Maureen Fraîche

Mixing Business and Pleasure in the Kitchen

Archive for the category “Sweet Treats”

Golden Delicious Apple Pie

Golden Delicious Apple Pie

It’s hard to beat a great slice of pie–especially if it’s apple pie–and this time of year, there is no shortage of apples in Washington State.  So many delicious varieties are available now and with a husband in the biz, I get to try varieties both unique and still under development.  Even now, I’ve got a bag of Pink Pearls tucked away and I find myself with a severe case of decision paralysis when it comes to what to do with them.  A pie?  A tart?  Chutney?  But I digress.  This recipe is all about the ubiquitous Golden Delicious.  While many bakers immediately reach for a tart apple when baking a pie, my husband surprised me when he came home with some of the most mammoth Goldens I had ever seen and, with a smile, requested pie.  Come to find out, Golden Delicious apple pie is actually a favorite around the office and he was eager to give it a whirl.

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Baklava

Baklava

Want to know what I’m doing right now?  Well, aside from typing (duh), I’m eating the last piece of this baklava.  Good doesn’t even begin to describe it.  If you’ve never had baklava before, allow me to explain what you’re missing out on: crispy layer upon layer of buttery phyllo filled with sugar, cinnamon, and chopped nuts all topped (drenched?) in a honey-lemon syrup.  Simply amazing.

This particular recipe is an adaptation from The Complete Book of Greek Cooking.  Everything I’ve tried from this cookbook thus far has been excellent, but what would you expect?  How could you go wrong with the Recipe Club of Saint Paul’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral?  Church ladies know good food.

While baklava is not difficult to make, it is a little fussy and time consuming.  The very best advice I can give you would be to, first, make sure you have all of your ingredients, tools, and whatnot ready to go and within reach.  Make a little baklava station for yourself.  Second, don’t make this when you’ve got other stuff going on or if the wee ones are running mad all around you.  If you must, wait until nap time, bed time, or whatever other quiet time you have so that you don’t end up a stressed out, grumpy mess.  Third, keep whatever phyllo sheets you aren’t working with hiding under a lightly dampened paper towel or tea towel.  If those sheets dry out, they’ll crackle into pieces before your very eyes–and before you’ve had a chance to finish that baklava.  And last of all, if you’re going to make one batch, why not make two?  One package of phyllo dough will make two 8×8 pans of this glorious goodness and it freezes beautifully.  Trust me, once you’ve tasted this dessert, you’ll be glad you’ve got a whole ‘nuther pan stashed for a rainy day.

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Cherries Jubilee

Cherries Jubilee

Cherries Jubilee is one of those desserts everyone should know how to make.  Got a boss?  Got a poopsie-kins?  How about in-laws (or people you wish were in-laws)?  If you’ve got anyone to impress, this is what you make.  How can you beat a flaming dessert?  And, though everyone at the table will certainly oooh and aaah over your sweet culinary skills, you and I will really know what a snap this is to throw together.

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Cherry Almond Breakfast Bars

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I’ve been wanting to make some sort of fruity breakfast bar that could actually pass as part of a balanced breakfast…as opposed to, you know, a dessert hiding beneath a few oats.  To make matters even better, I recently came into a few bags of beautifully frozen sweet red cherries and have been itching to do something yummy with them.  Though March is just around the corner, cherry season is still a ways off and I’m definitely missing summer fruit.

So here’s what I came up with.  The base is a lightly sweetened oat crust that’s quickly made in the food processor and then baked solo while you whip up the cherry filling.  Just toss a few easy ingredients together and you’re practically done.  Dump the filling on your crust, top with some more oat crumb and sliced almonds, and then back in the oven.  Though these take about an hour to make–start to finish–there’s really nothing fussy about them.  The crust is actually an adaptation of a recipe from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking; inspired by their Raspberry Crumb Breakfast Bar, I set to work tweaking the ingredients and swapping out the filling until I came up with the rendition you’ll find below.

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Confetti Cookies

Confetti Cookies

So I pretty much made the Birthday Cake Crumb just so I could make these cookies.  I am always on the lookout for a new cookie to add to the rotation and these looked, how shall I say….nomnomnomnom.  And they are.  If the idea of a Funfetti-inspired cookie brings a smile to your face, you should definitely try them, too.

I don’t know about you, but I had never before made a cookie with milk powder as one of the ingredients.  Yet another stroke of Christina Tosi’s genius.  Also unique, of course, is her use of glucose along with the granulated sugar, but I did not have any (and was too lazy to order it) and so used corn syrup instead.

The resulting cookie is really fantastic.  Buttery, the right amount of sweetness with a touch of saltiness, the occasional crunch from the Birthday Cake Crumb–this cookie is so much better than any store-bought goodie, unless of course you’re at momofuku milk bar.  The exterior is perfectly crisp whilst the center remains wonderfully fudgey.  And the sprinkles?  Well, what’s not to love about sprinkles?

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Birthday Cake Crumb

Birthday Cake Crumb

Well folks, we’ve got some birthdays coming up!  My oldest and I share the same birthday, believe it or not, and instead of doubling up on cakes (as appealing as that sounds), I like to do something that makes both of us happy campers.  This year, he’s asked for a robot cake.  Me?  I want to try something out of a cookbook my parents got me last year–momofuku milk barI love reading cookbooks (I have over 100 of them) and this one is different than any other I’ve yet to peruse.  From ‘cereal milk’ to ‘the crunch,’ Christini Tosi offers up recipes that combine her expertise as a pastry chef with her guiltless love of homey baking.  This is a woman who committed herself to replicating her childhood (and adulthood) love of Funfetti cake mix and frosting from scratch. 

While I don’t plan to construct a layer cake, I did want to try each component of her recipe for Birthday Cake–the Birthday Cake Crumb included.  What is the crumb, you ask?  Think of sandy, sweet, slightly salty, little crunchy bits that could happily find their way on top of all sorts of desserts…or just be eaten shamelessly by the handful.  Though I don’t think I’ll use them on my robot cake, I will be using them to make momofuku’s Confetti Cookies.  Yay for birthdays!

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Caramelized Pears with Brandy and Vanilla

Caramelized Pear with Brandy and Vanilla

I just love pears and I’ll tell you, this has been a good year for pears.  Some have been so ripe they’re downright sloppy and inappropriate for public consumption…but again, oh so good.  Hopefully you’ve been enjoying a few of these yourself!

This simple preparation takes the sweet and juicy Bartlett pear to a whole new level.  Roasted and caramelized with a sweet and complex glaze, these pair beautifully with your favorite vanilla bean ice cream for a deceptively decadent dessert or atop creamy Greek yogurt for a sweet and satisfying breakfast.  Prepped in less than 10 minutes and out of the oven within 30, you’ll find this recipe is as easy as it is delicious!

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Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Oh, how I love cinnamon rolls.  Whether it’s Christmas with the family or just a rainy morning, there’s nothing quite as homey as a sweet and gooey roll straight out of the oven.  Of course, everyone’s got an opinion when it comes to the filling.  Raisins.  No raisins.  Nuts.  No nuts.  Glaze.  Cream cheese frosting.  Lucky for me, I’ll take one in just about any way, shape or form.  I’m easy like that.

For awhile now, I’ve wanted to try a cinnamon roll filled with apples.  I mean, how could you go wrong with that?  Seems like a stroke of genius, right?  Spiced Grannies rolled up in a sweet yeast dough and drizzled with glaze?  I drool.

So here’s the recipe I came up with.  I’ll just be straight with you and tell you these were amazing.  So.  Good.  The apples were a fantastic departure from the ubiquitous raisin and they were loved by one and all.  The Grannies really gave these rolls a wonderful flavor and, needless to say, made the entire house smell just heavenly.  Though they take a little work, these apple cinnamon rolls are most definitely worth it.

Oh, and did I mention these have half the calories you’d find in many similar bakery creations?  Nice.

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Spiced Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Pecan Streusel

Pumpkin Bundt

It’s fall!  Huzzah!  While some of you may like your pumpkin fix in a Starbucks beverage, I prefer mine in some sort of baked goodness…bread, penuche cookies, pie, cheesecake–you name it.  As we had guests coming over the other night, I thought it would be nice to make some sort of autumnal bundt cake, and this was the result.

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S’more Cookie Bars

S'mores Cookie Bars

Yeah, so it’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  Though summer fun at the lake has definitely been a deterrent to spending time in front of the laptop, perhaps my biggest distraction has been my crazy nesting instinct.  Yup.  I am now entering the 34th week of my third pregnancy and this time around, my craftiness has known no bounds.  I kid you not–wall murals, various swaddlers and sleep sacks, Halloween costumes for the boys, even a biscuit quilt!–I am out of control.

However!  When I came across this gem of a recipe I thought, what better way to make amends for such neglect?  Don’t these look amazing?  Once again, I have struck gold on Crepes of Wrath.  Our church is having a potluck on Sunday (mmmm….potluuuuuck) and I wanted to bring something worthy of the occasion.  So!  I whipped these up this morning whilst the man was out hunting and they are so. good.

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