Category Archives: Entertaining

Vegan, Gluten-Free Peachy Berry Crisp

Our annual trip to Maine is coming up in just five weeks. In addition spending my days dreaming about what treasures I’m going to pick up at Iverstudio and tiptoeing into the ocean at Fine Sand Beach, I’m diving deep into menu planning.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Peachy Berry Crisp

I cook a primarily vegan, gluten-free menu up there to accommodate all of our various dietary needs. It works for us, and even the guests we’ve had who don’t regularly eat that way seem to enjoy it. We have a list of staple meals—vegan Everyday Cassoulet is always the #1 request—but I am constantly on the lookout for new things to add to our repertoire. Beyond three square meals a day (plus a lot of guacamole), I most look forward to making a vegan, gluten-free dessert for my friends and my blog.

Last year’s offering was an easy Vegan, Gluten-Free Apple Crisp. It was fall on the island, so going with apples made perfect sense. Now in the heat of summer, I’m giving that recipe a peachy berry spin!

Vegan, Gluten-Free Peachy Berry Crisp

I punched up the original recipe with loads of fresh peaches, brown sugar and lemon, and just a hint of spice—enough so you know it’s there, but not enough to overwhelm the fruit. Once the peaches are prepared and tossed with all that goodness, a cup of fresh blueberries are added to the mix. You could add any berry you like here and it would work, but keep in mind that some may leach color more easily than others.

The crisp topping is made primarily with almond flour, gluten-free rolled oats, brown sugar and vegan butter (or coconut oil). A thick layer is scattered over the filling, and then the whole thing is baked until golden, piping hot, and screaming for a scoop (or two or three) of your favorite vegan vanilla ice cream. I’m an oat milk vanilla girl myself.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Peachy Berry Crisp

Vegan, Gluten-Free Peachy Berry Crisp is super summery and wildly quick and simple to make. It’s perfect for cookouts and dinner parties, but if you can swing it, it’ll really hit the spot on vacation with two of your favorite people.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Peachy Berry Crisp
Vegan, Gluten-Free Peachy Berry Crisp
makes one 9-10 inch dish, about 6 servings

Filling:
5 cups sliced ripe peaches (about 7-8 medium peaches)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup fresh blueberries

Crisp Topping:
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup vegan butter (or refined coconut oil), melted

For serving:
dairy-free vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch casserole dish or cast iron pan with vegan butter (or refined coconut oil). Set aside.

Place peach slices in a medium mixing bowl and toss with lemon juice, brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Add blueberries and gently fold together. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

Make the topping. In a medium mixing bowl (I just wipe out the one I used for the fruit), whisk together oats, almond flour, sugar, and salt. Add melted butter (or coconut oil) and stir until everything is saturated. It may seem sandy; this is okay. Scatter topping onto the fruit.

Bake 28-30 minutes, until topping is browned and peaches are tender. Let cool 10 minutes before serving in bowls with dairy-free vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to 4 days. Reheat before serving.

Key Lime Pie-vlova {Pavlova}

Key Lime Pie-vlova {Pavlova}​

When I posted my Pavlova with Lemon Curd & Berries last year, I suggested a key lime pie variation. In the year that has followed, I haven’t been able to get that idea out of my head. So naturally, here we are.

Key Lime Pie-vlova {Pavlova}​

This is a summer dessert mash-up for the ages. We’re skipping the usual fresh fruit this time around, instead opting to top this pavlova with a sweet-tart key lime curd, whipped cream swirls, and a sprinkle of cinnamon-scented graham cracked crumbs! If this topping combo sounds rich, that’s because it is, but it also perfectly balances out the crisp edges and airy marshmallow center of this pavlova.

Key Lime Pie-vlova {Pavlova}​

My favorite thing about making pavlova is that you can (and should) do it all in advance. The pavlova itself can be made up to three days ahead, and the key lime curd can sit in your fridge for a couple of days. If you can trust yourself around the graham cracker crumbs (I cannot), you can store them in your pantry for a day or two. Really, all you have to do day-of is whip the cream and assemble the thing, which only takes a few minutes.

Key Lime Pie-vlova {Pavlova}​
Key Lime Pie-vlova {Pavlova}​

Be warned though that as soon as your Key Lime Pie-vlova is assembled, it’s the beginning of the end. This is not a dessert that can wait on you—this is a dig in immediately and don’t expect leftovers situation. Make no mistake, you are at the mercy of the pavlova, not the other way around.

That said, if you must be beholden to a dessert, let it be this one.

Key Lime Pie-vlova {Pavlova}​
Key Lime Pie-vlova {Pavlova}
makes one pavlova, about 8 servings

Pavlova:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Key Lime Curd:
2/3 cup key lime juice (fresh or bottled)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 large egg yolks, room temperature

Graham Cracker Crumb Topping:
4 sheets graham crackers
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy cream, very cold
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

Garnish (optional):
lime slices
fresh berries
chocolate shavings

Make the pavlova. Preheat oven to 250F. Draw an 8-inch circle on a sheet of parchment big enough for a rimmed sheet pan. Turn the parchment over (so the drawn circle side is facing down) and place on the pan. Set aside.

In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Set aside.

In a separate very small bowl, combine vanilla and vinegar. Set aside.

Add egg whites and salt to a very clean, dry mixing bowl. Starting at the lowest setting and gradually ramping up to medium-high, use an electric mixer to beat egg whites until foamy (about 2-3 minutes). With the mixer running, add sugar-cornstarch mixture a tablespoon at a time until incorporated. Then add the vanilla-vinegar mixture. Turn the speed up to high and whip until stiff peaks form (about 5 minutes).

Turn the mixture (now a meringue) out onto the prepared baking sheet, using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to gently spread it to the edges of the circle. Make it taller at the edges than the center so you have a logical place for the toppings.

Place pavlova in the oven and bake for 75 minutes (1:15) until puffed, glossy, and slightly cream-colored. Turn off the oven and wedge a wooden spoon in the door to keep it slightly ajar. Let the pavlova cool completely in the oven (a couple of hours or overnight).

If not using immediately, carefully remove the pavlova from the parchment and double wrap with plastic wrap. Keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.

While the pavlova is baking, make the Key Lime Curd. Fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water. Set a heatproof bowl over the top, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove bowl and bring water to a simmer.

In the heatproof bowl, whisk together key lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolks. Place bowl over simmering water, creating a double boiler. Let cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat.

Place a fine mesh strainer over a heatproof bowl. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to press curd through the strainer. Transfer curd to a heatproof container. Press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface. Let cool completely at room temperature. Refrigerate until you are assembling the pavlova, up to 2 days in advance.

Make the graham cracker crumb topping. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add crushed graham crackers, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cook, stirring very frequently, until fragrant (about 5-7 minutes).

Make whipped cream topping. In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Load whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a tip.

Assemble the pavlova immediately before serving. If wrapped, gently remove and discard plastic wrap. Place pavlova on a serving plate. Spread the top of the pavlova with about 1 cup key lime curd. Pipe whipped cream over the top as desired. Finish with graham cracked crumbs and garnish with lime slices, fresh fruit or chocolate shavings, if desired. Serve immediately.

Frangipane & Rhubarb Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Frangipane & Rhubarb Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}​

Let’s make this the summer of frangipane. I mean it! Frangipane in everything. Toast, pies, tarts, turnovers, croissants, pastries, French toast—everything. But let’s start with this Frangipane & Rhubarb Puff Pancake, okay? Okay. Glad that’s settled.

Frangipane & Rhubarb Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}​

Now, if you’re over there going “WTF is frangipane and why won’t she shut up about it?” here’s a little explanation. Frangipane is almond pastry cream, the easiest pastry cream there is. Just blend together almond flour (or blanched almonds), all-purpose flour, sugar, butter, an egg, salt, and almond extract. Boom! Done! You have thick, creamy sweet almond frangipane at your disposal for any and all of your baking needs.

(I have a lot of baking needs.)

Frangipane & Rhubarb Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}​

As detailed above, you can do many things with frangipane, but today we’re dropping spoonfuls haphazardly over the top of some eggy batter, scattering on little lengths of rhubarb and then baking it into a luxurious puff pancake. It’ll be tall and puffy (hence the name) when it comes out of the oven, but will quickly relax into something more rumpled and rustic, dotted with pockets of toasty almond cream and soft rhubarb. Find me a more flavorful sweet summer brunch. I’ll wait.

Frangipane & Rhubarb Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}​

While rhubarb season is already waning, don’t fret! You can sub in any cherry, berry, or sliced stone fruit you love into this recipe with great success. Frangipane goes will just about everything. Watch out—I’m only getting started.

Frangipane & Rhubarb Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}
makes 4-6 servings

1/2 recipe frangipane (recipe below)
2 thick or 3 thin stalks rhubarb
4 large eggs
1 cup milk (not skim or fat free)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
3-4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons butter (unsalted or salted)

Toppings (optional):
confectioner's sugar
lemon wedges
pure maple syrup
sliced almonds

Place a large ovenproof cast iron or stainless steel pan in a cold oven. Preheat oven to 400F.

Make frangipane according to recipe below. You will only need half for this recipe—set it in a space near the oven for easy access.

Trim off and discard rhubarb leaves (they are toxic). Wash and dry rhubarb stalks and slice into 1 1/2-2 inch lengths. If your rhubarb is thick, slice it in half for thinner pieces. Set in a space near the oven for easy access.

Make the puff pancake batter. In the bowl of a food processor or high-powered blender, combine eggs, milk, vanilla, flour, sugar, and salt. Process 30 seconds, or until no lumps remain. Let batter rest five minutes.

Once oven has reached 400F, remove the hot pan and add butter. Place pan back in the oven for 2 minutes, until butter has melted and begun browning. Remove pan from the oven, and swirl the butter so it coats the pan. Pour in batter.

Working very quickly, drop spoonfuls of frangipane and rhubarb over the top of the batter—don’t worry about specificity or creating a design, this should be done as quickly as you can without burning yourself. Bake 21-22 minutes, until puffed and golden. Do NOT open the oven door during baking.

Let pancake cool 2-5 minutes before slicing. Serve immediately with toppings of choice.
Frangipane {Almond Pastry Cream}
makes a heaping cup

1 cup blanched almond flour or 4 ounces blanched almonds
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold-ish room temperature, cut into cubes
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

Make the frangipane. In a food processor (or very good blender), pulse almond flour, all-purpose flour, salt and sugar together. Pulse in butter. Pour in egg and almond extract, and process until frangipane is a homogenous paste.

Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars​

Nothing is better than homemade chocolate chip cookies, but these Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars might give them a run for their money. I mean, what’s not to love about two thin layers of chewy chocolate chip cookie sandwiched together with a layer of chocolate fudge?! It goes without saying that these are sublime.

Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars​

This recipe is remarkably easy to make (and even easier to eat). The chocolate chip cookie portion is simply my go-to cookie cake recipe. I made 1.5x the amount to fill a 9×13” pan and just used regular melted butter instead of browning it, but otherwise it’s the same one bowl, no-mixer recipe I’ve used for years.

The fudge is even easier than the cookie dough! Simply melt some dark chocolate in the microwave and then stir in a can of sweetened condensed milk. The mixture will be very thick and fudgy (because it’s fudge, duh). If you were to spread it in a square pan and let it cool, you could slice it into pieces and eat it as is, but today it’s going between two layers of cookie dough and being baked to chewy, chocolaty perfection.

Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars​

Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars only need 30 minutes in the oven—it’s the cooling step that takes a while! It will be worth it though because you’ll get chewy cookie, soft fudge and perfectly clean edges. Who can resist these layers?! Not me. That’s for damn sure.

Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars​
Fudge-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
makes one 9x13-inch pan, 24-30 bars

Cookie Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
18 tablespoons (2 sticks + 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups light or dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Fudge:
12 ounces chopped dark chocolate
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x13-inch pan. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on the long sides for removal, and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cookie dough. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter and brown sugar. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, stirring to combine. Fold in chocolate chips.

Transfer half the dough to prepared pan and spread/press into one even layer.

Make the fudge. Place dark chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between, until melted and smooth. Whisk in sweetened condensed milk. Mixture will be thick.

Use an offset icing spatula or the back of a spoon to spread fudge over the layer of cookie dough, making sure to go all the way to the edges. Use your hands to press the remaining dough into an even layer over the top of the fudge; this is easiest if you work with a little bit at a time and patch it together.

Bake 25-30 minutes, until the top no longer appears shiny.

Let cookie bars cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use the parchment overhang to remove to a cutting board. Discard parchment. Use a large sharp chef’s knife to slice bars. Serve.

Decorated cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to five days.

How to Par-Bake Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Method!}

How to Par-Bake Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Method!}​

Coming from a Christmas morning breakfast casserole family, I’ve never really understood why so many people make cinnamon rolls on that day of all days.

I mean, have you made cinnamon rolls from scratch? They are not a quick recipe, clocking in at a minimum of three hours start-to-finish (slightly less if you do the rise overnight). My family is all adults so we start our Christmas morning at a leisurely 9am, eat around 10, then get to the gifts around noon. If we wanted cinnamon rolls for breakfast, that would require the baker (me!) to be up and functioning at 7am. Big no thank you. And if you have kids or people who get up for gifts at 6am or earlier…3am? Earlier? Forget it!

But what if I told you that you could have warm, fluffy, homemade cinnamon rolls on your table on Christmas morning in under an hour? Yes, it’s possible, thanks to a little technique called par-baking.

You’ve definitely heard the term “par-baking” on here before in association with pie crust. It means to partially bake, which is exactly what we’re going to do to these rolls: partially bake them ahead of time, then finish the baking on Christmas. This method will work with any yeast-raised cinnamon roll recipe you love. I wouldn’t recommend this method for any rolls with fruit in the filling (i.e. not these) as it might degrade during thawing, but I think nuts would be okay.

How to Par-Bake Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Method!}​

Now, this isn’t a magic trick. You do have to plan ahead to do about 2.5 hours of mixing/kneading/rolling/rising at some point to make this work. But (but!) the bulk of the work can be done anytime between now and Christmas (or whenever you want cinnamon rolls).

The process is simple. Make your cinnamon roll recipe up to the baking step, then bake for about half the baking time (15 minutes). At this point, your rolls should be risen, puffed and pale. Where you would normally continue baking them until brown, resist that urge and remove them from the oven.

Let your rolls cool to room temperature and then triple wrap in plastic, cover in foil and freeze until the night before you need them. If you don’t want to have your 9×13” pan out of commission for any length of time, you can bake in a disposable aluminum baking pan, then tuck it into your freezer for up to six weeks.

The night before you want cinnamon rolls, move the par-baked rolls from your freezer to your fridge to thaw out. In the morning, simply uncover and bake your rolls for the remaining 15 minutes, until golden. Finish with cream cheese frosting and voila! Fresh homemade cinnamon rolls on your table in under an hour, and you didn’t have to sacrifice sleep to make it happen.

How to Par-Bake Cinnamon Rolls {Make Ahead Method!}​

Call it Christmas magic. Call it whatever you want. Just call me for breakfast.

Par-baked Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from Dana Velden

cinnamon roll recipe of choice
9x13-inch baking pan (disposable aluminum, if desired)

Follow your yeast-raised cinnamon roll recipe up to the baking step.

Preheat your oven to 375F. Bake cinnamon rolls for 10-15 minutes, until risen, puffed and pale.

Remove cinnamon rolls from the oven and allow to cool completely in their pan on a rack. Triple wrap the pan in plastic wrap, then wrap in foil. Freeze for up to 6 weeks.

The night before you want cinnamon rolls, move the pan of frozen rolls to the refrigerator. Let thaw 8-12 hours.

Preheat oven to 375F. Unwrap rolls; discard foil and plastic wrap.

Bake rolls for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Top with cream cheese frosting (or whatever your recipe says) and serve warm.