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, August 21, 2012

Glazed Citrus Doodles

 My taste buds thrill at anything citrusy.  And if there is a glaze involved, that has zest in it, that much greater the thrill.  Slip a zingy butter cookie underneath, and well, that's a lot of thrillin'.  I took these, and a tray of Chipotle Brownies (wait for it), to the annual family BBQ at my uncle's house this summer.  I liked these cookies a lot myself, but I was still surprised at how much everyone else liked them.  My cousin Aaron couldn't stop the praises (and I didn't try to make him) - he should have written this post.  He said they were so light but still sweet, perfect for a summer sweet tooth.  I almost didn't take pictures - we were in a rush going out the door.  But good thing I did.  Because not even one came back home with us.

Glazed Citrus Doodles (print recipe)
Makes 3 dozen

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/4 tsp fine salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 T grated orange zest, plus 3 T juice (from 2 oranges)
4 tsp lemon zest, plus 3 T juice (from 2 lemons)
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 350, with racks in upper and lower thirds.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, granulated sugar, 1 T orange zest. and 2 tsp lemon zest on medium-high until pale and fluffy, 3 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Add flour mixture; beat to combine.

2.  Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place, 2 inches apart, on parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake until edges are lightly golden, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.  Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to racks and let cool completely.

3.  Whisk together 1 T orange zest, 2 tsp lemon zest, citrus juices, and confectioners' sugar until smooth.  With a small spoon, spread glaze over each cookie.  Let set 1 hour.  (Store in airtight containers, up to 3 days.)
Recipe from Everyday Food

1 year ago: Coconut-Filled Lemon Cake
2 years ago:  Cardamom-Lime Sweet Rolls
3 years ago: Death by Chocolate Cookies

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Peach Crisp

 We went peach picking in July, and I went a little crazy - brought home over 20 pounds of the juicy golden orbs.  Which meant peaches with every meal, for every snack, and peaches n' cream every night.  Not complaining.  But by Sunday of that week, I wanted to cook something with them.  And I just didn't have the patience for pie. 

The thing about "crisps" is that sometimes the topping tastes too much like flour, has too many oats, or gets too soggy in the juice and is more "mush" than "crisp."  This recipe solves all those problems, and probably any others you have.  There are two key ingredients: spices for flavor, and nuts for texture and crunch.  It's really that simple.  The peaches juice and then thicken up on their own.  You make the topping in the food processor.  The hardest thing you have to do for this perfect, simple, summer dessert is decide who you're going to share it with.  If anybody.

Peach Crisp (print recipe)
Serves 4 to 6

6 T unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
5 T cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup coarsely chopped nuts, such as almonds, pecans or walnuts


3 pounds peaches (or nectarines) (about 6), peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/3-inch wedges
1/2 tsp grated zest and 1 1/2 T juice from one lemon
1/4 cup granulated sugar

1.  For the topping: Place the flour, sugars, spices and salt in a food processor and process briefly to combine.  Add the butter and pulse 10 times, about 4 seconds for each pulse.  The mixture will first look like dry sand, with large lumps of butter, then like coarse cornmeal.  Add the nuts, then process again, four or five 1-second pulses.  The topping should look like slightly clumpy wet sand.  Be sure not to overmix or the mixture will become too wet and homogeneous.  Refrigerate the topping while preparing the fruit, at least 15 minutes.

2.  Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. 

3.  For the filling: Peel, pit, and cut the peaches into 1/3-inch wedges.  Toss the peaches, zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a medium bowl.  Scrape the fruit mixture with a rubber spatula into an 8-inch square baking dish, 9-inch deep dish pie pan, or similar 2-quart dish. 

4.  To assemble and bake:  Distribute the chilled topping evenly over the fruit.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees and continue baking until the fruit is bubbling and the topping turns deep golden brown, about 5 minutes more.  Serve warm.  (The crisp can be set aside at room temperature for a few hours and then reheated in a warm oven just before serving.)

Recipe from Baking Illustrated

1 year ago:  La Diva Chocolate Cake
2 years ago:  Strawberries and Cream Pie
3 years ago: Chocolate Pistachio Cake

Monday, August 13, 2012

Chocolate Mousse Cake

When we went on vacation in June, I was looking for a very specific recipe.  It was going to be my sister-in-law's birthday that week, so I wanted to make her a cake.  We were staying in timeshare condos, but I wasn't sure what equipment the kitchen would and wouldn't have, and I didn't want to have to bring anything more than necessary.  So I wanted a one-bowl, one-pan, straightforward-prep cake that would be delicious, interesting, and birthday-worthy.  And preferably very chocolate.  Found it.
It actually takes two bowls.  But I brought my hand mixer, springform, and all the ingredients, premeasured in baggies.  And it worked out perfectly!  This cake cooks up rich and cakey around the edges, with a soft moussey offering in the center, and a crackly crust on top.  So gooey and awesome.

Chocolate Mousse Cake (print recipe)
Serves 8 to 10

(1 T instant coffee - totally optional!  I didn't use it)
2 sticks butter, melted
8 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
16 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, melted
6 T flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans)
Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, for serving

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Add instant coffee, if using, to melted butter.  Set aside.

2.  Beat the egg whites until stiff, set aside.  Beat the egg yolks until lemon colored in an upright mixer.  Add the sugar to the egg yolks and beat until combined.  Add the vanilla, melted butter, and chocolate.  Add the flour, just to combine.  Fold in the egg whites and nuts.

3.  Pour into a greased and floured 9-inch springform pan and bake about 20 minutes.  Center will be soft.  Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
Happy Birthday, Michelle!
Recipe adapted from 

1 year ago:  Blueberry Cupcakes with Maple Brown Butter Frosting
2 years ago:  Best Blueberry Muffins EVER
3 years ago:  Ham and Swiss Stromboli 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cherry-Almond Focaccia

 I think we're all relieved to see I finally learned how to spell focaccia.  I also know how to make it, several kinds, thanks to this recipe.  And I definitely know what to do with it. 

This was one of my babies at Dessert Club - Summer Fruits.  I fell in love with this recipe from the first time I saw its dappled close-up on the pages of Bon Appétit.  Sweet butter dough, dark juicy cherries, crunchy turbinado sugar - laaaa!  It called to me.  Then when I read it closer, and saw that you boil the cherry juice down to a thick concentrated syrup that you drizzle over the dough so it pools in all the delicious valleys, I was totally, totally sold.  Sign me up, when do I start?

I actually started immediately, or as soon as I got over to Trader Joe's for some Morello cherries.  I should have gotten some sliced almonds, too, because when I got home I realized I only had slivered.  But I wasn't waiting one more minute to make this, so I just used what I had.  Not a big deal; they just provided a little more crunch than may have been intended.  But the combination of pastry bread, cherry, and almond was a home run on my palate.  Loved it!

I got sliced when I made it again for DC; the difference is delicate.  Again, I loved it.  Kinda sorta cheating on Summer Fruits night because I used jarred cherries - you have to because you need the juice - , but I was dying to share this culinary treasure with my peeps!  Plus it makes a big pan so it's one of those need-an-occasion-to-share breads.  With the bonus of you can eat the leftovers for brekkie.  I'm trying to think when would be good to make this next - maybe Thanksgiving breakfast - something light but indulgent to nosh on all morning?  Mmm, I'm thinking, I'm drooling.
 Cherry-Almond Focaccia (print recipe)
Makes 16 servings

2/3 cup whole milk
5 T sugar, divided
1 3/4 tsp active dry yeast
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1" pieces, room temperature, plus 1/2 T melted
3 T extra virgin olive oil
2 cups drained pitted tart cherries in light syrup (such as Morello), plus 1 cup syrup (from a 24-28 oz. jar)
3 T sugar
3/4 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup raw sugar

1.  Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat or in a microwave until an instant-read thermometers registers 110-115F degrees.  Transfer milk to a 2-cup measuring cup; stir in 1 T sugar.  Sprinkle yeast over milk and whisk to blend.  Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs; whisk until smooth.

2.  Combine remaining 4 T sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hook.  Add milk mixture.  With mixture running, add 1/2 cup room temperature butter, 1 piece at a time, blending well between additions.  Mix on medium-high speed until dough is soft and silky, about 5 minutes. 

3.  Brush a medium bowl with some melted butter or spray with nonstick cooking spray; place dough in bowl.  Brush top of dough with remaining melted butter; cover with plastic wrap.  Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, 1-1 1/2 hours. 

4.  Punch down dough.  Coat a large rimmed baking sheet (about 16x12") with 1 T oil.  Press dough evenly into pan, leaving a 1 1/2" border.  Loosely cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel; let rise in a warm, draft-free area until puffed but not doubled in size, 45-50 minutes.

5.  Meanwhile, bring cherry syrup and 3 T granulated sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar.  Reduce heat to medium; simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced to 1/3 cup, 10-12 minutes.  Transfer to a small bowl; let cool completely.  This stuff is delicious and makes the whole dish, in my opinion!

6.  Arrange a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 400F degrees.  Using your fingertips, press dimples all over dough surface.  Drizzle dough with remaining 2 T oil.  Scatter cherries over, pressing them gently into dough.  Drizzle reduced syrup over, allowing it to pool into nooks and crannies.  Sprinkle almonds over, then raw sugar.  Let rise until dough is doubled in size, 15-20 minutes.

7.  Bake until focaccia is golden brown, 20-23 minutes.  Let cool in pan on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature. 
Recipe from Bon Appetit, April 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dessert Club - Summer Fruits II

Perhaps you will remember my triumphant victory last year at Summer Fruits night with my out-of-this-world Peach Hand Pies.  Summer Fruits is like the totally perfect Dessert Club theme - it's so seasonal, fresh, open-ended, and colorful!  We've all agreed it's an annual must, and that it may be the prettiest spread we have all year.

This year it included:

Peach and Blackberry Mini Galettes

 Sweet Cherry Tart

Watermelon Blast!

Raspberry Peach Bread Pudding

Roasted Berries on Meringues
(so pretty!)

Blackberry Curd over Honey-Lemon Pound Cake
with Raspberries, Blackberries, and Vanilla Sugar

Cherry Focaccia

Chilled Raspberry-Chile Soup
(also mine)

French Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Black Cherry Sauce

...and the great winner of the evening...
Blackberry-Cream Cheese Delight!
 It may not be much to look at, but we absolutely died over the combination of shortbread crust, berry-sweet filling, and creamy whipped cream.  It was greater than the sum of its parts somehow, and it totally deserved to win.

And in other fun news, it seems like half of Dessert Club is pregnant.  The first of many new DC babies, Jane Independence, joined us, and even dressed for the occasion in her strawberry romper.  Here's to DC: Next Generation!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mom's Lemon Pie

 Three reasons I'm calling this "Mom's", and none of them are that it comes from my mother.
  1. I made this for Mother's Day this year, along with Pistachio Pound Cake.
  2. I got this from a Southern Living article that compared two lemon cream pie recipes - "Mama's Way" (this one) and "Your Way" (which uses shortcuts like store bought crust, instant pudding, and lemonade concentrate.)
  3. As hard as it is for me to remember, I'M the Mom around here, and someday my girls will refer to certain foods as "Mom's".  So I'm starting now.  And this pie is worthy of that label.
And if you don't believe me, my brother, Oh Great Connaisseur of All Things Pie, loved it so much he had a hard time staying out of the pictures. 

 Mom's Lemon Pie (print recipe)
Serves 8

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 T powdered sugar
3 T butter, melted
6 egg yolks
2 (14-oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup whipping cream
2 T powdered sugar
Garnishes: lemon slices, fresh mint leaves, and/or crushed lemon drop candies

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Stir together first two ingredients; add butter, stirring until blended.  Press mixture on bottom and up sides of a 9-inch deep dish pie plate.  Bake 10 minutes.  Let cool completely on a wire rack, about 30 minutes.

2.  Whisk together egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, and lemon juice.  Pour into prepared crust.

3.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Let cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour.)  Cover and chill for 4 hours.

4.  Beat whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add powdered sugar, beating until soft peaks form; dollop over chilled pie.  Garnish, if desired.

Recipe from Southern Living, August 2010

1 year ago: Peach Hand Pies
2 years ago:  Baked Buttermilk Donuts
3 years ago:  Deep Dark Double Chocolate Bread
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