Posts tagged ‘almond’

October 12, 2011

Pumpercake & Joy Of Kosher, What A Nice “Pear”

It’s been less than a week since our last guest blog appearance on Joy Of Kosher, yet, Pumpercake was, once again, lucky enough to be featured on our favorite online Jewish community and magazine!  This time, I was asked to create a special autumn, dairy-free dessert for this week’s Sukkot celebrations.

I wanted to do a recipe that incorporated several techniques I’d recently learned in pastry class in order to pass on some very useful tips and tricks to the readers at JOK and, of course, you!  This frangipane tart does just that with a rich almond filling, dimpled with poached pears.  The tart was baked into a dairy-free version of my favorite sweet shortcrust, and was finished with a brush of sweet Amaretto-honey syrup and a sprinkle of crunch toasted almond slices.  Reminiscent of the Harry Potter treat shared in August, this Frangipane Tart with Amaretto and Honey Poached Pears has more of a rustic touch amidst the medley of Autumn flavors.

Be sure to stop on over to Joy Of Kosher today and throughout Sukkot for lots of great menu and dessert ideas.  And, of course, while you’re there, don’t forget to gloss over Pumpercake’s latest article and recipe contributions!  Happy Sukkot!

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October 7, 2011

Joy Of Pumper

Hello there, faithful followers!  I realize it’s been quite a while since I’ve last checked in, and I apologize.  I appreciate your bearing with me throughout this period of post-less-ness.  I’m pleased, however, to share with you Pumpercake’s latest guest blog entry on Joy Of Kosher!

The post and the recipe for my Sticky Fig Sweet Buns is currently being featured on Joy Of Kosher’s website as a special Yom Kippur Break Fast treat.  Drop on by and take a look at this and many other wonderful recipes at Joy Of Kosher.com!

August 24, 2011

Pumpercake’s Cherry Chocolate Comeback

I’m ashamed of how long its been since I’ve shared a recipe with you.  There’s no excuse for my blatant neglect of the site, however, I assure you that the recent absence of posts doesn’t mean that there’s been any less baking going on in the Pumpercake kitchen.  Quite the opposite, actually.  The past couple weeks have been spent in preparation of and taking much joy in sharing a series of fun and delicious summertime treats to be enjoyed by friends and family during various visits and vacations.  In the weeks leading up to my jam-packed vacation week, I was able to plan and put together many delightful desserts, and even squeezed in a couple food-photo sessions (special thanks goes out to my favorite food photographer for these especially beautiful shots).What I wasn’t quite able to find time for, however, was the actual article-writing/recipe-posting/desperate-attempts-at-witty-storytelling.

Now, as I attempt to  find myself with a surplus of notes on pre-perfected recipes and hundreds of unedited dessert photos floating about my computer in a devastatingly unorganized manner, just waiting to be sorted and presented to you.  The recipe I chose to share today is one from the lovely vacation I went on with my favorite Virginia family (including my favorite Virginia baby) to Wrightsville Beach.

My cherry-almond chocolate ganache tart is inspired by my favorite kind of protein bar of the same flavor combination.  This version is gluten-free and to enjoyed by all.  As if that weren’t enough, the entire dessert can be made as a no-bake… perfect for a hot summer night when you can’t bare to turn on the oven.  Variations in the type of chocolate, fruit, and nuts used can be made according to your preferences, but I love this combination of silky bitter and semisweet chocolate freckled with juicy dark cherries and fragrant toasted almonds.  The simplicity of the ingredients and assembly seems to only enhance the rustic beauty of the final product.

Cherry-Dimpled Chocolate Ganache Tart

Inspired by: LUNA’s “Chocolate Cherry Almond Bar”

Adapted from Hot Polka Dot‘s Chocolate Hazelnut Cherry Tart

1 cup heavy cream

½ teaspoon almond extract

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon cherry extract

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

6 ounces semisweet chocolate

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

¼ cup salted almonds

Chocolate Tart Crust
(recipe below)

1 cup dark cherries, pitted

– -recipe yield:
12 x 8½-inch rectangle tart

Pour cream in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and whisk in the extracts and corn syrup.  Place saucepan over medium-low heat and bring to a rapid simmer.  While cream mixture is heating, roughly chop semisweet and bittersweet chocolate and place in a large bowl.  Pour simmering cream over the chopped chocolate and allow it to sit, untouched, for about 2 minutes.  Then, whisk the mixture in the center of the bowl to melt the chocolate and form a smooth ganache.  Set aside for about 4-5 minutes to slightly cool and thicken.

Place whole almonds in a dry non-stick skillet over low heat while the ganache thickens.  Toss the almonds to toast them evenly and remove them from heat as soon as they are fragrant (which should only take a few minutes).  Transfer nuts to a cutting boar, and, once cooled, give them a rough chop to desired size.  Pour the lukewarm, thickened ganache into a completely cooled tart shell and smooth evenly with an angled spatula.  Scatter pitted cherries into the tart, pressing them slightly into the ganache, and sprinkle on the toasted, chopped almonds evenly over top of the cherry-dimpled tart.  Allow to set up at room temperature for about 3-4 hours, or 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Gluten Free Chocolate Tart Crust

Adapted from  Dinners & DreamsCorn Flake Pie Crust

 6 cups gluten-free corn flakes

¼ cup Dutch process cocoa powder

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup granulated sugar

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 egg, lightly beaten (omit for no-bake)

½ teaspoon salt

-recipe yield: one 12×8½-inch tart shell

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a large tart pan with a removable bottom and set aside.  Pulse together in a food processor the corn flakes and cocoa powder until completely crushed and combined.  Transfer to a large bowl.

Prepare a double boiler fitted with a small glass bowl containing the butter, sugar and chocolate chips and place over medium heat until melted and homogeneous.  Pour the chocolate-butter mixture over the corn flake mixture along with the lightly beaten egg and the salt, and stir until the crumbly mixture has fully combined.  Press crust firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan, and place into preheated oven for 7-10 minutes, or until crisped and slightly puffed.  Allow to cool completely in pan on a wire rack before filling with ganache.


July 8, 2011

Treacle Tart Even A Muggle Would Love

Exactly one week from today, the latest and last movie in the Harry Potter trilogy will premier in theaters.  I, like so many others, am a passionate fan of the book series and the movies and am devastated that the Potter-era is coming to an end.

While others my age have grown up reading each of the books as they were released and, therefore, feel as though they’ve grown up alongside Harry, Ron, and Hermione themselves, this isn’t quite the case for me.  I developed an unreasonably stubborn attitude about HP & the gang back when the books first became popular.  My big, bad, middle-school aged self had barely skimmed through the second book (I didn’t even go in order!) before I decided that all the  “mystical stuff” was nonsense and not for me.  It wasn’t until this past December that Evan insisted I not only watch all the movies in order to accompany him to the latest premier, but he also insisted that I read each and every one of the books, too.  I thought this would be quite the chore, but was open to giving the books another shot.  Little did I know, I’d complete the entire series in just over one month and the only chore involved was my having to cope with the devastation of reading through the books much too fast and never wanting any of it to end.
Needless to say, midway through book 1, I was hooked. While so many other die-hard fans out there have had the pleasure of Harry being in their lives for over a decade, he’s only been in mine for a mere 6 months!

In order to savor and celebrate the final release of the end of this magical saga, I’ve decided that, starting today, it will be Potter Week here at Pumpercake.  From now until the movie premier next Friday, I’ll be sharing my interpretations of desserts mentioned throughout the series as we count down the days before the big movie premier.  Today, I’ve decided to start with a treacle tart, which is described in the books to be Harry’s favorite dish.  Treacle tart is a traditional English dessert and one that appears many times throughout the series… at least once per each of the seven books, if I’m not mistaken.  I chose a gingery version with a fragrant almond shortcrust and lemon poached pears.  I did my best to try and core the pears from the bottom but still keep the curvy, black stems attached, as I absolutely love the look they give to the dessert… dark, interesting and whimsical.

Ginger Pear Treacle Tart with Lemon-Almond Poached Pears

Inspired by: Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry’s “(Harry’s favorite) Treacle Tart,”

“The first whiff he identified was of warm treacle tart. It brought back pleasant memories of eating in the Great Hall with Ron and Hermione, throwing jokes around and laughing over dinner.”  -Harry, smelling Amortentia potion for the first time in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.  Amortentia is a powerful love potion and has a different aroma suited for everyone who smells it, reminding each person of the things that they find most desirable or attractive.

Adapted from Gingery Treacle Tart,” Good Food, December 2008
and Dinah Bucholz’s “Almond-Ginger-Peach Treacle Tart,” The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook

1¼ cups golden treacle syrup

zest and juice of ½ lemon

1½-2½ teaspoons fresh ginger root, finely grated

¾ cup fresh honey wheat breadcrumbs

3 eggs

5 lemon-almond poached pears (recipe below)

9-inch sweet almond shortbread shell (recipe below)

–recipe yield: one 9-inch tart

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Pour syrup into a small saucepan and combine with lemon zest, juice and ginger.  Place over medium-low heat, warming the syrup until runny.  Pour the warm, runny syrup in a large bowl over the breadcrumbs and toss together until coated.  In a small bowl, whisk to break apart the eggs.  Pour the eggs into the syrup-breadcrumb mixture and stir to combine.

Slice the very bottom of each pear so they’re able to stand straight up.  Place pears into tart shell and spoon treacle filling into shell around the pears.  Place into preheated oven for 55-65 minutes (placing foil over tart edges if they become too brown), or until filling has set.  Allow tart to cool completely in pan on cooling rack before removing, slicing, and serving.

Lemon-Almond Poached Pears

These pears aren’t fully poached, as they’ll soften more when they’re baked with the tart.

5 bosc pears

1 2/3 cups granulated sugar

zest & juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon almond extract

–recipe yield: 5 (partially) poached pears

Peel 5 whole pears, keeping core and stem in tact.  Combine sugar with 6 cups water in a large pot over medium heat.  Once sugar has dissolved and water has come to a low simmer, add in lemon zest, juice, and almond extract.   Bring water up to a very low boil and add in whole pears.  Allow pears to poach in simmering water for 12-15 minutes, or until they’re almost tender (as they’ll cook more in the oven later).  At this point, remove pears by their stems, set on paper towel and allow to cool.  Pears can be poached a day in advanced and stored in their cooled poaching liquid in an airtight container the refrigerator.

Sweet Almond Shortbread Tart Shell

1 cup all purpose flour                     ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold

¼ cup almond flour                          1 egg yolk

½ cup confectioner’s sugar              1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

½ teaspoon salt                              ¼ teaspoon almond extract

Combine in a food processor the flour, almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, and salt.  Add cold butter in very small pieces and pulse together until entire stick has been added and the texture is crumbly.  Using a fork, break apart egg yolk and combine with cream and almond extract.  Gradually pour the liquid into the mixture while pulsing together until a soft dough forms.  Turn dough out onto plastic wrap, kneading it lightly if necessary, and form into a disk.  Wrap disk completely in the plastic and allow it to chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Press chilled dough into a buttered 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.  Line the shell with parchment paper, fill with baking beans, and place it in a 375 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.  Remove paper and beans, and place it back in the oven for an additional 5-7 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before filling.

July 5, 2011

Happy 4th Of Jell-y!

Proud American that I am, I decided that one Patriotic dessert wasn’t enough to celebrate Independence Day this year. In addition to the Red, White, & Blue Bombe Glacée I made for this weekend’s festivities, I prepared another colorful cake to help set the celebratory tone. I couldn’t resist another opportunity to use the refreshing flavor trio of the beloved Bomb Pop (cherry, lime, blue raspberry) in one more treat. Inspired by Sprinkle Bakes‘ lovely “Crown Jewel Cake,” I decided to revamp her cheerful version of the retro “Broken Glass Cake” by using the flavors of the Bomb Pop and the shapes and colors of our flag.

Sweet cherry sponge cake hugs a fluffy lime cream filling, speckled with playful bursts of blue raspberry and cherry Jello stars. The seemingly odd mixture of tart-sweet flavors and jiggly-smooth textures comes together in a harmonious, silky bite.

My favorite part about this cake is the exciting element of surprise that comes with cutting into it.  With different shapes and sizes of red and blue stars, no two slices are alike.  Each cut into the cake brings about an excitement comparable to the incredible National fireworks show… there’s no telling what pretty star pattern will be uncovered next.

Starry Stained Glass Cake

Inspired by: Bomb Pops & Sprinkle Bakes’ “Crown Jewel Cake

Adapted from Heather Baird’s Crown Jewel Cake,” SprinkleBakes

Cherry Joconde Sponge Cake

1¼ cups almond flour

1/3 cup plus 1½ tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

3 eggs

2 egg yolks

¾ teaspoon cherry extract

1-1½ teaspoons red gel food coloring

4 egg whites

¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar

2½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

–recipe yield: one 11½ x 17½ sheet cake to be fit as a shell into one 8-inch round cake pan

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Line an 8-inch round springform cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.  Prepare an 11½ x 17½ sheet cake pan by buttering it, lining it in parchment paper, and buttering the paper.  In a food processor, pulse together the almond flour, all-purpose flour and confectioner’s sugar to remove any lumps and to further grind down the almonds.  In a large bowl, beat the whole eggs until frothy, and then gradually add in the combined dry ingredients from the food processor while continuing to beat and scraping down the sides of the bowl in between additions.  Beat in egg yolks and extract, and gradually add food coloring until desired color is reached.

In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until frothy.  Gradually add in superfine sugar while continuing to whip the mixture into a thick meringue.  Once sugar has been added and meringue has reached stiff peaks, fold it gently into the batter.  Pour in the cooled, melted butter, give it two or three more folds, and then pour the batter into the prepared sheet pan.  Tilt the pan to distribute the batter into an even layer and tap the bottom of the pan against the counter top to allow any air bubbles to escape.   Place pan into the oven to bake for 5-7 minutes, checking it frequently as it burns quickly and easily.

While cake is baking, lay out a clean pastry cloth or non-patterned tea towel next to a wire cooling rack.  Sprinkle the cloth with a few tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar, smoothing it out into an even layer with your hands.  Immediately upon removing it from the oven, turn out the hot cake onto the sugared pastry cloth.  Peel away and discard the parchment paper from the top of the cake.  Using the round cake pan as a guide, cut a long strip of the cake to fit inside around the pan, making up the cake edges.  If the strip doesn’t cover all the way around the inside of the pan, a shorter strip may be sliced, added and pressed in to fill the gap.  Cut a circle from the sheet cake to make up the bottom of the cake and press it into the pan inside the cake edges.

Lime Cream Filling

3-ounce box blue raspberry gelatin
(ex. Berry Blue Jello)

3-ounce box cherry gelatin
(ex. Cherry Jello)

1¼ cups pineapple juice

¼ cup lime juice

1½ tablespoons powdered gelatin

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water

2 cups heavy whipping cream

¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare both packages of flavored gelatin as directed on box.  Once gelatin is completely set and chilled, it is ready to be sliced into shapes.  Using different sized star-shaped cookie cutters, slice set gelatin into very thick stars (see picture).  The thicker the stars are cut, the more likely they will appear in cake slices.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine pineapple and lime juice.  Sprinkle powdered gelatin into the juice and let it sit for 2-3 minutes, or until the gelatin has completely dissolved.  Once dissolved, place the saucepan over medium-low heat for another 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture has melted into a smooth liquid.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cold water.  Pour the mixture into a small bowl and set it on the counter top to cool slightly for about 5 minutes.  Place it into the refrigerator for another 5 minutes to allow it to cool completely, but remain in liquid form (not set up into a gelatin).  In a large bowl, whip cold cream into soft peaks.  Pour in the vanilla extract and continue to whip until it has reached stiff peaks.  Whisk cooled gelatin mixture well into whipped vanilla cream.

Assembly

Add a few spoon-fulls of the lime cream filling into the pan containing the prepared, pressed sponge cake shell.  Place a few flavored gelatin stars into the pan on top of the filling.  Add more filling, followed by more stars, and continue until desired amount of gelatin stars have been added, leaving enough filling for a final, thick layer of filling to cover the stars and top off the cake.  Gently spread the top layer of filling into a smooth mound.  Cover cake with plastic wrap and allow it to set up in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.

If desired, decorate set, firm cake with colored candies and/or a half batch of Best Vanilla Buttercream piped from a pastry or plastic zip-top bag fitted with a large star tip.  If using colored candies, do not place the candies directly on the surface of the filling, as the color will bleed though the white gelatin cream.

June 27, 2011

Marshmallow-Toffee Combination Creation

Marshmallow and toffee.  Sounds a little strange, right?  Sounds like a  sugar-shocked, sticky sweet, caramel covered cavity waiting to happen, right?  Wrong!  Turns out, marshmallow and toffee are a match made in candy-coated Heaven.

I first discovered the divinity of this delicious combination on a trip to Dairy Queen, of all places.  I was experimenting with Blizzard flavors, trying to decide what would pair well with marshmallow topping, which I always request to be mixed into my DQ treats.  I decided to try the Heath Blizzard with my usual swirl of mallow, and since then, haven’t ordered anything but that exact dessert.  There’s just something about the nutty flavor of the almond and the sharpness and crunch of the burnt-sugary English toffee that pairs so beautifully with the silkiness of the smooth vanilla marshmallow cream, it’s melt- in-your-mouth irresistible.

I haven’t yet visited Dairy Queen this summer, but the delightful duo of toffee and marshmallow has still been ever present in my mind.  I decided to create my own frozen dessert using these flavors and textures in a different way.  I made a semifreddo/ice cream base, split it in two layers, and incorporated marshmallow and toffee flavors in both layers in different ways.  While DQ’s concoction uses the chocolate-covered version of Heath’s toffee pieces, I decided to use plain toffee pieces and add chocolate in other ways throughout the dessert.  A marbleized marshmallow swirl runs through rich, chocolate-mocha ice cream, and the almond flavors of the English toffee are found in the crust, along with more chocolate and ground toffee.  Marshmallow can also be found in the second ice cream, which is speckled with crunchy toffee pieces and topped with a chocolate-toffee crumb topping to finish off this tempting treat.  No hot ovens to turn on and no ice cream machine needed, just an hour or so of free time and a persistent sweet tooth!

Toffee-Marshmallow Ice Cream Cake

Inspired by: Dairy Queen’s Candy Lover’s Heath Blizzard” with Marshmallow Topping

 Adapted from Martha Stewart’sFrozen Mocha Toffee Crunch Terrine

8 ounces English toffee pieces
(ex. HEATH “Bits ‘O Brickle” Toffee Bits)

7 ounces chocolate wafer cookies

¼ cup almond flour

3 tablespoons melted butter

6 ounces of cream cheese

½ tablespoon vanilla extract

1½ cups heavy whipping cream

¼ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons instant coffee granules

2½ tablespoons cocoa powder

4 egg yolks

2/3 cup marshmallow fluff (recipe below)

–recipe yield: 9x5x3-inch loaf; 12-15 slices

Line a large loaf pan with plastic wrap.  In a food processor, grind ¼ cup toffee pieces and 20 wafer cookies.  Add almond flour and melted butter and pulse until crumbly.  Press crumbs into bottom of loaf pan and place in freezer. Grind together 15 more wafers and ¼ cup toffee.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat room temperature cream cheese and vanilla extract until smooth.  On a low speed, mix in ½ cup heavy cream until the mixture has reached medium soft peaks.  In a separate large bowl,  whip remaining heavy cream until it has just reached stiff peaks.  Gently fold the whipped cream into the whipped cream cheese mixture and place into the freezer to chill.  In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together granulated sugar and ¼ cup water and place over medium-high heat.  Allow liquid to rapidly boil for 5 minutes.  In the meantime, whisk together coffee, cocoa powder, and 2 tablespoons boiling water in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  While sugar syrup continues to boil, place egg yolks in a large bowl and beat on high for 3 minutes.  When sugar syrup has been boiling for full 5 minutes, remove from heat and pour a small amount of the syrup into the yolks, continuing to beat.  Gradually add in the remaining hot syrup to the yolks while beating the mixture.  Beat for 8-9 minutes, or until the mixture has tripled in volume.

Divide yolk mixture in two equal parts, pouring one half into a separate large bowl.  Remove loaf pan and chilled whipped cream mixture from freezer.  Divide whipped cream mixture in half with a spatula, and fold one half into to one of the bowls of the yolk mixture, along with the cocoa-coffee mixture.  Continue to fold until mixture is streak-free and chocolate-y.  Pour this mixture into the loaf pan on top of the crumb layer.  Add heaping teaspoons of marshmallow fluff into the loaf pan onto the surface of the chocolate layer until about 1/3 cup of fluff has been dotted into the pan.  Run a butter knife through the fluff and chocolate layer to swirl the two together.  Place loaf into freezer to chill.

Add ½ cup of marshmallow fluff to the remaining half of the yolk mixture.  Beat well until combined and fluffy.  Fold the fluff-egg yolk mixture into the remaining chilled whipping cream, along with 1/3 cup of plain toffee pieces.  Remove loaf pan from freezer.  Sprinkle half of the chocolate wafer-toffee crumb mixture into the loaf pan on top of the swirled chocolate-mallow mixture.  Once the crumbs have been sprinkles in an even layer, pour into the loaf pan (on top of that layer) the marshmallow-toffee ice cream mixture.  Place loaf pan in freezer to set up overnight.  Remove semifreddo by pulling up on the plastic wrap on the sides.  Peel away and discard plastic wrap and sprinkle any remaining chocolate wafer-toffee crumbs on top of the loaf, along with bigger toffee pieces if desired.  Cut the ice cream loaf into slices and serve.

Marshmallow Fluff

1 egg white

¾ cup corn syrup

pinch of salt

¾ cup confectioner’s sugar

½ Tsp vanilla extract

–recipe yield: lots of fluff!

In a large bowl, beat together the egg white, corn syrup and salt for 10 minutes (set a timer).  The mixture will be very thick.  After ten minutes, gradually beat in confectioner’s sugar on a low speed.  Mix in vanilla extract until incorporated.  To store, cover the bowl of marshmallow fluff with plastic wrap, allowing the plastic wrap to sag into the bowl and cover the entire surface of the fluff so that it doesn’t develop a skin.  Store in the refrigerator or freezer for 2-3 weeks.

June 19, 2011

Food For Thought

Where there would normally be an abundance of sugar, flour, butter and maybe the occasional frozen pizza, lately, I’ve been finding some less-likely foods. Goodies such as avocados, tuna salad, pomegranate juice, and mixed nuts have been gracing the shelves of my refrigerator and pantry most recently. When I inquired about the sudden additions to our snack collection, Evan, who has been avidly preparing for his GMAT exam, shared with me an article he’d read. The article described how to improve brain function and memory by means of consuming foods rich in Omega-3 fats, antioxidants and fiber. It also listed the top 20 foods to “supercharge your brain.” I was intrigued. And after reading through the list of “brain foods,” I was inspired.

I set out to create a dessert recipe using at least ten of the twenty foods as ingredients.  There were the obvious choices, like nuts (#4), coffee (#6), oats (#7), chocolate (yes! # 12), and cocoa nibs (#20).  And there were the more challenging choices, like avocados (#1),  seeds (#5), pomegranate (#9), and olive oil (#14).  After recipe hunting, tweaking, taste-testing and a bit of improvisation, I came up with today’s recipe.  It includes all of the brain-fueling ingredients listed above, as well as the #2 ingredient, blueberries.  That’s 10 of the “20 Best Foods For Your Brain,” with 7 ingredients coming from the top 10.  The result?  A heavenly combination of velvety smooth chocolate cascading over crisp, fresh blueberries, tart pomegranate jam, and a crispy-crumbly crust… a decadent pie to spark both the appetite and the brain.

Choco-Pom-Berry
“Brainpower Pie”

Inspired by: “The 20 Smartest Foods On Earth”

Adapted from Renee Mahon & S. Duquet’s
Dark Chocolate, Avocado & Berry Pie

This recipe is gluten free, 100% vegan and should be enjoyed by all!  The avocado is used in place of butter or margarine as the main source of fat in the chocolate filling and makes for a delicious, almost pudding-like texture (and tastes nothing like guacamole, I promise!).

1/3 cup almond milk

2 tablespoons orange juice

1½ tablespoons vanilla extract

1 tablespoon instant coffee granules

0at, nut & seed crust (recipe below)

½ cup pomegranate jam (recipe below)

1 pint fresh blueberries

2 ripe avocados

12 oz. semisweet chocolate (vegan)

–recipe yield: one 8- or 9-inch pie
(about 8-10 servings)

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together milk, orange juice and vanilla extract and place over medium heat.  Once liquid has come to a delicate simmer, remove from heat and whisk in coffee granules.  Set aside and allow mixture to steep.  While liquid is steeping, spoon pomegranate jam into prepared crust and spread into a thin, even layer to coat entire surface.  Sprinkle blueberries over top of the jam layer and arrange them to cover the jam entirely.

Core and slice avocados into a food processor.  Strain the warm, steeped liquid into the food processor as well, discarding any whole coffee granules that may remain.  Puree the mixture until desired consistency is reached.  Transfer the smooth avocado mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat.  Constantly stirring, heat mixture for 3-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and pour in chocolate chips.  Stir to completely melt the chocolate until the mixture is completely homogeneous.  Pour the entire mixture into the pan over top of the blueberries.  Using an angled spatula, smooth out the chocolate mixture into a flat, even layer.  Transfer to refrigerator (or freezer) to chill overnight until set.  Serve cold.

Pomegranate Jam

Adapted from “Pomegranate Jelly,”
Taste Of Home

1½ cups pomegranate juice

¼ cup water

2 cups sugar

2½ tablespoons pure fruit pectin

–recipe yield: about 2 cups jam

Pour juice and water into a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and allow liquid to simmer for about 10 minutes.  Measure out sugar in a separate container and set aside.  Add pectin into juice, whisking until dissolved.  Bring liquid to a full, rolling boil.  At this point, quickly dump in the sugar while constantly whisking.  Return to a rolling boil and allow to boil for exactly 1 minute, stirring.  Remove from heat and skim off any foam on the top of mixture.  Pour into jars/containers and allow to sit at room temperature overnight.  Store, covered, in refrigerator or freezer.

Oat, Nut & Seed Pie Crust

Adapted from “Vegan Oat-Nut Pie Crust,”  SmarterFitter and The Whole Food Bible

½ cup walnuts                                    ¾ cup almond flour                        ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup rolled oats                                 ¼ cup flax meal                              3 tablespoons maple syrup

3 tablespoons cocoa nibs                   ¼ teaspoon salt                             1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Spread walnuts out onto a sheet tray and toast them in a 350 degree oven for 8-9 minutes, tossing them halfway through baking time.  Remove them from oven, allow to cool, and increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.  Prepare a 8- or 9-inch springform pan by well-oiling the bottom of the pan and halfway up the sides.  Set aside.

In a food processor, pulse together walnuts, oats, and cocoa nibs until ground.  Add in almond flour, flax meal, and salt, and pulse to combine.  In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, syrup and vanilla.  Pour the liquid into the food processor and pulse to mix.  Remove mixture from food processor and press into pan in an even layer.  Bake crust for 10-12 minutes, or until edges are slightly crisp.  Set aside to cool.

-Optional
Pomegranate seeds or cocoa nibs may be used as a garnish.  To make swirl design, heat pomegranate jam and use a small paintbrush dipped in the jam to paint onto dish.

June 15, 2011

Key-nadian Twist On A Father’s Day Favorite

I really thought that I’d tried every Key lime dessert recipe known to man.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my dad’s all-time favorite indulgence is Key lime pie, which I grew tired of making about fifteen Birthdays/Father’s Days ago.  Since then, I’ve found ways to incorporate all of those delicious Key lime pie components into many different dessert shapes and forms.  I truly believed that I’d done it all… every Key lime concoction on the planet.  But there was one region of the Earth that I missed… Canada.  Cana..DUH!

Originating from the Great White North, a Nanaimo bar is a layered dessert traditionally composed of a sometimes nutty, brownie-like layer, a custard or buttercream layer, and a chocolate layer.  There are many different versions of Nanaimo bars, leaving me with lots of options to incorporate all of the flavors of the Key lime pie.  I was sold.  As the Vancouver Canucks have demonstrated this season, Canada knows great hockey, just as my dad, a die-hard Red Wings fan, does.   And, as it turns out, Canada also knows a thing or two about dessert!

Upon grocery shopping for ingredients, I also stumbled upon a couple of products that I’d been previously unfamiliar with, pure Key lime extract and natural crystallized lime.  The extract allowed me to achieve a nice, strong lime flavor without having to add too much actual lime juice and watering down the custard.  And the crystallized lime also added an extra kick without ruining the consistency of the filling.  This is an issue I’ve dealt with in the past, having never wanted to sacrifice any of my dad’s favorite lime flavor but also not wanting to jeopardize the quality of the dessert.  Both of these great new products will be of great use to me for years to come as I continue to make Key lime confections for the world’s greatest dad.  Happy Father’s Day, Papa Lew!

Key-nadian Lime Pie Bars

Inspired by: Key Lime Pie

Adapted from “Nanaimo Bars,” The Daring Kitchen  and Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives

Graham Layer

½ cup unsalted butter              2/3 cup almond flour

3 tablespoons brown sugar     1/3 cup flaked coconut, finely ground in food processor

1 egg, lightly beaten                ¼ cup unsalted pistachios, finely ground in food processor

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

Prepare a double boiler fitted with a large glass bowl.  Melt the butter and brown sugar until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Pour a small amount of the melted butter-sugar into the dish containing the egg while whisking, bringing the egg slowly up to temperature without cooking and scrambling it.  Once the egg has been slightly warmed, pour it into the glass bowl with the remaining melted butter-sugar, stir, and continue to heat.  After the mixture is homogeneous and slightly thickened, remove the bowl from heat and stir in graham crumbs, almond flour, and ground coconut.

Key Lime Layer

3 egg yolks                                           ¼ cup cream cheese, softened

5 tablespoons granulated sugar          2 tablespoons custard powder*

3 tablespoons Key lime extract            1-2 cups confectioner’s sugar

zest and juice of 1 lime                        3 tablespoons heavy cream

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3½ tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

-optional: crystallized lime, green/yellow gel food coloring

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan whisk together the egg yolks, granulated sugar, lime extract, juice, zest, and cornstarch.  Place over medium-low heat and continue to stir constantly with a wooden spoon.  Allow about 5-7 minutes for the mixture to thicken, and then remove it from heat and transfer it to a small bowl.  Constantly stirring, gradually mix in small pieces of the cold butter, allowing each piece to dissolve before adding the next piece.  Once all the butter has been added and the mixture is smooth and cooled, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, allowing the plastic wrap to sag into the bowl and cover the entire surface of the mixture so that it doesn’t develop a skin.  Allow mixture to set up in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.

When lime mixture has set, remove it from the refrigerator, peel away and discard the plastic wrap.  Set mixture aside, stirring occasionally, and allow it to come to room temperature.  In a large bowl, beat together the room temperature butter and cream cheese until thoroughly creamed.  Beat in the room temperature lime mixture and food coloring (if desired) until homogeneous.  Mix in the custard powder and gradually beat in the powdered sugar.  If an increase in lime flavor is desired, also beat in desired amount of crystallized lime (I used about 1½ teaspoons).  When desired flavor is reached, drizzle in heavy cream and whip until combined and fluffy.

*Vanilla instant pudding mix may be used here.

Chocolate Layer

2 ½  tablespoons unsalted butter

½ tablespoon heavy whipping cream

6 ounces white chocolate

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat, bring butter and cream to a simmer, whisking constantly to prevent it from scalding.  Prepare a double boiler fitted with a medium glass bowl containing the white chocolate and place it over medium heat.  Stir in the hot cream to the melting chocolate and continue to stir until fully melted.  Remove from heat.

Assembly

Line 8×8 pan with parchment paper, allowing the excess to drape over the sides  for easy dessert removal.  Press graham mixture into an even layer on the bottom of the lined pan.  Spoon on the lime layer and spread evenly across the entire surface of the graham layer.  Then, pour the warm, melted chocolate onto the top, evenly coating the dessert and reach all edges of the pan.  Let the dessert rest until chocolate has cooled and set before removing it from pan and slicing into bars.

June 11, 2011

S’more Truffles & Even MORE Macarons

As I’ve openly professed my love for all things marshmallow throughout the duration of Pumpercake’s existence, it should come as no surprise to my most loyal readers that I’m also a big fan of s’mores.  Smore’s are one of the only hot desserts that are perfectly acceptable during even the hottest summer nights.  A few years back, there was one summer in particular that Alicia, Katie and I lived solely off of graham crackers, milk chocolate and melted mallow, maybe with the occasional dollop of creamy peanut butter thrown in.  So when our families planned a visit during my last trip to Michigan, I knew I had to create a couple s’mores-inspired treats to pass around as the girls re-told the story of my being too impatient to wait for my metal marshmallow skewer to cool before devouring the mallow and nearly burning off my bottom lip.

Both desserts combine all the elements of the beloved s’more in different ways.  The truffles have crushed grahams and melted marshmallow that make up the base of  the candy, as well as a surprise mini-mallow hidden in the center.  The truffles are finished with a coating of milk chocolate and an extra pinch of crumbs.  The macarons, much sweeter than the truffles, present the flavors of the s’more in a more familiar, sandwich-like display.  Both bite-sized treats were delicious, looked beautiful together, and went over very well.


S’mores Truffles

Inspired by: S’mores

These truffles are most delicious when served cold, straight out of the refrigerator or cooler, if possible.  This allows for the texture of the truffle interior to match that of the marshmallow hidden inside, creating a velvety, homogeneous bite.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

15 large marshmallows

6 ounces cream cheese, softened

1½ cups graham cracker crumbs*

½ cup mini marshmallows

2 cups milk chocolate chips

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter.  Add in large marshmallows, toss them to coat in the melted butter, and allow them to melt entirely.  Once melted, transfer the mixture to a medium bowl containing the softened cream cheese.  Beat together the melted marshmallow and cream cheese until homogeneous.  Mix in the graham crumbs until completely combined.  Refrigerate mixture for about 10 minutes.  Once the mixture has chilled, it’s time to shape the truffles.  Using a melon-baller or a small cookie dough scoop makes this job a breeze, otherwise, I suggest using a round tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop and measure out the mixture.  Each time a truffle is scooped, place a mini-marshmallow into the center of it and roll the truffle to re-shape it into a ball with your hands.  Once all the balls are formed and stuffed with a marshmallow, transfer them to the freezer to chill for 15-20 minutes.

While the truffle centers are chilling, prepare a double boiler fitted with a medium glass bowl containing the chocolate chips.  Over low heat, slowly, evenly start to melt the chocolate until it has almost completely melted.  Remove bowl from heat and continue to stir chocolate to melt the remaining solid pieces and to slightly cool the mixture.  Remove the truffles from the freezer to prepare to coat them, one at a time, with the melted chocolate.  I find that the easiest way to do this is to use the fork and spoon method, thoroughly described in another of my candy-making posts, here.  Once each truffle is coated and dropped onto a sheet of parchment paper, they may be dusted with a sprinkle of graham cracker crumbs before the chocolate has hardened.  Store cooled, hardened truffles in between layers of parchment paper in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.


S’mores Macarons

Inspired by: S’mores

A truly delicious rendition of  the dessert.  Each of the components that make up this recipe can be found throughout Pumpercake.

Chocolate Shells

Marshmallow Frosting

Graham cracker crumbs*

Flaked sea salt

Once macaron shells have baked and cookies have been sandwiched with frosting, prepare a small batch of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water brought to a boil over the stove, reduced to a syrup and cooled) to brush on top of the shells.  Sprinkle a bit of graham cracker crumbs and pinch of flaked sea salt over top of the syrup-brushed cookies.

*Both desserts can also be made gluten-free by use of gluten-free graham crackers crumbs.

June 2, 2011

Macaron Mess, Part III: Practice Makes Perfect

I’ve been going a bit overboard with macaron practice and production lately.  The delicate cookie that I once loathed has recently become my favorite kitchen experiment and my favorite gift to give away.  I’m constantly thinking and talking about them, and I may have even had a few dreams revolving solely around the macaron and its endless flavor combination possibilities.  It became clear to me that it was time to re-visit the chocolate-peanut butter macaron recipe from my very first attempt (emphasis on the word “attempt”) about a month ago.  Regardless of the fact that I’ve been a mac-making machine lately, making chocolate macaron shells still brought about a whole new challenge for me.  The addition of cocoa powder into the batter scared the living daylights out of me.  And as David Lebovitz suggests cutting back on almond flour while Tartelette suggests cutting back on powdered sugar when attempting chocolate macarons, I was torn and confused.  What’s the difference between unsweetened cocoa powder and Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa anyway?

Luckily, my chocolate shells turned out very nicely due to David’s recipe (although that doesn’t mean that Tartelette’s wouldn’t have turned out just as well!).  I went with my original inspiration and filled the shells with a salted-peanut butter buttercream, mimicking my sister-in-law’s peanut butter buckeyes.  I kept my promise to my sister-in-law and my brother and made sure that they got to taste these less-fragile, correctly made cookies.

In other (much more exciting) news, Evan’s great friends, Sam and Megan, were married at a gorgeous black tie ceremony in Detroit this past weekend.  Evan selected some really nice wedding gifts to be shipped to their home, but I also decided to bake them something nice and have it waiting for them in their suite after the reception.  I wanted to make them something really special and pretty… something personalized just for them on their special day.  I didn’t even find out until after I’d given them the cookies that Megan just so happens to be allergic to gluten.  Thank goodness I’d ended up making these… one of the few fancy and gluten-free treats that I’ve come to grow so fond of whipping up!

As purple was one of the theme colors of their wedding decor, I chose to make Megan and Sam some violet shells with a blackberry buttercream filling.  I hand-painted some of the macs with tiny designs and flourishes, including one with their initials.  I saw the beautiful couple two days after the wedding and found out how much they enjoyed the cookies.  Congratulations, newlyweds!

Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Macarons

Inspired by: Chocolate-Peanut Butter Buckeyes

Chocolate Macaron Shells

Adapted from David Lebovitz’s “French Chocolate Macarons”

1 cup confectioners sugar

½ cup almond flour

3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

¼ cup superfine sugar

2 egg whites, aged & room temperature*

small pinch of cream of tartar

-recipe yield: about 17 filled macarons

Substituting the vanilla ingredients for the chocolate ingredients and proportions above, follow the French Macaron Shell directions portion of the recipe (as well as the extra tips listed just before the recipe).  The cocoa should be added into the food processor and ground along with the confectioners sugar and almond flour.  Baking time may need to be increased by an extra minute or so.

Salted Peanut Butter Buttercream

½ cup smooth peanut butter           ½ teaspoon table salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter        ½ cup confectioner’s sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract              2 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

In a medium bowl, cream together peanut butter and  butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in vanilla and salt.  Gradually add confectioner’s sugar and continue to beat.  When the sugar has been combined, drizzle in heavy cream and whip until fluffy, being careful not to over-whip.

-Optional:

Once macaron shells have baked and cookies have assembled and sandwiched with buttercream, prepare a small batch of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water brought to a boil over the stove, reduced to a syrup and cooled) to brush over top of the shells.  Sprinkle a little kosher or flaked sea salt over top of the syrup-brushed cookies for an extra salty bite.

Blackberry Wedding Macarons

Pretty Purple Macaron Shells

For purple (or any other color) macaron shells, follow the French Macaron Shell recipe (as well as the extra tips listed just before the recipe).  Desired amount of gel food coloring can be added to macaron batter just after dry ingredients are sifted in and just before starting to fold dry ingredients into the meringue.  A good way to do this is to squeeze the gel directly onto a clean spatula before using the same spatula to fold the batter.

Blackberry Buttercream

Adapted from sammyw‘s “Raspberry Buttercream Frosting”

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

¼ cup seedless blackberry preserves

2-3 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

In a medium bowl, whip butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add in blackberry preserves and beat until homogeneous.  Gradually beat in confectioner’s sugar until desired sweetness has been achieved.  Once sugar has been dissolved, drizzle in heavy cream and whip until fluffy.

-Optional

To make the designs, I diluted some more of the purple food coloring with a drop or so of water and used a fine paintbrush to apply a small amount of the thick purple liquid to the tops of the cookies in different designs.  Allow painted shells to dry completely before stacking, packaging, handling or serving.