Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

Spiced Almonds

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Spiced Almonds

Here is an easy appetizer/dessert/snack.  Toasted almonds, sweetened with a bit of spice.  Sure, it is easy to just open a can of nuts to serve at your next party, but that is ordinary.  Entertain in style in 8 short minutes and 6 ingredients.  These are a tasty, fun treat that fill the kitchen with a wonderful aroma.

Spiced Almonds

Spiced Almonds Recipe

Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

1 tablespoon butter
2 cups skin-on raw almonds
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon allspice

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in large nonstick skillet o medium-low heat.
  2. Add  almonds, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice.
  3. Stir often while toasting until fragrant and the color deepens slightly, about 8 minutes.

Frozen Mocha Shake

Monday, September 27th, 2010


Why does it still feel like July in late September?  Living in the South in the summer has become all but unbearable.  If not for the fabulous straight-from-the-garden summer vegetables, I would seriously have no need for the season.  Could we just get to fall already?  Please, do what you can to reverse global warming because I just can’t see myself fleeing the South in search of cooler ground.  And in the meantime, cool off with a frozen mocha shake.


I don’t know how people drink coffee in the summer.  Yeah, I know, they say it makes them sweat, which cools them off.  But seriously, I’m sweating already.  Please nothing hot for me.  Frozen mocha shake?  Yes, thank you.  Breakfast?  Dessert?  Both.  Life is too short to only have dessert after dinner.  I’m usually too full for dessert anyway.  So why not jump-start the day with one of these cool babies.  Chocolate, coffee, ice cream.  Delightful.  It just might make your Southern summer bearable.

Frozen Mocha Shake Recipe

4 scoops chocolate ice cream
2 cups hazelnut flavored coffee
1 tablespoon sugar
dash of vanilla extract
chocolate shavings

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend for 30 seconds.
  • Pour into glass and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings
  • *Mint variation–Use mint chocolate chip ice cream, a dash of mint flavoring, then top with whipped cream, and Andes mint shavings.

    Margarita Cake

    Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

    Margarita Cake

    How can you make a cake more festive?  Add booze!  Just in time for your Labor Day weekend, I’m giving you a delicious recipe that is a party in itself.

    I started with Ina Garten’s recipe for a lemon cake and started tinkering, mainly substituting lime for lemon and adding tequila, but I also adjusted the amounts of the other ingredients just a bit and experimented with how to get the cake to absorb the syrup.  If you just pour it over the cake, it will run-off. Instead, you have to dump the warm cake onto a plate, add syrup to the pan, dump the cake back into the pan, pour syrup over the cake, then put the cake back onto the plate.  What? This makes you nervous?  Me too, but I did it, and that worked.

    Margarita Cake

    This cake is very flavorful, and the crumb is light and moist.  I stashed a piece of cake away for me to have later, forgot about it, and it still had great texture a whole week later.  However, you wouldn’t know this without me telling you because this cake will not stick around for a week. You just won’t be able to resist it.

    Margarita Cake

    Margarita Cake Recipe

    1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    2 cups sugar
    4 large eggs, at room temperature
    1/3 cup grated lime zest (about 8 limes)
    3 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
    1/4 cup tequila
    3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    Margarita Syrup
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/4 cup lime juice
    1/4 cup tequila

    2 cups powdered sugar
    1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
    1/4 cup tequila

    Make the cake:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bundt pan.
    2. In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine sugar and lime zest.
    3. Add the butter and cream with sugar, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
    4. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time.
    5. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
    6. In another bowl, combine lime juice, tequila, buttermilk, and vanilla.
    7. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour.
    8. Pour batter into bundt pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick comes out clean.

    Make the margarita syrup:

    1. Combine sugar with lime juice and tequila in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
    2. When the cake is done, allow to cool for 5 minutes and remove from the pan.
    3. Dump half the margarita syrup into the pan, then carefully put cake back into the pan.  Dump the remaining half of the margarita syrup on top of the cake.   The cake will absorb the syrup
    4. Allow the cake to cool for a few more minutes before removing from pan.  Cool cake completely before glazing.

    Make the glaze:

    1. Combine the powdered sugar, lime juice, and tequila in a bowl, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth.
    2. Pour over the top of the cake and allow the glaze to drizzle down the sides.

    Key Lime Cake

    Monday, April 5th, 2010

    Have you heard the good news?  Spring has sprung, daffodils have bloomed, temperatures have risen, and I have baked the ultimate cake to celebrate.  Key Lime Cake, yes cake, not pie. And according to my four-year-old niece, it is “deyicious.”

    So there are kind of a lot of steps, and I have broken them down into even more for simplicity. But the end product is worth every one of them. It is just too scrumptious not to try, absolutely exploding with key lime flavor and sweetness. And the cake itself is so moist, so divine in its airiness that you won’t even remember the slightly complicated mixing process. It’s like forgetting the pain of childbirth when you see that little face, and you’re willing to do it all over again. Ok, so that is what the mothers say anyway. I haven’t actually had that experience myself, and I don’t mean to scare you, this cake really isn’t that difficult or time-consuming. It just feels a little hectic when ten people are running around the kitchen preparing the big Easter meal. So, without further rambling, please have some key lime cake!

    Key Lime Cake Recipe

    adapted from Cooks

    1/2 cup unsalted butter
    1 cup sugar
    2 eggs
    1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
    1 key lime zested and juiced

    For glaze:
    1/2 cup key lime juice
    1 cup powdered sugar

    1. Grease bundt pan.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Cream the butter until smooth.
    3. Gradually add the sugar, beating until light and fluffy.
    4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat.
    5. In a separate bowl, sift the salt, baking powder, and flour together.
    6. Alternately add the flour and cream to the egg mixture, starting and ending with the flour.
    7. Mix in juice and zest of key lime.
    8. Spoon the batter into the bundt pan and bake for 20 minutes.
    9. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for another 20 minutes.  The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.
    10. Let stand 10 minutes, then turn onto a cake rack to let cool.

    To make the glaze:

    1. Mix the sugar and key lime juice until smooth.
    2. Place a plate underneath the cake rack to catch excess glaze.
    3. While the cake is still warm, slowly drizzle the glaze on the cake so that the liquid is absorbed.
    4. Remove plate from underneath the cake rack and replace with a new plate.  Drizzle the glaze from the first plate over the cake.  Repeat this process until the cake has absorbed all the liquid.

    Mint Chocolate Cake

    Sunday, March 14th, 2010

    My main squeeze loves some mint chocolate, probably his favorite dessert flavors, so I decided to bake him a mint chocolate cake for his birthday celebration dinner.  I wasn’t looking for anything fancy, just a quality chocolate cake that I could mint up and make pretty.

    You know what they say, “Chocolate recipes are only as good as the chocolate you put in them.”  Second best just doesn’t cut it for a birthday cake, so I went on a quest for the best chocolate I could find/afford. After lots of reading and several trustworthy recommendations (David Lebovitz included), I settled on Valrhona Cocoa Powder, which has become my go-to chocolate.

    I put that fancy cocoa in a simple cake recipe and frosted with some fluffy mint frosting, then topped that with a bit of grated Andes Creme de Menthe Thins.

    Mint Chocolate Cake Recipe  Makes 1 double layer cake, about 10 servings.

    adapted from Mark Bittman’s Chocolate Vanilla Layer Cake in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

    1/2 cup boiling water
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    3/4 cup cocoa powder
    1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    4 large eggs, separated
    1 1/4 cups sugar
    1/4 cup canola oil
    2 teaspoons peppermint extract
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Andes Crème de Menthe, grated

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two 9″ cake pans.
    2. Put the peppermint extract in a large bowl with the boiling water.  Set aside.
    3. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
    4. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites to stiff peaks.
    5. Add the yolks, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract to the peppermint water and beat until creamy and bubbly.
    6. With mixer, combine dry ingredients with the wet mixture.
    7. By hand, fold the egg whites into the batter gently but thoroughly.
    8. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans and let it settle for a few seconds.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
    9. Cool for at least 10 minutes before carefully inverting onto racks.
    10. Cool completely before frosting with fluffy mint frosting.
    11. Garnish with grated Andes Crème de Menthe.

    Fluffy Mint Frosting

    Saturday, March 13th, 2010

    If there is one thing I don’t like, it is that saccharine buttercream frosting that so many people insist on slathering an inch thick on birthday cakes.  I prefer a slightly, ok noticeably, less treacly frosting that 1) allows me to actually taste the cake underneath, and 2) doesn’t threaten to send me directly into a diabetic coma.

    That brings me to this fluffy frosting, in this case mint-flavored, that perfectly does the job of serving as, quite literally, “just icing on the cake.”  The frosting tastes a lot like a gooey marshmallow, which is no surprise, since you will know if you’ve ever made homemade marshmallows, that this recipe is not much of a detour from the one that yields those white puffs of sugar.

    To state the obvious, this frosting is the perfect topping for a mint chocolate cake.  But, that is certainly not the only place it belongs. Substitute the peppermint extract, with vanilla, almond, orange, or any other extract to create a custom frosting that will pair with the cake you’re making.

    Fluffy Mint Frosting Recipe  Makes enough to frost a double layer 9″ round cake.

    1 cup sugar
    1/3 cup water
    1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
    2 egg whites
    1 teaspoon peppermint extract
    green food coloring

    1. Stir sugar, water, and cream of tartar together in sauce pan over medium high heat.  Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat.
    2. Beat egg whites until soft peaks begin to form.
    3. Add peppermint extract and green food coloring to egg whites.
    4. Gradually add the sugar mixture to the egg whites, continuing to beat until stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes.


    Thursday, February 25th, 2010

    I have always loved those sopapillas with ice cream at the Mexican restaurants, but it never occurred to me to try to make them at home. That is not until I was living in Costa Rica for several months and had incredibly limited kitchen equipment, not to mention the difficulty of shopping for food in a foreign language and not knowing half the ingredients or having access to half the ingredients I’m used to having. But, I digress. Where were we? Oh yeah, sopapillas. So it occurred to me one day to fry a tortilla and add cinnamon and honey and see what happened. I was not prepared for the goodness. It was a little experiment that ended in me practically licking my plate to get every last bit of honey and ice cream. It takes five ingredients and about five minutes to have a dessert that is beautiful and tasty. I particularly love to set the ice cream out so that it softens and melts all over my crunchy, crispy sopapilla.

    Sopapilla Recipe

    ice cream
    canola oil

    1. Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat.
    2. When oil is hot (flicking a bit of water in it sizzles), add the tortilla.  Fry until golden brown, about 1 minute.
    3. Flip tortilla and fry the other side until golden brown.  Remove from oil
    4. Sprinkle cinnamon and drizzle honey on top of the tortilla.
    5. If you want it con helados, with ice cream, then scoop some on top.