Fresh Peach Dessert

This is a favorite fruity dessert. Look for fresh ripe peaches at your farmer's market. Or if you're lucky, in the tree in your back yard. Whenever I eat this, I'm transported way back to the summers when I was dating the cyclist. His mom would make this for us and we would sit around the back yard visiting and enjoying the fresh peaches. Those were the salad days.

Try it. It tastes like summer.

Fresh Peach Dessert

2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 T powdered sugar
1/2 cup melted butter

Combine and press half in bottom of a 9 by 13 pan. Set aside remaining crumbs to sprinkle on top.

2 cups water
1 cup sugar
2 T cornstarch
1 (3 oz) package peach Jell-O
4 cups diced peaches (about 4 large peaches)

Boil water, sugar and cornstarch in medium saucepan. Cook until thick (it thickens quickly...thirty seconds to a minute). Add jell-o and stir until dissolved. Set aside to cool while you peel and dice the peaches. Spread peaches over crust and pour Jell-O mixture over peaches.
Refrigerate until set (I generally let it sit in the fridge overnight at this point).

Cream topping:
1 pint whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
8 oz softened cream cheese

Whip cream with sugar. Set aside. In a separate bowl, whip cream cheese until fluffy. Add in the whipped cream and fold until combined. Spread over set gelatin layer. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Sprinkle with remaining crust before serving.

Cornmeal Pancakes

I love pancakes, and I love cornbread. These are deliciously buttery and the cornmeal gives them a nice bite.

Cornmeal Pancakes
from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook

3/4 c flour
2 T sugar
1/2 c yellow cornmeal
1 T plus 1 t baking powder
3/4 t kosher salt
1 cup milk
5 T unsalted butter
2 large eggs, beaten
canola oil for griddle (I use Pam)

Preheat electric griddle to 375, or place a griddle pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.
Combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan, and warm over low heat until the butter melts. Let cool to lukewarm, then beat in the eggs. Whisk the egg mixture into the dry ingredients, and combine. The batter should have small to medium lumps.
Cook on heated griddle. Can keep warm in a 175 degree oven.

Cinnamon French Toast with Caramel Syrup

One of the Cyclist's coworkers paid him for some artwork with some delicious French Toast from Kneaders. He raved about it. He found the recipe for me and requested that I make it for Sunday Brunch. The original recipe is an overnight French Toast casserole, but Saturday night was a bit hectic, so I adapted it to work on the griddle.

This is melt in your mouth, serve to good company, watch your socks French Toast.

Cinnamon French Toast
adapted from Kneaders

1 loaf Kneaders Chunky Cinnamon Bread cut in 8 slices (when I went to buy it, it was sold out so I made my own*. If you don't want to make it and you don't live near Kneaders, look for a good cinnamon swirl bread at your local bakery)

4 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 T. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 T. vanilla
Butter for pan


Heat frying pan or electric griddle to about 300 (medium-medium/high). Combine eggs, milk, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla in a shallow pan. Dip bread slices in egg mixture. Cook in butter in hot pan.

Serve hot out of the frying pan with warm caramel syrup.

Kneader's Caramel Syrup

1 c. Brown sugar
1 c. Whipping Cream
1 c. Light Karo Syrup
Blend together and heat on stove top until sugar is smooth.
Serve warm.

*Homemade chunky cinnamon bread

Bread dough
2 T butter, melted
cinnamon/sugar mixture

Follow the directions for bread dough, stopping after step two.
After the dough has risen in the bowl, dump it out onto a lightly floured surface. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut off golf-ball size bits of dough. Roll into a ball. Dip in melted butter and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place in a greased bread pan.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350. Place a large pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Bring 3 cups water to a boil on the stove. Pour the hot water into the preheated pan to create a steam bath for the bread.
Bake the bread for 30 to 40 minutes until crust is golden. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and cool completely on a rack.

Mini Cheesecakes for The Cyclist

I bought the new Martha Stewart Cupcake cookbook. So many cupcakes, so little time! That's where the cyclist found his birthday treats this year.

These little cheesecakes are so good. They are baked in a water bath (simple, don't worry) which makes them wonderfully creamy. They have a homemade graham cracker crust (again, simple, don't worry). Maybe you're thinking that the Nilla Wafer in the bottom is so easy, why make the graham cracker crust? Let me tell you--the homemade crust whips up in minutes. And the results? A rich, buttery, crunch. You'll be converted after one bite.

Marble Cheesecakes
adapted from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

1 1/2 cups finely ground graham crackers (about 12 sheets; use a mini chopper or food processor)
3 T unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups plus 5 T sugar
1 container (6 ounces) fresh raspberries (I made half with raspberry, half blueberry)
2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
pinch of salt
1 t pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins (makes 24) with paper liners. Stir together ground graham crackers, butter, and 3 T sugar. Measure 1 tablespoon of crust mixture into each lined cup. Flatten with the back of a plain (not measuring) spoon. Bake until set, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer tins to a wire rack to cool.
Process raspberries (or blueberries) in a food processor until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve or mesh strainer into a small bowl, pressing with a flexible spatula to remove as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Whisk in 2 T sugar.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese until fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. With mixer on low speed, add remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar in a steady stream. Add salt and vanilla; mix until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined after each.

Spoon filling mixture evenly (about 4 tablespoons each) over crust in each cup. Dollop 1/2 teaspoon of berry puree in a few spots over each. With a toothpick, swirl sauce into filling.

Prepare your water bath. (I made them twice and this way was the easiest). Put large rimmed cookie sheets (half sheet pans) in oven. (I put them on two different racks). With pitcher or teapot, fill each about half way with hot tap water. Place each tin in a cookie sheet.

Bake, rotating pans halfway through (carefully...try not to slosh the water), until filling is set, about 30 minutes. Carefully remove tins from water bath and transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate (in tins) at least 4 hours (or out of tins up to five days in airtight containers). Remove from tins just before serving.

A Birthday Cake for Number Four

So I'm only two and a half weeks late, but that's what happens when it's not your first child...or second...or third. I made up for it. What one year old doesn't need a five layer cake of her own?

You should have seen her eat it.

"You can do it, Brucie!"

This is a delicious and simple chocolate cake recipe. It's baked in a half sheet pan (I cut out rounds to make the layer cake). It will definitely serve a crowd. Make it and take it to your next pot luck or picnic.

Mississippi Mud Cake
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 t vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 15 1/2-by-10 1/2 inch (jelly roll or rimmed cookie sheet) pan with cooking spray.
Sift the flour into a large bowl. Add the sugar, baking soda, and salt. Stir well to combine and set aside.
In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the butter, milk, and cocoa powder. Bring to a boil, whisking frequently, until the butter melts completely. Add the cocoa mixture to the flour mixture, whisking until combined. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely in the pan.
If you just want to make a sheet cake to take to a party or picnic, frost at this point, transport and serve right out of the pan.
To make the layer cake, I used a 3 1/2 inch round cookie cutter and cut out five circles from the baked cake. Place one round on cake stand. Spread with about 1 T frosting. Top with additional layers and frosting. Spread a very thin layer of icing around the sides and let set in refrigerator until icing is firm. (This is a crumb-coat: it suspends the fine crumbs so they won't appear in the final layer of frosting. The second layer of icing will now slide neatly over this layer).
Remove from refrigerator frost with the final layer of icing.

Chocolate Satin Frosting
6 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 T unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 t vanilla
Roughly chop chocolate. Set aside.
In small saucepan, bring evaporated milk to boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate pieces, without stirring. Cover and set aside for exactly 10 minutes. Scrape into bowl over mixer or food processor and add sugar, butter and vanilla. Process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and let sit in refrigerator until it reaches desired consistency (I let mine sit about 15 minutes)
This frosting keeps refrigerated for about 3 weeks, or can be frozen for 6 months. Let soften before using.