Food from the Hart

Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

Spring Produce Spotlight: Rhubarb

In Product Spotlight on May 20, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Dusty red with hints of green, rhubarb has a wonderfully unique tart flavor that can add a spark to any springtime dessert and some savory dishes.  The key to working with rhubarb is balancing the tartness with the right amount of sugar.  In some regions of the country it is actually referred to as “pieplant” because it’s frequently used in pies as well as compotes, sauces and crumbles.

Buy the Best

The long edible, celery-looking stalks should be firm and unblemished.  Look for the smaller stalks.  Smaller ones tend to be more tender while larger stalks are often stringy and tough. When you get the rhubarb home, wrap them tightly in a plastic bag and pop in the refrigerator.  They will stay crisp for up to five days.

Using Rhubarb

Trim off any green leaves that may still be attached.  These are poisonous! Cut the tough root off and peel back any fibrous layers. Proceed just as you would with celery, cut into slices or small dice, depending on what the recipe calls for.  Rhubarb is most commonly boiled with liquid, sugar, honey and other spices or flavorings.  You can also bake rhubarb by adding it to cake, muffin or cupcake batter just as you would strawberries, apples or blueberries.  No matter how you use it, it’s important to balance the tartness of rhubarb with sugar.  Rhubarb also releases a tremendous amount of liquid when you cook it.  This is great if you are making a compote or sauce, but for pie fillings or crumbles you will need to use a thickener like arrowroot or cornstarch.

Give Savory a Try

Although it might be surprising, you can use rhubarb in savory dishes.  Onion, garlic, cumin, mustard and balsamic vinegar all accent rhubarb nicely. But don’t forget to add a little sugar or honey – even in savory preparations!  You can pair a rhubarb compete or relish with chicken, pork or even lamb.

Add Rhubarb to Your Next Meal

  • Create a sweet compote by boiling strawberry and rhubarb together with vanilla bean and cardamom.  Serve over whipped cream or ice cream.
  • Add to muffins with a little cinnamon for a breakfast treat.
  • Mix sliced rhubarb with red wine, sugar, cinnamon and cloves and boil.  Use as a compote to serve over angel food cake or pound cake.
  • Combine with apple in a chutney and serve with sausages or pork tenderloin.
Rhubarb Fun Fact
While rhubarb is often used as a fruit it is in fact a vegetable! Who knew?


Strawberry-Rhubarb Parfaits

In Recipes on March 27, 2011 at 11:15 am

Yield: 6-8 servings

Cooking Time: 45 minutes (active)

Rhubarb is one of the best ingredients spring has to offer.  The unique bitter / tart taste goes so well with sweet fruit like berries.  I have made this recipe a million times, always trying to put my spin on it.  However, when Gourmet Magazine published it in 2000 they got it right.  There’s nothing to change or add.  It’s perfect the way it is and healthy to boot!

1 1/2 pounds rhubarb stalks, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1 (10-ounce) package thawed frozen “lite” strawberries in syrup

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

1 1/2 pints low-fat super premium vanilla ice cream, softened


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Arrange rhubarb in 1 layer on a lightly oiled shallow (1-inch-deep) baking pan and sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Roast in middle of oven 30 minutes, or until very tender. Cool in pan on a rack.

Purée rhubarb in a blender, scraping down sides several times, until smooth and transfer to a bowl. Purée strawberries and corn syrup in blender. Force purée through a fine sieve into a bowl and discard seeds. Stir one third of rhubarb purée into strawberry purée.

Stir together remaining rhubarb purée and ice cream and freeze until firm enough to scoop, 1 to 2 hours.

Layer strawberry-rhubarb purée and ice-cream mixture in 8 (6-oz) stemmed glasses.

Serve immediately.

King Cake

In Recipes on March 1, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Yield: 10

Cooking Time: 2 hours

You cannot have a proper Mardi Gras party without a King Cake.  Tradition says that each cake must have a small baby or “trinket” hidden inside.  If you get the baby in your slice, you must provide the King Cake for the next Mardi Gras party.  As with most things New Orleans, Emeril is the expert.  This recipe is from his television show Emeril Live on the Food Network.

2 packages dry active yeast

1/2 cup sugar

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

5 egg yolks

1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F)

4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Vegetable oil

8 ounces cream cheese

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Juice of one lemon

2 tablespoons milk

Purple, green and gold sugar sprinkles

Plastic baby toy


Preheat the oven 350 degrees F.

Combine the yeast, sugar, butter, and egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the milk. With the mixer on low-speed, beat the mixture for about 4 minutes to dissolve the yeast. If the yeast mixture doesn’t begin to foam after a few minutes, it means it’s not active and will have to be replaced.

In a separate large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Add this mixture to the yeast mixture. Mix on low-speed until it lightly comes together, then increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl, forms a ball, and climbs slightly up the dough hook.

Remove the dough from the bowl. Coat the dough with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic, set in a warm, draft-free place, and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the cream cheese and 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Mix well. In another small bowl, combine the remaining powdered sugar, lemon juice and milk. Mix well and set aside.

Turn the dough out on a floured surface. Roll the dough out 30 inches long and 6 inches in diameter. Spread the cream cheese filling across the center of the dough. Bring the two long edges together and seal all sides completely. Using your hands shape the dough into a long cylinder and place on a greased baking sheet, seam side down. Shape the dough into a ring. Place a well-greased 2 pound coffee can or shortening can in the center of the ring to support the shape during baking. Press the plastic baby toy into the ring from the bottom so that it is completely hidden by the dough.

Cover the ring with a towel and place in a warm, draft free place. Let the dough rise for about 45 minutes or until the dough doubles in size. With a sharp knife, make several slits around the top of the ring. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

After baking remove the coffee can immediately. Allow the cake to cool. Drizzle the cake with the sugar glaze. Sprinkle the cake with sprinkles, alternating colors. Cut the cake into pieces and serve.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Coconut Frosting

In Recipes on February 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm

This something I don’t do often, but I suggest you purchase a box of chocolate cake or cupcake mix from the grocery store.  It’s a time saver and at the end of the day a money saver.  Unless you have all the ingredients in your pantry, you can’t beat the price of the store bought mixes.  I would suggest you buy a premium brand like Ghirardelli. Follow the instructions on the box and then follow these instructions to make the delicious coconut frosting that is adopted from Bon Appetit Magazine, April 2009.

Coconut Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature

Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups chocolate sprinkles (for garnish)


Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar, 1/3 cup reduced coconut milk, seeds from vanilla bean, and salt. Beat on medium-low speed until blended, scraping down sides of bowl. Increase to mediumhigh and beat until light and fluffy.

Using pastry bag fitted with large star tip, pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. (Alternatively, top each cupcake with 2 tablespoons frosting. Using small offset spatula, swirl frosting over top of cupcakes, leaving 1/2-inch plain border.) Sprinkle with chocolate sprinkles.

Can be made 1 day ahead. Store in airtight containers; chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Black and White Cookies

In Recipes on February 13, 2011 at 11:53 am

Yield: About 8 cookies

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

This is a great recipe that I adapted from Gourmet Magazine.  I think they look great and taste even better!

For Cookies

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup well shaken buttermilk

½ teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

½ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

For icings

1 ½ cups confectioners sugar

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

¼ teaspoon vanilla

1 to 2 tablespoons water

¼ cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder


Make cookies:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.  Stir together buttermilk, and vanilla in a cup.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add egg, beating until combined well.  Mix in flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately in batches at low speed (scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally), beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Mix until smooth.

Spoon ¼ cups of batter about 2 inches apart onto a buttered large baking sheet.  Bake in middle of oven until tops are puffed and pale golden, and cookies spring back with touched, 15-17 minutes.  Transfer with a metal spatula to a rack and chill, about 5 minutes.

Make icings while cookies chill:

Stir together confectioners sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl until smooth.  Transfer half of the icing to another bowl and stir in cocoa, adding more water, ½ teaspoon at a time, to thin to same consistency as white icing.

Ice cookies:

Turn cookies flat sides up, then spread white icing over half of each and chocolate over half.

Chocolate Fondue

In Recipes on February 2, 2011 at 11:24 am

Yield: 8 servings

Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Fondue is such a fun dessert and can be really fun for a cocktail party.  It’s interactive and who doesn’t love chocolate and fruit.  Make sure you remind people, no double dipping!




1 cup cocoa powder

1 cup water

1 1/2 cup super fine sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1 cup heavy cream, added gradually

7 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1-2 tablespoons of Frangelico or Amaretto (optional)

Fruit (banana, strawberries, apples, pineapple, mango in bite sized pieces)

Pound cake, lady fingers, pretzels, marshmallows


Bring water, corn syrup, and sugar in the saucepan. Cook for 10 minutes until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture has thickened. Whisk in the cocoa powder until the mixture is smooth. Add the heavy 3/4 cup of cream and bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to simmer for 5 minutes.  Mix in the chocolate pieces.  Remove from the heat and stir in liquor if using.

If the mixture still seems thick gradually add in the rest of the cream.  Keep chocolate warm and serve with fruit and cake.

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