Five-Spice Shortbread Cookies with Candied Clementines

Let’s talk Holiday cookies.

5 Spice Shortbread with Candied Clementine My standards are chocolate chip cookies, and super spicy ginger snaps.  But each year, I like to throw a new cookie into the mix to keep things interesting.  This year, it’s these Five-Spice Shortbread Cookies with Candied Clementines.

I don’t even try to hide the fact that I love Chinese Five-Spice Powder.  The five spices are: cinnamon, clove, star anise, fennel seed and Szechwan peppercorns.  Traditionally, it’s more of a savory spice, but I love using it in desserts and drinks.  It’s similar to pumpkin pie spice, but with a bit more intrigue.  Here, I’m spiking a traditional shortbread cookie with a tablespoon of fresh, fragrant Chinese Five-Spice Powder.  The rich buttery flavor of the shortbread works perfectly with the bouquet of pungent spices.

The cookies are finished with a slice of freshly Candied Clementine.  Clementines just scream holiday to me, and I always have them in a bowl in my kitchen during the season.  The Candied Clementines provide a mellow, sweet citrus note that really compliments the not-so-sweet cookie.  They also give these cookies some contrast in texture.  The cookies are tender and crumbly.  The clementines are a bit more substantial with a pleasant chew.  Continue reading for the recipe.

Read More »

Maple Bacon Cookies

Maple Bacon Cookies Candied Bacon Cookie Ingredients Cookie Dough Maple Bacon Cookies start with a brown sugar-sweetened dough spiked with pure maple syrup, vanilla extract and maple extract. Tiny bits of maple-caramelized bacon are then folded in, providing a salty counter to the sweet dough.  These cookies are like a warm blanket wrapped around you on a cool autumn evening.  So so comforting.

Although bacon desserts are fairly widespread nowadays, I still encounter people who raise a skeptical eye at the idea.  If you are one of those people, just think of these cookies as a plate of pancakes and bacon, but in cookie-form.  They are so damn tasty, and completely addicting.

Be sure to use good quality maple syrup here (not maple-flavored syrup).  Maple extract can be found at any regular grocery store.  Finally, this dough requires a 1-hour chill, so plan accordingly.

Read More »

Fig Cakes with Vanilla Glaze

Figs are a seasonal favorite of mine.

Fig Cakes with Vanilla Glaze So when I got a basket of them in my Specialty Produce Farmer’s Market Box (FMB) a few weeks ago, I just knew I had to come up with a fresh, new recipe with figs as the main focus.  In particular, Fig Cakes with Vanilla Glaze.  Flavored with cinnamon, almond and vanilla, these cakelettes are studded with purple-hued bits of earthy, sweet fig.  A simple vanilla glaze is added to echo flavors inside the cake, and toasted almonds are sprinkled on top for crunch and contrast.  I enjoyed these cakes with vanilla ice cream for dessert, and with coffee for breakfast.  Continue reading for the recipe.

Read More »

Yogurt Panna Cotta with Easy Plum Compote

I’m not ready to give up summer just yet.

Yogurt Panna Cotta with Plum Compote Apples, pears, quince and pumpkins will all have their turn.  But for now, I’m holding on to summer with this Yogurt Panna Cotta with Plum Compote.  Panna cotta is a favorite dessert of mine, because the process is easy, and the results are spectacular.  Typically made with heavy cream, panna cotta is custard-like dessert that is thickened with gelatin instead of eggs.  The texture is smooth, rich and silky.  In this recipe, tangy whole-milk yogurt is flavored with sugar, citrus zest and an entire vanilla bean, then firmed up with powdered gelatin.  After an overnight chill, the panna cotta is topped with a sweet-tart Plum Compote (made with 3-ingredients!), and fresh, fragrant mint leaves.  So simple.  So delicious.  Continue reading for the recipe.

Read More »

Blueberry Ice Cream with Oat Crumble Topping

Aside from flavor, my favorite part of this dessert is it’s color.  Will you just look at that:

Blueberry Ice Cream with Oat Crumble Topping Blueberry Ice Cream with Oat Crumble Topping is summer in dessert-form.  It’s like that piping-hot, all-American blueberry crumble, but… cold.  This recipe starts with a base of simmered fresh blueberries flavored with lemon juice and sugar.  The cooking process draws out some of the moisture while concentrating the blueberry flavor.  After a quick strain, the resulting liquid, stained a deep shade of blue-purple, captures the pure essence of blueberry.  This flavor bomb is mixed into a French custard base (see gif below), then churned into a cold, creamy confection.  A final sprinkling of crunchy oat crumbles provides a satisfying contrast in both flavor and texture.

I’m not going to lie, I love making ice cream (and sorbet) at home.  It’s one of my favorite things to do during the summer months.  Here are some of my past favorites:

What about you?  Do you love to make ice cream at home?  If so, please share some of your favorite creations below in the comments!  Continue reading for the recipe.

Read More »

Brown Butter Snacking Cake

This cake is my secret weapon.

Brown Butter Snacking Cake That’s right, it’s a secret weapon against any sweet cravings that may come along when I’ve got practically nothing in my refrigerator.  Made with the most basic ingredients, this Brown Butter Snacking Cake is a shining example of how, with a little technique, you can make something incredibly satisfying from just pantry and fridge staples.  Let’s talk ingredients: butter, brown sugar, vanilla, flour, salt, baking powder, eggs, milk, sour cream, and turbinado sugar.  Simple, right?  The magic is the pairing of brown butter and brown sugar.

When you cook butter over a medium flame, the water in the butter evaporates, and the milk solids eventually caramelize, turning the liquid golden brown.  The resulting brown butter has a seductive, warm, nutty flavor and aroma that perfectly compliments the molasses notes of brown sugar.  Flour, baking powder, and eggs are added to the mix for structure; salt and vanilla to amp up flavor; and milk and sour cream for moisture.  A final sprinkling of turbinado sugar provides a crunchy contrast.

My Brown Butter Snacking Cake is not only tasty, it’s also easy to prepare and super versatile.  After you brown the butter, this cake batter can be made in just one bowl.  No stand or hand mixers required.  I usually cook this cake in a 10″ cast iron skillet, but any baking dish would work.  I like to call this a “snacking cake,” because I find myself snacking on it all day long.  A little slice with jam for breakfast, or a big slice with honey-sweetened ricotta and sliced peaches for dessert.  I’ve even layered it with vanilla ice cream and bourbon caramel sauce!  It pairs well with just about anything in your fridge/freezer.  Continue reading for the recipe.  I’ve also announced the winner of the WestRidge Beef Big Steaks package below.

Read More »

The Summer 2014 Backyard BBQ Guide

Summer officially starts this Saturday (June 21), and that means it’s time to host a backyard BBQ.

Jorge's Bacon Cheeseburger Hosting an outdoor event for friends and family may seem like a daunting task, but I assure you that there’s no need to worry.  I’ve got you covered.  This Summer 2014 Backyard BBQ Guide will provide you with all the recipes and techniques needed to throw a fabulous al fresco fête, including drinks, appetizers, sides, mains and desserts.  Without further hesitation, let’s get this party started.

Read More »

Strawberry Buttermilk Doughnuts

Strawberries + Doughnuts.  Two loves of mine combined.

Strawberry Buttermilk Doughnuts This recipe for Strawberry Buttermilk Doughnuts is a variation on my simple Sparkling Lemon Doughnuts.  Sweet-tart strawberries are blitzed into a chunky puree, then split between the doughnut batter and the glaze.  The batter is also flavored with lemon, vanilla and buttermilk, three flavors that work perfectly with strawberry.  Each doughnut is finished with a thin glaze made with buttermilk, confectioners’ sugar and strawberry.  Fruit-flecked and gleaming, my Strawberry Buttermilk Doughnuts are a perfect dessert for your next summer soiree.  Continue reading for the recipe.

Read More »

Strawberry Rhubarb Chia Cups

And the chia pudding obsession continues.

Strawberry Rhubarb Chia Cups

In this recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Chia Cups, creamy lemon chia pudding is layered with sweet-tart rhubarb, and chopped strawberries infused with lemon and vanilla.  As you are eating this sweet treat, you can either mix everything together all at once, or you can leave the layers intact, allowing for a variety of tastes with each bite.  I prefer the second option.

Chia pudding is something I eat for breakfast or dessert several times a week, so I am always looking to switch up my flavor combinations.  If you are unfamiliar with chia pudding, check out my explanation here.  Often, I top chia pudding with nuts and dried fruit; however, I also like to make fresh fruit toppings with seasonal produce.  Here, I’ve chosen the classic combination of strawberry and rhubarb.  Both blushing beauties undergo a quick cooking process to amp up sweet-tart flavors (stewing for the rhubarb and maceration for the strawberries).  The finished pudding is so rich and delicious.  You’d hardly guess it was actually healthy for you!  Continue reading for the recipe.

Read More »

Rye Pecan Pie

Did you know that tomorrow is Pi Day?

Rye Pecan Pie with Plate For those of you who are not fully dialed into the geek world, Pi Day is an annual celebration of the never-ending number, π.  This special occasion falls on March 14 each year, because this date represents the first 3 digits of π (3.14).  In celebration of Pi Day this year, I’ve prepared a tasty Rye Pecan Pie.  Sweet and smokey with just a hint of spice, this Rye Pecan Pie is to. die. for.  Let me explain.

First, this is a deep dish pie.  That means each slice has almost double the amount of crust and filling compared to a regular slice of pecan pie.  And as we all know, more is better.  Second, the filling is spiked with several tablespoons of rye whisky.  This alcoholic addition balances out the cloying sweetness typically associated with pecan pies.  Finally, beneath that beautiful array of pecan halves lies a thin layer of finely chopped pecans.  This delicious duo of pecans provides a wonderful contrast in both texture and flavor.

So today I’m letting my geeky side (I studied Math and Economics in college. Whaaat?) fly free, wishing that, like π, this Rye Pecan Pie was never-ending.  Continue reading for the recipe.

Read More »