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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Becca’s Book, Serial #3 and Peach Pie Bars

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Of all the fruits in the world, only peaches have crossed over into positive slang. The term peachy–as in “Everything is peachy!”–suggests that all is well. Now I don’t know how peaches came to deserve such recognition, but I’m not about to argue with it. Peaches–the fruit, the flavor, the color, the texture–are both unique and delicious. When there are peaches in the house (or in my stomach), I’m a happy camper. With peaches around, everything is peachy.

And so it is with these Peach Pie Bars. They unite the delicious flavor of peach pie with the ease of serving and eating of a dessert bar–the perfect combination! On top of that, the recipe is simple and quick. So give these Peach Pie Bars a try and discover–again or for the first time–how appropriate it is that peaches have their own slang term.

And take a look at or listen to the third part of Becca’s Book. The romance between Zach and Becca is blossoming–almost peachy but with a few bumps in the road. See if it, along with these peachy bars, doesn’t put a smile on your face.

 peach pie bar

Peach Pie Bars

2 medium peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced 1/4 inch thick

1 Tablespoon light brown sugar

1 1/2 Tablespoons water or whiskey

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

7 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Combine peaches, brown sugar, water (or whiskey), and vanilla in a bowl. Set aside while you make the crust.

sliced peaches

To make crust, combine the butter, granulated sugar, all-purpose flour, cinnamon, and salt; make sure ingredients are well mixed. Reserve 1/4 cup of this mixture for topping; press remaining mixture in the bottom of the loaf pan. Make sure the crust covers the bottom of the pan and is even.

Add cornstarch to the peaches and stir together. Pour peaches on top of crust. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup crust mixture over top of peaches.

peachpie bars

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting.

Makes 8 bars.

bite of bar

{Adapted from Dessert for Two}

Becca's Book cover

Becca’s Book, Serial #3, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #3, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Enjoy!

Becca’s Book, Serial #2 and Honey Semifreddo

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Semifreddo–Italian ice cream, right? Well, sort of, if Niagara Falls is a waterfall.

This Honey Semifreddo is so much richer and more delicately flavored than ice cream it requires a different category, thus justifying its exotic name. Yet despite its richness, this dessert is easy to make from everyday ingredients. Simple yet exotic and sumptuous–what’s not to like? Give it a try and see if you think it’s just ice cream, or something more.

And listen to Serial #2 of Becca’s Book while you’re enjoying this luscious dessert. The love that’s slowly unfolding in this tale is rather like semifreddo–composed of ordinary ingredients but imbued with a richness and delicate flavor!

semifreddo

Honey Semifreddo

1 egg

2 egg yolks

1/4 cup honey

3/4 cup cream

optional: 1/4 cup toasted nuts or fruit, for topping

Line a muffin tin with plastic wrap, pushing the plastic wrap into six muffin cups. Set aside.

Add the egg, egg yolks, and honey to the bowl of a double boiler.* Place the bowl over simmering water, beating the eggs and honey until thick and pale. Remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes.

Whip the cream until thick. Fold the whipped cream into the cooled honey mixture.

Divide the mixture between the six muffin cups. Cover with plastic wrap and place tin in freezer for 2-3 hours, or overnight.

prepared semifreddo

When ready to serve, remove the muffin tin from the freezer. Unwrap each individual serving and place on a plate. Top with toasted nuts, fruit, and/or a drizzle of honey.

Serves 6.

*You can make a double boiler using a stainless steel bowl and saucepan filled with about an inch of water. Place the saucepan over high heat until the water is simmering, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Place stainless steel bowl on top of saucepan. Make sure the bowl fits into the saucepan but does not touch the simmering water.

semifreddo bite

{Adapted from Milk and Honey}

Becca's Book cover

Becca’s Book, Serial #2, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #2, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Enjoy!

Becca’s Book, Serial #1 and S’mores Parfait

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S’mores–the word defines not only an unlikely mix of ingredients where the combination of flavors far exceeds any of the parts, but it has also come to symbolize the adventures of youth and innocence. Who doesn’t have a memory or tale of awakening related to eating a S’mores? It might be your own experience around a campfire on the beach or at a cabin in the woods, or it may be a memorable story you heard sometime, somewhere. Either way, the word and even more so the mix of flavors summon powerful emotions and recollections.

This S’mores Parfait draws on this mix of flavors but assembles them in a more manageable and elegant arrangement–like having your S’mores experience in an easy to make, easy to eat form, yet still fun, still with the feel and taste of innocence. So give this recipe a try, and let it call you back to those long ago (or not so long ago) days of youthful adventure.

And while you’re at it, listen to (or read) this first segment of Becca’s Book, a fictional memoir of youthful joy and passion being published for the first time in serial form right here on Reading and Recipes!

smore galore 

S’mores Parfait

1 3.4-ounce box instant chocolate pudding mix

2 cups milk

1 8-ounce container whipped topping (such as Cool Whip), room temperature

4 graham cracker sheets, crushed

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1 cup marshmallow fluff

smores parfae

Add the pudding mix and milk to a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for two minutes, until pudding starts to thicken. Make sure all of pudding is dissolved. Place pudding in refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix crushed graham crackers and melted butter. Make sure graham cracker crumbs are coated.

Remove pudding from refrigerator. Fold in whipped topping.

To assemble parfaits, scoop some graham cracker crumbs into the bottom of two glasses. Layer pudding on top of crumbs. Top with a large scoop of marshmallow fluff, and try to spread it over the pudding layer. Repeat layers once all ingredients are used, ending with pudding. Top with a few graham cracker pieces.

Chill parfaits for 30 minutes or overnight.

Serves 2.

smmmmmmmmmmmore

And now for the first segment of Becca’s Book….

Becca's Book cover

Becca’s Book, Serial #1, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Becca’s Book, Serial #1, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Enjoy!

The Annunciation and Flourless Chocolate Cookies

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Flourless Chocolate Cookies–sounds pretty decadent, doesn’t it? A sneaky way to eat a candy bar, right? You’ve probably had a slice of one of those flourless chocolate cakes that’s like the world’s biggest candy bar (and jammed full of fat) but defended your over the top indulgence by saying–“But it was just a slice of cake!” Yeah, right–and these are just a few cookies.

But guess what? These chocolate bombs are actually sort of skinny, and definitely not unhealthy. At less than 100 calories per cookie and hardly any fat, you can indulge to your heart’s content and your heart will be content (or at least not strained to breaking). So go ahead–dive into a little decadence, all the while knowing that you’re staying on the narrow path of good nutrition (we won’t tell anyone your secret).

And take a look at “The Annunciation.” This very short story is sort of like these cookies–around closing time at a local bar, it looks like Zach is headed down the path of decadence but actually finds a positive revelation in the midst of that debauchery. See what you think.

flourless chocolate cookies

Flourless Chocolate Cookies

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (about 3 ounces)

1 large egg white, at room temperature

2/3 cup + 1/4 cup powdered sugar, divided

3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon cornstarch

pinch of salt (about 1/8 tsp)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Place the bittersweet chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Melt on 50% power for 20 seconds. Remove the chocolate from the microwave and stir. Microwave the chocolate for another 20 seconds. Continue this until most of the chocolate is melted, careful not to burn the chocolate. Stir the chocolate together to melt the remaining morsels. Set chocolate aside.

Place the egg white in a clean bowl. Whisk until soft peaks form. (This will take about 2 minutes vigorously whisking by hand.) Gradually add 1/3 cup of the powdered sugar, and continue whisking until the sugar is incorporated.

sifting pic{See those lumps? That’s why we sift the dry ingredients!}

Sift 1/3 cup of powdered sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt together. Add these dry ingredients to the egg white mixture and stir ingredients together. The cookie dough will become very thick. Add the melted bittersweet chocolate to egg white mixture and blend all ingredients together.

Place the remaining 1/4 cup powdered sugar in a bowl. Roll 1 tablespoon of cookie dough into a ball. Roll the ball of cookie dough in the powdered sugar, making sure to get a good coating of sugar all over the dough. Place on prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for about 10-11 minutes, or until the cookies flatten slightly and the tops begin to cracked. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 6 cookies.

cookie bite

{Adapted from Picklee}

The Annunciation cover

The Annunciation, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

The Annunciation, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Carousel Ride and Lemon Cupcakes

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Admit it–there’s something happy about cupcakes. Even the word brings a smile to your face.

And what about lemon? The color and the scent and the flavor are all bright and light and fun.

Now put the two together–lemon cupcakes! Just typing the words practically brought the sun out–and it’s two hours after sunset here! Now imagine mixing together the ingredients, stirring the batter–the pale yellow color, the delicate scent of lemon mixed with butter and egg and sugar and flour. Then the scent of the cupcakes as they bake, filling the kitchen, brightening your day (or evening or night). Then add a light vanilla buttercream frosting and a little lemon zest and they’re ready to eat. But you might want to hold off a little while, let those cupcakes sitting on the counter add joy to your life by their mere presence. LEMON CUPCAKES–yup, here comes the sun again, rising above the western horizon!

“Carousel Ride” is a short story about a joyful outing on a bright and unseasonably warm afternoon in January. The love Becca and Zach share more or less exactly mirrors the glowing day. But there are shadows amidst all this sunshine, and the clock is ever ticking on their youth and infatuation. Take a look or a listen while you bask in the sunshine of your lemon cupcakes!

  lemon cupcake

Lemon Cupcakes

1 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 1/2 Tablespoons egg substitute (or crack one egg, beat it, and use 1 1/2 Tbsp)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1 1/2 Tablespoons milk

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice (zest the lemon first for garnishing cupcakes)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put two muffin liners in a cupcake pan. Set aside.

Beat butter and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy, or about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla. Beat ingredients together until well blended. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt to the cake batter. Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Lastly, add the milk and lemon juice and stir until ingredients are well mixed, careful not to over mix the batter.

cupcakes

Divide the batter between the two liners. Bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

lemoncupcake

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

3/4-1 cup powdered sugar

3 teaspoons milk

zest from the lemon for garnishing

Add the butter to a mixing bowl. Beat on high until butter is smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla, salt, and about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Slowly mix these ingredients together. Once the powdered sugar is mostly incorporated, beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy. Add the milk and the remaining powdered sugar and mix everything together. Frost the cooled cupcakes. Garnish with lemon zest right before serving.

lemon cupcake with zest

{Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction}

Carousel Ride cover

Carousel Ride, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Carousel Ride, text © Jeffrey Anderson