Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ginger Cranberry Sauce

My relatives have come to expect this quick, spicy sauce every year during the holidays. I try to make this 24 hours in advance of serving to let the ginger mingle. Leftover sauce is rare, but goes well with cream cheese on toast! This recipe makes 3 cups.


1 juice orange
1 pkg / 12 oz. fresh or frozen cranberries (I've always used fresh)
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/4 C sugar
1/2 C cranberry juice

Dash cayenne pepper
Splash of orange juice

Rinse cranberries.
Grate 2 teaspoons zest from the orange and the lemon.
Juice the lemon.
Remove orange peel and seeds, chop orange into 1/2 inch pieces.
Peel and grate ginger root:

In a nonreactive saucepan, combine orange chunks, cranberries, grated ginger, lemon juice, sugar, and cranberry juice. At this point, I like to add orange and lemon zest, a dash of cayenne, and a little orange juice (Alternately, the zest makes a good garnish just before serving):

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 3 to 5 minutes, stir occasionally until thickened and most of the berries have popped:

Transfer the sauce to a serving bowl to cool, stirring occasionally, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. I never liked cranberry sauce until I made this one.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Kirsch Spirited Away

I love booze-infused desserts and food. This year I added a new spirit to my (very small) pie repertoire- using the yummy cherry brandy that is Kirsch.

Trader Joe's has been selling bags of deliciously tart Montmorency dried cherries, and I've been waiting for the right recipe to throw them in to. I knew I wanted to make an apple pie for Thanksgiving, so I figured they'd work well within the basic recipe, So I poured about 2/3 cup of the dried little cherries into a bowl, covered them with Kirsch and let them soak up all that goodness overnight.

The next morning they had nearly tripled in size, having soaked up all that booziness. The little Kirsch that was left in the bowl was now dark red, reduced down to the purest cherry essence.

I started with the pie crust. I use frozen pie shells or store bought pie dough because of an admittedly irrational fear of pastry, bread, etc dough of any kind.... but by all means, make your own pie crust if you have a standard recipe you like, because it always, always tastes better. The frozen ones are fine too, but I know nothing tastes better than homemade.

But I digress! I baked the bottom shell at 400 degrees for 10 minutes/'til the edges turn slightly golden. Then took it out to cool down while I worked on the filling:

  • 2 pounds Granny Smith, Braeburn, or other tart apples (about 5-6 med. apples)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
Peel, halve, and core apples and cut into 1/4-inch slices. In a large bowl toss apples with granulated sugar, cherries (plus leftover Kirsch), lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of flour.

In another small bowl mix together, with fingertips: brown sugar, butter, and remaining 2 tablespoons flour. Spoon apple mixture into pie crust and top with brown sugar mixture. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Weave extra pie dough strips in a lattice pattern over pie. Brush top with milk or butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake pie in middle of oven for 1 hour , or until top is golden and the filling is bubbling. Great with fresh whipped cream or ice cream.

The other pie I made is a favorite standard- Maple Pumpkin Pie. It's so simple, easy and no-frills, and friends always love it. I tweaked this recipe a bit... I take out the brown sugar entirely and instead add about 4 more tablespoons of good maple syrup (for a whopping 10 tablespoons total), and I use fresh grated cinnamon and nutmeg in place of pre-packaged pumpkin pie spice mix. And then I gobble it all up.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lemon cupcake surprise

I wish I could add aroma to this posting, my house smells like a lemony dream. I wanted to share another baking success story courtesy of the Babycakes cookbook, meyer lemon and bing cherry cupcakes. I put a thinner layer of batter over the cherry filling on half the batch so the cherries would peek through and glaze the top of the cake. Who needs frosting? Not my mom, who's diabetic. No sugar in this moist, delicious cake. The sweetness comes from agave nectar (and the love). Email me if you're interested in the recipe.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I am currently obsessed with butternut squash and I want to put it in everything! So I'm gonna. I made this today and Adrian says it's smoother in texture than a pumpkin cheesecake.


1 1/2 to 2 cups of crushed ginger snaps
half a stick of melted butter
a graham cracker crust can be substituted just add a little powdered ginger

In a bowl combine the ginger snaps and butter press into a 9" spring form pan. Set aside. Today I didn't have a spring form pan so I sprayed a regular 9" round cake pan lined all sides with parchment paper, sprayed that and pressed the crumbs into the pan. It worked pretty well. The cheesecake came out as easy as pie, well, cheesecake.


2 butternut squash average in size
24 ounces room temperature cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs + 1 yolk
2 TBS flour
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Halve and scoop the seeds from the squash place skin side up and roast for about 30 minutes. Once ready scoop the squash out of it's skin and into a bowl. Set aside to cool. @ 15 minutes. In another bowl beat the remaining ingredients together. I usually do this in the order they are listed. Then add about 3/4 of the squash and continue to mix until everything's incorporated. (Hint: since squash varies so much in size, I would limit it to 3 cups max but no less than 2 cups)
Pour into the crust and bake for 50-60 minutes. You want it to be a little jiggly so it doesn't overcook and crack. Let it sit for about 15 minutes then cover with plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours.

So there's some leftover squash. I made whipped cream with it. Just a normal homemade whipped cream recipe with squash and powdered ginger added. Mmmm hmmm

Sunday, November 22, 2009

10 Minute Maple Cookies

My goal this weekend was to make some cookies using ingredients I had in the cupboard and fridge that was as easy as possible. I adapted this recipe from one for snickerdoodles replacing the sugar with maple crystals. Without the sugar they seemed to spread a little more, but they were so yummy and satisfying I'll definitely make them again and take a pic to post.

10 Minute Maple Cookies

* 1/2 cup butter, softened
* 3/4 cup maple crystals
* 1 egg
* 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon salt


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. Cream together butter, maple crystals, and the eggs. Blend in the flour, baking powder and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
3. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until set but not too hard. Remove immediately from baking sheets.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Molly Schnick and I go apple picking every year but this year it just did not happen. We both really love Fall and I knew when I wanted to make doughnuts I would have to get her on board. My first inclination was of course -Apple Cider doughnuts! BUT I had a big beautiful bottle of organic buttermilk in the fridge....I was torn. Fortunately Molly suggested that as we have supped on apple cider doughnuts many a time in our past, perhaps it would be nice to try something else.

We decided on Buttermilk Doughnuts with an Apple Cider glaze!
It all went pretty swimmingly EXCEPT for when the doughnuts cooked too quickly on the outside and not enough on the inside. Which you can see evidence of here:

I have a lot to learn about maintaining the temperature of oil. At one point it was off the thermometer! So we just shut off the burner and let it drop.

We roughly followed this recipe and for the glaze I boiled down a cup of apple cider and a half cup of sugar.

Once I get myself a deep fryer, I hope to make doughnuts more often. Not the healthiest, I know but it was really fun and think of all the experimenting!
Root Beer Doughnuts anyone??


I finally own a copy of the Babycakes NYC cookbook. The recipes all sound amazing, even exotic, like meyer lemon and bing cherry cupcakes. I started with a classic (one of my favorites), gingersnaps. Besides wanting a good chomp, my friends Julie, Caissie and I have been talking about a cookie party and I wanted to test out the dough before the extravaganza. Had to share because these are the best gingersnaps I've ever made!! Just as genius Babycakes founder, Erin McKenna, describes, "the recipe produces a fairly flat, crisp-edged cookie" and yes, she put her "chewy, health-minded signature on it." The dough rolled like a charm and as you can see, I put my elephant cookie-cutter to use. The ingredients will be easier to locate at your local health-food store but don't let that scare you. Here's the recipe (my modification in italics):

Babycakes NYC Gingersnaps
makes 36

3/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup applesauce (homemade or unsweetened store-bought)
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger (my modification)
1 1/2 cups evaporated cane juice (I used raw cane sugar)
2 cups Bob's Red Mill gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/4 cup flax meal
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine the oil, applesauce, salt, molasses, grated ginger, vanilla, and evaporated cane juice. In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, flax meal, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, and xanthan gum. Using a rubber spatula, carefully add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until a grainy dough is formed.
Using a melon baller (or tablespoon measure), scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the portions 1 inch apart. Gently press each with the heel of your hand to flatten a bit. Bake the cookies on the center rack for 15 minutes, rotating the sheets after 9 minutes. The finished cookies will be crisp on the edges and soft in the center.
Let the cookies stand on the sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack and cool completely. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Monday, November 09, 2009


The wildly gifted Sam McPheeters wrote a really wonderful and entertaining article on Brooks Headley! Brooks is a former (and present) radical drummer and good friend who now holds the position of head Pastry Chef at Del Posto.

The article is here. READ IT!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Rhubarb Cherry Crisp

rhubarb cherry crisp

Hi ya'll!

So I'm super excited to be joining in here right as I start pastry school-- simultaneously the best and most ridiculous decision I ever made. We have been going fast fast fast, but we made this really delicious and really simple fruit crisp in class the other day and I wanted to share it.

Truthfully I was a little embarrassed to post this here, because you know, it's a fruit crisp, and aren't I supposed to be tempering chocolate and making massive towering sugar sculptures and whatnot? Well, they won't let us in the chocolate kitchen yet, but more importantly, let's hear it for unpretentious, simple food that may be a little ugly but will blow your mind with some vanilla ice cream. Right? Right.

Rhubarb-Cherry Fruit Crisp
This was originally rhubarb-apple crisp, which makes a lot more sense given the season, but I love cherries. We used frozen fruit but the procedure is the same for fresh.

For the topping:
4 oz cold butter, diced
4 oz brown sugar
4 oz pastry flour
4 oz rolled oats (and/or chopped nuts if you like)
1/4 t salt
1/2 t nutmeg
1 t cinnamon

For the gooey delicious insides:
1 lb diced rhubarb
1 1/2 lbs cherries (or other fruit)
4 oz sugar
1/2 oz cornstarch
1/2 t cinnamon
pinch cloves

Make the topping:
Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut in the cold butter with your hands until the pieces of fat are roughly the size of walnut halves. Add the nuts or oats and set aside.

crisp topping

Make the innards:
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and toss with the fruit. Arrange in gratins, ramekins, or one big pie dish. Fill them up nice and full and put the tins on a sheet pan covered with parchment. Mine bubbled up a bit (hence the parchment), but your fruit will also shrink a little as it bakes. Cover with the crisp topping.

rhubarb and cherries, mm

crisps ready to go in the oven

Bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes, depending on size, until bubbly and golden on top.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

NOV DOTM Chocolate Guinness Cake

So, this is a cake I make a lot because it's so easy and I usually have everything I need at home already. The beer, however, does need replenishing sometimes. I've found that even people who aren't cake people like this cake. It stays pretty moist even in the fridge and freezes well.


1 cup dark cocoa powder (sifted)
1 3/4 cups flour (sifted)
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup Guinness (not extra stout)
1 cup boiling water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and put water on to boil
Mix all dry ingredients then add wet ingredients one at a time adding the water last.
The batter will be very wet. It’s normal.

I use a 10” sprayed spring form pan with a pizza pan or something underneath it in case any leaks out. In my oven the cake bakes in 45 minutes. About halfway into cooking time sprinkle the top with coconut flakes. They will toast as the cake finishes baking. Do a toothpick test and if it comes out clean it’s ready. Let it rest for about 30 minutes before removing from the pan.
Any pan can be used but the cooking time will get adjusted. If you use a casserole dish to make it more like a sheet cake it’ll take about 20 minutes.

I serve it with whipped cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Whisk together in a cold bowl (I put mine in the freezer) until it looks like whipped cream. You can add more powdered sugar if it’s not sweet enough for ya.