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Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

I love teaching during the colorful days of autumn.

Over the past week, the students in my class have been busy finding autumnal inspiration to include in their poetry.

We’ve spoken a lot about letting our senses speak through poetry.

We can see the lovely bold colors and the days getting darker.

We can feel the days getting cooler.

We can hear the leaves tumbling in the howling wind.

What about the taste of autumn?

How are they to understand the smell?

Don’t worry, I’ve got that one covered.

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Covered in puff pastry, that is!

Any excuse to get these kids in the kitchen, people.

During my prep lesson yesterday, I practiced baking these delicious caramel stuffed, pastry wrapped baked apples.

I photographed the steps in hopes of preparing a guide for my students, but once all was said and done, I realized this wasn’t the recipe for my class. 

I ended up going with a simpler baked apple recipe, but I still wanted to share this gem of a dish with all of you!

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The ingredients were pretty basic: puff pastry, caramel, brown sugar and cinnamon, an egg and apples.

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To prepare, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.

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Create and egg wash by beating an egg and 1 Tbsp. water together.

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Slice off the top of the apple, leaving the stem intact.

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Remove the core, being sure not to go all the way through the bottom of the apple.

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Carefully get in there to get out all of the seeds.

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Peel the whole apple. I did the cutting and coring first because I didn’t want the kids working with knives on slippery apple flesh.

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See? Core removed but base intact!

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Remember that bowl of cinnamon sugar? Now’s its time to shine. Roll the apple around in the brown sugar to coat completely.

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Carefully place two caramel cubes into the hollow of the apple core. Again, be sure you don’t push too hard and pop out the bottom of the apple.

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Is your mouth watering yet?

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Next, I joined strips of puff pastry and wrapped them around my prepared apple.

By this point, I realized:

  1. Cutting, coring and peeling would be a bit too much for my kiddos.
  2. Our school kitchen wasn’t equipped with enough peelers for each student anyways.
  3. Making long snakes of puff pastry, an item which needs to be kept cool, would be difficult for my hot-handed pupils.
  4. There were simply too many steps to remember and rewrite in recipe form later in the week.

Even though I knew by this point that my students wouldn’t be making this recipe, I still wanted to finish it off.

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Create two leaves out of the puff pastry.

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Carefully place the leaves on the apple so they look like they’re coming from the stem.

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Brush the pastry with the prepared egg wash.

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Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, being sure to leave space between the pastry and foil. Place in the refrigerator to cool for half an hour before baking.

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Bake the covered apples for about 20 minutes before removing the foil and continuing to bake until the pastry is puffed up and golden, about 20 minutes longer.

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Gosh darn it, the puff pastry idea may have been out, but those leaves were too cute not to include in my students’ version!

The flaky, crumbly, sweet and gooey qualities of these baked apples were incredible! Almost like a personal-sized apple pie, I highly recommend this recipe.

So, my practice apples turned out great but weren’t going to work for my students. You may be wondering what they did during our baking lesson today.

Well, let me give you a sneak peak into our school kitchen. I’d love to share the photos of these beamingly proud kids, but can’t, so their busy little hands will have to do.

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After watching my “demonstration,” the kids cut, cored, stuffed and decorated their apples on their own.

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When he saw my fully wrapped apple the previous day, a little boy said with amazement, “Wow, Ms. Brady, that looks like a professional cook! You should go on TV!”

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Creating their own “professional cook’s” pastry leaves was a highlight of the activity for many of the kids.

Who knows, maybe I’ll be watching them on Food Network one day!

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They were all so very proud of their apples.  PA121863

Two of our baking dishes, ready for the oven!

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Sadly, my battery died before capturing the final product, but I assure you, the apples were stunning… and tasted as good as they looked!

Baked Apples with Puff Pastry Leaves

If 8 year olds can make this dish, so can you!

Ingredients

1 tart apple

1 heaping teaspoon raisins

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 dash nutmeg and cinnamon

1/2 Tablespoon butter

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Puff pastry

1 egg + 1 Tablespoon water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC.
  2. Cut off the top of the apple, being sure to keep the stem intact.
  3. Carefully remove the core of the apple. Take care not to cut all the way through the bottom.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the raisins, brown sugar, nutmeg and dash of cinnamon.
  5. Stuff this mixture into the hollow of the apple, again, be sure not to push the stuffing through the bottom!
  6. Top the stuffing with the butter.
  7. Place the apple in a baking dish and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  8. Replace the top of the apple.
  9. Using a sharp knife, cut two leaf shapes from the puff pastry. Add the veins of the leaves by gently pressing half-way into the pastry with the back of a knife.
  10. Next, place the leaves on the apple.
  11. Whisk together the egg and water to create an egg wash. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the pastry with the egg wash.
  12. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving room between the foil and pastry.
  13. Bake, covered, for 25 minutes.
  14. Remove the foil and continue to bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the pastry has puffed and is golden brown.
  15. Cool before serving.

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I was so proud of the way these kids worked today. Even when two other teachers came into the kitchen and started making a racket, my students were so focused in apple baking mode that they didn’t even look up. I find this photo so funny!

If you’re a parent, I beg you, get in the kitchen and get to cookin’ with your kids. You will both leave the kitchen with happy hearts, full tummies and wonderful memories!

Happy Fall, Y’all!

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This Sunday, my friend Matt’s son, Oskar, celebrated his 3rd birthday.

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After two weeks of rain, the skies finally cleared and the sun shone down on the park picnic.

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It was a beautiful day, full of happy children, good food and time spent with friends.

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Earlier this week I saw an adorable cookie monster cupcake idea on a new-to-me blog called applejacks. A few days later, Annie of Annie’s Eats wrote about the Sesame Street themed birthday party she threw for her son.

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Inspired by both bloggers, I combined their ideas and created my own version of Sesame Street Cupcakes.

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They were a hit, even with the Elmo-loving birthday boy!

Although these adorable cupcakes ended happily, they began with a very sad state of affairs.

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My very first cupcake flop.

Although the recipe for funfetti cupcakes came from a website that I’ve used lots of times, for some reason, these cupcakes just didn’t work for me.

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So, I stuck with what I know and made the perfect vegan vanilla cupcakes.

Light, fluffy, vanilla deliciousness!

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I find it a bit ironic that the ‘traditional’ recipe was a disaster but the untraditional recipe worked like a charm.

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Earlier in the week, I prepared the eyes and colored coconut flakes.

The eyes were made by melting white chocolate, placing spoonfuls onto parchment paper, then sticking a chocolate chip in the middle of each dollop.

The eyes took several hours to completely set so making them ahead is a good idea.

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I’ve always been a bit partial towards died coconut flakes.

When I was young, my mom always made a 3D Easter basket scene by shaping rice crispy treats and coating them in beautiful Easter colored coconut.

I found a powdered food dye that created really vibrant colors.

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For the frosting, I stuck with my vegan vanilla buttercream frosting, minus the vegan part… I only had real butter left.

So I guess this was straight up vanilla buttercream then.

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I generously frosted the cupcakes…

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then placed them upside down in the coconut flakes.

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After a few rolls in the coconut flakes, the fuzzy ‘fur’ was stuck and ready to go.

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Although Annie’s cupcakes were adorable with their skillfully piped frosting fur, I love the way the coconut looks so fuzzy and puppet-like.

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In addition to the chocolate eyes, I used gummy treats (which are a cinch to cut,) chocolate chip cookies, oreo cookies and nutella to decorate the cupcake characters.

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Introducing the Sesame Street Characters!

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Cookie Monster (my favorite)

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Big Bird

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Oscar the Grouch

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Elmo

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Although Big Bird looks a bit out of proportioned and fearful for his life, I’m really happy with how the cupcakes turned out.

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They made everyone at the party smile.

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Well, everyone except Big Bird that is.

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Tomorrow the Room Mums from my class are throwing a farewell party for the four children who are leaving our school at the end of the year.

One of the hardest parts about working in an international school is that families come and go quite easily. Parents are relocated for work and the kids are off to new lands. Although this is exciting and allows for so many wonderful learning opportunities, it’s also a bit sad.

Where I grew up, people rarely moved. The class roster was almost identical for 13 years.I graduated high school with almost all the same people that I went to kindergarten with. 

My high school English teacher even taught my father.

Saying goodbye to children is really hard for me. I care so much for each and every child in my class, and the thought that I will probably never see them again breaks my heart.

 So, to make the farewells more bearable, we’re throwing a party.

To make the farewells more sweet, I baked cupcakes.

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Healthy Vegan Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

Slightly adapted from: Confessions of a Bake-a-Holic

Ingredients

4 cups flour

2 2/3 cups raw sugar

1 1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 Tablespoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup oil

1/4 cup apple sauce

3 cups hot water

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 very ripe bananas, mashed

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line or oil a muffin tin.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, soda and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, combine oil, apple sauce, hot water and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Mix just to combine. Add bananas.
  4. Pour batter into prepared muffin tin. Bake for about 20 minutes, until a tester inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in the refrigerator. Before serving, dust with powdered sugar.

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During the month of May, my CSA box came bearing rhubarb two times.

Each time, I squealed with joy.

I love the sweet and tangy taste of rhubarb.

Luckily, the May newsletter from Biolandgärtnerei Hüsgen had a whole section on rhubarb. They wrote about the rhubarb fields and how the 1,000 rhubarb plants are cared for and harvested. They also provided three new recipes.

The recipe that really caught my eye was Rhubarb Tiramisu.

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Rhubarb Tiramisu

from Biolandgärtnerei Hüsgen

Ingredients

500 grams rhubarb

100 grams sugar

1 Tablespoon butter

250 grams quark

250 grams mascarpone

1 orange

1-2 Tablespoons powdered sugar

1 package Tiramisu biscuits

Method

  1. Combine the rhubarb, sugar and butter in a saucepan and cook over medium low heat until the rhubarb is a very soft compote. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  2. In another bowl, combine the quark and mascarpone with the juice of the orange. Whisk until smooth and shiny. Whisk in the powdered sugar to taste.
  3. In a medium-sized serving dish, create layers starting with the biscuits then 1/2 of the mascarpone mixture, top that with the cooled rhubarb compote and the remaining mascarpone mixture. Garnish the dish with the zest of an orange.
  4. Cool the tiramisu for at least 3 hours before serving.

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Chocolate and amaretto go so well together.

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Rich, dark, silky chocolate and sweet, smooth amaretto.

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I adapted this cupcake recipe and this frosting recipe to achieve this flavorful but not-too-boozy recipe.

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Vegan Chocolate Amaretto Cupcakes

Makes 18 cupcakes

Ingredients

3/4 cup non-dairy milk

1/4 cup amaretto (plus more for dipping)

1 cup natural cane sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp pure almond extract (optional, but awesome)

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a cupcake pan with cupcake liners. With an electric mixer, beat together the following ingredients in a large bowl: non-dairy milk, amaretto, oil, sugar, apple cider vinegar, vanilla, and almond extract. Beat on medium speed for a minute or two.
2. Now sift in the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix well, until the clumps are gone.
3. Spoon the batter into prepared cupcake pan, about two-thirds full for each. Bake for about 22 minutes at 350F, or until the cupcake slowly springs back when pressed with a finger. Allow to completely cool before dipping the cupcake tops into a small bowl of amaretto and frosting.

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For a bit more boozy cupcakes, dip the cooked and cooled cupcake tops in a little bit of amaretto before frosting.

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Vegan Chocolate Amaretto Frosting

Makes enough frosting to top 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

1 cup vegan margarine, room temperature

1/4 cup amaretto

4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 cup coco powder

1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch, sifted

1/2 teaspoon salt

almond slivers to garnish

Method

  1. Beat the margarine using an electric mixer until fluffy.

  2. Add the sugar, cornstarch and salt then beat for 3 minutes more.

  3. Pour in the amaretto then beat for another 5 minutes or until the frosting is light and fluffy.

  4. Pipe or spread the frosting on to your cakes as desired.

Perfect for birthdays, picnics and BBQs.P5277181

 

I hope everyone back home has had a great Memorial Day. I spent the morning at school then went out to lunch along the Rhine with a group of my girl friends. A lovely way to spend a hot, late spring day!

Tonight I’m going to a bar called Spleen to listen to Andrew Vladeck, a singer and songwriter from New York who’s stopping in Bonn on his European tour.

Should be a good night, I’ll tell you more tomorrow!

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Over the last few weeks, strawberries have burst into season in Germany.

The tiny fruit stand down the road has once again set-up-shop, ready to share the bounty of their berries.

As I approached the stand last week, the smell of strawberries was so pungent, I felt like I was walking through the fields.

In honor of the fresh spring strawberries and their very compatible  blueberry friends, I made a delicious vegan tart.

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The crust was a simple combination of almond meal, maple syrup, coconut oil, salt and almond extract.

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After heating the maple syrup, coconut oil, and salt together over medium-low heat, I added the almond extract then poured the warm mixture over the almond meal.

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Simply fold the mixture until well incorporated then press into an oiled tart pan. P5076197

This crust is baked for 15 minutes before adding the filling.

Speaking of the filling…

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The filling ingredients are apple juice (I used Weber,) cornstarch, maple syrup, lemon juice, almond extract, lemon zest, salt, blueberries and strawberries.

P5076193Half of the apple juice is whisked together with the cornstarch then set aside.

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The mixture will look quite milky.

From here on out, I didn’t take any pictures, but the next step is to cook together the remaining apple juice and zest, maple syrup, lemon juice, almond extract and salt until it simmers.

After that, stir in half of the berries and cook until they release their juices before reducing the heat and adding the cornstarch mixer while continuing to whisk.

Once the mixture is thick, fold in the remaining berries and place the mixture in the prepared crust. Spread evenly, cover and refrigerate until set.P5076204

Delicious, fresh and spring-like!

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Mixed Berry Tart

Adapted from Clean Start by Terry Walters

Crust

2 cups almond meal

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

1 Tablespoon coconut oil

pinch of sea salt

1 teaspoon almond extract

Filling

1 cup apple juice

2 and 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

zest of 1 lemon

pinch of sea salt

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup fresh strawberries

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F and lightly oil a 9-inch tart pan with coconut oil.
  2. To prepare the crust, combine maple syrup, coconut oil and salt in a small skillet and heat over medium-low hear, whisking continuously until the oil is melted. Remove from heat and whisk in the almond extract.
  3. Place the almond meal in a large bowl and pour the syrup mixture over top, folding to incorporate the ingredients.
  4. Press the dough into the prepared tart pan and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove crust from the oven and press down any bubbly areas of the crust. Cool the crust on a wire rack.
  5. To prepare the filling, whisk together 1/2 cup apple juice and the cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine the remaining 1/2 cup apple juice with the maple syrup, lemon juice and zest, almond extract and salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer then add 1/2 a cup of both the strawberries and blueberries. Stir the mixture until the berries release their liquid.
  6. Reduce the heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Continue to whisk until the liquid thickens up. Remove from the heat and gently fold in the remaining berries.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared crust, cover and refrigerate until the filling is set, at least 1 hour.

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Tomorrow is my friend Rachel’s birthday.

Rachel comes from New Zealand and one time, a long time ago, she mentioned that she really misses pavlova.

I didn’t know what pavlova was.

My kind friend informed me that pavlova is similar to a meringue and that it is always topped with fruit and whipped cream.

Filed away but not forgotten, I knew that Rachel’s next birthday treat would be pavlova… I just had to figure out how to make it first.

Luckily, a few websites guided the way, and I was able to put my own spin on a classic, New Zealand tradition.

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Although this treat is a bit time consuming, there isn’t much hands-on labor involved.

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The ingredients are quite simple. From a few household handy food items, something great can be formed.

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As a meringue-based dessert, egg whites are the star. I used organic, free range eggs.

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Pavlova is always topped with fruit. Since strawberries are in season right now, they made the most logical choice.

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Being my mother’s child, I put my own twist on the classic by including dark mint chocolate in the recipe.

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First up, mix the vanilla and white wine vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.

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In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar then set aside.

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Using a kitchen scale, measure 6 oz of egg whites; about 5-6 eggs.

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Add a pinch of salt to the egg whites and begin to beat over low speed with a hand-held mixer.

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P5106288P5106291   Gradually increase the beater speed to medium and beat the egg whites for a few minutes.

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Once the bubbles become very small and uniform in size and the egg whites form soft peaks, you’re ready for the next step.

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With the beaters running on medium speed, gradually add the sugar mixture to the eggs.

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Keep beating the eggs over medium-high speed until all sugar is well combined and absorbed.

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After a couple minutes of further beating, your meringue will resemble the photo above.

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Next, add the vanilla/ vinegar mixture and beat for another 2-3 minutes.

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The meringue will really start to thicken.

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Do you see a heart or two swans?

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Next up, melt your dark mint chocolate in a double boiler (or microwave) and drizzle a couple spoonfuls over the meringue.

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Take a large spoon and scoop out a heap of chocolate-marbled meringue.

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Plop and scrape the mound onto a prepared baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

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Using the back of the spoon, make a well in the mount to hold the fruit later on.

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Continue to make meringue mounds, adding more chocolate drizzle with each new layer of meringue.

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You’ll end up with some really cool marbled designs.

Place the meringues in the preheated oven then immediately turn down the temp. These will bake for about an hour. While they’re in the oven, move on to whipping the cream and making the strawberry sauce.

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To prepare the strawberry sauce, simply place 1/2 pound of cleaned and de-greened strawberries in a blender with the powdered sugar then blend.

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Voile!

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You will know the meringues are cooked when the shell is hard to the touch. Turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool in the oven. I’ve read that it’s best to allow them to sit and firm-up overnight before moving them.

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This may be advisable as several of my meringues cracked and crumbled when I took them, only slightly cooled, out of the oven.

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For quality control purposes, I set aside the ugly, crumbling duckling for Sebastian and me.

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As you can see, the shell is crisp but delicate…

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but the inside is soft and spongy like a marshmallow.

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To assemble, place a pavlova meringue on a clean plate, place freshly cut strawberries in the well, top with whipped cream and drizzle with the strawberry sauce.

Light, fresh, sweet and delicate.

I hope this birthday treat is a taste of home for my friend.

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Chocolate Marbled Pavlova with Strawberries

Adapted from Shuna Fish Lydon at simplerecipes.com

INGREDIENTS

Meringue:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces, about 6) large egg whites, room temperature
  • Pinch salt
  • 50 grams dark mint chocolate

Topping:

  • 1 lb fresh strawberries
  • 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • Whipped Cream for topping
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla sugar
METHOD
  1. Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Pour the vanilla and vinegar into a small bowl and set aside. In another small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and the sugar.
  3. In a large, impeccably clean bowl, whip the egg whites and salt using a hand mixer set to low speed. Incrementally increase the speed of the mixer to medium speed until soft peaks start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, this will take approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar. Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy and stiff peaks form when the beaters are lifted, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Dribble a few spoonfuls of the melted chocolate over the meringue mixture.
  6. Scoop large spoonfuls of the swirled meringue onto the prepared baking sheet and with the back of a spoon, create an indentation in the middle of each mound. Keep dribbling more chocolate into the bowl as a new layer of meringue emerges.
  7. Place baking sheet in the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F (120°C). Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside, and white — not tan-colored or cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around.
  8. Once fully baked, turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool and harden in the oven over night. Gently lift the meringues from the baking sheet. These will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature, or individually wrapped, for up to a week in a non-humid house.
  9. While the meringues are cooling, make the strawberry sauce by placing half the strawberries and the powdered sugar into a blender and whizzing until smooth.
  10. Whip the cream and vanilla sugar until soft using a hand mixer in a very cold bowl.
  11. To serve, place a meringue on a plate and dollop a spoonful of cream over the top. Scatter over a handful of sliced strawberries and then pour over the strawberry sauce. Now enjoy!

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