Truth be told, I made a lot of truffles today. Three batches, actually. I had a big ol’ truffle party in the kitchen, with chocolate dripping everywhere and smudged on my cheeks, too. In addition to the peanut butter richness I posted earlier, I made the recipe exactly as written by The Irreverent Kitchen, and then an á l’orange version to utilize some of our 2016 citrus crop.
We are in truffle high cotton here at Glover Gardens.
To make the Truffles á L’Orange, follow the simple and wonderful recipe from The Irreverent Kitchen, using Cointreau where it calls for a liqueur, and adding 1 tsp. of grated orange zest. Then roll them in either cocoa or powdered sugar. Of all the variations I created today, these had the most sophisticated taste.
For the longest time, I’ve been meaning to make the truffle recipe from the post by The Irreverent Kitchen. I didn’t get to it with my 2016 holiday baking, but finally had time today in advance of Valentine’s as a gift for the Grill-Meister. They were terrific!
Because it’s how I roll, I made two batches, one with the original and one with a variation – and it worked! The Grill-Meister loves peanut butter, and thus the Peanut Butter Frangelico Truffles were born.
Visit The Irreverent Kitchen for the original recipe, and if you’re interested in my variation, use Frangelico for the liquor, and add 1/2 cup peanut butter after the chocolate and butter are melted. Then dip them in melted dipping chocolate (the kind you would use to dip strawberries) and top with either sea salt or Heath Bar (toffee and chocolate) bits. I highly recommend making both the original and a variation – there’s never a problem having a double batch of chocolate truffles. (Some of ours are going to a friend’s house this evening as our contribution to dinner.)
I don’t bake very often, but sometimes, you just gotta. That was me yesterday.
The backstory: my Aunt-Mom was responsible for the dessert at Christmas dinner this past year and found a terrific recipe on Epicurious for Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. It was originally published in Gourmet magazine in 2000, and her execution of the recipe was flawless.
It got rave reviews from the Grill-Meister:
so moist! so tasty! dense like a pound cake! love the brown sugar caramel-like glaze on top!
In addition to all that food-gushing, I like that the recipe calls for fresh pineapple and forgoes the neon blast of unnatural color and flavor from the maraschino cherries that always came to the upside down pineapple party in the past. I was curious about when that strange addition became the norm for its poor pineapple partner and stumbled on a terrific history lesson about pineapple upside down cakes (see the link in Resources below).
I had an opportunity yesterday to support a friend with a food contribution for a family gathering after a memorial service and thought this cake would be just right. The Grill-Meister agreed, with a caveat: please, please, please make two and keep one at home. (The cake at Christmas was that good, remember: “so moist! so tasty! dense like a pound cake! love the brown sugar caramel-like glaze on top!”)
Along with the Grill-Meister, I can highly recommend this recipe. Aunt-Mom, you done good!
My upside-down cooking experience is shown below, and the recipe from Epicurious is at the bottom of the post.
If you make the recipe, you might want to look at the reviews from other (very enthusiastic) bakers. My recommendations are to bake the cake for a little less time than recommended, use slightly less cardamom, and don’t skimp on the rum drizzle at the end.
The cake travels well and is a good one to bring to parties. Epicurious says it serves 8, but I think it’s about double that number, because the cake is so rich that you can reasonably serve smaller pieces than this shown above.
We had a tiny dinner party last night and I took a chance by making a new dessert for the first time. If you’ve stumbled onto my About page, you’ll know that I’m just not much of a sweets enthusiast. But my risk-taking paid off and the Chocolate Orange Pots delighted the Grill-Meister and our guests, who gushed their appreciation:
This is the best thing I’ve tasted in a long, long time.
The recipe came to me by way of the Recipe Reminiscing blog. The author, whose moniker is TidiousTed, is doing a public service by resurrecting the ghosts of culinary classics. I found the recipe he posted for “Chocolate Orange Pots” when I was searching for interesting things to do with our just-harvested Glover Gardens orange crop.
I adjusted the recipe and made it my own, most notably using semi-sweet instead of plain chocolate and Cointreau instead of Curacao. I had tasted the Curacao before using it – thank goodness! – and found it to be cloyingly sweet and not very orange-y. The Cointreau has more of the slightly bitter tang of orange peel.
The recipe serves between 4 and 8 people, depending on how large you want the portions to be. It is very rich, but the orange zest provides a great balance to the mouthfeel of the chocolate and cream. We served shots of freshly squeezed orange juice alongside the dessert, and it was heavenly. If you have a need for an impressive, decadent, and yet relatively easy dessert for a dinner party, this one will not disappoint. Be sure and make it a few hours ahead of time so it can chill nicely.
Decadent Chocolate Orange Pots
Ingredients (serves 4 – 8)
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces, plus 1 tsp. grated semi-sweet chocolate
rind of 1 small orange, finely grated
3 eggs, separated and whisked lightly with a fork
3 tbsp. Cointreau
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. granulated sugar
juice of 1 orange
orange rind spirals
Melt the chocolate, either by stirring in a metal bowl over a pan of hot water, or by following the instructions on the package to melt in the microwave. Let cool slightly (removing from the pan of water if you used that method).
Stir in the orange rind, egg yolks and Cointreau. Stir well and set aside. Using a mixer, whip 1 cup of the cream until thick, then in a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold the cream and egg whítes into the chocolate mixture. Pour into custard cups and chill.
Beat the other cup of cream with vanilla and sugar until it forms soft peaks and spoon it onto the chocolate pots after they are well chilled. Garnish with orange rind spirals and grated chocolate.
If you’re read my About page, you’ll know that I am a sucker for savory food. Sweets, not so much. But cookies are different – they’re not desserts; they’re in a category all their own. I love cookies.
You can have cookies at any time of they day or night. They feel like a little present to yourself. They also make great presents for others. Cookies inspire happiness.
These bar cookies are inspired by an old recipe from the now-defunct California Pistachio Commission. I played around with the recipe and made a few changes, and now these bars are a must-have during at Christmas at Glover Gardens. They’d be good any time of year, but we just make them for the holidays.
The appeal of these bars is their diversity: the nuts provide a salty crunch and the sweet, soft gooeyness of the raspberry jam perfectly compliments the crumbly, shortbread-like crust.
Depending on the size of the baking dish you use, the recipe makes about 30-40 bars. You can use an 8×8, 9×9, or even 8×11 baking dish. I like the 8×11 oblong because the bars are a little thinner.
½ lb. butter (two sticks), softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2/3 – 1 cup raspberry preserves or jam (or any favorite jam or preserves)
1 cup fancy mixed salted nuts, roughly chopped (I often use Planter’s Pistachio-Lovers Mix, which also includes almonds and cashews)
Lightly grease a 9-inch square pan (or similarly-sized rectangular pan). Preheat oven to 325 F. Combine butter, sugar and egg in a mixer or large bowl; beat until blended. Stir in flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Divide the dough in half and and use your hands to pat / spread one half over the bottom of the pan, setting the other half aside. Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven. The crust will still be soft at this point.
While the dough is baking, add the mixed nuts to the remaining dough and stir until blended. Heat the jam in a microwave-safe dish in the microwave and stir until it is warm enough to pour, then spread it over the hot crust. (Use 2/3 cup if you are baking in a square pan, and 1 cup if you are baking in a larger, oblong pan.)
Use a spoon to drop the remaining dough in small amounts over the jam to cover. It is OK if small areas of jam “peek through,” as this will make for a beautiful presentation. Return the bars to the oven and bake for about 35 more minutes (until the top is golden brown). You can turn the broiler on for the last two minutes if you’d like a browner crust.
Remove from the oven, cool, and cut into squares.
If you’re serving these bars in a dessert buffet, they can be cut in smaller, bite-size pieces. But beware – they are addictive!
I’ve waxed poetic about my love of food magazines before, and there’s no better time to dive into them than the holiday season. So many recipes that have become staples in our family first made it into our kitchen from the pages of a magazine, like this 2013 recipe for Salted-Caramel Chocolate Pecan Pie from Southern Living. The Grill-Meister is also a Pie-Meister, and he dog-eared the page with this recipe immediately when he got his hands on my copy of the Thanksgiving issue that year.
The Grill-Meister’s nose for picking a good recipe is finely honed and he hit a home run with this one.
The pie is a wonderful mix of textures – the crunch of the toasted pecans with their caramel glaze and sea salt garnish balances perfectly with the soft, fudge-like filling. The recipe was very straightforward and relatively simple, and the results from the home kitchen look every bit as appealing as the food magazine pie. (Don’t you hate it when the magazine images are impossible to recreate at home?) The Grill-Meister’s pie is shown below. I think he should make it again this year, don’t you?
Who doesn’t love a big, soft, goodie-packed cookie? I found a great basic oatmeal cookie recipe on the Quaker Oats lid, and have been “doctoring it” for years with yummy additions like dried cranberries and chocolate chips. It’s one of those recipes that changes almost every time I make it, but I’ve captured the essence of it here.
The Grill-Meister and I decided to call them “Comfort Cookies,” because they evoke a feeling of home and hearth.
Comfort Cookies are sturdy and travel well. In our family, they’ve been a staple on road trips, are a great Welcome Home! offering and have delighted many a Little Leaguer as the post-game snack. Friends of Glover Gardens have been the happy recipients of these cookies for many, many years.
Makes 3 dozen jumbo cookies or 5 dozen regular.
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
¾ tsp. salt
2 sticks of butter, softened
¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
3 cups of dried oats/oatmeal (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
½ cup regular or golden raisins (I prefer golden)
1 cup dried cranberries or cherries
1¼ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
12 oz. package of semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ 12 oz. package of white chocolate chips (about ¾ cup)
½ 12 oz. package of peanut butter chips (about ¾ cup)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl and stir to mix well. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed of electric mixer until light and fluffy (or use a stand mixer). Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, mix well. Add oats, raisins, dried cranberries or cherries, nuts and chocolate and peanut butter chips. Stir until just blended.
Drop dough onto ungreased cookie sheets in your desired size: a rounded tablespoon will make cookies that are about 2 inches in diameter; about ¼ cup of dough will make a jumbo cookie. Bake 8 – 10 minutes for the smaller cookies or until light golden brown; jumbo cookies will require 12-14 minutes. Cool slightly on cookie sheets before removing to a wire rack.
These cookies are cousins of both Cowboy Cookies and Everything Cookies, but I like them just a bit better. They’ve got something for everyone and enough healthy ingredients and fiber that you don’t have to feel super-guilty about eating them. When my son was small, he would sometimes twist my arm to have them for breakfast, and with coffee, they make a nice breakfast treat for grownups. Good with milk, they also make a wonderful snack with a nightcap: try them with Frangelico or Kahlua.
Note: if you’re interested in the original recipe from the Quaker Oats box (before they changed it to make it healthier – and less yummy), another blogger has done a public service by posting it: click here.