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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Cookies/Cake/Pastry

FOOD FUN: Deconstructed Blueberry Pie

deconstructed-blueberry-pie-lindaanctil-230

Deconstructed blueberry pie à la mode.
Photo courtesy Linda Anctil.

 

We are huge fans of Linda Anctil, a Connecticut-based chef and caterer whose blog, PlayingWithFireAndWater.com, makes us want to show up at meal time and befriend her. She’s a great deconstructionist chef and caterer, and it’s a pleasure to look at her concepts and photos.

She deconstructed the all-American bluebeerry pie with:

  • Sous vide blueberries (see below)
  • Blueberry sauce
  • Blueberry “cheese”
  • Roasted flour nuggets
  • Lemon balm frozen yogurt
  • Garnish: lemon balm leaves
  •  
    You can see the full recipe here. It requires professional skills and equipment.
     
    But you can make an easy version even if your main skills are simply gathering and assembling.

     
    Here’s what we did:

    RECIPE: DECONSTRUCTED BLUEBERRY PIE

    Ingredients

  • Saucepan-cooked blueberries instead of sous vide
  • Blueberry purée (sauce) made from some of the cooked blueberries
  • Blueberry sorbet (purchased)
  • Greek frozen yogurt (purchased—plain, vanilla or blueberry, or vanilla ice cream)
  • Pie crust or tart crust balls, or sugar cookie dough balls (we rolled tart crust, which is firmer and more buttery, into balls. You can add sugar if you wish.)
  • Garnish: lemon balm or mint leaves
  •  
    Pre-scoop the small balls of sorbet and larger balls of frozen yogurt or ice cream and place them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for quick assembly.

    To assemble, follow Linda’s photo, above.

     

    WHAT IS SOUS VIDE?

    Sous vide, pronounced soo-VEED and meaning “under vacuum,” is a cooking technique developed in France in the 1980s. Since then, it has been used by the greatest chefs to assure consistency in turning out fine meals.

    Portions are prepared in individual, sealed plastic bags that are cooked in a water bath. Previously only available for the professional kitchen, a consumer model debuted in 2009. It’s for the serious cook.

    Some benefits of sous vide cooking:

  • Once you get the hang of it, it makes cooking easier. Whether for entertaining or for family meals you can prepare the food to precisely the temperature you want (no more meat thermometers!) in a fraction of the time.
  • If you’re cooking multiple portions of temperature-sensitive foods for a dinner party—fish or steak, for example—sous vide ensures that every piece is cooked exactly the same.
  • You can prepare in advance, partially cook the food in the individual portion bags, and then finish the cooking in minutes.
  • The individual sealed bags make plating and clean-up easy.
  •  
    Here’s more about sous vide cooking.

     

    sous-vide-set-230

    Sous Vide enables adventurous cooks to use an alternative cooking technique. Photo courtesy Sous Vide.

     

    BLUEBERRY TRIVIA

    There are two types of blueberries.

  • Highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) grow on tall bushes; some cultivars reach a height of 6 to 8 feet. The berries are larger and more abundant than lowbush blueberries, although their flavor may be somewhat less intense and sweet.
  • Lowbush blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium), also referred to as wild blueberries, grow in Maine and the colder regions of eastern North America. The shrubs grow no taller than two feet and may be smaller, depending on soil and climate, and produce small, exceptionally sweet bluish-black berries. If you want to plant a bush or two, these are hardy plants that do well in all soils, even poor, rocky types, providing the drainage is good.
  •  
    These statistics are from Wikipedia:

  • Michigan is the leader in highbush blueberry production. An old statistic in Wikipedia credits Michigan farms with producing 220,000 tonnes (490,000,000 pounds) of blueberries, accounting for 32% of those eaten in the United States. Other states with substantial commercial acreage of highbush blueberries are New Jersey, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina.
  • Maine produces 25% of all lowbush blueberries in North America with 24,291 hectares (60,020 acres) under cultivation. The wild blueberry is the official fruit of Maine.
  • Georgia, with about 10% of production (that’s 77 million pounds), has the longest harvest season in the U.S., lasting from late April through the end of July.
  • Hammonton, New Jersey claims to be the “Blueberry Capital of the World,” growing more than 80% of New Jersey’s blueberries.
  •   

    Comments

    RECIPE: No Bake Frozen Pineapple Cheesecake

    frozen-pineapple-cream-cheese-torte-safeeggs-230

    Frozen, not baked. Photo courtesy
    SafeEggs.com.

     

    Following up on yesterday’s review of the No Cook, No Bake Cookbook, we have a no cook, no bake dessert for you: Pineapple Cream Cheese Cake.

    It’s not from the cookbook. Rather, it’s the winner of the “No Bake Recipe Contest” sponsored by Safest Choice Eggs, pasteurized eggs that eliminate the worry of salmonella, especially in:

  • Recipes where the eggs are not cooked (Caesar salad, egg nog, mousse, steak tartare, etc.)
  • Cookie or cake recipes where you have the tendency to eat the batter before it’s cooked.
  •  
    Here’s more about pasteurized eggs.

    The prep time is 35 minutes, freezing time is 6 hours.

    RECIPE: FROZEN PINEAPPLE CREAM CHEESE TORTE

    Ingredients For 12 Servings

  • 1-1/4 cups ground gingersnaps (about 5 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 4 pasteurized eggs, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup pineapple, chopped fresh or crushed canned, drained well
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-1/4 cup whipping cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE gingersnaps and panko in a medium bowl. Add melted butter and stir until crumbs are evenly moistened. For easy removal from pan, place parchment paper along the bottom of your springform pan before pressing in crust. Press onto bottom of 8- or 9-inch springform pan.

    2. BEAT egg whites and cream of tartar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer, until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

    3. BEAT cream cheese and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl, until smooth. If using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment. Add egg yolks and beat well. Mix in pineapple and vanilla.

    4. BEAT cream in another medium bowl until whipped. Fold egg whites into cream cheese mixture, then fold in whipped cream. Pour filling over crust and freeze until set, 5 hours or overnight.

     

    Ingredients For The Glaze

  • 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup pineapple juice*
  • 2 tablespoons dark rum (or to taste)
  •  
    *If using a can of crushed pineapple for the torte, you can reserve the pineapple juice for glaze.
     
    1. COMBINE sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan. Add pineapple juice, and stir until cornstarch is dissolved.

    2. COOK over medium heat, stirring, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat, add the rum, and cool completely.

    3. TO SERVE: Let cheesecake sit at room temperature 5 minutes. Run a knife around sides of cake to loosen and remove pan sides. Top cheesecake with glaze and cut into slices.

     

    safest-choice-eggs-carton-2-230

    Look for pasteurized eggs for any recipe with raw eggs. Photo courtesy SafeEggs.com.

     

    DOES FREEZING KILL SALMONELLA?

    Alas, no, as can be seen from the recent outbreak of salmonella poisoning involving an ice cream product, reported food safety expert Dr. Robert Gravani, professor of food science at Cornell University, in The New York Times.

    Freezing just keeps the bacteria in a state of suspended animation. When they warm up (in the case of frozen cheesecake, when they hit the digestive tract), they come back to life.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Blackberry Cheesecake

    In the U.S. Blackberries typically peak during June in the South, and in July in the North. Crops are ready at various times of the month depending on which part of the state you are located. In order to produce good local Blackberries, producers depend on ideal spring and early summer weather conditions.

    In this recipe from Driscoll’s, a deep purple blackberry purée spiked with blackberry liqueur dresses up a creamy cheesecake with a chocolate wafer cookie crust.

    Today’s the perfect day to bake it: July 30th is National Cheesecake Day (see all the food holidays).

    Prep time is 20 minutes plus cooling, cook time is 50 minutes plus cooling.

    Don’t like blackberries? Can’t find any? Use another berry.

    RECIPE: SWIRLED BLACKBERRY CHEESECAKE

    Ingredients For 16 Servings
     
    For The Crust

  • 3 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about 60 cookies)
  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  •    

    blackberry-cheesecake-driscolls-230r

    Celebrate National Cheesecakde Day. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     
    For The Filling and Topping

  • 2 cups blackberries, divided
  • 1 tablespoon blackberry liqueur or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cups sour cream
  • Garnish: mint leaves
  •  

    http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-blackberries-basket-image26804436

    In the U.S., blackberry season peaks in July.
    Photo © Pretoperola | Dreamstime.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Combine chocolate wafer crumbs and melted butter in a medium bowl. Press into and up sides of 9-inch non-stick springform pan (if pan is not nonstick, brush first with melted butter). Bake about 14 minutes or until firm. Let cool completely. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.

    2. MAKE the filling. Purée 1 cup blackberries in a blender or food processor and strain. Discard seeds. You should have about 1/3 cup purée. Stir in blackberry liqueur and 2 teaspoons sugar. Set aside until ready to use.

    3. MIX cream cheese and remaining 1 cup sugar in bowl of an electric mixer on low speed until blended. Add vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, on low speed. Add sour cream and mix until blended. Spoon half batter into cooled crust.

    4. DROP half of the blackberry purée mixture into batter, one teaspoon at a time. Swirl into filling using a toothpick or wooden skewer. Repeat with remaining batter and blackberry purée mixture.

     

    5. BAKE about 50 minutes or until edges are just set and center jiggles slightly. Turn oven off and prop the door ajar with the handle of a wooden spoon. Let cool in oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool completely. Place in refrigerator and chill until cold throughout, 4 to 6 hours or overnight.

    6. SERVE: Make a pile of the remaining blackberries on top of cheesecake and garnish with mint leaves.

     
    BLACKBERRY TIPS

  • Select plump, firm, fully black berries. Blackberries do not ripen off the vine; unripe berries will not ripen once picked.
  • Buy only what you need. Like all fresh berries, blackberries quickly mold when left at room temperature, and only last a couple of days in the refrigerator.
  • If you have more than you can use, you can easily freeze berries. Just wash, cut the hulls off and pop them into a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible.
  • Buy only what you need. Like all fresh berries, blackberries quickly mold when left at room temperature, and only last a couple of days in the refrigerator.
  • If you have more than you can use, you can easily freeze berries. Just wash, cut the hulls off and pop them into a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible.
  • One quart equals 1-1/2 pounds of fresh berries.
  • One cup of blackberries has just 62 calories, and is high in antioxidants.
  •   

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Olive Oil Cake

    Our first encounter with olive oil cake came at a trattoria in our neighborhood. It sounded strange to us: We were raised in a butter culture, with a palate trained to recognize buttery goodness over margarine and cake mixes made with salad oil.

    But, this olive oil and basil cake (also made by the restaurant in an olive oil and rosemary version) was love at first bite. The extra virgin olive oil—not canola or corn oil—donated wonderful flavor. And while cake isn’t exactly a good-for-you food, heart-healthy olive oil instead of cholesterol-laden butter was an excuse to have another piece. (Note, however, that this particular recipe does include some butter.)

    Use a fruity EVOO, not a peppery or grassy one. Fruity means that it tastes olive-y (see the different flavors of olive oil).

    You can make the tangerine marmalade to top the cake, enjoy the cake plain, or serve with berries and a dab of mascarpone or crème fraîche. By all means, add a chiffonade of fresh basil.

    The nine-inch cake serves eight.

    This recipe, by Sarah Copeland, is from The Newlywed Cookbook.

    RECIPE: OLIVE OIL CAKE

    Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup/150 g sugar
  • 2/3 cup/165 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup/75 ml melted unsalted butter
  •    

    olive-oil-cake-newlywedcookbook-230

    It’s not hard to make this delicious olive oil cake. Photo courtesy Chronicle Books.

  • Finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1 tangerine, orange, or lemon
  • 1-1/2 cups/175 g all-purpose/plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or iodized salt
  •  
    For The Tangerine Marmalade

  • 4 large tangerines, Minneolas, lemons, Meyer lemons or Temple oranges, or a mix (about 1-3/4 lbs/800 g)
  • 1 cup/200 g sugar
  •  
    For The Garnish

  • Crème fraîche or whipped cream/double cream
  •  

    bottle-with-tree-flavoryourlife-230

    Who knew: Olive oil tastes just as good as
    butter in certain cakes.FlavorYourLife.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F/165°C/gas 3. Lightly butter a 9-inch/23-cm springform pan with a removable bottom.

    2. COMBINE the eggs and sugar in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until the eggs are thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Drizzle in the olive oil and melted butter and continue to beat. Fold in the citrus zest and juice.

    3. WHISK together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients gradually to the egg mixture and stir until evenly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure there are no dry bits at the bottom.

    4. POUR the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the top is lightly brown, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating once during baking to make sure it cooks evenly. Cool the cake on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the pan sides and cool the cake completely on the rack.

     

    5. MAKE the marmalade: Scrub and dry the tangerines and trim off their tops and bottoms. Slice 2 of them as thinly a possible while still keeping their shape, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch (3 to 6 mm) thick, discarding the seeds as they appear. Place the tangerine slices in a small pot with a heavy bottom. Juice the remaining 2 tangerines (you should have a scant cup/240 ml of juice) and pour the juice over the sliced fruit. Set aside for 20 minutes.

    6. COOK the fruit over medium-high heat until the liquid comes to a boil. Decrease the heat slightly and simmer until the tangerine peel is soft, about 20 minutes. Don’t stir: It will destroy the pretty round shape of the citrus.

    7. ADD the sugar and continue cooking until the sugar is dissolved. Cook until thickened and the juice has gelled slightly and is syrupy, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.

    8. ARRANGE the candied citrus slices over the top of the cake, overlapping to make beautiful jeweled tiles of fruit. Drizzle some of the citrus syrup over the slices and allow it to drip down the sides of the cake. Slice and serve with crème fraîche or whipped cream/double cream.

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Seminole Pride & Blood Orange Meringue Pie

    A Great Juice Story

    Deprived of their original resources, many Native American tribes have fallen into unfortunate circumstances, struggling economically and facing the ills that come with hardship.

    The Seminole Tribe of Florida, through the careful leadership of their elders, managed to overcome such bleak circumstances. The Tribe became self-sufficient through economic development enterprises located on six reservations throughout the State of Florida, one of which is citrus farming.

    Economic success has enabled them to reach out to help struggling Native Nations as well as local communities, through product donations, financial contributions and sponsorships.

    Earlier this year, the Tribe teamed with the Roe family, fourth generation distributors and growers of the Noble brand of fruits and juices, to launch a new brand, Seminole Pride Noble. The line includes natural and organic juices in apple, blood orange, grapefruit, lemonade, orange, orange tangerine, red grapefruit, tangerine and tangerine clementine.

    The operation is committed to sustainable citrus farming and to the environment in general; even the bottles used are 100% sustainable and are made at the juicing facility, keeping the total business carbon footprint environmentally friendly.

       

    seminole-pride-aka-noble-blood-orange-juice-230

    One of 10 Seminole Pride juices. Photo courtesy Noble Juice.

     

    Look for the juices (here’s a store locator), and check out the delicious recipes on the website. A little bit of juice perks up the flavor in everything from salads and slaws to meats and sautéed veggies.

     

    blood-orange-meringue-pie-noblejuice-230

    A tempting blood orange meringue pie, made
    with Seminole Pride Noble blood orange
    juice. Photo courtesy Noble Juice.

     

    RECIPE: BLOOD ORANGE MERINGUE PIE

    You don’t even have to squeeze oranges to make this splendid pie. Just buy the blood orange juice! Prep time 30 minutes plus chilling, bake time 10 minutes plus cooling.

    Instead of a standard pie crust, we used this graham cracker crust recipe from Key lime pie.

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup + 6 tablespoons white sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup blood orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 9” pie crust, baked from scratch (or to package directions) and cooled
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F.

    2. MAKE the meringue: In a stand mixer or large glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites until foamy. Add 6 tablespoons sugar gradually and continue to whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

    3. MAKE the filling: In a saucepan, whisk together the remaining cup of sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in water and blood orange juice, making sure to eliminate any lumps. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in butter and whisk until melted. Temper the egg yolks by slowly adding ¼ cup of the hot filling mixture to the egg yokes, whisking to combine. Whisk egg yolk mixture into filling mixture. Continue whisking mixture until thick. Remove from heat and pour into cooled pie shell.

    Cover filling with meringue, making sure to seal the edges.

    Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes or until the meringue is golden brown.

     
    More about blood oranges.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Chocolate Blackberry Macarons

    Here’s another delicious blackberry recipe: Chocolate Blackberry Macarons. Blackberry, a summer fruit, is a nice change from the chocolate or raspberry fillings often found in macarons.

    The recipe was developed by blogger Naomi Robinson of Bakers Royal, and contributed to Driscoll’s recipes. Visit Naomi’s blog for more delicious recipes.

    Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 15 to 17 minutes, plus cooling time.

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE BLACKBERRY MACARONS

    Ingredients For 24-30 Macarons

    For The Chocolate Macarons

  • 1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 eggs)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups plus 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups plus ¼ cup almond meal
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  •  
    For The Blackberry Filling

  • 2 packages (6 ounces each) blackberries, puréed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 envelope plain gelatin
  •    

    chocolate-blackberry-macarons-driscolls-230

    A summer flavor for macaron lovers. Photo courtesy Driscoll’s.

     

     

    http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-blackberries-basket-image26804436

    Sweet summer blackberries. Photo ©
    Pretoperola | Dreamstime.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 330°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

    2. TRACE out 1 inch circles on parchment and set this aside as a “master copy.” Reserve two extra sheets of parchment and set aside.

    3. PLACE egg whites and sugar in a stand mixer bowl and fit mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium low speed until egg whites start to form loose, translucent bubbles.

    4. INCREASE mixer speed to medium and beat until meringue turns foamy and white and starts to resemble well-lathered shampoo, about 2 minutes. Increase mixer to high and beat until meringue holds glossy stiff peaks, about another 2-3 minutes. Turn off mixer.

    5. PROCESS almond meal, powdered sugar and cocoa powder in a food processor and then sift. Add these dry ingredients to the meringue. Using a sturdy spatula fold and smash dry mixture into meringue against the bowl for about 20-25 folds.

    Don’t worry about being gentle; the idea is to knock the air out. The batter should hold its shape when spooned on itself and start to slowly flatten out after about 15-20 seconds. Start checking the batter after 20 folds for readiness. Transfer batter to pastry bag and let rest for 20 minutes before piping.

     

    6. PLACE the master copy of the drawn circles on a baking sheet and then place a sheet of parchment on top. Fill a pastry bag with batter and pipe until the batter reaches edge of circle. Remove the master copy from underneath the piped layer. Place it on a second baking sheet and pipe the remaining batter. Remove the master copy and save for future use.

    7. GIVE each pan a quick hard tap against the counter, turn the pan 90 degrees and give it another quick hard tap. This will deflate any bubbles and prevent cracked shells.

    8. BAKE for 15-17 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Leave meringue shells to cool completely on the pan. Shells will cleanly peel away from the parchment when ready.

    9. MAKE the blackberry filling. Place water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat; stir until sugar is melted. Transfer pan to wire rack to cool, 15-20 minutes. Once cooled, sprinkle gelatin on top and leave untouched for 1-2 minutes for the gelatin to bloom.

    10. RETURN the pan to the stove top and over low heat stir the mixture until the gelatin bloom melts and mixture resembles the consistency of maple syrup. Remove from heat and stir the gelatin mixture into the blackberry purée. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 10-15 minutes or until the filling becomes thick and slightly sets.

    11. ASSEMBLE the meringues. Pipe the filling onto one shell, place a second shell on top and repeat.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Rubik’s Battenberg Cake

    rubiks_battenburg_cake-stasty-230

    Eat the Rubik’s Cube! Photo courtesy
    Stasty.com.

      For those who loved the Mondrian Cake, here’s a another piece of edible art, which celebrates the birthday of Erno Rubik.

    Rubik, born July 13, 1944, is a Hungarian inventor, architect and professor of architecture. But his immortality lies in the 1974 invention of the Rubik’s Cube, one of the mechanical puzzles he loved to create.

    Today he is focusing on video game development and architectural topics, and is still leading Rubik Stúdió in Hungary.

    His Wikipedia bio says that “He is known to be an introvert, barely accessible and hard to contact or to get hold of for autographs.”

    However, just two days after this recipe was posted (on his birthday in 2011) on Stasty.com, Vicky, the blog author and cake creator, received an email from Rubik himself saying that he liked her cake:

    “Thanks for the nice birthday surprise which sweetens the bitterness of passing time.” “I guess the world is really a very small place,” Vicky notes.

     

    WHAT IS A BATTENBERG CAKE?

    The Battenberg cake was created to celebrate the 1884 marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Alice, to Prince Louis of Battenberg.

    It is constructed of rectangular pieces of alternatively colored Victoria sponge cake, sandwiched together by jam and held together with walls of marzipan. The construction creates a checkerboard effect.

    Vicky and her co-baker friend decided that different pieces of cake could by tinted the traditional six colors of the Rubik’s cube: blue, green, orange, red, yellow and white. They also used three different cake flavors, deciding that six would create too many conflicting tastes.

    Then, to make the cake “work” like a Rubik’s Cube, they decided to have each slice of the cake reveal a different combination of colored squares. Read the original article to see how they engineered this.

    If you’re as adventurous as Vicki (and Erno Rubik), bake the recipe. It will thrill on anyone’s birthday—not just Rubik’s.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Easy Shortcake

    peach-shortcake-kraft-230

    Easy peach shortcake: Slice fruit, top a
    biscuit half, add whipped cream. Photo
    courtesy Kraft.

     

    Sweet summer berries and stone fruits beg to be turned into shortcake. It requires only three ingredients: the fruit of choice, whipped cream and the biscuit or other base.

    In the good old days in the U.S., strawberry shortcake parties were held as celebrations of the summer fruit harvest. This tradition is still observed in some parts of the country on June 14th, which is Strawberry Shortcake Day.

    The original shortcake concept, from the U.K., uses a slightly sweetened baking soda or baking powder biscuit or scone. Split in half, the base is piled with fruit and whipped cream, then topped with the other half, often with more fruit and whipped cream on top.

    And just to confirm: Shortcake isn’t cake. It’s a dry biscuit in the American sense: a crumbly bread that has been leavened with baking powder or baking soda.

    As the concept evolved, the biscuit was replace by everything from sponge cakes to corn muffins. Modern cookies are also switching out the whipped cream.

     
    If you don’t have to bake the biscuits, this is a pretty easy recipe to assemble. There’s a shortcake biscuit recipe below, but other choices include:
     
    For The Biscuit

  • Angel food cake
  • Brioche, lightly toasted (orange brioche is even better)
  • Buttermilk refrigerator biscuits (sprinkle with sugar before baking)
  • Muffin or un-iced cupcake
  • Pound cake
  • Sponge cake (some stores carry individual sponge cakes, four-inch circles with a well for the fruit)
  • Sweet rolls, lightly toasted with a sprinkle of sugar (look for King’s Hawaiian)
  • Yellow cake
  •  

    For The Whipped Cream

  • Crème fraîche (buy it or make it with this recipe)
  • Flavored whipped cream—lavender or spice, for example (recipes)
  • Ice cream/frozen yogurt
  • Mascarpone (you can make your own with this recipe)
  •  
    We intentionally omitted Cool Whip imitation whipped cream. Many people love it, but we can’t get past the ingredients, which include hydrogenated vegetable oil and high fructose corn syrup.

     

    SHORTCAKE BISCUITS

    Shortcake biscuits add a bit of sugar to a conventional biscuit recipe.

    Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Grease a cookie sheet.

    2. SIFT the dry ingredients together. Beat 2 eggs with milk and set aside.

    3. MIX 3/4 cup shortening with the dry ingredients. Add the milk and eggs and knead on a board for a few minutes.

     

    Mango-Shortcake-mangoboard-230

    Think outside the biscuit: Make mango shortcake. Here, mango ice cream replaces the traditional whipped cream. Photo courtesy The Mango Board.

     

    4. ROLL the dough out 3/4 inch thick. Cut with a round cookie cutter and bake 10 to 15 minutes on greased cookie sheet. Cool on a rack.

    5. ASSEMBLE: Cut biscuits in half. Spoon some of the fruit and any juice onto each shortcake bottom. Top with whipped cream and add the shortcake top (you can serve the shortcake open face if you prefer). Spoon more fruit over the top and serve.
     
    SHORTCAKE HISTORY

    Though today’s shortcakes are usually of the biscuit or sponge cake variety, earlier American recipes called for pie crust in rounds or broken-up pieces—a recipe that can still be found in the South.

    The first strawberry shortcake recipe appeared in an English cookbook in 1588. By 1850, strawberry shortcake was being dessert served hot, with butter and sweetened cream. Around 1910, French pastry chefs replaced that topping with heavy whipped cream. [Source: Wikipedia]
     
    MORE SHORTCAKE RECIPES

  • Cupcake Strawberry Shortcake Recipe
  • Red, White & Blue Shortcake Recipe
  •   

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Pamela’s Figgies & Jammies

    It you like Fig Newtons—or wish you liked them more—there’s a better “Newton” in town.

    It’s called Figgies & Jammies and the cookies are from Pamela’s Products, maker of delicious gluten-free cookies, bars and mixes. The flavors include:

  • Mission Fig
  • Blueberry & Fig
  • Raspberry & Fig
  • Strawberry & Fig
  •  
    Filled with real Mission figs and complementary fruits, this gluten-free version of the traditional fig cookie is so delicious, even people who don’t prefer gluten-free foods will prefer them.

    The pie-like cookie portion is more tender, the fruit flavors are brighter. The size is a bit larger than Fig Newtons.

    The cookies are not just gluten free, but egg free, low in sodium and all natural. There are no hydrogenated oils or trans fats, no cholesterol, no corn syrup.

    The line is certified gluten-free by GFCO and certified kosher (dairy) by OU (the hechsher is hidden under the fold of the seam).

       

    fig-newtons-pamelasfiggiesjammies-kalviste-230

    Yes, they’re better than Fig Newtons. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    You can find a store locator on the company website, or buy them online from Pamela’s.

     

    4-packages-2-230r

    Four figalicious flavors. Photo by Elvira
    Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    WHY A “NEWTON¿”

    The Fig Newton was named after the town of Newton, Massachusetts. It was the custom of the original manufacturer, Kennedy Biscuit Works of Cambridgeport (now Cambridge, Massachusetts), to name cookies after towns in the Boston area.

    Kennedy Biscuit Works was affiliated with the New York Biscuit Company, which became part of the company now known as Nabisco. According to Nabisco, the cookie was invented in 1891 by a Philadelphian, James Henry Mitchell, who created the duplex dough-sheeting machines and funnels that made the jam-filled cookies possible. He thought of the soft dough with fruit filling as cookie “pies.”

    The machine was patented in 1892, and Mitchell approached the Kennedy Biscuit Company to try it out. They were impressed—all that was needed was a name. Newton, Massachusetts got the honor. Just think: We could have Fig Lexingtons or Fig Concords instead.

     

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Fanciful Sweet Or Savory Pockets

    Here’s an easy way to add fun to everyday or special occasion fare. This Pocket Maker set from Kuhn Rikon lets you creating “pocket meals.”

    Each of the three fun shapes is 3.5 inches in diameter, and stamps out the dough to make mini pies, pizza pockets, filled dumplings and more.

    Just press the stamp to cut the dough, fill and press down on the lever to crimp the pocket edges together. Any dough works (think pasta dough, phyllo dough, pie dough, pizza dough), or use sandwich bread or tortillas.

    The Pocket Makers create savory or sweet fun foods, from spicy chicken empanadas for a first or main course to individual apple pies for dessert. Our favorite idea: jumbo ravioli.

       

    kuhn-rikon-pocket-maker-set-230

    An easy way to make fun food. Photo courtesy Kuhn Rikon.

     

    kuhn-rikon-pocket-maker-stuffed-pockets-230

    Stamp, fill, bake and serve. Photo courtesy
    Kuhn Rikon.

     

    Each set includes three red pocket makers in flower, heart and round shapes, plus a recipe book filled with tasty ideas for every day and special occasions.

    This gadget set could be just the thing to coax a young person into baking…or give new inspiration to a seasoned baker.

    Pocket Makers are constructed of BPA-free plastic stamps are dishwasher safe for easy cleaning.

    The Kuhn Rikon Pocket Maker Set has a suggested retail price of $16 and is available at Amazon.com and Sur La Table stores.

    Discover more delightful products at KuhnRikon.com.

     

      

    Comments

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