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Posts tagged ‘dessert’

crêpes au chocolaté

As full as life is these days, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share a special treat that a MOM might like. Besides, I promised a mom I would.

I’ve shared another crêpe recipe with you previously (“plain,”  yet not-so-plain, and simply wonderful) – partly because of its versatility, savory or sweet, it remains our favorite.

Don’t misunderstand – today’s crêpe is no slouch! And it steps in to fill the cockles of a chocolate-lover’s heart…it  might even be the one to make a Mom or Grandma swoon….if you aim for that sort of thing.

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With a plateful of warm crêpes of chocolate, you’ll be faced with choices…What to pool inside? What to dribble over?

♥ A mixture of sour cream & crème fraîche, sweetened & flavored with vanilla, tucked inside (see below), and fresh berries toppled over…

 Or perhaps the yogurt of your choice, and then once again berries on top…

♥ Or even sliced bananas tucked inside and then a good dollop of cinnamon-scented whipped cream…and even an extra drizzle of chocolate…

 You might decide to roll them instead of folding them like hankies…

 You can dust the finished crêpes with either dark chocolate or confectioners sugar…or both…

For a dessert:

 Maybe you’d like to macerate your berries in melted raspberry sorbet first – you’ll know what to do with them from there…!

 You might like a softened vanilla ice-cream inside & a rich chocolate sauce dribbling over the edges of your hankies…

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NOTE:  Keep in mind that it’s best to prepare these at the very least one hour ahead of cooking. Two hours is better. Overnight, or a full day ahead, is great! This allows the flour molecules to become fully hydrated and the crêpes to become their tenderest.

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Chocolate Crêpes

Makes 12 – 8 to 9-inch crêpes

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Butter - 1 Tablespoon

Bittersweet Chocolate - 1½ ounces (40 g) – chopped

Milk – 1 cup (250 mL)

Large Eggs – 2 

Sugar – ¼ cup (55 g)

Vanilla Extract - 1 teaspoon

All-Purpose Flour – 1 cup (125 g)

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Into a small to medium saucepan place the butter, chocolate and milk and gently heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has melted. Remove from heat.

Using a medium-size bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar. Add the vanilla and then the flour. Now beat in the chocolate milk mixture, slowly at first to eliminate lumps from forming. Pour the mixture into a pitcher or jug.  (If lumps are present, strain into the pitcher.)

Allow to sit for at least one hour. See NOTE above.

Check the consistency of your batter. It should be like a thin cream…add small amounts of milk, mixing thoroughly, until desired consistency is reached.

When it’s time to cook your crêpes, a non-stick skillet (8 – 10″) will work best. But any skillet of this size will work…they will just require a spraying or a buttering/oiling of the pan from time to time. Crêpes are better if they’re drier, but don’t let this stand in your way of a treat!

Heat the oven to 150°F (65°C) and place a plate inside. Place your skillet over medium high and allow it to come to temperature.

(Count on the first one or two crêpes being trials, just as in pancakes.)

Depending on the size of your pan, you’ll only need 1½ to a scant 3 Tablespoons of batter per crêpe. Once your pan has reached temperature, raise it off the heat and drop in the batter, tilting the pan in a circular motion so that it coats the bottom of the pan evenly. Any holes can be filled with a touch of additional batter. When the underside is cooked and the topside is mostly dried (only about 1 minute!) lift one edge with a butter knife, or a skinny spatula (or even your fingers) and flip it to finish the crêpe – 30 seconds or so.

Place them on the heated plate in the oven (covered with foil) as you prepare the others, or serve them as they come out of the pan, as you prefer.ChocolateCrepes-10

These crêpes will freeze well if prepared ahead. Simply place parchment paper or waxed paper squares between them, and then placed in a freezer bag. Allow them to come to room temperature and then gently reheat them in a warm oven. Then fill and prepare as you like.

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little lemony tartlets

Spree’s been making messes around here for 2 years now! That deserves something. It’s not a huge anniversary – no reason to go hog-wild. Let’s keep it simple, very simple. That suits Spree best. Jeans, soft sweaters and comfy shoes. Bring a dish of comfort if you like but nothing more. We’ll have lots to eat and drink. We’ll build fires, sit on quilts and wait for Spring to come. We’ll watch the birds eating just outside the windows and we’ll look close at crocus pushing up the dirt. We’ll eat savory popcorn and watch old movies. We’ll tell each other stories and laugh til our sides ache. We’ll roll the rugs back and dance (like the winter-weary but happy fools we are.) We’ll rest our heads on each other’s shoulders and maybe nod off a time or two. And then before you leave for home again, we’ll have little lemony tartlets, so that everyone can have their own, and

Spree will have 2.

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A two-part dessert that’s easy as pie:

Little Lemon Curd Tartlets

In a Gingersnap Crust

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The Curd:

(makes 1 pint)

Lemons - 2 or 3

Sugar - ½ cup

Eggs – 3 – lightly beaten

Unsalted Butter – ½ cup (4 oz/125g)

Optional: Lemon Extract – ½ teaspoon

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Cut the butter into small cubes. Finely grate the zest of one lemon. Set aside and cover. Cut the lemons in half and squeeze enough juice to measure 1/3 cup.

Place a non-reactive, heat-proof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. Be certain that the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Add the lemon juice, sugar, and eggs (lightly beaten) to the bowl and whisk or stir continuously. Add the butter, a few small cubes at a time, allowing each addition to melt before adding the next. Continue stirring until all the butter has been incorporated and the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. (10 – 15 minutes)

Pour the curd into a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl and stir until the silky lemony pudding has made its way to the bowl below. Stir in the zest (and lemon extract if you like – I do) and then set aside to cool.

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The Crust:

makes 4 tartlet shells

I used a store-bought gingersnaps for this crust – and (weird that I am) I counted them so that I could tell you it will take 20 cookies to make 4 tartlet shells. Of course that will depend on the size of the cookie, but the standard shelf brand in the US measures out that way. But if you have a kitchen scale, it’s a snap.

Gingersnap crumbs – 1¾ cups (5 oz/155g)

Unsalted Butter – 5 Tablespoons

All-purpose Flour – ¼ cup

Optional - Powdered Ginger - ½ teaspoon

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Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and butter four 4½ inch tartlet pans with removable bottoms.

In a food processor, combine the gingersnap crumbs and flour; drop in the butter. Pulse until the butter is evenly distributed and the mixture begins to clump together. (It’s unlikely, but is dependent on your brand of snap – if the mixture is too “dusty” and doesn’t cling together, add another pat of butter.) Remove the mixture from the processor, divide into 4 equal parts, and press into the pans –  first onto the bottom and secondly up the sides. Read more

on sweet eats

Only once as a child was I made to strongly urged to eat my dessert. Our family of five,  plus my uncle and his new wife were gathered around our maple dining table. Each of our wintry faces was warmed and brightened by the candle’s winking light. Mom, in her fancy apron, her hair pulled back in a thick high ponytail, was beaming. She’d worked hard on this dessert.

Christmas pudding.

Sounds innocuous enough. To some it might even sound a tad romantic.  A dessert of a time past when people cooked in black pots placed on grates in large fireplaces, when people wiped their mouths with their sleeves or aprons, and hunting dogs curled around the legs of the table and caught the scraps that fell.  Everyone basked in the glow of candlelight back then. Christmas pudding….

Ahhh! Lovely, dear!

At first whiff I knew this was going to be nasty. I declined as politely as I could by pushing it away and making a face. “You haven’t even tried it.”   “But I don’t need to, I know I won’t like it!”   “Well, you’re going to try it.”   “See, I told you I wouldn’t like it!”   “Maybe you just need another bite to be sure.”

The story doesn’t end well. I had several bites that night, and then lost a good portion of the dinner I had liked. I had a very weak stomach back then, a nose that could sniff green pepper or alcohol a room away, and a very – discerning – palate for a seven-year-old.

(Don’t think a single dark thought about our Mom. She’s a sweetheart and a mighty fine cook, and I’ve got plenty of stories and recipes to prove it!)

Why are we here then, you ask. Certainly not to share in Mom’s recipe for Christmas Pudding!? (No, our smarter-than-average Mom never made that ghastly thing again.)

 I’m here (once more) to strongly urge you to eat your vegetables – AS your dessert this time! Fortune smiles!

AND you ‘re going to love it – at first bite! (So will seven-year-olds.)

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WHY will you love it? (Good of you to ask.) It’s aromatic, tender, light, flavorful, not-dry (I know some people despise the word moist), it’s soft in the mouth, sweet on the tongue – and what? good for you! Warmed for breakfast, packed in a kid’s lunch, a little pick-me-up in the afternoon, a light bit of sweet after dinner. This makes 2 loaves, and you only add ½ cup of sugar – yet it’s delicately sweet. (It does have some fruit butter which has a bit of its own sugar, but we’re not going to hold that against it.) We do like this – ever so much – around our house!

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Carrot-Parsnip-Zucchini Bread

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1½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat flour (the white variety of whole wheat works best for tender baked goods like this but any will do)

2 Tablespoons hulled Hemp Seeds (Optional – but so packed nutritionally and with a delicious nutty flavor)

½ cup sugar

1½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground  cloves

1 medium carrot shredded

1 medium parsnip, shredded

1 small zucchini, shredded

3 large eggs

¾ cup apple butter or pumpkin butter (I’ve only made this with pumpkin butter, but either would be equally good)

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract (yes, that much)

2 Tablespoons pumpkins seeds for the top

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Preheat the oven to 375°F (180°C) Either oil two 8½ x 4½ inch loaf pans with olive oil or line with parchment paper. (Loaves will lift right out of the pan, cleanly, with parchment paper.)

Wash, peel and grate your vegetables.

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about 2-1/2 cups total shredded vegetables will be perfect

In a large bowl, combine the flours, hemp seed, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir to combine well. Add the shredded carrots, zucchini and parsnip. Stir to coat the shreds evenly.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, fruit butter of your choice, the olive oil and vanilla extract.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until well combined, but be careful not to over-mix which would toughen the loaves.

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so liberating to make a mess – as any seven-year-old knows – and it comes easier with practice

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this little light…..& shortbread cookies

for those of us who live north of the equator, we’re only 4  days from the darkest day of the year. But for many among us, it felt as though last Friday must surely have been that day.

. . .

in this hurting world

don’t think that for one moment

your light goes unnoticed.

don’t think for an instant that your light,

just now, is too dim to shine for anyone.

. . .

don’t believe that what we face

is either too big or too complicated,

or that our little light

is powerless

in the creeping shadow of it.

. . .

in this hurting world, the one thing,

the one thing, we can each do

is let our own light shine.

whatever shape or brilliance your candle,

it is exactly what the world needs…

this shimmering little light

that is yours alone

to share.

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Sometimes, when it feels like sadness might overtake us,

we bake.

something so small.

An unseen part of us knows though that an ancient comfort

is resident in our kitchens. When hope seems dim, or our candle flickers,

and we really haven’t much of a clue where to put our sorrow,

we can always bake cookies to share.

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these little shortbreads are aromatic and truly lovely. if you already know and love lavender in the kitchen, go for the full teaspoon. if you’re trying for the first time, you might start with the smaller amount. but if you don’t have lavender at all, it can be omitted. or try replacing it with ¼ to a scant ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, very finely minced. (Culinary lavender is easily obtained on-line.)

however, if chocolate is your flavor, a recipe for chocolate shortbread follows.

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Lemon Lavender Shortbread

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½ cup butter at room temperature

½ cup powdered sugar (unsifted)

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

¾ to 1 teaspoon culinary lavender  (see above) 

¼ teaspoon lemon extract

1 cup flour

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Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Drop the powdered sugar into a small bowl. Mince very finely the zest of lemon and the lavender and add them to the powdered sugar. Add the lemon extract.  Stir to mix; then add to the butter and cream together. Work in the flour, scraping the bowl as you go.  Once the dough has mostly come together, remove to an unfloured board and knead  until nice and smooth.

Either spray with non-stick vegetable spray or brush a thin layer of vegetable oil on the bottom and sides of your pan. Firmly press the dough into the pan. (I used a clay pan with Scottish thistle imprinted on it, but an 8-inch round cake pan or 9-inch pie tin will work just fine!) Prick the entire surface with a fork and bake at 325°F (165°C) for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set the timer and allow the shortbread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and flip the pan over onto a wooden cutting board. (If it doesn’t release right away, tap one edge of the pan.) Cut the shortbread into 8 pieces while still warm.

( to print lemon lavender recipe, click. )

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dark chocolate & pear torte

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

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A chocolate torte with pears…

and a dollop of gingered whipped cream.

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I came upon this gluten-free flourless, deep dark chocolate torte, baked with the pear of song, and knew it was destined for you.

Simple…and well, sort of heavenly…

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Dark Chocolate & Pear Torte

(8 to 12 servings)

1 cup butter (2 sticks, salted)

7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (see NOTE)

1 cup granulated sugar

4 eggs

1½ cups toasted and finely ground almonds (see NOTE)

1 firm-ripe pear (Comice are wonderful here!)

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Powdered sugar, for dusting

Fresh Ginger Whipped Cream, for serving (recipe follows)

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NOTE:   To toast the nuts: Spread on a baking sheet and bake in a 350F oven for 5 to 8 minutes or until they start to brown. Allow to cool and then grind finely in a food processor. I used toasted ground almonds…but you could just as well use pecanswalnuts or hazelnuts.

NOTE: This might be an occasion to splurge and buy an extra-special chocolate – though of course it’s not necessary. Guittard is such a chocolate. I used the bittersweet.

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Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat; brush some of the butter onto the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Lower the heat beneath the butter and add the chocolate, stirring slowly until the chocolate has melted.

Remove from the heat and transfer the butter chocolate mixture to a medium-sized bowl. Add the sugar and whisk until well blended. Allow it to cool for 5 minutes.

Whisk in the eggs – one at a time – until completely incorporated. The batter will be smooth and glossy. Stir in the ground nuts until well-blended. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the mixture to your buttered springform pan.

Peel, core and quarter the pear, from stem to base. (Using a melon baller to remove the core will help maintain the pretty appearance.) Slice each quarter in half, and then in half again (4 slices/quarter.) Fan the pears around the batter to form a wreath. Bake until the pears are tender and the center of the torte is set, about 40 (to 45) minutes. Set the springform pan on a wire rack to cool completely.

Run a thin-bladed knife around the edge of the pan and release the pan’s ring. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving with the whipped cream.

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recipe for gingered whipped cream follows…

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rhubarb apple tart & tulips on the table

we all bring something to the table. what are our gifts? what of ourselves do we decide to grow and then share? what love language do we speak? do we learn to speak another’s? how well do we listen?

my husband learned years ago that i love flowers. in the beginning he would order elaborate flower arrangements (full to overflowing) and have them delivered to the door. then, somewhere along the line, he learned i like simple, and all of one thing. and now, he brings me bundles wrapped in paper, wound with string, carried in his own man arms. and sometimes, after days away, blooms are there, welcoming me home again.

if you’ve been with me awhile, you’ve heard of my fear of pie. (more truly, it was fear of a colossal-y failed crust.) i’ve done truly brave things in my life (i’ll even cop to a “reckless” act or two) but pie crust? why and how this fear (irrational to begin with) grew to be such a beast, you might guess. but for years i steered clear of the rolling pin. then, only fairly recently, i decided to stand toe to toe with that tiger, stare unflinching into his golden eyes.

that tiger walks beside me now, purring like a kitten. and finally (and this is reason enough to take on a tiger) i can make my love his apple pie.

Apple Rhubarb Tart

I’ve shared my recipe for a tart shell in an earlier post. (see French Lemon Tart if you want to be tempted!) I’ll include the crust recipe here too, at the end of the post. I’d like to be humble about this, but after years of being humble, to finally be proud seems like something worthy of sharing. So here’s the un-softened, un-humble truth. This crust is   a.w.e.s.o.m.e.

A word about the filling: I grew up eating and loving rhubarb. To me, it’s a thing of spring. So as a base for this pie is a thick rhubarb “compote” of sorts – the liquid cooked out of it and nothing but the essence of the fruit remaining, lightly sweetened, imbued with the scented seeds from a vanilla pod and touched with a hint of cardamon. Apples, rolled in melted butter and brown sugar twirl across the top. Serve as is, warm from the oven, with or without ice-cream or crème fraîche. Or serve it chilled. It’s not too sweet for brunch or tea.

the Fillings

the rhubarb

  • 1 pound rhubarb stalks
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar or muscavado
  • 1/3 vanilla bean
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

the apple

  • 2 apples – Granny Smith or Pink Lady are good (or any other apple that will hold its shape while cooking)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar or muscavado

Wash the rhubarb stalks. Split in half lengthwise, then cut into pieces about 1/2-inch or smaller. Put in a medium-size heavy pot. Split the piece of vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds, adding both the pod and seeds to the pot. Drop in the brown sugar and cardamom.

Place the lid on the pot and cook over low heat for 15 minutes or until saucy. (No water in this compote – the low heat will encourage the rhubarb to release its own moisture.)

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olive oil & red grape cake

If I were to name my sweet weakness, cake wouldn’t be it. Once every blue moon though comes a cake with that certain something that causes my knees to wobble and my will to crumble. Enter this cake.

Generally cakes tend to be a bit sweet for me, sugar muscling out every other taste sensation. This cake is sweet enough to be called a cake, but doesn’t overpower the palate with sugar. My own sweet weakness is for fruit desserts and most cakes are rather wussy in the fruit department. This cake is deliciously fragrant with citrus, both lemon and orange, and has purply bursts of fresh grape. Many cakes are made of more than a dozen ingredients. This has 8 very simple ones. There’s only 1 cup of flour in this 9-inch cake. The lightness and golden color come from eggs. The exquisite richness, from a fruity olive oil (to name another weakness.) This is a fine-textured, delicately scented, out-of-the-ordinary cake quite perfect for finishing a meal.  And if sweet tea-time be your weakness, could I suggest…

Citrusy Olive Oil & Red Grape Cake

  • 5 eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup (155 g) sugar, with more for sprinkling
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, more for brushing*
  • Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cup (125 g, 5 ounces) cake flour sifted
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 9 ounces (250 g) seedless red grapes

You’ll need a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan. 

* I recommend a light or sweet & fruity sort – avoid the pungent peppery kind you might love dipping your bread in.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Rub the springform pan with a little olive oil, and line the bottom with parchment paper cut to fit.

Grate the zest from the lemon and orange, and then juice the lemon. (One means of getting more juice from the lemon is to roll it back & forth on the counter first, applying medium pressure with the palm of your hand. Or put the lemon in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds to help release the juices. Slice in half and juice.)

Beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick, pale and ribbony. Mix in the olive oil, lemon juice and the zest of both the lemon and the orange. Add the flour, and stir to combine.

Beat the egg whites with the salt ’til stiff peaks form, then gently fold them into the lemony batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Plunk in half of the grapes, fairly evenly throughout the batter. (These will sink to the bottom.)

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spreezza!

Oh, you’ve not heard of it? Spreezza’s that immensely popular little dessert pizza, covered with marscarpone cheese, topped with juicy fresh fruits, drizzled with  some delectable sauce or other, some even scattered with herbs. Oh, you’ve not heard of them?  I guess I must have made it up.

It begins with a good pizza dough….

This No-Knead Pizza Dough is bubbly, chewy, crispy and better than you’ll find at most pizza parlors. It can be used for ALL manner of pizzas – nothing at all about it restricts it to the dessert realm – in fact I’m the one who’s taken it there. It’s a take on the now-famous No-Knead Bread of Jim Lahey (owner of Sullivan St. Bakery in NYC) who introduced it a number of years back to rave reviews. I posted the bread late last year but if you missed the post and would like to take a look, you can check it out hereThis pizza dough, like the bread that inspired it, derives its wonderful complex flavor from its overnight fermentation. So the only thing you have to consider moving forward is to start it the day before you plan to enjoy it.

Now if you’ve got a hankering for a spreezza and you don’t want to wait til tomorrow, you can always begin with a store-bought dough (Trader Joe’s has a very good one), skip all this that I’m about to tell you about the dough, and move quickly to the spreezza recipe further down. But you might want to return to this dough another time, because it really is wonderful.

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(Each of the following 10 to 12″ pizzas will make about 4 portions of dessert, 2 slices per person. About the same amount would hold true if being served for brunch with accompanying eggs and/or meats and other items. For breakfast, I’d allow more per person…maybe half a Spreezza per person. You can halve the recipe easily if you like. Or make the whole thing, break it into portions, wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days to use in other ways…like a traditional pizza. Or stay tuned because I’ve got another fun idea coming up very soon! Flavor and texture of the dough will not suffer at all for the extra time spent in the fridge. If you want to wrap and chill ahead, just allow 2 to 3 hours once they come out of the fridge for unwrapped dough balls to rest before forming into pizza pies.)

No-Knead Pizza Dough

makes six 10″ to 12″ pizzas

(about 20½ hours, with only 90 minutes active time)

  • 7½ cups all-purpose flour (3 lb. 1.5 oz. or 1000 grams) plus more for shaping loaves later
  • 4 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon active dry yeast

Half recipe of the No-Knead Pizza Dough

makes three 10″ to 12″ pizzas

  • 3¾ cups all-purpose flour plus more for shaping loaves later (1 lb. 14 oz. or 850 kg.)
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast

Whisk flour, salt and yeast in a medium bowl. While stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add 3 cups water (1½ cups if halving the recipe!). Stir until well incorporated. Mix dough gently with your hands to bring together  and form into a rough ball. Transfer to a large clean bowl. Cover with plastic and allow the dough to rise at room temperature in a draft-free place until the surface is covered with tiny bubbles and dough has more than doubled in size. About 18 hours time, though time will vary depending on the temperature of the room. 

Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Gently shape into a rough rectangle. Divide into 6 equal portions (or 3 if halving the recipe.) Working with 1 portion at a time, gather 4 corners to the center to create 4 folds. Turn seam-side down and mold gently into a ball. Dust the dough with flour; set aside on the work surface or floured baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining portions.

Let the dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, about 1 hour.

To Bake the Pizza Dough

During the last hour of the dough’s resting, prepare the oven. If using a pizza stone, place a rack in the upper third of the oven, put the pizza stone on it and preheat oven to its hottest setting, 500° – 550°F (260° – 290°C.) (If using a baking sheet, no need to preheat that.)

Working with 1 dough piece at a time, dust the dough generously with flour and place on a floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a 10″ to 12″ disk (25-30 cm.)

If using a pizza stone - Sprinkle a pizza peel or rimless (or inverted rimmed) baking sheet lightly with flour. Place dough disk on the peel or prepared baking sheet, and, using back-and-forth movements, slide pizza from peel onto the hot pizza stone. Bake the pizza, rotating halfway through, until the bottom crust is crisp and the top is blistered, about 5 – 7 minutes total. If using this pizza dough for a Spreezza, brush with melted butter when you rotate the pizza. 

Spreezza! 

(pronounced spreé-tza)

Now, here is where this whole thing turns so fun! I’ll give guidelines for 2 versions here. I’ll share others as seasonal fruits appear. This isn’t science. This isn’t hard-and-fast measurements. This is Playing with Food! 

for each 10-12″ pizza, you will want – approximately:

Marscapone Layer

  • Marscarpone cheese – 8 ounces
  • zest of ½ lemon (about 1 Tablespoon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons (to 3 tsp.) powdered sugar

Berries

  • Fresh strawberries – ½ – ¾ cup, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons (to 3) powdered sugar (for strawberries)
  • zest of ½ lemon added to strawberries
  • Fresh raspberries – ½ cup
  • Fresh blueberries – ½ cup
  • lemon thyme – a couple sprigs
  • blueberry balsalmic vinegar – or good quality aged balsamic vinegar
  • OPTIONAL: Additional Powdered Sugar, sifted - you may want this especially if you’re serving for dessert as opposed to a brunch or breakfast


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lemon buttermilk sorbet

I have a weakness for lemons. (Had it all my life – have learned to live with it.) Pair them with the delicate lactic tang of creamy buttermilk and you have (or I do) chilled perfection on a spoon. It’s that simple.

Refreshing, light and (as desserts go)  as low fat as you’d like it to be. I made mine with a whole milk buttermilk (freshly-homemade) – but you could also use a low-fat buttermilk – and in either case, compared to whole cream, it’s a waist-watcher’s dream.

NOTE : Ice-cream makers are relatively inexpensive.  Good ice-cream, gelatos and sorbets on the other hand, are not. But they’re very inexpensive to make. With fresh fruit season nearing us, with all the berries and peaches, and need I go on, it might be something you want to consider? Mine is a simple sort – a canister remains in the freezer until you’re ready to use it. Pull it out, put the cooled liquid in, set it on its base, turn on the machine, leave it 20 to 30 minutes as it whirs away. Return to a well-churned, additive-free, fresh and frozen treat.

Lemon Buttermilk Sorbet

about 12 scoops – you decide how many portions that is :) 

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • zest of 1/2 to 1 lemon, finely chopped
  • 1 cup sugar (you might be able to get away with slightly less)
  • 1/4 cup neutral-tasting honey or coconut nectar (a syrup) or agave syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
  • 2 cups fresh buttermilk, shaken to blend

Place a container (about quart-size) in the freezer to chill.

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Orange Almond Cake

17th of February – we’ve made it more than half way through winter now. The last of these winter days seem to creep though, slow and dark towards Spring. There’s hope of it, and there are signs. Brilliant green soft points of daffodils are pushing through the wet earth near our front door. I put my nose close to a tree’s branches this morning and saw the tiniest swellings of buds. I was in need of seeing them there. I find comfort knowing that tightly folded leaves are tucked safely beneath those leathery coverings until the sun is high enough in the sky to warm this winter air. Weeds, opportunistic and first-comers always, are springing up in our herb garden. It’s time I put my rubber boots on and got after them.  All good signs. I count each one. So while I can know that Spring is inching closer, with bright green leaves and clusters of blossoms only just beneath the surface, I’m still missing the sun very much these days.

It’s about this time of year that I go piling my basket with oranges, and grapefruits, Meyer lemons and limes. Is it the same for you too? We’re craving the citrus. Maybe it’s the wisdom housed in our bodies telling us we need those extra stores of vitamin C to fight the last chill and bugs of winter. Maybe it’s the very shape and color we crave, round and warm. Most irresistible to me though, of all the beautiful citrus this time of year, is this brand new crop of freshly-picked oranges. To me they are

s u n   in  a  winter  sky

and when we lift them to our mouths it’s like eating sunshine. They grew with their juices inside warmed and multiplied by the sun. Our very sun is beneath those peels, in each plump segment, and in each tiny puckery pouch within those segments.

A whole bag of the most beautiful heirloom oranges came home with me the other day. Some of them found their way into a not-too sweet dessert that manages also to be gluten free. No flour here. No butter either. Mostly just oranges, eggs and almonds, ground to a fine flour. After baking, the cake is doused in a delicate orange syrup, laced with a bit of Grand Marnier. It’s optional, but you’ll see it here decked with candied thin slivers of peels, every last bit of bitter removed, their color a glimmering translucent orange. Serve alongside some whipped cream, lightly sweetened, and if you have it on hand, a touch of fragrant Orange Flower Water, from the very flower that becomes the fruit.

For this cake, including the candied zest, you’ll need a total of 5 oranges. Because you’ll be using the zest as well the juice, it’s best to use non-sprayed organic oranges. If you can’t find them, wash the oranges very well before zesting. 

Orange Almond Cake

(makes 8 to 12 servings)

  • 6 eggs
  • ¾ cup (155 g – 5¼ oz.) sugar
  • Zest of 3 oranges
  • 1½ cups (200 g, 7-1/8 oz) finely ground almonds (almond flour)

For the syrup

  • Juice of 3 oranges
  • ½ cup (95 g – 3½ oz.) sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Grand Marnier  (orange liqueur) – optional – but strongly advised ;)

For the candied zest

  • 2 oranges
  • 1 cup (200 g – 7 oz.) sugar*

For serving

  • Whipped cream, lightly sweetened – with an optional bit of Orange Flower water sprinkled in

* If you’re concerned about the amount of sugar, keep in mind that this cupful is making a syrup that candies the peels – but the bulk of it is tossed after the peels are finished.

Heat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Grease a 9- or 10-inch (23 or 25 cm) springform pan, and line the bottom of it with a circle of parchment paper.

For the cake, separate the eggs into two large bowls. Beat the yolks with the sugar and zest until very thick, pale, and ribbony. (You’re looking for the mixture to run from the whisk in a steady ribbony stream, one that can write on the surface of your batter.) Then stir in the almond flour.

Beat the whites to stiff peaks.

Stir a spoonful of the whites into the yolk mixture to thin it a bit, then gently fold in the rest. The loft for this cake all comes from the air you’ve whisked into the batter, so be gentle not to deflate it. Pour the batter into the pan. Bake until set, about 45 minutes, but check after 40. Allow the cake to cool slightly, then un-mold it onto a serving platter.

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