R E C I P E S : Desserts

Laborless Lemon Shortbread!

September 05, 2005

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Caryn lounges on the couch, still wearing pajamas that look like they've been on her body for a few days. A cup of lemon-blueberry tea steams from the coffee table. Next to the cup is a severely depleted pile of buttery, lemon shortbread.

Mom walks in from the bedroom, fully dressed for a day on the town. She turns down the volume on the blaring television.


Is that all you're going to do all day? Lay around eating shortbread and watching weepy movies?


I sense that you don't approve.


I'm going shopping. Want to come?

Caryn rolls over on the couch and stretches.


Mom, it's Labor Day and I have no desire to do anything that even remotely hints at the idea of labor.

Mom hooks her little pink purse on her arm, which perfectly matches her pink capri pants.


Suit yourself, but you really can't afford to eat any more shortbread.

Mom leaves and Caryn reaches for another piece.

Lemon Shortbread

1 1/2 sticks of salted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 TB. grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp. lemon extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream together butter and sugar until light. Sift flour into butter. Add zest and extract and blend until smooth.
3. On an ungreased cookie sheet, press dough into an 8" square with lightly floured fingers. Smooth top and score into 2" squares with the back of a knife.
4. Bake until lightly golden on edges, about 20 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Cut into 2" pieces and continue to cool on wire rack.

Yield 16 cookies.

Posted by Caryn at 08:29 PM  | This Entry Only | Recipe Only | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)

Near Miss: Gingered Peach Cobbler!

June 08, 2005

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The production is in full swing. The CREW hustles around, setting up the next shot. The Director chats with Mr. R. and Miss A. in the middle of the set. Caryn watches the action from a distance.

ANGLE ON a GRIP walking toward Caryn with a long, metal pole directed straight for the back of her head.



Caryn doesn't budge. The grip doesn't see her.



The tip of the pole is inches from Caryn's skull when...


...reaches out toward her. She is violently pulled to the side, nearly falling over.

The grip passes with the pole. He scowls at her as he yells again.



Caryn is stunned to see the grip speaking to her. A man whispers to her in a familiar voice.

MR. R. (O.S.)

Points means to get out of his way.

She looks over to discover that her employer also seems to be playing the role of her hero.


Oh gosh, sorry.

He smiles at her as a parent to a child.

MR. R.

Just try to act like you know what you're doing here. You're supposed to be my assistant, remember?


Yes, sorry. I, um, just wanted to let you know that the cobbler is ready.

Mr. R. chuckles.

MR. R.

Thanks. I'll be done soon.

She stares at a spot on her tennis shoe.


Okay. Sorry.

He laughs again. Caryn steals a glance around at the crew that has suddenly fallen silent. The whole set is now waiting for them, watching Mr. R. and Caryn intently. She squirms under the stares, but he doesn't seem to care.

MR. R.

What kind of cobbler is it?

Caryn catches Lauren's disapproving eye.


Um, peach. Ginger peach.

MR. R.

Ah! From a Georgia girl, of course.

Mr. R. straightens his costume.


Try to be more careful, Caryn.

He gently pats her shoulder and then saunters back to set. The Director immediately starts yelling instructions to his crew in anticipation of the shot. Lauren redirects her focus to the monitor before her.

And Caryn sneaks away, relieved to be out of the spotlight.

Gingered Peach Cobbler

It ain't the prettiest cobbler, but the ginger jazzes up this Southern classic. The pastry crust is thicker than a pie crust which makes it more suitable for a cobbler. Use ready-made pie dough in a pinch.

1 cup sugar
2 TB. cornstarch
10 ripe medium peaches, peeled and sliced
2 TB. lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger

3 cups flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup ice water

1 egg white
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 TB. sugar

1. To make dough: Combine flour, salt and shortening in food processor until even. Add butter in pieces, pulsating until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Slowly add just enough ice water for dough to stick together (not necessary to use the whole 1/2 cup). Knead dough a few times and divide into two portions, one slightly larger. Wrap in plastic wrap and flatten slightly. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 13x9-inch pan.
3. Mix sugar and cornstarch in a large bowl. Add peaches, lemon juice and ginger. Toss to coat and set aside for 15 minutes.
4. Roll out larger portion of dough to a 15x12-inch rectangle, no thicker than 1/4" inch. Place dough in prepared pan, wrapping dough up the sides of the pan. Pour peach mixture on top of dough. Trim dough just above peaches.
5. Roll out remaining dough into a rectangle about 1/4" thick. Cut into 1/4"-1/2" strips and arrange in a lattice pattern over peaches (diagonally is easiest). Squeeze edges of strips with bottom dough to seal. Mix cinnamon and sugar together. Brush strips with egg white and sprinkle with cinnamon mixture.
6. Bake about 45 minutes until bubbly and crust is golden. Serve warm.

Serves 8-12.

Posted by Caryn at 08:48 PM  | This Entry Only | Recipe Only | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Chocolate Cream Pie!

April 22, 2005

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Caryn stirs hunks of dark chocolate in the bowl of a double boiler. A rich, creamy custard waits patiently for its lavish counterpart to melt. A prepared crust anticipates the wedding from the counter.

Miss A.'s strappy, high heels tip-tap on the tile as she enters in a silky dress held on her body only by two capellini straps. Her eyes glance toward the pie crust as she takes a compact out of her purse. She dabs her perfect skin with the light powder.


We're going out after the premiere. I guess no one told you.

Caryn is mesmerized by the melting chocolate.


That's okay. This won't be done for hours--

Mr. R. strolls in wearing a purposely faded t-shirt and dark denim jeans. Miss A. stiffens at his appearance.


What are you wearing? We're going to be late.

Mr. R. watches Caryn fold the smooth chocolate into the custard.

MR. R.

I really don't feel very social today. I'm not going.


What? We have reservations at Ago's!. You love their lobster risotto.

Mr. R.

I especially don't feel like the scene at Ago's.

Miss A. snaps the compact shut.


Don't be ridiculous. The car is waiting.

Mr. R. leans against the counter, not about to budge.


Fine. Do what you want.

Miss A. shoves the compact in her purse and storms out. Mr. R. chuckles to himself.

MR. R.

Nothing special for dinner, Caryn. Something light.

Caryn nods and smiles to herself. Mr. R. heads out the door only to turn back around.


Oh, and a piece of that pie.

Chocolate Cream Pie

This dressed-up pie certainly won't invoke memories of the one you had at a roadside diner during the family vacation to Florida. Use Valrhona's Manjari Chocolate (64%) and you could serve it to the most discerning of critics, only to be met with overwhelming success.

Posted by Caryn at 04:30 PM  | This Entry Only | Recipe Only | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Movie Night: Java Brownies!

April 07, 2005

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Caryn, in cozy pajamas, lies on the opposite end of the couch as Matt, dressed like an Abercrombie model. Love Actually plays on the television and a plate of half-eaten brownies is placed conveniently in front of them.


Do you think he's attractive in person?

Caryn studies Andrew Lincoln's face.


Oh, yeah, I'm sure he is. But I haven't met him.


Not him. Your boss.

She pulls at a chewy brownie.


I guess.


You guess? That means yes.

Matt steals another brownie himself.


Whatever. I doubt he'll be my boss much longer. He's about to shoot another movie.


No retainer while he's away?

Caryn laughs. Matt licks chocolate off his fingers.


Oh well. You make a mean brownie, but you weren't really qualified for the job in the first place.

Caryn scowls at Matt.


You know, I sometimes wonder why a guy like you has such a penchant for romantic comedies. Aren't you late for another date?


Shh! Here's my favorite part.

If refrigerated, these brownies are quite a chew. Room temperature keeps them right at the brink of melting.

Java Brownies

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
8 oz. good, bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 eggs
1/4 cup Starbucks Coffee Liqueur
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In large saucepan, melt butter and sugar. Remove from heat and add chocolate, stirring until melted. Whisk in eggs until combined. Stir in liqueur. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Pour batter into greased 13x9-inch pan.
3. Bake until toothpick inserted in center is sticky (not clean), 15-20 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Pour ganache over brownies when cool.


1/2 cup heavy cream
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Starbucks Coffee Liqueur

1. Heat heavy cream in saucepan just until boiling. Remove from heat and add sugar and chocolate, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in liqueur. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Posted by Caryn at 03:18 PM  | This Entry Only | Recipe Only | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

Cupcake Mirth! (IMBB 13)

March 24, 2005

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Winnie is sound asleep in her bed, the comforter snuggled up to her chin. The phone rings, piercing the early morning stillness. Winnie rolls over and pulls the covers over her head.

The phone rings again. Winnie sits up abruptly.


Go away!

She takes the phone from the nightstand and looks at the caller ID. She takes a deep breath before answering it.


This better be an emergency.


Caryn lounges on her couch, balancing the phone between her ear and shoulder while she paints her nails.


Good Morning, Sunshine!


That doesn't sound like an emergency.


It's a beautiful spring day! Time to get up.


Winnie throws herself back against the pillows.


The one day I don't have to be at work early and you call and wake me up.


The birds are singing, the sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and you are still in bed.


Why are we friends?


Caryn smiles, strolling proudly to the kitchen.


Because I remind you of the important things in life.


Remind me later.

There is a click from the other end of the phone. Caryn laughs and starts to clean up one very large mess of bowls, trays, and dishes.


Winnie lays in bed, staring at the ceiling.


Why are we friends?

She rolls her eyes and gets out of bed. Stretching, she walks to the front door.

As she bends down to get the paper, she notices a small pot of artificial flowers placed on the porch. Winnie carefully lifts one of the flower beds to examine it. Cupcakes. Her eyes grow wide and she grins.


I know why we're friends.

This entry was created for IMBB #13 hosted this month by Maki at I Was Just Really Very Hungry. Check out the other entries!

Flower Cupcakes

A recipe for similar cupcakes was published in the May 25, 2004 issue of Woman's Day, but you can use any cupcake recipe. Here's my adaptation for decorating them:

1. Add a little green food coloring to any white frosting. Frost cupcakes.
2. To make the flowers, melt assorted colors (petal colors, plus white and brown) of Candy Writer tubes or candy melts according to package directions. Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and draw/pipe the candy into teardrops about an inch long. Refrigerate until hardened.
3. Peel petals from wax paper and arrange as many five-petaled flowers on the cupcake as you can fit (4-6). Pipe a dab of white in the center of each flower, refrigerate until hard, and then pipe a few smaller dabs of brown.
4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Posted by Caryn at 10:00 AM  | This Entry Only | Recipe Only | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)

Chocolate Cherry Cheer: Bread Pudding!

March 20, 2005

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Caryn's Honda screeches to a halt with the same obnoxious sound from before. The door haphazardly swings open and Caryn steps out, right into a large muddy puddle. She groans.

She gathers her things from the car and walks up the steps to the porch where she looks in the mailbox.


Punky screams for his dinner. Caryn drops her bag and coat on the couch and looks through the mail. Bills, bills, bills.

She walks to the kitchen where she dumps food in Punky's dish and heads over to the fridge. Bare, except for the staples: eggs, milk, diet coke. Deep sigh.

She opens a cabinet and pulls out a wrinkled, paper Zingerman's bread bag. Out of it comes half of a dark loaf stuffed with chunks of rich chocolate and dotted with crimson Michigan cherries. Punky abandons his dinner to explore the scent of chocolate that has drifted his way. Caryn smiles.

She squeezes the loaf slightly and the smile morphs into a scowl. She taps the loaf on the counter. Hard as a rock.

Caryn stares at the loaf, defeated. She shakes her head and looks at the cat.


Well, Punk, when life gives you lemons...

Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding

1/2 loaf Zingerman's chocolate cherry bread, stale, cut into cubes
4 TBS. butter, melted
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
Scharffen Berger chocolate sauce (or the closest thing you can find)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter four 1-cup ramkeins.
2. Toss bread cubes with melted butter, set aside.
3. Whisk eggs with sugar. Add half and half and vanilla. Whisk until combined. Add to bread cubes and toss to coat. Set aside for 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate up to 1 day.
4. Press bread mixture into ramekins and pour remaining sauce over the top.
5. Bake until puffed and bubbly, 20-25 minutes.
6. Cool slightly and invert on plates. Drizzle (or dollop) with hot chocolate sauce.

This is an easy bread pudding recipe. It works well with a dense, sweet loaf like Zingerman's Chocolate Cherry Bread, but any stale, sweet bread would probably work.

UPDATE: This entry is part of a contest! Check out the other entries in Comfort Me: A Cookbook Contest over at Who Wants Seconds?.

Posted by Caryn at 06:10 AM  | This Entry Only | Recipe Only | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Simply French: Apple Cake!

March 10, 2005

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Caryn sits at the table that she has now adopted as her own, a notebook computer propped open before her. Lauren appears out of nowhere, sporting an elegant new suit.


I trust you're making good use of your time while he's away.

Startled by the interruption, Caryn doesn't respond. Lauren takes a bottle of water from the fridge and pours it into a crystal wine glass.


Because the last girl got fired for wasting too much time.


Oh! That's terrible.


She deserved it. They usually do.

Lauren leans against the counter and daintily sips her water.


What are you doing?

Caryn turns the computer around to show her. The browser is open to a site with mouth-watering photos of food.


Looking for a recipe?

Lauren doesn't even glance at the computer.


The best chefs don't use recipes, do they?

Caryn sits, again helpless for a reply.


Of course, the best chefs are usually French. Where are you from, Katherine?



Lauren narrows her eyes a little.


Never cared much for the South.

She pushes her slender frame away from the counter and straightens her skirt.


You should use your free time to get some practice. He may have liked your little sandwich, but don't let that fool you. He has very particular tastes...

The last of her words trail off as she disappears out the door.

Caryn wrinkles her nose as the door swings closed. She thinks for a minute and then starts clicking away at the computer.


If she wants something French...

Chocolate and Zucchini's "Gateau de Mamy a la Poire"

Clotilde's wonderfully simple cake is the perfect use of a few apples.

Posted by Caryn at 07:15 AM  | This Entry Only | Recipe Only | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)

The Morning After: Chocolate Cake!

February 28, 2005

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Mr. R. tosses worn invitations to the coveted Oscar parties on the bed. He unfastens the diamond cufflinks from his new tuxedo and places them on a gold tray in his cherry armoire.

The early morning light fills the room as he sinks into the plump, king-size bed. He falls back on the pillow and looks at the clock on the nightstand. It reads 6:32AM.

His eyes lock on a dish carefully placed next to the clock. A decadent slice of warm, chocolate cake is accompanied by an icy glass of milk.

After-Party Chocolate Cake

8 oz. bittersweet Scharffen Berger chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
6 eggs, separated
1/2 c. sugar
confectioners sugar

1. Heat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the side wall with a strip of parchment paper.
3. In the bowl of a double-boiler, combine butter and chopped chocolate. Add water to bottom of pan and place bowl over pan. Melt chocolate over medium heat until smooth. Remove bowl from pan and cool slightly.
4. Beat egg whites with an electric mixture until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar and beat until glossy and stiff.
5. Whisk egg yolks into chocolate mixture. Whisk in a dollop of egg whites to lighten. Gently fold in the rest of the egg whites with a rubber spatula.
6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until cake is set (center may be giggly), about 40-45 minutes.
7. Cool cake for 20 minutes and remove sides of pan. Continue to cool. Dust with confectioners sugar.

This flourless cake has a light, mousse-like texture. Best served warm.

Posted by Caryn at 06:30 AM  | This Entry Only | Recipe Only | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)