Desserts

Dutch Apple Pie

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We are in full swing apple season at the orchard here. If you meander through, or pass our farm these days, there’s a good likelihood that you will see the triangular ladders unique to orchards propped up throughout the rows of trees. If you stop and listen, you will probably hear the chatter of the pickers as they move through, filling bin after bin of apples. After all four bins are full, the tractor pulls them off to the storage and returns with empty bins and the cycle repeats itself. Here are some pictures. I love this time of year.

These guys are picking the quintessential North American apple; the McIntosh. It seems appropriate to let you in on a little secret here. “I don’t care for Macs”, she whispers timidly. She continues, “I normally don’t eat Macs because I prefer an ultra crunchy apple”.  BUT!!! This time of year I will occasionally eat a Mac because they are actually crunchy enough and tart enough to please my finicky palate. AND I will use them in a pie because they hold their shape a little better than they will later. In keeping with sentiments of nostalgia, it has to be a Dutch Apple pie, which delights my husband. And in making the Dutch Apple pie, visions of grandmother float through my head. I can still picture her scattering the brown sugar crumbs over top, then poking holes in through the apples with the handle of a wooden spoon and slowly pouring the cream into the cavities, whistling under her breath all the while. Now I do that whistling thing, much to the annoyance of my children. It helps with high-concentration jobs like pouring cream into pies just so. Or ironing. It really helps to get that job done. I’m convinced that some day my children will remember my whistle with fondness too.

Because I was trying to pour cream out of my cute little pitcher slowly with one hand while taking a photo with the other, I got a bit too much cream into the pie so it got a little soupy. Lesson learned. Next time I’ll pre-measure the amount into my cute little pitcher. My grandma never had to take pictures of herself pouring cream so her pies were always perfect. At least they were in my memory. My pie looked good before I cut into it, though, and it still tasted good, so here it is! Yours will be perfect, I’m sure.

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The perfect Dutch Apple Pie.

Dutch Apple Pie (2)

Dutch Apple Pie (5)
The not-so-perfect but still good Dutch Apple pie.

Strategically placing the ice cream helped with the overall appearance.

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The McIntosh apple is an icon of North American orchards. It is slightly tart, slightly sweet, and very juicy. This high percentage of juice makes it a perfect sauce apple and there are McIntosh diehard fans who refuse to eat anything but a fresh Mac. It is good in pies if you like a soft apple in your pastry. Its season runs from mid-September until about May. 

This post is sponsored by Martin’s Family Fruit Farm. For more apple updates, visit their site here.

Dutch Apple Pie

Dutch Apple Pie (4)

Ingredients

  • about 7 medium apples, peeled and cut into chunks or slices to equal 4 cups
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons high fat milk or cream
  • 1 10″ unbaked pie crust (see here for a good gluten-free version)

Directions

Peel and cut apples into your desired shapes. Traditionally Dutch Apple pies are chunky. Combine flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Put the apples into the unbaked pie crust and sprinkle the crumbs evenly over top. Poke holes in top and pour the cream carefully into the holes. Bake at 375°F (190°C) for 35-45 minutes or until the apples are soft and a rich syrup has formed. Turn heat down partway through baking time if the pie is browning too fast. Best served warm or at room temperature, but it should be chilled to store overnight.

 

 

 

Basic Crème Brûlée with Rhubarb

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Basic Creme Brulee with Rhubarb (8)

I wasn’t planning to post another rhubarb recipe this spring but you asked, so here it is! I made this delicacy to reward my son-in-law for getting our weed-eater working again and to use up a litre of leftover cream that was patiently waiting in the fridge after our Martin camping was over. And really, in my books at least, one can never have enough rhubarb. After all, it won’t be back until NEXT YEAR.

This is a basic crème brûlée recipe that I have used numerous times with success. I have made it plain, with blackberries, with chai tea and pears, with pumpkin, and with raspberries. I plan to try peaches during peach season. By the way, I’m quite proud of myself for figuring out how to create the French accent marks on my desktop. Not bad for a middle-aged fogey, huh? I figure such an elegant French dessert should be spelled with the proper accent marks.

I can’t recall when or where I had my first crème brùlée, but I was immediately hooked. I was entranced by the silky vanilla custard under the glassy sugar shell, and the satisfaction of cracking that shell before dipping my spoon into it. It is the perfect dessert after a full dinner, when you want a smidgeon of something sweet but not too much heaviness. I didn’t attempt to make it until a few years ago. I’m not sure why, other than it seems like one of those ethereal delicacies far beyond the reach of common mortals, that only a master chef can execute. Let me tell you, it ain’t so. ANYONE can make it. The only thing is that you have to figure out what to make with all those egg whites afterwards. I freeze them for my next pavlova (yes! strawberry pavlova), meringue kisses, daffodil or chocolate angel food cake, or strawberry/raspberry freeze. See? No problem.

The three most valuable tips I can offer are to heat the cream just until steaming and starting to foam around the edges when stirred, whisk some hot cream into the eggs to temper them before combining the whole concoction, and to make sure your water is boiling hot that you use to bake them in. That’s it! Oh, and try not to burn your sugar. You can do this.

Big leafy rhubarb plants are easy to spot. They are often in a corner or at the edge of a garden. They come in red and pink varieties. Typically the redder stalks are thinner and a little more dry, but they look beautiful in the food they are gracing. Take your pick! 

This post is sponsored by Martin’s Family Fruit Farm where you can find these beautiful pink stalks until the weather gets too hot. The comments are my own. 

Basic Crème Brûlée with Rhubarb

Ingredients

Basic Creme Brulee with Rhubarb (7)

  • 1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup finely diced rhubarb
  • additional white sugar for tops

Directions

Preheat oven to 300°F (149°C). Place 6 ramekins in a 13″ x 9″ baking pan, preferably glass. Divide the rhubarb among the bottom of the ramekins; approximately 1 tablespoon into each. Set water to boil for water bath. Heat cream on medium-high heat just until it starts steaming and small bubbles form at the edges. Separate the yolks from the whites and put them into a medium bowl. Whisk vigorously with first amount of white sugar until they are a lighter yellow in colour and beginning to thicken. This step can be done with a mixer, if you prefer. Very slowly add about 1/2 cup of the cream to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. This is called tempering the eggs so that they won’t curdle. Add the vanilla, salt, and remaining cream and whisk again to combine thoroughly. Pour the egg and cream mixture into each ramekin evenly. Place the pan in the oven and carefully pour the very hot water into the pan to about 2/3 of the way up the sides of the cups. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the custard is set, but with a slight jiggle in the middle when lightly moved. This time will vary depending on your oven and the size of your ramekins. 

Remove pan from the oven and lift the ramekins out of the hot water (a jar lifter works really well for this step). Cool for an hour on a wire rack, then chill in the fridge for 3 hours. At this point, they can be chilled for at least 3 days or frozen for a longer time. Thaw if frozen before adding the sugar topping. 

When ready to serve, sprinkle a scant tablespoon of white sugar evenly on top of each ramekin. Place them 6″ under the broiler element in your oven until browning and bubbly, then remove quickly. Don’t let them get too dark; they will continue to bubble and brown after removal from the oven. If you are lucky enough to own a kitchen torch you can do this step with it, working from the outside in a circular motion. Let them sit for about 3 minutes until the sugar is hardened. Garnish with a fresh strawberry if you wish. Enjoy the crack and the hums of delight as your guests dig in. 

NOTE: Try experimenting with your own flavour combinations. For fruit variations, simply put a little of it (3 small blackberries, for instance) into the bottom of the ramekins before pouring in the custard. For tea or chocolate flavours, place 1/2 Tbsp. tea leaves (inside a tea ball) or 1 teabag or 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate in with the cream as it heats.

 

Fresh Peach Pie with Gluten-Free Pastry

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Fresh Peach Pie (9)

If I were asked to point to one fruit that epitomizes those warm, hazy last days of summer, I would, without any hesitation at all, choose the peach. The fuzzy, warm skin with its encroaching pink shadows that lengthen as the peach ripens, the dewy golden flesh dripping with sweetness all portray summer teetering on the cusp of fall. And if I were asked about my favourite dessert incorporating peaches, I would shout “Fresh Peach Pie!”.

Fresh Peach Pie (4)

I have a memory of making fresh peach pies for one of my sisters’ wedding. It was a hot September week, similar to the weather we’ve had this summer. The entire wedding was held at my parents home, and we had cleaned, cooked, mowed, weeded, planted, painted, and I don’t know what else most of the summer in preparation. The pies were cut and served on plates down in the basement for the meal, as it was the coolest part of the house. To save time and refrigerator space, we had decided to use those cans of whip cream spray, which we had seen in stores, but never used. Well, to make a long story short, it was a disaster. The cream turned to foamy liquid 30 seconds after it landed on the pie slices and the poor servers were trying to get them to the guests without having the cream running off the plates and down over their frilly aprons. But the peach pie tasted good, and my sister and her husband are still loving and enjoying each other 26 years later. Moral of the story: a failed peach pie doth not a marriage break.

EDIT: Apparently I had the wrong sister in mind. This can happen when one has six sisters. I have edited it to say September instead of August and it’s only been 26 years, not 34. My apologies!

I have tried this wheat-free pastry three times now and it was a success each time. Those of you who do any gluten-free baking know how delightful that feels! I have only used butter so far and it gives the pie crust a lovely shortbread texture and flavour. I find it works best to roll the chilled dough only partially, then fit it into the base of the pan and press the rest into shape. For wheat-based pastries, I use the recipe on the back of the Tenderflake lard box. It makes a large batch and is nice and flaky.  I divide the dough into 5 or 6 pieces, flatten them into discs, stick ’em in a freezer bag and pop them into the freezer for such a time as this.

 

Ontario Peaches

Find these delicious peaches at Martin’s Family Fruit Farm!  Also, check here on their site for more recipes. The recipes, views and stories on this blog are my own. 

This may surprise some of my readers but there are a fair number of peaches grown in the Niagara region of southern Ontario. They are available from early August to mid-September. The season begins with clingstone (fruit does not release easily from the pit, or stone), and progresses to freestone (fruit easily removes from the stone). The hazy fuzz on peaches is called “bloom” and is a protection for the peach. The bloom is removed through washing the fruit. Generally speaking, the later peach varieties are better for canning and freezing, since they are sweeter and the flesh holds up better in preserving.

Fresh Peach Pie with Gluten-free Pastry

Ingredients

GLUTEN-FREE PASTRY:Fresh Peach Pie (9)

  • 2/3 cup white rice flour
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons potato starch
  • 2 tablespoon tapioca flour (or starch; they are the same)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1 large egg, beaten

PEACH PIE FILLING:

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch or clear jel
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons peach-flavoured gelatin powder (I like Shirriff’s)
  • 4 cups peeled and sliced peaches (4 – 6 peaches)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped, lightly sweetened if desired

Directions

PIE PASTRY: Before starting, make sure all your ingredients and utensils, including your rolling pin, are free of any wheat. This is very important! I cover the pastry with waxed paper or parchment before rolling to avoid any gluten touching the dough. Combine all the dry ingredients. Cut the cold butter into 1/2 inch cubes and add to the dry mixture, tossing to coat. Use your pastry cutter or hands to break the butter into smaller clumps, flattening them into discs. Add the beaten egg and lightly knead just until combined and the dough is starting to smooth out. Shape into a disc, wrap in cellophane and place in the freezer for 10- 15 minutes until it firms up. Sprinkle your counter liberally with more gluten-free flour mixture and roll out as well as you can. I usually roll it big enough to fit the bottom of the pan, then press it up the sides and flatten with my hands into the pan. This recipe fits a 9 inch pan perfectly. Prick the crust all over and chill again while heating the oven. Bake at 400° F for 20 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely before filling. 

PEACH PIE FILLING: Mix white sugar and cornstarch or clear jel in a medium saucepan, then add water. Heat on medium heat, whisking frequently until mixture begins to thicken and clear. This will take about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the peach gelatin. Let it sit while you peel and slice peaches. Pour warm gelatin mixture over the peaches and fold together lightly until every slice is covered. Mound into cooled pie pastry shell. If there is more filling than what will fit into the pie, someone may have to eat it. Oh, dear. Chill for at least 4 hours. Whip cream and top the pie to serve.

 

 

Mixed Berry Eclair

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Mixed Berry Eclair (5)

You know how some recipes are born out of desperation and necessity? I’m talking about those times when you need a dish and start browsing your cupboard and fridge to see if inspiration will strike. Today’s recipe is one of those deals.

Coming home from market one hot Saturday afternoon in July many moons ago, I was trying to decide what dessert to make for a potluck dinner at our church the next day. I knew it would contain strawberries because they were in full swing at that time. I looked through my pantry to gain inspiration and found a cooked vanilla pudding mix. I knew I had eggs in the fridge. At that time a chocolate eclair was making the rounds big time. It had a cream puff base with pudding, whipped cream, and chocolate glaze layered on top. As a family we love fruit, so I thought, “Why not make a fruit-topped eclair?” So I started boiling, mixing, baking, and refrigerating; improvising as I went along. It’s what I do.

To make a long story short, the result was a success, I entered it in our church cookbook a year later, and have had several people tell me they make it every year in berry season. It’s light, fluffy, and the critical criteria of good looks has been met. I learned to make food look good from my dad; he always said, “Food has to pass by my eyes before it reaches my stomach.”

For this one, I added blueberries and raspberries with the strawberries because it’s the time for those big sweet thimble-sized berries that we look forward to every year, and my philosophy is that raspberries make everything better. It would be a great Fourth of July dish for you Americans with its pops of red, white and blue. Also, this time I changed the chocolate drizzle to a ganache drizzle. Uh huh. Chocolate ganache with fruit? Bring it on! I’m toying with the idea of substituting Greek yogurt for the whipped cream layer sometime. I bet that would be good.

Ontario Berries
Look at the size of those raspberries!

Hover or click on the pictures for step by step instructions. The cream puff base is easy to make and you can cook the pudding while it’s baking. The puff can also be frozen for a future time. The  dough will look flat in the pan, but will rise while baking, especially the sides.

Mixed Berry Eclair (8)

Mixed Berry Eclair (6)
Look at those luscious layers!

This post is sponsored by Martin’s Family Fruit Farm and my blog is featured on their new website. The views and stories presented here are my own. 

Ontario grows many raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries. Strawberries begin to ripen by the middle of June, with raspberries and blueberries joining them about a month later. It goes without saying that this time frame is affected by the weather in any given year. Berries are loaded with antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. So berry up! 

Mixed Berry Eclair

Ingredients

CREAM PUFF BASE:

Mixed Berry Eclair (6)
Look at those luscious layers!
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs

FILLING: 

  • 135 g box cook and serve vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups milk 
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

or  2 cups of your preferred custard recipe

  • 1 cup of whipping cream, whipped 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 
  • 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

TOPPING:

  • 1 quart (4 cups) of mixed fresh berries, your choice
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 2/3 cups white or semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

CREAM PUFF BASE: Grease a 9″ by 13″ pan. Bring water and butter to a boil in a medium saucepan. Turn off heat and add flour and salt all at once, mixing it in quickly with a wooden spoon until the dough gathers into a ball. Remove pot from heat and let it stand 5 minutes before adding eggs one at a time, beating or whisking vigorously after each egg. Beat until smooth. Spread into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake at 375° F or 191° C for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden. Cool on rack, cutting 5 or 6 small, shallow slits in the puff for steam to escape. Puff will have high sides and a sunken centre. Remove puff to serving tray when cool. 

FILLING: Meanwhile, cook your pudding or custard mix using 2 cups of milk according to directions until it’s thick. Add flavouring and allow to cool. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of pudding after about 5 minutes to keep skin from forming. Chill until ready to assemble. To assemble, spread pudding or custard on the puff base. Whip cream, flavourings, and confectioner’s sugar until stiff; spread on top of pudding.

TOPPING: Top with your choice of whole and sliced berries. Heat cream in a small saucepan just until it begins to boil. Pour over the chocolate chips in a small bowl and allow to sit undisturbed for about 7 minutes. Stir the chips into the cream until it thickens and gets shiny and is fully incorporated. This is your ganache. Allow to sit until it is easy to drizzle (not long), then drizzle from a large spoon over the surface of the berries in a pretty pattern. Chill. This can be done several hours in advance. Shake additional confectioner’s sugar over top before serving, just for purtiness’ sake.

Maple and Brie Baked Apples

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Maple and Brie Baked Apples (2)

For the last few weeks our internet has been floating in Never-Never Land. Those that write blogs depend heavily on internet, for how shall they post recipes without any pictures? And how shall they load pictures without any internet? And how shall they have internet unless it is restored? Thankfully, after much trotting on various rooftops and tapping of keyboards by people who know how to trot on rooftops and tap on keyboards efficiently, we are back in the Land of Now. Just in time to squeak in another maple recipe for March.

Although baked apples go way back in time, I don’t personally have a lot of history with them myself. I remember my grandmother making them occasionally, and my mom making them occasionally, and me making them occasionally, but that’s it. So this is not an old family recipe, it’s just a great way to serve apples. It’s simple, gluten-free, easy to make for two or twelve, and… you’ve gotta admit it… kind of pretty.

But! the plate it’s on… now, that’s got history. It’s an Antique. Please repeat that phrase reverently with me. It’s an Antique! Depression-era Milk Glass, to be precise, for those of you who care as I do for old, precious dishes. My family used to own a gift shop in the village of St. Jacobs and one thing we sold was antiques. It was so much fun going with Mom and Dad to auctions to buy them and research the value of them. I am of the firm opinion that old, precious dishes are to be used and enjoyed, so it seemed right and proper that this traditional dessert should be showcased on a heritage plate.

For this recipe, I used a similar syrup as the Maple Mustard Chicken in my last post. By the way, thanks to those of you who tried that recipe and messaged to say how well you like it! That is music to a food blogger’s ears, let me tell you. I cored an Ida Red apple, stuffed it with pecans and Brie cheese and basted it with the syrup. If you prefer sweeter apples, use a Gala or something similar that holds its shape well. I always peel them halfway down, both for aesthetics and because the peel gets a little tougher from baking.

Maple and Brie Baked Apples (3)
Check out that deliciously oozing centre!

This post is sponsored by Martin’s Family Fruit Farm. The recipes, views, and stories are my own. 

Ida Reds are a favourite of many bakeries for strudels, cakes, and muffins. They are a deep red colour with a semi-tart flavour and resist browning after being cut.  

Maple and Brie Baked Apples

Ingredients

  • 2 large, firm apples (sweet or tart, your choice!)Maple and Brie Baked Apples
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (I used Amber)
  • about 8 pecan halves
  • 4 Brie cheese slices

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° F. Core the apple with a thin knife (a filet knife works well) or an apple corer. Make the hole large enough to stuff with 2 slices of Brie cheese. Peel the top half of the apple. Heat the butter and maple syrup together just until it begins to boil. Place the apples in a baking pan and stick 3 pecan halves down the hole to the bottom of the apple. These help to keep the Brie inside the apple. Stuff tightly with the Brie slices, top with another pecan half, then scoop the boiling syrup over the apples. Baste the apple with the syrup from the baking dish a couple of times while baking. Bake the apples for at least an hour, or until the skin begins to split and the apple is soft to your fork, but still holding together. Place the apples on your prettiest plates and scoop the syrup from the pan over top. Serve with ice cream, if you wish.   

*Because I wanted to experience the flavours of the Brie and the maple syrup, I opted not to add cinnamon. I’m sure it would be good with cinnamon, though, so go ahead and add it if you like!

Candy Apple Cheesecake

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What’s your favourite dessert to order at a restaurant? Cheesecake? Crème Brûlée? What if I told you that I have a dessert recipe that contains the best elements of both of those? The crackling burnt sugar of the crème brûlée on top of the creamy smoothness of a vanilla cheesecake, with a bite of delicate apple surprising you every now and then. Could anything be more alluring than that?

Candy Apple Cheesecake
Candy Apple Cheesecake

This summer my family had our second annual backyard campout at my sister’s place. It can only be called a campout because we eat and play outside two days in a row and have a campfire in the evenings. We, um, all go home to our beds at night. Don’t laugh; someday you will understand. Maybe. Anyway, we were planning the food and I asked my sisterchicks what dessert we should have on Sunday noon with our grilled hamburgers. Without missing a beat, one of them replied, “Crème Brûlée”. Of course! Who doesn’t have Crème Brûlée with hamburgers at their campout? It seemed totally normal to us and furthermore, it was providential, because I had a lot of egg yolks in my fridge left over from a Pavlova I had made earlier. And so it was, and the Crème Brûlée slid deliciously down our gullets that hot sunny September noon in my sister’s back yard.

I made this delightful cheesecake for my daughter-in-law’s birthday party on Sunday. It was a hit, even though the crust was a little soggy and the cheesecake had flattened due to water leaking through the required foil wrap. I eliminated the water bath the second time I made it and it seemed okay without it, so you don’t have to worry about a waterlogged cheesecake. It is unapologetically decadent for those occasions when you want an unapologetically decadent dessert. This particular cheesecake has a lighter, less cakey texture than most due to the custardy filling method. I used gluten-free gingersnaps for the crust and that added the perfect amount of spice. Add the crackling sugar topping… I’m telling you; this baby is gooood! Good enough for Christmas, in fact.

Candy Apple Cheesecake

Candy Apple Cheesecake

For this dish I chose to use Crispin (also known as Mutsu) apples, because they hold their shape nicely when cooked. Plus the flavour and crunch of them is phenomenal right now. I love to eat them fresh too. The Crispin is a large, firm, yellowish-green apple. 

Note: Various people have asked me which culinary torch I would recommend. I have the Orblue Culinary Torch and have been extremely pleased with it. I can’t wait to try it on a meringue. 

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Crispin (Mutsu) Apple

This post is sponsored by Martin’s Family Fruit Farm. The recipes, views and stories are my own. 

Candy Apple Cheesecake

Ingredients

Crust:

Candy Apple Cheesecake
Candy Apple Cheesecake
  • 1 3/4 cups gingersnap crumbs (approximately 255 gr) (you can use gluten-free cookies if you wish)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter

Cheesecake:

  • 3 (8 ounce or 250 gr) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of whipping cream (do not whip)
  • 10 large egg yolks (you can freeze the egg whites for another use)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely diced firm apples (I used Crispin)
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar (for the brulée)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350° F. Get out a 9-inch springform pan. With a rolling pin or food processor crush the gingersnaps into fine crumbs. Melt butter in a medium bowl. Add gingersnap crumbs and sugar and stir together with a fork. Press firmly into ungreased pan. Set springform pan on a baking pan and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool while you make the filling.

Lower the oven temperature to 325° F. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese for 4 minutes, making sure to scrape sides and beaters to incorporate any lumps. Add 1 cup sugar, vanilla, and salt, and beat for another 4 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the cream on medium low heat until it is hot, but not boiling.

Beat the egg yolks in a small mixing bowl until they are thick and pale yellow, about 2 minutes. While beating the yolks, pour cream slowly into the bowl, beating all the while, so that the yolks don’t curdle.

Beat the cream cheese mixture on low while adding the yolk/cream mixture slowly to it. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl a few times to eliminate any lumps. The batter is pretty thin. Peel and chop apples and fold them gently into the batter by hand. Pour the batter over the cooled crust, smoothing top.

Bake for 90-95 minutes. It is done when it is turning golden and is mostly set in the middle, yet jiggles slightly when you shake it gently. Turn off the oven and open the door slightly to cool down. Let the cheesecake cool gradually for 1 hour in the oven. Remove cheesecake and finish thoroughly cooling on a rack before covering and refrigerating it for at least 4 hours.

When ready to serve, gently loosen sides of pan and transfer cheesecake carefully to serving plate. Sprinkle the 3 tablespoons of sugar evenly over the top of cheesecake. Use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar or you can try putting it 6″ under the broiler for a few minutes, but watch very carefully! It burns easily. If you use the broiler method, don’t put it on the serving plate until the caramelizing is done. I like the control I have with my torch. It will take several minutes to do the entire surface. The sugar is done when it starts to liquify and turns a dark golden colour. Let it sit for a few minutes to harden. Cut with a knife dipped in hot water and cleaned between every slice. Garnish with thin apple wedges, broken gingersnap cookies, pomegranate seeds, frosted cranberries, or whatever you wish!

Note: I did try the waterbath cheesecake method again, and I will confess that the end result is a creamier cheesecake. If you choose to try it, here’s how. Lay three pieces of heavy-duty foil on your counter. They should be about 5″ larger than your springform pan on all sides. Set your pan in the middle of the foil, then carefully fold up the foil around the sides of the pan. Begin curling the top edges of the foil together, and keep curling until you can curl them around the very top rim of the pan. Tuck any stray edges up under the curl. You don’t want to have it hanging into the cheesecake. Bake the crust normally without the water bath. Heat water in a teakettle. When the crust is done, set it into a large pan or roaster with deep sides that is big enough to hold your pan. Pour the filling on top of the crust. Set the pan in the oven and carefully pour the hot water around the sides of the pan. Bake, cool in oven, then take the pan from the water and remove the foil for the last cooling outside of the oven. There you go!

Peach Blackberry Shortcake

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The peach season is winding down, and I feel as though I must quickly post a peach recipe before it’s over. Also, I still need a dessert to round out the blog menu! You see, creating a food blog is different than putting together a cookbook. When you’re writing a recipe book, you assemble all the recipes and publish them all at once. With a blog, your head is swimming with ideas, but you publish them one at a time, lovingly and painstakingly. You may consider each recipe a gift, chosen carefully and handed to you with love at special occasions. Okay, enough with the gushing sentiments. I’ll stop before I have you all in tears.

Because I did not make a single strawberry shortcake this year, I vowed that peach season would not skid past without a peach blackberry version. In my mind, peaches and blackberries fit together like sunflowers and bulrushes in a fall bouquet. You can have them separately, but the two together add a stunning Wow factor, both in looks and flavour. Yesterday I was in at our store and got a basket of peaches and a quart of blackberries to pair together in some goody. Last night, we had a special family dinner in honour of our youngest going away to college, and moving out for a year. Voila! My reason to make this shortcake was born.

I love shortcakes, especially the biscuit variety. In fact, I love all things biscuit-related: scones, shortcakes, and biscuits themselves. On our honeymoon, we spent some time in the South, where I learned how to make a proper biscuit that does not have the texture of sawdust. You’ve all had those, I’m sure; the kind that come out your nose if you sneeze. Or like one I had at a High Tea at a heritage homestead that flew off the table when I tried to saw it asunder to butter it and landed on the grass with a thud, with nary a dent or a crumb out of place. Nope, my biscuits have to be flaky yet moist; crusty yet soft. Sometime, I will share that recipe with you. Meanwhile, here’s the shortcake.

The key to any biscuit-type recipe is to cut in the butter with two knives or a pastry blender until the crumbs are a little larger than a small pea. This helps to create the flakiness. Now stir the liquid in with a fork, swirling from the outside towards the centre, just until the dough gathers together. Lastly you tip it onto a floured surface and gently knead it with the heels of your hands (that’s where your hand meets your wrist) about 20 times. Pat it and shape it, and mark it with B. Hmm, how much do you bet that old nursery rhyme was written about shortcake?

Peaches should be firm when you buy them, with good colour. They ripen quickly, so if you buy them ripe, they will be over-ripe by the next day. Spread them out on a towel or newspaper at room temperature to ripen. They are ready to use when the shoulders around the stem end depress when you press them slightly. Ideally, they will be ripe within two days. 

Your supplier will thank you if you do not squeeze them before buying. We would cringe when customers did that at the market, then ask “Why are these peaches so hard?” In our heads: “Ummm, ma’am, do you have any idea what these peaches would look like if they were soft and you squeezed them like that?”  But of course we didn’t say that. We’d just smile and reply sweetly with information on ripening peaches.

Peach Blackberry Shortcake

Ingredients

Fruits

  • 3 cups washed and sliced fresh peaches (I leave the skins on)
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Fruit Fresh or other anti-browning agent

Shortcake:

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • Milk or cream (optional)
  • Coarse sugar (optional)

Topping:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

In a large bowl, combine sliced peaches, blackberries, sugar and Fruit Fresh, and toss very lightly. Chill until ready to serve. Preheat oven to 425° F.

In another bowl, stir together the dry ingredients for the shortcake. Cut cold butter into 1″ chunks, then cut it into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until the butter is the size of large peas. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, then stir in the sour cream. Stir this mixture into the dry ingredients with a fork until the mixture holds mostly together. 

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 20-25 turns, or until starting to smooth. Roll or pat into an 8″ circle on a lightly greased pizza pan. Cut a 2″ hole in the centre to form a ring. This hole keeps the shortcake from having a doughy centre. Brush with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar, if desired. Bake in preheated oven for 12- 15 minutes or until lightly browned. It will expand and puff up. Cool until ready to use.

Put all topping ingredients in a small deep bowl and whip until stiff. 

Just before serving, slice shortcake into two layers. Spread cream on bottom layers, saving a little for top garnish. layer most of the fruit on top of cream. Carefully place the top layer of shortcake over fruit. Garnish with remaining cream, fruit and the little cutout. Cut into 8 wedges to savour the fine tastes of summer!