I probably drive the BF crazy [Ed. note: like no one else, and for some reason I can't help myself], but I start asking him to choose his birthday cake-dessert about a month before his birthday. Usually give a choice of some great found recipe that includes either apples, caramel, butterscotch or lemon. Love hunting for the perfect recipe, with the goal of getting his eyes to bug out.
These apple pie bars are a client favorite, and whenever I make them the BF ends up in the kitchen, plaintively staring and asking if there are "extras." [Ed. note: "Oh those were for the clients?"] Needless to say the dessert has become one of his favorites, so I decided to make it for his birthday in lieu of a traditional cake. This was a very special birthday, by the way. [Ed. note: #LOLOLD]
One of the great things about this dessert is the shortbread dough is used for both the bottom crust and crumble on top. (Meaning there's no pie crust to roll out.) As the brilliant Ina Garten likes to say, "How easy is that?"
To really send it over the top, drizzle the bars with gooey caramel (optional, but recommended). Perfectly okay to eat with your hands, or dish/bowl them up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
In addition to offering an alternative to your everyday pedestrian cookie, these bars have another perk: they travel well. Simply wrap up the baking pan and cut the bars when you get to your destination. As for optimal portion size, Garten advises, "I cut the bars in fairly large 3 x 3-inch squares if I'm serving them on a plate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. If I'm serving them on a platter of small petits fours to pick up with your fingers, I'll cut them in smaller bite-size pieces."
PS: Speaking of Thanksgiving, a year ago we were thinking ahead with this whipped cranberry butter (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/whipped-cranberry-butter). Also, Adam Sandler sings!
PPS: Another client-approved holiday-time dessert, your friends and family won't know this yummy mini pumpkin cheesecake is sugar-free and low-carb. That is, unless you tell them. So don't. (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/mini-pumpkin-cheesecake-sugar-free-and-low-carb)
Adapted from: Ina Garten, Cooking For Jeffrey
Number of Servings: Makes one 9 x 13-inch pan
So this week marked the official return to school and, sniff, a signal that summer is coughing up its last gasp.
Time for dessert!
This sweet-tart, vibrantly colored crumble was a last-minute request for a recent dinner party. Pressed to come up with something quickly, I tried to steer away from more complicated desserts (i.e., no pie crusts to roll out, chill, crimp, blind bake, etc.), or even complicated fruits to steam, peel, or pit (cherries would have made this arduous). The nectarine, plum and raspberry triumvirate immensely simplified the process. No food processor or pastry cutter required. Prior to baking, it literally took ten minutes to prepare. [Ed. note: Damn, woman.]
I decided on a crumble as opposed to a streusel topping [Ed. note: Am so triggered by this I do not know what I should be triggered by], because I felt this particular fruit combo would have been overpowered by a spicy oatmeal and nut topping. Love streusel for apples, pears, blackberries and even blueberries, but this fruit combo needed something simpler, more delicate.
What is the difference between a crumble, crisp and cobbler? A crumble has a shortbread cookie-like topping. A crisp's topping is streusel based, typically made with spiced oatmeal and nuts, and a cobbler has biscuit dough dolloped on top.
Don't get me started on the Betty, pandowdy, or buckles, grunts and slumps!
PS: A year ago we broke out the Spiralizer for some healthy chicken parmesan with veggie noodles (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/healthy-chicken-parmesan-with-veggie-noodles).
PPS: Channeling the late Anthony Bourdain, things got a little NSFW with this sinful mac and cheese (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/anthony-bourdains-macaroni-and-cheese).
Crumble topping inspired by Smitten Kitchen
Number of servings: 6-8
"More people will come if they think we have punch and pie!"
~ Eric Theodore Cartman
Twenty-one years ago, four crudely animated foul-mouthed boys began their seemingly endless journey through grade school in the quaint, cozy mountain town of South Park. Through alien abductions, soul-singing chefs, cannabis-drenched towels, and commentary covering all possible levels of political incorrectness, one thing has been perpetually certain: Eric Cartman loves pie. Loves all desserts, actually.
Growing up, my siblings and I would ask my Mom, "Can we have dessert?" Her reply would often be, "Yes, you can have a piece of fruit." As if channeling Cartman, we would all bellow in unison, "But Mom, fruit is not a dessert."
Honestly, in this form, it really is.
Whenever I bake a pie, especially a blackberry pie, I recall the mother of my best childhood friend (Mrs. C). A master pie maker. She taught me how to make a pie from scratch.
We picked wild blackberries from her daughter's back yard. The berries were so plump, we filled the huge plastic bucket within 15 minutes. Of all the priceless baking tips Mrs. C gave, I'm most thankful for her method of thickening a pie filling with tapioca flour (a.k.a. tapioca starch) instead of cornstarch or all-purpose flour. Tapioca flour makes the filling bright and clear, whereas cornstarch or A.P. flour can give the filling a cloudy look and chalky taste.
This recipe is adapted from Julia Frey's blog Vikalinka. Besides some general streamlining, my changes include adding a bit of cinnamon to the filling, upping the amount of blackberries, and subbing tapioca flour in place of A.P. flour. I love her idea of topping the pie with honeyed creme fraiche (a favorite that really complements the blackberries well).
One note, if you're lucky enough to have wild blackberries in your backyard, use them (and I'm envious). If not, store bought will do just fine. If you're short on time, you can also use your favorite store-bought pie crust. Just don't forget the honeyed creme fraiche. More people will come if they think you have honeyed creme fraiche.
Adapted from: Vikalinka
Number of servings; 8
“Cut my pie into four pieces, I don’t think I could eat eight.”
- Yogi Berra
August 3 is the MIL/BF-mother's birthday (passed in 2016), and last year we got into some trouble with butterscotch (www.moveablefeast.me/blog/butterscotch-cookie-ice-cream-sandwiches), a favorite of hers.
She also loved anything with lemon or lime [Ed. note: Marie Callender's should have gone out of business, such was our love of their sour-cream varietals.], so this year I'm honoring her with a killer key lime pie adapted from Joe's Stone Crab restaurant in Miami. The BF definitely inherited the "tart" gene, and vociferously approves.
Creamy, tart filling with a raft of whipped cream on top, utterly addicting. It's also very easy to make, as in under an hour to assemble. Why don't I make this more often? [Ed. note: Because my primary care physician will send you a personal note, "Please stop."]
A perfect summer dessert, especially for those who possess the "tart" gene.
Adapted from: Joe's Stone Crab
Number of servings: 8
Graham Cracker Crust
Graham Cracker Crust
PS: One year ago...
BF's mom Kathy (far left) with friends, and Count Basie, at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, 1961.
I'm Jacquie, personal chef & recipe developer in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Lover of books, bourbon, chocolate and movies.