Tag Archives: desserts

Smush: “The NY Deli of Desserts”

29 Oct

Just across the street from Bryant Park, there seems to be a collection of dessert shops opening up.  A chocolate store opened up a few months ago, and then a few signs popped up for various dessert places, including what looks like it will be a patisserie and, of course, Smush.  Smush bills itself as “The NY Deli of Desserts” and is decked out in neon signs and fun art.

They have signature sandwiches to choose from.

Or you can make your own by choosing a cookie, spread, toppings, and ice cream.

They have a display of their cookies to choose from.

We showed up right at closing time, and while they were all but closed, they offered to stay open to make our Smushes. They only had 2 flavors left: pumpkin and french toast.  I signed right up for the pumpkin while Mike went for the french toast.

They even make their own ice cream here, which was individually wrapped and ready to be smushed.

Our Smush man made our sandwiches.

I went with nutella, pretzels, and vanilla ice cream on my smush.

Mike went with bananas and vanilla ice cream on his french toast cookie.

And the verdict?

SOOOOO good!

The cookies were perfectly done, soft enough to be enjoyable yet hard enough to be a perfect conduit for everything in between.  The ice cream was equally perfect for immediate eating.  And the pretzels I added to mine were a great salty crunch.  I love being able to choose all the ingredients and flavors to suit my mood. And the fact that it tasted great and was the perfect texture all the way through left me recommending Smush to just about everyone in the area.

And when I picked up the paper underneath after finishing my Smush, I noticed a little smart touch. A wet nap at the very bottom.

Overall, Smush was much better than expectation and we really enjoyed it.  A perfect snack for after dinner, before or after a Broadway show, or basically anytime you have a hankering for something sweet in midtown.

I would really like one right now, actually!

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

Cream Puffs

30 Aug

I really love when Mike comes home and says “You know… my coworker says they really love ______.”  And then suddenly I find myself searching for recipes and Mike finds himself lugging lots of tupperware into his office.  I love a good baking challenge.  So when a love for cream puffs was mentioned, I began scratching my head.

Aren’t cream puffs really hard to bake?

As it turns out… NO… Not even a little bit!

I scoured AllRecipes.com and eventually landed on this recipe. I was skeptical how vanilla instant pudding would work out, and while it felt a bit like cheating, the rave reviews about it made me try it out.

The dough is actually started in a pot on the stove. Water, butter, flour, salt. 

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And then put into a mixer and beat in the eggs.

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It made a perfectly thick dough, which I then dropped by the spoonful onto a silpat and baked.

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I was so excited when I opened up the oven and there were perfect little puffs.

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The recipe says to slice the tops off, put the filling in the middle, and then put the sliced top back on.  But I wanted to fill these little beautiful puffs.

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I first tried the old “Put it in a ziplock and cut off the corner” piping method, but the bag was just too soft to get into the cream puff in any sane way.

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So I began to look around the apartment for something to make it easier (and also allow Mike to take it into the work and do it there, so it didn’t get soggy).

Then I remembered my trusty little squeeze bottles.  I don’t know what I ever did before these babies!

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So all you do is flip it over, put the spout into the bottom of the puff, and squeeze until full. There is a hollow space in the puff and it works like a charm.

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And when you popped them open, they were flaky yet doughy and tender puffs with a crispy shell and great filling.  It was a really awesome recipe.

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These were so easy to make, that I would easily do these for any dinner party. They are impressive without being time consuming. And I was impressed that they lasted overnight and that Mike could fill them the following day.

_______________
RECIPE
_______________

Ingredients

  • 2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  •  
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs

Directions

  1. Mix together vanilla instant pudding mix, cream and milk. Cover and refrigerate to set.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  3. In a large pot, bring water and butter to a rolling boil. Stir in flour and salt until the mixture forms a ball. Transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon or stand mixer, beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown. Centers should be dry.
  5. When the shells are cool, either split and fill them with the pudding mixture, or use a pastry bag to pipe the pudding into the shells.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/cream-puffs/detail.aspx

Dominique Ansel Bakery

1 May

When Mike and I ate at Daniel in summer 2011, the entire meal was epic, but the desserts were hands down the best I can remember.  I looked up the pastry chef when I got home and found out that it was Dominque Ansel.  I also caught some news that he would shortly be leaving Daniel for his own venture.

Thankfully, that venture maintained his presence in New York and he opened up his own bakery in SoHo.

I got down there a few weeks after they opened, and I had a stepping into Willy Wonka moment.

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They had cases filled with beautiful pastries.

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They have a few shelves of packaged goods.

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And a huge menu of goodies, including their famous Madeleines, which are made to order after 3pm on Fridays and Saturdays. I was impressed to see Dominique Ansel behind the counter and going to the back to make the madeleines.  I wanted to tell him how much we enjoyed his desserts at Daniel, but never had the chance (that’s a lie… I just couldn’t bring myself to talk to him… you have your celebrities, I have mine).

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I ordered up some macrons to bring to my team in London.  While it was a gift, I did manage to snag one to try.  It was the best macaron I’ve ever had. By far. And I’ve had many. Every time I’m within 2 neighborhoods from SoHo, I think “maybe we should drop by there to get some macarons.”  Sadly, we haven’t been back yet. Though I foresee these in my very near future.

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We also ordered one of the pastries that looked divine.  It was packaged in the most elegant box I have ever seen.

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Inside was like a perfect prize.

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It was absolutely beautiful. Sadly, I was just too full to eat this and was off to London that night, so Mike had to take one for the team and eat it himself.   To quote his opinion: “Deeeeeeeeeee-licious!”

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Why was I so full? Well… because these little babies were just captivating.  When we had these at Daniel, I have a distinct memory of the waitress unfolding the napkin on top of these warm, steaming madeleines and the smell just being totally overwhelmingly delicious.  It was a similar moment upon opening up this paper bag and peering inside.

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They were definitely smaller than the ones at Daniel.

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And I don’t think they were QUITE the same.  They still tasted great, and that warm, lemony, sweet pillow is still something other-wordly, bit it just wasn’t 100% there.  Perhaps nothing can ever be as good as your first time.

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Homemade Chocolate Mousse

24 Apr

Certain recipes instantly go into the “filed for life” box.  This is one of them.

I love chocolate mousse when it’s good. But so many times it’s just not.  It’s not chocolaty enough or it’s gritty or it’s sickeningly sweet.  This mousse is just perfect. And much easier to make than I anticipated.

I found this recipe on AllRecipes.com. Step one: whip cream to form light peaks.  You would think that I have done enough homemade schlag in the past to know better than to leave the mixer unattended while whipping, but alas, I wound up with some stiffer peaks than I anticipated. Luckily, this didn’t impact the recipe from what I could taste.

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This recipe especially caught my eye because Ghirardelli is my favorite chocolate to bake with. Hands down, changing to these chips made every recipe better. Every time I run out and use Nestle’s or Hershey’s, the taste difference is noticeable and if I’m making anything with melted chocolate, these cheaper brands just don’t temper as well, come out as smooth and uniform, nor taste anywhere near as good.  Lesson for anyone new to chocolate: Spend the extra $1 on the good chocolate chips. It’s worth it. Case in point, these melted perfectly smoothly in my double boiler (metal bowl placed on top of a pot with simmering water… hint: make sure the bowl is bigger than the pot so steam doesn’t work it’s way out of the pot and into your chocolate).

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AllRecipes is my favorite recipe site because of the dedicated readers who leave comments on the recipes. Thank goodness for them!  While certain times I don’t follow their advice and end up with a mess, this time, they guided me in the right direction, because while the recipe calls for 4 eggs, they really meant 4 egg WHITES.  Big difference.  The egg whites fluffed up perfectly with the sugar.

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I think the next ingredient is where this recipe really takes on a new level.  1/4 cup of coffee added to the recipe gave it a richer flavor that also countered some of the sweetness without making it taste less chocolaty.  A few people mentioned that they left out the coffee and regretted it later.

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You stir the coffee into the chocolate and then quickly add the eggs and fold in the whipped cream. I was nervous that the chocolate would bind upon adding the coffee (chocolate basically turns into an ugly mess when it’s mixed with water), but working quickly left me with a perfectly smooth and delicious mousse.

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Any elegant chef might pour these into a martini glass or mason jar to present, but I had to make them transportable to offices, so I went with Dixie cups.  Keepin’ it classy.

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I also wanted to top each with whipped cream, but whipped cream won’t stay fluffed overnight, so I added a tiny bit of gelatin to my whipped cream for the first time to stabilize it and, surprisingly, it worked. And it still tasted great.

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This recipe was perfectly delicious and surprisingly easy to make. I highly recommend this as a crowd pleaser (and impresser!)

Ghirardelli Chocolate Mousse
 
recipe image
Rated: rating
Submitted By: Ghirardelli®
Servings: 8
“Serve this simple chocolate mousse in a martini glass for a fancy presentation. A dollop of whip cream adds an elegant touch.”
INGREDIENTS:
10 ounces Ghirardelli 60% Cacao
Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup coffee, hot
4 eggs, room temperature (JUST THE WHITES!)
2 tablespoons sugar
DIRECTIONS:
1. Whip the cream to form light peaks. Set aside in the refrigerator. Melt the chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl set over barely simmering water. Meanwhile, whip the eggs with the sugar until very fluffy and thick, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir the hot coffee into the melted chocolate chips. The mixture will start to thicken, so work quickly. Quickly stir in the beaten eggs, then fold in the whipped cream. Pour or spoon mixture into cups or bowls, and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2012 Allrecipes.com Printed from Allrecipes.com 4/22/2012

Sludge Fudge

22 Mar

For my coworkers birthdays, I have sent surveys to ask for their favorite desserts.  My one coworker said “anything with raspberries and chocolate” so I went about trying to find a fun recipe that included both.  I was surfing through allrecipes.com and came upon a beautiful looking chocolate and raspberry layered fudge recipe

It started out pretty good… made some easy chocolate fudge and layered it on the botton… then made some of the raspberry fudge and layered it on top, then topped it with raspberries. 

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It sure looked pretty.

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That is… until I tried to get it out.

Turns out, the top layer didn’t actually set up.  It was basically raspberry mush… and it caused what can only be defined as “goop” to spread all over the fudge below as soon as I cut into it.

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Don’t get me wrong, it still tasted DEElicious, but it was a sloppy, gooey, sticky mess.

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The notes on the recipe said that a lot of people had this issue, and I should have listened.  Only a few people had issues, so I figured they screwed up and if I followed the recipe pretty closely, I’d be fine.  Wrong.  It didn’t seem that the ratios between the chocolate fudge and the raspberry fudge were that different, but white chocolate does act very differently.  I would make this again, but with more white chocolate and no cream, and perhaps some gelatin.

 

________________________
RECIPE
________________________

 

Raspberry Truffle Fudge

 
recipe image
Rated: rating
Submitted By: Leeza
Photo By: littlemisscook
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour 20 Minutes
Servings: 40
“A unforgettable double-layer confection that’s absolutely perfect for your true love!”
Ingredients:
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed
milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
salt to taste
 
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup raspberry flavored liqueur
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (substitite white chocolate to get the top layer to be pink)
Directions:
1. Spray a 9×9 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray, and line with wax paper.
2. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine 3 cups chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk. Heat in microwave until chocolate melts, stirring occasionally. Be careful not to let it scorch. Stir in the vanilla and salt. Spread into pan, and cool to room temperature.
3. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine cream, liqueur, and 2 cups chocolate chips. Heat in microwave until the chocolate melts; stir until smooth. Cool to lukewarm, then pour over the fudge layer. Refrigerate until both layers are completely set, about 1 hour. Cut into 1 inch pieces.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2012 Allrecipes.com Copied from Allrecipes.com 3/18/2012

Meringue Minis

24 Dec

So… now you have mastered meringues after watching my first forray into vlogging.  And you’re ready to pump it up a bit?  Good.  here is an awesome thing to do with meringues that actually made the president of my company say it was the best dessert he has ever had.   

So how do you do it?  Well… if you won the first NYC Nom Nom giveaway, you can make them yourself in the non-stick baking cups that I am obsessed with.

You just use the same meringue recipe and pour it into the cups.

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 I used my fingers to spread the meringue up the sides of the cup.  I was hoping this would create a divot to fill with whipped cream and berries.

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 But a few minutes into cooking, I realized that just the opposite was happening.

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I wound up getting pretty little mounds of meringues that were perfectly fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside. 

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 While the domes made them impossible to fill, they sure looked lovely. (I actually remade this a few days later and didn’t move the batter up the sides… it wound up flat on top.  Still delicious, but these look much more fun.)

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 I wound up having extra batter, so I took the extra and combined it with fall spices (cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg) and putting it into a separate dish.  It was delicious, but wouldn’t really come out of the dish.

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 The mounds wound up perfect perched in homemade schlag and some balsamic strawberries.

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Now that it’s winter and strawberries are about $100 per pint, I need to find some fruit to replace the berries.  But if you have access to berries, this is just perfect. 

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Trust me.  You and everyone else will LOVE this!

Merry Christmas Nom World.

Chocolate Salty Balls

30 Aug

I had read about cake balls in just about every food blog I touched for a few months, so when a co-worker’s birthday came up, I had to try to make them. 

The idea is that you bake a regular cake, break it up and combine it with cake frosting so it becomes a fudgy texture, roll it into balls, then dip it in melted chocolate and let them harden.  What could be bad about that?  I actually chose to do brownies and combined it with cream cheese frosting.  Here are the rolled balls:

I had read that the dipping process could be hard as the balls are heavy and fall off a toothpick, so upon exploring candy dipping advice, I saw an ingenious idea.

It’s simply a plastic fork with the center two tines removed.  Easy peasy!  I made sure the balls were big enough to sit on the outer tines and then you just dip and scoop them out. 


One of my favorite things with chocolate recently is to add some sea salt.  (One of my favorite all-time recipes is chocolate covered toffee with salt). 

I know some people don’t love salt with chocolate, so I made some sweet versions.  The salted ones were GONE before the sweet ones were even halfway eaten. 

But they made for such a fun birthday treat!

Next time I really want to try red velvet cake + cream cheese or banana cake + vanilla frosting.

The recipe is really simple, but if you need some tips, here are two links:

http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/cake-balls/Detail.aspx

and

http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/tips-techniques/how-to-make-cake-pops-078637 (they feature the cuter version of putting them on lollipop sticks!)

Just Desserts

6 Aug

The one prized possession I received in what I inherited from my Grandmother (beyond the awesome furniture, jewelry, and art) is her recipe folder.  There are recipes in here torn out from newspapers from decades ago and scribbled notes from friends (and friends of friends).  Some of them are so stained by butter that they are nearly translucent and the ink is almost impossible to read. 

 I have only just begun to explore the treasures in this folder.  The first one I sought out, however, was the famous brownie recipe.  I made these first thing when the family was getting together to celebrate my Grandmother’s life.  I have made them about a dozen times since and introduced them to friends and coworkers.  They are ALWAYS a hit.  They have even been called “the best brownies I’ve ever tasted.”  Thanks Grandma.

The batter is “old style,” using Baker’s chocolate (and none of that new age, chip stuff!)  It’s actually quite hard to find sometimes… but I try to keep a stash for the days I want to make a treat for someone.

The cook up so perfectly.  Crispy on the outside and on the top, fudgey on the inside.  Every time. 

And I’m sure you’re all licking your lips for the recipe, however, I am a terrible tease and will not be sharing it.

Though since I’m not ENTIRELY mean, I’ve also included the easy rugelach recipe I made a few weeks ago.

The secret to this is Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations, which is the same as their crescent rolls but without the pre cut slits.  (I used them before on the delicious chicken tarts).  You can roll it out thinner to use as the basis for rugelach.

I mixed up the classic filling, fruit and nuts.  I went with two variations.  The first was blueberries and nuts.

The second was strawberries with mini chocolate chips and nuts.

You slice the dough into long triangles and fill it with a thin layer of fruit.

Then you roll them up from the big end to the little end.

I layed them all on a Silpat and then sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar.

They baked up very nicely, though next time I would back them a little more so they get a little crispier.  They tasted DELICIOUS, however.  Great and easy treat to bring to a picnic.

And they are only 1 Weight Watcher point per cookie! Not bad!

_____________________________________
RECIPE
_____________________________________

Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations Rugallach

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray (or silpat mat)
  • 1 can of Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations
  • ~1/2 cup fresh fruit (your choice)
  • ~1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
  • 1 Tbl. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbl. flour
  • 1 Tbl. powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbl. cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray or line with a Silpat
  3. Combine fruit, nuts, and granulated sugar in a separate bowl
  4. Roll out crescent rolls to 1/8” thickness on a lightly floured surface
  5. Cut into about 16 long triangles (a pizza slicer works best for this)
  6. Spoon about a teaspoon of filling into center of triangle, leaving ends free of filling
  7. Roll the dough from the wide edge to the point
  8. Place rolled cookies onto cookie sheet
  9. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown
  10. Let sit for about 5 minutes
  11. Dust cookies with cinnamon and powdered sugar (if you push them all together, it makes this easier, but I never bother)

Hungry Girl’s S’Mores Stuffed Bananas

14 Jun

I bought Hungry Girl’s 1-2-3 cookbook and was tempted by many recipes, but none so much as the “easy oven-baked s’mores-stuffed bananas.” 

Easy? Love it!

Baked? Yes!

S’Mores? YES YES!

Stuffed Bananas? Definitely!

So you split the banana horizontally and then stuff it FULL with crumbled graham crackers and chocolate.

The you top it with marshmallows and wrap it all up in tinfoil.

Then you unwrap a delicious gift.

Just the banana + stuffing is only THREE points!  The dollop of fat free whip added 1 point.  What a great treat!

__________________
RECIPE
__________________

Hungry Girl’s Easy Oven-Baked S’Mores-Stuffed Bananas

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbl mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 sheet (4 crackers) low-fat honey graham crackers, crushed
  • 4 small bananas, unpeeled, ripe yet slightly firm
  • 1/4 cup mini marshmallows
  • Optional: Fat free reddi-wip

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Mix chocolate chips with graham cracker crumbs in small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Lay bananas on a flat surface and cut a 3/4-inch-deep slit lengthwise in each from top to bottom.  Cut two small slits width-wise at the top and bottom of each banana, to make opening the fruit easier
  4. One at a time, use a fork to pry open bananas slightly and fill each with 1/4 of the chocolate-crumb mixture.  Evenly distribute marshmallows among the bananas, pressing them into the openings
  5. Thoroughly wrap each banana in foil that has been lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, ensuring there are no openings for filling to escape.  Place bananas on a baking sheet.
  6. Bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until bananas feel very soft when gently squeezed with an oven mitt
  7. Serve immediately with spoons for scooping the gooey mixture out of the peels or, if you prefer, transfer the mixture from each banana peel into a bowl.  Top with Reddi-wip, if you like, and enjoy!

Makes 4 servings

The most amazing recipe I’ve ever shared

5 Apr

I read about this mysterious “one ingredient ice cream” on TheKitchn.com and was shocked to learn that the one ingredient was… bananas.  How can you possibly make ice cream out of JUST bananas?  Well… turns out not only is it possible… it’s just about the most amazing thing I’ve ever made.  I am so enthralled with this that I bumped all my other posts to share it with you.  And the best part? It’s good for you!  Figure one banana per serving and I calculated it to be just 2 points (and less than 100 calories)!

The instructions were pretty easy sounding… take bananas… freeze (great way to keep bananas on the verge of over-ripening anyway)… put in food processor… blend until creamy.  My bananas probably should have defrosted a bit before I tried this, however, after some tenacity I got it to this state…

And that made me nervous.  How was this ever going to be CREAMY?  Wouldn’t it be chunky? Or gritty? Or… well… NOT ice cream?

Oh no… 5 minutes later it was downright creamy. 

And then I took my spoon and I dug right in.  Holy crap. This was even better than the moment I discovered Krispy Krack Kale.  Holy cow! 

I have since made it twice more… once with peanut butter (4 points with one tablespoon per banana) and once with peanut butter and chocolate chips (5 points with the same amount of peanut butter plus 1 tablespoon of chocolate chips per 2 bananas).  Use my new favorite, Better’n Peanut Butter, and you can get the PB and Banana combo for jut 3 points!

And then I decided that I couldn’t sit over my counter with a spoon in the food processor forever, so I pulled out the ice cream scooper for the real test…

It scooped beautifully.

Go make this.

Now.