Lemon Cardamom Crinkle Cookies

The flavor of lemon always seems to give such a refreshing taste to everything its used in. I think these lemon crinkle cookies are just perfect for celebrating spring.

Many of us recall the original chocolate crinkle cookies from the 1960’s ….fudgy & sweet with such a unique look. Most cookies have top crusts that remain relatively soft and flexible as the cookies set during baking. However, if the top surface dries out before the cookie is finished spreading and rising, it hardens, cracks and pulls apart, producing an attractive crinkly, cracked exterior.

Historically these were a wintertime or Christmas holiday cookie. A women by the name of Helen Fredell of St. Paul, Minnesota, USA is believed to have created the first actual crinkle cookie. The original recipe contained molasses and spices such as cloves, cinnamon and ginger. The recipe was later published in Betty Crocker’s ‘Cooky Carnival Cookbook’. I have also seen a reference to the crinkle cookie having originated in the Philippines.

Whatever the origin, they have definitely evolved over the years. Once you’ve got the hang of the basic recipe your flavor options are endless. For example, a few suggestions are Kahlua, pumpkin, ginger, mocha, peppermint, sesame, cinnamon, peanut butter, matcha, orange, red velvet, egg nog & purple ube etc. etc. Amazing!!

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Lemon Cardamom Crinkle Cookies
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cardamom, baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, lemon & orange zest; set aside. Sift powdered sugar into another dish to ensure there are no lumps; set aside.
  3. In another bowl, cream together butter & granulated sugar on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula, add the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add vanilla & beat until blended. With a spatula, fold in flour mixture.
  4. Divide batter into 24 pieces (about 1 1/2 Tbsp each), then roll the portioned dough into balls. Roll the balls in the sifted powdered sugar & place on baking pan at least 2-inches apart.
  5. Bake 12-14 minutes, until the surface of the cookies has cracked & puffed up. The cookies will not be browned. Cool on a wire rack.
Recipe Notes
  • Creaming the butter & sugar together is such an important step because you are cutting little holes in the butter with the abrasive sugar. Those little holes will expand from the leavening properties of the baking powder during baking ensuring that the cakey, tender texture characteristic of this cookie is achieved.

Cardamom Lime Easter ‘Bunnies’

Although we may change the way we celebrate Easter this year, we can still enjoy some great food. One of the special things about any holiday is the brunch that seems to come with it and Easter is no different. The word itself sounds like coziness.

The practice of creating special breads to celebrate holidays, harvests, religious rites and other occasions worldwide, dates back thousands of years. In some cases, breads aren’t symbolic as much as traditional, baked as a reminder of family, togetherness and celebration. They often contain warm spices like cinnamon or cardamom. Some have a touch of liqueur added to them while others are created in special shapes or have little surprises baked in them.

Cardamom may not get the acclaim of cinnamon, nor does it pop up in recipes as often as ginger, but its flavor pairing capabilities are extensive. This is a flavor that you may love or hate, but for me it is very addictive. Warm, subtly spicy, exotically aromatic, a flavor that transforms both sweet and savory recipes into heavenly dishes.

With some simple snipping and shaping, this cardamom sweet dough turns into adorable bunnies for Easter brunch. Edible table d├ęcor!

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Cardamom Lime Easter 'Bunnies'
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Instructions
Sweet Dough
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together yeast , 1 tsp sugar & lukewarm milk. Set aside until yeast mixture begins to form a frothy foam, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, remaining sugar & salt. Add yeast mixture, melted butter & egg. Knead until dough comes together in a ball & no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Transfer dough to a greased bowl & cover with a tea towel. Set aside in a draft free place until dough doubles in size, about an 1 hour.
Filling
  1. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, lime zest, cardamom & butter. Mix well. Set aside.
Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter & lime juice. Add powdered sugar & mix until glaze consistency. Set aside until buns are baked.
Assemble & Bake
  1. Turn dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide in half; roll each half into a rectangle about 12x10-inches. Sprinkle filling evenly over one of the rectangles. Place the second sheet of pastry on top. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the pastry & lightly roll with a rolling pin.
  2. With a pizza cutter cut 14 strips. You will use 12 of the strips for 'bunnies' & 2 strips for their tails. To form bunnies, overlap one end of strip over the other to form a loop; bring the end that's underneath up over the top end, letting one end extend on each side to make ears.
  3. Place the shaped 'bunnies' on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving about 2-3-inches between them as they will expand a bit. Cut each of the remaining strips into 6 equal pieces. Roll each into a ball & place it in the loop to form the tail. Loosely cover the 'bunnies' & let them rise for about 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Brush bunnies with egg wash & bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven & allow to cool slightly on a cooling rack.
  5. While still slightly warm, brush bunnies with glaze. Sprinkle with lime zest & top tails with whites candies.
Recipe Notes
  • If you prefer your bunnies to be a bit more plump, instead of making 12, just make 8 or 10.

Fig Bread

Today, March 28th, marks the date of my mothers birth. Although she left this earth 43 years ago, her memory remains crystal clear. She was a wonderful mother who made our lives so much better in ways we never realized. She set a good example just by the way she lived the ‘best version of herself’.

When this date rolls around each year, I like to post something on the blog that I think she would have enjoyed to make. Baking was a ‘job’ she really seemed to enjoy and our family certainly reaped the benefits of that.

Since Easter is only a week away, I thought a fig bread would be nice. Fruit appears in myths from around the world with figs being regarded as a sacred symbol by many.

Velvety soft on the outside with sweet crimson flesh within, the fig is a captivating food. Widespread and abundant throughout the Mediterranean region, figs have been eaten fresh and dried for storage for thousands of years. The fig found its way to America with Spanish missionaries who brought the fruit to Southern California (USA), in the 1700’s. The variety became known as ‘Mission’ figs.

Easter and Good Friday inspire a particularly rich array of decorative breads and buns that make some of the nicest edible centerpieces.

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Fig Bread Wreath
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword Fig bread
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Course Brunch, dessert
Cuisine American, European
Keyword Fig bread
Servings
Ingredients
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Instructions
Bread Dough
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together yeast, 1 tsp sugar & warm milk. Set aside for about 5 minutes until frothy
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, remaining sugar & salt. Add yeast mixture, melted butter & egg. Knead until dough comes together in a ball & no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Transfer dough to a greased bowl & cover with a tea towel. Allow to rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Fig Filling
  1. Coarsely chop figs. In a bowl, cream together butter, sugar, cinnamon & cardamom; add figs. Stir to combine & set aside.
Assemble & Bake
  1. Fit a piece of parchment paper to cover bottom & sides of a 10-inch round springform baking pan. Deflate dough & divide into 6 parts. One small part of the dough will be used to for the middle. Roll out in a round circle & place a scoop of filling in the center. Pull sides up around filling & pinch together. Place the 'bun' in the middle of the pan, seam down. Roll out another small piece of the dough into a circle. Cut it into parallel strips then place strips over bun in a weave pattern.
  2. Next roll each of the remaining 4 strips into long rectangles (about 6" x 16" each). Divide filling between 2 of the strips, placing a row down the center of each one. Bring sides together over filling & pinch to seal.
  3. Lay one filled strip over each of the 2 remaining rectangles of pastry (seam side down). Cut angled strips on either side of filled pastry. Using these strips, form a braid over top.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 F. Transfer braids to baking pan forming 2 circles around the center ball. Beat egg wash together & brush over surface of bread wreath. Allow to rise for about 15 minutes in a draft-free place.
  5. Bake until golden brown about 30 minutes. Remove from oven & place on a wire rack to cool.
Cream Cheese Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together cream cheese, butter, vanilla & powdered sugar until smooth. Drizzle or pipe over fig bread. Decorate with fresh figs if desired.

Roasted Tropical Fruit Tarts

If you can’t have a tropical vacation at this time, why not enjoy some of the tropics in the form of dessert!

You may never have thought fruits were destined for you’re roasting pan. Although it does demand a bit of time and work, the return is worth it. Try it once and you will do it over and over again.

Fruit is a highly versatile item and its uses go far beyond a mere snack. During the summer months, grilled fruit is often a tasty end to a barbeque. Grilling caramelizes the fruits natural sugars and brings out the sweetness. During winter or colder months, continue the same process indoors by roasting and broiling fruit in the oven.

For the tarts on this blog, I roasted the fruit in the oven with a bit of extra butter and brown sugar as well as some spices to enhance the flavor. Another idea would be to arrange fruit slices on the filled tarts and sprinkle them with a bit of sugar. Then place tarts under the broiler until sugar bubbles and browns …. your choice!

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Roasted Tropical Fruit Tarts
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Shortbread Pastry
Vanilla Cream Custard
Roasted Tropical Fruit
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Shortbread Pastry
Vanilla Cream Custard
Roasted Tropical Fruit
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Instructions
Shortbread Pastry
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. In a bowl combine butter & sugar, beat until light & fluffy. In another bowl whisk together flour & baking powder & add to butter/sugar mixture. Blend together.
  3. Divide pastry between 6 individual tart pans. Using your fingertips, evenly press the dough into pans. Place on a baking sheet & blind bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven & prepare custard & fruit.
Vanilla Cream Custard
  1. In a small saucepan, bring milk to a simmer. In a bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch & salt. Add egg; whisk until blended.
  2. Gradually whisk hot milk mixture into egg mixture. Return to same saucepan; whisk over medium heat until sauce thickens & boils, about 5 minutes. Whisk in vanilla & remove from heat to cool.
Roasted Tropical Fruit
  1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Peel & thinly slice fruit.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter & add brown sugar, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom & vanilla; mix well.
  3. Line a baking sheet with foil paper. Place sliced fruit on it & pour butter/sugar mixture over it. Gently turn fruit over to make sure all is evenly coated.
  4. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, flipping over about half way through. The fruit is done when it turns a rich golden & begins to brown BEFORE it starts to blacken.
Assembly
  1. Place pastry shells on a serving platter. Divide vanilla custard between tart shells. Top with roasted tropical fruit & serve. Any extra fruit can be enjoyed just as a dish of fruit or with yogurt.

Vintage Chocolate Potato Cake

The vegetable cake idea is really not so strange if you consider that most of these dense moist cakes are either spice or chocolate. Who would guess that ‘vegetables’ would be lurking within?

When you think of how many veggies we have incorporated into our desserts, its amazing. Carrot cake is hardly novel having been around for decades but there is also beet torte, zucchini chocolate cake, sweet potato cake or the delicious chocolate sauerkraut cake just to name a few.

The popular chocolate potato cake recipe goes back to the early 1800’s, so its likely the oldest of them all. Like buttermilk, mashed potatoes make baked goods taste better, perhaps because both have the effect of making the cake crumb more tender.

It seems the humble potato is like a blank canvas and wears every role its put in with equal flair. This is a moist, rich cake so icing is purely optional.

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Vintage Chocolate Potato Cake
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly oil a 9-inch round cake pan or a 12 cup muffin pan & line the base with parchment paper or paper cups.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, oil & eggs then potatoes.
  3. In another bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom & salt. Alternately add dry ingredients & the buttermilk to the egg mixture, beginning & ending with the dry ingredients; stirring with a spoon or rubber spatula.
  4. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the top springs back when touched lightly, 30-35 minutes.
  5. Invert the cake onto a rack & allow to cool thoroughly. Transfer to a plate & dust with powdered sugar if you wish.
Recipe Notes
  • Don't hesitate to add either some nuts or raisins for some extra flavor.

German Oreo Shortbread

Baking Christmas cookies is a customary activity of the season around the world. The tradition itself, can be sourced all the way back to the monasteries of the Middle Ages, when monks baked different sweets and breads in observance of this anticipated religious season.

Germany being a religious country, often the baking begins at the start of Advent (November 29th/20), or around the time of St. Nickolas Day and continues in preparation for Christmas. Many families still observe recipe traditions that go back several generations.

Germany’s ‘Weihnachtsplatzchen‘ is actually an umbrella term referring to authentic German Christmas biscuits more broadly and it encapsulates a number of festive treats. An all time favorite, the ‘melt-in-your-mouth’ cookie being one of them.

Twelve years ago (2008), Oreo cookies were all but unknown to Germany. The beloved black (or deep brown) and white, twistable sandwich cookies have been a staple in North American pantries for a century, but now have made inroads in Europe.

These German Oreo (melt-in-your-mouth) Shortbread cookies are a unique spin on the classic version.

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German Oreo Shortbread Cookies
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Course dessert
Cuisine American, German
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Ingredients
Course dessert
Cuisine American, German
Servings
COOKIES
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, Oreo crumbs (or cookies) & cardamom. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter with powdered sugar; add vanilla & mix well. Add Oreo/flour mixture; mix only enough to blend. DO NOT overmix.
  3. Between two sheets of parchment paper, roll dough into a 12-inch circle. Crimp edges by pressing edge of pastry with finger & then pinching together.
  4. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut a circle in the center of dough. Cut round into 12-14 wedges, from circle to outer edges. Prick shortbread in a pattern with a fork. Slide a cookie sheet under the parchment that the cookie round is on & refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 300 F.
  6. Remove from refrigerator & decorate if you wish. Bake for about 18-22 minutes. When baked, recut wedges if necessary & cool on a wire rack before storing in an airtight container.

Belgium Meatballs w/ Sour Cherries

This is an example of great classic Belgium cuisine. Sweet, sour and savory all in one dish! It seems, in Europe alone, many countries have their own special version of meatball dishes, from Swedish and German meatballs in brown or white sauce to Italian meatballs with their classic red sauce.

Although meatballs are a staple of Belgium home cooking, you will find a variety of different recipes throughout the country.

Boulets a la Liegeoise, (a traditional Belgium meatball originating from the city of Liege), are a blend of ground beef and pork, eggs, some bread crumbs, salt, pepper and a bit of nutmeg. That’s it …. no fusion cooking, bells and whistles. Just good, plain food made special with a tart cherry sauce.

I just couldn’t resist making a variation of these since Brion & I have our own little cherry tree in our back yard.

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Belgium Meatballs w/ Sour Cherries
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Instructions
Meatballs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a baking tray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients & mix well. Measure out 20 meatballs, approximately 40 gm each, & place on the baking tray.
  3. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through.
Cherry Sauce
  1. Measure cherry juice & cornstarch into a dish to combine.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat cherries & add cornstarch mixture. Stir until sauce thickens, add honey & stir again.
  3. Remove from heat. Drizzle over meatballs or serve on the side. Serve hot.
Brown Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, melt butter; add flour to make a roux. Cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Slowly add beef broth, stirring until sauce thickens. Season to taste.
  3. Serve as an alternate to the cherry sauce with Belgium meatballs.

Persimmon & Almond Brioche Buns

I never fail to get drawn in by the sight of fresh persimmons at the grocery store. Not only do they have a wonderful flavor but you can use them in so many ways.

Their strangely tropical characteristics pair nicely with many spices, such as cinnamon and cardamom. With a little imagination, cakes, cookies, pies and even some ‘persimmon brioche’ can be made from the persimmon fruit.

In reading about this fruit, I came upon some interesting weather folklore. I’m unsure if its true or not, but it said you can predict winter weather with a persimmon seed.

The first thing was to find a locally grown persimmon, which of course, is not possible for us in our location. You wait to pick and cut into the persimmon after it gets a bit soft … almost mushy. Then you open the fruit and cut open the seed.

Look at the shape of the kernel inside:

  • If the kernel is spoon-shaped, expect plenty of snow to shovel.
  • If it is fork-shaped, plan on a mild winter with powdery, light snow.
  • If the kernel is knife-shaped, expect fridgid winds that will ‘cut’ like a blade.

Interesting!!

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Persimmon & Almond Brioche Buns
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Instructions
Brioche Dough
  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add milk & heat until lukewarm, but not hot. Stir in yeast. Allow yeast mixture to proof for about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar & salt; add both eggs & combine. Add the yeast/milk/butter mixture. Continue to mix until the dough forms a ball & there is no dough sticking to the sides of the bowl.
  3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface & knead well until dough is smooth (about 10 minutes). Form dough into a ball. Grease mixing bowl with butter. Place dough in the bowl, cover & allow to rise until its roughly doubled in size (about 1 hour).
Persimmons
  1. Peel, halve & slice persimmons into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place in a shallow dish with sugar & cardamom; toss gently to evenly coat slices. Set aside.
Cream Cheese Filling
  1. In a bowl, whisk together softened cream cheese with milk. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, beating until mixture is smooth. Add lemon juice & set aside.
Brioche Dough
  1. Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a floured surface & punch down. Divide it into 12 equal parts. Roll the dough balls into discs 4-5-inches in diameter & about 1/4-inch thick. Place the discs onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with a buttered piece of plastic wrap. & allow the dough to rise again in a draft-free place for about 25 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  3. When dough has risen, using your fingers, press the center of each disc down, leaving about a 1/2-inch rim. If necessary, you can dip your fingers in egg wash to keep the dough from sticking during this process.
Assembly & Baking
  1. Spread about a teaspoon of the cream cheese filling in a thin layer in the depression of each disc. Press some persimmon slices in the center over the cream cheese. Brush the outer edges of the discs with egg wash mixture. Place buns in the oven & bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven & transfer to a wire rack, keeping them on the parchment paper.
  2. Combine the apricot jam & warm water. Microwave to thin the jam to a liquid consistency. Brush buns LIGHTLY with glaze & garnish with almond slices & pearl sugar.

Raspberry Sour Cream Pie

The perfect pie for a summer evening. First off, if your not accustomed to using sour cream in a sweet pie filling you will probably cringe. My first encounter with this idea was many years ago and I’m still addicted.

Sour Cream has worked its way into many facets of my baking and cooking, so for me its a basic fridge staple. I know for some people it happens all too often … you pick up a container of sour cream to have on some tacos and then what to do with the rest before it spoils??

This pie recipe makes an extra deep dessert. It works well in a spring-form pan or a deep pie dish. The crunchy, buttery brown sugar streusel on top is lightly accented with cardamom spice & fresh lemon zest. It is the perfect foil to the lush, rich sour cream and raspberry filling.

I should mention, its best not to use light or fat-free sour cream. Another thing, is to bake the pie until the filling is set THEN top with the streusel and bake until golden. This is a pie that is best served cold or just slightly warm as it will not be firm enough to slice if it is hot.

Raspberries lovers … this one is for you!!

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Raspberry Sour Cream Pie
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Shortbread Crust
Raspberry Filling
Servings
Ingredients
Shortbread Crust
Raspberry Filling
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Instructions
Shortbread Crust
  1. In a bowl, combine butter & sugar; beat until light & fluffy. Mix in flour & baking powder; blend together. Pat dough in a 9-inch spring form pan or a deep dish pie pan.
Raspberry Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a bowl, combine sugar, flour & salt; whisk in eggs, sour cream & vanilla until smooth. Place raspberries in pie shell & pour filling over top. Bake for 30-35 minutes OR UNTIL FILLING IS JUST SET.
Streusel
  1. In a bowl, combine all streusel ingredients until well blended. After the pie filling is set, remove from the oven & turn the heat down to 350 F. Squeeze the streusel between your fingers & palms to create clumps ranging in size from small to large grapes then top pie with it. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes OR until streusel is golden brown.
  2. Remove from oven & allow pie to cool completely on a wire rack to thicken further. Serve warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate any leftover pie.
Recipe Notes
  • Even though I mentioned you should use a full fat sour cream, I chose to use a fat free one too lighten up on the calories.
  • The only difference is, it will take longer to bake & the filling is not quite as firm in the end result.
  • As far as the taste goes, there is no difference. It's heavenly!!

Mini Dutch Apple Waffle Pies

Frozen waffles are like having a blank canvas begging for you to add your personal touch to create something unique.

The little toaster waffles called Eggo’s popped up on the market in 1953. They were created by three brothers, Anthony, Sam & Frank Dorsa, who had previously been known for their mayo business that had took off in the 1930’s.

When Eggo’s first appeared on the freezer shelves in grocery stores, they had a totally different name … Froffles! It was meant to be a combination of frozen and waffles but it didn’t last long. The name was swapped out for Eggo waffles by 1955. This unique frozen breakfast item didn’t become truly popular until about 1968.

So if you like waffles and apple pie, this dessert should interest you.

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Mini Dutch Apple Waffle Pies w/ Caramel Sauce
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Waffle Pies
Streusel Topping
Caramel Sauce
Servings
Ingredients
Waffle Pies
Streusel Topping
Caramel Sauce
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Instructions
Waffle Pies
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together water & cornstarch. Pour into a medium pot over medium-high heat with both sugars, spices & salt. Once sauce begins to thicken up, add the diced apples & reduce heat. Cook for 10-12 minutes to soften the apples, stirring occasionally.
  3. While apples are cooking, press waffle shells into 12 custard cups & then divide apple filling between them.
Streusel Topping
  1. In a bowl, combine streusel ingredients; using your fingertips, work to make very coarse crumbs. Divide evenly between 'pies'. Bake for 16-17 minutes. Remove from oven & cool slightly.
Caramel Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sauce ingredients. Cook until bubbly & thickened, whisking constantly, about 5-7 minutes. Drizzle over apple desserts when serving.
Recipe Notes
  • Adjust sugar amounts in any part of the recipe if you wish.