Archive for the ‘baked goods’ Category

Honey Glazed Apple Tarts

September 14, 2016

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The trick to these apple tarts is thinly and evenly slicing the apples. That and the judicious use of cinnamon sugar above and below the apple slices. And using cooking spray on the apple slices before baking to seal in moisture. And brushing honey over the tarts when they are warm from the oven to make the tarts shiny. Ok, so there are a few tricks.

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Maple Banana Almond Macaroons

September 7, 2016

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The Banana Cookie recipe from Donna Hay’s new cookbook, Life in Balance: A Fresher Approach to Eating, sounds like its shouldn’t work; and the sight of the batter will not inspire more confidence. Have faith, though, and you will be rewarded with moist macaroons that taste intensely of banana and faintly of caramel and maple.

The ingredients are extremely simple: ground almonds, mashed banana, a small amount of maple syrup and a bit of cinnamon. When I mixed together all the ingredients, I had a thick batter rather than a stiff dough (kind of like the texture of matzoh ball batter before you refrigerate it). I was perplexed as to how to follow the instructions to “Roll 16 to 18 spoonfuls of the banana mixture into balls, Press them into the sugar-cinnamon mixture to coat all over, spacing the cookies an inch apart. . .” I ended up dropping spoonfuls of batter on a parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkling over the Turbinado sugar.

The resulting cookies were at their most delicious straight from the oven: crispy and chewy on the outside from the caramelized coat of raw sugar, and moist and soft on the inside like a macaroon. When the cookies completely cooled, the sugar on the outside melted a bit and the texture of the crust softened. I stored the cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator and that seemed to restore a bit of crispness to the sugar coating.

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Something Sweet: Cookbook Review

September 5, 2015

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Disclosure: Artscroll provided me with a review copy of Something Sweet. Opinions expressed are my own.

Four years ago, Miriam Pascal started her kosher blog Overtime Cook as a creative outlet. What started out as a lark ended up changing Pacal’s life, leading her to a burgeoning career as food writer and photographer. Something Sweet is her first cookbook.

Flipping through this beautiful cookbook, it is easy to see how Pascal has won the loyalty of her many readers, both at Overtime Cook and through her column for Whisk (Ami Magazine). She understands that home bakers want recipes that are simple to prepare, but with a bit of “wow” factor.

Almost all the recipes in the book look easy to make. Some are classic recipes–like chocolate chip cookies–that Pascal has adapted to work with oil instead of margarine or butter. Many others put a modern spin on old favorites, such as the Blueberry Muffin Cookies or the Pumpkin Crumb Cake. Quite a few have a playfulness that should particularly appeal to kids, like the Fruity Pebbles Cookies, the Confetti Cheesecake Cupcakes, the Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake or the Cookies ‘n Cream Stuffed Waffles.

This mix of basic and more creative recipes makes the cookbook useful for novices and seasoned bakers alike. Even if you have many dessert cookbooks, Something Sweet will give you something new to make. On the other hand, if you are just starting out in the kitchen, you will appreciate that Pascal has included all the dessert staples: chocolate chip cookies, brownies, three recipes for chocolate cake (one for cupcakes, one for layer cake and one for bundt cake), an all-purpose vanilla cake, a few different flavors of mousse, two sorbets, chocolate truffles and barks, pie dough, tart dough, roll-out vanilla sugar cookies, cookie icing, several recipes for cake frosting and glazes and even three sauces for plating desserts.

With this cookbook in hand, you should be prepared to face almost any dessert challenge, whether it is a simple cake for Shabbos, a plated dessert for sheva brachos or even a dessert table for a simcha. The book helpfully lists which recipes are appropriate for various occasions and gives detailed advice about freezing desserts, plating individual servings and setting up a dessert table.

Pascal includes a few whole-grain/low-sugar desserts, and she replaces margarine wherever possible with oil, but this not the sort of whole-foods cookbook that replaces dairy ingredients with cashew cream, silken tofu or coconut milk. There are quite a few recipes that require (to be pareve) margarine, pareve whip, soy sour cream or soy cream cheese.

In general, Pascal is not afraid to use convenience foods to make recipes easier. For example, the lemon and strawberry mousses get their fruity flavor from store-bought pie filling that is folded into a mix of whipped cream and cream cheese. There is also a Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie that is basically pareve ice cream mixed with pumpkin puree and some flavorings, spread in a store-bought graham cracker crust.

The Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie is only one of several recipes in the book that are perfect for this time of year. Here are others: Healthy Apple Spice Muffins, Chocolate Chunk Honey Cookies, Honey Sour Cream Bundt Cake, Pomegranate Cupcakes, Pumpkin Crumb Cake, Apple Pie Thumbprint Cookies, Gingerbread Biscotti, Caramel Apple Bundt Cake and Braided Apple Pie.

I made the Pumpkin Crumb Cake and can highly recommend it. The subtle flavor of pumpkin melds perfectly with the cinnamon-ey, crumb-topped, velvet-textured goodness of classic crumb cake. And both the cake and crumb topping are made with oil instead of margarine. I wanted to make individual portions, so I divided the batter between 13 tulip muffin cups.¬† These muffin cups are extra deep, so there is more room for batter and crumb topping. Even so, I was afraid that the very generous amount of crumb topping would spill over as the batter rose in the oven, so I only used half of the crumb mixture. It turns out, I could have used more, but the mini crumb cakes were still delicious with the lesser amount of crumbs. (more…)

Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake

June 9, 2015

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Okay, so I should have posted this before Shavuos, but I just didn’t get to it. Bookmark this for next Shavuoth: super creamy cheesecake topped with soft caramel sauce and shards of milk chocolate. Kind of like a rolo crossed with cheesecake.

The basis for this was my Turtle Cheesecake, which is the same, but also has chopped pecans mixed into the caramel sauce and has a chocolate glaze instead of chopped chocolate. The chopped chocolate is easier to prepare than the chocolate glaze and is much, much easier to cut through when serving the cheesecake. I explain how to make home-made caramel sauce, but you could just buy caramel sauce or dulce de leche for the topping.

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S’mores Chocolate Cake

June 8, 2015

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Chocolate cake, glazed with chocolate, topped with a mixture of marshmallows, graham cracker bits, cake cubes and a drizzle of more chocolate glaze. Easy to make and keeps well.

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Purim Bananagrams

March 3, 2015

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I decided to turn my recent obsession with banana cake into a mishloach manot theme. I was playing Bananagrams with my kids when the idea hit me: Purim Bananagrams!

Components of Bananagrams mishloach manot: alphabet cookie squares (these cookies look like Bananagrams tiles), banana cake, a banana, a banana-strawberry juice box, and candy made from Rice Crispies, chocolate and banana chips. The note with the mishloach manot has a drawing of Bananagrams tiles spelling out a Purim message. I have recreated that message in tiles in the picture above. I have also used Hebrew tiles to spell out Purim words and a message.

One more thing: I made a cake for the seuda (a chocolate cake with chocolate glaze) and I used the alphabet cookie squares to write Happy Purim on it. (I have to say, alphabet cookie squares are a really handy way of writing a message on a cake. This is a good thing to keep in mind next time you have to write happy birthday on a cake and don’t feel like using a piping bag.)

Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

February 17, 2015

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This banana bread is especially good. It is moist, with an intense banana flavor and with a more subtle undercurrent of caramel from the dark brown sugar. Add big chunks of chocolate to make this loaf cake absolutely irresistible.

Instead of making it in a large loaf pan, you can make it in little loaf pans (6″x4″). If you have five extra-ripe bananas lying around, you can make a big batch of batter and get 9 mini loaves. If you can find the 4.25″ square foil cups, you can make¬† 12-13 mini square cakes.

These freeze well and make nice gifts.

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Homemade Crescent Rolls (dairy free)

January 6, 2015

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I recently served these crescent rolls at a special birthday party. Each person had on their salad plate a crescent roll and a salad inside an edible salad bowl.

Crescent rolls are, all at once, elegant and cozily homey. They look difficult to make, but are actually pretty easy to do. If you want to make them ahead of time, they freeze beautifully.

Crescent rolls are usually made with butter, but I keep my rolls dairy-free by using oil. You can use a neutral tasting oil (like safflower oil) or an extra-virgin olive oil.

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Blueberry Toaster Tarts

August 18, 2014

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This is a nice snack to pack for lunch. You can also use it as a take-along breakfast treat on those mornings when a sit-down breakfast just isn’t happening. Made with whole wheat flour and filled with a low-sugar (or no-sugar) blueberry chia jam, these toaster tarts have much more fiber and anti-oxidants–not to mention much more flavor–than store-bought toaster tarts.

Don’t be turned off by the idea of whole wheat flour or the chia jam. These tarts have flaky, tender crusts with a flavorful filling–exactly what handheld fruit pastries should taste like.

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Parshat Balak: Ma Tovu Ohalecha, Yaakov

July 4, 2014

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“Mah tovu ohalecha, Yaakov, mishkenotecha, Yisrael!” (How goodly are your tents, Yaakov, your dwelling places, Israel!)

The bright spot these past few weeks has been the display of achdut (unity). In this week’s parsha, there appears Bilaam’s famous words about the tents of Yaacov, the dwelling places of Israel.

Why was it that Bilaam was forced to praise the Jewish people in this manner instead of cursing them as he intended? Rashi says that it was because he saw that the openings of the tents did not face each other. This indicated that Bnei Yisroel did wish to look into each others tents. This in turn reflected a sense of unity without jealousy and with respect for individuality and privacy.

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