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by Heather Harris Brady

Now moving on to the entree portion of the Italian menu I’m doing this week. I created this dish to showcase some lovely smoked chicken my father-in-law gave us. You could sub in a variety of smoked meats in place of the chicken, but the smokiness is nice with the rich, creamy sauce. I’m doing this the old-fashioned way and making the sauce right in the pan.

The pasta is up to you, here I’m using a chichi artisanal fusilli I bought at the fancy food store up the street from my office. I like fusilli because not only is it fun to say the corkscrews are great at carrying sauce and capturing toppings at the same time.

Smoked Chicken Alfredo, Four Generous Servings

  • 1/2 lb. dried pasta
  • 1/2 lb. fresh swiss chard, cut into strips (chiffonade)
  • 1-1/2 c. diced smoked chicken
  • 1/2 lb. fresh portabella or porcini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 t. minced garlic
  • 3/4 c. shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1/3 c. dry white wine
  • 3 T. butter
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Boil the pasta as directed on the package.

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While the pasta is cooking, add one tablespoon of butter to another saucepan along with the mushrooms.

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Saute over medium-high until the mushrooms start to release their juices. Add the swiss chard and the garlic. Continue tossing until the swiss chard is wilted and bright green, about three minutes. Add the chicken to heat through. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside.

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Drain the pasta but do not rinse it. Return it to the pan over medium heat and add the butter. I usually set my pasta bowls alongside too at this point, so I have them handy.

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Pour in the cream and wine, sprinkling the cheese over the top. Toss the pasta over the heat. As you toss it, the cream will warm and the cheese will melt as they combine into one glorious whole, coating each strand of pasta.

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Put a serving of pasta in each bowl and top with one quarter of the chicken-mushroom mixture. Grind some fresh pepper over the top and serve hot.

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One year ago: Chicken Biryani with Saffron Rice

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by Heather Harris Brady

I felt like doing an Italian dinner this week so I’m starting off with dessert first, then on Thursday we’ll have the main course. This cake comes in many guises but the premise is always the same, olive oil in place of butter and at least part of the flour is replaced with cornmeal or semolina. Since this cake has a naturally sandy, crumbly texture it would lend itself well to replacing the unbleached flour below with a GF blend.

This cake goes together really quickly. If you want to serve it right away you could skip the glaze. Make sure you use an olive oil that you enjoy, because the flavor really comes through.

It stays moist and keeps well while playing nicely with any berries or other fresh fruit you have on hand for topping. In addition to the peaches here I used a small dollop of fresh goat cheese with honey and lavender, but you could sub in creme fraiche or a greek yogurt too.

Semolina Cake with Fresh Peaches, Makes one 8″ cake

  • 1/2 c. olive oil (a citrus flavored oil would be nice as well)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1-1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. semolina pastry flour or fine cornmeal
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1 fresh peach, diced
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • Juice of one lemon or lime

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the olive oil, wine, eggs and sugar in a bowl. Beat well.

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Add the flour, baking powder and the semolina. Quickly stir together.

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Fold in the diced fresh peach.

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Spoon the batter into a well-greased 8″ cake pan.

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Bake about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Test the center to make sure it’s cooked through.

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Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack.

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Set the cake rack over a plate while you stir up the glaze.

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Stir the powdered sugar and lemon/lime juice together to make a smooth, pourable glaze.

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Pour it over the cake. I pour it all in the middle and then coax it to the outside by pushing it with the back of the spoon.

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Let the cake stand for an hour or so while the glaze sets.

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The cake slices nice and cleanly.

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Serve with fresh fruit. As noted, I’ve added a dollop of fresh goat cheese (Idyll Farm with honey and lavender). Slightly sweetened sour cream would work too.

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One year ago: Peach Cobbler

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by Heather Harris Brady

As promised – a pie (ish) post! No one in my family likes apricots that much, but if I see them fresh this time of year I buy some anyway because I have fond memories of the apricot tree on our farm (previous post, apricot frangipane tart). It was a temperamental tree, some years no fruit, some years it fell while green and but every now and then it would actually do its job and produce bright fruit with a slight blush.

In this crostata I used some beautiful apricots from a farm in Suttons Bay, but this recipe would work with many types of fruit. If you don’t use fruit with a similar water content (like dryer Granny Smith type apples perhaps), make sure to adjust the thickening. This recipe is based on one from Bon Appetit magazine.

Apricot Crostata, Makes one 12″ crostata (about eight slices)

  • Pie dough for one crust (see Basics, on upper toolbar)
  • 2-1/2 c. sliced apricots
  • 1 T. honey or agave syrup
  • ¾ c. crushed amaretti or savoiardi biscuits
  • 1/3 c. almond flour
  • 1 T. butter, melted
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • Juice of one fresh lemon
  • 1 egg, well beaten and set aside
  • Sugar

Preheat the oven to 375.

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Toss the apricots with the lemon juice, then the sugar, butter and sweetener. Set them aside.

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Roll the crust out to 1/8” thick (the circle should be about 16” wide) and transfer it to a lightly greased cookie sheet. As you will see, I was rushing to get dinner on the table and filled it on the countertop. This is not a good idea. Don’t try to be a hero. However, if you also make the same mistake, slide a well-floured flexible cutting board underneath and carefully slide it off onto your cookie sheet. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

As I was saying, transfer the crust to a light greased cookie sheet. Pile the crumbs and the almond flour in the middle of the dough.

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Top them with the apricots.

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Then go around the outside edge, folding and pleating the dough up over the edge of the fruit.

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Brush the crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle it with sugar.

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Not only will this give you a pretty crust, the egg is sort of an extra layer of bondo to help keep everything together.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until the fruit starts to bubble and the juices thicken.

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Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream.

This crostata is best eaten the day it’s made.

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One year ago: Thai Lettuce Wraps

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by Heather Harris Brady

I love the combination of blueberry and lime, and it really takes these scones up a level as the tart lime glaze balances out the sweetness of the scones. These are not sturdy scones for spreading with butter, jam and cream; rather, these have a delicate crumb thanks to the heavy cream and are closer to tiny coffeecakes. If you can find fresh wild blueberries, by all means use them, but the lime can even perk up somewhat bland bigger cultivated berries.

Blueberry-Lime Scones, Makes Eight Large Scones

  • 1 cup of fresh blueberries, washed and picked over
  • Two fresh limes
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 4 T. butter
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 2-1/4 c. flour
  • 1 to 1-1/3 c. heavy cream
  • 1-1/2 c. powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 400.

Put the sugar in a bowl and grate in the zest from the limes.

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Work the zest into the sugar with your fingers until fragrant. Stir the flour and baking powder into the sugar.

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Cut in the butter until you have soft crumbs pea-sized or smaller.

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Stir in the heavy cream, depending on your flour you may need the extra amount to achieve a soft dough.

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Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead it quickly six-seven turns.

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Pat it out into a circle. Top the dough with the blueberries and carefully fold them in.

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Gently pat the dough back out into a circle about an inch thick. Sprinkle it lightly with 1/3 c. of sugar if you like a crunchier top crust.

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Cut into eighths and put them on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

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Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the tops are crackled and the bottoms are lightly brown. They will spread a bit and puff up in a comforting way.

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While the scones are baking stir together the powdered sugar, adding the juice from the limes until you have a spoonable glaze.

Put the hot scones on a baking rack and drizzle with the glaze.

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Serve warm or at room temperature.

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These scones are best the day they’re made but will keep an additional day or two at room temperature.

Warm leftover scones slightly before serving.

One year ago: Fresh Peach Pie

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by Heather Harris Brady

The blog has been in a bit of a baking drought lately, because quite frankly, we’ve been in a drought! I’ve been spending about two hours every day out watering to keep my gardens going and it’s cramping my baking style. But I’m here to make it up to you – today we’ve got these amazing bars and we’re heading into a birthday weekend, so next week there will be PIE.

For whatever reason I’ve never felt too creative with Bing cherries. Maybe it’s because they are such stainers, we tend to just eat them fresh. But after I had yummy almond cherry crisp made with Bings I decided to get them another look. The base of these bars is a chewy almond BROWN BUTTER (heck yeah!) blondie-type batter, sprinkled with Bings and topped with more almond streusel.  I was a little worried the cherries would juice up and stain the batter but they didn’t – they stayed intact and baked up in a very pretty – tasty – way. Once the butter is browned you dump in the rest of the ingredients and badaboom you’ve got badabings!

BTW, you could easily sub in a GF flour mix for the regular flour.

Badabing Chewy Cherry Bars, Makes on 9 x 13 pan (about 15 bars)

  • One stick of butter
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. white sugar
  • Four eggs
  • 1 t. almond extract
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 3/4 c. almond flour
  • 1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 c. quick-cooking oatmeal
  • 1/3 c. wheat germ
  • 1 c. Bing/dark sweet cherries, halved and pitted

For the streusel:

  • 3 T. softened butter
  • 3/4 c. oatmeal
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. flour

Heat the butter over medium heat in a saucepan until you start getting a nutty brown color. Take it off the heat and set it aside to cool to lukewarm.

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Preheat the oven to 325. Pour the butter into a mixing bowl and stir in the sugars, then beat the eggs in one at a time, followed by the almond extract.

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Add the flours, oatmeal, wheat germ, and baking soda.

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Pour the batter into a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan. Top it with the cherries and slide that bad boy into the oven.

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While the bars are baking mix up the streusel. Combine all the streusel ingredients and work them together with your fingers until crumbly.

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Check the pan in the oven. When the edges are brown and the center is nearly set (about 20 minutes), remove the pan from the oven, quickly sprinkle it with streusel and return it to the oven for another 10 minutes. The streusel should lightly brown.

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Let the bars cool and cut them into squares.

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Store leftovers at room temperature covered with plastic wrap. Because of the brown butter these actually get better over the next day or two.

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One year ago: Stuffed Zucchini

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by Heather Harris Brady

This is the time of year when it’s not so great to be a cook in a kitchen with no air conditioning. What to make? Tempting as it is to just fling cold cuts to the ravenous hordes who really wants another plain turkey sandwich? Or maybe your life is more exciting – it’s midnight and your kitchen is filled with post-theatre people-about-town who are also ravenous. In both cases, three words: wicked club sandwich. It’s a typical club sandwich that’s been hanging out in some questionable areas south of the Mason-Dixon, where it’s picked up a fried green tomato and a lashing of sriracha mayo. It’s also wicked good.

Wicked Club Sandwich

For each sandwich:

  • One slice fresh tomato
  • Two strips of bacon
  • Three slices of turkey
  • Sriracha mayo (equal parts mayo and sriracha sauce, or to taste)
  • Two slices fresh toasted bread or bun of your choice
  • One fried green tomato (ingredients follow)
  • Fine bread crumbs, fine cornmeal or cornflour
  • Sliced green tomato
  • Garlic powder
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • Egg

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You”ll have to gauge how many green tomatoes to slice depending on your total number of sandwiches.

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In any case, beat the egg well in a bowl and combine the flour or crumbs with seasoning to taste.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Dip each green tomato slice in egg, then dredge in the flour.

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Fry until crisp and brown on each side.

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Stir up your sriracha mayo. I use close to equal parts of each, but it’s up to you.

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Now toast your bread or split bun lightly if you like. Spread it with the mayo. Add the fresh tomato to one side and the green tomato to the other. (You can’t see it here because it’s under the turkey.) Then put the turkey and bacon on the green tomato slice.)

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Voila! It’s wickedness is beckoning you. . .

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One year ago: Chocolate Zucchini Snack Cake

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by Heather Harris Brady

For the past few months I’ve been reading about Watson’s new vocation. The Jeopardy-playing IBM computer with no tastebuds has taken up cooking. I know.

Not only cooking, but apparently Watson has created an incredible, low-sugar, barbeque sauce based on wine and squash available for purchase. When I got over my skeptical indigation I thought – what a great idea! So before I get into my version of this recipe, let me tell you that I am also a new beta tester for the Bon Appetit Watson app. The first time I tried to log in the site was malfunctioning, but I look forward to trying it and reporting back to you. If you’re curious here’s the story.

In the meantime, here’s my take on a squash-and-wine based bbq sauce. It’s amazing on grilled chicken and roast pork, but it makes a great sauce for wraps too. If you’re having trouble wrapping your mind around this concept, think of it as less a bbq sauce and more a complex chutney perhaps.

Butternut Squash BBQ Sauce ala Watson, Makes about three cups

  • One large butternut squash
  • One bottle sweet wine (I used a moscato.)
  • One fresh red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 c. cider vinegar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 T. fresh ground ginger
  • 2 T. fresh ground horseradish
  • Ponzu to taste

Preheat the oven to 375. Wash, peel and chop the squash.

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Toss it with olive oil, spread it on a roasting pan and roast until soft.

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While the squash is cooking, pour the wine into saucepan and quickly reduce it by half.

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Add the squash and the vinegars. Then the red pepper and onion.

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Cook on medium to a thick puree, about 40 minutes. Give it a taste. If it’s too sweet add a little more vinegar.

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Add the ginger, horseradish, salt and ponzu. Taste and adjust as necessary. (You could toss in some red pepper flakes too.)

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You could puree this with an immersion blender for a smooth sauce, but I liked the texture so I left it.

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This sauce is actually better after it sits a day in the fridge so the flavors can blend.

One year ago: Hamburger/Hot Dog Buns

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by Heather Harris Brady

Here it’s the height of the summer, hot and sandy, and we’re all trying to make the most of it while it lasts. This recipe is a great one because these can do double-duty: have these hot for dinner and polish them off the next day cold as really good leftovers.

Pork tacos, Makes about 16 tacos

  • Four large country cut pork ribs
  • ½ onion, sliced
  • One red pepper, diced
  • One can of green chilis, divided in half
  • 2 t. cumin
  • 2 t. garlic powder
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • Four tomatillos, chopped
  • One large ripe mango, chopped
  • ¼ c. minced onion
  • 1 t. chili paste
  • 1 T. honey
  • Two fresh limes
  • Corn tortillas, 7” or taco size
  • Feta or queso blanco

You could use a regular skillet or crock pot for the pork, I used an electric skillet to keep the house cooler.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and brown the pork well on each side. Sprinkle the spices (cumin, garlic powder and chili powder) over the meat. Add one cup of water, cover and turn the heat down to low. Simmer for about an hour, until the pork is fork-tender.

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Remove the pork from the pan. Add the ½ onion, red pepper, half the green chilis, and ½ cup of the chopped tomatillos. Let them simmer while you shred or chop the pork.

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Stir the pork back into the sauce, squeeze the juice of one lime over the top and keep it warm.

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Combine the mango and minced onion with the rest of the green chilis and tomatillos.

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Pour the honey, chili paste and juice from the second lime over the top and toss.

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To serve ladle a spoonful of pork into each tortilla, top with the cheese and a spoon of mango salsa.

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Refrigerate any leftovers.

One year ago: Picnic Dogs

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by Heather Harris Brady

Did you know today is National Raspberry Cake Day? Neither did I! Yet in a fantastic bit of cosmic karma I have an amazing fresh raspberry cake for you today. I whipped this up quickly for dinner, since I found more gorgeous fresh black raspberries at the farm market. But feel free to substitute, you could use red raspberries with a white chocolate filling or any other combo that puts a spring in your step.

I’m using the same sponge cake here that I use for ice cream rolls, so I didn’t do the whole step-by-step over again. The sponge recipe is from Paula Peck’s fabulous Art of Fine Baking. This is a great recipe if you’re looking for something low in sugar. Also, I didn’t have any whipping cream on hand so I subbed in coconut milk.

Fresh Raspberry Cake Roll, Makes one 13″ long cake roll (about eight servings)

  • Four eggs, separated
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1-1/2 pints fresh raspberries, washed and cleaned
  • 1 small package instant pudding mix (your choice of flavor, sugar free is fine)
  • 1 can of coconut milk (full fat), very cold
  • 1/4 c. sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 and beat the egg whites to stiff peaks with the sugar. Fold one quarter of them into the yolks well, along with the vanilla, then pour this over the rest of the whites. Sprinkle the sugar and cornstarch on top, then fold everything together.

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Try not to leave any streaks of whites, as these will tear easily later on. Line a roll cake pan or cookie sheet with parchment and grease lightly. Spread the cake batter out evenly.

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Bake about 10 minutes, until lightly brown. Set the pan on a rack and let it cool while you make the filling.

Beat the coconut milk with 1/4 c. sugar to soft peaks, then beat in the pudding mix.

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Spread the mousse over the cooled cake and top with the raspberries.

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Gently roll it up, peeling the paper as you go.

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Chill the filled cake for at least an hour before serving. The longer you chill it the neater your slices will be.

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Garnish with more fresh raspberries (unless the kids have eaten them all!), and serve cold. Store leftovers in the fridge, covered.

One year ago: Blueberry Lavender Jam

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by Heather Harris Brady

Of all the fruit I have to say black raspberries are my favorite. On the farm they grew wild in our woods and on the long, lazy afternoons of summer vacation I’d head out there with a pile of books, snacking on huge handfuls of berries warm from the sun. At least around here now they are somewhat rare and if perchance you can find some, don’t refrigerate them. Just rinse and enjoy ASAP.

When I found these at our local farm market I was probably too excited, but that happens. Since it was now an Occasion, I broke into the stash of chocolate I shipped home from San Francisco. I paired the black raspberries with this Ghirardelli Cabernet ganache and it was a match made in heaven. (Note this is NOT a sponsored post. . .if you can find another fruity chocolate then full speed ahead.)

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These petit fours go together really quickly, especially if you’re using a frozen portion of pie crust. Hands on time is about 15 minutes!

Black Raspberry Ganache Tartlets, Makes about 16 2″ tartlets
One 3.5 oz. bar fruity dark chocolate
1/2 c. heavy cream
One 9″ pie crust (dough recipe here)
Fresh black raspberries or blackberries for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400. Heat the cream on medium in a small saucepan. Break the chocolate into the cream and whisk until melted.

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Set the ganache aside while you make the shells.

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My recipe makes enough for a double-crust pie, so you can wrap and freeze the other half for later. Roll out the dough and cut circles with a 2″ cutter. The 2″ circles fit nicely into the mini-muffin pans.

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Poke the shells all over with a fork and weigh them down.

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Bake for about 10 minutes, until lightly golden. Remove the weights and cool the shells.

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Fill the shells with the ganache. I used a spoon but if you want them really neat you can put the ganache in a pastry bag instead.

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Put the filled shells into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, so the chocolate can set.

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Lightly center a fresh black raspberry on each one and serve!

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One year ago: Cheesecake Ice Cream with Cherries Jubilee

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