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Archive for Desserts

FOOD FUN: Strawberry Brownie Skewers

We love this idea from Sugar Bowl Bakery: strawberry skewers with marshmallows and brownie bites.

They’re quick and easy to put together. Let the kids do it as their contribution to Valentine’s Day.

WHAT YOU NEED

  • Brownies
  • Fresh strawberries (ideally a similar size/width to the marshmallows)
  • Marshmallows
  • Skewers
  • Optional: Smucker’s Magic Shell chocolate sauce (or other flavor*)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. REMOVE the stems and leaves from the strawberries; wash and pat dry. Slice off the tapered bottoms so there will be a flat edge against the brownie bites and marshmallows.

    2. CUT the brownies in a size that matches the marshmallows. Squares are O.K., but circles cut with a small cookie cutter are better.

    3. ASSEMBLE: Place strawberries on each end of the skewer, with a marshmallow and brownie bite in-between.

     

    strawberry-brownie-skewers-sugarbowlbakery-230

    Fun snack skewers for Valentine’ Day. Photo courtesy Sugar Bowl Bakery.

     
    4. GARNISH as desired with Magic Shell chocolate sauce. You need a sauce that hardens, or things will get messy.
     
    ____________________________
    *Magic Shell is made in six flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Chocolate Fudge, Chocolate Mint Cookie, Chocolate Pretzel and Funfetti Vanilla Cake.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Diet Baked Apples

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/baked apple c ost jvolodina 230

    Diet baked apples: Make them in the oven or
    microwave, eat them warm or chilled. Photo
    © J. Volodina | IST.

     

    When you’re trying to cut back, dessert is the trickiest course to navigate.

    Personally, we avoid all “reduced calorie” versions of fattening desserts. It’s better to have a small piece of the good stuff less often, then it is to have “light” versions of brownies,, cheesecake, etc.

    One of our go-to healthy desserts is a baked apple, made with non-caloric sweetener or low-glycemic agave syrup.

    It couldn’t be easier. Use the apples you prefer for apple pie—varieties that hold their shape when cooked. Some examples include the Baldwin, Crispin/Mutsu, Granny Smith, Honeycrisp and Pink Lady.

    You can bake them or microwave them. Microwaving is faster, and is the ideal way to cook a single serving. But if you become a fan of these baked apples, try baking them to see if you prefer the consistency.

  • Eat them warm or chilled.
  • In addition to dessert, we like them for breakfast.
  •  

    RECIPE: DIET BAKED APPLES

    Ingredients

  • Baking apples
  • Splenda, agave or other low-caloric or non-caloric sweeter
  • Cinnamon
  • Optional spices: allspice, ginger, nutmeg
  • Optional toppings: berries, diced raw fruit (apples, pears), pomegranate arils, whole grain cereal
    (e.g. Cheerios or raw oats), yogurt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CORE the apples and place them in a microwave-safe dish in a half inch of water.

    2. SPRINKLE the cored inside liberally with Splenda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Be sure the apple skin and the water are also sprinkled. The water will turn into a sort of syrup.

    3. MICROWAVE for 3-1/2 to 4 minutes or until tender. Microwave ovens vary, so test until you find the right texture. Sometimes we want an al dente baked apple; other times we cook it longer to achieve the consistency of hot applesauce.

    4. OPTIONAL: Reduce the cooking water to be more syrup-like. If you’re using agave, you can flavor the syrup with cinnamon and other spices. When ready to eat…

    5. GARNISH as desired and serve.
     
    Oven Baking Variation

    PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Bake the apples, basting with the pan liquid every 5 to 7 minutes, until tender (45 minutes to an hour).

     

    THE HISTORY OF APPLES

    Apples seem like the quintessential European fruit. But they first grew wild in the Tien Shan mountains of Kazakhstan, in Central Asia, millions of years ago.

    Those early apples were likely smaller and more sour than modern apples—more like crabapples.

    By about 6500 B.C.E., travelers were carrying cultivated apple seeds west, to West Asia, and east to China. Charred remains of apples have been found at a Stone Age village in Switzerland. (The Stone Aged spanned 6000 B.C.E to 2000 B.C.E.) [Source]

    By the third century B.C.E., the Greeks were growing several varieties of apples; the ancient Romans also grew and loved the fruit.

    Around 100 C.E., the Roman Legions brought apples along as they advanced north through Europe. Gaul (ancient France) became a fertile region for apple cultivation. The Romans also planted apples in Brittania (England). Centuries later, following the Norman conquest in 1066, new varieties of apple from France were introduced to England.

     

    Baked Apples

    Garnish your apple with low-caloric toppings, like pomegranate arils. Photo © C. Letty | IST.

     

    Apples were a boon to Europeans. They ripened just as it was getting cold and they could keep all winter, a valuable food source when nothing else was growing. Apples were also sliced, dried and stored. And bitter varieties were pressed to make cider.

    The word “apple” comes from the Old English word, “aeppel.” Cognates appear in Dutch, Old Frisian, Old High German and Old Saxon. According to What’s Cooking America, there are approximately 10,000 different kinds of varieties of apples grown around the world with more than 7,000 of these varieties grown in the U.S. (only a fraction are grown commercially).

    Apples arrived in the New World in 1607, with the Jamestown settlers. The seeds and cuttings they brought from Europe were not all suited for cultivation in Virginia, but they began to mutate to new varieties of American apples.

    Many of these apples were fairly bitter—not hand fruit, but important for making cider, which was more valuable than hand fruit or cooking fruit.

    Most early colonists grew their own apples. Due to unhealthy water sources, most people, including children, drank beer or hard cider instead of water (the same was true in Europe).

    Apples were being grown in Massachusetts as early as 1630. Mutation was continually creating new breeds. The McIntosh mutation was discovered in 1796, by a farmer named John McIntosh.

    Sweet apples for eating were grown as well, and today they’re grown in every state. Thomas Jefferson had a part in the development of the Fuji apple.

    As the story goes, the French minister to the United States gave Jefferson a gift of apple cuttings; Jefferson donated them to a Virginia nursery which cultivated them as the “Ralls Genet.” In 1939, Japanese apple breeders crossed the genes from the Red Delicious apple with the Ralls Genet, resulting in the now-ubiquitous Fuji apple. [Source]

      

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    RECIPE: Pandoro Tiramisu

    Pandoro Tiramisu

    Bauli Pandoro

    Use pandoro instead of ladyfingers or sponge
    cake to make tiramisu. Photos courtesy
    Bauli.

     

    If you received a pandoro for Christmas, or see them marked down after Christmas, don’t let them sit: Turn them into dessert.

    Pandoro is a lighter version of sponge cake, sometimes accented with lemon zest. You slice it and eat it, warmed briefly in the microwave. You can toast slices and top them with ice cream and chocolate or caramel sauce.

    Or, you can turn the cake into a sophisticated tiramisu.

    Tiramisu is traditionally made with ladyfingers or sponge cake. In this recipe, Chef Fabio Viviani turns it into Tiramisu for Bauli.

    RECIPE: PANDORO TIRAMISU

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 Pandoro di Verona (35.2 ounces_
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 containers (8-ounces each) mascarpone*
  • 4 oz. sugar, divided
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1-1/4 cups brewed espresso, cooled
  • 1/4 cup Marsala wine†
  • 3 each Pandoro, cut into medium size sticks
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Garnish: 1/3 cup grated dark chocolate
  •  
    *If you can’t buy mascarpone, use the recipe below for a substitute.

    †Marsala is a fortified wine, a category that also includes Madeira, Port and Sherry. It is produced in the region surrounding the Italian city of Marsala in Sicily, and has a D.O.C. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) protected status. It is an ingredient in the desserts Tiramisu and Zabaglione, as well as Chicken Marsala and Veal Marsala. It is also enjoyed on the rocks. If you can’t get hold of it, you can substitute a sweet sherry.

     

    Preparation

    1. BEAT the egg yolks with 2 ounces of sugar until creamy. Place the mascarpone in a large bowl and using a wooden spoon, press out any lumps. Then add the egg mixture and mix until well combined.

    2. BEAT the egg whites, salt and the remaining sugar in a separate bowl, until fluffy and the egg whites hold their shape. Incorporate into the mascarpone mixture.

    3. MIX together the Marsala and the espresso. Dip the pandoro fingers briefly in the mixture, making sure to not let them soak for too long. Lay them flat into a 7″ by 11″ Pyrex baking dish. Once the first layer has been laid out, spread the mascarpone mixture on top. Dust with half of the cocoa powder. Repeat the same process again with remaining pandoro, cream and cocoa.

     

    RECIPE: MASCARPONE SUBSTITUTE

    If you can’t get mascarpone locally, you can make an easy approximation of it with readily-available dairy products.

    Ingredients For 1-1/2 Cups

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND all ingredients until smooth.
     
    TIRAMISU HISTORY

    Tiramisu means “pick me up,” a reference to the caffeine from the espresso liqueur and the energy from the eggs and sugar. While there are many variations of the recipe, tiramisu is typically composed of layers of sponge cake or ladyfingers, soaked in espresso liqueur, coffee syrup or marsala, and layered with a mascarpone cheese and custard mixture. It is dusted with cocoa or shaved chocolate.

     

    Mascarpone With Biscotti

    Mascarpone can also be served with biscotti. Photo courtesy Vermont Creamery.

     
    For what is a classic Italian dessert, tiramisu is a relatively recent creation. The origins of the dessert are highly contested, but a strong claim has been made that the recipe was invented in the 1960s at the restaurant Alle Beccherie in Treviso, Italy, by pastry chef Loly Linguanotto. The restaurant’s matriarch, Alba Campeol, got the idea for the dessert after the birth of one of her children.

    Weak in bed, she was brought a zabaglione spiked with coffee, to give her energy. When she returned to work, she and her pastry chef worked on the “pick me up” layered dessert.

    The original Becchiere recipe did not contain alcohol because it was served to children as well as adults. Today, a good tiramisu is redolent of espresso liqueur or Marsala. You can read the full story, plus competing claims to the invention by another Treviso restaurateur, Carminantonio Iannaccone, in this Washington Post article.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Cranberry Mimosa Cocktail

    Cranberry Mimosa Cocktail

    Make Cranberry Mimosa cocktails or mocktails. Photo courtesy Ocean Spray.

     

    There’s still time to create a signature drink for Christmas: a Cranberry Mimosa cocktail or mocktail. It combines cranberry juice with sparkling wine (or ginger ale), instead of the orange juice of a traditional Mimosa.

    Or use cranberry liqueur for a Cranberry Kir Royale, a.k.a. Kir Royale à la Canneberge (if you haven’t guessed, canneberge [can-BERZH] is French for cranberry). Note that using liqueur instead of juice creates a stronger drink.

    You can also serve a Mimosa mocktail with cranberry juice and ginger ale, and a diet version with diet cranberry juice and diet ginger ale.

     
    RECIPE: CHRISTMAS MIMOSA, CRANBERRY KIR ROYALE OR CRANBERRY MOCKTAIL

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 2 ounces cranberry juice or cranberry liqueur
  • 4 ounces sparkling wine*, regular or rosé, chilled
  • Optional garnish: lemon curl, strawberry
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the cranberry juice/liqueur and the sparkling wine in a Champagne flute or wine glass. Add the juice first. If you need to stir, do so gently, once, so as not to collapse the bubbles.

    2. GARNISH as desired and serve.
     
    *Well-priced sparkling wines include Asti Spumante and Prosecco from Italy, Cava from Spain, Crémant from France and our Top Pick Of The Week, Yellow Tail Bubbly.

     
    THE HISTORY OF THE MIMOSA COCKTAIL

    The Mimosa, a cocktail composed of equal parts of orange juice and Champagne or other dry, white sparkling wine, was invented circa 1925 in the Hôtel Ritz in Paris, by bartender Frank Meier. Served in a Champagne flute, it is believed to be named after the the mimosa evergreen shrub (Acacia dealbata), which bears flowers of a similar color to the drink.

    The optional addition of a small amount of orange liqueur like Grand Marnier complements the juice and gives the drink more complexity.

    Because of the juice component, the Mimosa is often served at brunch. A Grapefruit Mimosa with grapefruit juice is a popular variation. A related drink, the Buck’s Fizz†, has two parts Champagne to one part juice—and sometimes a splash of grenadine. Created at London’s Buck’s Club by bartender Pat McGarryhe, the Buck’s Fizz predates the Mimosa by about four years.

    If you’re making Mimosas, fresh-squeezed orange juice makes a huge difference. One expert recommends trying different types of orange juice: The sweeter Navel juice vs. the more acidic Valencia, for example. Blood oranges, with their rosy color and raspberry notes, will provide a different experience entirely (and a wonderful one!).

    [Source]
     
    †Buck and mule are old names for mixed drinks made with ginger ale or ginger beer, plus citrus juice. They can be made with any base liquor. Why buck? Why mule? That answer is lost to history, but here’s a detailed discussion.
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Figgy Pudding

    “Oh, bring us figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer,” goes the carol, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.” Don’t know the carol? Sing with the bouncing ball.

    If you start now, you can have a homemade figgy pudding at Christmas.

    WHAT’S A FIGGY PUDDING?

    A distant cousin of the fruit cake, figgy pudding is a traditional fig-based cake, which became common in England in the 1600s. Christmas pudding has been celebrated in song at least since then. Countless carolers sing for it every year. (But do they get a slice?)

    Thought to bring luck and prosperity to all who share it, a figgy pudding is typically made five weeks before Christmas, on or after the Sunday before Advent.

    Also called plum pudding and Christmas pudding, this dessert is, in the manner of British puddings, a steamed cake. Essentially, it’s a very wet, alcohol-soaked, boiled fruit cake. British recipes use fruits such as plums, figs and dates; Irish recipes vary the recipe with raisins, currants, sultanas and citrus peel. Here’s the difference between British pudding and American pudding.

    Even if you don’t have five weeks, you can make one this weekend and still have figgy pudding on Christmas.

    The Christmas pudding is served on Christmas day, traditionally decorated with a spray of holly (which is not edible). In some homes, it is doused in flaming brandy and brought to the table in a darkened room. Here’s how to flambé a dessert.

    The steamed pudding trend hasn’t caught on in the U.S. (or at least, it hasn’t returned since it fell out of fashion at the beginning of the 19th century), but we think it’s ripe for a comeback.

       

    Christmas Pudding

    Christmas Pudding

    TOP PHOTO: Figgy pudding with hard sauce. Photo by Gerry Lerner | SXC. BOTTOM PHOTO: Figgy pudding with toffee sauce, from Mackenzie Ltd.

     
    NEXT DECISION: SAUCE FOR THE PUDDING

    First, here’s a figgy pudding recipe. You can add figs, dried plums (prunes), raisins or other dried fruits and still be authentic.

    A good pudding needs a good sauce, of course. Christmas pudding can be served with:

  • Brandy- or rum-flavored white sauce (here’s a a recipe from England)
  • Custard sauce (recipe)
  • Hard sauce (recipe)
  • Toffee sauce/sticky pudding sauce (recipe)
  • Lemon sauce (recipe)
  • Whipped cream (plain and holiday flavored recipes)
  •  
    Or you can be very untraditional and serve your pudding with some vanilla ice cream. For delightful overkill, try rum raisin ice cream.

     

    wassail-bowl-feastsfromthepantry-230

    A wassail bowl. Wassail is neither the bowl nor the punch, but a toast to good health. Photo courtesy Feasts From The Pantry.

     

    SHOULD YOU HAVE WASSAIL WITH YOUR FIGGY PUDDING?

    You may have heard of the wassail bowl. Wassail is neither the bowl nor the spirited drink inside it. Rather, it is a toast to good health. What’s in the bowl can be anything from eggnog to punch.

    The toast is not limited to England. From the Spanish salude to slainte in Irish Gaelic, many languages wish good health when glasses clink.

    Wassail (WOZ-ul) is an Old English toast, adopted from the Old Norse “ves heill,” meaning “be healthy.” It has been served to carolers for centuries.

    Wassail has its own song, too: Here we come a wassailing among the leaves so green.

    But should you serve it with figgy pudding?

     
    Nay. Drink from the wassail bowl before or after dinner; but with the pudding, have a nice cup of tea. Coffee, if you prefer.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Winter Fruit Compote

    First: What’s a compote?

    A popular medieval European dessert that faded out of style in the mid-20th century, compote (COM-poat), also referred to as poached or stewed fruit, is mix of fruits cooked in a syrup. Although a single fruit can be cooked in the same manner, a variety is more interesting.

    In fact, the name derives from the Latin compositus, mixture. Think of it as a cooked fruit salad. It was once so popular that people of means served it from a stemmed compote dish, designed to show off the fruits (see a photo below).

    The syrup is made from the cooking liquid—typically water or wine—plus sugar and spices.

    The syrup could be seasoned with the cook’s choice of cinnamon, cloves, lemon or orange peel, vanilla or other spices. The cooked fruit could be enhanced with candied fruit, grated coconut, ground almonds and/or raisins.

    In the absence of fresh fruit, compote could be made entirely with dried fruits, plumped in water that was optionally enhanced with kirsch, rum or sweet wine.
     
    HOW TO SERVE COMPOTE

    Thus, compote was especially popular in fall and winter, when fresh fruit was limited. Our Nana made it at least once a week during the season.

  • Compote can be served either warm or cold, with or without a dab of whipped cream or mascarpone. Except in Italy, the mascarpone is a modern touch. Nana and the rest of her generation had never heard of it.
  • You can use compote to garnish panna cotta or custard, in an ice cream parfait, even atop plain cake like angel food or pound cakes.
  • You can even serve compote with a cheese course, with or instead of fresh fruit.
  •  

    RECIPE: POACHED WINTER FRUIT COMPOTE

       

    Apple Cherry Compote

    TOP PHOTO: Apple and cherry compote on ice cream. BOTTOM PHOTO: Compote with a cheese course. Photos courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

     
    This recipe, from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, combines classic seasonal fruits—apples, pears, quince and dried fruits—with modern touches like star anise, another ingredient that wasn’t in American grocery stores in Nana’s time.

    For a holiday version, here’s another recipe: compote with cranberries, oranges and maple syrup.
     
    Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 cups water or juice
  • 1 cup dry or off dry white or rosé(juice may be substituted)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 whole star anise*
  • 6 allspice berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 to 6 apples, pears or quince (2-3 pounds), peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 cup dried plums, apricots or cranberries
  •  
    *If you don’t have star anise and don’t want to buy it, for each star you can substitute: 3/4 teaspoon crushed anise seed, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon anise extract, 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder or 1 tablespoon anise liqueur or other licorice liqueur.
     
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the first nine ingredients (up to and including the bay leaves) into a pot and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar; then reduce the heat to low and add the fruit.

    2. COVER the pot and simmer, removing the fruit with a slotted spoon as it softens.† Arrange the fruit in a glass bowl. (Nana mixed everything together like fruit salad, although you can layer the fruits if you wish.) Once all the fruit has been removed…

    3. BRING the poaching liquid to a boil and reduce it by half (it takes 5 to 10 minutes). Taste; if necessary add more lemon juice to balance the flavor. Strain the syrup and carefully ladle it over the poached fruit. The cooked fruit will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.
     
    †The fruit should be tender but not mushy. Cooking times vary for different fruits: 10 to 15 minutes for dried fruits, 20 to 30 minutes for pears, 30 to 45 minutes for apples and one hour for quince.
     

     

    Compote Dish

    A simple compote dish. They could be quite elaborate: etched crystal, garnished in gold, etc. Photo courtesy Abigails | Amazon.

     

    THE HISTORY OF COMPOTE

    No doubt, fruits have been stewed since the invention of clay pots, some 17,000 years ago in China. But the oldest known recipe we have, for a pear and fig kompot, dates to the early Byzantine Empire (330 C.E. to 1453 C.E.). Here’s the recipe for that ancient fruit compote, it’s made with dried fruit, date syrup and pomegranate molasses.

    Compote ultimately made its way to Europe. According to Wikipedia, in late medieval England the compote was served as one of the last courses of a feast. Later, during the Renaissance, it was served chilled at the end of a dinner, e.g., a predecessor of the modern dessert.‡

    Because it was easy to prepare, made from inexpensive ingredients and contained no dairy products, compote became a staple of Jewish households throughout Europe.

    Make it one of your household’s desserts!

     
    ‡Sugar was little known in Europe until the 12th century or later, when the it was brought back from the Crusades. Even then it was rare and costly; honey or dried fruits were the common sweeteners. In southeast Asia, where sugarcane originated, it has been in use for 1,000 years or so.

      

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    RECIPE: Pumpkin Coconut Mousse

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/pumpkin coconut mousse ingridhoffmannFB 230

    You don’t need special dessert bowls. Use juice glasses, rocks glasses or stemware. Photo courtesy Chef Ingrid Hoffmann.

     

    We made this mousse for the adults on Halloween, but the pumpkin theme works throughout the holidays. This is an easy recipe. Here’s a more elaborate pumpin mousse recipe.

    This recipe is from Chef Ingrid Hoffmann, who has many more on her website.

    You can serve it in meringues or puff pastry shells, in glass dessert dishes, in wine glasses or rocks glasses, or in scooped out mini pumpkins.

    RECIPE: PUMPKIN COCONUT MOUSSE

    Ingredients For 6-8 Servings

  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ¾ cup fine sugar*
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice†
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • Toasted coconut (instructions below)
  • Optional garnish: mint sprigs for garnish
  •  
    *You can use superfine sugar, or can pulse table sugar in a food processor or spice mill to make it more fine.

    † You can buy it or make it, combining 3tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg, 1½ teaspoons ground allspice and 1½ teaspoons ground cloves.
     
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the pumpkin purée, coconut milk, sugar, pumpkin pie spice and vanilla in a small sauce pan and and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely.

    2. BEAT the whipping cream and rum with an electric hand mixer, until peaks form. Gently fold the pumpkin mixture into the whipped cream, until well mixed.

    3. CHILL for at least 2 hours. Garnish with toasted coconut and a mint sprig.
     
    HOW TO TOAST COCONUT

    You can buy toasted coconut, but it’s very easy to toast your own in the oven or microwave.

    1. HEAT the oven to 350°F. Spread shredded coconut evenly on a cookie sheet. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until light golden brown, stirring occasionally.

    2. WATCH closely to avoid over-browning.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

    Bread pudding is a Southern classic that can be tweaked to become a fall special with the addition of pumpkin purée.

    This recipe, from Heidi of FoodieCrush, not only adds the pumpkin, but tops the bread pudding with a bourbon pecan sauce.

    Says Heidi: “With bourbon pecan and caramelized pecans topping a bread pudding made from cinnamon-raisin bread, this dessert is destined to become a classic.”

    Prep time is 15 minutes, cook time is 60 minutes.

    See the history of bread pudding below.

    RECIPE: PUMPKIN BREAD PUDDING WITH
    BOURBON PECAN SAUCE

    Ingredients For 8-10 servings

    For The Bread Pudding

  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1-pound loaf cinnamon-raisin bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  •   
    For The Bourbon Pecan Sauce

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/3 cup bourbon or other whiskey
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan with 1 tablespoon butter.

    2. WHISK together the eggs, heavy cream, pumpkin purée, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice in large bowl, stirring until smooth.

       

    Pumpkin-Bread-Pudding-bourbonsauce-goboldwithbutter-230

    pumpkin-bread_pudding-toni_roberts_starchefs-230

    TOP PHOTO: Will Pumpkin Bread Pudding become a new Thanksgiving classic? Photo courtesy Foodie Crush | Go Bold With Butter. BOTTOM PHOTO: Pastry chefs at top restaurants make pumpkin bread pudding, too. This upscale treatment, with crème fraiche ice cream and rum-spiced cherries, is from Chef Toni Roberts. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy Star Chefs.

     
    3. ADD the bread cubes and let stand 5 minutes. Pour into the baking pan; bake 40-45 minutes until the top is golden brown and the center is set. (The bread pudding will puff as it bakes and will deflate once it’s cooled from the oven.)

    4. MAKE the bourbon pecan sauce: Add the cream, egg yolks and sugar to 2-quart saucepan and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, whisking constantly, until the mixture thinly coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and let the mixture stand, stirring often as it cools. Meanwhile…

    5. MELT the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the pecans. Cook 4-5 minutes or until the butter browns and exudes a nutty aroma. Stir the browned butter and the pecans into the cream mixture. Stir in the whiskey.

    6. SERVE the bread pudding warm, drizzled with the bourbon pecan sauce. The sauce may be made a day in advance and refrigerated.
     

     

    Panettone Bread Pudding

    Bread pudding made with panforte, the
    classic Christmas bread. Photo courtesy
    Bauli. Here’s the recipe.

     

    THE HISTORY OF BREAD PUDDING

    Bread pudding, a dish created to use stale bread (as were French toast and fondue among others), has humble roots. But it has evolved into an American comfort food that you can find at diners and upscale eateries alike, made simply or elaborately.

    Food historians trace the history of bread pudding to the early 11th and 12th centuries, as frugal cooks looked for ways to use stale, leftover bread instead of letting it go to waste. In 13th century England, bread pudding was known as “poor man’s pudding,” as it was a popular dish with the lower classes.

    The dish consists of cubes of bread and any added ingredients (raisins, chocolate chips citrus zest and so on), covered with custard sauce and cooked. It can be made in the oven, stove top, a crock pot, microwave or grill.

     
    There’s lots of opportunity for creativity, from the type of bread to the inclusions. Beyond bread, you can use anything that’s left over: brioche, buns and rolls, coffee cake, croissants, donuts, Danish and muffins.

    We often buy a challah, just to have day-old bread for bread pudding. We also love a cinnamon-raisin loaf, as used in this recipe.

    And don’t forget the booze: Grand Marnier or other liqueur, rum or whiskey.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Bananas Foster Topping & Garnish

    As a lover of both chocolate cake and Bananas Foster, we were inspired by the creative use of Bananas Foster at Davio’s Italian Steakhouse in Boston (see photo). It’s traditionally used to top ice cream.

    It’s a most delicious addition. At Davio’s, a slice of flourless chocolate cake is topped with a slice of caramelized banana. But you can adapt the idea to almost any dessert. A chocolate base (or other dark color) is best to contrast the beige banana; but it will be delectable on anything. (It was a hit at THE NIBBLE on top of homemade chocolate pudding.)

    Before we are forthcoming with the recipe, here’s a bit of culinary history.

    BANANAS FOSTER HISTORY

    Bananas Foster is a more elaborate version of caramelized bananas. Sliced bananas are sautéed in butter with brown sugar, banana liqueur and Grand Marnier (orange-infused brandy) or rum. It is then flambéed at the table for a dramatic effect, and spooned over vanilla ice cream.

    For the flame-averse: While igniting the dish tableside is dramatic both at a restaurant and at home, it isn’t necessary.

       

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01_data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/flourless cake caramelized banana daviosbboston 230

    Two great desserts in one: Bananas Foster atop chocolate cake. Photo courtesy Davio’s |
    Boston.

     
    The original Bananas Foster recipe was created in 1951 by Paul Blangé (1900-1977), the executive chef at Brennan’s in New Orleans. The dish was named in honor of Richard Foster, a regular customer and friend of restaurant owner Owen Brennan, Sr.

    It is one of the flambé desserts that also include Crêpes Suzette and Cherries Jubilee. Savory dishes are also flamed at the table, from Steak Diane to Veal Marsala. Here’s a list of flambé recipes. Note, though, that the technique has long gone out of style.

    But how did it come into style?
     

    THE MODERN HISTORY OF FLAMBÉ FOOD

    Flambé (it means flamed in French), is a cooking procedure in which alcohol is warmed and then added to a hot pan, where it is lit to create a burst of flames. The alcohol burns off shortly and the flames die out.

    While the practice of igniting food for dramatic flair can be traced to 14th century Moors, modern flambéing became popular only in the late 19th century, and by accident.

    According to his memoir, in 1895 at the Café de Paris in Monte Carlo, 14-year-old Henri Charpentier (1880-1961), an assistant waiter, accidentally set fire to the liqueur in the pan of crêpes he was preparing. At the time, many foods were prepared tableside. The guests happened to be Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII) and some friends. According to the memoir:

    “It was quite by accident as I worked in front of a chafing dish that the cordials caught fire. I thought I was ruined. The Prince and his friends were waiting. How could I begin all over? I tasted it. It was, I thought, the most delicious melody of sweet flavors I had every tasted. I still think so. That accident of the flame was precisely what was needed to bring all those various instruments into one harmony of taste.

    The dish was served, and the Prince liked it.

    “He ate the pancakes with a fork; but he used a spoon to capture the remaining syrup. He asked me the name of that which he had eaten with so much relish. I told him it was to be called Crêpes Princesse. He recognized that the pancake controlled the gender and that this was a compliment designed for him; but he protested with mock ferocity that there was a lady present. She was alert and rose to her feet and holding her little skirt wide with her hands she made him a curtsey. ‘Will you,’ said His Majesty, ‘change Crêpes Princesse to Crêpes Suzette?’ Thus was born and baptized this confection, one taste of which, I really believe, would reform a cannibal into a civilized gentleman. The next day I received a present from the Prince, a jeweled ring, a panama hat and a cane.”

    SOURCE: Life A La Henri – Being The Memories of Henri Charpentier, by Henri Charpentier and Boyden Sparkes, The Modern Library, New York, 2001 Paperback Edition. Originally published in 1934 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Thanks to What’s Cooking America for the reference.

     

    Banana with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce and hazelnuts

    Brennans-Bananas-Foster-brennans-230

    TOP PHOTO: Bananas Foster served
    banana-split style. Photo | Fotolia. BOTTOM
    PHOTO: Bananas Foster at Brennan’s. Photo
    courtesy NewOrleansRestaurants.com. We
    prefer to slice our bananas in chunks.

     

    RECIPE: BANANAS FOSTER TOPPING & GARNISH

    While the Davio’s recipe cuts the banana into a stylish oblong and the photo at right halves the fruit banana-split style. At Brennan’s the long slices are cut in half. We prefer chunks perhaps 3/4-inch thick—easier to spoon over ice cream…and French toast, pancakes and waffles.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 4 firm, ripe bananas
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup banana liqueur
  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • Optional garnishes: toasted chopped pecans, grated orange
    zest
  •  
    Plus

  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream, or
  • Cake or whatever else you want with your Bananas Foster
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT the bananas in half lengthwise and crosswise for a total of 4 pieces each (alternative: cut 3/4″ rounds; you’ll have more than 4 pieces).

    2. MELT the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon and cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves (about 2 minutes—this creates a caramel sauce). Add the bananas and cook on both sides until they begin to soften and brown (about 3 minutes).

    3. ADD the banana liqueur and stir to blend into the caramel sauce.

     
    If you want to flambé, follow the instructions below. However, the drama of the flambé works only if the dish is prepared tableside. Otherwise, the drama is lost in the kitchene.

    4. LIFT lift the bananas carefully from the pan and top the four dishes of ice cream; then spoon the sauce over the ice cream and bananas and serve immediately.
      
    HOW TO FLAMBÉ

    Here’s a video on how to flambe from QVC chef David Venable. Tips:
     

  • Liquors and liqueurs that are 80-109 proof are best to ignite. Don’t try to ignite a higher proof; they are highly flammable.
  • The liquor must be warmed to about 130°F before adding to the pan. (Keep it well below the boiling point. Boiling will burn off the alcohol, and it will not ignite.) This is generally done by holding the liquor, in a spoon, over a candle or other flame.
  • Always remove the pan from the heat source before adding the liquor to avoid burning yourself.
  • Vigorously shaking the pan usually extinguishes the flame, but if you’re just learning, keep a pot lid nearby in case you need to smother the flames.
  •   

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    RECIPE: White Chocolate Pumpkin Fondue

    For pumpkin season, treat everyone to this White Chocolate Pumpkin Pie Chocolate Fondue from The Melting Pot, with a few modifications from THE NIBBLE.

    Why not make it this weekend? Don’t like to cook? Find the nearest Melting Pot.

    RECIPE: WHITE CHOCOLATE PUMPKIN FONDUE

    Ingredients For The Fondue

  • 8 ounces white chocolate, chopped (look for Green & Black’s, Lindt or other premium brand)
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 heaping teaspoon pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons Bacardi 151 Rum*
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Optional: chopped graham crackers or white chocolate shavings
  •  
    *Bacardi 151 is a brand of highly alcoholic rum, named for its alcohol proof level of 151 (75.5% alcohol by volume or A.B.V.). This is about double the alcohol of conventional rum (35%–40% A.B.V.). You can substitute a liqueur instead; see Step 3 below.

     

    White Chocolate Pumpkin Fondue

    White chocolate pumpkin fondue, garnished with white chocolate shavings. Photo courtesy The Melting Pot.

     

    For The Dippers

  • Cake cubes: blondies, brownies, doughnut holes or pieces, loaf cakes (carrot, chocolate, pound)
  • Cookies: amaretti, biscotti, graham crackers, granola bars, lady fingers, meringues, shortbread fingers, tea biscuits
  • Dried fruits: apples, apricots, dates, figs, mangoes, prunes
  • Fresh fruits: apples, bananas, grapes. mandarins/oranges, pears, pineapple, strawberries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE the chocolate and cream in the top of a double boiler pot over medium heat, stirring constantly so as not to scorch the chocolate. Alternatively, melt in the microwave in 45 second increments, stirring after each one.

    2. POUR the melted chocolate into a fondue pot. Add the pumpkin purée, blending gently. Taste and add more pumpkin if you like.

    3. ADD the rum to the pot and light with a long match or fireplace lighter. As the rum burns away, carefully stir the mixture together. If you don’t want to purchase 151 rum or flambé, stir the equivalent amount of orange liqueur into the melted chocolate and blend.

    4. SPRINKLE the nutmeg into the pot and gently fold in. The Melting Pot garnishes the top of the fondue with chopped graham crackers, but we prefer to use the graham crackers as dippers.

      

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