Friday, June 17, 2005

Black Bottom Cups

Today my mother and I went into the kitchen to bake together. After scanning through numerous cookbooks, my mother came across Italian Cherry Torte from Cocolat (which will be posted as soon as it is glazed to perfection). As we prepared the batter, we realized that it couldn't content our craving for something sweet right away (because of the long cooling and glazing process). So my mother appointed me to bake something simple that could be enjoyed right away: Black Bottom Cups from Pillsbury's More Lovin' from the Oven. They were easy to prepare and turned out deliciously fulfilling.

6 oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 c sugar
1 egg
1 c chocolate chips
1 1/2 c flour
1 c sugar
1/4 c cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 c water
1/3 c oil
1 tbs vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c chopped almonds (optional)
2 tbs sugar (optional)

Heat oven to 350F. Line 18 muffin cups with paper baking cups. In small bowl, combine cream cheese, 1/3 c sugar and egg; mix well. Stir in chocolate chips; set aside.

In large bowl, combine flour, 1 c sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add water, oil, vinegar and vanilla; beat 2 minutes at medium speed. Fill prepared muffin cups half full. Top each with a tablespoonful of cream cheese mixture. Combine almonds and 2 tbs of sugar if you are using them, sprinkle evenly over cream cheese mixture. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until cream cheese mixture is set. Cool 15 minutes before you remove from pans. Cool completely and enjoy.

Ligurian Lemon Cake

Since this cake was made after midnight when the household was fast asleep, it was a nice surprise for breakfast. What prompted me was half a box of raspberries in my refrigerator showing early signs of losing freshness. They were perfect to use in this cake recipe from Desserts by Pierre Herme, though. I halved the recipe and made it in my 8"x4" loaf pan instead of a springform pan, but I will give you the recipe as it appears in the book. This cake turned even better than I expected, moist and flavorful; probably due to the unexpected addition of extra-virgin olive oil. I am tempted to try it with blackberries next time. The only problem was that my lemon peel included the pith as well as the zest, and you could taste a hint of bitterness in the cake. I guess this is a good excuse to finally acquire a zester.

In case you are wondering about the name of this cake, check this link.

1 3/4 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar
Zest of 2 lemons, very finely chopped
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tbs whole milk
1 tbs lemon juice
7 tbs unsalted butter, melted and still warm
2/3 c mild extra-virgin oil
About 1 pint fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 10" round cake or springform pan. Dust the interior with flour.

Sift the flour and baking powder together and reserve.

Place the sugar and chopped zest in the bowl of a mixer and rub the ingredients together between your fingers until the sugar is very aromatic. Add the eggs and beat on medium-high for about 3 minutes. Set the beater on low, and add the milk. Add the sifted dry ingredients, beating only until they are incorporated, and then add the lemon juice, warm melted butter and olive oil, again beating only until blended.

Pour about one third of the batter into the prepared pan. Top with the raspberries, then pour on the rest of the batter, making sure that it covers and goes in between the berries. You'll have a thin layer of batter covering the berries.

Bake the cake for 30-33 minutes or until golden in color and pulling away from the sides of the pan. Immediately unmold it, and invert so that the right side is up. Cool it to room temperature.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Apricot Cheesecake Tart

This original recipe for this refreshing dessert is from the Cake Bible by Rose Beranbaum. (I made some modifications, but I will also include notes on Rose's original recipe.) The tart was particularly liked by Mehmet who demonstrated this by eating three slices in one sitting and Yurdaer who confessed to preferring "harmonious desserts" such as this one to my recent experiments with contrasting tastes. He is right, there are no contrasts here, apricots simply rule! Rose said that the tart becomes even better the following day as the flavors blend and become more mellow, but I guess this will have to be tested the next time I make it as it has already almost disappeared.

1 recipe pie crust pastry (Rose used cream cheese pie crust pastry instead.)
1 1/2 lb firm apricots, poached (recipe below)
1 egg
1 egg white to brush on baked crust (optional)
3/4 c apricot preserves
2 tsp apricot syrup or orange juice, divided
2 oz (3 1/2 tbs) cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp almond extract (Rose used a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg instead)
3/4 c creme fraiche or heavy cream

A day before you plan to make the tart, cut the apricots in half and remove and discard the pits. Sprinkle them with 2 tsp of lemon juice. Stir 4 cups of water with 1 cup of sugar over high heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add 1tbs corn syrup and heat until simmering. Add the apricots to the sugar syrup and simmer over low heat for 4 to 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the apricots to a bowl with ice cold water. Allow the syrup to cool completely; return the drained apricots to the cooled syrup, cover and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 8 hours, or refrigerate them for up to 3 days. If all this sounds too complicated, just use 2 15 oz cans of apricots in syrup instead.

Use the pie crust pastry to line a 11-inch removable bottom tart pan and prebake it. You may brush it with an egg white while still warm to moisture-proof the crust. (Of course, I forgot to do it again.) Meanwhile, drain the apricots and place them on a paper towel to dry. Heat the preserves, stir in 1 tsp of apricot syrup or orange juice and strain to a small bowl. Brush the bottom of the tart pan with 2 tbs of the strained preserves; set the remainder aside to be used as a glaze later.

In a food processor, process the cream cheese and almond extract until smooth. Scrape down the sides. Add the cream, 1 egg, the remaining apricot syrup or orange juice. Process with 3 short pulses, just to mix. The mixture will be lumpy, but do not process any longer.

Pour about half of the filling into the prepared crust. Place the apricots on it, Carefully pour the remaining filling around the apricots so that it does not coat the tops. Bake for 30-35 minutes in a preheated 375F oven or until the cheese filling is puffed and slightly browned. Cool. Reheat the preserves, and spoon evenly over the top of the apricots and filling. Chill for at least 1 hour before unmolding.

Cream Puffs--Take One

Yesterday, I tried to make cream puffs for the first time. I was aiming at large cream puffs like the Choux Factory ones. (Actually, I am starting to think that those were fried rather than baked as they were very soft) Taking Hatice's advice, I left them in the oven for about half an hour to dry at the end of the baking period. However cutting them in half after they cooled off still revealed quite a bit of uncooked dough inside. It may have been the very high cooking temperature, or the short cooking period, or maybe a little of both. The sheer size of the puffs may also have contributed. Anyway, I discarded the doughy parts as much as I could, and put them back in the oven briefly. This time they came out crunchy rather than soft. I used sweetened whipped cream and raspberries as filling, and dusted the puffs generously with powdered sugar. They were good after resting in the refrigerator until next day, but there is definitely room for improvement! That is why there is no recipe for now, it will follow after a more succesful attempt.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Chocolate Truffle Tart

This is a very rich and a very satisfying chocolate dessert from the Best Loved Land O Lakes Recipes. Filling is fairly easy to prepare. The amount of the chocolate that goes into the filling may seem a little overdone, but since I used smaller size pan I was able to fill one pie pan completely and half way with another one. I had a little hard time spreading the crust to the pie pan. But it is one of the most tasty crust recipes I ever tried. Chocolate and the nuts go very well together. I made this pie for the Haverstraw library. One friend asked for the recipe, she tried it and she said her family liked it very much. Her daugther told her that it was so sinfully delicious, after she finished her slice she felt like confessing to a priest.


1 3/4 c very finely chopped pecans
2/3 c sugar
1/4 c butter, melted


2 c whipping cream
16 oz semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or 2 2/3 c chocolate chips)

Heat oven to 350F. In medium bowl, stir together all crust ingredients. Firmly press on bottom and up sides of 12-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Place on cookie sheet. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely.

In a 2 quart saucepan, place 2 c whipping cream. Cook over medium heat until whipping cream just comes to a boil (5 to 8 minutes). Remove from heat; stir in chocolate until completely melted (2 to 3 minutes). Pour into cooled crust. Refrigerate until set (at least 2 hours).

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Cake'n Cheese Cake

This year we have 3 children graduating high school and 3 graduating lower school in our community, so we had a barbecue at Ayca's today to honor the new graduates. I made this cake from a Pillsbury booklet for dessert. It is a great choice for those who cannot decide whether they want cake or cheesecake since it is a little bit of both. We served it with--you guessed it--Rose's raspberry sauce. (I realize that I recently posted many desserts served with the same sauce, but there is something that calls for fruit in this kind of hot weather, and if the dessert itself is not a fruity one, I feel that the accompanying fruit sauce will serve the purpose.) By the way, I am back to my old camera once again since the other one had an accident, so the picture quality will suffer for a while.


1 (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
2/3 c sugar
1/2 c sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs


1 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
dash salt
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
2/3 c sugar
2 eggs
1 tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla


1 c sour cream
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Heat oven to 325F. Grease and flour bottom of 9-inch springform pan. For the cheese filling, beat cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the sour cream and vanilla; mix well. Add eggs one at a time, beating at low speed. Set aside.

For the cake, combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In another bigger bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in milk and vanilla. Add dry ingredients at low speed until moistened. Beat 1 minute at medium speed. Spread cake batter at the bottom of prepared pan. Pour cream cheese filling over batter. Bake at 325F for 40-45 minutes or until chesecake is almost set in center and cake is golden brown.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine all topping ingredients. Remove cake from oven; spread evenly with topping. Bake an additional 5 minutes. Cool and refrigerate 3-4 hours before serving.

To make the pattern on the sauce, put a little sauce on the serving plate and make sure it covers the plate uniformly by tilting the plate back and forth. Put a little heavy cream in a squirt bottle and pipe a spiral pattern on the sauce. Then take a skewer or toothpick, and draw on the sauce, mixing the sauce and cream in any pattern you like.

San Diego's "Extraordinary Desserts"

Banana Cream Tartelette Posted by Hello

Truffe Framboise Posted by Hello

Tonight we visited San Diego’s famous café called “Extraordinary Desserts”. We waited in a long queue for well over 20 minutes until it was our turn to place order. We left around 10 pm, and queue was even longer than when we arrived. But the wait was worthwhile. On Fridays and Saturdays they close at midnight. It was very difficult to decide what to get as selection of desserts was endless. Karen Krasne is the owner and pastry chef who traveled around the world in seek of the best pastry studies. These two links have some more info about the owner and her elegant café:

Best of California
Official Site

If you ever come to San Diego, this place is a must see.

P.S. My choice was "Banana Cream Tartelette" and Halit's was "Truffe Framboise". They were both incredibly delicious.