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Chocolate Cake Doughnuts with Mocha Glaze and Crispy, Creamy Doughnuts with Vanilla Bean Glaze

Chocolate Cake Doughnuts with Mocha Glaze and Creamy, Crispy Doughnuts with Vanilla Bean Glaze


In case you haven’t heard … gourmet style doughnuts are to 2010 what cupcakes were for 2009!  The doughnut’s somewhat dull, predictable reputation has undergone a complete makeover from glazed and jelly filled to become the latest trend in the pastry scene.  Artisan and “designer” doughnuts are popping up at local Farmer’s Markets, specialized bakeries and are even being featured on menus in the “white tablecloth” kind of restaurants.  Purveyors of designer donuts have elevated these humble rings of fried dough to a heavenly status.

Dreamy Donuts ran a contest, Australia’s Next Top Donut and the creative winner “designed” a cherry bite doughnut.  This ring of pastry has dark chocolate, coconut and cherries and is drizzled with more dark chocolate!   In the US, the trend has gone even more extreme with flavor combinations like pomegranate thyme, bing cherry balsamic, iced mint mojito and lemon chamomile crème.   One creative baker in Chicago is even adding grape jam to her peanut butter and jelly doughnuts.

So fellow  Bakers, join me in shouting  “Move over cutesy cupcakes … Doughnuts are staging a comeback!”

adapted from a recipe from Dianna’s Desserts
makes 16,  3 inch doughnuts

2   1/2   cups all-purpose flour
1  cup  unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
2  teaspoons baking powder
1/2   teaspoon salt
4  large eggs
1  1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3  cup buttermilk
3  tablespoons butter, melted
vegetable oil for frying  (I used canola oil.)
Mocha glaze (recipe follows)

1.)  In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, buttermilk and melted butter.  Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well blended.  (I mixed this dough with a wooden spoon.  The dough will be stiff and sticky.) Chill at least 1 hour, up to 3 hours.

2.)  Once chilled, scrape the dough onto a well floured surface.  (The dough can be a bit sticky.  The secret is to use only as much flour as necessary to make the dough easy to handle.) Flour your hands and pat the dough until it is about 1/2 inch thick.  Use a  3 inch cookie cutter to cut your doughnut and a 1  inch to make the hole in the center.  (In the pictures you will see that I used a piping tip that was 1 inch to make the center hole!) You can pat the scraps together and cut again.  (I got 15 doughnuts from this recipe.) Place doughnuts on a floured baking sheet to await frying!

3.)  Fill your deep fryer, electric frying pan, wok or frying pan with oil.  Make sure you do not overfill the type of fryer or pan you are using.  (I used an electric frying pan.) Heat oil to approximately 375 degrees.  Place one doughnut at a time onto a spatula and gently place into the oil.  It will fry a bit and slide right off the spatula into the oil.  Do not over crowd your pan as it will lower the oil temperature.  I fried 3 at a time.  Fry the dough, turning once, until puffy and cooked through.  (I found that 2 and 1/2 minutes on each side was perfect for me.  I suggest you fry only only one doughnut at first and “sacrifice” it to check that your doughnut is cooked through.  It is a bit difficult to tell when a chocolate doughnut is done!  You cannot go by the color, you must actually check for “doneness”.)

4.)  When the doughnuts are just cool enough to handle, but still quite warm, dip the top into a warm glaze.  Next, dip immediately into a topping such as sprinkles or nuts.  Place on a rack so the excess glaze can drip.  Let stand until the glaze sets.

Just before you begin to fry the doughnuts, I would suggest you make the glaze.  In a heatproof bowl, combine 6 ounces of choped semi-sweet chocolate (I used dark chocolate chips), 1/2 cup of whipping cream, 1 tablespoon butter, 2 teaspoons light corn syrup and 1 teaspoon of expresso powder.  Place the bowl over a pan with a few inches of water.  Gently heat the water and it will melt the chocolate mixture.  Stir until smooth.  (I very carefully combined the ingredients in a micro-wave bowl and in 30 second increments melted the chocolate mixture, stirring after each 30 seconds in the microwave.)  I like to keep the glaze warm for the best dipping.  If necessary microwave the glaze in short intervals to warm.

Chocolate Cake Doughnut dough ... ready to cover and chill.

Dough has been patted to 1/2 inch thickness and cut to doughnut shape.

Ready to fry!

Place one doughnut ring onto a spatula and gently place in the oil. The dough will begin to fry and slide right off the spatula!

"Sacrifice" the first doughnut you fry! Cut it in half to test for "doneness". Adjust the frying time as necessary.

Fried, glazed and dipped in sprinkles. Almost ready to eat!

adapted from a recipe submitted by Kelly on allrecipes.com
makes 18 doughnuts


2   (.25 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
1   1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1/2  cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup shortening
5 cups all-purpose flour
vegetable oil for frying   (I use canola oil.)

1/3 cup butter
2 cups confectioners sugar
1  1/2 teaspoons vanilla  (I substitited with vanilla bean paste in the same amount.)
4 tablespoons hot water or as needed


  1. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water.  (I do take the temperature of the water to make sure it is approximately 110 degrees F.) In about 5 minutes you will notice that this mixture is foamy.
  2. In a large bowl, combine together the yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, and 2 cups of the flour.  At low speed you want to mix for a few minutes.  You could use a wooden spoon if you do not have a mixer.  Beat in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl.   (It took all 5 cups of the flour.) Knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. (I did use the dough hook on my stand mixer to knead.) Put the dough into a well greased bowl and cover.  You will need to set in a warm place to rise until double.  The dough is ready if you touch it and the indention remains.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently roll  to 1/2 inch thickness.   Use a floured 3 inch cutter to make the doughnut shape.   Use a 1  inch cutter to make the center hole.  Place the doughnuts on a baking sheet  to rise again until double.  Cover loosely with a cloth.
  4. Melt butter in a small pan medium heat.  Stir in confectioners sugar and vanilla until smooth.  Remove from heat, and add one tablespoon of hot water at a time, stirring until the icing is somewhat thin, but not watery.   Set aside.
  5. Heat oil (I used canola oil in an electric skillet) in a deep-fryer or large heavy skillet to approximately 350 degrees F  (My temperature was closer to 360 degrees F).   Slide doughnuts into the hot oil using a  spatula.  Turn doughnuts over as they rise to the surface.  Fry doughnuts on each side until golden brown. (This took about 1 and 1/2 minutes per side.) Remove from hot oil, to drain on a wire rack.  Dip doughnuts into the glaze while still hot, and set onto wire racks to drain off excess.  Keep a cookie sheet or tray under racks for easier clean up.

Dough has been mixed and its ready to cover and let double in size.

The dough is ready when you touch it and the indention remains.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll to 1/2 inch thickness.

Cut doughnut shape with floured cutters. Let doughnuts sit out, loosely covered and rise again until double in size.

Ready to eat!

I substituted vanilla bean paste for the vanilla extract in the glaze. In this picture you can really see the beautiful specks of vanilla bean seed in the glaze.

I Heart Cooking Clubs: Nigella’s Caramel Croissant Pudding

A double batch of Caramel Croissant Pudding

This week’s theme at   I Heart Cooking Clubs   is Resolutions.

One of my Culinary Resolutions is to be more thrifty!

Nigella believes that some of the best recipes come from the thrifty refusal to throw anything away.  This dish is best when made with croissants that are a few days old.  You know, the ones you might have thrown away, because really what can you do with 2 stale croissants?   CARAMEL CROISSANT PUDDING … thats what!

All ready to make Caramel Croissant Pudding.


  • 2 stale croissants  (I would use 3 large croissants.)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream   (Room temperature a must!)
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon   (I used Frangelico Liqueur)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk   (Room temperature a must!)
  • 2 eggs, beaten    (Room temperature is best.)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Tear the croissants into bite size pieces and put in a small 2 cup capacity baking dish.  Nigella used an oval cast iron pan.   (I made a double batch and used a quart size Rachael Ray baking dish … hope Nigella is ok with that!)

Put the sugar and water into your saucepan.  Swirl around to help dissolve the sugar before putting the saucepan on the stove over medium to high heat. Caramelize the sugar and water mixture.  Let it bubble away until it reaches a deep amber colour; this will take 3 to 5 minutes.  (I used medium-high heat and it took longer than 3 to 5 minutes.  Watch it closely.)

Take the pan off the heat and add the cream – ignoring all spluttering – followed by the bourbon and milk. Whisk to mix, then still whisking add the beaten eggs. Pour this quickly over the croissants and leave to steep for 10 minutes. 
IMPORTANT NOTE:   Stream in the cream very slowly while you whisk.  Do the same with the bourbon and milk.

Place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes and prepare to swoon.  (I made a double batch and it baked about 30 minutes.   When making a single recipe I would check and make sure it is set to your liking … if not bake a bit longer.)

Nigella's Caramel Croissant Pudding is outstanding. It is not overly sweet and I find that very appealing. Next time I may sprinkle my croissants with a bit of cinnamon for some additional flavor.

Hot Fudge Sauce … I’m in Hot Fudge Heaven!

Hot Fudge Sauce


This past week I made up some of the most sinfully magnificient Hot Fudge Sauce.  You’d be surprised just how many things you have in your kitchen right now that can be doused in hot fudge!   In the 25 minutes it took to whip up this sauce I had fashioned quite an extensive list.   Fresh fruit, a stray brownie, that last piece of pound cake from Christmas, pretzels and of course ice cream, the most obvious choice.   Be careful or you could find yourself lost in “Hot Fudge Land”. 

 To me, hot fudge sauce on ice cream seems so … from an era gone by.  It appears that the simple hot fudge sundaes of yesterday have been replaced with more modern creations, using the same ingredients but sporting new trendy names.  Maybe we have just gone overboard with the likes of “Madagascar Vanilla Bean Ice Cream served in a velvety pool of bittersweet chocolate, topped with 24-karat edible gold leaf” … when actually what we have is just an unnecessarily expensive version of a classic hot fudge sundae.  

This sauce is so easy to make and is so versatile.  You can probably make it with ingredients you already have in your pantry.  Don’t settle for the store bought stuff … make your own.

Makes 3 ¼ cups   (I filled 2 pint jars)

Melt 8 ounces of unsweetened chocolate baking squares and ½ cup of unsalted butter in a large, heavy saucepan.  (I “borrowed” my Mother’s copper bottom sauce pan.)  Melt over low heat stirring constantly.  (Use a low setting and be patient.)

 When completely melted add in 2 cups of sugar, stirring constantly over low heat.  (I stirred approximately 4-5 minutes until it was well blended.  The mixture will be thick and “sandy” looking.)

 Add 1 cup of milk (I like to use room temperature milk.) and continue to cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thoroughly heated and the sugar is dissolved. (Once the sugar dissolved, I changed from stirring with  a wooden spoon to a whisk.  At this point, I raised the temperature just a bit above low and continued to whisk the sauce.  I found that you must let the sauce heat through all the way.  The longer you whisk and cook it, the fudgier the finished product will be when cooled.  I probably whisked about 10 minutes to get the consistency I liked.)  DO NOT BOIL THE SAUCE.

Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of good vanilla extract (I used about 1 and ½ teaspoons) and 1/8 teaspoon of salt.  Cover and chill sauce.  It will hold in the fridge up to 2 weeks.  (One recipe filled 2 pint canning jars.) 

Note: To reheat, spoon some of the sauce into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 15 seconds, or in 15 second intervals until warm.

Espresso-Hot Fudge Sauce:  Add 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder with the sugar.

Whiskey-Hot Fudge Sauce:  Stir in 2-3 tablespoons of Southern Comfort with the vanilla and salt.

Brown-Sugar-Cinnamon Hot Fudge Sauce:  Substitute 1 cup of firmly packed brown sugar for 1 cup of granulated sugar.  Stir in ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon with vanilla and salt.

Bruleed Pumpkin Pie … a twist on a classic.

Bruleed Pumpkin Pie

Let me say right off the bat:  I am not fond of pumpkin pie.  If pumpkin pie was the only available option for dessert, I’d be pounds thinner … ‘cause I would be doing without.  For me, it has too much of a one-dimensional texture.  But because I love the drama and festiveness of this most celebrated seasonal recipe, I find myself baking a pumpkin pie during the holiday season. (My pumpkin pie is just one of the 50 million that are baked and consumed annually, according to Libby’s.)

Every once in a while, I stumble upon an article or book that offers a fresh spin on a traditional recipe.  It often renews my interest in certain ingredients and introduces me to new ones.  My most recent recipe find is so amazing that I made a last minute change to this column so I could share it with you … Bruleed Pumpkin Pie!   You begin with a very rich, heavenly spiced, baked pumpkin custard.  Just prior to serving, it is sprinkled with a layer of sugar which is caramelized with the aid of a propane torch or a broiler.  This layer solidifies, creating a delightful textural contrast between the soft pie custard and the brittle sugar topping.  The pie makes a wonderful crackling sound when you cut it!   

What I love about this version of pumpkin pie is that it must be made ahead – as you have to freeze the crust for a few hours and then chill the pie overnight. 

Oh, I forgot to mention that I am now the proud owner of a propane torch … imagine the surprised looks on the faces of my guests when I whipped it out just prior to serving the pie.  It made for wonderful “dessert conversation”.

Bruleed Pumpkin Pie

adapted from a recipe from the Los Angeles Times

Single pie crust  —  can be homemade or store bought  (shame on me, I used store bought)
1      (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
½    cup heavy cream
½    cup milk
3      eggs plus one egg yolk
2      tablespoons Brandy
1/3  cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1  1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom  (please do not leave out this spice – it adds great flavor)
1/4 to 1/2 cup superfine sugar for bruleeing  (it comes in a “milk carton” type container and it called bakers sugar)

Press your pie crust into a standard pie pan (not deep dish).  Freeze for several hours. 

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F. 

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, cream, milk, eggs, egg yolk, Brandy, light brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon, allspice and cardamom until well blended.   (I bought one of those “airline” size bottles of Brandy at the liquor store for 99 cents)

Pour this mixture into the frozen pie shell.  Bake for 15 minutes, turning once for even browning.  (You may want to cover your crust edges with foil to keep them from browning too fast.)   After 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees F  (remove foil from the crust edges) and bake an additional 25 to 30 minutes.   Remove and let cool completely to room temperature.    Cover and chill overnight.

Just before serving, carefully fold strips of aluminum foil over the edges of the pie.  Do not cover any of the custard with the foil.   Scatter the superfine sugar (baking sugar)  evenly over the top of the pie and brulee under a hot broiler until the sugar caramelizes.   (Or use a propane torch if you have one.)   Serve immediately, with a dollop of whipped cream.

Pie, torch and sugar ... all set to brulee!

Torch on ... melting the sugar.

Making some progress ... sugar melting in spots.

Almost there ...

Remove the foil and its ready to serve.

Bruleed Pumpkin Pie

Cuisinart ICE-30BC + Better Baker Bowl Maker + Ina Garten = Homemade Ice Cream & Brownies with Chocolate Sauce

Homemade Ice Cream and Brownie  with Chocolate Sauce
Homemade Ice Cream and Brownie with Chocolate Sauce

Believe it or not … this dessert was the result of a “visit” to Bass Pro Shop!

After entering the turnstyles at Bass Pro Shop, amid the racks of duck inspired clothing, anything and everything “antler” and (to my horror) camouflage furniture  …  imagine my surprise to spot a display full of baking pans!   Yes, I found the “Better Baker Bowl Maker Pan”.   I stood eyes glued to the television demonstration of this pan, proclaimed as amazing by the salesman on the screen.   Have no doubt, I am sure I ooohh’d and ahhh’d in all the right places and by the time I had watched the demo for a second time, I knew the “Better Baker Pan” would take its rightful place among the ranks of baking equipment now occupying my kitchen cabinets. 

Better Baker Bowl Maker

Better Baker Bowl Maker

Better Baker Bowl Maker Brownies

Better Baker Bowl Maker Brownies

Better Baker Bowl Maker Brownies

Better Baker Bowl Maker Brownies

The information that comes with the pan says that you can use your favorite “store bought” mix, gourmet mix or treasured family recipe in the Better Baker pan.  Thick, heavy batter, such as those from store-bought mixes, are the most easy to remove from the pan.  Angel Food cake batter is very sticky and is probably the most difficult to get a clean release.  If you encounter problems getting a clean release, try reducing the amount of liquid used in boxed mixes, such as water or milk, or decreasing three eggs down to two.  To avoid any “release” issues I chose a brownie recipe from the little cookbook that came with the pan.

3  oz unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
6  oz semi-sweet chocolate or dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1   cup unsalted butter
1  1/4 cup granulated sugar
4  large eggs
2  teaspoons vanilla extract
1  cup all purpose flour
1/2  teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

Melt chocolate pieces and butter together over low heat in a large saucepan.  Do not overcook this mixture as it will scorch.  (I used a large, glass bowl and microwaved the butter and chocolate.  I heated for 10-15 second intervals, just until the chocolate started to melt.  Stir the chocolate until all the chocolate is melted and smooth.  You may have to adjust the heating time to fit the “quirks” of your microwave!)

Remove melted chocolate from the heat.  Let cool slightly.  Stir in the sugar with a wooden spoon, being careful not to over-mix.  (As directed, I used a wooden spoon to incorporate the sugar into the chocolate/butter mixture.)

Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Stir in vanilla.  Fluff and measure out the flour.  Stir the flour into the chocolate mixture.  Stir in salt and blend well.   (I whisked the eggs in a separate bowl and slowly stirred them into the chocolate mixture.  Once all the ingredients have been added, stir to blend well.)

Spray the pan with cooking spray.  (The book recommends cooking spray with flour added … so that’s what I used.)

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes (took out at about 23 minutes), being careful not to overcook.  Remove from the oven and allow brownies to cool in the pan for 3 to 5 minutes.  If allowed to cool too long brownies may stick.  If not allowed to cool enough, they will split.  (Cooling too long not good … cooling not enough not good … what the heck … I split the difference in the suggested cooling time and called it good at 4 minutes with perfect results!)

Fill the bowls with ice cream, pudding, nuts etc.  (I chose homemade vanilla bean ice cream with Ina Garten’s chocolate sauce.  Recipes follow.) 

Cuisinart 2 Quart Ice Cream Maker

Cuisinart 2 Quart Ice Cream Maker

adapted from the Cuisinart Recipe Booklet
ICE-30BC  2 Quart Frozen Yogurt-Sorbet & Ice Cream Maker

1   1/2 cups whole milk   (I make sure the milk is very cold.)
1   1/8 cups granulated sugar
3   cups heavy cream   (I make sure the cream is very cold.)
1  1/2  teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1  vanilla bean, seeds scraped from the bean and added to the ice cream base   (Take the “seedless” vanilla bean pods and add them to a jar of sugar …  the result: vanilla sugar.)

In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine the milk and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved.  This takes 1 to 2 minutes.  Stir in the heavy cream, vanilla extract and the vanilla bean seeds.   From this point follow the manufacturers directions for your ice cream machine.  This recipe makes 2 quarts, about fourteen 1/2 cup servings.

adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten

1/2  cup heavy cream
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
2   tablespoons honey   ( I used a wonderful clover honey from Heartland Farms.)
2   tablespoons prepared coffee   (used strong c0ffee)

Put the chocolate chips and the cream in a bowl set over simmering water and stir just until the chocolate melts.  Add the honey and the coffee and stir this mixture until smooth.   ( I put the chips and cream into a medium size glass measuring cup with a pouring spout and very carefully used the microwave to melt the chocolate.  It was great having the finished chocolate sauce  in a ready-to-pour container.)

You Want Pies With That?: “Watermelon” Ice Cream Pie

"Watermelon" Ice Cream Pie

"Watermelon" Ice Cream Pie

Without further ado….Mary & Rebecca have chosen to test us with a

Taste of Summer Pie.
This month, we’re challenging you to come up with a pie that tastes like the summer.

For some, that might mean getting inspired by the flavors of peak-of-the-season fruits and vegetables, homemade ice cream, carnival food, campfire s’mores, cookouts, beach and ballpark concessions, county fairs, ice-cold floats and lemonade.

But for others, summer brings on thoughts of sunburns and mosquitos, humidity, bored kids, poison ivy and a longing to see that big yellow school bus pull up in front of the house.

So, feel free to take your inspiration from either side of the summer (or both), and use your pie to express how YOU really feel about the summer.

What does summer taste like to you?


"Watermelon" Ice Cream Pie ... a taste of summer!

"Watermelon" Ice Cream Pie ... a taste of summer!

Sugar Cone Crust:    I like to use a sugar cone crust.   A standard size box typically has 12 cones.  Finely grind all 12 sugar cones in a food processor.  Place the crumbs in a bowl and add 6-7  tablespoons of melted butter, stirring until combined.  Press the crumbs into a deep dish pie plate.  Place in the freezer while you let the ice cream soften.

Ice Cream Layers:  The bottom layer of the watermelon pie should be a “green” colored sherbert or ice cream.  This time I used Blue Bunny Pistachio Almond ice cream.   Set the ice cream out at room temperature until it is just soft enough to spread over the bottom and up the sides of your sugar cone crust.  This layer is meant to be the “rind” of the watermelon.  Place the sugar cone crust and the pistachio ice cream layer back into the freezer. 

Use a “pink” colored sherbert or ice cream for the center of your watermelon pie.  I chose a strawberry ice cream.   Set the ice cream out at room temperature until it is just soft enough to stir in about 1 cup of mini chocolate chips (seeds).  Spoon this mixture on top of the “green” layer.   Return to the freezer for several hours before serving.

A taste of summer.

A taste of summer.

Daring Bakers: Bakewell Tart …er…pudding

Bakewell Tart

Bakewell Tart

THE CHALLENGE:   The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.

Bakewell tarts…er…puddings combine a number of dessert elements but still let you show off your area’s seasonal fruits.

Like many regional dishes there’s no “one way” to make a Bakewell Tart…er…Pudding, but most of today’s versions fall within one of two types. The first is the “pudding” where a layer of jam is covered by an almondy pastry cream and baked in puff pastry. The second is the “tart” where a rich shortcrust pastry holds jam and an almondy sponge cake-like filling.

The version we were dared to make is a combination of the two: a sweet almond-flavoured shortcrust pastry, frangipane and jam.

Bakewell Tart

Bakewell Tart

Bakewell Tart…er…pudding

Makes one 23 cm (9” tart)
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23 cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250 ml (1 cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability  (The recipe I used

One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface.  If  it’s overly cold, you will need to let it set out at room temperature for about 15 minutes before you roll it out.  Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5 mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the center and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll.  When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough.  Patch any holes or tears with trimmed bits.  Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base.  Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes.  Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish.  Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.  The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking.  Remove from the oven and cool on the counter.  Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.  When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Sweet shortcrust pastry

30 g (1 oz) sugar
2.5 ml (½ tsp) salt
110 g (4 oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2  egg yolks
2.5 ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)  (I added the almond extract.)
15-30 ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water  (I used the full 2 Tablespoons.)

Sift together flour, sugar and salt.  Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater.  Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.  Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture.  Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and slightly sticky dough.  Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  (This sweet shortcrust pastry can be made in a food processor.)

Jam Layer – Pineapple, Lime, Vanilla

From:   Sky-High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes
By:  Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne

1 can (20 ounce) crushed pineapple in juice  (no added sugar)
1 cup sugar
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice  (I used a little more.)
1  one inch piece of vanilla bean split in half

Combine the pineapple, sugar and lime juice in a pan.  Add the vanilla seeds you scraped from the vanilla bean.  (I tossed in the vanilla bean pieces for added flavor.  Just remember to remove them when cooking is complete.)  Warm over a medium-low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, 2 to 3 minutes.  Raise the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the juices have almost completely evaporated and its turned jam-like in consistency. (This takes a while, do not expect it to happen in just a few minutes.  Watch so it does not burn.)  Can be made a day in advance and refrigerated.  


125 g (4.5 oz) unsalted butter, softened
125 g (4.5 oz) icing sugar 
3  eggs
2.5 ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125 g (4.5 oz) ground almonds
30 g (1 oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy.  Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  The batter may appear to curdle.  In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic.  Really.  It’ll be fine.  After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again.  With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour.  Mix well.  The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pale yellow color.

You Want Pies With That?: Frozen Key Lime Pie on-a-stick, dipped in Chocolate

No fork needed ... Frozen Key Lime Pie on-a-stick, dipped in chocolate.

No fork needed ... Frozen Key Lime Pie on-a-stick, dipped in chocolate.

OUR HOSTESS: Ellen at Kittymama is our hostess this month and she is taking us all down that nostalgic path with Childhood Memory Pies!

OUR YOU WANT PIES WITH THAT CHALLENGEChildhood Memory Pie: Bake a pie or tart that is inspired by a favorite childhood memory. Maybe you spent a summer vacation in Maine so it’s a blueberry pie; or your grandmother always baked lemon meringue, or you remember your first taste of apple pie ever. Tell us a little story that will help us walk down memory lane with you and relive some happy childhood memories

When I think of our Florida Keys vacations  … I remember feeling totally separated from the rest of the world.  The islands stretch 100 miles away from the mainland. 
I remember everything felt and smelled “tropical”.


I don’t remember exactly when it started appearing on a stick, dipped in chocolate, but it didn’t take my family long to make the switch from fork to stick.  Over the years, I have used many different recipes, but I am sharing with you my “current favorite”.  It is a frozen key lime recipe by Nora Ephron.  This recipe has been adapted with an extra step that brings the eggs to the proper temperature rather then using them uncooked.

Sugar Cone Crust:    Rather than the usual graham cracker crust I like to use a sugar cone crust.   A standard size box typically has 12 cones.  Finely grind all 12 sugar cones in a food processor.  Place the crumbs in a bowl and add 6-7  tablespoons of melted butter, stirring until combined.  Press the crumbs onto the bottom of your 9 inch disposable pan and up the sides about 1 and 1/2 inches.   Place in the freezer while you are making the filling.

Frozen Key Lime Pie
Serves 8   (In my world it only serves 6)

6  large egg yolks
1  cup freshly squeezed lime juice   (I use fresh key limes when they are available. 
                                                         One pound of key limes yields about 3/4 cup of juice.
                                                         To “maximize the juice potential” microwave the limes
                                                          for about 45 seconds and roll them on the counter
                                                          prior to juicing.)
2  cans (14 ounces each) sweetened condensed milk
1  Tablespoon finely grated Key Lime zest

Making the pie filling:     In a large heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks and lime juice together.  (I like to beat the egg yolks until they begin to increase in volume and then add the lime juice and whisk until combined.)   Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, and cook  (keep whisking the whole time) until the mixture is foamy and smooth looking and reaches 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer.  Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk and the key lime zest until well combined.

Remove the sugar cone pie crust from the freezer and pour in the filling.  Using a rubber spatula, smooth the top.  Place in the freezer. 

DEBBIE’S METHOD FOR ADDING STICKS:  Now is when you have to make the really important decision … does your pie serve 6 or 8!    After approximately 50 minutes in the freezer remove the pie and with a knife, gently score the top of the pie to indicate where your cutting lines will be.  These lines will help you determine the placement of your “sticks”.  You will be using a sharp knife to cut slits, the width of your sticks, in the outside of your disposable foil pan.  You will need to determine midway up the pie from the bottom and the middle of each piece of pie.  (This is where you will use the score marks you made on the top of the pie filling.)  Once you have made the slit in the foil pan, slowly insert a stick.  You are trying to position the stick to as close to the center of each piece of pie as possible.  The better you are at finding the center … the sturdier your finished product will be.  When you have finished inserting the sticks, cover the pie and return to the freezer.  I leave it in the freezer overnight.

"Sticks have been inserted thru the foil pan into the semi-frozen pie.

"Sticks" have been inserted thru the foil pan into the semi-frozen pie.

DEBBIE’S METHOD FOR UNMOLDING PIE:   With scissors, snip from the top of your tin, down towards each stick.  Next carefully peel the foil pan away from the pie.  This will release the pie from the pan.  Use a sharp knife and cut your pie into pieces.  Each piece will have a stick handle!  The pie will not be difficult to cut as it has a frozen, chewy-candy-like consistency.  Return the pie slices to the freezer until you are ready to dip in chocolate.

The pie has been released from the foil pan and is ready to slice.

The pie has been released from the foil pan and is ready to slice.

 DIPPING THE FROZEN KEY LIME PIE:    In a heatproof bowl, over simmering water, I melted milk chocolate chips.  (Use your favorite chocolate.)    Dip each piece in chocolate, place on a parchment paper lined sheet pan and return to the freezer.  Once the chocolate has set you can wrap each individual piece.

Enjoy pie on a stick!

Enjoy pie on a stick!

SHORTCAKE … just in time for summer entertaining!

Shortcakes ... just screaming for strawberries!

Shortcakes ... just screaming for strawberries!

These are absolutely beautiful cakes.

These are absolutely beautiful cakes.

Strawberry Shortcake with French Vanilla Whipped Cream

Strawberry Shortcake with French Vanilla Whipped Cream

SHORTCAKES  by Wolfgang Puck

I set out to find a new shortcake recipe and found myself cruising Foodnetwork.com.  Wolfgang Puck’s recipe stood out from all the others because it used plenty of butter and cream … and I could make it in the food processor!  (I am beginning to develop quite a relationship with my food processor.  So easy to throw all the ingredients in and give them a whirl.)

I was able to get 9 shortcakes (recipe said 10).   Leave plenty of room on the pan between each shortcake as they do raise and spread.  If they run together you lose the beautiful round shape.  Just prior to baking I brushed each cake top with cream and sprinkled with a clear,  larger sanding sugar.

To get the perfect soft shortcake, follow the recipe directions and split and warm just before serving.  I microwaved each one for about 10 seconds or so. 


The temptation to lick the whipped cream was just too strong!

The temptation was just too strong to ignore.