Peach Sorbet

Posted by alannak on Jun 11 2011 | Dessert

Every summer as I delve into peaches, nectarines, cherries and plums, Alex gives me puppy eyes and reminds me of his “allergy” to stone fruits. I put “allergy” in quotation marks because really he’s fine–he just gets itchy mouth.

Today, we decided to whip up a delicious peach sorbet so that he could experience the sunny, sweetness of the fruit without the mouth itch that comes from eating it whole, with skin. All it took was 4 ingredients and a few hours to produce what tasted exactly like a fresh peach, only it creamy, frozen form.

This sorbet is pretty tart, so feel free to add a touch of sugar if you like. It’s also a great recipe for adding in other summery flavors, like mint or ginger if you have them around.

1/2 cup water
3 tbsp sugar
4 ripe peaches, blanched, peeled, and sliced
juice of 1 lemon

Heat sugar and water together until it comes to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool. Combine simple syrup (sugar and water mixture), peaches, and lemon juice in a blender and blend until smooth. Freeze according to machine instructions. NOTE: You can refrigerate the liquid before putting it the machine, but it may brown slightly.


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Double Chocolate Layer Cake, Mint Chocolate Chip Oreo Ice Cream Cake

Posted by alannak on Feb 28 2010 | Dessert, Meal Plans

Two weeks, and two unique and delicious cakes.

One ridiculously delicious cake, which we finished today, we’d been meaning to bake for precisely 1 year and 360 days–since Editor-in-Chief Tanya Steel told me in an interview that it is among her favorite recipes on the site.

The other ridiculously delicious cake, which we concocted last weekend, we very proudly invented.

Let’s begin with the more recent.  This Double Chocolate Layer Cake has over 1350 reviews on Epicurious, and nearly all of them are raving.  Understandably, as this cake is soft, chewy, chocolately, satiny, rich, spongy, dense, and completely delightful.  The chocolate ganache frosting provides a smooth and glossy finish that’s makes the cake just the right amount indulgent.  I’m reposting the recipe below with our very, very minor tweaks.

3 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee (we used hazelnut, and recommend that or a similar flavor)
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

1 pound semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease pans, line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.  Combine chocolate and hot coffee in a bowl, and stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

In a large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl, use an electric mixer beat eggs for about 5 minutes until thickened slightly and lemon colored. Slowly beat in oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate until combined. Add sugar mixture slowly and beat on medium speed until just combined (do not overbeat). Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a toothpick comes out clean, about an hour. Cool layers completely in pans on racks (we cooled them overnight) before frosting.

To make the frosting bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil in a saucepan over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth. Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool until spreadable, or refrigerate covered and bring to room temperature before spreading

Spread frosting between cake layers and over top and sides, serve and enjoy!


Now for the second–the Mint Chocolate Chip Oreo Ice Cream Cake.  This is a recipe that we invented for my cousin’s birthday last week, we’re so smug that we’ll tell you how freakishly delicious it was until your ears get toxic epidermal necrolysis and fall off kind of (but not really) like in Alex’s dermatology class slides (p.s. don’t Google that).  Yum!

What I love second most about this cake, after its eyes-roll-t0-the-back-of-your-head sweet creaminess, is the fact that the layers look the same, but are in fact different: fresh mint chocolate ice cream looks just like frozen whipped topping with Oreo cookie crumble.  As a result, the cake looks stunning cohesive, but still features delicious and complementary layers.

If you are going to make this cake and you have an ice cream machine available, we highly recommend making fresh mint ice cream.  We based ours off a recipe from the amazing Simply Recipes blog, and we absolutely swooned over the mojito-like flavor of the ice cream.  Here is the recipe on the blog (we doubled it for our purposes), and our entire cake recipe is posted below (note: it can take several days to assemble, so plan accordingly!).

(mint chocolate chip ice cream from Simply Recipes)
6 cups of fresh mint leaves (not stems), rinsed, drained, packed
2 cup milk
4 cups heavy cream (divided, 2 cups and 2 cups)
1 1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
12 egg yolks
12 oz.  dark chocolate, very finely chopped

(Oreo cookie crumble)
1 box Oreos
1/2 stick butter, melted

(whipped topping)
10 oreos
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp sugar

Make ice cream.  Heat mint leaves, 1 cup milk, and 1 cup cream in heavy saucepan until steaming.  Then remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 30 minutes. While the mixture is steaming, place the remaining 2 cups of cream in a bowl in an ice bath and set aside.  Reheat the mixture until steaming, remove from heat and let stand for 15 more minutes.  Strain the mixture into a bowl (pressing on leaves), and return it to the saucepan. Add sugar and salt to the mixture. Heat until just steaming again, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat.  Whisk the egg yolks in a medium sized bowl. Slowly pour the heated milk cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not cook, then scrape the mixture back into the saucepan.  Stir the mixture over medium heat with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to coat the spoon (about 10 minutes).  Pour this mixture through a strainer into the cold cream that you set aside.  Chill thoroughly (in an ice bath or overnight in the refrigerator), divide mixture in half, and cook in according to ice cream machine instructions in two batches.

Once your ice cream is made and you are ready to start assembling the cake, make the cookie crumble.  In a large bowl, smash 1 box Oreos into coarse crumble.  Add melted butter, and stir to combine.  Divide cookie crumble in half.

Spread half of cookie crumble in the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan.  Press crumble down pat with a spatula.  Add half of the ice cream, slightly softened, and freeze until hardened (several hours).  Add second layer of cookie crumble, followed by second half of the the ice cream, softened, and freeze again until hardened (several hours).

To make whipped topping, beat together cream and sugar until soft peaks form.  Crush the remaining 10 oreos, and gently fold them into the whipped cream.  Spread whipped topping on top of the cake, and freeze again for several more hours until the topping is also hard.  Let stand for about 15 minutes before serving, and enjoy!


Finally, finally, finally, just because we are actually posting recipes, it doesn’t mean I will neglect my promise of posting our weekly menu as well.  Here’s what’s up this week:

Paprika-roasted chicken
Baked Japanese yams

Spinach salad with roasted portobello mushrooms, goat cheese, and toasted walnuts with a lemon vinaigrette

Salmon with soy ginger sauce over soba noodle salad (we are making our own soy ginger sauce) from Whole Foods

Chicken tortilla soup from Serious Eats

And phewf, that’s all folks.


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Red Velvet Cupcakes and Menu Planning

Posted by alannak on Feb 15 2010 | Dessert, Meal Plans

So clearly, we’re not great at posting recipes during the winter.

I’ve realized that this is because we end up making most of our food when it is dark outside, and we really dislike posting pictures taken in artificial light.

In light of this realization, I’ve decided that until the days stretch out a bit, I’ll try to post our weekly menus.  We began menu planning at the beginning of this school year, and it has easily doubled (maybe even tripled) our eating/cooking happiness.  I pick meals for the week on Saturday, Alex makes the grocery list, and we shop together for the week’s ingredients on Sunday mornings.  So far, we’ve been eating amazing meals without the stress of having to shop and throw them together at the last minute.

Here’s this week’s meal plan:
Quick and Easy Cioppino

Spinach and Lentil Soup from Padma Lakshmi’s “Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet

Salmon with Spinach, Olives and Golden Raisins and Couscous

Salad with Tofu, Broccoli, and Miso-Tahni Dressing

Banh Mi

Now that I’ve said we never post during the winter, here are some beautiful Red Velvet cupcakes that we made today in the light of day/dusk.  Hence, the lovely photographs.  They’re not for Valentine’s Day.  Just like these weren’t.

The recipe for the cake is from Magnolia Bakery, found here.

The icing recipe is from Simply Recipes, found here.  We added about 3 1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar (compared to the recipe’s 2-3) because we love thick frosting.


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Gingerbread House

Posted by alannak on Jan 05 2010 | Dessert

When we originally conceptualized this gingerbread house, we planned to create it in the image of Mount Vernon.  It just so happens, we are major GW dweebs.  I mean, have you seen this?

In the end, it was less George Washington than we imagined, and significantly more . . . glitz.  Though we did stay true to original by replicating the rounded driveway.  And there’s always next year to cut original molds for archways and weather vanes.

The house took three days to complete.  Day 1: making dough from this epicurious recipe (it’s not super sweet, but it holds up beautifully).  Day 2: making icing and gluing molds together.  Day 3: decoration.

Ginger GW and Martha felt quite at home.


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Granola with Chocolate

Posted by alannak on Jun 18 2009 | Breakfast and Brunch


Lately, I’ve been hooked on Trader Joe’s Chocolate Decadence Cereal.

I eat it by the handful or with milk, and it’s sublime over Greek Yogurt.  I go through it so furiously that I figured it might be cost-effective to create homemade Granola with some of the same ingredients: chocolate, almonds, oats, crunch, crunch, crunch.  Not to replace it, of course, just to supplement and slow my consumption of the TJ’s variety.

This recipe isn’t a replication of the TJ’s version, but it’s a similar beast — a platinum to its white gold?  Our granola is definitely not too sweet, but it has a strong honey flavor and a perfectly clustery consistency.  The recipe is inspired by this one from Orangette, with a few tweaks here and there.  We’re already planning to use ours for parfaits later this week, and surely for lots of snacking.

6 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw almonds, chopped
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup honey
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  In a large bowl, stir together oats, almonds and coconut.  In a small saucepan, heat honey and oil over low, whisking occasionally, until the honey is loose, about four minutes.  Pour honey mixture over dry ingredients and stir until coated.  Spread mixture evenly over two foil-covered baking sheets.  Bake for 10 minutes, stir, and then bake for an additional 10 minutes until golden.  Remove granola, let cool slightly, then stir in chocolate and serve or store in an airtight container, like a plastic bag.





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Pumpkin Cream Pies

Posted by alannak on Nov 20 2008 | Dessert

We didn’t write about it, but we made a less than delicious apple caramel bread pudding for last week’s episode off Top Chef.

We were picking skeptically at the leftovers the next day when Alex turns to me and goes, “You know, I think I forgot to add the sugar.”

It wouldn’t have been as disastrous if we hadn’t invited friends over to watch with the promise of a hot dessert to accompany the show, so for this week’s episode, we were determined to redeem ourselves in their eyes with a dessert that would make them forget that dumb bread pudding ever existed (what bread pudding?).

And while it’s always difficult to tell if folks are just being kind or whether they really enjoy something, the fact that there were lots of seconds made us feel a lot better about last week’s fail.  Who am I kidding?  These were amazing.

The strange thing is that I’d never seen anything like them before yesterday, but in the span of 24 hours, I’ve seen another similar post from a different recipe on Straight from the Farm (yum), and was informed by a classmate (with whom I’d shared the recipe prior to baking) that they were being sold at the Columbia farmer’s market.  Looks like some people are getting inside of our mind grapes!

In any case, I actually recommend that everyone make these because they are super easy and seasonal and mind-blowingly good.  I’m posting our very minimally adapted version of this Real Simple recipe below.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (if you don’t have it, you can use 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ground ginger, and 1/16 tsp each ground nutmeg and ground allspice )
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2/3 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Pre-heat oven to 375.  In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and pumpkin pie spice.  In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar.  Add the pumpkin, vanilla, and egg, and beat until combined. Gradually beat in dry ingredients until incorporated.  Line a baking sheet (or 2) with tin foil, and scoop 16 heaping tbsp of dough onto the sheet, about 2 inches part.  Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until they begin to brown around the edges. Let cool for at least 5 minutes.  While cookies are baking beat together powedered sugar sugar, cream cheese and heavy cream until smooth and spreadable.  Spread cream filling onto 8 of the cookies, and top with other halves.


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