Baking For Others

Baked Apples

Posted by on Monday Nov 17th, 2014

Natalie of Good Girl Style joins us each month to share incredible desserts with Big Girls, Small Kitchen readers–desserts that are entirely gluten-free, but not like obviously gluten-free. That means no specialty flours or hard-to-find ingredients, just fruit, spices, and brown sugar. This Thanksgiving, be sure that gluten-free eaters have a delicious, not-too-decadent choice on the dessert table with today’s baked apples. Another option? Maple Crème Brûlée.

Oh, the goodness of apple season. All of the spices that smell like home melt into butter and brown sugar inside sweet yet tart apples. There couldn’t be a more comforting scent or taste, I don’t think. These baked apples are a healthier alternative to apple pie (no crust!) and are so much easier to put together. If you have a last-minute guest coming over, you most likely have all of the ingredients to make this tasty and cozy dessert. And then there’s the added bonus of a house that smells like autumn embodied.

You’ll want to look for firm apples that hold up well to baking, such as Macintosh. Soft apples that are good for eating, such as Red Delicious, won’t be firm enough to withstand baking alone. Be sure not to core the apples all the way through, as you want the bottom intact to hold onto all of the melting sugar and butter goodness. These are best served fresh from the oven with a large serving of vanilla ice cream. If you only need to serve two, this recipe can be easily halved.

Natalie of Good Girl Style joins us each month to share incredible desserts with Big Girls, Small Kitchen readers–desserts that are entirely gluten-free, but not like obviously gluten-free. That means no specialty flours or hard-to-find ingredients, just cream and milk and sugar. Because who needs those packaged Halloween treats when you could have French custard?! Don’t miss her recent take on Marshmallow Crispy Treats.

There is little more sophisticated dessert than crème brûlée, and nothing more sure to please guests. Yet when creamy custard is topped with a caramelized sugar crust that’s infused with the intoxicating flavor of maple, when then you’re taking this already indulgent dessert to the next level. The maple melds well with the flavors of fall and these are the perfect way to end to a fancy dinner date, dinner party, or even for Thanksgiving or “Friendsgiving.” But no need to wait another month to make these desserts. Practice now (at your fancy Halloween dinner, if that even exists) to perfect the technique and the results will be just as tasty now.

If you’ve never used a kitchen torch, your broiler, or a water bath before, don’t be intimidated. Follow the directions and you’ll be sure to end up with a creamy crème and a perfectly brûléed crust. The water bath is important to coddle the custard as it cooks and ensure a creamy texture. You can substitute pure maple syrup for the flavoring or extract, but the flavor will be much more subtle. If you use your broiler instead of a handheld kitchen torch (available at kitchen stores), be sure to let the crust cool thoroughly to crisp up before serving. You may serve these immediately or, if preferred, refrigerate for up to 15 minutes to cool the custard once again.

Natalie of Good Girl Style joins us each month to share incredible desserts with Big Girls, Small Kitchen readers–desserts that are entirely gluten-free, but not like obviously gluten-free. That means no specialty flours or hard-to-find ingredients, just crispy rice cereal, marshmallows, and chocolate. Don’t miss her recent recipe for this bowl of autumnal goodness

These are almost too delicious to be called “treats,” so my boyfriend has dubbed them “luxuries.” And luxurious they are, with a homemade caramel whisked in, a top surface robed in chocolate, and a decoration of the finest of flaked sea salts. But they are also, at the core, still comfort food to be passed around at a gathering of family and friends, who will unsuspectingly find their beloved childhood treat has suddenly grown up. The flaked sea salt, usually sold under the label Maldon, provides just enough saltiness to offset the caramel tones.

Keep in mind that regular Rice Krispies in the blue box contain barley extract, which may contain gluten. Kellogg’s now makes a yellow box of Rice Krispies labeled “gluten-free” that does not contain this additive. If you can’t find those, check in the health food section for a brand like Barbara’s, but make sure it is a “crispy rice cereal” and not plain puffed rice. Working quickly is the key with the sticky marshmallow topping, and getting the mixture in the pan before it cools too quickly. Salt in the caramel and on top makes the flavor really stand out. These won’t last long!

We’re moving to a new apartment. Since we signed the lease last month, I’ve tried to minimize trips to the market and make do instead with the contents of our freezer, shelves, and pantry, a clear-out-the-clutter challenge that would not have been all that hard or even that blog-worthy, to be honest, because our freezer, shelves, and pantry are stocked. There are a dozen kinds of beans back there, still a few jars of last summer’s canned tomatoes, and a lot of some little ring-shaped noodles that I once took home from a shoot.

Still, I had visions of us subsisting for at least a few weeks on progressively humbler stews of beans and tomatoes, served over a finally dwindling supply of petite pasta.

What I didn’t account for was the continuing abundance. In the weeks that followed the signing, a recipe development project magicked a box of brie onto my doorstep, I tested eggplant and chicken parm recipes, and upstate New York’s bumper crops kept ripening, so the CSA shares kept overflowing, and we had more corn, tomatoes, and peppers on the counter than ever before.

But at least I could finish my cornmeal. Both kinds.

Baked Peaches with Cheesecake Filling

Posted by on Monday Sep 15th, 2014

Natalie of Good Girl Style is back today with a stunning fruit-based dessert that’s literally fruit based: Brilliantly, a mouthful of cheesecake uses a halved peach as its foundation. Wow. Natalie joins us each month to share incredible desserts with Big Girls, Small Kitchen readers–desserts that are entirely gluten-free, but not like obviously gluten-free. That means no specialty flours or hard-to-find ingredients, just good old-fashioned butter, eggs, fruit, and cream cheese. Not ready to say goodbye to summer? Try her Chocolate-Covered Banana Pudding Pops.

It’s late summer. We shiver through early morning, determined we don’t need a sweater, determined that summer isn’t ending, determined that we have some say in the matter. Well, when it comes to dessert, we do have some say in the matter! This dessert is the perfect blend of the beginning of fall and the last taste of summer. The peaches go well with a strong cup of coffee, and can be served with ice cream or caramel sauce to make them more decadent.

This recipe is another easy-but-impressive dish that your friends won’t know took you 20 minutes. The ingredients are readily at hand, and if you can find local organic peaches, all the better. Just cut and pit the peaches, whip together the filling, and assemble. Tender baked peaches combine with a creamy, spicy cinnamon-sugar mix that might make you think fall isn’t so bad after all. And that maybe a sweater isn’t the worst idea.

In the spring of 2012, my kitchen looked a lot like this on a daily basis.

I was getting married to Alex in six months, and I had decided it would be a fun project to make my own wedding cake. I’d always been the one who baked banana bread, brownies, and cookies for colleagues, the friend who brought cupcakes and hosted peanut noodle buffets.

And so, though I’d discovered an allergy to many of the contemporary wedding traditions I was finding in my pinterest deep dives, I could hardly throw out the cake with the wedding: If small milestones compelled me to take out the mixing bowl, then clearly this grandiose ceremony mandated six cake pans, a cake turntable, and approximately 1407 grams of chocolate.

Nobody recommended this: not cake greats Silvia Weinstock and Ron Ben Israel, not the Institute of Culinary Education instructor I emailed for advice, not even the very sweet and talented Yossi Arefi, though she was supportive of the idea. My mom, always in favor of a good DIY, was on board.

So there I was, in the kitchen, thinking about dresses and flowers and cake. I was also browsing CakeWrecks, reading up on bleak superstitions (“The bride who bakes her own cake is asking for trouble”), considering the cobwebs on jilted Miss Havisham’s cake layers, and learning that a profession called cake chauffeuring existed.

Chocolate-Covered Banana Pudding Pops

Posted by on Friday Aug 29th, 2014

Natalie of Good Girl Style is back today with a totally retro dessert, gone frozen, in what will perhaps be the only appearance of pudding mix on this blog for all eternity. Natalie joins us each month to share incredible desserts with Big Girls, Small Kitchen readers–desserts that are entirely gluten-free, but not like obviously gluten-free. That means no specialty flours or hard-to-find ingredients, just good old-fashioned butter, sugar, peanut butter, and chocolate. Don’t miss her recent summery posts, about Peanut Butter Buckeye Bars and Mixed Berry Frozen Lemonade.

The combo of chocolate and banana is a match made in heaven. One of my favorite snacks is chocolate chips and banana chips, but this time of year something cool and refreshing is in order. So I figured why not take my favorite snack and make it into a popsicle? These banana pudding pops are an easy and fun treat to whip together for a crowd. They’ll please young and old alike, especially because they’re dipped in chocolate. Adding the coconut oil adds a tiny bit of tropical flavor to the treat, but really it just makes sure the chocolate hardens nicely. The texture of a pudding pop is delightful, creamy and decadent but I like to think it’s at least a slightly healthy treat.

The recipe can be doubled or even tripled if you have enough popsicle molds. Don’t forget to buy the popsicle sticks! You can probably find the popsicle sticks at the grocery store, but I got mine at a good old-fashioned hardware store…you know the kind, the kind with everything and the kitchen sink (truly!). Unmolding the treats can be a bit of an art, but submerging the tray in a bowl of hot water or running them under hot water for a few minutes should do the trick. Be sure to give a nice tug on them to get the popsicle out in one piece. And give your freezer rungs a good scrub before resting the popsicles on them. But a freezer full of gorgeous chocolate-dipped banana pudding pops is a beautiful sight indeed!