Awesome Apple Almond Crisp

Awesome Apple Almond Crisp | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François

This Awesome Apple Almond Crisp is the easy, last minute, under appreciated cousin to the Apple Pie. It is every bit as delicious and I think beautiful in a rustic way, albeit not as refined looking. It can be in the oven in less than 30 minutes and emerges bubbling, crisp (hence the name) and the perfect landing place for a scoop of ice cream. My topping typically has rolled oats, but this time I wanted the toasted almonds to be the clear star, so I used oat flour instead of the old fashioned oats and all-purpose flour, making this crisp entirely gluten-free (and vegan). I used a mix of apples, as I always do, to give the fruit layer more depth of texture and flavor. I also sliced them thin, because I was using a shallow pan and I wanted the apples to create a dense layer that stood up to the topping. For me the ratio should be just barely more fruit than crisp topping, so you’ll see I go thick.

You can watch me make this Awesome Apple Almond Crisp in my instagram video.

Awesome Apple Almond Crisp | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François (more…)

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Triple-Layer Parsnip Cranberry Cake

Triple-Layer Parsnip Cranberry Cake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

For those of you who have followed my blog since 2007, you’ll know I am a tremendous fan of Dorie Greenspan. I’ve considered her a mentor in my own career as a chef and cookbook writer. She is the absolute top of the game and I look forward to every book she puts out with bated breath. Everyday Dorie is her brand new book and I dove in the second I clawed it out of the packaging. As is my way, I flipped straight to the Desserts section and was instantly seduced by the opening image of this Triple-Layer Parsnip Cranberry Cake with cream cheese frosting. I’ve never made a cake with parsnip, but imagined it would be the sophisticated cousin to Carrot Cake, which is one of my go-to cakes. I was not wrong, it is just as satisfying and comforting as the carrot version, but it is all its own flavor and delicious. It is perfect with the tangy-sweet cream cheese frosting and tart candied cranberry garnish. You can watch me make Dorie’s cake in my instagram videos and she has graciously permitted me to share the recipe with you.

Triple-Layer Parsnip Cranberry Cake | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François (more…)

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Chocolate Birthday Cake

Chocolate Birthday Cake | Photo by Zoë François

When the Sunday New York Times Magazine opened to Dorie Greenspan’s chocolate cake, I said out loud, “I guess I know what I’m baking next!” To say I am a fan of Dorie’s is such a gross understatement. I am generally not one to worship celebrities, but Dorie is an exception. I have been a fan of hers since she wrote the Baking with Julia book with Julia Child. That book came out around the same time I had gone off to the CIA and it was the first book I baked my way through. Well, I’d gotten pretty far through Lee Bailey’s Country Desserts several years earlier, but with mixed results. Dorie was writing books with other chefs at the time and I came across her again in a lecture hall at the CIA, when Pierre Hermes was there doing a demo from his pastry book, Desserts by Pierre Herme, also written by Dorie. She may not have been in the front of house, to use a restaurant metaphor, but I noticed that she was writing all the books I wanted to read. Later she stepped into the spotlight with her own books and, well, I need not explain what an impact she has had on the baking community ever since.

The article that accompanied her chocolate cake was about baking it for her son’s birthday. My son’s birthday is also in May and we were just about to celebrate it belatedly, so it just felt like a no brainer. You can watch me bake Dorie’s Chocolate Birthday Cake in my Instagram videos and below is the link to the recipe. I added a layer of dulce de leche cream to my cake, since I had some laying about and it seemed a nice pairing with the chocolate cake. (more…)

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I’m Making Cheesecake on the Cooking Channel this Saturday!

Kelsey Nixon and Zoe Francois

On a lark I entered my Chocolate Glazed Praline Cheesecake in a Cooking Channel contest and WON. Oh my, what an adventure. It meant a trip to NYC, an appearance on The Cooking Channel’s Kelsey Nixon Show, a tour of the Food Network Kitchens and an excuse to eat my way across NYC. All of that happened in February and the segment we taped is airing this Saturday 6/30 on the Cooking Channel. I hope you will tune in and see my cheesecake on TV.

As if that wasn’t enough I also met one of my baking/writing/career/life mentors, Dorie Greenspan… (more…)

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Blueberry Cobbler with White Peach Ice Cream!

Last weekend my family and I went to Avon, Minnesota to see a special 4th of July live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion. For those of you who have never been to Minnesota, you will get a quick and thorough understanding of the place if you tune in to listen to Garrison Keiller’s show on NPR. He ends every broadcast with the phrase “…where the women are strong, the men are good looking and the kids are above average,” which pretty much sums up the place.

We brought enough food to share with the thousands of other patriotic NPR listeners sitting all around us. We arrived 4 hours early (we were far from the first ones there) and didn’t want to risk getting hungry. You know how that goes.  For dessert I made blueberry cobbler, the biscuits were made with tarragon from my garden. It was hot from the oven and required its own basket and carrying case. This is significant only because of the distance between our car and the field we set up in. But, my family never said a complaining word and I marched on blissfully with my cobbler. In the end they, carrying everything else, were happy that I did.

It was such a hit that I made another batch and baked them as individuals in dainty ramekins my friend Jen bought me during her trip to Maine. This time I served the cobbler with White Peach Ice Cream. (more…)

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Plate-Lickingly Good Chocolate Cake! (Henri’s TWO Birthday Cakes)

Henri Turned 10 this month and the celebrating has been at a feverish pitch for weeks. It is a big year when your little baby hits double digits and becomes a Tweenager. On his actual birthday we celebrated with our family. He wanted to rent the movie Grease (one of his babysitters was recently in the play at the high school), have sushi and eat chocolate cake! It sounded like a fantastic idea to me. After 20+ years I’d forgotten about some of the racy content in the movie, which they edited out of the high school play, Oooops! Luckily we were watching at home and could fast forward through the more “educational” scenes!

The cake he chose was amazing. I used my Devil’s Food Cake recipe and topped it with Dorie Greenspan’s Chocolate Malted Buttercream. A bunch of chocolate shavings made it look festive, but it was so simple to put together. (more…)

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