Cherry Crumble

Cherry Crumble-small

This is a super easy dessert that is a perfect ending to any meal. There is no need to defrost the frozen cherries, but I do like to cut them in half before tossing them with the sugar, cornstarch, and almond extract.  Adjust the amount of sugar in this recipe to your tastes. Some cherries are naturally sweeter than others and keep in mind that the crumble topping has sugar in it too. Nuts (almonds, pecans, or walnuts) are a great addition to the crumble. Any frozen fruit could be used for this dish. Serve warm or at room temperature with whip cream or vanilla ice cream.

Cherry Crumble

1 12 – 16 ounce bag frozen pitted cherries
1/4 – 1/2 cup sugar (to taste)
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), cold, cut into chunks
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix the cherries, sugar, almond extract, and corn starch together. Place in a baking dish.

Combine the flour, brown sugar, oats, and salt in a bowl. Work the cold butter into the mixture with a fork, pastry cutter, or with your hands until evenly distributed. Top the cherry filling with the crumble mixture.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.


Chocolate Yellow Squash Cake

Chocolate Yellow Squash Cake 2

I might have been slightly delirious when I came up with the idea to hide some yellow squash in chocolate cake. At the time, I was knee deep in squash from my CSA. I was a little desperate to find new ways to use it. I had success using yellow squash in Yellow Squash Cornbread and in Summer Squash Bread, so I was pretty sure I could pull it off in chocolate cake.

Chocolate Yellow Squash Cake

Oh my gosh, it was so good, y’all! I was super happy with the result. It was moist and chocolatety. So delicious! You could not tell the cake had squash in it aside from the little flecks of yellow squash on top of the cake after it was baked. The frosting totally covered it up, so problem solved. My 4 year old had no idea. He loved it. My 14 year old son wouldn’t try it (extremely picky eater) because he heard me telling my husband of my plans to use squash in the cake. His loss. The Yellow Squash Cake was awesome!

RECIPE UPDATE: I had someone comment that I must have forgotten the eggs in this recipe since her batter was very dry. There are no eggs in this recipe. The squash releases it’s moisture and it should come together in the end. My cake turned out very moist, although a little more dense than most cakes. I’m sure several factors (humidity, moisture content of the squash, etc…) could make this cake dry.  Make sure you firmly pack the squash into the measuring cup to ensure you get enough squash in the batter to make it moist. Do not decrease the amount of oil or sugar. The batter should not be dry and crumbly or super thick (as in, if you have to press the batter into the pan, something is wrong). If you felt like you need to add 2 eggs, go ahead. The result would probably be a lighter cake.  If you still have a problem with dry, crumbly batter, then try mixing in a liquid (milk or water) a tablespoon at a time until the batter is at a thick, but pourable (with the help of a spatula) consistency.

Chocolate Yellow Squash Cake 3

Chocolate Yellow Squash Cake

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 firmly packed cups shredded yellow squash

1/4 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9 x 13-inch cake pan

In a large bow, mix together the oil, sugar, and 2 teaspoons vanilla with an electric mixer until well blended. In another bowl, combine the flour, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the oil and sugar mixture. Fold in the shredded yellow squash. Your batter should be thick, but pourable with the help of a spatula. If your batter is dry and crumbly, try adding a little milk, a tablespoon at a time, until the batter comes together. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool completely.

To make the frosting, cream the butter in a mixing bowl. Gradually add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, milk, and vanilla extract. Beat until it all comes together and is a spreadable consistency. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake.

 


Chai-Spiced Bundt Cake

Chai-Spiced Bundt Cake

This is the dessert I made for our Thanksgiving meal. I love chai tea. I thought the spices I use in my chai tea would be perfect in a cake. Although it is certainly not a traditional Indian dessert, I think it complimented the Indian food just fine.

My little one could not wait to dig into this cake. When I was tidying up the house, he managed to get a butter knife out of the drawer and carve a trapezoid shape into the side of the cake. He was very proud of himself. We ended up having some chai-spiced cake for breakfast (it was great with coffee) and I had to serve a cake that had missing slices. Martha Stewart probably would not approve, but the nice thing about having laid-back friends is that none of our guests seemed to notice or care.

Chai-Spiced Bundt Cake

Chai-Spiced Bundt Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 cup butter (2 sticks) softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups buttermilk (or 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and enough milk to equal 1 1/4 cup)
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease and flour a 12 cup bundt pan.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and all the spices. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the vanilla. Next, mix in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by 1/3 of the buttermilk. Add in another 1/3 of the flour mixing and another 1/3 of the buttermilk. Finally, add in the last of the flour and then the buttermilk. Mix until just combined. Pour into prepared bundt pan.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Dust the cake with powdered sugar right before serving. I put a tablespoon or two of powdered sugar in a fine mesh sieve and gently tap the side of the sieve with my hand or a wooden spoon to dust the cake.


Butternut Squash Pie

Butternut Squash Pie

This pie would be a nice addition to a Thanksgiving table. I like butternut squash better than pumpkin, so I think this pie is a perfect alternative to pumpkin pie. I’m not totally against using store-bought pie shells. Reading the ingredients list of pre-made pie shells is pretty scary, though. I try to find ones that do not contain lard and have limited  or no added preservatives and chemicals. Wholly Wholesome makes organic pie shells that fit the bill. Of course, you can make your own so you know exactly what goes into it.

I slightly adapted the Butternut Squash Pie recipe found here.

Butternut Squash Pie

1 unbaked and chilled 9-inch pie shell (I buy frozen pie shells that do not contain lard)
1 1/2 cups pureed butternut squash (about 1 large butternut squash)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
3 large eggs
3/4 cup evaporated milk or half-and-half
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

To cook squash: Cut the squash in half lengthwise; remove stem and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash, cut side down, on a foil-lined oiled baking pan; add about 1/2 cup of water to the pan. Cover loosely with foil and bake at 400° for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the squash is tender and can be easily pierced with a fork. Let cool completely then peel and mash or puree the squash or put it through a food mill. Measure 1 1/2 cups of the squash and set aside.

Roasting Butternut Squash

Reduce oven to 350° F and position an oven rack in the center of the oven. In a mixing bowl with electric mixer, beat the squash with the brown sugar. Add eggs, evaporated milk, spices salt, flour, butter, and vanilla. Beat until well blended. Pour the filling into the chilled pie and place on the center oven rack. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until set. Check after about 35 minutes and loosely set a ring of foil or a pie crust protector over the browned crust so it won’t get too dark. When the filling is set, transfer the pie to a rack to cool. Serve just warm or at room temperature with a dollop of whipped topping or whipped cream.


Flourless Chocolate Torte

Flourless Chocolate Torte

This brownie-like torte will satisfy your chocolate craving. It is fudgy and delicious. You can dress it up with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, a dollop of whipped cream, and/or a chocolate glaze. My kids loved this torte. My 13 year old ate a small chunk out of the middle of it (see bottom photo) before it even cooled. My 3 year old got into it before I could sprinkle it with powdered sugar to make it look pretty for a picture. Sigh. Oh well, it was still quite good without any embelishment.

Flourless Chocolate Torte

3 tablespoons butter
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 large eggs, seperated
1 1/4 cup sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the springform pan with parchment paper or foil, replace the sides and clamp it. The extra parchement paper or foil will be hanging out between the bottom and sides of the pan. Spray the inside of the pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Gently melt the butter and chopped unsweetened chocolate in a small pan over very low heat, stirring until smooth. Alternatively, melt the butter and chocolate in a microwave at half power in 30 second intervals, stirring each time. Let the chocolate mixture cool slightly.

Beat together the 6 egg  yolks and 3/4 cup sugar with an electric mixer until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Add the salt, vanilla extract, and the melted chocolate mixture; beat until well combined, about 1 minute.

Wash the beater attachments. In another bowl, beat the egg whites, gradually adding the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, until stiff peaks form. This will take 5 to 6 minutes.

Gently fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate batter. Once incorporated, fold in another 1/3 of the egg whites. Repeat with the remaining 1/3 of egg whites. Pour batter, using a spatula to scrape the sides, into the prepared springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees until the torte is set, about 40 minutes. Let the torte cool completely before removing the sides.

Invert the torte onto a plate. Remove the bottom of the springform pan and the parchment paper or foil. Invert torte onto the serving plate and remove the top plate. You may sprinkle the top of the torte with powdered sugar or drizzle with a chocolate glaze.

Flourless Chocolate Torte 2


Pineapple Crumble

IMG_0576 (640x480)

I had not initially planned on making a dessert for our Easter meal. I had some fresh pineapple I wanted to use. The pineapple wasn’t ripe enough to just eat and since I’m doing this gluten-free diet for my thyroid, I couldn’t go to my stand-by quick bread recipe or make a cake. I’m a big fan of fruit crumbles and decided to go that route. I have made all kinds of fruit crumbles, but this is the first time making one with pineapple. I thought the pineapple would compliment the coconut ingredients I planned on using. I was right. There is a reason why pineapple and coconut are a classic combination.

The crumble turned out well. It was especially good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The pineapple I used wasn’t ripe, so it didn’t release very many juices. The addition of a tablespoon of pineapple or orange juice would have probably helped. I also think I should have added some shredded coconut. Not much, perhaps just a tablespoon of shredded coconut with the pineapple (or in the crumble topping).

Pineapple Crumble

1 1/2 to 2 cups of fresh pineapple, chopped
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/8 cup coconut flour
2 tablespoons coconut sugar (or brown sugar), plus 1 tablespoon more if fruit needs more sweetness
2 tablespoons sliced almonds (or other type of nuts), optional
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted (or butter)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. F.

Place chopped pineapple in a small baking dish. If the pineapple is not very sweet, you can sprinkle the fruit with a tablespoon of coconut sugar.

To make the crumble topping, combine oats, coconut flour, and 2 tablespoons of coconut sugar in a small bowl. Drizzle in the melted coconut oil and mix the ingredients until the oil is well incorporated and the mixture is crumbly. Top the pineapple with the crumble topping and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until the crumble topping is golden brown.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Vanilla ice cream makes a great accompaniment.


Easy Pluot Crisp

A pluot is a cross between a plum and an apricot.  There are many varieties of pluots, each one varying in color, sweetness, and size. I got a good deal on a 2 pound bag of Dinosaur Brand pluots this week, but they were not very sweet and more tart than I like. Noone in my family would eat them, so I decided to make a super easy pluot crisp using granola I made last month as the topping. Crisps are a perfect way to utilize summer fruits like peaches, cherries, and berries and using granola is a great shortcut.

Easy Pluot Crisp

6 – 8 pluots (about 1 1/2 pounds of fruit)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1 cup granola (or more, if needed)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Wash pluots, remove pits and cut into quarters. Toss the pluots in a bowl with the brown sugar, flour, and vanilla. Pour mixture into a 1.5 quart baking dish.

Dot with butter. Top with granola. Bake at 350 degrees until granola is browned and the pluot juices are bubbly, about 30 – 40 minutes.


Watermelon Granita

Watermelon Granita

1/3 cup sugar
5 cups 1-inch watermelon cubes (about 4 pounds), seeds removed
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with 1/3 cup of water and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Transfer the syrup to a blender or food processor, add half of the watermelon cubes and the lime juice and pulse until smooth. Add the remaining watermelon cubes and blend until smooth.

Pass the puree through a coarse strainer, pressing down on the solids. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch nonreactive (ceramic or glass) baking dish and freeze, stirring every 30 minutes with a fork, until all the liquid has frozen completely, about 3 hours. Spoon the granita into tall glasses or bowls and serve.

The granita can be frozen for up to 2 days. Stir before serving.


Fresh Fig and Vanilla Custard Tart

I have never eaten a fresh fig before last week.  Publix had a buy-one-get-one-free special on them and I got a carton of Brown Turkey figs and a carton of Black Mission figs.  I liked them but no one else in my family would eat them. I needed a way to use them so that they didn’t go to waste.  I adapted this recipe from a couple of different ones I found online.  I think it turned out well.  I rolled the tart pastry fairly thin and had enough left over to make a couple of little fig tartlets as well.
Fresh Fig and Vanilla Custard Tart

For the crust:
11/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon. salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 tablespoons chilled butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
12 to 16 ripe figs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the crust

Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and then add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms very fine crumbs. You can also do this in a bowl, cutting in the butter with a pastry cutter or fork. With the machine running, add the vanilla and 2 tablespoons of the ice water (adding more if needed) and process until the dough comes together.  Remove dough from food processor bowl and shape it into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for about 15 minutes. Roll the dough into an 11-inch circle and put it in a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough evenly into the tart pan. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to look perfect. Prick the bottom of the tart shell with a fork in 8 or 10 places, and then put the pan in the freezer for 20 minutes while you heat the oven to 425°F. Put the chilled tart shell on a baking sheet, line the shell with foil, and fill with beans or pie weights. Bake until it’s lightly colored, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the tart and reduce the oven temperature to 400°F; remove the weights and foil.


To make the filling

Cut off the stems of the figs (leave the skins on) and slice the figs in half ( if they’re large, you may choose to quarter them).

 

Arrange the figs, cut side up, on the tart shell. Whisk the egg yolk, sour cream, brown sugar, and vanilla until combined.

Carefully spoon the custard around but not over the figs.

Bake the tart on the baking sheet in the 400°F oven until the custard is lightly colored and set, about 30 minutes. Serve slightly warm.