Posts Tagged ‘dessert’


It really depends upon the size of the pan you bake it in whether you end up with a banana cake or a tea bread.  For some, the cake (which I bake in a shallow bundt pan) is not as sweet as they might like, but for us it makes a tasty side for a hot cuppa “joe” or afternoon tea.   To make it a bit sweeter, drizzle on a plain or lemon-scented glaze or dust with confectioners’ sugar.  To make tea breads, just scrape the batter into either a 9-inch loaf pan or 3 of those little loaf pans.  Because the ripe bananas add so much moisture, either as a cake or bread, the baked result keeps very well.

1¾ cups sifted all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

⅓ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

⅔ cup sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup toasted walnut pieces (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350ºF.  Lightly coat the interior of your cake or loaf pan(s) with nonstick baking spray.  Set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.  Set aside.

Place the butter in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle.  Mix on low to just soften.  Add the sugar, raise the speed to medium, and beat until light and creamy.  Beat in the bananas and vanilla.  Slowly add the flour mixture, beating to incorporate.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and using a rubber spatula, fold in the nuts.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan(s).  Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 45 minutes (for a large pan) to 30 minutes (for small pans) or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the tops are golden brown.  Remove from the oven and tip out of the pan(s) onto a wire rack to cool.

Serve warm or at room temperature.   May be stored, well-wrapped and refrigerated, for up to 1 week or frozen, for up to 3 months.


GLAZE:  All you have to do is combine about 1½ cups of confectioners’ sugar with a tablespoon of warm milk and a tablespoon of melted unsalted butter until it is smooth and runny.  If you want lemon-scented, replace the milk with lemon juice (and, if you like, a bit of lemon zest).  Drizzle the glaze over the still-warm cake and set aside to allow it to harden slightly.


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I grew up eating gooseberry fool and when a child, thought my mom had made up the name ‘cause it would fool me into thinking it was ice cream.  But, I later learned that it is the olde English name for a fruit dessert – classically gooseberry – that combined mashed fresh fruit with a custard sauce.  My mom just used whipped cream and fruit and I now use a combination of whipped cream and yogurt rather than the richer custard.  We have had such beautiful berries this summer that I’ve tried to use them in lots of different ways although they have all been sweet and delicious on their own.  Last night I took the last of the blackberries, mashed them with a bit of sugar and then folded them into vanilla nonfat yogurt.  A perfect summer dessert.

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©Stephen Kolyer_pie

There’s not much to say about peach pie except that when summer comes in and peaches are lush and ripe, there is nothing better than a homemade peach pie.  My son, Mickey, makes a mean pie and when we popped in for a little 4th of July barbecue, peach pie was the starred dessert.  His best pal, Steve Kolyer, our esteemed artist, conjured up his idea of the perfect peach pie so we share both the real and the imagined with you.


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I always like to give my kitchen a few farewells as the hot weather approaches and one of those “farewells” is a last oven turn-on.  So, what better way to say adieu than with a tarte tatin, that quintessentially French winter dessert.  I don’t know why more home cooks don’t make these beautiful and very tasty tarts as making one is easier than making a pie or cake, particularly since it nicely uses frozen puff pastry.  When I made the one in the photo I cut my apples into eighths instead of quarters – don’t know what I was thinking.  Quarters just seem to look better when you turn the tart upside down.  Anyway, here’s how you bring a little bit of France to your dessert table.  I use a nonstick, oven-proof frying pan and recommend that you do, also.

¾ cup sugar – either granulated or light brown, whichever you prefer
¼ cup water
½ cup unsalted butter
4 large tart apples, peeled, cored, and cut into quarters
One block frozen puff pastry, thawed (I’m not sure of the weight – use either Dufour or Trader Joes – they are both made with butter)
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Combine the sugar and water in an 8-inch nonstick, oven-proof frying pan over low heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved.  Raise the heat to medium and bring to a boil.  Allow to cook, without stirring, at a gentle boil for about 8 minutes or until a golden syrup has formed.  Stir in the butter and cook, stirring, until well-blended.
Remove the pan from the heat and carefully arrange the apples, cut side facing up, in a slightly overlapping circle down into the caramel.
Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface and then cut it into a circle about 9-inches in diameter.  Place the pastry over the apples and fold the excess edge under to enclose the apples.
Using a paring knife, cut at least 4 slits in the center of the pastry to allow steam to escape.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 35 minutes or until the pastry has puffed and is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to set for about 5 minutes.  
Using a small, sharp knife, loosen the edges from the pan and then carefully turn the tart out onto a serving plate.
Serve warm with whipped cream, crème fraîche, frozen vanilla or coffee yogurt, or caramel ice cream, if desired.  It is absolutely fine on its own, also.


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Whichever you choose, that is exactly what I produced the other evening.  The urge for something sweet came upon me as I was making dinner, so I quickly made a batch of brownies.  I thought I had some walnuts in the freezer, but when I looked I had every type of nut but… so I sprinkled the top with a few leftover chocolate chips I found in the fridge and some shredded coconut hidden in the freezer (I still prefer nuts, though).  Into the oven went the pan while I served dinner.  We were having such great conversation that I forgot all about my brownies until my nose picked up a strange scent —— oooh, burnt chocolate.  I made a quick retrieval and sent them upside-down to a rack to cool.  The edges were pretty crispy, but I sawed them off and savored the slightly smoky taste of the remainder.  Here’s the recipe; should you make it, please don’t let it burn.

1 cup sifted flour
½ cup sifted cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s new Special Dark Cocoa Powder)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ¾ cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¾ cup toasted walnuts – if you have them
    Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Lightly coat the interior of an 8-inch square baking pan with Baker’s Joy or other nonstick vegetable spray.  Set aside.
Combine the sifted flour, cocoa powder, and salt.  Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle.  When light and fluffy, beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients, a bit at a time, beating to blend.  Fold in the walnuts (or whatever you like to add to your brownies).
Scrape into the prepared pan and transfer to the preheated oven.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes.  Cut into squares while still warm, but leave in the pan until cool.  Unless you have burned them – in this case, upend them quickly to stop any further cooking.

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This was my mom’s go-to Sunday coffee cake and, as my wonderful husband just said “it is addictive.  Easy to make and even easier to eat.  It is so much better than a commercial out-of-the-box cake and really doesn’t take anytime at all to make.  I make a big batch of the Crumb Topping and keep it in the freezer so the entire process takes only a few minutes to put the cake together.  It can bake while you make the beds and throw a morning’s load of wash in.  And, oh! the aroma that will wake everyone up to sweet thoughts. You can add dried fruit or berries to the batter, but it is totally unnecessary.

Makes one 9-inch cake

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
 1½ teaspoons baking powder
 ¼ teaspoon salt
 1 cup milk
 1 cup raisins, dried cranberries or cherries, or fresh blueberries, optional
 Crumb Topping (recipe follows)
 Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
 Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake cake (or use nonstick vegetable spray such as Baker’s Joy).  Set aside.

Place the butter in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle.  Begin beating on low to soften; then, add the sugar and beat on medium until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt and add to the creamed mixture, alternately with the milk, beating just until well-blended.  If using the fruit or berries, fold them into the batter now.
Pour into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula (or whatever implement you have handy).  Sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter.
Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes before cutting into serving pieces.

    Crumb Topping

    1 cup walnut pieces
    1 cup brown sugar
    ¼ cup all-purpose flour
    1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
    ¼ cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Combine the nuts, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Process to just combine.  Add the butter and process, using quick on and off turns, to just crumbly.  Use as directed or place in a resealable plastic bag, seal, label, and freeze for later use.

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I’m here to tell you that once you take the time to make chocolate pudding, you will never, ever buy a box of instant.  And, since it doesn’t take long to make, it will quickly become your go-to easy dessert.  My mom used it to make a chocolate cream pie – easy to do also as all you need is a pre-baked pie shell (a graham cracker one is terrific), chocolate pudding, and a cup of heavy cream which you will whip to cover the pudding.  Garnish with some chocolate sprinkles or curls and you will have made a “company’s coming” treat.

This recipe makes enough for 6 generous servings or to fill one pie shell.
    ½ cup sugar
    ¼ cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
    ⅓ cup cornstarch
    2 cups milk
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature

Combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and cornstarch in a heavy saucepan.  Whisk in the milk and vanilla and place over medium heat.  Cook, whisking constantly, for about 6 minutes or until smooth and thick.
Add the chocolate and lower the heat.  Cook, beating constantly with a wooden spoon, until the pudding is smooth and creamy.  Beat in the butter and remove from the heat.
Spoon the pudding into individual dishes or one larger bowl.  Cover with plastic film (do not allow the film to touch the pudding) and set aside to cool.


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More than a few years ago when we had our bakery, MOM, I tried about every combination of flavors I could imagine in both savory and sweet pies.  One of the pies that I could never master was from a Shaker cookbook culled from recipes devised in the Shaker colonies in America in the 1800s.  It is a very, very simple pie, but difficult to make without pristine, exceedingly thin-skinned lemons.  In those days I could never find lemons that would do the trick.
Last week, my generous friend, Linda Vaughan, gave me a bag of beautiful Meyer lemons that a friend had sent her from California.  They were, I thought, the perfect specimens to make that longed for pie.  And, in fact, they were as the photo shows.  Here’s the recipe should you find a generous friend or be lucky enough to live somewhere in Meyer lemon territory.  You can make your own pastry, buy refrigerated commercial pie pastry, or use my recipe that, I believe, you will find under an earlier chicken pie posting.
The filling is, surprisingly, quite sweet so I served the pie with dollop of thick 
Greek-style yogurt.

3 to 4 very thin skinned, organic lemons, well-washed and dried
    2 ½ cups sugar, super fine is best, but regular granulated will do just fine
    6 eggs
    One 9-inch unbaked pie or tart shell
    Using either a mandoline, Japanese vegetable slicer, or a very sharp knife, slice the lemons, crosswise, paper thin.
    Place the lemons in a shallow bowl and cover with the sugar.  Toss to blend.  Cover with plastic film and refrigerate for 12 hours.
    Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
    Place the eggs in a mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy.  Add the marinated lemons along with the sugar and stir to blend.  Scrape into the pie (or tart) shell, and gently smooth the top, making sure that some lemon slices are evident.
    Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the center is set.
    Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool before serving.

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