Tag Archives: dessert

Pinot and Piano…and stellar desserts

My home was filled with gorgeous music on Sunday evening. The sixth annual Pinot and Piano Fun-Raiser brought together three musicians, 16 guests, and wine and dessert. I don’t play my piano much these days, so it’s nice to hear it played by someone else. For this event, I’m in charge of the venue, a freshly tuned grand piano, and dessert.

We had two intermissions; the first one featured this simple dessert (regular wine glass shown for size reference):

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Mini blueberry cheesecake shooters. I adapted The Pioneer Woman’s Cherry Cheesecake Shooters recipe, and topped it with my blueberry compote using this summer’s blueberries from my yard. These mini wine tasting glasses hold just enough, and look fabulous. Full recipe at the bottom of this post.

The second intermission featured a buffet of chocolate chip shortbread, brownies, fruit salad, and one other sensational dessert, a flourless chocolate cake with chocolate glaze.

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I wanted a gluten-free option on the menu, but this cake is so good that the GF status is just a bonus. This was easy, elegant, and delicious. I used a 9 inch cake pan, because I didn’t have a 7 inch tart pan. I reduced the baking time to 19 minutes (start checking at 15) to compensate for the wider, shallower pan. The recipe says it serves six, but it would easily serve 12 as a single dessert. We cut 20 slices, since it was part of a dessert buffet.

The music for piano solo and duet, and piano and flute, ranged from Bach to Handel to Grieg to Mendelssohn to the Beatles.

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A lovely evening among friends.

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Mother/Daughter duet. And since this is a knitting blog, I’ll note that designer Chrissy Gardiner is the daughter. She has many talents!

Blueberry Cheesecake Shooters
adapted from the Pioneer Woman’s Cherry Cheesecake Shooters

Make the blueberry compote the night before, and refrigerate.

For the blueberry compote:
2.5 cups frozen blueberries, unthawed
1/3 C sugar
1/3 C water
1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice

Combine 1.5 C berries with the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until berries burst, about 10 minutes. Add remaining berries and lemon juice. Continue stirring; cook until compote thickens, about 8 minutes. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Serve warm, room temperature, cold, whatever! You’ll have enough left over to top ice cream, or pancakes…

For the cheesecake (same day, or night before):
12 graham cracker rectangles
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 8 ounce packages cream cheese
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 – 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (to taste)
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor, or place them in a resealable plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin. Gradually add the melted butter and process or mix until crumbs begin to cling together. Spoon this “crust” into serving dishes: mini wine glasses, wine glasses, whatever you’d like.

Combine cream cheese,sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip until fluffy. Place mixture into a resealable plastic bag, cut off a corner and pipe mixture over graham cracker crumbs.

Spoon blueberry compote over the cheesecake mixture. Top with sliced almonds just before serving. Enjoy!

Yield: 12 servings in mini wine glasses, fewer if you’re using larger dishes. I used Libbey’s mini wine tasting glasses. They’d also be cute in little half cup canning jars.

perfect bourbon vanilla ice cream

My (adult) kids gave me an Cuisinart ice cream maker for Christmas. Perhaps it was a self-serving gift, but I thought it was inspired. I’ve used it several times since then, in an effort to perfect a bourbon vanilla ice cream recipe. Here’s my version of perfect.

Perfect Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream

6 egg yolks
1 pint heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 – 1/3 cup bourbon (taste it and see how boozy you want it)

Directions:
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat cream, milk, half and half, and sugar just to a boil.
Separate egg yolks to a large heat-proof bowl. Slowly add 2 cups of the hot cream mixture in a thin stream to the yolks while constantly whisking. (This tempering keeps the yolks from curdling when they meet up with the hot cream.) Whisk the tempered egg yolks back into the pan of remaining hot cream mixture, and simmer for two more minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.

Add vanilla, then bourbon, stirring constantly. Start with 1/4 cup bourbon, and add a little more until it tastes just the way you want it. I used just over 1/4 cup.

Cool over an ice bath, or in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours. Process in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. You may need to chill it further in the freezer after processing, as it can be quite soft, even after processing. Servings: 6 to 8 servings, or more, depending on how you use it.

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I used my first ice cream attempt for profiteroles, using this recipe for shells. I’d halve the recipe next time, and make them smaller/cuter and serve them in a trio, drizzled with chocolate truffle sauce.

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My second ice cream attempt had a firmer texture, but wasn’t sweet enough, and too bourbon-y. It’s still in the freezer. Third time’s a charm! I used it for ice cream sandwiches using those ubiquitous thin ginger cookies you see during the holiday season, and drizzled them with chocolate truffle sauce. They need to go back in the freezer to firm up after making them, so leave yourself a couple hours before serving.

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Oh, that chocolate truffle sauce? You’ll find the recipe here.

Back to my knitting!

Single Skein Club 2010

My family enrolled me in the 2010 Single Skein Club over at Twisted for Christmas. (Thanks, guys!) The club has a project every other month, six during the calendar year. It’s February, which means that it’s time for the first club offering. If you don’t have yours yet, and don’t want to know, look away now!

Have you averted your eyes? It’s almost too late!

Okay; it’s time.

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This month’s offering is a sweet cowl and cuffs pattern by Star Athena. Star is the manager over at Twisted, and she’s also a brilliant designer with a primo sense of style, and a great teacher, too. I took her Sock Design class at Sock Summit last summer. Star’s Arctic Blast Mitts were the February kick off for the club last year. I made those…twice! Remember these?

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The yarn this month is Malabrigo Twist, a worsted weight plied baby merino wool yarn, in the Indiecita coloway. I love it. Blues and greens; it’s perfect. It feels wonderful.

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Look at the color…

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And this month’s goodie? A project bag from Flower Pie Designs, also local to Portland. The bags are all different, so don’t be surprised to see someone else’s completely different Single Skein Club project bag! (Yes I know the characters are upside down. I can even read some of them. On the back of the bag, they’re right side up, because the bag is one piece of fabric, folded, not two pieced together.)

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I love this bag; it will be perfect for corralling my project inside my big Sock Summit tote.

There are a few spaces left in the Single Skein Club. You can pick up your club kits locally, or Twisted will ship to you if you’re far away. Contact Twisted if you want in on the fun!

And here’s a sweet opportunity for those of you who are local to PDX. Sweet Sound of Jazz, a fund-raiser for the Band programs at Grant High School. Enjoy music and a dessert buffet, Friday evening, February 12, 7 p.m.

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