My brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life.


Archive for the ‘dessert’

Ginger-Bourbon-Lime Pops 2

Posted on July 13, 2010 by crankycheryl

Oh I’ve got so much food to share with you that it’s hard to keep myself under control.  But I’m trying to maintain a reasonable pace and go one at a time.

Here’s a super-easy, grown-up, beat-the-heat treat for you on these hot days.   It’s one of the yummy things we made for crankyGreg’s birthday party last week, and they’ve been a pretty delightful left-over to have around.

Whether or not you choose to feel a little smug as you tell your children that no, these are for adults only is entirely up to you.

Ginger Popsicles
(yield depends on the size of your molds – this gave us about 12)

  • 3 12-oz. bottles of ginger beer (not ginger ale, which is neither sweet nor ginger-y enough)
  • 1 very thinly sliced lime
  • 2 oz. (or more, or less) bourbon, though you can turn them into Dark & Stormy Pops if you use Gosling’s Black Seal Rum

Set up your popsicle molds or whatever you like to use to jerry-rig ’em.  Drop a lime slice into the bottom, then a splash of bourbon, then fill to the appropriate line with ginger beer.  Keep in mind that they will expand as they freeze.  Let them sit in the freezer for 3 or 4 hours and then enjoy them most heartily.

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Birthdays & Cupcakes In Spite of It All 1

Posted on July 06, 2010 by crankycheryl

This video this is supposed to be funny, like stupid ha-ha.

But maybe because it’s late, or maybe because a birthday makes a mom notice how fast time passes, I think it’s right on.

Friends, readers, loved ones, thank you for being here – whether it’s your birthday or not.  And it’s cool if you didn’t get a promotion or a new degree or cure anything or finally make a perfect meringue.

I’m just glad you didn’t die this year. Really: nice job with that.

Thanks for not jumping off a bridge in spite of these crazy oil-spill, immigrant-hating, war-mongering, Fox-news-yelling, unemployment-up-the-wazoo days.  In spite of all that’s going on in your own life that might have made it tempting.

And Z., my baby, my brilliant bubbly little shining birthday star. Thank you for coming into this world and being here with me.  Happy birthday.

Let’s have some silly cupcakes and give the whole thing another whirl.

(The fabulous Abby Dodge’s Emergency Blender Cupcakes, with Italian Buttercream Frosting, with candy-coated sunflower seeds and snipped licorice, peach gummy rings, and fruit leather.)

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Massive Cookies & Extreme Library Gratitude 4

Posted on June 30, 2010 by crankycheryl

I don’t know if our librarians could possibly know how much the summer reading program saves our sanity.

How positively alluring and magnetic we find that weekly day at the library, amidst the chaos of the disrupted schedule, the dinners with friends that stretch on into the night while mommies sip wine and can’t bear to call children in before sunset, the watergun fights and overtired, mosquito-bitten warriors on endless quests.

Library day.  So we gather whatever books we can find to return, bring in the boys’ reading lists from the past week and we toodle down the hill.  They perch on chairs and gesticulate wildly while they describe the horrible things their favorite characters have done on that week’s pages.

While there this week, E. excitedly found a past favorite, “Wild Boars Cook.” Oh, the boars (Horace, Morris, Boris & Doris) are horrible creatures, beautifully drawn and full of badness.  While in this sequel book they are neither bathing in toilets nor breaking toys nor farting, they are in the kitchen making a “massive pudding,” with ingredients I’ll leave you to discover.  Plus the book ends with a recipe for a massive cookie, and we made our version of it.

Massive Cookie
Adapted from “Wild Boars Cook”
Makes 1 cookie, about 12 servings

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream together until very well blended in a medium bowl:

  • 1/2 stick (4 T.) butter
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 3/4 c. sugar

Sift over the top of the butter mixture:

  • 1/2 c. white flour
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. baking soda

Stir thoroughly.  Then mix in:

  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips

Grease a cookie sheet, then form dough into shape of a large cookie.

Bake for 15 minutes, then have one of your little boarlets carefully sprinkle over the top while you stand there nervously with potholders between your child and the pan.  Or maybe just do it yourself:

  • 1/2 c. m&m type candies
  • 1/2 c. gum drops or jelly beans

Bake for 15 minutes more, or until golden brown.

Cool, cut into wedges or whatever shape you like.

Have any great kids books with recipes you love?  I’d love to hear about them since, ahhhhh, our next library day is coming soon.

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Homemade Pop Tarts 5

Posted on June 23, 2010 by crankycheryl

It is day 5 of summer vacation and I have already threatened my #1 son with juvenile detention if he doesn’t stop hitting his brother.

Homemade sugary treats with purple sparkles!

He wanted to know if he could eat hot dogs if he went to kid jail.  No hot dogs, I told him.  No good food at all.

For breakfast!

Homemade Blueberry Pop Tarts
adapted from King Arthur Flour & with inspiration from Smitten Kitchen
makes about 9

Whisk together:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 T. ground flaxseed
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Use 2 forks or a pastry cutter to work in:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pats

Whisk together:

  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Add oil-egg-milk mixture to flour mixture and stir briskly until mostly incorporated.  You can knead it a couple of times if you like.

Divide the dough in half and shape each a rectangle.  Chill in the refrigerator for 10 or 15 minutes, then roll out first one rectangle and then the other to a rectangle about 1/8″ thick measuring 12 x 15 inches (use a cutting board or baking sheet as a guide).

While dough is chilling, prepare filling by placing in a small saucepan, stirring well and heating to a boil for one minute:

  • 2/3 cup blueberry jam
  • 1 t. cornstarch dissolved in 1 T. water

Let filling cool.  Lightly oil a baking sheet and set aside.

Removing dough from refrigerator, use a sharp knife or a pastry wheel to cut 9 approximately same-sized rectangles.  Repeat with second rectangle of dough.  Brush outline with:

  • beaten egg

then place a tablespoon of filling in the center.  Put another piece of dough on top, then press and crimp edges with a fork and poke a few holes on top for ventilation.  Put each on the prepared baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 350.  Refrigerate pastries for 15 – 20 minutes, then place directly into oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until lightly golden.  Remove to rack to cool.

If you really want to be able to prepare these in your toaster, you probably should stop here.  But if you just want them to enjoy them without the actual use of a toaster, go ahead and make some sugar glaze and then top with colored sugar or sprinkles before eating them all in a carbo-loading festival of self-loathing and -pity at your horrible parenting surprising your little angels with them for a special breakfast treat.

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Behind the Scenes of the Great Strawberry Ice Cream Taste Test 0

Posted on June 11, 2010 by crankycheryl

Trying sample #2 for this article that appeared in the Living section of the Sunday, June 13 Burlington Free Press.

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Strawberries + Marzipan + Inspired = Fraisier for Mother’s Day 3

Posted on May 11, 2010 by crankycheryl

I’ve long wanted to make this cake,  which I first had years ago at a celebration dinner with friends.  But  though it combines two of my very favorite flavors (strawberries and almonds), I was intimidated by making genoise, the classic European sponge cake that provides its layers.

My mother inspired me recently though, telling me that even though she didn’t think of herself as much of a cook, she could do fairly complex things because she knows how to follow the steps of a recipe.

I thought, I want to do that too.  And before I knew it it was Mother’s Day, and since these are tastes my mother also loves, Z. & I got in the kitchen.  We followed the recipe, making it just a bit healthier, and it was very, very good.

Fraisier Cake
(adapted from Joy of Cooking)
12 servings

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease and flour the bottoms of two 9 x 2″ round pans.

Sift together 3 times and return to the sifter:

  • 1 1/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour or cake flour
  • 1/4 c. sugar

Melt in a small saucepan:

  • 1/3 c. clarified butter (I used 2 T. butter, and the rest olive oil)

Whisk together in a large heatproof bowl:

  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 c. sugar

Set the bowl over a skillet of very lightly simmering water, and whisk constantly until the mixture is warm to the touch (110 on a thermometer).  Remove bowl from the heat and and beat on high speed until very lightly colored and tripled in volume.  This will take about 5 minutes with the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, or 15 minutes with a hand-held beater.

In 3 additions, sift the flour mixture over the top and fold in with a rubber spatula.  (Unless your children relentlessly steal your rubber spatulas, no matter how many times you replace them, in which case you can use a wooden spoon like I did.)

Reheat butter until warm, and fold into

  • 1 1/2 c. of batter, with
  • 1 t. vanilla

until completely incorporated.

Fold into remaining egg mixture, then scrape into pans and spread evenly.  Bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pans and top springs back when lightly pressed.  The JoC recipe says this should take about 15 minutes, but in my oven it took about 22.

Let cool on rack in pans for 10 minutes, then run knife carefully around edges to detach from pan, then let cool on rack completely.

While cakes are cooling, clean and slice in half:

  • 3 c. strawberries

Set aside and whip until fairly stiff:

  • 1 c. whipping cream
  • 1 t. sugar

Get a rolling pin, and roll out until nice and flat (alternately, if you can’ t find your rolling pin no matter how you try, you can get a nice big cutting board and use your hands to create a nice flat circle that’s the same size as your cake):

  • 1 tube of marzipan

Once cakes are cooled, place the marzipan disc (use a spatula to lift it from the board) on top of one cake.

Then place the strawberry halves, flat side down and cut side facing out, in concentric circles on top of the marzipan.

Place whipped cream on top, and then top with top layer of cake.  You can decorate the top with strawberries or extra marzipan or more whipped cream if you like.  It’s also traditional to drizzle some chocolate over the top.  I was told to put the plain round circle on there so that’s what I did.

And we ate it and were very happy.  Then Z. said it was time to, “put your hand way out and take a picture of ourselves hugging,” so I did that too.  Hope your Mother’s Day was just as sweet and silly.

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Rhubarb Baklava for CoHousing 2

Posted on April 30, 2010 by crankycheryl

What I probably should have made was strudel.   Sticky soft things do not go into baklava.  Nutty, crunchy, crumbly, sweet: yes.  Gooey and tart: no.

But today it was my turn to make the meal for our cohousing neighbors and I found myself stunned with spring sunshine and a taste for fresh food.  There was dessert to consider.  What if I made something with rhubarb?  But not a cake, and I didn’t feel like custard, and I wanted something to go with the Greek veggie burgers I was making.   Baklava is actually so easy to make, and why not with rhubarb?  Why not maple?

One of the great things about living in cohousing is that my neighbors tend to be an adventurous sort.  There are hard things too, of course, because we’re a feisty and passionate bunch.  But we’re very, very good at eating food around here, at trying new things, especially when they’re sweetened.  So why not rhubarb baklava?  I couldn’t think of a good reason.

Rhubarb Baklava
about 40 gooey pieces

Defrost 1 box of phyllo dough according to package directions.

Place in a heavy pot, bring to a boil, and then cover and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes or until very soft:

  • 2 lbs. rhubarb, chopped into 3/4″ pieces
  • 2 cups maple syrup

Strain the rhubarb very well, saving the liquid.

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix together in a medium bowl and place aside:

  • 6 C. chopped walnuts
  • 2 T. maple syrup
  • 1 t. of ground cinnamon

Pour into a small bowl:

  • 1/2 c. olive oil

Have a pastry brush ready.

Oil the bottom and sides of a large baking pan, at least 10 x 15. Place a sheet of phyllo in the pan and brush with a little oil.   Allow any overlap to hang out the sides. Repeat until there are 4 sheets on the bottom.

Spread one half the nut mixture across the phyllo, then repeat the layers of phyllo and oil until 8 more sheets are on the top.  Spoon the drained rhubarb on the top, then cover with 4 layers of phyllo and oil.  Spread the remaining nut mixture, and then place the remaining sheets of phyllo on top with olive oil brushed between.  Do not oil the top sheet.

Score the pastry in pieces using a razor blade, and follow up with a sharp knife, cutting all the way through. To make triangles: cut the pastry into squares, then, cut squares in half diagonally to make triangles.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden.  While it’s baking, heat the reserved syrup.

As soon as the baklava comes out of the oven, pour 2 cups of the hot syrup carefully over the entire pan.  It will crackle as it absorbs.  This is one of the most exciting parts of making the whole thing so be sure to take a moment for a satisfied grin.  But don’t burn yourself.

Allow the baklava to cool thoroughly and absorb the syrup before serving (at least 3-4 hours).  It’ll be a little goopy, but neither you nor your eaters will mind.

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Maple-Ginger-Bacon Blondies for the Maple Cook-Off 2

Posted on March 29, 2010 by crankycheryl

UVM decided to host a cook-off to celebrate the launch of their library’s new Maple Research Website and, what the heck – I hadn’t entered any contests since last year so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

The categories were Savory, Sweet & Judges’ Choice, and the criteria were simple: Appearance (25%), Taste (50%), and Use of Maple (25%).  I liked the straight-forwardness, and think it’s a nicely democratic approach that encourages all sorts of folks to participate.  There was music and Island Ice Cream and a cool tasting table set up where you could try your hand at identifying the mineral content of the soil upon which various saps were grown.  (I didn’t try, though I was geekily tantalized by a geological thrust on the terroir of maple syrup – why is Vermont’s product so good?  Maybe it’s because of our dirt’s mineral content.)

The competition was good-natured but serious.  There were around 30 entries, a few from UVM students, from local restaurants and bakers, and from local folks and families.  The mix was a great snapshot of the food-world of Vermont, with beautiful, sculptural entries like individual Maple Cheesecakes with Maple-Caramel Glaze alongside traditional humble fare like Maple Baked Beans and Butternut Cake with Maple Meringue frosting.  My personal favorite was a pork tenderloin with maple-habanero glaze.

I’m sorry I didn’t get more pictures, but you can imagine the stampede when they let guests help themselves after the judges had been through.  Here were some of the entries I was able to snap before we hordes descended with forks.

The music played, the judges sampled, E. & Z. ended up sticky and covered with frosting and finally sat staring into space, unsure how they had been allowed to consume so many sweet treats.  Then the winning entries were announced: Maple Pulled-Pork Sliders, excellent looking wraps with meat and root vegetables called The Beef Explosion (long gone before I could get one), Maple Baked Beans, and Maple Bars (didn’t get one of these either).

It was an opportunity to teach the boys about how to act when we lose.  After I coached them on applauding and congratulation, Z. told me, “Mommy, when we lose I’m just going to say, ‘phooey,’ quietly like this: phooey.”

Yeah, phooey, but yum.

Maple-Ginger Blondies with Maple Glaze, Nuts & Crispy Bacon

2 dozen

Butter 9 x 13 pan and set aside.

Melt together in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until nicely blended:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 c. maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 c. brown sugar

Let cool for a few minutes then beat in until well-combined:

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/3 c. pumpkin puree

Sift in:

  • 1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. powdered ginger

Put into prepared pan.  Bake for 25 minutes, then cool on rack completely

In the meantime, prepare the glaze and topping:

Cook until crisp then crumble and place aside:

  • 6 slices thick cut bacon

Very coarsely chop:

  • 1/2 c. maple-roasted or salted nuts

Make glaze. Sift:

  • 2 cups confectioners sugar

Beat in on high speed:

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 T. maple syrup
  • 1 T. milk

Adjust by adding more confectioners sugar, or milk, until thick but pourable. Once blondies have cooled, spread with glaze, top with nuts and bacon and serve.

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Green Wraps & Chocolate Guinness Cake for St. Patrick’s Day 0

Posted on March 17, 2010 by crankycheryl

Filed under the category of “Things My Children Ought to Have Liked but Instead Were the Cause of Great Consternation and Caterwauling” are these wraps that were yummy, simple, adorable, healthy, made with nearly all local ingredients, and a fun twist on St. Patrick’s Day. Dangit.

I had meant to make Green Eggs & Ham for Dr. Seuss’s birthday earlier this month but never seemed to have all the ingredients at the same time.  Then fresh spinach arrived from a friend’s CSA share, and off we went.

Green Egg Wraps with Bacon
Makes about 6 wraps

Place in a blender and puree the heck out of:

  • 2 cups of fresh spinach leaves, well washed, stems removed
  • 2 eggs

Pour the egg-spinach mixture into a medium bowl and beat in:

  • 4 eggs
  • salt & pepper to taste

In the meantime, cook:

  • 8 strips of bacon (a couple of extra never hurt)

And warm up:

  • 4 or 6 whole grain wraps

I do both of these in one easy, lazy step by placing the bacon on a rack on a broiler pan that fits in my convection oven and broiling it for 10 or so minutes, until it’s as crispy as we like.  At the same time, I place the wraps on top of the oven.  They end up just warm enough and I’m not fussing with extra dishes or labor.

While the bacon’s going, cook the eggs in a skillet until set.

Into each warm wrap, place:

  • 1 slice of cheese (we used Muenster)
  • 1 piece of bacon
  • a couple scoops of green eggs
  • favorite add-ins: tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, hot sauce, jalapenos, whatever you like.

Then wrap ’em up and serve.

For dessert we made Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Guinness Cake.  It was great, and I even lucked out and found some cream cheese frosting in the freezer to thaw to put on the top.

However, I would note that when a recipe calls for a 9″ springform pan, it really and truly doesn’t mean an 8″ springform pan.  Not that that’s a mistake you would ever make.

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Posted on February 28, 2010 by crankycheryl

In the morning, the boys climb into bed with me for a snuggle and some surreal conversation.  The other day, I looked over at E. and he was patting his chest with his hands.  When I asked what he was doing, he said, “Oh, I’m just looking at where my new hand and arm are going to grow.”

Last week, he told me a new evil queen was going to be arriving.  “Her name is Revengella [rhymes with Angela], Mommy!”    When we told Greg about it, he said, “Sounds like a dessert.”  We thought this was a bang-up idea.  I said I thought that Revengella would be a dessert that was so delicious it would make your enemies weep with jealousy.  E. corrected me.

“Listen, Mommy.  We’re going to make the cake and we’re giving a piece to 10 people.  It’s going to be SO DELICIOUS that they’re going to tell all their friends about it, and they’re going to be so AMAZED that they’re going to give us BAGS OF GOLD and we’re going to be SO SO RICH!”

We talked about what its parts would be.  It turned out to be a cake with a fudgy filling.  Lots of chocolate, obviously.  White frosting.  Cherries.  E. said, “eight layers,” but I was able to talk him down to four.  He says you people can decorate it any way you want (I think that the imminent bags of gold are making him feel generous), but that we had to put a big circle of chocolate on it.

What we ended up with was a sort of cross between Diplomatico and Black Forest Cake, with layers of cocoa angel food cake, semi-sweet chocolate ganache-y filling, cream cheese frosting on the outside, a center filled with black cherries and the ganache, and coarse-chopped chocolate chips on the outside.

There are a few steps, but none hard, and they’re fun for kids.  Plus, of course, there are those bags of gold.

(all component recipes from Joy of Cooking)
12 servings

Cocoa Angel Food Cake

1.  Preheat oven to 350 and set aside an ungreased tube pan.

2.  Sift together 3 times:

  • 1/2 c. cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1/2 c. cocoa
  • 2/3 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 t. kosher salt

Set aside and keep the sifter handy.

3.  Place in a large bowl:

  • 12 egg whites (great use for the powdered ones unless you have a need for so many yolks)
  • 1 T. water
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 1 t. cream of tartar
  • 1 t. vanilla

Beat on low speed for one minute (set a timer to help you out, especially if you’ll have to wrestle the mixer away from your kids).  Then increase speed to medium, and beat for about 2 minutes, until mixture increases in volume 4 – 5 times and looks foamy.  Measure:

  • 2/3 c. sugar

Increase beater speed to high, and add sugar very slowly, about 1 T. at a time, taking 2 – 3 minutes to incorporate.

4.  In 8 parts, sift a fine layer of the flour mixture over the top of the egg whites and gently fold in without beating or stirring.  Fold just until it’s all incorporated, then pour into pan, and spread evenly.

5.  Place in oven and bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  (By the way, I use a thin metal skewer for this because I hate to use disposable things unnecessarily.)  Once it’s in the oven, get a bottle ready to invert the pan over once it comes out. After baking, quickly and carefully place the pan upside down on the bottle’s neck to prevent the cake from collapsing.  Let stay there and cool for a full 1 1/2 hours.

In the meantime, make Chocolate Filling:

In top of a double boiler, or in a small pan placed inside a larger pan with an inch of lightly simmering water in it, stirring frequently just until thoroughly melted and combined:

  • 8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chunks, chips, or coarsely chopped
  • 6 oz. butter
  • 6 T. water or coffee

Set aside to cool.

Make Cream Cheese Frosting.  Beat together on medium speed just until blended:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 5 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 t. vanilla

Add in 3 parts and beat just until blended:

  • 2 c. powdered sugar

Keep at room temperature until ready to frost cake.

Prepare final ingredients for finishing cake:

?1.  Thaw frozen, or pit fresh:

  • 1 c. sweet cherries

2.  Coarsely chop:

  • 6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

Construct cake once the chocolate filling is cooled but still fairly fluid and the cake has cooled for an hour and a half:

1. Remove cake from pan by running a knife between cake and pan all around.  Push bottom through, gently, then run knife along the bottom.  Place cake on one plate and have another plate ready. With a long, serrated knife, cut cake into four layers.

2.  Place one layer on the second plate, and spread thin layer of chocolate filling.  Place other layers on top, spreading chocolate filling between each.  Don’t worry too much if the layers break a little bit – angel food cake is not as crumbly as most cakes and can be patched back together.

3.  When top layer is in place, spread a thin layer of the cream cheese frosting over the outside of the entire cake.  It’s okay if it pulls up crumbs and looks crappy.  This is the crumb coat.  Set by cooling for a few minutes.  Spread the rest of the frosting on top.

4.  Scoop or pour the remaining chocolate filling into the center of the cake and put cherries on top of the chocolate.

5.  Using your hands, gently pat the chopped chocolate around the outside.

Enjoy, and send all bags of gold right to our house.  E. is going to be terribly angry if you don’t.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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