Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

Certainly the  healthful benefit of the pumpkin can be called into question here but definitely not the terrific flavor.  This was a quick and easy dessert.  Simply pumpkin pie ice cream riddled with gingersnap pieces and garnished with two very crisp gingersnaps on the side.

pumpkin pie ice cream

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The original “Alice B. Toklas brownie” was named “Hashish Fudge” in her cookbook and was not a brownie or fudge at all.  It was a mixture of spices, dried fruits and nuts that included cannabis sativa leaves (marijuana).  With the exception here of the marijuana that I replaced with a dose of Cointreau, a drastic reduction in the amount of sugar and omitting the butter, these are Alice’s brownies.  I did use a mortar initially but ended up employing my coffee grinder to pulverize the spices.  (Apparently, marijuana costs about $300 an ounce around here so I didn’t buy any.)

Following is Alice’s recipe as it appeared in her cookbook, The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, under the name “Hashish Fudge”, if you care to try it yourself.  If you use the marijuana, serve these early in the evening.  And Alice advised that two pieces were “quite sufficient”.

“Take 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 whole nutmeg, 4 average sticks of cinnamon, 1 teaspoon coriander.  These should all be pulverized in a mortar.  About a handful each of stone dates, dried figs, shelled almonds and peanuts: chop these and mix them together.  A bunch of canibus [sic] sativa can be pulverized.  This along with the spices should be dusted over the mixed fruit and nuts, kneaded together.  About a cup of sugar dissolved in a big pat of butter.  Rolled into a cake and cut into pieces or made into balls about the size of a walnut, it should be eaten with care.  Two pieces are quite sufficient.  Obtaining the canibus [sic] may present certain difficulties….  It should be picked and dried as soon as it has gone to seed and while the plant is still green.”


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Holiday time seems naturally to evoke an urge to bake. The chill of the snow and ice outdoors draws us to the warmth of the hearth, the heart of the home: the kitchen.

Nostalgic daydreams mingle with the aroma of sweet spices like cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg—and the nuttiness of toasted pecans and almonds as cakes, cookies and confections near completion in the ovens warmth.

My neighbor, drawn in by the sweet aroma of my almond-brickle drop cookies, inhaled the kitchens scent, and proclaimed, “I’m too lazy to make cookies. Do you know how to make a cake from these things?”

Undaunted, I proceeded to combine some toasted almond slices and several tablespoons of toffee candy chips into one of my favorite sour cream coffee cake recipes. The delicious result surprised us with its great flavor and ease in making!

Madame Donna’s Toasted Almond and Toffee Candy Cake
(Serves approximately 8)

Toasted Almond and Toffee Candy Cake

Toasted Almond and Toffee Candy Cake

Coffee Cake Batter:
(An adaptation of an old recipe from The Redbook Cookbook)

¾ cup sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract*
1 ½ cups all-purpose, unbleached flour (King Arthur preferred)
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
¾ cup sour cream
(Feel free to substitute yogurt or buttermilk, if preferred)

*If you do not like almond flavoring, simply use 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract instead.

Filling and Topping Sprinkle Mixture:

¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
(Toasting brings out a stronger flavor)
¼ cup butter toffee candy pieces (Heath brand is very good.)

Preheat the oven to 350°.
Prepare a 9-inch pan with grease (butter) and flour OR PAM and set aside.

Toast the almonds in a small fry pan or toaster oven while the oven preheats to save some time and have your ingredients all in place (known as mise en place) before beginning.

Combine the softened butter and sugar in a mixer until creamed and light yellow in color.

Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and almond extracts.  Beat the mixture, until well blended, at medium speed.  Scrape the bowl often to make sure it all blends well.

Slowly add the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix again on medium speed.

Add the sour cream and continue to blend until the ingredients are mixed well.

Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle the top with half of the sliced almonds and half of the toffee candy bits.

Now add the remaining half of the batter covering the filling with care. Go slowly and gently to avoid pulling up the filling.

Sprinkle the top with the remaining almonds and candy bits to cover.

Bake for 25-35 minutes.  Test with a toothpick.  If it comes out clean, the cake is done!

Cool for 10 minutes in the pan on a cooling rack to allow air circulation.

Invert the cake, using care to cover the top with a paper plate or towel to keep the topping from falling off.  Then turn the cake upright onto a serving platter.  Allow the cake to cool completely before serving.

With all these candy bits in the cake, I don’t recommend any icing for this.  If you have an extreme sweet tooth consider a simple powdered sugar/milk glaze drizzled just as you would over cinnamon buns.

Toasted Almond and Toffee Candy Cake

Toasted Almond and Toffee Candy Cake

Happy Holidays!

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Whether you purchase organic lemons, receive them as a gift from a friend with a tree or grow them yourself, fresh lemons plucked right off the tree are ideal for this sweet, tart cake.

An easily adapted cake, it can be baked as a small sheet cake in a 9″ x 12″ pan or as I did in two 8″ x 8″ pans so that I could give one away.

If you are in a creative mood and want to take this further, one suggestion is to cook up some lemon curd and put it in between two of these Lemon Yogurt cakes.  Then sprinkle the top with some confectioner’s sugar.

Another favorite in our house is to cut up the cake into small cubes almost the size of standard dice.  Fill the bottom of a wine glass.  Add a layer of softened fresh strawberry sorbet or fresh strawberry ice cream.  Continue layering until the glass is full.  Freeze until the strawberry confection is firm and serve with a smile and a sprinkle of blueberries with or without a dollop of lemon curd or cream.

Here is the cake recipe ready for your personalization and enjoyment.

Madame Donna’s Fresh Lemon Yogurt Cake

Preheat the oven to 350˚ while you assemble the ingredients.

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups sugar

3 whole eggs

3 cups King Arthur all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ cups plain Greek yogurt

(you can use regular plain yogurt but it will lack the rich texture and additional tartness of Greek yogurt)

Grated lemon zest from two very large lemons or four small

2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 generous pinch of table salt

Approximately ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Glaze (can be prepared while the cake bakes*)

½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup sugar

Put both ingredients into a small saucepan.

Heat over medium high heat until the sugar melts, taking care not to bring it to a boil.

When the cake is done, brush the lemon glaze on the warm cake.


Squeeze lemons to equal ¾ cup of fresh juice and grate lemons for zest.  Set aside.

Sift the flour and baking soda together into a small bowl.

In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar until light in color and fluffy.

Add the three eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the lemon zest, nutmeg and salt to the mixture.  Beat to combine.

Add the flour & baking soda mixture and beat well.

Add the 2 Tablespoons lemon zest and Greek yogurt, beating about 5 minutes more to aerate and combine.

Pour the batter into pan/s and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for 30 minutes if making two small cakes or 45 minutes for one sheet cake.  Since oven temperatures vary, be sure to check on your cakes after they have baked about 20 minutes.  The tops should be slightly puffed and golden brown indicating doneness.

*Remember, this is the best time to make your lemon juice/sugar glaze.

When an inserted toothpick comes out clean, remove the cake/s from the oven to a cooling rack.  Let cool for at least 15 minutes.

Brush the cakes with the lemon sugar glaze several times.  Invert the cakes onto a cooling rack set over a baking sheet and brush with the lemon sugar glaze again until the glaze is gone.

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