A few weeks ago I came upon this clever new idea for Coffee Rice Krispie Treats, an old family favorite. When I visit my dear mom, she still makes her famous peanut-butter rice crispie treats for me, my favorite comfort food, all these years later. The whole pan disappears before you can say snap, crackle, pop.
This recipe comes from the website Emotional Baking, with permission to share it with you. Each Emotional Baking recipe explores a specific emotion or mood and creates a recipe cure. As a result, it is a keen way to process feelings and address everyday mental health.
Why Make Coffee Rice Krispie Treats Now?
Ever since the horrific yet predictable incident that happened in Uvalde, Texas, comfort is definitely needed. Since gun violence is an adult issue requiring an adult response, this very adult rice krispie treat version is just right.
The Coffee-Infused Rice Krispie Treats recipe was designed to clear feelings of fogginess. Since this repeated mass tragedy in our children's schools creates a hazy, gas-lit feeling, yes. Foggy is indeed what I'm feeling.
In Canada, home base to Emotional Baking, package sizes for Rice Krispies and marshmallows are different than in the U.S. For those of us in the U. S. I made some revisions to utilize our product sizes. Also, I tinkered with their ratios by reducing the butter, and increased the amount of coffee powder for more pronounced flavor.
Making Coffee Rice Krispie Treats
This no-bake treat couldn't be easier. Equally important, the addition of coffee flavor is purely genius. Why not make them today? Visit Emotional Baking for other delicious recipes that will match your mood. Whether it be happy, lonely, optimistic, or even foggy, you'll find the just-right kitchen therapy.
If you enjoy this recipe, please give it a green star rating on the recipe card below. That will help others find it too, and helps me pay the bills! If you make the recipe, please let me celebrate with you by tagging 101-Mile Kitchen on Facebook and Instagram. (It's a total thrill when I hear you've made my recipes!) And as always, your questions and feedback in the comments are welcome and appreciated.
Spray the inside of a 9" x 13" or 7" x 11" baking dish with non-stick spray. Mix together the milk and coffee powder in a small bowl and set aside.
Melt together the miniature marshmallows and butter over medium heat, stirring constantly, being careful to keep the bottom from scorching. Lower heat if necessary. When the marshmallows are completely melted, stir in the milk/coffee mixture. Remove from heat, and stir in the Rice Krispies until they are thoroughly coated. (the marshmallow mixture may start to become stiffer-- that's OK, just keep stirring.
Scrape the Rice Krispie/marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan, and flatten, making sure that the mixture is evenly distributed to the edges and corners. With a piece of parchment between your hand and the mixture, or your hand inside a sandwich bag, press down to firmly compact the mixture.
Sprinkle the top with the chocolate sprinkles (optional) and set aside until thoroughly cool. Cut into bars. Cover tightly and store at room temperature.
I wish I had a nickel for every time the words "comfort food" have been used in the United States since March 2020. With the money, I'd launch a campaign to deliver a cup of Vanilla Lemon Rice Pudding to the doorstep of every American, thereby redefining comfort food in our culture.
This recipe is gently sweet, creamy but not cloying. It is alive with lemon zest, and ethereal with a whole vanilla been (or vanilla extract.) Vanilla Lemon Rice Pudding is far more exciting than any other rice pudding I've ever had. Yet as comforting as your favorite cashmere sweater.
The Paris Connection
I learned of this bit of deliciousness from Katherine Burns of Rue Dauphine Paris. Katherine's Rue Dauphine Paris Instagram feed is full of glorious photos of her visits to historic gardens, churches, shops, and arrondissements in Paris, some lovely French recipes, and a glimpse of how she brings the Parisian lifestyle into her own Seattle home. Another bit of fun-- she and May of Noisettes 1420 (also a fabulous peek into Paris) host a Francophile book club, which I promise myself to participate in some soon day.
Needless to say, discovering Rue Dauphine Paris has brought me a bit of joy in these travel-less days, and has me wishing Katherine would be my guide to Paris one day.
Making Vanilla Lemon Rice Pudding
Katherine graciously allowed me to share her vanilla rice pudding recipe with you. I've renamed it to bring justice to the magic the lemon brings. I've made a slight change to the dairy component, swapping her 4 cups of whole milk + 1 1/4 cups heavy cream for 1 quart of half-and-half and 1 1/4 cups milk), otherwise this is completely hers. This change retains the silky creaminess of her version, but leaves me with no wasted partial carton of whipping cream. She is right in that the sweet aroma of lemon and vanilla this offers when bubbling on the stovetop is most pleasant.
You should definitely use Meyer Lemons when they are in season for this. The floral mandarin/lemon flavor is fantastic. I think orange zest would also be wonderful, like a creamsicle. However, standard Eureka or Lisbon (everyday grocery store0 lemons will still take you over the moon.
Katherine serves hers in flowery china cups, a touch of French charm, with a drizzle of caramel sauce. I like serving the rice pudding with a wedge of the zested lemon. A squeeze over the top brings a little acidic component as a balance to its sweet creaminess.
When I started dreaming of Vanilla Lemon Rice Pudding in the middle of the night, I knew I had to share it with you. It has become my new favorite sweet treat. Maybe it will become yours, too, as you dream of far away places.
Combine milk, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla seeds and bean pod, and lemon zest in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat.
Stir in rice, bring back to a strong simmer, cover with a lid. Reduce heat to the lowest possible setting and simmer 60 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until rice is tender and a puddinglike texture. Spoon into serving dishes, garnish with a wedge of zested lemon to squeeze over the top, and serve warm. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to store up to three days.
*Katherine Burns' original recipe calls for 4 cups of whole milk and 1¼ cups whipping cream. I changed this in order to use up an entire quart of half-and-half, and I typically have milk on hand. This provides less waste (3/4 cup of cream) in my kitchen since I use cream infrequently. Choose what's best for you, as the results are nearly indistinguishable.
Making food for people, especially these Valentine Shortbread Heart Cookies with Blood Orange filling, is an act of love. Mr. Fred Rogers, my truest childhood hero, said, "Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
Love is showing up, on repeat, day after day. It's the things you never knew you'd do. Like spending nights in the NICU next to your newborn's incubator. Or forgiving the hurt of a friend over and over again until you don't remember it anymore, which you hope is soon. Sometimes you are the target of your own love when you allow yourself to let go of guilt, grief, or fear.
"I know the secret of life: If you want to have loving feelings, do loving things."
Messing Up is OK
The wonderous thing about love, is that you will mess it up. That's just part of it.
Just like the verb cooking, loving calls for a lot doing. Trial, practice, mistake-making, and what can feel like wasted time and resources. But your flops are exactly how you learn to love better. The trick is to not give up. Keep practicing. Your acts refine as you practice them. Your acts become who you are. With a little tenacity your love eventually looks more like the soufflé you'd hoped for and less like the dog's breakfast.
Remember all this when you make these pretty little Valentine heart shortbread cookies for your beloveds. Each time you press your pinky into the dough, you imprint the part of yourself that is set on loving. The soft, unchilled dough gives way to make adorable little heart shaped vessels that hold a tad of sweet blood orange goodness you also have made.
As you form the little Valentine hearts, they will remind you of your beloveds. Some, like a crotchety uncle, hide their tenderness in crooked wrinkles. Some, like an emotional 8th grader, absolutely cannot contain their contents. Others are the picture of every-hair-in-place perfection. The likeness of each heart says they belong together on the plate. Their uniquenesses make the plateful interesting. Just like you and your beloveds.
Make a double boiler by simmering 3" deep of water in a large saucepan. In a medium/large stainless steel bowl, whisk together eggs, yolks, and sugar until sugar just starts to dissolve.
Whisk in both juices and zest.
Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water. Cook curd, stirring with a rubber spatula almost constantly, until it begins to thicken. It should have the consistency of loosely whipped cream. Remove from heat.
Stir in butter cubes all at once, stirring until butter is completely melted and fully incorporated. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove bits of zest and any solid egg proteins.
Chill at 2 hours before using in the cookies. This makes about 1 ¾ cups-- you will only use about ½ cup for the cookies. Store the rest for another purpose.
For the Vanilla Pinkprint Cookie Dough
Line two baking sheets with parchment or non-stick mats.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and salt on medium-high until light and fluffy, 2 - 3 minutes.
Beat in the egg and vanilla until fully incorporated and fluffy. On low speed, blend in the flour until just incorporated.
Using small scoop, scoop up a bit of dough and roll into a 1" ball with your palms. Place on the baking sheet. Using your pinky, press down near the top of the ball, making an indentation. Make another indentation right next to it. Make a third indentation centered in the hollow just below the first and second indentations to begin making a heart shape in the dough. Use your fingers to elongate the edge at bottom of the ball, and to make a dent in the edge of the top of the ball. Repeat, making fun little heart shapes, each with their own personality, using up the dough. You should have close to 20 hearts on each baking sheet.
Chill dough hearts until they are very firm, at least an hour. This part is critical, or you'll end up with a puddle in the end.
Putting the cookies all together:
Preheat oven to 350°. Bake one sheet for 7 minutes. Working quickly, once again use your pinky to depress the heart shape that has puffed up. It will be hot, so use caution. Using a very small spoon, like a baby or demitasse spoon, fill the depressions with cold blood orange curd. Don't over flow! Place the cookies back in the oven for another 5 - 7 minutes, keeping a close eye. You want them fully cooked and just barely beginning to go golden on the bottom, but not browning on the cookie itself. Allow to cook for two or three minutes on the baking sheet, to set up, them remove to a cooling rack to complete cooling. Store in an airtight container for up to a week, if they last that long.
Make It Your Own:Use store- bought lemon, lime, or raspberry curd instead of making your own. Easier yet, fill them with any red or pink jam.Save time by simply using your thumb to make an indent. No need to make a heart to make these cookies pretty and delish all year long.
The holiday season is a wrap and the dust of 2021 has settled. Perhaps you are back to a work grind, or find yourself buried in winter snow. Or maybe you're sad that your family has left, or maybe elated that your family has left. As great as it was, maybe you are relieved to be past it all. Just because holiday treats are in the rear-view mirror doesn't mean you don't deserve a special little zero-effort dessert. Maybe you need a quiet post-holiday celebration. Maybe you need a nutty Chocolate Port Ice Cream Sundae.
If this Chocolate Port Ice Cream Sundae were an actor in a musical, it would make its quiet sultry entrance stage right, while the whole noisy chorus of holiday desserts shuffle-flapped off, stage left. The Sundae (let us call her Sundae) would glide across the stage to a stool waiting under a soft bath of light. Sundae, dressed in a slim black turtleneck and tailored trousers, would lightly park on the stool, one long leg outstretched. Slowly she would look up and raise the mic.
While the holiday dessert chorus is in the back peeling off sparkly garish costumes and wiping off melted greasepaint, Sundae begins her ballad. One part Louis Armstrong, one part Norah Jones, equal parts gravel and smoke, Sundae's song lifts the corner of your mouth and quiets your spirit.
The intimate moment with Sundae passes, but you are never the same. You'll think of this Sundae at the oddest times for years to come. So it is with this little winter dessert recipe.
½Tbsp.toasted nuts, crushed with the flat of a chef's knifealmonds, hazelnuts, pecans, or walnuts, or a mix of what yu like
2scoopsvanilla ice cream
1Tbsp.port, good sherry, or bourbon
2-3 dropsAngostura or black walnut bitters (optional)
1 piececrystallized orange (optional) or a wedge of fresh orange
pinchMaldon or other finishing salt
Finely chop the chocolate and put it in a small heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of barely simmering water.* Stir frequently until the chocolate is about 85% melted, about 3-4 minutes, and remove from the heat. Stir every minute or two to allow the residual heat to finish melting the chocolate. Be cautious about multi-tasking during this step to avoid overheating the chocolate and causing it to seize.
If they aren't already toasted, put the nuts in a small skillet over medium heat and stir frequently until they are aromatic and ever so slightly browned, stirring very frequently, about 3-4 minutes. Be cautious about multi-tasking during this step to avoid burning the nuts. Cool slightly and crush the nuts with the flat side of a chef's knife, or roughly chop.
Scoop the ice cream into a small bowl or cocktails glass. Spoon the warm chocolate over the top, followed by the liquor. Top with the crushed nuts and crystallized orange. Sprinkle with a few drops of bitters and a pinch of crunchy Maldon salt. Serve immediately. Sit back and swoon.
*Alternatively on a convection cooktop, melt the chocolate directly in a small saucepan on a very low setting. On my convection cooktop, chocolate melts beautifully on 1.5.Many kinds of nuts would be perfect here: Almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, and walnuts. The very best might even be those from a can of fancy mixed nuts.I'm famous for burning nuts! Don't let that happen to you! Experiment with the liquor and or bitters you chose. There are so many kinds available these days. This is a happy way to end a dinner party, especially if you've knocked yourself out before the dessert comes. It's the easiest show-stopping winter dessert I can imagine.
Rustic Cake at Its Very Best
In my calculus, a rustic cake has a short list of ingredients, an interesting texture, and most importantly is adorned very plainly-- a straightforward glaze, scoop of ice cream or whipped cream, a smatter of nuts or seasonal fruit is all it takes. This Flourless Walnut Cake and its coffee or spice versions deliver on a promise of simplicity.
What a cake like this misses in complexity is made up with a certain honesty. It's like the fresh rosy-cheeked girl in a calico dress that smells of clothesline sunshine.
Or, our flourless walnut cake is like filtering your way through a crowded party, and meeting a gentle-souled person standing in the corner with whom to while the evening away.
Multi-tiered, colorful swooped, swirled, and filagree-frosted cakes sometimes disappoint on the part that really matters-- flavor. With flourless walnut cake or its coffee or spice versions, what you see is what you get. The beauty is natural, not forced.
Making the Flourless Walnut Cake
Starting with room temperature eggs, like with most baking, is imperative to the success of this recipe. Sugar simply cannot dissolve into cold yolks. Cold whites don't whip to their lofty heights. Here you spend a good deal of time building structure by dissolving sugar into yolks and stiffening the whites, so give yourself a guaranteed win by setting your eggs out in advance. (When I forget, I help the eggs warm up by placing them on a bowl of lukewarm water, changing it for more when it goes cold. Never try this with hot water or you make crack open a semi-cooked egg!)
Traditional recipes for this type of cake ask you to whip all of the whites into firm peaks at once. Here, I have you whip them to medium peaks at first, then add only a third of them to the yolk/sugar/nut mixture to lighten the batter. Then, you'll go back and whip the remaining two-thirds of the whites into firm stand-up-at-attention peaks before gently folding them into the batter. I have found this greatly increases the structure of the cake, resulting in a taller cake with less shrinkage when it comes out of the oven. Even though our dear little flourless walnut cakes are humble, they still like to make a good first impression.
If you chose, top either version with a pile of candied walnut halves, made the same way Sarah at Sustainable Cooks makes her pecans. The only difference is that I add 1 tablespoon water to the skillet along with the sugar. Make extra! Candied walnuts are great in salads or on a cheese platter, too.
Flourless Walnut cake is tender and delicious just as written, but the addition of coffee or baking spices takes it next level-- One recipe with three variations-- plain, Coffee, or Spice-- to suit your mood. Three primary ingredients, a few simple steps, and you'll have beautiful dessert cakes all winter.
2tablespoonsfinely ground coffee beans, plus 1 teaspoon for optional glaze
Coffee Glaze, Optional
1teaspoonfinely ground coffee beans
5tablespoonswarm or hot strong brewed coffee
½teaspoonpure vanilla extract
Flourless Walnut Cake
Preheat oven to 350°. Generously butter and flour (or use very finely ground walnuts) a 9-inch springform pan. Wrap the bottom of the pan with foil to catch any butter that melts out in the oven.
In a food processor, finely grind the walnuts. This will likely take only 8 -10 pulses. Stop just as they begin to clump. (Any further and you'll make walnut butter, not quite what we are after). Set the ground walnuts aside.
Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whip attachment. Beat the yolks with the sugar and salt 6-8 minutes until the mixture is fluffy and pale yellow. (You'll be glad you let your eggs come to room temperature for this-- the sugar more readily dissolves in eggs that are not cold.)
If you are making a plain flourless walnut cake, move on to step five. If you are making either a walnut-spice cake or a coffee flavored cake, add the spice mix or the finely ground coffee beans now and mix in thoroughly.
Remove the mixing bowl from the stand mixer and with a silicone or rubber spatula, fold the ground walnuts into the yolk mixture.
In a separate clean bowl free of any oils or grease, whip the egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla to medium peaks. (The cream of tartar helps stabilize the whipped egg whites.) Gently fold about a third of the egg whites into the walnut mixture. Then, whip the remaining egg whites once again until they just reach firm peaks. Fold them gently into the walnut mixture in two batches, folding until no more white streaks remain.
Place the cake batter into the prepared pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the cake is puffed, set (not jiggly) in the middle, and a cake tester (I use a bamboo skewer for this) inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan about 20 minutes before removing the springform ring. The cake will have sunk in the center and formed charming cracks and crags, perfectly normal for this rustic meringue-style cake.
Decorate with seasonal fruits, a dusting a powdered sugar, or the coffee glaze below. Seve with whipped cream.
Place the sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Add the vanilla and coffee, tablespoon at a time, and whisk until a glaze forms. It should cling to the whisk and drip off in thick long ribbons. Adjust by adding more powdered sugar or water to make it thicker or thinner. Drizzle the glaze from the whisk around the edges of the cake, allowing some to flow toward the center of the cake and some to drip off the edges. Allow the glaze to set for an hour before covering or serving.
To make the Coffee Glaze a Spice Glaze, replace the ground coffee with one teaspoon of the same spice blend you use in the cake, and replace the brewed coffee with warm or hot water.Garnish the spice cake with fresh fig halves, lightly roasted (6 minutes at 350, just to soften) plum prunes, tiny grape clusters, and/or unsprayed organic food-safe flowers or flower petals.
Or how to say thank you for a huge bag of summer squash and mean it.
Why people grow so much zucchini is a perfectly legitimate question. As a species we just never catch on that just three zucchini seeds will feed the whole neighborhood. How do we possibly forget year after year? The jokes about the overabundance of zucchini and the lengths people go to get rid of it are only funny because they expose this human flaw.
Neighbors drop off squashes the size of baseball bats to your front porch, ring the bell and run so you can't refuse it. Little old ladies give away brown paper grocery bags of zucchini at every church function. And if you grow a garden, you're rolling in it by mid-summer.
Even using the grate-and-hide technique of sneaking zucchini into everything-- meatloaf, chili, soups and stews, and baked goods, there is only so much one can be expected to eat.
I worked out this brightly-flavored zucchini cake as a way to draw down an enourmous supply I was gifted from a generous neighbor. It completely suits my hankering for unassuming cakes, and its sunny lemon-ginger burst is a good excuse for turning on the oven in the middle of August.
Now I get a little happy when I'm gifted a huge bag of summer squash, and my thanks are sincere.
Why is this Lemon Ginger Zucchini Cake Special?
In this cake, I swap the typical butter for olive oil. Olive oil adds phenomonal rich flavor that sings with the lemon. The technique remains similar to that of a butter cake, but here the olive oil is added to the whipped eggs and sugar, turning it into a creamy fluff you just know will be good.
I used to make this cake with all-purpose flour only, but have recently added finely-ground almond flour to add a soft airiness to cakes, and it works really well here.
The copius amount of ginger in this cake comes in two forms-- freshly grated and ground-- to amp the gingery quality. Lemon and ginger are a match made in heaven, so I use a lot of lemon zest zing along with the double-dose of ginger. This large cake can hold all this flavor. It is a flavor bomb, not a flavor whisper.
The crunchy glaze-- think glazed donut and you've got the idea-- is due to the addition of granulated sugar to the typical powdered sugar. Just make sure and paint it on while the cake is still somewhat warm for this magic to happen.
Tips for Success
In this cake and all others, start with room temperature eggs.
A stand or handheld mixer is best for the eggs/sugar/olive oil steps. It is also good for gently beginning to incorporate the flour mixture, but stop there and pick up your spatula. Folding in the zucchini, ginger, and lemon zest by hand will automatically involve the streaky bits of flour without toughening the glutens in the all-purpose flour. Your tender result will make you glad you did.
All kinds of summer squash work. I've even made this with peeled young spaghetti squash to great success. If you're using an older/larger zucchini, take out the watery seeds, and gently squeeze the grated squash over the sink to remove some of the moisture to avoid a heavy wet cake.
This turns out a large cake-- 2" tall and 9" across, making 12-15 generous slices. If you want to take it easy on cake, or are like me in a small household, this recipe fits neatly into three 6" round cakepans, with six slices each. This way we can have a little splurge, and stash two cakes in the freezer for on-the-fly entertaining or when the mood strikes again.
Made with olive oil, almond and AP flours, ginger in two forms, and loads of lemon zest, this bright rustic cake makes good use of excess garden zucchini. It's the perfect reason to use the oven on a hot summer day.
3 cupszucchini or other summer squash, finely gratedif large, remove seeds before grating and gently squeezed some of its water off over the sink
4lemons, zested grated reserve juice for glaze
3Tablespoonsfresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1¼cupsalmond flour, finely ground
1teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoonbaking soda
4eggs, room temperature
1¼cupsextra virgin olive oil
1cupconfectioners (powdered) sugar
¼cupfreshly squeezed lemon juice
For the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously butter a 9" springform pan, 9" x 2" round pan, or three 6" round pans. Dust the pan/s with flour and tap out any excess.
Grate the zucchini, lemon zest, and ginger and set aside.
Combine the flour baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together well. Set aside.
In a stand mixer with paddle attachement or with a handheld mixer, beat together the sugar and eggs until creamy and slightly fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Again turn the mixer to medium speed and add the olive oil in a steady stream. Continue mixing in the olive oil until fully incorporated and quite fluffy, another 3 minutes. Again scrape down the sides of the bowl.
With the mixer at low speed, quickly add the flour mixture one cup at a time, not waiting for it to fully incorporate. Turn the mixer off and remove the mixing bowl.
Add the grated zucchini, lemon zest, and ginger to the bowl, and gently stir with a rubber or silicone spatula, folding up from the bottom, until the grated ingredients are evenly mixed through the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared cakepan/s and smooth the top and bake. For the 9" pans, bake for 50-60 minutes until the top springs bake when gently pushed and the edges are just beginning to pull away from the pan, and a bamboo skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. for the 6" pans, bake 35-45 minutes. It is easy to underbake this cake, especially the larger pans, so take extra care to make sure they are done in the center.
Allow the cake to cool 15 minutes before inverting on a cooling rack. While the cake is cooling, make the glaze.
For the glaze:
In a small mixing bowl, whisk the granulated and powdered sugars to break up the powerded sugar clumps. Whisk in the lemon juice until smooth and no tiny bits of powdered sugar remain. Invert the cake onto the cooling rack and place a peice of parchment, wax paper, or a large plate directly under it to catch the glaze drips and make cleanup easier. While the cake is still warm, generously paint on the glaze with a pastry brush. Allow the cake to completely cool before slicing.
The first cake on 101-Mile Kitchen is like a country summer day on a plate. It is rustic in nature-- meaning it has textural interest and isn't overly sweet or elaborate. It is unfussy. It is flourless, therefore can be served to our gluten-sensitive beloveds. And most of all it uses fresh, seasonal, local ingredients.
A decade ago I played with and wrote about the magical flavor triad of sweet corn, blueberries, and buttermilk. I had two inspirations at the time. First by Claudia Fleming's sweet corn ice cream recipe from her famous out-of-print book, The Last Course, from her time as the innovative pastry chef at Grammercy Tavern in the 1990's. Tim Mazurak of the delicious blog Lottie + Doof created a blueberry galette in a cornmeal crust and served it with the same sweet corn ice cream. Swoon.
My addition of buttermilk to the corn and blueberries brought bucolic thoughts of summer full circle. I promptly forgot about this happy flavor song until now.
This simple cake has ingredients from the farm. Before you scoff at the idea of sweet corn in your dessert, remember that peak-season fresh sweet corn is much sweeter than zucchini, an ingredient that commonly makes its way into cakes and sweet breads.
As an aside, this flourless cake will be gluten free if your cornmeal is certified that way. The generous dose of buttermilk makes it moist, tender, and subliminally tangy.
The recipe makes enough batter for one 8" round or 8" square cake. The former will result in a taller cake, the latter a shorter cake that will bake more quickly. It also makes two perfectly tall 6" round cakes. As a household of two, six-inchers are my frequent choice. One for now, the other to be tightly wrapped and popped into the freezer for impromptu company or when the dessert mood strikes.
About homemade cakes in general: Please take the time to bring butter, eggs, and milk or buttermilk to room temperature. This is critical to achieving a good emulsion. If you've ever made a cake batter that turned curdly part way through, it is because cold ingredients just cannot emulsify. Your butter may get nice and fluffy, but plop a cold egg into it and it will seize back up into tiny bits rather than become one with the egg. The same goes for the milk or buttermilk you may add. Temperature matters!
The Blueberry Compote
One fanciful learning I've had this summer is to use berry-flavored vinegar in place of lemon juice in berry desserts. Berries often need a little acid to brighten them up and to balance their sweetness. The typical remedy is lemon juice. In several trials I've found that replacing lemon juice with berry vinegar gives the same lift while amplifying the berry flavor. Either works just fine in this recipe. Use what you have.
This Blueberry Compote recipe makes a lot. It can easily be halved, but it is so wonderful on pancakes, waffles, and vanilla (or sweet corn) ice cream. Don't cut yourself short.
The magical trio-- sweet corn, blueberries, and buttermilk-- come together in this summery dessert. Rustic yet special, it makes a great summer gathering dessert and an indulgent breakfast the next morning.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously butter two 6" round cake pans or one 8" round cakepan, and generously dust the pans with cornmeal.
In a medium bowl, mix the stone ground cornmeal, almond flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
Using a stand or handheld mixer, beat butter to smooth it out. Gradually add the sugar, ¼ cup at a time, and continue beating until the mixture as paled in color and is light and fluffy. Add the molasses and beat until thoroughly incorporated into the butter mixture. Scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl several times during this step.
Add the eggs, one at a time and beating well after each one. Add the vanilla. Gradually add the buttermilk a little at a time to avoid it splashing out, and to keep the mixture emulsified. If the mixture breaks/curdles during this step, stop adding ingredients and turn your mixer to high speed for a minute or two. If the ingredients are room temperature, that should bring it back together. Scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl several times during this step.
Gently add the dry ingredients, again scraping down the sides of your mixing bowl several times during this step, until the cake batter is well combined.
If you are using two 6" pans, evenly divide the batter between them, or if you are using the 8" pan fill it with all the batter. Bake 20-25 minutes, until the center is set and a knife point or bamboo stick cake tester comes out almost clean. The center will feel puffy and springy when lightly tapped.
Allow the cake to cool in the pans for 15-20 minutes before removing the cake from the pans, and allow them to cool completely on a cooling rack.
Serve individual slices on a puddle of Blueberry Compote and a top with a tuft of lightly whipped cream, or if using the cake all at once, place the cake on a serving plate atop a puddle of Blueberry Sauce, top with a billow of lightly whipped cream, and pass a bowl of Blueberry Compote to your guests to serve themselves more.
Place blueberries, sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan.
Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the berries have turned from dusky blue to deep purple, and some of them have started to pop open.
Combine the cornstarch and 2Tbsp. water in a small bowl. While constantly stirring, quickly and thoroughly stir the cornstarch mixture into the blueberries. Return to a boil for one minute.
Stir in the lemon juice or berry vinegar. Allow to cool.
Store in the refrigerator until using. You can easily cut this recipe in half, but you'll love having extra sauce for pancakes, waffles, and ice cream!
Three years ago my beloved and I bought our forever home. We'd come together later in life and it took us a while to figure out where and how to live in a way that meets both of our needs. For ten years we searched to find this place we both love and have made our home.
Our sweet forever home visually melts into the backdrop of a 260+ acre forest that also backs the properties of our two neighbors. We have loved the forest for all it gives. Birdsong, shade, the ever-present rustling of the treetops, the pure fresh earthy scent that's especially noticeable in the early mornings, and the creaks and howls that call from it after dark.
Beginning Tuesday, as happens in Oregon, the crop of timber-- the entire forest-- will be harvested. By September what once was a Douglas Fir forest will be three new homesites. We knew this would happen one day. We just liked to think that one day was 20 years from now.
I am heartbroken.
My husband, who has had something grumbly to say about every clear-cut we've ever driven by, has nobly risen to reframe the situation as our "view expansion and sunset enhancement opportunity." His forward lean and courage is beautiful.
I fleetingly think of changing my name to Butterfly and chaining myself to a tree. Instead I just weep.
Our dear neighbors with whom we have shared the glories of this forest gathered this weekend to pay homage to the lush, oxygen-scrubbing, interconnected organism we've enjoyed and appreciated. A wake of sorts. Poetry was recited, a tear or two was shed, and we laughed and shared community lore. My hurting heart considered serving Funeral Potatoes but I refrained.
What does one serve on the occasion of a forest being cut down?
We ate from the forest, that's what we did.
Douglas Fir Tip Sorbet or Granita
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest
Season: Evergreen (April - July)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan
Prep Time: 35minutes
Chill Time: 2hours
Total Time: 2hours35minutes
How does one eat a forest? One little bite of fir tip sorbet at a time! A little resiny and a little limey, this refreshing sorbet or granita makes a wonderful dessert with a hazelnut cookie, or a fantastic palate cleanser between courses. Forage away!
In a small saucepan combine 2 cups of water, sugar, zest of ½ lime, packed fir tips. Heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Put a lid on the pan and remove from heat. Allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture into an 8-cup measuring cup or mixing bowl.
Squeeze the lime and lemon juices. Add the remaining 2½ cups of water and the juices to the strained sugar mixture. Stir in the Douglas Fir brandy, champagne, or vodka. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator 2 hours or overnight.**
For sorbet, freeze according to ice cream maker manufacturers instructions. Serve immediately for slushier soft-serve, or harden in the freezer for two hours for scoopable sorbet.
*If you make the icy granita version, increase the brandy, champagne, or vodka to 4 Tablespoons.**If you are making icy granita, skip the chilling step and pour the mixture into a large flat plastic container with lid and place in the freezer. Freeze for at least four hours, scraping every hour or so with a fork to break up chunks and create the fluffy "snow-cone" texture. To serve, rake through the frozen mixture again with a fork to create the fluffy icy texture and serve.
I have a strong difference of opinion with myself. Brightly colored vibrant foods are my first choices. The more colors in the market basket or on a plate the better. The oranges and greens, reds and purples, and occasional black foods make me salivate just to look at.
Yet when it comes to desserts, I'm drawn to the modest beiges, creamy whites, and browns of all shades. My affinity is for rustic, crumbly sweets that out-perform their appearances. There is a place for sprinkles and colorful frosting and fancy flourishes, but for day-to-day desserts the homier the better.
Nutty meringue cookies have been around for decades. The difference here is that I've developed this recipe to feature as much hazelnut flavor and texture as the egg white meringue will hold. Don't let this quiet beige cookie fool you-- they pack in a lot of hazelnut along with their very pleasant crispy and chewy texture.
Hazelnut Meringue Cookies are terrific served with summer fruit platters, any kind of fruit, chocolate, or caramel ice creams or sorbets, (like my Strawberry Sorbet and DF Ice Cream duo!) They are also delicious as a coffee or tea break treat.
The recipe contains no gluten, no grain, and no additional fat besides that which is natural to the nuts.
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½tsp.almond extract (optional)this magnifies the nutty flavor but use only a little!
Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment or non-stick baking mats.
Finely chop hazelnuts in a food processor or by hand, if using whole. Set aside.
In an upright mixer or using a hand mixer, begin whipping egg whites on medium speed. As they begin to get bubbly and foamy, add in the extracts and salt. Increase mixer speed to high and continue beating until eggs white turn solid white. Begin adding sugar in, one Tablespoon at a time in fairly quick succession, until all the sugar is added.
Continue whipping egg whites until they are very stiff and hold stiff peaks, and the sugar is completely dissolved into them. (Rub a little of the mixture between your fingers to feel if the sugar is dissolved.
Using a spatula, gently but thoroughly fold the hazelnuts into the egg whites in three batches. The mixture will become a little stiff at the end-- that's OK.
Using a one Tablespoon scoop or spoon, drop the batter into the baking sheets. With lightly damp fingers, gently pat the tops of the cookies down. (They will not spread as they bake.) Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden around the edges and on the bottom. Cool on baking sheets.
These will keep in a sealed container for several days, and freeze well.
Make It Your Own:This recipe works well with chopped walnuts and almond, too!If you like your cookie a bit chewier, add 1/4 cup less nuts to the whipped egg whites.
It was May, just as the strawberry fields were beginning to ripen, when my family and I moved to rural Oregon from the desert southwest. A big hand-painted plywood sign announcing "U-Pick Strawberries" near our new house beckoned. As motivation and reward I promised my then nine, seven, and three-year-old kids we would go as soon as we were unpacked and settled in.
Having grown up in cities, this "U-Pick" idea was just the best thing I'd ever heard of. Farmers actually let people onto their property to pick their produce? I had no idea I was expected to bring our own buckets or bowls, and we showed up that first day empty-handed and wearing inappropriate shoes for farm work.
Farmers, in general, are really nice people, and they had met our kind before. Spare grocery sacks were handed out, and we skipped off to our assigned rows.
The four of us had never tasted strawberries before. Yes, we'd had the trucked-in grocery store variety a lot of times, but the color, aroma, and taste of these field-ripened berries was like Dorothy entering the technicolor Land of Oz.
The kids and I laughed and stopped to look at the loamy earth, the bugs, and the whiskery leaves of the strawberry plants growing in mounds. We raced to see who could pick the most berries. There was no way to hide my then three-year-old's strawberry-stained face, hands, and belly, and truth be told all of us had eaten our fair share in the field. I offered to pay for what we'd eaten, and the clerk made me a customer for life when she laughed and said it was all part of the experience.
There are no words to describe how alive I felt that day.
It was then I realized what a sheltered life I'd lived in the big city. It was then that I developed my sustained mad crush on local farms, farm stands, farmers, and the generosity of Oregon itself. That day goes down as one of the best in my life, and it changed me forever.
As the summer moved along and for many summers afterward we U-picked cherries, raspberries, blueberries, and Oregon's famous Marionberries. Wonder-filled memories were made through the years, from the gathering of the berries to the lovely things we made and ate from them.
Fun Dessert Duo: Strawberry Sorbet + Strawberry Ice Cream
Start with 2 pounds of hulled and quartered strawberries; whirl the sugar with 1/2 small lemon, peel and all until finely ground; add the berries, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt; chill, then freeze in an ice cream maker.
The only thing better than ice cream for dessert is ice cream and sorbet for dessert! Making them with the same fruit makes a beautifully balanced contrast of color, tanginess, sweetness, creaminess and frostiness.
This type of dessert duo is one of my entertaining go-to's. The frozen desserts can be made in advance-- a big win for any host! There is something show-stopping about serving the two this way.
Strawberry Sorbet and Strawberry Ice Cream Duo (Dairy-Free)
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest
Season: Evergreen (April - July)
Dietary: Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free
Prep Time: 30minutes
Total Time: 1hour
The only thing better than ice cream for dessert is ice cream and sorbet for dessert! Making them with the same fruit makes a beautifully balanced contrast of color, tanginess, sweetness, creaminess and frostiness. This type of frozen dessert duo is one of my entertaining go-to's. The frozen desserts can be made in advance-- a big win for the host! There is something show-stopping about serving it this way.
2lbs.strawberries, hulled and quartered(about 5 ½ cups)
2small lemons, divided
¾ - 1cupsugardepending on the ripeness of the berries)
Dairy-Free Strawberry Ice Cream Ingredients
10oz.strawberries, hulled and quartered, divided(about 2 ½ cups)
113.6 oz. canfull-fat coconut milk
? - ½cuphoneydepending the the ripeness of the berries
1tsp.pure vanilla extract
3dropsalmond extract (optional)
Strawberry Sorbet Instructions
Prepare (hull and quarter) strawberries and set aside.
In a food processor, process ½ small lemon with sugar, pulsing and whirring until the lemon is in tiny even bits and fully incorporated into the sugar.
Add the strawberries, the juice of 1 ½ lemons, and the salt. Process until the strawberries are completely pureed, stopping to scrape the sides a few times to incorporate all of the sugar mixture.
For best results, chill the sorbet mixture at least one hour or up to overnight. (It will freeze better in an ice cream maker if it is chilled, or you can make it ahead to this step and freeze the mixture the next day.) Freeze according to your ice cream maker directions. For soft-serve, serve right away. For a firmer scoop, store in the freezer for an hour before serving.
Dairy-Free Strawberry Ice Cream Instructions
Reserve about 1/2“ of the hulled and quartered strawberries. Add all remaining ingredients (1/2 of the berries through lemon juice) to a food processor and process until smooth.
Add the reserved 1/2“ strawberries to the mixture in the processor, and pulse a few times to break them up into bits and chunks.
For best results, chill the ice cream mixture at least one hour or up to overnight. (It will freeze better in an ice cream maker if it is chilled, or you can make it ahead to this step and freeze the mixture the next day.) Freeze according to your ice cream maker directions. For soft-serve, serve right away. For a firmer scoop, store in the freezer for an hour before serving.
Plan ahead if you are making these both at once. If you are using a Cuisinart-style tabletop ice cream maker you will either need two freezer inserts or you will need time to refreeze your insert.
You’re in the right place! I’m Pam Spettel, home cooking expert and guide, and I’m here to show you how to break up with cooking and hospitality anxiety, learn how to use recipes as guides rather than strict rules, and let your cooking intuition and confidence soar.
Superpower: Dreaming up recipes that work, serving them to my friends and family, and writing little stories about how cooking them well is the same as loving well.
Inspiration: Ingredients! The fresh, colorful, fragrant, local, seasonal ingredients found in the Pacific Northwest are my creative medium.
Heroes: Local food and wine producers– the people who keep me, my family, and our community nourished and happy.