Archive for the 'dessert' Category

07
Nov
12

Caramel and figs? Go “fig”ure!

In 2009, I posted Fresh Fig Tart and an ode to Marie.  Wow, have I really been blogging for over 3 years?  Well, I’ve been pretty lazy this past year about posting on a regular basis, but I’ve been bitten by the Blog Bug recently and I’m back for more fun.  Anyway, in the fig tart story I gushed about my crush on cookbook author and food genius, Marie Simmons. I also shared a recipe from her wonderful book, Fig Heaven.  Since I am on a fig roll this week, I tried another recipe from the cookbook.  Heavenly is a perfect descriptive word for this sauce.

FRESH FIG AND CARAMEL SAUCE FOR ICE CREAM

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

6 to 8 ripe figs, any variety, stems trimmed, halved lengthwise

¼ cup sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Melt the butter in a 9 or 10 inch skillet until foamy.

Add the figs, cut side down, and

sprinkle evenly with the sugar. Cook, without stirring, over medium heat until the sugar caramelizes and the figs are browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes.

 Carefully turn the figs over and cook 2 minutes more.

Remove the figs to a serving bowl.

Add the cream to the skillet and boil,

stirring, until it has reduced slightly and the sugar has melted into the cream to make a caramel-colored sauce.  Let stand off heat for a few minutes.

Then stir in the vanilla and add to the figs.  Serve warm over ice cream.

My original intention was to serve this sauce over some ice cream, as the recipe indicates.  Since I had fresh baked coffee cake in the house, I went with a more decadent choice.  Coffee cake ala mode, the mode being Häagen-Dazs Caramel Cone ice cream, and this luscious fig caramel sauce.  It was surprisingly light.

I may have another fig recipe in the works, so check back with me, or better yet, just subscribe to this blog and you will receive an email the next time I share.  Have a figtastic day!

19
Nov
10

Don’t make me go into that kitchen!

Just give me one good reason to bake a cake and I’m all over it.  Actually, it doesn’t even have to be a GOOD reason or even a reason at all.  Or an excuse for that matter.  Ah, hell, just ask me to bake a cake.  Better yet, tell me you have something to celebrate.  I love a good celebration cake.  A couple of weeks ago, my Katie and her workmate, Patty B.,  both had work anniversaries.  These two ladies were both celebrating four years of working for the good Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.  Being a former Catholic School Girl, this still makes me slightly nervous, but the nuns are cool.  And they do love a good sweet treat!

Heaven on Earth - four layers of banana cake wrapped in a cloud of coconut cream cheese frosting

This here bad boy is a Banana cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting.  To really kick up the banana flavor, I put slices of banana between each of the layers (it’s a four layer cake!).  It was insanely heavenly, right up the sisters alley, so to speak.

Here is the recipe:

CORDON ROSE BANANA CAKE

Adapted from the Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

2 nine inch pans, buttered and parchment lined bottoms

4 large ripe bananas
2 tablespoons sour cream
4 large eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups sifted cake flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
20 tablespoons unsalted butter, must be softened

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F

In a food processor process the banana and sour cream until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and process briefly just to blend.

In a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer, combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend.  Add the butter and 1/2 of the banana mixture.  Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and strengthen the cake’s structure.  crape down the sides. Gradually add the remaining banana mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and develop the structure.  Scrape down the sides.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula.  Bake 30 – 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow cake to cool 10 – 15 minutes on a cooling rack before removing from pans.  Allow to cool completely before wrapping.

I like to chill my cakes before I frost them.  Remove the top “dome” with a serrated knife, for a more professional look.  You can make this a two layer cake or a four layer.  My preference is four layers.  It’s best to use a cake decorating stand.  Place cake on stand, and using a long serrated knife, slice the cake into two even layers.

COCONUT CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

1 # unsalted butter, softened
1/2 # cream cheese, softened
0.2 oz salt
0.4oz vanilla
0.2 oz lemon juice
2 oz water
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Place butter in bowl of electric mixer.  Cream for 2 – 3 minutes.  Add powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, lemon juice and water.  Mix on low ( I pulse it until incorporated so my kitchen isn’t covered in powdered sugar) for about 1 minute.  Once it is incorporated, gradually increase the speed to the highest.  Stop and scrape the sides a couple of time during this process. Whip until light, fluffy and very white.  Add coconut and mix until incorporated.

So rich, so insanely decadent!

Frost the cake.  I sliced about four bananas for this cake for in between each layer.  You can see them in the pictures.  So good.

I really do love to tease you with these photos!

Dear, sweet Katie brought a piece home to me.  We ate on it for three days!  So, what are we celebrating next?  Anyone?

16
Jul
10

Electrolux #splits: Split from Tradition

Perfectly decadent summer treat

Many of you regular readers may have noticed the nifty badges to the right.  That’s right, Vampire Gran is  now a Foodbuzz Featured Publisher. Yay!  That said, I am joining with other Foodbuzz publishers in helping to raise money for OCRF, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.  Foodbuzz has teamed with Electrolux and actress Kelly Ripa to raise money for OCRF.  For more information about this important cause, please go to Kelly Confidential

Foodbuzz has a little something they like to call Top 9 Takeover.  They ask all of us Featured Publishers to construct a post around a theme, then for one day only, all Top 9 posts reflect that theme.  Sounds pretty straight forward. 

How am I contributing to OCRF, you may wonder?  Well, here’s something pretty cool.  For every Banana Split posted by a Featured Publisher created by July 16th, Foodbuzz will contribute $50.00 to OCRF.  So, by tempting you all with my wicked goodness, I am helping ovarian cancer research.  My ovaries would probably thank me, if I had any! 

I opted for using zero fat sorbet instead of traditional ice cream

Katie and I have been eating so healthy these days that the thought of a traditional Banana Split kinda gave me nightmares.  Since I am a total newbie to Foodbuzz and I really, really wanted to participate in this challenge, I decided to make my entry a more healthy version of the soda fountain staple.   My banana split is a  Tropical Treat.  Tropical, Raspberry and Mango sorbets with layers of banana and a fresh pineapple, mango, peach salsa.  I topped it off with a not-so-healthy swirl of coconut whipped cream, toasted almonds and a beautiful Bing cherry! 

The only thing with fat in it, Coconut Whipped Cream. Oh, yeah!

 Here’s how I made the fruit salsa: 

Start with a sweet, fresh pineapple

I actually had the produce guy at Safeway cut a couple pineapples to try before I purchased one.  A lot of people don’t know that you can do this, ya know.  Trust me, I work in a grocery store.  They would rather have you try before you buy so they have a happy customer. 

Chop the pineapple up as fine or as chunky as you like

The produce man picked out a great mango for me. 

Perfectly sweet and juicy mango. Yum!

Remove the pit and peel and start chopping. 

Chop the same as the pineapple

I also bought a decent peach.  I really love summer fruit. 

summertime = peaches

Combine the fruit and chill

I added a little honey to make it a wee bit more saucy and a pinch sweeter.  

Slice a banana and whip some cream

After you whip and sweeten your heavy cream, fold in a couple handfulls of sweetened, shredded coconut.  I used a large pastry tip to pipe my cream on top of  my banana split, but you could also use a spoon. 

You will not miss the ice cream or sugary sauces, trust me

I put a few slices of banana in first because I want that last bite to contain banana.  Next I added a scoop of tropical sorbet.  Top with fruit salsa and a few more banana slices.  Scoop of raspberry sorbet, more salsa and banana.  Mango sorbet, salsa and banana.  Top with coconut whipped cream, toasted almond slices and a cherry on top.  Viola!  A banana split that won’t split your pants. 

I can't help it, I just want you to keep looking at it

06
Jul
10

Boy, did we have fun!

I decided to try my hand at making a little movie presentation of our Fourth of July gathering.  We had some of our very special friends over to help celebrate the holiday with us.  As always, there was more than enough food.

We played darts, cowboy golf, badminton and of course, pool!  I spent a lot of time in what Katie calls my “natural habitat,” the kitchen, cranking out the goodies.  I even made a new barbeque sauce using rhubarb!  Thank goodness I had my grasshopper, Emily, there to help me.

We had hummus, pita bread, guacamole, bagel chips, grilled corn on the cob, grilled veggie skewers bathed with that rhubarb sauce,  kale and carrot salad, wheatberry salad and quinoa salad.  There were no lack of sweets.  I made peanut butter cookies, oatmeal triple chip cookies and lemon coconut pixies.  Emily baked a raspberry buttermilk cake which was the perfect foil for my homemade strawberry frozen yogurt.  Robert brought a perfect watermelon, beautiful fresh raspberries, red and gold, and blueberries.

I only wish I had taken more pictures.  Especially of us all shooting firecrackers and bottle rockets off!

Enjoy the film presentation.  (Ignore the date on the title page – this really was filmed on the 4th of July)

26
Jun
10

This one is for Robert, or……………

the squeaky reader gets the decadence.  Ok, Robert, you asked for it, so here it is:   Strawberry Rhubarb Cream Cheese Tart.  I hope this satiates you for a while because it’s all I got at the moment. 

Stop licking the computer screen!

We went to Chuck and Emily’s last night for our first barbeque of the summer season.  I made a spicy wheat berry salad (which was yumtastic, BTW) and this delectable little morsel. 

A little something I whipped up

Our neighbour, Snowie, the 83-year-old Master Gardener, has a massive amount of rhubarb in her garden.  Her 53-year-old son, John, invited me over to cut as much rhubarb as I wanted.  He confided in me that he has never, ever eaten rhubarb in his life!  His mother grows it every year.  I teased him and inquired if he was afraid of it.  Bingo!  He said he was,  indeed, afraid of rhubarb.  I don’t want to cast dispersion on the neighbour and I want the free rhubarb to keep coming, so I will reserve comment on this one. 

OK, I admit that I want to lick the screen now

So, I’m sure many of you out there in blogville and saying “Enough with the chit chat and witty repartee, VG, get to telling us how we can make this at home!”  Fine.  If you insist, here goes: 

The Crust 

adapted from The Pie and Pastry Bible 

by 

Rose Levy Beranmaum 

Sweet Cookie Tart Crust 

1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes 

1/4 cup sugar 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 

1/8 teaspoon salt 

1 large egg yolk 

2 tablespoons buttermilk (the original recipe calls for heavy cream, but buttermilk is all I had on hand) 

 Pulse sugar and butter in food processor about 15 times or until sugar disappears.  Add the flour and salt and pulse again until the butter is no larger than small peas. 

In a small bowl, combine egg yolk and buttermilk (or heavy cream).  Add it to the  mixture and pulse just until incorporated.  The dough will still be in crumbly pieces.  Empty it into a plastic bag and press from the outside until it holds together. 

Remove the dough from the bag and place on a large piece of plastic wrap; knead the dough a few times until it becomes one smooth piece.  Flatten to a disk, wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes in fridge or freeze for 10 minutes until it is firm enough to roll. 

Roll dough out on a piece of plastic wrap.  Transfer to a tart pan.  Chill again for about 30 minutes. 

Place a piece of parchment paper over the crust bottom and use pie weights or dried beans to fill the inside.   Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for five minutes.  Reduce heat to 375 degrees and continue baking for 15 minutes.  Remove parchment and pie weights and return tart shell to the oven.  Bake another 10 -13 minutes, until the crust is set and lightly browned. 

 While all of this baking is happening, make your cream cheese filling.  I made this one up on the fly.  It turned out great and is super simple. 

Cream Cheese filling 

8 ounces cream cheese 

4 ounces mascarpone 

1 large egg 

1/2 cup sugar 

1 teaspoon vanilla 

Dump it all in the food processor and blend until silky smooth.  Stop and scrap several times in the process.  That’s all, folks.  I told you it was simple. 

Another tempting look. Check out that cream cheese filling.

So, what’s the red saucy stuff on top of those beautiful strawberries?  That’s where that scary rhubarb comes in.  Heh heh! 

Rhubarb Sauce 

About two cups of washed and chopped fresh rhubarb (or frozen) 

1 cup sugar 

2 – 4 tablespoons corn starch 

1 – 2 drops red food coloring (optional) 

Place rhubarb and sugar in sauce pan.  Let sit until the rhubarb starts releasing  it’s juice.  I actually frozen the rhubarb a few days before making this tart.  It works great because I thawed it out the night before in the fridge, it became juicy and I could make the sauce right away. 

Bring the rhubarb and sugar to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook until the rhubarb starts to break down and gets really soft.  Dissolve cornstarch in a small amount of water and whisk into the rhubarb sugar mixture.  Cook until thickened slightly.  Add food color, if desired.  Remove from heat and allow to cool. 

OK, so now you have all of your components.  Bake the tart shell,  add the  cream cheese filling and smooth.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 – 30 minutes, until filling is set.  Remove from oven and cool slightly on the counter and then refrigerate until completely cold. 

Slice strawberries in half.  Arrange in a pretty fashion on top of the filling.  Pour and spread evenly (I used a pastry brush) the rhubarb sauce on top.  You will have some sauce left over, lucky you!  It’s great on ice cream, waffles, pancakes, standing in front of the open fridge with a spoon in your hand, etc.  Put it on whatever you want; wink wink, nudge nudge. 

Enjoy and welcome summer!

I just learned a new technique using Picasa!




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