A Scottish-inspired frozen toffee bar, this is a decadent favourite in my family. I love it with marinated balsamic strawberries, which help to cut the sweetness. You can cut this recipe in half and make it in a loaf pan if desired. Cut with a warm knife and refreeze what you don't eat--we like to break pieces off directly out of the freezer for a quick treat.
4 cups crumbled shortbread cookies
1/3cup butter, softened
1 pint vanilla ice cream, slightly softened
1 cup dulce de leche or fudge sauce
Combine shortbread cookies and butter in a food processor or by hand until mixture resembles crumble topping. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking tin with plastic wrap or foil, leaving some overhang to help remove the dessert from the dish later.
Place half of the cookie crumbs in pan and press down. Spread ice cream over the crumbs and spoon dulce de leche all over the ice cream. Top with remaining cookies, pressing down lightly to compress.
Freeze overnight. Cut into bars and serve with fruit if desired. Serves 8
While each of these recipes can be made on its own for an easy dessert, they work especially well together.
Iced Strawberry Compote:
2 cups strawberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/3 cup icing sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1 large egg white
11/2 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 pint basket large strawberries, tops removed
Combine strawberries, sugar and whipping cream in a food processor and purée until smooth. Stir in lemon juice. Spoon into moulds or serving dishes and freeze for 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine icing sugar and flour in a bowl. Stir in cream and egg white. Stir in butter and coconut until just combined.
Spoon 6 spoonfuls of batter onto prepared baking sheet, using just less than 1 tablespoon of batter per cookie. Use an offset spatula or a knife to spread the batter as thinly as possible. Bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until the cookies are pale gold to brown. Let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes. Move to a rack to cool completely. Repeat process to make 12 cookies in total.
Melt butter in an oven-proof skillet over high heat. Add sugar and vinegar and swirl together. Add strawberries, place skillet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes or until strawberries are softened and a sauce is forming.
Place one coconut crisp on each of 4 serving plates. Divide strawberries between them and top with another coconut crisp. Break 2 of the remaining coconut crisps in half. Place a scoop of iced strawberry compote on top of each stack and garnish with broken coconut crisp. Serves 4.
Surround the brownies on this platter, which can be used to serve four or 44, with fruit and sauces in separate bowls. I like dulce de leche, chocolate sauce (recipe below) and a fruit purée (recipe below), usually strawberry. Choose three different types of ice cream and place them in chilled containers. Use berries too if they're available.
8 ounces (250 grams) dark chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ cup raspberry jam or orange marmalade
Melt chocolate in a small pot over low heat. Let cool.
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Combine flour and salt and beat into egg mixture. Stir in the cooled melted chocolate and vanilla until uniform.
Pour batter into a parchment-lined 13-by-9-inch pan. Dollop in raspberry jam and swirl through with a knife point. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the side comes out clean (the centre should still be slightly moist). Cool in pan and cut into bars. Makes about 4 dozen 2-by-1-inch bars.
To make the fruit sauce, purée 2 cups ripe fruit with a couple of tablespoons of sugar.
Combine ½ cup granulated sugar with 1 cup water in a pot over medium heat. Boil for 3 minutes, reduce heat and add 6 ounces (175 grams) dark chocolate. Simmer together for about 5 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
These quick-to-make streusel-topped squares melt in your mouth.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 cups blueberries
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
11/2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
1/2 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9-by-13-inch-square baking dish with parchment paper or foil.
Combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter until flour is absorbed and the mixture resembles coarse meal. Pat pastry into prepared baking pan and bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until pastry is just cooked.
To make streusel topping, combine flour, butter and brown sugar in a bowl and work with your fingers or a pastry blender until butter is the size of small and large chunks and flour has been absorbed.
Combine blueberries, flour, lemon rind and sugar. Pour over pastry and crumble streusel over top. Bake for 35 minutes or until filling is set and streusel is golden. Serves 8.
My daughter Emma and my recipe tester Eshun Mott teamed up to write a book, Whining & Dining, featuring recipes and tips for feeding picky kids. Here is their version of easy one pot brownies. If you have a gluten allergy in your home, you can use all-purpose gluten-free flour.
½ cup unsalted butter, cut in pieces
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
½ cup flour
¼ cup cocoa (preferably Dutch processed), sifted
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup nuts (optional)
½ cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan and line with parchment paper.
Melt butter and chocolate in a heavy pot over low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in sugar and eggs until combined. Add flour, cocoa powder and salt and stir until just incorporated. Stir in vanilla, nuts and chocolate chips.
Spread batter in pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it. Allow brownies to cool in pan on a wire rack. Turn out and cut into any size you prefer. Makes up to 32 brownies.
These cheese biscuits can be made up to three days in advance. Store them in a cookie tin until needed, and then serve as is or reheat in oven at 300 F (150 C) for 5 minutes. You can change the shapes and make sticks or squares with the dough.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Ready time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 24 biscuits
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2-1/2 cups old cheddar, grated
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
8 Medjool dates, pitted and cut into thirds
Cream the butter until soft and fluffy in a food processor or by hand. Add the cheese and mustard, and process until well combined.
Mix together the flour, cayenne and salt in a large bowl. Add to the cheese mixture and combine until the mixture just holds together. Do not overmix. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).
Divide the dough into 1 tablespoon balls. Press down to form small disks.
Place on a baking sheet and place a piece of date onto each biscuit. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until pale gold. Serve warm or cold.
One big smorgasbord of appetizers could be suitably accompanied by a festive, dry sparkling wine. By all means keep it affordable, as in Italian Prosecco or Spanish cava. For an especially festive twist, turn that wine into a champagne cocktail by first dropping a sugar cube into the flute, soaking it with two or three dashes of cocktail bitters such as Angostura and adding a half-ounce of brandy. Then top up with sparkling wine. If serving just the cheese biscuits, bubbly would be nice, but you could alternatively try a strong Belgian beer such as Chimay. - Beppi Crosariol