Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category


In the summer of 2006 my parents and sister came to visit Jeremy and I in Germany.  We were so excited that we planned a road trip to Tuscany.  Needless to say it was just amazing… and having our car available to us to stop wherever we wanted definitley made it worth the drive.  My dad was also celebrating his 20th year of practicing medicine, and since food has always bonded us, I decided that a Tuscan cooking course right in the heart of  Tuscany (Firenze) would be the perfect gift.  I was right.  We learned to make delicious things in only a day, and we still make them for special guests.  Well this past weekend I invited two of our favorite couples over for a couple’s dinner.  It was so nice to leave our son with my parents and just have some adult time.  We culminated the evening with Tiramisu and a game of “Would you rather”.  Tiramisu actually means a “pick me up”.  It is a great dessert to take to a mid-afternoon office gathering because it will literally wake you up.  That night I combined it with a side of fresh coffee-not a good idea!  I could not sleep until after 2am.  So if you are eating this at night-no coffee on the side!  Unless of course you have a term paper, then it’s a great idea.  If you like coffee, you will love this dessert.  


1 lb (16oz) mascarpone cheese
5 eggs, separated                                                                                                                                                                                      
5 tbsp sugar
package of Savoiardi cookies (they sell these in most italian markets- better than ladyfingers)
3-4 cups of espresso
1.5 cups of Frangelico (or any coffee liquor, like Kahlua)
1 pinch of salt
100 grams of dark chocolate (a few pieces)

Place the yolks and sugar into a bowl and beat with a fork until you it is pale yellow.  Add the mascarpone and continue beating until smooth and well mixed.  In a mixer beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.  Next fold in the stiffened egg whites to the cream mixture and mix thoroughly, being very careful not to collapse the mixture. 







Line a deep baking dish (8 x 8 works best) with a first (thin layer) of cream mixture.  Combine the slightly cooled coffee with the coffee liquor and pour some into a small bowl.  Dip the biscuits very briefly into the coffee mixture, then quickly turning them over and layer them in rows into the baking dish.  It is important not to soak them for too long- you want the biscuits to absorb the coffee but not be soggy.













When your first layer is finished spread half of the cream mixture over the soaked Savoiardi cookies.  Smooth it out slighly with a spatula.  Repeat the same for the next layer, finishing with the cream mixture on top.  Allow to refrigerate at least 4 hours, if not overnight.  Before serving take a vegetable peeler and peel chocolate curls all over dish.  It is delicious!  Buon Appetito!


Read Full Post »

Jewish Apple Cake

Goodness I admire those who faithfully blog every day!  It gets hard on some days, even though I regularly cook, to actually take the time to sit down and type it all up.  But I am so excited about some recipes this week!  Thanksgiving week is always very anticipated in our household, mostly because of my husband Jeremy who loves this holiday the most.  And I agree with him that it is a great holiday where we actually set aside time as a nation to give God thanks for what He’s abundantly blessed us with. 

The food part is of course another wonderful reason we love it!  Both of our families live in town so we usually have an earlier Thanksgiving lunch with his parents and grandmother, and then venture over to my parent’s for dinner.  Needless to say, it is a lot of food.. of course Jeremy doesn’t mind.. 😉   This year his parents and grandmother are going to California to spend Thanksgiving with my sister-in-law and her family, so we will only be  having one meal- which means it has to be extra good!  There are some things my husband has grown to expect from his very-traditional-American-Thanksgivings, which can be pretty different from our more Ecuadorian-American-Thanksgiving meals.  For example last year there were no mashed potatoes, but there was an amazing black rice with raisins my grandmother makes instead.  But all Jeremy said was, “No mashed potatoes?  Where do you put your gravy?”  LOL  It was funny because it’s so different.  I think every family has their own traditions.  So this year, as strategic food coordinator,  I made sure somebody took on the task of mashed potatoes.  I am also making sure there are plenty of desserts, so this year that is my task (along with homemade cranberry sauce and stuffing). 

Instead of staying up until 2am baking pies, I decided I would plan a little better and start all the baking early.  This way Jeremy and I will be able to run a 5k on Thanksgiving morning (in order to shed a few calories before stuffing ourselves with more) instead of last minute baking.  I have decided to make three desserts, there of course has to be something with pumpkin in it, so I am making a pumpkin gooey butter cake (by request).  There also has to be apples, or at least some kind of fruit, so I am making a Jewish Apple Cake adapted slightly from SmittenKitchen’s blog.   And finally a pecan pie from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking” book.   Today I’m blogging about the Jewish Apple Cake as it bakes in the oven… ahh, the smell 🙂

Jewish Apple Cake

6 apples, Mom uses McIntosh apples
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar
2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a tube pan.  Peel, core and chop apples into chunks.  Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.

 In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla.

Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Since I just have a regular tube pan and not the one with the false bottom, I changed the recipe a bit.  First I spread half of the apple mixture on the bottom of the pan.  Then pour half of batter into prepared pan.

Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples.  Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean. I’ll post a picture of the finished results when it is finished baking!


I should add that I finally tried this cake on Thanksgiving and it was wonderful…super moist, with wonderful plump and moist pieces of apple, yet the outer crust is slightly crusty and the combination is just great!  So much more interesting than apple pie!

Read Full Post »

Pears are in season!  So you can look forward to a few more recipes with pears.  The other night Jeremy asked if we had any dessert, after saying no I looked around and fixtured once again on my fruit basket, and once again the ever faithful pear stood tall. 🙂  “But I can make you something…” began my mini-adventure.  I usually start off creations that way:  there is a need (or want, haha) and a lack of something (triple chocolate brownies) and out of it arises beauty.  Okay, so a bit poetic for just mere poached pears, but you’ll see what I mean in a second.  So out of a bottle of Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc and a few pears arise Poached Pears filled with Dark Chocolate.

Poached Pears Filled with Dark Chocolate

3 somewhat firm pears (bosc or bartlett)
2 cups wine (I finished off two bottles, so I used half of a red, and half of a white wine)
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup of bittersweet chocolate chips (i used ghirardelli, but use your favorite)
1 tbsp of cream


Combine the wine, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan and turn burner on to med-high.  Next, peel your pears (I use a potatoe peeler) and core them from the bottom, using an apple corer or small knife.  But leave the stems intact.







Place your pears in your saucepan and with a spoon baste the exposed side with the poaching liquid.  After about 5 minutes, gently turn your pears around, and continue basting the side that is facing up.  Your pears are ready when easily pierced with a knife.  They do not need to be mushy, just soft.








In the meantime put your chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl or measuring cup and mix with cream and 2 tsp of poaching liquid.  Put defrost in microwave for 15 seconds, remove and mix.  If it isn’t melted yet, put in for another few seconds, and mix again. 














Next, carefully remove your pears from the saucepan and place on a separate dish.  But keep your poaching liquid on the burner and allow it to simmer for a few more minutes until it has just reduced a little bit.  *Important to not cook down too much or it will become a sticky wine-caramel.. not what we are looking for here! 









Carefully tilt your pear so the opened bottom is facing you and with a small spoon fill the bottom of your pear with the chocolate mixture.  Smooth out the bottom.  Do this with all your pears. 








Sit pears upright in your serving dish, serve with a small scoop of vanilla icecream, and drizzle your reduced wine sauce over your pear and icecream.  Enjoy the simple pleasures in life!


Read Full Post »

Pear Clafoutis

Have you ever realized you were supposed to take something to an event, and no longer had time to run to the store?  That’s what just happened to me today- I was invited to a playdate to my friend Amy’s house and did not want to show up empty handed, especially since she was sweet enough to provide lunch.  As I took a look around my house to see what my options were, with the limited amount of time I had, I camped on 2  pears in my fruit basket.  Ok.. pears.. and I have flour, sugar, butter, etc.  So I remembered a country-French dessert called Cherry Clafoutis… it’s almost like a puffy pancake with a pudding/custard-like center and traditionally with cherries inside it.  And the best part is that it only takes about 20 minutes in the oven.  So I decided to try my hand at a Pear Clafoutis. Pronounced kla-foo-TEE, have fun with that 🙂

1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 bartlett pears
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp white sugar
confectioner’s sugar
whipped cream or yogurt (to serve)

Preheat your oven to 425°.  Wash your pears, remove core, and give them a large dice (size of dice, haha, no pun intended).  In your blender place the flour, 2 tbsp sugar, salt, eggs, milk, and vanilla.  Blend for about 60 seconds and incorporate well.  When your batter is smooth, set it to the side.

Next in a ovenproof 9″ skillet or pyrex pie dish melt the butter over medium heat, allowing it to coat the bottom and sides of pan. 

Add the pears and mix them with the butter, allow them too cook 3 minutes until the pears have softened.  Next sprinkle the rest of the sugar (I actually forgot this step and it still turned out good!) and let it turn into a syrup-about 1-2 minutes.  

Now pour the batter over the fruit and put it in the oven for 20 minutes.  Do not open the door of the oven during this time.  Baked until the clafoutis is puffed and golden brown along the edges.  Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve with whipped cream, crème fraîche, or yogurt. 

After making this, with a prep time of maybe 10 minutes max, I realized this could be one of the easiest desserts I’ve ever made (with a cool exotic name that will wow your guests)!  I actually tested it on two of my mom friends, who said it tasted like a combination of a pancake/crêpe and custard, and they did clean their plates 😉  It serves about 4-6 people depending on the size of your slice, but it was very nice.. not too sweet, and nice and light.  Perfect for a special breakfast or brunch, or as a light dessert after lunch.  It’s so easy- you can’t afford not to make this one!

Read Full Post »

If this breakfast was any easier, you would open the refrigerator door and be tossed one of these.  I’m talking about Strawberry Yogurt.  And even though there are some amazing cups of yogurt in the dairy aisle of my supermarket, I always enjoy the freshness of ripe strawberries and controlling the ingredients myself.  This is extremely simple and you may ask, “Why did she even post this?” But I wanted you to know that eating good and eating well doesn’t have to mean tons of ingredients and lots of time. 

1/2 cup Fage Total 2% greek yogurt
1.5 tsp of local honey
a handful of strawberries


Mix the yogurt and the honey until combined. Wash and dice your strawberries and place over your yogurt.  Enjoy!

Breakfast of champions for my son and me!

Here are a few things that I love about this breakfast, snack, or dessert.  It is easy, simple, and good for me. 

Did you know that greek yogurt typically almost doubles the amount of protein of regular yogurt?  I actually researched it because I was curious, and 1 cup of Yoplait Light or Dannon Light & Fit has only 5 grams of protein, I also checked out other “greek” yogurts, like Liberte Greek Yogurt and it has 11 grams of protein–Fage Greek Yogurt has 23 grams of protein for 1 cup!  That’s almost 5 times more than the regular yogurts, and more than double than some competitor greek yogurts.  So that’s good to know.. but it is also so tasty.  This is a greek strained yogurt, which means they strain out excess liquid so it is thicker and richer tasting, and it keeps you fuller longer

On the local honey subject, there are some theories out there that suggest local honey may help you fight seasonal allergies.  I like to think it helps me 🙂 It’s also lower on the glycemic index than regular sugar, so it is more gradually absorbed into your bloodstream. 

Hopefully I haven’t bored you to death.  I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to food- and my husband is a medical student so that doesn’t help!  I just believe that when we know what we are eating it helps us to make smarter choices. 

Remember the old cliche, “You are what you eat” ?  Do you believe this is true?  Tell me some of your thoughts!

Read Full Post »

Ok, so by now you may think I have an obsession with pumpkin.  But in all fairness I did warn you about my love for the fall.  I tend to cook with seasonal ingredients, which is good for a few reasons: It reinforces the seasons for my family (since we don’t have much variety in Florida to indicate any change of station), and it is usually less expensive to shop for local, seasonal items.  By now you are, I’m sure, noticing a trend; every finished product has resulted in some hue of an orange color.  And this will not be the last dish, I assure you, so I will try to add some variety, but definitely expect some more pumpkin and seasonal squash dishes to come 😉  At least you will know you are getting your beta-carotene and vitamin A if you are making these dishes at home!

Pumpkin & Chocolate Bread Pudding
1 loaf of Challah (or any egg bread would work best)
2 cups of half & half
1.5  cups whole milk
4 large eggs
4 egg yolks
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree
2 tbsp bourbon
1/4 semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat your oven to 325°

Butter a 9×13″ casserole dish (or any dish that will fit all your bread cubes).  Dice the Challah into even cubes of approximately 1″ and pile them into your buttered dish.  Sprinkle your chocolate chips evenly throughout the bread.

Combine the milk, half & half, and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.







Meanwhile wisk together the eggs, sugar, maple syrup, and pumpkin.  Then slowly (seriously, you want to temper the eggs so they will not scramble) wisk the hot milk into the egg mixture.  Pour the custard over the bread, pressing down on the bread to soak up the egg mixture.  Let this sit for 15 minutes.

Just before going into oven

Place baking dish in a larger roasting pan and fill pan around it with warm tap water (this is called a bain marie, or water bath) until it reaches half way up the sides of your baking dish.  Bake until all the sides have slightly puffed and the center jiggles slightly. About 1 hour.  Serve warm out of the oven, drizzed with Chocolate Butterscotch Sauce, and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

Chocolate Butterscotch Sauce
1/2 stick of butter (2 oz)
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp kosher salt or sea salt
1 tbsp of dark rum
1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the sugar, cream, and salt and stir until well blended.  Bring to a gentle boil for the next 5 minutes and stir occasionally.  Remove from the heat and stir in the rum (I was actually going to use bourban but ran out).  Being careful not to burn yourself, taste the sauce for flavor.  Once the sauce is no longer boiling, and has cooled down a little, add the chocolate chips (chocolate can be temperamental, and can burn if added to extreme temps) and stir until melted.

Read Full Post »