I made this pumpkin cheesecake for my brother’s birthday. It turned out beautifully. It is delightfully smooth and rich. Topping it with whipped cream and caramel sauce is actually unnecessary, but does make it look more festive. To make it gluten free, I used gluten-free graham crackers for this crust.
This recipe makes a pretty large cake and, for science, I have tested it and found it is a good breakfast cheesecake. I am looking forward to enjoying it over the next few days.
Yesterday, I was reading a blog post that offered advice on how to improve your life. The first step involved a little bit of introspection. One of the things you were supposed to determine was what single biggest thing would bring you joy, professionally or personally. I imagine that the author intended the reader to consider a longer timeframe than I did, but when I read that, I decided that the single biggest thing that would bring me joy at that moment was to make a cake, right then and there. So I made this.
And bring joy it did. It combines two of my favourite things–cardamom and cake.
This is a lovely, simple cake. It calls for a whole tablespoon of ground cardamom and melted butter. I baked mine in an 8-inch pan to help give it more height, so it took a little longer to bake. I chose not to put any sugar on top at all, leaving it naked. If you too are a cardamom fan, you should give it a try. This is an excellent breakfast cake (and an excellent end of the day cake, too).
Look at the colours in this cake! Red and white, perfect for Canada Day.
This cake is Smitten Kitchen’s Strawberry Brita Cake. It is a lemon-flavoured cake, made with only egg yolks, and topped with a meringue made from the egg whites. The lasagne-pan sized cake is cut lengthwise, and slathered in whipped cream and cut-up fresh strawberries.
My sister and niece made it for me recently, using a gluten-free flour blend. It was lovely and light. The strawberry flavour came through beautifully and the lemon in the cake was fantastic. I highly recommend it. Five out of five. Would eat again!
Of course, I was forced to take the leftovers home (tant pis pour moi…) and so I managed to have it for breakfast for a few days after. Living the dream.
I have mentioned before that I believe in eating Christmas treats out of season. One benefit of this, when it is a dessert that you like but is not popular with others, is that you don’t have to share it with people who are unworthy of it. Another is that you don’t have it in a season when most of us really don’t need more dessert options. You can eat it when you are able to truly appreciate it.
Recently, I decided to make this favourite of mine, fruit stollen. This recipe is a quick bread, rather than a yeast bread, which means it is fast to put together. The dough includes cream cheese, which makes it easy to work with. It comes from Anna Thomas’s lovely cookbook The Vegetarian Epicure.
I mostly follow the original recipe. I use orange juice, not brandy, to soak the dried fruit, and I double it. I also double the cardamom, using 1 teaspoon. I follow the original recipe for the fruit ingredients. It uses sultanas, currants and candied peel (1/2 cup, 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup for one loaf). The dough gets some of its richness from ground almonds. And I use a gluten-free flour blend.
The dough requires a bit of patience, but eventually the flour gets absorbed, and you are left with a pliable dough. You can then pat this out by hand, on parchment paper, to the size of your choice. The original recipe calls for an oval 8 x 10 inches, which you then fold over just off centre. This time, I made my oval slightly bigger. If you adjust the size, keep this in mind when baking it, as making it thinner or thicker will affect the baking time.
One other change I make is to add about a cup of marzipan to the centre. This bread is lovely as is and the marzipan is not needed, but it is does make it quite special. When it is finished, you dust the whole thing generously with icing sugar after it has cooled a little.
The flavours improve over time, making it better a day or two after baking. I enjoyed the piece above at my desk the day after it was made. The rest I have portioned out and frozen, ready for me to enjoy later this summer.
I have been rereading Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher novels. I recently started Murder in the Dark, which is set in the Christmas season, and got to a chapter which starts with an epigraph about figgy pudding from “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” The obsessive part of my brain kicked in, and I started researching figgy pudding recipes.
I like desserts with dark flavours. I love all things featuring mincemeat, love dark fruitcake, and am passionate about sticky toffee pudding (note to self: blog about STP sometime soon…). So, as I read the recipes, I felt that figgy pudding was right up my street. The recipes featured dates, raisins and figs. As I read on I realized that I actually had copious amounts of all of these dried fruits in my pantry. I also had a large amount of orange juice that needed to be used up, and I had been looking for a way to use it in baking.
This happy confluence led to me trying this recipe. Well, using it as a starting point. I love how she bakes it in individual ramekins. My batter ended up being quite large, so I baked it in a loaf pan. Other changes I made: I added more raisins, so some were in the pureed date and fig mixture and some were left whole; I used orange juice instead of water; I soaked the dried fruits in the orange juice for half an hour before I started cooking (and soaked the raisins that remained whole in more orange juice); I used white sugar instead of honey; and when I took it out of the oven, I spooned more orange juice over the warm cake.
It is delicious and fruity. There is a subtle cinnamon flavour that comes through as well. I had some heavy cream that needed using too, so I just poured some of that over the warm pudding.
The texture is lovely. It is tender and moist. It is a fantastic use of coconut flour, which is such a good binder.
I would happily serve this as a dessert. It is very comforting and perfect for when the weather is frigid. I plan to freeze some portions so I can enjoy it later. Maybe for breakfast. Maybe with custard. Or maybe with whipped cream… So I have lots to look forward to.
As part of my Christmas baking this year, I made these pecan shortbread. They go by many names–Mexican Mice, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Russian Teacakes, Snow Balls.
I made them with pecans (some ground, some chopped) and a gluten-free flour blend. When they are hot, you carefully coat them with icing sugar. The steam from the cookies helps it stick. The last time I made them, over 15 years ago (!), my niece dubbed them Dusty Thingies, which fits.
This time, I used a different recipe–a version that increases the amount of nuts in the batter. I did like the increase in nuts. However, I also like the richness of my tried-and-true recipe (from Edna Staebler’s Food That Really Schmecks). I guess that means that I will be forced to make these again, after Christmas, to get the perfect butter:nut:flour ratio… Such is life.
I have memories of making a recipe for squares obsessively when I was a kid. I remember that they had butterscotch chips and nuts. I loved the squares, and I made them whenever I was allowed to.
Many years later, the obsessive part of my nature has not disappeared. I have been searching, on and off, for a recipe that seemed similar to what I remember for a few years now. I have a feeling that the recipe came from my mother’s old Good Housekeeping cookbook, which is now in storage. So, whenever I thought about, I would do a deep dive into the internet and see what I could find.
Well, I eventually found this recipe. Of course, I had to try it. I bought fresh pecans, which was the only critical ingredient I didn’t have on hand. I used a gluten-free flour blend for the crust, plus a little in the filling. They turned out beautifully. They are reminiscent of a butter tart—a loaded butter tart, that is. The nuts and coconut and butterscotch chips all boost the square into something that is very moreish. And snacking on them is easy, because they are so small. The recipe says you can get 64 squares out of a batch. I got 42 rectangles, none of which were huge.
I was a bit concerned that they might be really sweet—my tastes have changed since I was eight… But they were really great. The coconut and nuts tempered the sweetness. It probably helped that I used unsweetened coconut, too.
These would be great to take to a potluck, give as a gift or serve as a company dessert. And they were well-received by gluten eaters—my brother declared that they were “not maliciously gluten-free,” which is high praise coming from him.
I don’t know if this is the same recipe, but it sure seems pretty close. And I will be making them again. Conveniently, I have enough pecans for a second batch.
Apparently, I am on a biscotti tear. I made these biscotti last night, using a gluten-free flour blend. They are packed with almonds and the batter is flavoured just with vanilla.
In this recipe, you roast the almonds before you add them to the batter. The cookies have a good crunch and, like the chocolate ones I made last week, they are not too sweet.
I am rarely content to leave a recipe alone, so I upped the almond content to two cups from one. Just so no one doubted that they were in fact almond biscotti. (This is generally my approach. If an ingredient is in the title of a dish, I am likely to go overboard with it.)
I made these so I would have a holiday treat to give to someone who is gluten-free. I have a feeling I will have no trouble disposing of the rest of them.
I made these vegan biscotti the other day, and they were a big hit.
I made them using a gluten-free flour blend. Instead of using chocolate chips, I just doubled up on the almonds. This meant they were packed with toasted almonds, which was fantastic. I also added some instant coffee powder into the liquid to help add depth to the cocoa flavour.
This is my second attempt at making gluten-free baking that is also vegan. My first attempt was a bit disastrous (that’s a story for another day…), but this time I was much stingier with my ground flax seed.
The finished cookies were a bit delicate, but surprisingly crunchy. I made them for an office function and impressed my colleagues, most of whom are used to eating biscotti made with wheat and eggs. I am now thinking about other biscotti flavours to try.