Tiramisu Cupcakes

When I asked our three February birthday people at the office what they’d like for the monthly party, two deferred to the third, who responded “anything chocolate or coffee/chocolate.” That sent me in search of recipes and I settled on King Arthur Flour’s Tiramisu Cupcakes, plus a couple other coffee/chocolate treats, but the cupcakes were the stars.

Who doesn’t like a boozy dessert? Tiramisu, but in the form of a cupcake—a very vanilla cupcake, with a Kahlua espresso soak and a creamy amaretto mascarpone frosting dusted with cocoa. Yes, please! Homemade tiramisu without the need to hunt down a decent package of lady fingers (or figure out how to make your own!).

The recipe reviews are what sealed it for me—they were all great. And they were right. These are a special cupcake. Unique with the “soak” that provides that boozy bite in the middle of a really vanilla cake, and the frosting—oh, the frosting! A not-too-sweet, whipped cream-mascarpone cheese mixture spiked with amaretto (almond liqueur). Wow!

The original frosting recipe called for Instant Clear Jel, which, conveniently, you can order from King Arthur Flour. It’s actually modified food starch, which is chemically processed and not something I want in my food, so I used less processed corn starch. It still keeps the frosting, which contains a lot of whipped cream, from deflating. Arrowroot powder might work as well, but I didn’t want to chance it. Next time I make these at home, I’ll try it and will update the recipe if results are good.

Don’t skimp on the soak. After making a smaller test batch, I told myself to use more of the soak mixture. When I made the larger, “for real” batch, I thought I had used more of the soaking liquid (brushed each cupcake many, many times), and I was worried it was too much liquid (afraid they’d be soggy), but the cupcakes could have used even more of it, so be generous.

Keep in mind that because the alcohol in both the soak and the frosting isn’t cooked off, these should be adults only cupcakes. And all the adults at the office birthday party gave them rave reviews. Enjoy!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Tiramisu Cupcakes

Slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour

1 3/4 cups sugar

3/4 cup butter, room temperature

3 large eggs, room temperature

3 tablespoons vanilla extract

2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk

3 tablespoons coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua

2 tablespoons espresso powder

3 tablespoons sugar

3/4 cup hot water

2 cups heavy cream

4 teaspoons corn starch 2/3 cup powdered sugar

1/2 cup amaretto liqueur

1 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature

Unsweetened cocoa powder, to dust tops of frosted cupcakes.

To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Alternate adding the flour mixture and milk into the butter mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again, to be sure everything is incorporated.

Scoop the batter into paper-lined cupcake pans. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched.

Remove the cupcakes from the oven and place the pans on a rack for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, turn the cupcakes out and return them to rack to cool completely.

To make the soak: Mix the espresso powder, liqueur, and sugar into the hot water.

Using a fork, poke the tops of each cupcake two or three times. Sprinkle or brush a small amount of the soak over each cupcake, and allow it to soak in. Repeat until virtually all the liquid is used.

To make the frosting: Beat the whipping cream until medium peaks form.

Whisk together the powdered sugar and corn starch and slowly add to the whipped cream, along with the amaretto.

Gently and briefly whisk in the mascarpone cheese by hand until the frosting is thick and creamy (this shouldn’t take more than 4 or 5 passes with the whisk); more than that and the frosting will get grainy.

Pipe the frosting over the cupcakes, then dust with cocoa. Keep refrigerated. I think the cupcakes taste best if they are removed from the fridge about 1/2 hour before serving.

Yield: 18-24 cupcakes (I got 18, but the original recipe said 24).


Cranberry Lime White Chocolate Tart

In a serendipitous turn of events, I’m posting a Valentine’s Day dessert recipe an entire month early. But by no means should this delightfully refreshing tart be reserved for the February holiday—it’s appropriate any time.

This all started when a co-worker with a January birthday shared her preference for office birthday party treats as either “a chocolate peanut butter combination or something with fruit.” I debated making a decadent peanut butter cup cheesecake, but for a mid-morning party, that might be a little too rich. Then a recipe made years ago came to mind—a somewhat light tart with fruit in two forms, fresh lime curd and cranberries. Plus almonds are in the crust, so with the incorporation of cranberries, this should qualify as super food, am I right!?!

Decision made, and completely certain I owned the called for 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom (after all, I’ve made this before!), my search for it began. Even though it’s been almost 8 years since I last moved, there are a few things still in boxes and it had to be there if not in my kitchen. After digging through boxes several times with no luck, and not enough time to order one (even with Amazon Prime!), I had to go with my closest option, a heart-shaped pan with removable bottom. Thus, a Valentine’s Day dessert.

With the heart shape holding less than a round, I knew I would have extra of everything, so I made a cute little round version of the tart for Pete—because he’s such a sweetheart!

If you don’t have the 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom (the removable bottom is necessary to show off the sides of that pretty fluted crust), you can use a similar sized tart pan with regular bottom or improvise like I did and use a different shaped pan, but keep in mind you may need to adjust the amount of everything you put in that pan. I tried figuring out how to calculate the area of a heart so I could determine the ratio to the area of the 11” pan and that looked like too much work for me, but go for it if you’re so inclined!

The tart is quite a versatile dessert—you could play with the curd, making lemon instead of lime, or this time of year, be adventurous and go with blood orange, but then I’d cut the sugar to 1/3 to 1/2 cup. If you’re not big on cranberries, pick a different fruit that pairs well with the curd you opt for. Blueberries would be great with a lemon curd, raspberries or mango would suit the blood orange, etc. I love desserts you can tweak depending on preference or season.

Please note this is a recipe you’ll need to start a couple days before serving, but with a fairly small amount of hands on time. Most of the time involves chilling or cooling, so just plan a bit in advance. And this doesn’t have a rolled crust, you just press it over the bottom and up the sides of the pan—it’s so easy! Enjoy!

Cranberry Lime White Chocolate Tart

Adapted from this Bon Appetite recipe
Begin preparing the tart two days before you plan to serve it

Lime curd
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

1/2 teaspoon arrowroot or cornstarch

3/4 cup sugar

6 large egg yolks

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

2 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup whole almonds, toasted, cooled

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cranberry Topping
1/4 cup water

1 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot or cornstarch

2/3 cup sugar

3 tablespoons honey

One 12-ounce bag (3 cups) fresh cranberries or frozen, partially thawed

White Chocolate Cream

5 ounces white chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

White chocolate curls

For crust: Finely grind flour, sugar, almonds, and salt in processor. Add butter and vanilla; cut in, using on/off turns, until mixture just forms soft moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 1 hour. Press dough onto bottom and up sides of 11-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Using thumb, press dough up sides to extend 1/8 inch above rim of pan. Freeze crust 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake crust until golden brown, pressing with back of spoon if crust bubbles, about 25 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely.

For lime curd: Whisk lime juice and cornstarch in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk in sugar and yolks, then add butter. Whisk constantly over medium heat until mixture simmers and thickens, about 8 minutes. Strain into small bowl. Mix in lime zest. Cover; chill overnight.

For cranberry topping: Whisk 1/4 cup water and cornstarch in heavy large saucepan to blend. Add sugar and honey. Stir over medium-high heat until mixture comes to boil. Add cranberries; cook until mixture boils and berries just begin to pop but still maintain shape, occasionally stirring gently, about 4-5 minutes. Cool completely (mixture will thicken).

For white chocolate cream: Stir chocolate in top of double boiler over simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water; whisk in sour cream and vanilla. Cool completely.

To assemble: Spread white chocolate cream into crust; freeze 15 minutes. Spoon curd over; spread evenly. Spoon cooled cranberry topping by tablespoonsful over, then spread carefully to cover completely. Cover and chill overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Carefully remove pan sides; transfer tart to a platter. Sprinkle white chocolate curls around edge of tart.

Summer Fruit Crisp with No-Churn Coffee Liqueur Ice-Cream

Fruit Crisp with Ice-Cream
Up until a few days ago, I had never made ice-cream. Never wanted to buy an ice-cream maker and every recipe I’d ever come across required one. That is, until last week.

While looking for ideas to make M & M sandwich cookies for an office birthday party, I stumbled upon something even better, M & M cookie ice-cream sandwiches!!! Included was a very simple ice-cream recipe only requiring three ingredients, and wonder of all wonders, NO ice-cream maker necessary.

Very intrigued, I went to the store for heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk, dumped them in the bowl of my stand mixer, added a teaspoon of vanilla, turned the mixer on high and the timer for five minutes. Plopped the resulting thick, creamy deliciousness into a container and froze it overnight. Skeptical it could be this easy, I kept checking it to see if this was really turning into ice-cream.

Amazingly, by the next morning, it truly was ice-cream. Lovely, rich, creamy and decadent ice-cream! The entire batch was gone before I even made the M & M cookies, so another batch was necessary and it ended up being not quite enough for the number of sandwiches I needed. One more batch coming up.
M & M Cookie Ice-Cream Sandwich

Earlier that day some friends at work were joking that I always put booze in my baked goods (it really isn’t always), so it gave me the idea of incorporating booze into this ice-cream. What would go with M & M cookies? Hey, doesn’t coffee go great with cookies? And I just happened to have some of my mom’s homemade Kahlua (coffee liqueur) on hand.

Worried that the alcohol would interfere with the ice-cream freezing, I only put in ¼ cup, but it was enough to give it a coffee/boozy hint, and while I didn’t think it was possible, this version was even better than the first two batches.

After filling the remaining cookies, there was ice-cream left over that needed a partner and I immediately thought of a mouthwatering recipe seen recently on 101 Cookbooks for a summer berry crisp that, aptly, also contained alcohol, this time in the form of red wine.  And with a healthy boost from the fruit, oats and whole grain flour, it would cancel out the not-so-healthy ice-cream, right??

There were fresh raspberries at the farmers market last night and some cherries and plums at home. The only ingredient missing from the original recipe was port, and as Heidi Swanson mentioned in her notes, red wine would also work, and she’s right. This is the best fruit crisp I have ever had and Pete agreed. A big scoop of the coffee liqueur ice-cream on the still-warm-from-the-oven crisp took this dessert over the top! Enjoy!
Pan of Fruit Crisp

Summer Fruit Crisp with No-Churn Coffee Liqueur Ice-Cream

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

4 tablespoons poppy seeds  or a combination poppy and black sesame seeds

1 cup rolled oats (not quick oats), uncooked

1 cup organic cane sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon arrowroot powder or all-natural cornstarch

1/3 cup / 1.5 oz. organic turbinado sugar

4 1/2 cups berries/fruit – mix of ripe, pitted cherries, raspberries, peeled plums, etc.

1/4 cup port wine or merlot

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish, or equivalent.

To make the crumble, mix together the flour, poppy seeds, oats, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Use a fork to stir in the melted butter. Divide the mixture into three portions and use your hands to form three patties. Place the patties in the bowl and freeze for at least 10 minutes, or until you’re ready to bake.

Make the filling by whisking together the arrowroot and sugar in a large bowl. Add the fruit and toss until evenly coated. Wait 3 minutes, add the wine, and toss again. Transfer the filling to the prepared baking dish.

Remove the topping from the freezer and crumble it over the filling, making sure you have both big and small pieces.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the topping is deeply golden and the fruit juices are vigorously bubbling. Let cool a little before serving, 20 to 30 minutes. Makes about 9 servings.

No-Churn Coffee Liqueur Ice-Cream
Adapted from this Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe

2 cups heavy cream

1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ cup coffee liqueur

Place bowl and whisk of your stand or hand mixer in the freezer for 15-30 minutes. Remove from freezer and add all ingredients to the bowl. Whisk at high speed for about 5 minutes until mixture is good and thick. Transfer to a 2-quart container with a tight fitting lid and freeze overnight (keeps in freezer for two weeks. Makes about 2 quarts.

Avocado Lime Cupcakes with Avocado Lime Buttercream

Cupcakes from overhead
The weather here in Minnesota is creating an epidemic of spring fever and we have not been spared. Dinner has been from the grill a couple times in the past few days and yesterday Pete hauled out some of our patio furniture and lit the fire table. We went hiking in a nearby park, and then experienced our first patio dining of the year at a local restaurant/bar. Today, more time spent outside and Pete even went kite-flying. As much as we love winter, this early spring is great and everyone seems to be in a fantastic mood!

The last couple years when St. Patrick’s Day approached, we’ve still been knee-deep in snow, so we feel especially giddy with shirt-sleeve weather to celebrate the holiday. While not a dessert you’ll probably find in a Dublin bakery, the light green hue of these cupcakes makes them perfect for that St. Patrick’s Day office potluck where all the food is supposed to be green, and yet no yucky artificial coloring is required.

The avocado lends a moistness and buttery aspect to the cupcakes and the lime offers an unexpected burst of citrus. With a lovely light green color, the frosting is wonderful with its subtle lime tartness and avocado creaminess. Pete and I each ate one and agreed they are delicious! The rest I’m packing up to take to work tomorrow—we can’t be trusted to keep our hands off them the additional day until it’s actually St. Paddy’s. Enjoy!
Lime ZestJuicing LimeCupcakeCupcakes

Avocado Lime Cupcakes with Avocado Lime Buttercream

 Adapted from Robin Asbell’s Big Vegan


1 cup white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour

¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons lime zest, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup mashed avocado

2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil

1 cup organic granulated sugar

1 cup almond milk

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup mashed avocado

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

½ cup non-hydrogenated shortening (Spectrum is the brand I use)

3 cups powdered sugar

To make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with muffin papers or grease and flour the cups.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, lime zest, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl or blender, puree the avocado until very smooth then mix in the oil (this can be done with a whisk if you don’t feel like dirtying the blender). Stir in the granulated sugar, then the milk, lime juice and vanilla. Stir the liquids into the dry mixture, mashing if there are any lumps, just until combined, taking care not to over-mix. Divide batter among the prepared muffin cups and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan on a rack. Remove from pans once cooled.

To make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer), mix the avocado and lime juice until smooth. Add the shortening and powdered sugar and mix until combined. Increase mixer speed to high and beat for a couple minutes until smooth and fluffy, scrapping down the sides when necessary.

Pipe or spread frosting onto cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with additional lime zest. Store, covered, in the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature before serving. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Pavlovas with Chambord Cream, Raspberries Two Ways and Chocolate Sauce

Until last summer, when checking out the blog of Amy Thielen, chef, writer, and host of the Food Channel’s Heartland Table, I had not heard of the dessert pavlova. Her recipe was for individual pavlovas with whipped cream and a passion fruit sauce that sounded amazing.

I sort of filed the recipe in my mind as one to maybe make one day. Similar to meringue, but better, pavlova has a somewhat soft, almost marshmallowy inside under the palest of ivory crusts—this discovered shortly afterward when we went to Pete’s parents’ for a party, and guess what his mom made for dessert? Yep, pavlova. One large plate-sized pavlova, the center filled with whipped cream and topped with plump, ripe strawberries. I assumed it would be dry all the way through like meringue, but was so pleasantly surprised to find the exterior crunch give way to a softer, delectable texture. How wonderful!

Last week when planning the menu for a girls’ night dinner party celebrating one of my best friend’s birthdays, I remembered Amy’s recipe and decided to give it a whirl. With passion fruit not exactly being in abundance during a Minnesota winter, I decided to take it in a different direction with vegan whipped cream made from coconut milk that I’ve made many times before, to rave reviews, and incorporate raspberries two ways. And with the way raspberries get along with chocolate, why not make a little chocolate sauce for the final drizzle?

The end result was a swoon-worthy dessert and one I will make again and again. With the different components involved, it may seem too putzy, but the Chambord cream and sauces are quick and easy and can be made ahead of time, with all but the pavlovas able to be made a day or two before. Valentine’s day is only a month away–this would be the perfect dessert to share with someone you love!

MixedBefore bakingBakedPavlova plated

Pavlovas with Chambord Cream, Raspberries Two Ways and Chocolate Sauce

Pavlovas by Nicky Major, as posted on Amy Thielen’s blog

For the Pavlovas:
Scant 3/4 cup egg whites (from 5-6 large eggs), totally yolk-free

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

A pinch of salt

1 2/3 cups superfine sugar*

5 teaspoons cornstarch or arrowroot, more for the baking sheet

2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chambord Cream (recipe follows)
Raspberry Sauce (recipe follows)
Chocolate Sauce (recipe follows)
Fresh raspberries

*If you don’t have superfine sugar, just pulse sugar in a food processor for a minute, and measure it afterward.

Position the oven rack just below the middle of the oven, and preheat to 275 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment, sticking down the corners with dabs of honey. Dust the sheet with cornstarch or arrowroot to help the meringue come off easily after baking.

Run a large, stainless-steel mixing bowl under hot water to warm it. Dry the inside thoroughly, add the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt.

Whip the whites at medium-high speed until they’re stiff and start to pull away from the sides of the bowl; they’ll look like they’re about to separate. Immediately start adding the superfine sugar by sprinkling it in slowly, about 1 tablespoon at a time; incorporating the whole 1 2/3 cups should take about 10 minutes. Combine the cornstarch with the last 2 tablespoons sugar and add them together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, continue whipping, and slowly add the vinegar and vanilla. Whip for another few minutes. The mixtures should be extremely glossy and fluffy.

For individual pavlovas, use a 3-oz. ice-cream scoop and stack two scoops, snowman-style, for each one. Make a depression in the center.

To bake, put the pavlovas in the heated oven and immediately turn down the heat to 250 degrees F. Bake, without opening the door for at least the first 45 minutes, until they’re crisp and dry looking on the outside with just a hint of ivory color.

To serve, place a big spoonful of the Chambord Cream into the divot in the center of each pavlova, drizzle with Raspberry Sauce, Chocolate Sauce, and top with fresh raspberries.

Chambord Cream
Solids from one can of coconut milk (not light), (chill can overnight; don’t shake can before opening)
¼ cup powdered sugar (or more to taste)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons Chambord

Chill a bowl and beaters in the freezer for 30 minutes. Place coconut solids (solids only–none of the liquid) in bowl and beat until smooth and thick. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and Chambord and beat to incorporate. Refrigerate at least two hours. Give it a whisk just before serving. You may want to add another teaspoon of Chambord at that time. This keeps in the fridge for several days.

Simple Raspberry Sauce
2 cups fresh raspberries, rinsed and patted dry
¼ cup organic sugar

Place raspberries and sugar in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or strainer, over a dish. Push sauce with back of a spoon until nothing remains in strainer but the seeds. Sauce keeps several days in the refrigerator.

Chocolate Sauce
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I like Guittard)
1 ½ tablespoons coffee liqueur
1 tablespoon agave or maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Place all sauce ingredients in a double boiler and stir until the chocolate chips are melted. Whisk until smooth. Alternately, you can melt the chocolate chips in the microwave and whisk the remaining ingredients into the melted chocolate. If not serving right away, you’ll need to reheat it over low heat because it thickens up as it cools.


Apple Walnut Cake with Cinnamon Whipped Cream and Caramel Drizzle

Apple Walnut Cake with Cinnamon Whipped Cream and Caramel Drizzle
On this beautiful fall day with weather that couldn’t be more perfect, two of my favorite people were our guests for lunch. Ginny and Jack, Pete’s lovely parents, joined us for a meal full of some of my favorites of the season. Sweet potatoes got curried and blended into soup, wild rice and sharp cheddar made their way onto a honey whole wheat-crusted pizza, and apples & cinnamon were the stars of the dessert, apple walnut cake with cinnamon whipped cream and caramel drizzle.
Curried sweet potato soupWild Rice Pizza

The cake and whipped cream are my takes on recipes in gifted chef Chloe Coscarelli’s vegan cookbook, Chloe’s Kitchen, and the caramel drizzle is from her website. If a vegan version isn’t a must, you could make a more traditional caramel sauce using butter or do what I did and pick up a jar of Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce, which I think is as good or better than homemade and doesn’t have any of the scary or unpronounceable ingredients that store-bought stuff often does.

The cake, whipped cream and caramel drizzle can all be made a day or two before—just warm the caramel a bit before serving so it’s drizzleable. The inclusion of almond meal (also called almond flour) and some whole wheat pastry flour give this dessert heart-healthy protein and the benefits of whole grain, and with the addition of super-food status walnuts, not even an ounce of guilt should be felt over this tantalizing treat! Enjoy!

Apple Walnut Cake with Cinnamon Whipped Cream and Caramel Drizzle

1 cup almond meal (also called almond flour)

½ cup whole wheat pastry flour

½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

¾ cup organic sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup grapeseed or canola oil

½ cup pressed apple cider

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

½ cup toasted walnuts, chopped

3 medium Gala, Fuji, Honey Crisp (or other sweet apples), peeled and finely chopped

1 ½ tablespoons turbinado or other coarse grain sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 inch square baking pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the almond meal, flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, cider, vanilla, and vinegar. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mixed just until combined—do not overmix. Fold in the walnuts and chopped apple.

Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, until center is set and cake lightly browned. Place on wire rack to cool.

Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Solids from one can of coconut milk (not light), (chill can overnight; don’t shake can before opening)

½ cup powdered sugar (or more to taste)

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

½ – 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Chill a bowl and beaters in the freezer for 30 minutes. Place coconut solids in bowl and beat until smooth and thick. Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon and beat to incorporate. Refrigerate at least two hours. Give it a whisk just before serving. This keeps in the fridge for several days.

Caramel Drizzle

1 cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup vegan, non-hydrogenated, margarine (Earth Balance is good)

4 teaspoons almond or rice milk

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, heat brown sugar, margarine, and non-dairy milk, stirring frequently.  Once mixture comes together, increase heat to medium-high and let cook for one to two more minutes, until it begins to boil and the bubbles move to the middle of the caramel. Remove from heat.

To serve, drizzle caramel over a dessert plate. Place a square of cake in the middle of the plate and top with a big dollop of whipped cream. Drizzle with more caramel. Makes about 9 servings.


Grandma D’s Blueberry Cream Pie—Squared

Pie side view
Last week, with it being blueberry season and all, my sweet-foodie thoughts turned to pie, a pie my mom made a couple times in recent years. Golden flakey crust filled with a generous layer of whipped cream and topped with a thick blueberry layer. Capped with a dollop of more whipped cream upon serving; so fresh and rich, yet light, tasting of summer dessert day dreams.

To my surprise, it was an old recipe of Grandma Decoster’s, going back at least 50 years. I don’t remember ever having it at Grandma’s, but the fact that it was her recipe made me want to make it even more. But, dear Grandma, God rest your soul, I’m going to veganize it, no disrespect intended.

I envisioned a vegan shortbread crust, cinnamon coconut milk whipped cream, and a beautiful blueberry layer made with fresh, local berries from the farmers’ market. The blueberry filling part was easy, I only needed to swap out the butter with Earth Balance or even just leave the 2 tablespoons the recipe called for out. And I’ve made whipped coconut milk cream with cinnamon before.

But how to make the crust? After a google search of vegan shortbread recipes, I took bits and pieces from several, along with my own ideas, to come up with this version, which uses coconut oil as the fat and subs half of the flour with almond meal. The flour that is included is white whole wheat for a slight upgrade in healthiness. With cinnamon in the whipped “cream,” I thought, why not some cinnamon in the crust too? Alrighty then!

The result was, in my opinion, outstanding, and that sentiment was echoed by the five others who tried it. Even though they were my husband, parents and best friends, I’m pretty certain they were sincere–they can be brutally honest. The shortbread is unique and crave-worthy, the whipped cream smooth and cinnamon-y, and the blueberry layer bursting with flavor. Definitely a winning twist on Grandma’s classic recipe!

I opted for a square baking pan when the shortbread crust kept slowly sinking back down each time I pressed it up the sides of a pie pan. Pressed over just the bottom of an 8×8 pan worked perfectly. Hence the title, Grandma D’s Blueberry Cream Pie—Squared. Enjoy!

Grandma D's Blueberry Cream Pie--Squared

Shortbread crust:
1 cup almond meal (also called almond flour)

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ cup coconut oil, melted

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8 x 8 inch square baking pan.

Place the almond meal, flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Pour in the melted coconut oil and stir just till combined (do not over-mix).

Place shortbread dough in prepared baking pan and press over the bottom in an even layer. Bake for 35-40 minutes until edges are beginning to turn golden brown. Place on a rack to cool.

Cinnamon Coconut Milk Whipped Cream:
2 cans coconut milk (not light), refrigerated overnight, don’t shake before opening

½ cup confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

Chill a bowl and beaters in the freezer for 30 minutes. Place coconut solids (solids only—when you get to where the solids end and the coconut water starts, stop—you don’t want any of the water) from both cans in bowl and beat until smooth and thick. Add powdered sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla and beat to incorporate. Taste and add more sugar or cinnamon, if needed, and mix again. Refrigerate at least two hours. This keeps in the fridge for several days, so can be made ahead of time.

Blueberry Pie Filling:
¾ cup organic granulated sugar

1 ½ tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup water

3 cups blueberries, rinsed and drained, divided

2 tablespoons vegan non-hydrogenated margarine or butter (optional)

1 ½ tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice

Combine sugar, arrowroot, and salt in a medium saucepan. Mix in the water and one cup of the blueberries. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in butter or margarine, if using, and the lemon juice. Set aside and let cool. Once cool, fold in the additional two cups blueberries. Chill for at least an hour.

To assemble pie, spread about half of the cinnamon whipped cream over the shortbread crust in an even layer. Spoon blueberry mixture over the whipped cream, spreading to the edges of pan. Cover and chill at least 2 hours. Cut into squares and serve with an additional dollop of cinnamon whipped cream. Makes 9 servings, and keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple days.