Cooking with Alison

Archive for the ‘Other Desserts’ Category

The Best Tiramisu Recipe

In Other Desserts on October 6, 2011 at am

Tiramisu is a very popular Italian, coffee flavoured, layered dessert made with lady fingers and a creamy filling.  I’ve always made it a point to try tiramisu from various restaurants, banquet halls, and bakeries – I even tested a few simple tiramisu recipes – but I never found one that blew me away, so I couldn’t understand why this dessert was so popular… until now.  I now know that the simpler tiramisu recipes just don’t cut it, and you really need to use the best quality mascarpone that you can get your hands on.  I realize that mascarpone cheese is a pricey ingredient, but if you spend just a few more dollars, it will make a world of difference to this dessert.

For my mother’s past birthday, I made a tiramisu cake.  Everyone loved it, even Ed and his family who don’t normally care for tiramisu.  My dad, who isn’t a fan of dessert in general, enthusiastically asked for a large second helping.  He kept saying, “I don’t like dessert, but I Need to eat more of this.”  Yes, the word he used was, “need”. 🙂  I loved it so much that I briefly contemplated not sharing the rest of it with Ed and his family (and that is Not like me)!

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Swiss Meringue Buttercream with Flavour Variations

In Cake Decorating, Cakes, Cupcakes, Other Desserts on September 15, 2011 at am

Swiss merginue buttercream is so good and versatile that it truly deserves its own post.  Think of it in this way:  swiss meringue buttercream is to buttercream frosting as Egyptian cotton is to 200 thread count bed sheets.  Swiss meringue buttercream is stiff enough for piping and cake decorating, but it feels and tastes light, satiny, smooth, elegant, and luxurious.  I love it when people taste it for the first time and turn to me with wide, adoring eyes, to ask, “What is this?”.  🙂  This is the stuff that the professionals use and you can easily make it yourself.  It will take your baking to a whole new level.  Although swiss meringue buttercream is slightly tedious and time consuming to make, it is definitely worth the effort.  You can make a large batch and store it in the refrigerator or freezer.

I have used swiss meringue buttercream for strawberry cupcakes, mini chocolate cupcakes, chocolate cake, and a wedding cake with great success.  I originally shared the recipes for strawberry and vanilla swiss meringue buttercream in my yellow cupcakes and favourite moist chocolate cake posts, respectively.  I recently made chocolate swiss meringue buttercream for my dad’s chocolate birthday cake and it instantly became my new favourite chocolate frosting.

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Coconut or Macaroon Popsicles Recipe

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Other Desserts on September 6, 2011 at am

Before I knew it, summer was almost over and I hadn’t made any popsicles yet.  I fully plan on enjoying homemade popsicles well into fall this year.  This sophisticated, coconut popsicle is creamy and has a lovely chewy texture.  The toasted, shredded coconut floats to the top (which then becomes the bottom of your popsicle) and creates a macaroon like texture.  If you want the whole popsicle to taste like a macaroon, then you might want to add an extra pinch of salt and use up to 1 cup of toasted, shredded coconut.

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Favourite Banana Bread Recipe

In Breads, Breakfast, Other Desserts on June 8, 2011 at am

I’ve tried numerous recipes in search of my favourite banana bread.  Recently, I found one that was exactly what I was looking for.  This is Ed’s favourite recipe too.  In the past, he has always dutifully taste-tested my banana bread with the disclaimer that he isn’t a big banana bread fan.  But when I gave him the rest of this loaf to take home to his family, he ate it all before he arrived.  😉  This banana bread is moist, soft, and it holds together without being heavy or dense.  It has great banana flavour and a handful of chocolate chips makes a wonderful variation.  My preference is to use only enough chocolate to add a subtle sweetness and depth so as not to overpower the bananas.  I know I’ve accomplished this when people have to ask if there’s chocolate in it.

If you prefer a softer, fluffier banana bread, this recipe by my little mochi is excellent too.  I use it whenever I have sour cream or yogurt that needs to get used up.

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Favourite Waffles Recipe (you won’t miss the gluten)

In Breakfast, Other Desserts on May 27, 2011 at am

This gluten free (easily made dairy free) waffles recipe blew us away.  I never thought I’d say this, but I prefer it over all of the gluten-filled waffle recipes that I’ve tried (and I’ve tried several).  They are unbelievably light and airy on the inside (as long as you don’t overfill your waffle maker with batter) and delicately crispy on the outside.  Furthermore, this is a very easy recipe; you don’t need a blender (I don’t recommend using an electric mixer either), and the batter doesn’t need to rest first.  I recommend doubling the recipe and freezing the leftover cooked waffles.  You can toast them until crispy straight from the freezer for a quick and delicious breakfast.  Also, you could make these ahead of time if you’re entertaining a lot of people.

Homemade Waffle Mix and Gift Idea:  Make a large batch of homemade waffle mix by whisking together all of the dry ingredients (use granulated sugar instead of liquid sweetener) and store it in an airtight container.  Then every time you want to make a batch of waffles, simply measure out 2 cups + 2 tablespoons of your waffle mix and add the wet ingredients as per the recipe below.  You could even turn this into a gift.  Put your homemade waffle mix in a cellophane bag, tie it with a pretty ribbon and attach the recipe and instructions.  Just make sure that the recipient owns a waffle maker if you’re not also gifting them with one.

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Coconut Mango Rice Pudding

In Other Desserts on January 13, 2011 at am

I serve this rice pudding warm, because it contrasts beautifully with the cool chunks of mango.  I also love the added texture that the toasted coconut gives to the creamy pudding.  (See my recipe for basic rice pudding here.)

Note:  The texture of your rice pudding will depend on whether you’re using long or short grain rice.  According to the Joy of Baking, using long grain rice will result in a pudding that’s chewier and slightly drier.

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Almond Nougat Recipe

In Other Desserts on December 20, 2010 at pm

I wanted to put something different onto my holiday baking list this year, so I made almond nougat.  I love the chewy and crunchy texture and it’s surprisingly easy to make (if you have a stand mixer and a candy thermometer).  Try making variations of this with strongly brewed coffee instead of water; or maple extract instead of almond extract; or switching the almonds for hazelnuts or pistachios, etc.

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Crispy and Chewy Meringues

In Other Desserts on December 12, 2010 at am

I love meringues that are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.  They remind me of my dehydrated marshmallows.  Although they take a while to bake, they’re very easy to make.  I took them into work and I was surprised at how many people associated them with fond memories of their mothers and grandmothers.

I made meringue cookies, but you could make meringue nests and top them with fresh fruits, sauce, custard, or whipped cream, etc.  You could also add food colouring for themed occasions or add cocoa powder for chocolate meringues (try topping them with a chocolate chip).  My co-worker told me that his mom hides a chocolate chip in the centre of her meringue cookies.

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Coconut Macaroons Recipe

In Other Desserts on December 10, 2010 at am

I had a lot of shredded coconut leftover from when I made Indian curry and coconut and mango rice pudding.  So I experimented with making coconut macaroons.  This recipe makes macaroons that are slightly sticky with a chewy centre and crispy edges.  They are very easy to make and are great plain. 

You could easily turn these simple treats into something decadent by dipping them in melted chocolate.  You could dip just the bottoms or just the tops.  Or you could cover half of a macaroon with chocolate by dipping it on the diagonal.

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Rice Pudding Recipe

In Other Desserts on December 3, 2010 at am

The first time I tried rice pudding, it was served cold, and I didn’t understand why anyone would enjoy bits of rice in their creamy custard.  I didn’t try it again until years later, when a friend of mine served it warm after dinner.  She completely changed my mind about rice pudding.  Then I came up with this recipe and turned Ed and Krystal into rice pudding fans too.  🙂

Rice pudding is a simple dessert that you can serve all year round.  For example, you can serve it cold in the summer or use it as a refreshing finish to a spicy Indian meal.  I prefer to make rice pudding in the fall or winter, because a hot bowl of rice pudding makes for a very comforting dessert on a cold night.   Here is my recipe for basic rice pudding.  Note that the instructions differ depending on whether you’re planning on serving this cold or warm.  Also, try replacing some of the milk with evaporated milk or coconut milk, or try using sweetened condensed milk instead of sugar, but keep in mind that this may alter the cooking times.  (See my coconut and mango rice pudding recipe here.)

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Chocolate Bar Cheesecake Bites (Won 1st Place in a Baking Contest!)

In Other Desserts on November 16, 2010 at am

These bite sized treats are creamy, chewy, and chocolatey with a crunchy toffee crust.  They’re a great way to use up leftover halloween candy.

These won 1st place (out of 14 entries) at my sister’s company’s baking contest.  It was their annual fund raising event for charity (United Way).  The winner is determined by the employees’ votes.  Last year was my first time competing and I submitted caramel popcorn.  Unfortunately, only 3 people chose to sample it. 🙂  But of the 3 people that sampled it, 2 voted for it.  So I consider that a success.  🙂  (See the recipe for my caramel popcorn here.)

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Quicky Sticky Biscuits

In Other Desserts on September 28, 2010 at pm

If you like sticky, caramel/toffee desserts, you’ll appreciate these.  I’ve made them for my family and for a dinner party and everyone loved them.  They are easy to make and since there are no rising periods, this is a relatively quick recipe.  They taste best fresh out of the oven as the toffee hardens when it cools.  But you can warm them up again in the microwave.  Also, keep in mind that these biscuits make a heavy treat.  Luckily, I discovered that they freeze well and can be re-heated in the microwave.

See the original recipe and a photo of these biscuits from the cookbook here.

Quicky Sticky Biscuits

makes 12 biscuits; adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O’Connor

for the sauce:
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
3/4 cup salted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped toasted pecans

for the biscuits:
4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup very cold or frozen unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized pieces
2 cups cold buttermilk  (I used 2 tbsp lemon juice topped up to 2 cups of cold milk and I let it sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before using.)

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