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Category Archives: Desserts/Treats

This Ice Cream is Bananas!

Banana Ice Cream

I absolutely love the flavor of a perfectly ripe banana atop an ice cream sundae or in a milkshake, but I had never tried making banana ice cream.  I thought a cornstarch based ice cream would be perfect to let the banana flavor really shine through, but I couldn’t find the right recipe.  I often start with Mark Bittman’s cornstarch ice cream recipe as a base, so that’s where I began with this, but tweaked it to incorporate the wonderful flavor of ripe bananas.  This tastes great as is, but I also enjoyed it with a heavy dose of cinnamon and several tablespoons of bourbon in a recent batch.

Eggless Banana Ice Cream

  • 3 Medium Bananas (eating ripeness; not overripe)
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla
  • 3 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 2 1/2 cups Half & Half
  • 1/4 cup White Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • pinch Kosher Salt
  • 3 T. Cornstarch

First, add bananas, vanilla, cream cheese, and maple syrup to food processor and puree until smooth.

Then, put 2 cups of the half & half into a saucepan over medium heat.  Add sugars and salt, then stir.  In the meantime, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of half & half with cornstarch and stir until smooth.  Once the half & half and sugar mixture is hot, pour in cornstarch mixture and whisk constantly for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is smooth and thick.  Turn off heat and whisk in pureed banana mixture.

Once combined, force the mixture through a sieve and refrigerate until cold before processing in your ice cream maker.

To speed up the cooling process, you can add the ice cream base to a gallon size bag and either put it in an ice bath or freeze it for about an hour.  If you do put the bag into the freezer, just be sure not to forget about it!

I was impressed with how this turned out and am happy to share it with you.  This will be a go-to at our house.  While still indulgent, the bananas and absence of eggs make this slightly lighter than most homemade ice cream recipes.   As you can see, I served this with some graham crackers, pecans, and dark chocolate in the featured photo. This combination was great, but I am thinking some fresh sliced strawberries will be my next topping for this tasty frozen treat!

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Wee Bit Lighter Scottish Scones


I really like scones, but whenever I look up recipes to make them I find myself turned off by the high butter content combined with the regular use of heavy cream. This was my attempt to make a scone that is just a tad lighter without sacrificing taste or texture…but please note they are still not a low-fat food.  I also like this recipe because I pretty much always have the items on hand to make a batch.

Wee Bit Lighter Scottish Scones (makes 8 scones)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit (I used sour cherries in the pictured batch)
  • 4 tablespoons cold salted butter (cut into 4 pieces)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 2 teaspoons extract of your choice (I like a half and half mixture of almond and orange extracts to compliment the cherries.  You could also add in some fruit zest and reduce the extract amount to taste.)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, oatmeal, sugars, salt, dried cherries, and butter until mixture resembles crumbs as pictured.

In another bowl, beat egg.  Then add sour cream, milk, and extracts until well blended. Using a fork, slowly add dry mixture into wet mixture until just combined. Do not over mix.

Using a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop (or measuring cup) drop dough onto parchment lined baking sheet.  Press down onto top of scones with fork to flatten slightly.  Let them rest for about 5-10 minutes before putting in the oven.

Bake for about 13-16 minutes.  The tops of the scones will be light brown with bits of golden brown showing on top. The bottoms will be golden brown.  Transfer scones to serving dish and enjoy!

White Chocolate Chip Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

Everyone loves a good chocolate chip cookie, but these sweet and spicy treats are a ginger lover’s dream.  Easy to make and even easier to eat, these have quickly become a new fall favorite at our house.
*EDIT: After posting this I entered a local cookie recipe contest and I won!!

Award-Winning White Chocolate Chip Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • dash of salt
  • 1 stick of very soft salted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup mild molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • scant 1/4 cup chopped candied ginger

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine 7 dry ingredients in small bowl.  In medium bowl or mixer bowl, add butter, brown sugar, molasses, and vanilla.  Beat until thoroughly combined.  Beat in egg.  Add in dry ingredients and beat until incorporated.  Beat in white chips and candied ginger.

While these can be baked right away, I do like to pop the dough into the refrigerator for about an hour before baking to keep the dough from spreading.

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes.  The edges will start to darken  Let them cool for a minute or two on the pan before removing.

This dough freezes very well too, so you can keep some around for cookies on demand.  Enjoy!

 

When life gives you beets, make brownies.

In my CSA this week, we received a few small beets.  I don’t hate beets, but they are not my favorite either. Having such a small quantity also meant that I was going to need to use them to accompany something else.  Then…I had a vague memory of hearing about putting beets in red velvet cake.  I pulled out my trusted brownie recipe and started jotting down the required modifications. The result?  Moist and fudgy treats that are not only addictive, but are also a conversation piece.  The brownies I normally make are thinner in the same sized pan…and use another 2 tablespoons of butter.  So, while these are in no way health food, they are slightly less guilt inducing and are just as rich and delicious.

You’ll need enough cooked beets to make 1/3 cup of puree.  I just peeled and boiled mine and gave them a quick run through the Magic Bullet, which has recently became one of my favorite cooking tools.

Block Rockin’ Beet Brownies

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup beet puree
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line an 8″ x 8″ square pan with foil (or parchment paper) leaving the edges high so you can literally pull the brownies out of the pan.  I used parchment as you will see, but I think I prefer foil for cleaner, crispier edges. Place a glass bowl over a pan of lightly boiling water.  Combine butter, sugars, and cocoa powder in the bowl.  Press the butter to the bottom of the bowl and let this sit for 2-3 minutes.  Then, start to regularly stir until butter has completely melted and is combined with the sugars and cocoa.  Reduce the heat slightly and continue to stir this frequently for another 2 minutes to allow more of the sugars to dissolve. Remove this mixture from the heat and set aside for about 3-4 minutes to allow it to cool down slightly.  In the meantime combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

Return to the chocolate mixture and stir in vanilla.  Then, beat in eggs (one at a time) and stir in beet puree.  Slowly add in flour mixture until combined, then continue to quickly beat this by hand for a full minute.

Pour this into your pan and bake for 25-30 minutes.  The top and edges will be set, but a toothpick inserted into the brownies should still emerge with some batter.  However, if you look closely at the batter, it will not look like thin, raw batter.  It will be thick. Making sure not to over bake these is the key to getting a fudgy moist brownie.

Impatient as usual, I did not wait to remove my brownies from the pan.  I do, however, recommend letting these cool down before pulling them out and cutting them up.

 

Bonus Idea: I discovered that the sauteed beet greens were delicious with some sauteed bacon and red onion, then topped with feta.

Corn…it’s not just for dinner.

Sweet Corn & Berry Ice Cream

You will have to forgive me. I rushed through making this recipe without the blog in mind,  but after tasting the results, I knew I had to share. I recently came across a different recipe for a sweet corn ice cream and had been toying with using it for a dessert to pair with some berries in my fridge. Then, like fate, I came upon this recipe from artisanal ice cream whiz Jeni Britton Bauer for a sweet corn ice cream with a black raspberry swirl and I didn’t look back. This recipe uses cornstarch as a thickener in lieu of the more commonly used egg, which really helps keep the corn flavor pure as eggs would change the flavor of the ice cream.

And for those that may think putting corn in your ice cream seems odd–that’s just nonsense!  Just take a minute to think about cornbread with jam or honey, cornmeal pancakes, corn Chex, that buttery, delicious corn cake that accompanied your entree at the late Chi-Chis…you get my drift??

So here is my adapted version of the recipe.  Enjoy!

Sweet Corn & Berry Ice Cream
(Adapted from “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home: More than 100 Addictively Good Artisan Recipes” by Jeni Britton Bauer )

  • 1 ear of corn (cut off kernels and scrape the stalk to gather excess juice into reserved corn)  
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons of softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • Berry Sauce (recipe below)

In a small bowl or ramekin, stir together cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of milk until smooth.

In a large bowl, whisk the cream cheese and salt together until very smooth.

Into a large saucepan, add cream, sugar, corn with juice, and corn syrup.  Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat for 4 minutes. (The recipe calls for medium-high heat, but on my burners I was at a boil over risk at that heat.)

Strain the mixture through a sieve into another bowl, pressing down onto the corn to maximize the corn flavor.  Add mixture back to the saucepan and whisk in cornstarch mixture. Bring back to a boil over medium to medium-high heat until mixture begins to thicken; about 1 to 2 minutes.  (Recipe said 1 minute…I let mine go for 2.)

Slowly pour the mixture into the cream cheese whisking constantly to make sure cream cheese is thoroughly incorporated into the creamy mixture.

If you’re experienced in ice cream making, you’ve probably guessed that it’s time to let the mixture cool down before processing.  I would normally just throw this in the refrigerator overnight, but Jeni shared this smart technique for quick cooling.  After letting this cool for a few minutes, pour it into a heavy-duty gallon sized freezer bag.  Submerge the bag into an ice bath and let it sit for about 30 minutes, turning occasionally.  Voila, your ice cream is ready to process in your ice cream maker per the manufacturer’s instructions.

In the meantime, make the lush berry syrup.

Berry Sauce

  • 2 cups fresh berries (I used half blueberries and half black raspberries)
  • 1 cup sugar
In a medium saucepan, combine above ingredients and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Stir frequently and grab your candy thermometer. You’re looking for 220 degrees which took me about 7 minutes.  The temperature is critical to achieve the proper consistently for freezing.  Strain the mixture and allow to cool.  I used my ice bath from the ice cream base to quickly cool this down while my ice cream was churning.
To assemble this delicious treat, layer the ice cream and berries, but do not stir. Cover with parchment and freeze until firm.

This makes one quart. The berry syrup is pretty sweet (and so delicious), so I do think you could get by with increasing the quantity of ice cream a bit with the same amount of syrup.

Let me know if you try this.  I don’t think it will disappoint!  I served this with lemon ginger shortbread and the flavors melded seamlessly.

And…if you’ve gotten this far and you don’t have an ice cream maker,  maybe now is the time.  It may seem like a novelty appliance, but ice cream is one of the best things to make in advance when entertaining.  You’ll impress your guests without having to worry about making dessert the day of your event. It can be a little time consuming, but it’s also pretty forgiving and you can ease the process by making the base one night and then throwing it into the maker on the next night.

Browned Butter & Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn’t love fresh baked chocolate chip cookies?  This recipe incorporates bourbon and browned butter which give the cookies a subtle, but deeper flavor than the average cookie.  This recipe can easily be doubled to use a full-bag of chocolate chips, but after frequently finding myself halving cookie recipes, I figured I would just start with this in small batch form.

Browned Butter and Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2  teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup semi-sweet or darker chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place butter in saucepan over low heat. When stick has melted, add bourbon.  (It is very important to wait for the butter to melt or you might have a fire in your pan!) Cook over low heat, stirring regularly, until mixture becomes golden brown and foamy.  Pour into dish and let sit.  You should use the brown bits that will develop in the butter.  Combine dry ingredients (flour, salt, and baking soda) in medium bowl while waiting for butter to cool.

Once mixture has cooled for about ten minutes, beat butter for 1-2 minutes and then cream with sugars until well blended and light. (It is ok for the butter to be warmer than room temperature, but it cannot be so warm that it would cook the egg in the mixing bowl.)

Then beat in egg and vanilla over low speed until just combined.  Slowly  add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and combine.  Add in chocolate chips and  allow mixture to cool in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.

Scoop dough and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet (see note). I use a tablespoon “cookie scoop” and roll the scoop in a circular motion to create a ball. Resist the urge to literally roll into smooth balls.  Gently pack the cookies if you need to tidy them up, but when you start with a smooth ball, the cookies will not develop the beautiful texture a chocolate chip cookie should.

Ahh…and here’s where things get tricky. It is quite difficult to describe when to take a cookie out of the oven to achieve a soft cookie. I bake these for 7-8 minutes maximum.  I look for the outside of the cookie to be set and want to see a bit of golden brownness to peek out from the bottom edges, but the cookie will still be quite soft.  I do not let them sit on the pan for more than a minute after removing from the oven, I gently transfer my piece of parchment onto the counter and give them some time to set-up.  Once your cookies turn “golden brown” in the oven, they’ll still be tasty, but they’ll likely also be crunchy.   An extra minute may be all it takes to ruin your chances of a soft cookie and I’m of the soft cookie loving persuasion.

The little bit of extra effort will result in an extra special chocolate chip cookie that is sure to please.  These also taste great with nuts…I recommend pecans. Yum!

NOTE: Use a dark, non-insulated cookie sheet!  Insulated cookie sheets will still produce tasty cookies, but your cookies will spread and will need to be cooked longer.  I had never used an insulated cookie sheet before and when I tried one, to my dismay, it produced totally different looking cookies than my trusted worn in pans. Of course, they were still gobbled right up.