May 1, 2006
Welcome Home Bakers and Friends,
I hope Easter and Passover were enjoyed by those of you who celebrate these holidays and that your desserts turned out spectacular. My husband Kenny and I spent a quiet time at home this year, enjoying our garden and our "doggies" (we have a new addition to our pack, another little Papillon puppy - Tinker Bell). Our new little puppy keeps us quite busy, along with our other 3 dogs, Clancy, Rosie and Buster Brown. Also, I purchased a new bread machine and I have been giving it a run for its money. I have been trying several new recipes with it and also I have been trying to learn new bread "braiding" techniques which will help me out when I make my Challah breads, etc. All in all, I'm loving making breads. The kneading (when I don't use the machine) is very relaxing and therapeutic.
It's amazing how fast this year is going. Before you know it will be summer and time to start planning vacations, trips to the beach and park, enjoying picnic's with friends and doing all that fun "summer" stuff. Some of you may travel to the beach or to the mountains, or even plan an exciting trip to another country, and then there are some of us who choose to stay home and just enjoy the nicer weather and spend time in our gardens. Whatever you decide to do, have a good time doing it as summer is short and soon enough it will be Fall, that time of year when you may find yourselves yearning again for the brighter spring and summer days.
In this edition of Diana's Desserts Newsletter, the focus is on recipes for Cinco de Mayo and Mother's Day. Since I won't be sending out another newsletter again until July or August, I thought I'd also include some ideas for Father's Day (which is in June) desserts too.
The Food Tips and Information Section this month is all about Raisins and Currants. I hope you find the information interesting and helpful.
There is also a delicious "quick and easy" Guest Submitted recipe included below. In this edition the recipe is for Orange Blueberry Cupcakes, submitted by Angelia.
Enjoy the recipes!
Guest Submitted Recipe
Orange Blueberry Cupcakes
225g (8 oz.) cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
85g (3/4 stick/3 oz./6 tbsp.) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
180g (6 oz.) sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup (240ml/8 oz.) nonfat unsweetened yogurt (sour cream works well too)
Grated zest from 1 large orange
1/4 tsp. orange oil
100g (3 to 4 oz.) fresh blueberries, wash and pat dry
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F and grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.
2. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Cream the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add in beaten eggs slowly, about 1 tbsp. at a time, beating constantly for about 2 minutes.
4. On LOW speed, beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture until just combined. Beat in 1/2 of the yogurt. Then beat in 1/2 of the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining yogurt, orange oil and zest. Finally beat in the remaining flour mixture.
5. Fold in the blueberries.
6. Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups.
7. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes until skewer inserted comes out clean.
8. Cool in pan for 5 minutes. Unmold and cool completely on a wire rack.
Makes 12 cupcakes.
Note: This can also be baked in a 8 x 4 loaf tin for a quick bread.
Source: My own recipe
Submitted By: Angelia
Date: April 11, 2006
Click here to view recipe and photo of Orange Blueberry Cupcakes on Diana's Desserts Website
Cinco de Mayo
May 5, 2006
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the victory of the Mexicans over the French army in 1862 and not the country's independence, as most people believe.
The French won the larger war, but their defeat in this historic battle was a giant leap for Mexico.
In Mexico, the day is noted with special dishes and lavish meals.
Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the US are often much larger than those in Mexico, complete with parades, music, pinatas, and a huge feast.
There are no specific foods associated with Cinco de Mayo, but indulging in classic Mexican fare is part of the celebration.
Recipes for Cinco de Mayo
Making tamales takes time, but your family will appreciate your effort. The combination of cinnamon, raisins, vanilla and condensed milk create a wonderful variation of this traditional dish.
1 pkg. (8 oz.) dried corn husks
1 cup lard or shortening, divided
2 1/2 cups masa harina flour, (mexican corn masa mix)
1 1/2 cups yellow corn meal
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups water
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Sort through corn husks, setting aside any torn ones. Soak intact husks in warm water for at least 1 hour or until softened and easy to fold.
Beat 2/3 cup lard in large bowl until creamy. Combine flour, corn meal, sugar, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl. Alternately add flour mixture, water and sweetened condensed milk to lard, mixing well after each addition. Melt remaining lard; gradually stir into masa mixture, mixing until consistency of thick cake batter (masa). Stir in vanilla, raisins and nuts.
Spread 1/4 cup masa, using back of a spoon, to form a square in the center of one husk. Fold right then left edge of husk over masa. Fold up bottom edge. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
Place vegetable steamer in pot with lid; add water to just below steamer. Arrange tamales upright in steamer rack. Cover top of tamales with reserved dry husks and a damp towel; cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low. Steam, adding water as needed, for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until masa pulls away from husks.
Makes 24 sweet tamales.
Click here to view recipe and photo of Sweet Tamales on Diana's Desserts Website
Mexican Chocolate Layer Cake
Oddly enough, though, Mexican chocolate rarely, if ever, appears in desserts. But if you think about it, Mexican chocolate is a natural for the baker's pantry. Not only is it already sweetened, but it's also often made with vanilla, cinnamon or almonds.
The Mexican chocolate you're likely to find in supermarkets is formed into round tablets that have been scored so they can easily be broken into smaller pieces. Two of the most common brands are Ibarra and Abuelita; they're packaged in distinctive hexagonal boxes. Both work equally well in desserts; Abuelita has a stronger cinnamon flavor for when you want to play up the spice flavor.
Mexican chocolate's unique composition and texture mean you can't substitute it freely for other chocolate when baking. Because it's very sweet, the sugar in a recipe may have to be reduced. And unlike other chocolates, which are smooth and shiny, Mexican chocolate is dry and granular.
So if a cake recipe calls for regular baking chocolate, don't swap it out entirely for Mexican chocolate. You'll need to use a little regular chocolate to keep the cake moist.
This trick works well in this Mexican Chocolate Layer Cake, with that little bit of regular chocolate boosting the intensity of chocolate flavor. This velvety cake is frosted with a rich ganache frosting made mostly with Mexican chocolate too.
3 (3.1-ounce) disks Mexican chocolate* (see note below), finely chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks/6 oz./170g) butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, separated, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk, room temperature
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 (3.1-ounce) disks Mexican chocolate* (see note below), finely chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick/2 oz./28g) butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 tablespoon Kahlúa liqueur
For the Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degreesF/180 degrees C. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper, and butter the paper. Set aside.
2. Melt the Mexican chocolate and the unsweetened chocolate in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Remove from the heat and set aside.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until well combined and creamy. Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla. Stir in the melted chocolates. On low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, mixing just until all traces of flour are incorporated, ending with flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. In a separate bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until stiff. Stir one-third of the egg whites into the cake batter. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
4. Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans, gently smoothing the top. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the pans on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of each pan to loosen the cakes. Remove the cakes from the pans and the parchment paper from the cakes. Cool completely before frosting.
Makes 10-12 servings.
Mexican chocolate disks or tablets may be purchased online at Mexgrocer.com or at other gourmet stores on the internet. It may also be purchased at Amazon.com. Most Mexican grocery stores carry it. Mexgrocer.com carries both the Ibarra and Abuelita brands of Mexican chocolate.
For the Ganache:
1. Heat the cream in a small saucepan just until simmering.
2. Place the chopped Mexican chocolate and unsweetened chocolate in a bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let stand for a few minutes, then gently whisk until the chocolate has melted. Stir in the butter until melted, then add the corn syrup and Kahlúa. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes until stiff enough to spread. With a spatula, beat the ganache to make it smooth and spreadable.
3. Place one cake layer, bottom side up, on a serving platter. Frost the top with about one-third of the ganache, spreading it to the edges. Top with the second cake layer, again bottom side up. Spread the remaining ganache over the top and sides of the cake.
Makes 10-12 servings.
Click here to view recipe and photo of Mexican Chocolate Layer Cake on Diana's Desserts Website
Quick and Easy Bunuelos
Servings: 32 Bunuelos
A quick and easy way of preparing bunuelos; a favorite Mexican and Latin American treat. Bunuelos are traditionally served during the Christmas and New Years holidays but can also be made for Cinco de Mayo. Make these sweet and tasty treats when you are running short on time and need something special for a party or festive occasion.
Vegetable oil (as needed, for frying)
4 (10-inch) flour tortilla's
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1. Mix granualated sugar and cinnamon together well. Set aside.
2. Cut flour tortilla in 8 pieces, fry in hot oil until golden brown.
3. Place fried tortilla's on paper towels to drain.
4. Sprinkle with Sugar-Cinnamon mixture.
4. Serve with ice cream or choice of fruit.
Makes 32 Bunuelos.
Click here to view recipe and photo for Bunelos on Diana's Desserts Website
Tres Leches Cake
Servings: 9-12 servings
Charlotte, a guest to Diana's Desserts website, is from Costa Rica, Central America. She offers this recipe as being the "Original" Tres Leches that is made in her country. She also says, "The Tres Leches is very rich and delicious and improves with time...a few days after made, it is even better, and she goes on to say: "Never remove cake from baking dish. It is served right from the baking dish or pan". Charlotte also tells me that the Whipped Cream Topping is more popular in Costa Rica than the Meringue Topping. Recipes for both toppings are included below.
Tres Leches Cake is served at holiday celebrations such as Cinco de Mayo in Mexico, and at other special occasions in Mexico and Central America. It has becomes quite popular in the United States.
6 eggs, yolks and whites separated
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
4 tbsp. ice water
For The Tres Leches Syrup:
1 can sweetened condensed milk (see note)*
1 can evaporated milk (see note)*
2 cups (16 oz.) whole milk
1/4 cup rum (optional)
Whipped Cream or Meringue Topping (see recipes below)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C. Grease and lightly flour a 9 x13 inch rectangular baking dish (pyrex glass baking dish is good). Set aside.
Beat the 6 egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and self-raising flour, the 6 egg yolks and the ice water.
Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake in oven at 350 degrees F/180 degrees C for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. (Make the Tres Leches Syrup while cake is baking). Remove cake from oven and place cake (Do NOT remove cake from baking dish) on wire cooling rack.
To Make The Tres Leches Syrup:
In a large bowl combine the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the 2 cups whole milk. Mix well. Stir in a little rum if desired.
With a fork, toothpick or wooden skewer, poke holes all over top of cake and pour the Tres Leches syrup over the top of cake until completely absorbed.
Once cake has cooled sufficiently, refrigerate cake in baking dish for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight before frosting with whipped cream or meringue topping.
Makes 9-12 servings.
For Whipped Cream Topping:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Before making the Whipped Cream Topping, chill your beaters and bowl in freezer for 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure your heavy whipping cream is well chilled.
Pour "chilled" heavy whipping cream into mixing bowl, beat until soft peaks form; add the vanilla extract and beat until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat!
Spread whipped cream topping evenly over Tres Leches Cake and garnish cake with nuts, fruit or decoration of your choice.
Makes approximately 4 cups whipped cream topping.
For Meringue Topping
3 tablespoons water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large egg whites
1 - 2 tsp. lemon juice (optional)
Once the cake is completely chilled, in a saucepan combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 235-240 degrees F (112-115 degrees C) on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form; add lemon juice (optional). While beating, add the hot syrup in a stream. Beat until all the syrup has been added, the mixture cools, and a glossy icing forms.
Spread the Meringue Topping evenly across the top of chilled cake. Decorate with nuts, fresh fruit or decoration of your choice. If desired, garnish with mint sprigs or edible flowers.
Makes about 4 cups meringue topping.
*Notes From Diana's Desserts
Depending on what country you live in, Evaporated Milk and Sweetened Condensed Milk come in different size cans.
Charlotte suggests using 12 ounces of each of these milks plus 2 cups of whole milk for the Tres Leches Syrup. Here in the United States, Sweetened Condensed Milk comes in a 14 ounce can, and Evaporated Milk comes in a 12 ounce can. I used 1 can of each, and this worked well. It is a little more than what the recipe calls for, but that didn't seem to make much difference.
Source: Charlotte Leaver
Submitted By: Charlotte Leaver
Date: May 3, 2003
Click here to view recipe and photo of Tres Leches Cake on Diana's Desserts Website
Servings: Makes about 5 cups, 5-6 servings
Since lime is one of Mexico’s national flavors, it’s not surprising that a glass of cold sweet-sour limeade is one of the national drinks. Unlike the simple drink from the street vendors’ tables, the limonada of the coffee shops and restaurants is often mixed with sparkling mineral water, making it more refreshing yet.
We make limonada at home a lot because it nicely complements Mexican dishes–even some of the most refined ones, and it makes a very special nonalcoholic choice at any dinner party or festive celebration.
1/2 to 2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups freshly squeezed lime juice (roughly 8 to 10 limes)
1 quart sparkling water
Lime, lemon, or orange slices (or a combination of each)
Add the smaller amount of the sugar to the lime juice in a pitcher and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the sparkling water, stir and taste for sweetness; add more sugar if desired. Pour over ice and serve immediately. Garnish each serving with a mint sprig and lime, lemon or orange slices, if desired.
Makes about 5 cups, 5-6 servings.
Source: Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless
Click here to view recipe and photo of Limonada on Diana's Desserts Website
Mother's Day will be celebrated on Sunday May 14, 2006 (in the U.S.)
Celebrating Mother's Day
One of the best ways to celebrate Mother's Day is to give your mom the day off. Let her take it easy and relax while the rest of the family does the work.
Many families begin Mother's Day with breakfast in bed or prepare a special brunch for Mom. Usually Dad and the Kids will let mom sleep late as they go into the kitchen and prepare her favorite meal. A Mother's Day breakfast or brunch can consist of anything your mom likes.
After the food is cooked arrange everything nicely on a tray. Don't forget the vase with a single flower. With spring here, the children can pick a tulip or daffodil from the garden outside. When everything is ready carefully carry the tray and mom's favorite sections from the newspaper up to her bedroom. Cards and small presents from the children can be placed on the tray before it is presented to mom in bed.
Many Families make a special Mother's Day dinner or take mom out to her favorite restaurant for a meal. It is a good day to let your mom relax and let her see what a wonderful family she has.
Recipes for Mother's Day
Biscuits with Berries and Lemon Curd
A quick and easy dessert to make for brunch on Mother's Day. Use store-bought ready made lemon curd, and if trying to watch calories and fat, use non-dairy whipped topping such as Coolwhip instead of the whipped cream. A very attractive and healthy dish for a special occasion.
For the Biscuits:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk
2 tbsp. heavy cream
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
For the Toppings:
1 cup store-bought lemon curd* (see notes)
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 pint fresh raspberries
1 cup heavy whipping cream*(see notes)
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Position a rack in the center of an oven and preheat to 500 degrees F/260 degrees C.
In a large bowl, stir the flour, salt and baking powder together. Add the shortening and using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the shortening into the flour to form coarse crumbs. Using a fork, stir the milk into the flour mixture to gather together in large clumps. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and gather together into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and roll out to a 1/2-inch thick round. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut the dough into 8 to 10 circles. Transfer the circles to an ungreased cookie sheet. Gather the scraps into a ball, roll out to 1/2-inch thickness and cut out more circles as desired. Brush the biscuits with cream and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake until golden and flaky, 8 to 10 minutes.
Whipping the Cream:
Chill your beaters and mixing bowl in the refrigerator or freezer (for about 10 to 15 minutes) before whipping the cream; this will help in achieving a very nice whipped cream.
While biscuits are baking, make the whipped cream. In a mixing bowl, beat "chilled" heavy whipping cream with the 1 tbsp. sugar and the vanilla extract. Place whipped cream in refrigerator until you are ready to serve the biscuits.
Remove the biscuits from the oven place and cool on a rack for 5 minutes. Serve the biscuits, berries, lemon curd, and whipped cream separately and let you guests compile there own creations.
*Notes: Lemon curd can be purchased at most supermarkets. It is usually on the aisle where the jams and jellies are kept.
Also, frozen non-dairy whipped topping such as Coolwhip (thawed) may be substituted for the whipped cream topping.
Makes 8-10 biscuits.
Click here to view recipe and photo of Biscuits with Berries and Lemon Curd on Diana's Desserts Website
Strawberry Cream Torte
A beautiful and delicious strawberry layer cake filled with stawberries and cream. So lovely to serve this time of year when strawberries are at the peak of their season. This torte makes an impressive dessert for Mother's Day.
For the Cake:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
5 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
5 tbsp. boiling water
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Grated zest of 2 lemons
For the Strawberry Cream Filling:
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
4 to 6 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 cups crème fraiche
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Confectioners' sugar for dusting
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.
To Make the Cake:
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip together the egg yolks and sugar on high speed until thick; the mixture will still be grainy. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the boiling water. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Increase the speed to high and whip again until thick. Stir in the vanilla extract and lemon zest. Reduce the speed to low and stir in the flour mixture.
In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites on medium-low speed until frothy. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until thick and smooth; the mixture should not look dry. Fold half of the whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining whites.
Gently spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan and remove the ring. Invert the cake and remove the base of the pan. Carefully peel off the parchment. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let cool completely. Using a serrated knife, cut the cake horizontally into 3 layers.
To Make the Filling:
Place the 2 cups strawberries in a bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and 2 tbsp. of the granulated sugar. Taste for sweetness; depending on the berries’ ripeness, you may need to add an additional 1 to 2 tbsp. more sugar.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the crème fraiche, heavy cream, vanilla and the remaining 2 tbps. granulated sugar. Whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form and the cream holds its shape.
Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Arrange one-third of the strawberries and their juices over the cake. Spread one-third of the cream over the berries. Repeat the layering process with the remaining 2 cake layers, berries and cream, ending with a layer of cream.
Before serving, dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar and garnish with additional berries. Cut with a serrated knife.
Makes 8-10 servings.
Click here to view recipe and photo of Strawberry Cream Torte on Diana's Desserts Website
Chocolate Mousse Filled Tulip Cookies
Servings: Makes 24 cookies
If you're having a Mother's Day brunch or special dinner, these little chocolate mousse filled cookies are a perfect treat to serve. Only a few ingredients, and using wonton wrappers for the tulip cookie shells makes them a fun and easy little dessert to make. Kids will certainly enjoy helping you make these little gems.
24 wonton wrappers (usually found in the refrigerated section of the produce section of your supermarket)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
3 tablespoons sugar, divided
Easy Chocolate Mousse* (see recipe below)
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F/150 degrees C.
2. Place individual wonton wrappers on wax paper; brush one side with butter. Sprinkle each wrapper evenly with scant 1/2 teaspoonful sugar; press each wrapper, sugared side up, into ungreased small muffin cups (1-3/4 inches in diameter) to form flower shape.
3. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or just until crisp and golden brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Pipe or spoon Easy Chocolate Mousse into center of each "tulip" cup. Cover and refrigerate. Refrigerate any leftover cookies.
Easy Chocolate Mousse
Beat 1 cup (1/2 pt.) cold whipping cream, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa or Dutch processed cocoa and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in medium bowl until stiff. Use immediately.
Makes 2 dozen cookies.
Click here to view recipe and photo of Chocolate Mousse Filled Tulip Cookies on Diana's Desserts Website
Cream Cheese Creme Berry Parfaits
Deliciously rich, yet defiantly light, parfaits are perfect for serving Mom on Mother's Day.
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
7 oz. jar marshmallow creme
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup blueberries
Fresh mint sprigs (optional)
Orange slices (optional)
Mix cream cheese and marshmallow creme until well blended. Refrigerate. Layer fruit with cream cheese mixture in dessert dishes or wine glasses. Garnish with fresh mint leaves and orange slice.
Makes 4 servings.
Click here to view recipe and photo of Cream Cheese Creme Berry Parfaits on Diana's Desserts Website
As for Mother's Day, we celebrate the importance of our Father's in our lives each year. This special day is not just for Father's, but also uncles, son's and men in our lives that hold a special place in our hearts.
Father's Day is celebrated on Sunday June 18th this year.
Recipes for Father's Day
Mississippi Mud Pie
If your Dad (or other special man in your life) loves chocolate, then this is the dessert to make for him this Father's Day. A chocoholic's dream!!
1 Chocolate Cookie Crumb Crust (see below)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick/2 oz./56g) unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup toffee bits or coarsely chopped toasted almonds *(See Note)
1 quart premium coffee ice cream, softened
Chocolate Cookie Crumb Crust
1 1/4 cups chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
Instructions for Making the Crust:
Position a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat to 350 degrees F/180 degrees C.
In a bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, butter and sugar and stir until the crumbs are well moistened. Pat the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom and all the way up the sides of a 9-inch (23cm) pie pan or dish.
Bake until the crust is firm, about 5 minutes. For a firmer, crunchier crust, bake for 5 minutes more. Remove from oven, and let cool.
Instructions for Making the Pie:
In the top pan of a double boiler, combine the chocolate chips, butter, cream and corn syrup. Set over but not touching barely simmering water in the bottom pan until the chocolate is melted, stirring occasionally. Alternatively, in a microwave-proof bowl, combine the chocolate, butter, cream and corn syrup and melt in the microwave for 30-second intervals. Remove from the microwave and stir until smooth.
Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla to the chocolate mixture and mix well. Reserve 1/2 cup of the chocolate mixture for the top of the pie. Spread the remaining mixture evenly in the bottom of the cookie crust. Sprinkle with half of the toffee bits. Refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the ice cream on medium speed until it is spreadable but not runny. Immediately mound into the pie shell and spread evenly. Freeze until the ice cream is firm, at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
Reheat the reserved chocolate mixture in the top of the double boiler over barely simmering water, or in the microwave for 30-second intervals, until it is spreadable but not hot. Using a spatula, spread it over the ice cream. Sprinkle with the remaining toffee bits and return the pie to the freezer until it is completely firm before serving, 3 to 4 hours.
To slice, run a knife under hot water, then dry it off. If frozen overnight, the pie may need to stand at room temperature for a few minutes before it is soft enough to slice easily.
Makes 8 servings.
*Note: You can find packaged toffee bits in the baking section of well-stocked markets, or chop up a toffee candy bar. The toffee bits make this pie a special treat. For a more sophisticated version, use toasted almonds.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Pie & Tart, by Carolyn Beth Weil (Simon & Schuster, 2003).
Click here to view recipe and photo of Mississippi Mud Pie on Diana's Desserts Website
45-Minute Cinnamon Buns
Servings: Makes 4 buns, 2 servings
Traditional cinnamon buns are made with yeast, but these biscuit-dough buns are faster to make and just as delicious.
Dad will really appreciate you making these tasty buns for him for breakfast or brunch on Father's Day.
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
3 1/2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon water
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C.
In a small bowl stir together 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and cinnamon. In a large bowl sift together flour, remaining tablespoon granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut butter into small pieces and with your fingertips or with a pastry blender blend into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. In another small bowl whisk together egg and 3 tablespoons milk and add to flour mixture, stirring until just combined.
Transfer mixture to a lightly floured surface and gently knead, 3 or 4 times, until it forms a dough. Pat dough into a 10 x 6-inch rectangle. Brush dough with some remaining milk and sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar, chopped walnuts and raisins, if using. Beginning with a short side, roll up rectangle to form a 6-inch log and cut crosswise into 4 pieces. Arrange pieces on a baking sheet, cut sides up, with seams touching. Bake buns in middle of oven until pale golden and cooked through, about 18 minutes.
In another small bowl stir together confectioners' sugar and water until smooth and drizzle over warm buns.
Makes 4 buns, 2 servings.
Click here to view recipe and photo of 45-Minute Cinnamon Buns on Diana's Desserts Website
Bananas Foster in a Goblet
What is Bananas Foster?
Created at New Orleans's Brennan's Restaurant in the 1950s, this dessert consists of lengthwise-sliced bananas quickly sautéed in a mixture of rum, brown sugar and banana liqueur and served with vanilla ice cream. It was named for Richard Foster, a regular Brennan's customer.
There's a little bit of a different take on the famous New Orleans dessert in this version, using frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, adding pineapple chunks, and serving it in a goblet instead of a dish. Any Dad will love this special dessert made especially for him.
2 medium bananas, firm but ripe
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons margarine
1 (8-ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice, drained
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup white rum
2 cups vanilla frozen yogurt
Peel bananas and cut each banana in half lengthwise. Cut each half into four pieces.
Place brown sugar and margarine in a large skillet, and cook over medium heat until margarine melts, stirring constantly. Add banana, pineapple chunks, and cinnamon; cook just until banana is tender, stirring and basting frequently with cooking liquid.
Place rum in a small saucepan, and cook until warm. Ignite rum with a long match, and pour over banana mixture. Stir banana mixture gently until flame dies down.
Spoon yogurt into attractive dessert or wine goblets, and top with banana mixture. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
Click here to view recipe and photo of Bananas Foster in a Goblet on Diana's Desserts Website
Food Tips and Information Section
Raisins and Currants
Like other dried fruit, raisins are a concentrated source of calories, sugar, and nutrients. They supply a healthy amount of dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble), as well as some iron, potassium, and B vitamins. The same can be said of currants, which are actually very small raisins made from the Black Corinth grape (sold fresh as "Champagne grapes"). The name currant (not to be confused with the fresh berries of the same name) is probably a corruption of the word Corinth.
The first raisins were undoubtedly grapes that had dried naturally on the vine, but more than 3,000 years ago people were picking grapes and laying them in the sun to dry--a process that has remained virtually unchanged. (Today, most raisins are still sun-dried, though some are dried in ovens.) Raisins were a precious trade item in the ancient Near East and also highly valued in ancient Rome (where two jars of raisins could be exchanged for a slave). Spanish missionaries brought them to Mexico and California in the eighteenth century, and nearly all the commercially grown raisins in the United States (and about one-half of the total world supply) now come from the San Joaquin valley of California, where the raisin industry began booming in the 1870s after a heat wave dried the grape crop on the vine.
Nearly all U.S. raisins are made from four different grapes: Thompson Seedless (which are also the most popular green grapes for fresh consumption), Muscat, Sultana, and Black Corinth. The grapes are dried into the following types of raisins:
Made from small Black Corinth grapes, currants are seedless and very dark in color. About one-fourth the size of other raisins, currants are sometimes labeled "Zante Currants," referring to the Greek island where the Corinth first grew.
Like natural seedless raisins (see below), these are also Thompson Seedless grapes, but are oven-dried to avoid the darkening effect of sunlight. They are also treated with sulfur dioxide to preserve the light color.
These large, dark, seedless raisins come from the grapes of the same name. They're produced in limited quantities and are usually available at health-food stores.
Large, brown, and particularly fruity-tasting, these raisins are made from big, greenish-gold Muscat grapes. Muscats are considered a specialty item and are mostly used in baking.
Dark Raisins ("natural seedless"):
These sun-dried Thompson Seedless grapes constitute 95% of the Californian raisin crop. The green grapes naturally develop a dark brown color as they dry in the sun, a process that takes from two to three weeks.
The large, yellow-green grapes that are dried into these raisins are particularly flavorful and soft. Sultanas are more popular in Europe than in the U.S.; however, they are available in many gourmet and health-food stores.
Raisins are available year round. Muscat raisins, preferred for holiday baking, are usually sold in the autumn and winter months. Currants are usually available in very large supermarkets or gourmet stores as are clusters of raisins still attached to the stems.
When buying packaged raisins, check that the box or bag is tightly sealed. Squeeze and shake the package to see if the fruit is soft; if the raisins rattle inside, they are dried out. When buying raisins in bulk at a gourmet shop or health-food store, choose moist-looking, clean fruit.
Unopened packages of raisins will keep almost indefinitely in the refrigerator. Once opened, reseal the package, excluding as much air as possible, or transfer the raisins to an airtight jar or bag. Proper storage will deter the fruit from drying out and will prevent the sugar from crystallizing on the surface. If refrigerated, the raisins will keep for up to a year; they will stay even longer in the freezer and they will thaw quickly at room temperature.
If they have been correctly stored and are not dried out, raisins require no special preparation. However, you may wish to soften them by one of the following methods: To plump raisins for baking, cover them with hot liquid and let stand for five minutes. Or, let soak overnight in the refrigerator. To conserve nutrients and flavor, use the least amount of liquid possible and then include it in your recipe.
If raisins have dried out through improper storage, steam them over boiling water for five minutes. Or, sprinkle them with liquid, cover, and microwave for one minute, then let stand, covered, for one minute longer. Raisins that are stuck together in a hard clump will loosen up and separate if they are heated in a 300°F oven for a few minutes.
When chopping raisins with a knife or chopper, grease the blade lightly with vegetable oil to prevent the fruit from sticking to it. When baking with raisins, dredge them lightly in flour before adding them to the batter or dough to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the pan. Or, mix half the fruit into the batter and sprinkle the rest on top once the mixture is poured into the baking pan.
Raisins (Dark & Golden) 1/4 cup packed
Total fat (g): 0.2
Saturated fat (g): 0.1
Monounsaturated fat (g): 0
Polyunsaturated fat (g): 0.1
Dietary fiber (g): 1.7
Protein (g): 1.3
Carbohydrate (g): 33
Cholesterol (mg): 0
Sodium (mg): 5
Source: WholeHealthMD.com: http://www.wholehealthmd.com/refshelf/foods_view/1,1523,67,00.html
Recipe with Raisins
Servings: Makes 16 cookies
Here's a quick and easy Peanut-Raisin cookie recipe to make as an afternoon snack, or serve them after dinner with a big glass of cold milk. Kid's really go for these chewy and crunchy goodies.
7 tbsp. (3/4 stick/3 1/2 oz/100g) butter, softened
1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup raisins
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/180 C.
2. Cream butter, peanut butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
3. Sift together the flour and baking soda.
4. Mix in sifted dry ingredients to butter mixture to form a dough. Add raisins and mix well.
5. Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls and place on cookie sheet; flatten balls with fingers.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes in preheated 350 degree F/180 C oven.
7. Leave cookies to cool on cookie sheet.
Makes 16 cookies.
Click here to view recipe and photo of Peanut-Raisin Cookies on Diana's Desserts Website
Until Next Time
Well, that's it for this edition of Diana's Desserts Newsletter. I really enjoy getting recipes together for you to try for everyday or for special festive holidays. Please let me know if you like the recipes and if you've made any of them.
I won't be back with another newsletter until July or August as I will be taking a break for a couple of months, so enjoy the springtime and I will be writing to you again during the summer. I hope to have some nice "cool and refreshing" recipes for you to try for the warmer months.
If you'd like to submit one of your favorite dessert, bread or beverage recipes to Diana's Desserts Website, click on the link below:
Submit a Recipe
Have a fun Cinco de Mayo, a Happy Mother's Day (and Father's Day in June) and for those of you in the United States, enjoy your Memorial Day weekend at the end of this month.
Also, don't forget to take a trip to your local farmer's market for the season's best fresh fruit and vegetables.