Pumpkin Spice Custard w/ Caramelized Apples

Autumn is upon us and love it or hate it, pumpkin spice season is well underway. 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.

The leaves are changing, the weather is cooling and the air is filled with the ‘flavors of fall’. With both apples & pumpkins in season right now its hard not to enjoy making use of them.

As usual, this recipe started out with a simple little no-cook pudding but got an upgrade with some spiced, caramelized apples. Yum!

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Pumpkin Spice Custard w/ Caramelized Apples
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Instructions
Caramelized Apples & Cranberries
  1. In a medium pot, melt butter then add water & sugar. When the caramel is golden brown, add the cranberries, swirling them into the caramel. When the cranberries begin to burst, add the apple & orange zest, then sprinkle with the spices. Lower the heat & simmer 5-10 minutes to thicken. Do not over cook the compote as it will thicken when cooled.
  2. Transfer to a heat resistant glass bowl & cool to room temperature, then cover & chill.
Pudding
  1. In a large bowl, beat pudding mix, pumpkin puree, milk, brown sugar & spices until smooth & creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Chill for an hour before assembling with fruit.
Assembly
  1. In serving glasses of choice, layer the pudding with caramelized fruit compote. Top with a dollop of whipped cream & a sprinkle of gingersnap crumbs if you wish.

Amaretto Nectarine Cakes

Summer fruit = no fuss. It doesn’t need any amazing kitchen magic. Summer fruit thrives on simplicity and doing its own thing. Its such a natural beauty.

What’s not to love about nectarines? They have all the sweet juiciness of peaches without the fuzz. Buying stone fruit is an investment in the future. You must have faith that the fruit you have just bought will ripen, even though it currently has all the softness of a billiard ball. Maybe it won’t ripen tomorrow or the next day, but eventually, you hope.

Nectarines are usually picked before they’re fully ripe to make for smooth transportation. It’s important to know how to pick out the perfect, closest-to-ripe-but-not-over-ripe nectarine. Strangely enough, the skin color is not a sign of its ripeness, unlike many other fruits. Nectarines shouldn’t have any dark markings and depending on the variety, they should have a slight give when pressed. But, the best way to tell if a nectarine is ripe and high quality is the smell … the more aromatic, the richer in flavor.

Perfectly ripe stone fruits of any kind are very special if you can find them. The remaining fruits that stubbornly refuse to ripen can be rescued to great effect by roasting them in the oven.

Baked amaretto nectarine cakes are great at anytime, but these summer cakes are an especially good way to use up under ripe fruit. The natural sugars in the fruit add a fragrant sweetness that makes it so delicious.

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Amaretto Nectarine Cakes
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Nectarines
Cake Batter
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Nectarines
Cake Batter
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Instructions
Nectarines
  1. Slice nectarines into thin slices, discard stones & place in a bowl with amaretto & sugar. Toss to combine. Divide nectarines between 6 mini flan pans or custard cups.
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a bowl, combine all cake ingredients & beat until smooth. Divide mixture over nectarines in the baking dishes. Place dishes on baking sheet & bake for 15 minutes or until cake has risen & is firm to the touch in center.
  3. Remove from oven & allow desserts to cool in pans/cups for a few minutes then carefully invert on serving plates.

Carrot Pudding Cake

Recently we purchased a bag of apples that turned out to be a bit too mealy to eat fresh. Making them into applesauce seemed like the best solution to the problem. One thing for sure, there’s no shortage of ways to make use it it, from an oatmeal stir-in to a pork meat accompaniment.

Baking with applesauce to replace some or all of the fat adds fiber and reduces calories in cakes, muffins and breads. Because of its water content, it will also help keep baked goods moist and fresh longer. Applesauce acts like the fat because it keeps the flour protein from mixing completely with the wet ingredients and forming a rubbery texture. I’ve noticed that sometimes you need to lengthen your baking time a bit when using applesauce.

Over the years there have been countless recipes for various pudding cakes. While baking, the cake portion rises to the top and a creamy pudding-like sauce forms on the bottom. This fall version does not disappoint.

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Carrot Pudding Cake
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
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Pudding/Cake
Topping
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Pudding/Cake
Topping
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 x 9-inch baking dish with baking spray.
  2. Using a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar & spices.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together applesauce, milk, melted butter, vanilla & grated carrots. Gradually whisk the wet ingredients into dry ingredients; scrape batter into baking dish.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together white & brown sugar & either chopped walnuts or whole pepita seeds. Sprinkle over batter. Carefully pour the hot water over the top.
  5. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until middle is set. After removing from oven, allow to cool for 10 before serving with ice cream or whipped cream.

Lemon Saskatoon Berry Pudding Cake

Pudding cake is kind of a magical concept that lies precisely at the intersection of cake and pudding. When you mix it, it looks like a very light cake batter. But, as it bakes, it separates into two layers. The top is the lightest cake ever and the bottom (in this case) is an intense lemon pudding with some fresh ‘seasonal’ saskatoons.

Of course, overtime, there have been many versions of this classic dessert developed, all of which are no doubt delicious. You have to love a dessert that practically garnishes itself, right?! Sometimes, old recipes really are the best.

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Lemon Saskatoon Berry Pudding Cake
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Saskatoon Berry Compote
Pudding Cake
Servings
Ingredients
Saskatoon Berry Compote
Pudding Cake
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Instructions
Saskatoon Berry Compote
  1. In a small saucepan, combine berries, sugar & 1 tsp lemon juice; heat until bubbling. In a separate dish, combine cornstarch & water; pour into berry mixture. Stir until thickened & remove from heat.
Pudding Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter 6 ramekins (or a 10-inch glass dish). Divide the saskatoon compote between the ramekins; set aside.
  2. Grate 1 Tbsp of lemon zest. Squeeze 1/3 cup lemon juice. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together flour, salt & 2/3 cup sugar. In another bowl, whisk together YOLKS, milk, lemon zest & juice. Add to the flour mixture; whisk until completely blended.
  4. In a bowl, beat WHITES until soft peaks form; add the 1/4 cup sugar slowly & beat until medium peaks form. Whisk 1/4 of the whites into flour mixture; our this mixture over the remaining whites. Whisk together using a folding technique to keep from deflating egg whites.
  5. Pour the batter into ramekins & place them into another larger pan. Fill the bottom pan with water as high as it can go without floating the ramekin dishes.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes depending on the size of ramekin dishes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe Notes
  • I flipped my little puddings over so all those pretty saskatoon berries could sit on top.

Baked Apricot Rice Pudding

Chances are good, you’ve tried rice pudding at least once. That’s because humans have been eating the dish for thousands of years across the world.

Today, rice pudding is considered a humble dessert …. a simple mixture of rice with milk, sugar and spices. But for centuries, rice pudding held a place of distinction in the royal courts of Europe. Because rice did not grew well in the European continent, it had to be imported from Asia along the Silk Road or by water. The extensive trade routes made rice an expensive commodity that only the rich could afford. As the world seemingly grew smaller through the effects of globalization, the import of rice became affordable and common.

Many early rice puddings did not resemble the sweet dessert we think of today. This sweetened version didn’t arrive until the 15th century. Usually rice pudding is sweetened with white or brown sugar, honey or dried fruit, but you can also use maple syrup, jam, date sugar or fruit juice concentrate.

Different varieties of rice lend their own tastes and aromas. I opt for Arborio, which makes the pudding creamy even when I use low fat milk or non-fat milk. Fruit, whether fresh, dried or candied is the puddings perfect partner. Today, rice pudding is considered an easy and versatile dessert which many of us associate with our childhood.

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Baked Apricot Rice Pudding
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. In a bowl, combine egg whites, egg, milk, sugar & vanilla. Beat until combined but not foamy. Stir in cooked rice, snipped apricots, cardamom & orange zest.
  3. Place 4 custard cups in a rectangular baking dish. Divide rice mixture among dishes, Place baking dish on an oven rack. Pour boiling water into the baking dish around custard cups to a depth of 1-inch.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until just set, stirring after 20 minutes. Serve warm or chilled. Garnish with slivered apricots & pistachios.

Mango Cobbler

When it comes to some of the most common baked fruit desserts, there are a number of concoctions that go by many names. All work with whatever fruit is in season (or available) and in any shape pan.

The question is, what makes a cobbler, crisp, crumble, Betty or buckle different? To start with, a cobbler is so named because the topping is made with dollops of biscuit dough, not a smooth sheet of dough like a pie. The irregular surface, once baked, resembles the surfaces of streets paved with rough cobbles.

A crisp has a topping made with a combination of oatmeal, flour, butter & sugar (sometimes nuts). This topping completely covers the fruit and is baked.

Crumbles are very similar to crisps, however, usually they do not contain oats.

A Betty, although similar to a crisp has no oatmeal in the topping which is layered throughout instead of solely on top of the dessert.

Last, but not least is the buckle, which consists of fruit and cake baked together with a streusel topping. As it bakes, the fruit and streusel topping make the cake ‘buckle’.

This mango cobbler is a delicious dessert and a nice alternative to peach or apple cobbler. Fresh mangoes are peeled and sliced or diced and then simmered with a thickened syrup mixture. If you don’t have fresh fruit, feel free to use frozen sliced or diced mangoes in the cobbler.

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Mango Cobbler
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Course dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword mango cobbler
Servings
Ingredients
Fruit
Cobbler
Course dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword mango cobbler
Servings
Ingredients
Fruit
Cobbler
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Instructions
Fruit
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a large, heavy saucepan, combine mango, sugar, butter, flour, cornstarch, vanilla & salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly until bubbly & thickened. Place in a baking dish, set aside.
Cobbler
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, oatmeal, sugar baking powder, spices & salt. With finger tips, blend in butter until crumbly. Add milk, stirring only to combine.
  2. Drop large tablespoons of dough on top of warm fruit. Place into preheated oven & bake for 35-40 minutes, until the edges are bubbling & the top is golden brown.
  3. Serve warm as is or topped with ice cream.

Anise Pineapple Barley Mousse

One fruit that is always ‘in season’ is pineapple. You can count on these spiky beauties to help brighten up winter, especially when you’ve tired of apples and pears.

When it comes to barley recipes, pudding may not be the first thing that springs to mind. But combined with pineapple and anise, this humble grain is transformed into a comforting, yet exotic mousse, with a zingy fruit flavor and a creamy texture.

One of the oldest of all cultivated grains, the whole barley grain is vastly under-used compared to its more commercially successful but nutritionally poorer cousin, whole wheat.

I have always had a love for barley in anything. Whether its used in savory or sweet recipes, that mild nutty flavor and soft chewy texture make it so appealing. Another favorite of mine, is the flavor of anise. Its slight sweetness adds a complexity and an interesting dimension to otherwise ‘ordinary’ recipes.

This simple little mousse makes such a nice little winter dessert …. no fuss, no muss!

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Anise Pineapple Barley Mousse
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Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, combine barley & water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to simmer; cover & cook for 40 minutes; drain & chill.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, pineapple, lemon juice, rum extract, anise powder & pudding mix. Stir in chilled barley until evenly coated.
  3. Prepare Dream Whip topping as directed on package & fold into barley mixture. Divide between serving dishes. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Recipe Notes
  • This recipe is easily halved if you need less servings.

Caramel Pear Pudding Cake

The fall season seems to orchestrate a return to the kitchen, to lure us who enjoy to cook, back to the stove. With the cooler days and nights, heating up the oven to cook or bake becomes conceivable once more.

Like many baked desserts, the self-saucing pudding is a combination of mystery and chemistry. In the baking process, the flour/baking powder, rises to the top and the heavier sauce falls to the bottom.

Not quite a pudding and not exactly a cake, self saucing pudding has a souffle-like quality. It’s origins are unclear, but there is evidence that the concept of pouring hot water (or sauce) over the cake before baking to partially steam it as it bakes may be an Australian innovation.

It really doesn’t matter where the concept came from. What matters is that it works brilliantly to create a dessert with lightness and richness all in one pan. A simple dollop of whip cream on the top and there you have it … home baked goodness!

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Caramel Pear Pudding Cake
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Caramel Sauce
Pudding
Servings
Ingredients
Caramel Sauce
Pudding
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Instructions
Caramel Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water & butter; bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover & set aside.
Pudding
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter 4 oven-proof custard dishes ( 1 1/4 cup capacity) & place on a baking sheet. Place half of a pear in each dish.
  2. In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar, butter, spices, milk & vanilla; mix well. Spread the mixture evenly over pear halves in dishes. Sprinkle batter with pecans. Carefully pour HOT caramel sauce over pudding batter in custard cups.
  3. Bake for about 25 minutes or until puddings are firm. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.

Banana Cheesecake Bites

Seriously!! I find it hard to believe we have reached September 1st already. Not that I don’t love the fall colors coming up but …..

What’s not to love about the traditional baked cheesecakes but the no-bake variety does have its own merits. Not only do you skip the long baking time, but you also get a smooth, creamy texture. Just a few ingredients and a little mixer time and you’re done. Chill and serve!

Cheesecake is always a crowd-pleaser, its even been called the perfect dessert by some. This recipe adds a nice bit of spice which stems from its gingersnap cookie crust and the creaminess definitely comes from the pudding/cream cheese filling combo.

Brion & I thought these ‘bites’ tasted the best when the cheesecakes came directly from the freezer then top them with the fresh bananas, caramel & whipped cream. Of course, that means they are available at any given time!!

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Banana Cheesecake Bites
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Gingersnap Crust
Caramel Sauce
Servings
Ingredients
Gingersnap Crust
Caramel Sauce
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Instructions
Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a bowl, combine gingersnap crumbs & pecans. Drizzle in melted butter & mix well. Press crumb mixture into 24 cheesecake mini cup pans. Bake for 7 minutes or until light brown, cool completely. You can skip the baking step if you wish.
Filling
  1. In a large bowl, using a mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy & no lumps remain. Add sugar & beat until combined. Add heavy cream & vanilla & beat until medium-stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together pudding mix & milk. Let pudding stand for 3 minutes in the fridge until thickened. Fold into cheesecake mixture until combined.
  3. Fill each of the 24 cups & smooth the tops. At this point you can either refrigerate until very firm (at least 6 hours) or freeze. Once they are firm, remove from pans to serving plates & add banana slices, caramel drizzle, whipped topping & a cherry. Or freeze, remove from pans & store in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to garnish & serve.
Caramel Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, bring brown sugar, butter & milk to a gentle boil & cook until thickened, 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat; add rum extract.
Recipe Notes
  • The newspaper ad at the bottom of the blog was from the fifties when this idea for a pudding cheesecake was created.

Nectarine Custard Tart

A nectarine is a variant of a peach …. one genetic step away and fuzz-less. White nectarines were the only kind available up until 1942, when a white one was crossed with a peach resulting in a yellow/red nectarine.

Just like peaches, both have similar sugar levels. However, white nectarines taste sweeter because they have less acid than the yellow varieties. Probably the most reliable way to pick a good-tasting nectarine is by its strong, sweet aroma. Traditional peach pies and cobblers can easily be interchanged with nectarines. Their firmer flesh softens when cooked but still holds its shape and leaving the skin on not only saves time but improves the flavor.

When nectarines are in season, I hate to miss out on the chance to incorporate them into whatever I can. To avoid getting into any long detailed procedures today, I’m going with this custard tart. It meets all requirements …. pre-fab pastry, egg-less custard and some of those wonderful nectarines, not to mention the bonus of how pretty it looks.

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Nectarine Custard Pie
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut six 1-inch wide strips of dough from the sheet of puff pastry (best to cut one from the top, one from the bottom & four from the side). Place a large (9 x 2-inch) pie plate on the uncut area of dough, trace a circle around it with a knife. Place the round piece of dough in the pie plate. Place in refrigerator until ready to assemble & bake.
  2. In a saucepan, whisk together milk, sugar, cornstarch, salt & vanilla. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the mixture is hot, lower the heat to medium-low to prevent the bottom from burning. Continue cooking until mixture thickens. Remove from heat & cool. When cooled, spread the pudding over puff pastry using a spoon to smooth it out.
  3. Halve nectarines, remove the pits & cut in even slices. Place the nectarine slices in the pudding cream, starting at outer edge, slightly overlapping, & working your way in.
  4. Take the 6 strips of dough from beginning & lay them in between the nectarine ring layers until the design is complete. Take the last dough strip, roll it up & place it directly in the center of the pie dish.
  5. Brush the puff pastry with egg wash. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden. If you wish, brush apricot preserve over tart while it is still warm.