sweets

the best cookie is a giant cookie

At the last book club our group of friends had, our dear friend Abbey who happens to be insanely creative brought the dessert. Naturally we were all excited to see what she whipped up and it didn’t disappoint. She made individual cookies, baked them so that they were just soft and gooey and topped them off with vanilla ice-cream. It was pretty much as good as it gets.

So naturally I had to recreate her perfection the next night but in giant form since the best cookie is a giant cookie! Fair warning that this is not a dessert for bikini season (sorry I’m not sorry!). This recipe is so simple that it can be thrown into the oven during dinner to enjoy just after while it is still warm and gooey! Enjoy!

ingredients

  • one package of pre-made cookie dough or your cookie dough of choice for 24 cookies
  • ice-cream of choice (we had coffee – naturally I dug through both mine and the boy’s to find all the chocolate coverged beans…)

instructions

  1. Preheat oven to temperature specified in the cookie recipe.
  2. Grease a cheesecake pan or any spring pan or you can use individual serving size jars. This allows for super easy “extraction” of the cookie.
  3. Press all of your cookie dough into the bottom of the pan.
  4. Place in the refrigerator until after dinner or simply pop into the oven if you are ready to enjoy.
  5. Bake for the amount of time specified in the recipe or until lightly golden brown and still soft.
  6. Immediately unclasp the spring.
  7. Cut the cookie into servings while still hot.
  8. Top with ice-cream and enjoy!
my cookie dough of choice

my cookie dough of choice

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pressed and ready to be baked!

pressed and ready to be baked!

the best tea towel for cookies!

the best tea towel for cookies!

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this isn't a dessert to consider what a "normal" serving size should be

this isn’t a dessert to consider what a “normal” serving size should be

my cookie topped with ice-cream

my cookie topped with ice-cream

the boy's cookie + ice-cream (i promise there is one hidden in there somewhere)

the boy’s cookie + ice-cream (i promise there is one hidden in there somewhere)

nom nom nom!

nom nom nom!

taylor brass

brass blossom

peach lemonade pie

For our “Let There Be Light” dinner I wanted to make a fresh pie that screamed Spring time. It just so happened that the day following the time change was Pi Day. I happen to think Pi Day should be a holiday in itself to celebrate the wonderful dessert, pie!

Nothing says Spring time to me than peach pie so that is what I made. However after making the filling with the peaches and cutting down on the sugar I felt that it was still a bit too sweet. But the only thing I had on hand to balance the sweetness was lemonade. It was definitely one of those life hands you lemon moments and the lemonade was the perfect pairing with the peaches!

I will most definitely be making this pie again this summer!

ingredients

  • 6 cups peaches
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup baking sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • large splash of lemonade
  • pie crust of choice

instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare your preferred pie crust. Remember to always use super cold water, a cold bowl and refrigerate your crust after making.
  3. Mix together peaches, brown and white sugar, vanilla and cornstarch in a large pot. Cook over low to medium heat until peaches begin to break down.
  4. While the mixture is cooling add a splash or two of lemonade depending on your tangy preference.
  5. Prepare the pie crust on a well floured surface. Separate the crust into two balls. Roll the first half out for the bottom of the pie and insert it into the pan.
  6. Carefully pour the fruit mixture into the pie pan.
  7. Roll out the second half of the crust into a large circle.
  8. To make an art deco styled flower, use a shot glass or any other circular object to cut circles out of the second crust. Cover the pie with the second crust.
  9. Press around the edges to seal the pie.
  10. Bake 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. Enjoy a slice or two with a heaping scoop of ice-cream!

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a ball of dough

the second ball of dough

peaches galore!

peaches galore!

the cutouts

the shot glass cutouts

art-deco (ish) flower pie

art-deco (ish) flower pie!

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baked to perfection!

baked to perfection!

Enjoy!

taylor brass

brass blossom

snowflake pie delight

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I knew the Holidays were going to be absolutely crazy this year as I was only home for about three weeks. So before the madness ensued we had a few friends over for dessert and drinks. I threw together a pie and topped it with some snowflakes. We enjoyed some pie, some popcorn, some drinks and an episode or two of MeatEater.

Yes, we all snuggled on the couch plus a black dog or two and watched a hunting show. If that’s not Idaho, I don’t know what is. As the boy professed this summer, it was one of those romantic little friend nights that was just perfect.

So without further ado here is the most simple pie recipe that I usually end up eye balling!

ingredients

  • 2 cups peaches
  • 4 cups blackberries
  • 2 cups sugar (i used brown)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • a squeeze of lemon
  • pie crust of your choice
  • fun cookie cutter!

instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare your preferred pie crust. Remember to always use super cold water, a cold bowl and refrigerate your crust after making.
  3. Mix together the fruit, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and squeeze of lemon in a large pot. Heat over low to medium heat until the mixture thickens a bit.
  4. Separate pie crust into two balls. Roll out the first for the bottom of the pie and insert it into your pie pan.
  5. Carefully pour your fruit mixture into the pie pan, careful not to make any dribbles on your crust!
  6. Roll out the second ball. Cut a fun shape into the middle. I used a snowflake in honor of the plethora of snow we had before the Holidays. Lay over the pie. Cut around the edge.
  7. Press around the edge to make a fun pattern.
  8. Use any extra pie crust you have to make two more of the same shape and place on either side of the cutout shape.
  9. Dust with sugar.
  10. Bake 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. Enjoy a piece of pie with some ice-cream, popcorn (obvi), drinks and good company!
the cutest snowflake cookie cutter + a crazy amount of flour

the cutest snowflake cookie cutter + a crazy amount of flour

my favorite measuring spoons

my favorite measuring spoons

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ready to be topped

ready to be topped

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obviously should have taken off the price marker….

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just a “dusting” of sugar…more is more?

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enjoy!

enjoy!

taylor brass

brass blossom

scream for ice cream — homemade ice cream cake

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The boy really, really, really loves ice cream. Like eats a couple of half gallons a week. So to help him work on his dad bod I made a homemade ice cream cake. We had 4 others over for dinner and I estimated that COMBINED we would eat like a third of the cake. But no. Five of us ate about a fourth of the cake and the boy ate the rest. He started with a large piece, followed by another large piece and then fishished the beauty off in one sitting. It was like something you would see at the circus.

Now I’m sure you are all pretty impressed right about now that 1. I actually made a homemade ice cream cake and 2. the boy ate pretty much an entire ice cream cake and didn’t explode. And prepare to be even more impressed at how easy this cake is to make and how wowed everyone will be that you actually made a homemade ice cream cake (sorta).

FYI healthy would not remotely be a word I would use to describe this cake (unless you are like super low on calcium?). Cheers to ice cream, eating like a “Fat Boy” and having seconds, thirds, fourths!

ingredients

  • a box of 12-square FatBoys (yes, you read that correctly…)
  • a jar of caramel sauce or chocolate sauce or really any sauce or two or three of your choosing
  • one pint of whipped cream

instructions

  1. grab a cake plate that will fit in your freezer, unwrap the first “FatBoy” and place it on the plate.
  2. do the same thing with the next five “FatBoys” arranging them in a rectangle that will become the bottom layer of your cake.
  3. heat up your sauce of choice and generously drizzle (no need to be sparse as you are using 12 “FatBoys”) across the top of the first layer.
  4. unwrap the last six “FatBoys” and arrange as the second layer on top of the first.
  5. place the cake into the freezer to chill those “FatBoys” again.
  6. make whipped cream by whipping one pint of whipped cream in a cold metal bowl. ( i didn’t add any sugar or vanilla to my whipped cream because i figured 12 “FatBoys” and a large portion of caramel sauce would do…)
  7. chill whipped cream until stiff.
  8. frost your chilled cake with the chilled whipped cream.
  9. decorate or generously drizzle your cake with some more sauce.
  10. chill cake until serving.
  11. devour! #nomnom
what else could you need in life?

what else could you need in life?

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the "sauce"

the “sauce”

a generous drizzle or seven

a generous drizzle or seven

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yep, that is what 12 "FatBoys" look like on a plate

yep, that is what 12 “FatBoys” look like on a plate

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ready to devour!

ready to devour!

so excited!

so excited!

the boys first piece

the boys first piece + some beer

my piece

a normal sized piece…

taylor brass

brass blossom

idaho pie – raspberry-rhubarb summer pie

A few weekends ago I had a sudden urge to make a pie. I already had some frozen raspberries in the freezer, so I put on my Hunter boots, gathered the grazing goats and Maude Pod and set out for the rhubarb plant. It was pretty much a scene straight out of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ (or so I thought)…

I gathered the last of the rhubarb while the goats chomped on everything in site and we had a nice little moment out in the yard. That was until I decided it was time to make the pie and had to round up all the goats while holding several stalks of rhubarb. It turned into a complete goat rodeo and a few stalks of rhubarb were sadly lost in the process. It was definitely one of those moments that seemed far more idyllic than it was in reality, as displayed by the large cut on my leg from the fence getting the best of me. Goats: 1. Taylor: 0.

Regardless of the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ moment, this pie turned out quite idyllic, pretty much like everything Idaho-related! Also please excuse the copious amounts of flour all over my kitchen…I’m convinced one day my iPhone will die from drowning in flour.

ingredients

  • 5 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 1 cup baking sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • pie crust of your choice

instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare your pie crust. I always have the most success with very cold water and refrigerating (or freezing for a few minutes if your impatient) the pie crust until cold.
  3. Roll out half of the crust on a floured surface for the bottom layer of the pie. I used a 9″ pie pan.
  4. Lay the crust gently over the pie pan and evenly cut around the edges with a sharp knife. Set aside.
  5. Gather, buy or harvest your rhubarb. Wash and cut into small pieces.
  6. Combine 5 cups rhubarb and 2 cups raspberries until well mixed.
  7. Pour sugar, cornstarch and vanilla extract into raspberry-rhubarb mixture and mix until sugar coated.
  8. Transfer raspberry-rhubarb-sugar mixture into the pie pan on top of the bottom layer of the pie crust.
  9. Again, roll out the other half of the crust. Cut out a fun shape or shapes in the center and gently lay the crust on top.
  10. Cut around the edge of the pie pan again and firmly press a border.
  11. Bake the pie for 40-45 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
  12. Enjoy with some ice-cream, wine and fabulous company over a game of cornhole! Or something like that.
raspberries + rhubarb = love

raspberries + rhubarb = love

sugar coated

sugar coated

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hand-cut "idaho"

hand-cut “idaho”

ready to bake!

ready to bake!

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dinner dates! and the only picture of the baked pie i managed to take...

dinner dates! and the only picture of the baked pie i managed to take…

taylor brass

brass blossom

“right-side-up” raspberry rhubarb cake

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The other weekend I set out on a mission to make a “right-side-up” cake. I love using fresh fruit to make a fruit compote that turns into true amazingness when it is baked on the bottom of a cake. So I figured why not make an “upside-down” cake even more amazing by turning it into a “right-side-up” cake with the fruit compote on the bottom as a tasty surprise? Anyone following me? That’s okay…

Turns out my cake had other plans for me and turned itself into an “upside-down” cake while baking. #fail. I probably should have used all that physics I learned and considered that the fruit compote would do this as it was denser than the batter….regardless, all the wiser the cake was still amazing and gave me good excuse to harvest some rhubarb from the ginormous plant in our yard that must have soaked up all the Spring rain.

Enjoy!

ingredients

instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour baking pan (I used my bundt cake pan).
  2. Combine washed and chopped rhubarb with raspberries in a large bowl. Melt butter.
  3. Mix butter then brown sugar, baking sugar and salt until well combined and fruit is thoroughly coated in sugar.
  4. Make cake according to directions.
  5. Since apparently it doesn’t matter put the fruit compote or cake batter in first followed by the other. (Note: I think you could make a right-side-up cake if you waited until the cake was partially baked to put the compote on top.)
  6. Bake per cake directions or until golden brown, which took approximately 45 minutes for me.
  7. Allow cake to cool for ~20 minutes.
  8. Flip cake onto cake plate and enjoy with a heaping dollop of whip-cream or ice-cream!
fresh rhubarb

fresh rhubarb

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ready for sugar

ready for sugar

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my favorite cake mix

my favorite cake mix

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"right-side-up" prior to baking

“right-side-up” prior to baking

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ready to enjoy!

ready to enjoy!

taylor brass

brass blossom

pie + tart = galette!

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I first blogged about galettes in the midst of last year’s Indian Summer. I pretty much adore the idea of a galette – a free-form pasty filled to the brim with whatever your heart desires. Galettes are decadent, delicate and quite easy to make all at the same time. They also kinda remind me of an open-faced, home-made poptart, anyone else? In my opinion galettes might be the perfect summer dessert because they wont leave you stuck in a hot kitchen for hours baking.

I made these individual galettes a few months ago for a friends dinner. The boy had just returned home and I wanted to make something pretty, yet quick and easy all at the same time. They were a hit and will definitely be a go to this summer!

servings

~18 individual galettes

ingredients

  • one package (2-sheets) frozen puff pastry or pie dough, thawed (or you can make your own if you’re feeling adventurous and have time for such things)
  • 4 cups berries
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • a heaping tablespoon cornstarch
  • egg white for brushing
  • sugar for dusting

instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper or grease baking pan with butter.
  2. Mix berries, brown sugar, white sugar, salt and cornstarch in a large bowl. Feel free to add a bit of lemon juice as well.
  3. Placed one sheet of thawed puff pastry on a floured surface and roll out to thin the pastry. Cut pastry into a 3 x 3 grid to make 9 small squares.
  4. Using one of the smaller squares of pastry you just cut out, brush egg white around the edges of the square and fill the middle with the berry/sugar mixture. Leave enough room to fold over the outside of the pastry onto itself.
  5. Brush folded over sides of pastry with egg white. Sprinkle with dusting sugar and transfer to prepared pan.
  6. Repeat with the remaining cut squares and other sheet of pastry.
  7. Bake approximately 12 minutes or until pastry is golden. The berry/sugar mixture may seep out while baking but the final product will still be incredible!
  8. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream and enjoy!
berries full of antioxidants

berries full of antioxidants = sorta healthy dessert right?

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berry/sugar mixture

berry/sugar mixture

vanilla bean sugar i received as a christmas gift

vanilla bean sugar i received as a christmas gift

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imperfection is perfection

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warm out of the oven!

warm out of the oven!

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ready to be enjoyed!

ready to be enjoyed!

taylor brass

 

brass blossom

double chocolate, blood orange tart

double chocolate, blood orange tart

double chocolate, blood orange tart

Baking is one of those things that really grounds me. Meticulously following a recipe or creating a creation of my own just speaks to my soul. So as things are settling down a bit in my life, getting back into the kitchen and feeling inspired to make something beautiful and just with the right amount of sweet is slowly coming back to me.

However after not baking for months, I thought I lost my baking mojo. I’m not kidding. I texted multiple friends in desperation and dispair. I wasn’t sure if I had made a deal with the Devil or what but I had several failed baking attempts in a row. And this like never happens to me. So when the perfectly pressed double chocolate crust for the first attempt at this tart flew out of the oven and splatted on the floor, and I burnt myself on the oven, I was over it.

I threw the first attempt away and (god forbid) bought a store bought dessert for our Game Dinner. Maybe just giving in was all I needed to get my mojo back, but the second attempt the next day went splendidly. Hopefully my mojo hangs around for a bit, because I’m not sure how well received any more manic baking texts will be.

servings

9″ tart

ingredients

Crust:

Curd:

  •  1/2 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
  • 1/2 cup bottled orange-mango juice
  • juice from 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup baker’s sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

I slightly adapted a blood orange curd recipe from On A Sweet Sugar Rush. The result was so tasty! Since blood oranges were 2 for $5 at our local market (fresh produce is a definite disadvantage of living through an Idaho Winter), I only bought a few so I had to supplement with some bottled juice…

instructions

  1. Crush the cookies in a plastic bag or food processor until finely ground. Combine with 6 tablespoons melted butter to form the crust.
  2. Press crust into the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. The 7 ounces of cookies didn’t leave any crust to spare, so using more finely ground cookies wouldn’t hurt!
  3. Bake crust for 10 minutes until slightly hardened and let cool on counter.
  4. In a large saucepan, combine the blood orange juice, orange-mango juice, lime juice, baker’s and brown sugar, eggs, egg yolks and salt, and whisk over low.
  5. When the sauce starts to thicken (to be honest I didn’t see much thickening but figured 10 minutes of whisking was good), add the butter and continue to whisk until the curd thickens (about 15 minutes).
  6. Transfer to another vessel to cool. I didn’t strain my curd but I would definitely recommend it if you don’t prefer a chunkier curd.
  7. Once the curd is cooled, gently poor and spread the curd into the crust. Refrigerate for several hours.
  8. Top with a blood orange slice, and enjoy!
beautiful blood orange

beautiful blood orange

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the fixings

the fixings

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crust pre-baking

crust pre-baking

perhaps the prettiest fruit

perhaps the prettiest fruit

the crust post-baking

the crust post-baking

a twist of blood orange for decoration

a simple twist of blood orange for decoration

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spring floral plates

spring floral plates pair perfectly with the tart

ready to enjoy!

ready to enjoy!

taylor brass

brass blossom

gingersnap pumpkin cheesecake

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individual gingersnap crust pumpkin cheesecake

I obviously knew that I wanted to tackle the dessert for Friendsgivemas 2014. I love daydreaming about dessert combinations and I had thoughts of cranberries, pumpkin, gingersnaps and frozen whipped cream dancing through my mind for weeks. The final result of these day dreams was fantastic and thoroughly enjoyed after dinner!

Since I was trying out a fairly new recipe, I figured I should follow a basic recipe as closely as possible to avoid disaster. However, after quadrupling the recipe to make thirty mini-cheesecakes it called for an outrageous number of eggs. So I went rouge, and the result was still amazing. Call me Martha.

servings

30 half-pint mason jars

ingredients

Crust:

Cheesecake:

  • 24 ounces softened cream cheese (I used 1/3 fat)
  • 3 cups sugar (I used half brown and baker’s sugar)
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups pumpkin
  • ~2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice (or more as desired)
  • Heavy whipped cream

instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Crush cookies until finely ground. I used my mini Cuisinart chopper. Melt butter and combine with ground cookies to make the crust mixture.
  3. Using a small handful, distribute crust mixture into each jar. Press into the bottom of individual jars to create the crust layer.
  4. Combine softened cream cheese, 2 cups sugar and vanilla extract using an electric mixer. Beat until smooth.
  5. Add the eggs individually, beating with each addition.
  6. Mix in final 1 cup sugar, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice until well combined.
  7. Distribute filling to each jar (a soup ladle works well for this).
  8. Distribute half pint mason jars into large baking pan. Fill baking pan with water to approximately half-way up the mason jars.
  9. Carefully place the pan in the oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes or until tender.
  10. Whip heavy whipped cream until stiff. Add sugar and vanilla extract as desired (I usually do a spoonful of sugar and tsp of vanilla extract).
  11. Spread whipped cream in a baking pan approximately 1/4 inch thick. Freeze for at least three hours.
  12. Using mini cookie cutters (those without sharp edges work best) cut out shapes from the whipped cream.
  13. Top the mini cheesecakes with the frozen whipped cream shapes.
  14. Enjoy!

Recipe Adapted from Health Magazine

newman's own gingersnaps (gluten free)

newman’s own gingersnaps

gingersnap crust pre-baking

gingersnap crust pre-baking

mini cookie cutters - the mitten and snowman worked best!

mini cookie cutters — the mitten and snowman worked best!

frozen whipped cream

frozen whipped cream

fail...

fail…

success!

success!

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ready for the lids and cupcake liner toppers!

ready for the lids and cupcake liner toppers!

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festive cupcake liners

this guy :)

this guy & cheesecake 🙂

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so delicious!

so delicious!

taylor brass

brass blossom

homemade strawberry rhubarb freezer jam

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strawberry, rhubarb freezer jam!

Winter is finally upon us. And while the Polar Vortex isn’t as extreme in Idaho as the rest of the country, it is still incredibly cold and snowy. It is also a semi-awkward time in Idaho as there isn’t a ton to do, that is if you don’t count hunting as the only legitimate activity to ever take part in. Since I’m more of a gatherer, I decided the only logical thing to do when it was -1 degrees outside was to make some freezer jam.

I have had a few bags of garden-picked rhubarb in my freezer for a few months now. While they were frosting, I was dreaming of the plethora of opportunities for the beautiful plant. And I finally decided upon strawberry rhubarb freezer jam.

These beauties are literally foolproof, colorful and delicious. They are currently storing back in my freezer with big plans of passing them along as holiday gifts! Requests gladly accepted!

ingredients

  • 6 cups frozen, diced rhubarb
  • 4 cups frozen, diced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup baking sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • a few pinches of cornstarch as needed
  • clean and dry jars (I used 4 13-ounce Bonne Maman clean jars)

instructions

  1. Dice frozen rhubarb and strawberries into small pieces.
  2. Combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar and water in a large pot and heat over low-medium heat.
  3. Stir constantly until the mixture is the thickness of desired jam. Add a few teaspoons of cornstarch as necessary if the jam needs thickening. (I used cornstarch to avoid using pectin or other thickening agents)
  4. Cool jam to room temperature.
  5. Pour jam into prepared jars. Freeze jars for up to half of a year. Thaw before use.
  6. Enjoy!
clear jars ready to use - since i froze my jars i avoided having to follow the strict canning process

clear jars ready to use – since i froze my jars i avoided having to follow the strict canning process

chopped garden-picked rhubarb

chopped garden-picked rhubarb

frozen rhubarb and strawberries ready to be cooked

frozen rhubarb and strawberries ready to be cooked

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clean jars ready to be filled

clean jars ready to be filled

adorable recipe cards that were a gift from my lovely friend bri!

adorable recipe cards that were a gift from my lovely friend bri!

ready for the freezer!

ready for the freezer!

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perfect for toast, yogurt or whatever your heart desires!

taylor brass

 

brass blossom