Tag Archives: dessert

Chocolate Caramel Pudding

29 Apr

I’ve been told the problem with caramel is that once you learn how simple it is to make it, suddenly all your recipes with sugar become recipes with caramel. This is completely true.

The first time I made caramel, I was following a recipe for a Jerusalem kugel, which instructed me to make the caramel with a 1/4 cup oil in a shallow frying pan. This resulted in an absolutely terrifying ten minutes with the exhaust fan going and me explaining to Ben how I was absolutely certain I was going to burn the apartment down, detailing my emergency evacuation plan since we don’t have a good fire extinguisher.

Because I’m a masochist when it comes to cooking, I kept trying the same recipe, and then different recipes. Eventually, I found one that told me to make caramel in a dry saucepan. BINGO.

You start off with plain white sugar in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring constantly. First, it gets a little moist, like wet sand. Then it starts clumping more, with rough shards. As you keep stirring, eventually it starts to turn a light golden color and melt all liquidy lovely. Once it’s all melted, you’ll find it’s suddenly a very liquid caramel, and you can now proceed in one of several ways. If you add milk and cornstarch, you have pudding. See below.

DAIRY SUBSTITUTIONS:

This uses soy milk in place of milk. You can also use almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, or anything that makes you happy. I happened to have a coupon for Silk (which I usually don’t buy because it’s the same price as the Westsoy only not organic, PLUS the unsweetened Silk soy milk is sweet), so I had a half-gallon in the fridge. Which means I used soy milk this time.

THE RECIPE:

Combine the following in a measuring cup (or whatever container suits your fancy, but I don’t like washing extra dishes):

  • 2 c. soymilk (or almond, coconut, etc)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt

In another bowl, mix together:

  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • enough soymilk to make a thin paste

Next, put

  • 1/2 c. sugar

in a medium, dry saucepan. Stir with silicone spatula over medium heat until it turns a nice golden color and melts. As soon as it turns into caramel, CAREFULLY add the milk mixture, constantly stirring so that the caramel doesn’t solidify to the bottom in one big chunk (if it does, it’s no big deal). Add:

  • 1/4 c. chocolate chips

Keep stirring until caramel and chocolate dissolve, being careful not to let it boil over. Once it’s smooth again, add the cornstarch paste, stirring constantly. It should thicken up instantly. Pour into a large bowl or individual dishes and cool 2-3 minutes before placing into the fridge. Chill at least an hour.

 

Butterscotch Pie

2 Jan

I would love to give you photos of this pie, except it was a total impulse bake and I forgot. And then, it vanished within 48 hours, along with my opportunity to photograph it. So I guess I’ll just have to make it again for two reasons: to actually get a photo or two, and to make sure it actually works as anticipated. See, not only was it an unplanned pie, but I did it without a recipe. That is to say, I made my very own recipe. I am so proud of me.

DAIRY SUBSTITUTIONS:

I made this recipe. Therefore, there are no substitutions. If you would like to make this full of dairy, use butter, milk, and heavy cream. And then weep for your cholesterol.

THE RECIPE:

Prebake a pie crust using your favorite recipe.

  • 1 stick (8 Tbsp) of butter (Earth Balance)
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Combine in a medium saucepan, stirring frequently until it bubbles beautifully and smells so good you can’t stand it anymore. Add:

  • 1 c. heavy cream (Mimicreme)
  • 1/2 c. milk (I used almond milk)

Stir until butterscotch dissolves, and bring back up to barely simmering. Whisk together:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 c. corn starch
  • 1/2 c. milk (almond milk)

Temper the egg mixture in. That is, add a little bit of the hot liquid to the egg yolks, stirring constantly to avoid scrambling the eggs. Add more, a ladleful at a time until the egg mixture is warm. Then pour the warmed egg mixture back into the pot, again stirring constantly until it gets nice and thick. Pour into prebaked crust and bake at 350°F for 30-45 minutes, or until the pie firms up except for a slightly jiggly center.

What To Make When You Buy A Thousand Peaches: Peach Crisp

21 Jul

Simultaneously a simple and complicated dessert.

I went to the farmer’s market this week. Since we’ve been out of town, it’s felt like ages since I had myself a good peach (okay, it was eleven days). Also, it was my birthday and I felt indulgent. So not only did I buy a week’s supply of perfect peaches (both white and yellow), I also picked up a quarter-bushel of seconds. Well, I think it was a quarter-bushel. Look, I don’t actually know how much a bushel is, but it was one of those pretty wooden baskets that’s the smaller size but not the smallest size. And it was four dollars, and one of them is the size of Nimitz’s head.

I figured if I had two thousand peaches, I would feel okay about cooking some instead of greedily slicing them and stuffing them into my mouth. (I slice them first because I get organic produce, and I like to see the bugs before I bite into them, thanks.) So that’s what I did. Well, first a couple got sacrificed to the Beast Within, but then I figured I’d better bake some of them. I found a suitable recipe in Alice Water’s The Art of Simple Food (a lovely gift from the cast of Barack Stars, which gets broken out whenever I have a super-simple thing I want to make but am not quite sure how), and made the crisp topping yesterday.

DAIRY ADJUSTMENTS:

The only dairy adjustment I had to make was swapping out Earth Balance for butter, which at this point I consider to be not an adjustment at all. If you’re dealing with nut allergies, you should adjust the crisp topping accordingly — maybe add some oats instead to help absorb moisture. And if you’re dealing with a gluten issue, I’d say go with a cobbler instead and use your favorite gluten-free biscuit recipe on top.

I also added oats to the topping because oats make me think I’m eating healthy, although I forgot to add them while mixing and instead just sprinkled them on top. And bourbon, because you can’t have cooked peaches without bourbon.

Served elegantly in… a bowl. Look, I’m working on the whole presentation thing, but plating is an entirely different matter. Besides, we were ready to just veg in front of Netflix by that point, so don’t judge me.

RECIPE:

Topping (makes 3 cups):

  • 1 cup nuts (I used walnuts and almonds)

Chop in food processor. Then add:

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 6 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Process until mixed, maybe one or two pulses. Add:

  • 12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) butter (or butter substitute, aka Earth Balance), chopped into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup oats (optional)

Pulse a few more times to combine, so that it’s still grainy, not a thick dough. Toss in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. Can be refrigerated for a week-ish, frozen much longer.

Filling:

  • 4 ripe peaches, or however many it takes till it looks like it’ll fill your dish.
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp (-ish) brown sugar
  • splash of bourbon (I just used Jim Beam)

Pit and peel the peaches (She recommends a quick dip in boiling water to get the skins off more easily. I don’t know what’s wrong with her California peaches, but my Maryland peaches peel with absolutely no trouble), then cut into bite-sized chunks.

Toss the peaches with flour, brown sugar, and bourbon, and put them in your baking dish. Top with the crisp mixture (you don’t have to use all of it), and sprinkle a few more oats on top just to be thorough. Bake for 40-45 min at 375°F (See Notes), or until the crust starts to turn golden and you just can’t stand it anymore.

NOTES:

I forgot to add oats while mixing the crisp topping, so I just threw a ton on top. We liked it, but wanted more oats (thus the adaptation to add 1/4 cup in with the crisp topping).

Next time, I would also change the crisp to peaches ratio. This one turned out about one to one, but the peach juices also bubbled over, which means the dish really couldn’t handle any more. If I had a deeper dish, I might use more peaches and match it to the full crisp recipe.

Our oven is notoriously unreliable — the knob has almost no relationship to the temperature inside the oven. So throughout baking, I check every 15 minutes or so to make sure the thermometer inside the oven is near where we want it. For instance, for this recipe we wanted a temperature around 375°F, so we set the dial between 250 and 300 (yes, I purposely omitted the degree symbol, since those numbers clearly have nothing to do with temperature).