Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

When I think of lemon bars, I think of my Grandma Betty, and her puckered lips and beaming smile after taking a bite of one of these tangy-sweet treats.  She loved to make a batch, usually with lemon jello or pudding mix, and then refrigerate them so they were cool.

Inspired by Betty, I made these bars for a recent picnic and barbecue. (h/t Bon Appetit 2004)  They’re a wonderful eggy-custardy texture on top, and the coconut in the crust makes adds a chewy, tropical dimension on the bottom.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with some red raspberries on a platter — turned out great.

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¡Este pastel es increíble! Chalk it up to Mexican magic: this two-layer bundt cake by Marcela Valladolid requires you to suspend disbelief of both its incredible decadence and how it’s made.

First you prepare a rich chocolate cake batter and fill the bottom half of a buttered bundt cake pan. Then, you pour the liquid, eggy flan mixture — which includes 4 ounces of cream cheese — on top of the batter.

But while you bake it covered for an hour, the layers magically invert:  the chocolate cake rises to the top and the custardy flan sinks to the bottom. When you flip the creation onto a serving platter, the result is a beautiful creamy, vanilla-caramel flan layer atop a rich, moist chocolate cake.  Drizzle with a salty caramel sauce.  It wowed everyone’s socks off.

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No trip to the great Northwest wilderness is complete without a classic dessert prepared artfully over the open flame:  the s’more.  Gooey toasted marshmallow sandwiched between crunchy honey grahams and rich sweet chocolate. Heaven in the woods — and totally worth every mosquito swat while toasting the ‘mallows over the fire.   This year we decided to shake it up and use Nutella — the European hazelnut spread — in place of the standard Hershey’s milk chocolate bar. I was won over my the creaminess and the nutty flavor.  Try it out next time!

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Like lemon?  Then you’ll love these zesty and moist cakes with a sweet lemon glaze. Perfect for a brunch, picnic, or taking to the office to share.  The eggy cake batter includes 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon zest, which gives a hint of tang on the inside.  But it’s the double dose of lemon on the outside that really puts these over the top:  shortly after taking the cakes out out of the oven, you drizzle a sweet lemon syrup on top, allowing the liquid to soak in.  Later, you frost the tops with a creamy lemon glaze.   Adapted from Ina Garten’s Lemon Yogurt Cake recipe here.

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This cake — itself a take on the Oreo cookie — is so much fun to make and utterly amazing to eat. Layers of rich, moist chocolate cake sandwich creamy vanilla filling that’s blended with crumbles of Oreo cookies. A thick and decadent dark chocolate frosting made of butter, confectioners sugar and ghirardelli cocoa podwer coats the entire cake. Kudos to fellow food blog Annie’s Eats for the recipe!

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This cake was my baptism into the world of Bon Appetit magazine. And as I’m sure any of its devourers can attest, the surviving sister of Gourmet Magazine offers up some pretty sweet stuff (no pun intended). The January issue names this recipe among its “top desserts of the year,” and while I might not go that far, it is indeed wonderfully decadent and delicious. The cake is moist, fluffy and coconutty, laden with scattered, irregular fragments of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate.  The top of the cake is an amazing minefield of toasted coconut, gooey chocolate and a creamy coconut glaze. I served it as a coffeecake for a brunch but it could easily have been a dessert course for a fancy dinner party.

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The revered judges of the annual Washington bureau holiday bake-off have spoken…. and they’ve crowned these almond florentines as king in 2009!  Sources tell me it was the “ooooh” factor that tipped the scale vis a vis some of the formidable competition.  And that reaction is not all that surprising, since these are indeed surprisingly tasty (read: addictive) cookie-candies.

The florentine is not quite a “brittle” or a “bark”:  it’s a thin, carmel-sugary crisp with a hint of chewiness and a light layer of bittersweet chocolate on the outside. It’s virtually all sliced almonds held together by a honey-butter-sugar mixture that gets golden brown when baked for 10 minutes.

Almond Florentines

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup whipping cream

4 cups sliced almonds

1 cup semisweet chocolate

6 foil pans

(1) Preheat the oven to 375. Grease the aluminum pans.

(2) Over medium heat, combine the butter, sugar, honey and cream. Cook until boiling — stirring constantly for 1 1/2 mins at boiling.

(3) Remove from heat and add almonds.  Then, divide the mixture between the 6 pans. The layer should be very, very thin.

(4) Bake at 10-14 minutes until bubbling around the edges and a rich golden brown. Watch closely so as not to burn!

(5) Cool the florentines completely in the pans, even refrigerating or freezing if needed. After 5-10 minutes, pop them out onto wax paper.

(6) Melt the chocolate over low heat and then spread a thin layer atop the florentine discs. Allow chocolate to cool and harden completely.

(7) Slice using a sharp, long knife and serve!

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