Poached Pear

This is a delightfully simple but flavorful dessert: poached pears.

Poached pear in syrup

Poached pear is essentially a peeled and cored pear cooked (well, poached) in a sweet and spicy solution, then topped off with the poaching solution which has been cooked down to a syrup. The ingredient list sounds deceptively simple, but the flavor is really incredible and vibrant. The pears become translucent and incredibly tender, still retaining a distinct pear flavor, but complemented by a really vibrant citrus flavor that only enhances the pear. The vanilla and cloves add a really subtle, but interesting taste and aroma. This is a nice quick dessert to put together, but don’t let that fool you–this is really tasty and refreshing. This particular recipe is largely derived from The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Dessert, which so far, has not done me wrong in the dessert department. This recipe isn’t entirely true to the original (which had some… click to read more…

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Persimmon Chiffon Cake & Custard

This time of year is right smack in the middle of the harvest of one of my favorite fruits of all time: persimmons! I love eating persimmons fresh, but they really don’t get enough love recipe-wise. I was hoping I could try my hand at a different persimmon-based dessert: persimmon chiffon cake & custard drizzled with caramel sauce.

Persimmon Chiffon Cake & Custard drizzled with Caramel Sauce

If you’ve never heard of persimmons before, it is very important that we establish up front that these stout, orange-colored fruits (which look like odd tomatoes but are nothing like them) are simply the best fruit out there (I think I’d put figs second, for those keeping score). Grab some now at your grocery store if you can–they aren’t around long during the year, but they are really something.

Persimmons come in many different varieties which are all quite different from each other. My favorite is the hachiya: acorn shaped and one of the absolute worst things you could possibly eat… click to read more…

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Tourtiere (Meat Pie)

I thought I’d try a new take on pies as I’ve only really dealt with pies and pastries in dessert form. I stumbled across tourtiere, a traditional French-Canadian meal, and it seemed like a perfect match. This is a pie filled with pork and is commonly served around this time of year, so it seemed like great new thing to try.

Slice of tourtiere

I can’t say whether or not the outcome here is as it was supposed to be as I’ve never had a tourtiere before, but I was pretty good about incorporating the core of what I encountered in other versions of this dish, but without any local French-Canadians to give their seal of approval, we’ll have to go on faith on this one.

I was excited when this came out of the oven–I mean its pie and its dinner! I carefully cut out a slice and took… click to read more…

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Devil’s Food Cake with Fudge Frosting

Dessert has been a little pie-centric lately, so it was time for something different: cake. Rather than hitting up the bakery, I wanted to make my wife’s birthday cake myself for a change, and I knew chocolate had to be the focus. That’s still pretty open-ended, but I thought a good compromise between birthday cake and a heavy, rich chocolate cake (like a torte) was a traditional Devil’s Food Cake with a rich, fudge frosting.

Slice a fresh piece of devil’s food cake

The cake is delicious, semi-airy chocolate with a dense, rich, decadent frosting and filling (and rich in adjectives!). The cake itself is stacked two layers high and combines ingredients for a traditional, light batter with some darker flavors, like cocoa powder and dark brown sugar. The frosting is a fudge-like mixture of cream and some high quality dark chocolate for some real richness with the curious tang of sour cream. The combination: a happy birthday girl (success! :-)click to read more…

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Saffron Flan

Flan is an amazing dessert whose name has been sullied by countless abuses. You can buy premade powders, single-serve containers, or order it from many restaurants where the only thing that these tasteless, gelatinous mounds have in common with actual flan is the general shape and color. Flan should not be flavorless and it should not resemble jello. Flan is actually a sweet, rich, delicate custard with a dark caramel sauce. To stand up to those dark caramel flavors, you add some subtle savory spices to bite back, giving the dish a surprisingly dark and complex flavor.

Slice of saffron flan

I’m glad to say that this dish is actually authentic (you know, in that passed-down-from-a-friend-from-her-family sort of way)–not a common thing on this blog! Of course, authenticity would demand that this dessert be Spanish in origin, but the more I look into it, the more things point to French, so I’ll just take the easy road, call it “Mediterranean,” and claim authenticity.… click to read more…

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Pumpkin Pie

October is here and so are the pumpkins! What better dish is there to mark that autumn is here than a pumpkin pie?

Slice of pumpkin pie

Pumpkin pie is a custard-based pie with a stronger, more savory collection of spices at play than in some of the other pies I’ve posted here thus far. You’ve got things like nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, etc, so there’s a lot of strong stuff in there that will demand your attention. Also unlike many of the other pies posted here, you aren’t troubled with creating a topping as we’re going to cook the pie briefly in high heat to harden the top of the pie relative to the rest of the filling, which will be softer, and not quite pudding-like, but smoother and creamier in texture. And you can take two different approaches: canned pumpkin puree or a fresh, whole pumpkin, the latter being the approach that builds character and if this blog focuses on anything,… click to read more…

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