Fruit Pizza for Dessert!

Spring is here!  This fruit may not be in season here yet, and I can’t wait to make this when it is, but berries and mango are often available and you can use whatever fruit you like to make this refreshing dessert.  

The perfect cookie crust is tender but firm and a little crunchy – top that with the best of seasonal fruit on a creamy pudding bed and you’ve got a fabulous dessert.

COOKIE CRUST

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  •  1 tsp baking soda
  •  1/2 tsp baking powder
  •  1/4 tsp salt
  •  3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter unsalted, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a bowl mix together the all purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of your mixer add the sugar and butter and beat for a couple minutes until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract and continue mixing until the egg is fully incorporated. Add the flour and mix for an additional 2 minutes. Take the cookie dough and form it into a ball. Place it over the prepared baking sheet. Roll the ball into a round large cookie or any shape you prefer. You might need to add some more flour over your roll or over the cookie so that it doesn’t stick.The cookie should be at least 1/4 of an inch in thickness.
  • Bake the cookie for about 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are golden. Let it cool completely.

Make this cookie crust ahead of time – even a day ahead is fine, but be sure to let it cool down.

CREAMY CUSTARD

  • 3 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean extract

In heavy bottom saucepan stir corn starch, sugar and salt together. Slowly add the beaten egg yolks and milk. Stir until thickened, remove from heat and add in the vanilla. Cover the top wth plastic wrap to avoid a skin forming and allow to cool completely.

(You can also do this in the microwave, but watch it! I’ve had it spill up and over more than a few times …..)

ASSEMBLY

Spread the cooled custard on the cold cookie crust. Arrange fruit of your choice to cover the custard and allow to set completely before serving.

Lemon Meringue Pie

It’s really not spring here yet, but I can feel it’s arrival any day now, and what better way to celebrate than with lemon meringue pie. It is Grant’s favourite pie, and I just had to make it on a bright sunny day, feeling that this spring in particular is so welcome!

We were in such a hurry to eat the pie that my photo isn’t the best, and yes – I just can’t seem to get away from having the meringue weep! Still delicious….

LEMON CURD

  • 5 large egg yolks (save the whites for meringue below)
  • 1 1/3 cups of water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (yes – fresh is best!)
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, soft and at room temperature

Whisk egg yolks together and set aside.

Combine water, sugar, cornstarch, salt lemon juice and lemon zest in a medium heavy bottom saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring FREQUENTLY. Trust me, you don’t want this to burn. Once it thickens up, S L O W L Y stir a couple of tablespoons into the reserved egg yolks. Stir constantly and add another couple of tablespoons of the lemon sauce. Add the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the lemon mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. This will thicken and release large bubbles, demonstrating just how thick the mixture is. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, continuing to stir until the butter has melted.

Pour into partially baked pie crust. Set aside while you whip the meringue.

Preheat oven to 350

MERINGUE

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together on medium speed just until blended. Turn beaters to high and slowly add in the sugar and salt. Beat on high until stiff peaks form.

Using a large spoon dollop meringue all over the pie, being very careful to have it reach right to the edges, and touching the pie crust. (This will help to keep the meringue from separating away from the crust, and theoretically from weeping too much but mine always weeps??). Use the back of your large spoon to create swirls in the meringue.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, watching so it is just nicely browned.

Set on the counter for 1 hour and then put in the fridge for at least 4 hours to allow the lemon curd to set.

Check out my flaky pastry recipe for the best start to any pie!
Please!! Freshly squeezed lemon juice!!
Partially baked crust, warm lemon curd and just waiting for the meringue
Ready for the oven
The only tricky part of this whole recipe is waiting for the pie to completely cool down. This pie is best the day it is made, but without any family dinners, you just know Grant and I managed to make it last a few days and it was amazing right to the last bite.

One of my favourite sources for baking recipes is Sally’s Baking Addiction, and this lemon meringue pie recipe came straight from her blog. Make sure to check it out, she has so many great tips and videos to create amazing treats.

Plum Torte

Or, Sugar Plum Fairy Cake as Leah called it. This is without doubt the most amazing result for the least effort! A quick cake batter that rises beautifully around the plums and your whole house smells like the closing days of summer with those purple plums and cinnamon in the oven.

All those little crevices hold delicious Italian plums!
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 12 (ish) plums, pitted and quartered
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • cinnamon (anywhere from 1 tsp to 1 tbsp depending on your love of cinnamon)
  • raw sugar (again depending on how much crunch you want)

Heat oven to 350. Prepare a 9 inch springform pan, by lightly spraying with cooking spray, or if like me, you don’t have one that size just use a 9 inch cake pan lined with parchment.

Cream butter & sugar together until light yellow and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time until mixture is again light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Stir just until combined.

Pour into prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Lay your quartered plums around the top.

Sprinkle first with lemon juice, then sprinkle cinnamon over. I didn’t even measure – just sprinkled until it looked good to me. Lastly, sprinkle raw sugar over top, covering all areas, but not so much you can’t see plums! (Of course you could use granulated sugar, but I love the extra crunch of raw sugar).

Bake about 45-50 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool on rack and remove from pan.

This would probably work equally well with any stone fruit, but I’ve only tried it with plums. Let me know if you do try it with another fruit.

This recipe comes from smitten kitchen.com and Deb Perelman claims that it tastes even better the next day, but we certainly didn’t let that happen …..

Look at how many plums are on there, yet the batter rose up above and hid them all!
Ready for the oven, you can see the raw sugar on top, but still see all the fruit as well as the batter.

Strawberry Shortcake

This is my favourite basic white cake recipe.  It is quick and easy to do – light, fluffy, and tastes great.  In the spring it is the perfect way to make strawberry shortcake for any occasion.

SS 2

CAKE

1 cup white sugar
1⁄2 cup butter (soft)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3⁄4 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Grease and flour a 9×9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.  If you want to make a 9 x 13 cake, or a layer cake, double this recipe.

In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.

Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk until batter is smooth.

Scoop batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch, and a toothpick or tester comes out clean.

IMG_5162

This might just be sweet little Stella’s first whipped cream beater to lick …. but shhhh – don’t tell anyone, Mom and Dad are away!

SS 1

5 YEARS LATER – Stella is just as sweet, but now she’s serving up the desserts!

Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles 6

The ultimate Snickerdoodle, courtesy of Heather, these ones made by her daughter Emily.  Just thin enough to be tender and chewy.

Have you ever noticed how many recipes are out there for Snickerdoodles?  They are everywhere, and I’ve tried a lot of them.  Some get quite complicated with refrigeration time required, shaping instructions, and the list goes on.  Ultimately, what I’m looking for  just isn’t that complicated.  This recipe is perfect, and make the best cookies, so quit looking for another snickerdoodle cookie recipe and get baking.  You won’t be sorry.

Whisk together:

  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 tsp cinnamon

Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350

Whisk until well blended:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

(alternatively you could omit the cream of tartar & baking soda, just use 3 tsp of baking powder)

Beat in a large bowl:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar

When light and fluffy, beat in:

  • 2 large eggs

Stir in the dry ingredients until cookies are well blended.  Form cookies into balls (about 1 1/4 inch), roll in cinnamon & sugar mixture and place on parchment lined baking sheet, about 2 1/2 inches apart.  Give them LOTS of space as they do spread.

Bake one sheet of cookies at a time.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, just until very lightly browned at the edges.  Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before removing and placing on a cooling rack.

Snickerdoodles 5

I put these ones too close together, and they kind of all ran into each other ….. I might fail shape class but they were still delicious.

Our friend Heather makes the most beautiful cookies, they are seriously works of art.  Needless to say, when struggling with trying to find a recipe, I turned to her.  She provided this one, with the news that it came from Joy of Cooking!

Snickerdoodles 7

Heather’s daughter Emily will no doubt be as skilled with cookies as Heather is.

Baking with my girls is the best – they are getting so good at measuring – love Stella’s attention to the scale to make sure all the cookies are the same size.  (no, you don’t need to do that, but it sure kept her busy)

Baking

Really, it doesn’t seem that long ago I was baking with these two little cuties.  Now they have little cuties of their own, and I’m baking with the next generation too.  

 

 

 

Pumpkin Donuts with Maple Glaze

Need a quick dessert?  Not tired of pumpkin yet?  Here you go – ready for the oven in about 10 minutes, and the glaze just takes minutes.  Not only will the house smell amazing, dessert will be awesome!

Pumpkin donuts 1

Spend a few dollars and buy yourself a silicone donut mold, I’ve had so much fun with it!

Doughnuts:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  1. For the doughnuts: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.
  3. Beat the pumpkin puree, sugar, vegetable oil, butter, vanilla and eggs and together in another large bowl until smooth.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture and beat until just combined.
  5. Fill three 6-cup nonstick doughnut pans with the batter so that each mold is almost full. Smooth the tops with a moistened finger.  (I always put my batter into a ziplock bag and pipe it into the molds, so much easier, and way less messy)
  6. Bake the doughnuts until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Invert the doughnuts onto a cooling rack.

(I never seem to have pumpkin pie spice, so you can easily mix up 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger and 1/4 tsp each of cloves and freshly ground nutmeg to equal the 2 tsp)

pumpkin donuts 3

Dry ingredients whisked, and the wet stuff in my stand mixer, but you could easily do it all by hand, it only takes a few minutes to come together.

pumpkin donuts 2

pumpkin donuts 4

Once you get it all together, don’t overtax!  Just enough to bring it all together.

 

Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar (this is important – gets rid of lumps!)
  • optional: 1/2 teaspoon maple extract

Heat butter and maple syrup in small sauce pan, just until butter is melted.  Quickly whisk in the sifted confectioners’ (icing) sugar until smooth.

It is best if you make this before the donuts as that allows the glaze to thicken slightly.

Dip the slightly cooled donuts in the glaze and allow to cool.  Best served that day, but no one is going to complain about a day old donut!  This makes enough to generously DOUBLE DIP about 12 donuts.  Seriously, go for the double dip, that maple glaze is killer good and courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction – check out her blog, all her recipes are great.

The donuts however, come from Valerie Bertinelli’s show and I’ve never had a fail on one of her recipes – they are so good and usually pretty quick to make.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

The first fresh fruit pie of the season … strawberries and rhubarb are ripe at about the same time and those two belong together!  The strawberries are sweet, and the rhubarb is tart …. its a perfect match.

Strawberr rhubarb pie 3

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 recipe unbaked double pie crust
  • 2 1/2 cup rhubarb, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 large stalks)
  • 2 1/2 cups hulled and sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

Strawberry rhubarb pie

When the fruit looks this fresh, colourful and juicy you just know the pie will be perfect.

NSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Prepare the bottom crust by rolling out one of the pastry disks to an 11-inch circle. Nestle the crust inside the pan so about an inch hangs over the sides. Press the pastry down. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Mix the fruit with the sugar, flour (or cornstarch) and lemon zest. Using the tines of a fork, poke the bottom of the pie crust evenly about five times. Pour the fruit mixture into the chilled pastry. Dot with the butter pieces.
  4. Moisten the edge of the bottom crust with a finger dipped in water. Put on the top pastry in one piece and slice in a few air vents, or in a lattice pattern, trim, and crimp the edges.
  5. Brush the egg glaze over the crust. Transfer the pie to a baking sheet.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350°F and bake another 30 minutes longer, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack before serving.
  8. Strawberry rhubarb pie 2

    I have a fancy little roller press that cuts this lattice pattern, but I can never get it onto the pie with it all looking smooth and even … I think I prefer just doing an old fashioned lattice … stay tuned for a photo next time I do that!

    Strawberry rhubarb pie 4

    Cut the pie while it is still warm, and you will end up with juices running … still delicious, but if you want it to be a firm slice, let it cool for at least a couple of hours.

    Strawberry rhubarb pie 5

     

     

Raspberry Macaroons

Raspberry macaroons

So pretty, these raspberry macaroons are absolutely delicious.

  • 1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 Package (6 ounces) Driscoll’s Raspberries
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 4 packed cups unsweetened shredded or fine flake coconut (7 ½ ounces/212g)
  • 1 Tsp. salt
  • 1 Tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 Ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 Tsp. coconut oil
  • PREHEAT oven to 325˚F.
  • LINE two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • PLACE 1/4 cup sugar to a medium bowl.
  • ADD 1 package raspberries.
  • MASH mixture with a fork or muddler until berries are broken down.
  • SET ASIDE raspberry mixture to macerate, about 2 minutes.
  • PLACE remaining 1 cup sugar into bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment.
  • ADD 4 eggs whites.
  • WHISK mixture on high speed until foamy.
  • ADD raspberry mixture, 4 cups coconut, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon vanilla.
  • WHISK until well combined.
  • ADD more coconut as needed to make sure all liquid is absorbed into mixture.

    Raspberry macaroons 4

    Depending on how juicy your raspberries are, it may take up to a cup of additional coconut in order to get the right texture.

  • SCOOP 2-tablespoon-sized macaroons onto prepared baking sheets.
  • PRESS and PAT surface of macaroons with fingertips to ensure they look tidy and don’t crack while baking.
    Raspberry Macaroons 5
  • BAKE for about 30 minutes or until the tops are dry and lightly golden brown and ROTATEsheets halfway through bake.
  • PLACE baking sheets onto cooling racks.

    Raspberry macaroons 2

    Bake until just lightly golden.

  • ALLOW macaroons to cool for about 10 minutes.
  • PLACE 6 ounces dark chocolate into a microwave safe bowl.
  • ADD 1 teaspoon coconut oil.
  • HEAT chocolate mixture in microwave for 15 seconds.
  • STIR chocolate mixture.
  • CONTINUE heating and stirring chocolate in microwave in brief intervals until completely melted.
  • DIP bottoms of macaroons into melted chocolate.
  • DRIZZLE tops of macaroons with remaining melted chocolate as desired.
    Raspberry Macaroons 1
  • CHILL macaroons in refrigerator until chocolate is set, about 20 minutes.
  • ALLOW macaroons to come to room temperature before serving.Raspberry macaroons 3

I watched a video on Instagram from feedfeed, and they made these macaroons with blackberries – they looked so delicious, and I had everything already in the house, as long as I worked with raspberries instead of blackberries – the recipe came from Driscoll’s Berry website.

Oatmeal Coconut Cookies

 

Oatmeal cookies 6

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1½ cups quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1/2  cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  • 1 cup coconut, shredded

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Oatmeal cookies 1

Make sure you beat the butter, sugar, egg & vanilla mixture until it is fluffy before stirring in the dry ingredients.  Only stir until everything is combined.

  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. In a bowl of a standup mixer, cream together the sugars and butter. Add in the eggs and vanilla and beat well. Slowly add the flour mixture and continue to mix in batches. Stir in the coconut, oats, cranberries and walnuts.

Oatmeal cookies 2

  1. Using a 1¼” cookie scoop (or small spoon) drop small balls on a ungreased cookie sheet spacing 2″ apart. Bake for 12-14 min. or until golden brown. Cool on cookie racks. Store in airtight containers. Will freeze well.

Oatmeal cookies 4

Oatmeal cookies 5

Crispy on the edges, chewy in the middle, these oatmeal coconut cookies are fantastic!

 

Irresistible Turtle Cheesecake

turtle cheesecake 4

Not sure how a cheesecake can be creamy, delectable and somehow light at the same time.  As an added bonus, it’s easy to make.

 

3 cups cups finely crushed chocolate wafers (or use a combo of graham and chocolate wafers)

3 Tbsp. butter, melted – use your judgement, may take a little more to get the crumbs to stick together
1/4 cup caramel sauce (plus more for drizzle)
1/4 cup chocolate sauce (plus more for drizzle)
1 cup chopped and roasted pecans
3 pkg. (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3 eggs
I used a 9 1/2″ springform pan for this cake – depending on the size of your pan, you may need to adjust slightly for the amount of crumb.
Heat oven to 325°F.
Combine cookie crumbs and butter; press onto bottom and 1-1/2 inches up side of 9 1/2 inch springform pan.
Sprinkle toasted and chopped pecans over crust layer, and top with the caramel sauce.

turtle cheesecake 1

I used a combination of chocolate and graham crumbs and really loved the way it turned out,

Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in large bowl with mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each one, until really smooth.  Pour over caramel layer in crust.  With an offset spatula smooth the top.
I always like to bake my cheesecakes in a water bath – this makes them even smoother and creamier, as well as less likely to crack on top.
turtle cheesecake 2
TIP – Double wrap your cheesecake pan with foil, then set in large roasting pan.  Put this in your preheated oven, and ONLY THEN fill with hot water until about 1/2 way up the sides of the springform pan.
Bake 1 hour 5 min. to 1 hour 10 min. or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake; cool before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.
turtle cheesecake 3
When the cake is completely cooled, remove from springform pan and sprinkle reserved pecans over.  Then drizzle with both caramel and chocolate sauces.  Irresistible.
turtle cheesecake 5
You can be as creative as you like with both the caramel and chocolate sauces.  They are easy enough to make, but if you are inclined to take it easy on yourself, just buy them.