Category Archives: Deserts

Peach Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake

Peach Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake

 

The peach season is almost over in New York. I thought I’d make Peach Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake while I still could. It’s an almost fool proof recipe but there are a few things to keep in mind.
  • Use ripe but firm peaches.
  • Don’t overcook the butter-sugar mixture.
  • Use less sugar in the batter if you want it to taste more like corn bread than cake.

Peach Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake

Ingredients:
  • 8 tbsp. room temperature unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 3 ripe peaches, sliced into wedges ¼ inch thick
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350o.
Peach Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake
Place 4 tbsp. butter in a 10-inch cast iron pan on medium heat. Add ¼ cup of the sugar and stir until it melts and begins to color – about 4-5 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and place the peach slices around its edge and cover the bottom in one layer.
Peach Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake

Mix the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Cream the remaining 4 tbsp. butter and ¼ cup of sugar in another bowl. Beat each egg and add one at a time and mix into the creamed butter. Now mix in the vanilla and cream.
Peach Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake Combine the dry and wet ingredients. Spread the batter over the peach slices in the pan and smooth it out with a spatula.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the top starts to color. Let the skillet cool for 10 minutes then run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Cover the pan with a large plate and flip it over. Tap on the bottom of the pan and let it rest for a few minutes while everything settles then remove the pan.  It’s a perfect desert but I like it for breakfast.

Peach Upside-Down Cornmeal Cake 

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Desserts Made with Olive Oil

 

Desserts Made with Olive Oil

I came across this article on desserts made with olive oil in Gambero Rosso.

Traditional Desserts Made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

THE RESULT OF ANCIENT TRADITIONS AND OF A HUMBLE BUT TASTY CUISINE, DESSERTS MADE WITH EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PART OF THE ITALIAN TABLE. 
“There are those who use it. to replace butter, for reasons of intolerance or food choice, or to reinvent classic recipes making them lighter, not to mention the many vegan versions of all the traditional desserts. In order to find fine quality extra-virgin olive oil cookies, there’s no need to search among specialized websites and magazines: just look to the past, at the recipes of a time when olive oil was the absolute protagonist. . . “

For the complete article, click here.desserts made with olive oil


For my recipe for  ciambelline al vino mentioned in the article, click here.

desserts made with olive oil

Ciambelline al Vino

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Little Bird Cookies

Little Bird Cookies

These Little Bird Cookies were a typical Easter dessert when I was growing up. Well, Easter was different this year due to COVID 19 so we’re having them in August. My Aunt Vicky’s family was from Abruzzo where these cookies originated. When she made them, they really did look like little birds. Some of ours resemble chickens and others look more like fish but they still taste good.

 

Little Bird CookiesDough –
  • 16 oz. all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup white wine:
  • 3 tbs. granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
Put the flour in a large bowl and add the liquids, sugar, and salt. Mix and knead to form dough. Cover and let it rest for at least 1 hour.

Filling –
  • 5 oz. blanched almonds, toasted and ground
  • 2 oz. grated dark chocolate
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 10 oz. Montepulciano grape jam (not so easy to find – I used raspberry preserves)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tbs. dark rum

Dried currants for eyes

Place the almonds in a dry frying pan and toast on medium heat until they lightly color. Grind them in a food processor to a coarse powder. Chill the chocolate in the freezer for 15 minutes to make it easier to grate. Put all the filing ingredients in a pot and heat on low for 15 minutes. Let it cool before using it.Little Bird Cookies

Pre-heat the oven to 340 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Roll the dough out into a thin sheet. Use a bowl or glass to cut circles. Re-knead and roll out the scraps. The bowl I used was 4 ½ inches in diameter and I got 15 cookies.Little Bird Cookies

Put a teaspoon of filling in the center of a circle. Fold it in half and press the edges to seal. Shape a head and make a triangular cut for a beak. Use a current for an eye. Poke a few holes where the wing should be to let the steam escape and cut a few lines to represent feathers in the tail. If you’re artistic and take your time it should look like a little bird. If not, just shape it into a half moon. Bake for 20 minutes, let cool and serve.Little Bird CookiesLittle Bird Cookies

 

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Wine Cookies (ciambelline al vino)

Wine Cookies (ciambelline al vino)

I’ve only recently heard of these. They aren’t something that anyone in my family ever made. I read about them in an article in L’Italo-Americano and decided to give them a try. Easy to make, not too sweet, very crunchy and just right for breakfast.

Wine Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Sugar for glazing

Wine Cookies
Mix the wine, oil, sugar and baking powder in a large bowl. Add in the flour and make dough. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it stops sticking. Put it back in the bowl, cover it and let it rest for ½ hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Wine Cookies
Lightly oil the baking sheet.
Pinch off a walnut sized piece of dough and roll out to form a log about 4 inches long. Overlap the two ends of the log and pinch to form a ring. Pour some sugar onto a small plate. Dip one side of the cookie only in the sugar and place, sugar side up, on the baking sheet.
Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.Wine Cookies

L’Italo-Americano  Wine Cookie article here.Wine Cookies


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Biscotti all’Arancia (Orange Cookies)

Biscotti all’Arancia - Orange Cookies

Biscotti all’Arancia (Orange Cookies)

Biscotti all’Arancia are an easy to make cookie. I got the recipe from Lidia Bastianich.
Biscotti all’Arancia - Orange Cookies
Ingredients:
  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup plus 1 tbsp.sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsps. orange juice
  • 2 tbsps. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. orange zest
For the glaze:
  • 2 ½ cups confectioners sugar, or as needed
  • ¼ to ½ cup orange juice, or as needed
Cream the butter and sugar – Place the room temperature butter and sugar in a bowl and force the sugar into the butter with the back of a wooden spoon until the mixture is creamy.Biscotti all’Arancia - Orange Cookies
Beat the eggs, one at a time in a separate bowl, and blend into the creamed butter.
Add the vanilla, the lemon and orange juice, and the zest and mix well.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a separate bowl and then mix it with the butter/egg mixture to make dough. Wrap the dough in Saran, and let rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.Biscotti all’Arancia - Orange Cookies
Roll the dough into four logs, about 1 ½ inches in diameter and 10 to 12 inches long. Freeze the logs for 20 minutes, until firm enough to cut without losing their shape.Biscotti all’Arancia - Orange Cookies
Cut the logs into ½ inch rounds, and place on parchment-lined or buttered baking sheets. Bake about 15 minutes. Remove and let the cookies cool on a wire rack.
Glaze the cookies – Whisk the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl with the orange juice to make a smooth glaze. Dip a cookie tops in the glaze; it should stick to the cookie in a thin layer. If not, adjust the consistency of glaze with more juice or confectioners’ sugar. Dip the top of the baked cookies in the glaze, and let them dry on a wire rack.
Biscotti all’Arancia - Orange Cookies

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Upside Down Peach Tart

Upside-Down Peach Tart

This is a fairly simple recipe for what looks like an elaborate fruit tart. It’s December so I used canned peaches but this works with fresh peaches and apricots too.Upside-Down Peach Tart
Ingredients:
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 can sliced peaches
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, about 10 by 10 inches, thawed
  • ¼ cup raw pistachios, finely chopped
Preheat to 425° and put a rack in middle of the oven.
Heat honey, sugar, salt, and 2 tbsp. water in a small pot over medium-high heat, until it’s blended and slightly darkened. Turn off heat and add butter and vinegar. Pour the honey mixture into a 9″ spring-form pan. Place the peaches in pan.
Upside-Down Peach Tart
Upside-Down Peach Tart
Roll out the thawed pastry on a lightly floured surface to remove the folds. Prick pastry all over with a fork. Place the pan on top of the pastry and use scissors or a sharp pointed knife trim the pastry to make a circle that’s slightly larger than the circumference of the pan. Place the pastry over the fruit in the pan and tuck in the edges. The pastry with shrink as it bakes.
Bake until pastry is puffed – about 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375° and continue to bake for another 15–20 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes.
Remove the upper section of the spring-form pan and cover the tart with a large dish. Flip the tart over and remove the bottom of the pan. You may need a spatula to unstick it.
Sprinkle the top of the tart with the pistachios.Upside-Down Peach Tart

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Arancia Frittelle (Orange Fritters)

orange frittersArancia Frittelle (Orange Fritters)

I got this recipe from a Sicilian friend. I confirmed with his mother that olive oil was used for frying and not something lighter. She said to use olive oil, but warned me about letting it get too hot.

orange fritters

orange fritters

Whisk together the first 7 ingredients.
orange fritters
Heat the oil in a small pot. Adjust the heat so it doesn’t get hot enough to smoke. Pick up a tablespoon full of batter and scrape it into the hot oil with another tablespoon. Give it a minute and turn the frittelle over.
orange frittersWhen golden brown on both sides, drain on paper towels and let them cool. Arrange the frittelle in a dish and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

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DRAKE’S OATMEAL COOKIES


Drake’s Oatmeal Cookies
I grew up with Drake’s Cakes – Yankee Doodles, Coffee Cake, Devil Dogs and Ring Dings. They were my childhood favorites and I loved seeing that happy duck logo.Drake's Oatmeal Cookies
They’re all still available and sometimes I give in to my urge for comfort food. But there’s one that I miss – Drake’s Oatmeal Cookies. I’ve searched all over but it seems that they don’t make those any more.
They used to come three to a cellophane wrapped package. They were classic cookies, not chewy but crisp and crumbly, also cheap and perfect for a snack. There was nothing like them dunked in coffee for breakfast. Drake's Oatmeal CookiesI’d given up on ever tasting them again until our neighbor Susan brought over some cookies she’s made. There was a variety and I noticed a few oatmeal cookies that looked familiar. Well, they looked like Drake’s, crumbled like Drake’s and they tasted like Drake’s. Susan, being from Baltimore never heard of Drake’s Oatmeal Cookies, a New York phenomena, and didn’t know why I got so excited.
Drake's Oatmeal Cookies
1896 – Newman Drake opened the N.E. Drake Baking Company on 135th Street in Harlem in New York City.
I’m not a baker but I got her recipe and made them. Even if you’ve never had a Drake’s Oatmeal Cookie you should try these. 

Susan’s Oatmeal Cookie Recipe that tastes like Drake’s
Drake's Oatmeal Cookies
A lot of ingredients for a little cookie but worth it.

Drake's Oatmeal Cookies

In Bowl #1 – Mix the flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda.  
 In Bowl #2 – mix the milk, vanilla, and eggs.
 In Bowl #3 – or in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter with the brown and white sugar, and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low, gradually add milk mixture, and beat well. Add the flour mixture, and beat until just combined.

Drake's Oatmeal Cookies

Remove bowl from the electric mixer, and stir in the (rolled) oats. Place the dough in the refrigerator at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and let the dough come to room temperature. Shape 2 tablespoons of dough into a ball; place on the cookie sheet. Press it with the bottom of a measuring cup or glass to flatten dough into rounds.
Bake until light brown (14 to16 minutes) rotating the sheet halfway through. Allow them to cool and become crisp before serving.

Drake's Oatmeal Cookies

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Torte de Elote

Golden Cornfield with Row of Trees by Matthias Hauser


Torte de Elote

Torte de Elote

adapted from a recipe by Pati Jinich, Mexican Chef   

It’s like cornbread but moister. It’s more like a corn souffle but not exactly. You have to try it and you’ll see what I mean.

Torte de Elote

Place rack in the middle of oven and heat to 360 degrees. Butter a 9×12-inch pan. Beat the butter with the sugar until creamy. Slowly add 8 egg yolks, one by one, until incorporated. Add the cream, rice flour, salt and baking powder.
In a blender, process the milk with the corn kernels, then, incorporate it into the mix above. Place the mixture in a big bowl.
Separately, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed. Add 1/5 of the egg whites to the butter/corn mix and blend carefully. Slowly blend the rest of the egg whites until everything is mixed, it ‘s ok if the mixture looks streaky, don’t over work it or it will lose volume. Pour onto the baking dish.
Bake until torte is springy to the touch and lightly browned, 45 to 50 minutes. Once it cools a little, cut into squares. It can be served either warm or cold; it can be covered and kept at room temperature for an entire day, or covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Torte de Elote

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