All posts tagged: Desserts

Open Sesame! ~ Not Chocolate, Not Peanut Butter Cookies

“I’d kill for a peanut butter cup.” It hasn’t helped that the Comet Halloween just whizzed past us tossing chocolate & peanut debris in it’s wake… nor that the typhoon “Winter Holiday” is churning out in the distance, chocked full of every imaginable forbidden delight in that never-ending advertising rotation, hitting the airwaves every… fifteen… minutes. Luckily, I’ve been able to igg out  a few small miracles. Watkin’s makes an impressive imitation chocolate extract. It’s not quite chocolate (being made from yeast), but it does give you the impression that you’ve doused the kitchen in chocolate liquor… and it does trick the mind a bit… just as long as you don’t think of it as Bosco. And, I’ve had a moderate amount of success with Tahini replacing peanut butter in savory situations for satays, peanut butter marinades, and an odd bout of mixing it with blue cheese for Ants on a Log… but, never anything sweet. I guess it’s about time. And, yes… they’re every bit as good as the ones we can’t even think about eating.  In …

Tales of Woe ~ that Madeira Tart

I’ve always wanted to make a Bakewell Tart. But, with our particular allergy set, ground almonds in anything is just asking for trouble.  Back around the first of February, I came across this recipe for Irish Bakewell Buns. The ingenious thing is – unlike a traditional Bakewell Tart,  she didn’t use ground almonds… she used a Madeira sponge for the topping. Okay..fine.. I skimmed the recipe – saw the word Madeira – and my monkey brain said, “How cool! Madeira wine instead of almonds! … just the thing to give that nutty, rich flavor without dealing with the consequences of tree nuts.” If you’re from the UK – you already know where this is headed… feel free to bury your face in your hands. Anyway… I ran out and scoured the mountainside for Madeira to make those lovely buns. It wasn’t easy… it took me nearly 3 weeks to locate a bottle.  It appears Madeira isn’t terribly popular up here in the hills. Then, it was time to make the buns…. The thing is… Madeira Sponge Cake …

Tales of Woe: the one with The Cake

Several months ago, I came across this peach cake recipe from the Barefoot Contessa… And, while I’m not a huge fan of fresh fruit in cakes, this one sounded interesting… so I gave it a go. I was right, while the idea was good, the fresh peaches congealed in the bottom of the cake pan and the batter never really set. So, since FRESH peaches are overly watery and have  that fresh fruit enzyme going on, why not try it with tinned peaches – maybe they would work better. So, I scrapped the idea of peaches – and tried again. This time with tinned pears, and I added sweetened dried cranberries to balance out the pear flavor. It was…. OK… just. I thought maybe changing out the spice profile might give it some zing… My sis had given me a jar of Mahlab for Christmas, and I thought the bitter cherry / slightly floral notes might lift it up some. I also flipped the fruit layers and since the pears were going to slump… I’d just …

Hickory Nut Sandies

I guess for most people, Oreos – or some other chocolately, crispy, gooey thing was their cookie of choice growing up. Me? It was Pecan Sandies… I love a shortbread cookie. I love that slightly sweet and a little bit salty, brown, buttery cookie… and there is nothing better to dunk into a tall glass of cold milk… or hot chocolate…. or coffee (in my later years…) The thing is – I can’t buy them anymore. Between the dairy – pecans – and god knows what else in them; it just isn’t a very good idea. Luckily, since we’ve come across cultured butter, making things we all can eat has gotten a lot easier. ____________________________________________________________________________________ On our trip the other week, the cabin we rented had huge hickory trees surrounding the front parking area. I busied myself one morning whacking the fallen shells with a rock, picking out the tender nut meats – thinking that since they weren’t exactly the same thing as pecans (Jane can’t eat them), or walnuts (.. those either) or most …

Curb Market Crawl ~ Roasted Apple Charlotte

I really haven’t done much poking around the curb markets this season. The opportunity to just fly willy-nilly behind the wheel, hoping to chance on some odd roadside farm stand, just didn’t present itself…. I’m a busy guy… I’ve got things to do. But, I did make the effort to stop in at The Tomato House on our way back from a much needed get away at Black Rock Mountain State Park up in Dillard, Georgia. (If you live in Georgia, it is definitely worth the drive. The cabins are spacious – well appointed and comfortable. Tons and tons of hiking trails, breath-taking views, and the park is just up the mountain from the Foxfire Museum [which is a hoot and a half].) …. where was I… Ah, Curb Market. So anyway… I stopped in mainly to grab a jar of sorghum syrup, but passing the entrance – I see a bounty of small lot apples… like 15 different varieties. I had been wanting to do a Charlotte for a couple of weeks, but the apple selection at …

Orange Snowballs

YEARS ago, I got on a kick making glasee oranges. I made them by the buckets full. I put them in jars and admired the little translucent orbs for months… then I started giving them away. Here’s the thing with making obscure condiments, unless you have a commercial kitchen or a standing waiting list of people wanting said obscure condiment (I have neither) … it’s a complete waste of time and material. I eventually gave away most of the jars. I did keep one… oh, just because. I thought I’d eventually find a reason to use them.    Oddly enough, that reason presented itself today. Getting ready to make another batch of those killer lemon cookies, I realized I didn’t have something very important…. lemons. And, since this is Gold Rush Weekend here in Dahlonega, I wasn’t about to go anywhere near town. Deflated, I prowled through the pantry; halfheartedly trying to convince myself I could make the cookies with a can of fruit cocktail…. when I spied the lone dusty jar of glasee oranges …

Peering down the Pie Hole ~ Summer Peach Pie

For a period of time, I lived in the attic loft of a building we operated as a rental house. It was a great space – peaceful – quiet – meditative – that is, until early summer. Because that’s when my next door neighbor’s peach tree produced fruit. And, along with everyone else on the block that helped themselves to the low hanging fruit, the residents of the mechanical chase just above my ceiling squirreled away as many of the fruit and pits that they could stuff through the narrow attic vent. For the next three months, without fail, they would roll the pits from one end of the chase, down the entire length of the loft, and back again. And late into the night they would run and scatter their booty, then spend hours rounding them all up again. I swear they had a rodent bowling alley up there. __________________________________________________   Peach pie is just one of those things you have to get just right for it to be good. Too much thickener, and you have …

Taste of Summer – Jamaican Banana Bread

I think my parents kept the Time/Life publishing company in business. For a period of time, Dad would buy every box set of music they came out with. And Jane, well it was cookbooks, of course. Not that there was anything wrong with that. From the International Series, that was a little geographic lesson, a cultural sneak peek, and a cookbook rolled into a neatly packaged compendium (complete with a decorative box sleeve), to my all time favorite, The Good Cook – which  consisted of 27 volumes, each devoted to a particular subject. Each were printed, boxed, and lovingly shipped in monthly surprises from the late 70’s to early 80’s. It is my absolute favorite cookbook collection, and even today, I refer to them often when I need a little inspiration. As it so happens, I got a little banana crazy a month ago, and started buying a bunch of banana every week. I like a banana, but I really only like them when they are still just off the green and beginning to turn yellow. …

Peering Down the Pie Hole – Chocolate Cherry Pie

There is one food item you should never give anyone to eat… as a gift. Chocolate Covered Cherries. Because, regardless of how thoughtful you thought you were being, you’re going to have to sit there and watch them try managing to eat one without either: a.) squirting the encased syrup all over themselves (and, of course, you)… and b.) They’re going to smile and say thank-you… with all that wax laden, cherry bit, melty chocolate residue adhered to their teeth. ____________________________________________________ A couple of weeks ago, the local farm stand had huge bins of bing cherries. We both like cherries here, so I grabbed a big ol’ bag of them. Here’s the thing with produce like cherries. While ALL cherries may look the delicious and sweet, sometimes what you get is all show and no-go. Do yourself a favor, grab a couple of random cherries out of the bin and eat them. The “big ol’ bag” I grabbed was full of mushy, sour cherries and not very good for sitting and eating as a snack. Like a …

Peering Down the Pie Hole – The Box Edition

I like an apple pie. I make a lot of them – be it dutch or cream, puree or traditional. I can usually judge how good a particular cookbook is by the quality of the pie. So, it’s probably the first thing I thumb the index for when I pick one up. I’ll even make one on some box top – if it looks interesting. Hell, I’ve even made that Mock Apple Pie on the back of a box of Ritz Crackers… which, by the way, isn’t even apple. And, if you can get past the knowing that what you’re eating is just a big pie-shaped wedge of cooked cracker, then it kinda works in a pinch… when you don’t have any apples… and want a pie… and don’t think about it too much. But I was sorting out the pantry the other day and came across the box of tapioca that had gotten shuffled down onto the pasta shelf. Picking it up, I noticed a recipe for Apple Pie on the back flap. I …