Tag Archives: Dessert

blueberry cream tarts

Blueberry Tarts

Even though it is in the mid 90s this week and I am dreading my 14 mile (PDR!) long run tomorrow, it feels like summer is slipping away. The annual Air and Water Show is this weekend and I can remember needing a long sleeve t-shirt to enjoy it on the lakefront in years past. This is also the weekend of the Healthy Living Summit which I am going to try to attend as much as possible after getting up at 6AM to run tomorrow. Even though I don’t write my blog as a “healthy living” style blog, I still enjoy keeping up with many of the bloggers in this community, especially to keep me motivated as I get into the hard last 8 weeks of my Chicago Marathon Training. Continue reading

I can’t take the credit…

…for these beautiful tarts.

Chocolate Pecan Tarts

Rich (Dave’s Dad) and I divided and conquered the dinner portion of the Thanksgiving meal, while Dave, his sister and his mom were in charge of the desserts. Deb (mom) and Betsy (sister) made these absolutely wonderful tarts. I simply just stole them for a picture. Can you believe that this above picture is straight out of the camera, with only a little cropping? It’s amazing what some really nice natural light can do. I love my old town high-rise apartment, but I can’t say that we get good light in it. Continue reading

on a whim

One of the best things about shopping at the market for “whatever looks good” and not for the exact items on a recipe is that it leads to improvisation.  My Mom and Aunt were in town for a long weekend and one night I decided to make a batch of Kristin‘s addictive corn chowder since I always have corn (and bacon) on hand this time of year.  But I also wanted to make something a little bit special for dessert.  Luckily I had a bunch of peaches and raspberries sitting on my counter and I immediately thought that I would turn them into some sort of cobbler or crisp.  After searching recipes online for a while and not finding one that didn’t require a trip to the store for at least 1 item, I remembered that I have a crumble recipe that I know is good and surely I can just tweak it a bit.  And that is just what I did. Continue reading

red and blue

Happy 4th of July! I hope that you are out at a BBQ or watching a parade and gearing up for a night full of fireworks. Growing up the 4th of July holiday was always a hot and steamy affair. It would start with a July 3rd night at the Pavilion for the free concert complete with picnics and real cannons for the 1812 Overture. The next morning was the parade where I would dress up my bike with patriotic streamers and ride with the Indian Spring Village Float. The afternoon would be filled with cold watermelon, swimming pools and BBQ. Ended with a fireworks display over the golf course and the lake. I am unfortunately “celebrating” with some Contracts and Real Property review (but maybe I will throw in some Con Law for good measure) on a somewhat rainy and cloudy 4th. Today wasn’t a total bust because the farmers were out bright and early this morning at Green City. Continue reading

many scoops

As I stated before, Summer is here in Chicago.  The markets are filled with glorious goodies.  The Pride Parade was held over the weekend up in Lakeview.  The Taste is in full swing in Grant Park leading up to the 4th of July and many, many firework shows from my West facing balcony.  However, supposedly the 4th of July holiday is also the tipping point between feeling comfortable with the schedule of steady subject area BarBri lectures and practice problems and the sheer terror of “the Bar is only X days away and I still have how many flash cards to memorize and laws from 26 legal areas to be able to regurgitate over a 2 day period?”  I will let you know if I feel this panic in about a week.  However, I do know that the combination of summertime and stress calls for one thing: Ice Cream. 

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four layers

…for 25 years.

I turned 25 on Monday which gave me the perfect excuse to spend an afternoon baking a wonderful layer cake rather than learning the many exceptions to the hearsay rule and the difference between the common law and the MPC for murder. It is a little hard to believe that I am 25 because some how I feel like I would be more established, more adult-like. But I guess that is what happens when 3 years gets sucked away to law school. My Mom claims she didn’t really feel like adult until I was born (she was 37) so I guess I really have some time. But making a (successful) cake from scratch, rather than from the oh so simple (and what the hell is in it) box, makes me feel a little older and wiser. Continue reading

rosy rhubarb

One of my favorite things about reading a shit-ton whole bunch of food blogs and having my own is that it makes me experiment with ingredients and try recipes that I would have never thought to make on my own.  Last year when rhubarb popped up in the market and amongst the blogs I had no idea what this fruit/vegetable thing was all about. But this year I am more experimental in my ways and I knew that I wanted to give rhubarb a try.

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Vanilla Bean Cake with Chocolate Ganache

My friend Susan had a party on Sunday night for the Oscars and requested that we all bring a dish that somehow related to one of the nominated movies or actors.  I figured that baking my first cake from scratch is rather domestic (like Kate in Revolutionary Road) so I sought out a recipe to try.  After looking at Smitten Kitchen and a few others, I settled on a recipe at the Kitchen Sink (I swear I have many other blogs that I enjoy I just seem to always be the most drawn to these recipes!) This recipe seemed perfect: I could finally use my 9 inch cake pans for a layer cake and give splitting a whole vanilla bean (and getting to make vanilla sugar with the leftovers) a try.

The cake recipe uses 9 egg whites. I almost bought a jug of just egg white at the store but that alone cost more than a dozen cage-free eggs so I decided to figure out a use for the leftover yolks (which are still in the fridge so they will probably get thrown out…ekk).

The batter came together quickly and the cakes were in the oven. I took them out at the specified time, let them sit in their pans and then flipped them out onto the drying racks. After flipping the first one back right side up, I decided to leave the second one upside down on the drying rack which was a mistake (or a blessing depending on how you look at it) because the center of the cake dripped into a puddle. Somehow one of the cakes wasn’t done! I tested it with a toothpick so I don’t know what happened. I put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes but the center was pretty well done for.

After the cakes had cooled, I decided to just slice off the destroyed top of the cake, and use the bottom (which was still fine) for a layer. So I had a 3 layer cake, instead of four.

The ganache was even simpler to make. I simply heated up a pint of heavy cream slowly and whisked in 12 ozs of finely chopped good quality bittersweet chocolate. Put the mixture into a bowl and let it chill in the fridge while the cakes are cooling. I brought it back up to room temp before icing the cake.

It wasn’t the prettiest cake since the layers were a little lopsided and I didn’t have a good tool to really spread the ganache on pretty but man it tasted good. Not too sweet, rich without being overpowering, very classy and adult…if I do say so myself.

Chocolate Ganache
Recipe Adapted from Gourmet

2 Cups Heavy Cream
12 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate; chopped reasonably fine

Bring cream to a simmer in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in chocolate until smooth. Transfer ganache to a bowl and chill, covered, stirring occasionally, until thickened but spreadable, about 1-2 hours.

Vanilla Cake Recipe
From The Kitchen Sink

1 cup buttermilk
1⁄2 cup whole milk
9 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 vanilla bean, scraped
4 1⁄2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
2 1⁄4 cups sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Butter and flour two 9- inch round cake pans, tapping out excess flour; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, milk, egg whites, and vanilla extract and beans; set aside. In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until combined, about 2 minutes.

Working in several batches, alternately add the flour mixture and milk mixture, ending with milk mixture. Beat after each addition until the mixture is just combined.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cakes are beginning to brown around the edges and a tester comes out clean.

Let cakes cool in their pans on a rack for about 5 minutes. Remove the cakes from their pans and allow to cool completely.

If the cakes are domed, slice off the domed portion to create a flat cake. Slice each cake horizontally into two even rounds. Set one of the four layers on a cake stand, slipping pieces of parchment paper between the layer and the stand. Using an offset spatula, slather the top of the cake layer with frosting. Top it with another layer and repeat with the next two layers. Finally, place the fourth (last) layer on top and heap on the remaining frosting. Smooth the frosting out over the top and down onto the sides of the cake.

Allow the cake to set for at least an hour before slicing and serving.

A childhood memory

One of the few things I can remember “baking” as a kid was a big 9 by 13 pan of brownies from a mix.  And the best kind was the box that had the little packet of syrup.  I love to cut off the top and sqquueeze every last little bit out into the bowl.  My Mom used to buy them in a 3 pack from Sam’s Club so there was always a box in the pantry if I had a craving.  I don’t have the craving for chocolate often, but when I do, nothing else will satisfy.  Even though on Thursday night I was already making a big batch of soup, I also decided to make a plate full of brownies. When I first started getting into scratch baking, this was my trusty recipe, and it is a winner but I felt like trying something new. I open up my Baking recipe book and Dorie has a whopping 14 different recipes to choose from. After reading through a few, I decided to stick with the “classic brownie” recipe.

I used a good bar of Valrhona to make them extra special and toasted up the chopped walnuts since they were currently in the freezer. This recipe made for some truly wonderful, intensely chocolate with just that little bit of melty in the middle batch of brownies. Definitely a step up from the box brownies of my youth, but they only made the memory that much sweeter.  They were perfect with a big glass of cold milk.

Classic Brownies

From Baking: My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (the better the bar, the better the brownie)
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (get some good stuff)
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (Dorie’s says optional but I used it)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon of salt (according to taste, I went with little under 1/2)
1/2 cup AP Flour
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat to 325. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil (I used spray) and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Put the butter in the bowl, top with the chopped chocolates and stir occasionally until the ingredients are just melted. Remove the bowl from the pan of water.

With a whisk, stir in the sugar. One by one, whisk in the eggs. Add the vanilla and give the ingredients a vigorous whisking before gently stirring in the espresso, salt and flour; stir only until incorporated. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the chopped walnuts. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 30 to 33 mins, or until the top is dull and thin knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the brownies to room temp. When the brownies are completely cool (or as long as you can possibly wait) turn out onto a rack, peel away the foil and invert onto a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares (2 by 2). Enjoy with a glass of milk.

This is Love.

I hope that y’all enjoyed your Valentine’s Weekend.  Wasn’t it nice having Valentine’s fall on a Saturday?  I thought it was perfect.  Dave and I went for an early grocery shopping run with Brian and Julia, then I came home and made these scones that I knew I had to try as soon as I saw the recipe on “Eggs on Sunday”. 

We then spent the day doing our laundry, helping a friend roll out pasta dough for his Valentine’s dinner and spending time with each other.   I also got to open the presents that Dave has been wanting to give me all week (they came in the mail and the boxes were just sitting in the living room).

It has been pretty fun telling people that Dave got me beans for Valentine’s. Yes beans. But he knows me too well because I have been eyeing Rancho Gordo from afar, and I finally get to see what all the fuss is about!

They are beautiful looking beans, especially the Ayocote Morado which are a deep purple. It will be lots of fun researching creative ways to use them! Any suggestions?

Dave also got me the SATC movie dvd which we promptly watched on Saturday night (he really loves me) and a yoga block after he watched me struggle to do extended side angle using Lucy’s scratching incline for balance. I couldn’t think of anything that Dave needed (or even anything he really wanted) so I decided to make him his favorite dessert. Key Lime Pie.

Key lime pie has never been one of my favorites. It isn’t that I don’t like the taste, I do, I just would never go out of my way to order it at a restaurant or have a slice if there is something chocolate or berry-filled around. After searching around the internet for a good recipe, I decided to pull out my The New Best Recipe book and low and behold, they had scientifically tested recipes for the “best” key lime pie.

I will admit that this was a pretty tasty dessert, and I have enjoyed 2 slices from the plate throughly. Dave also gave it his stamp of approval and he has eaten ALOT of key lime pie.

Key Lime Pie
From: The Best New Recipe Book p.909

Lime Filling
4 teaspoons grated zest and 1/2 cup strained juice from 3 or 4 limes (don’t bother measuring, I didn’t)
4 large egg yolks (save the whites for an omelet!)
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk

Graham Cracker Crust
9 graham crackers (5oz) broken into rough pieces
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and kept warm

Whipped Cream Topping
3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
1/4 cup (1 oz) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 lime, sliced paper thin and dipped in sugar (optional, but its pretty)

For the filling: Whisk the zest and yolks in a medium nonreactive bowl until tinted light green, 2 mins. Beat in the condensed milk, then the juice; set aside at room temp to thicken (about 30 mins).

For the crust: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, process the graham crackers until evenly fine, about 30 secs (should have 1 cup of crumbs). Add the sugar and pulse to combine. Continue to pulse while adding the warm melted butter in a steady stream; pulse until the mixture resembles wet sand. Transfer crumbs to a 9 inch glass pie plate and press on the bottom and the sides to form a crust. Bake the crust until it is fragrant and beginning to brown, 15 to 18 mins; transfer to a wire rank and cool completely.

Pour the lime filling into the crust; bake until the center is set yet wiggly when jiggled. [isn’t that a great description?], 15 to 17 mins. Return the pie to a wire rack; cool to room temp, then refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours.

For the topping: Whip the cream in a chilled bowl of an electric mixer to very soft peaks. Adding the confectioners’ sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, continue whipping to just-stiff peaks. Spread the whipped cream evenly with a rubber spatula. Garnish with sugared limes slices. Serve to the ones your love.

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