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by Heather Harris Brady

This idea was a happy coincidence that came out of a need to use up a large batch of bananas – or maybe it was an excuse to use a can of dulce de leche, tomato, tomahto 😉

I used a basic cream puff dough (pate de choux), topped with cinnamon sugar and a bit of streusel for crunch. Then I put a dollop of dulce in the bottom of each puff, and topped it with a large scoop of banana soft-serve. The flavors work together really well, and if you have a very cold deep freeze you can have it on the table in less than two hours (most of which time is just allowing the bananas to freeze).

Churro Puffs, Makes eight servings

  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 4 T. butter
  • 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 T. 1-2-3-4 streusel
  • 2 T. cinnamon sugar
  • 1 c. dulce de leche
  • 6 large ripe bananas for banana soft serve
  • Chocolate syrup, for garnish

Slice your bananas and put them in a single layer on a piece of waxed paper. Slide them into the deep freeze.

Preheat the oven to 400. Combine the water, milk and butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

When the butter is melted and the mixture is steaming hot, add the flour all at once.

Whisk quickly until the mixture comes together in a ball.

Take the dough off the heat and whisk in the eggs, one at a time. (Note – these are farm fresh eggs from a friend so the yolks are a beautiful deep yellow orange.)

When both eggs are incorporated you should have a lovely paste.

Drop by heaping tablespoons onto a lightly greased cookie sheet, and top each one with cinnamon sugar and streusel.

Bake for about 15 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. When you take them out of the oven split the tops to let the steam out.

When you’re to serve prep your serving plates with a drizzle of chocolate sauce, top it with a puff and add a spoon of dulce into the bottom of each puff.

Put the frozen banana slices in the food processor and process for two minutes on high, until smooth.

Add a large scoop of banana soft serve into each puff and serve!

Baked puffs may be stored at room temperature for a few hours, and they freeze well. You can recrisp frozen puffs at 350 for 5-10 minutes.


Four years ago: Stuffed Zucchini
Three years ago: Butternut Squash BBQ Sauce
Two years ago: Double Berry Cookies
One year ago: Coney Sauce, Michigan Style


by Heather Harris Brady

I have a feeling this is a pretty old recipe, I found it in one of my vintage Farm Journal Pie cookbooks and tweaked it. They call it Rhubarb Popover, which is kind of true, but I like the name clafouti because that sounds more like a dessert.

Either way, it goes together really quickly and comes out of the oven as a lovely crusty amalgamation of fruit and a custard-like center.I think you could successfully sub in blackberries, raspberries, black cherries or pineapple for the rhubarb. I served it warm with scoops of vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries on top, but you could also just give it a quick shake of powdered sugar and call it a day.

This is so easy you can slide it in the oven when you sit down to dinner and it will ready by dessert!

Rhubarb Clafouti, Makes six generous servings

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 c. butter
  • 1-1/2 c. diced fresh rhubarb
  • Powdered sugar for garnish
  • Vanilla ice cream, optional

Preheat the oven to 425. Put the butter in a 9″ pie dish and put it in the oven to melt.

Combine the eggs and milk in a bowl, add the flour and beat it until smooth.

When the butter is bubbling, pull the pie dish back out of the oven and pour the batter into the hot dish.

Put the fruit in the center and return it to the oven. Bake about 20-25 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.

Cut into wedges and serve. This is best eaten straight away, any leftovers should be covered and refrigerated, then rewarmed.


Four years ago: Fallen Chocolate Cakes
Three years ago: Lemon Ginger Cake with Saskatoon Berries
Two years ago: Sunday Night Cake with Chocolate Sauce
One year ago: County Fair Lemon Pound Cake


by Heather Harris Brady

A new mini doughnut place opened in a town near us and it is an amazing thing to contemplate a case of 30 gorgeous little designer doughnuts. But what’s a girl to do when she wants doughnuts and they happen to be a good 45 minutes away on a Sunday morning? Just whip some up, of course!

These little doughnuts have greek yogurt, so they are nice and moist – the perfect vehicle for any toppings you can dream up. They’re also baked, so you don’t have to deal with deep frying. In the picture above the white chocolate has mini Guittard chips and the chocolate dip has toffee crumbs. Note – you will need a nonstick mini doughnut pan for these!

Mini Cake Doughnuts, Makes about 18

  • 1/3 c. soft butter
  • 2/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • ¾ t. baking powder
  • ½ t. baking soda
  • 1/3 c. greek yogurt
  • 1-1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 T. milk
  • Toppings of your choice: frosting, glaze, couverture, crushed candy, mini chips, coconut, etc.

Preheat the oven to 375. Cream the butter and sugar together well, beat in the egg and the vanilla.

Beat in half the flour, and the yogurt.

Finally beat in the baking powder, baking soda, remaining flour and milk.

You should have a thick creamy batter. To keep the tins as neat as possible I put the batter in a pastry bag. I also greased the pan REALLY well, especially the upright center part of each impression.

Bake about 10-12 minutes, until light golden brown.

The tops get puffy and a little wonky, but that’s a good thing – more surface area for the toppings! Turn them out to cool.

Assemble your toppings and have them ready. I used 1 c. of white and 1 c. of dark chocolate couverture (melted), as well as toffee bits, mini chips and coconut flakes.

These will keep three to four days at room temperature. Freeze for longer storage.


Four years ago: Strawberry Cookie Cones
Three years ago: Traverse Cherry Pie
Two years ago: Strawberry Lemon Torte
One year ago: Chocolate Pie with Meringue Crust


by Heather Harris Brady

I came up with this recipe when I was trying to get around using a pie glaze with artificial red dye. I try to avoid the artificial dyes whenever I can, and I was thinking of all the naturally red things I’d made when I hit upon hibiscus punch. The dried flowers give off a beautiful red color and a nice faint floral note that accents the strawberries.

If you have trouble finding the dried flowers in your grocery store any Mexican/latino market should have them. I included a rhubarb cream layer at the bottom of this pie, but if you want to make it entirely with strawberries you can. This is a refrigerator pie, so it’s great for the hot days when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen.

Strawberry-Hibiscus Pie, Makes one 9″ pie

One crumb pie crust (storebought or made with vanilla wafers)

  • For the bottom layer:
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 c. diced rhubarb
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. heavy cream
  • 1 pkg. unflavored gelatin, soaked in 1/4 c. cold water
  • For the glaze:
  • 1 c. dried hibiscus flowers (also called Jamaica flowers)
  • 2 c. water
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 pkg. unflavored gelatin
  • 1-1/2 quarts fresh local strawberries, cleaned and sliced in half

Make the hibiscus water: Combine the flowers and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then set aside to steep for an hour.

Strain the flowers out with a fine strainer. Reserve 1/3 c. of the water and set it all aside.

Combine the 1/2 c. water and 1/2 c. sugar in a saucepan. Poach your rhubarb pieces over medium heat.

When they are just tender (about 8-10 minutes), take them off the heat.

Add the hibiscus water you reserved earlier, for color, and the soaked gelatin. Let cool to room temperature.

Beat the cream to soft peaks, then beat in the cream cheese.

Fold in the rhubarb mixture…

…and turn it all into the pie shell. Refrigerate until the bottom layer is set (at least an hour).

When you’re ready to finish the pie stir one package of unflavored gelatin into 1/2 c. of the hibiscus water. Heat just until it’s dissolved and stir it back into the rest.

Put your hibiscus glaze into the refrigerator until it’s barely started to set.

Arrange your sliced strawberries over the bottom. I start with one layer and then start tucking them in from there.

Spoon the hibiscus glaze over the top. I did one layer of glaze, let it set in the refrigerator, and then touched it up with a second layer.

Refrigerate until the glaze is set and serve.

This pie keeps nicely in the refrigerator for up to four days.


Four years ago: Seeded Crackers
Three years ago: Strawberry Sorbet
Two years ago: Sopapillas
One year ago:  Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding


by Heather Harris Brady

This cookie is not a cookie that has oatmeal, it is an oatmeal cookie where the oatmeal is primary, thick and chewy. It’s based on a recipe given by America’s Test Kitchen. Mine do not have raisins, because getting a raisin when you are expecting a chocolate chip is one of life’s Great Disappointments.

These are good keepers thanks to the applesauce, and they’re great with a cup of tea or cold glass of milk. Even better, they are super easy!

Oatmeal Cookies 2, Makes about 36 3″ cookies

  • 4 T. butter, melted, browned and cooled slightly*
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 2/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c. natural applesauce
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 3 c. oatmeal
  • 2-1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 2 c. dark chocolate chips
  • 1 c. butterscotch chips (optional)

*To brown butter melt it over medium. Stir frequently until it starts to take on a light brown color. Remove from heat.

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the butter, olive oil, and sugars. Stir well.

Beat in the eggs, vanilla and applesauce.

Stir in the rest of the ingredients.

Because of the oil the dough doesn’t stick to the drops as well as other doughs might. I just squish it all together as best I can and put flattened tablespoons of dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Bake 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned.

Cool completely and store in an airtight container. May be frozen for longer storage. (In the summer I often freeze half the batch and replenish the cookie jar when it gets low.)


Four years ago: Rhubarb Raspberry Crumble
Three years ago: Thousand Island Dressing
Two years ago: Roasted Beet Salad
One year ago: Rhuberry Pie


by Heather Harris Brady

Okay, here we go with finishing these babies up! Brace yourself, this post is going to be a long one. There are a few things to think about in advance – 1) what type of filling you want and 2) if/how you want to cover the outside of each one.

Filling – I’m using two layers, one lemon curd and one apricot preserves plus some Italian buttercream, because I love it. You can use any type of thick jam or jelly. The thicker the better, because that’s what’s going to glue your layers together when it comes to the outside coating. If you’re going to skip the outside coating (by far the easiest thing!) you can use either jam or buttercream between your layers.

Coating – I tried several different poured fondant recipes and couldn’t find one that was successful enough to share. By that then I was running short on time so I defaulted to chocolate couverture. If I had more time I would have made a batch of ganache for the coating.

If you decide not to use buttercream you can skip the following recipe and go straight to the assembly section below. If you haven’t had true Italian buttercream all I can say is it’s the most luxurious, smooth, rich frosting imaginable. There are lots of recipes out there, but they are all basically the same. Dede Wilson’s from her Wedding Cake Book has always been my go-to. While it’s possible to do this in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, a stand mixer really makes it easy.

Italian Meringue Buttercream, Makes enough to generously frost one 8″ double-layer cake or 24 cupcakes

  • 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 lb. unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 16 pieces
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 t. cider vinegar
  • 2 t. high-quality vanilla
  • 1 t. almond extract

Put the egg whites in the mixing bowl and beat to soft peaks. Beat in the 1/3 c. sugar a tablespoon at a time, and whip to stiff peaks. Set aside while you make the syrup.

Combine the water, vinegar and granulated sugar in a heavy saucepan. Stir gently to dissolve the sugar and cook over medium heat to the soft-ball stage, about 235 on a candy thermometer.

When it starts to look syrupy and the bubbles struggle a bit to get to the surface you’re almost there.

When you hit the temperature turn your mixer on high and drizzle the hot syrup directly into the beaten egg whites. You have to be quick and decisive about this. This egg whites will foam up as you beat them together.

Beat until the sides of the bowl are close to room temperature. Then start to add the butter, a few pieces at a time.

It will make your egg whites turn a little soupy but that’s okay! Keep going. When you get all the butter in it will magically come together. (You’re making an emulsion, like mayonnaise.) When it comes together, beat in your flavorings.

Set the buttercream aside until you’re ready to use it.


ASSEMBLY

8 oz. marzipan

Get out your almond cake from the previous recipe.

Decide how many layers you want, and plan your cutting. I’m doing four layers – with lemon curd, buttercream, and apricot in between. (This was a little tall, you might want to stop at three cake layers.) I cut it in half, and then in half again.

I stacked these to create two cake “sandwiches”, one with lemon curd in the middle and one with apricot in the middle. I spread buttercream on top of one, stacked the other on top, and covered the whole thing in buttercream. Put it in the refrigerator to set the icing. (If you’re making petit fours with uncovered sides leave them uniced.)

Divide your marzipan in half and roll it to fit the top of your cake.

Trim it to fit. Turn the cake over and do the same for the bottom. Chill again, as long as you can spare. I also weighted my cake, to make sure the layers would stick together. When you’re ready to finish them get a sharp knife and cut your brick of cake into your desired sizes and shapes.

Keep your knife clean and dip it in hot water for clean cuts.

To finish with couverture melt your chocolate until smooth. Dip the bottom of each cake first and let it set up.

Then grasp each one by the bottom, and dip the uncovered portion. Work fast – especially if you have buttercream between the layers!

I made some little rolled roses with extra marzipan and put one on each cake. The good news is, after all that work, the little cakes are pretty much indestructible once coated in chocolate. Store them in the refrigerator and take them out a few hours before serving. Freeze for longer storage.

Having to resort to chocolate, while delicious, was not the smooth fondant covering I had pictured. I will keep trying to come up with a good reliable poured fondant recipe!

by Heather Harris Brady

Since we’re heading into a big party time of year with graduations and weddings, I thought I’d post something special. These petit fours are big on WOW factor. These tiny cakes are not a recipe to try when you’re feeling rushed, however! Pick a time when you’re feeling extra zen.

We’ll do the cake first, then cover filling and frosting in the next post. You can do this cake ahead of time, freeze it, then finish things up at a later date if that works better for you. This recipe is from Paula Peck’s Art of Fine Baking, and it makes a lovely fine-grained cake that is perfect for stacking. Seasoned bakers will recognize this method as being the same as a classic genoise.

Almond Butter Sponge, Makes one half-sheet

  • ¾ c. sifted flour
  • ¼ c. butter, melted and clarified
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ½ t. vanilla
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 1 t. grated lemon rind
  • ¼ c. almond paste

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease half-sheet pan and line it with parchment.

Combine the whole eggs, one egg yolk, sugar, vanilla and lemon rind in the top of a double boiler. Warm gently and carefully to lukewarm.

In a separate bowl cream the almond paste with the remaining egg yolk. I found it easiest to smear the paste out with a spoon and then cream them together. Set this aside.

When the egg mixture feels warm, start to beat it with a hand mixer. Beat at high speed for about five minutes. It will triple in bulk and look like whipped cream.

Pour the almond paste mixture over the top and sprinkle with the flour.

Fold them in, drizzling the butter as you go. Don’t overmix, just fold until there aren’t any streaks of flour.

Spread the batter evenly in the pan without pressing it too much.

Bake about 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove the cake from the pan and cool on a rack.


Four years ago: Hot Fudge Sauce
Three years ago: Wild Mushrooms Florentine
Two years ago: Peanut Butter Chip Cookies
One year ago: Mexican Sweet Bread (Conchas)


coconutcreamcake_17_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

I couldn’t wait to share this cake with you because I came across a tip that is literally life-changing, thanks to Cooks Illustrated. Apparently if you process heavy cream in a food processor you get frosting – that lasts for days! Who knew?

This is my “When Harry Met Sally” tribute cake because, as you might remember, in the movie Meg Ryan is very particular that her wedding cake be coconut with chocolate sauce. This cake has two layers of coconut cream, with chocolate ganache in the center. You will have enough ganache left over to serve it on the side of each slice. I used finely shredded coconut for this recipe, like this:

Coconut Cream Cake, Makes one 8″ two-layer cake

  • 3/4 c. coconut milk
  • 1/2 c. finely shredded coconut (plus extra for coating)
  • 2/3 c. softened butter
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 t. vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 2-1/3 c. cake flour
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • One recipe coconut pastry cream
  • One recipe chocolate ganache

Combine the shredded coconut and the coconut milk. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and the sugar together well.

Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla and the baking powder.

Beat in the half the flour, then half the coconut mixture – repeat.

You should have a thick creamy batter.

Divide it between greased 8″ cake pans.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the center springs back to the touch.

Cool the cakes on a rack, lightly covered with plastic wrap. Split the layers in half.

Put one half on a plate and cover it with coconut cream. Top with another cake layer.

Put half the ganache in the middle, between the two cake layers.

Now the magic part! Combine the whipping cream, sugar and vanilla in the food processor, with just the blade on.

Process for about a minute, until the cream has thickened.

Now process in 15-second pulses until you have what looks very much like soft-serve ice cream.

Cover the cake with the whipped cream. (Believe it not, it will keep very nicely in the refrigerator for days. I know – I didn’t believe it either. But I tried it and it worked!)

Then with more coconut. I used both finely shredded and the large flakes, just for fun.

Chill thoroughly and serve sliced with the reserved ganache. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.


Four years ago: Migas (Mexican Egg Scramble)
Three years ago: Caramel Apple Cake
Two years ago: Butter Muffins
One year ago: Cheesecake Bars


By Heather Harris Brady

I’ve featured a carrot cake before, with coconut and crushed pineapple, but when I saw this one in Cooking Light I had to give it a try. The browned butter adds a nice depth, and it does get better over the second and third days. I made some adjustments to the original recipe.

Make sure you use larger carrots for this recipe, the ones they typically sell in the bulk section for juicing work well. The small baby carrots just don’t have enough flavor.

If you have a pretty fluted bundt pan now’s the time to use it! I apologize for the weird capitalization, my iPad always gets fussy with blogging.

Carrot Cake with Browned Butter, Makes one 12″ bundt cake

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/3 c. Olive oil
  • 1 c. Granulated sugar
  • 2 t. Vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. Greek yogurt
  • 1-1/2 t. Cinnamon
  • 2-1/2 t. Baking powder
  • 1/2 t. Baking soda
  • 1/2 t. Fresh ground cardamom
  • 2 c. Carrots, finely grated
  • 2 c. White whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. Unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. Milk

Glaze

  • 3 T. 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 2-1/2 c. Confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 t. Milk
  • 1/2 t. Vanilla

Put the butter in a saucepan on medium heat and stir. It will melt, bubble and eventually foam up.  As soon as it starts to turn brown (the milk solids in the butter are what will be browning), take it off the heat. Let it cool to room temperature and then preheat the oven to 350.

Put the browned butter in a mixing bowl. Beat in the oil, sugar and vanilla. Then beat in the eggs one at a time. I used a wooden spoon but you can do it with a mixer if you like. Stir in the white whole wheat flour, then half the yogurt, the cinnamon and the cardamom.

Add the rest of the flour, the rest of the yogurt, the baking powder, the baking soda, and the milk.

You should have a thick batter. It might seem a little too thick to you, but that’s okay! We’re adding a lot of moisture with the carrots.

Fold in the carrots.

Spread the batter in a greased baking pan.

Check it at 40 minutes. Your tester should have moist crumbs.

While the cake is cooling make the glaze. Combine the sugar, vanilla and cream cheese in a bowl.

Drizzle in the milk and whisk until you have the desired glazing consistency.

Put the cake on a serving plate and pour the glaze over the top.

I garnished this one with some flakes of coconut and chopped candied pecans.

Store the cake in the refrigerator, loosely covered.

by Heather Harris Brady

I’ve been experimenting a lot with whole grain flours lately, because I don’t want to settle for “wow, this is good for something healthy”. I’m going for “this is amazing”. So when I manage to hit that magical point I will share the recipes – like this one for whole grain pancakes. It’s based on a recipe from Cooking Light magazine, but I’ve tinkered with it so it uses ingredients I’m more likely to have onhand.

One thing I’ve learned over the course of my trials is that you need to allow time for the grains to hydrate in order to get maximum fluffiness in the finished product. I hope you enjoy these pancakes as much as we do, they’ve become my new standard recipe. If you’d like to play around with this recipe I think grated apple would be a great addition to try.

Whole Grain Pancakes, Makes about 12 4″ pancakes

  • 2/3 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1-1/2 c. low-fat milk + 1 t. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T. maple syrup
  • 1 T. light olive oil
  • 3/4 c. white whole-wheat flour
  • 1/3 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. spelt flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 large egg

Combine milk and oats in a small bowl. Let stand 10 minutes.

Pour the soaked oats and milk into a larger bowl. Add the egg, olive oil, maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Whisk well.

Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until well-combined.

The final texture should be close to very heavy cream.

Heat a griddle and grease it lightly with olive oil. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto the griddle and watch for bubbles to appear all over the surface.

Flip the cakes and brown the other side. I usually poke the middle of each one with my finger, when they are springy they’re done.

I stack them so they stay warm.

Serve warm with butter, more syrup and fruit.

They cook up light and fluffy.

Put any leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate.


Four years ago: Cream Scones
Three years ago: Key Lime Pie
Two years ago: Mixed Berry Pie
One year ago: Kerrygold Croissants


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  • Chef's Table (!)
  • Chocolat
  • Chef
  • Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Hundred Foot Journey
  • Ratatouille
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
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