Weeknight Dessert

Sometimes the week just gets out of control and it becomes quickly clear that you are no longer winning the battle. And that’s ok. That’s when you throw together a little getaway in a bowl, a little something that makes your weeknight a little easier.

In walks Strawberries and Whipped Cream…

IMG_1514.JPG

Just take a minute to appreciate the simplicity. You need 2 ingredients (ok maybe 4), but given that it’s summer, you might already have one of those in your fridge. I threw this together a couple of weeks ago on a work night when both B and I needed a little pick-me-up after dinner.

Go forth. Enjoy. Gussy it up for friends, because this would be excellent with some mint or basil, (or don’t and eat it all yourself — I’ve definitely done that)

Ingredients
Strawberries, cut into quarters
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla together until just stiff peaks form (or use any other whipped topping that you would prefer). Place some strawberries in the bottom of your serving vessel. Cover with whipped cream. Add more strawberries. Eat all of it and feel better about your week.

Summer Fruit Pie

So this week has been a little crazy to say the least! I actually sprained my ankle this week on my way to work and am now dealing with the unfortunate items that are crutches. Hoping to be up on my feet and actually walking soon (and then hopefully training for my Thanksgiving 8K).

IMG_1503.JPG

In the meantime, at least we have pie. And not just any pie, but the kind of pie that makes the best use of the huge bounty of ripe juicy summer fruits at this time of year. I made this pie with cherries, blueberries, strawberries and the couple plums I found in my fridge, but use what you have on hand. I used a new pie crust recipe that I didn’t like as much, so I’m going to recommend my usual pie crust. Let me know what you think.

For methodology on working with pie crust, check out Smitten Kitchen here, here, and here. The key is to keep the dough cold so that the butter melts in the oven and not on the counter. Then you get flaky pies.

Summer Fruit Pie adapted from Sweet by Valerie Gordon

Crust (for a double crust pie)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surfaces
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small cubes
1/4 – 1/2 cup water, very cold (I pour 1 cup and add ice while I work, then measure 1/4 – 1/2 cup from it when I need it)

Filling
7 cups mixed fruit
3/4 cup sugar, adjusted to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons Pie Dust
1 egg
Raw Sugar (optional)

Pie Dust
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar

To make the crust, put the flour, sugar, and salt into a medium bowl and mix together. Add the cold, cubed butter to the dough and mix by hand until the bits of butter are about pea-sized and the dough looks like course crumbs. Slowly add the water over the dough and continue to incorporate until the dough just comes together. If at any point, the butter starts to melt too much, put the mixture in the fridge to cool. Form into 2 equal disks and wrap in plastic and place in fridge for at least 2 hours.

Put 3 cups of the fruit and the 3/4 cup sugar into a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit softens and releases some juice, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the remaining berries and toss. Taste for sweetness; add more sugar if needed. Stir in the melted butter, lemon zest, and cornstarch and let cool to room temperature.

Remove one disk of dough from the fridge and roll-out on a cool, floured surface, rolling into a 13-inch circle. Rotate the dough every roll 2 to 3 inches. Once the dough is the correct size, roll the dough up onto the rolling pin and then unroll into a 9-inch pie pan. Gently press the dough into the pan and sides, removing any air pockets. Trim any excess dough. Chill the crust for at least 15 minutes.

IMG_1498.JPG

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and center the rack in the oven. Cover the bottom of the crust with pie dust (created by whisking or sifting the flour and sugar together). Fill the pie with the fruit filling, being careful not to overfill. Roll-out the second disk of dough (if using both crusts). You can cover the pie entirely, but be sure to cut vents in the top crust, or you can create a lattice pattern by interweaving pieces of dough. I find it easiest to start with the top and interweave one row at a time. Be sure to work quickly. (the Smitten Kitchen links above have good advice on lattices). Crimp the crusts together and brush the top with a beaten egg and raw sugar (if using).

Place pie on a baking sheet (to catch any fruit spillage) and bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Cover the edges of the crust with a pie ring or with foil and continue cooking for another 25-30 minutes until the visible crust is golden brown. Once the crust is golden brown with no translucent areas, remove the pie ring or foil and bake for another 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rake to cool completely.

Enjoy!

…and the wheels came off (plus a recipe)

Woah, last week, just woah. The wheels definitely came off my week last week. Sorry for not updating with any new content at all!! But I have still been in the kitchen whipping up some new goodies

Some of you might remember that a couple of weeks ago, I said how good Deb’s brownie ice cream sandwiches looked. Well, they were better than that. Plus, because it’s Deb, this recipe is pretty perfect on its own (but I just had to make some tweaks).

Considering that my family likes to stretch out all birthdays to last for at least a month week (because who doesn’t?), we had another celebration 2 weekends ago to continue the birthday festivities for my dad. I took it as another opportunity to make dessert for a purpose (so that I wouldn’t eat it all by myself…just some of it)

Let me just say that the ice cream sandwiches were a giant hit, but they did make a giant mess. I used a combination of 2 gelatos and let the pan sit in the freezer for an hour before cutting, but that was not long enough. But you should definitely make these…right now…why are you still reading?

Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the brownies
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1 stick unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt (I use vanilla sea salt…mmm)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

For the filling
2 1/2 cups ice cream (one or multiple flavors, I went with Sea Salt Caramel and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup)

Heat oven to 350°F. Line two 9×9-inch square baking pans with parchment paper, extending it up two sides. Butter the parchment and exposed sides of the pan or spray them with a nonstick cooking spray.

Using a double bolier method, in a large bowl over gently simmering water, heat chocolate and butter together until almost completely of the way melted. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Stir in sugar until fully combined, then eggs (make sure when you add the eggs that the bowl and contents have cooled a bit so as not to scramble the eggs), one at a time and vanilla. Stir in salt and cinnamon, then flour, until just combined.

20140805-123041-45041146.jpg

Divide batter between two prepared pans and spread evenly. Bake on different racks for 10 to 15 minutes (or on the same rack if they will fit in your oven), rotating once top to bottom and front to back, until a tester comes out clean. Transfer pans directly to freezer. Chill until cold and firm, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove one pan from freezer, and, working quickly (like really quickly), cover with ice cream. (I followed Deb’s method and used an ice cream scoop to alternate flavors for mixed sandwiches.) Use the ice cream scoop to pat down all ice cream to remove gaps. Remove second brownie pan from freezer. Make sure the brownies are not sticking anywhere and use parchment sling to life the brownie out of the pan, remove the parchment and place it on top of the ice cream. Place the empty brownie pan on top of the brownie lid, to weight it, and press down a little. Keeping the weighting pan on top, return brownie-ice cream stack to freezer until fully firm, at least 1 hour (unless you have some magical freezer). Use the parchment sling to transfer the ice cream sandwich block to a cutting bard. Cut into squares, working quickly. (I started out with squares, but my ice cream was not firm enough – and I was cutting over the running dishwasher that was heating the counter – so I ended up doing rectangles like the ones from growing up near the end.)

Once each square/rectangle/sandwich was cut, I rolled all of the edges in multi sprinkles and then wrapped all of the ice cream sandwiches in waxed paper to make them more fun to eat and less messy.

20140805-123041-45041426.jpg