Cooking with Alison

Archive for the ‘Other Desserts’ Category

Fruit Salad

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Other Desserts on April 16, 2010 at pm

I love fresh fruit salads.  I like serving them with brunch, or as a snack or dessert.  Instead of following a recipe, I usually choose fruits based on 2 textures and 4 colours.  I like to use one fruit that adds a slight crunch, so I usually use grapes (red or green) or apples (red or green).  Then I choose fruits of each of the colours: red, green, white, and orange.  For the red, I like to use strawberries or raspberries.  For the green, I like to use kiwis.  For the white, I like to use bananas or pears.  For the orange, I like to use citrus slices (orange, tangerine, and/or grapefruit), mangoes, peaches, or nectarines.  Sometimes I like to add blue or purple by adding blueberries or plum slices.  Use any fruits in any combination that you like.  You could try making an exotic fruit salad using fruits like papaya, pineapple, passion fruit, lychee, dragon fruit, etc.

If you’re eating the salad right away, there’s no need to dress it.  But if it’s going to sit for a while, then you should dress it with some freshly squeezed lemon juice (do not substitute with bottled lemon juice) and some honey or white granulated sugar to taste.  This will prevent certain fruits from browning.

Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar

In Other Desserts on April 5, 2010 at pm

I first tried this unique combination of strawberries with balsamic vinegar 3 years ago.  I was hesitant at first, but was surprised at how much I liked it.  I ate it regularly for several months.  Then I got sick of it and completely forgot about it until now.  So when strawberries went on sale last week, I bought some and made this again.  I’ve tried this using white granulated sugar in comparison to icing sugar and I prefer the flavour of granulated sugar.  I love serving strawberries in balsamic vinegar with vanilla ice cream when entertaining.  I like eating them on their own too.

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Chocolate Fountain (100th Post!)

In Other Desserts on March 30, 2010 at pm

When I moved into my apartment in 2008, I got a Rival chocolate fountain (and a poker table) before I even had living / dining room furniture or curtains in my bedroom.  I had to go through the hassle of returning 2 machines that did not work before I finally brought one home that did.  As you can tell from my persistence, I was really set on owning one of these things  :)  Clearly, the Rival model isn’t of the best quality, but I’ve used mine more times than I can remember, so I still recommend it.  The motor is just now finally starting to die.  It’s perfect for parties of Any occasion and you can dip strawberries, banana slices, pear slices, shortbread cookies, marshmallows, cookies, large pretzels, rice krispies squares (recipe here), etc.  To make the chocolate, I buy bags of Hershey’s chocolate chips from Costco and follow the instructions that came with the machine.  I tried using this as a cheese fountain too but it didn’t work as advertised.

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Butterscotch White Chocolate Brownies

In Other Desserts on March 19, 2010 at pm

I’ve made these twice now and I love them.  I love their chewy texture and I love that they’re not the standard chocolate brownie.  Note that these come out thin.  If you prefer them thicker, you could try baking this in a 9 x 9 inch pan and adding a few minutes to the baking time.  (See my favourite chocolate brownies recipe here and brownie cookies recipe here.)

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Rice Krispies Squares

In Other Desserts on February 28, 2010 at pm

I was invited to a friend’s house for a spontaneous weeknight dinner with very short notice.  So the challenge was to use ingredients that I already had to make dessert in under an hour.  Luckily I had a bag of Kraft Jet Puffed marshmallows leftover from making fondant (recipe here) and I almost always have a box of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereal because I love Rice Krispies squares so much.  Whenever I make them, I eat them until my mouth hurts…. and then I eat some more.

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Cinnamon Buns

In Other Desserts on January 22, 2010 at pm

My new (as of October 2009), and first ever, kitchenaid stand mixer came with a recipe for cinnamon buns.  I tried it and they were pretty good.  I especially like the icing.  But, like all cinnamon buns, they were only good for the first day.

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Caramel Popcorn

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Other Desserts on January 21, 2010 at pm

I love good caramel popcorn.  My favourite caramel popcorn comes from Kernels (from Canada) and Garrett’s (from Chicago), but their popcorn is ridiculously overpriced, especially considering how easy and cost efficient it is to make at home.  I eat this stuff until my mouth hurts.  :)  My recipe always gets great reviews.

Krystal’s company holds an annual baking contest to raise money for charity (United Way).  The winner is determined by the employees’ votes.  But since employees have to pay for the baked goods that they want to sample, not everything gets tasted.  This is the most challenging aspect of this competition, because your entries need to be unique and visually appealing in order to get picked over the other, 30 or more, entries.  The best tasting brownies or cookies wouldn’t stand a chance in this bake-off, because no one would even try them.  In November, 2009, I competed for the first time with my caramel popcorn.  Only 3 people sampled it, haha  :)  However, 2 of the 3 people that sampled it, voted for it.  So I consider that a success.  :)  Update:  In November, 2010, I competed for the second time and won 1st place with my Chocolate Bar Cheesecake Bites (recipe here).  In November, 2011, I placed 3rd with my Butter Tarts (recipe here).

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Fruit Bouquets (make your own)

In Other Desserts on January 20, 2010 at am

I googled the price of fruit bouquets once and I couldn’t believe how much they were charging for a few slices of pineapple, grapes, wedges of melon and a handful of strawberries.  So I decided to see if I could make my own fruit bouquet.  I convinced Ed to make one too for our mothers’ day gifts.  In the beginning, Ed was grumbling about doing “arts & crafts” but then he really got into it and had a lot of fun with it.  It was really cute to watch him try very hard to be delicate with the fruits and thoughtful of the placement of them  :)  Both of our moms Loved it.  It was so easy that I made one for my friend’s bridal shower too.

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Favourite Chewy and Dense Brownies

In Other Desserts on January 19, 2010 at pm

At a recent dinner party, a friend of mine brought brownies that had been made from the Ghirardelli brownie mix (she bought it at Costco).  They were good and chocolatey but they were closer to cake than I prefer my brownies to be.  So I was inspired (more like obsessed) to search for the best chewy and dense brownie recipe that is halfway between cakey and fudgy.  I focused on recipes for plain brownies only, because I believe that it’s important to find the best base recipe first.  Then you can make it even better by experimenting with all sorts of variations (ie. icing, nuts, cream cheese, etc.).

I tried more than 15 different brownie recipes and my favourite is adapted from http://www.instructables.com/.  I especially like this recipe because with just a tiny change in the number of eggs, you can choose between a texture that’s in the middle of cakey and fudgy or a texture that’s closer to cakey between the two extremes.  Personally, I prefer the denser version.  Also, I discovered that brownies freeze really really well.  I cut my brownies before freezing them.

One of the brownie recipes that I tried was that of Julia Child’s.  Even though I don’t consider it to be a true brownie (too cakey for me), I absolutely Love her recipe.  I serve it warm as a gooey, slightly chewy chocolate cake with a scoop of ice cream.  I will forever be grateful for discovering her recipe (link here).

Below Right:  Variation of this brownie recipe with cheesecake.

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Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

In Other Desserts on January 19, 2010 at pm

I made Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova for a friend’s birthday party and everyone Loved it.  It was elegant, sophisticated, simple, and not too sweet.  I look forward to making this again and again with different fruits (ie. strawberries; mixed berries), because I imagine any fruit that pairs well with chocolate and cream will work beautifully.

I may have spread it out too much before I baked it because it turned out very large and could have served 12 – 15 people.  Even though there were only 8 people at the dinner party, and two other desserts, they still managed to finish it.

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