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Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

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So, as you may know if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, I’m currently in the midst of Whole30 number three.  (Can I get a woot, woot!)  I realize the Whole30 program isn’t for everyone, but it definitely works for me.  I feel lighter, fresher, and more inspired when I’m eating Paleo or Paleo-ish, so I try to eat that way as much as possible.  Every so often, though, I feel as though I’ve fallen into a trap of eating too much sugar and too many refined carbs.  So when I start to get sluggish and dull-feeling, I know it’s time to hit that nutritional reset button and do another Whole30.  (You can read some of my thoughts about the Whole30 program here.)

During my first Whole30, I made an effort to whip up energy bites (basically, at home Larabar-esque truffle hacks) for Emma and me to snack upon between meals or before workouts.  They’re easy and they’re a lot cheaper than buying piles of Larabars.  (Don’t mistake me: I do that, too.)  Early on in my second Whole30, Emma sent me a fab birthday gift which included several flavors of energy bites from her co-op (and hubby picked some up at our co-op as a surprise, too… so I had lots).  I stretched the co-op energy bites through the entire Whole30 and never had to make any of my own.  This time, I thought it’d be fun to experiment with a few different flavors of energy bites, and here’s the first.  Presenting: Cocoa-Nut Energy Truffles.

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Ingredients

  • 1 package Dole pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup raw unsalted almonds
  • 2 heaping tbsp. unsweetened almond butter
  • 1-2 heaping tbsp. plain cocoa powder*

*I used 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder and my energy truffles came out with only the barest hint of chocolate flavor.  If you’re just looking for a whisper of chocolate, use 1 tablespoon, but if you want something fudgier, up the quantity to two heaping tablespoons.  I’ll be making that modification the next time I whip these truffles up.

Method

  • Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix) or powerful food processor.  Process until mixture is the consistency of heavy wet sand.  (You’re welcome for the visual.)
  • Decant mixture into a bowl.  It should look like this:

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  • Knead with your hands until all ingredients are fully combined, and the batter comes together like so:

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  • Roll into two-bite sized balls.  If desired, roll balls in extra coconut flakes or cocoa powder.  (I left mine plain and they were perfectly fine.  Refrigerated, they do not stick together.)
  • Store in the fridge and enjoy a few at a time anytime you need a little pick-me-up!

These little bites are a great dessert treat, pre-workout fuel, or pick-me-up any time of day.  There’s some debate about whether 100% natural cocoa powder is permissible on the Whole30, and even the program’s founders don’t agree.  Personally, I agree that cocoa powder is much like cinnamon – it could be reminiscent of a non-Whole30 treat, but if you’re not using it as a crutch then it’s fine.  I think that the negligible amount of cocoa powder spread throughout these little bites (particularly when you consider the health benefits) is n.b.d.  So go ahead.  Enjoy!

Yield: approximately 15-20 truffles, depending on size.

Please source Covered In Flour for this recipe.

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HOLY YUM.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let me tell you how this dessert came about.  I had R and her sister S in the house.  R was on her way back overseas for work (but she’s coming home for good soon!) and S stopped by for an overnight in part to see her sister and in part to break up a trip of her own.  Hubby, knowing what levels of silliness were likely to transpire (he’s spent time with me, R and S before) wisely decided to spend the day parked in front of a video game and ignoring us.  Meanwhile, we debated how we should spend the day we had together.  Yoga class?  Farmers market?  Long walk before it got too hot?  Beg hubby to make us lavender foot baths and take over the living room?  (That’s what R and I did on her last visit.  Hubby is a good sport.)

As appealing as that last one sounded, we decided to go to the farmers market and bring back ingredients for a fresh seasonal lunch, then cook it together.  R and S were in charge of lunch – they made a delicious heirloom tomato and purple basil salad with burrata (pasteurized – no worries) and fresh mushroom ravioli (bought at the market) with a sauce made from corn and tomatoes, sauteed and then simmered in a bit of broth and yogurt.  Divine.  And I was in charge of dessert.  While at the market we decided on a fruit parfait.  R wanted peach and blackberry, but the white nectarines at my favorite fruit and veg stand were so fantastic that S and I formed a voting bloc and outvoted her.  For the creamy element to the parfait, I whipped up a simple, sweet Greek yogurt cream and layered it with the diced nectarines and blackberries.  Perfect summer dessert, but not so decadent that it couldn’t double as a light (!) breakfast.  Dessert for breakfast?  That’s my favorite.

Seasonal Fruit Parfait with Honey Vanilla Yogurt

2 white nectarines or peaches
1 pint blackberries
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
seeds of one vanilla pod

  • Prepare the fruit: wash the berries and wash and chop the nectarines into bite-sized pieces approximately the same size as the berries.
  • Whisk together the yogurt, honey and vanilla bean seeds.
  • Layer parfaits: spoon yogurt on bottom, then add a few berries and nectarine pieces, spoon yogurt on top, and continue with more layers as desired.  Finish with a dollop of yogurt on top.

Nota Baker: You don’t have to use nectarines and blackberries here just because I’ve called for them.  Use whatever fruit is in season in your area.  I recommend a combination of two fruits, but in any event no more than three.

Yield: Serves 4 as a small dessert or 2 as a good-sized breakfast.

Source: Covered In Flour

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Here’s another one from the archives that I thought would be fun to pull out as the mercury climbs all up and down the Eastern seaboard.  Yesterday on the radio, the host said “Today is the first day of summer,” and while that’s technically correct, it feels like summer took up residence in D.C. several weeks ago… at the very least.  Even walking outside for frozen yogurt is heat headache-inducing.  So make this semifreddo in the air-conditioned comfort of your own kitchen.  If you’re not sweltering right now, I’m jealous of you.  But you can still have semifreddo.

For dessert on our anniversary, I wanted to make something simple and refreshing (it is August in DC, after all), something that seemed special and unusual, and most of all, something that wouldn’t require me slaving over the stove when I ought to be drinking wine and relaxing with hubby.  A semifreddo perfectly fit my requirements.  I had made one before – once – a few years ago for an Easter dinner with my parents and their close friends (practically my second set of parents) and it had been the most popular dish of the meal.  I started thinking back to that semifreddo and wondering why I don’t make them more often.  They are simple, easy, light, refreshing, and people go crazy for them.  Plus, semifreddo is a frozen dessert that doesn’t require me to lug out my ice cream maker.  What more could I want for an anniversary dessert?  I whipped this up early in the morning before work and it sat in the freezer all day.  10 minutes of beating eggs and cream in the morning, and dessert was just about done.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

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Lemon and Almond Semifreddo

4 egg whites (be sure they are very fresh and don’t drop any shell, because they won’t be cooked) 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar, divided 1 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream 1 teaspoon lemon zest 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (I like ceylon) 1 cup coarsely ground almond tea biscuits (or amaretti) 1 package frozen raspberries, thawed

  • Puree the raspberries with 1/4 cup of powdered sugar.  Press through a fine mesh strainer to remove seeds.  Cover and chill, up to 2 days.
  • Line a loaf pan with 2 layers of plastic wrap, leaving considerable overhang.  Place in freezer to chill while you proceed with the recipe.
  • Using a hand mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.  Add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
  • Using the same beaters, but a different bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form.  Add remaining sugar (3/4 cup) and beat until stiff peaks form.  Fold a large spoonful of the whipped cream into the beaten eggs, then fold the beaten eggs into the cream in 2 additions.  Add cinnamon, lemon zest and 3/4 cup of the crushed biscuits into the mixture and fold gently until the flavorings are distributed throughout.
  • Transfer mixture into prepared loaf pan, cover with the overhanging plastic wrap, and freeze at least 4 hours and up to a day.
  • To serve, unmold and peel off plastic wrap.  Slice and our raspberry sauce over, then sprinkle reserved biscuit crumbs over slices.

Yield: Serves 8-10 (or 2 for an anniversary, with considerable leftovers!)

Source:  Adapted from Epicurious.com.

Note: I think this would also be nice with sliced almonds substituted for the crushed tea biscuits, but my husband doesn’t care for nuts running amok in desserts, so I stuck with the recipe’s recommendation on that one.  If you try substituting sliced almonds, though, tell me what you think!

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I wait all year for berry season.  Fresh fruit is my absolute favorite food – just about any kind of fresh fruit – and by extension, I’ll always choose a fruit dessert over chocolate.  I’m weird like that — what can I say?  So when I saw these cookies in the May 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living, they spoke to me loud and clear.  This morning I was up to my elbows in flour anyway, baking the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookies, and a cake, and artichoke dip (okay, there’s no flour in that) for my firm’s summer picnic.  So, I figured, what’s one more dessert?  I’ve been thinking about these cookies for three days.  Strawberries and cream… they had my name written all over them.  Why not?

Well.  They were the hit of the picnic.  The kids gravitated toward the cake, but the adults went crazy for these cookies.  They are light and refreshing, not too sweet — basically, summer in cookie form.   I love baking with fresh fruit and this recipe was so simple and easy that I’m certain it will become one of my standbys.  In fact, given the raves these got, I think I might have won a few converts to the fruit side.

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

12 ounces strawberries, hulled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking power
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
6 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (not in the original recipe, but really bumps up the flavor)
2/3 cup heavy cream
sanding sugar or vanilla sugar (for sprinkling)

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Combine strawberries, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and remaining granulated sugar in a large bowl.
  • Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or two knives, or rub it in with your fingers, until it forms approximately pea-sized crumbs.
  • Stir in vanilla extract and cream until mixture comes together, then stir in strawberry mixture.
  • Using an ice cream scoop, drop cookie dough onto parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheets.  Sprinkle with sanding sugar or vanilla sugar (I like Penzey’s vanilla sugar) and bake until golden brown, approximately 25 minutes.
  • Cool cookies on a wire rack.

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Note: These cookies really need to be eaten immediately.  They will not keep longer than one day.  Shouldn’t be a problem.

Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, May 2009.

This is a repost of the first recipe I posted, when I started my blog back in 2009.  It’s delish, and I thought it deserved to be dusted off and shown in the light of day again!

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When we got married, hubby and I were on the young side – me especially.  I was 23, and hubby was 27.  Now we’ve been married for over 6 years and it’s safe to say we’re just as obsessed with each other now as we were then.  Possibly more so.  Of course, being married for 6 years doesn’t make us an authority on marriage, by any stretch of the imagination.  My grandparents have been married for 60 years.  If anyone’s the authority on how to make a marriage work, it’s them.  But as many friends and colleagues have gotten married, I as the “already married girl” tend to get asked for marriage advice.  While I think every marriage is obviously different and what has worked so far for hubby and myself doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, there are a couple of things that I will tell people if they ask for my advice.

One thing that I think is extremely important in marriage is this: make the other person’s happiness your business.  Of course, I think that each person alone is ultimately responsible for his or her own happiness.  To make my happiness my husband’s responsibility would be to put a massive, unfair burden on him.  My happiness is not my husband’s responsibility, and his happiness is not mine.  But is my happiness his business, and is his happiness my business?  I would argue that it absolutely is.  I believe that when I promised to love and cherish hubby forever, an implicit part of that promise was that I would do everything in my power to make him happy.  So one thing I encourage to-be-marrieds to aim for is to know what makes your partner happy, and consciously strive to create those conditions in your life.  Maybe it makes your partner happy to have you cook for him or her.  So do that.  Or maybe your partner needs you to sit on the couch and listen about his or her day each evening.  So do that.  Striving for your partner’s happiness doesn’t have to be a particularly time-consuming or expensive undertaking, either.  It’s all about knowing your partner and consciously choosing to do those things that will bring him or her joy.

One of the things that I have done for hubby was to give him a third anniversary gift that included, as part of it, “coupons” that he could redeem once a year at specific times.  One coupon, for instance, was for his favorite chocolate chip cookies.  Another was for a fun weekend date planned by me.  And another coupon was for one of his favorite desserts, chocolate silk pie.  Hubby is a chocolate person and he loooooooves chocolate pie.  (Me?  I’d rather have key lime pie, thankyouverymuch.  But this isn’t a gift for me.)  So whenever this coupon comes up in the rotation, hubby gets a huge smile on his face and “redeems” it almost immediately.  Anything to make my hubby happy.  After all, that’s my business.  (Especially this time of year.  And this would be a great dessert to make for Valentine’s Day… wink wink, nudge nudge.)

Frozen Dark Chocolate Silk Pie

1 unbaked pie crust
2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
9 squares Green & Black’s Organic 85% dark chocolate
3 tablespoons butter
7 ounces marshmallow creme*
2 tablespoons coffee
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
chocolate curls or cocoa powder for garnish

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare pie crust as follows: cover with two layers of aluminum foil.  Press foil down and add pie weights or dried kidney beans.  Bake for 8 minutes.  Remove pie weights and discard foil.  Return to oven and bake, uncovered, for 5 more minutes.  Allow to cool on wire rack.
  • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the chocolate chips and dark chocolate squares together with the butter, marshmallow creme, coffee and vanilla extract.  Allow mixture to come to room temperature.
  • Beat one cup of heavy cream until it holds stiff peaks.
  • Transfer chocolate mixture into mixing bowl and fold in whipped cream.  Scoop into cooled pie crust.  Transfer pie crust to freezer and allow to chill for at least 3 hours.
  • When you have about an hour left before you are ready to serve, beat the remaning cup of cream with the confectioners’ sugar until stiff peaks form.  Spread whipped cream over frozen chocolate and refrigerate.  Just before serving, garnish with chocolate curls or a dusting of cocoa powder.

*I used Suzanne’s Ricemellow Creme, which is vegan.  However, you could always use the classic marshmallow creme.

Source: Adapted from Taste of Home

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Cinnamon Applesauce

Put your hand up if you, like me, get absolutely crazed during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  I’m currently preparing for houseguests (my lovely mother-in-law and her sister are visiting for Christmas 2.0 this coming weekend), which means I’m cleaning and organizing like a maniac.  Part of my organizing frenzy is the always fun “clean out the fridge and try not to scream” game.  Now, I generally keep a pretty clean fridge and we don’t have things that sit in there for months (except condiments, mmmmm, condiments).  But I find it doesn’t matter how clean you keep the fridge, or how disciplined you are about not buying more food than you can realistically eat… it still gets scary in there.

One element of this round of “clean out the fridge and try not to scream” involved me finding a creative use for a bag of apples that were aging gracelessly in my crisper drawer.  I think I’ve mentioned before that I have this compulsion when it comes to apples.  They’re available year-round and I frequently toss them in my cart without stopping to think about whether I need more or not.  At the moment, though, I’m on a citrus kick (it happens around this time every year) and I’ve been ignoring apples in favor of tangerines, clementines and grapefruits.  So the last batch of apples I had bought were still sitting in my crisper, getting younger by the day (not).  What to do, what to do?  I didn’t really feel like baking with them, and I have an idea percolating for a fun muffin that doesn’t involve apples anyway, so baked goods were out.  But I had another trick up my sleeve – applesauce!  It’s one of my go-to recipes for using extra apples; it’s easy, healthy and delish.  Sweetened with a kiss of maple syrup and flavored with a generous helping of cinnamon, this applesauce will take tired apples from your crisper and turn them into a healthy treat that will definitely not last long in your fridge.

Cinnamon Applesauce

4 pounds apples, peeled and large-diced
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 generous teaspoon cinnamon

  • Pile apple pieces into a Le Creuset (3 1/2 quart capacity or larger) or other heavy pot and begin cooking on high, tossing frequently.  When apples are beginning to warm and a few have acquired golden crusts, turn the heat down to medium-low.
  • Add maple syrup and cinnamon and stir thoroughly to combine.
  • Place lid on pot and simmer, stirring occasionally, for two hours.
  • Remove lid and stir.  Continue cooking on medium-low until apples are extremely soft and falling apart.  Mash with a fork (or potato masher) to achieve desired consistency.
  • Try to let it cool before you dive in, or you’ll burn your tongue!

Source: Covered In Flour

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Maple-Date Banana Bread

Happy Thanksgiving!  Do you have your stretchy pants ready?  Marshmallows for the sweet potatoes?  Tofurkey roast defrosting?  Oh, who am I kidding?  Of course you do.  After all, Thanksgiving dinner is the meal we’ve all been preparing for all month, isn’t it?  You don’t need me to tell you what to have for dinner tonight.  But… have you considered Thanksgiving breakfast?  I mean, that is, if you’re not fasting in preparation for the big meal.  If you’re looking for some last-minute easy but festive breakfast to fuel you up for the Turkey Trot or the parade-watching… well, look no further, friends.  I have one.  This is a simple, but moist and delicious, banana bread.  It’s literally ready in two shakes of a turkey’s tail.  And it’s basically fat-free and sweetened with nothing but maple syrup and fruit.  So there ya go, you can feel good about indulging in a slice of this bad boy.

See you at the Turkey Trot!

Maple-Date Banana Bread

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose or white whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 large eggs
1/2 cup diced dates
2 medium-large bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt).  Set aside.
  • In small mixing bowl, beat together applesauce and maple syrup until combined.  Beat in eggs one at a time, then beat in chopped dates, mashed banana, and vanilla extract, one ingredient at a time.
  • When wet ingredients are thoroughly mixed, add to dry ingredients and fold together until just combined.  Transfer to loaf pan and bake for between 1 and 1 1/4 hours.  Remove from oven when a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out almost clean (there will probably be a little bit of banana stuck to it; don’t worry about that).  Allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving (if you can!).

Source: Loosely adapted from How To Be A Domestic Goddess, by Nigella Lawson (Amazon link for convenience only; I am not an affiliate).

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