It seems like everyone goes into weight loss mode right after the New Year. The bookstores have an annoying amount of diet books on prominent display, the gyms run their specials, and my friends who have gym memberships say that they can’t wait until February comes because it so much less crowded. The problem I have with New Year’s resolutions is that all that dieting leaves very little space for dessert, which is hard when your hobby is baking.
This cake fits into that small space. It’s about 220 calories per serving (without the glaze) and it tastes decent. I’ll admit – it’s not my favorite cake, but it’s good and with the glaze it’s even better. It comes from a book called Perfect Light Desserts by Nick Malgieri, who runs the pastry program at New York City’s Institute of Culinary Education. At one point I was slightly obsessed with Mr. Malgieri (mainly because I was planning to attend his pastry program), so I bought this book because he wrote it, and because it’s different from your normal cakes/pies/cookies baking book. The recipes in this book make light desserts look goooood.
This cake is super easy to put together. It has under 10 steps and most of the ingredients should already be in your pantry. I really appreciate that about a recipe. If I can make it on a whim (especially if I have people coming over spur of the moment) it gets major bonus points from me. The only thing we didn’t have was cardamom, but that’s easy enough to find at your local grocery store.
Our apples were bought from the NYC Greenmarket at Union Square. Andy & I have discovered that we really love shopping at the market and supporting the local producers. We don’t do all of our shopping there (that’s something we save for Fairway), but we usually try to stop by and get apples (and apple or pear cider – we can’t help it) at the very least. I highly recommend getting apples from your local market if you can…if nothing else, they just taste better. If the apples taste better, then everything you put them in (including this cake) will taste better. Bake on!
What do you do when you have a lot of left over cranberries because you and your husband made an excellent chicken dish that called for a cranberry sauce? Turn them into a frozen cranberry lemonade! Who cares if it’s 34 degrees out? No pictures for this one (I didn’t think to take them – it was very spur of the moment), but it’s pretty much bright pink and fabulous.
Frozen Cranberry Lemonade
1/2 c. chilled cranberry sauce (recipe follows)
1/2 c. lemon juice (I used bottled, but I’m sure fresh would be great)
3/4 c. sugar (Andy thought it ended up being a bit too sweet, I thought it was tart [which I like], so adjust this to your tastes.)
3 c. ice (we used crushed because our fridge will do it for us)
Put cranberry sauce, lemon juice, and sugar into a blender and blend on low speed for 30 seconds. Add 1/2 the ice and blend on a high speed (I used speed 4 on my 5 speed blender) until you stop hearing chunks hitting the blade. Add the rest of the ice and blend until it’s your favorite smoothie consistency.
Adapted from part of the Mushroom & Cranberry Chicken recipe in Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World
3/4 c. cranberries
1/6 c. sugar
1/4 c. + 1/8 c. water
Combine the cranberries, sugar and water (all of it) into a very small saucepan and put it over medium low heat. Cover it and cook for about 9-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the berries break and the mixture thickens a bit (becomes a sauce). Take it off the heat, let cool, then put in the fridge to chill. You might want to run the sauce through a mesh strainer to remove the skins and seeds – they don’t bother me in my drink, but you might like yours perfectly smooth.
First things first: I’m not a candy maker. I would like to be good at it, someday, but for now I’m really just learning. These turned out much better than the Great Divinity Failure of ’09 though, and for that I’m very grateful. (Side note: Don’t try to make 4 new recipes, 2 of them candy, when you have 15 people coming over for a Christmas party, and you haven’t really made candy before. So completely not a good plan. Just sayin’.)
Anyway, on to the goodness. If you like soft, chewy caramels, this is a good recipe for you. It’s not a dark caramel – it has a much lighter flavor than I was expecting, but they’re very good…it’s just very easy to eat more than just one during one sitting. Also, when the recipe says use a “large, heavy bottomed saucepan,” listen to it. Get a LARGE saucepan. Bigger than 2 quarts. And when it blows up all over your stove anyway, transfer it to a stockpot instead and just move your candy thermometer over. That may be the reason why these turned out so light…
Caramels and other candies are fun, partially because they make such great gifts. You can wrap them up in a million different ways – you could make your own chocolate-filled heart at Valentine’s, put them in a tall snowman container (which was a present we got at Christmas), or line a Chinese food container with pretty heart tissue paper and tie the entire thing with a shiny bow…my personal favorite.
Try the recipe and let me know how it goes. Did yours turn out as light as mine? Did you make any changes, and how did they work? Bonus: This recipe makes enough that we actually, for the first time, have CANDY in our candy bowl. Crazy! Have fun and bake on!
When the craving for ice cream hits, it hits hard…at least in this apartment. My husband and I are both huge fans of the stuff, and I happen to have an ice cream maker like this that gets a lot of use, compared to other appliances I own. If I were going to buy one now, I would probably upgrade to the larger model, but it wasn’t out when I got mine. Maybe I’ll get one of the super fancy compressor models someday, but the Cuisinart works for now.
Anyway, so what do you do when you have a few people over and need some sort of a snackage, but your apartment is 85 degrees? Make ice cream, of course! I really like the Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book because of the diversity (and simplicity) of the recipes. The instructions are all easy to follow and the results are always good. The only problem/annoyance I’ve had is that some of the recipes are just a bit big for my ice cream maker, even if they say they’ll fit. I haven’t had any major overflows yet, so it’s still the book I would start out with if you’re looking for something.
The base recipe for this is chocolate and mint is the variation. That’s one of the good things about this particular book – all of the simple recipes also have variations, so when you have someone who’s not really a chocolate fan (*me*), you can make it chocolate mint and everything is grand. Make sure you add the mint after the refrigeration step, otherwise it will be very strong – probably stronger than you want.
One last note…if you decide to make ice cream while people are over, make sure they’re going to be there awhile…sitting around and playing video games, in this house. It does take a few hours. Also, you can always be ready if you keep the bowl to your ice cream in the freezer. I highly recommend it – no pesky 24 hour waiting period that way. Bake on (or freeze on, in this case)!
Sorry there’s no post today, but Andy and I picked up our new cat from the ASPCA this morning. His name is Mickey (after Mickey Mantle). There’s been so much to do I haven’t had time to bake! How could you get mad at a face this cute, anyway? More soon, I promise!
My mom found a wonderful pan at Williams-Sonoma that makes little filled pancake balls called “ebelskivers” and they immediately became one of my favorite breakfast foods. They’re light and fluffy, and you can fill them with almost anything you want. So far we’ve only done sweet, but I think she’s working on some savory versions as well.
Mom got me one of the pans for my wedding shower and this weekend Andy and I had friends in town so we decided to finally break out the pan for brunch on Saturday morning. Well, brunch turned in to lunch because it took me longer to make these than I thought. You see, my recipe says it makes 35-40, but the pan only holds 7…so you’re doing them at least 5 times. My batter ended up making somewhere around 50. I was at the stove for awhile.
There were 5 of us for brunch that morning…and all of them got eaten, so I’d say they’re worth the effort. Who wouldn’t want cute little pancakes filled with cinnamon sugar goodness? Feel free to get creative on the fillings. Jam works well in these, as does lemon curd, banana, and probably some sort of a baked apple. My pan is from Williams-Sonoma, and you can find it here
. Amazon also carries a pan with good reviews. Click here
for that one.