When I was growing up, cornbread was one of my favorites. My mother always called it ‘Johnny Cake’. Because it is a little sweeter than most dinner breads, it seemed like we were having dessert along with our soup, chili or whatever our main course was. That’s the nice thing about cornbread — it can be whatever you want it to be from breakfast to dessert.
Tucked away in the freezer, I have a little stash of sour cherries. On this occasion I’ve decided to make a bit of ‘sour cherry chia jam’ and add a dollop to the center of some cornbread scones.
Chia seeds used to be a niche ingredient you could only come up with at health food stores. Then all of a sudden they began appearing at the grocery store in the bulk department. As time has passed, the price is becoming a little better as well as the availability of them.
Chia seeds are harvested from a flowering plant in the mint family, which is native to parts of Mexico and Guatemala. Good quality seeds are naturally black or white in color, not brown. The brown chia seeds are immature ones which haven’t had a chance to mature properly, resulting in a bitter taste. Having a long shelf life, chia seeds will keep for several years when stored in a cool, dry place.
These scones may seem a bit unusual, but are well worth trying. I always enjoy to incorporate a bit of oatmeal for some extra flavor.
In a saucepan, bring cherries to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low & simmer until the cherries soften, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat & stir in honey & chia seeds. Continue stirring for about 5 minutes until mixture thickens. Use in making the cornbread scones. Store any leftovers in a glass jar in the refrigerator. The jam will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter mini loaf pans or whatever choice of pan is preferred. In a food processor, pulse oatmeal for a few seconds then add flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder, baking soda & sugar. Pulse for a few more seconds to evenly mix. Add cold butter & pulse just slightly to cut in; do not over mix. Place in a bowl, add buttermilk & combine ONLY until just mixed.
Divide dough into 10 mini loaf cups. Place a dollop of cherry chia jam in the center of each scone. Bake 15-20 minutes or until they test done with a toothpick. Nice to serve warm.
Love it or hate it, pumpkin spice season is well underway. Every year our obsession with the ‘flavor of fall’ continues to grow with weirder, more unique, pumpkin themed products invading the bakeries, grocery stores, coffee shops, you name it—
It all started with the introduction of the famous Starbucks ‘Pumpkin Spice Latte’ in 2003. Strangely enough, as a kid, I wasn’t crazy about pumpkin at all. But that was then, now I’m one of those who loves everything pumpkin.
Some time ago, Brion had picked up a bottle of Pumpkin Cream Liqueur. It has a wonderful taste on its own but of course it only seems fitting that I would want to bake with it.
I believe one of the secrets of having incredible flavors in both savory and baked goods is with the use of alcohol. You can’t help but notice, over the last number of years how the humble little cupcake has been elevated to a whole new level. Many of these specialty cupcake stores that have popped up are featuring alcohol-inspired, adult-friendly options.
Now, today, I’m back to ‘recipe development’ to see what I can come up with.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper cups.
In a small bowl, combine all topping ingredients & set aside.
In a large bowl, combine flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt & spices. With a pastry blender, cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.
In another bowl, whisk together egg, liqueur, milk & pumpkin puree. Stir into flour mixture JUST until moistened. Place a small scoop of batter in each cup. Divide topping. Using half of topping, divide evenly between cupcakes, creating the 'filling' for the cupcakes. Divide remaining batter between cups; top with remaining topping. Bake 15-20 minutes or until they test done. Remove from pan & cool on a wire rack.
Technically, pepitas and pumpkin seeds are the same thing. But pepitas (which mean “little seeds of squash” in Spanish) don’t have a shell and are found in only select pumpkin varieties.
Root vegetable desserts aren’t exactly a new concept. Incorporating vegetables such as beets, asparagus, mushrooms and sweet potatoes can lend themselves to new creative dessert ideas if you start thinking ‘out of the box’.
Parsnips, traditionally used in savory dishes, can bring a subtle sweet tenderness to your baked goods. When roasted or sauteed, their sugars caramelize richly and are well complemented by a variety of seasonings such as orange or lemon zest, ginger and cardamom.
As the autumn weather turns cooler, root vegetables like carrots and parsnips convert their starch to sugar. After a few fall frosts, parsnips develop a higher sugar content than those harvested before the freeze.
My original idea was to make a loaf cake with shredded raw parsnips as you do with carrots when making a carrot cake. Knowing how sweet they become when roasted, I decided to do that first. If you have any roasted parsnips leftover from a previous meal they would work just great.
I realize parsnips are not for everyone. It probably seems a bit odd to make them the ‘star’ in dessert but I have to say we both loved this cake. The tart sticky lemon frosting was truly the ‘icing on the cake’.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Peel parsnips & quarter lengthwise; remove core. Chop into medium size pieces & place in a plastic bag. Add a little veg oil & shake to distribute evenly. Line a baking sheet with foil; place parsnips on it & sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool, then puree in food processor.
Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder & salt. Using a mixer, beat eggs & sugar together. Add parsnip puree, oil, sour cream, vanilla & spices. Fold in flour mixture, combining gently until well incorporated. Fold in walnuts & chocolate, creating a marble appearance ONLY.
Pour batter into loaf pan & bake for about 40 - 45 minutes or until it tests done. Remove from oven & cool slightly before topping with frosting.
While cake is baking, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest & extract in a small bowl. With hand mixer, beat until smooth. Frosting will be thick & sticky. Top loaf cake while it is still slightly warm. Slice when cool & serve.
I had personalized the spices in this cake but if my combination doesn't appeal to you, simply use 1/2 tsp each nutmeg & cloves with a teaspoon of cinnamon instead.
When purchasing parsnips, look for the small to medium size. Large parsnips are often bitter & have an undesirable woody quality.
As a rule, when a person thinks of a ‘cobbler’ dessert, it means warm comfort food on a cool winter evening. But summer is here with all its fresh produce. There are dozens of simple variations on cobblers, and they are all based on fruits and berries, whatever is in season. The nice thing is, a cobbler relies more on the taste than fancy pastry preparation.
While they are not as show-stopping as a fresh fruit pizza, these easy desserts are perfect for summer barbecues. You can mix everything up, then pop it in the oven while everyone is eating barbecue outdoors. Dessert will be baked and ready for a big dollop of ice cream by the time everyone is finished eating. Fresh Pineapple Cobbler is the perfect ending to any spring-summer meal. Quick, easy and good!
In an 8 x 8 x 2-inch GLASS baking dish, melt butter, tilting dish to coat bottom. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon & salt. Add milk & extracts folding until smooth batter forms. Pour batter into baking dish over melted butter. DO NOT STIR BATTER INTO BUTTER. Distribute pineapple chunks evenly over the batter & sprinkle with brown sugar.
Bake for about 40-45 minutes in which time the fruit will sink to the bottom of the baking dish & the batter will bubble & bake up to the surface in random spots. When baked, the cobbler will be golden & will spring back slightly when touched in center. Serve warm with a dollop of ice cream!
As usual, I can’t get enough of using rhubarb throughout its growing season. This year we started three new plants as our older ones are producing less and less. I think they are probably just becoming to shaded so we put the new ones in a great little spot on the south side of the garage.
Rhubarb’s awkward positioning between fruit and vegetable, sweet and tart, is a topic that’s constantly debated. It resembles sticks of celery dressed in their best pink Sunday attire, blushing from the first few washes of early sun peaking through its dense foliage after winter hibernation underground.
Pie remains the most common use for rhubarb, so much that older cookbooks called it the ‘pie plant’. While it generally is treated as a fruit, it has also been used as a savory ingredient, frequently paired with meats, cheese, stuffings, sauces and much more.
This is one of my favorite ‘sweet’ recipes from quite a few years ago. It has it all — rhubarb, cream cheese & streusal!
In a small saucepan, combine rhubarb, sugar & lemon slice. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar melts. Reduce heat & simmer about 10-12 minutes or until thickened & reduced to about 1/2 cup. Allow to cool.
In a large bowl, combine flour & sugar. with a pastry blender, cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. In a small dish, measure 1 cup of the flour mixture & add walnuts & cinnamon. Set aside. To remaining flour mixture add baking powder, baking soda & salt. Set aside. In a third bowl, combine sour cream, vanilla & beaten egg.
Cream Cheese Filling
In a small bowl, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 sugar, egg & lemon zest. Fold in stewed rhubarb.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper cups. Stir SOUR CREAM mixture into FLOUR/BAKING POWDER mixture until just blended. Do not over mix! Spread this batter evenly over bottom & up the sides of each paper cup. Place a spoonful of FILLING MIXTURE in center of each, then top with WALNUT MIXTURE & bake 12-15 minutes or until muffins test done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
The pairing of chocolate and strawberries is hands down one of the best combos in dessert history. Both have long and rich histories. Strawberries were found growing wild in Italy centuries ago. The name itself has some myth around it stemming from the idea people put ‘straw’ around the base of the plant for both nutrients and protection.
Chocolate was enjoyed by Aztec and Mayan civilizations as a beverage and even used cocoa beans as a currency. As cocoa spread around the world, different ideas for its use emerged. Candy makers added milk & sugar or nuts and caramel to their chocolate confections.
In the 1960’s, Lorraine Lorusso created a decadent chocolate covered strawberry. As the story goes, she worked at a small gourmet shop called the Stop N’ Shop in Chicago, USA. She took a tempered version of the gourmet chocolate that was sold in the store and dipped some fresh strawberries into the mixture. She allowed the chocolate to harden and served these strawberries to their paying customers. The treat was an instant success.
I’ve done my own pairing of strawberries and chocolate in this cake roll with a cream cheese filling. Hope you get a chance to enjoy one through the summer as well.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 10 x 15-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder & salt. Set aside.
In another bowl, whip egg whites until foamy, gradually adding HALF of the sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. In a third large bowl, beat egg yolks until thick. Add remaining sugar, vanilla & water; beat until very thick. Gradually fold in flour mixture then egg whites.
Spread batter evenly into jelly roll pan. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until it tests done with a toothpick. Loosen edges & immediately turn cake onto a tea towel dusted with powdered sugar & remove parchment paper. Starting with narrower end, roll up cake in towel; cool completely.
In a small bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar & lime juice. Fold in diced, fresh strawberries.
Unroll cooled cake; remove towel. Spread cake with filling; roll up loosely to accommodate filling. Cover & refrigerate until ready to slice & serve.
The caramelized, citrus kumquat flavor puts a unique twist on the traditional upside down cake. This is an old technique that started centuries ago when cakes were cooked in cast iron skillets. It was easy to place the fruit and sugar in the bottom of the pan with a simple cake batter on top and place it over the fire to ‘bake’. The fruit stays juicy and caramelized when cooked being protected by the sponge of the cake.
Probably, this is where the idea for the classic ‘Pineapple Upside Down Cake’ from the 1920’s stems from. I had some extra kumquats I needed to use so they were perfect in these little desserts. Of course, any fruit of choice will work I’m sure.
In a saucepan, combine water & sugar & heat until sugar dissolves. Leave a few kumquats whole for garnish & slice the rest. Add all of the kumquats to the pan & bring to a gentle simmer. Cook them for about 10-15 minutes until they are tender; drain & return the syrup to the pan. Bring syrup to a boil until it thickens slightly; remove from heat. Reserve whole kumquats; dividing the slices between 4 custard cups.
Preheat oven to 375 F. In a bowl, combine all cake ingredients & beat until smooth. Divide mixture over kumquats in custard cups. Place cups on a baking sheet & bake for 15 minutes or until cakes have risen & are firm to the touch in center. Remove from oven & allow them to cool in cups for a few minutes. Carefully turn them out on to serving plates, garnish with whole kumquats & drizzle with warm syrup.
Rhubarb is one of those flavors that signals the coming of spring. A staple crop for every Canadian homesteader, in the 1800’s, as it thrives specifically in cool climates. The focus was initially on function, not flavor and was used as a medicine due to it’s perceived benefits for the digestive system. The tartness adds kick to it’s character causing it to be adored and despised with equal vigor.
Rhubarb ‘fool’ is a traditional English dessert that was popular throughout the 19th century on both sides of the Atlantic. It generally consists of a pureed fruit folded gently into a light, custard. Today’s recipe is a take on that idea using custard, pureed rhubarb and some mini donuts for ‘dunking’.
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, whisk together milk, egg, oil & lemon juice. In another bowl, combine flour, sugar & baking powder. Stir wet ingredients into flour mixture until combined in a smooth batter.
Brush mini donut pan with butter. Fill each cup about 1/2 full; bake for about 4-5 minutes or until they test done. Place some sugar in a shallow dish. Remove baked donuts from oven; while still warm coat with sugar. Set aside.
Cut rhubarb into small pieces. In a saucepan, add rhubarb, sugar & water; bring to a boil & simmer, covered, gently for 10 minutes. Remove lid & stir, then remove from heat when it reaches a jam consistency.
In a saucepan, bring milk & vanilla to a boil. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar & cornstarch together. Add the hot milk to egg mixture slowly whisking as you do so. Return the mixture to the saucepan & bring slowly to a boil, whisking constantly until thickened.
Divide custard between 4 custard dishes; place a spoonful of sauce on top. Serve the mini donuts on the side, ready to be 'dunked'.
Spring is definitely in the air, so bring on those fresh spring flavors. One that comes to my mind is lemon — zesty and full of some spring ‘zing’. My first thought is to pair lemon with some wild blueberries. I realize we are a long way from blueberry harvest time but the good news is that WILD blueberries are as good frozen as they are fresh. None of the nutritional values or antioxidant goodness is lost by freezing.
Canada is the world’s largest producer of ‘low-bush’ blueberries, which is another name for the wild blueberries native to eastern North America. They grow best on treeless land or on land that has been burned over. Growers do not plant them but instead manage wild stands that spread naturally by means of underground runners. The berries are often not uniform in appearance since managed fields can have several distinct runner systems.
The wild blueberries have a sweeter, tangier more intense flavor than their cultivated cousins. Harvest time comes in late August to early September, generally only lasting a few weeks.
This simple little dessert lets us get into the summer blueberry ‘season’ a little earlier and still has all the flavor.
In a large bowl, combine butter & powdered sugar; cream well then stir in vanilla. In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients, gradually add to creamed mixture; blend well. Line the muffin pan size of your choice with paper cups. Divide dough into balls, placing one into each cup. With your fingers, press dough evenly up sides & on bottom of paper cups. Refrigerate until filling & streusal are made.
In a small dish, combine streusal ingredients until mixture forms coarse crumbs.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Gently rinse & dry blueberries. In a small bowl, combine all other filling ingredients & whisk together until smooth. FOLD in blueberries. Divide filling evenly between pastry shells. Top with streusal & a spoon full of lemon curd. Bake about 25 minutes, (filling will rise slightly when set). Remove from oven. If you prefer, add a bit more lemon curd. Once tarts are cool, remove from pan. The paper cups will come off easily, leaving a pretty little corrugated design.
Many people believe Mother’s Day was developed as a commercial holiday to sell cards, candy and flowers or to celebrate the domestic role of women in the home and family. Really, this day is more about women’s commitment to the past, present and the future. Most often, mother’s take the lead in passing down family stories, life lessons and traditions.
Mother’s Day isn’t a new holiday with some of its earliest celebrations being traced back to ancient Greece and Rome. Here in Canada, we set aside the second Sunday in May to honor our mother’s with expressions of love and gratitude.
Although my mother is no longer on this earth, her wonderful memory will live on forever. It is also with love, Brion and I celebrate his mother, Dolores, for her loving and kind ways.
I was trying to come up with something special to bake for the blog recipe today. Lately I have enjoyed using rose & orange water in my cooking. Sweet and fragrant rose water is an elegant steam distillate of rose petals. The key is to use it sparingly as a little goes a long way. Used raw, the flavor is very floral and aromatic. When baked or roasted, that flowery essence mellows out, imparting notes similar to vanilla, with a fruity, more subtle aroma. There are a variety of ways to use rose water from cake and cookies to cocktails and even in roast chicken.
This flavor combination definitely takes the meaning of ‘special’ to a whole new level. Just what I was looking for.
Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes with Rosewater Frosting
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line muffin tin with paper liners & set aside.
In a bowl, whisk together flour baking powder, soda, cardamom & salt. Set aside. In another bowl, beat together softened butter, oil & sugar; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg is added. Slowly add sour cream & vanilla. Fold in flour mixture being careful not to over mix batter.
Divide batter between the muffin cups. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven & place the individual muffins on a cooling rack.
In a large bowl, combine powdered sugar, butter & 1 Tbsp milk. With an electric mixer, beat on low until sugar is incorporated then move to medium-high speed. Add rosewater a 1/4 tsp at a time (taste to prevent it becoming to strong for your liking) then food color. If the icing is not the proper consistency add another Tbsp of milk.
When the cupcakes are cool, frost each one using a large angled star tip. Top off each cupcake with a sprinkle of the reserved chopped pistachios.
To make your cupcakes real special, decorate with some dried rosebuds.
I was able to find rosewater easily in the ethnic section of the grocery store.