Tropical Banana Bread

3 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup coconut sugar (white sugar will be fine if you can't find coconut sugar)
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup canned coconut milk or 1/4 cup yogurt
14 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts; toasted
3/4 cup coconut (unsweetened would make this a bit healthier)

In a large mixing bowl beat bananas and sugar until combined. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated.  Mix in vanilla.  In a medium bowl combine the dry ingredients and stir to combine.  Add half of the dry ingredients and the coconut milk (or yogurt) and mix until just incorporated.  Add remaining dry ingredients and the pineapple juice and mix until just combined.  Fold in macadamia nuts and 1/2 cup of coconut.  Pour into a greased loaf pan.  Sprinkle with remaining coconut.  Bake on center rack of oven preheated to 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool for 10-15 minutes and turn out onto a serving plater.  Cool until room temperature. Slice and serve.

Goat Cheese Frosting

8 oz semi soft goat cheese at room temperature
5 oz goat cheese spread
8 TBSP unsalted butter at room temperature
zest of one lemon
2 lb powdered sugar

Cream cheeses, butter, and zest in a large mixing bowl.  Carefully add powdered sugar a cup at a time and continue mixing until incorporated and to the spreading consistency you desire for frosting.

This makes more than enough frosting to frost two or three layered cake.

Brown Sugar Pecan Coffee Cake with Maple Glaze

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar
5 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup goat's milk/or whatever milk your family drinks
1 cup chopped pecans

Maple Glaze
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 cups powdered sugar 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour a 12 cup capacity Bundt pan.  Beat butter in a large bowl until creamy.  Add sugar and beat until fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated, scraping down the bowl with each addition. Add vanilla and mix in.  In a medium bowl stir together dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients in thirds alternating with the milk, mixing between each addition.  Spoon into prepared pan.  Bake for 60 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes clean.  This is variation is no where near as gooey as the original, but it was still plenty moist.  Cool for 15-20 minutes in the pan.  While cake cools mix the glaze ingredients together in a medium bowl, adding powdered sugar until a thick drizzling consistency is reached. Set aside as cake continues to cool.  Turn cake onto a serving plate. Cool until just warm, about another 30 minutes, and drizzle with the maple glaze.  This cake is best served warm or at room temperature.

Dairy-free Chocolate Cream Pie

This recipe is adapted from Cooks Illustrated Magazine

Chocolate Cream Pie with Coconut Milk

16 cream filled sandwich cookies broken into pieces
2 Tbsp melted unsalted butter

2 cups canned coconut milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
6 large egg yolks at room temperature
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter cut into 1 inch pieces
7 ounces Ghiradelli 60% cocoa dark chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

For the crust: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Process cookies in a food processor until fine crumbs. Pulse melted butter into crumbs several times until combined. Pour into a pie plate and press into plate evenly along the bottom and up the sides to form the pie shell. Refrigerate 20 minutes to firm. Bake 10 minutes and then cool on rack.

For the filling: bring coconut milk and about half the sugar to a simmer in a sauce pan, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Stir together the remaining sugar and the cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk the egg whites thoroughly in a medium bowl until slightly thickened. Sprinkle cornstarch/sugar mixture over yolks and whisk until mixture is glossy and the sugar has dissolved. Drizzle 1/2 cup of simmered coconut milk over the yolks, whisking constantly to temper, then whisk yolk mixture into remaining coconut milk in sauce pan. Return to a simmer, whisking constantly until mixture is thickened and glossy. (Mixture should appear custard like). Off heat whisk in butter chunks until incorporated; add chocolate and whisk until melted. Whisk in vanilla. Pour into cooled crust. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of. The filling and refrigerate about 3 hours.

For those without dairy issues, top pie with freshly whipped and sweetened heavy cream.

*you may need to pour pie filling through a fine mesh strainer before pouring into the crust if you see any lumps or curdled egg in the custard. I've never had that issue with this recipe but it's nice to know, just in case.

Scandinavian Delights

2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup melted and cooled butter
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup flour

In a mixing bowl beat the sugar and melted butter on medium for 15 minutes.  Add the egg yolk and beat for an additional 5 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla, almond extract, and salt.  Gently fold in the flour.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment and bake in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Rice Fritters for Solemnity of Saint Joseph
2 1/4 cups milk (I subbed So Delicious Coconut milk)
1 cup raw rice
pinch of alt
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs; beaten
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
zest of one lemon
zest of one orange
1 quart Oil for deep frying
Granulated sugar

Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add the rice, salt, vanilla, and sugar.  Cover and bring to a gentle simmer.  Cook until rice is cooked and the milk is absorbed(I checked after about 20 minutes and then gave it about 5 more minutes to finish).  Cool the rice mixture for at least several hours.

Mix the rice thoroughly with the eggs, flour, baking powder, and zest.  Heat oil in a large heavy pot for deep frying to 375 degrees. Using a tablespoon or a small cookie disher (they work great for this application), drop mixture into oil several at a time and fry until golden brown.  Remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain and then roll in sugar (I added more zest to the granulated sugar and that was quite lovely too).  Serve immediately.  Makes 25 tablespoon servings or about 36 small disher servings.

Orange Spice Pumpkin Cake
*note: I make this the night before and serve it for breakfast. It's absolutely wonderful with a cup of coffee!

4 whole eggs
3 cups sugar
1 cup melted and cooled butter
1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree (canned pumpkin works great or you can bake pie pumpkins and make your own puree--even better!)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger root
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3 1/3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2/3 cup orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray.

Beat eggs and sugar. Add melted butter and pumpkin. Mix until smooth. Add cinnamon. nutmeg, vanilla, ginger, and orange zest. Mix well.

In a medium bowl stir together flour, salt, and baking soda. Add 1/3 of dry ingredients to pumpkin mix and stir until just combined. Add 1/2 orange juice and stir until just combined. Repeat with another 1/3 of dry ingredients and the rest of the orange juice. Add last 1/3 of dry ingredients and stir one last time until just combined. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan.

Bake for 60 minutes or until an inserted toothpick or skewer comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then turn out onto serving platter. Cool completely and serve or cool overnight and serve for breakfast.

Chocolate Cherry Ice Cream

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
8 ounces frozen dark cherries
1/4 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup whole milk
1 1/3 cup heavy cream

In a blender or food processor blend cherries, sugars, cocoa powder, whole milk and vanilla on high speed until completely smooth. Pour into a bowl and stir in heavy cream. Add to ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturers instructions.

Cranberry Crisp

2 bags fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup orange juice
1 cup water
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root(optional)

2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 1/4 cup toasted and coarsely chopped nuts (pecans work very well with cranberries)

In large sauce pan combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice, water, orange zest, and ginger. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce temperature to medium so that fruit is still bubbling and popping gently. Cook for approximately 10 minutes, until mixture has thickened. Pour into a 9 x 12 pan and set aside while preparing crumble.

In a food processor combine flour, sugars, and spices. Pulse to combine. Cut cold butter into one inch chunks and sprinkle over mixture. Pulse 10 times using 1 second pulses until mixture resembles sand. Stir in toasted nuts. Spread crumble evenly over the top of the fruit mixture.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until topping is a dark caramelized brown and crisp appears set. Cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Fruit Sauce

One bag of frozen fruit
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Combine fruit, sugar and water in a medium saucepan.  Heat over medium heat until fruit defrosts and sauce begins to boil.  Add cornstarch mixture and reduce heat to low, stirring until slightly thickened.  For blueberry sauce I add a teaspoon of grated lemon zest to the fruit, sugar and water.  For peaches I add about 1/2 a teaspoon of grated nutmeg (yes, grated fresh, otherwise don't bother). For cherries, if you have a little Lemoncello( Italian lemon liquour) sitting around, about 1 tablespoon really adds a punch. Fruit sauce is great over pancakes, waffles, french toast, ice cream. . . 

Chocolate Hazelnut Coffee Cake

1 cup butter; softened
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt (sour cream may be substituted, I use goat milk yogurt for our little guy)
1 Tbsp espresso powder
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts; toasted and cooled
1 1/2 cup high quality dark chocolate (I use ghiradelli 60% cocoa chips); chopped fine
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare a bundt pan by spraying thoroughly with cooking spray.

In a standing mixer beat butter until fluffy, gradually add sugar and continue beating until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition. In a small bowl stir espresso powder into the yogurt and set aside. In a medium bowl combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Add 1/3 of yogurt mixture to butter, sugar, and eggs and mix until just combined, add 1/3 of flour mixture and mix again until just combined. Repeat and alternate with remaining yogurt and flour. In a separate bowl, toss together the hazelnuts, chocolate, and brown sugar.

In prepared pan, spoon 1/2 of batter and smooth evenly. Sprinkle 1/2 hazelnut-chocolate mixture over the batter in the pan. Spoon remaining batter into the pan and smooth gently. Top with remaining hazelnut-chocolate mixture. Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes before turning out onto a serving plate.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

1 cup butter; softened
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsps grated lemon zest
2 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream (I use goat's milk yogurt, as we have milk allergies in the family)
2 cups flour
3 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cream softened butter, sugar, and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and mix thoroughly. In a small bowl combine flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, and salt and stir to combine. Add 1/3 of yogurt and 1/3 of dry ingredients to the butter, sugar, lemon zest, and eggs. Mix gently until just combined. Add a second 1/3 of yogurt and dry ingredients. Mix gently until just combined. Add remainder of yogurt and dry ingredients. Mix gently until just combined. Pour thick cake batter into a greased AND floured bundt pan and bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for one hour. Check for doneness and bake for another 5 minutes if needed. Cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a serving plate.

Challah and Apricot Bread Pudding

1 loaf good quality challah bread*; sliced and cubed
2/3 cup chopped dried apricots
3 eggs
1 14 ounce can of coconut milk
3 cups milk**
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons butter

Place cubed bread and chopped apricots in a large bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl whisk together the milk, coconut milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Pour over bread and let soak for 15 minutes, pressing down on bread to make sure all is submerged and soaked.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place butter in a 9 x 13 inch pan and place in oven until butter is melted (watch carefully, the butter will melt quickly and you don't want it to burn). Remove pan from oven and tilt back and forth to coat with melted butter.

Pour bread mixture into buttered pan and spread evenly. Bake for 35 minutes. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before serving. This dessert is absolutely delicious served with freshly whipped cream, sweetened with powdered sugar and a pinch of cinnamon.

*The pudding turns out much better if the bread has been kept in the fridge for a couple of days beforehand. Fresh bread tends to yield a more mushy/soggy texture.

**Any type of milk/half and half/cream will work, but the higher the fat content of the milk, the more rich and creamy the dessert, we use whole goat's milk and have achieved great results.

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