Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce

My Taste Tester is not a big fan of peaches but I decided to give this recipe a go anyway. It was simple to make and I whipped it up in not time flat. I found the crisp to have good flavor but the the topping did not stay crisp past a day so if you are making this, it is best to serve the day you make it (preferably warm).

The sauce was smooth and creamy with a subtle maple flavor. I don’t think I reduced my sauce enough as I thought the maple flavor could have been a bit more pronounced than what it was. I enjoyed this dessert warm with some vanilla icecream. The sauce would be good on a blondie or maybe even pancakes.

This was not my favorite dessert and I doubt I will be making it again, but it was nice for a change.

I rate this recipe an 8.5

Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce
from here

6-7 fresh whole peaches
1 cup flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Light Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 stick Butter (1/2 Cup)
1/2 whole Lemon
7 Tablespoons Real Maple Syrup, Divided
1-1/2 cup Whipping Cream
3 Tablespoons Light Corn Syrup

In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, light brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt using a fork or pastry cutter. Cut butter into small pieces and gradually add to flour mixture until evenly mixed.

Peel peaches into a bowl. Add the zest from half a lemon. Squeeze juice from lemon half and stir in with peaches and zest. Add 2 tablespoons real maple syrup to peaches, stir well.

Pour peach mixture into a small pan (8” or 9” square) and cover evenly with crumb topping. Cover with foil and bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until crisp and brown on top.

Maple Cream Sauce:

Pour whipping cream into a saucepan. Add 5 tablespoons real maple syrup, 3 tablespoons corn syrup and stir over moderate heat until thickened and reduced by about one-third, approximately 15 minutes. Refrigerate mixture until it is cold and thick, or set the saucepan into a small bowl of ice (the ice will melt and turn into ice water). Stirring your mixture, it will cool and thicken in about 15 minutes. Drizzle sauce over peach crisp. Serve warm.

Dark Chocolate Brownies

My Taste Tester and I were hungry for some icecream and hot fudge and what goes better with those two sweets than a rich chocolatey brownie? I typically make these but had seen a recipe for a dark chocolate brownie that I had been wanting to try.

These came together in no time but when I went to pour the batter into the 9×13 pan called for I found the batter to barely cover the bottom of the pan. I knew since there was no baking soda or baking powder in the recipe that they would turn out super thin. I decided to transfer the batter to an 8×8 pan and they still turned out thinner than I would have liked so I can’t imagine using a larger pan for these.

The results were chocolatey but not overpowering. These are not my favorite brownies but did hit the spot when covered with vanilla icecream and hot fudge. I wish the flavor would have been a bit deeper or more complex, maybe some chocolate chips or walnuts thrown in would help.

I rate this recipe a 7.5

Dark Chocolate Brownies
found here

6oz. 70% cacao chocolate (chopped)
6oz butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 325
Spray 9×13 pan with PAM (i used 8×8 pan)

Melt butter and chocolate either in medium sized microwave safe bowl in microwave (stirring every 20 seconds until smooth) or in a double boiler. Once melted stir in sugar and mix well. Add vanilla and eggs mixing well.
Add flour and stir to combine.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-35 minute until center is set (do not overbake)

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

I love some good sugar cookies. I usually only make them around the holiday season but had a craving this week that I needed to satisfy. I typically only make my sugar cookie recipe since I know they are great and my friends and family love them and I like rolled sugar cookie recipes. Since I was going to be the primary person consuming this batch of cookies I took the opportunity to try a new recipe.

I have had this recipe down to try forever so gave it a whirl. The dough came together super quick but did require some chill time before baking. The end result are as the title promises “soft”! In fact, it has been 4 days and they are still super soft, almost too much so. These turned out much more cake-like than I would typically like but they did have a great flavor and were a pleasant change of pace.  I topped with a simple buttercream frosting and found the frosting was the perfect compliment to the cookie. I may add a bit more vanilla to the recipe next time if I make them again as I found they could use a bit more flavor in my opinion. With the frosting they were fine, but alone needed a little something more.

If your family loves super soft cookies, these will be right up your alley. My Taste Tester enjoyed them but admitted he really enjoyed eating them just to get eat the frosting. He has been known to eat this frosting with a spoon so that is no surprise to me.

I rate these cookies an 8

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies
from here

4 1/2 cups flour
4 1/2 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
5 tsp. vanilla extract

*frosting recipe below can easily be doubled for a cake
Recipe from a cake decorating class I took years ago

Buttercream Frosting
4-5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened
1/2 cup shortening (NOT butter flavored)
2 TBS vanilla extract
3-4 TBS milk or cream
Gel Food coloring (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350˚ F.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and whisk together to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Add vanilla and mix to combine.
Slowly add the dry ingredients mixing just until incorporated and evenly mixed.
Cover and chill the dough for 1 hour.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, scoop a scant quarter cup of dough and roll into a ball.  Flatten the ball slightly and place on the prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough, spacing the cookies at least 2-3 inches apart.

Bake about 10 minutes or just until set.  (Do not overbake!  The edges should be no more than very lightly browned if at all.)  Let cool on the baking sheet for several minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting. Cream the butter and shortening with a mixer until combined. Slowly add sugar a bit at a time. Add vanilla and mix to combine. Add milk or cream 1 TBS at a time until a spreadable consistency is achieved. Keep beating frosting for 3-6 more minutes until fluffy. Tint with gel food coloring if desired.  Frost cookies. Store in an airtight container.


Mixed Berry Cream Cheese Crumble Tart

I first saw this recipe here and knew since my Taste Tester loves a berry tart, I needed to try this recipe sooner than later. I used our favorite mix of berries: strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Though there are several components to this recipe, none were difficult and it came together fairly quickly. You do need to plan ahead a bit as this is not a last minute type of dessert. The dough needs to chill for a while before baking and the crust and topping should be baked and cooled before assembling the tart.

My Taste Tester enjoyed the crust and the crumble of this tart but preferred the pastry cream from our usual tart recipe over the cream cheese filling in this one. He said he could not tell the difference between the two crusts but did really enjoy the crumble and has asked if I can make the topping again and add it to other baked goods. I may try it on top of our usual tart and see how that tastes.  My thoughts are that this tart seems like a more sophisticated version of a fruit pizza, while it is good, the cream cheese filling just didn’t do ‘it’ for me.

I would make this again for company as I do think it is a crowd-pleaser and would be great for a summer dessert.

I rate this recipe an 8

Mix Berry Cream Cheese Crumble Tart
recipe adapted from here

Cookie Dough Tart Crust:
2 tablespoons slivered almonds (I used 1/4 cup)
6 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
½ cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into 8 pieces
1 egg yolk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Almond Crumb Topping:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
¼ cup slivered almonds, coarsely chopped (I used a bit more)
½ cup unsalted butter, melted

Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
16 ounces fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled and halved (quartered if large) (I used a variety of mixed berries)

1. Make the Tart Crust: Combine the almonds and powdered sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse repeatedly until finely ground, about 1 minute. Add the flour and salt and pulse a couple of times to mix. Add the butter and pulse again repeatedly until no visible pieces of butter remain (about 10 pulses). Add the yolks and vanilla and continue pulsing until the dough forms a ball. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, shape into a thick disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.

2. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow it to soften at a cool room temperature for about 20 minutes, just until it is soft enough to roll without cracking, but still firm. Unwrap it and place it on a floured surface. Use the palm of your hand to press it to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Flour the work surface and the dough and gently roll the dough into a 13-inch disk, adding pinches of flour under and on top of the dough as needed. Transfer it to a 10-inch tart pan. Evenly fit the dough into the pan, making sure it’s flat against both the bottom and side of the pan. Trim away any excess dough at the rim of the pan by rolling over with a rolling pin or scraping it away with the back of a paring knife. Slide the tart pan onto a cookie sheet, cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for several hours or overnight before baking.

3. When ready to bake, arrange the racks in the upper third and lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.

4. Make the Crumb Topping: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the chopped almonds. Use a rubber spatula to stir in the butter until all of the dry ingredients have been evenly moistened. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes, then use your fingertips to break the mixture into ¼- to ½-inch crumbs. Scatter the crumbs on the prepared pan.

5. Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator, and remove the plastic wrap. Line with a piece of parchment paper and fill the pan with pie weights. Bake the tart crust in the lower third of the oven and the crumb topping in the upper third. After 10 minutes, remove the paper and pie weights from the tart shell and place it on the upper rack, and move the crumbs to the lower rack. Continue baking the tart shell until it is dry and light golden, 15 to 20 additional minutes. Bake the crumb topping until it is deep golden and firm, 10 to 15 additional minutes. Check the crumbs around the 10 minute mark and then go from there Cool the crust and the topping on wire racks.

6. Make the Cream Cheese Filling: Beat the cream cheese on medium speed just until it is smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and continue beating until lightened, about 1 minute.

7. Assemble the Tart: Spread half the cream cheese filling on the bottom of the tart crust and arrange the sliced strawberries on it, cut side down. Spread the remaining filling over the strawberries. Evenly scatter the crumb topping over the filling. Right before serving, lightly dust the topping with powdered sugar and garnish with additional strawberries, if desired. Unmold the tart from the pan and place it on a platter. Wrap and refrigerate leftovers.

Note #1: You can omit the nuts in both the crust and the crumb topping. No need to substitute anything else.

Note #2: You should assemble the tart within a few hours of serving it, as the crust will soften after it has been refrigerated.

Cakey Lemon Bars

This recipe showed up in my Google Reader a while back and I immediately bookmarked them. My Taste Tester and I love a good lemon dessert and we are in love with the lemon cheesecake I make each year for his birthday. I have tried other lemon bar recipes and was excited to give this recipe a whirl.

The texture of these bars is more cake like than a typical lemon bar (as the name states). I  thought I would like these more than I did. The lemon flavor was mild and pleasing but there is just something ‘missing’ with this recipe for me to make them again. Overall I liked them but they just did not ‘wow’ me. I may have had too high of expectations though. I did really enjoy the glaze and may use that on some fruit or on a white chocolate blondie to mix it up a bit. My Taste Tester thought they were “OK” as well but has not asked for them again which is usually a sign that the recipe is not a keeper for our house.

If you like lemon and are looking for a twist on a lemon bar, give these a go, the recipe is simple and easy and the bars are good for a refreshing summer treat.  I would recommend eating these cool as the flavor does get better after a day or so.

I rate these a 6

Cakey Lemon Bars
from here
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Zest and juice two small lemons; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with the paddle attachement, beat the flour, sugar, salt, and softened butter until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice until combined. Pour into the flour mixture and beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Pour into baking dish and bake for 25 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before glazing.
When brownies are cooled completely, make the glaze by whisking together all three ingredients. Spread over the brownies with a rubber spatula, cut into bars, and serve!

Kentucky Derby Chocolate Pecan Pie

My Taste Tester and I spent Saturday doing outdoor chores and enjoying the Kentucky Derby. What better way to enjoy the Derby than to make a dessert? We chose a recipe I found on the internet a while back.

I had never made a pecan pie before so I don’t really have anything to compare this one to, but my Taste Tester has eaten several pecan pies in his day and said this recipe is a keeper. The chocolate compliments the sweetness of the filling by adding an extra dimension of flavor. I also added 1/2 cup toffee chips but they were not noticeably detected so I may leave them out next time.

We cheated and used a frozen pie crust (partially baked first) but doing so allowed us to be enjoying this pie in under an hour. I had some extra filling so i filled up a 4 inch ramekin and baked it for about 30 minutes as well.

If you are looking for a great pecan pie this is a keeper with or without the chocolate chips I  am sure. I would suggest eating this pie warm as it is best with the chocolate being melted and gooey.

I rate this recipe a 9

Kentucky Derby Chocolate Pecan Pie Recipe from here

1 10-inch Single Crust Pie Crust
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup Karo light corn syrup
4 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup bourbon
3/4 cup gourmet chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup toasted pecans, shelled and chopped in half if desired (I used pecan peices)
1/2 cup toffee chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Roll crust out crust and place in prepared pan (fluting the edges) or use a store bought pre-baked pie crust, line a 10-inch deep dish pie pan

In a large mixing bowl, on medium speed with whisk attachment, whip butter, sugars, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla and bourbon together until frothy. Gently fold in the pecans, chocolate chips and toffee if using. Blend well.

Pour into prepared pie crust and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until set

Serve warm

Baked Nut Oatmeal

I have not always loved oatmeal, the texture used to really throw me off, it reminded me of wall paper glue with chunks (appetizing, I know). I have always enjoyed it baked in sweet treats but more recently, however, I have really begun to love it on its own. I was given this recipe a while ago and have finally gotten around to making it.

The first time I had baked oatmeal I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had it at this little bake shop and it was pure heaven, so sweet, rich, filling. I fell in love. This recipe does not replicate my first experience but provides a great starting point.

This version of baked oatmeal is a bit more firm than what I would typically like but had great flavor. I found it best warm  and think a drizzle of warm cream would be great on top. As this cools you can definitely cut it into bars so it would be easy to transport if you wanted. If you are wanting an easy homemade warm breakfast this is a good starting point and can be easily adapted to suit your family’s likes. I do plan on making this again with some changes.

I used fresh raspberries this go around but next time I will bake in some cranberries or blueberries. I plan to increase the liquid a bit and add some more brown sugar to increase the sweetness. It was a tad too bland for my liking but that was easily remidied by adding a bit of sugar before serving.

All in all, this is a great starting point and has potential.

I rate this recipe a 7 as is.

Baked Nut Oatmeal
1 1/2 cups oatmeal (I used Quick Cooking)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
2 TBS melted butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350.
Spray a 1 quart baking dish with PAM
In a bowl  mix all dry ingredients. In another bowl mix all wet ingredients.
Add wet ingredients to dry, mix to wet. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.
Bake 35-40 minutes until set.
Scoop into bowls, serve with fresh fruit.