Spiced Upside Down Peach Crisp

Fruit crisp is a classic dessert that has been around for centuries. The first known recipe was published in an 1828 cookbook. The recipe used frozen fruit instead of fresh and while fresh fruit is often used in baking, frozen fruit is a great alternative. 

Fresh fruit always has such appeal. It brightens the fridge and counter with cheery colors and sweet scents. Frozen fruit allows for some flexibility by extending a typically short shelf life. Both have their place in the kitchen.

 Frozen fruit may not have the same crispness or texture as it’s fresh counterpart but there are some great benefits to using it.

  • It’s available all year round
  • You can use it straight from the freezer
  • Convenience – it’s already washed and ready to go
  • Frozen fruit is generally quick-frozen at its peak and as soon as it’s picked

This peach crisp is amazing! The frozen peaches are enhanced with fresh lemon juice and flavorings and the spiced oatmeal topping has toasted pecans to add a little crunch. Yum!

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Spiced Upside Down Peach Crisp
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
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Ingredients
Crisp Topping
Spiced Cream Topping
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Crisp Topping
Spiced Cream Topping
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Instructions
Fruit
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line & lightly grease a 9-inch spring form baking pan with foil.
  2. In a large bowl, combine thawed & drained peaches, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, almond extract & salt. Set aside.
Crisp Topping
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, flour, oats, pecans & spices. Add butter & mix with a wooden spoon until topping is crumbly.
Assembly
  1. Into prepared baking dish pour peach mixture. Sprinkle the crisp topping evenly over the peaches. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes or until top is golden brown. Remove from oven & allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove outside ring from pan then flip crisp over on a serving plate & slice.
Spiced Cream Topping
  1. Add heavy cream to a chilled bowl & beat until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in vanilla, sugar & spices until peaks form.
  2. Serve crisp with spiced cream topping or vanilla ice cream if you would rather.
Recipe Notes
  • Since there are just two of us, I made only half of the recipe, that's why mine is quite thin in the picture. Still gave us 10 pieces!
  • I baked it long enough to really caramelize the peaches. Yum!

Strawberry Cookies w/ Strawberry Chocolate Topping

If there’s one berry most people have a fondness for, it’s strawberries. Even though available year-round, strawberries’ full flavor shines best beginning in May through late summer, the prime seasons for strawberries. Advances in transportation and refrigeration have allowed for strawberries to become a seasonless fruit.

Winter is done and we’re ready to embrace all things springtime! Spring is about rebirth, sunshine, new life, things in bloom, etc. With bright colors, fresh flavors, and interesting designs, spring cookies are the perfect way to welcome in the warmer weather and say goodbye to the winter blues. 

Today I thought I would start with a crisp shortbread type cookie and add some ‘pizzazz‘ with some strawberries, white chocolate and a few pistachios. I think you will like these!

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Strawberry Cookies w/ Strawberry Chocolate Topping
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COOKIES
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Garnish
Servings
COOKIES
Ingredients
Garnish
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Instructions
Cookies
  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter & icing sugar. Add egg & strawberry extract & mix well.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift together flour & baking powder. Add to the wet mixture a little at a time until well incorporated. Wait approximately 30 minutes before working with the dough as it will firm up slightly.
  3. Roll the dough between baking paper & put it into the fridge for a few hours to help it from spreading. When dough is a bit firmer, take it out of the fridge & cut into butterfly shapes.
  4. Place the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet & return to fridge again for another 1-2 hours, this will also help prevent spreading.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  6. Bake cookies for approximately 10 - 12 minutes or until lightly browned on bottoms.
  7. Allow cookies to cool completely on a wire rack while you prepare the 'toppings'.
Strawberry Topping
  1. Slice dried strawberries thinly. Place white chocolate chips in a small bowl. Heat heavy cream until simmering, then pour over chocolate chips. Let stand for 1-2 minutes, then add 1/4 tsp strawberry flavor & tiny bit of gel food color. Stir swiftly until all the chocolate chips are melted & smooth.
  2. Using a piping bag, place about a teaspoon of strawberry flavored chocolate. Gently press a slice of strawberry on top.
Lemon Drizzle
  1. In a small dish, stir together powdered sugar & fresh lemon juice until it reaches a drizzle consistency. Drizzle lines over half of the cookie then sprinkle with pistachio nuts or pepita seeds.
Recipe Notes
  • LorAnn's Strawberry baking & flavoring emulsion tastes like fresh ripe berries. Great for cakes, cookies, frostings, fillings, and desserts. Add it instead of using strawberries or in addition to the fruit to add a punch of strawberry flavor. Use in any recipe you would a strawberry extract and get more robust strawberry flavor!
  • 1 teaspoon baking extract = 1 teaspoon emulsion

Zucchini Lime Cupcakes

Ingredients like zucchini, lime and cream cheese may give off summer vibes, but the reality is that they are available all year round. Sometimes you just want a dessert that tastes like sunshine and warm weather.

Zucchini can blend into almost any dish. Its flavor is versatile and spans from sweet to savory and does so flawlessly.

The truth is zucchini adds no flavor to cakes – but what it does do is add an incredible texture and moisture as well as bulk.

I had never really thought about combining zucchini with lime. It is such a unique but delicious combination. The lime really brightens the flavor and the zucchini, although you really don’t taste it, keeps the cupcakes nice and moist.

When preparing your ingredients however, you do need to be careful not to get too much of the white pith into your cake or frosting. The green outermost layer of your lime is the zest, and this is what you want to grate. The white layer right underneath is the pith, and it can be quite bitter.

Here comes spring with its sunshine and warm weather!

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Zucchini Lime Cupcakes
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Course dessert
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Cupcakes
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Cupcakes
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Instructions
Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a muffin tin with 12 deep cupcake papers.
  2. In a bowl, beat together vegetable oil & sugar; add eggs & grated zucchini & beat again.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cardamom, baking soda, baking powder & salt.
  4. Add flour mixture alternately with milk then stir in lime zest. Divide batter between the 12 cupcake liners.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean).
  6. Remove from oven, leave in tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Frosting
  1. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese & butter until light & fluffy. While mixing on low, slowly add powdered sugar & lime juice & beat again until fully combined.
  2. When cupcakes are cooled completely, pipe a rosette on each cupcake & sprinkle with lime zest.

Pumpkin Angel Food Mini Bundt Cakes

Pumpkin angel food?! That’s probably not what you’d expect when you think of angel food cake or pumpkin, but this recipe is actually a very tasty combo. 

Of course, pumpkin-based desserts are a traditional fall dessert, so I am sure that you will be surprised that I am posting this pumpkin angel food cake recipe in April. It seems I have some pumpkin puree that’s in the freezer just waiting to be used before we get too far into the spring and summer season.

Brion has always loved angel food, so I thought why not add the pumpkin puree to kick it up a notch. Pairing it with the right fruits can also enhance its flavors. Instead of frosting or a whipped topping I am making some caramelized apples and raisins spiced with anise and cardamom.

  • Anise has a distinct licorice-like flavor. It adds depth and enhances the overall aromatic profile of the compote.
  • Cardamom is a fragrant spice with citrusy and herbal notes. It adds warmth and sophistication and complements pumpkin beautifully.

For a cake that’s quite sweet, some salted pepita seeds sprinkled on top are a bit of necessary and delicious balance.

Simply put, it’s an easy cake mix recipe dressed up with warm spices and pumpkin purée served with caramelized apples, raisins and salted pepita seeds. Yum!

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Pumpkin Angel Food Mini Bundt Cakes
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MINI BUNDT CAKES
Ingredients
Pumpkin Angel Food Mini Bundt Cakes
Caramelized Apples & Raisins
Servings
MINI BUNDT CAKES
Ingredients
Pumpkin Angel Food Mini Bundt Cakes
Caramelized Apples & Raisins
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Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine everything except the Angel Food Cake mix and ingredients to prepare cake. Mix until combined. Set aside.
  3. In a different bowl combine the Angel Food Cake mix and ingredients required to make the cake. Carefully fold in 1/4 of the batter into the pumpkin mixture. Then gently fold in the rest of the batter.
  4. Carefully pour or spoon into an 24 ungreased mini bunt cake pans. Place pans in oven on the middle rack.
  5. Bake for 15 -20 minutes or until cake is golden brown and springs back. Immediately invert pans onto a wire rack.
  6. Cool for 10 minutes.
  7. Serve with caramelized apples & raisins & a dollop of whipped topping. Sprinkle with salted pepita seeds.
Apples & Raisin Compote
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter then add water & sugar. When the caramel is golden brown, add the raisins, swirling them into the caramel.
  2. When raisins begin to plump, add apples & orange zest, then sprinkle with spices. Lower heat & simmer 5-10 minutes to thicken.
  3. Do not overcook compote as it will thicken when cooled.

Chai Spiced Hot Cross Bread Pudding w/ Vanilla Sauce

CELEBRATING GOOD FRIDAY!

Bread pudding always gives me reason to remember good things. Truly a comfort food for those of us that recall it from childhood days. It’s not that the dish was invented here — that honor likely goes to clever medieval or even ancient cooks in Europe and the Middle East who had a surplus of stale bread on their hands. The perfect embodiment of the virtues of frugality and indulgence: day old bread, too precious to waste, is bathed in a mixture of milk and eggs and made into either a sweet or savory bread pudding (with a few other additions) and baked into something sublime. What makes it special is the blend of spices mixed into it and the sauce.

The chai spice baking blend, which is sometimes overlooked, adds a distinct warm flavor and depth. It can include a number of different spices. Cardamom is the most common ingredient, followed by some mixture of cinnamon, ginger, star anise and cloves. Pepper, coriander, nutmeg and fennel are also used but they are slightly less common.

This bread pudding combines hot cross buns with spices inspired by the world’s love affair with Indian chai. The origins of hot cross buns may go back as far as the 12th century. According to the story, an Anglican monk baked the buns and marked them with a cross in honor of Good Friday. Over time they gained popularity, and eventually became a symbol of Easter weekend.

Bread pudding, when done right, should have the perfect balance of gooey goodness and chewy texture. That’s why stale bread/buns are important. The bread needs a degree of crunch otherwise you will have ‘mush pudding’. For additional flavor, the pudding is served with a vanilla sauce. Who says bread pudding has to be boring!

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Chai Spiced Hot Cross Bread Pudding w/ Vanilla Sauce
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Bread Pudding
Vanilla Sauce
Servings
Ingredients
Bread Pudding
Vanilla Sauce
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Instructions
Bread Pudding
  1. Place cubed hot cross buns in a greased 9 x 9-inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the milk, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, spices & salt. Pour over buns, making sure that the bread is completely covered by the milk mixture.
  3. Cover & refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.
  4. Set out the chilled bread pudding while you preheat the oven to 350 F.
  5. Bake 40 - 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the pudding comes out clean. Remove from oven & serve with vanilla sauce.
Vanilla Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter & add flour. Stir until mixture has a nutty aroma.
  2. Add salt, cream & sugar; stir until mixture becomes thick. Remove from heat & stir in vanilla.
  3. Spoon over servings of warm bread pudding.
Recipe Notes
  • You will notice I have only used 2 Tbsp sugar in the vanilla sauce to offset the sweetness of the pudding.

Baileys Irish Cream Biscotti

HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

Chocolate and Baileys Irish Cream are a natural combo for St. Patrick’s Day food goodness. Wrap it all up into a biscotti and you have a little bit of Irish perfection.

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and has been a cause for celebration each spring since the 17th century. Irish people have migrated worldwide, and wherever there’s an Irish community, you can count on a legendary St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

St. Patrick’s Day parades, dyed green rivers, overcrowded ‘taverns’, festive green drinks mark the March holiday. Many wear green and Irish imagery abounds. St. Patrick’s Day is also a great excuse to feast. While boiled bacon and cabbage may not be everyone’s favorite, desserts are always welcome.

Baileys is not just for St. Patrick’s Day. Speaking of, it’s also not just for mixing drinks either! You might be most familiar with the magical combo that is Baileys + chocolate. It took two years of trial and error but by 1974, the founders had added the finest spirits, rich chocolate and vanilla flavors along with a little magic, to create the famous Baileys recipe. The Irish have been distilling whiskey since somewhere around 1000 A.D., when Irish monks brought the technique home from their visits to Mediterranean countries. The word whiskey translates from the Irish language to ‘water of life’. Mixing the ‘water of life’ with other fine spirits and luscious cream, then adding rich chocolate & vanilla flavors with other flavors and ingredients made such an incredibly delicious treat.

Whether you dunk, drizzle, shake or bake. Adding some Baileys liqueur can be a total game-changer. These Irish Cream Biscotti served with some Irish coffee will be a perfect treat for the day.

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Baileys Irish Cream Cookies
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DOZEN
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DOZEN
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt; mix well. Add eggs and 1/4 cup liqueur; mix well.
  3. Cut dough into 4 equal pieces. Place 2 pieces of dough on each baking sheet, leaving space between them. Form a slightly rounded 2-1/2- x 8-inch loaf that is about 1/2 inch thick.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow loaves to cool 5 minutes. Cut each loaf into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Lay slices cut side down on baking sheets and bake an additional 15 minutes. Turn biscotti over and bake an additional 15 minutes. Let cool.
  5. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, Irish cream liqueur, mix well. Take a small amount of the prepared icing, place in a cup & add food coloring, mix well.
  6. When biscotti is cool, place white icing in a piping bag fitted with a round tip. Pipe a line about 1/8 in from edge of biscotti. Flood inside with white icing. With green icing make 3 shamrock designs on each biscotti on top of white icing.
  7. Melt chocolate & place in a small piping bag with a round tip. Outline the edge of each biscotti with a line of chocolate. Set aside to dry before storing in an airtight container.
  8. Serve with Irish Coffee!

Adzuki Sweet Red Bean Scones

I have made all sorts of scones in my life. On the blog I have posted at least twenty different kinds using various fruits, flours and spices. Just recently, I became interested in the sweetened adzuki red bean paste.

Red bean paste, also known as ‘Anko’ in Japanese, is a popular ingredient used in many traditional Asian dishes. It is made from adzuki red beans that have been boiled, mashed, and sweetened with sugar and smoothed by oil, butter or shortening. The texture of red bean paste can range from thick and smooth to slightly chunky. Commercial ready-to-use red bean paste is available in most Asian stores and is super convenient. If you have the time and prefer to make your own, look for canned, ready-to-eat adzuki beans which allow you to skip the lengthy process of cooking the beans and go straight to the last step of mashing the paste. A wonderful time saver.

There are two most common types of red bean paste:

  • Tsubuan – the paste has a chunky texture with bean shapes still intact.
  • Koshian – the paste has a fine, smooth texture.

With my scones today, I divided the scone batter in half, topped it with red bean paste then added the rest of the batter creating a ‘sandwich’ look. It’s the perfect blend of a classic North American pastry and the most popular Korean red bean filling.

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Adzuki Sweet Red Bean Scones
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Course dessert
Cuisine Asia
Servings
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line an 8-inch round pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, ginger, baking powder & salt.
  3. Cut in cold butter with a pastry cutter until the dough resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.
  4. Whisk together eggs, sour cream & vanilla. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
  5. Spoon half of the dough into prepared baking pan. With a fork slightly pat evenly over pan. Top with spoonful's of red bean paste then distribute it evenly over dough. Place the remaining dough on top of beans & distribute evenly. Sprinkle with black sesame seeds.
  6. Bake for 25 -30 minutes or until golden & tests done with a wooden pick. Remove from oven & cool on a wire rack. Slice in wedges & serve.

Fudgy Valentine Brownie Cake

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

It seems one of the most common symbols associated with Valentine’s Day are heart shapes, used to decorate cards, gift boxes, wrapping paper, cakes, cookies, candies, etc. etc.

Chocolate not only adds a touch of decadence but is one of the quintessential Valentine treats. This little chocolate fudge cake is kind of reminiscent of the ‘hot fudge pudding cakes’ from the 1960’s.  Easy to make, you don’t need any special equipment, just a bowl, a whisk and a few simple ingredients. The big thing is it tastes like pure unadulterated fudge.

Brion & I have never felt the need to give gifts on ‘occasions’ but rather just a card with a loving and sincere verse. As we grow older, it becomes clearer every day, the special privilege is to simply have each other to share life with. This year my valentine card for Brion is this edible chocolate heart. The bonus is I’ll get to share it with him!

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Fudgy Valentine Brownie Cake
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a pot, melt butter over medium heat. Remove from heat & whisk in sugar. Add eggs & vanilla; whisk well.
  3. Add flour, cocoa powder & salt; whisk just until combined. Fold in chocolate chips & nuts (or seeds).
  4. Bake about 18 minutes. For a real fudgy texture, slightly UNDER BAKE it. This makes it sooo.. good!
  5. Write your valentine greeting on when cooled & give to your special someone.

Neapolitan Swirl Cookies

I was intrigued by the concept of these cookies; in that they replicate the flavor profile of the ‘nostalgic’ Neapolitan ice cream. The name ‘Neapolitan’ comes from Naples, Italy. Many believe the history of Neapolitan ice cream can trace its roots back to ‘spumoni’ – a traditional form of ice cream originating in southern Italy and made of multiple blocks of ice cream put together. The most popular flavors of spumoni are cherry, chocolate and pistachio. Historically the colors of the Italian flag – green (pistachio), white (vanilla), and red (cherry pink).

As legend goes, in the 19th century, immigrants to North America from southern Italy (namely Naples) brought along the recipes popular in their homeland including spumoni. The dessert likely adapted to popular local flavors at the time being, chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.

Over time, this flavor trio has evolved into much more, such as cookies, drinks, cheesecakes, trifle, fudge, rice krispie treats, parfaits and the list goes on.

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Neapolitan Swirl Cookies
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
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COOKIES
Ingredients
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
COOKIES
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Cream together butter & powdered sugar. Add egg & mix thoroughly. Sift in the flour, cornstarch & salt.
  2. Combine into a dough consistency. Divide dough into 3 equal portions.
  3. Add vanilla to the first one & combine well. To the second portion add strawberry flavor & red food gel; combine until evenly colored. To the third portion, add the melted chocolate & cocoa powder.
  4. Place each flavored ball of dough between parchment paper & roll out in a circle to an 1/8-inch thickness. On the chocolate piece place the vanilla layer & then the strawberry layer. Roll up in a 'cinnamon roll' fashion & place in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Using string, cut cookie roll in slices. This should create a nice 'feathery' look.
  7. Bake the cookies for about 10-12 minutes or until just lightly browned on the bottom.
Recipe Notes
  • I make use of the Lorann flavorings whenever I can. Lorann's professional strength flavorings and essential oils are 3x to 4x stronger than typical alcohol-based extracts. They smell & taste amazing!

Cranberry-Raspberry Tartlets

So many of our berries can be used to make excellent dessert sauces as their naturally tart flavor pairs so well with rich sweet desserts. Cranberry-raspberry sauce is one such sauce. It is made with a combination of whole cranberry sauce and fresh or frozen raspberries, along with a bit of sugar and a little lemon or orange zest. Everything is cooked over medium low heat until the sauce thickens with the end result being a glistening red sauce with a sweet and tangy flavor that is especially nice atop these mini cheesecake tarts. It can also be used as a filling for cakes or trifles, or for a quick dessert, it can be poured over a bowl of vanilla ice cream.

Tarts are the epitome of elegance in the world of desserts. They showcase a perfect harmony of flavors, with their flaky or crispy crust and luscious fillings. But one key factor in achieving the ultimate tart is having a crisp, clean edge on the tart shell, which not only elevates the appearance but also enhances the texture. A well-defined edge results in a satisfying contrast between the tender, flaky layers, and the smooth filling.

Since the Christmas season is upon us, I thought of using some ‘tart rings’ to give these little tarts more of an upscale look. Using rings instead of tart pans makes for such a clean look. Being perforated allows for the ring to heat up quicker (along with it being very thin), which allows for better baking. This also allows steam to escape from the crust, which keeps your crust nice and crispy.

Baking is a passion for many because of the immersion between art and science. For me, I’m always in pursuit of another way to make an old idea new again or as they say, ‘the same only different’.

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Cranberry-Raspberry Tartlets
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TARTLETS
Ingredients
Pastry
Cheesecake Filling
Servings
TARTLETS
Ingredients
Pastry
Cheesecake Filling
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Instructions
Pastry
  1. Combine the flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, salt, & vanilla in a large bowl. Add the butter and mix with your hands until the butter is broken down into pieces the size of peas and the ingredients are well combined. Add the egg and mix with a spatula until the dough is smooth and the egg is fully incorporated. Don’t overmix.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap and gently shape it into a ball. Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and flatten it into a disc. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight, until cold but still pliable. It should have the texture of clay.
  3. When the dough has chilled, unwrap the dough and place it on a silicone baking mat on your work surface. Roll it out into a rectangle about 1⁄8 inch thick, using a second silicone sheet on top. The silicone mat makes it easier to lift the rolled-out dough onto the sheet pan later. Make sure to work quickly so the dough doesn’t get too warm.
  4. Place the silicone mat with the dough on a baking sheet.
  5. Using the tart rings, cut out 18 circles of dough. Remove the rest of the dough from around the rings.
  6. Reroll remaining dough between 2 sheets of parchment. Using a sharp knife, slice strips about 10 inches long & 1- inch thick. These strips will make the sides of each tartlet.
  7. Working with one at a time, transfer a strip of dough to one of the tart rings and press it to the sides. Use your fingers to slightly push the bottom of the sides to the dough circle (to seal it). Repeat with the remaining strips of dough. Use a small knife to cut the edge to the rim of the rings.
  8. Transfer the baking sheet containing the tartlet shells to the freezer & freeze for at least 20 minutes.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  10. Bake tart rings for 8 minutes or until barely set (crust will complete baking with the filling in). Remove from oven.
Filling
  1. Using a mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth then add sugar & blend well. Add eggs & vanilla, beat until smooth. Pour cream cheese mixture over warm crust.
  2. Bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is firm & BARELY browned. Set aside to cool.
Topping
  1. In a saucepan, combine whole berry sauce & 1 ½ cups fresh or frozen unsweetened raspberries, orange zest & sugar.
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the sauce thickens & is bubbly. Remove from heat & let cool. The sauce will thicken as it cools.
  3. Place a dollop of sauce over each tartlet. Decorate & serve chilled.
Recipe Notes
  • I made these tartlets in 3 sizes from 2 3/4-inch to 2-inch.
  • If you find the dough is to soft to work with just add a small amount of flour, just enough to make it easier to handle.
  • This is a real nice crispy pastry dough. When its baked it would give the impression of being real hard but instead its crisp and so nice to bite into.