining 5 apples. If desired, cut little leaves out of the dough scraps and dampen the backs to adhere and decorate the tops of each dumpling. Set the dumplings into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Pour the syrup over all. Bake the dumplings for approximately 45 minutes, or until the apples are tender and the pastry is golden. Serve the dumplings warm or cold, plain, with milk or cream, or with vanilla ice cream.



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Apple Dumpling

Apple Dumplings inside view

Making Apple Dumplings

Blondies 

Having seen these made by Carla Hall, I was determined to create my own. I used My Best Brownies recipe and played on that to create this one - with spectacular results. I added macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips. Any nuts or chips, or none at all would still be a most delicious dessert. The Pecan Praline Sauce is another layer of decadence that can be used if desired, or not.

Makes one 13 x 9-inch pan

2/3 cup unsalted butter
2 cups light brown sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup nuts, optional
1 cup white chocolate chips, optional

Blondies with Praline Sauce
Blondies with Praline Sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or Convect at 325). In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Remove from heat and add in the brown sugar. Beat with a spatula or whisk until smooth and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix in.

Separately, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and then add all at once to the pan. Stir in until almost completely absorbed. Add the nuts and chips if using, and fold them in well. Pour the batter into a greased 13 x 9-inch pan and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a tester inserted int he center comes out with moist crumbs. Do not over bake, or the blondies will be dry, rather than chewy.

Serve with Pecan Praline Sauce, if desired.


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Peach Crisp 

A variation on the Best Apple Crisp, ever, this peach version is equally delightful. Some slight variations include the use of only nutmeg for the spice and the addition of cornstarch to the peaches which otherwise come out too watery.

Makes one 9 x 13-inch pan

7 - 8 cups fresh or frozen peaches, peeled, in wedges
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1½ tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

In a large bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients and toss well to combine; set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 on Convection).


Peach Crisp with Coconut Almond Ice Cream
Peach Crisp, with Coconut Almond Ice Cream
In another bowl, whisk together the next 5 ingredients. Using a fork, stir in the eggs, mixing and cutting in to form crumbs. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and then pour in the peaches. Top the peaches with the crumb mixture, spreading evenly. Evenly drizzle the melted butter over top of the crumbs, then bake the crisp for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and the peaches are bubbling.

NOTES: The peaches may bubble over in the oven. To prevent a mess, I set a sheet of foil onto a baking sheet just slightly larger than the 9 x 13-inch pan. I set the Peach crisp onto the foil lined pan and baked. It did boil over, and the foil caught it all. Voila! No cleanup.


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Coconut Almond Ice Cream 

I had a difficult time deciding how to title this recipe. "Ice Cream" implies using a dairy product such as cream or milk. Though this recipes contains no dairy, the coconut milk is rich in thick "creamy" fats, giving a nice mouth feel. I couldn't call it ice milk; no milk! So I used the title of Ice Cream, though it is a slight misnomer. I hope you enjoy; the flavors are exquisite.

Makes 1 quart

1 cup raw almonds
1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk (unsweetened)
6 - 7 ounces coconut water, or just plain water
½ cup honey
½ teaspoon almond extract

The night before, place the almonds in a 2-cup measure and cover with plain water, up to the 2-cup mark. Leave on the counter overnight to soak.


Coconut Almond Ice Cream
Coconut Almond Ice Cream
When ready to use, drain the almonds, discarding the soaking water, and place the almonds into a blender container. Add in the can of coconut milk and about 6 ounces of the coconut water, or plain water. Blend at high speed until the almonds are finely ground. Strain this mixture through several layers of cheesecloth or through a nut milk bag, over a bowl or container to catch all the coconut and almond "milk". Squeezing well, extract all the liquid possible. This should give you just under 3 cups of liquid. Rinse out the blender container and return to it the coconut almond milk. Add in the honey and almond extract and blend briefly, to combine. There should be just over 3 cups of liquid, total. Add in the other ounce of coconut water or plain water, if desired.

Chill this mixture for at least 2 hours before placing into an ice cream maker and processing according to manufacturer's directions.

This recipe could be made using cream or milk in place of  the coconut milk and water.

NOTES ON COCONUT MILK AND COCONUT WATER: Coconut water is the liquid from a young coconut. It is very refreshing and has multitudes of health benefits. Look for cans or cartons that contain only the coconut water, with no added ingredients; most particularly no added sugar. Coconut milk is an unsweetened product made from blending or processing together the mature coconut meat along with water, which extracts all the goodness from the mature coconut, notably all the beneficial fats. Most cans of coconut milk will have "separated" into thick cream on top and a thinner watery liquid below. sometimes it is necessary to break through the cream to get to the liquid. In this manner, when making other recipes it is possible to use the "cream" on top to cook or saute ingredients, before adding the liquid to the recipe. For the purposes of this recipe, both the liquid and the fat are used together.

NOTES: I have an old DAK "Gelatissimo" machine. Should anyone out there still have one of these, prepare by first making sure the machine has been on a flat, level surface for at least 24 hours. Plug it in and if using an insert bowl, first add in vodka with the little measure provided, to the machine bowl. Place the insert bowl into the well, so the vodka makes contact with both bowls. Place in the beater paddle and cover. Turn on the red chiller button for at least 5 minutes before using. Once chilled, pour in the liquid, set the green switch on to begin beating and set the timer for 30 minutes.

My ice cream came out still a little soft after 30 minutes, so I reset the green switch and allowed to to continue beating for another 2 or 3 minutes, until it held shape. Store leftovers in the freezer, though it will become very hard.


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Dessert Crepes 

Crepes are extremely useful. They can be filled with savory or sweet foods. Roll them with a little jam for breakfast. Sweeten some ricotta or mascarpone cheese and add some jam for a more decadent filling. Use pie filling or a lemon or orange curd. Fill with just simple berries and serve with whipped cream on the side. Whether rolled or folded, they may be topped with whipped cream, sour cream, honey, chocolate syrup or anything desired. This photo shows them filled with sweet chestnut paste and topped with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and a drizzle of chocolate syrup.

Makes about 8 crepes, 2 per serving

½ cup all-purpose flour
1 - 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, optional
½ teaspoon vanilla or other flavoring, optional
2 eggs
½ cup milk
pinch of salt
butter, for cooking

Combine first 4 ingredients in a blender and whirl briefly to combine. The crepe batter can also easily be whisked together by hand. Allow the batter to rest at least 30 minutes before making the crepes.


Crepes with Sweetened Chestnut Paste
Crepes, filled with sweetened chestnut paste and sprinkled with powdered sugar and drizzled with chocolate syrup

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium or medium high heat. Add in a small knob of unsalted butter to the pan and as soon as it melts, add in ¼ cup of the batter. Lift and swirl the pan around and around so the thin batter completely covers the surface. Set back on heat and let cook for about 1 minute. You will see the edges begin to lift away from the pan. With a spatula, lift the edge to check that the crepe is very lightly browned. Flip the crepe over and allow to cook for a few seconds longer. Remove to a plate. Repeat with the rest of the batter. This should make about 8 crepes.

NOTES: Crepes may be filled with a small amount of any filling desired, then either rolled or folded into quarters. Another way to serve them is by stacking then one atop the other with fillings between the layers. Serve this method by slicing into wedges, as for a cake.


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Gourmet Saffron Rice Pudding with Cardamom 

This inspiration came with the idea of using coconut milk for the liquid in the recipe, along with the fact I had some saffron rice left in the fridge. Cardamom was the next likely addition, and I always make my rice pudding with tapioca. The flavors are gently and richly sweet with the cardamom and the creaminess from the coconut milk. Topped with crushed pistachios and pomegranate arils, it is as pretty as it is good.

Serves about 6 or more

1 (14 - 18 ounce) can coconut milk
3 tablespoons minute tapioca
½ cup sugar
½ to ¾ teaspoon cardamom, ground
2½ cups cooked saffron rice OR
    2½ cups cooked leftover white rice, plus a pinch of saffron, crumbled


Gourmet Saffron Rice Pudding with Cardamom
Gourmet Saffron Rice Pudding with Cardamom

In a large measuring cup, combine the coconut milk, then add water to make a total of 3 cups of liquid. Stir to combine, then pour into a large saucepan. Add in the tapioca and sugar and stir to combine. Allow to stand for 3 to 5 minutes.

Add in the cardamom and rice, stir well, and heat to boiling, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and allow to cool, stirring occasionally to avoid a skin forming over top.

This is beautiful and delicious served as shown, with pomegranate arils and chopped pistachios.

NOTES: When I made this, I had leftover saffron rice in the fridge. Simply made with white basmati rice, salt and a large pinch of saffron, it makes a pretty presentation in this pudding. If you have no leftover saffron rice, any other leftover (i.e. chilled) rice will do fine. At the time of cooking, if you like saffron, add in a crumbled pinch and cook as above.

 

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Ginger Bars 

Long ago, I found a recipe called "Ginger Cakes".  My brother was at my house visiting when I decided to make them. We looked at the recipe and put our heads together, deciding it could do with a lot more things than the recipe called for. I made it with those changes, and discovered first - these are not "cakes", but bars. Secondly, it is essentially a streusel recipe, so pretty much anything can be added or removed except the basic streusel ingredients of flour, sugar & butter!


Makes one 8 x 8-inch pan

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup ground nuts
½ cup coconut
1 cup unsalted butter

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Using hands, combine with the butter, mixing well, as for streusel, till well blended and crumbly. Press dough evenly into a 9-inch square pan. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes or till lightly golden. Cut cake in narrow rectangles while still warm.



  Ginger Bars
Ginger Bars



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Best Apple Crisp, Ever 


An alternate style of topping goes on this apple crisp. I love this better than apple pie. Most "crisps" call for oatmeal in their topping. While I love oatmeal, I think this topping is better!

Makes one 9 x 13 pan

8 cups apples, thinly sliced
1 cup brown sugar, packed 
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg, or to taste
4 tablespoons lemon or lime juice

Topping:
2 cup all-purpose flour
1½ cup sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
10 tablespoons butter, melted
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg, or to taste

Best Apple Crisp
Best Apple Crisp

Mix first 5 ingredients and arrange in an ungreased, 9 x 13-inch shallow baking dish. Mix first 4 topping ingredients in a separate bowl.  Add eggs and toss with a fork until crumbly, like for streusel. Sprinkle the topping onto apple mixture in dish. Drizzle with the melted butter and sprinkle with remaining cinnamon and nutmeg.  Bake in 350 degree oven about 45 minutes, or until browned and bubbling and apples are cooked through.

NOTES: This recipe can easily be cut in half.

 
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Simple Shortbread 

As the name implies, it is a really simple recipe! Simple, however, does not mean "mediocre!" This shortbread is so deliciously yummy, it's hard to stop eating. It takes minutes to prepare, and 40 minutes in the oven, for a delicate, crumbly and melt-in-your-mouth treat.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
pinch salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift flour, cornstarch and salt into a medium sized bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and confectioner's sugar with an electric mixer or a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. With a wooden spoon gradually work in dry ingredients until thoroughly mixed (a pastry cutter works great, here); it willl be all crumbly textured. Press dough gently into an ungreased, shallow 11 x 7" or 9" square pan. Bake about 40 minutes or until golden. Cut into about 12 squares or bars. Enjoy!

Simple Shortbread
Simple Shortbread

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