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Entries in Desserts (31)

Saturday
Apr022011

Cannoli


When my dad died, we were overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends as they brought us tray after tray of food.  As I mentioned in previous posts, most of the trays of food that were brought to us were meat.  We did have the occasional sweet treat, but not as much as I would have liked.  So what does that story have to do with this post?  This past week, my aunt's father passed away.  She drove down from Boston with my uncle and cousins to be here with her family during this sad time.  I knew that I wanted to do something nice for them since I know how stressful this time can be, and I defaulted to what I know best--making food.  I was going to make monkey bread, but knowing that it tastes the best hot out of the oven, I started to think of other things I could make instead.  Joel suggested that I try to make cannolis, because that is something he said he would like at a time like this.  I looked up recipes and merged a bunch together to come up with this.  They turned out great, but the one thing I would be sure to do next time is chop the chocolate chips a little finer than I did because they kept plugging up the opening of the pastry bag tip!

1 container (15 ounces) Ricotta Cheese
3/4 cup Powdered Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 cup Chocolate Chips, finely chopped (optional)
2 dozen Mini Cannoli Shells

Using a hand mixer, mix the cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl until well combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips with a spoon or rubber spatula.  Scoop the filling mixture into a pastry bag and pipe it into each side of the mini shell.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Wednesday
Mar302011

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Blondies


My girlfriends and I got together Saturday night at my friend Kristy's new house.  She made lasagna (which is where I got the recipe!).  I said I'd bring dessert and I made a long list of things that I wanted to try.  When all was said and done, this was the recipe I chose.  I found it on Fake Ginger, who found it from Better Homes and Gardens.  I had everything on hand except for eggs and chocolate chunks.  On our way home from the photography class we've been taking on Saturday mornings, we ran to the little grocery store on our corner.  I got eggs and a box of Baker's Chocolate Chunks.  There were 8 individually wrapped pieces of chocolate for $3.79.  When I got the register, I realized how ridiculous it was to spend that kind of money on baking chocolate, so I put the box back and grabbed 2 Hershey's chocolate bars, which in my opinion, worked like a charm.  Joel is not a big dessert person, but for some reason, before I even had them cut up, he was begging me if he could try one.  I cut them, put some on a plate to take with me, and let him have one.  There were 3 left over, so I wrapped them up and left them on the counter.  My girlfriends enjoyed them, even taking some home for their husbands/fiancee.  When I got home, there was only 1 left on the counter, so Joel must have really liked them too!

1 stick Butter, softened
2 cups Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Chunky Peanut Butter
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 1/2 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 cup Milk Chocolate Chunks

Cream the butter and brown sugar in a bowl until light and fluffy.  Mix in the peanut butter, eggs, and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.  Pour the batter into a 9x13 inch pan that has been sprayed or lined with parchment paper.  Sprinkle the chocolate chunks on top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minuets, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Wednesday
Mar162011

Mexican Chocolate Tart with Cinnamon Spiced Pecans


Way back in December of 2009, I bookmarked this recipe on Love and Olive Oil because I thought it looked absolutely amazing.  I've just been waiting since then for a reason to make it.  This past weekend, we held a little dinner party with our good friends.  We made lasagna, two loaves of homemade bread (one white, one olive), a giant salad (of which almost nobody ate!) and this tart for dessert.  I can't believe that it took me over a year to finally make it.  I already can't wait to make this again!

For the Crust:
1 cup Chocolate Wafer Cookie crumbs OR 1 cup Graham Cracker Crumbs with 3 tablespoons Cocoa Powder
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon Salt
5 tablespoons Butter, melted

Blend the cookie crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Add the butter and process until the crumbs are moistened.  Press the crumbs into a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom (I used an 11-inch and it worked fine), to within 1/8 of an inch of the top of the pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Cool on a rack.

For the Pecans:
1 Egg White
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Salt
18 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 1/2 cups Pecan Halves

Whisk all ingredients except the pecans in a medium bowl.  Stir in the pecans and toss to coat.  Spread the pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray.  Bake at 350 degrees until just browned and dry, about 30 minutes.  Cool on the sheet.  Separate the nuts, removing excess coating.  These can be made up to 2 days ahead, stored in an airtight container at room temperature.  (*I only ended up using 10-12 pecans on the tart, so I used the rest in a salad and for snacking)

For the Filling:
1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
4 ounces Bittersweet or Semisweet Chocolate, chopped
1 (3.1 ounce) disk Mexican Chocolate, chopped OR 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 stick Butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (if not using Mexican chocolate)
1/4 teaspoon Salt

In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer.  Remove from heat and add the chocolates, whisking until melted.  Add the butter one piece at a time, whisking until smooth.  Whisk in the vanilla, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt.  Pour the filling into the crust and chill until the filling begins to set, about 15-20 minutes.  After the filling has begun to set, arrange the pecans in concentric circles on top of the tart.  Chill until set, about 4 hours.  Serve with whipped cream.

Wednesday
Mar092011

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies


Saturday morning, I was reading the RSS feeds from the different blogs I follow, did a little clicking on some links within the posts, and came across this blog, Make It Naked.  I then spent the next hour or so reading every blog post in her blog, all the way to when it started.  As  I was reading, I saw this recipe and immediately saved it for my next sweet tooth attack...which happened Sunday!  After dinner on Sunday night, I started making these while Joel cleaned up our leftovers and did dishes.  The addition of the sea salt really makes these cookies stand out compared to other recipes I've tried!

1 1/4 cups Granulated Sugar
1 1/4 cups Brown Sugar
3 sticks Butter, softened
1 tablespoon Vanilla
2 Eggs
4 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
2 bags Chocolate Chips (12 ounces each)
Sea Salt, for topping

In a large bowl, mix the sugars, butter, egg, and vanilla by hand.  Add the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Mix in the chocolate chips then refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour.  (Oops, I forgot this step!!)  Scoop whatever size cookie you prefer onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with a tiny bit of sea salt.  Bake for 8-12 minutes, depending on the size of the cookie.  (I halved the recipe and made 74 mini cookies, scooping about 1/2 tablespoon of dough for each cookie)

Thursday
Mar032011

Apple-Cranberry Crisp


Just because we are going meatless and trying to be slightly healthier, we can't just completely do away with dessert, can we?  We had some very ripe apples in our fruit bowl that we definitely needed to use up, so Joel casually suggested making something with them.  He told me he wouldn't mind an apple crisp, but the last time he made one, it didn't turn out so well.  So, I set out to find a recipe to use the apples with and came up with this one from my Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook.  We really liked the addition of the cranberries-their tartness paired with the sweet from the brown sugar made for the perfect night cap!

1/2 cup Rolled Oats
4 tablespoons Light Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Flour
4 teaspoons Butter
6 Empire Apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 cup Frozen Cranberries
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

In a small bowl, combine the oats, 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, and the flour.  With either 2 knives or your fingers, work in the butter until crumbly.  In a large bowl, combine the apples, cranberries, the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Toss to combine.  Spoon the apple mixture into an 8 inch square baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Sprinkle the oat mixture over the top of the apple mixture.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 35-40 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the top is golden brown.