Tag Archives: shortbread

Mini Pumpkin Trifle with Cranberry Sauce and Whipped Cream Cheese

If you aren’t sick of pumpkin yet, it is your lucky day! If you are sick of pumpkin, never fear, you will soon be sick of peppermint. I’m planning a “12 Days of Christmas” and can’t seem to get away from the peppermint. ‘Tis the season!

But one last  pumpkin post. Yes, it is technically after Thanksgiving and we are supposed to have moved on from said pumpkin. In my defense, I had these made long before Turkey Day, but in true holiday fashion, was just too darned busy to sit down and actually write. Somehow the week before Thanksgiving I had more commitments lined up than I cared for. Too often the holiday season blurs by us without being able to sit back and enjoy the finer things.

Like pumpkin.

The previous post was all about pumpkin bread. That recipe made two loaves, which I would have gladly eaten every last bite, but really don’t have the budget to go out and buy all new clothes in the next size up. And, as previously mentioned, I was hosting a bunch of ladies for our November social. I was in charge of the bread and dessert, everyone else brought the soup. Since the week was already beyond busy, I needed something quick, easy, and tasty. Cute didn’t hurt either. Enter the Mini Pumpkin Trifle.

I’ve found that when you get a bunch of women together, they don’t eat much. Well, dessert anyhow. Even though you know that we all want to devour dessert. Or is that just me? If so, I’m ok with that. I like my dessert. But for this occasion I kept it small and easy to eat.

It started as just some pumpkin bread with a little whip cream on top. But no, I had to add more to my week. I thought it needed some color. What goes great with pumpkin? Cranberry sauce of course. But then I worried there was no texture. It needed a crunch. And what goes with cranberry and pumpkin? Ginger shortbread.  And that is my life, adding more to my schedule than I probably need to. But hey, that’s what women do best, right? Right.

And look at how cute they turned out! I’m not sure if I was more excited to eat the dessert or use the dishes. Complete with mini spoons!

While this dessert has four components, it doesn’t need all four, and each part is very easy and can be made ahead of time. The first is the pumpkin bread from the previous post. I kept one loaf out, froze the other and then thawed it out on the counter. Tasted just as fresh as day one.

The next part is cranberry sauce. This is the same cranberry sauce I use at Thanksgiving every year. I left out the cornstarch and instead smashed the cranberries which thickened the sauce. It can be made two days in advance. Maybe more but I’ve never tried!

I took a shortbread cookie from Martha Stewart. The recipe calls for cutting out the shortbread into shapes, and since I just wanted small slices of shortbread, I knew this would work great. I added ginger until the taste was right.

Must smell good….my pup was very curious!

And the whip cream – insanely easy. I wanted to use Mascarpone, but had some cream cheese leftover from something (who knows what, that seems like an eternity ago!). Either would work great.

So there you have it. Four recipes all combined into one great little dessert. Assemble however you see fit. Since my dishes  were so tiny, I just did one layer of each, but if you have bigger bowls more layers would be great. I assembled several hours before my event and chilled. The less you need to do before guests arrive, the better.

Yield: Depends on your serving size. Will make around 20 small dishes.

One Year Ago: Pumpkin Brioche & French Toast

Difficulty: Easy!

Pumpkin Bread

Cranberry Sauce

Adapted from Emeril (bam!)

  • 2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange (fine zest)
  • 1/4 cup Port (any sweet wine will work, in a pinch you could use cranberry juice but hold back on the sugar if it is sweetened)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (add more later if desired)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Add all ingredients to pan and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and smash cranberries. Sauce will thicken. Let cool and chill for later use.

Ginger Shortbread

Adapted from Martha Stewart

*Note: the original recipe calls for cranberries in the cookie. You could probably skip the sauce and just make these cookies as is and it would still be great I’m sure. The ginger was very subtle, so if you like a stronger ginger taste, add more. Best if made at least one day in advance.

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Butter an 8×8 (or 9×9) baking pan and then line with parchment overhanging.

2. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla in mixer about three minutes. You want light and fluffy, but not too light and fluffy.

3.In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and ginger. Add to butter mixture and mix until dough ball forms. Press into prepared pan.

4. Bake until slightly golden on edges, about 20 minutes. Let cool and cut.

Mascarpone Cream

Mascarpone Cream

  • 1 cup chilled whipping cream
  • 6 tablespoons mascarpone cheese or cream cheese (cream cheese should be at room temp, but not mascarpone)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Using electric mixer, beat cream, mascarpone, sugar, and vanilla in large bowl until peaks form. Can be made a few hours ahead, but should be day of.

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Cheesecake Deconstructed: Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Parfaits

I was recently cleaning out my recipe baskets, which are (were) full of magazines, printed recipes, and who knows what else, when I found a stack of old Food & Wine Magazines. It was like Christmas going through them and finding all the pages marked with recipes that I never made. I needed a dessert for dinner and found something unique and new: Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Parfaits. It tastes like cheesecake but in the form of custard. Very rich, very sweet, but fresh and light at the same time.

I think my custard was a little runnier than it was supposed to be, just from comparing the picture in the magazine, but it was still very tasty. I made the shortbread and compote the day before, and the custard the day of dinner.

The shortbread is good all by itself, and very easy to make. The cornmeal adds a nice crunch and slightly salty taste. The custard was a little more complicated, as custards usually are, but never fear, they are still doable.  When tempering the eggs, add all the milk very slowly. And, make sure you stir until hot because corn starch needs heat to be activated. You will see it suddenly start to thicken and that is what you want. If you take it off the heat too soon, it will not thicken as it cools.

It’s a great dessert for a dinner party because all the components can be made in advance, making your job as a host easy. They will think you slaved for days in the kitchen, just for them. And there’s no reason to tell them otherwise.

Lemon & Blueberry Cheesecake Parfaits

From Food & Wine Magazine, contributed by Maggie Leung

Shortbread

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. In a medium bowl, mix the flour with the cornmeal and salt. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, mix the butter with the confectioners’ sugar at medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the orange zest and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat at low speed until the dough just comes together. Pat the shortbread dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap the chilled shortbread dough and roll it out between 2 sheets of parchment paper to an 8-inch round (1/2 inch thick). Cut the dough into 1/2-inch-wide strips and transfer the strips to the baking sheets; leave 1 inch between each strip. Refrigerate the dough strips for 30 minutes, until chilled.
  3. Bake the shortbread for about 20 minutes, until golden; rotate the pans halfway through for even baking. While the warm shortbread strips are still on the baking sheet, cut them into 1/2-inch cubes. Let cool, about 30 minutes.

 

Blueberry Compote

  • 2 cups blueberries (12 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of the blueberries with the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook over moderate heat until the blueberries break down, about 5 minutes. Scrape the blueberry sauce into a blender, add the lemon juice and puree until smooth. Scrape the blueberry sauce into a bowl and fold in the remaining 1 cup of whole blueberries. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

Cheesecake Custard

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus extra strips for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 3/4 cup of the milk to a boil with 3 tablespoons of the sugar; remove from the heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the cornstarch and the remaining 1/4 cup of milk and 2 tablespoons of sugar.
  3. Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg yolks, then pour the mixture into the saucepan and whisk constantly over moderate heat until thickened, about 2 minutes. (This took longer for me, closer to 5 minutes). To get a smoother custard, strain at this point.
  4.  Over low heat, whisk in the cream cheese, lemon juice, grated lemon zest and vanilla extract until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape the cheesecake custard into a bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
  5. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream to medium peaks. (I added Grand Marnier) Fold the whipped cream into the chilled cheesecake custard until no streaks remain. Spoon the shortbread cubes and custard into bowls. Drizzle with the blueberry compote, garnish with the lemon zest strips and serve.

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Homemade Twix-Thousand Dollar Bars

King Arthur Flour has become one my favorite bread flour. I get a much better crumb when I use their flour as opposed to say, Sam’s Club or Costco, which is much cheaper. But when I started using KA Flour, I knew so little about them. I didn’t know they had a whole repertoire of recipes! However, I hadn’t tried any until I saw this recipe. They call them “Thousand Dollar Bars“. Others call them “Twix look-a-likes”. Whatever you call them, they are evil. Why evil? Because  you can’t stop eating them. That good. And yet, so simple! Just shortbread, caramel, and chocolate. These are such a good example of why simple can be so delectable. The hardest part is waiting for each layer to cool.

First, you make the shortbread:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups AP Flour

1) Preheat oven to 300F. Prep a 9×13 pan (or 8×8 if doing half the recipe) with cooking spray and then line with parchment. Leave overhang so you can take them out of the pan easily. This will make for easy cutting later.

2) Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the flour. Dough will seem stiff at first, but be patient! It will come together.

3) Press into a pan. If you have a small roller, that will help even it. Take a fork and poke holes to prevent bubbles.

4) Bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the caramel. The KA recipe suggests melting pre-made caramel, but if you have 30 minutes, make your own! Much cheaper and so tasty. I also used the KA recipe for caramel:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter

Place all ingredients in heavy pan and bring to 235F. Obviously you will need a thermometer here. However, if you don’t have one you can check for “softball” stage. This is when you take a small sample, stick it in ice water and if it is ready it will form a ball. If not, you aren’t ready. Watch carefully though because you can burn quickly at this point. When it is done, pour over the shortbread and chill for about 30 minutes or until set. You will not use all the caramel. Any extra just pour onto a sheet pan and (spray or line with parchment first) and let set.

And finally, my favorite part, the chocolate. This part is easy, just melt 3 cups of chocolate over a double boiler and pour over the caramel. I used Guittard 52%, but milk would be tasty too! You can chill for a short time, but sometimes when chocolate is chilled it can take on an unpleasant appearance. It will still taste ok, but doesn’t look as pretty. Thus, just chill briefly then return to room temp. Cut into bars and enjoy!

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