Baking For Others

Creamy Mango Pudding

Posted by on Wednesday May 14th, 2014

I’ve been thinking a lot about summer, ever since the first warm day lifted my spirits a few weeks ago. I’ve also been thinking about our seasonal amnesia, though, where we can’t quite remember what we used to do and eat (and wear!) in seasons beside the one we’re currently in. Does that happen to you?

And so, in trying to come up with a dessert that would delight us all, all summer long, I had to really sit back and think. I scratched my head. I drank some chocolate milk. I curled up in the chair in our bedroom, whose excessive and uncontrollable heat resembles the weather in the tropics.

And then, in my mind, I went to Mexico. Oaxaca, circa 2002. It was hot. After a morning at the market, eating fried squash flowers, my family and I followed Susana Trilling, author of Seasons of My Heart, to her house, for a cooking class. I remember toasting pumpkin seeds on the comal and making mole from them. And I remember a mango trifle that ended the meal in the most delicious, abundant, surprising fashion. I hadn’t expected to see something as British as a trifle appear in the Mexican countryside.

Natalie of Good Girl Style is back today to share a really lovely sweet for Mother’s Day–eternal classic, Lemon Bars, gone gluten-free. 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, chocolate, cream, and rich, creamy peanut butter. Don’t miss her most recent posts, about Strawberry Mousse and Peanut Butter Eggs.

Oh, lemon. It’s one of my favorite dessert flavors, which puts lemon bars at the top of the list, too.

This version is even more delicious because the almond crust holds its own against the filling and offers a wonderful texture switch from gooey to crunchy. Using an already cooked lemon curd instead of a liquid filling that bakes fully in the oven allows the crust to remain crisp and the filling to remain firm. Re-baking the lemon curd firms it up, though, creating a smooth and cheerful bright-yellow filling.

Though this recipe takes a bit of effort, the resulting treats are perfect to bring to a baby shower or Mother’s Day brunch.

Hot Fudge Crumble Bars

Posted by on Wednesday Apr 2nd, 2014

There’s no one who objects when hot fudge takes the places of fruit. Too bold? I don’t know, maybe. But take a chocolate-covered strawberry. If you had to choose between elements, would you take the chocolate or the berry? I would take the chocolate.

And so, I took my old recipe for Raspberry Crumble Bars, and I turned it into a recipe for Hot Fudge Crumble Bars. A victory for chocoholics everywhere.

Most of my whimsical decisions, like subbing in chocolate for what would ordinarily be jam, do not materialize out of nowhere. Often, they’re the product of necessity, also …

Are you ready to hold in your virtual hands a brand shiny new eCookbook, one that delivers both instant gratification and dairy-free sweets? Have you ever visited this old, dreary dairy-free desserts page as Passover approached or thought disastrously about substituting olive oil in for butter in brownies when hosting your newly dairy-free friend?

Then A Baker’s Dairy-Free Dozen: Desserts for Every Sweet Day of the Year is for you!

WHERE TO BUY

In its pages, you’ll find inspiration for simple, natural, and tasty dairy-free sweets that work every time. Beyond its pages, you’ll receive a free signed postcard for every eCookbook you buy, so you’ll have something to hold in your real hands (besides dozens of Crackly Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cookies) after all.

I’m so happy to share a couple of the layouts from the book below. There’s much more goodness inside, and I really hope you like it!

If you squint at the Table of Contents, you’ll make out recipes like Chocolate Mousse and Summer Pudding, Iced Carrot Cake and Glazed Orange Marmalade Muffins, plus essential resources about baking and dairy-free ingredients. (The actual book is high-res and zoomable and perfectly suited to swiping through on your iPad.) You can find out more about the recipes and the eCookbook format by visiting the new A Baker’s Dairy-Free Dozen page.

There’s an early-bird 15 percent discount from now ’til the stroke of midnight on Saturday. If you’re craving delicious, dairy-free sweets, you should give in right now by clicking here. If you like butter but your friends, cousins, or colleagues are lactose-intolerant or kosher, I’d love if you pass on the eCookbook news to them.

Thanks for your support, and happy baking!

Look up to your right, past the lemons and almonds and eggs. Yesterday I added a tab to the main menu: new! eCookbook. It was a sort of muffled announcement of something exciting, I’ve got a brand new BGSK eCookbook coming your way in just a few weeks. The title is A Baker’s Dairy Free Dozen: Desserts for Every Sweet Day of the Year, and its pages contain perfectly tested, ridiculously delicious, simple-to-make dairy-free treats that don’t use a lot of strange ingredients.

To make a long story, a lot of ingredients (pictured), and so much baking fit into one little sentence: I decided to work on a special issue dedicated to one type of eater, the dairy-free sweets lover. I hope this is the first of many pieces of focused, premium content I can offer to you guys in the future, whether you’re eager to see more vegetarian main courses or pages upon pages of breakfast inspiration.

This eCookbook launches in two weeks, on March 7, 2014. We’ll be offering 15 percent off for the first 48 hours, so mark your calendars and sign up for the newsletter to be sure you don’t miss the discount. And, so that you have an object to hold in your hands in addition to all the eStuff, we’ll be shipping real signed postcards to everyone who purchases the book (til we run out of postcards).

Chocolate-Dipped Shortbread Gems

Posted by on Thursday Dec 19th, 2013

I’m so happy today to introduce you to Sam of Love, Cake. Sam’s an incredibly talented baker, writer, recipe developer, and food stylist, and from the moment my friend Jess pointed me towards Sam’s work, I knew I had to get her to share one of her confections over here on the site. She’s currently working on her first cookbook (!) and taking her tea and cookies with a few pages of The Goldfinch. After you read about today’s cookies–Shortbread Gems–be sure to go visit Sam over at Love, Cake to feast on things like homemade almond joy, gluten-free/vegan chocolate-banana-peanut butter torte, and orange-pistachio buns

When the days are short, and especially around the holidays, my favorite present to myself is afternoon tea and cookies, served just as the sun is sinking.

I come from a long line of serious tea drinkers. I grew up in Connecticut, but my parents are from the island formerly known as Ceylon. When I was growing up we would take long trips back to Sri Lanka to visit my grandparents, who lived in a bungalow on an old hillside tea plantation.

I was steeped in tea culture there. Each afternoon, my mother, grandmother, and all the ladies would sit on the veranda overlooking the hills, drinking tea, nibbling on biscuits, and gossiping and giggling. Even before I was old enough to gossip I knew that if I poked my head around the corner at the right moment, my mom would tip a bit of her tea into her saucer and pass it to me. I would sit at her feet and slurp it, warm, milky, and sweet.

I developed these luxurious butter cookies, studded with pistachios, apricots, and dried cherries, as the perfect complement to a mug of tea, a blanket, and a book. Wrap them up and give them away to the people you love, the people you love to gossip and giggle with.

Ghorayebah (Middle Eastern Butter Cookies)

Posted by on Wednesday Dec 18th, 2013

One of my favorite takeaways from my college education as a comparative literature student is the term synecdoche–using the part to refer to the whole. In baking, we use images in our heads of flour (scattered all over our aprons), butter (creamed to whipped perfection), and sugar (its crystals dazzling in the light) to stand in for the entire process of make cookies or a loaf cake. In reality, there’s chocolate chips and vanilla extract and a couple of eggs in the batter, too.

But today, the part is really the whole cookie. Today’s butter cookies contain nothing but butter, sugar, and flour. Of course, we use some nuts for garnish, but let’s let the synecdoche stand.

These cookies hail from the Middle East. As my year of exploring Middle Eastern cuisine for Sargento winds down, I went through the archives and noticed there were no desserts. I’ve tried pomegranate molasses on grilled cheese sandwiches and made lentils every which way. I got stupidly obsessed with za’atar and dukkah. But I haven’t shared anything sweet. Perhaps this is because cheese doesn’t figure in Middle Eastern dessert (though there are plenty of delicious-looking milky puddings). So today we’re venturing away from the cheese and the savory so that I can share these cute, simple, three-ingredient cookies with you in time to get them on your Christmas table.

Yesterday I shared a holiday tart, kicking off a sweets week of sorts. Tomorrow, we’ll have chocolate-dipped shortbread gems from a really talented contributor, so keep your sweet teeth tuned in!

This sponsored post is part of an ongoing collaboration with Sargento, called Flavor Journey. Throughout this year, with the support of Sargento, I’ve been exploring Middle Eastern cuisine–at home, in Brooklyn, at cooking classes, and wherever the flavors may take me. You can see the whole series here. Sponsored posts let me do some of my best work on this blog, and I only ever work with brands whose values and products mesh with the content I love to produce for you. Here’s my affiliate disclosure.