ANNOUNCING: Change is part of life, and apparently, it's part of blogging, too. As of September 5, 2013, I'm merging The Virtual Goody Plate with Disco Mom Takes on the World and whatever else may henceforth spill from my fingertips (and kitchen), into one great new blog. I hope you'll join me there in exclaiming, "THIS IS AWESOMELAND."

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Frozen Pistachio Pie

Here's the "gadget" treat I made for Dessert Club.  I had a set of six mini tart pans, so I just adapted it to tarts instead of a big pie.  I searched high and low for a recipe that inspired me.  I had it narrowed down to these and these (I still want to make both.) 

Then I found this one.  Ordered myself some pistachio paste.  (And a back issue of KAF The Baking Sheet which has more recipes I can make with it.)  I just loved the idea of chocolate crust with purely pistachio cream filling.  And, ahem, I wasn't the only one who loved them.  These were a very closer runner up in the always-competitive Dessert Club vote.  Yum! 

And a side note: you know I love yellowy-greens - these were such an awesome color!

Frozen Pistachio Pie (print recipe)

1 prebaked Chocolate Cookie Crust


2 large whole eggs
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
4 ounces (1/2 cup) pistachio paste
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Chopped pistachios, for garnish

1.  Make and cool the crust.

2.  For the filling, beat the eggs, yolks and confectioners' sugar together in the top of a double boiler.  Cook over simmering water, stirring constantly, until thickened and the temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

3.  Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the pistachio paste.  Set over a pan of ice water to cool, stirring occasionally.

4.  In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream and then fold it into the cooled egg mixture.  Spoon it into the prepared crust, sprinkle with chopped nuts and freeze for at least 6 hours, until firm.

Recipe from King Arthur Flour

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Doughnut Upside Down Cake

 If any of you know my brother, it will not surprise you he had a hand in this.  He sent me this recipe from his Google Reader eons ago.  It's a special recipe; possibly considered kitschy if not in the right setting, with the right audience.  Plus it is like Over-Indulgence Central.  But really, when you're in a I-Can-Do-A-Little-Better-Than-7-Eleven treats kind of mood, whip this up.  The original author just took a Betty Crocker Pineapple Upside Down cake recipe and substituted "doughnut" for "pineapple" wherever it occurred. 

I have to say, that's how cake greatness is born.

Doughnut Upside Down Cake (print recipe)
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
16 mini doughnuts
1 1/3 cups flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 egg

1. Heat oven to 350.

2.  In a 9-inch square pan, melt butter in oven.  Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over melted butter.  Arrange mini doughnuts over brown sugar in rows.

3.  In a medium bowl, beat remaining ingredients with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly.  Beat on high 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.  Pour batter gently over doughnuts.

4.  Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Immediately place heatproof serving plate upside down over pan; turn plate and pan over.  Leave pan over cake a few minutes so brown sugar mixture can drizzle over cake; remove pan.  Serve warm; this cake is best when served the same day.  Store cake loosely covered.

Recipe from Jessie Oleson of Cakespy, via Dave

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dessert Club - "Gadgets"

 Ooh la la!  Look at what my new camera can do!  And if you can't tell a big difference, I will tell for you: there is one.  But I know, you're just here for the food.

It seems like FOREVER since our last Dessert Club!!!  This time we met to share all the creations we made with our gadgets from the November white elephant exchange.  I have to say, I think this was one of the finest spreads we've ever had. 

As we noshed, someone suggested we have all really elevated our desserts over the last year-plus that we've been in Dessert Club.  I agree; I think we've mutually upped the ante, and there is only good to be gained from it.  After two votes, we did manage to come up with a winner, but with two very close runners-up, and only to the consternation of those that think we should do away with the vote-and-prize, it being so subjective.  I shot that down, mostly because I think it's fun to shop for the prize, and also because it makes someone's night special.  But I don't know; would Dessert Club be as fun without a vote?  We'll have to ponder that; in the meantime, check out what we made!

Frozen Pistachio Tarts (mine)
Gadget: Mini Tart Pans

Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Gadget: Salad Shooter (well, she wasn't at the exchange but she got a salad shooter for Christmas so decided to use it)

"Subway Cookies" (you know, the yummy chocolate-white-chocolate-chip ones you get at Subway)
Gadget: Silpat

Orange-Ginger-Carrot Donuts with White Chocolate Icing
Gadget: Donut pan

Chocolate Mint Torte (AMAZING!!!)
Gadget: herb shears (of all the...)

Cranberry Lime Scones (yes, those ones!)
Gadget: zester

Governor's Mansion Cookies
(no gadget - she wasn't at the exchange...all the better because then she could make just whatever she wanted and these cookies were AWESOME!)

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Filling and Fresh Blackberry Frosting
Gadget: cupcake corer & filler

Lace Cookies (one of my favorites!)
Gadget: silpat

And the winner was...
Key Lime Pie Cupcakes!
Gadget(s): cupcake corer and muffin pan sponge
 (I gave that gift.  I got myself a muffin pan sponge as well, and it is the bomb.  Especially in conjunction with the best muffin pan on earth, which I also got myself as a little treat after Christmas.  But I need another.  I digress.)

 I've fallen behind a bit on my posts but you definitely definitely need some, if not all, of these recipes.  So I will get on that.  It's birthday season around here so I'm just kind of trying to keep up with life right now. 
But there's always time...and room...for dessert.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Chocolate Clementine Cake with Hot Chocolate Sauce

 I have had this recipe in my files for years.  I've taken it out every winter when clementines come around; I don't know why I'd never tried it.  Sometimes you just have to let them season, until the time is right.

We had friends over for dinner the day after Christmas.  It was a massive effort to get the house presentable that fast after hurricane Santa had hit.  My big contribution to that effort was to collect the clementines everyone had gotten in their stockings and make this cake.  I'm such a team player.

It's basically the cake version of everyone's chocolate orange.  Except the chocolate is much better.  And the sauce is gorgeous and delish.  Decadent.  Seasonal and special.  I even considered granting the "healthy-ish" label, since it has fresh fruit in it, but the seven eggs held me back.  Life is full of give and takes like that.  It was worth every single bite.

Chocolate Clementine Cake with Hot Chocolate Sauce (print recipe)
Makes 12 to 16 servings

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup butter, cut into pieces
7 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp grated clementine zest (from about 2 clementines)*
2 medium clementines, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 T orange liqueur OR orange juice
1/4 tsp salt
Hot Chocolate Sauce (below) and sweetened whipped cream for garnish

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9-inch springform pan; line bottom with parchment paper.  Grease and flour parchment, tapping out excess flour; set aside.

2.  Stir together chocolate and butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat until smooth.  Remove from heat.

3.  Beat egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl at medium speed with an electric mixer until pale and thick.  Add melted chocolate mixture, beating until blended.  Add flour, beating until blended, stopping to scrape down sides.  Stir in zest, chopped clementines, and orange liqueur/juice.

4.  Beat egg whites in a separate bowl at medium-high speed with an electric mixer until foamy.  Add salt and remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1 T at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.  Fold one-third egg white mixture into chocolate mixture; repeat twice.  Pour mixture into prepared pan.

5.  Bake at 350 for 50 to 55 minutes or until slightly firm to touch.  (Cracks will form on top of cake.)  Remove cake to a wire rack; run sharp knife around edge of pan to loosen.  Cool slightly.

6.  Remove sides of springform pan.  Invert cake onto serving plate, and remove springform bottom and parchment paper.  Serve warm with Hot Chocolate Sauce; garnish with whipped cream, if desired.

*After zesting clementines, use a serrated knife to remove remaining peel and white membrane from fruit, then coarsely chop peeled clementines.

Hot Chocolate Sauce:
Makes 1 1/3 cups

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 T light corn syrup
1 1/2 T orange liqueur OR orange juice
1 T butter

Stir together all ingredients in a heavy saucepan over medium-plow heat for about 5 minutes or until smooth.  Serve over Chocolate Clementine Cake.  Refrigerate unused sauce and serve over ice cream or waffles or use in milkshakes.  Yum!

Recipe from MyRecipes, December 2005

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cranberry Lime Scones

 I'm on a scone kick.  I went a-hunting on Food Gawker and printed off seven scones I think I can't live without.  For starters.

The first one I tried, Maple Bacon Brown Sugar Scones, was such a resounding success that I just kept on going.  These were my second.  And I loved them SO MUCH that I made them twice in one week - almost unheard of around here in the land of Nearly No Repeats.  I've since made a third from my stack, and it needs some tweaking before I this space.

But in the meantime, I've been reminded of a few scone basics:
  • They are SUPER fast and easy!
  • Handle the dough minimally - that means no more stirring than necessary and definitely no kneading or rolling.  
  • Grate the butter - it's about equally dangerous as cutting cold butter into small pieces, but it gets the pieces more uniform, and thin enough for easy cutting into the dry ingredients.  Plus it's super fast.  Just grate it at the beginning and place in the freezer until you need it.
  • Scones can come in any shape - wedge (my preference), square, diamond, round, or really any cookie cutter shape you want to try.  But they do puff/spread a bit so keep it simple.

 The dough here is sweet enough to handle the zingy cranberry and lime, but I do like the indulgent addition of lime glaze, or at the very least, a sprinkle of coarse sugar.  What.  A.  Treat.  The first time we made them, an afterschool snack.  The second, New Year's breakfast.  I think scones are the new cupcake.  You can quote me on that.
Cranberry Lime Scones (print recipe)

Makes 8 to 10

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar (plus 3 T additional to toss with cranberries)
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 T unsalted butter, grated and very cold
2 T freshly grated lime zest (about 2 to 3 limes)
1 1/4 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream

Lime Glaze:
2 limes, zested and juiced
1 cup powdered sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 400F, and grease a large baking sheet.  Grate the butter and place in the freezer until ready to use.  Zest the limes and set aside.  Coarsely chop the cranberries and place in a small bowl with 3 T sugar. 

2.  In a large bowl combine the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.  Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in the lime zest.  Stir the cranberries into the flour mixture.  Combine the egg, yolk and cream, then add to the flour mixture, stirring just until combined. 

3.  On a well-floured surface with floured hands, gently pat dough into a 1-inch-thick round (about 8 inches in diameter).  With a sharp knife or pizza cutter cut the scones into wedges or diamonds as desired.  use your hands to gently shape any leftover scraps into scones.  Do NOT roll out.  Place scones on an ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden.  Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

4.  For Lime Glaze: In a small bowl combine the lime juice, lime zest and enough powdered sugar to reach your desired consistency.  Drizzle or brush glaze over warm scones and allow to cool.

Recipe from

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sticky Toffee Pudding

 OK, just a reminder to all us Yanks that Sticky Toffee Pudding is a very popular British dessert, and as such, is not actually pudding.  In the UK "pudding" means dessert (as in, "Would you like to see the puddings menu?")  And this pudding is actually cake. 

Heavenly-brown-sugar-died-and-gone-to-heaven cake.  Buttery and moist with dates (you can't tell they're there, I swear!) and steamed and glazed with nectar-of-the-gods toffee sauce.  Which, since we had a little left, we also poured over ice cream, pancakes, scones, and our fingers before licking them obscenely. 

I was making this for our family Christmas Eve gathering, so I made it in an 8x8 (see below), but I'm sure they'd be even prettier and more amazing in ramekins.  Secondary bonus: my brother and I wouldn't have to fight over whose piece was bigger!

Sticky Toffee Pudding (print recipe)

8 oz. pitted dates, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices (1 1/3 cups)
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
2 large eggs
4 T unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Toffee Sauce:
4 T unsalted butter
1 cup packed (7 ounces) brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 T rum or apple cider
1/2 tsp lemon juice

1.  FOR THE CAKES:  Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour eight 4-ounce ramekins (*see below for large pan instructions.)  Set prepared ramekins in large roasting pan lined with clean kitchen towel.  Bring kettle of water to boil. 

2.  Combine half of dates, warm water, and baking soda in a 2-cup liquid measuring cup (dates should be submerged) and soak dates for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. 

3.  Process remaining dates and brown sugar in food processor until no large date chunks remain and mixture has texture of damp, coarse sand, about 45 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.  Drain soaked dates and add soaking liquid to processor.  Add eggs, melted butter and vanilla and process until smooth, about 15 seconds.  Transfer mixture to bowl with dry ingredients and sprinkle drained soaked dates on top.

4.  With rubber spatula or wooden spoon, gently fold wet mixture into dry mixture until just combined and date pieces are evenly dispersed.  Divide batter evenly among prepared ramekins (should be two-thirds full).  Quickly pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come 1/4 inch up sides of molds.  Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil, crimping edges to seal.  Bake cakes until puffed and surfaces are spongy, firm, and moist to touch, about 40 minutes.  Immediately transfer ramekins from water bath to wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.

5.  FOR THE SAUCE:  While cakes cool, melt butter in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Whisk in sugar and salt until smooth.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and slightly darkened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1/3 cup cream and stir until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Slowly pour in remaining 2/3 cup cream and rum, whisking constantly until smooth.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until frothy, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

6.  Using toothpick, poke 25 holes in top of each cake and spoon 1 Tablespoon toffee sauce over each cake.  Let cakes sit until sauce is absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Invert each ramekin onto plate or shallow bowl and remove ramekin.  Divide remaining toffee sauce evenly among cakes and serve immediately.    Makes 8 cakes.

TO MAKE AHEAD:  Prepare batter and divide among individual ramekins as directed, then cover and refrigerate, unbaked, for up to 1 day.  Bake as directed in step 4.  Sauce can be made up to 2 days in advance; microwave on 50% power, stirring often, until hot, about 2 to 3 minutes.

*For a large Sticky Toffee Pudding - Substitute 8-inch baking dish, buttered and floured, for ramekins.  Bake cake until outer 2 inches develop small holes and center is puffed and firm to touch, about 40 minutes.  Cool as directed.  Using toothpick, poke about 100 holes in cake and glaze with 1/2 cup sauce.  Let cake sit until sauce is absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Cut cake into squares and pour remaining toffee sauce over each square before serving. 

Recipe from The New Best Recipe

Monday, January 9, 2012

Parker-Parker House Rolls

 This is going to be a long, long post with lots and lots of pictures, so I will keep my intro brief.  Parker House Rolls are super delicious buttery rolls made famous by the Parker House Hotel in Boston.  My neighbor Sheri has a great recipe for them, passed down from her grandmother, whose last name happens to be...Parker.  For most of her life, Sheri thought "Parker House Rolls" just meant they were her Grandma's special rolls.  Imagine the awe at finding out they are mass-produced and the whole world loves them!

Sheri saw my post a few years ago of my first Parker House Roll attempt...and diplomatically offered to show me a much better way.  For which I am extremely grateful.  I went over a few days after Christmas, with my kids and new camera in tow, and watched/photographed/helped her make a nice big batch while the kids played with new Christmas toys.  It was a good, good day and we ate loads of rolls for lunch, all afternoon, and dinner.

Here's the recipe Sheri has from her grandmother.  Don't you love it?  The reason it can fit on a 3x5 card is because the instructions consist of, "Mix in usual manner."  Luckily Grandma Parker taught Sheri well so she knows what that means.  For the rest of us, I took lots of notes and pictures.
 Parker-Parker House Rolls
2 T yeast proofed in 1/2 cup warm water and a pinch of sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
2 beaten eggs
3 T sugar
2 tsp salt
5 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups scalded milk, slightly cooled
Lots of soft butter for spreading (at least 1/2 cup)
Melted butter for the pans (4 to 6 T)

1.  Proof the yeast in 1/2 cup warm water (100-110 degrees) and a pinch of sugar.  Stir and allow to sit for a few minutes.
 2.  Using the paddle attachment on an electric mixer, mix the butter, eggs, sugar, salt, and about 3 cups of flour.  Slowly pour in the milk while mixing.  Switch to the dough hook.

 3.  Slowly add in 1 1/2 more cups of flour while mixing, then 1/8 cup at a time until the dough is manageable but still sticky and just pulling away from the sides.

 4.  Transfer dough to a floured surface.  Knead in a little flour, but it should still be a little sticky.  Roll it out to about 1/4-inch thick or a little thinner.

 5.  Spread with butter, fold in half, spread with more butter, fold in half again, spread with butter again.

 6.  Smoosh and knead it all together and roll it out again.

 7.  Prepare pan(s).  This recipe fills an entire jelly roll pan or two 9 x 13 pans.  Melt 4 to 6 T butter and pour into the bottom of the pans.  Keep them on a slightly warm surface if possible so the butter stays melted.  Also stick a lid or knife under one end so they are slightly tilted, thus ensuring enough butter for all the rolls.

 8.  Using a drinking glass or about 2 1/2 inch cutter, cut circles of dough.  Now pay attention to the technique.  Pat each round in the melted butter in the pan, then pat it on the top of the previous roll, fold in half, and place it in the pan.  This way, every roll has butter on the bottom, in the middle, and on the top.

By keeping the pan at a slight tilt, there is enough butter for the last rolls.

9.  Place pan in a warm location free of drafts; cover loosely and allow to rise for about 2 hours (about 2/3 up the side of a 9x13 or about twice as high as the edge of a jelly roll.)

 10.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake rolls for about 20 minutes or until delectably golden brown.  Amazing!

Thanks so much, Sheri and Grandma Parker.  Now we can all feel as special as Parkers.
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