Category Archives: Desserts

Chai Peach Clafoutis

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Chai Peach Clafoutis

Let me begin by saying that two weeks ago I’d never heard of “clafoutis.” I didn’t know how to pronounce “clafoutis.” I certainly did not foresee myself making “clafoutis,” and then eating it three separate times in the same day. I wanted to tell you the proper way to pronounce clafoutis, so like any red-blooded American I went to Wikipedia.

Reading through the clafoutis article just now, I’ve realized that this dish can only be called a clafoutis if it is made with cherries. When made with other fruits, it is referred to as a “flaugnarde” which is really even more ridiculous than clafoutis and I can’t quite handle that. Let’s just continue to refer to it as a clafoutis, simply because this whole mess is getting too French for me.

So back to the pronunciation thing: since I also don’t know how to read phonetic symbols (although I did attend approximately 28% of the scheduled classes for my phonetics lecture at university), I’m going to guess that it is pronounced like “kla-foo-tee” with extra emphasis on the “tee.” Please correct me if I’m wrong!

Right, so whether you are making a clafoutis with cherries or a flaugnarde with peaches, the method is the same. You’re essentially mixing fresh fruit with a delicious flan-like custard and baking it in the oven. It’s heaven, really. My incredible friend Michele came over the morning I was baking this and we weren’t sure if it was meant to be a breakfast or a dessert. So we ate it for breakfast. And then later I ate it for dessert. And maybe in between those two events I snacked on it midday.

Chai Peach Clafoutis from www.IfLooksCouldKale.com

My kitchen was overflowing with an abundance of ripe, delicious peaches so I wanted to make something that really showcased their sweet flavor. This (faux) clafoutis did the job perfectly. I decided to mix things up a bit and spice the clafoutis with chai spices to complement the fruit.

Chai Peach Clafoutis from If Looks Could Kale food blog.

Rather than using a traditional pie dish, I decided to bake the clafoutis in a cast iron skillet. I don’t know why but I just love making desserts in that thing! It makes everything seem so rustic and lovely.

I adapted Julia Child’s original clafoutis recipe because it seemed like a perfectly good place to start. I just finished reading Julie & Julia (I must be the last food blogger on the planet to read it!), so Julia Child has been on my mind lately. Since I also recently bashed French food as being unnecessarily complicated, I thought that you might appreciate a simple and delicious addition to your European repertoire.

Chai Peach Clafoutis from If Looks Could Kale

Ready? Here’s the recipe!

Makes: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe peaches
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 1/4 c. milk
  • 2/3 c. granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp.  salt
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • powdered sugar, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Set out a large bowl of ice water. Use a sharp knife to score the bottom of the peaches with a large “x”, then place them in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove, and plunge immediately into the ice bath. Let sit for another 30 seconds, then place on a cutting board to rest for a few minutes. Starting at the bottom of the peach, use your fingers to peel back the skin by tugging on the corners of the pre-scored “x.” Once peeled, discard the skins and thinly slice the peaches.
  3. Place the cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and coriander into a large blender. Add 1/3 c. sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, flour, and milk and blend until smooth.
  4. Grease a 9-10″ cast iron skillet with butter and pour in a 1/4 inch layer of the batter. Bake for about 2-3 minutes or until a film of batter just barely sets in the pan. The rest of the batter will still be raw.
  5. Remove from the heat and keep the oven on. Lay the sliced peaches over the batter in a circular design. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar over the peaches, then pour on the rest of the batter.
  6. Bake for another 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven when it is puffed and brown, and a knife comes out clean. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, serve warm.

Chai Peach Clafoutis from If Looks Could Kale

Nutrition (per serving):

225 calories, 4 g. fat, 6 g. protein, 41 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 6

Cherry Garcia Bars

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Cherry Garcia Bars

I only recently discovered Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream, which must make me the last person on the planet to do so as it is their number one selling flavor. A few weeks ago on a particularly hot summer day the husband and I roamed over to the nearest 7-11 to pick up some ice cream treats and I paid a whopping $3 for a Cherry Garcia ice cream bar. While stupidly over-priced, it was also stupidly delicious.

When a big box of bing cherries found their way to my doorstep (Thanks, Harry & David!) I decided that they needed to be sacrificed to the Cherry Garcia gods. I took what was left over after making the Elderflower Sangria and spent the next hour painstakingly halving and pitting every last cherry. Throughout this process I had a brilliant idea to invent a gadget which would pit cherries for me, only to find that I’m also the last person on the planet to hear about the wonderful invention that is a cherry-pitter. Hold on while I add that little baby to my Amazon wish list…

Okay, I’m back.

After my fingers were stained blood red and I’d successfully developed a case of carpal tunnel, the cherries were prepped and ready to go.

I made a shortbread crust and a brown butter filling to contain all of the ooey-gooey cherry-chocolate madness.

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The brown butter flavor really adds a layer of complexity to these bars and plays up the flavor of the fresh cherries.

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Waiting for these babies to cool was by far the most difficult part of the process.

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Ohhhh yeahhhh (make sure you read that with the Kool-Aid man’s voice).

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The delicate buttery flavor of the shortbread works so well with the complexity of the brown butter. I’m considering making a cranberry and cream cheese version with a graham cracker crust when the holidays come back around.

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Be still my heart!

Here’s the recipe:

Makes: 1 serving  (just kidding…. or am I?)

(Makes one 9×13 pan)

Ingredients:

[For the shortbread crust]

  • 3/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • Caviar from half of a vanilla bean
  • 2 c. plus 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

[For the filling]

  • 1 c. unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 c. white sugar
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c.  flour
  • 1 tsp. bourbon (or try almond extract)
  • Caviar from half of a vanilla bean
  • 4 c. cherries, halved and pitted
  • 3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate pieces, roughly chopped (all I had were chocolate chips, but it would have been much prettier with hunks of baking chocolate!)
  • 1 Tbsp. all purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with parchment paper, letting the paper come up the sides.
  2. Take the 3/4 c. melted butter and mix with 2/3 c. white sugar and the vanilla bean caviar in a medium bowl. Add the flour and salt and mix with a spatula until combined. Dump the dough into the prepared baking pan and press into shape using your fingers.
  3. Bake the shortbread crust for 17-19 minutes, or until golden and puffed. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Keep the oven on.
  4. Meanwhile, toss the cherries with a heaping spoonful of all-purpose flour.
  5. Dice the remaining cup of butter and place in a small heavy-bottomed pot. Heat over medium for 6 minutes, stirring constantly. The butter will foam, turn clear, and then turn a golden brown color. Remove from heat and pour into a glass liquid measuring cup. (Don’t be like me and pour it into a drinking glass without a handle and then burn yourself trying to pick it up.)
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a regular bowl and hand mixer), use the whisk attachment to combine the sugar, eggs, and salt. Add half of the flour, then the bourbon, the rest of the flour, and the vanilla bean caviar.
  7. Once smooth, slowly pour in the browned butter with the mixer running to incorporate into the mixture.
  8. Arrange your cherries and chocolate on top of the cooled shortbread crust. Pour the filling mixture evenly over the top. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 28-32 minutes, or until the top has turned golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Cool for fifteen minutes in the pan, then use the parchment paper to remove the bars from the pan and place on a rack to cool completely.
  10. Once completely cool, use a serrated knife (bread knife works great) to cut into bars. Store bars in the fridge if you don’t consume them all within 24 hours.

Nutella Fudge

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Nutella Fudge

Fudge is scary.

I remember trying to make fudge from scratch at Christmastime just to end up, year after year, with a disgusting, burnt mess stuck to the bottom of my mom’s nice cookware. For the last few fifteen years, I’ve made fudge at Christmas using the good ole’ Eagle Brand recipe, which is basically sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips melted together. Decent, but not like the real stuff. I’ve avoided trying many fudge recipes in my day, partially out of fear of ruining my cookware, and partially because I keep forgetting to buy a candy thermometer.

When I saw this recipe for Nutella Fudge, I was intrigued. I’ve adjusted the recipe a bit to suit my own needs, but you should head over to Not Your Momma’s Cookie to check out the original.

Now this recipe isn’t a classic scratch fudge recipe, either – it is something deliciously new to my world of fudge. I highly recommend that you go make it. Right now.

Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Oh, you’re out of Nutella? Okay, well here’s a little inspiration to get you on your way to the grocery store.

nutellafudge2

Oh, yeah. That’s some good fudge.

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Here’s how I made it:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. butter, salted
  • 1/2 c. half & half
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • Caviar from one vanilla bean
  • 1 c. Nutella
  • 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted (make sure you sift it!)
  • Optional toppings (which I didn’t think of until after I made the batch above): chopped hazelnuts, pretzel pieces, white chocolate chips, toasted coconut, or crushed candy canes.

Directions:

  1. Sift your powdered sugar into a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper, letting the edges hang over on two opposing sides to make a sling. This makes removing and cutting the fudge a LOT easier once it has set.
  3. Melt your butter in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.
  4. Add your brown sugar, vanilla bean caviar, and half-and-half and bring the mixture to a boil. Let it boil, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
  5. Move the pan to a cool burner and stir in the Nutella. I’d recommend spritzing your measuring cup with a little non-stick spray before putting the Nutella in there, which will make it less likely to stick.
  6. Once the Nutella is thoroughly mixed in, transfer the contents of the pot into the bowl with the powdered sugar in it. Mix quickly and thoroughly until all of it is combined. It will be pretty thick – if it seems thin, add more powdered sugar.
  7. Dump the whole mess into your baking dish and stick it in the fridge for 2 hours. Remove by grabbing the excess parchment paper and lifting. Transfer to a cutting board and cut it up!

Enjoy!

nutellafudge3

Easy Farmhouse Fruit Cobbler

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Easy Farmhouse Fruit Cobbler

I’ve been making this recipe for years and it is my favorite way to make cobbler. When I have cobbler I like the topping to be rich and buttery, more like a yellow cake than a biscuit or crumbly topping. I’ve made this with fresh apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries (sometimes with rhubarb), and even with a bag of mixed frozen berries from my freezer. The recipe is very forgiving and easy to adjust if you want to double it or halve it. I’ve baked it in rectangular Pyrex as well as in a pie dish (I halved the recipe), and both have come out nicely.

Fresh Farmhouse Fruit Cobbler

Fresh Farmhouse Fruit Cobbler

I just made a Strawberry-Rhubarb version of this cobbler last weekend for our really good friends who came over for dinner, dessert, and croquet. When I was a kid we had a garden in the backyard and we always grew rhubarb. My Mom made the best Strawberry-Rhubarb pies for us in the summer (when my sisters and I didn’t sneak out to the garden to eat all of the rhubarb raw). Anytime I have a Strawberry-Rhubarb dessert it just takes me back to sitting with my three sisters in our farmhouse kitchen, impatiently waiting for dessert while the smell of the pie filled the room.

Pies are serious business in my family, especially at Thanksgiving. My Aunt Jackie was always responsible to bring the pies, and she never forgot to bring a Pumpkin, an Apple, and a Pecan pie for our big dinners.

My Mom & Grandma - bakers, extraordinaire.

My Mom & Grandma – bakers, extraordinaire.

The extent of my pie-making abilities include making a butter and graham cracker crust and filling it with microwaved chocolate instant pudding. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve never even tried to make a pie crust! I did just buy a pastry blender off Amazon the other day, so I feel like that is a step in the right direction.

As pies are not my particular forte, I like to stick to this easy and super scrumptious cobbler.

Here’s the basic recipe:

Makes: 10 servings

Ingredients:

[for the base]

  • 1/2 cup butter (unsalted if you have it)

[for the fruit filling]

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 cups fresh fruit (firm fruits work best, like peaches, apples, strawberries)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or orange juice)
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Vanilla (either the caviar from one half of a vanilla bean, or 1 tsp. extract)*

[for the cobbler topping]

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup flour (all-purpose is fine)
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk (whole works best, but I’ve made it with non-fat with no issues)

*I’ve also experimented with other extracts, such as almond or orange extract, with happy results)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Make the Base: Melt the half cup of butter in the microwave and pour into a 13×9″ glass baking dish.
  3. Make the Filling: Bring the cup of sugar,  fresh  fruit, and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce to low and add cinnamon and vanilla extract.
  4. Meanwhile, combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add the milk slowly and stir until the ingredients just come together and are moistened. This makes a batter, not a dough, so it will be very runny.
  5. Pour the mixed batter directly on top of the melted butter in your baking pan. Do not stir it! You want to butter to come up around the edges and keep the dish from sticking.
  6. Pour your fruit mixture directly on top of the batter in your baking pan. Do not stir it! The batter will bake up in between your chunks of fruit and it will be delicious.
  7. Bake in your preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm and with whipped cream or a splash of half-and-half.

Nutrition (1/10th of recipe):

324 calories, 10 g. fat, 3 g. protein, 58 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 9

What were your favorite desserts growing up? Do you have a version that you still make, or that you make for your own kids now?

Rustic Lavender Creme Brulee

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Crème brûlée is my favorite dessert. Of all time. Ever.

creme

Lately I’ve had it in my head that it would be really good with a hint of lavender. I wish that I could say I was the first person to think of this, but a quick Google search led me to believe otherwise. I have a bottle of lavender extract that I bought on Amazon which was just sitting on my shelf, itching to be used.

I put my faith in The Pioneer Woman and adapted her recipe for my use, inclusive of the addition of the lavender extract as well as the use of my oven’s broiler to achieve this delicious caramelization. I’ve had a culinary torch in my Amazon wish list for almost a year now but I just can’t seem to take the plunge and purchase it. I think it is because I don’t know of any other uses other than to char a pepper and caramelize crème brûlée, both of which I can do with my oven’s broiler.

The sugar crust gets just as crunchy and delicious as with a torch, but it tends to turn out a little more “rustic” looking, with spots of dark brown caramelization rather than an all-over even golden brown. The husband says he prefers it this way, because the dark spots bring a hint of bitterness to the dish that compliments the overall sweetness rather well.

Here’s the recipe:

Makes: 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (1 pint) of heavy cream
  • 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp.  lavender extract
  • 5 whole egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Extra sugar for topping

Directions:

  1.  Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Slice your vanilla bean lengthwise with the tip of a very sharp knife, just deep enough to puncture the top exterior (not all the way through to the cutting board). Turn your knife over, and using the flat back edge scrap the vanilla bean from top to bottom length wise to pull out all of that delicious caviar.
  3. Combine the vanilla caviar and cream in a heavy saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat.
  4. Meanwhile, whip together the egg yolks and sugar until they become thick and pale yellow in color. This is best done in a stand mixer so you have an extra hand for the next step.
  5. Very, very slowly drizzle 1/2 cup of warm cream into the egg yolks with the mixer beating the yolks on medium-low speed. Once that first 1/2 cup is added you can add the rest of the cream slowly.
  6. Grab out a rimmed baking sheet and place your four crème brûlée ramekins on it. Pour the mixture into the ramekins.
  7. Place the baking sheet in the pre-heated oven and pour very hot water into the bottom of the sheet pan until it reaches half way up the sides of the dishes.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until set. The custard will be quite wobbly and will jiggle from side to side when nudged. It should not be liquid in the center.
  9. Remove the ramekins from the pan (do NOT try to take the whole pan out with the extremely hot water sloshing from side to side). I’ve found that the best way for me is to use a stiff pancake turner. Cool ramekins on the countertop.
  10. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2-3 hours.
  11. When you are ready to serve the crème brûlée, take the ramekins out of the fridge, uncover them, and sprinkle a fine later of sugar over their tops. You want to get an even layer of sugar over the whole surface, so you may need to tilt, wiggle, and shake the dish to get the sugar to spread out. Tap out any excess sugar.
  12. Put the top rack in your oven up as high as it will go. You may even want to place an update side casserole dish in there so you can really get your ramekins up close to the heat element.
  13. Place the ramekins in the oven and then turn the broiler on to High. If you pre-heat your broiler the oven will get too hot and your delicious crème brûlée may begin to cook again.
  14. Broil 5-10 minutes, rotating frequently. Take them out when they are golden brown and bubbling.
  15. Place the crème brûlée in the fridge for about 30 minutes to chill the custard. Any longer and the sugar topping will get soft.
  16. Or, if you’re impatient like me, you can serve them after about 5 minutes when the sugar has set and the center is still lukewarm. Mmm.

Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman.

 

Nutrition (per  serving):

440 calories, 28 g. fat, 5 g. protein, 44 g. carbs, 0 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 12

Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Strawberries

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I’ve always considered Panna Cotta to be one of those fancy desserts that you can only get a restaurants. You know, like crème brûlée or decadent chocolate mousse. I truly had no idea how easy it is to make this stuff at home. I searched all over the web for an “authentic” recipe, thinking that there was no way a true Panna Cotta recipe called for gelatin. Alas, I stand corrected!

panna

This is the perfect dessert to serve to company. You can make it in round cups (like I have) and serve them as-is, or you can turn them out onto a plate as a mold. You could also make these in wine glasses or martini glasses so you could see through to the pretty strawberries.

Make this recipe the night before you have company over and your dessert dish will be taken care of!

Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 envelope of unflavored gelatin (about 1 tablespoon – I used the Knox brand)
  • 2 Tbsp. of cold water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • Caviar from one vanilla bean (or 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract)
  • 6 large strawberries, sliced

Directions:

  1. In your smallest saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin powder over the 2 Tbsp. of cold water and let it stand for about a minute to soften. Heat the mixture over low heat. Once the gelatin is dissolved, remove the pan from heat and let it stand.
  2. In a large saucepan, bring the sugar, cream, vanilla caviar, and half-and-half to a boil over moderately high heat, stirring constantly so the bottom doesn’t burn.
  3. Take the pan off heat and pour in the gelatin mixture.
  4. Divide the cream mixture into six dishes (each needs to hold 2/3 cup) and cool until they reach room temperature. Divide the sliced strawberries evenly among the six dishes.
  5. Chill the panna cotta, covered, overnight or for at least four hours.
  6. Serve as-is, or to remove the panna cotta molds onto a plate, dip the ramekins one at a time into a bowl of hot water for about three seconds. Then run a thin knife around the inside edge of each dish and invert it onto the center of a small plate.

Nutrition (per serving):

297 calories, 19 g. fat, 3 g. protein, 28 g. carbs, 0 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 8