Archive | Desserts

Lorraine Battle’s Apple Cake

From They Always Wore Aprons.  Story and photos By Helen Krayenhoff


This “cake” is a pure celebration of the apple. Use different varieties—some sweet, some tart.
12–17 apples 
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
1 tablespoon organic sugar
2 5-inch ramekins, lightly buttered

Preheat oven to 300°.

Peel and core apples and slice very thinly by hand, on a mandolin, or in the food processor (use 3mm disk).
Finely grate the zest of one orange and mix zest with sugar.

Build the cakes in the ramekins by carefully piling the slices in differing directions to make as solid a structure as possible. Every third or fourth layer sprinkle a pinch of the orange sugar mixture. When you reach the top, tie a collar of parchment paper around the dish and secure with cotton string. Collar should reach 3-4 inches above the top of the ramekin. Continue building up the apples until you have reached the top of the collar.

Cut a small circle of parchment paper to fit on top of the apples and weigh down apples with a smaller ramekin or another kind of flat-bottomed ovenproof dish that fits inside the paper ring. Place ramekins in a baking dish to catch overflow liquid and place in oven.… Read More

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Chocolate Shortbread

From: A Day in a Life Full of Chocolate by Anita Chu

Recipe provided by Caroline Romanski

Makes about 60 cookies

1 ⅔ cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons Valrhona cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 ¼ soft unsalted butter
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
About 2 egg yolks for egg wash
Turbinado sugar for coating

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a mixing bowl with paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar and vanilla extract just until combined—do not overbeat.

Gradually and on low speed, add the sifted flour mixture. Mix to form a smooth dough. Divide dough into two pieces and roll into logs about 15” long. Wrap the logs in plastic or parchment paper and refrigerate until firm. The dough can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Preheat oven to 300°. Remove a log of dough from refrigerator and let sit for about 10 minutes at room temperature to soften slightly. If you only intend to bake part of the log, cut off the appropriate portion and return the rest to the refrigerator.

Make an egg wash by combining 2 egg yolks with a little bit of water.… Read More

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What’s in Season?

Story and recipe by Barbara Kobsar |  Illustration by Caroline Gould

Choosing produce harvested at its peak is your sure bet for flavor and freshness.


If you’re quick enough to the farmers’ markets, you might catch some of the tender greens cut from the bushy fava plant to sauté for a side dish or pasta topping. Young fava pods are now forming on the plant, so farmers are selling them as well. Fava beans look like overgrown green peas. Their velvety pods hold the large beans tightly inside. The delicate flavor and buttery texture of those beans is worth the effort of getting them out of their shells. When you take the mature beans out of the pods, you’ll find them encased in a second tough, waxy covering. Remove this by simmering the beans in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Then drain and cool until you can pick them up and slip the beans from the skins by pinching one end until the bean pops out. Reheat by sautéing in a little olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, or chill and toss with vinaigrette.

Cherries are just plain fabulous now, and you’ll want to try all your favorites during the short California season.… Read More

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Strawberry Shortcake

Adapted from a recipe by Brett LaMott, chef/owner of Café Maddalena in Dunsmuir, California, a quaint town and beloved fishing spot on the Sacramento River just south of Mt. Shasta. If you are driving up I-5 to Oregon, you might speed right past Dunsmuir without noticing. However, we can tell you that it’s more than worthwhile to stop in and enjoy Chef Brett’s inspired Mediterranean cuisine at his charming bistro and wine bar.

Chef Brett says, “The shortcake in this recipe is very short, more of a biscuit than a cake.”

strawberryshortcakeYields 4 large servings

For shortcake:
2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
3 to 5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
½ cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 egg
3/8 cup cold milk

For topping:
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
2 pints of strawberries, rinsed,
hulled, and quartered
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a bowl or food processor, mix the dry ingredients and zest. Cut in the butter (or pulse if you are using a food processor) until the texture is like coarse cornmeal. Whisk together the egg and the milk, then add about half to the dry ingredients, mixing with a fork or pulsing and adding more of the egg mixture as needed until the dough forms a ball.… Read More

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Candied Zucchini Slices and Crystallized Squash Blossoms

By Barbara Llewellyn Catering and Event Planning

Candied Zucchini Slices
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Zucchini slices (thinly sliced)

Bring above ingredients to a boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and drop thinly sliced zucchini slices into simmering simple syrup. Simmer for 2-3 mintues until zucchini becomes translucent. Remove with a slotted spoon, placing slices onto parchment paper to air dry.

Crystallized Squash Blossoms
With a very small paint brush, brush all surfaces of flowers with egg white. Toss flowers in superfine sugar and air dry until crispy.

Barbara Llewellyn Catering & Event Planning
434 25th St., Oakland
(510) 832-1967

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Dark Chocolate Frosting

By Barbara Llewellyn Catering and Event Planning

4 cups heavy cream
4 cups sugar
1 split vanilla bean
1 pound unsweetened dark chocolate
1 pound butter

Boil cream, sugar, vanilla for 6 minutes. Remove from heat and add chocolate, butter. Whisk smoothly and strain out vanilla bean.

Barbara Llewellyn Catering & Event Planning
434 25th St., Oakland
(510) 832-1967

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Spiced Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

By Barbara Llewellyn Catering and Event Planning

Photo by Cheryl Koehler

Photo by Cheryl Koehler

12 tablespoons (1½ stick or ¾ cup) butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
2 cups grated raw zucchini
2¾ cups all purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
2½ teaspoons baking powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup milk
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a cupcake pan for 20 cupcakes.

Cream the butter or shortening and slowly add the sugar, beating until smooth. Beat in the eggs and mix thoroughly. Stir in the vanilla, orange zest, and grated zucchini and blend well. (Batter may look curdled at this point. It will smooth out later.)

Stir together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda salt and cinnamon, and sift onto a piece of waxed paper. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the zucchini mixture along with the milk, and beat until thoroughly mixed. Stir in the walnuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean.… Read More

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Moroccan Ghreyba (shortbread) with Lavender or Anise


From the story: Exploring Culture and Conversion Through Food by Anisa Abeytia

I adapted this recipe from Anissa Helou’s book Café Morocco

2 sticks butter, softened
½ to 1 cup Rapadura sugar (½ cup if using anise. The sweetness of the seed lets you get away with less sugar.)
3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons lavender (not too much or the flavor will be over-powering) or
1–2 tablespoons anise

Cream the sugar and butter. Add in the eggs one at a time. Slowly add in the flour. Add in the lavender or anise. You want the dough to be soft, but not sticky. Refrigerate the dough for ½ hour so it will be easier to work with. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment. Roll out little balls the size of a quarter. Place the balls on the sheet 1 inch apart. Gently flatten the balls and cook for 6–8 minutes.
Makes 3–4 dozen

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Flan with Cardamom, Honey, and Pistachios


From the story: Exploring Culture and Conversion Through Food by Anisa Abeytia

6 eggs, beaten well
3 cups milk
1 cup honey, divided
2 teaspoons cardamom
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup diced pistachios

Beat the eggs and add the milk, then add half the spices and ½ cup honey. Pour the remaining honey and spices into 8 custard dishes. I have used one large baking dish, but it never comes out quite right. Then add the egg mixture to each dish. Place the dishes in a larger baking dish and pour in boiling water to 1-inch depth. Bake at 325 degrees for 30–40 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the middle of the flan. Once done, turn each dish upside down onto a plate and garnish with pistachios.
Serves 8

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Elderberry Buckwheat Tart


From: The Regal Elder Part II by Kristen Rasmussen Vasquez

Nutty buckwheat pairs perfectly with the tartly sweet berries, balanced by a bright kick of ginger.

Serves 8

9 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more for greasing pan
½ cup buckwheat flour
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons gluten-free flour blend (or all-purpose flour)
1/3 cup plus ½ cup granulated sugar, divided
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
2–3 tablespoons cold milk or water
3 cups fresh elderberries
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
2–3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch or 9-inch tart pan. Set aside.

Mix flours, 1/3 cup sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, and cut in 7 tablespoons butter. With pastry blender, fork, or hands, mix butter into flour mixture until the dough resembles small peas. Sprinkle in milk or water by the teaspoon and blend until dough sticks together when pressed, but is still crumbly.

Press dough into and up sides of pan, chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350° and bake for 15 minutes until golden-brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

While tart shell is cooling, add elderberries, remaining ½ cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and ginger to a large pot and heat on medium-high.… Read More

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