This is the perfect cake to serve with tea or as a luscious dessert. The syrup, if you do not reduce it, is ideal for cocktails or rhubarb sodas. Reduced, it can be tossed with strawberries or other fruits or served as a sauce over ice cream. The amount of time it takes to reduce depends on the wideness of the pot and the amount of heat you use. You’ll need about 1 lb (500 g) rhubarb for this recipe.
A little like Italian torrone or florentines, this confection is the perfect finish to a heavy Passover meal. It is made with a nut meringue and includes dried fruit – perfect year-round. If you are using candied orange peel, add a little grated fresh orange rind and chopped candied ginger, too. The meringue can shatter; I use the crumbs to top ice cream.
Ready time: Ready in: 3 hours, including cooling time
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp lime juice
1 1/2cups sliced almonds
3/4 cup chopped dried apricots or candied orange peel
1 tsp grated lime zest
6 oz (180 g) chopped dark chocolate, melted
Preheat oven to 325 F. Place parchment paper on the base of a 9-by-13-inch cookie sheet. Beat egg whites until they are frothy. Beat in salt then gradually beat in sugar until thick and glossy, three to five minutes. Beat in lime juice. Fold in nuts, apricots and lime zest. The meringue will deflate a bit.
Spread meringue evenly over parchment paper. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until the meringue is light golden and firm. Cool in pan for five minutes. Run a sharp knife around the outside of the pan to release the edges. Invert meringue onto a rack and peel off parchment.
Melt chocolate and spread over the base of the meringue. Drag the tines of a fork across the chocolate to create a design, if desired. Cool until chocolate is firm. Cut into wedges or squares with a serrated edge knife.
This flavourful and exceptionally easy dessert calls for pressed yogurt, which you can buy at specialty stores but is also easy to make. To do so, place yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined sieve over a bowl and refrigerate for 12 hours, then discard the liquid in the bowl and use the compressed yogurt for dabbing on to desserts instead of whipped cream or in dips to replace mayonnaise.
I like to serve a few pieces of dark chocolate with the parfait for extra antioxidants.
1 cup pressed yogurt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large mango, puréed
Grated rind and juice of one lime
1/2 cup sliced roasted almonds
Combine yogurt, sugar, mango and lime rind and juice. Spoon into bowl and scatter almonds over top. Serves 4.
This classic pie is always a favourite with the family. If you’re using regular blueberries you will need 2 extra tablespoons of flour. Freeze the pie unbaked if you wish and bake from the frozen stage for about 1 hour 30 minutes. Organic vegetable shortening is available at health food stores and some supermarkets. If you cannot find it then use all butter or regular shortening. The organic shortening makes a wonderfully flaky crust.
Prep time: 20 minutes (pastry prep time is an additional 10 minutes)
Ready in: 1 hour 30 minutes (pastry is ready 55 minutes after chilling)
Serves: 4 with wonderful leftovers. (The pastry recipe makes enough for 2 9-inch single crust pies, or one 9- or 10-inch double crust or one single crust with a lattice topping.)
All-purpose flaky pastry:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut in 12 pieces
1/4 cup cold organic vegetable shortening, cut in 4 pieces
1/3 cup cold water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon milk
6 cups wild blueberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon granulated sugar for sprinkling on pastry
Combine flour and salt in a bowl. With a pastry blender or fingers, cut in butter and vegetable shortening until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Sprinkle over water and vinegar, a little at a time, tossing together with a fork until the pastry is moist enough to hold its shape when a little piece is pressed between the fingers.
Gather pastry into a ball. It should not feel sticky; divide into 2 portions, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten each slightly, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes or overnight.
Flour a board and a rolling pin. Roll out each portion as needed.
Preheat oven to 450 F (230 C). Roll out larger piece of pastry and line a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang.
Combine egg yolk and milk in a bowl. Reserve. Mix together berries, sugar, flour and lemon zest in a bowl.
Brush egg-milk glaze over pastry base to prevent leakage. Fill pastry case with berries. Dot with butter.
Roll out second half of the pastry into a 11-inch round and place on top of the pie. Crimp edges together decoratively or just seal together.
Brush pastry with remaining glaze and sprinkle a little sugar all over.
Place pie on middle shelf with a baking sheet underneath to catch any spill over and bake for 15 minutes.
Turn temperature down to 375 F (190 C) and cook for a further 35 to 40 minutes or until pastry is cooked and the berries are bubbling. Cool on wire rack.
If you're short on time, you can also fill these pies with whipped cream or traditional marshmallow fluff. The discs can be large or small.
3 ounces (90 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups boiling water
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/3 cup full-fat mayonnaise
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/4 cup salted caramel (recipe below)
Fleur de sel for sprinkling
Combine chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium heatproof bowl. Add boiling water and mix until smooth. Set aside.
Sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Combine white sugar, brown sugar and mayonnaise in a stand mixer and blend until smooth (about 2 to 3 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping sides as needed. Beat in vanilla. Add a quarter of flour mixture, blend in and add a third of chocolate mixture. Continue alternating, blending well after each addition. Chill for 1 hour or until mixture has firmed up slightly.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Scoop tablespoon-sized mounds of batter onto a parchment-lined (or greased and floured) baking pan about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool. Repeat until you have used up all the batter.
Combine butter and icing sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and blend until smooth. Slowly add salted caramel and mix until well blended. Chill until ready to use. If it hardens too much to spread, let it warm up slowly at room temperature.
Spread one chocolate disc with caramel filling and a sprinkle of fleur de sel. Top with another chocolate disc to make a sandwich. Repeat with remaining chocolate discs and filling. Chill for 30 minutes to set. Makes about 30.
Trifles were the epitome of Victorian desserts. This is an updated version. Use persimmons if available, otherwise kiwi fruit or mango tastes delightful in this confection.
16 small ladyfinger biscuits
1/3 cup Madeira
½ cup pomegranate juice
1 cup seedless raspberry jam
½ cup whipping cream
6 ounces (175 grams) white chocolate, chopped
2 persimmons, peeled and sliced
1 cup whipping cream
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
2 ounces (60 grams) shaved dark chocolate
Divide ladyfingers among 6 compote or balloon wine glasses, breaking them up as needed to fit. Combine Madeira and pomegranate juice in a small bowl and drizzle ½ cup over ladyfingers, reserving remainder.
Heat jam in a small pot until liquid, adding remaining pomegranate mixture to thin out if needed.
Heat ½ cup whipping cream in a small heavy pot over low heat until it just comes to the boil. Remove from heat and stir in white chocolate. Let sit a few minutes while chocolate melts. Stir to blend. Transfer chocolate mixture into a bowl and place in refrigerator until cold but not set.
Meanwhile, whip 1 cup whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Whisk a large spoonful of whipped cream into white chocolate mixture to soften. Refrigerate whipped cream.
Evenly divide jam over ladyfingers, add a layer of persimmons, then spoon chocolate cream over top. Chill for 2 hours or until set. Garnish with remaining whipped cream, pomegranate seeds, chopped pistachios and shaved dark chocolate. Serves 6.
White chocolate can be temperamental. Be cautious about overheating it or overbeating because it will curdle. You can use any type of grapes for this dish, but dark blue wine or concord grapes are especially delicious if you can find them.
1 bunch grapes, frozen
3/4 cup whipping cream
¼ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
Place grapes in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
Combine cream, butter and salt in a heavy pot over medium heat and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat, add chocolate and stir until melted and uniform. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for about 4 hours, or until chocolate has set and mixture has thickened.
Beat with an electric mixer for about 30 seconds, or until soft peaks form.
Spoon mousse into glass dishes and top with frozen grapes and pistachios. Serves 4.