Category: Dessert

Mini Mixed Berry Mascarpone Tarts

Mini Mixed Berry Mascarpone Tarts
Berries have just started appearing at farmers markets in Chicago. I spotted strawberries at a few stalls last week, and I expect to see more. Before we know it, all the tables will be crowded with berries. At the grocery it’s been summer for a while. Seeing berries on sale and back in their full-sized containers has me overbuying blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.

With Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer, it felt like the right time for a red, white and blue dessert. I made mini mixed berry mascarpone tarts that used up only a fraction of the berries I had bought. After baking the tart shells, I whipped up the filling, a combination of mascarpone, yogurt and lemon zest. The tarts seemed kind of like a shortcut version of cheesecake.
Mini Mixed Berry Mascarpone Tarts
Mini Mixed Berry Mascarpone Tarts

Makes 6 tarts

For dough

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour plus more for work surface
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For filling
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup 2% vanilla yogurt
2-1/2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Zest of half a lemon

For topping

Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries (hulled and sliced)
Confectioners’ sugar

For the dough, pulse the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add the yolk and vanilla extract and mix until a dough forms. Pat the dough into a 1-inch-thick disk, cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough until it is 1/4-inch thick. Cut out rounds slightly larger than the 4-inch diameter tart pans. Press the dough into the pans and trim the edges. Re-roll the scraps as needed for the remaining pans. Place the six tarts on a sheet pan and bake for 18-22 minutes until golden brown. Cool the tarts completely.

For the filling, use an electric mixer to beat together the mascarpone, yogurt, confectioners’ sugar and lemon zest until smooth. Spoon the filling into the tart shells and arrange the berries on top. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies

Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies
I was a bit late to the spicy food party. I don’t know remember exactly when or why I decided to be brave when it came to heat, but I’ve never looked back since. I love that buzzy feeling on my tongue when I bite into something spiked with a chile pepper, no matter if it’s savory or sweet. Actually, I can’t get enough when desserts are surprisingly spicy.

When I saw the recipe for these Mexican hot-chocolate cookies, I knew I had to try them. With their combination of cinnamon, cayenne pepper and semisweet chocolate, these had a lot more going on than your standard cookie. I brought them to a get-together with friends, and they were a hit. I might be baking another batch for Cinco de Mayo.
Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies
Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living May 2017

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup packed-dark brown sugar
1 large egg at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, roughly chopped
1/2 cup turbinado sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, cayenne and baking soda.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed until the dough is just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Roll the dough by the heaping tablespoon to create 1-inch diameter balls. Roll the balls in turbinado sugar before placing on the sheet pan 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies for 11-14 minutes until the tops are cracked. Cool for 5 minutes on the sheet pan before transferring to a wire rack. Once cooled completely, store in an airtight container.

Tin Roof Ice Cream

Tin Roof Ice Cream
I’m kind of a kitchen hoarder. Whether it’s pots, pans, or gadgets, I have a hard time getting rid of things because no matter how small the chance is that I will use something, I cling to that glimmer of hope that I might need it. I have the same approach when it comes to ingredients. I do everything I can to not waste food. That explains why I have a freezer full of baked goods and other odds & ends.

I had a bunch of frozen egg yolks in little baggies, so I figured the best way to get rid of them was a batch of ice cream. Since I’m such a fan of chocolate and peanuts, I made a quart of tin roof ice cream—chocolate covered peanuts with a fudge ripple in vanilla ice cream. I folded the peanuts into the ice cream right after it was churned and then alternated layers of ice cream and fudge before freezing.
Tin Roof Ice Cream
Tin Roof Ice Cream

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Makes about 1 quart

For ice cream
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For chocolate covered peanuts
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup roasted, salted peanuts

For fudge ripple
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
6 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the ice cream, pour 1 cup heavy cream into a large bowl and set aside. Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl.

Combine the milk, sugar, salt and remaining heavy cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until the sugar dissolves. Slowly whisk half the milk mixture into the yolks and then pour it back into the saucepan. Stir continuously until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into the bowl with the heavy cream and stir in the vanilla.

For the peanuts, melt the chocolate in a small saucepan over very low heat. Stir in the peanuts coating them in chocolate. Spread out the peanuts on a parchment-lined plate. Chill in the refrigerator until the chocolate hardens and then roughly chop.

For the fudge ripple, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan. Whisk the mixture constantly until it just starts to simmer. Continue whisking for 1 minute before removing from the heat. Stir in the vanilla extract and cool to room temperature. Chill completely in the refrigerator.

Churn the ice cream mixture in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions. Stir in the chocolate covered peanuts. In a quart-sized container, layer the fudge ripple and the ice cream in alternating layers, starting with the fudge. Freeze until firm.

Pretzel Shortbread Cookies

Pretzel Shortbread Cookies
I usually don’t complain about having too much snack food at home, especially pretzels. But when I was stuffing rubber-banded partial bags on top of each other, I knew the surplus had to go. It was time to clean house. I took what was left of pretzel rods that I had planned to dip in chocolate and candy, and I threw them in the food processor instead. In minutes I had pretzel flour.

I’ve made tart crust with pretzel flour, but this time I used it to make pretzel shortbread cookies. The dough was so crumbly that I baked it in a mini muffin pan. The result was a thick cookie with a dip in the center, some deeper than others. I melted bittersweet chocolate to drizzle on top, but you also could pour it in a puddle in the center for a super thumbprint cookie.
Pretzel Shortbread Cookies
Pretzel Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from Food52

Makes about 24 cookies

Non-stick cooking spray
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups pretzel flour (about 240 grams pretzels blended into flour)
Melted bittersweet chocolate for drizzling
Pearl sugar for decorating

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Beat in the pretzel flour until combined. Press the dough into each muffin cup about three-fourths full.

Bake the cookies 18-20 minutes until golden brown. Cool the cookies in the pan. Use a paring knife to cut around the edge of each cookie before lifting out of the pan. Drizzle with melted chocolate and sprinkle with pearl sugar.

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