Recently my littlest guy had a birthday and celebrating with his buddies meant figuring our some yummy treats that could be dairy and egg free. We ended up with two tasty desserts for two different celebrations and wanted to share them because it’s always good to have a few extra ideas up your sleeve when it comes to vegan desserts.
We really love this buckwheat crepe (galette) recipe from the always excellent David Lebovitz — it’s a little less eggy and a bit more crisp and delicate than other crepe recipes we have tried and we love the deep color and the nuttiness from the buckwheat. I’ve made this recipe so, so many times over the years, but realized that I have never shared it here on the blog. Now is the perfect time, with that foggy chill in the air and major cravings for cozy foods like cheese and chocolate setting in. Crepe season is here! Continue reading
This super traditional Spanish cake first caught my eye because of its short list of ingredients and the fact that it uses no flour, just finely ground almonds, as the base. Another example of how a couple of simple ingredients can transform themselves into something special. This cake is moist, deliciously not-too-sweet, delicate and crumbly which makes it great with a cup of coffee in the afternoon. Simran and I and our friend Rachel happy nibbled away on this during a recent afternoon of recipe testing… and the fact that I wasn’t nice enough to save any for my family to try will give you an idea of how much I liked it.
In addition to being a lovely accompaniment to afternoon coffee this is a cake also has a long history. It dates back to the 16th century where it has been enjoyed by Santiago locals and pilgrims making their way to the Cathedral of Santiago Compostel (the burial place of St. James, the patron saint of Spain.). This recipe also happens to be gluten-free which comes in handy as well. Continue reading
I have a little handwritten cookbook where I jot down recipes and details of tasty meals and if you were to flip through this little book you’d find that a contender for the most dog-eared page is the one that contains this biscotti recipe. I got the recipe from Tim’s grandmother who got it from her friend Ann, which means it has the “Italian nonna seal of approval” squared. I’ve made this recipe dozens and dozens of times and it has never failed to deliver perfect, dunkable biscotti which are wonderfully crisp but not so hard that you worry about breaking any teeth. They are great for little teethers, for grown up kids and especially for avid, obsessed coffee drinkers like myself. I love the classic anise flavor and never feel too compelled to experiment much beyond that, but it’s one of those recipes that can be a great canvas for improvisation which makes it a nice baking project for kids. Lend a hand with putting the basic dough together and then stand back and let the kids come up with their own creative (and hopefully delicious) dried fruit, nut and spice combinations…. I’m just guessing here, but I have a hunch Miss Ria’s biscotti concept would include a generous scattering of chocolate chips! Continue reading
The other day we picked up a few stalks of rhubarb because they looked kind of inviting… but they’ve been kind of lingering, waiting for some inspiration to hit. Last year we experimented with strawberry-rhubarb galettes which were pretty tasty, but we got to wondering what else we could do. A little research led us to Rhubarb Fool, a classic English dessert and this article from the Guardian UK. I’ll admit that my knowledge of classic English desserts is pretty remedial, so it was fun reading up on the history of this simple dessert. Fruit fools date back the to 1700’s and are typically a combination of a sweet-tart fruit compote or puree folded into a light cream of some sort.
The Guardian article turned out to be a great overview of some of the common variations (i.e. using whipped cream, yogurt, or custard — baked or stewed fruit) and even included a recipe for the “perfect rhubarb fool”. This is about as easy as it gets when it comes to making a homemade dessert from scratch and as you can see from the snapshots below, this summery, creamy, fruity, cool dessert made for some very happy campers.
(adapted from this recipe from the Guardian UK — serves 6)
We used rhubarb and garnished with strawberries, but you could really substitute your favorite summer fruit. Adjust the proportion of cream and fruit to suit your family’s preferences.
- Chop 4 stalks of rhubarb into medium dice and toss with 3 Tablespoons of sugar. Saute fruit and sugar until tender (taste for sweetness, adding more sugar as desired). Drain cooked fruit, reserving the juice to use as a sauce. Let the cooked fruit cool.
- Whip 3/4 cup cream and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract. Then fold in 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt.
- Gently fold the cooled, cooked fruit into the cream and spoon into small cups. Chill until ready to serve.
- Spoon the reserved sauce over the top and garnish with fresh fresh fruit if you like.
It’s breakfast for dessert (sort of); it’s golden, caramelized bananas; it’s crunchy-sweet-salty nuggets of yum. That’s what happens when your sweet tooth kicks in and you have a bag of honey-caramel krispies staring back at you. Most of the krispies made it to an ice cream social at 18 Reasons as a BYOT (bring your own topping ), but we strategically made sure to keep some “leftovers” around. And what didn’t end up being eaten in sneaky handfuls by every member of my family, ended up on these totally accidental, breakfast-inspired sundaes. As for the bananas… my family lives by the rule that “everything is better with caramelized bananas”. I think we’ll put that one on a t-shirt!
In case you have any shred of doubt left, Luca’s happy face will tell you everything you need to know. Make this sundae!!
Honey-Caramel Rice Krispies
These will keep for a week in a tightly sealed container. In a pinch, I think you just might be able to get away with plain old rice krispies right out of the box in place of these fancy honey-caramel ones. Or you could break up up some rice krispy treats next time you have some at hand.
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 TBL unsalted butter
- 3 TBL honey
- big pinch of salt.
- 1 3/4 rice krispies
- In a pan, combine sugar, butter, honey and salt. Give it a stir and then turn on the heat to medium. The trick from here is to not give into the temptation to stir the caramel as it’s melting. You can swirl the pan, but don’t stir with a spoon or your caramel can sieze up and crystallize. Don’t stir!
- You’ll see the butter and sugar melt and then start to turn golden and eventually amber. It takes some time (~20 minutes) so be patient.
- When you’ve achieved a beautiful caramel color, immediately remove from heat and drizzle the caramel over the rice krispies. Toss well with a spoon (use caution, it will be very hot so this is not a good project for kids). Spread the caramel on the krispies on a lightly greased cookie sheet (or on top of a silicone baking mat). When cool break apart.
- Slice peeled bananas into quarters. Sprinkle the cut sides lightly with sugar.
- Lightly butter a skillet and add the sugared bananas, cut side down. On medium-high heat, cook the bananas to warm them and caramelize the bottoms This should take about 5 minutes. And there’s no need to flip the bananas at all, just cook on the cut side.
- The sugar can go from a lovely caramel to burned rather quickly, so check often by gently lifting a corner of a banana to see how they are coming along. They are perfect when their undersides turn a deep golden brown.
Clearly Luca is not the only ice cream fiend around here. Check out some of our other favorite ice cream delights:
- Ice Cream Bar, Cole Valley (maybe the best banana split ever)
- Simran’s Favorite Super Easy Hot Fudge Sauce
- Just Banana Ice Cream (it’s true — a healthy ice cream alternative!)
- Condensed Milk Vanilla Ice Cream
- Biscotti-Hazelnut Ice Cream Sandwiches
- Smitten Ice Cream (SF, Hayes Valley)
- Twirl and Dip Ice Cream Truck (SF)
- Mr & Mrs Miscellaneous Ice Cream Shop (SF, Dog Patch)
- Throw Yourself a Little Sundae Party
Angel food cake has always been my cake of choice for birthdays…. I guess it’s the tallness of it, the pillowy-ness that intrigues me. And you have to love the name, right? As a kid I imagined angels riding around on puffy white clouds eating their cake with silver forks. Given that I have an August birthday and grew up in San Francisco, my birthday memories are mostly of fogged out swimming parties, misty picnics at the park, and receiving back to school supplies as gifts (ack!). But the angel food cake was always a high point.
My fondness for this cake makes sense given my general tastes in sweets. It really is the perfect dessert for us marshmallow fans and those of us who happily skip both the chocolate and the frosting. It turns out that angel food cake actually has a lot in common with a marshmallow. Both start with a base of whipped egg whites — for the cake you fold in flour, sugar and a few other bits and for the marshmallow you whip in sugar syrup. So there you go! As an adult, I can also now fully appreciate that angel food cake is a not-too-guilty dessert. With no yolks, oil or butter, it’s virtually fat free.
The angel food cakes of my youth probably came from a boxed mix, but it really is quite easy to make one from scratch. Once the egg whites are whipped with sugar, cream of tartar and vanilla, all that’s left to do is to fold in flour that you’ve sifted with salt. That’s it. I still think it’s magical how whipping plain old egg whites can transform them into gorgeous, glossy mini mountain tops and it’s this culinary magic trick that makes angel food cake-making so fun to do with kids. I bet your young bakers will be rather impressed (plus they get to use the mixer which is always fun). And once you’ve mastered the art of the egg white in this recipe it’s only a short journey to souffles, meringues, baked alaska and French macarons. Go for the souffle, Luca!
But let’s first start with a super pretty, no-cook, easy peasy berry sauce to drizzle on top. Along with some fresh fruit, this is all you need to serve your cake in style. This berry sauce, however, goes way beyond cake. Make a batch and I promise you will have no trouble thinking of things to swirl it on. We like to enjoy it with our oatmeal, pancakes, ice cream and fruit salad and this berry sauce is right at home in two of our favorite snacks, Luca’s favorite Pink Milk and Ria’s Granola Towers.
Fresh Berry Sauce
- 2 cups fresh berries of your choice , washed and stems removed. (You can substitute other fruit like peaches, pineapple, mango. Frozen fruit is fine too)
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon or more of your favorite jam
- seeds scraped from 1 vanilla pod (optional)
- Puree your berries, a tablespoon of water and a pinch of salt together in a blender or food processor. If needed, add another tablespoon of water to help get your puree started.
- Taste for sweetness, stirring in jam a spoonful at a time until the flavor works for you. Blend again for a few seconds to incorporate everything.
- Push the sauce through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl using a rubber spatula. This step is not necessary but will give you a fabulously smooth and seed-free sauce. If you want to splurge stir in some seeds scraped from a vanilla bean pod.
- Use a funnel to transfer sauce into a squeeze bottle and refrigerate until ready to use. It will keep several days. You can freeze sauce you are not using in the next week in an airtight container.
Classic Angel Food Cake
Our go-to for angel food cakes is Martha Stewart, so here’s a link to the full recipe and the how-to. But in the meantime these are the ingredients you will need as well as a few of our notes.
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 12 egg whites (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Separating your eggs: To avoid any shells or yolks in your cake, separate your eggs one by one into a small bowl before transferring the whites to the large bowl you will use for the recipe. Even a bit of yolk can keep your whites from beating properly.
- Soft vs. Stiff Peaks: Soft peaks will only sort of hold their shape when you dip a spoon into them and will be kind of floppy. For stiff peaks, when you dip a spoon into the egg white you should get a little peak that holds it shape well even when you turn your spoon upside down.
- Don’t overbeat your egg whites: If your egg whites start to look dry instead of glossy stop immediately — overbeaten egg whites will not hold the air and will break down when you cook with them.
- Using a tube pan: The cake gets it’s height because it is able to stick to the sides and center cone of the tube pan. The best option is a tube pan with a removable bottom (vs. a bundt pan or other shape). The straight sides will allow you run a knife along all the edges to release the cake.
- Cooling the cake upside down: I always wondered about this. It turns out the inversion will keep your cake from shrinking and will keep it lighter. If your tube pan doesn’t have feet, you can invert it over a wine bottle.