Category Archives: Holiday

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

Like so many of my favorite recipes, these Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes came to be on a whim. There were no plans; I was just playing around with cornmeal leftover from making Blueberry Corn Muffins on a Wednesday morning when shortcake inspiration struck.

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

I set to work making a batch of my trusty Cornmeal Biscuits, which are somewhere between a buttermilk biscuit and cornbread. They’re tender and a touch crumbly, but still pretty sturdy—perfect for shortcakes. I added a little extra sugar and cut them larger than I normally would for maximum surface area.

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

I baked them up and let them cool, spending the lag time digging through my fridge for seasonal fruit. I sliced up a couple of perfect nectarines and tossed in some blueberries, then added a few tablespoons of sugar and let them macerate. I also whipped some cream.

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

Then I assembled the whole lot. The cooled biscuits were sliced into two thin disks and piled high with whipped cream and fruit, only to be quickly demolished with forks and fingers.

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

Oh my goodness, y’all, these Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes are so good. Sweet, but not too sweet. Fluffy, tender, just corny enough. Creamy, fruit-forward. Full-on late summer vibes. Not bad for Wednesday morning baking improv.

Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes
Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes
makes about 10 shortcakes

2-3 ripe nectarines (or peaches or other stone fruit), thinly sliced
1 cup blueberries
5 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
2 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 batch Cornmeal Biscuits for Shortcakes (recipe below)

In a small-medium mixing bowl, toss together nectarines, berries and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit (macerate) at room temperature for up to an hour.

When the biscuits are cool and the fruit is ready, make the whipped cream. In a large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Use an electric mixer on medium-high speed to whip cream until stiff peaks form.

Assemble shortcakes. Use a fork to gently split biscuits in half equatorially (it’s okay if they’re not perfect). Gently move the bottom half of a biscuit to a plate. Top with whipped cream and fruit. Place the top half of the biscuit over the top. Garnish with more whipped cream and berries, if desired. Serve immediately.
Cornmeal Biscuits for Shortcakes
makes about 10 shortcakes

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
2/3 cup buttermilk, very cold

For finishing:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter and use a pastry blender (or two forks or very clean fingertips) to break it down until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir in buttermilk until a dough forms.

Flour a surface and your fingertips. Turn dough onto the surface and pat until it’s 1/2-inch thick. Use a 2 3/4-inch biscuit cutter to cut biscuits. Make sure to cut directly down—do not twist. Place cut biscuits a couple of inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Chill dough/baking sheet if anything becomes too warm/sticky at anytime in this process.

Bake biscuits 12-15 minutes, or until puffy and golden. Remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter.

Let biscuits cool until you can handle them. Cool completely before using for shortcakes.

Cornmeal Biscuits are best the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours.
Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes
Cornmeal Summer Shortcakes

Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}

Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​

If you’ve ever seen fancy-looking Bostock in a bakery, you may be surprised to learn that it’s a snap to make as far as French pastry goes. The origin of the name is up for debate, but it’s sometimes also referred to as Brioche aux Amandes or “almond brioche.” All that is fine and good—almonds and brioche are enough of a selling point—but I was drawn to Bostock when I learned it’s not actually a pastry on its own, but instead a way to repurpose day-old bread. Yep, it’s the pastry equivalent of French toast! Bostock is nothing more than thick, day-old slices of brioche painted with simple syrup, topped with frangipane and sliced almonds (and sometimes seasonal fruit), and baked until golden.

Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​

Permitting you are using store bought brioche, this recipe comes together very quickly. Simple syrup is made from equal volumes of sugar and water, and takes only five minutes to simmer. Frangipane, a sweet almond pastry cream made primarily of almond flour, sugar, butter and an egg, just needs two minutes in the blender. See? Quick and easy! Also, if you are more organized than I am, both elements can be made up to a week ahead—just make sure to let your frangipane come to room temperature before you try to spread it on the delicate brioche.

Assembly is easy as can be. Cut the stale brioche into 8 thick slices, then give each one a heavy brush of simple syrup and a luxurious smear of frangipane. Add some fresh fruit if you like, or don’t; I sliced up a nectarine for half my pastries. Sprinkle on some sliced almonds and bake your Bostock for 25-30 minutes, or until it’s puffed and browned a bit.

Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​

One more wonderful thing about Bostock? You don’t have to let it cool completely! Definitely don’t eat it straight out of the oven, but go right ahead and enjoy it warm with a (admittedly heavy) dusting of confectioner’s sugar. It’s crispy and toasty at the edges, and the frangipane squidges against your teeth in the most satisfying way. Bostock is softer at room temperature, but still pretty dang stellar. I haven’t seen many people tell you to eat it cold, but I’ll admit that I like the leftovers straight from the fridge, too.

Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​

Like its spiritual cousin French toast, Bostock is a genius way to repurpose leftovers into something much greater than the sum of its parts. While the classic recipe is made with brioche, you could give the Bostock treatment to a number of leftover carbs. Challah, stale croissants, and day-old waffles come to mind. You could also swap out the simple syrup for warmed jam—I’m absolutely going to try matching the flavor with my seasonal fruit topping next time! Saturday morning double cherry Bostock, anyone?!

Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​
Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}
makes 8 servings

Simple Syrup:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water

Frangipane:
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

For Assembly:
8 thick slices brioche, preferably a bit stale (mine were from 1 14oz loaf)
2 medium sliced nectarines or other seasonal fruit (optional)
2-3 tablespoons sliced almonds
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

Arrange a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Make the simple syrup. Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Set aside.

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.

Place brioche slices in a single layer on the prepared pan. Brush each slice with simple syrup, making sure to use up all the syrup. Spread about 2 heaping tablespoons of frangipane over each slice of brioche, covering the entire top. Press in fruit, if using, then sprinkle on the sliced almonds.

Bake Bostock for 25-30 minutes, until the frangipane as begun to brown in places. Let cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before dusting with confectioner’s sugar and serving slightly warm or at room temperature.

Bostock is best the day it’s made, but may be wrapped and kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​
Bostock {Toasted Brioche with Almonds}​

Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake

It is far too hot to bake today, but that’s okay because Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake requires no baking at all.

Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake

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.

Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake

I’m pretty sure that’s what hot girl summer is all about.

Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake
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.
Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake
Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake

Tie-Dye Cupcakes

Tie-Dye Cupcakes

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.

Tie-Dye Cupcakes

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!

Tie-Dye Cupcakes

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
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.
Tie-Dye Cupcakes
Tie-Dye Cupcakes

Blueberry Oat Squares

Blueberry Oat Squares​

Blueberry Pie is great and all, but so are quick, easy, berry-forward recipes that don’t require you to deal with cold butter in blazing summer heat.

Blueberry Oat Squares​

Y’all, I am all about these Blueberry Oat Squares right now. The edges are crisp and buttery with plenty of chewy oats, while the centers are bursting with juicy fresh blueberry filling. They’re super summery and delicious, and a snap to make!

One simple dough doubles as both crust and topping. Just stir six ingredients together in a bowl, then firmly press about half the resulting mixture into the bottom of a square pan. Top it with a layer of simply-spiced blueberry pie filling, then press on the remaining dough. You’ll probably have a few gaps in the topping, but that’s okay—that’s where the jammy filling will peek through. Love that visual and textural diversity.

Blueberry Oat Squares​

Once baked and cooled completely, Blueberry Oat Squares can be sliced and served at room temperature or cold. They’re easy to stack and transport, and don’t need to be chilled at all times—this is a perfect picnic dessert if I’ve ever seen one. If you want to get a little fancy, you could even serve them lightly warmed and topped with ice cream and fresh blueberries. But while, in most cases, I identify as “a little fancy,” I’m happy to keep things simple here. For now, at least.

Blueberry Oat Squares
makes one 8- or 9-inch pan, about 16 squares

Filling:
12 ounces fresh blueberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/4 medium lemon)

Dough:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled slightly

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil and grease with butter. Set aside.

Make the filling. Combine blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and lemon juice in a medium mixing bowl. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold them all together until combined. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, and oats. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in melted butter—mixture may be crumbly, but should hold together when pinched.

Firmly press half the dough (about 2 cups) into an even layer at the bottom of the prepared pan.

Give blueberry filling a stir, then scatter over packed dough (leaving behind any excess liquid), leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides. Scatter remaining dough mixture over the top. Use the palms of your hands to gently pack it into a even layer, covering the jam.

Bake full pan for 25-27 minutes, or until golden and set on top. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Slice bars with a sharp chef’s knife, wiping the blade clean between cuts. Do not try to slice bars until they are completely room temperature. Serve room temperature, cold, or warmed slightly with ice cream.

Bars will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Layer them with wax or parchment paper for best results.
Blueberry Oat Squares​
Blueberry Oat Squares​