Apple Crostata for Two

Dessert, Pie | November 6, 2016 | By

We went apple picking and we have A LOT of apples around here so I’ve been thinking of ways to use them up but keep it simple at the same time.  I just don’t want to go to the trouble of baking a whole pie for two people.  These mini apple crostatas are easy and quick to throw together with their fold-over crust.  The apples are spiced with a little cinnamon and cardamom, one spice that is comfortingly familiar and the other is appealingly different.  These crostatas are rustic and elegant and just the thing to treat yourself without over-doing it as you only get one.  You have to share the other!  πŸ™‚

Apple Crostata for Two

Using a mix of sweet and tart apples offers a perfect balance of flavors.  I used Stayman Winesap and Red Delicious as that is what we picked on our apple picking trip to Terhune Orchards.

Stayman Winesap Apples

You don’t want the filling to be dry so to remedy this, sprinkle a teaspoon of sugar and dotted butter over the crostatas.  

Apple Crostata for Two

Allowing the tarts to cool on a wire rack is the last small but significant step toward a crisp crust.  This keeps the crust from steaming itself as it cools.

Red Delicious Apple

For the effort used to throw together these crostatas, the reward was amazing!

Apple Crostata

Apple Crostata for Two
Serves 2
Mini apple crostatas for two with rich apple flavor, and a tender flaky crust.
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Dough
  1. 3/4 cup (3 3/4 ounces) all purpose flour
  2. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  3. 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces and chilled
  4. 2/3 tablespoons ice water
Filling
  1. 1 small tart apple like Granny Smith, peeled, cored, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  2. 1 small sweet apple like Macintosh, peeled, cored, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  3. 1 tablespoon brown sugar, lightly packed
  4. 2 tablespoons white sugar (plus one teaspoon for sprinkling over crostata before baking)
  5. 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  6. 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  7. 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  8. 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  9. 1 tablespoon butter cut into 1/4 inch pieces
For the dough
  1. Process the flour and salt in a food processor until combined, about 5 seconds.
  2. Scatter butter over the top and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 15 pulses. Continue to pulse, adding 1 tablespoon ice water at a time until the dough forms a ball, about 10 pulses.
  3. Transfer the dough to the counter.
  4. Divide dough in half, then form each half into a 3-inch disk. Wrap disks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Let chilled dough sit on the counter to soften slightly for about 10 minutes before rolling.
  5. Roll each disk of dough into a 7-inch circle between 2 small sheets of floured parchment paper. If the dough sticks, gently loosen and lift sticky area and dust parchment with more flour. Slide dough circles, still between the parchment onto baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, 15 to 30 minutes. If refrigerated longer and the dough is hard and brittle, let it sit at room temperature until pliant.
For the filling
  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss apples, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons white sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon and cardamom together in a medium bowl. Remove top sheet of parchment from each dough round. Stack half of apples onto circle, leaving 1 1/2 inch border of dough around edge and reserving a few apple slices to fill in the the middle of the crostata.
  2. Fill in the middle of the crostata with the reserved apple slices. Fold outermost 1 inch of dough over the apples, pleating it every 1 or 2 inches as needed. Be careful to leave a 1/2 inch border of dough around edge of apples as this will help to keep the apple juices from leaking. Repeat with remaining apples and dough round.
  3. Lightly brush the top and sides of dough with the egg white and sprinkle crostata with remaining 1 teaspoon sugar. Dot crostatas evenly with the butter.
  4. Bake crostatas until the crust is golden and crisp and the apples are tender, 35-40 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.
  5. Transfer the baking sheet with the crostatas to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then use the parchment to gently transfer the crostatas to a wire rack. Use a spatula to loosen crostatas from parchment and remove parchment paper. Let cool on the rack until apple juice has thickened, about 10 minutes.
Notes
  1. Wrapped dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If frozen, let dough thaw completely on counter before rolling.
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Two Delicious http://www.twodelicious.com/
Apples in Orchard

We saw this cute dog on our way out of Terhune Orchards and I had to get a pic of him.  <3

Dog at Terhune Orchards

 

Key Lime Pie for Two

Dessert, Pie | July 23, 2016 | By

Key lime pie always reminds me of my wedding in Key West so Key lime pie always makes me happy! Key limes were actually the jumping off point for our theme. We had a Key lime cake and the florist used Key limes in some of the arrangements.  We also sampled LOTS of Key lime pie while on our honeymoon.  I can’t wait to go back!  In the mean time I will console myself with these cute little individual sized Key lime pies.   I wanted something that tasted like those pies in Key West but we also don’t need to eat a whole pie so these perfect little portion control pies for two really have that authentic taste I was looking for! 

Key Lime Pie for Two 3

Key West wedding photos, Sunset Key

Happy Day!

You can use regular grocery store limes in this recipe.  I’m in New York so Key limes aren’t readily available.  You won’t be able to taste the difference, I promise!  IF you do have Key limes available to you, you will need 10 of them to get 1/4 cup juice.  You will also need two mini pie plates, like these: Corningware French White III Mini Pie Plate.  These are 5.4 inch x 1 inch.  It’s also important to add the filling to the crust while it’s still warm so the filling “sticks” to the crust and doesn’t separate when you cut into it.  If your crust does cool off though you can rewarm it in the oven for 5 minutes before adding the filling.

 

The filling is really simple.  Just whisk the egg yolks and lime zest until the mixture has a light green tint, about one minute.  

Key Lime Pie for Two 6

Next  you’ll whisk in the condensed milk and then the lime juice of two limes to total 1/4 cup.  Don’t be tempted to use bottled lime juice, it’s just so tart tasting and you won’t get a great tasting pie.  Cover the mixture and let it rest for 30 minutes.  This will thicken it.  

Key Lime Pie for Two 4

While the filling is thickening make sure your oven rack is in the middle position and heat it to 325Β°.  Process the graham crackers in the food processor, mix in the butter and sugar.  Sprinkle crumb mixture between the two pie plates and using the bottom of a measuring cup press the crumbs into and even layer on bottom and sides of the pie plate.  Bake the crust until it’s fragrant and beginning to brown, about 13-18 minutes.  Transfer the pie plates to a wire rack but don’t turn off the oven yet.  Add the filling to the warm crust.  

Key Lime Pie for Two

Bake pies until the center is firm but jiggles slightly, 15 to 20 minutes.  Let the pies cool on a wire rack for about an hour and then wrap them loosely and refrigerate for 3 hours.  

Now we didn’t come all this way to put imitation topping on our cute little pies.  This topping is super simple and quick.  It’s lightly sweetened and perfectly balances the tartness of these pies so don’t skip it!  Using your handheld mixer beat the cream, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl on medium low speed until foamy.  Increase the speed and beat until soft peaks form, about another minute longer.  Spread over the top of the chilled pies and have a taste of Key West!

Key Lime Pie for Two 1

Key Lime Pie for Two
Serves 2
Key lime pie for two that is brightly flavored with a perfect balance of sweet and tart.
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Ingredients
  1. Filling
  2. 2 large egg yolks
  3. 2 teaspoons grated lime zest plus 1/4 cup lime juice (2 medium limes)
  4. 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  5. Crust
  6. 4 whole graham crackers or a heaping 1/4 cup of graham cracker crumbs
  7. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  8. 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
  9. Topping
  10. 1/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
  11. 2 teaspoons confectioners sugar
  12. 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling
  1. Whisk egg yolks and lime zest until mixture is light green, about one minute. Whisk in condensed milk until smooth, then whisk in the lime juice. Cover and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes. This will thicken the filling.
For the crust
  1. While the filling is thickening adjust your oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Process graham crackers in the food processor to fine even crumbs or if you're using graham cracker crumbs that have already been processed measure out a heaping 1/4 cup. Add melted butter and sugar to crumbs and either pulse or stir to combine.
  2. Divide mixture between the two pie dishes and using the bottom of a dry measuring cup, press crumbs into an even layer on the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Bake until crust is fragrant and beginning to brown, 13 to 18 minutes. Transfer pie plates to wire rack; don't turn off the oven. (Crust must still be warm when filling is added.)
  3. Pour thickened filling into the warm pie crusts, dividing equally. Bake pies until center is firm but jiggles slightly, 15 to 20 minutes. Let pies cool on a wire rack for an hour and then cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until filling is chilled and set, about 3 hours.
For the topping
  1. Using a handheld mixer set at medium-low speed, ,beat cream, sugar, and vanilla in a medium bowl until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and beat until soft peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Divide the whipped cream in half and spread on each chilled pie.
Notes
  1. If using Key limes you will need 10. Be sure to add filling warm crust. If it has cooled you'll need to rewarm it for 5 minutes before adding the filling.
Adapted from Baking for Two
Adapted from Baking for Two
Two Delicious http://www.twodelicious.com/

Fresh Strawberry Mousse for Two

Dessert | June 5, 2016 | By

Fresh Strawberry Mousse for Two

It’s finally strawberry season here!  I usually make jam or strawberry shortcake but I wanted to elevate them somehow and this recipe feels very summery and elegant!  I love that you can make it up to 48 hours in advance too.

05 Fresh Strawberry Mousse for Two 

This make-ahead strawberry mousse is rich, creamy and full of intense berry flavor!  Processing the strawberries into small pieces and letting them sit with sugar and a little salt causes them to release liquid.   Reducing that into a syrup before adding it to the mousse reduces the amount of moisture in the dessert and concentrates the berry flavor.  Pureeing the juiced berries results in bright, fresh berry flavor.  Gelatin adds structure and cream cheese gives the mousse the perfect rich and creamy texture!

02 Fresh Strawberry Mousse for Two

01 Fresh Strawberry Mousse

Fresh Strawberry Mousse for Two
Serves 2
A make-ahead Strawberry Mousse for Two that is creamy and full of intense berry flavor.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 pound strawberries, hulled (3 1/4 cups)
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. Pinch salt
  4. 3/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  5. 2 ounces cream cheese, cut into 4 pieces and softened
  6. 1/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
Instructions
  1. Cut enough strawberries into 1/4-inch dice to measure 1/2 cup and refrigerate until ready to garnish. Pulse the remaining strawberries in a food processor until most pieces are 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick about 6 to 10 pulses. Transfer strawberries to a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons sugar and salt. (Don't clean the processor.) Cover the bowl and let strawberries stand for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Strain processed strawberries through a fine-mesh strainer into bowl, you should have about 1/3 cup juice. Measure out 1 1/2 tablespoons juice into small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over the juice, and let sit until the gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Place remaining juice in small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 1 1/2 tablespoons, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, add softened gelatin mixture, and stir until the gelatin has dissolved. Add cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Transfer mixture to large bowl.
  3. While juice is reducing, return strawberries to empty processor and process until smooth, 15 to 20 seconds. Strain the puree through a fine-mesh strainer into medium bowl, pressing on the solids to remove seeds and pulp, you should have 3/4 to 1 cup puree. Discard the solids in the strainer. Add strawberry puree to juice-gelatin mixture and whisk until combined.
  4. Using a stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip cream on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and whip until stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk whipped cream into the strawberry mixture until no white streaks remain. Portion into dessert dishes and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 48 hours. Serve, garnishing with reserved diced strawberries.
Notes
  1. If chilled longer than 6 hours, let mousse sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Two Delicious http://www.twodelicious.com/

Apple Upside-Down Cake

Cakes, Dessert, Entertaining | November 20, 2015 | By

Apple Upside-Down Cake

Growing up in Florida I never saw an apple tree, I saw plenty of orange trees but always wished I could go apple picking.  I would see images of people on fun apple picking outings and feel instantly envious!  I wanted fall leaves and crisp cool autumn days!  While everyone up north was wearing cozy fall sweaters I was still wearing my shorts and flip flops and blasting the air-conditioner!  (I have to admit though that when there’s so much ice on the ground in the winter that I can’t walk my chihuahua I wish for Florida weather! ) Ack!  We wish for what we don’t have sometimes! πŸ˜›

Apple Picking Blog

I didn’t get to see a real live apple tree until I moved to New York six years ago.  Since picking my own apples was something I always wanted to do, when I got the chance I picked way too many for two people to ever eat!  We gave some away but still had too many so I started making spiced apples in the crockpot for spooning over vanilla ice cream and stirring into oatmeal but I wanted to try a recipe that just lets the flavor of the apples shine through.  I think this upside-down cake recipe really showcases my gorgeous apples without hiding behind a lot of spices although if you really wanted to you could certainly throw in some apple pie spice if you like.  

The cake part of the recipe is really just a quick bread so it comes together easily plus the addition of cornmeal in the batter helps the cake hold up to the weight of the apples.  Pre-cooking some of the apples before putting them in the bottom of the pan infuses the apples with caramel-like buttery goodness!  

Apple Upside-Down Cake

I definitely recommend using firm apples like Granny Smith so that your apples hold their shape during the cooking process.  I did mix it up with what I used but all the apples I had were pretty firm.  

You will need a 9-inch cake pan with 2-inch sides for this cake.  If you don’t have one you could use an 8-inch square pan.  Give this easy cake a try and let me know what you think!

Apple Upside-Down Cake

Apple Upside-Down Cake
An apple upside-down cake that really lets the flavor of the apples shine.
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Ingredients
  1. TOPPING
  2. 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, plus extra for pan
  3. 4 Granny Smith apples or firm red apples (about 2 pounds), peeled and cored
  4. 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  5. 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
  6. CAKE
  7. 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  8. 1 tablespoon cornmeal (optional)
  9. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  10. 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  11. 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  12. 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  13. 2 large eggs
  14. 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  15. 1/2 cup sour cream
  16. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. FOR THE TOPPING
  2. Generously butter bottom and sides of a 9-inch round, 2-inch-deep nonstick cake pan; set aside. Adjust oven rack to the lowest position and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Cut all apples in half, then cut 2 of the apples into 1/4-inch-thick slices; set aside. Cut remaining 2 apples into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
  4. Heat butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add 1/2-inch-thick apple slices and cook, stirring 2 or 3 times, until apples begin to caramelize, about 6 minutes. (Do not fully cook apples.) Add 1/4-inch-thick apple slices, brown sugar, and lemon juice; continue cooking, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves and apples are coated, about 1 minute longer. Transfer apple mixture to prepared pan and lightly press into even layer. Set aside while preparing cake.
  5. FOR THE CAKE
  6. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside. Whisk granulated sugar, brown sugar, and eggs together in large bowl until thick and well mixed, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter until combined. Add sour cream and vanilla; whisk until combined. Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into pan and spread evenly over apples. Bake until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.
  7. Cool pan on wire rack for 20 minutes. Run knife around sides of cake to loosen. Place a wire rack over cake pan. Holding rack tightly, invert the cake pan and wire rack together; lift off cake pan. Place wire rack over baking sheet or large plate to catch any drips. If any fruit sticks to pan bottom, remove and place it on top of the cake. Let cake cool for 20 minutes and then transfer to a serving platter.
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Two Delicious http://www.twodelicious.com/

Avocado Brownies with Peanut Butter Swirl

Avocado Brownies with Peanut Butter Swirl

I’ve  been using avocado lately in salads and other savory dishes where you would expect it but I decided to try out avocado in something sweet and I was really happy with the results!  I replaced all the butter in these brownies with avocado and it turned out really delicious!  I’m a big fan of peanut butter with chocolate so I decided to swirl some on top.  The result is brownies that are fudgy and deeply chocolaty with just the right amount of peanut butter.  

Avocado Brownies with Peanut Butter Swirl

There are many reasons to love avocados: their creamy taste, their impressive fiber content, about 2 grams per ounce, and the many vitamins (B6, C, K, folate…) they contain. Plus, the potassium helps to regulate blood pressure and the healthy fats are very beneficial.  

I found this side by side comparison of avocado vs. butter:

avocado vs butter

Wow!  Quite the difference!  Even though you should still eat these brownies in moderation I feel A LOT better about them!  πŸ™‚ 

Avocado Brownies with Peanut Butter Swirl

Avocado Brownies with Peanut Butter Swirl

Avocado Brownies with Peanut Butter Swirl
Yields 16
Avocado makes these deeply fudgy brownies a lot healthier.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 large, ripe avocados mashed until creamy (about 1 cup)
  2. 8 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate, melted (I used the microwave in 30 second intervals stirring between each interval)
  3. 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  4. 3/4 cup sugar
  5. 2 large eggs
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  8. 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  9. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  10. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  11. 1/4 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips to be stirred in before baking
  12. 1/4 cup peanut butter (for swirling on top)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350Β° F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together mashed avocados, melted chocolate and coconut oil until smooth and creamy. Whisk in sugar. Mix in eggs, one at a time, until well combined. Add vanilla and chocolate chips.
  3. In a small bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Stir flour mixture and 1/4 cup chocolate chips into avocado mixture until just combined.
  4. Spread batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Spoon the peanut butter over the top of the brownie mixture and using a knife, swirl it through the chocolate mixture.
  6. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool and then cut into squares.
Two Delicious http://www.twodelicious.com/

Rustic Free-Form Tartlets for Two

Dessert | July 16, 2015 | By

I love summer fruit pies but making a whole pie for just two people is just too much not to mention the pie crust takes time.  This simple free-form tartlet is a great alternative to pie.  

Rustic Free-Form Tartlets for Two

I wanted a flaky crust so I learned a new technique called fraisage, in which the dough is smeared with the heel of your hand, spreading the butter pieces into long, thin streaks between layers of flour and water.  This technique is perfect for free-form tarts where leaking might be a concern.  Because you are creating alternating layers of butter and dough, you are less likely to get a clump of butter that will melt during baking and form a hole in your crust as it bakes.

fraisage

Fraisage Technique

The dough is then lifted up and back over the fruit leaving the center exposed, and loosely pleated. The fruit needs only the simple addition of sugar, 3 to 5 tablespoons depending on the type of fruit.

Unbaked Rustic Free-Form Tartlet 1

Some of the best mix of fruits are stone fruits and berries (I’m using peaches and blueberries but plum and raspberries or apricots and blackberries would be delicious too), you can use only one type of fruit if you prefer. Peeling the stone fruit, even the peaches, is not necessary.

Rustic Free-Form Tartlet 2

Taste the fruit before adding sugar to it; use the lesser amount if the fruit is very sweet, more if it is tart. Be sure not to add the sugar to the fruit until you are ready to fill and form the tart, the sugar releases the juice in the fruit and you’ll end up with a soggy crust if done too soon.

Rustic Free-Form Tartlet

Once baked, the tartlets are best eaten warm, or within 3 or 4 hours, although you can reheat them in a 350-degree oven.  Don’t forget to add a scoop of vanilla ice cream…heaven! 

Rustic Free-Form Tartlet 3

Rustic Free-Form Tartlets for Two
Serves 2
These little summer fruit tartlets brimming with peaches and blueberries are just the thing to curb your pie cravings but a whole lot easier!
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Cook Time
45 min
Cook Time
45 min
Dough
  1. 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (3 3/4 ounces), plus additional for work surface
  2. 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  3. 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  4. 1 - 3 tablespoons ice-cold water
Fruit Filling
  1. 2 medium peaches
  2. 1/2 cup blueberries
  3. 2 - 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  4. 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar for sprinkling
For the dough
  1. In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt to combine, about three 1-second pulses. Scatter the butter pieces over the flour, then pulse until the texture resembles coarse bread crumbs and the butter pieces are about the size of small peas, eight 1-second pulses. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon water over the mixture and process for two pulses; repeat using 1 teaspoon at a time until dough begins to form small curds and holds together when pinched with fingers. Empty dough onto your work surface; dough will be crumbly (if the dough has large dry areas, sprinkle additional 1 teaspoon water over dry areas and incorporate by gently fluffing entire amount of dough with fingers). Using bench scraper, gather dough into rough mound about 6 inches long and 2 inches wide (mound should be perpendicular to edge of counter). Beginning from farthest end, use the heel of your hand to smear about one third of dough against work surface away from you. Repeat until all the dough has been worked. Using the bench scraper, gather dough again and repeat. Dough should now be cohesive. Form dough into 3-inch disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until cold and firm but malleable, about 1 hour.
For the filling
  1. During the last 30 minutes of chilling, prepare fruit. Halve and pit stone fruit and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges. Gently wash and dry the berries and combine the fruit in medium bowl (you should have about 3 cups); set aside. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
To assemble and bake
  1. (If dough has chilled longer than 1 hour and is cold and hard, let stand at room temperature 15 to 20 minutes before proceeding.) Divide dough into 2 equal portions. On a large sheet of parchment paper lightly dusted with flour, roll each dough portion into 7 inch round about 3/16 inch thick, dusting with flour as needed. If the dough sticks to parchment, gently loosen and lift sticky area with bench scraper and dust parchment with additional flour. Stack rounds and refrigerate until cool and firm but still pliable, 15 to 30 minutes If refrigerated longer and dough is hard and brittle, let stand at room temperature until pliant.
  2. Sprinkle fruit with sugar and toss gently to combine. Remove the dough rounds from refrigerator. Mound one half of fruit in center of each dough round, leaving 1 1/2-inch border around edge. Carefully grasp one edge of dough and fold up outer 1 to 1 1/4 inches over fruit, leaving 1/4-inch area of dough just inside of fold free of fruit. Repeat around circumference of tart, overlapping dough every 2 to 3 inches; gently pinch pleat dough to secure, but do not press dough into fruit. Transfer parchment with tart to rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining fruit and dough. Brush the dough with water and sprinkle each tartlet with remaining 1/2 tablespoon sugar. Bake until deep golden brown and fruit is bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool tartlets on wire rack 10 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, loosen tartlets from parchment and transfer to a wire rack and cool until warm for about 20 minutes, or to room temperature.
Notes
  1. The amount of water that the dough will require depends on the humidity; in a dry environment, it may need more water, in a humid environment, less. The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight or tightly wrapped in two sheets of plastic wrap and frozen for up to one week. If at any point the dough becomes soft, sticky, and difficult to work with during rolling, chill it until it becomes workable.
Two Delicious http://www.twodelicious.com/

Valentine’s Day Strawberry Cake for Two and a Love Story

Cakes, Dessert | February 10, 2015 | By

 Valentine's Day Strawberry Cake

My “Gamer” Valentine’s Day Love Story 

We met in an online game. Star Wars Galaxies to be exact.

It’s weird telling people how we met, “How’d you meet?” “umm…in an online game…” We are met with either blank stares or “That’s so cool”! You’re never sure what you’re going to get. Even in this tech savvy world we live in it still seems weird to some people, like it can’t be taken seriously. For instance we can’t say, “Yeah we met at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity or something important sounding like that and to make matters worse it’s a Star Wars game…geeky AND weird!

(There’s more to read below!)

Valentine's Day cake 2 770

I ended up in his guild, (for you non-gamers that’s a group of like-minded people that share common goals in a game, like taking down the baddest boss (monster) in the game. We started talking some or rather typing and eventually ended up curious about each other’s real names and he miraculously guessed mine on the very first try! I was pretty astounded and he had my attention after that!

I have to say that meeting in this way turned out to be really important in that we got to know each other without any physical distractions. It was just what we typed to one another and nothing else. Our thoughts and our feelings only. This built such an intimacy between us that I never knew could exist. That beginning bonded us in a special way. We knew each other, I mean REALLY knew each other before we ever physically met…not to mention my typing skills improved dramatically! πŸ™‚

(Keep reading!) 

Valentine's Day Strawberry Cake

We eventually moved on from Star Wars and onto the world of Azeroth (World of Warcraft) where our relationship grew until we finally decided to meet!  It had been nearly two years since we’d met online and finally meeting in person was one of the most exciting, thrilling, heart-thumpingly nervous days of my life! Meeting him really “sealed the deal” in my heart and I have never looked back!

Now we get to game side by side instead of over 1000 miles apart and we look forward to “leveling” together offline and on for the rest of our lives!

Happy Valentine’s Day and….May the Force be with You!

Valentine's Day Love Story

 This strawberry cake makes the perfect little 6 inch cake.  I love cake and I can’t afford to have a full-sized cake around so this is perfect!  
Valentine's Day Strawberry Cake for Two
Serves 2
The perfect petite-sized cake for you and your Valentine.
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Cook Time
18 min
Cook Time
18 min
Cake
  1. 2 large egg yolks plus 1 large white, room temperature
  2. 1/2 cup sugar, divided (2 Tbsp will go in the egg white)
  3. 3/4 cup cake flour
  4. 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  5. 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  6. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  7. 1/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  8. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  9. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  10. 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  11. 1/2 cup mashed or finely chopped strawberries, (I used a food processor)
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
  1. 4 ounces of cream cheese, at room temperature
  2. 4 Tbsp butter at room temperature
  3. 1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  4. 1/4 cup mashed strawberries, drained well
  5. Red food coloring is optional. 3 drops will make cake a pale pink.
Cake
  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray with cooking spray two 6‑inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, grease and flour parchment or spray again if using cooking spray.
  2. Using a hand-held mixer set at medium-low speed, beat egg white in a medium bowl until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and beat egg white to soft, billowy mounds, about 1 minute. Gradually add 2 tablespoons sugar and beat until glossy, stiff peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed; set aside.
  3. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and remaining 6 tablespoons sugar together in second medium bowl.
  4. In small bowl, whisk buttermilk, melted butter, oil, vanilla, and egg yolks together.
  5. Using hand-held mixer set at low speed, gradually pour butter mixture into flour mixture and mix until almost combined, 15 to 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl, then beat on medium-low speed until smooth and fully combined, 10 to 15 seconds.
  6. Stir drained strawberries into batter.
  7. Using a rubber spatula, stir one-third of whites into batter, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, smooth tops, and gently tap each pan on counter to release air bubbles.
  8. Bake cakes until toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 16 to 18 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking.
  9. Let cakes cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes. Run knife around edge of cakes to loosen. Remove cakes from pans, discarding parchment, and let cool completely on rack, about 1 hour.
  10. Line edges of cake platter with 4 strips of parchment paper to keep platter clean. Place 1 cake layer on platter. Spread 1/2 cup frosting evenly over top, right to edge of cake. Top with second cake layer, then spread 1/2 cup frosting evenly over top. Spread remaining frosting evenly over sides of cake. Carefully remove parchment strips before serving.
Frosting
  1. Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on low speed for about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and add the sugar and drained strawberries. Blend on low speed until the sugar is incorporated then raise the speed to medium and mix the frosting another minute or until the frosting lightens and is well combined.
Notes
  1. Cooled cakes can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 1 day. Wrapped tightly in plastic, then aluminum foil, cakes can be frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost cakes at room temperature before unwrapping and frosting.
  2. Assembled cake can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.
  3. The frosting might seem a little loose at first. I put the frosted cake in the fridge to firm up before serving and it was perfect. Just make sure you don't have a lot of juice left in the berries. If it's very loose just add more powdered sugar, a little at a time, until you get the consistency you like.
Two Delicious http://www.twodelicious.com/

Cranberry Cherry Ribbon Cookies

Cookies and Bars, Dessert | December 18, 2014 | By

So, I got an early Christmas present from my in-laws!  A new Lowel Ego light for taking photos after dark!  I’m pretty excited about it and this post is my first attempt at photographing with this light.  I like how they turned out.  It’s a very different feel for me, some of the photos have a Chiaroscuro feel to them.  I can’t wait to experiment more with this light after the holidays! 

Cranberry-Cherry Ribbon Cookies on marble board

Back to the cookies.  You need to try these fun to make cookies!  I got this recipe from a book I bought several years ago called The All American Cookie Book by Nancy Baggett.  This book has been one of my favorites and I have a TON of cookbooks!  Her recipes are all perfect, you seriously can’t go wrong whatever you choose to bake from it and her photos are gorgeous, but what I love the most is the history of each recipe and where it comes from.  She also has the most entertaining excerpts from very old cookbooks when they were using wood burning stoves to get their baking done!  For instance some of the kitchen wisdom that comes from Estelle Woods Wilcox from the book Buckeye Cookery and Practical Housekeeping, 1880 is this; “Many test their ovens in this way: if the hand can be held in the oven from twenty to thirty-five seconds (while counting twenty or thirty-five), it is a ‘quick’ oven, from thirty-five to forty-five seconds is ‘moderate,’ and for forty-five to sixty seconds is ‘slow.’ ”  Can you imagine cooking like that?!  I LOVE little glimpses into the past like this though! 

Cranberry-Cherry Ribbon Cookies with spoon

This recipe involves placing alternating layers of cranberry-cherry filling and vanilla dough in a loaf pan and freezing the stack until firm.  The frozen loaf is cut crosswise into three long blocks, which are than cut lengthwise into pretty red and white striped ribbons and then baked. 

Cranberry-Cherry Ribbons Cookies

 These cookies have a great chewy-crispy texture and an exceptional fruit flavor and keep very well.  The tart-sweet flavors are perfect together! 

Cranberry-Cherry Ribbon Cookies offcenter

Cranberry Cherry Ribbon Cookies
Yields 50
A delicious tart-sweet icebox cookie that you layer in a loaf pan for perfect ribbon-like cookies.
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Cranberry-Cherry Filling
  1. Generous 3/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  2. Generous 1/3 cup cherry jam or preserves
  3. 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  4. 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
Dough
  1. 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose white flour
  2. 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  3. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  4. 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  5. 1 stick plus 2 2/3 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
  6. 1 large egg
  7. 2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  8. 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
For The Filling
  1. In a food processor, process the cranberries, jam or preserves, and sugar until coarsely pureed.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a small, heavy saucepan.
  3. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until it just comes to a boil; immediately remove from the heat.
  4. Let stand until cooled slightly.
  5. Stir in the almond extract.
  6. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until well chilled, or freeze for 30 minutes to speed chilling. (The filling may be refrigerated for up to 4 days; return to room temperature and stir before using.)
For The Dough
  1. In a medium bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the sugar and butter until well blended and smooth.
  3. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat until well blended.
  4. Beat or stir in the flour mixture just until evenly incorporated. Let the dough stand for 10 minutes, or until firmed up slightly.
  5. Line a 4 x 8 inch loaf pan with aluminum foil, letting the foil overhang the long sides by about 3 inches; this will keep the plastic wrap surrounding the dough from sticking to the pan. On top of the foil, line the pan with two long sheets of plastic wrap laid crosswise, overlapping in the middle and overhanging the longer sides by about 4 inches.
  6. Divide the dough into quarters. Working on a large sheet of wax paper, roughly pat each portion into the pan bottom, forming a smooth, even layer.
  7. Using a rubber spatula (or your fingers πŸ™‚ ) spread 1/3 of the filling over the dough in the pan; the filling may seem stiff but spread it as evenly as possible. Repeat the layers using all four dough portions and filling.
  8. Fold the plastic wrap over the dough. Freeze until the loaf is cold and very firm, at least 1 1/2 hours and preferably longer. The dough can be transferred to an airtight plastic bag and frozen for up to 1 month.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease several baking sheets or coat with non-stick spray.
  10. Carefully peel the plastic wrap from the loaf. Using a large, sharp knife carefully cut the loaf cross-wise into thirds. Working with one block at a time keeping the others refrigerated, cut each third into 1/4 inch thick slices; wiping the kife clean between cuts if needed. Using a spatula, carefully transfer the slices to the baking sheets, placing them cut side up about 2 inches apart.
  11. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time in the upper third of the oven for 9 to 14 mintues, or until just slightly darker at the edges. Reverse the sheet from front to back halfway through baking to ensure even browning. Using a spatula, immediately transfer the cookies to wire racks. Let stand until completely cooled.
Notes
  1. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.
Adapted from The All American Cookie Book
Adapted from The All American Cookie Book
Two Delicious http://www.twodelicious.com/

Fruitcake Cookies

Cookies and Bars, Dessert | December 12, 2014 | By

I first made these cookies for my Dad’s 80th birthday celebration.  We did a 1930’s theme and I wanted to make a few things that people were eating in the ’30’s and fruitcake was on the list.  Since we were having a lot of people over I decided that fruitcake cookies would go further and be easier to serve. 

Fruitcake cookies

I’ll be honest, I don’t like fruitcake.  Not even a little bit.  I was hesitant to even bake these but I figured someone might like them…well…that someone turned out to be me!  I LOVE these cookies!  You seriously cannot eat just one!  They are very different than my last recipe that I posted, the ooey-gooey Mississippi Mud Brownies, in that they are a more refined cookie…if a cookie can be refined.  They are seriously these elegant little lightly sweetened and spiced cookies perfectly studded with fruit, nuts, and a hint of sherry and are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee. 

Fruitcake Cookies

The really do feel like Christmas on a plate!  I seriously challenge you.  If you don’t like fruitcake, try these, see what you think.  I bet you can’t just eat one! 

Fruitcake Cookies

Here are a few pics from that party I thought I’d share just for fun! πŸ™‚  I <3 my Dad!

Top left to right- Dad, Yes, I have a big mouth, 1930's candy, the cigarette candy was a big hit! Bottom left to right-Guests with 1930's clothing, kids loved the homemade photobooth, Mom

Top left to right- Dad, Yes, I have a big mouth, 1930’s candy, the cigarette candy was a big hit! Bottom left to right-Guests with 1930’s clothing, kids loved the homemade photobooth, my pretty Mom

 

 

Fruitcake Cookies
Yields 60
Subtly sweetened and spiced cookies studded with fruit and nuts and even a hint of dry sherry. Even if you don't like fruitcake, you will love these!
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
14 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
14 hr
Ingredients
  1. 1 pound of candied fruit (I used Paradise Old English Fruit and Peel Mix, if you can only find the larger candied fruit you will need to chop them into smaller bits.)
  2. 1 tablespoon honey
  3. 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  4. 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  5. 6 ounces chopped pecans
  6. Kosher salt
  7. 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  8. 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  9. 1/2 cup superfine sugar (just whirl granulated sugar in a food processor or blender to make superfine sugar)
  10. 1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  11. 1 extra-large egg
  12. 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
Instructions
  1. Combine candied fruit, honey, sherry, lemon juice, pecans, and a pinch of salt. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit overnight at room temperature.
  2. Using a mixer, cream the butter, cloves, superfine sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the egg and mix until incorporated.
  3. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt just until combined. Don't over mix. Add the fruits and nuts, including any liquid in the bowl.
  4. Divide the dough in half and place each half on the long edge of a 12 by 18-inch piece of waxed paper. Roll each half into a log, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4-inch thick, making an 18-inch-long roll. Refrigerate the dough for several hours, or until firm.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  6. Slice the logs into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place the slices 1/2-inch apart on ungreased sheet pans and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden
Notes
  1. Don't forget to start these a day before you need them as they need to sit in the dry sherry mixture.
Two Delicious http://www.twodelicious.com/

Mississippi Mud Brownies

Dessert, Entertaining | December 9, 2014 | By

I was seriously craving chocolate after seeing all the Christmas dessert recipes all over the web and this brownie really delivers on ooey-gooey, nutty, chocolatey yumminess!  

These brownies have lots of chocolate!  There is a dense, chocolatey, nutty brownie layer on the bottom, on top of that are the marshmallows, and then you top all of that with a layer of chocolate frosting!  You really need to try these for yourself! 

Mississippi Mud Brownies with Milk White balance

 

You’re definitely going to want a glass of milk with these!  These are super easy to throw together.  You’ll definitely want to share these, well maybe… πŸ™‚  This recipe makes 24 brownies and I don’t think even I can eat that many, and I LOVE brownies!

Mississippi Mud Brownies with Props

So don’t make regular ole brownies when you can take your brownies to the next level with these!

Mississippi Mud Brownies

 

 

Mississippi Mud Brownies
Yields 24
A brownie that delivers over-the-top chocolatey goodness! Marshmallows, nuts, and chocolate frosting make this brownie extra special.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 (1-ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
  2. 1 cup butter
  3. 2 cups sugar
  4. 1 cup all purpose flour
  5. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  6. 4 eggs, beaten
  7. 1 cup chopped pecans
  8. 3 cups miniature marshmallows
  9. Fudge Frosting
Fudge Frosting
  1. 2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
  2. 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  3. 1/2 cup butter
  4. 5 cups sifted powdered sugar
  5. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Combine chocolate and butter in a large saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring until chocloate and butter melt. Remove from heat.
  2. Combine sugar, flour and salt, add to chocolate mixture.
  3. Add eggs and chopped pecans; stir until blended.
  4. Spoon batter into a lightly greased 13 x 9 inch pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Sprinkle marshmallows over hot brownies.
  7. Frost with Fudge Frosting.
  8. Cool and cut into bars.
Fudge Frosting
  1. Combine chooclate, milk, and butter in a heavy saucepan.
  2. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently until chocolate and butter melt.
  3. Remove from heat.
  4. Transfer to a medium bowl.
  5. Add powdered sugar and vanilla.
  6. Beat at low speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
Adapted from 5 -Star Recipes Southern Living
Adapted from 5 -Star Recipes Southern Living
Two Delicious http://www.twodelicious.com/