Category Archives: Foodbuzz Top 9

Old Fashioned Berry Shortcakes

There are still many people from my generation who don’t know what a shortcake really is. So accustomed are they to the store bought Hostess brand shortcakes, that they don’t understand that, in reality, shortcakes are much less like a Twinkie and much more like a sweet biscuit. Very similar to a plain vanilla scone, these old fashioned shortcakes are a heavenly compliment to mounds of freshly whipped, sweetened, vanilla flavored cream, and a heap of fresh macerated berries. Since I still have blackberries coming out of my ears, I decided to continue with this week of very berry madness, and whip together this easy, but incredibly comforting dessert.

I have always had great success with Ina Garten’s shortcake recipe with a few of my own modifications. I up the sugar from one tablespoon to a third of a cup, reduce the salt to one half teaspoon, use salted butter (which I always use in everything no matter what the recipe may say… I prefer Tillamook brand), add about a tablespoon of pure vanilla extract (clear, if you have it) which the recipe doesn’t call for, and I also toss in the grated zest of half a large orange into the wet ingredients for that little background note of fruitiness (though, if I don’t happen to have an orange on hand I simply omit the zest). I have also found that it is important to chill the cut dough for at least an hour, lest you risk the possibility that your shortcakes bake up in amorphous mounds (which, granted, will still be delicious). Before baking I brush the tops with a beaten egg, and then dip the egg coated top of each shortcake into a small bowl of  turbinado or demerara sugar (clear white sanding sugar would also work well here) until no more will stick, which adds a nice sparkle, sweetness, and crunch. These are best served warm out of the oven, but the good news is that these shortcakes can be made, cut, wrapped, and refrigerated up to five days in advance, and you can simply bake them off right before you want to serve them, making them perfect for summertime entertaining. (Better still, if you would like to make the dough up to six weeks in advance, place the cut dough onto a baking sheet and freeze uncovered until frozen solid, then transfer to a freezer bag. Bake from frozen (do not thaw the dough), adding an additional 5 minutes or so to the baking time. Whether with strawberries, peaches, or assorted berries, these shortcakes are always a crowd pleaser. Enjoy!

This post made the Foodbuzz.com Top 9!!!

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13 Comments

Filed under Breads, Desserts, Foodbuzz Top 9

Pesto Palmiers

Like their sweet counterparts, savory palmiers are an incredibly easy secret weapon to have in your kitchen arsenal. There are always times where people are coming over, and you would like to have a little nibbley something to offer, but are out of time, energy, and ideas. These pesto palmiers are the perfect solution. Frozen puff pastry, pesto (either homemade or from the store), and Parmesan cheese (all of which I always have on hand) are all that you need. Take your thawed puff pastry sheet, and on a floured surface, roll it out to roughly thirteen inches squared. Spread about a third of a cup of good quality pesto over the entire surface, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Fold each side three times, meeting in the middle, and then fold it over onto itself. Slice the log into half inch slices, and place them cut side down on a baking sheet, brush with a beaten egg, and bake at 400º for fifteen minutes, or until nicely golden brown. They are buttery, and flaky, with a delightfully savory kick. The perfect little thing to serve with cocktails. Enjoy!

This post made the Foodbuzz.com Top 9!!!

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Filed under Foodbuzz Top 9, Snacks

More Easy Fruit Tarts

In a desperate (and transparent) attempt to avoid making  more jam with my remaining leftover apricots, I decided that more tarts were in order. (I mean, I love me some jam, but it is just too hot!) While prepping the tarts, I wondered why I had never made this recipe with fruits other than apricots.  With a simple reach over to the fruit bowl, I grabbed a pear and a nectarine, and decided to give it a try. And voila! So simple and easy. I took the same sized circles of puff pastry (my stemless martini glasses make the perfect sized stencil), added about a tablespoon of cinnamon sugar to the center of each, gave them a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg, and topped two with sliced nectarines, and two with pear halves (which I peeled, cored, and sliced, keeping the stem end intact). I gave each an extra little sprinkling of cinnamon sugar on top, and into the 400º oven they went for 20-25 minutes until they were golden brown and puffed. Brush the baked tarts with a generous amount of hot, strained apricot jam, and you have the easiest “fancy” fake out dessert in the world. I had never thought of it before, but as a reader suggested, these would also make a delicious breakfast pastry. I mean, who wouldn’t love waking up to one of these? Happy Eating!

This post made the Foodbuzz.com Top 9!!!

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Filed under Breakfast/Brunch, Desserts, Foodbuzz Top 9

Dark Chocolate Truffles

Truffles are such a decadent treat, and really are very simple to make yourself at home. You can flavor them up in numerous different ways by changing up the extracts (vanilla, peppermint, almond, etc.), liqueurs (Grand Marnier, Frangelico, Amaretto, Framboise, Kahlua, etc.), spices, and by varying  the sweetness of the chocolate that you use. Other than that the ingredient list is simple. Good quality chocolate (here I used all dark, because I love that rich, bitter, chocolate flavor), scalded heavy cream, and cocoa powder (to roll them in). I also like to add coffee, as I do whenever I am making anything with chocolate. Not enough to taste  the coffee per se, it just makes the chocolate itself taste better. Perfect as a special treat with coffee after dinner, or as a gift wrapped up in a beautiful tin, these truffles are a great addition to anyone’s kitchen repertoire. Enjoy!

This post made the Foodbuzz.com Top 9!!!

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Filed under Desserts, Foodbuzz Top 9

Linzer Cookies

Shortbread dough is amazing. With just one recipe you can make numerous variations (jam thumbprint cookies on their own or with coconut or nuts, pecan shortbread, lavender shortbread, fruit tart shells, etc), and have a whole assortment of sweet treats. People will think that you have slaved in the kitchen all day, and there is no need to set them straight. Here is yet another classic use for shortbread. These linzer cookies are simply rolled out and cut shortbread dough, sandwiched together (after baking) with good quality, seedless raspberry jam. The tops (which are dusted with powdered sugar before sandwiching) can be cut out with any number of different shapes, to allow the jam to peek through the top, making it easy to personalize them for any occasion. They are buttery and sweet, crisp, and crumbly. Pretty enough to be sophisticated, and yet easy enough to throw together any old time. Perfect for a tea party, or after dinner treat with coffee, and people really go crazy for them. Enjoy!

This post made the Foodbuzz.com Top 9!!!

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Filed under Blue Ribbon Winners, Cookies/Bars, Desserts, Foodbuzz Top 9

Jam Thumbprint Cookies (with Coconut)

I think we all have some sort of childhood memory of making thumbprint cookies. They are definitely an all American cookie classic. And why not? They are perfectly charming, delicious, and easy to make. Here I used my favorite all purpose shortbread cookie dough rolled into balls (though you could use sugar cookie dough, if you prefer). I dipped each ball into an egg wash (one egg beaten with a small splash of cream), and rolled them in sweetened shredded coconut. I then made a finger (or thumb) print indentation into each one, and filled them with a half of a teaspoon or so of raspberry jam and orange marmalade (though any jam or jelly you have on hand would be equally delicious: strawberry, blackberry, apricot, fig, grape, etc.). I finished them off by baking the cookies in a 350° oven until the coconut was a beautiful golden brown. Buttery shortbread, sweet jam, and toasted coconut, I mean, what more could a person want? Right? These cookies are perfect with tea or coffee, and make an easy addition to any holiday cookie exchange. I know I love them, and I think you will too. Enjoy!

This post made the Foodbuzz.com Top 9!!!

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Filed under Cookies/Bars, Desserts, Foodbuzz Top 9

Lemon Curd

I love lemon curd. A lot. I have made many different recipes over the years, and this is by far the best I have ever tasted. A variation of Martha Stewart’s classic recipe, this lemon curd is thick, and rich, and incredibly luxurious. So fresh, and tangy, and tart, and sweet, all at the same time. Perfect with scones, biscuits, shortbread cookies, pound cake, or on a spoon directly from the jar, standing in a dark kitchen in the middle of the night. Whatever it takes. Most recipes for lemon curd are not all that different from one another. They typically always use at least one or more whole eggs, along with some extra yolks, sugar, butter, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and some zest. It’s very simple. The thing that separates this particular recipe is that it only uses yolks, which makes for such a silky texture. Sigh. It really is amazingly delicious. It does take a little while to make, and does require a lot of whisking by hand, but some things are worth the extra little bit of effort now and then, and this is definitely one of them. Yum!

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11 Comments

Filed under Desserts, Foodbuzz Top 9, Jams/Spreads/Sauces