I made the delicious Mango Pudding and Passion Fruit Caramel recipes from Hetty McKinnon’s newest book, To Asia, With Love! I layered them together and wanted a little something light and airy on top, like meringue or whipped cream, but her recipes are vegan, so I needed it to be plant-based. I have always read about whipping aquafaba into a frothy topping for desserts, but had never tried it myself, until now. What’s aquafaba, you ask? Well, I know this is going to sound odd to anyone who isn’t familiar with vegan baking, but it is made with the water from a can of garbanzo beans. Yep, you drain off the water from chickpeas and it whips into a frothy topping that looks just like whipped egg whites. I promise you, sweetened and folded into pureed mango, you will never know its origins are so humble. I fooled my husband and his reaction was “this is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted! That’s a high bar too!” Then I told him what it was and he couldn’t take back what he’d said! HahahahahaRead More
Top Nine ZoeBakes Desserts 2019
Instagram has spoken and these are the Top Nine ZoeBakes Desserts 2019, as determined by your 1 million likes. Thank you so much for following and I look forward to baking with you in 2020!
These are in no particular order of popularity. Find the list and recipes below: Read More
Chocolate Chestnut Bread Pudding
I think this Chocolate Chestnut Bread Pudding may be the ultimate comfort food. I always have bread on the counter. Since my new book, Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day, came out, I have several loaves going at a time. What to do with all the partially eaten loaves? Cube it up, soak it in a rich custard and bake it. It could not be any easier and the results are warm and so satisfying. Bread pudding is one of the those desserts that also doubles as breakfast, like pie and cake! 🙂 No, really, it is full of eggs and toasty bread and this one just happens to have bits of chocolate and chunks of chestnuts. If you were to serve it with a dollop of creme fraiche instead of ice cream, it would be a simple and elegant Christmas breakfast. Add the ice cream and it is a homey, but decadent dessert.
When I worked in restaurants my bread pudding was always one of the most popular desserts on the menu. Hope you enjoy it!Read More
Lavender Crème Brûlée
Crème Brûlée was the first French dessert I’d ever had in a restaurant. When I was in junior high school, I’d take the train into NYC from CT to visit my aunt. She was fashionable, impossibly sophisticated and took me to lavish meals at restaurants that were way over my head, at the age of 13. When I dipped into the creme brûlée I was instantly aware that this was an adult experience. I felt like I was playing grown up and was certainly aware that I was participating in something special.
The texture of crème brûlée like velvet, because it is made with egg yolks, which make it rich and creamy. Unlike it’s custard cousins, flan and creme caramel, the crème brûlée doesn’t get inverted, so it doesn’t need the strength of the egg whites to hold it’s shape. It is made in a shallow ramekin, so it can be partnered with just the right ratio of burnt sugar. The gossamer thin layer of caramel cracks like glass, but the contrast to the custard below is the perfect yin and yang of the pastry world. In truth creme brûlée is so simple to make, despite its reputation of the opposite. There are a couple of tricks to guarantee success and I show you them in my instagram video.
I bought a lavender plant for my kitchen and can think of no better place to use the perfumed plant, than in a custard. You want to use enough to scent the creme brûlée, but not so much that it tastes like the perfume counter at Bloomies (another stop on my trips into NYC). You can flavor your creme brûlée with lavender, tea, spices, coffee, or just about anything else you can steep in the cream. See my instagram video to see how I did this.
- 1 qt heavy whipping cream
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sugar
- pinch salt
- 10 large egg yolks
- 1 tbsp dried lavender flowers or 12 fresh stems of flowers
- Berries and lavender for garnish
- Heat the cream, vanilla bean, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, salt, and lavender over medium heat, until it comes to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover and allow to steep for at least 30 minutes, but this can be done the day ahead (stored in the refrigerator) for a more intense flavor. Warm the cream again if you've chilled it.
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- Mix the egg yolks and remaining sugar in a medium bowl. Liaison the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks. Strain the custard mixture into a measuring cup. Fill six 4-inch Crème Brûlée Dish. Bake the creme brûlées on a baking sheet filled with water, to create a water bath. Bake until the brûlées are just set, like set jello, about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the temperature of the custard going into the oven. Allow to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving, but can be made a day or two ahead.
- To brûlée the top, dust with sugar and caramelize the sugar with a Blow Torch or under a gas broiler (electric broilers don't work well for this). See my instagram video to watch me make, bake and brûlée the tops.
Butterscotch Pot de Crème
I developed this butterscotch pot de crème recipe for Tilia‘s dessert menu. Steven Brown, the chef/owner wanted a turbo charged version of the butterscotch pudding from his childhood. We went with a Pot de crème, which is essentially as decadent as creme brulee, without the crack of caramel resting on top. The texture is like silk and the taste is lightly sweet, with just a slight bitter edge from the burnt sugar in the butterscotch. Cooking the butter and brown sugar together until it is smokin’ hot (and I do mean smoking) is the key to the flavor. If you don’t bring them to the brink of burning the pudding will be way too sweet for my taste. The crème fraîche (young sour cream) is unsweetened and the perfect balance for the pudding. If you don’t happen to live near Linden Hills (a small village of a neighborhood in Minneapolis), where you can order this at Tilia, you can now make it at home.
You can watch me make this Buttercotch Pot de Crème on my instagram stories. You’ll find a pumpkin variation in my recipe notes below.
Flan is one of my youngest son’s favorite desserts. He orders it whenever it is available and often requests it for his birthday. I haven’t made a flan is a long time, and promised him it would be my next post, so here it is.
Now that I’ve made it, I can’t believe I don’t do it more often. So easy and delicious. (I’ve made it dozens of times since I first posted this recipe and have used a loaf pan, as well as the round one. Both are equally as easy, but produce different looks).
Flan is a creamy custard that is bound by lots of whole eggs and can be silky smooth if baked just right. The trick is to bake it in a water bath until it is just set like jello, then take it out before the proteins in the eggs cook too tight and get rubbery. It is super simple, but takes knowing what to look for. You can watch me make it in my instagram video, so you’ll know the signs of a perfect flan.Read More