Maple Bourbon Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust & Bacon Streusel

When you want to raise the bar and set a new record this is a go-to winner every time.  This pie is really as special as the name suggests. I recently served it as the grand finale for Sausage Fest. As you may imagine this is more than a meal it’s really more like an event. My family celebrates this much loved fest on an unspecified date, but always during the holiday season—that 6-week span beginning around Thanksgiving, and ending only after we drop into a collective feast-induced coma. Therefore, there’s no reason to hold back on the dessert course. This is a walk-off home run. Continue reading

Orange Almond Cake with Orange-Ginger Glaze

Gluten free! Who needs flour when you can make such a moist, well-flavored cake without it. This cake comes from Jewish cuisine of the Mediterranean regions where oranges and almonds are important crops. Navel oranges are a good choice because they have few seeds, and the peel is not bitter. Boiling the oranges softens them, and changing the water part way through the boiling will ensure a fresh orange flavor. Continue reading

Apple Tart with Maple Walnut Crust

The traditional flavor combination of apples, walnuts, and maple syrup are nestled into a crunchy, crumbly cookie crust. It is easier to make than regular pie pastry, and fun to model as it has the consistency of “play dough.” Since there is no top crust, the apples will not steam but retain much of their crispness. The firm texture of the apples set against the fine grain of the crust pairs well with creamy vanilla ice cream. Continue reading

Old-Fashioned Apple Strudel with Homemade Pastry

“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter–’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain. The same applies to the difference between using frozen phyllo and making your own strudel dough. Making your own requires some patience, but the results are worth the effort. It’s fun, and absolutely amazing to stretch a simple mixture of flour, water, and oil into an enormous sheet of tissue-like pastry. The filling steams while sealed inside the flaky envelope and develops a texture unlike that of apple pie, which vents steam during baking. The vapor-thin layer upon layer of pastry crisp into an enclosure that defies description. As usual, these simple combinations are the ones that endure the centuries. Continue reading

Lemon Jelly Belly Cookies

Sometimes I take requests. This one came from a friend who bakes incredible boxes of assorted cookies for charity fundraisers and holiday gifts. She asked for a lemon cookie recipe and I immediately thought of Meyer lemons, which are sweeter and less acidic than your typical lemons. This recipe has a double-dose of Meyer lemons—in the dough and the jelly. Making the jelly as an additional step is a bit time-consuming, but it is worth it since you will end up with 3 half-pints of jelly and you only need ½ cup for the cookies. Of course, if you’re making cookies by the hundreds, you may need it all. They are named Jelly Belly cookies because the jelly sits in the belly of the cookie.  Continue reading

Flourless Walnut Torte with Apple Butter, Maple Sauce

Gluten-free cake! Usually, a cake pan is usually prepared by buttering and flouring. The flour provides a surface for the cake batter to grasp as it climbs the sides, and the butter underneath allows for easy removal from the cake ring. A pan that is completely unprepared also provides traction for the batter. You just have to run a thin-bladed knife around the pan before releasing the ring, and since no flour was involved, you can serve this dessert to those intolerant of gluten. Another amazing thing about this recipe is the number of ingredients—there’s hardly any. Continue reading

Foolish Blueberry Cake

My blueberry bushes produced a bumper crop this year, so I’ve had lots of berries to enjoy and to freeze for the long winter ahead. The picking season is winding down so I wanted to try something that combines 3 different desserts: lemon cake, blueberry pie, and blueberry fool. Fool is a whimsical name for a dessert that combines cooked sweetened blueberries and whipped cream, and is served in bowls or parfait glasses. For this dessert, blueberry fool is sandwiched between layers of lemony cake, and blueberry pie filling provides a richly colored, luscious topping.

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