Tag Archives: Dessert

Sweet deceit

Aren’t these cute?

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I call this creation “Chocolate-Almond Tartlets with a raspberry drizzle”. They have a graham cracker crust, a creamy, dreamy filling, and, oh yeah, they’re CHOCK-A-BLOCK FULL OF TOFU.

Occasionally, I will eat something that contains tofu at a family dinner extravaganza. When this happens, certain family members have a tendency to look at me like I’m asking them to move to my nature commune, take macrame classes, and join my Peter, Paul, and Mary cover band. In an effort to improve tofu’s reputation around here, I made these charming little desserts for our most recent dinner together, and made some intentional misrepresentations about the main ingredient. (Actually, there were no affirmative misrepresentations. More like omissions.) Everybody ate their serving with a smile (except Baby Neph, who chose to just smear some on his face), and nobody suspected I was poisoning them with “health food”. SO THERE. Tofu and I demand more respect from here on out.

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The crust is easy as can be–just put your graham crackers into a Ziploc bag and smash ’em with a rolling pin. (Alternatively, use a food processor. More efficient, but not as much fun.) Then mix with the other ingredients until the crumbs are all moistened, press into the tartlet pans, and send them on a short visit to the oven.

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The filling comes together in a snap as well, with just a few ingredients and a little help from a food processor. The raspberry drizzle was an afterthought, but I would highly recommend it. The tartness of the berries tastes great with the sweet filling, and (more importantly, in my opinion) it looks gorgeous.

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Note: I have six tartlet pans, so that’s how many I made. Unless you fill the shells to overflowing, you will have a little bit of leftover chocolate filling. I trust that you will find something to do with it–you’re all smart people. Have a faaaaaaantastic week!

Chocolate-Almond Tartlets (makes 6 4-inch tartlets)

Graham cracker crust:

  • 1.75 c. graham cracker crumbs (I got this much from 11 crushed graham crackers)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp melted margarine or butter

Filling:

  • 1 12-oz package of firm silken tofu, drained of any excess water in the package
  • 1 1/2 tbsp almond butter
  • 2/3 c. chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Optional raspberry drizzle:

  • 1/2 c. raspberries, pureed and strained to remove the seeds
  • 1/2 tsp sugar

To make the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted margarine or butter until the crumbs are all moistened. Press the mixture into 6 tartlet pans. (I find it helpful to use the bottom of a small juice glass or measuring cup to make neat edges.) Bake the crusts at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Let them cool, and then carefully remove from the pans. For the filling, melt the chocolate chips and almond butter, either in the microwave or over a double-boiler. (I prefer the double boiler because I have ruined chocolate in the microwave before, and ruining chocolate is always a devastating experience for me.) Combine the melted chocolate and almond butter with the silken tofu and the vanilla extract in a food processor until completely pureed and uniform in color.

Chill the filling for at least 2 hours, and assemble the tartlets just before serving. Fill each graham cracker crust, and, if you like, garnish with a drizzle of pureed raspberries, whole raspberries, chocolate chips, or sliced almonds.

Cookie platter masterpiece

About two years ago, my mom and I went to Sweden to visit one of her oldest friends, Katie. (See this post for more on the trip/fun with yeast bread.) Katie and her husband were wonderful hosts and tour guides, AND…..she gave me a cookbook.

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This cookbook, as I understand it, is a Big Deal in Swedish kitchens–it was first published in 1945 and there have been several editions since then. When she gave it to me, Katie told me that traditionally, Swedish ladies would invite their friends over for coffee and serve dainty sweets from the book. And, if you were really an A+ lady known for throwing kick-ass parties, you would make seven different kinds. The foreword to the book confirms this, but then backs off a bit in the last sentence shown below:

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“But in today’s world, there is seldom time for more than one or two kinds”?! Is that a challenge, Lady Who Wrote This Cookbook Foreword? Because if it is, I ACCEPT. I will make seven different kinds of cookies, because that’s what you need to be an A+ lady known for throwing kick-ass parties, and that’s pretty much what I’ve always wanted to be when I grow up. Plus, I’m currently unemployed, so what the hell, right?

I decided to attempt this feat when I was put in charge of dessert for a luncheon at my dad’s office this week. It began, like all of my grand schemes, with a list on a yellow legal pad.

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(Just so you know, around these parts we call lemon bars “lemon love notes.” It sounds much lovelier, so I suggest you do the same. I’m hoping it’ll catch on.)

I whisked, zested, rolled, and sprinkled, and ended up with this:

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The roster: 1) thumbprints with raspberry jam, 2) lime-scented macaroons, 3) chocolate slices with ganache and pearl sugar, 4) chocolate cut-outs with raspberry flowers, 5) lemon love notes, 6) peanut butter chocolate chip mini muffins, and 7) chocolate cigars.

This was not quite as insane as it looks, because I made really small batches of everything, and the thumbprints and mini muffins were made from essentially the same dough, as were the chocolate slices and chocolate cut-outs. Also, it was totally worth it, because when I put everything on the platter and stepped back to admire my handiwork, my heart swelled with joy, similar to the joy I expect to feel someday at the birth of my first child. (OK, I am prone to exaggeration. But I was pretty delighted.)

I’m going to type out the recipe for the chocolate cigars, because they’re my fave. They’re kind of like sandies, if you’re familiar with those, but better because they’re half-dipped in chocolate. They’re also vegan if you use Earth Balance instead of butter, which I did, with no adverse effects on the finished product.  Make these, make six more things, and then take your ladies luncheon on the road, because you’re gonna be a star 🙂

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Chocolate Cigars (straight from “Swedish Cakes and Cookies” or “Sju Sorters Kakor” for you Swedish-speakers)

  • 3/4 c. stick margarine or butter, softened (I used Earth Balance)
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1 c. ground walnuts (I pulsed mine in the food processor)
  • 1 1/4 c. flour
  • 2 tbsp milk or light cream (almond milk here)
  • For dipping: 2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (I melted about 1/2 c. chocolate chips in a double boiler, with one teaspoon coconut oil for shine, and a couple tablespoons of almond milk to thin it out.)

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the nuts and flour, then the milk. (I chilled the dough at this point. The cookbook doesn’t say to do this, but I think it’ll make what comes next easier.) Roll into small finger-thick ropes and cut into 5 cm (2 inch) pieces. Place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake on the center oven rack for around 12 minutes at 350 degrees. When the cookies have cooled, melt the chocolate and dip one end of each cookie.

Just stopping by (with bars)

Thank you all for your kind support of my foray into vlogging and the blog birthday wishes! You’re all just swell 🙂

So, usually when I share a recipe, I attempt to also include some whimsical/marginally amusing little story. Or a theme. Or pictures of Baby Neph. Today, however, I don’t have much to say. Some people came over for dinner (my Grandpa Norm and his wonderful lady friend Sandy, if you care to know), on their way to an event (the Indianola Hot Air Balloon Classic, if you care to know), and I made peach and blueberry bars. They were delightful. So here’s the recipe, and I bid you adieu!

(Don’t get mad at me for this lazy post. I’m working very hard on dainty cookies for a ladies luncheon. Details coming your way, all in good time.)

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Peach Blueberry Bars

Bottom crust and crumble top:

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 c. oatmeal
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 12 tbsp (1.5 sticks) cold butter
  • 1 beaten egg

Filling:

  • 4 c. diced peaches
  • 1 c. blueberries
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Peel the peaches if you prefer (this will be easier if you cut a shallow “X” on the bottom of each one, drop them into boiling water for a few seconds, and then drop them in cold water), and dice them. Mix the peaches with the rest of the filling ingredients. (Note: if your peaches seem really juicy, you might add a little extra flour for extra thickening power.) Mix the crumble ingredients in a large bowl, using a pastry blender or a fork, until the butter is in very small pieces. Press about two-thirds of the crumble mixture into the bottom of a greased 9×13 pan. Spread the fruit filling over the crust, and then sprinkle the remaining crumble on top. Bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes.

The blog turns 1! With awkward video!

If you woke up this morning, felt something special in the air, and couldn’t quite put your finger on it, look no further. SSATT is having its very first birthday! (Or anniversary? I can’t decide which one sounds more appropriate.) It has been quite the year since my first post…..highlights include:

I asked the blog what she wanted for her birthday, and she said “KitchenAid stand mixer, DUH.” Well, sorry, sassy-pants, but we don’t have the funds for that, so we’re going to celebrate with something a little different. Today, I present the very first She Sings at the Table video segment, in which I make carrot cake cookies. And, can I just say–cooking on video is hard! I tried not to be too terribly awkward, but getting good at this would definitely take lots of practice…

Thank you all for reading! I truly have tons of fun cooking and writing for this blog, and it means a lot that a few people actually read it. Here’s hoping year #2 will bring gainful employment, grand times with wonderful people, and more delicious food.

Carrot Cake Cookies (makes 20-24)

  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (I forgot this in the video. If this were “The Next Food Network Star”, they would kick me off, and while packing up my measuring spoons I would say something dramatic through my tears, like “You haven’t heard the last of me, Food Network! You’ll see!”)
  • 1 1/2 c. rolled oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp dry ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax mixed with 3 tbsp water)
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. melted coconut oil (could also use canola or vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 c. drained crushed pineapple
  • 1/2 c. almond milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. golden raisins (or regular raisins, whatever floats your boat)
  • 1 c. grated carrots
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Combine the ground flax and water to make the flax egg, and set it aside so it can thicken. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, oats, and spices. In another bowl, mix the flax egg, brown sugar, coconut oil, pineapple, almond milk, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until just combined. Fold in the raisins, carrots, and walnuts. Drop spoonfuls of the dough onto a greased cookie sheet, and bake at 375 for 12-14 minutes.

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Lawyers, Plums, and Honey

THE BAR EXAM IS OVER! THE BAR EXAM IS OVER! (UNLESS I DIDN’T PASS BUT WE WON’T THINK ABOUT THAT RIGHT NOW.)

Sorry, I’ve been doing a lot of practice questions recently, and I found that when I would read these questions my brain liked to speak in all caps. (For example, “YOU ARE ESTOPPED FROM MAKING THAT CLAIM, JERKFACE” or “HEY DETECTIVE STABLER, THAT’S A @#$%^&* CUSTODIAL INTERROGATION, ARE THERE SOME WARNINGS YOU’D LIKE TO GIVE FIRST?”) It might take me awhile to return to normal. You know, as normal as I ever was.

In anticipation of my triumphant return to this cozy little virtual kitchen, I conjured up a cake recipe one night shortly before the exam when I probably should have been studying. It’s an upside-down cake (to match my priorities). I love upside-down cakes because there’s a big “ta-DAH!” at the end when you turn them out of the pan. And couldn’t life always use a little bit more “ta-DAH”?

This cake would be vegan but for the honey, because I guess honey isn’t vegan, right? You could always replace the honey with sugar, maple syrup, agave, or some combination. I’ve just been wanting some honey-flavored cake ever since I saw a commercial for that new Winnie the Pooh movie. I took the recipe for the bottom part pretty much verbatim from Eat, Drink, and be Vegan, which is magnificent, FYI. There is a whole hummus chapter. A whole chapter!

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(File photo. I like to pose with all my favorite cookbooks.)

Here’s the bottom, soon to be the top:

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I greased the pan, traced and cut a circle of parchment paper to line it, and greased the paper for easy removal and minimal fruit-stickage. Once the plums, sugar, and almonds are in place, mix up your batter, pour it carefully over the fruit so as to not disturb your pretty arrangement, and get that business in the oven!

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When you’re ready to turn it out, get some heavy-duty oven mitts and a pretty plate. Put the plate on top of the pan, flip, and carefully peel off the parchment paper.

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Lovely! AAAAAAAHHHH THIS IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN STUDYING. The recipe is below. Have a glorious weekend…..and congrats to all of you that just survived the bar (and those of you in other states that are aaaaaalmost done)!

Plum Upside-Down Cake (serves about eight)

  • 2 plums, sliced into wedges (I would err on the side of under-ripe, since you’ll be baking them)
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar (or a little less)
  • 1/4 c. slivered almonds
  • 1 c. flour (I used all-purpose, but I bet you could use whole wheat pastry flour for a more wholesome, breakfast-y result)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c. almond milk
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan, line it with parchment paper, and grease the paper as well. (Better safe than sorry, I say.) Arrange the plum slices in the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle with the almonds and brown sugar. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a larger bowl, whisk together the almond milk, honey, vanilla, oil, and lemon juice. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and whisk until smooth. Pour the cake batter on top of the plums, and tilt the pan a little bit to distribute evenly. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes (mine got a little toasty-looking on top so I draped a piece of foil over it for the last 10 or so). Let the cake cool for 5-10 minutes, run a knife around the edges to loosen it, turn it out onto a plate, and peel off the parchment paper. Mine was still a little gooey in the middle, but in a good sort of way.

Things that are crunchy

….because it’s crrrrrrrrunchtime. Welcome to my super-secret bar exam study bunker–I’m very excited to see you.

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This is the boardroom at my dad’s office, and I’m just going to move in until the exam (which is July 26 and 27, in case you’d like to mark that down on your calendar and say a quick prayer to your higher power of choice on my behalf). I think I might spruce up the window treatments, feng shui the furniture, build a pillow fort under the table for naps, etc.

I’ve been relying on chips and rice crispie bars for learning fuel. BUT WAIT! Not just ANY chips and rice crispie bars! First, when I’m in the mood for salty, I’ve been heavily into kale chips.

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Kale chips are the third best thing I have discovered since I started reading healthy food blogs (the best is green smoothies and the second is banana soft serve, in case you were wondering). I don’t have a real recipe for them–I just spread out a layer of kale on a sheet pan, drizzle it with a little sauce of some sort or a smidge of olive oil and seasonings, zhooge it around with my hands (I’m not sure how to properly spell the word I mean to use there), and bake for about 20 minutes at 375. Type “kale chips” into the google for many, many pages that will have far more detailed and helpful instructions. My point here is only that it’s much better to realize you just stress-ate your way through a giant pile of crispy kale than it is to realize you just stress-ate your way through a pile of deep-fat fried white potatoes.

And now–an easy breezy recipe for some rice crispie bars that are slightly more grown-up than the ones from the recipe on the side of the cereal box. You know it has to be easy, because my brain can’t handle anything with a lot of steps these days. Just put your dry stuff in a bowl. Heat up the other stuff in a saucepan until melted and pour it on the dry stuff. Stir, mush into a pan, let it set up for awhile, eat.

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Bar Exam Crispie Bars (makes about 12)

  • 2 c. crispy rice cereal
  • 1 c. oats
  • 1/4 c. shredded coconut
  • 3/4 c. chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c. brown rice syrup
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance or butter

Grease an 8×8 square pan or line it with parchment paper. Mix the cereal, oats, coconut, and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Heat the peanut butter, brown rice syrup, and Earth Balance in a small sauce pan over medium low heat just until everything is melted and combined. Pour over the cereal mixture and stir until everything is coated. Press into the 8×8 pan.

And now, dear friends, I must leave you until this test is over. But come back in August–it’ll be exciting, I promise! The blog will have its first birthday, and I won’t have to study anymoooooore! (We hope.)

Freedom and sprinkles

‘Tis the season to make a dessert that celebrates America in all its glory. The obvious choice here would be apple pie, but I’m going to be honest with you: I don’t really like pie, and out of all the pies in the world, I probably like apple pie the least. Sure, sometimes I’ll make a pie because I like making lattice crust, and I’m not saying I wouldn’t eat a piece of pie if somebody gave it to me–it’s just not my favorite genre of dessert. I know it has a certain folksy charm, but that’s also what people said about John Edwards, and the bloom is off that rose nowadays, am I right?

Perhaps now you’re thinking: “This girl hates apple pie–does she hate baseball too? And that song by Lee Greenwood? WHERE IS HER LONG-FORM BIRTH CERTIFICATE?” (Answers: “No,” “Yes, kind of” and “I will not dignify that with a response.”) Well, you can just calm down. I’ve got patriotic desserts under control. For example, here is last year’s Fourth of July creation:

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(Apologies to 9 of the 13 original colonies, but you try making 13 strawberry stripes in a standard-sized cake pan.) Also, one of our prized family possessions is a Jello mold in the shape of the continental United States. Behold:

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Every time we get this turned out without Florida or New England detaching I am amazed all over again.

This year, I went with star-spangled cupcakes for the family barbecue. I wanted to make red velvet, but I tried getting the red color with pureed beets (inspired by this recipe from Peas and Thank You) and they didn’t really turn out red. There’s cocoa powder in them as well, but they’re not particularly chocolate-y because it’s only a quarter-cup. So, I guess these cupcakes do not have a true flavor identity. They could be many things to many people–I’m going to call them tasty little tributes to cultural pluralism, topped with cream cheese frosting.

First, I pureed a pack of pre-cooked beets from Trader Joe’s. Don’t be scared! I know it sounds weird, but beets are actually kind of sweet. They work really well in this recipe and there’s no vegetable-y flavor at all. I wouldn’t lie about cupcakes!

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Then I whipped up the batter, spooned it into the cupcake liners, and baked. (This is actually my Grandma Pearl’s banana bread recipe with beets instead of mashed bananas. It is not healthy in any way, so if you came to this site from the Healthy Living Blogs database, I am sorry and I urge you to stop back next week instead :))

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Then, the best part: decor! Frosting, sprinkles and a tiny flag stuck in each one, Neil Armstrong style. One small step for me, one giant leap for cupcakery.

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I think Lee Greenwood would be proud. The recipe is below. Happy Fourth to you and yours!

Secret Beet Cupcakes (makes 16-18)

  • 1/2 c. butter (1 stick) at room temperature
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 c. cocoa powder
  • 1 8-oz. package of pre-cooked beets (or, if you cook your own, 5 small or about 3 medium), pureed with a few tablespoons of water

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Incorporate the eggs. Add the dry ingredients and mix until well-combined, and then fold in the pureed beets. Spoon into cupcake liners and bake at 350 for about 18 minutes.

I topped them with cream cheese frosting–mix 8 oz. cream cheese and one stick of butter (both at room temperature) with 1 tsp. vanilla extract and 1 c. confectioners sugar.