For Mothers Day, May Day, or a spring tea, these sweet little tea cakes will steal the show! So easy to make (and to eat), you may find yourself trying out all the different variations you can think of. Try adding: lime zest, chopped nuts, colored sprinkles, or culinary lavender. Skip the coconut if it isn’t to your liking, and just add a cup or so of nuts.
You almost certainly have eaten similar cookies during the holidays; they’re a classic, known as Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cakes, and a variety of other names. Buttery, melt-in-your-mouth tender, and minimally sweet (if you don’t count the powdered sugar they are usually rolled in), they are one of my favorite cookies on the Christmas platter. I just traded coconut for the nuts. Oh, and added lemon. And violets.
Coconut was something that just seemed to go with the lemon and violet theme. I’m not a huge fan, but I chopped it up into tiny pieces (no long stringy stuff for me) and found it delightful.
IMPORTANT: Violets (violas) are edible. Pansies, too. Both are perfect for this application. But beware; African Violets are NOT edible. Nope. Steer clear! When in doubt, do your research. I bought seeds for edible violets last year and had more flowers than I could use. They made it through our cold winter (zone 5) and are blooming like crazy again this year. Try that. Or you can order fresh violas online (if you’re Daddy Warbucks). I understand that some grocery stores offer them in season. Not where I live! One more option is candied violets. They aren’t as pretty as fresh, but still nice.
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (I needed 3 large lemons for this)
¼ teaspoon lemon extract (or ½ teaspoon vanilla)
½ cup coconut, chopped fine
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water or lemon juice
1 teaspoon meringue powder (optional)
24 fresh violets, stems trimmed off as close to flowers as possible.
Heat oven to 300 F. Cover two baking sheets with parchment.
COOKIES: In a large bowl, beat the butter and powdered sugar until creamy.
Add lemon juice, zest, extract, and coconut. Beat well.
Add flour and beat just until combined. (Mixture will look crumbly.)
Use a rounded tablespoon of dough for each cookie (a cookie scoop works well) and roll into balls, taking care to make them smooth and round. Space at least 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet.
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown.
GLAZE: In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, water (or lemon juice) and meringue powder. Mixture should be fairly thin, easily pouring off a spoon.
Dip the top of each cookie in the glaze and allow it to drip before turning it right side up on a piece of parchment. Immediately place a violet on top, pressing down lightly to flatten. Allow cookies to dry for at least 15 minutes, then add a little more water to the small amount of glaze left in the bowl and paint it gently over each flower. Let cookies dry thoroughly before storing.
Cherry-lime is a perfect flavor combination; a little sweet, a little tangy. When I found key limes on sale for a jaw-droppingly low price, I snapped up two bags of them and then let my mind go wild.
It likes to do that . . . especially at three o’clock in the morning.
Since Valentine’s Day is almost here, cherries were a natural choice to complement the lime flavor. Both were used in the cake batter, and then I decorated the cupcakes with maraschino roses.
It took a lot of cherries before I figured out the easiest method to make roses. My fingers looked like I was part of a crime scene. Perma-red! And cutting the limes was a learning experience too. (Let’s just say that my favorite knife and I are no longer friends.) Please be careful; those limes are slippery little devils.
Gah! After making the roses. (But before attempting to cut my finger off.) Fun times.
If you aren’t familiar with key limes, they are small—much smaller than a regular lime. And boy, oh boy, do they have a lot of flavor.They lighten in color as they ripen, so you want to look for shades of light green and yellow. Dark green limes are too firm and don’t produce much juice. Zesting and juicing them takes patience. I bounced between quartering them and squeezing with my fingers, and using a garlic press. (I made this recipe three times, and my hands got tired!) From experience, I can tell you that a good sturdy garlic press works well as long as the lime is quartered first, but have the skin side facing up, otherwise you’ll get sprayed in the face. I know this for a fact.
Stained hands, a cut finger, and lime juice in the face. Yes, I had a GREAT time making these. And you can, too. Bwa ha ha.
But look at these sweethearts. Worth it, right?
Here’s the recipe and instructions. Disclaimer: I don’t like using shortening. I really don’t. I tried this with butter. I tried this with coconut oil. The flavor was excellent, but the best color, best rise, came from shortening. So . . . if you substitute, you may not get a light, fluffy cake.
Makes approximately 30 cupcakes or two 9-inch layers (with 2-inch sides) If making a rose for each cupcake, you will need two 16-ounce jars of cherries for the entire recipe.
½ cup (packed) finely chopped maraschino cherries, blotted dry
12 key limes
¾ cup shortening
1½ cups sugar
5 eggs (1 whole egg plus 4 egg whites, separated) room temperature
2¼ cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup butter, softened
¼ cup shortening
5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice (optional)
¼ cup cream
ROSES (MAKES 30):
45 cherries (a 16 ounce jar has between 30-35 cherries.)
8 limes for leaves
Begin by prepping the limes. You'll need ½ cup of lime juice for the cake, and 2 tablespoons for the icing (optional). Zest them first, placing zest in a small bowl.Quarter the zested limes and either squeeze by hand or use a sturdy garlic press to juice them. (If you don't have quite enough juice, add water to make up the difference.) Strain out any stray seeds. Set aside 2 tablespoons for the icing and add ½ cup of juice to the zest.
Heat oven to 350 F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners, or prepare two 9-inch round pans (with 2-inch sides) by greasing and flouring or spraying with baking spray (like Baker's Joy).
In a large bowl, beat the shortening and sugar together well.
Add lime zest and juice. Mix well, scraping the sides of the bowl often.
Add 1 whole egg and beat well.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Add dry ingredients and milk alternately, ⅓ of each at a time, beginning with the dry ingredients and ending with the milk. Just mix until combined.
In a small cup or bowl, stir the chopped cherries into 1 tablespoon flour. Fold into batter.
In a medium bowl, beat the 4 egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold gently into batter.
Spoon into cupcake liners, about ⅔ full. Or, if making a cake, divide between the two pans.
Bake cupcakes approximately 20 minutes, (cake layers 25-30 minutes) or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Remove to rack to cool.
FROSTING: Beat butter and shortening well. Add powdered sugar and lime juice and mix thoroughly - approximately 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl often.
Add whipping cream and beat well. Pipe onto cool cupcakes or spread on cake. NOTE: The recipe given is adequate for the cupcakes, but if you are making a cake and want lots of embellishments (rosettes on the top, a generous design at the bottom) you may want to double the recipe.
ROSES: 30 cherries will be used for the outer petals. 15 cherries will be used to create inner bud. Blot cherries with paper towel. Using a sharp knife and working your way around the cherry, cut 3-5 "petals", beginning from top and cutting down almost to the bottom. Use the tip of the knife or scissors to cut out center. Repeat with 29 more cherries. (Wear gloves if you don't want red fingers!)
With the remaining 15 cherries, use a sharp knife, trim two thin pieces of cherry skin, working around the top half and then the bottom half. Roll each strip and place one in the center of each "petaled" cherry. Place one on each cupcake. (If you make these ahead, set them on a plate and refrigerate until ready to decorate.)
With a sharp knife, cut 4 thin pieces of skin from the limes, working from top to bottom. Cut into leaf shapes. A scallop-edged pastry wheel makes them look more like rose leaves, if you have one. Place a leaf next to each rose. A thin strip for a stem is pretty too. Get creative!
A sturdy garlic press works well, as long as you quarter the limes.
If you’d rather not make 30 roses, you could always make a cake and just put a few on top! I used some Tillen Farms Bada Bing cherries on this cake, but . . . well . . . they kinda look like olives, right? I love them, though. They don’t have artificial colors, which is very nice. But . . . olives.
I know I didn’t give you much time, and will totally understand if you aren’t able to pull this recipe off by Valentine’s day. (Slacker!) But hey, wouldn’t this be pretty for Christmas?
I admit this recipe will appeal to a very limited audience, but I happen to adore black licorice. I always chose licorice ice cream when we were taken to the ice cream parlor as a child, and remember fondly the bowls of orange and black jelly beans that were put out for our Halloween parties.
I couldn’t resist running with that theme!
Which means I made this a little harder than it needs to be, because I wanted to actually use jelly beans to flavor my cheesecake. I also hoped that the pectin (or whatever is used to make them gummy) would help thicken my cheesecake, because there’s nothing worse than a no-bake cheesecake that doesn’t set properly.
My hope of covering all the bases (flavor, color, texture) with jelly beans may have been slightly optimistic. I ended up adding a little additional color, and found that unless you prefer subtle flavoring (I don’t), you’ll probably need to boost that too. I added orange zest to the orange layer and mashed licorice sticks to the licorice. (Easy to do . . . you’ll see.)
And . . . licorice has a way of turning green. And purple. You’ll need some serious black food coloring for this job! A final deep gray color was acceptable.
I used vodka for soaking the beans, assuming it would dissolve them more quickly than water. I’m not a lush, honest! It’s just that there are such fun flavors available in the liquor store. Pernod would be great for the licorice layer, and Grand Marnier for the orange. Sadly, I had neither, so if you go that route, please let me know how it tasted.
For an alcohol-free version, substitute orange juice for the booze when you soak the orange jelly beans, and Stash Licorice Spice tea (or just plain water) for the black jelly beans.
And, of course, you can always skip the jelly beans altogether (though DO use some to decorate your cheesecake) and simply use anise flavoring and black food color for the licorice layer, and orange flavoring and orange food color for the orange layer.
Separate orange and black jelly beans into two small cups. Add 3 tablespoons vodka (or liquid of choice) to each. Cover lightly and set aside for at least 2 hours.
Chop up licorice twists and place in a small cup. Add water. Cover lightly and set aside for at least 2 hours.
Combine all ingredients for the crust in a medium bowl, mixing well. Press evenly into an 8-inch springform pan. Make sure you press it very firmly. Use a flat-bottomed measuring cup for best results. Place in the refrigerator.
Drain the orange jelly beans, reserving the liquid and discarding any remaining jelly bean carcasses. Do the same with the black jelly beans. Set aside.Carefully drain the chopped licorice, but this time KEEP THE LICORICE and throw away the liquid. Mash licorice gently with a spoon and set aside. .
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add sour cream and powdered sugar, and beat for 2 minutes.
Add lemon juice and mix well.
Remove 1⅓ cups of the batter and place in a separate medium bowl.
Add 1 tablespoon of orange liquid to one of the bowls, and the orange zest. If you want to add orange coloring or flavoring, do so now. Stir well. Set aside.
Add 1 tablespoon of black liquid to the other bowl, and the mashed licorice twists.
Mix well, then add black coloring until it is the desired shade. NOTE: Don't throw away the remaining orange and black liquid. It will be used to make a drizzle for the top of the cheesecake.
In a medium bowl, beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Divide between both bowls and fold in gently.
Remove springform pan from the refrigerator and carefully spread the licorice mixture into the pan, smoothing all the way to the edges.(Using an offset spatula helps.) Add the orange mixture to the top of the licorice layer and smooth evenly.
(Optional) In a small sauce pan, combine the remaining orange liquid and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens (about 1 minute). Hold the pan high over the cheesecake and drizzle the syrup over the top. Repeat with the licorice liquid.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 10 hours. (It can be made a day ahead.) Carefully run a sharp knife between the crust and the side of the pan.before releasing the outer ring. Decorate with whipped cream and jelly beans (maybe sprinkles, too?) right before serving.
This is delicious frozen, too. If you want to freeze it, wait until it is completely set, then wrap it well.
This is over the top, even for me! Two moist layers of apple cake are baked with a graham cracker crust, sandwiched with spicy apple filling, and covered with cinnamon-cream cheese frosting. Because I love mixing textures, this cake also sports a crunchy streusel topping. I guess you could consider this part pie, part cake . . . and the essence of fall.
My first attempt at this recipe yielded a lovely cake that was so sweet I could barely eat a small piece. And you must not underestimate my tolerance for sweet things. The flavor was just what I had hoped for, but . . . wow. Really, really sweet.
So I went back and reduced sugar in the crust and the filling, and switched the buttercream frosting with cream cheese frosting. Now it’s just right!
Most homemade cakes involve a cake, filling, and frosting. But I’ve added two additional steps: the graham cracker crust and the streusel. In for a penny, in for a pound, as far as I’m concerned, but if you’re strapped for time, feel free to:
Eliminate the streusel. Place the top layer so the graham crust is at the top, then just pipe around the edge.Still pretty!
Skip the graham crust. No one will know. (My daughter would be aghast at this suggestion. We both love this crust on cakes.)
Two 8-inch layers of apple cake, apple pie filling, graham cracker crust, and streusel topping create a fall classic.
2 cups (about 15 whole) crushed graham crackers
¼ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup butter, melted
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup white sugar
⅓ cup oil
3 large eggs
⅓ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups coarsely grated apple (peeled and cored)
2 cups chopped apples (peeled and cored)
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons water
¼ cup white sugar
3 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon (more for a darker color)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup butter, softened (if using unsalted butter, add ⅛ teaspoon salt)
8 ounces full-fat cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon cinnamon (more to taste)
1 pound powdered sugar (about 4½ cups)
CAKE: Heat oven to 350 F. Lightly spray two 8-inch (2 inch deep) round pans with baking spray (or grease and flour them). Place a round of parchment in the bottom of each pan.
Combine the graham cracker crumbs, ¼ cup brown sugar, and ½ cup melted butter. Divide between the two pans and press evenly, using a straight-edged measuring cup to pack the mixture very firmly. Set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar for 1 minute. Scrape sides of bowl. Continue to beat as you drizzle in the oil. Beat for 3 minutes, scraping occasionally.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions.
Stirring by hand (or on low speed) add half the flour mixture and mix just until combined.
Add half of the buttermilk and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Mix just until combined.
Stir in remaining flour, then remaining buttermilk. Do not overmix.
Gently fold in grated apples. Divide batter between the two pans and spread evenly.
Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back when touched lightly. If in doubt, give it a few more minutes; an underbaked cake will sink in the middle.
Move cakes to cooling racks. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out to cool completely.
FILLING:In a medium pan over low heat, combine chopped apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir often until apples begin to release liquid, then turn heat up to medium low and bring to a low boil. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Whisk together cornstarch, lemon juice, and water. Add to boiling mixture. Stir and cook until mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Apples vary in juiciness and you may need to add a little more water or a little more cornstarch slurry to achieve a spreadable filling. Allow filling to cool completely..
STREUSEL: heat oven to 375 F. Combine white sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter. Crumble onto a small parchment-covered baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven when streusel begins to brown. Allow to cool on baking sheet.
ICING:Beat butter and cream cheese together well, scraping bowl often. Add vanilla and cinnamon and beat until combined. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. Beat well after each addition. For easy handling, chill for 30 minutes before using.
ASSEMBLY:Place one cake layer, graham crust side down, on serving plate. Pipe a line of icing around the top, near the edge, creating a dam. Fill with apple filling and top with second layer, crust side down. Ice the sides of the cake, and lightly ice the top, then cover top with streusel, pressing firmly into icing. Pipe around top and bottom if desired.
Press graham cracker mixture firmly into pans. Really pack it down!
Spread the cake batter over the graham cracker crust, as evenly as possible.
Hot and fragrant from the oven.
Filling should hold its shape. If it’s too thick, add a little water. If it’s too thin, you may need to make a little more cornstarch mixture. (Some apples are juicier than others.)
Stir the streusel once or twice during bake time. It will feel soft, but trust me – it hardens once it cools! Don’t let it get too dark.
Spread the filling right up to the frosting dam on the first layer. If you have extra, it’s great on vanilla ice cream!
Frost it, decorate it, and fill the top with crumbled streusel. SERVE!
And because I really love this next photo I’m going to leave it right here. I had it at the top of the page but took it down because several people on a cooking website said it looked like taco meat on top. And now all I can see is taco meat, when I know it is just a lot of cinnamon (and perhaps a minute or two too long in the oven). Taco meat. Pffft. Hey! Love me, love my streusel!
If you made it to the bottom of this post, I salute you! And I promise something easy for next time.
Bing cherries have hit the supermarket and I couldn’t rest until I’d turned some into a pie. Traditionally, bakers use tart pie cherries, but those aren’t always easy to find . . . so I improvised. (Any sweet cherry will do.) The Man actually used the word “superb” when he took his first bite.
You won’t need much sugar in this recipe, but fresh lemon is a must to add a touch of tang. The filling is thick, resulting in neat slices once the pie has cooled. Throw in a thick, flaky pie crust and a tower of whipped cream (or a scoop of vanilla ice cream) and you have a spectacular dessert.
I made the mistake of using an extra-large pie pan (because, red) so my pie wasn’t as deep as I would have liked, but if you use a standard deep-dish pie pan, 2 pounds of cherries is going to be just right.
I’m giving you a generous recipe for pie crust so the crust can be thicker and you’ll have a little left over if you’d like to play with decorations. I made some leaves and cherries, which would have been more obvious on a solid top crust instead of the lattice, but still . . . cute.
2 pounds of fresh sweet cherries, pitted and halved (about 5 cups)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch (3 tablespoons if you like your pie soft)
juice and zest of 1 large lemon, separated
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups all purpose flour
1½ teaspoon salt
1¼ cup cold shortening
¼ cup cold butter
1 tablespoon vodka (or vinegar)
⅓ cup cold milk
2 tablespoons butter
egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
FILLING:In a large saucepan on medium heat, combine the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice (reserve the zest for later) salt, and cinnamon. Stir frequently until mixture begins to bubble, then continue to cook for 6 minutes. Filling will be thick.
Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest. Allow mixture to cool, stirring occasionally.
CRUST: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut in the butter and shortening, using a pastry blender or your fingers. Aim for lumps of butter no larger than good-sized peas.
Combine the vodka and milk, and add all at once to the pastry. Stir just until combined.
Divide in half. Roll one piece out on a well-floured board, rolling from the center to the outside - about ⅛ inch thick. Cut a circle at least 1 inch bigger all around than your pie pan. Roll lightly onto floured rolling pin and lift into pan. Fold excess under and crimp edges. Place pan in the refrigerator.
With the other piece of dough, cut strips for a lattice crust, using a ruler to keep them straight. Mine were about 1-inch thick and long enough to reach across the top of the pie pan. Place a piece of parchment on a baking sheet and dust lightly with flour. Lay 4 or 5 strips parallel to each other, leaving space between each strip. Work with one side at a time, folding every other piece over at the center. Lay a piece across the remaining strips and gently replace the folded pieces. Now fold back the pieces that had remained down before, place another piece next to the other cross piece, and replace the folded pieces. Repeat once more to complete the side. Do the same with the other side and cut around the edge to make a circle the same size as the top of the pie. Press around the edges with your finger. Place the lattice crust in the freezer for now.
Heat oven to 375 F.
Once the filling has cooled, remove the pie from the refrigerator and fill. Cut the 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and drop them all over the top of the filling. Remove the lattice from the freezer and slide it onto the top of the pie. (You may need to use a thin cutting mat or baking sheet to help it along.)
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle generously with sparkling sugar.
Bake 55-60 minutes. If your crust begins to get too brown, cover lightly with foil.
Allow the pie to cool for 1½ - 2 hours before cutting.
You don’t HAVE to use vodka, but it sure makes a nice, flaky crust!
Flute those edges! (I know . . . mine aren’t Martha Steward perfect. Hey . . . rustic is good!)
Bend every other strip down, place cross piece and replace the bent strips.
Bend remaining pieces back and add a cross piece.
Now we’re getting there!
Cut out leaves, cherries, and stems.
Added some leaves, stems, and cherries
Slightly warm. Now just add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a mound of whipped cream!
Cut into this pie while it’s just barely warm! Mmmm.
If you like your pie a little on the soft side, reduce the cornstarch to 3 tablespoons. Otherwise, if you don’t gobble it up while it’s warm, it gets fairly firm in the refrigerator. Personally, I like it that way. Holds the ice cream up better, right?
I’m leaving for a short writing retreat, but when I get back I’ll have something good to post – I’m just out of time right now! Hint: it has fresh huckleberries in it!
It’s August and I’m fighting triple-digit weather with something sweet, frozen, and slightly boozy. I needed this! These sugar cones are filled with an indulgent combination of cream cheese, strawberries, whipping cream, and rum . . . and sugar, of course. I call them “Cheesecake Cones” even though I know it’s not really cheesecake; this is more like a cream cheese fruit fluff. Whatever it is, it’s good—and though the chocolate shell coating might melt in the heat, the rest of it won’t drip down your arm like ice cream.
See? This cone sat patiently through a photo shoot but never got drippy. I’d also like to go on record here: I am very casual about a lot of things, but I have a problem with food photos where someone has actually taken a bite out of the item. I don’t know why, but that kinda grosses me out. But . . . I tried breaking through the shell with a spoon and it just made a huge mess, so under the circumstances, I made an exception. I bit into this baby, and I’m not one bit sorry. Yum!
Yes, they take a little time to make—but mostly because they go in and out of the freezer a few times, which hopefully won’t be a deal-breaker for you. The only freezer I have with any space in it is out in the back of the garage, so I had to run back and forth (did I mention it’s hot as Hades out there?) but it was totally worth it, because now I have a stash of cones out there just waiting for the next craving to hit. Three, two, one . . .
Oh, and if you’re going to freeze them for very long, I found that small disposable pastry bags were perfect to protect each cone from freezer burn.
Small pastry bags are perfect for storage! Just add a twist-tie.
This recipe will make twelve smallish sugar cones. If you buy the big hurkin’ ones, it will probably make nine or so. But honestly, even with my raging sweet tooth, the small ones are just right.
I bought a cone stand (I know, I know) but you can easily make one by cutting holes or starbursts into a deep, sturdy box—like this:
Make your own cone holder.
Use dark chocolate or white chocolate (both are deeeeelicious). The cone will also be coated inside with whichever flavor you choose, to keep the cone from getting soggy if you don’t eat them straight out of the freezer.
For the picture at the top of the post, I used Green & Black’s white chocolate which has vanilla in it, giving it a more caramel color. For a lighter color, I tried Ghiradelli (using a 4-ounce baking bar and 4 ounces of Ghiradelli melts) which was pretty and very tasty. If you want the coating to be bright white, try Wilton candy melts.
The Ghiradelli bar is lighter colored, but the Green & Black’s? Scrumptious!
I used white rum. It was pretty subtle (there’s only so much you can add without compromising the texture), so if you want a lot of rum flavor, use dark rum or add a few drops of rum extract. AND, if you’re making these for the kids, just skip the rum entirely, and maybe add a mashed banana. Yum!
For best results, use a cone stand. You can make one by cutting holes in a deep, sturdy box.
Place chopped berries, sugar, and rum in a small bowl. Cover and let it sit for 1 hour. Strain, mashing berries gently against the sieve. Save the liquid! Blot the berries thoroughly between paper towels.
Measure ¼ cup of the berry juice into a small cup. Sprinkle with gelatin and let it sit for 3-4 minutes. Transfer gelatin to a small pot and whisk on low heat until mixture is fairly clear. Slowly whisk in ½ cup of berry juice. Stir until warm and all gelatin is dissolved. (Discard remaining juice or use it in a cocktail!) Add the berries and let the gelatin mixture cool and thicken. To speed this up you can put the pan in cold water bath. If you refrigerate it, watch closely; you want it thick, but not set like Jello.
In a small pot or microwave-safe bowl, slowly melt chocolate and coconut oil together. Use the lowest heat and stir often if melting on the stove, or at 15-second increments in the microwave. Stir well!
Drop 1 teaspoon of melted chocolate mixture into each cone. Use a pastry brush or gloved finger to spread evenly inside the cones. Place upright in refrigerator or freezer to harden. Set remaining chocolate mixture aside.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar together until smooth. Stir in the thickened berry mixture.
In a small bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Fold gently but thoroughly into the cream cheese mixture.
Fill each cone level with the top. Place cones in the freezer. Put the remaining filling in the refrigerator to firm up (at least 1 hour).
Remove cones from the freezer and put a scoop of berry mixture onto each, using a knife if necessary to smooth it down to touch the top of the cone. Return to freezer for an additional hour. (Longer is fine.)
Place chocolate mixture in a large mug or small, deep bowl. (If chocolate has hardened, warm gently, stirring often.) Dip each cone, allowing excess to drip back into bowl before turning upright. Quickly add sprinkles if desired.
Freeze until ready to serve. Each cone may be individually wrapped. Small disposable pastry bags work well for this!
Sweet and tangy, these cute little mini-cheesecakes are perfect for a summer party. Serve them frozen on a hot day and watch them disappear!
Huckleberries are ripe right now, and I’m in heaven. There’s just nothing to compare to these flavorful berries. There is, however, an almost-as-good option if you don’t have access to huckleberries. Wild Maine blueberries are very similar. I bought frozen wild blueberries at the grocery store and they were delicious and reasonable. With fresh huckleberries going for $50-60 a gallon here, if I couldn’t pick them myself, I’d go for the frozen option!
Loaded with cream cheese, sour cream, and whipped topping, you’d think these little cheesecakes would be crazy-rich, but they truly aren’t. The combination of textures and the addition of lemon to the berry topping helps to confuse you into thinking you can eat twenty of these. I should know.
This may look sweet and innocent, but it will actually lure you into “just one more”.
And speaking of whipped topping, I really don’t like to use it. I much prefer real whipped cream. But I tried this with whipping cream, and the little bites were softer . . . pretty messy if you didn’t eat them the second they came out of the freezer. So I caved. I have one more cream cheese recipe coming up soon (it’s a doozy!) and I promise to use the real stuff in that one.
Have you ever used agar-agar? The berry topping can be thickened using cornstarch or agar-agar. I tried both and liked the agar-agar version slightly better. The topping reminded me a little bit of cranberry sauce (kind of gelatinous) while the cornstarch topping was more jam-like, but both were very tasty. The recipe below will call for cornstarch because it’s what most people have in their cupboard, but if you’d like to use agar-agar powder, simply add the lemon juice and water to the cooked berries and then whisk in 1 1/2 teaspoons of agar-agar powder. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Top the cheesecakes while the mixture is still warm because it will set up quickly once it cools. If it gets too thick at any point, gently reheat it.
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 7 double crackers) finely crushed
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
2½ cups fresh huckleberries (or use fresh or frozen wild Maine blueberries)
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
⅓ cup white chocolate chips
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1½ cups powdered sugar
¼ cup sour cream
1 8-oz tub thawed whipped topping, divided
Heat oven to 325 F. Prepare the mini tart pans by placing a small paper liner in each cavity. (48 liners in all.)
Combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a small bowl. Divide between the 48 liners - about 1 teaspoon in each. Tamp down well with a shot glass or tart tamper. Bake for 9 minutes. Cool completely on a rack.
In a small cup, whisk together the water, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Set aside.
In a medium pot, stir together the berries and sugar. Heat on medium-low until mixture comes to a boil. Continue to cook and stir for 3 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon (letting the liquid drip back into the pan) scoop 2 tablespoons of berries into a small dish and set aside.
Slowly whisk cornstarch mixture into bubbling berry mixture and continue to cook at a low boil until thick - about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
In a small pan on low heat (or in the microwave), gently heat 1 tablespoon heavy cream and white chocolate until smooth. Allow the mixture to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese well. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.
Add sour cream, melted white chocolate, and 2 tablespoons reserved cooked berries. Mix until combined.
Fold in 2 cups of whipped topping, reserving the remaining cup for decorating.
Fill each liner about ¾ full, leaving a little room for the berry topping. You can spoon the filling into the liners or use a pastry bag or heavy plastic bag with the tip cut off to squeeze it in.
Check the berry topping to make sure it isn't hot. Warm is fine. Spoon over the filling in each liner.
Freeze until ready to serve. Top with whipped topping and a berry, if desired.
Tamp down the crust and bake. If you don’t have a tart tamper, use a shot glass!
I use a pastry bag to fill them. Leave room for topping!
Add the berry topping and freeze
So if you live on the east or west coast, get a can of bear spray and head for the hills to harvest huckleberries or wild blueberries. If you’re stuck elsewhere, look in the freezer section of any large grocery store. Our health food section has a separate freezer section, and they have organic wild Maine blueberries. Score!
Before I post my last (for now) cheesecake recipe, I’ve actually been working on a healthy treat. Yes, yes, you heard that right. Check back in soon . . . or better yet, subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss this rare occurrence!
Each summer when our grandkids are visiting, we make a festive dessert. Oh, there’s always lots of chopping, cooking, and baking going on during that week, but we like to create one special sweet treat. This year we made a no-bake raspberry cheesecake for the 4th of July. Well . . . we baked the crust, but that’s all. We intended to add some blueberries to make it red, white, and blue, but we forgot. (It gets a little crazy around here with so many people in the kitchen.)
There are three steps to this dessert: topping, crust, and filling. It really won’t take that long, and if my grandkids can make this without whining, you can too!
Of course, I winged it and didn’t write down exact measurements. We were in a hurry (great-grandma was coming to visit) and slam-dunked it. You probably wouldn’t appreciate it if I just guessed my way through the recipe, so now that the kids have gone back to California (sob) it was carefully re-created and documented . . . and it turned out beautifully. I added lemon zest to the cheesecake the second time around and loved the subtle flavor.
And I even cleaned up as I went! Mark that down on your calendar, because it will probably never happen again. Who knows what possessed me – but it’s awfully nice to sit here working on this blog without seeing a mess out of the corner of my eye. I understand that some people actually do this regularly. Huh. Go figure.
Do you know what I really, really miss? Raspberry ripple ice cream. Just can’t find it anywhere. This immediately reminded me of that childhood treat . . . sweet nostalgia!
If you don’t have a springform pan, you can always make a couple of deep dish pies instead, using the same steps.
You will need a 9-inch springform pan for this recipe. (It could also be made in two deep-dish pie pans.) Plan ahead; this cheesecake is best if it's refrigerated overnight.
18 ounces fresh raspberries (about 3 cups, plus a few for decorating)
¾ cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs (about 1½ sleeves)
¼ cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 ounces white chocolate (chips or candy melts are fine)
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
zest from 2 lemons
1 8-ounce tub of whipped topping, thawed
Heat oven to 325 F. Lightly butter the sides of a 9-inch springform pan and place a round of parchment on the bottom.
In a small dish, combine the cornstarch, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of water. Stir well and set aside.
If desired, remove and refrigerate 9 of the nicest berries to use later for decorating. In a medium pan on medium heat, bring the remaining berries, sugar, and salt to a boil. Cook at a low boil for 3 minutes, stirring often.
Slowly add the cornstarch mixture to the pan. Cook and stir until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press into the prepared pan evenly, going halfway up the sides of the pan. (A straight-sided measuring cup works well for pressing crust up the sides.)
Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a rack to cool.
In a small pan on very low heat (or in a microwave at 15-second intervals) combine the cream and white chocolate, stirring until chocolate is melted. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the softened cream cheese until smooth and creamy.
Add the powdered sugar and beat well.
Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, lemon zest, and white chocolate mixture. Beat well.
By hand, stir in the whipped topping, just until incorporated.
Put half of the filling in the pie crust, spreading it to the sides. Don't smooth it; hills and valleys will make the raspberry swirl look prettier.
Check the raspberry mixture. Warm is fine, but if it's still hot, place the pan in a larger pan of cold water and stir. Drizzle ⅓ cup of the raspberry mixture over the filling in the pan. Cover with remaining filling and swirl gently, avoiding the crust.
Smooth the top, making it as level as possible. Pour the remaining raspberry topping over the cheesecake, cover with foil, and chill overnight.
If desired, decorate with whipped cream rosettes and the reserved raspberries.
Add sugar and a pinch of salt to rinsed raspberries and boil gently for 3 minutes
Combine cornstarch, lemon juice, and water
Add the cornstarch mixture to the boiling berries. Stir until thickened.
Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter.
Press into prepared pan and bake
Melt together the cream and white chocolate. Let it cool a little.
Add powdered sugar to whipped cream cheese
Add lemon and melted chocolate to the mixture
Stir in the whipped topping
Add half of the filling (don’t level it . . . leave it “gloppy”) and drizzle with 1/3 cup berry mixture
Cover with remaining filling
Swirl gently. (You don’t want to disturb that crust!)
Level the top (a small offset spatula works well) all the way to the edge. Add remaining berry mixture and smooth with a clean spatula.
Decorate with whipped cream and raspberries, or let it go au naturel.
It doesn’t really NEED adornment. I like mine straight.
In case you’re wondering, this is delicious when frozen, too! Trust me, I know. And it’s easier to cut and serve. Just take it from the freezer and let it sit out at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting.
Oh, heavens! This cherry tart has a rich chocolate crust that lies somewhere between a cookie and a pie crust, and filling that’s spiked with cherry brandy. (Totally optional.) Oh, and did I mention that I used canned cherry pie filling? I know that’s not my usual modus operandi, but I’m afraid my cherry tree is buried under a few feet of snow, and besides…I’m making you create the crust from scratch, which is probably enough of a challenge, right?
I had to do some experimenting to come up with a crust that didn’t turn soggy on the bottom, but I’m happy to say that if you follow my baking instructions, your tart will be tender (but definitely not gummy) on the bottom, and crunchy on the sides. Yum yum yum!
If you don’t want booze in yours (eyeroll), you can skip the whole “cook the filling, lime juice, and cornstarch” step and just dump the cans of filling into the chilled tart crust. I wouldn’t even bother with the lime, (though it does add a nice flavor) because that would mean you’d have to dump the filling into a bowl, and…well…one more bowl to wash!
If you do use the brandy, be sure the cooked mixture is cool before putting it in the crust.
It’s critical to keep your dough chilled, and that egg white wash is a must! This will help keep the cherry mixture from seeping into your bottom crust.
Use whatever method works best for you when you move the crust to your tart pan. It’s thicker than a pie crust, but you can still roll it gently onto a rolling pin to transfer it. I like to roll mine out on parchment, center the tart pan upside down on the dough, slide one cookie sheet under the parchment and lay one gently on top of the dough, then flip. Whatever works best for you!
After you’ve eased your dough into the pan, turn the excess inward and press firmly against the inside edge. Trim off any dough that sticks over the edge of the pan.
Put a baking sheet in the oven while it preheats, then slide the chilled tart onto the hot sheet. This blast of heat from below will also help your crust to cook through. Be careful when you do this; you don’t want it to slide right into the back of the oven!
FILLING: (If not using alcohol, just use canned filling and skip the other ingredients)
2 cans cherry pie filling
1 tablespoon fresh lime (or lemon)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ cup cherry brandy
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips
½ cup cold butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg white, whisked
Serve with whipped cream or ice cream if desired.
In a large pot on medium heat, combine two cans of cherry pie filling, lime, and cornstarch. Cook and stir until mixture bubbles and turns clear (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the cherry brandy. Set aside to cool.
In a medium pot over medium heat, bring water, sugar, and salt to a boil.
Remove from heat and add the chocolate chips, whisking until smooth. Allow mixture to cool completely before moving to the next step!
In a medium bowl, grate the butter using a grater with large holes. Add flour and stir until all of the butter is coated.
Add the cool chocolate mixture and stir until mostly combined, then dump out onto lightly floured surface and knead gently just until it comes together into a ball. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. (No longer - the chocolate will harden and make it difficult to roll out.)
Lightly spray an 11-inch tart pan with cooking spray. I like to use a flour and oil mixture, like Baker's Joy.
Roll out dough to make a circle about an inch bigger than your tart pan, all the way around. (Your pan should be 11 inches, so the circle would measure approximately 13 inches in all directions.)
Gently ease the dough into the pan. Roll any excess at the top towards the inside of the pan, pressing firmly against the sides. If any dough sticks up past the edge, trim it off.
With a pastry brush, cover the bottom of the crust with egg white. Freeze for 15 minutes (or refrigerate for 30).
Preheat oven to 400 F. Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack while preheating.
Place tart pan onto a flat baking sheet or cutting board. Spoon filling into crust and slide it from the flat sheet onto the hot baking sheet in the oven.
Bake for 10 minutes. Without opening the oven, turn the heat to 350 F and bake an additional 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. When tart is barely warm, slide onto your hand, letting the ring fall down your arm. You may either leave the tart on the metal bottom or use a thin spatula to slide it from the base to a serving platter.
Decorate with whipped cream if desired, or serve with ice cream.
Add lime (or lemon) juice and cornstarch. It will look cloudy – that’s okay.
Cook it until it’s bubbly and fairly clear.
Add flour to grated butter and stir to coat.
Stir chocolate mixture into butter and flour. Make sure the chocolate isn’t warm!
Knead gently until it forms a ball, flatten into disk, wrap and chill. (You should see little bits of butter throughout.)
My favorite method to transfer dough to pan. Center pan upside down on dough, slide baking sheet under parchment, one on toop of dough, and flip.
Brush bottom of crust with egg white and chill. Add filling and bake!
I used stabilized whipped cream on this tart. To stabilize cream, I beat 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form, add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and beat until combined. Then I heat about 1/2 teaspoon Knox gelatin in 1/2 teaspoon water until it’s melted and drizzle a little in the cream while mixing on high. I don’t use it all…maybe half, but it’s too hard to melt a smaller amount!
For the tart at the beginning of the post, I beat 4 ounces of room temperature cream cheese, added 1 cup of powdered sugar and 1 cup of heavy cream and beat until it was thick and fluffy. I think I like the piped hearts better because the cherries still show.
Or…you could just eat it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Disclaimer: My husband preferred the tart without alcohol; he didn’t like the smell of cherry brandy. It MAY be because I had already spent a fortune at the liquor store picking up other booze for Valentine’s Day baking and went cheap on the brandy, but I liked it. A lot. I’ve never tried Kirsch, but that might be a good alternative if you have some.
Ready, set, GO!
So…onward. There are lots of ideas swirling around in my head; as soon as I corral them into something resembling recipes, you’ll be seeing lots of chocolate, cherries, raspberries, and sprinkles.
With grandchildren here for their summer visit, all thoughts have turned to s’mores. Cheesecake was our plan for their mom’s birthday, so you can guess what flavor we chose!
We made a large cheesecake with a graham cracker crust, a layer of chocolate cheesecake, a layer of chocolate ganache, and a layer of marshmallow cheesecake…and then decorated around the top with whipped cream and ganache rosettes.
I totally stole this photo collage from my daughter. Thank you, Brenna!
When I say “we”, I really mean it. The girls are getting old enough to not only help, but practically take over. It’s gotten past the grit my teeth and try not to meddle stage; now I feel more like a conductor with a very talented and capable orchestra. Oh, and the beautiful blue nails in the picture? Those are 12-year old Sophie’s, not mine! (They’d be a little impractical for me in the garden.)
My daughter loved the dessert, and so did we. I especially liked the fluffy marshmallow layer, and would probably double that part of the recipe next time. There was enough room to fit it into the pan, and it deserved equal billing with the chocolate layer in my opinion.
I used a 10-inch springform pan. Use a 9-inch pan, if you prefer. There’s room for all of the layers, but your decorations will just be on top instead of nestled into the crumb sides.
If you love marshmallows, you could add another handful to the melted marshmallow mixture before combining with the cream cheese.
3 layers of goodness - chocolate cheesecake, ganache, and marshmallow cheesecake - make this a luscious (yet not too rich or heavy) dessert that will easily serve 10-12.
2 cups finely-ground graham cracker crumbs
½ cup melted butter
¼ cup brown sugar
1½ cups chocolate chips
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup sugar
¼ cup butter, softened
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups non-dairy whipped topping
1 cup heavy cream
10 ounces good quality dark chocolate
6 ounces mini-marshmallows
⅓ cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream, divided
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 cup non-dairy whipped topping
CRUST - baked or no-baked options given.
Baked (my favorite method): Heat oven to 325 F. Lightly spray 10-inch springform pan with an oil/flour spray like Baker's Joy. Place pan on baking sheet.
Combine 2 cups graham cracker crumbs, ½ cup melted butter, and ¼ cup brown sugar. Press very firmly into pan, using fingers or straight sided measuring cup. Bake for 10 minutes. Move to rack to cool.
No-bake crust: Prepare crust as described, but instead of baking, place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before adding filling.
CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE LAYER:
Melt chocolate chips in microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 15 seconds until completely melted, or in small pan over lowest heat possible, stirring often. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, combine 12 ounces cream cheese, ½ cup sugar, and ¼ cup softened butter. Beat well.
Add ¼ cup cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon vanilla, and beat until combined.
Gradually add melted chocolate, beating until incorporated.
Gently fold in 2 cups whipped topping. Spread evenly over prepared crust. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
While the cheesecake is chilling, prepare the ganache.
Chop the 10 ounces of dark chocolate finely and place in a small bowl.
In a small pan, heat 1 cup cream until it bubbles around the edges...almost to a boil. Remove from heat.
Pour half of the hot cream over the chocolate and allow it to sit without stirring for a few minutes - this will begin melting the chocolate..Stir gently.
Re-heat the remaining cream and pour over chocolate mixture. Allow to sit a few minutes more, then stir gently until smooth.
Pour half of the ganache over the chocolate layer in the pan and return the cheesecake to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Put a piece of plastic wrap over the remaining ganache and set aside, stirring occasionally.
MARSHMALLOW CHEESECAKE LAYER:
In a small pan on low heat, stir together 6 ounces of marshmallows and ⅓ cup cream, Remove from heat before the marshmallows are completely melted, to leave little bites of marshmallows in the cheesecake. (If you prefer a smooth layer, stir until completely melted.) Allow to cool slightly.
In medium bowl, beat together 8 ounces cream cheese, ¼ cup powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon cream. Add the marshmallow mixture and stir until combined.
Fold in 1 cup of whipped topping and spread the mixture over the ganache layer in the pan.
Chill for several hours - overnight is even better! At any point during this chilling time, you can decorate your cheesecake:
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip and pipe simple rosettes on a parchment lined baking sheet. Freeze for at least 1 hour.
Decorate cheesecake with whipped cream, ganache rosettes, graham crackers, or cracker crumbs.