Jell-O always seemed a bit like magic to me. Add water to the brightly colored, sugary powder and in no time it’s solid and giggles like a good belly laugh. The problem is, the stuff in the box tastes like congealed, watered-down kool-aid. There is no actual fruit involved, just artificial color and flavor.
Luckily gelatin desserts have earned more respect in the past decade with the popularization of panna cotta and other sophisticated, intense flavors, like wine and espresso. I even have a recipe for Vietnamese Iced Coffee Panna Cotta!
I love Passover for the ritual, the gathering of wonderful people and the challenge to come up with new desserts worthy of the day. This 7 layer cake was inspired by a conversation I had with Deb Perelman about Dobos Tortes, which is a cake made up of many layers (7 to be exact) of sponge cake, separated with chocolate buttercream and topped with a layer of caramel. It is a style of cake that is claimed by many cultures, each with a different name depending on heritage or the state you are standing in. Dobos Torte (Hungarian), Deberge Cake (New Orleans), Seven-Layer (I think of this as a Jewish cake from New York, but as soon as I write this, I’m sure I’ll hear from folks who will correct me) and Drum cake (I’ve never heard it called this before, but just read it on Wikipedia).
‘Tis the season of Girl Scout cookies and there is none more famous and beloved than the thin mint, at least in my house. I love Girl Scout cookies, both for the memories of being a scout and for what they represent; empowering kids is always a good thing. Sadly, the days of my 13-year-old metabolism are long gone, when I was capable of eating an entire box at a sitting. Now just a couple cookies will do me and the thin mints are still my favorites. They just seemed to have the perfect ratio of chocolate to mint, and go down easy with a glass of milk. I have to act quickly, because my boys are still at the age when they can polish off an entire box, even though mom would never allow such a thing. 😉
This cupcake recipe manages to be light, fluffy and moist, all at the same time. It starts with a true all-American white birthday cake. The recipe is made with whipped egg whites and no yolks, so the color is bright white. It’s perfect for adding color, but this time I left that to the mint icing. A thin layer of ganache between the cake and icing makes these just a touch more sophisticated, in case you are looking for a St. Patrick’s Day treat to bring to work. The super creamy icing is one that I made from Vintage Cakes, an adorable addition to my cookbook collection. It is made by thickening milk and flour together into a smooth paste, then adding it to creamed, sweetened butter. The thickened milk and flour gives the icing body and a luxurious texture. Despite the extra step, it is an easy recipe, my 11-year-old made it start to finish with perfect results. The basic icing takes flavors really well, so a bit of mint extract and a few caps full of Crème de menthe and these cupcakes taste just like a thin mint. Read More
Need something quick and fun to make with your kids for Valentine’s Day? Really, the kids are just a foil for my own craving to make something silly and delicious. As you may remember, these are not the first crispy rice treats to appear on ZoeBakes. It’s a bit of a thing with me. I pretend I’m doing it for the kids, but I eat most of them. This version (my favorite so far) is inspired by the “compost” cookie at the Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC. I added everything but the kitchen sink: pretzels, oreos, milk chocolate and potato chips. All those sweet and salty snacks tossed with buttery marshmallows are seriously tasty. You can add any of your favorite snack foods to the recipe, just chop them up fairly small, so you can press the treats into a heart shaped cookie cutter.
The winners of last weeks giveaway are announced at the bottom of this post.
The color of this cranberry upside down cake with raspberry alone is enough to bring me great joy these days. It is snowing here in Minnesota, which is a blessing and a curse. Snow is a blessing, because it brings new life to the cold and allows my boys to go snowboarding and sledding in the evenings. It’s also a beautiful blanket over all that was gray just yesterday. There is nothing worse than a winter in Minnesota without snow. The cold, dark, seemingly endless season would be unbearable without it. The curse of snow, is that it is … well … cold and I am not a fan of cold. But, I digress.
The cake’s ruby top is a mixture of tart cranberries and sweet raspberries (my son’s suggestion, after tasting the ALL cranberry version, which he found too tart). The raspberries both sweeten the cake and also creates a more luscious texture. I personally love the tartness of the cranberries alone, but they have so much natural pectin that the consistency was more like tight jam than I wanted. The cake underneath is rich with butter and almond flour. I served it with ice cream for dessert and then had it for breakfast the next morning with coffee.
Everything tastes better wrapped in puff pastry. Just like bacon, it makes everything near it better, no matter if the filling is sweet or savory. It’s the thousands of little layers of dough and butter that bake up together into a gorgeously flaky package. Last week I poached a bunch of pears in chai tea, then drizzled them in chocolate. They were delightful and will make a terrific Thanksgiving dessert. But, then I got to thinking about how those luscious pears would taste if they were encased in puff pastry and served warm with the ganache. Well, they rock. I suggest you serve the poached pears for Thanksgiving and then wrap the leftovers in the pastry to bake up warm for breakfast the next morning.