Banana Cream Pie

Banana Cream Pie | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

Banana Cream Pie is a classic and one I don’t visit nearly enough. I had a craving for it and decided to bring it, along with a couple of galettes, to a summer party. I figured I would be left alone in the corner with my pie and the rest of the guests would enjoy the colorful and fruity galettes.

The Banana Cream Pie emerged from the kitchen and I think one of the guests actually started clapping and exclaimed something to the effect of “this party was great, but it just went to the next level!” and he threw his hands in the air. It turns out I’d recreated his favorite and he wasn’t alone.

It’s funny how these rather retro American desserts, like the Banana Cream Pie and Baked Alaska bring back memories of grandmothers and childhoods. I am happy to report that this version did not disappoint and I sent the last piece home with the man who cheered for Banana Cream Pie, which is why I have no pictures of the slice. 😉 You’ll just have to make one to see how beautifully it cuts and how fantastic it tastes.

You can watch me make the pie in my instagram video and recipe below.

Do you have pie questions or need to troubleshoot your recipe? Check out my guide on how to make pie crust.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Fool Cheesecake

Strawberry Rhubarb Fool Cheesecake | ZoëBakes photo by Zoë François

This Strawberry Rhubarb Fool Cheesecake was a happy mistake. You know how they say you learn from your failures? Well, I was going for a tourteau fromage and it went wrong in a big way.

I wanted to make the classic French cheesecake that is baked in a rounded pan, is lightened with whipped egg whites and has a top crust that is burnt, black as night, and is domed. Mine came out a lovely caramel color and sank like a bowl. So, instead of feeling defeated, I used it as a bowl. I was going to just make a traditional strawberry New York cheesecake topping, but it’s almost spring and the rhubarb is popping up all over instagram, so I added a rhubarb fool as well. What started out as a mistake turned into a family favorite. There was lots of joy and praise leveled at this delicious weeble of a dessert. 

The tourteau fromage I was trying for is made with a young goat cheese, but my family preferred the version I made with a combination of cream cheese and mascarpone. I figured since I’d failed at the traditional one, it wouldn’t matter if I really took it off the rails and just developed my very own thing. It has a subtle flavor that is the perfect vessel for the tart fool and sweet strawberries.

The rhubarb fool is nothing more than roasted rhubarb folded into barely sweetened whipped cream. This simple preparation of the fruit (we all know rhubarb is a vegetable that passes as a fruit) is very British and there are many ways to make a fool, but this is the simplest and most fool proof. Oh, come on, you knew that pun was coming. The strawberry sauce is just the berries, a bit of sugar and a touch of starch to hold the juices together. 

I decorated it to look like a jester’s hat, because the whole fool theme. Actually, I realized what I had done after I took the photo, it was just a happy accident. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Fool Cheesecake | ZoëBakes photo by Zoë François

You can watch me make this Strawberry Rhubarb Fool Cheesecake in my instagram video and the recipe is below.

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Strawberry Charlotte Royale

Strawberry Charlotte Royale | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

The truth is the last time I made a Strawberry Charlotte Royale was in culinary school and that was a very long time ago. I have been meaning to make one, but just never got around to it. Then I bought a copy of Soulful Baker, by one of my favorite bakers, Julie Jones, and she had the most beautiful Charlotte Royale in the book. I took it as a sign that I needed to make this regal (it’s in the name) dessert. Julie was my muse, but being incapable of leaving things well enough alone, I wanted to make the filling in two separate flavors. I made a Grand Marnier Bavarian Cream and then added Strawberry coulis to it for the second layer. The steps are not at all difficult, but they do require a bit of planning and some timing.

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Chocolate Bundt with White Chocolate-Raspberry Cream

Chocolate Bundt Cake with White Chocolate-Raspberry Cream | Photo by Zoë François

This Brilliant Bundt Pan is my recent favorite piece of kitchen equipment. It is so elegant and fun. A simple cake baked in it really is worthy of standing alone on a pedestal. However, I decided to gild the lily and add white chocolate raspberry cream to the inside.

It is a perfect party cake (Mother’s Day is coming up or just a Tuesday will do). To create this, you’ll want a cake that has a bit of body to it, so I picked a chocolate cake that was developed especially for the bundt pan from the trusted folks at Bake from Scratch. Then I wanted something creamy and bright in the middle. Adding white chocolate to whipped cream will stabilize it and allow it to keep its shape when cut into slices. To get the flavor of raspberries, without adding a ton of extra liquid to the cream was a challenge, but I think I found a pretty clever solution.

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Lemon Mascarpone Crêpe Cake

Lemon Mascarpone Crêpe Cake | photo by Zoë François

Crêpes are a beloved food group in my household. My boys have grown up eating them with everything from sweet to savory fillings, sometimes dozens at a time. When I couldn’t get them to eat as little kids I’d make a batch of crêpes and watch as they disappeared. Stacking them into a crêpe cake is an easy and elegant way to dress up what is really a humble street food in France. This version was made from a really sweet book called Simply Citrus by Marie Asselin. I “met” her on Instagram and she kindly sent me a copy of the book. I adore instagram for all the inspiration and for the space to create videos of the recipes I make. You can watch me make Marie’s cake in my instagram stories.

Marie’s lemon curd is unlike any I’ve made before. She cooks it like a pastry cream, which uses cornstarch and eggs to bind it and then finishes it with heavy cream. It is delightful. I suggest you double her recipe, so you can have some left over after the cake is filled. The combination of the tart lemon curd and rich mascarpone cream are a perfect marriage. Instead of topping with more cream, I went with the brûlée on top. I like the contrast of texture and you know how I feel about my blow torch, so any excuse to use it. 

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Carrot Cupcakes (from The Minimalist Kitchen)

Minimalist carrot cupcakes | Zoe Bakes(11 of 5)

If you’ve ever seen my kitchen, you’ll know I am not a minimalist. The abundance just sort of happened. I’ve lived a full life and gathered stuff along the way. Too much stuff, perhaps. I just got Melissa Coleman’s (thefauxmartha) beautiful new book and I am determined to declutter, downsize and minimize my kitchen (and eventually my whole house). I vow to go through each cabinet and keep only what is essential. The rest I will donate or pass along to the next owner.

The other thing that is wonderful about her book and philosophy is the way she approaches a recipe. Use as few utensils and equipment as possible. When I made this recipe I tried to stick to the two bowls she recommends and even chose one with a spout, so I could just pour the batter out, instead of using a spoon to scoop. It’s amazing to be so conscious of what is crucial and what is just extra. I normally live in the “extra” zone, but now I will be more mindful.

I adore carrot cake. It’s one of my favorite desserts. This carrot cupcakes recipe is delicate and less hippie than my go to carrot cake, so it was fun to try Melissa’s sophisticated take on the classic. The mascarpone frosting is so good I had to keep my whole family from eating all of it before I could pipe it onto the carrot cupcakes. Melissa has kindly given me permission to share her lovely recipe with you here.

Melissa says the sprinkles on top of these carrot cupcakes are optional, but I think they are brilliant and you should go for it.

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