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198 posts categorized " 06) Cakes, Desserts, Fruit Desserts & Pies"

09/11/2018

~ Panna from Heaven: A Divine Mango Panna Cotta ~

Pretty as a picture and impressive indeed, "panna cotta" (Italian for "cooked cream") is, perhaps, the easiest of all the sweetened-cream-based, ramekin-molded type desserts. That said, unlike recipes for puddings, pastry creams, custards and egg-custards, (like creme caramel or creme brûlée), in the case of panna cotta, a bakeless sweet treat, the cream is thickened with gelatine, rather than eggs. Like all the aforementioned sweetened-cream desserts, every occasion, from blue-jean casual to high-heel upscale, is the right occasion to serve this dessert. Panna cotta is a delicate, softly-set dessert containing three ingredients: cream, sugar and galatine. A fourth ingredient, flavoring,...... View full recipe for "~ Panna from Heaven: A Divine Mango Panna Cotta ~"

06/28/2018

~ Simply-Scrumptious 3-Ingredient Strawberry Sauce ~

Strawberry sauce. Drizzled on pancakes or waffles for breakfast, atop strawberry ice cream for dessert, or, used to flavor a strawberry milkshake, it's hard to find a person that doesn't love this sweet condiment. I'm not here to tell you it's hard or time-consuming to make strawberry topping from scratch -- it's not. That said, it can be made even easier without any compromise to the end result. As we all know, sometimes there simply aren't even enough minutes in the day to make everything completely from scratch. I am here to tell you, if you've got store-bought or homemade...... View full recipe for "~ Simply-Scrumptious 3-Ingredient Strawberry Sauce ~"

06/22/2018

~ Old-Fashioned Very-Strawberry-Custard Ice Cream ~

When it comes to ice-cream, store-bought or scratch-made, of the basic big-three choices, vanilla, chocolate or strawberry, strawberry is my favorite -- it always has been, even as a child. In my hometown, their's a place, Heisler's Cloverleaf Dairy, which, in my opinion makes the best strawberry ice-cream known to man- or woman-kind. Whether scooped into a bowl or onto a cone, it is always served at the perfect frozen-anything temperature. It's rich, creamy, not-too-sweet and full of bold-flavored bit's of to-the-tooth-textured strawberries -- not nasty clumps of ice. A bit about adding fresh fruit to ice-cream or frozen custard:...... View full recipe for "~ Old-Fashioned Very-Strawberry-Custard Ice Cream ~"

06/19/2018

~ Old-Fashioned Chocolate-Custard Ice-Cream Base ~

Rich and creamy chocolate ice-cream. One dip or two, with or without bits of chocolate or sauce swirled throughout, it's almost impossible to resist. Kids love it, adults do too, and, I'm betting it's the favorite-flavor of at least one person in every family. No banana split would be complete without a dip of chocolate, and, it's a requirement when making the perfect double-chocolate shake or malt too. Whether it's firm scoops served in a bowl or swirls of soft-serve piled high atop a cone, the Summer heat is the perfect time to indulge in this cool and satisfying treat....... View full recipe for "~ Old-Fashioned Chocolate-Custard Ice-Cream Base ~"

06/17/2018

~ My Old-Fashioned Vanilla-Custard Ice-Cream Base ~

During June, July and August, we will all most likely eat more ice cream than we did during the past nine months. In my kitchen, during the next three months, I'll be making more than I did during the past nine too. Whatever flavor I've got churning, vanilla, chocolate or strawberry, everyone I know (myself included) will generically refer to it as ice cream. That said, what I'll technically be making is frozen custard, and, if you make homemade ice cream, I'm betting you're most likely making old-fashioned frozen custard (or a version of it), too. Read on. The difference...... View full recipe for "~ My Old-Fashioned Vanilla-Custard Ice-Cream Base ~"

06/15/2018

~ Have a Blackberry-Cobbler Ice-Cream Kind of Day ~

Newsflash. Blue Bell, the Texas-based ice cream company, announced on Twitter, that its Southern Blackberry-Cobbler Ice Cream will be available in stores, for a limited time only, starting Monday, June 4th. This popular seasonal flavor consists of a creamy, blackberry-flavored vanilla ice cream with flaky pie crust pieces and blackberry sauce swirled throughout. Being a worshiper of the blackberry, under normal circumstances, this news would have caused me to race around town in an attempt to hoard as much of it as I could stuff into my freezer. It didn't. Why? Homemade blackberry-cobbler frozen custard + tips on adding fruit...... View full recipe for "~ Have a Blackberry-Cobbler Ice-Cream Kind of Day ~"

06/12/2018

~ Have a Very-Berry Blackberry-Cobbler Kind of Day ~

Here today, gone today. That's the lifespan of blackberries entering my kitchen. I've been told their dark color makes them really good for me -- even more antioxidants than blueberries. Rah-rah-sis-boom-bah, I'd eat them even if they were on on the not-so-good-for-me foods short list. When I buy a box of blackberries, I eat a box of blackberries. When I pick blackberries, they disappear on the walk to my kitchen door. I do not share blackberries -- well, maybe, probably I would, but, I've yet to be tested on this point. That said, because blackberries require no special treatment (peeling,...... View full recipe for "~ Have a Very-Berry Blackberry-Cobbler Kind of Day ~"

06/10/2018

~Love is Blueberry Oatmeal-Crumble Cookie Squares~

Blueberries are a fruit best served cooked. Simmer down and read on. When it comes to eating fresh, perfectly-ripe, high-quality, locally-grown berries hand-to-mouth, there are three seedier-types I enjoy more -- blackberries, strawberries and raspberries (in that order). I love blueberries, but, it's my opinion that the blueberry is enhanced by cooking. Given a choice, I'll choose the blueberry jam, blueberry pie or blueberry bread pudding over the bowl of fresh blueberries any day of the week -- they even taste better after the little bit of cooking they get in pancakes. Dare to be a buttery-rich & delicately-crumbly kind...... View full recipe for "~Love is Blueberry Oatmeal-Crumble Cookie Squares~"

05/19/2018

~Summer's Coming Fresh-Fruit & Pastry-Cream Tarts~

One whirl around the produce section of the grocery store and it becomes crystal clear that Summer is coming to my Northeast. There are fresh berries galore and they're plump, juicy and super-flavorful -- my indicator that our own locally-grown berries will be appearing in our farmers' markets in a few weeks. I couldn't decide between the blackberries or the strawberries, so I bought 'em both, then I picked up a fresh pineapple too. My plan is to serve them as unadulterated and au natural as possible -- by using them "as is" in small, fresh fruit tartlets. A bit...... View full recipe for "~Summer's Coming Fresh-Fruit & Pastry-Cream Tarts~"

03/27/2018

~Gone Bananas: Double Banana Pudding Poke Cake~

Retro recipes with a history to report or a story to share, are fun for me to write. While plenty of versions for this particular cake are available on the internet, my reason for adding "mine" is two fold: plenty of present day cooks have no idea what a poke cake is, and, this particular one is, one of three poke cake recipes my mom made when I was growing up in the 1960's and '70's. Because banana pudding is classic and traditional Southern fare (a layered dessert of vanilla cookies, sliced bananas, vanilla pudding and meringue), that would indeed...... View full recipe for "~Gone Bananas: Double Banana Pudding Poke Cake~"

02/16/2018

~ Warm and Cozy Crockpot Casserole Rice Pudding ~

Hear me out -- rice pudding made in the crockpot or slow cooker is never, EVER going to be competitive in a contest with the super-creamy-textured stovetop-cooked rice pudding made with Arborio-type rice simmered in a custard-esque cream and tempered-egg mixture. It won't happen and ignore those who promise it will -- but, don't let this information lower your expectations. Rice pudding made in the crockpot is simply scrumptious, and, seriously easy to make too, so: On the days when the machinations of hovering over rice pudding made on the stovetop is just too much fuss... ... simply allow the...... View full recipe for "~ Warm and Cozy Crockpot Casserole Rice Pudding ~"

08/15/2017

~ Rich, Toasted Indian Basmati Rice Pudding (Kheer) ~

When it comes to worldly or exotic recipes, I always do my research and my best to keep them as close to authentic as I can. When it comes to Indian food, I always reply upon the advice of my four Indian girlfriends, and the woman who owns Krishan, Happy Valley's Indian grocery store, because you're all such good cooks. That said, when it comes to kheer, a delicately-spiced addictively-rich rice pudding dessert, if you're one of my Indian girlfriends, you might find yourself wincing in one or two spots while reading my recipe. Why? While the flavors in my...... View full recipe for "~ Rich, Toasted Indian Basmati Rice Pudding (Kheer) ~"

07/03/2017

~ Creamy Dreamy No-Bake Strawberry Key Lime Pie ~

Here's a pie I seldom get the opportunity to make because, after making strawberry shortcakes, a batch of strawberry preserves, and, some strawberry dessert topping, I rarely have leftover strawberries. That said, I keep this super-simple go-to recipe in my repertoire for times when I do have a few cups of seriously-ripe strawberries at that "use 'em or lose 'em" stage. Read on: The combination of strawberry & key lime is delightfully grown up. All of us have encountered recipes similar to this, and you've probably even tasted them once or twice -- it originated on the box of Jell-O...... View full recipe for "~ Creamy Dreamy No-Bake Strawberry Key Lime Pie ~"

06/23/2017

~ Simple & Sweet: Homemade Strawberry Topping ~

Strawberries, one of the first fruits to ripen in the Spring, are considered to be the fruit that announces "Summer is here", and, here in Central Pennsylvania, we've been enjoying our own homegrown and locally-grown farmers-market strawberries for a couple of weeks now. From pancakes, waffles and French toast, to cheesecake, shortcake and ice-cream (to name a few), the 20-30 minutes it takes to make strawberry topping is well-worth the effort. It's luscious. Those who scratch-make this pretty-to-look-at positively-yummy tart-and-sweet topping make it to their own liking. Some folks hull and toss the berries in whole, then after it has...... View full recipe for "~ Simple & Sweet: Homemade Strawberry Topping ~"

05/31/2017

~A Few Bites of Summer: Pineapple-Meringue Tartlets~

During the Summer, our gas grill is the focal point for all sorts of fun, foodie get-togethers. While I like a rare-cooked steak or a juicy cheeseburger accompanied by a baked potato and a garden salad as much as the next person, for me, 'tis the season to partake in poultry and pork. Big, meaty bone-on breasts, chops or ribs, slathered with sweet and savory sauces accompanied by grilled vegetable kabobs are amongst my favorites, and all are deserving of a light, bright Summer fruit dessert. Pineapple-meringue tartlets are the perfect ending to a Summer evening. I adore pineapple. Spring...... View full recipe for "~A Few Bites of Summer: Pineapple-Meringue Tartlets~"

05/29/2017

~ How to: Cut, Form & Bake Pie-Pastry Tartlet Shells ~

When it comes to desserts in general, but especially desserts like pies, tarts and cheesecakes, if I'm baking for a large group of people or for a special occasion, small, individual-sized ones, while a bit more labor-intensive up front, are well worth the "fussy" extra effort in the end. Why? They're perfectly-portioned and require no slicing. Serving them is 100% mess-free and stress-free. This post refers to tartlets made w/classic, rolled pie pastry: To make pie-pastry tartlet shells, you need pie pastry, and, to make 14, 3"-round shells, you need the same amount you would use to make one, 9"...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Cut, Form & Bake Pie-Pastry Tartlet Shells ~"

04/30/2017

~ Five-Minute Food-Processor Cream-Cheese Glaze ~

Everyone loves cream cheese frosting sandwiched between the layers and slathered on the sides and top of an applesauce, banana, carrot, coconut or pumpkin cake -- meet my short list of layer-, sheet-, or cup- cakes that require cream cheese frosting. That said, certain quick breads and muffins (which traditionally don't get frosted), many bundt cakes, cinnamon rolls, pastries and even an occasional cookie, benefit from a smooth, drizzly, glaze, and, the tang that cream cheese adds to the classic confectioners'-sugar-and-milk mixture is: a perfect finishing touch. I've decided, in tandem with a few professionals, that making the ultimate smooth,...... View full recipe for "~ Five-Minute Food-Processor Cream-Cheese Glaze ~"

04/28/2017

~ Charmingly Southern: Hummingbird (Bundt) Cake ~

Best described by me as "an extremely moist, banana and pineapple, cinnamon 'n spice cake containing toasted pecans and topped with cream cheese frosting", this absolutely scrumptious cake concoction is impossible for me to resist. It's simply irresistible. If you're like me, when you hear "bananas and pineapple", you likely say to yourself "that sounds tropical, akin to Caribbean, more than it does Southern." That's because it is. Hummingbird cake was created on the island of Jamaica during the 1960's and is named after their national bird, where the cake is also known as Doctor Bird Cake ("doctor bird" being...... View full recipe for "~ Charmingly Southern: Hummingbird (Bundt) Cake ~"

04/18/2017

~ A Must Have Recipe: Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake ~

If I knew you were coming I'd have baked you a mayonnaise cake. While that might not sound appetizing, I always say, "what happens in my kitchen, stays in my kitchen" and in my food world, there is no reason to reveal to anyone they are eating a mayonnaise cake unless they ask for the recipe. In the event anyone rolls their eyes or turns up their nose, the joke's on them, as, they obviously don't know mayonnaise is a concoction of oil (which makes cakes tender), eggs and a bit of flavor-boosting acid (like vinegar or lemon juice) --...... View full recipe for "~ A Must Have Recipe: Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake ~"

02/24/2017

~ My Buttery Sour Cream & Buttermilk Pound Cake ~

No embellishments necessary. There is nothing like the first slice of a perfectly baked, slightly-warm pound cake. With or without a dusting of Confectioners' sugar or a drizzling of sweet creamy glaze, it's the perfect foil for berries, ice cream, whipped cream or all three. For me, just as pictured here, it is all I need for breakfast or brunch with a cup of coffee or tea. It's irresistible. Pound cake is personal. I'd never proclaim to have the best recipe because almost everyone's mother or grandmother made the best pound cake they ever tasted. I'm no exception: My grandmother...... View full recipe for "~ My Buttery Sour Cream & Buttermilk Pound Cake ~"

02/20/2017

~ All-American Presidents' Day Gingerbread Cake ~

Say "snack cake" and folks my age think "Twinkie" or "TandyCake". Interestingly, snack cakes have been in America since Colonial times. Recipes for gingerbread, both the hard cookie and the soft cake or loaf, came to the us with the English and German settlers. Gingeroot was delivered by boat to the pilgims -- they used it fresh, dried it, and, made syrup from it. Ginger beer, made by pouring boiling water over brown sugar and pounded ginger combined with yeast proofed in warm milk was bottled and served as a refreshing beverage on hot days. The first recipe for gingerbread...... View full recipe for "~ All-American Presidents' Day Gingerbread Cake ~"

02/14/2017

~ How to Make Whole Buttermilk & Crème Fraîche ~

Once upon a time here in Happy Valley, circa the 1970's and into the 80's, crème fraîche wasn't an item one could find in the dairy case of any market. Why? Most folks had no idea what it was except for schooled chefs and those of us who scoured French cookbooks and/or read magazines like Bon Appétit, Food & Wine and Gourmet. Yes indeed -- foodie life was very different pre- Food Network and the information superhighway we refer to as the internet. A bit about crème "fraîche" (pronounced "fresh" and meaning "fresh cream"): In technical terms, it's a French-invented...... View full recipe for "~ How to Make Whole Buttermilk & Crème Fraîche ~"

02/12/2017

~ Powdered Buttermilk -- What It is and How to use It ~

Once upon a time, buttermilk was something I kept on hand. As a cook and baker for our family of five, I used it regularly to make quite a few things: pancakes, waffles, biscuits, scones, coffee cake, pound cake, fried chicken and salad dressing. To breads and cakes it adds tangy flavor and volume and produces a fine, soft crumb. Its acidity when used as a marinade is a natural tenderizer for poultry and meat. There's more. It does all this without adding a lot of extra fat. Times change. Our children grew up and left the nest. That left...... View full recipe for "~ Powdered Buttermilk -- What It is and How to use It ~"

01/20/2017

~ The Differences Between: Cupcakes and Muffins ~

Cupcakes and muffins. Past their shape and portable-foodness, they have less in common than one might think. The fast, simple generic answer is: Cupcakes are fancy little cup-sized cakes and muffins are plain little cup-sized quick-breads. Served with an ice-cold glass of milk or cup of piping hot coffee, rare is the person who would take a pass on either. That said, I will always choose a muffin over a cupcake. Sorry cupcake -- this post is going to be a bit biased. Shape. They're both baked in multiple-cupped pans, to produce individual-sized, portable portions. Prior to the invention of...... View full recipe for "~ The Differences Between: Cupcakes and Muffins ~"

01/04/2017

~ Alice's Super-Simple Georgia Peach-Pie Cobbler ~

Alice was a friend and a member of our tailgate group back in the 1980's and 1990's. Alice was a Southern Belle who lived most of her life in Atlanta, Georgia. She made no secret of the fact that she detested the sport of cooking -- which complicates things for a woman in a tailgate group like ours. That said, she participated and prepared something good each week, and, from her, I got a few very nice recipes that were easy to make too. Since Georgia is known as the Peach State, it wasn't surprising that one of Alice's dessert...... View full recipe for "~ Alice's Super-Simple Georgia Peach-Pie Cobbler ~"

11/15/2016

~ So Sophisticated: Sweet Potato & Frangelico Tart ~

"So sophisticated." That was my mother-in-law's comment when I served this dessert in place of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving a few years back. I hung onto those words because Ann was a woman of few words who didn't hand out compliments often. We were having an unusually small gathering of eight people that year. Making one easy-to-serve dessert to feed us all, enabling me to offer seconds to a few, and, save me time too -- it worked out perfectly. Sweet potato or pumpkin pie (in addition to Dutch apple, pecan, and rhubarb) was/is always a part of my three-four...... View full recipe for "~ So Sophisticated: Sweet Potato & Frangelico Tart ~"

11/02/2016

~ Simply Divine: Chocolate Tart (Tarte au Chocolat) ~

Don't look now but the season of holiday entertaining and festive gatherings is quickly approaching. If you're like me, you're always "in the market" for another elegant yet easy-to-make dessert to serve at your own get-together or take to someone else's. A chocolate tart is a perfect ending to any occasion, and, in the case of this recipe, it doesn't require the skills of a trained pastry chef -- feel free to keep that a secret and let 'em think you slaved all day over it. "Tarte au Chocolate" -- No special skills required. A chocolate tart, or as they...... View full recipe for "~ Simply Divine: Chocolate Tart (Tarte au Chocolat) ~"

10/30/2016

~ Short and Sweet: A Three-Ingredient Tart Pastry ~

Pies and tarts: Two of my all-time favorite desserts. This isn't a "pass/fail", but, you only get out of something what you put into it, and, the pie or tart pastry you choose to use can turn a dessert from ordinary to extraordinary. While we all agree we love the time-saving convenience of picking up a store-bought pie crust or pastry on occasion, in our hearts we also know their taste and texture are a compromise. Even a store-bought, artificially-flavored graham cracker or cookie crust pales in comparison to one made at home using real-deal melted butter instead. Is there...... View full recipe for "~ Short and Sweet: A Three-Ingredient Tart Pastry ~"

10/27/2016

~ Pucker up for French Lemon Tart (Tarte au Citron) ~

One thing I love about the late Fall and Winter is the vibrant-colored citrus fruit. Because it's available all year long, a lot of folks don't realize that citrus fruit (lemons, limes, grapefruit and oranges) are in fact "winter fruit". This year, for some reason, the citrus fruit I've been purchasing, is extra-over-the-top, plump, tart 'n sweet and juicy. I've been eating grapefruit every morning, putting orange segments in our salads, lime slices in my gin and tonics, and, today I'm baking a lemon tart for dessert. Tarte au citron is a classic French dessert and every patisserie (bakery) in...... View full recipe for "~ Pucker up for French Lemon Tart (Tarte au Citron) ~"

09/18/2016

~ The Old-Fashioned & Classic Banana Cream Pie ~

Put down that box of graham crackers. No you can't use those vanilla wafers either. Thou shall not use a graham cracker or any cookie crust to make my banana cream pie recipe. These two easier-to-make (or worse, easier to purchase) alternatives simply screw up the taste and texture of this iconic pie. A classically made banana cream pie deserves a scratch-made pie pastry, a traditionally-prepared pastry cream, lots of bananas, and, copious amounts of freshly-whipped cream. Save the cookie crusts for recipes that use instant pudding mixes. Got it? Good. Nothing about a banana cream pie should be understated...... View full recipe for "~ The Old-Fashioned & Classic Banana Cream Pie ~"

09/15/2016

~ The Old-Fashioned Classic Coconut Custard Pie ~

When I was growing up, two trucks pulled into my family's driveway twice a week (and they weren't FedEx or UPS which didn't even exist then). They were: The milk man and the baker. The milk man delivered milk, butter, eggs, sour cream and some cheeses. The baker delivered bread, sandwich rolls, cakes, pies and cookies. In the case of both, via a paper checklist, you ordered on a Tuesday what you wanted delivered on Saturday, and you ordered on Saturday what you wanted delivered on Tuesday. When mom said it was my turn to pick a dessert, it was...... View full recipe for "~ The Old-Fashioned Classic Coconut Custard Pie ~"

09/13/2016

~ Silky-Smooth & Delicate: Traditional Egg Custard ~

I have a penchant for sweet treats with smooth, creamy consistencies: pudding, mousse, ice cream, cheesecake, éclairs, cream pie, brûlée and crème caramel are off-the-top-of-my-head examples. They're luxurious and make me feel all "la-tee-da". As a young bride and novice cook it was only natural that these were the first dessert recipes I gravitated too. After a while it occurred to me that, technically speaking, they are all a form of basic egg custard -- the only creamy-type dessert my grandmother ever made and the first dessert that was spoonfed to me. In its most basic form, custard is thickened...... View full recipe for "~ Silky-Smooth & Delicate: Traditional Egg Custard ~"

09/11/2016

~Bird's Custard Powder. Because You Make it Special~

Custard powder. These are two words not typically on the tip of the average American foodie's tongue. That's understandable, because, unless an American cook has some form of culinary ties to the United Kingdom or Australia (via cookbooks, travel or personal friendship), it's not an ingredient that has made its way into our food lover's vocabulary. Given its popularity "across the pond", I find that hard to understand, because, for me it's a "nifty", time-saving pantry staple. I learned about custard powder back in the early 1990's. This was not an ingredient I ever found in my grandmother's or mother's...... View full recipe for "~Bird's Custard Powder. Because You Make it Special~"

07/23/2016

~ Perfect Peach Preserves from the Bread Machine ~

'Tis the season for fresh berries and fruit, and I especially love the fresh fruit and berries Joe grows right here in our backyard. That said, besides apples, fruit and berries don't have a particularly long shelf life. During the first three weeks of July, I've frozen our sour pie cherries and blueberries in 2-pound bags -- enough to make 20 cherry pies and 10 blueberry pies during the upcoming year. These two fruits are easy to freeze, and, they freeze really, really well. Peach freezing is not for me. The end doesn't justify the means. Peaches can be frozen,...... View full recipe for "~ Perfect Peach Preserves from the Bread Machine ~"

07/20/2016

~ Plantation Cake: A Very Southern Vintage Cake ~

I first came across this recipe in a stack of recipe cards held together with a rubber band. They were in a plastic bag full of newspaper- and magazine-clipped recipes that my late grandmother collected. I don't recall her making the cake, but, at some point in her life she must have, as she took the time to write it down in her own hand. It's an unpretentious, yellow cake made of butter or margarine, sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla, home-canned peaches or pears, pecans or walnuts and buttermilk or sour cream. It sure sounded good to me, and, its name...... View full recipe for "~ Plantation Cake: A Very Southern Vintage Cake ~"

06/30/2016

~ Coconut and Rum Pineapple Upside Down Cake ~

Remember the first time you watched your mom make a pineapple upside down cake? I was mesmerized. I stood stoic, across the counter, watching as she carefully arranged and layered the ingredients in the pan. I stood vigil, peering through the glass, at the oven while it baked. I stood breathless, fingers crossed behind my back, when she inverted it out of the pan. In the end, I didn't know whether to joyfully jump up and down or hug her with pride -- I think I did both. I was five or six at the time, and, that Norman Rockwell...... View full recipe for "~ Coconut and Rum Pineapple Upside Down Cake ~"

05/07/2016

~ Nana's Oatmeal-Applesauce-Raisin-Walnut Cake ~

I've always loved oatmeal and anything edible containing oatmeal, and, let me tell you: this recipe "takes the cake" in terms of oatmeal recipes. When I was 19 and still living in Tamaqua, PA, my fiancé's grandmother, Nana, made this for dessert the first time I was invited to their house for dinner. For me, it was genuine "love at first bite". After that, she made it almost every time I visited, just because she knew I liked it so much. Fond memories of a lovely, gentle lady. For my bridal shower, Nana gave me the identical stainless steel baking...... View full recipe for "~ Nana's Oatmeal-Applesauce-Raisin-Walnut Cake ~"

05/05/2016

~ Deli-, Bakery-, & Coffee-Shop- Style Crumb Cake ~

If you're under the impression that "coffeecake" and "crumb cake" are words that can be used interchangeably, you haven't spent much time in the delicatessens, bakeries and coffee shops of the Northeast, namely: New York, New Jersey, and here in Pennsylvania too. We take our crumb cake seriously. Simply stated: it is a medium-textured buttercake with a coarse-grained, flour-based cohesive-crumb layer on top. Confusing it with other types of crumby cakes (which sometimes contain fruit or nuts and get topped with a sort-of similar-looking but looser streusel topping), is easily avoided -- once you taste a crumb cake, the difference...... View full recipe for "~ Deli-, Bakery-, & Coffee-Shop- Style Crumb Cake ~"

05/02/2016

~ Come on Over for Coffee & a Classic Coffeecake ~

Thanks to post WWII advertising campaigns by the American Coffee Bureau, by 1950, America was a country of coffee drinkers. In the workplace, the 15-minute coffee break was born, and, if you were a housewife, once you got your husband off to work and the kids off to school, you likely participated in a daily, weekly or occasional mid-morning "coffee klatch" with neighborhood friends. The term "coffee klatch" comes from the German word "kaffeeklatsch", meaning "coffee chat" -- a casual gathering for sharing coffee and conversation with close confidants. Literally translated: kaffee = coffee, and, klatsch = gossip. I like...... View full recipe for "~ Come on Over for Coffee & a Classic Coffeecake ~"

04/17/2016

~ Chocolate-Glazed Chocolate-Raspberry Tart Bars ~

The purchase of a few rectangular- and square-shaped tart pans were some of the best baking investments I've ever made. When it comes to serving crumbly cookie-type crusted tarts with custardy-textured centers, I find portioning and slicing a tart into bars or squares, instead of wedges from a round-shaped pan, more "user friendly" -- it's a kind of unique presentation too. There's more: When I'm making tarts that require refrigeration, I find these shapes to be a more efficient use of refrigerator space -- which, in my kitchen, is valuable real estate. "Tarte au chocolat" -- no special skills required!...... View full recipe for "~ Chocolate-Glazed Chocolate-Raspberry Tart Bars ~"

04/04/2016

~A Sophisticated Indulgence: Mousse au Chocolate~

Not being a chocolate lover (yes, that's what I said, I am not a lover of chocolate), when pressed to name my favorite chocolate confection, the French dessert, mousse au chocolate, is at the top of my very short list, which includes truffles and chocolate cheesecake made with a chocolate cookie crust. For me, mousse au chocolate is chocolate confection perfection. Calorie for calorie, every light, airy, creamy, thick spoonful is full of deep, rich, intense chocolate flavor. As easy as chocolate mousse is to make in theory, if you've never made one, it can be a bit confounding. Demystifying...... View full recipe for "~A Sophisticated Indulgence: Mousse au Chocolate~"

03/24/2016

~ What's Up Doc? A Carrot Pie w/Gingersnap Crust ~

In the Fall, we all flaunt our favorite recipes for pumpkin, squash and sweet potato pie. Well, it's Spring now, and I am here to tell you: anything a pumpkin, a squash or a sweet potato can do, a carrot can do better. It's got way more flavor than a pumpkin or a squash and a lot less calories than a sweet potato. There's more: besides being a great source of vitamins and minerals carrots contain more natural sugar than any vegetable aside from beets, which intensifies during the cooking process. Also, I have it on good authority, it's the...... View full recipe for "~ What's Up Doc? A Carrot Pie w/Gingersnap Crust ~"

03/01/2016

~ Pie-O-My: The Famous Mar-a-Lago Key Lime Pie ~

Don't shoot me I'm only the messenger. Finding common political ground with anyone this election cycle is harder than it has ever been. The climate is downright trash-talkin' nasty "out there". That said, when a friend suggested I post a recipe for key lime pie yesterday, I couldn't wait to get up this morning and make this particular one -- I could hardly sleep. For the first time ever here on Kitchen Encounters, I am mixing food with politics (and my wickedly-sarcastic sense of card-carrying DNC Super-Tuesday humor). I'm making what is touted to be "the most requested dessert on...... View full recipe for "~ Pie-O-My: The Famous Mar-a-Lago Key Lime Pie ~"

02/29/2016

~ Making Graham Cracker & Cookie Crumb Crusts ~

Cheesecakes, cream pies, many layered bar-type cookies, and, some refrigerated pudding and frozen ice-cream desserts call for using a graham cracker or cookie crumb crust as a buttery, crunchy base. While homemade graham crackers, sugar cookies, gingersnaps and chocolate wafers make exceptional crumb crusts, I won't lie, it would have to be one heck of an insanely over-the-top dessert for me to bake any of them for the sole purpose of starting with a real-deal scratch-made base. That said, I don't at all care for the quality of ready-made crumb crusts. Why? They taste bland to me, and that's primarily...... View full recipe for "~ Making Graham Cracker & Cookie Crumb Crusts ~"

02/27/2016

~ Pretty in Pink: No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecakes ~

When you find a big beautiful box of fresh strawberries in your market in February, you don't pause to ponder. Into the cart they go, you checkout, and, by the time you're out of the parking lot, your mind is recollecting "that recipe" you made "that time" for "that woman", who, two days before her Oscar party, decided to add mini-strawberry cheesecakes to her menu -- which caused you to go looking for strawberries in February -- not to mention 28 mini-cheesecake pans. "That woman" would be me, and, as I always say, "the devil is always in the details."...... View full recipe for "~ Pretty in Pink: No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecakes ~"

02/24/2016

~ Take it Easy: Cherry-Berry & Triple-Ginger Crisps ~

This luscious, easy-to-make dessert turns a gloomy, cold, wet, end-of-February day into a bright taste of sunny, hot, Summer. Made with frozen tart pie cherries, sweet blueberries and ingredients I keep on-hand in my pantry, it didn't require a trip to the grocery store or more than about twenty minutes of my time. FYI: A "crisp" is an American heritage dessert consisting of a fruit mixture topped with a crispy streusel usually made with oats. I happen to love gingersnap cookies (and all things ginger), which, when used in place of oats, gives it an extra-crunchy top. Why don't I...... View full recipe for "~ Take it Easy: Cherry-Berry & Triple-Ginger Crisps ~"

12/31/2015

~ Butter-Rum, Vanilla Bean & Eggnog Pound Cake ~

If you're planning on drinking some eggnog over the course of the next two days, set a cup of it aside until you read the rest of this post. You can thank me later. In my opinion, any cake, cookie or confection that starts out as plain vanilla, gets jettisoned to star status with the addition of the flavors of eggnog: cinnamon, nutmeg, and, of course, rum. Even folks who don't care to drink eggnog per se seem to love it if it is used as a flavoring in a dessert -- like this cake. Eggnog literally means eggs in...... View full recipe for "~ Butter-Rum, Vanilla Bean & Eggnog Pound Cake ~"

11/09/2015

~ Oh My Cup of Tea: Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares~

I love cheesecake -- on many levels, it's my ultimate-indulgence dessert. For me, a slice of cheesecake is a celebration on a plate. Ponder that last statement for one moment. Now: Would you rather celebrate your birthday with a candle in a slice of real-deal cheesecake, or, no matter how moist and decadent, a piece of cake or a cupcake? You've guessed my answer. I'm guessing I'm not standing anywhere close to alone. I hear a resounding cry for "cheesecake"! A bit about cheesecake: Cheesecake, a sweet dish of one more layers, is a beloved dessert around the world. A...... View full recipe for "~ Oh My Cup of Tea: Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares~"

08/22/2015

~ Plumb Scrumptious: E-Z Plum & Almond Galettes ~

Our purple plum tree is up to its old tricks again -- it's gifting us with these tart, juicy beauties faster than we can eat them hand-to-mouth, right-off-the-tree (which is my favorite way to enjoy them). Plums and peaches are my two favorite stone fruits. When they begin coming into my kitchen a basket or two at a time, using them to make a few rustic, freeform French galettes is a great way to keep up with them without a lot of effort on my part. When they pick up the pace and start coming in faster than that, I...... View full recipe for "~ Plumb Scrumptious: E-Z Plum & Almond Galettes ~"

08/06/2015

~ Pucker Up: Tart and Sweet Shiro Plum Preserves ~

The Japanese Shiro plum is indeed the golden, greenish-yellow goddess of the yellow plum world. "To know them is to love them", I couldn't agree more, and, this has been a banner year for our 18-year-old backyard tree. Every year, we eat a lot of these very sweet, mildly-tart beauties by the handfuls, and, every year I make a ~ Golden Goddess: Shiro Plum & Egg Custard Tart ~ or two or three (just click on the Related Article Link below to get the recipe). They store well in the refrigerator for about ten days too. This has served me...... View full recipe for "~ Pucker Up: Tart and Sweet Shiro Plum Preserves ~"