After a whole bunch of scheduling mayhem, we finally booked our annual vacation to Swan’s Island, Maine, this week, so that is low-key all I’m going to talk about for the next 72 days or so. Sorry, not sorry.
Oh yes, I have Maine on the brain, which for me means allll the summer berries. What better time to break out my favorite thrifted dishes from Iverstudio and make a Black & Blueberry Crisp? This will surely tide me over until I can pack up a vehicle and escape New York City. Right? Riiiight???
Crisps are one of the simplest desserts out there. Easier than pie in every way and just as good, they are perfect for beginner bakers and seasoned pros alike. Just mix up a simple pie filling, put it in a buttered pan, bury it in oaty, nutty crumbles, and bake until…well, crisp.
Scoop the warm crisp into cute dishes, and finish with vanilla ice cream and more berries. Devour while determining how many vintage Maine sweatshirts is a reasonable number to have in your Etsy check-out cart. Is it four? I hope it’s four.
Black & Blueberry Crisp makes about 6 servings
Filling: 2 cups fresh blackberries (about 12 ounces) 2 cups fresh blueberries (about 12 ounces) 2/3 cup granulated sugar 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 tablespoons cornstarch pinch of Kosher or sea salt juice of 1/2 lime
Topping: 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats 2/3 cup all-purpose flour 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed 1/3 cup chopped nuts of choice (I used hazelnuts), optional 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For Serving: vanilla ice cream, optional more blackberries & blueberries, optional
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch casserole dish with butter. Set aside.
Make the filling. Combine blackberries and blueberries in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, salt, and lime juice. Stir together with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon and let sit while you prepare the topping.
Make the topping. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together oats, flour, light brown sugar, nuts, cinnamon, and salt. Add melted butter and stir until everything is saturated and clumps form.
Transfer berry filling into the prepared casserole dish. Scatter topping onto the berries.
Bake 28-30 minutes, until topping is browned and berries are tender & bursting. Let cool 10 minutes before serving in bowls with vanilla ice cream and more berries, if desired.
Cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to 4 days. Reheat before serving.
My favorite thing about having a baking blog during the summer is not baking at all: it’s making ice cream toppings. I’ve tackled all the major ones—hot fudge, caramel sauce, butterscotch—you name it, I’ve made it. Of all of them, Homemade Chocolate Shell is the one I go back to over and over. It’s a quick two-ingredient recipe and, when poured over ice cream, results in the thin & thwackable topping we all love. It’s impossible to improve upon, so I won’t try…but did you know you can make a peanut butter version?
Oh yes, Homemade Peanut Butter Shell is a thing, and it is indeed magical. Made with just creamy peanut butter and coconut oil, it has all the salty, creamy flavor you love, but hardens within a minute of meeting a scoop (or three) of ice cream.
I’ll admit that I didn’t quite get the “thwack” photos I’d hoped for with this recipe, mostly because I shot them in the throes of a heatwave. Still, you can see the definition and how the shell is, in fact, a shell. Once hardened, it can easily be lifted off the ice cream (or other cold thing) it’s molded over. 97 degree weather, be damned.
I enjoy Homemade Peanut Butter Shell over vanilla ice cream (and some peanut butter cups), but I know it would be perfect paired with chocolate, No-Churn Peanut Butter Cookies & Cream, or pretty much any flavor that goes well with peanut butter…which, I think we can agree, is basically all of them.
Do yourself a favor a make a little jar of Homemade Peanut Butter Shell this summer. While it absolutely can be too hot to bake, it’s never too hot for a salty-sweet bowl of ice cream.
Homemade Peanut Butter Shell makes about 2/3 cup
1/3 cup creamy-style peanut butter 1/4 cup coconut oil (preferably refined)
While any coconut oil will work in this recipe, refined coconut oil will have the least noticeable flavor.
Combine peanut butter and coconut oil in a small bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until melted. Let cool a few minutes for optimal pouring consistency (so it doesn’t melt off whatever it’s coating). Pour or drizzle over ice cream or use as a dip for other frozen treats.
Leftover peanut butter shell will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for at least two weeks. Reheat by microwaving in 10 second increments, stirring in between, until pourable.
Every year I consider doing a “No-Bake Summer,” wherein I only make desserts (and other things) that don’t require cranking the oven in my already-too-hot apartment. I’ve never gone through with it though, mostly because I just really love to bake (regardless of the potential for heatstroke). That said, I have a whole new appreciation for no-bake desserts after the searing hot temperatures we had in NYC this week.
I’ve done a no-bake round-up before, but it’s been a few years. In the intervening time, I’ve added to my repertoire of creamy pies, non-traditional s’mores, puddings, and mason jar desserts. Instead of relying on ambient 350F (or so) heat to provide structure and flavor, all of these recipes rely on things like stovetop cooking (double boilers!), stiff peaks of whipped cream, coconut oil, and long chills for their deliciousness. There’s no wrong way to get your no-bake on! Here are a few of my oven-free favorites from the archives.
Homemade Chocolate Pudding is simpler than you may think, and takes all of fifteen minutes to whisk up. Made rich with whole milk and egg yolks and flavored with both cocoa powder and dark chocolate, this classic stovetop dessert is not to be missed!
Vegan cheesecakes require a bit more planning ahead than your average no-bake dessert, but they are so worth the minimal effort. These concoctions of soaked cashews, coconut oil, coconut cream, maple syrup and other delicious things come together in a blender, then firm up in the fridge. Their texture is as luxurious as any dairy cheesecake, and they are sooo delicious. Try a plain & peachy version, a decadent chocolate one, or the new chocolate hazelnut variation I posted on Wednesday. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
You’ve almost certainly had classic lemon curd, but have you tried my Lazy Lemon Curd? It couldn’t be simpler—just whisk together lemon juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk, then simmer the mixture over a double boiler until it’s luscious and lemony. My all time favorite way to use it is stacked with toasted marshmallows and graham crackers for Lemon Meringue S’mores…
It is far too hot to bake today, but that’s okay because Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake requires no baking at all.
We’re talking all the rich, creamy, irresistible texture of a classic cheesecake with none of the dairy and exactly zero reasons to crank your oven. Oh, and more deep dark chocolate-hazelnut flavor than you can shake a stick at. (What does that even mean?)
This take on vegan cheesecake is made with toasted hazelnuts for flavor and raw cashews for creamy texture. They’re soaked together overnight for maximum tenderness, then combined in a blender with coconut cream, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, salt, and—oh yeah—half a pound of melted dark chocolate. Put on the lid and then blitz-blitz-blitz until smooth.
This is the part where I get on my soapbox:
Please get yourself a good blender. You deserve a good blender. Good doesn’t necessarily mean expensive—it means a blender that actually blends things until smooth. Whether that’s a fifty year-old Oster (my parents’ amazing blender) or a Vitamix, a solid blender is crucial to vegan cheesecake success, and a million other things. I have a Ninja that I bought for $100 five years ago and it rules. Get a good blender!!!
*steps off soapbox*
Ahem…the batter is then poured over an Oreo crust—yes, Oreos are vegan!—and chilled until firm. Then it’s released from the springform and finished off with some Homemade Chocolate Shell and easy candied hazelnuts before being sliced and served. You can use a plate and fork if you’re fancy (or taking pictures) or just eat ice cold slices with your fingers like a wild animal, as I did.
I’m pretty sure that’s what hot girl summer is all about.
Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake makes one 9-inch cheesecake
Filling: 1 cup whole raw hazelnuts 1 cup whole raw cashews 1 14-ounce can coconut cream (not cream of coconut) 4 tablespoons maple syrup 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt 6 tablespoons coconut oil (preferably refined), melted and cooled 8 ounces dark chocolate, melted
Crust: 24 Oreos (or other chocolate sandwich cookies) 5 tablespoons coconut oil or melted vegan butter
Candied Hazelnut Garnish: 1/3 cup whole raw hazelnuts 3 teaspoons granulated sugar Homemade Chocolate Shell
The night before you want to make the cheesecake, toast and peel the hazelnuts. Place hazelnuts in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir frequently until fragrant, 7-10 minutes. Immediately transfer hazelnuts to a clean, dry hand towel. Fold towel around the hazelnuts and then rub the towel with the palm of your hand. This will allow the hazelnut skins to loosen. This step does not have to be done perfectly.
Place peeled hazelnuts in a 3-4 cup container that has a lid. Add cashews. Cover with water. Refrigerate for 4-12 hours.
Lightly grease a 9-inch springform pan with coconut oil.
Make the crust. Place Oreos in a high-powered blender and blitz until they are crumbs. Add coconut oil or melted vegan butter, and pulse until the mixture can be pinched together. Transfer crust mixture to prepared pan, and press it to the edges to form an even layer. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to set.
Very carefully wipe it out the blender with a paper towel.
Make the filling. Drain soaked hazelnuts and cashews and place them in the blender. Add half of the coconut cream (~2/3 cup), maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. Process until the mixture is smooth. Add remaining coconut cream & coconut oil, followed by melted chocolate. Continue processing until everything is fully combined and smooth.
Pour filling mixture over crust and smooth with an offset spatula. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours (or freeze for 1 hour).
Make the candied hazelnut garnish. Line a plate with parchment and set aside. Place hazelnuts in a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Toast for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant and shiny. Add sugar by the teaspoon, stirring until it dissolves (it may smoke up a bit). When all sugar has dissolved, remove hazelnuts to prepared plate. Let cool completely. Place on a cutting board and give them a rough chop with a large, sharp chef’s knife.
Run a thin, flexible knife around the edge of the pan. Release the cheesecake from the springform pan, and allow it to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Drizzle with chocolate shell, then immediately scatter on the candied hazelnuts. Slice with a large, sharp chef’s knife, wiping the blade clean between cuts. Serve.
Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for a few days. Filling may slump slightly in very hot weather.
While all of us were inside last year, tie-dye made a huge comeback. It’s a fun and easy way to augment clothes, towels, bedsheets or anything else that will absorb color. Why not take that same bright & twisty aesthetic and apply it to dessert?! We’re talking colorful little cups of cake and clouds of vanilla buttercream with technicolor details. They’re fun and funky, and summery as all get-out!
You’ve seen these cupcakes on here before, but never like this. The base is my favorite vanilla sour cream cupcake batter which has been everything from yellow with Nutella Buttercream to spiked with honey and finished with candy corn to marbled with a streak of red velvet to dolled up for the Easter bunny. Today’s version might be my favorite variation of all. Tie-Dye Cupcakes are beautiful to look at and incredibly fun to make.
Start by mixing together the batter and dividing it into four bowls. Grab a few of your favorite shades of food coloring and dye each bowl of batter a different color. A word to the wise that gel food coloring makes for richer colors and doesn’t threaten to add too much liquid to your batter. That said, if liquid is what you have on hand, use it!
Once your batter is dyed, spoon the colors into your cupcake pans. There are no hard and fast rules on how to do this, except to get all the colors in each cup and only up to 2/3-3/4 full. I like to give mine a little swirl with a skewer before baking, but this is strictly optional. After you’ve got all your batters in your pans, bake your cupcakes and let them cool.
Next up: frosting! These swirly-twirly colorful plumes of buttercream may look intimidating, but they are just regular old vanilla buttercream with a little food coloring. Where most colorful frosting recipes ask you to whip the dye directly into the mix, I take a different approach here.
Before the buttercream is loaded into the piping bag, it’s rolled up in a piece of plastic wrap that has been painted with lines of gel food coloring, then formed into a log. I found it easiest to divide the frosting in half for this step. Once rolled, one end of the log is trimmed off before the whole kit and caboodle is placed in the piping bag and then…well, it’s piping business as usual. You know, except for the part where each cupcake looks different and the edges of the frosting are bright and beautiful!
It goes without saying that Tie-Dye Cupcakes are delicious, but let’s be real: these are all about aesthetics. They’re so fun—perfect for summer get-togethers, birthdays, or any occasion that could use a pop (or four) of color and a really spectacular bit of vanilla cake.
Tie-Dye Cupcakes makes 12-14 cupcakes
Cupcakes: 1/2 cup milk, room temperature 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 1 cup granulated sugar 2 large eggs, room temperature 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 4 food colorings of choice (I used gel)
Frosting: 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar pinch of Kosher or sea salt 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 3 tablespoons heavy cream 4 food colorings of choice (I used the same gels from the cake)
Special Equipment: plastic wrap food-safe paintbrushes piping bag with a tip and coupler
Make the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.
Combine milk and sour cream a liquid measuring cup, then use a fork to whisk them together. Set aside.
In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, combining completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Mix in half the dry ingredients, followed by half the milk/sour cream. Add the remaining dry ingredients followed by the remaining milk/sour cream.
Divide batter into four small bowls (about 2/3-3/4 cup batter in each). Add a different food coloring to each one and stir with forks to distribute the color (I used 5 drops each pink, blue, green and yellow gel).
To achieve the tie-dye effect, spoon a heaping 1/2 tablespoon of each color into each liner, adjusting as needed, until each one is 2/3-3/4 full. Tap full pan on the counter five times before baking cupcakes for 18-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.
Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, combining completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla & heavy cream until combined. Set aside.
Lay 2 14-16-inch long pieces of plastic wrap on a surface. On each one, use paintbrushes to paint parallel 6-inch stripes of each color of food coloring about 1/2-inch apart. The food coloring may bead on the surface of the plastic wrap—this is okay.
Top each set of stripes with half the frosting. Working with one assemblage of frosting/food coloring/ plastic wrap at a time, use the plastic wrap to roll and manipulate the frosting into a log shape with food coloring stripes going down all sides. Twist the ends of the plastic wrap so that the log looks like a piece of old-fashioned candy. Repeat this process with the other assemblage.
Working with one log of frosting at a time, trim one end and place the wrapped log trimmed-end-down in a piping bag fitted with a tip. Twist the piping bag closed and pipe frosting onto the cupcakes. Repeat trimming process with the second log of frosting when needed.
Serve cupcakes. Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 4.