Archive for the ‘breakfast’ Category

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…)

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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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Raisin Bran Muffin Top Cookies

April 23, 2014

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I needed to use up some silan (date syrup), dates, raisins, bran and whole wheat flour before Passover. The obvious choice was bran muffins.

My original idea was to replace the brown sugar in my favorite bran muffin with the silan. Googling for a rule of thumb on converting from brown sugar to silan, I came across a recipe on imamother.com for chocolate chip bran cookies. I came up with my own recipe for raisin bran muffin top cookies by combining the muffin recipe with the cookie recipe and then kind of winging it based on whatever I needed to use up in my pantry.

I was a little worried how my experiment would come out, but the cookies tasted deliciously like raisin bran cereal and had the texture and appearance of bran muffin tops.

A bonus: these cookies are high in fiber and have no refined sugar. In addition to having been a great way to use up pantry items before Pesach, these are also a great way to cleanse the body after Pesach.

 

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Prune Danish Braid (use up your leftover lekvar)

March 26, 2014

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I had leftover lekvar and I mulled over all these creative options for using it up in a dessert. When I presented these options to my husband, along with the option of a simple prune danish, my husband voted for the danish.

The filling for this danish can be straight-up lekvar spooned out from the jar, but I decided to make it a little more interesting. Walnuts, mini mocha chips and an orange-vanilla glaze add extra texture and flavor.

As far as the dough is concerned, I use a few tricks to make and bake the dough extra quickly: (1) putting the dough in a warm oven to push it to rise faster; (2) folding the dough at intervals to strengthen it instead of kneading; and (3) putting the shaped dough in the oven after a very short (15 minute) rising period. With these tricks, the recipe will take about 1 3/4 hours from assembling your ingredients to pulling the danish out of the oven. If you take things a little slower or allow for a slightly longer rising time, it will take closer to 2 hours from assembling your ingredients to pulling the finished danish from the oven.

If you double the dough, you can make two small challahs plus the danish.

 

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Hamantaschen French Toast Casserole

March 5, 2014

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Imagine this: warm, buttery, vanilla and cinnamon scented French toast stuffed with whipped cream cheese and jam.  So good. Now picture that each piece of French toast is shaped and filled like a hamantaschen. Yummy and festive.

Another bonus: this is easily prepped the night before. All you need to do is pop this in the oven the day you want to serve it.

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Soft Baked Almond Bars

July 3, 2013

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This is another version of the Kashi-style bars (see here for the chocolate version). The texture is moist and dense, with a nice honey almond flavor. There is a decent amount of protein and fiber per serving, making this a healthier snack. If you use agave syrup instead of honey, the recipe is vegan.

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Reverse Engineered Soft Baked Chocolate Squares

June 27, 2013

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This is the result of my attempt to reverse engineer Kashi’s Soft Baked Chocolate Squares. The texture is very similar to the Kashi squares: cakey but dense, much drier than brownies and more compact than cake. I like them this way, but if you prefer a moister, fudgier bar, I have a variation that creates that texture, too.

I tweaked my recipe to mostly match the Kashi ingredient list and to even more closely hew to the nutritional data. They are vegan, with about 4 g. of fiber and 4 g. of protein per 160 calorie serving from black beans, sweet potato, ground nuts, flax seed meal, whole grain wheat, spelt and oats.

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Cinnamon Challah Croutons with Berries and Cream (Decontructed Blintzes)

May 20, 2013

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Apparently, dessert croutons are a thing, lately. There are places that sell toasted cubes of cake to eat as snacks or use in desserts or salads. The LA Times recently published a recipe by Nancy Silverton which featured bread croutons as a garnish for a rich chocolate dessert (Bittersweet Chocolate Tartufo with Olive Oil Gelato and Olive Oil Fried Croutons). And there are recipes featuring fruit, ice cream or some other creamy mixture, and sweet croutons (see here and here).

Anyway, I was thinking about a recipe from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great American Desserts called Top Secret Topping. It is nothing more than plain or lightly sweetened cottage cheese, which is somehow transformed by being pureed in the food processor into a luscious creamy smooth topping for fresh fruit. Maida said she swooned when she first tried it over strawberries, and her friends couldn’t guess what it was (yogurt? sour cream? creme fraiche? cream?) (here is her original description, reprinted in Maida’s Heatter’s Pies and Tarts).

She says you can use 1% or 2%, but you really need to use 4% to get the full effect. The extra fat in the 4% makes it possible for the mixture to whip up and increase in volume. The increased airiness as well as the smoothness of the pureed cottage cheese creates the impression of creme fraiche or whipped cream.

I decided to add cinnamon challah croutons to Maida’s combination of strawberries and top secret topping. The result: a taste I can only describe as deconstructed cheese blintz. I also tried the croutons on strawberry spinach salad with my fat-free orange dressing. It was nice, but I liked the combination of creamy cheese, berries and cinnamon croutons a bit more.

The cinnamon challah croutons remind me a bit of those mock blintzes made from toast stuffed with cream cheese. Made with coconut oil, they are pareve, but taste dairy, almost buttery.

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Almost Fat Free Cheesecake

May 13, 2013

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What would you say to cheesecake that is about 200 calories per (4.5 ounce) serving? Pretty good right? I tried making my ultra light cheesecake with only fat-free yogurt cheese, sugar, eggs, lemon and vanilla, and it came out delicious. I forgot to add the flour and accidentally cut the amount of sugar in half, which ended up not mattering much, so I saved some calories there, too.

I dusted the sides of the baking pan with some crushed Italian lady finger cookies (the crisp kind you use for tiramisu). You can skip the crushed cookies, but it doesn’t add much in the way of calories (you need only 4-5 cookies) and it gives the impression that there is a crust of some kind without the heavy calorie load of a graham cracker crust. The cookie crumbs also add a little extra sweetness to what is otherwise a very lightly sweetened cheesecake.

Here is how I figure the calories:

24 ounces yogurt cheese made from a 32 ounce container of Greek yogurt: 560 calories
3.75 ounces sugar: 384 calories
4 eggs: 280 calories (about 320 calories for extra-large eggs)
5 Italian ladyfinger cookies: 110 calories

Total calories : 1,334, which yields 8 servings, each about 4.5 ounces, at 167 calories per serving. The fat should be mostly from the egg yolks, which comes to 2.5 grams per serving.

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Latest Best Corn Muffins Ever

November 21, 2012

Give me 22 minutes, and I’ll give you a dozen of the best corn muffins you have ever tasted. Sweet and moist, with a maple-ey note that makes you think of corn pancakes drenched in syrup. This recipe originally appeared in Good Housekeeping at the request of a reader who had tasted them at Heathcote Tavern in Scarsdale, New York.

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