Roasted Bananas With Caramel and Chocolate

We still have a crazy amount the salted spiced rum caramel that I used for the apple bars.  So I have to either freeze it or use it.  The kids would of course vote to use it up as quickly as possible then have me make more.  🙂

While watching an old season of Top Chef last week I saw that one of the chefs did a dessert that had roasted bananas.  I was sucked in with my iPad so I was playing games at the time and didn’t really get what they made but the roasted bananas stuck with me.

I don’t eat bananas because of the texture.  It makes me gag but I like the flavour of bananas in things such as banana bread.  My family likes bananas so I thought it would be fun to try something new.

This dessert was super easy because the caramel was already made.  Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

Slice the bananas and brush with peanut oil and top with brown sugar.

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While these are roasting heat up the caramel and melt some chocolate.  When the bananas have softened and the brown sugar has caramelised a bit remove from the oven.  Drizzle caramel on the dish and place the bananas on top.  Drizzle the chocolate and some more caramel over the bananas.  Sprinkle chopped peanuts and top with whipped cream.

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This was a huge hit with the kids.  And then I put them over the top by giving them some more caramel straight up.  I loved the flavour but I can’t get round the texture of the banana.  Sigh.

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Strawberry Cream Puffs

And poof!  Summer is over.  The kids were off to school today.  Both are in the final years at their prospective schools.  Our son is in 5th grade and our daughter is in 8th.  Seems like we were just bringing our son to kindergarten.  It can be bittersweet.  We are so proud of the people our kids are becoming but childhood just flies by.

I wanted to make a summer dessert as a special treat for their last day of “freedom” and we had some fresh strawberries on hand.  I thought cream puffs with a strawberry sauce would do the trick!

Choux pastry is easy to make, you just need a bit of elbow grease to make it happen.  I referenced Julia Child for this recipe.

You will need:

1 cup water

6 Tablespoons of butter

a pinch of salt

a pinch of nutmeg

1 tsp of salt

3/4 cups of flour

4 eggs

Preheat the oven to 425F/220C

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In a small saucepan combine the water, butter, salt, nutmeg, and sugar.  Bring to a boil to melt the butter.

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Remove from the heat and add the flour stirring very well and continuously until the flour is incorporated.

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Put it back on medium high heat, mixing the entire time, for a couple of minutes until the dough starts to leave a film on the pan.

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Remove from the heat again and add the eggs one at a time.  For the first egg you’ll need to move quickly so you don’t end up with cooked egg so stir fast.  After the first egg is absorbed add the next one and so on.

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Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag with a tip that is large enough for the size pastry you want.  For example if you want 3″ pastry use a 3/4″ tip.  Squeeze the pastry onto a greased cookie sheet.  I made the mistake assuming that our baking sheet was nonstick enough.  Don’t do that!  Space the pastry dollops the same distance as the diameter of the dollops.

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Beat one egg and dab the tops of the dollops without letting the egg drip down.  You don’t want the egg to pin the pastry down.

Strawberry cream puff 7 2014If you are doing small pastries that are about an 1 1/2″ or smaller bake for 20 minutes.  If you are doing larger pastries about 3″ then bake for 20 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 375F/190C for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown.  For both sizes put an inch slit in the side of each puff and put it back in the oven with the oven turned off and the door ajar for 10 minutes.  Julia Child did mention that if the dough in the larger puffs are still moist in the centre to scoop it out.

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The strawberry sauce is super simple.  In a small saucepan add strawberries, grated ginger, a bit of lemon juice, and 1/8 cup of brown sugar.  Bring to a simmer for a few minutes to soften the strawberries and melt the sugar.  Because I didn’t grease the baking sheet properly I ended up with puff cups rather than puff balls.  So I turned them upside down and put in fresh whipped cream and topped with the strawberries.

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A nice way to end the summer before getting back into the routine of school and the coming fall.

Gooseberry Shortcake

Gooseberry season is too short!  So we have to make the best of it when we can.  We do the usual crumbles which my son loves because he gets to make the topping.  🙂

For our last batch of gooseberries I thought I’d do something different.  I’m a fan of the good old strawberry shortcake but I thought I’d mix it up and do a gooseberry shortcake. The tartness would be perfect with the whipped cream. 

I got lucky with the shortcake as I didn’t follow the steps in this shortcake recipe.  I was rushing about and just threw the ingredients in.  Oops.  It came out a bit denser than usual but still tasted good. 

What I did was mix 2 1/4 cup of flour, 4 tsp of baking powder, 2 T of sugar, 1/4 tsp of salt, 1/3 cup of vegetable shortening, 1 beaten egg, 2/3 cup of milk in a bowl. 

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You are supposed to cut in the shortening into the dry ingredients then add the milk and egg.  Which I know to do!  You would have thought this was my first rodeo.  Bake the dough in an 8″ greased and floured pan for 15-20 minutes in a 425F/220C oven. Meanwhile make the gooseberry jam sauce.

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Add about a 1/4 cup of water to the gooseberries and bring to a simmer.  As the gooseberries start to burst add a 1/4-1/2 cup of brown sugar, stir well, and simmer until it thickens.

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When you are ready to serve slice the shortcake and layer the gooseberry and whipped cream.

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A super easy dessert to make when you want a delicious treat.  🙂 The plates were cleaned pretty quickly!

A Raspberry Twist

Does the Easter bunny exist or not?  That is the question! And I think our 9 year old son has been hedging his bets just like Santa Claus.  Every child goes through the transition wondering what the scoop is.  Going from absolute belief to the realisation that the school yard gossip is right.  And if you are the eldest like our daughter you have to go along with it all.  To have some fun with the kids my husband suggested a scavenger hunt with the plastic eggs the kids have.  We did up clues and placed the eggs round the house with them all leading to the chocolates.  It was fun for all of us!

In addition to the chocolates I wanted to make an after dinner treat and thought cupcakes would do the trick.  I had some raspberries and lemons so I knew I wanted to make some lemon curd and use the raspberries but I didn’t have buttermilk to make the lemon meringue cupcakes.  I went through my cupcake pins to see what I could use as a substitute.  Turned out to be harder than I thought it would be.  Several required buttermilk and I was surprised at how many recipes called for box cake mix!  I mean really, I don’t get that.  That step is more expensive and it’s just as quick to make it from scratch.

I found this recipe to use for the cupcakes and I only made a small change here and there.  Which is bold for me when it comes to baking.  I generally don’t mess with the recipes as there is a definite science to baking.  But the cupcakes came out just fine.

I did up the lemon curd several hours ahead of time so it had time to cool and set.

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.  Line the muffin tins and this recipe makes 12 cupcakes.

In the mixing bowl cream together 1/2 cup of butter and 3/4 cup of sugar.

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Add two eggs and 1 teaspoon of vanilla and mix well.

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Add 1/2 tsp of salt and 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder.  The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of milk.  These two ingredients need to be added a 1/3 at a time, mixing well each time while scraping the sides of the bowl.

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Fill the liners 2/3 thirds full and bake for 20-25 minutes.

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Once they are cooled scoop out the top.  Cut the pointy end off of the top so you can place it on top of the curd.  Before filling with curd put a fresh raspberry into the cupcake.

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Fill in with the curd, put the top back on and dollop some fresh whipped cream on top.

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It’s simple, it looks pretty, and raspberry and lemon make a great pair.  And it leaves room for chocolate!  🙂

 

Pavlova with Cardamom

The other night I made Coq au Vin and to finish the meal I decided to try my hand at pavlova.  My husband has made it a few times over the years and it is a really delicious dessert.  It is a simple recipe that just takes a bit of time.  I also had pinned this pavlova from Bangers & Mash awhile ago so I thought I would try out my new spice grinder and take her inspiration of cardamom and add it to my recipe which is from Joy of Baking.  🙂

To start I prepped the baking sheet by placing parchment paper on it and drawing a circle around the plate.  This is your guide when spreading the mixture out.  Then turn the parchment paper over so the food doesn’t touch the ink or pencil.  Pre-heat the oven to 250F/130C

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I guestimated what a teaspoon of ground cardamom would be as I was starting with whole pods.  I ground them up very fine for this dish.

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The recipe called for 4 egg whites so the dogs were really happy to get the yolks!  🙂

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With the mixer I whipped the whites until they formed soft peaks.

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Then I gradually add a tablespoon at a time of castor sugar until 1 cup has been incorporated.  You want to do your best to get the sugar fully dissolved.  Mine was almost there but the dish came out really well so it was ok for me.  Once the sugar was incorporated I added 1/2 tsp of vanilla and the cardamom.

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Then I had to gently fold in 1/2 tablespoon of corn starch (corn flour) and a teaspoon of white vinegar.  Hopefully when you do this your dog doesn’t decide to go berserk and start barking as you are trying to sprinkle the vinegar over the mixture.  Instead my vinegar went flying.  So after cleaning that up I tried again!  Geez.

Spread out the meringue onto the parchment paper so the thickness is somewhat uniform.

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This needs to be baked about 60-75 minutes.  The outside needs to be dry and set.  Once it is baked turn off the oven leaving the meringue in the oven with the door ajar.  Let it cool completely before moving it.  Pavlova 7 2013

For the first layer I used Bird’s custard again.  🙂  I could just eat a whole bowl of that!

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Then a layer of freshly whipped cream is spread over the custard then topped with fresh berries.

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It is such a decadent dessert and disappears fast.