Apricot Orange Newtons

Do you recall the iconic Fig Newton? For some, fig newtons were the loser cookie – the one you would only eat out of pure desperation if there was nothing else resembling dessert in sight. What could be worse than mysterious, brown fruit ‘goo’ wrapped up in flavorless, dry ‘cake’? They felt that it was not a treat, it was a healthy breakfast disguised as a cookie.

I really don’t remember eating any amount of fig newton cookies myself, probably because my mother always baked. When I did finally taste them as an adult, I actually liked them. Maybe that had something to do with my love for figs or maybe I just like cookies…not sure!

The ‘fig newton’ was one of the earliest commercially baked products in North America. Introduced by the Kennedy Biscuit Company in 1891, fig newtons were named after the town of Newton, Massachusetts, which was near the factory that first produced the cookie commercially. Kennedy Biscuit eventually merged with several other bakeries to form the National Biscuit Company, now known as Nabisco.

The recipe for the fig filling was the brainchild of Charles M. Roser, a cookie maker born in Ohio, USA. Roser worked for a bakery in Philadelphia who sold his recipe to the Kennedy Biscuit company.

The manufacture of fig newtons was made possible by the creation of Florida inventor James Henry Mitchell, who revolutionized the packaged cookie business by building an apparatus that could make a hollow cookie crust and fill it with fruit preserves. His machine worked like funnel within a funnel; the inside funnel supplied jam, while the outside funnel pumped out the dough. This produced an endless length of filled cookie, which could then be cut into smaller pieces. 

Original fig newtons were the only variety available until the 1980s and as of 2012, Nabisco now makes several varieties of the ‘newton’, which, in addition to the original fig filling, include versions filled with apple cinnamon, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and mixed berry.

As Nabisco likes to remind us, ‘newtons aren’t just cookies’, they’re fruit and cake. Bringing me to the idea of apricot newtons. There seems to be numerous versions of them around so we shall see how these one turn out.

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Apricot Orange Newtons
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Dough
Filling
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Dough
Filling
Votes: 1
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Instructions
Dough
  1. Whisk the flours, baking powder, cardamom & salt together in a medium bowl.
  2. Beat the butter & brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until light & fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer & add the egg & vanilla. Finely grate the zest of the orange into the bowl (save the zested orange for the filling). Beat on medium speed until incorporated. Stop the mixer & scrape down the sides of the bowl & the paddle with a rubber spatula.
  3. Return the mixer to low speed, gradually add the flour; mix until just combined (the dough will be very soft and sticky). Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap & press into a disk about 1-inch thick. Wrap the disk tightly in the plastic wrap & refrigerate until firm, but still pliable, about 2 hours. Meanwhile, make the filling.
Filling
  1. Place the apricots in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment & process until finely chopped, about 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan. (No need to wash out the food processor; you will use it again.)
  2. Juice the zested orange and add 2 tablespoons of the juice to the pan. Add the water & honey. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the apricots plump up and all the liquid is absorbed, about 4 minutes.
  3. Transfer the mixture back to the food processor and process into a smooth paste, about 1 minute. Let the mixture cool completely.
Assembly
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper & set aside. Transfer the cooled apricot mixture to a piping bag or resealable plastic bag.
  2. Dust a work surface generously with flour. Unwrap the disk of dough and cut it into 3 equal pieces (about 6 1/2 oz (185 gm) each). Place one piece on the work surface, rewrap the other 2 pieces back in plastic wrap; refrigerate those 2 pieces.
  3. Reshape the remaining piece of dough into a log about 2 inches wide and 4 inches long. Place the log with the short side facing you, generously dust the top with flour, and roll into a 1/2-inch-thick rectangle about 4 inches wide and 12 inches long.
  4. Using kitchen shears, snip off a bottom corner of the plastic bag or piping bag. Pipe enough filling down the center of the piece of dough so that it is 1-inch wide and 1/4-inch thick.
  5. Using a bench scraper, scrape up the right side of the dough & gently fold it over the center so it reaches the middle of the filling. Repeat with the left side of the dough. Gently pat the top of the dough down with your hands, pinching it together as needed, so that it completely covers the filling and flattens slightly. (It should now be in a Fig Newton shape.)
  6. Cut the filled dough in half crosswise. Using the bench scraper, carefully flip each piece over & transfer to the baking sheet so that it is seam-side down. Repeat with the rolling & filling of the remaining 2 pieces of dough, using flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking. You will end up with 6 filled & shaped pieces of dough on the baking sheet, so space them in 2 rows of 3 each, about 2 inches apart.
  7. Chill the logs for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350 F.
  8. Bake until just lightly browned around the edges, 15 to 17 minutes. Cut each bar crosswise into 5 pieces and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Barley Flour Multigrain Scones

It’s a wonderful thing when you find ingredients that truly marry well together. Like a good relationship this melding of flavors is a partnership of sorts, where each player complements the other, bringing out the best in its partner without losing any of its own shine. Cooking is full of classic flavor pairings, caramel & sea salt, cinnamon & apple, cranberry & camembert, vine ripened tomatoes & creamy mozzarella cheese, and a springtime favorite – sweet strawberries and tangy rhubarb.

It’s this simultaneous transformation and showcasing of raw ingredients that inspires us, to experiment with flavors in the kitchen. The idea of partnering jam and scones by sandwiching a tangy or sweet layer of jam between two buttery rounds of barley based dough works perfect.

The scone itself has so little sugar that it is not too sweet– making it an excellent accompaniment for your choice of apricot, blueberry, raspberry, fig, plum or blackberry jam.

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Barley Flour Multigrain Scones
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Course Brunch
Cuisine American
Servings
Course Brunch
Cuisine American
Servings
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a bowl, combine milk with apple cider vinegar. Add multigrain cereal & allow to sit for about 30 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together oatmeal, barley & white flour, brown sugar, cardamom, baking powder & salt. Cut in cold butter with a pastry cutter until it resembles small peas.
  4. Add egg & vanilla to multigrain/ milk mixture; lightly beat. Using a fork, carefully combine wet & dry mixtures.
  5. On a work surface, sprinkle a bit of oatmeal & flour, place dough on it & with a spatula roll dough a few times until a rough ball forms. Divide the dough in half.
  6. On a sheet of parchment paper, pat out 1/2 of the dough into an 8-inch circle. Carefully spread jam over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Since the dough is quite soft, using a spoon, drop remaining dough in dollops over jam. With a fork, carefully spread the dollops out as evenly as you can to cover the whole scone. Sprinkle whole or ground flax seeds over scone.
  7. Place parchment with scone on a flat baking sheet & bake for about 25 minutes or until it tests done with a toothpick. Remove from oven & allow to cool slightly. Cut into 10 wedges & serve.

Biscotti

Biscotti are time consuming to say the least, but they’re also one of the easiest and tastiest cookies you’ll ever make. No special equipment is needed; just a bowl, a couple of baking sheets and some parchment paper.

The word biscotti is derived from the Latin biscoctus, meaning twice baked or cooked: the dough is formed into logs, baked, cooled and baked again. Whereas Italians use the word ‘biscotti’ to refer to various cookies, North Americans use the term to refer to the singular long, crisp, twice-baked Italian cookie. It wasn’t until the 1990’s that biscotti became a treasured North American favorite.

Despite their centuries old heritage, there is no one perfect way to make biscotti. Some recipes call for eggs, which is the traditional method, while others use butter or oil. The choice is yours; just keep in mind that those made with butter or oil will have both a softer texture and a shorter shelf life.

Today, it seems, biscotti is everywhere with an endless array of flavors. Classics such as almond, anise and hazelnut to gingerbread, maple walnut or mint chocolate chip. There are also savory biscotti made with various cheeses and herbs that are so good when paired with a charcuterie plate, an assortment of olives and cheeses or even a bowl of soup.

Since the holiday season is upon us and as you have probably noticed, I like making the most of basic recipes with some variations. Being able to make four different flavors using one basic recipe definitely speeds up the process.

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Biscotti
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings
BISCOTTI
Ingredients
Basic Biscotti Dough (use 1 recipe per variation)
Cardamom Orange Variation
Anise Citron Variation
Seeded Cranberry Variation
Speculoos Spice Variation
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings
BISCOTTI
Ingredients
Basic Biscotti Dough (use 1 recipe per variation)
Cardamom Orange Variation
Anise Citron Variation
Seeded Cranberry Variation
Speculoos Spice Variation
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Instructions
Biscotti Dough
  1. Preheat oven to 300 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. TO MAKE 80 BISCOTTI IN TOTAL, USE ONE RECIPE OF THE BASIC BISCOTTI DOUGH FOR EACH VARIATION. THE MIXING PROCEDURE IS ALWAYS THE SAME, JUST VARY EACH ONE WITH THE DIFFERENT ADDITIONS.
  3. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Add eggs & vanilla extract (add orange zest in CARDAMOM ORANGE variation). Mix until combined.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together flour, (SPICES where called for), baking powder & salt.
  5. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients a little at a time, mixing on low until JUST incorporated. Add CITRON PEEL or PEPITA SEEDS & CRANBERRIES to the variations calling for them.
Shaping & Baking
  1. For each recipe (or variation), shape dough into a log that is about 16-inches long. Place 2 logs on each baking sheet. Use your hands to flatten the dough logs until they are about 3/4-inch thick. Gently press the sides & ends of the logs to even them out & flatten them.
  2. If desired, sprinkle logs with coarse sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly golden & the center of the logs is almost firm & bounces back when touched.
  3. Let the logs cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 275 F. Using a sharp knife to cut the logs into 3/4-inch thick diagonal slices. Press straight down with the knife, rather than using a sawing motion. Lay the slices, cut side up, back on the lined baking sheets.
  4. Bake another 20-25 minutes, turning halfway through baking time. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 weeks or in the freezer for 3 months.
  5. You will have roughly 20 biscotti from each variation.
Recipe Notes
  • Since I have a nut allergy, sadly I can't use them, but don't hesitate to make some variations of your own.

Benedictine Liqueur Mini Cupcakes

The story of Benedictine dates back to 1510 when a Venetian monk of the Abbey of Fécamp, Dom Bernardo Vincelli, created an elixir intended to support good health. The concoction was so well-received that the Benedictine monks of Fécamp continued the liqueur’s production up until the French Revolution. One of the Benedictine monks had a copy of the recipe for the elixir in a book he gave to a friend for safekeeping during the Revolution. That friend’s grandchild was Alexandre Le Grand.

Over 300 years later in 1863, Alexandre le Grand, a wine trader from Fécamp sought to resurrect it. After a year of attempting to recreate the mysterious brew, le Grand finally succeeded, transforming it into the liqueur it is today. He named it Benedictine, in honor of the monk Dom Bernardo Vincelli, and went on to erect a palace that would house its distillation: the Palais Benedictine in Fécamp.

Its recipe remains a secret, known by a select few and with only three copies in existence, each kept safe in a different locale. It includes a combination of 27 herbs and spices derived from plants from around the globe, including juniper, myrrh, saffron, vanilla, thyme, coriander and more. The ingredients are carefully combined and slowly distilled several times in copper stills that date back to the time of Alexandre le Grand. The liquid is then aged in oak casks for approximately two years and always stored at the Palais Benedictine. With an ABV of 40%, it is classified as a brandy and often served as a digestif after meals or used in cocktail recipes.

During the Middle Ages, about 90% of the population of Europe was the non-landowning laboring class, with the remainder split between the nobility and church. The monks were the keepers of most scientific and medical knowledge, as they were literate and often spent time copying important texts from one monastery to the next. Some monasteries operated hospitals and probably all had medicinal herb gardens and apothecaries (pharmacists) on site to make medicines for themselves and the surrounding community.

The liqueur tastes primarily of honey and baking spices, with citrus peel, herb, and stone fruit notes.

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Benedictine Liqueur Mini Cupcakes
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Cupcakes
Servings
Ingredients
Cupcakes
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Instructions
Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 mini cupcake pans ( 2-inch diameter) with paper liners.
  2. Place sugar & zest in the mixer bowl & blend until moist & fragrant. Add butter & beat until white. Add eggs, one at a time; beating well after each one.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt & baking powder. With mixer on low speed, add the flour, milk & liqueur alternately, scraping down sides of the bowl. Divide cake batter between the 24 paper lined cups.
  4. Bake 16-18 minutes, or until risen & baked through, testing with a toothpick in the center of the cupcake. Remove from baking pan & allow to cool.
Frosting
  1. Combine butter & cream cheese with a mixer until smooth & creamy. Blend in Benedictine liqueur. Slowly add the powdered sugar until you reach the right consistency. If you are using a pastry bag ensure that you have a medium consistency.
  2. Pipe the frosting onto each cupcake then garnish as you wish.

Nanaimo Bar Thumbprint Cookies

Much like the butter tart and date square, the Nanaimo bar fits Canada’s apparent fondness for rich, decadent sweets. It is a dessert bar that requires no baking and generally consists of three layers: a graham wafer crumb and shredded coconut base, custard-flavored butter icing in the middle, and a layer of chocolate ganache on top. It is named after Nanaimo, British Columbia, where it was popularized in the years following WWII. It subsequently rose to wider prominence after Expo ’86.

Susan Mendelson is perhaps most responsible for commercializing the Nanaimo bar. She sold the bar during the 1970s to help pay her tuition, and in 1979 founded The Lazy Gourmet, a café and catering company in Vancouver, which claims to be the first business to sell the dessert. Mendelson wrote the official cookbook for Expo ’86, held in Vancouver, and included the Nanaimo bar.

After that, the Nanaimo bar began to be sold on BC Ferries and spread in popularity across Canada. It can now be found in Costco, Starbucks and countless cafes in Canada and the United States. There can be some variations with each of these layers — e.g., adding mint, mocha or other flavoring, as well as food coloring, to the icing center, or various nuts to the base — but a classic Nanaimo follows the traditional trio.

In a bid to take advantage of the bar’s popularity, the city of Nanaimo launched a tasting trail much like Ontario has done for the butter tart. Different locations in and around Nanaimo serve different variations on the classic dessert, from flavors such as maple bacon and peanut butter to deep-fried Nanaimo bars, Nanaimo bar spring rolls, Nanaimo bar waffles and cheesecake and Nanaimo bar coffee and cocktails.

All that being said , here’s my Christmas version of a Nanaimo thumbprint cookie.

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Nanaimo Bar Thumbprint Cookies
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Filling
Drizzle
Servings
Ingredients
Filling
Drizzle
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Instructions
Cookies
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, graham crumbs, cocoa, baking powder & salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter & sugar for 3-4 minutes, until fluffy. Beat in the egg & vanilla. On low speed or using a spatula, stir in the dry ingredients, along with the coconut and walnuts.
  4. Roll dough into 1 1/2-inch size balls & place a couple inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use your thumb to create an indentation in each cookie.
  5. Bake for 14 minutes, until just set. Remove & use the back of a small spoon to gently reform the indentations. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Filling
  1. In a bowl, beat the butter, powdered sugar, custard powder, cream and vanilla until smooth and fluffy, adding a bit more cream or powdered sugar as needed to create a spreadable frosting. Place the filling in a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip, or in a zip-lock bag; seal and and cut off one corner.
Assembly
  1. Pipe some frosting into each cooled cookie. In a small bowl, melt the chocolate & butter in the microwave in 10 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Drizzle the cookies with a fork. Set back on the cooled baking sheets to allow them to set.
Recipe Notes

Substitute for Bird's Custard Powder:

  • For each Tbsp of custard powder that's called for in the recipe, you can make your own custard mix with 1 Tbsp of cornstarch plus 1 tsp of vanilla extract & a pinch of salt.

 

 

Poinsettia Cookie Wreath

There are certain plants that play important and often mysterious roles in holiday traditions and celebrations all over the world. From the Egyptians who decorated trees during the winter solstice, to the Pagans and Druids who used mistletoe in their winter customs, stories of ritualized plant use span continents and history and have become infused into the mythologies that span generations. I’ve always wondered how poinsettias and Christmas became intertwined. After a bit of research this is what I found.

It seems the story behind poinsettias is rich in history and lore. The vibrant plants are native to the rocky canyons of Guatemala and Mexico. Poinsettias were cultivated by the Mayans and Aztecs, who valued the red bracts as a colorful, reddish-purple fabric dye, and the sap for its many medicinal qualities.  The poinsettia was first associated with Christmas in southern Mexico in the 1600s, when Franciscan priests used the colorful leaves and bracts to adorn extravagant nativity scenes.

There is an old Mexican legend about how Poinsettias and Christmas come together, it goes like this:

There was once a poor Mexican girl called Pepita who had no present to give the baby Jesus at the Christmas Eve services. As Pepita walked to the chapel, sadly, her cousin Pedro tried to cheer her up.
‘Pepita’, he said, ‘I’m sure that even the smallest gift, given by someone who loves him will make Jesus happy.’

Pepita didn’t know what she could give, so she picked a small handful of weeds from the roadside and made them into a small bouquet. She felt embarrassed because she could only give this small present to Jesus. As she walked through the chapel to the altar, she remembered what Pedro had said. She began to feel better, knelt down and put the bouquet at the bottom of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into bright red flowers, and everyone who saw them were sure they had seen a miracle. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the ‘Flores de Noche Buena’, or ‘Flowers of the Holy Night’.

The shape of the poinsettia flower and leaves are sometimes thought as a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem which led the Wise Men to Jesus. The red colored leaves symbolize the blood of Christ. The white leaves represent his purity.

Although it doesn’t pre-date Christianity like its Christmas counterparts, the holiday season wouldn’t be the same without the reds and greens of the poinsettia.

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Poinsettia Cookie Wreath
Instructions
Poinsettia Cookies
  1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, sugar & flavorings with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  2. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the flour & salt until combined. Divide the dough between 2 large pieces of plastic wrap. Flatten each into a 1/2-inch-thick disk and wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  3. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  4. Roll out 1 disk of dough between 2 heavy sheets of plastic wrap into a square about 1/8 inch thick. You should be able to cut (9) 3-inch squares from it as well as have some edges left for making about 18 leaves. Re-wrap & refrigerate dough scraps while you shape the poinsettias.
  5. Cut a 1 1/2-inch slit in all four corners of each dough square to form 8 points. Fold over every other point, moisten tip with egg white & press into the center of the square. Arrange cookies on prepared cookie sheet. Refrigerate while you repeat the same procedure with the other disk of dough. 
  6. Cut enough leaves out of the scraps using a sharp knife or a leaf-shaped cutter, making 2 leaves for each poinsettia. Arrange the leaves on plate & lightly brush with egg white, then sprinkle with green sanding sugar. Set aside in the refrigerator.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  8. Lightly brush the poinsettias with egg white & sprinkle half with red sanding sugar & half with white sanding sugar. Brush the ends of 2 leaves & tuck underneath each poinsettia on opposite sides. (No need to press the dough; it will meld together as it bakes.) 
  9. Bake, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until the cookies are puffed and the edges are golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Immediately press a yellow (chocolate) candy in the center of each warm cookie. Let cool 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Assembly
  1. Using a bit of gel paste from a purchased tube, anchor each cookie in place on top of wreath base to form 'poinsettia wreath'. Finish with adding a ribbon or some holly leaves & pinecones or personalize to your own taste.
Recipe Notes
  • I like to save the heavy plastic wrap from frozen puff pastry for recipes like this. When you roll the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap as opposed to using flour on your board, it really keeps the dough from becoming so dry.
  • I found if I took the poinsettia cookies out of the oven about 5 minutes before they were finished baking & pressed the candy center in then returned them to the oven, the candies stuck to the cookies better.

Mincemeat Quick Bread w/ Orange Butter

I just can’t resist fitting a bit of fruit mincemeat into my Christmas baking, so this year it comes in a quick bread. Quick breads cover a wide range, from biscuits and scones, which are made from a dough, to muffins and loaves that are made from a batter. They can be large or small, savory or sweet. The major thing that identifies them is the fact that they are, as their name implies, quick to make.

Quick breads have evolved as a distinctly different tradition after the introduction of baking powder in 1850. Before that, breads and cakes were leavened with yeast.

These breads come in all shapes and sizes. Even though they are called breads, lets be clear, they are a cake of sorts. Some breads are light and airy, others are hearty and dense. The ingredients used will greatly affect the final volume and texture. Oats gives breads a somewhat dense and chewy texture. Sugar helps to keep breads tender and without salt will taste flat.

The basic way to prepare a quick bread is the two-bowl method. This entails mixing all dry ingredients separately from the liquid and sugar, then quickly combining the two with only a few strokes. The idea is to not overmix or overbake.

If you like mincemeat, this loaf is so nice to have on hand during the Christmas season.

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Mincemeat Quick Bread w/ Orange Spread
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Orange Butter
Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Orange Butter
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Instructions
Bread
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 4 1/2-cup ring mold pan or bottom only of a 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, beat eggs; stir in mincemeat, brown sugar, milk & butter.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together flour baking powder & salt. Add to wet mixture, combining ONLY until flour mixture is moistened. Pour into chosen baking pan
  4. Bake about 45-50 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven & cool 10 minutes before removing from pan.
  5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if you wish. Serve warm or cool with Orange Butter.
Orange Butter
  1. In a small bowl, beat marmalade with butter until softened & blended.

Cornmeal-Anise Guava Cookies

Sweet guava paste paired with savory corn makes the perfect combo, even if it sounds a little weird, it couldn’t be better.

Guava paste is an ingredient that is used in many Cuban, Caribbean and South American recipes. This specialty ingredient, also known as goiabada or pasta de guayaba, is basically candied guava puree. It is made by cooking together guava fruit and sugar until it is very, very thick and then leaving the mixture to dry to remove excess moisture. This results in a paste that keeps well and is very flavorful. While the exact consistency of guava paste can vary from brand to brand – some are very dry and similar in texture to fruit leather, while others are more moist and slightly more jam-like, they are all thick enough to slice and serve. Guava paste, with its distinct and tropical flavor, is equally good in desserts as well as savory dishes.

If you like corn, chances are you are also a big fan of cornbread in its many interesting forms. I used to think that cornbread was so good it didn’t need anything extra thrown in the ‘mix’.

The beauty of cornbread is that it can take on so many different flavors. It can be sweet, savory or as spicy as you would like. Thanks to its simplicity, there are very few food items it wouldn’t pair with, so its limits of culinary creations are endless.

I can’t remember if there was ever a time I didn’t like corn. I love everything about it … the taste, the smell, how beautiful it looks growing in the garden and of course the memory of my mother’s cornbread straight from the oven. While these cookies aren’t necessarily a classic cornbread, they make a very interesting ‘dessert’.

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Cornmeal-Anise Guava Cookies
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Servings
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Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, cream butter, cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk, orange juice & extract with an electric mixer.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, anise seed, baking powder & salt. Using a spatula, add to wet mixture & mix well. Cover with plastic wrap; chill 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Shape dough into 1-inch balls & arrange on baking sheet, leaving about 2-3-inches between cookies. Flour the end of the handle of a wooden spoon & make a well in the center of each cookie. Cut a few slices from the guava paste, about 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into cubes. Place a piece of guava in the center of each cookie.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes or until very light golden. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Plum Torte

Plum Torte, a simple to make butter cake topped with Italian prune plums, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon baked in a spring-form pan.  New York Times food columnist Marian Burros was given a recipe for a plum torte soon after she married.  She published the recipe for the first time in 1983. The paper continued to run it for the remainder of the decade every single September, until one year they said enough is enough. But people noticed, and they were not happy. They sent angry letters demanding the recipe be reprinted. So, The Times printed it one more time, but with a note urging people to clip it out and laminate it inside their cupboard!

The beauty of this torte is that it doesn’t require plums to be delicious. You can substitute berries, peaches, pears, apples—most any fruit—fresh, canned, or frozen. The thing is, it’s so simple, that in spite of its hallowed status as an all-time favorite, I don’t see how you could forget this recipe!

The plum has enough tang to stay interesting in a sweet dessert, and it also tends to bake into a jammy, gooey texture.

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Plum Torte
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Course dessert
Keyword plum torte
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease an 8" or 9" springform pan.
  2. Cream the butter & sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl. Add the eggs; beat until smooth and light. Scrape the bowl again. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, & salt; add to creamed mixture & mix JUST until fully combined.
  3. Pour the batter into the cake pan. Arrange the plums, on top of the cake. Press plums down into batter. Drizzle with lemon juice & sprinkle with a Tbsp of sugar & 1 tsp cinnamon.
  4. Bake for 50 - 60 minutes, depending on the size of the cake, or until a cake tester comes out clean, and the plums are juicy and bubbling. Let cool before releasing the cake from the springform pan.

Raspberry Swirl Pound Cake

The name ‘pound cake‘ comes from the fact that the original pound cake contained one pound each butter, sugar, eggs and flour. Originally, no leaveners were used in the cake except for the air whipped into the batter. It was only in the 1900’s that artificial leaveners like baking soda and baking powder were added to reduce the density of the cake. Other variations include the addition of flavoring extracts like vanilla and almond or dried fruits such as cranberries or currants. At times, some or all of the butter was substituted by a cooking or vegetable oil to obtain a moist cake.

One of the most popular variations is the sour cream pound cake. The butter is substituted by sour cream to moisten the cake and also get a tinge of a tangy flavor. Despite all these variations which alter the characteristics and the flavor of the cake drastically, the name pound cake is still used today.

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Raspberry Swirl Pound Cake
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
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Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Votes: 1
Rating: 5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter or line pan of choice with parchment paper. (loaf pan or a Bundt pan)).
  2. In a bowl, cream butter & sugar with an electric mixer until pale & fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add salt, vanilla & sour cream.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour & baking powder. Combine wet & dry ingredients, then beat on low for about a minute.
  4. Transfer about 1/3 of batter to another bowl. Add raspberry preserves & beat until combined. Add 2-3 drops red gel food color if desired. To remaining batter, add lemon juice & beat until combined.
Assembly/Baking
  1. To preferred baking pan, add a layer of white batter then alternate between pink & white batter. Use a knife to swirl the batters together but don't overdo it or you will end up without a marble effect.
  2. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean. If top browns too quickly, lightly cover with a piece of foil paper.
  3. Allow cake to cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove pan & finishing cooling on a wire rack.
Frosting
  1. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese for about 20 seconds on medium speed. Add powdered sugar & mix to combine well. Drizzle frosting over cooled cake, slice & serve.
Recipe Notes
  • My choice of baking pans were some mini Bundt pans. I thought they made a nice individual presentation.