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Tag Archive for dessert

::cooking for two:: Apple Tartlets


What was I saying about Fall? How it is awesome? Here’s my problem. Autumn makes me want to make apple pie. There are two of us. Now, normally if I bake a pie, I will try and get another couple to come hang out with us (It is really hard when you are offering homemade pie). But who am I kidding, that is still only half the pie eaten. I recognize that my sharing abilities are lacking as my appetite (belly) is growing. Maybe a whole pie isn’t the way to go right now. A tartlet however… Ok so it is still probably as much butter as I would have consumed eating half the pie, but think of all the sugar I am saving. And far less flour. Give yourself some extra planning time for this recipe as you need to chill the dough for an hour.

What You Need
Step One

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
Step Two
5 Tbsp chilled unsalted butter (cut into 1/4″ pieces)
2-3 Tbsp ice water
Step Three

1 tart apple (I used a Granny Smith)
1 sweet apple (I used a Fuji)
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
pinches cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
Step Four
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp unsalted butter (cut into 1/4″ pieces)

In a small food processor combine the flour and salt. Sprinkle the cut up butter pieces on top and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Continue to pulse as you slowly add the water until the dough comes together.

Divide the dough into two and flatten each into a 3″ disc on plastic wrap. Wrap tightly and leave in the fridge for an hour.

I started the apples while the dough was in the fridge, but I like to let them sit in the seasoning for a while, so maybe it is just me. You’ll need the oven preheated to 400F, and mine takes FOREVER, so by the time I am done slicing apples, I need to set that as well.

Slice the apples into 1/4″ slices. Combine all step three ingredients in a bowl.

Before rolling out the dough, let it sit on the counter for about 10 minutes. Roll onto parchment paper to about 7″ in diameter. TIP: Rolling between two sheets of parchment makes things a bit easier. Stack the apples in the center of the dough (about 1.5″ from the edge) building an apple tower. Fill the centers with extra apple pieces.

Fold the outer 1″ of dough up around the apples, pleating about every inch or so (see image). Brush the dough with egg white and dot the tops with butter.

Bake (on the parchment paper) for about 35-40 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the apples are tender. Cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

I would highly recommend some home made whipped cream to go on top. Not too sweet, and it will be a perfect dessert for two. One more evening helped out by America’s Test Kitchen’s Cooking for Two Annual.

::sweet treat:: Flourless Choco Mint Cake

I am having a hard time believing it is already the month of June.  May was a whirlwind for me.  It absolutely flew by.  Given some recent changes around here, I thought I would feel like I had all the time in the world. Instead, I feel like I spent most of the month catching up with my sanity.  I thought I had lost it before May, but I had just given it a head start.  With crazy activities throughout the month, yesterday was the first day I truly felt like I was caught up and ready to work on more new projects.

So June begins!  Yesterday I spent the day with a friend recovering from some oral surgery.  We tested a soon to come recipe for Mango Avocoado Margaritas, she got to try the “Not Just Take Out” from Saxbys in Manayunk, we visited a great little specialty food shop and picked up some new goodies, we ordered from one of my favorite Indian restaurants, and we watched a chick flick.  What more could you want from a day?  We almost did some baking….but next time.  It was a great way to start the month, and now, I can finally catch up with other projects.  And so, the first recipe from Mother’s Day brunch!  I know, I know….

This year, as you may have read, my Mother’s Day Brunch was all about making ahead of time.  I used the opportunity to test some new ideas.  Some turned out perfectly, some still need some testing.  Luckily, my audience wasn’t too hard to please and it all seemed to go smoothly.  Flourless chocolate cake thanks to Martha Stewart was a perfect make ahead treat.  I had never made a flourless cake before, and I was shocked by hour easy it was.  It was incredibly rich, so next time I may try it as tiny individual cakes.  If I make it mint again next time, the little individual cakes would look so perfect garnished with a sprig of fresh mint!  If you have never had flourless chocolate cake before, it is like mushy-cakey fudge with a papery crust.  It is kind of perfect.

What I Used
Step One
9″ Springform Pan
275F oven
1 stick of butter (divided)
1 1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup mint chips

Step Two
6 large eggs, separated
Step Three
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Step Four
powdered sugar

Start with two large mixing bowls, and a small bowl.  In one, chocolate chips and 6 Tbsp of butter.  In the other, 6 large egg white.  Set aside the 6 yolks in the small bowl for use later.  Microwave the chips and butter in 30 second increments on medium heat, stirring each time, until fully melted.  Or melt over a pot of water, but the microwave saved a TON of time…

One the buttery chocolate cools, whisk in the yolks.  Whisk the egg white to soft peaks and then gradually add the sugar.

Whisk the sugar and and egg whites until stiff and glossy.  Pretty, huh?

Whisk 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate and then gently fold that mixture into the remaining whites.

You still have those other 2 Tbsp of butter right?  Use some/most of that to butter your pan.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake until the cake begines to pull away from the sides of the pan and the center is JUST set.  This should be about 45 minutes.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  Dust with powder sugar before serving.

Serves: 8 generously

::saturday special:: Saxbys in Manayunk


Let’s talk about this drink for a minute.  Let’s talk about how delicious it was.  I don’t think it is any secret what I like.  Coffee.  Chocolate.  Spice.  Combine these three things and I am happy.  Add in ice cream (ok frozen yogurt) and it is even better.  Perhaps unstoppable.

Despite my love of Starbucks, I was never a huge fan of Frappucinos.  Something about them (the old formula) didn’t agree with me completely.  Something about them (the new formula) scares me away from even trying them again (maybe the gum?).  I do love milkshakes, but it seems to be difficult to find one that isn’t giant while you are out and about.  Oh!  That brings up another thing I have made clear that I love.  Sitting outside to eat.

This post is more of a story than anything.  I haven’t tried many things on the Saxbys menu.  Yet.  Let’s start at the beginning.

When I worked in Manayunk (a decade ago already!), I was a regular at Bucks County Coffee.  There was something special about buying my coffee from a local company.  At that point the most convenient Starbucks to my neighborhood was Plymouth Meeting, so Bucks County it was… I may have even applied at Bucks once.  They only hired people with Barista experience?!  Really?  You don’t want to train people? You just wanted Starbucks sloppy seconds?  So, I worked at Starbucks.  For almost 6 years.  No offense Bucks, but you lost a customer because you wouldn’t hire me.  Free Coffee > Local Coffee.  And my Starbucks family was pretty awesome.

Fast forward to sometime in the last 5 years.  Sometime since I stopped working at Starbucks, moved back to the old neighborhood, and returned to Manayunk regularly.  Sometime when Bucks County Coffees closed and were quickly replaced by Saxbys all over the Delaware Valley.  It was like Bucks County Coffee.  The chalkboard menus were still there.  The comfortable atmosphere was still there.  It seemed a little less coffee-snobby and a little more modern all around snobby (Just like me!).  The chai latte’s were still good.  They still burned my soymilk almost every time.  And really, our visits to Saxby’s vs. Starbucks in Manayunk just depended on what end of Main Street we were parked near.  Then the Saxbys disappeared!  What the what?!  Soon we realized it was reopening down the street.  Closer to Starbucks?!  Close enough that we hadn’t been there yet.  Until yesterday.

Today I went to Manayunk to visit a friend.  We were going to bake cookies and hang out for a bit.  Awesome Star Wars sugar cookies to be exact.  Sugar cookie dough, however, needs to be refrigerated for a few hours before you can cut it into awesome shapes.  So we had some time to kill and it was a gorgeous day out.  Off we go to Manayunk!  Once again Colleen mentioned the FroYo at Saxbys and asked if we had a chance to try it yet. Of course I hadn’t, so we had a destination!

I told you this was a long story.  Trust me.
This drink is worth it.

So.  On our way there, I am told about the Mocha Mexicana they have on the menu at Saxbys.  Of course I want the Mocha Mexicana!  Chocolate. Cinnamon.  Coffee.  Why wouldn’t I want that!  Can I have it iced?  Of course.  Can I have it blended?  Sure.  Well.  Maybe.  I caused quite a ruckus in the Saxbys in Manyunk today apparently.

I was all hyped up about the FroYo I HAD to try.  But then, a coffee drink sounded so delightful.  So I asked if they would blend my Mocha Mexicana with FroYo instead of ice.  Blended ice….bleh.  I like my margaritas and all other drinks on the rocks if ice is needed.  Oh man.  You would think this was the scariest question these girls have ever been asked.  One asked the other.  The other asked me to repeat.  Then she went to get the manager.  And I explained it to him.  Maybe a little more receptive.  I’m not going to lie.  Maybe a lot more receptive once I mentioned I had a food blog.  Name dropper? WHAT?! haha.

So began the project.  I described what I thought it should be.  Testing ensued.  Below is Sample #1.  We started without the coffee.  Chocolate Frozen Yogurt and cinnamon syrup.  It needed a bit more cinnamon kick.  Sample #2 included coffee and more cinnamon.  AWESOME.

The final beverage was a full size version.  Since they started with smaller portions, he doubled the cinnamon in the final version.  It was a bit too much.  But it was still pretty awesome.  We decided on the final cinnamon to be in between.  I won’t tell you the exact number of pumps.  It’s officially a Saxbys secret.  But isn’t the drink pretty topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with cinnamon?

I was told this would be a special drink for the Summer at Saxbys in Manayunk.  Maybe it will be named after Not Just Take Out?  I have big goals!  I will create a new recipe for them every week if they let me name them all  🙂  I do miss working in a cafe.  Almost all the time.  I especially miss concocting ridiculously awesome recipes.  So long story for a short summary:

The team at the Saxbys in Manayunk is pretty cool.  They aren’t afraid to try new things if you don’t give up 🙂  They do already have a huge menu though, so maybe you don’t need to be as obnoxious as I am/was.  It is a super roomy space, so if you are looking to hang out for a bit, it is a way better option than Starbucks.  They have a ton of outdoor seating which I adore!

They have a new Summer beverage!  I can’t tell you for sure, but it might be named “Not Just Take Out”  or maybe they’ll name it the “mrs ptb”?  It is chocolate frozen yogurt, coffee, and cinnamon.  It is pretty awesome.  A perfect balance of smooth coffee, creamy chocolate, and spicy cinnamon.  YUM!

Thanks to the manager (I think?) Scott for trying it out until it was perfected!  Now go try it yourself.  Saxbys Manayunk is located at 4343 Main Street, Manayunk, Phila, Pa, 19128.  Call for their daily hours.  267-323-2257

If this isn’t close by, check out their website to find a location near you.  Maybe my recipe will go INTERNATIONAL. lol.

And lastly, one more awesome thing about Saxbys.  Check out the plastic to-go cups:  They are made out of corn, so they are biodegradable.  Very Cool.

::sweet treat:: Toasted Almonds

Since it is Friday I wanted to post something easy.  Something snacky to help get through the weekend.  I thought about posting a white bean hummus I had made.  I wanted something sweeter.  I thought about posting some snickerdoodles that were a midnight snack this week.  They hadn’t turned out quite as I wanted and need a re-do.  I thought about posted individual apple tartlets for two.  I bought some apples on sale this week and maybe it would be inspiration to make them again.  They are too complicated for what I wanted (and they aren’t even that complicated).

Then I decided to post about what it the most obvious thing to me. Chocolate.  Ice Cream.  These are a few of my favorite things.  Personally, I am a Turkey Hill Choco Mint Chip fan.  They don’t sell that at Whole Foods, so I am left with Breyer’s.  We’ll get into my feelings about ice cream another time, but let’s just say, I tend to buy vanilla a lot lately.

In the summer especially, vanilla is the perfect flavor to have on hand.  What pie or other fruity baked good doesn’t it go well with?  But by itself?  No, thank you.  I prefer mine with Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup.  And lots of it.  Again, though, this is not a post about ice cream.  This is a post about toasting almonds.  Which happen to go wonderfully with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.  And a ton of other desserts as well.  (Have you ever had Malva Pudding?)

What You Need
mini food processor
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 Tbsp butter
tiny skillet
salt (optional)

This could not be easier, and really the measurements are whatever you want them to be.  Chop up your almonds in the food processor.  In the tiny skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add the almonds and continue to stir until golden brown.  If you want to add salt, I would say do so once the almonds are coated with the butter.

Since you are already done, I like to think of this recipe as instant satisfaction.

::summer love:: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

The first sign of rhubarb in the store is an exciting one for me.  I grew up on a farm and rhubarb just grew uncontrollably.  I could just go steal some from my brother…but I would spend more on gas than a pound of organic rhubarb would cost me at the store.  So I buy it.  And organic strawberries – because MY GOODNESS – they are so much better than conventional strawberries.  WOW.

I haven’t found the perfect pie crust recipe for me.  And I really do believe it is a very personal thing.  So I am not going to share my crust recipe with you yet.  But these photos just make me so happy.  So this post is mainly for happiness.

My strawberry rhubarb pie is a pound of each.  Sliced strawberries, and I cut my rhubarb just like celery.

my current desktop picture  :)

I mix them together in a bowl with about 1/4 cup tapioca and 1 1/4 cup sugar.  They stew together while I make my crust.

My favorite trick to an easy crust… Form it into a ball (one per bottom/top), flatten to about 1/2″ thick & refrigerate your crust for about 30 minutes.  Then place the round between two sheets of floured parchment paper to roll it out.  This makes it incredibly easy to roll, and place in the pie plate.

Don’t want a soggy bottom pie?  Sprinkle your bottom crust with a bit more tapioca to help soak up extra juices.

See what I mean about the parchment paper helping to place the crust??

I start my pie at 450F for 15 minutes, then drop it to 375 for about 30 more minutes.

See what I mean about such a happy post?!  Since I am on a mission for the perfect pie crust (this summer will probably be filled with pies to test…) Can you share yours or a link to your favorite crust?  Thanks!