Blueberry Babka Rolls

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Today as we celebrate Mother’s Day, many special memories come to mind. My mother passed away in 1978 but even after 42 years, time has changed nothing. I still miss the sound of her voice, the wisdom in her advice, the stories of her life and just being in her presence. I miss her today as much as the day she left us and I always will.

It is also with very loving thoughts, I celebrate my mother-in-law, Dolores, for her loving and kind ways and for raising that ‘special’ man I love sharing my life with. Love to my sisters, who gave so much of themselves to be the great mom’s they are.

Babka ….. an old world beauty with roots in both the Jewish and Eastern European communities. A cake like, sweet yeast bread, richer than that of a cinnamon bun but not as rich as a Danish pastry. The name Babka means ‘little grandmother’ in many European languages.

Traditionally, babka was filled with seeds, nuts and sometimes even honey or filled with layers of cinnamon sugar or chocolate. This classic baked good has been making its way into every corner of the food world. A great babka dough is a blank canvas for almost any filling. Many other flavors have been developed and have become equally popular.

Fruit lovers can now indulge in apple-cinnamon or raspberry and apricot cream cheese babkas. There is also a Middle Eastern favorite using halva (sesame candy) or a completely savory version with sun-dried tomatoes.

This bread seems very fitting on our Mother’s Day blog.

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Blueberry Babka Rolls
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ROLLS
Ingredients
Babka Dough
Blueberry Filling
Streusel Topping
Servings
ROLLS
Ingredients
Babka Dough
Blueberry Filling
Streusel Topping
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Instructions
Babka Dough
  1. In a small bowl, place water & sprinkle with the yeast & a pinch of sugar; stir to combine. Allow to stand until frothy, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together 4 cups of the flour, sugar & salt. Make a well in the center of the flour & add eggs, yolk & oil. Whisk to form a slurry, pulling in a little flour from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Pour the yeast mixture over the egg slurry. Mix the yeast, eggs & flour with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough that is difficult to mix forms. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface & knead for about 10 minutes. If the dough seems very sticky, add flour a teaspoon at a time until it feels tacky. The dough has finished kneading when it is soft, smooth & holds a ball-shape.
  4. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap & place in a draft-free area. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
Blueberry Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, combine cornstarch, sugars & salt. Add water & blueberries; cook until clear & bubbling. Remove from heat & add lemon juice; cool completely.
Streusel Topping
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, powdered sugar, salt & baking powdered. Cut butter into small chunks & add the flour mixture. Using your fingertips, work the butter into the flour mixture until it forms LARGE, coarse crumbs. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.
Assembly
  1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough into a rectangle, roughly 40 X 60 cm (15" X 24"). Spread half of the filling on center third of the dough. Fold one of the sides over the center & spread the remaining filling on top. Next, put opposite side of the dough over all & gently press together.
  2. Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, cut 15 strips, between 2 - 2.5 cm (3/4"-1") thick. Twist each strand of dough a few times then, holding one end between you thumb & forefinger, coil the dough to form a circle. Finish by pinching the outer end to the ring, so it holds the circular shape when baking. Repeat with remaining strips. Place rolls on lined baking sheet as you make them. Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap & set in a draft-free place until rolls have doubled in size.
Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush rolls with egg wash. Sprinkle streusel & chopped nuts evenly over the tops, pressing lightly so the crumbs adhere to the rolls. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven & place on a cooling rack.

Pearl Couscous Pudding w/ Poached Fruit

While names may be confusing, if you have never tried ‘pearl couscous’, you should. Because of its size and shape, Israeli couscous is sometimes marketed as pearl couscous. Yet in Israel, it goes by neither of these names … its called ‘ptitim’ which roughly translates to ‘little crumbles’. To make it even a bit more confusing … although it is called couscous, technically its not but more like a pasta.

Unlike the finely grained North African couscous made of semolina, Israeli couscous has larger granules, resembling tiny pearls. They are made from a paste of moistened, finely ground, hard wheat flour which is forced through a machine to make round pellets and then toasted dry in ovens. The toasting process seals in the starch to prevent the ‘pearls‘ from falling apart when later cooked in liquid. It also gives the pasta a bit of a nutty taste.

Whatever name you prefer, it is a tasty alternative to rice or pasta. Not only will it serve as a base for vegetable and herb packed salads, it can be stirred with stock to make creamy risottos or use it as a replacement for tapioca or rice in dessert puddings. Its even good just as a side dish tossed with oil or butter, lemon and fresh herbs.

I was able to buy just a small amount at the bulk store so I could make this pudding. The poached fruit makes such a nice topping for it as well.

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Pearl Couscous Pudding w/ Poached Fruit
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Pudding
Poached Strawberries & Rhubarb
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Ingredients
Pudding
Poached Strawberries & Rhubarb
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Instructions
Pudding
  1. In a saucepan, combine coconut oil with cardamom spice over medium-low heat. Add couscous & toast, stirring occasionally, just until the couscous has turned a light golden brown.
  2. Add coconut milk, making sure to get all the fat from the can, along with the sugar & salt. The pan should be hot enough that the coconut milk will bubble up & fizz a little then add vanilla.
  3. Bring mixture to a simmer then turn the heat down to low & cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. After 5 minutes turn off the heat, cover & allow to sit for 5 minutes then remove the lid & stir. Pudding thickens as it cools.
Poached Fruit
  1. In a large saucepan, place water & sugar over high heat & stir until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low & add strawberries & rhubarb. Simmer for 10 minutes or until fruits are softened but still retain their shape. Cool.
Assembly
  1. Serve pudding at room temperature otherwise it becomes a solid mass when cold. If it's too thick you can stir in a bit more coconut milk to help thin it out, adding a tablespoon or so at a time until you have the desired consistency. Divide pudding between serving dishes & top with poached fruit to serve.

Cardamom Roasted Persimmons

Persimmons are in season between November and February. Mildly sweet and juicy with a slight crunch reminiscent of a cross between a peach and a pear. Since there is only a short window in which you can enjoy this exotic fruit, persimmons make up for it by working well in both sweet and savory recipes.

The two most commonly available varieties are Fuyu and Hachiyas. Some recipes prefer one over the other. Treat them like you would an apple and turn them into jams, puree, tarts and cakes. Paired with pork adds a nice fruity and caramelizing sweetness.

Fuyus are squat and round whereas Hachiyas are acorn shaped and have a pointed bottom. When buying persimmons, look for the unblemished skin with the green leaves and top still attached. The texture should be like a tomato-firm but a bit of give without being to soft. Persimmons are usually sold unripe, so leave them on the counter for a day or two until the skin deepens to a rich sunset orange.

Cardamom is a complex flavor that can be used in any of the usual autumn and winter recipes. There is nothing subtle about cardamom, so when used in all but sparing amounts, it will dominate whatever its paired with. Cardamom has been used in Christmas baking in Germany since the middle ages.

You can eat roasted persimmons hot or cold. For a quick breakfast, make a batch ahead of time, then just reheat in the microwave or eat cold.

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Cardamom Roasted Persimmons
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a small bowl, combine hot water with 3 Tbsp honey; stir until honey is dissolved. With a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise & scrape half of the seeds into the bowl. Reserve excess seeds for yogurt.
  2. Peel the persimmons, cut them in half lengthwise & then slice into 1-inch thick wedges. Arrange the slices in a baking dish, drizzle with lime juice & sprinkle with the honey mixture, cardamom & butter.
  3. Roast persimmons for about 45-60 minutes spooning the pan juices over top occasionally. When done they should be tender & easily pierced with a knife.
  4. In a small bowl, combine 1 1/2 Tbsp honey & yogurt. Add the remainder of the vanilla bean seeds; whisk until yogurt is smooth & well blended.
  5. To serve, divide yogurt between 4 serving dishes, top with a quarter of the persimmons, drizzle with any extra syrup & sprinkle the pistachios on top.
Recipe Notes
  • When using extract in place of vanilla bean in a recipe, use 1 teaspoon for every one inch of vanilla bean. Be sure to replace vanilla bean with vanilla extract and not vanilla flavoring or imitation vanilla, which are both a far cry from real vanilla.

Sour Cherry Custard Buns

Fall is that time of year that we can enjoy some more of those wonderful cherries from our own little tree. The fact that we live in the northern part of Alberta, Canada and can eat cherries fresh from our tree is such a bonus.

Even though these cherries are classed as a semi-sweet variety, there are still endless ways to enjoy them. When I was growing up, I remember my mother making something she called ‘dampfnudeln’. The taste was wonderful and as I recall, these were sweet yeast dumplings in a vanilla custard sauce. I’m not sure if they had anything in the center or not.

It seems there are endless recipes and preparations, variations on recipes and variations on variations …. ROHRNUDELN, HEFENUDELN, GERMKNODEL, DAMPFNUDELN, BUCHTELN and on and on. Basically they are all yeast dumplings, sweet (or savory) but the preparation varies somewhat. Some are poached in a milk/sugar liquid, whereas others are baked. Some are filled, some not. Most seem to be served with a vanilla custard.

For mine, I’m trying to incorporate some of our cherries in a soft, sweet yeast bun with some vanilla custard. I think I’ll call them ‘dampfbuchteln’. Buchteln are a typical Bohemian dish from the region in the middle of Europe that was formerly German. It was from there that recipes like this made their way into German and Austrian kitchens. That name seems fitting, having the characteristics of both kinds of buns.

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Sour Cherry Custard Buns
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Course Brunch, dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Sweet Roll Dough
Vanilla Custard
Course Brunch, dessert
Servings
Ingredients
Sweet Roll Dough
Vanilla Custard
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Instructions
Sour Cherry Compote
  1. In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch & salt; add juice & stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, simmer until thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Immediately remove from heat. Gradually fold in cherries. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. I found it easier to make the compote a day ahead of the buns.
Sweet Roll Dough
  1. In a small dish, heat milk to lukewarm. Add yeast & 1 tsp sugar; let sit for 5 minutes to allow yeast to activate. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 cup sugar, melted butter, sour cream & egg. Add yeast mixture & stir to combine.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together flour & salt. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture, 1 cup at a time combining well after each addition. Once the flour has all been added, knead on a lightly floured surface for about 2 minutes.
  3. Lightly grease the large bowl, place dough in it & cover with plastic & a tea towel. Allow to rise for at least 1 hour in a draft free place until dough has doubled in volume.
  4. Punch dough down & turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal sized pieces & roll each into a ball. Place under a tea towel so they won't dry out. Take one ball & shape it into a flat circle large enough to hold a spoonful of compote.
  5. Fold over & pinch the edges, then carefully shape into a ball again. Place in a buttered 12-inch spring form pan, seam side down. Repeat with remaining dough balls. Cover with tea towel & let rise for another 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake buns for about 20-25 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven; cool for just a few minutes then pat with butter. When completely cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar if you wish.
Vanilla Custard
  1. Sift together cornstarch & flour. Using a whisk, combine the beaten eggs & the flour mixture until powders are dissolved. In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together milk, sugar & salt. Once sugar & salt are dissolved, add in the egg mixture & keep stirring everything until the mixture is thickened. Remove from heat & stir in butter & vanilla. Nice to serve warm under the cherry buns.

Easter ‘Ube’ Cheesecake Baskets

In my second blog for the month of November/2018, I had featured an article on ‘Ube’ Sweet Rolls. This was my first experience using this interesting Filipino purple yam. Since we had really enjoyed the flavor, why not take it further?!

First, I just wanted to talk a bit more about this tuber. Ube originated in the Philippines and refers to a bright purple sweet potato. Traditionally it is boiled and mashed with coconut milk and sweetened condensed milk to form essentially ‘dessert mashed potatoes’.  Unlike Matcha or Durian that have intense scents and flavors, ube doesn’t require a developed palate to enjoy.

It is easy to confuse ube with taro, but they are completely different foods. Taro is typically white on the inside and used in savory dishes, while ube is more commonly used in making sweets.

The violet purple color makes it highly photogenic, which gives it a natural marketing quality. The taste has been described as something similar to white chocolate with earthy nutty tones, gentle but not intense.

Fresh ube seems fairly difficult to find in North America but with a little persistence its possible. There are a few different forms it is sold in. Dehydrated powder, extract, ube halaya (or paste) or as a grated frozen product. Ube is not an exotic ingredient in the Philippines, but a common everyday staple that deserves a bit more respect and understanding.

When I saw a cheesecake recipe using ube, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect base for an Easter dessert. Creamy ube with the perfect note of tang and richness from the cream cheese.


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Easter 'Ube' Cheesecake Baskets

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Ingredients
Crumb Base

Ube Cheesecake Filling

Servings


Ingredients
Crumb Base

Ube Cheesecake Filling

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Instructions
Base
  1. Line 8-9 large muffin cups with large paper liners. In a bowl, combine melted butter & crumbs; stir until mixture looks like coarse meal & all of the crumbs are moistened with the butter. Divide crumbs between lined cups; set aside.

Filling
  1. Check for any hard particles in the thawed purple yam & discard them. Wrap purple yam (ube) in foil & steam for about 20-30 minutes or until very soft. Mash until creamy & let cool.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, beat cream cheese until soft & fluffy. Add sugar & salt beating until combined. Add the cooled 'ube' & beat until incorporated & smooth.

  3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition then add vanilla. Pour into prepared 'cups'. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until they test done when the tip of a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Lay a piece of paper towel over a wire cooling rack. Remove cheesecake cups from oven; cool for a few minutes then lift out onto paper lined rack. Cool, then chill in the fridge for at least 6-8 hours.

Decorating
  1. Place coconut in a zip lock baggie. Dissolve a few drops of food coloring in a teaspoon of water. Pour over coconut, seal & shake until it is the color you want.

  2. Hollow out a small circle in the top of each cheesecake. Divide the yogurt between cheesecakes, filling each little divot with some. Next, divide the tinted coconut between the cheesecakes, covering the yogurt, to make a 'nest'. Top each nest with 3 'robin egg' Easter candies.

Rhubarb/Rose Turkish Delight & Rhubarb Cream Cheese Truffles

Anyone following my blog is well aware of my love for rhubarb. I think I’ve tried to use it in every capacity possible. Well, get ready for my next adventure — rhubarb Turkish delight! I refrain from eating a lot of chocolate bars, not that I don’t enjoy them, but seriously –. In Canada, the Nestle company sells a chocolate bar called ‘Big Turk’ for which Turkish delight forms the basic foundation. Of course, I love it!

Just a bit of food history background on the subject first. The Turkish name for the sweet comes from the Arabic rahat-ul hulkum which means ‘soothe or heal the throat’. This was abbreviated to rahat lokum and then lokum. The name ‘Turkish Delight’ was coined in the 18th century to make it easier to pronounce. As an improvement on the original recipe of honey or molasses, a mixture of water, flour, cornstarch and refined beet sugar were used to make a firm, chewy jelly.

Little has changed in the last 240 years. Although there are more than 24 different flavors, the biggest seller that still remains is a plain jelly studded with pistachios. Traditional Middle Eastern flavors include rose-pistachio, orange-blossom walnut, mint and rose-lemon.

Back to the rhubarb. Somewhere in my travels, I came across a recipe for rhubarb truffles that peeked my interest. After more research, I decided why not go right out on a limb and test my skills at making some rhubarb/rose Turkish delight. Actually, the end result was not bad. I have acquired a taste for the use of floral water in baking, Brion, not so much. It has to be used very sparingly or it becomes overpowering. I made three versions: Turkish delight plain or covered in white chocolate and a rhubarb truffle. A bit time consuming but a very unique flavor.

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Rhubarb/Rose Turkish Delights & Chocolates
Instructions
Rhubarb/Rose Turkish Delight
  1. In a saucepan, put 1 1/4 cups water with sugar, rhubarb & lemon juice. Cook over low heat , stirring until sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat a little; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; leave the rhubarb to infuse for 10 minutes, then pass through a sieve, reserving the juice & pulp separately (the pulp can be used in the truffles that follow).
  2. Line a baking dish with cling film (the size will depend on how thick you want your candy) & set aside. In a small dish, blend cornstarch with remaining 1/4 cup water until smooth. In a saucepan, add rhubarb juice, gelatin powder, dissolved cornstarch & heat gently, stirring until gelatin has dissolved, then bring to a rolling boil.
  3. Keep mixture at a steady rolling boil, stirring constantly, for about 12-14 minutes or until syrup reaches a soft ball stage. Cool slightly & then pour mixture into lined baking dish. Allow to cool at room temperature for about 12 hours or until the mixture is set; do not refrigerate.
  4. Once the jelly is set, cut into pieces. Combine 1 Tbsp cornstarch with 2 Tbsp powdered sugar in a bowl, then roll the jellies in this mixture to coat them. Keep jellies in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 3 days; do not refrigerate. If you want to dip some of your jellies as I did, I found using a mini ice cube tray as a mold was helpful. I just set the piece of jelly in each cup & poured the white chocolate over & around it. Can be frozen until needed.
Rhubarb Cream Cheese Truffles
  1. In a double boiler over medium heat, melt 55 grams of white chocolate chunks. Transfer to a bowl; add remaining ingredients EXCEPT milk chocolate & beat with an electric hand mixer until smooth. Cover & chill until solid enough to roll or scoop into balls.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Melt milk chocolate. drop balls of rhubarb/cream cheese mixture, one at a time, into milk chocolate to coat. Carefully remove onto parchment paper & allow to harden. Can be frozen as well until needed.
Recipe Notes
  • I also tried freezing the plain jellies without putting cornstarch/sugar mixture on them and it worked fine. They were actually nice tasting right out of the freezer.

Hazelnut Liqueur Shortbread Cookies

It’s hard to think of Christmas without having shortbread. When I was growing up, fruitcake (or Christmas cake) and shortbread cookies were some of the staples associated with Christmas baking.  Fruitcake has definitely become lost in the shuffle  but it seems shortbread still remains. While the traditional shortbread consisted of three main ingredients — flour, sugar and butter, today it is flavored with any number of ingredients.

The first shortbread recipe appeared in a Scottish cookbook dated 1736. Early formulas called for yeast, but by 1850, most were utilizing only flour,  sugar and butter combined in a ratio bakers still use today. Originally it started out as a twice-baked medieval bread roll that was dusted in sugar and allowed to harden. For a number of years, Scottish shortbread (biscuits) were classified as a bread by bakers so that they could avoid the tax placed on biscuits.

There are infinite variations on the classic version such as additions of nuts, alcohol, citrus zest, dried fruit, anise spice, floral water, chocolate, lemon curd, caramel or ganache.

Some years ago, I started using a hazelnut liqueur in some of my Christmas baking. It adds a wonderful richness we really enjoy. My favorite is the Frangelico brand. It is distilled in the Piedmont region of northern Italy from an alcohol and water infusion of the nuts. Natural flavoring extracts such as cocoa and vanilla are added before blending with alcohol, sugar and water to meet the bottle strength. It’s origins go back over 300 years to the Christian monks who inhabited that area of Italy. The name Frangelico is derived from one of the monks, Fra. Angelico. The bottle itself, reflects this heritage, which looks like a glass monk complete with a rope belt. A bit pricey but if you are using it only for baking, the bottle lasts a long time. 

This recipe was featured in a ‘Canadian Living’ magazine in December 2002. The perfect shortbread for the upcoming season.

 

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Hazelnut Liqueur Shortbread Cookies
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Hazelnut Glaze
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Hazelnut Glaze
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Instructions
Shortbread
  1. In a bowl, beat butter with sugar until light & fluffy followed by the liqueur & vanilla. Stir in cornstarch & salt. Next add flour, 1/3 at a time combining to make a smooth dough. Add nuts, then divide dough in half & chill until firm but not hard, about 30-60 minutes.
  2. Roll out each disk of dough to a 1/4-inch thickness & chill again at least 30 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut into desired shapes, re-rolling scrapes. Place 1-inch apart on baking sheet; chill until firm, about 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 325 F. bake shortbread cookies for 15-20 minutes or until LIGHT golden. Remove from oven & place on cooking rack. Spread with glaze if desired.
Hazelnut Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, liqueur & 2 Tbsp water (adding more water if needed to make spreadable). Spread over shortbread cookies.

Roasted Strawberry & Hazelnut Pastries

Definitely, roasted fruit is one of my favorite summer desserts. It becomes so intense when its been sizzling and caramelizing at a high temperature. Roasted strawberries are one fruit that can take any dish to the next level. Along with the fact that it will stain even the palest berries to a ruby red, the subtle use of aromatic ingredients like lemon, vanilla or rose water can breathe new life into your bland unripe berries. Another added bonus is that the seeds add a little crunch to the tender, supple structure of a roasted strawberry.

I wanted to make something quick and easy for dessert today. I just happened to have some strawberries on hand why not roast them. A while back I saw an idea on youtube.com with strawberries and of all things, the famous chocolate hazelnut spread, ‘Nutella’. I have to be honest, I have maybe only tasted it once or twice but what the heck! Of course, you guessed it, I would first want to read up on its history. You maybe know all this but—–   It seems it all started with the same Italian family that gave us the glorious ‘Ferrero Rocher’ chocolates. Nutella was invented during WWII when the war had created a chocolate shortage.

In 1925, Italian chocolatier, Pietro Ferrero, perfected the so-called ‘pastone’ (pastry mesh) of chocolate and hazelnuts. The Piedmont region of Italy, which his family called home, is famed for its delicious and abundant hazelnuts. In 1946, he created pasta giandja (or giandujot) which was made in a small hard loaf or bar, wrapped in aluminum foil and could be sold at a cheaper price. This chocolate could be cut into slices to eat on bread which formed a big part of the diet at the time. In 1949, a spreadable version called supercrema gianduja was intoduced, which was later renamed ‘Nutella’ in 1964. The name gave the product international appeal. It said ‘nuts’ and it also said Italy — ‘ella’ being a common affectionate ending in Italian such as in mozzarella cheese, tagliatella (a form of pasta) or caramella (a sweet).

Fifty years on, the company is the number one user of hazelnuts worldwide. Interesting!    OK, now on with the pastries. 

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Roasted Strawberry & Hazelnut Pastries
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Instructions
Roasted Strawberries
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Slice off blossoms; leave small & medium berries whole, cutting largest ones in half. In a glass baking dish, toss with sugar, salt & lemon juice.
  2. Roast, stirring once or twice, for about 30-40 minutes, long enough for the berry juices to thicken but not burn. Remove from oven; add vanilla & rose water. Set aside until ready to use.
Pastries
  1. On parchment paper, lay out sheet of puff pastry. At one end of the pastry, spread hazelnut cream& top with cooled roasted strawberry 'jam'. Below the chocolate/strawberry mixture make 5 slices so you end up with six strips. Starting at top where the filling is, roll up pastry & join the two ends together to make a wreath.
  2. Adjust oven to 400 F. Brush with egg wash , sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts. Lift wreath ON the parchment paper to baking sheet & bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Swedish Apple Pie

Many cultures have embraced the ‘apple pie’ and put their own spin on it, so why is it known as the quintessential ‘American’ dessert. If your someone who hates making pie crust …. this pie is for you. Swedish Apple Pie is more like cake than a pie and very similar to a cobbler. You layer your apples in a buttered pie dish, whip up the batter, spread it over the apples and bake it. As it bakes, the batter fills in the spaces between the apples, creating cakey  goodness for each bite. 

This pie reminds me of an experience that seems quite comical when I think of it now. Before I had ever studied in the commercial food industry or made any amount of pies, a friend gave me a recipe for a ‘Swiss’ apple pie. Her instructions were to place the apple slices in a pastry lined pie pan. Next, pour vanilla pudding over the apples and bake. It sounded great! I purchased a box of Jell-O brand vanilla pudding & pie filling, made a crust and filled it with apple slices. I assumed you were supposed to cook the pudding before covering the apples with it for some reason. Wrong! What resulted was apples baked in a pastry shell with a ‘rubber top’. I guess we all have to start somewhere right?!

Nevertheless, I think you will enjoy this easy way to make an apple pie.

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Swedish Apple Pie
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Course Brunch, dessert
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Ingredients
Course Brunch, dessert
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Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9-inch pie pan.
  2. Peel, core & slice apples. Place in buttered pie plate. Sprinkle apples with 1 Tbsp sugar & cinnamon.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine cooled, melted margarine, 1 cup sugar, salt, egg, flour, extract & walnuts. Mix well. Gently spread batter over apples. Bake for about 45 minutes or until top is golden. Serve warm or cold with ice cream or whipped cream.

‘Spring” Whoopie Pies with Mascarpone Filling

Not a pie at all, traditional whoopie pies are two thin chocolate cakes sandwiched around a white frosting. The origin of the whoopie pie is somewhat controversial. Some people say they were invented in Medieval Germany and brought to the USA by immigrants. Women would bake cakes and use leftover batter and icing to make these special treats. The little cake sandwiches were placed in children’s lunch boxes, where upon discovering them, cries of ‘whoopie’ were shouted. From the basic chocolate and vanilla formula of the past, a whole host of varieties have since taken the stage.

I love the pastel shades of Spring and try to incorporate them into anything I can. When I was shopping the other day, I happened to see some little colorful  French Macaron  cookies in a bakery window. As great as they look, I personally have never cared for the ‘meringue’ type cookie. Nevertheless, it gave me some inspiration for some ‘spring’ whoopie pies. Adding a few new flavors to the chocolate and vanilla batters along with some flavored Mascarpone fillings takes whoopie pies (cookies) to a whole new level.

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'Spring" Whoopie Pies with Mascarpone Filling
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Course Brunch, dessert
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MASCARPONE FILLINGS - Raspberry, Blueberry, Apricot & Strawberry Preserve
Course Brunch, dessert
Servings
Ingredients
MASCARPONE FILLINGS - Raspberry, Blueberry, Apricot & Strawberry Preserve
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven 350 F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar & vanilla until light & fluffy. Beat in egg. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda & salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk.
  2. In separate small bowls, divide vanilla batter into 4 equal portions. Leave one plain, to the second dish add pistachio nuts & a tiny bit of green food color gel. To the third dish add 2-3 Tbsp Chambord liqueur & red food coloring. To the fourth add lemon zest & yellow food color.
  3. FOR CHOCOLATE BATTER: Follow directions in the first paragraph, adding cocoa along with flour mixture. Using a small scoop or heaped tablespoon, spoon mixtures onto baking sheet. Allow room for spreading. Bake for 10-12 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE. Remove from oven & transfer to wire rack.
  4. While whoopies are baking prepare Mascarpone fillings. For every 60 grams of Mascarpone use 2-3 Tbsp of one of the preserve flavors.
  5. When the whoopies are cold, match each with whoopie half with its closest partner size. Spread with a knife or use a piping bag to cover the flat side of one whoopie half of each pair generously with filling. Top each with its matching half, flat side down & gently press together.
Recipe Notes
  • Another flavor you might enjoy is lemon curd which can be purchased in the preserve section of the grocery store.
  • For chocolate filling, add a little cocoa powder & powdered sugar to some Mascarpone.
  • For some of the vanilla whoopies, I made a Rosewater flavored filling with 1 tsp margarine, 60 gm Mascarpone, 3 Tbsp powdered sugar & 3/4 tsp rosewater.