Strawberry Angel Pavlovas

This is a plan-ahead sort of dessert I’d wanted to make for ages, but not just for myself because half of the meringues would go squishy before I could eat them. With that in mind, I invited myself to dinner at a friend’s on a day where I could be home to prep for as much of the day as necessary. It’s worth the planning – the various flavors and textures are really great – tart lemon, sweet berries and crunchy-chewy meringues. Yum!

Some food facts to remember: 1) eggs separate better while cold, 2) egg whites beat up better while room temperature, 3) cream beats up better while very cold – you can even put your bowl and beaters in the freezer for a while ahead of time to help, 4) beating egg whites or cream kinda goes better with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, but you’ll survive with a hand mixer if it’s what you’ve got, 5) egg whites won’t beat up to stiff peaks if they have yolk, or any other fat, in them, so be careful with your separating and in cleaning the bowl ahead of time

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs at room temperature, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and diced
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • *if you know you’re going to have leftovers, 1 tablespoon white chocolate pudding mix to add to the whipped cream to prevent seeping/separating

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 275 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form.

While still beating, slowly sprinkle in 1 cup of the sugar, then increase speed to high and beat until stiff and glossy. Beat in the vanilla.

I would have liked this to have gotten slightly more stiff-peak-y even, but this is as far as it got that day.

Scoop the egg white mixture into 8 mounds on your lined sheets, then draw a spoon in a circle in the center to create a well.

Bake 1 hour, or until lightly golden, then turn off the heat, crack the oven door open, and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl beat the egg yolks until thick and pale yellow.

Gradually beat in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, followed by the lemon juice and zest.

Transfer to a small, nonreactive saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, at least 5 minute. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Meanwhile-r, put the diced strawberries in a medium bowl and sprinkle with the powdered sugar. Toss to coat, then set aside.

The sugar is absorbed/wetting with berry juice very quickly.

When ready to serve, whip the cream to stiff peaks, adding the white chocolate pudding powder if you expect leftovers.

Gently fold 1 cup of the whipped cream into the lemon custard, and the remaining whipped cream into the berries.

Place each meringue on a small plate, top with 1/8th of the lemon custard mixture, and top again with 1/8th of the strawberry whipped cream. Serve immediately. (If you don’t have 8 people available, don’t plate the extra meringues, keep them in an air tight container, separate from the toppings, until you can scarf them the next day.)

Strawberry Angel Pavlovas

Slightly adapted from Shauna Sever.

  • 4 eggs at room temperature, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and diced
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • *if you know you’re going to have leftovers, 1 tablespoon white chocolate pudding mix to add to the whipped cream to prevent seeping/separating

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 275 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form. While still beating, slowly sprinkle in 1 cup of the sugar, then increase speed to high and beat until stiff and glossy. Beat in the vanilla.

Scoop the egg white mixture into 8 mounds on your lined sheets, then draw a spoon in a circle in the center to create a well. Bake 1 hour, or until lightly golden, then turn off the heat, crack the oven door open, and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl beat the egg yolks until thick and pale yellow. Gradually beat in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, followed by the lemon juice and zest. Transfer to a small, nonreactive saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, at least 5 minute. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Meanwhile-r, put the diced strawberries in a medium bowl and sprinkle with the powdered sugar. Toss to coat, then set aside.

When ready to serve, whip the cream to stiff peaks, adding the white chocolate pudding powder if you expect leftovers. Gently fold 1 cup of the whipped cream into the lemon custard, and the remaining whipped cream into the berries.

Place each meringue on a small plate, top with 1/8th of the lemon custard mixture, and top again with 1/8th of the strawberry whipped cream. Serve immediately. (If you don’t have 8 people available, don’t plate the extra meringues, keep them in an air tight container, separate from the toppings, until you can scarf them the next day.)

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Farmhouse Buttermilk Cake

I was sitting around last week about to make one buttermilk dessert, when I decided I didn’t like the idea, prompting a quick scramble around the internet for a new way to use up the pint I had of the stuff. This one required no extra trip to the store (given I made a few alterations to the topping) and came out really, really pleasingly tasty. I think I want this brown sugar topping on EVERYTHING now? It caramelizes a bit, plus has melty sugar, on top of the slightly tangy very moist cake… what a combo! This is a keeper for very definite.

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Topping:

  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chocolate milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 to 1 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13″ pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar.

Add the eggs, beating until smooth.

Beat in the buttermilk and vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients and beat again until well combined, then gently pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 35 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, stir together the topping ingredients in a medium bowl.

Take the baked cake from the oven and gently pour the prepared topping over the top. Bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and eat warm, with the glaze still runny, or let cool and eat with the glaze set. Most likely, eat some hot right away and then leftovers cool later!

Farmhouse Buttermilk Cake

Adapted from the always quality King Arthur Flour.

Cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Topping:

  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chocolate milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 to 1 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13″ pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs, beating until smooth, then the buttermilk and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and beat again until well combined, then gently pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, stir together the topping ingredients in a medium bowl.

Take the baked cake from the oven and gently pour the prepared topping over the top. Bake an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and eat warm, with the glaze still runny, or let cool and eat with the glaze set. Most likely, eat some hot right away and then leftovers cool later!

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Frisch’s Type Strawberry Pie

A recipe submitted by Sally Loomis (who went on to donate the property I work on to the park district I work for) to a local church cookbook, I’m not positive who the Frisch in the name is – does that mean it’s like the pies served at Frisch’s Big Boy restaurants, or was there a Frisch family she got the pie from? No idea!

When I was in the supermarket prior to making this, I saw that they sold extra large graham cracker crusts, and though “oh that’s dumb, pie recipes just have the right amount of filling for regular sized pie crusts!” Wrong. I ended up having to put some of the filling into a cup on the side, so I do actually recommend getting a big sized graham cracker crust, or using a 10″ pie pan if you really want to make your own graham cracker crust.

bigger crust = no extra cup of jello

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 3 ounce package strawberry jello
  • 1 quart strawberries, washed and sliced
  • 1 prepared graham cracker crust, ‘2 extra servings’ size
  • whipped cream for serving, if desired

In a large saucepan, combine the cornstarch and sugar, then drizzle in the water, whisking constantly until no clumps remain. Place over medium high heat and bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and whisk in the jello powder. Let cool slightly, then stir in the strawberries. Pour the mixture into the crust, cover, and refrigerate 3-4 hours. Slice, and serve garnished with whipped cream.

Frisch’s Type Strawberry Pie

Slightly adapted from Sally Loomis.

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 3 ounce package strawberry jello
  • 1 quart strawberries, washed and sliced
  • 1 prepared graham cracker crust, ‘2 extra servings’ size
  • whipped cream for serving, if desired

In a large saucepan, combine the cornstarch and sugar, then drizzle in the water, whisking constantly until no clumps remain.

Place over medium high heat and bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and whisk in the jello powder.

Let cool slightly, then stir in the strawberries.

Pour the mixture into the crust, cover, and refrigerate 3-4 hours.

Slice, and serve garnished with whipped cream.

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Crockpot Pizza

Looking for something a bit different, while also super familiar? Throw some pizza in a crockpot! It requires minimal extra effort, doesn’t heat up your kitchen like the oven might, and still creates a good crusty…crust. I was actually a bit impressed how firm the crust got, after the very soft lovely bread I cooked in a crockpot 2 years ago. In this case, I used hearth bread pizza dough – specifically, half a recipe of it. I actually used a full batch the first time I tried this, knowing in advance it would probably be too much, and, indeed, it was a tremendous breadwad that reminded me of the coma Dominos’ pasta in a breadbowl used to put one in. A half recipe is still a bunch of crust, but a reasonable amount, not a life-wrecking carb overload. You can use your pizza dough of choice, but aim for about a 1 pound ball of dough.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound pizza dough of choice, such as 1/2 recipe of Hearth Bread Pizza Dough, or store-bought frozen dough
  • approximately 5 ounces pizza sauce (about 1/3 a 14 ounce jar of pizza sauce)
  • approximately 3 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • toppings of choice

Prepare the dough according to recipe/package directions through the first rise. Deflate the dough and place in on a large piece of parchment paper. Shape into a rough oval, approximately 1″ larger than your crockpot all the way around.

Gently transfer the dough into the crockpot using the parchment.

Spread your sauce over the dough, leaving a clear space around the edge, then top with cheese and any additional toppings.

An excessive amount of chicken, to clear out the fridge.

Fold the outer ring of dough over to create a raised crust. Cover, shutting paper towel in the crockpot lid to catch any liquid that condenses inside, to prevent it from falling back on the pizza.

Turn heat on to high, and cook approximately 3 hours – even my double-dough one was cooked through fine at 3, but I don’t think it’ll be ruined if you can’t get it out until 3 1/2.

Remove the parchment from the crockpot, slice, and serve.

Browned up all nice, and not actually as hugely bready as that looks from that angle.

Crockpot Pizza

  • 1 pound pizza dough of choice
  • approximately 5 ounces pizza sauce
  • approximately 3 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
  • toppings of choice

Prepare the dough according to recipe/package directions through the first rise. Deflate the dough and place in on a large piece of parchment paper. Shape into a rough oval, approximately 1″ larger than your crockpot all the way around. Gently transfer the dough into the crockpot using the parchment. Spread your sauce over the dough, leaving a clear space around the edge, then top with cheese and any additional toppings. Fold the outer ring of dough over to create a raised crust. Cover, shutting paper towel in the crockpot lid. Turn heat on to high, and cook 3 – 3 1/2 hours. Remove the parchment from the crockpot, slice, and serve.

 

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Rhubarb Custard Cake

Recently at work I hosted a rhubarb canning program. While the rhubarb processed in the hot water bath canner, we all ate this cake, and were very happy about it!

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling and more for ‘flouring’
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • zest from one lemon
  • 13 ounces rhubarb stalks, cut in half or thirds lengthwise if thick, then cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces

Grease a 9″ springform and ‘flour’ the pan using sugar – sprinkle extra sugar into the pan and shake/turn the pan to coat all over inside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, and 1 1/2 cups sugar by hand until pale and thick, about 1 minute, and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, sour cream, vanilla, and zest.

Whisk the butter mixture into the egg mixture until just combined.

Add the flour mixture and gently fold in until smooth.

Pour into the pan, then chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Gently place the rhubarb on the surface of the batter, layering at much as needed to get it all on top. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar over the top.

Bake until golden on top, and a bit browned at the edges, about 45 minutes.

Remove from the heat and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan, remove the wall of the pan, and let cool completely on the rack until ready to eat.

Rhubarb Custard Cake

Just barely adapted from Bon Appetit.

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for sprinkling and more for ‘flouring’
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • zest from one lemon
  • 13 ounces rhubarb stalks, cut in half or thirds lengthwise if thick, then cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces

Grease a 9″ springform and ‘flour’ the pan using sugar – sprinkle extra sugar into the pan and shake/turn the pan to coat all over inside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, and 1 1/2 cups sugar by hand until pale and thick, about 1 minute, and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the butter, sour cream, vanilla, and zest.

Whisk the butter mixture into the egg mixture until just combined. Add the flour mixture and gently fold in until smooth. Pour into the pan, then chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Gently place the rhubarb on the surface of the batter, layering at much as needed to get it all on top. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of sugar over the top. Bake until golden on top, and a bit browned at the edges, about 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan, remove the wall of the pan, and let cool completely on the rack until ready to eat.

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Milano Cheesecake

I’m pleased with how this idea turned out. It looks pretty, tastes great, and has the option for some variety, depending on which type of Milano cookies you use. For mine, I did the ‘wall’ mostly milk chocolate, and the base dulce de leche, and it’s delightful with a drizzle of caramel sauce! The cheesecake itself is smooth, creamy, and simple. Perfect!

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages Milano cookies, variety of choice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Wrap an 8″ springform pan in several layers of foil and set aside. Grab two cookies from one package and all the cookies from the other, and chop a small slice off one end of each, to give a flat surface that they’ll later stand up on.

checking size

Toss the chopped off slivers into a medium bowl. Crush the remaining Milanos – you could use a food processor, but because I already had the cutting board out, I just minced them. Put the cookie crumbs to the medium bowl, then add the brown sugar and butter and stir together.

Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan and bake 10 minutes. Pull the baked crust out of the oven and reduce the heat to 325 degrees. Set the crust aside to cool while you make the filling.

To make the filling, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth.

Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each, until well combined.

Place the springform in a larger dish, such as a 9×13″ casserole. Carefully stand the remaining Milanos on their cut ends, lining the inside of the pan.

Gently pour the cheesecake filling into the pan, avoiding jostling the Milanos.

Add water to the outside pan, making sure to stay at least an inch below the top of the springform, or however much lower is necessarily to safely transfer the pans to the oven.

only spilled some before it was heated, good enough

Bake 1 hour, or until the edges seem somewhat firmer than the center when you jiggle the pan. Crack the oven door open, turn off the heat, and let cool 90 minutes, then remove from the water bath and refrigerate 6 hours, up to overnight.

For the most part you don’t even really need to run a knife around the inside of the walls before popping off the wall to serve, but it can’t hurt in case the cookies shifted and allowed filling to touch the wall as you moved the cake into the oven. Pop off the wall of the pan, slice between cookies, and enjoy!

Milano Cheesecake

  • 2 packages Milano cookies, variety of choice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 8 ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Wrap an 8″ springform pan in several layers of foil and set aside. Grab two cookies from one package and all the cookies from the other, and chop a small slice off one end of each, to give a flat surface that they’ll later stand up on. Toss the chopped off slivers into a medium bowl. Crush the remaining Milanos. Put the cookie crumbs to the medium bowl, then add the brown sugar and butter and stir together. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan and bake 10 minutes. Pull the baked crust out of the oven and reduce the heat to 325 degrees. Set the crust aside to cool while you make the filling.

To make the filling, beat the cream cheese in a large bowl until smooth. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each, until well combined.

Place the springform in a larger dish, such as a 9×13″ casserole. Carefully stand the remaining Milanos on their cut ends, lining the inside of the pan. Gently pour the cheesecake filling into the pan, avoiding jostling the Milanos. Add water to the outside pan, making sure to stay at least an inch below the top of the springform, or however much lower is necessarily to safely transfer the pans to the oven. Bake 1 hour, or until the edges seem somewhat firmer than the center when you jiggle the pan. Crack the oven door open, turn off the heat, and let cool 90 minutes, then remove from the water bath and refrigerate 6 hours, up to overnight.

Run a knife along the inside wall of the pan, remove the wall, slice between cookies, and enjoy!

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Orange Grape-Nut Muffins

Like 2 weeks ago, I’m still slowly working my way through a box of Grape-Nuts at work. These muffins are kind of mild but tasty, and a lasting sort of filling. A good thing to have for breakfast/snack on a travel day, perhaps. The Grape-Nuts stay firmer than the rest of the muffin, for texture, but aren’t still rock hard bits of gravel.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup Grape-Nuts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. (Seems super hot for muffins, but they didn’t burn!) Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin. (The photos here show a doubled recipe.)

In a large bowl, sift the flour before measuring out the two cups. Add the baking powder and sugar and sift again to combine.

I do actually sift when old recipes call for it, because when you do it before measuring, it impacts the amount you wind up scooping up.

In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, combine the eggs, juice, zest, and melted butter. Stir the juice mixture into the flour mixture, stirring just until no dry flour remains.

Add the Grape-Nuts and stir until just evenly combined.

Scoop into the prepared muffin tin, filling about 3/4 full.

Bake 20-25 minutes, until they pass the toothpick test.

Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

2 disappeared before I could even get a photo!

The Park District board was a fan of these!

Orange Grape-Nut Muffins

Slightly adapted from the General Foods Cook Book.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup Grape-Nuts

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.

In a large bowl, sift the flour before measuring out the two cups. Add the baking powder and sugar and sift again to combine. In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, combine the eggs, juice, zest, and melted butter. Stir the juice mixture into the flour mixture, stirring just until no dry flour remains. Add the Grape-Nuts and stir until just evenly combined.

Scoop into the prepared muffin tin and bake 20-25 minutes, until they pass the toothpick test. Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

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