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by Heather Harris Brady

It may be a lot sunnier where you are but here after the holidays come the long, gray days of January. To brighten things I like to try new, fun things – especially where dessert is concerned. I made these to surprise my daughter one night at dinner, and she had fun putting them together with me. They would be great with mint ice cream, or any of the pretty colors, but being the girl she is she picked chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate! (She takes after me 😉

If you need a lot of these I would double the batter to allow for breakage. A lot will depend on your oven and how it gets, as well as how quick you can get these off the sheet and formed.

Chocolate Tacos, Makes about 8

For the shells:
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
3 T. dark cocoa (I use Hershey’s Special Dark.)
1 t. cornstarch
1/4 t. salt
3 T. egg whites (about three whites)
1 t. 2% reduced-fat milk
1/4 t. vanilla extract

For the glaze:
1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli 60%)
1 t. butter

For the filling:
1 pint ice cream

Preheat oven to 400°.Combine first 5 ingredients, stirring well.

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Stir in egg whites, milk, and vanilla.

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Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Spoon 1 tablespoon batter into each corner, forming a circle with the back of a spoon.

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Bake at 400° for about 6 minutes. You have to find the time when the shells are bendable but cooked. It’s better to take them out too soon than wait too long, too long and they won’t bend at all. You’ll have sandwiches instead! Anyhoo, rush them out of the oven and bend them right away. Let them cool and repeat with the rest of the batter.

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When you’ve baked all the shells melt the chips with the butter and stir smooth. Dip the edges of the shells. We drizzled the extra over the top. You’ll notice that I lost three shells – mostly to breakage because I left the first batch in too long.

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Fill the shells with scoops of ice cream and return them to the freezer for 30 minutes before serving.

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When ready to serve plate each taco, drizzle a little more fudge or topping for sauce and some coconut for fun.

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These may made a week ahead, wrapped airtight and kept in the freezer.

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chocolatewaffles_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

This was the official “last day of school” breakfast in our house this morning. I know. Unhinged.

Sorry about the photo, this how things look to me early in the morning. Bleak.

Years ago, after a new house, new school, and lots of changes it seemed like we needed some way to celebrate getting through the year. So I made the kids a breakfast that included – gasp! ice cream. As anyone with kids knows, if you do something and it’s a hit, you are doomed like Prometheus to repeat it for all eternity or whenever they move out – whichever comes first.

Longtime readers, knowing my penchant for doing things the hard way non-processed foods, will be shocked to see a box of cake mix in the recipe. However, I am even less of a morning person than I am a non-processed foods person, and like the Titanic meeting the iceberg, something had to give. Especially since I was up extra early for work yesterday.

I’ve varied it over the years but the ice cream has always been there in a starring role, as a way to go completely off the rails and fling oneself headlong into the hedonism of summer vacation.

You could separate these into sections and serve them with mocha ice cream for a more grownup but still fun dessert.

Chocolate Waffles, Makes six large waffles

  • One box chocolate cake mix
  • Two eggs
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/3 c. pureed pears or applesauce
  • Ice cream of your choice
  • Fresh fruit

Heat up the waffle iron and stir together the first five ingredients.

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Drop about 1/2 cup of batter onto the waffle iron and bake until slightly crisp. (These will crisp up a bit more as they cool.)

Top with ice cream and fruit. Serve immediately.

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One year ago: Rhubarb Streusel Pie

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by Heather Harris Brady

We just finished a spot of traveling recently and this was one of the best things I ate the whole time. As soon as I got home I set out to recreate it so I could share it with you. This recipe is based on a dessert from Hello Betty in Oceanside CA. Two huge scoops of ice cream on top of a spiced brownie afloat in a dish of hot fudge. They sprinkle the top with pumpkin seed brittle, which is delicious. If you’d like to go that route here’s my recipe for the brittle.

I’m breaking this recipe into two parts, and sharing a new brownie recipe on Thursday. But if you need to make it like NOW, here’s my go-to brownie recipe and the hot fudge. Just sprinkle the top with cinnamon after they’re baked. If I could send along the beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean to enjoy with this dessert I would!

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream, Makes about one quart

  • 1 c. dulce de leche (or one can sweetened condensed milk, poured in a pan and baked at 325 for 35-45 minutes until caramelized)
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1 c. milk
  • 2 eggs, beat well and set aside
  • 1 T. cornstarch
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla

Additional dessert ingredients:

  • Brownies (one per serving, see above)
  • Hot Fudge

Combine the cream and milk over medium heat.

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Stir together the sugar and cornstarch, then whisk it into the milk. When it starts to thicken slightly, whisk 1/2 c. of the hot milk into the eggs, then whisk the warmed eggs into the pan.

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Heat to bubbling, then whisk in the dulce de leche.

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When you’ve stirred the dulce in completely, take it off the heat and stir in the vanilla. Pour into a shallow metal pan and put into the refrigerator to cool completely (or speed things up by putting it in the freezer).

Set up your ice cream freezer and pour in the custard base.

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Freeze according to the directions for your machine. If possible let the ice cream ripen in the freezer for an hour or two before serving so it will firm up.

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Option: Put 1/2 c. pecan halves in a bowl with 1 T. butter. Microwave for 45 seconds, then stir. Microwave for another 15 seconds. Toss with a sprinkling of kosher salt. Chop the pecans and fold them into the ice cream right when it finishes churning or keep them out for a garnish.

To assemble the desserts:

Put a brownie in a bowl or in the center of a dessert plate. Sprinkle with cinnamon and drizzle liberally with hot fudge sauce.

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Top with a large scoop of ice cream and garnish with the toasted pecans.

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One year ago: New Potatoes with Roasted Garlic & Thyme

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by Heather Harris Brady

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for lots of reasons, including the fact that there are so many pumpkin flavored desserts! I especially love pumpkin ice cream, and since I can’t live with just having it during the fall I decided to come up with my own recipe.

Pumpkin Ice Cream, Makes about one quart

2 c. half and half

Two eggs

2 t. vanilla

3/4 c. sugar

1 c. pumpkin puree

3 T. pumpkin butter

1 T. fresh ground ginger

2 t. pumpkin pie spice

Spiced pecans (optional)

Since we’ve covered the basics of making custard before I skipped the step by step pics here. Heat the cream and whisk in the sugar. Beat the egg whites in a bowl, stir in 1/2 c. of hot cream and then whisk them in. Cook until slightly thickened and remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla and cool completely.

Combine the cooled custard and the pumpkin puree then pour it into the freezer compartment of your ice cream maker.

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When it’s nearly finished, add the remaining ingredients.

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Spoon it into a container and put it in the deep freeze for 20-30 minutes so it can ripen before serving. If you want to try making it ahead for a dinner, add a good size splash of brandy (1/3 – 1/2 cup) and that will help keep it on the softer side. But like all homemade ice cream it will get hard so it’s best to eat it ASAP.

Pumpkin Baking Basics

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Although I usually just opt for the canned puree, I found an heirloom pie pumpkin at my local grocery so I wanted to give it a try. The hardest part is getting it open. It is the absolute hardest thing I’ve had in my kitchen. Make sure you have it on a towel to keep it from sliding around. Then find a way to make a cut on the side, I actually worked at it with a butter knife then I forced in a carving knife. The larger knife cracked it so I just enlarged the crack all the way around. Now, since you’re feeling optimistic, preheat the oven to 350.

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Then I pulled out all the seeds, and finally cleaned out all the center pulp with a spoon before turning it upside down on a baking sheet. Bake it for about an hour. As you will see, the outer shell will stay hard (this is the part that was so hard to cut through) but the meat will be tender.

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It was really delicious, the essence of pumpkin. It might have been my imagination but it even smelled a little spicy. The baked pumpkin will keep for a week in the refrigerator. Mash or puree to use in a recipe.
One year ago: Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

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by Heather Harris Brady

These are the Gossip Girls of the cookie world, thin, fabulous and extremely rich. The outside is a nicely crisp, hiding a brownlike interior loaded with chopped Andes Mints. Giant chocolate cookies are ruling my Pinterest right now, but if I’m going to the trouble of making cookies I darn well better have more than dozen to show for it! My recipe will give you enough to fill your cookie jar to the top.

Chocolate Mint Cookies, Makes about 60

2 sticks unsalted butter

3/4 c. brown sugar

3/4 c. white sugar

2 eggs

2 t. vanilla

1 t. salt

3 oz. melted dark chocolate

1/3 c. dark cocoa powder

3 c. unbleached flour

1 t. baking soda

1/4 c. milk

1 package Andes Mint baking chips

Cream the butter and sugars together. Beat in the eggs and vanilla.

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Add the remaining ingredients, except for the milk, and beat well. Beat in the milk. You should have a thick, creamy chocolate batter. Stir in the chips.

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Preheat the oven to 375 and grease your cookie sheets lightly. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the sheets and flatten each one slightly.

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Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are just slightly brown.

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Remove from the sheets and cool completely before storing in an airtight tin or jar.

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These make great ice cream sandwiches. Freeze the cookies first and while they are frozen put a 1/2 c. size ball of ice cream between two cookies and squish them together. I’ve used peppermint ice cream here. If you like you can smooth out the edges and roll them in sprinkles, crumbs or nuts.

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One year ago: Basic Bread Dough

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by Heather Harris-Brady

Besides the tart cherry crop coming in, signs are up all over the area for fresh sweet black cherries.

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So I was thinking about ways to use them when I got a yen for cheesecake. But it was too hot for a dessert that heavy (and I had just splurged on an ice cream freezer) – so I turned the idea into ice cream instead! This is a rich creamy ice cream, tangy with cheesecake flavor, that nicely offsets the fresh cherry sauce. Plus, you get the hot/cold thing going if you have someone dish up the ice cream while you warm the sauce.

Cheesecake Ice Cream, Makes Two 1.5 qt. Batches

1 cup whole milk

2 eggs

3/4 c. granulated sugar

6 oz. whipped cream cheese

1 pint whipping cream

1/2 c. sour cream

2 t. vanilla

Combine the milk and sugar in a saucepan. Heat to just below boiling.

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Beat the eggs in a bowl and pour in some of the milk. Stir well and return the egg/milk mixture to the saucepan. Cook until slightly thickened, about three-four minutes. Let cool and add the vanilla, sour cream and cream cheese.

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Whisk until smooth.

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Beat the whipping cream until you get nice peaks. Fold it into your cream cheese mixture.

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If you have a large ice cream freezer you can probably freeze it all at once. Freeze according to the directions with your machine.

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While the ice cream is freezing make the cherry sauce.

Cherries Jubilee, Makes about Three Cups

1 qt. sweet black cherries, cleaned and pitted

1/2 c. sugar

2 T. cornstarch

1/2 c. orange juice

1/2 c. water

1/4 c. brandy

Combine the cherries, orange juice and water in a saucepan. Stir the sugar and cornstarch together well, and stir it into the cherries.

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Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and becomes clear.

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Stir in the brandy and spoon the warm sauce over the ice cream.

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I realize it’s a hardship, but it’s best to eat the ice cream the same day. The longer you store it the harder it will become.

 
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This recipe is a little bit of kitchen serendipity. I was developing a recipe for a contest sponsored by Scharffenberger that included a number of exotic ingredients. I got distracted and didn’t notice that my adzuki beans were al dente as opposed to soft and mashable. I continued on, covered them in chocolate, chopped them up and added them to the ice cream anyway.

Adzuki beans play a key role in Asian sweets as fillings and frostings. They are remarkably similar to almonds in this recipe! In fact, this ice cream tastes just like an Almond Joy. It’s not very sweet at all, and it would be lovely way to end an Asian-theme meal.

Asian-style ice creams typically have a base with some other thickener besides eggs, in contrast to the custard-style bases. In this recipe, I am substituting whipped coconut milk for the melon in my melon peach ice. When it comes out of the ice cream freezer swirl in the chopped chocolate. If you don’t have an ice cream freezer you can do it old-school, follow the freezing directions here.

Coconut Crunch Ice Cream, Makes six generous servings

Two large cans of full-fat coconut milk, very cold

1/2 c. sugar

1 packet of unflavored gelatin, softened in 1/4 c. cold water

1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 T. shortening
1/2 c. adzuki beans, cooked al dente

1 t. almond extract

Whip the coconut milk to soft peaks, then whip in the sugar and gelatin mixture. Pour the whip into your ice cream freezer and follow the recommended directions (or see my note above).
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Cover your adzuki beans with water and boil until they are al dente, about one hour. (You can pre-soak to shorten the cooking time.) Let them cool and dry them off as best you can with paper towels.

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Combine the chocolate chips and shortening in a bowl and microwave for one minute or until the chips begin to get glossy. Stir until smooth. Stir in the adzuki beans and pour the chocolate out onto a piece of parchment. When it has hardened, chop it into small pieces.
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Pour your frozen coconut cream out.

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Swirl in the chocolate crunch and the almond extract.

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The gelatin does help keep this softer but like most homemade ice creams it gets harder the longer it sits. You can add a few tablespoons of vodka or an almond liqueur to help keep it softer.

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It was a lot of fun to research this post. I went through numerous old White House menus from several centuries and I re-read my two White House cookbooks from the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. A common theme emerged. Ever since Thomas Jefferson brought back the method for making ice cream from France, it has been a popular choice to end formal meals. Granted, it takes many forms as ice cream, sherbert, ices (like my melon peach ice) and granitas, but the concept is the same no matter how they dress it up with molds, fresh fruit and other sauces. The kitchen would (and probably still does) keep on hand a variety of sauces and frozen creations, so they could turn out desserts quickly and easily.

Profiteroles are made from pate a choux, cream puff base. It is a very easy process to master and a great tool to have in your repertoire if you haven’t made them already. They can be savory (later on I will put up a post on gougeres) or sweet, as they are in this case.

For today’s post I nestled some key lime ice cream into fresh profiteroles and topped with some of my basic ganache. We may not have been entertaining a head of state, but we were celebrating the midpoint of HS exam week and our first entrant into the school spelling bee!

Profiteroles, with the basic method for Pate a Choux – Makes eight large puffs

1/4 c. butter (one part)

1/2 c. all-purpose flour (two parts)

1/2 c. water (two parts)

2 eggs

So this is my basic formula, which you can scale up easily. Preheat the oven to 400, then put the butter in a saucepan on medium heat.

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Add the water and bring it to a boil.

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When it is boiling, dump in the flour all at once.

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Turn off the heat and whisk like mad. It will be lumpy and then it will come together in a smooth ball.

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Whisk in an egg. Beat well. It will look like a slimy mess and not want to come together, but keep going.

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Once the first egg is completely incorporated, add the second and do the same thing. Whisk, whisk, whisk. You’ll end up with a lovely golden paste.

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Lightly grease a cookie sheet and drop spoonfuls of paste onto the sheet. Give them lots of room to spread.

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Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 for another 15 minutes.

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At this point I like to split them and let the steam out. I also remove any extra dough inside that moist to keep them crispy.

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Put one puff on each plate and fill it with a large beautiful scoop of ice cream. Top with warm ganache or a sauce of your choice.

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Petit fours are the other most common dessert choice across the years. We’ll tackle those little delicacies one weekend soon.

Okay, so it’s really peach crisp. But sometimes I have a yen for the cool old recipe names. I mean, what would you rather whip up – blueberry coffee cake or blueberry boy bait?  I can vouch for the fact that this WILL draw men of all ages so use it wisely. I made a batch last night for my dh’s birthday dinner because fruit desserts are his favorite. I have always cooked “by feel”, and I baked apple crisp many times for him when we were dating in college. My roommate (hi Chris!) used to tell me that I cooked like a mom – but I guess that little touch of home comfort was what we both needed sometimes.

All crisps follow the same principle, a layer of fruit, sweetened (or not) and mixed with something to thicken the juices as they cook. This gets topped with a nice crunchy layer of streusel, which distinguishes it from the cobblers topped with batter.

Note: I rarely have cookbooks out while I am actually cooking. I find it is much easier to get an understanding of proportions, then I can scale up or down as needed. Plus, if you are in a vacation cottage somewhere amazing but away from your cookbooks you can still manage easily. So here is my proportion recipe for oatmeal streusel. This will make enough for an 8×8 pan of crisp, and extra for the freezer. I like to keep some on hand because then it is easy to pull it to dress up muffins and other quick breads.

Basic 1-2-3-4 streusel recipe

Basing it on a 1/4 c. measure:
one part white sugar
two parts packed brown sugar
two parts chilled butter
three parts oatmeal
four parts flour (can be a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat)
1 t. cinnamon and a dash of salt

(You could also add in some wheat germ, chia seeds or flax seeds.)

Measure everything into a bowl and mix it until crumbly, mixing it with your hands seems to work best.

Fruit Crisp Recipe

3 c. sliced fruit or berries (fresh, canned or frozen all work)

1/2 of the streusel recipe above

I started with some beautiful peaches I picked up from the farm market on the way home.

Wash and slice your fruit. Mix in sugar to taste and 1-2 T. of small tapioca, depending on the juiciness of your fruit. Spread the fruit in a buttered 8″ square baking dish.

Top the fruit with half of the streusel, and freeze the rest for future use. Bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes. I like to turn the oven down to warm and pull it out right before serving, but you can make it ahead and warm it up.

This is delicious for dessert, breakfast or brunch with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.  This streusel stays crunchy so leftovers keep well too, for whoever you are trying to attract!

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My Favorite Movies/Shows – Food Related

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