Oatmeal Crisps: Addendum

Perhaps I didn’t fully elaborate on yesterday’s amazingly addictive Oatmeal Crisps.  I woke in the middle of the night thinking of my extended rant which failed to mention much of anything about their real virtues.

Oatmeal Crisps

Did I mention the lacy cookies that clock in at under two minutes baking time per batch are not only ethereal, crisp, and crunchy, but their rich and nutty flavor belies the fact that they have less than 20 calories each?   I didn’t think so.

Did I tell you that they have the added benefit of oatmeal’s nutritional value, fiber, and flavor?  That for the small number and volume of ingredients you receive so much?  I think not.

Did I mention that although these are prepared in the microwave, and there still seems to be some concern about its usage, the convenience and advantages of the microwave in cases such as this, are well worth considering?

Did I mention that their charm lends not only to copious snacking but also that they make a style statement when perched alongside or atop ice cream, sorbet, parfaits, mousse, or nearly anything else you can think of?  Not so much.

Did I mention that even though they take so little time to produce, they make an excellent and thoughtful gift when you would rather not show up empty handed on someone’s doorstep?

No, I didn’t think so.

Little Black Dress of Desserts

We love our nuts in the Pacific Northwest, especially hazelnuts. When you throw in a little chocolate even the French would agree life doesn’t get much better.

Here’s a chocolate-nut torte I have been making for so long, I have no record of the original source.  What I do know is this combination has been making folks happy for quite a while.  A chocolate center is surrounded by a bottom citrus laced cookie crust and crowned with a gooey, crunchy, layer on top.

choc-nute-torteIt is easy on the cook because it is made in three simple steps.  The crust is a snap with the help of a food processor. It’s pressed into the bottom of a springform or other easy access pan and briefly baked until set.

Hot out of the oven, a few handfuls of excellent chocolate are scattered across the crust, left briefly to melt, then spread evenly across the bottom.

Meanwhile, the top layer is whizzed up in the same food processor bowl. A couple of eggs are whipped well, brown sugar, a few dry ingredients are added to stabilize the batter, and chopped nuts are thrown in to pull it all together. In the blink of an eye, it is spread over the chocolate and back in the oven it goes for a brief 20 minutes.

Beyond this simple execution, the torte is nearly indestructible—especially if kept in its protective pan for transport. It does not need to be refrigerated for a day or so. Take it down the road to a potluck or dessert at a friend’s house. Unmold to a platter, give it a light dusting of confectioners’ sugar, and finish with a sprinkling of nuts. You’ve got a dessert for all occasions.

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

Ingredients
Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange rind
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut up
1/2 package semisweet chocolate chips (6 oz.)
Filling
2 large eggs
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts or walnuts, chopped (6 oz.)

Additional:  powdered sugar for dusting,  toasted nuts for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. For crust, combine flour, sugar, grated rind and salt in food processor; cut in butter and whirl until crumbly.  Press evenly on bottom of 8″ or 9″ springform or tart pan.  Bake at 375° F for about 10 minutes, until firm to touch.
  3. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, let stand 2 minutes to melt the chocolate; spread evenly over the crust with spatula.
  4. For filling, beat eggs until frothy; add sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla, and stir until smooth.  Fold in nuts.  Spread over chocolate.  Bake at 375° F for 20 minutes longer, until the top is firm and golden.
  5. Cool completely.  Remove from pan and dust lightly with powdered sugar and top with nuts. Store in cool place up to 24 hours, do not refrigerate.  Serves 8.

Must love peanut butter

When it comes to food, I’m always in search of something new and interesting.  This isn’t exactly new, but it is interesting.

It’s a very cool homemade cookie that requires only four ingredients—and very little time or effort.

Peanut Butter Cookies, Fast

Peanut Butter Cookies, Fast

Faster than it takes to preheat the oven, I had the aroma of freshly baked peanut butter cookies wafting magically from the kitchen.  A mere wave of the wrist resulted in crisp, slightly chewy cookies with perfectly balanced peanut-buttery sweetness.

Well, there is one small catch.

These addictive cookies are so good, any attempt at self-restraint goes right out the window. Enjoy for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and random snacking.peanut-butter-cookies-rack

 Peanut Butter Cookies, Fast

Inspired by a popular cookie originally in Gourmet magazine, reprinted in Gourmet’s Five Ingredients by Gourmet Magazine Editors.

Ingredients
1 cup peanut butter, either creamy or chunky
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil or line with silpat.
  2. In a medium-small mixing bowl, with a spoon beat peanut butter and sugar to combine; then beat in egg and baking soda.
  3. With hands, roll rounded teaspoons of dough into balls and arrange about 1” apart on baking sheets.  Flatten balls with tines of fork to about 1-1/2” diameter, making a crosshatch pattern.
  4. Bake in batches about 10 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.
  5. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 2 minutes to set, then transfer with spatula to rack to cool completely.  These will keep 5 days stored airtight at room temperature.  Yield: 2 dozen approximate.

An Old-fashioned Steamed Pumpkin Pudding, a la microwave

baby-sugar-pumpkin-1This is a story of an old-fashioned steamed pumpkin pudding with crystallized ginger. In this version, the same dense classic once steamed or baked for an hour or longer, is popped in the microwave and baked until done, or about five minutes.

That’s right, thanks to modern technology, it takes longer to tell the tale than to bake it.

In other words, you take one mini sugar pumpkin and bake it until its meat is tender.  Don’t be alarmed if you discover the pulp is stringy and more similar to a spaghetti squash.

It will puree just fine in the food processor with a little sweetened condensed milk and molasses for character. In the old days heavy cream and perhaps brown sugar were added, in this case I opt to keep it simple.  Add your eggs, a little cake flour for structure, your typical pumpkin spices and lots of ginger—both powdered and crystallized.

If you’d rather, swap the candied ginger for ½ cup raisins, dates, or chopped nuts for a bit of texture and contrast; we aren’t looking for baby food here.  Back in the day, they might have used bread crumbs, suet, or anything else available to keep it together and fill in the gaps.

Steamed Pumpkin Pudding with Crystallized Ginger

Steamed Pumpkin Pudding with Crystallized Ginger

The result: a pudding denser than your typical pie filling; one that cuts beautifully.  You may be tempted to over bake it; do check it at 4 minutes.  If the center is set, it is done and will continue to cook as it stands a few minutes.

Serve it warm with whipped cream or your favorite ice cream.

Old-fashioned Steamed Pumpkin Pudding, a la microwave

Source:  inspired by Microwave Gourmet, Barbara Kafka

Ingredients
2 cups pumpkin pulp
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter, melted
3 eggs
1/3 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon ginger, powdered
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, chopped

  1. Directions 
    Prepare the pumpkin.  Cut it in half, remove seeds, and place in microwaveable dish. Add water to bottom of dish to cover, seal with plastic wrap and bake for about 7 minutes or until pulp is tender.  Remove any seed fibers from top and scoop out the pulp, you will need 2 cups.  Set aside.
  2. In food processor puree the pumpkin with sweetened condensed milk until silky.  Add the molasses and vanilla.
  3. Melt the butter in microwaveable 1-quart soufflé dish or equivalent.  Spread it over the interior and pour any residue into the pumpkin mixture.  Add the eggs and process.
  4. Sift the flour and spices and add to pumpkin with salt and process to combine.  Add the ginger and process briefly.
  5. Pour into soufflé dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and microwave for 4 minutes.  Press the center, if it is firmly set, remove from oven.  If not, microwave an additional minute at a time until center is set.  Carefully remove wrap and cover with a plate for 10-15 minutes.  Unmold, or slice and serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.  Serves 6.

Clafoutis Calling…

Hello?

If you are new to this site, then you wouldn’t know about me and clafoutis and that I can’t say no. I have zero resistance.

Clafoutis

Clafoutis

As far as I am concerned it is good morning, noon, and night. And that is likely what will happen today… since dessert is still on the horizon.  What’s not to like about a silky crepe-like batter poured over fruit and baked in the oven until puffed and golden?  I’m still confounded by the magic that occurs when these two components meld into one blissful package and blossom into a creamy light filling afloat with fruit—snugly surrounded by its own self-imposed crispy light crust.

Today’s version was not planned.  It merely seemed like a good idea to use up the few pieces of lingering fruit: a couple of peaches and a pear and then fill in the gaps with a handful of dried fruit, which happened to be prunes softened in orange juice.  A slight touch of almond in the batter and a handful of almonds sprinkled on top manage to make this taste like I started with a plan.  Oh, my.clafoutis slice(640x457

Well, I’ve got to go now, the clafoutis is calling me…

Mixed Fruit Clafoutis with Almonds

Ingredients
1 pound ripe juicy fruit, peel, pit, slice or quarter; or a combination using partial dried fruit
1-2 tablespoons juice or brandy, depending on quality of fruit
3 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup flour
pinch nutmeg, or complementary spice
1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk, warm
1 tablespoon butter plus more for dish baking
1/4 cup almonds, sliver or slice, or other complementary nuts
To finish:  1 tablespoon sugar for dusting on top

Directions

  1. Butter an oven proof shallow 9″ casserole dish, quiche dish, or pie plate.
  2. Toss the dried fruit with juice or brandy, microwave briefly until hot and let stand until needed.
  3. Prepare batter. Warm the milk and the butter together. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs and sugar until frothy, sprinkle in flour, spice, extract, and whisk until smooth. Gradually add warm milk mixture, whisking until well combined. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Distribute the fruit evenly in the baking dish.  Pour the batter over the fruit and scatter almonds on top.  Bake for 40-45 minutes, until puffed and brown. Sprinkle with granulated or powdered sugar.
  5. Serve warm or room temperature with a spoonful of ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.  Cover and chill for storage.  Serves 6

Note: if using apples or other firm fruit, begin with a quick sauté in 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon of sugar and toss until slightly softened.

Buckle Up!

If you are looking for a fast, homey dessert, look no further.  Depending on where you are from, this could have different names, but for me it is reminiscent of a buckle, where a light batter rises around the edges of fruit as it bakes.Pear Buckle cut

In this case a very quick batter is poured into a hot dish or pan and fruit is dropped into it.  Once in a hot oven, it swells up, wraps around, and becomes one with the fruit in a moist cakey confection.

All sorts of fruit will work, from pears to berries. Since this happens very fast, before beginning be sure to have the oven preheating and all ingredients in place. Pop the dish into the oven before sitting down to eat, and enjoy it piping hot when finished. Or, make it earlier, and serve it warm it when you are ready.Pear Buckle cream

Spoon it into waiting bowls and top with your favorite ice cream.

Pear Buckle

Ingredients

1 heaping Tbsp. butter
2 pears, cored, seeded, peeled, cut into chunks; or 2-1/2 cups any other available fruit or berries
½ lemon: 1 tsp grated lemon rind, juice if necessary
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar, divided
1 tsp. baking powder
pinch salt
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
½ tsp almond or vanilla extract
 
Directions 

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Place butter in 6”x8” baking dish or pan (up to 8”x8”) and set in the oven to melt the butter. Cut up the fruit and toss with the grated lemon rind, if the fruit is dry or likely to turn brown, toss with lemon juice to moisten.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, measure flour, 6 Tbsp. sugar, baking powder and salt and lightly whisk to distribute.  In a small bowl, whisk the egg, add the milk and vanilla and combine well.
  3. Lightly whisk the milk mixture into the dry ingredients, just to combine.  Pour the batter into the hot dish with the melted butter, but do not stir.  Spread the fresh fruit evenly on top and sprinkle with the remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar.  Bake 35-40 minutes, until bubbly and the top is golden brown.  Serve warm with ice cream.  Serves 4-6.

Raspberry Curd for Santa Baby

‘Twas the night before Christmas and what should appear

But Raspberry Curd in a glass ever clear.

A quick pause for Santa all loaded with gear,

While a mouse in the corner did hear him recite

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!”

Snack for Santa

Just in time for Santa! A Raspberry Curd with perfumed brightness that will add a punch of color and flavor to any holiday table.  In lieu of fresh berries, we use individually quick frozen raspberries, easily accessible in the frozen food section of most grocery stores.

In about ten minutes, a luscious curd is created by suspending raspberry essence into an egg-based cream and gently cooked while butter is whisked in until thick and voluptuous. Cornstarch also ensures perky firmness for filling tarts and cakes.

Raspberry curd is the basis of many exquisite specialty desserts.  With little effort you will have a handcrafted gourmet accompaniment for anything chocolate, pound cake, fresh pears, ice cream, and other delights.  Fill individual shells, cookie squares, a chocolate tart crust, or layer a cake with the curd.  Create a fast parfait or mousse by folding the raspberry curd into sweetened whipped cream. Treat it as you would any exotic jam or jelly.

Raspberry Curd

This is a quick and easy curd if all ingredients are prepped and ready to go.  

2 ½ cups fresh or 12-oz frozen raspberries, thawed
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. lemon zest, grated
½ c cold butter, cut in ½” cubes

  1. In a blender or food processor, puree the raspberries with cornstarch and press through a medium sieve into a 1-quart non-reactive saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until the puree thickens, remove from heat.
  2. Rinse blender and pat dry; add the eggs, sugar and lemon zest; blend until light, about 1 minute.
  3. With motor running on low, slowly pour in 2/3 cup warm puree and blend to distribute evenly.
  4. Rinse the pan, pat dry, and pour in the egg-berry blend. Over medium to medium-high heat slowly whisk a piece of butter in at a time. Continue whisking and cooking until mixture approaches a boil; steam will begin to rise and the curd will thicken (about 8 minutes). Do not boil.
  5. Pour through a clean, dry sieve and cover the surface lightly with plastic wrap to avoid a film from forming. When cool store in refrigerator for two weeks. Yield: 2 cups.