Tag Archives: dessert

Hatch green chiles in dessert! Peach and Hatch Chile Cobbler

Hatch green chiles in dessert! Peach and Hatch Chile Cobbler

Stubbs Hatch Peach Cobbler 1text

It’s finally Hatch chile season again here in Texas and the Southwest. These chilies are probably more popular in this state than in their home state of New Mexico, seeing as they’re used in just about every edible form imaginable in restaurants and grocery stores during the late summertime.

The only food category that’s usually lacking in these smoky, spicy chilies is dessert. I’m a huge proponent of using items that are typically attributed to savory dishes in sweets, so I thought, “why not use Hatch chilies in dessert form?” I chose another fabulous seasonal piece of produce to accompany these chilies in my creation: peaches. Their honeyed sweetness perfectly complements the spicy and slightly tangy flavor of the chilies, especially when they’re baked up with a simple cake base like a Southern cobbler. To further enhance the Hatch chile taste, I also used a dash of Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q’s Green Chile Marinade. The Hatch chilies, pineapple and lime juices, and brown sugar in the marinade add a sweet and tangy flavor that takes this cobbler to the next level of deliciousness.

Try out this sweet, savory, and smoky peach and hatch chile cobbler for dessert tonight or when entertaining a crowd this summer. It’s incredibly easy to whip up and is great served warm, topped with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Check out the recipe on Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q’s website!

Ch-ch-ch-chia! Cherry-Coconut Chia Seed Pudding with Pistachios

Ch-ch-ch-chia! Cherry-Coconut Chia Seed Pudding with Pistachios

Chia Pudding 1 sm

Remember that animal-shaped terracotta pottery from the ’80s that you had to smear wet seeds on which would later sprout “hair” (grass)? Who knew that you could, A. actually eat those slimy seeds, and B. over 20 years later they’d be revealed as a healthy addition to your diet? Yep, I’m referring to the Chia Pet and those little chia seeds that adorned them.

Formally known as Salvia hispanica, the flowering chia plant is native to Mexico. Its seeds have been cultivated for food since the age of the Aztecs, being as important a crop to them as maize (corn). When soaked in a liquid, chia seeds puff up — absorbing about 12 times their weight — and form a gelatinous outer shell (chia “gel”). Aztec warriors would use them as a portable food staple during battles, supposedly being able to be sustained for a whole day after consuming just one tablespoon of chia gel.

What is it about the chia seed that’s got the health food community going ga-ga for them, you ask? They’ve got a ton of nutrients packed into their tiny shells: the USDA claims that one ounce of chia seeds contains 9 grams of fat, 11 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of protein, and provide 18% of the recommended daily intake of calcium. They’re chock full of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids (read: the good fats), too.
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Pumpkin-Gingersnap Trifles combine the classic flavors of pumpkin pie in a glass

Pumpkin-Gingersnap Trifles combine the classic flavors of pumpkin pie in a glass

Pumpkin Parfait text

Aside from shopping for gifts, food — both making and consuming — seems to be most folks’ main concern when planning for said holidays.

The thought of preparing a large feast or nibbles for a large fête can be quite daunting, and for most people, the dessert course often seems to be where home cooks are either spending hours preparing or they’re skipping the hassle by just purchasing something from the grocery store. Not to sound like Rachael Ray or Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) from The Matrix, but what if I told you that you could whip up a mouthwatering dessert in thirty minutes or less and be able to brag that you made it all from scratch?

My inspiration for the following recipe came when I needed to whip up a quick dessert, but didn’t have enough time (or motivation) to bake a whole pumpkin pie. These Pumpkin-Gingersnap Trifles incorporate the flavors of classic pumpkin pie — spiced pumpkin filling, whipped cream, gingersnap cookie “crust” — but take only about a third of the time to make from start to finish. The best part about the dish is that you can make them as individual servings or in one big dish to share.

So if you’re strapped for time this holiday season and/or baking challenged, try out this quick and easy pumpkin treat which is sure to impress all of your guests.
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Taste the tropics in this piña colada-inspired sundae

Taste the tropics in this piña colada-inspired sundae
Pineapple Sundae logo

My current muse for a sweet sundae recipe is the tropical piña colada drink, from which I borrowed the flavors of pineapple, coconut and rum.

With warm, sweltering weather on our doorstep, I get a hankering for cool desserts like ice cream sundaes. My current muse for a sweet sundae recipe is the tropical piña colada drink, from which I borrowed the flavors of pineapple, coconut and rum (because, as is common with most of my recipes, there’s booze involved in one form or another).

In my opinion, there’s definitely a science to building the perfect sundae and every one should have these four basic elements: ice cream (which is a given), sauce, crunchy stuff, and “other stuff”.

Vanilla was my go-to the ice cream for this piña colada-inspired sundae. While I usually consider vanilla a rather boring and unadventurous choice by itself, it does serve as a wonderful canvas for a sundae where there are many other strong flavors going on. I mean, what doesn’t go with vanilla?

Next up: sauce. A sweet sauce transforms a simple bowl of ice cream a sundae. I took the rum element of the piña colada and incorporated it into a quick and easy-to-make caramel sauce. It may sound fancy and a bit daunting to some, but it is simply made up of butter, brown sugar, and rum. Heat the ingredients up together (with a few steps in between) and — voila! — it becomes a caramel rum sauce fit for just about any dessert.

To cover the “other stuff” on the sundae checklist, I chose to use fruit — my fruit of choice being pineapple — and toasted coconut. Fresh pineapple is wonderful by itself, but when roasted it becomes even more sweet and ambrosial. By simply tossing pineapple in brown sugar the exterior will caramelize, turning to a golden-brown color, taking the flavor to heavenly heights. Toasted, unsweetened coconut flakes add a final pop of flavor and tie the whole dish together to achieve the piña colada essence.

And last but not least: the crunchy stuff. There are no crunchy bits in a piña colada, but a sundae simply must have something crunchy on top — the obvious choice being nuts. I decided to use toasted pistachios for some crunch and a pop of color, but cashews or macadamia nuts would also play well with the other flavors in this dessert.

For a sweet taste of the tropics, have a go at the recipe below. I’ve also listed some dairy-free/vegan substitutions for those with special diets so that they, too, can enjoy this treat.
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Frosted Flakes: Citrus Champagne Granita

Frosted Flakes: Citrus Champagne Granita

Granita 1_logo

Need a refreshing treat for the warmer days to come? Go with a granita. Granita is a semi-frozen, Sicilian specialty that is served both as dessert and as a palate cleanser between meal courses. Essentially, is is made up of sugar, water, flavorings and, in this case, booze, and is very similar to Italian Ice.

Granita one of my go-to desserts because it’s incredibly easy to make and requires no special equipment to prepare. A baking dish, a fork and a freezer — that’s it. Seriously, this recipe is hard to screw up. Granita does require a few hours to prepare, but your freezer does most of the work. I’ll usually prepare this the night before I serve it so that it’s icy, but not too hardened from being in the freezer for more than a day.

As for flavoring it, you can use just about any liquid as the base: fruit and citrus juices, alcohol (in moderation), coconut milk, zest, herbs, etc. If you can dream it up, then you can probably mix and freeze it. The mix must be sweetened with a liquid sweetener, so a simple syrup (sugar dissolved in an equal amount of water; see recipe below) is most often seen used to make this, as well as honey and agave nectar.

For this iteration, I flavored my granita with grapefruit, lemon and bubbly. Even though I call this a “Champagne” granita, you can certainly use cheap sparkling wine. Keep in mind that if you use a sweeter sparkling wine (like Asti), you’ll probably want to add less simple syrup. Also, be sure that your juice ratio is greater than the amount of wine and sugar combined. Alcohol and sugar inhibits some of the freezing process, so a mixture with too much of either will result in a watery, slushier granita. If you opt for hard liquor, don’t use more than a few ounces.

So when the mercury starts to rise, whip up this cold Italian treat to impress your guests (or to keep all to yourself).
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Très délicieux: Strawberry Napoleons with vanilla pastry cream and strawberry-thyme jam

Très délicieux: Strawberry Napoleons with vanilla pastry cream and strawberry-thyme jam

As General Napoleon Bonaparte once stated, “If you want a thing done well, do it yourself,” so the next time you’re entertaining and have to make dessert, in the don’t half-ass it by buying a cake at the supermarket. Get in the kitchen and express your culinary flair with a homemade treat like these strawberry Napoleons (no short Frenchmen needed). This take on the traditional French dessert (a.k.a.: mille-feuille) is made up of layers of flaky puff pastry smothered with vanilla pastry cream and strawberry-thyme jam, topped with fresh strawberries and powdered sugar. I promise you don’t need to be a trained pastry chef to pull this off.

The homemade jam I used was infused with fresh thyme — a lovely sweet-savory combination — but feel free to use store bought instead. (Tip: Infuse store bought jam with thyme by heating both together with a little water in a pot over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, then let cool to room temperature.) As for the vanilla pastry cream (a cooked custard), you can have the bragging rights by making it yourself, but if you’re in a pinch, simply use vanilla pudding in its place.

I urge you to go forth and conquer this dish for a special occasion (or any dol’ ay), and remember: it won’t be as difficult as the Battle of Waterloo — it’s just dessert.
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Raw Ambition: Fudgy Raw Brownie Bites

Raw Ambition: Fudgy Raw Brownie Bites

What would you say if I told you that these fudgy gems (see photo) were not only utterly delicious but also incredibly good for you? They’re also quick and easy to prepare, plus there’s no heat involved in their creation — they’re raw!

These brownie bites are chock-full of chocolatey goodness, and bonus: they’re gluten-free, vegan and filled with beneficial vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and protein — thanks to superfoods like nuts, dates, raw cacao and coconut.

I know some of you might be wondering how can I give you a dish swimming in cream and cheese one week and then turn around and offer a recipe for what some would consider “earthy, crunchy hippie food” the next. It’s because life is about balance. And just because you have to get healthy foods into your diet doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor.

To further sell you on these, let’s break down the health benefits in the ingredients: Medjool dates have a rich flavor and act as both a natural sweetener and a binder for these brownies. They’re used in many raw desserts and are a great replacement for sugar or honey, plus they have high levels of potassium, magnesium, copper and manganese, and are a great source of fiber. Nuts — in this case pecans — are ground up and serve as the “flour” for the brownies. Nuts contain both protein and contain healthy unsaturated fats and omega-6 fatty acids (particularly pecans and walnuts), which aid in the prevention of vascular diseases.

Powdered raw cacao is the pure, ground form of the “meat” of the cacao bean, also known as the “nib.” This is the raw form of chocolate before it has been mashed into a paste and melted down. Not only does cacao contain a natural chemical which acts as an aphrodisiac (aka: theobromine), it also has more antioxidant flavonoids (cancer and cardiovascular disease fighters) than any other food, and has up to four times more antioxidants than green tea. As for the coconut, it is rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats.

If I’ve sold you on these brownies’ salubrious benefits (or haven’t scared you off with all this healthy talk), be sure to give them a try. You’ll wonder why you ever wasted the empty calories on those standard baked ones.
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It’s the bomb: Get a sweet buzz from this Chocolate “Bomb” Stout Float

It’s the bomb: Get a sweet buzz from this Chocolate “Bomb” Stout Float

Believe it or not, beer and chocolate make a great pair. Better yet, beer and chocolate ice cream make an amazing pair. The inspiration for this boozy treat came from a drool-worthy photo of a similar recipe in Bon Appetit of a tall glass oozing over with ice cream, stout and chocolate syrup. But never being able to follow a recipe, I decided to put my own spin on it. Thus the Chocolate “Bomb” Stout Float was born.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with the libation often knocked back at (American) Irish pubs, the “Irish Car Bomb” — the drink and its inappropriate name being an American invention, of course. It’s served as a glass of Guinness draft and a separate shot glass filled with Irish whiskey and Bailey’s Irish Cream. The drinker drops the shot glass into the beer and quickly guzzles it down until the drink is gone — and before the Bailey’s curdles.

Then it hit me: Guinness plus chocolate ice cream plus Irish whiskey could potentially equal something awesome. And sure enough, this float is great when first served but gets even better when the ice cream melts and mixes with the roasty stout, the toasty whiskey and the rich chocolate sauce.

If Guinness is too bitter for your tastes, I recommend using Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout (though watch out for the 10% ABV) or any stout or porter brew with notes of chocolate and/or espresso. As for the ice cream, I prefer using a rich, chocolatey one, like Blue Bell’s Dutch Cocoa, but you could also experiment with coffee ice cream as well as it would mingle well with the flavors in the beer.

As for the liquor, I’d advise a sweeter whiskey, like an Irish style, over a smoky or peaty-flavored one. You could also use bourbon, espresso liqueur (Patron XO is amazing in this) or blackberry brandy for a take on the traditional “Guinness and Black” drink.
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Move over Godiva!: Easy and decadent homemade Chocolate-Rum Truffles

Move over Godiva!: Easy and decadent homemade Chocolate-Rum Truffles

Forget buying overpriced chocolates and goodies for your sweetie or friends this Valentine’s Day. Why not give them a more personal way of saying “You’re Special” by making them a sweet gift yourself? These rich and decadent chocolate truffles are sure to please any chocolate lover.

Believe it or not, chocolate truffles are not difficult to make. I decided to take on the challenge for the sake of this post and prove that it can be easily accomplished (you’re talking to Miss Anti-Pastry, remember?). So what if they don’t look as perfect as those expensive Godiva ones? They taste amazing and they’ve got a whole lot more love in them than anything you could buy in the store.

For this recipe, I decided to flavor mine with dark rum. I suggest using good quality chocolate (for taste) and chocolate chips in a bag will suffice just as well (go for Ghirardelli or other fancy brand, if you do). Indulge, enjoy, and have a happy Valentines Day!
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Freakin’ adorable: Apple-pecan-bourbon hand pies

Freakin’ adorable: Apple-pecan-bourbon hand pies

Autumn and winter are the only times of the year when you’ll catch me baking. I’ve been known to over-bake, over-whisk and over-mix many a dessert, and I have little to no patience for exactly measuring out ingredients. But the chillier months surrounding the holidays always get me in the mood to bake cookies and pies utilizing the bounty of fruits and spices available at this time of year.

A self-proclaimed “anti-pastry chef,” when I do take on the oven and create sweets I opt for simple baking recipes. I weaned myself off boxed mixes (it’s just plain cheating), but I’m still a fan of pre-made pie crusts and dough found in the freezer aisle at the grocery store. They’re very versatile, and defrosting them makes a smaller mess than making it from scratch — though more power to you if you’re into that.

My newest baked concoction (created with the help of a friend) is a play on the traditional apple pie that many folks enjoy during the holidays. These mini apple-pecan hand pies are a cinch to throw together and a great (and easier) alternative to making one huge pie.

The hand pie recipe uses puff pastry dough — often used in turnover pastries, strudel and for covering Beef Wellington — which can be found in your grocer’s freezer and creates a light, flaky crust when baked. The apple filling is sautéed in a pan first for a softer filling, but feel free to leave your apples raw if you want a crunchier texture. Just remember: If you don’t cook your apple filling first, you can’t pour bourbon in it and set it on fire (aka: flambéing) — which is the best part about making these.

As for apples, take your pick and go with your taste preference. I love the sweet taste of Galas and Comice apples, so that’s what I used in this recipe. For a tangier filling, opt for Granny Smiths.

Feel free to get creative with this recipe, and play with different spices, use an alternate filling — pears, chocolate, berries — or add mix-ins to your crust, like grated sharp cheddar, ground spices and nuts.
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