Sally’s Baking Addiction: July, 2018 Challenge: Hand Pies πŸπŸ’πŸ₯§

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Technically, the challenge was for apple hand pies. But, I was really impressed by the gorgeous cherries in the store that day, so I decided to make both varieties 😊

I mentioned before, in the cherry pie challenge from last year, that I am not much of a pie baker. It’s not really so much that I am intimidated by making pie crust, I am just more of a crumble fan. But that cherry pie last year was so good, thanks to Sally’s recipe and, this is the point of a challenge is it not? To try new thingsπŸ₯§!

I started out by making a double batch of her homemade pie crust. This is a really simple recipe that includes both shortening and butter. I have also made her all butter crust in the past, and that is delicious too. I opted for this version due to the hot weather we are having in Seattle. The all butter recipe would have been more temperamental than I would have liked that day!

Like most pie crust recipes, you start by cutting in the cold fat until it is the size of peas. My “peas” are always huge! More like lima beans. Then cold water is drizzled in until the mix starts to clump.

When the mix is ready (not too dry or wet) it is formed into a disk, wrapped with plastic and chilled. I like to do this the night before.

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The next day I went climbing outside, then came home and made the fillings. First the apple: Pretty much a classic apple pie filling. A couple apples, sugar, butter and spices all cooked down and cooled.

Then the cherry filling. Sally has many to choose from and I went with her simple cherry pastry pie filling. The only change I made was to use half bing and half rainier cherries. I like the balance of sweet and tart that these two varieties contribute to the pie.

Cherries were combined with sugar and lemon. This cooked down and was thickened with a cornstarch and water mixture.

Once the fillings were completely cooled, it was time to roll out the chilled pie dough. I used a 3.5 inch cutter and some smaller shapes to make some decorative cut outs.

I had to be careful to chill in between each step to keep the dough cold. This took some time! Finally, it was time to fill the hand pies.🍏

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The tops went on, and pressed to seal to the bottom pastry. The top was brushed with egg wash and the vents were cut. Finally the decorative cut outs applied, and sprinkled with coarse sugar.

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Then the cherry hand pies were assembled.πŸ’

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I tried to make the decorations different to distinguish the apple from the cherry.

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All the hand pies went into a 375F oven for about 30 minutes. While they were baking I prepared Sally’s Homemade Salted Carmel Sauce for the apple pies, and a simple Vanilla glaze for the cherry ones.

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By the way, that caramel sauce is amazing on ice cream 🍨!

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The verdict: Both the apple and cherry hand pies were quite tasty!πŸ˜‹Β My husband and I were partial to the cherry one, just a bit more! In fact, I may have to make a full cherry pie when we get back from traveling later this month πŸ’πŸ˜ŠπŸ₯§

Give this a try! the recipe is easy to scale up or down, and many of the components are freezable and easy to make ahead. Enjoy!!

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Is store bought puff pastry really good enough?

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How many times have you heard a chef on TV say that store bought puff pastry is just as good as making it yourself? Probably many times! I know I have and I have never seen a recipe that says “first make puff pastry”. No one makes puff pastry aside from a few bakeries out there. Most businesses determined, long ago, that it is not cost effective to pay someone to spend the entire day making just laminated dough. They tend to have it shipped frozen and roll out the thawed dough to make their pastries.

Hey, I get it! I made full puff pastry in culinary school and it was a serious chore! But have you heard of “rough puff” dough? If you are a fan of The Great British Baking Show, then there is a good chance that you are aware of this baking shortcut.

I got to thinking, is store bought really just as good? I decided to make two identical tarts, one with store bought puff pastry and one with rough puff and compare the end products.

Puff pastry is all about building layers and keeping everything cold. I am currently in my kitchen in Tucson and the temperature the day I made this was 86Β°F, so not ideal conditions! But I went for it anyway, and here is what I found out.

Let’s start with the rough puff which is only four ingredients: flour, salt, butter and milk (or water). Since one huge advantage store bought dough has over making your own is time, I needed to record how long the rough puff takes to prepare.

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I gathered my hardware

I set my phone timer and hit start.

 

I combined 1 cup of flour, 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, whisked it together. Next was the addition of 5 oz. of COLD. European butter. Why specifically European? It is comes from grass fed cows and gives the pastry a quality our domestic butter just can’t match. But if you don’t have access to that, just make sure your butter is cold!!

 

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Look how yellow that butter is!Β 

The butter is cut into the flour and salt mixture until small bits of butter are visible.

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Lastly add the 1/4 cup COLD milk or water and combine until a shaggy dough forms.

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This is where the folding come into play. Pat the dough, on a well floured board, into a rectangle, about 8 X 10 and then fold into thirds. This is your first fold.

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Rotate 90 degrees, and repeat by rolling into the 8 X 10 rectangle and fold the dough into thirds and onto itself again. That is fold number two. The goal is to do this a total of 6 folds.

IMG_3921After my third fold is where the temperature in my kitchen caught up to me! The butter was getting soft, so after the third fold I had to put the dough into the refrigerator for 15 minutes to cool down. I finished the next three folds (for a total of 6) as quickly as I could and then the dough needs to be refrigerated for an hour before proceeding.

 

So, how long did it take to get to this point? When I got the pastry into the fridge for the 1 hour rest I hit stop on my clock.

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Since I had to stop and chill the dough and then let it sit for more than the recommended hour to firm up, my time was longer than it should have been. If I had done this in my Seattle kitchen, I think it would have only been about 30 minutes.

 

By comparison, if I was using store bought I would have saved this 50 minutes.

It was now time to make the tarts. First I pulled out the chilled rough puff pastry, rolled it into a 10 X14 rectangle, pricked the pastry with a fork. I returned this to the fridge while I prepared the store bought dough.

 

The store bought puff pastry was thawed, in the fridge overnight so all that was needed was to unfold it, roll it into a 10 x 14 rectangle and dock the dough. Since the store bought was already in a 9 X 9 inch sheet, the rolling out process was also faster.

So far they look fairly equal, except for their color.

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The dough on the left is the store bought and the right is the rough puff

There is a big difference in color thanks to the rich butter. There was also extra dough from the rough puff but nothing left over from the thinner store bought sheet. I used the extra dough to decorate the rough puff so I wouldn’t get them confused in the oven!

With Thanksgiving around the corner I decided to make pear, apple and cranberry tarts. Once the filling was in place they both went into the 400Β°F oven for 30 minutes.

They both looked great!

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Rough puff tart

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Store bought tart

Visually, there doesn’t appear to be too much of a difference! Choosing the lowest points of each crust to measure the depth of the crust showed that they were practically the same. A slight edge could go to the rough puff.

 

Slicing it open and looking at the layers did show a difference.

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store bought, end on view=dense, no air pockets

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Store bought bottom edge=small air pockets with a few layers

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rough puff, end on view=large air pockets, very flaky

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rough puff, bottom edge=air pockets all along the bottom edge

Now it was time for the taste test! My hubby was the judge, he was given a slice of each but it was a blind test. He did not like the buttery flavor of the rough puff! He said it was too buttery for his taste. It was also the flakiest of the two tarts, but the store bought was tasty too!

 

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The verdict? I felt that the rough puff was worth the extra time and effort. I would like to take one more crack at it with a cooler kitchen! I did like the flakiness and the extra butter flavor did not bother me!! Although if you are tight for time, then the store bought is just as good as making your own.

Rough Puff Pastry

A quick puff pastry recipe that is buttery and flaky and easy to make.

Credit: E2 Bakes Brooklyn

Ingredients

-1 cup flour

-1/4 Teaspoon kosher salt

-5 OZ. good quality European Butter, cold

-1/4 cup milk or water, cold

Β 

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms
  2. Flour a smooth surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8Γ—10β€³ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8Γ—10β€³ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.Β 

Apple, Pear and Cranberry tart

  • Servings: 1 10 X 14 tart
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

A simple and elegant fruit tart. Perfect for a buffet table and can be served at room temperature.

Credit: invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-2/3 cup dried cranberries

-1/4 cup Calvados or Brandy

-1-2 apple, peeled cored and sliced thin

-1-2 pears, peeled cored and sliced thin

-2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

-2 Tablespoons butter

-1-2 Tablespoons maple syrup

-egg wash as needed

Β 

Directions

  1. Place dried cranberries into a shallow bowl and add the Calvados, or Brandy or Water to rehydrate. Allow a minimum of 15 minutes.
  2. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples and pears. Arrange in a pattern over the pastry dough. Add the cranberries and sprinkle with the sugar.
  3. Dot the tart with the butter and brush the crust with the egg wash. Bake at 400F for about 30 minutes, until puffed and golden.
  4. Brush the warm tart with the maple syrup. Serve warm or at room temperature.Β 

Sally’s Baking Addiction, July Challenge: Cherry Pie, from scratch

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I have never made a cherry pie before, in fact, I have made very few pies in total. When I was in culinary school we made hundreds around the holidays. So, apple and pumpkin were the extent of my pie repertoire. I love fruit desserts and make many crisps, tarts and galettes, just not pies. The reason is that my family just doesn’t like pie. I think it has to do with the crust component which usually are soggy or too buttery for our liking. So when Sally’s Baking Addiction had a cherry pie as the July challenge I was not sure I would make one. Not because I was worried about the difficulty of making one but I did not have anyone to eat it! But I really wanted to take the challenge seriously and stretch myself as a baker so I forged ahead, and am so glad I did.

As usual, Sally provided wonderful directions as well as tasty recipes for both the crust and the filling. I began by making her pie crust recipeΒ which is much like others I have seen and used as she mixes shortening and butter for the fats and stresses the importance of keeping all the components very cold for a flaky crust.

The flour and salt are combined, then the cold butter and shortening are cut in with a pastry cutter until the fats are the size of small marbles or peas.

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The cold water is added, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together into a ball.

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The dough is separated into two portions, discs are formed and wrapped in plastic. The dough is placed in the refrigerator for, at least, two hours.

While the dough rested the filling was prepared. No cans of pre made cherry pie filling allowed. I used my cherry pitter to remove the pits from 12 oz. of Bing and 12 oz. of Rainier Cherries.

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This yielded approximately 4 1/2 cups of halved, pitted cherries. I followed Sally’s recipe with the exception of using vanilla sugar instead of regular, granulated and I added the zest of the lemon used for juicing, just couldn’t help myself! The addition of the almond extract was really delicious! The cherries, flavorings, corn starch and sugar rested in the refrigerator while the oven preheated and I rolled out the pie dough.

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I made sure to roll the bottom crust thin since we don’t really like a thick crust and then filled the shell with the cherry mixture. Sally’s directions specified that the extra liquid from the cherries should not be added to the pie to prevent a soggy crust, but don’t throw the liquid away! It is delicious as a topping for ice cream or as a simple syrup for drinks!

The second disc of dough was rolled out and cut into strips which were woven together to form the lattice crust. The pie went into a 400Β°F for 20 minutes, then the temperature was reduced to 375Β°F and baked for an additional 30 minutes.

It came out smelling wonderful and looked pretty good too.

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Sally recommended waiting 3 hours before cutting, to let the pie set up.

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My husband and I were pleasantly surprised at how much we liked it! The fruit to crust ratio was perfect for us! I think I will try other fruit pies in the future and will be sure to keep Sally’s crust recipe on hand for next time! Another great result from Sally’s Baking Addiction!

Oh, and it was yummy with ice cream!

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Sally’s Baking Addiction, June Challenge: The Classic Icebox Cake

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I have to confess, I have never made an icebox cake. I know that they are the quintessential summer dessert, and I understand why. They are extremely easy to make and the basic steps are: assemble, freeze and eat. So why have I been so resistant? It’s the whipped cream component that is off-putting for my family. Please don’t hate me! We just don’t like whipped cream, all four of us! I think it is a textural problem. We do, however, all love ice cream. So when I saw that Sally’s challenge for June was a blueberry lemon icebox cake, I decided it was time to confront this issue once and for all. After all, is that not the point of challenging oneself?

My first thought was that I needed to figure out how to make lemon ice cream. I did a lot of searching for ideas and decided I would create a limoncello- honey ice cream recipe.

 

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I really love the depth of flavor created by adding limoncello, lemon juice and lemon zest, and I wanted to sweeten the ice cream with a combination of honey and sugar.

This ice cream recipe is like many others in that it begins with the cooking of a custard, which must be cooled before adding to the ice cream machine. I combined heavy cream, milk and honey in a large sauce pan and brought it slowly to a simmer. While the dairy components were heating, I combined egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a medium bowl.

Once the honey had dissolved in the simmering milk, I tempered the egg mixture by slowly adding a portion of the warm liquid to the eggs and whisked continuously. The trick here is to add the hot liquid SLOWLY and to keep whisking so the eggs do not scramble. If you do this correctly you then can add the Β tempered eggs back into the milk mixture without getting clumps (which are effectively scrambled eggs). Don’t worry, if you do have some cooked egg you can simply strain it out at the end of the cooking process. Continue to cook the custard until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Then strain if necessary and put into a container to cool. I always put my ice cream base in a measuring cup so it is easier to pour directly into the ice cream machine. This base needs at least an hour to cool completly.

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You may be thinking, “wait you forgot the limoncello”! I like to add liqueurs at the end of the cooling process. Flavors change when a mixture is hot or cold. If I add the limoncello now, the flavor will be less intense after cooling. So, I will add 1 Tablespoon/cup and check the flavor before it goes into the machine.

While the base cools, you can make the blueberry sauce, which also needs to spend some time in the refrigerator before assembling the final dessert.

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Begin by combining cornstarch, lemon juice and warm water. Mix thoroughly and set aside this will be your thickening agent.

 

 

Next combine the blueberries, sugar and lemon zest. Put over medium heat and cook until the juices begin to release. Add the cornstarch slurry and continue to cook until thick. Place the sauce in a container and chill.

It’s seriously that easy! I went rock climbing for a couple hours while everything cooled off. When I returned it was time to fire up the ice cream machine.

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I let this churn for 30 minutes because I wanted a soft consistency for spreading into the pan. While the machine did all the hard work, I prepared the 9 X 5 loaf pan which would be the mold. The key for getting the cake out of the pan is to line it with plastic wrap. Make sure the plastic hangs over the sides as they will be the handles for lifting the frozen cake out the next day.

As I was working on this it occurred to me that the bottom would be the top, after the cake was inverted onto a serving dish. I thought it might be fun to attempt to have some sort of decoration on the top of the cake. But how to pull that off? I settled on placing a piece of parchment on the bottom of the pan.

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Then I took some thinly sliced lemon rounds and halved blueberries and “glued” them to the parchment with honey. I wanted the design to stay put when I spread the ice cream over them.

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After fixing the garnish to the paper, I put the pan into the freezer for 10-15 minutes

This was a huge gamble! I was not convinced it would work at all.

Now it is time to assemble the dessert! I gathered all the components: limoncello-honey ice cream, blueberry sauce, graham crackers and the prepared pan.

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Working with efficiency, so the ice cream doesn’t melt, begin the layering.

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Start by adding a thin layer of ice cream to the bottom of the pan. This will help the graham crackers adhere. Then a thicker layer of ice cream (or whip cream if using).

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Next add Β half the blueberry sauce mixture and spread without mixing the two layers too much. You want layers, not a marbling affect in the end. Next is another layer of cream, then a layer of graham crackers. Then repeat: cream, the other half of the blueberry sauce, more cream.

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My final layer was composed of graham crackers, but you could add another layer of cream if you so desired.

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This was covered with foil and put into the freezer overnight.

 

 

The next day, it was time for the big reveal. Would this work with ice cream? Would the design I “glued” to the parchment paper be there? Would the limoncello ice cream be tasty?

Well, the design is (sort of) there. Perhaps if I had made the slices a little thicker? And, one of the blueberries moved, but overall I am happy with this first try! I will try this idea again! But how does is it taste? I am going in!

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Yes! delicious – love the lemon flavor in the ice cream and the blueberry sauce.

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This is also a really pretty dessert! It is quick, even faster if you just make it with the lemon whipped cream!

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Each of these individual components are quite tasty on their own. The ice cream would be great on a hot summer evening. And, the blueberry sauce would be wonderful over some vanilla ice cream, or as part of a dessert that requires a thick fruit compote. Since they are great as stand alone dishes, I have included the individual recipes as well as the formula for the icebox cake layering technique. I would encourage you to try any one of these, if you are not interested in the icebox cake itself.

Another great idea from Sally’s Baking Addiction! Give this one a try!

 

Limoncello-Honey Ice Cream

  • Servings: about 4 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Limoncello liqueur adds a depth of flavor to this lemony-citrus ice cream

Credit: Invisible-no-more

Ingredients

-1 1/2 cups milk

-1 cup heavy cream

-1/4 cup honey

-1/4 cup granulated sugar

-2 Tablespoons lemon zest

-1 Tablespoon lemon juice

-5 egg yolks

-3 Tablespoons limoncello liqueur, or to taste

Directions

  1. Add milk, cream and honey to a medium sauce pan and heat on low-medium until simmering. Small Β bubbles will appear around the edge of the pan. Heat until the honey is completely dissolved.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest and egg yolks. Whisk to incorporate. Slowly add some of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks while whisking constantly. This is tempering the egg mixture. Combine the tempered egg mixture with the warm milk by adding the egg yolks back into pot of warm milk and continue to cook an additional 8-10 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture continuously until it coats the back of the spoon.
  3. Remove from the heat, cover and chill in the refrigerator until cool (about 1 hour).
  4. Once the custard base is cool, add the limoncello liqueur. Transfer to an ice cream maker and follow the manufactures instructions. Process for 30 minutes for soft serve or freeze for an additional 2 hours for a firmer consistency.

 

Blueberry Sauce

  • Servings: about 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This lemony blueberry sauce is great for serving over ice cream or as a component to any baked item that requires a thickened fruit filling

Credit: Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients

-2 teaspoons cornstarch

-2 teaspoon lemon juice

-1 Tablespoon warm water

-2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

-2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

-1 teaspoon lemon zest

Directions

  1. Whisk the cornstarch, lemon juice, and warm water together in a small bowl until the cornstarch has dissolved. Set aside.
  2. Warm the blueberries and sugar together in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously for 3 minutes until the blueberry juices begin to release. Add the cornstarch mixture and continue to stir for another 2-3 minutes, smashing some blueberries as you go. The mixture will start to thicken.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest. Place in the refrigerator until completely cooled ~ 1 hour.

Limoncello Ice(cream)box Cake

  • Servings: 10 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A twist on the icebox cake that uses limoncello-honey ice cream in place of the traditional whipped cream

Credit: Invisible-no-more

Ingredients

-Limoncello-Honey ice cream, recipe above

-Blueberry sauce, recipe above

-8-10 graham cracker, about 1 sleeve

Directions

  1. Prepare a 9 inch X 5 inch loaf pan by lining the entire inside with plastic wrap. Make sure there is enough plastic that will hang over the sides of the pan. This will be the “handles” that you will use to lift the frozen cake from the form.
  2. If desired, add a cut piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan. Secure a garnish of your choosing, with honey as the “glue”. Place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to secure the garnish.
  3. Spread a thin layer of ice cream over the bottom of the pan (and garnish, if using) to help the graham cracker layer to adhere. Place the first layer of graham crackers in the bottom, add a layer of ice cream, then half the blueberry sauce, another layer of ice cream and then repeat: Crackers, ice cream, the other half of the blueberry sauce, ice cream. The final layer maybe the graham cracker layer or another layer of ice cream, if you have enough at that point.
  4. Cover with foil and place in the freezer for, at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  5. Allow the cake to sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes then unwrap and invert onto a serving dish. Slice with a sharp knife that has been run under hot water, and quickly dried, to make clean slices. Garnish with lemon slices, lemon zest and/or blueberries.

 

What does an Irishman take to a Cinco de Mayo party?

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A pear, apple and cranberry crisp of course! Β Well, maybe that is not so obvious to everyone, but my good friend did recognize my limitations with respect to the Cinco de Mayo party she organized last week. When I asked her what I could contribute to the dinner menu she immediately gave my an assignment that she knew I could handle. Since she was already making a tres leches cake, I was tasked with making a fruit based dessert. Thankfully she did not ask me to make enchiladas!

Originally I wanted to make a strawberry rhubarb crisp but the fruit was not quite ready here as spring has made had a painfully slow start in our area. The grocery store looked more prepared for autumn than any other season. So, I went with a no fail recipe from Ina Garten, her pear, apple and cranberry crisp is one I have made many times and it always comes out delicious, and it is fast and easy!

The “hardest” part is peeling, coring and dicing the bosc pears and honey crisp apples (2 lb. each). The diced fruit is then mixed with the juice and zest of both a lemon and an orange. I used a blood orange as that was what I had on hand.

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I added a full cup of cranberries, more than the recipe calls for but we like them, 1/2 cup of vanilla sugar and 1/4 flour.

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Next came the cinnamon and freshly ground nutmeg.Β This is all mixed well in a large bowl and then put into a lightly greased 9 X 12 baking pan.

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Up to this point you could argue that this is not too unhealthy of a dessert, however that is about to change.Β This fruit mixture is good, but it’s the crumble topping that is the real star of the show!

For the crumble combine the 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup vanilla sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 cup old fashioned oats. Then add the diced, cold butter (2 sticks, 1/2 lb)

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Cut the cold butter into the dry components. Much like making a scone dough or pie crust, the goal is to have small pieces of butter throughout the mixture.

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Cover the fruit, entirely, with the crumble topping.

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Bake at 350ΒΊF for 50 minutes to an hour. Make sure the crust is nice and brown and the fruit is bubbling.

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I transported the crisp in the pan and we served it at my friends house for a nice ending to a great meal.

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This is best served warm, but I will confess to eating it cold and having no problem! I have substituted different fruit combinations such as peaches and blueberries, plums and cherries and, of course, strawberries and rhubarb. They are all delicious using this same formula. Thanks to Ina for another awesome recipe and to my friend for opening her home to us!