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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

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Covered Bridge Cookies

It began in the summer of 1992, when Carl Goulet began making cookies to sell at a local farmers market in Windsor, Vermont. Then employed as executive chef at a local hospital, Carl had been a pastry chef and baker for most of his working life. He had a part-time venture on the side, Christopher’s Cakes & Pastries. His employer allowed him to rent time in the kitchen after hours.

The cookies expanded in distribution, from the farmers market to local stores, and developed an enthusiastic following. In five years he had outgrown the time and space available at the hospital, and Carl decided to take the plunge to baking full time, investing in a facility and equipment.

His Covered Bridge Cookies taste of homemade goodness, using the finest ingredients from Vermont producers: butter from Vermont-based Cabot Creamery, chocolate from Barry Callebaut, a French company with U.S. headquarters in St. Albans, Vermont, and unbleached and unbromated flour from King Arthur Flour in Norwich.

Superior ingredients and small batch production techniques that produce delicious, old fashioned goodness—as if you (or your grandmother) had just baked them.
 
The line is small, comprising New England favorites:

  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Ginger Snaps
  • Hermits
  • Maple Shortbread
  • Shortbread
  •    

    hermits-230

    Hermits: a New England cookie favorite that deserves to be baked more often. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     
    While we love them all, we have to give a shout-out to the hermit, starting with…

     

    ginger-snaps-box-230

    Old-fashioned goodness in a box. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    WHAT ARE HERMITS, AND A BRIEF COOKIE HISTORY

    English and Dutch immigrants brought cookies to America in the 1600s. The Dutch used the word koekje, while the English primarily referred to cookies as small cakes, seed biscuits, tea cakes, or by specific names, such as jumble (a spiced butter cookie) or macaroon.

    By the early 1700s, koekje had evolved to cookie or cookey, and was well-entrenched in New York City, then the nation’s capital—a factor that resulted in widespread use of the term.

    During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, most cookies were baked at home as special treats, both because of the amount of labor and the high cost of sugar. Recipes for jumbles, macaroons and gingerbread are found in early cookbooks. Our simple butter cookie recipes are similar to English tea cakes and Scottish shortbread (the term “tea cake” is used to describe that type of cookie in the Southern U.S. as well).

    During the 19th century, affordable sugar and flour, plus the introduction of chemical raising agents such as bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), led to the development of other types of cookie recipes.

    Another explosion of cookie recipes took place in the early 1900s, not surprisingly paralleling the introduction of modern ovens with thermostats. Cookbooks yield recipes for cinnamon-accented Snickerdoodles, raisin-filled Hermits, Sand Tarts and many varieties of butter cookies including Southern-style Tea Cakes.

     
    Hermits Appear

    Cookies called hermits appear in New England cookbooks by 1880. Those first Hermits were made with raisins, spices—cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg—and white sugar.

    Most recipes that continue in use will evolve. It is a rare for a recipe not to change, whether from creativity of cooks, the availability of new ingredients or changing tastes.

    According to NewEnglandRecipes.org. Hermits is a classic example: New York bakers replaced white sugar with more flavorful brown sugar. By the 1950s, the Fannie Farmer Cookbook uses white sugar and molasses in place of brown sugar, providing a stronger molasses flavor than with brown sugar alone.

    A mix of currants and raisins, optional citrons and nuts become Hermit variations. Later versions of Hermits offer the option of dates, figs and dried apricots. Today, the cookies are typically large, chewy molasses cookies with raisins. We wish they were more available in our neck of the woods (or maybe, we should be thankful that they’re not!).

    Covered Bridge Cookies are $6.99 for a 9-ounce box, about 10 cookies. You can buy them online at VTStuff.com.
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF COOKIES IN OUR DELICIOUS COOKIE GLOSSARY.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Pecan Sandies

    pecan-sandies-tasteofhome-230

    Pecan sandies. Photo courtesy Taste Of
    Home.

     

    September 21st is National Pecan Cookie Day. Our favorite has got to be the pecan sandy, modeled after the French sablé.

    A shortbread-like butter cookie with a sandy texture, sablé means “sand” in French and refers to both the color and the texture of the cookies.

    The cookies originated in the Normandy region of France and are a very popular tea cookie. Common variations include chocolate and lemon sablés.

    In some sandy recipes, the dough is lighter than traditional dense, buttery shortbread. A pecan sandy is simply the shortbread with chopped pecans added to the dough, or a pecan half embellishment on the top of the cookie.

    This recipe is courtesy Taste Of Home. Prep time is 10 minutes, total time is 55 minutes.

     
    RECIPE: PECAN SANDIES

    Ingredients For 18 Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Grease a baking sheet.

    2. CREAM in a bowl the butter and sugar; stir in vanilla. Add flour; mix on low until well blended. Stir in pecans; mix well. Chill for 30 minutes.

    3. ROLL into 1-inch balls; place on the sheet. Bake at 350° for 15-18 minutes or until bottom edges are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
     
     
    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF COOKIES IN OUR COOKIE GLOSSARY.

     
      

    Comments

    FOOD 101: German Marble Cake

    Make this delicious marble cake. Photo
    courtesy Zabars.com.

     

    With the Jewish New Year approaching, we think back to tables laden with holiday food, and desserts both homemade and from New York’s great Jewish bakers.

    Immigrants from Europe contributed much deliciousness to our childhood. As a youngster we were lucky to live in a town rich with postwar refugees from Germany, Hungary and Eastern Europe. Among the trades they brought with them, our favorite artisans were (of course) the bakers.

    Bagel makers, bread bakers, pastry makers: We loved them all for the scrumptious products of their artisan skills. Alas, we are now their age, and not one bakery from those memorable times survives in Manhattan. The last one we knew of—Jon Vie Bakery, 492 Avenue of the Americas between 12th and 13th Streets—lost its lease in 2004, unable to afford double the rent on slender bakery margins. At last glance it was a 16 Handles frozen yogurt shop, where the inventory doesn’t go stale at the end of the day.

    The owner of Jon Vie was a third-generation baker, the manager was the fourth-generation of a baking family, both families originally from Poland. Both men were in their mid-70s when the bakery closed. Needless to say, they don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

     
    The bakery specialized in German, Hungarian and Jewish specialties—almost a memory today—along with cream puffs, éclairs and napoleons that met customers’ desires for French pastry.

    While there will always be French pastry for sale somewhere—and rugelach and strudel at outposts like Zabar’s, —we’re left with only the memories of great babka, mandel brot and marble cake with ganache icing.

    While we can still find cheese danish, they don’t compare to the wonders from those European bakers, stuffed with plentiful, sweet cheese and topped with slivered almonds and a honey glaze. We bought one daily from Éclair, which—ignominously—lost its lease to Krispy Kreme, itself long gone.

    And now, a paean: Louis Lichtman: Life hasn’t been the same since you retired. Bloom’s Bake Shop, we remember you well. Sutter’s, you are in our heart forever.

    The Hungarian Pastry Shop by Columbia University, another hangout of our youth, is still there, but has undergone a succession of management changes. It sells some items that look like the ones from yore, but taste nothing like them. Don’t even go there—it will just break your heart.

    For those who remember, or want to understand that joyous past, bake a marble cake in remembrance. Here’s the recipe.

    By the way, marble cake arrived on these shores with German immigrants before the Civil War. Here’s the history of marble cake.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: The Best Baklava

    baklava-cookbookchick-calwalnutboard-230

    A winning baklava recipe. Photo courtesy
    Food 52.

     

    We admit to an enthusiasm for baklava. Good baklava—made with quality honey—is one of the world’s great pastries. Here’s the history of baklava, an ancient pastry that dates to the 8th century B.C.E.

    This recipe was the runner up in a contest held by Food52 for the California Walnut Board.

    “This is my mom’s recipe,” says CookbookChick, who submitted the recipe. “I don’t know where she got the idea for her ‘secret ingredient,’ but it produces the best baklava ever. [Mom is Mrs. Z, credited below.]

    “If you like baklava but can’t get past the cloying sweetness, this is the one to try: You will never go back or be satisfied with the stuff you get in Greek restaurants again.”

    Honey and apples is a Rosh Hashanah tradition, a wish for a sweet new year. The Jewish New Year begins next Thursday; some sweet, honeyed baklava would not be out of place. Try this recipe, courtesy of Food52 for the California Walnut Board.

     
    RECIPE: MRS. Z’S SECRET-INGREDIENT BAKLAVA

    Ingredients For 24 Pieces

    For The Baklava Syrup

  • 1/2 cup mild honey
  • 1-1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  •  
    For The Baklava

  • 1 cup graham crackers, finely crushed (the secret ingredient!)
  • 1-1/2 pounds walnuts
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 pound butter, melted and clarified*
  • 1 pound filo dough
  • 24 whole cloves
  •  
    *To clarify, melt the butter, skim off the milk solids and pour off the clear yellow butter. Discard the white solids in the bottom of the pan.

     

    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all the syrup ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes, just until a thin syrup is formed. Allow to cool to room temperature while you build the baklava.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F.

    3. CRUSH the graham crackers into fine crumbs. You can do this (a) by putting them in a sealed plastic bag and pounding them with a meat tenderizer, (b) rolling with a rolling pin, or (c) pulverizing in a food processor.

    4. GRIND the nuts finely with a manual nut grinder (preferable) or in a food processor. With the latter, take care not to grind too far, or you will have nut butter.

    5. COMBINE the graham cracker crumbs, nuts, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl.

     

    walnut-halves-murrays-230

    California walnuts. Photo courtesy Murray’s Cheese.

     

    6. LAY out the filo dough on a clean kitchen towel. Lay another towel on top of the filo to help prevent it from drying out.

    7. BUILD the baklava in an 8 x 8-inch square pan. Layer 6 to 8 sheets of filo in the bottom of the pan, brushing each sheet lightly with butter before adding the next (a silicone basting brush makes it easy). Many Greek cooks, including Mrs. Z, simply drizzle the butter from a teaspoon; or you can use a traditional boar bristle pastry brush.

    8. SPRINKLE the nut mixture in a thin layer over the filo dough. Cover with 3 to 4 more sheets, each brushed lightly with butter. Repeat until the nut mixture is completely used up. Cover with 6 to 8 filo sheet, brushing each layer lightly with butter.

    9. REFRIGERATE the uncooked baklava for an hour or two until the butter solidifies. Then, before baking, cut with a sharp knife into small squares or diamond shapes. If you want the traditional diamond shapes, start with a corner-to-corner diagonal cut. Stick a whole clove into the center of each piece.

    10. BAKE at 350°F for no longer than one hour, until it becomes a light golden brown. If the baklava dries out, it is ruined.

    11. REMOVE from the oven and immediately pour the room temperature syrup evenly over the hot pastry. The rule is hot pastry, cool syrup or you’ll get a soggy dessert! Start with about half of the syrup, letting the pastry absorb it (you may not use it all).

    Serving idea: Nestle each piece in a pretty paper cupcake cup or foil cupcake cup and present on a platter.

      

    Comments

    BOOK: 5-Minute Mug Cakes

    Trending in cakes these days: mug cake cookbooks. With a few ingredients, a microwave and a microwave-safe mug, you can have cake in five minutes.

  • First out of the gate is 5-Minute Mug Cakes, by Jennifer Lee.
  • Mug Cakes: Ready In 5 Minutes in the Microwave by Lene Knudsen will be published on October 7th, with 30 recipes.
  • 20 Microwave Mug Cake Recipes: Perfect for that sweet craving when you only have a few minutes! by Jenny Scott.
  •  
    These are books written for us. We often crave a piece of cake, but can’t keep it in the house (otherwise, a portion size becomes half a cake).

    So what better solution than mug cakes, microwaved in five minutes with standard ingredients?

    We have our hands on a copy of 5-Minute Mug Cakes. It has 3-5 times as many recipes as the other two—almost 100—and is a good place to start. You can treat yourself to a different cake every day for three months. Who needs a whole year with Julie And Julia?

     

    5-minute-mug-cakes-230

    Bake yourself a cake in a mug in five minutes. Photo courtesy Race Point Publishing.

     

    Every recipe is simple, fast and delicious. In minutes, you’ll be sinking your spoon into the cake you’ve been hankering for, such as:

  • Blueberry Muffin Streusel Cake
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
  • Flourless Nutella Cake
  • Peanut Butter & Jelly Cake
  • Red Velvet Cake
  • Salted-Caramel Chocolate Cake
  • S’mores Cake
  • Strawberries & Cream Cake
  •  
    There are the basics, of course—vanilla, chocolate and lemon—and the sophisticates, such as Matcha Green Tea Cakes and Chocolate Stout Cake.

    For special interests, there are Breakfast Mug Cakes, Brownie Mug Cakes, 21 And Over Mug Cakes (with alcohol), Holiday Mug Cakes, Savory Mug Cakes, Skinny Mug Cakes (under 200 calories) and Gluten-Free Mug Cakes (and more).

    And if you mix your ingredients right in your favorite mug, clean-up is a cinch!

    The biggest decision: which one to make today. The contenders: Dulce de Leche Brownie Cake or Cookies and Cream Blondie Cake.

    Or perhaps we’ll invest another five minutes and make both!
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Date Nut Cookies

    Recently, for National Date Nut Bread Day (September 8th), we whipped up a batch of these date nut cookies. The last one met its maker yesterday, and we just may make another batch this weekend.

    If you like oatmeal raisin cookies, try them for a nice change of pace: Here, sweet dates and salty nuts combine with chocolate and oatmeal for a happy holiday treat.

    Food trivia: Before sugar arrived in Europe* from the Asia, dates were widely used as a sweetener in baked goods.

    RECIPE: DATE NUT COOKIES

    Ingredients For 5 Dozen Cookies

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups quick or old fashioned oats (uncooked)
  • 3/4 cup dates, chopped
  • 3/4 cup salted pistachios
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks or morsels
  •    

    medjool-superior-nut-company-amz-230

    Dates: the world’s first sweetener. Photo courtesy Superior Nut Company.

     

    date-nut-cookies-horiz-wmmb-230

    Tasty cookies with whole-grain oats. Photo
    and recipe courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing
    Board.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Beat together the butter, brown sugar and 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and almond extract; mix to combine.

    2. COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in separate bowl. Add to butter mixture, mixing well. Stir in oats until combined. Add dates, pistachios and chocolate; mix well.

    3. SHAPE the dough into 1-inch balls; roll balls in a shallow bowl containing 1 cup sugar.

    4. PLACE on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Cool cookies on pan for one minute or until set; transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

    Store the cookies in airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

     
    Here’s a recipe for date nut bread.
     
    *Sugar arrived in Europe around 1100, but was in very limited quantity and was not widely available until the 16th century.

      

    Comments

    FOOD FUN: Brownie Sandwiches With Buttercream

    Here’s an idea from Earl Of Sandwich: brownie sandwiches, filled with peanut butter buttercream or a frosting of your choice.

    Just bake your favorite brownies and sandwich two of them with your favorite flavor of buttercream: chocolate, coffee, maple, pistachio, strawberry, vanilla, etc. You can fill the brownie pan with less batter for flatter brownies (adjust the baking time accordingly).

    The Earl of Sandwich cuts the brownies into rounds. You can cut conventional squares or rectangles; but if you do cut them in circles or other shapes (use a cookie cutter), the odd-shaped leftover pieces are great with ice cream. You can keep them in the freezer until you’re ready to use them.

    RECIPE: PEANUT BUTTER CREAM

    Ingredients For 1 Cup

  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • Pinch salt
  •  

    Peanut butter- and chocolate filled brownie sandwiches. Photo courtesy Earl Of Sandwich.

     
    Preparation

    1. CREAM the peanut butter and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on high speed.

    2. SWITCH to low speed and add the sugar and a pinch of salt until combined. Return to high speed and beat the mixture until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Non-Cocktail Ways To Use Tequila

    We found ourselves with a wealth of tequila on hand—lots of opened bottles that we tasted for one review or another, but never got back to. So we decided to use the tequila in cooking. Here’s what else to do with tequila.

  • Cake: Replace up to 1/4 cup liquid in a cake recipe with tequila, or add some to the frosting.
  • Compound butter: For corn or other vegetables, mix chili powder, lime juice and tequila into softened butter and return the butter to the fridge.
  • Fondue: Replace the Kirsch with tequila in cheese or chocolate fondue.
  • Fruit salad: Make a simple syrup by bringing to a boil 1 cup sugar, 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup tequila to a boil (optionally add 1/4 cup triple sec). Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Let cool. Toss with fresh fruit salad and refrigerate for an hour or longer (the syrup can be made in advance).
  • Fruit topping: Add to sautéed fruit to create a delicious topping for ice cream or pound cake; or serve as a compote.
  • Granita or sorbet: Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of tequila to the recipe. Don’t add too much: Alcohol doesn’t freeze, so you could end up with a slushie.
  • Glaze: Add 1/2 cup tequila to 2 cups jelly for a ham glaze or other meat glave.
  •    

    partida-chocolate-cake-230jpg

    Add some tequila to your favorite cake recipe. Photo courtesy Partida Tequila.

  • Gravlax: Sprinkle the salmon with tequila after salting but before wrapping and weighting down.
  • Jell-O: For a more tame version of Jell-O shots, add tequila to the cold water when setting flavored gelatin.
  • Marinade: Make a mix of half lime juice, half tequila to marinate chicken, shrimp or other seafood (or choose another proportion).
  • Pasta sauce: As with vodka sauce, add a tablespoon or more to red or white sauce.
  • Salsa: Add a tablespoon of tequila.
  • Sauce for meat or seafood: Deglaze the pan with tequila instead of wine (here’s how).
  • Seafood marinade: 1 clove garlic, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1/4 cup tequila, 1/8 cup soy sauce, 1/8 cup fresh lime juice.
  • Soups, stews, chili: Add two shots to the pot, or drizzle a teaspoon over individual bowls.
  •  

    tequila-cheesecake-olgacooks-230

    There’s tequila in both the cheesecake and
    the topping. Photo courtesy Olga Valentina |
    Olga Cooks.

     

    RECIPE: TEQUILA CHEESECAKE

    Olga Valentina of Olga Cooks created a wonderful Partida Tequila Cheesecake. Here’s a step-by-step photo display of the recipe.

    Ingredients

    For The Cheesecake

  • 2 tablespoons of blanco (silver) tequila
  • 2.5 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1.5 cups cream cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup of sage honey (or other herbal or floral honey, but sage imparts a particular flavor)
  •  
    For The Crust

  • 8 ounces oatmeal cookies
  • 2/3 stick of butter
  •  
    For The Topping

  • 5-6 cups fresh strawberries
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • ½ cup of blanco (silver) tequila
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE the topping: Hull, core and slice the strawberries, add to a mixing bowl and sprinkle with the sugar. Pour the tequila and lime juice over the berries, mixing well so that the berries are evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight.

    2. MAKE the crust: Preheat the oven to 340°F. Blend the butter and oatmeal cookies by pulsing together in a food processor. Press the mixture into a 10″ springform pan, ensuring that the bottom is evenly covered. Bake for 10 minutes.

    3. MAKE cheesecake batter: Using an electric mixer, blend together the ricotta, cream cheese, honey, sugar and tequila. Zest the lime into the bowl, then squeeze in the lime juice. Mix well.

    4. ADD the eggs to the batter one at a time, using an electric mixer.

    5. POUR the batter into the crust. Surround the pan with aluminum foil and place it onto a ridged baking sheet*. Fill the baking sheet with an inch of water to make a bain marie. The water provides moisture that keeps the top of the cheesecake from cracking; the foil keeps the water out of the springform pan.

    6. BAKE for an hour at 340°F, or until the top of the cheesecake is golden brown. Cool on a rack, then chill the cheesecake in the fridge for 3 hours or ideally, overnight.

    7. TOP with the tequila-infused strawberries and serve.

     
    *Some professionals prefer ridged baking sheets for more even cooking, but you can certainly use a standard baking sheet.
      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Plum Poppyseed Cake

    plum-poppyseed-cake-goboldwbutter-230

    Old-fashioned and delicious: Plum Poppyseed
    Cake. Photo courtesy GoBoldWithButter.com.

     

    Poppy seeds or plums: Which is less commonly found in baked goods?

    We don’t have the answer, but our response is: Both should be used more often, starting with this delicious recipe. And don’t tarry: plums are a summer fruit.

    Poppy seeds, obtained from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), have been harvested for thousands of years. The seeds are used, whole or ground, in recipes and are pressed into poppyseed oil.

    Poppy seeds have long been cultivated in the Middle East; the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians farmed them. The Minoans, a Bronze Age civilization on Crete (circa 2700 to 1450 B.C.E.), cultivated poppies as a sleeping aid, and also for their effect on fertility, wealth and the magical power of invisibility. (Gee, how did those work out?) [Source]

    Plums are available in a wide variety of sizes and colors. Enjoy them as a hand fruit, sliced into green salads or fruit salad, served with cheese, and of course, baked into something sweet. In addition to the recipe below, consider a plum Tatin* or a plum tart with a base of crème pâtissière.

     
    Popular plum cultivars include:

  • Damson plum, with purple or black skin and green flesh
  • Greengage plum, firm green flesh and skin
  • Mirabelle plum, a flavorful dark yellow plum largely grown in northeast France, it’s a banned import†, but you can find them at farmers markets and buy trees to grow your own
  • Satsuma plum, with firm red flesh and red skin
  • Victoria plum, yellow flesh with a red or mottled skin
  • Yellowgage or golden plum, a yellow sibling to the greengage plum
  •  
    *Tarte Tatin is a one-crust fruit pie invented by accident in France in the early 1880s. It is served upside-down; the apples are on the bottom with the crust on top. The Tatin sisters, Caroline and Stéphanie, ran the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, southwest of Paris in the Loire Valley, not far from the town of Chambord. Stéphanie, preparing an apple tart, erroneously put the apples in the pan without the crust underneath. The apples caramelized, the customers loved it and the Tarte Tatin was born. You can adapt this recipe for Quince Tatin.

    †The ban is based no particular reason we could find, but likely has historic roots that are no longer relevant, but remain mired in bureaucracy that no one is motivated to resolve.

     

    This recipe, by Karen of FamilyStyleFood.com for Go Bold With Butter, calls for red plums. While you can use any plum variety, red, and secondly, purple plums, provide the best color. The best color will come from a red plum with red flesh.

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 1 hour, 30 minutes

    RECIPE: RED PLUM POPPY SEED CAKE

    Ingredients For 8-10 Servings

  • 12 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 firm-ripe plums, halved, pitted and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons raw or turbinado sugar
  •  

    damson-plums-230

    Damson plus. Photo courtesy Washington
    State Fruit Commission.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch tube pan.

    2. CREAM butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, using a heavy-duty mixer. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then mix in the yogurt and vanilla until combined, scraping down bowl if needed.

    3. WHISK together the flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds in bowl. Add to the butter mixture and stir on low speed until batter is just combined.

    4. SPOON the batter evenly into pan. Arrange plums over top and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until tester inserted into center comes out clean.

    5. COOL the cake in the pan on a rack until completely cool. Invert onto a serving plate and slice.

    6. STORE any leftover cake tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze it.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Nonni’s Biscotti Bites

    biscotti-bites-3-bags-230

    We want many bites! Photo by Elvira Kalviste
    | THE NIBBLE.

     

    The history of Nonni’s Biscotti begins in the little town of Lucca, Italy, in the heart of Tuscany. There, among meandering cobblestone lanes and venerable piazzas, one particular Nonni (an endearing term for Grandma) made biscotti for her family and friends.

    When Nonni moved to America almost a century ago, she continued baking the family biscotti to acclaim. One day, her children decided to take the recipe to the bank, creating the Nonni’s brand—now the number one brand of biscotti in the U.S.

    In the modern manifestation of the American Dream, the company was sold to a private equity investment firm several years ago.

    Since then, the original classic biscotti have been joined by two line extensions:

  • Nonni’s ThinAddictives, a melba toast-thin alternative to dense biscotti, introduced last year.
  • Biscotti Bites, smaller size biscotti.
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    In Tuscany these biscotti are called cantucci di Prato—cantucci (con-TOO-chee) for short. They were originally baked with almonds from the plentiful almond groves of Prato, a town in Tuscany.

     
    A cantuccio (plural: cantucci) is a hard almond biscuit. The name cantucci means “little stones,” the stones referring to the almonds.

    We are very keen on the Biscotti Bites, and appreciate that the smaller size gives us a great biscotti experience with fewer carbs. Each is a two-bite treat; the suggested serving size, five pieces, is 120 calories. But two or three pieces is more than enough, and one can suffice.

    The varieties include:

  • Almond Dark Chocolate Biscotti Bites, an almond biscotti with the bottom edge dipped in dark chocolate. Classic deliciousness!
  • Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Biscotti Bites, our favorite, a chocolate biscotto with a chocolate dip; bits of salted caramel are mixed into the dough.
  • Very Berry Almond Biscotti Bites combines dried cranberries and almonds; it is dipped in a vanilla yogurt coating.
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    Rich in flavor, crunchy in texture, Biscotti Bites are the perfect coffee break snack. We relish them:

  • With coffee or tea.
  • With ice cream.
  • As a chocolate fondue dipper: Dip into a shallow pot or bowl of chocolate fondue (you can’t easily spear the biscotti on a long fondue fork).
  • As dessert bruschetta, spreading the tops of the biscotti with mascarpone.
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    The Italian dessert tradition of dipping biscotti and a glass of vin santo—a sweet late-harvest wine—doesn’t really work here. Plain biscotti are typically dipped into the wine, which softens the biscotto and adds the sweetness of the wine.

    Biscotti Bites are too short to dip, and the chocolate or yogurt coating kind of interferes with the honey notes of the wine. But the work-around is: Don’t try to dip; sip and bite, alternatively.

    The shiny, perky bags are just waiting for you to make someone happy. Bring to a friend’s house, to teachers, to hairdressers and anyone who deserves some tasty crunch.

     

    tea-cup-biscotti-bag-230

    Our new favorite snack with tea or coffee. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    The line is certified kosher (dairy) by United States K.

    There’s a store locator on the website, or you can buy them online:

  • Almond Dark Chocolate Biscotti Bites
  • Double Chocolate Salted Caramel Biscotti Bites
  • Very Berry Almond Biscotti Bites
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