It is amazing to realize no matter how much time goes by, special memories remain as vivid as if it happened a day ago. Even if it is just a portion of the memory, a picture of that moment develops like a photograph creating a snapshot of time. Such is the case of my childhood Halloween memories. What I remember most about Halloween is Mom making caramel apples and popcorn balls for trick or treaters brave enough to walk up our steep and dark road. Mom was not crafty and rarely made homemade gifts or treats, but every Halloween she spent the day dipping apples in sweet caramel and forming popcorn balls like it was her mission in life.
Our house was situated on a side road up a very steep hill. The surrounding houses in the neighborhood were scattered around the hill, in valleys, and down along the bay. It was steep territory to traverse and the neighborhood kids cleared trails from house to house creating shortcuts, so we could easily walk from one friend to another with the purpose of climbing up and/or down the hill only once in our travels. Walking up to my house was a steep hike and Mom believed that anyone who was willing to walk up our hill on Halloween deserved a reward for their efforts.
On Halloween, we traveled in packs, so mom could expect at most three groups of trick-or-treaters from the neighborhood. She bestowed upon her Halloween trick-or-treaters with not one, not two, but three treats: caramel apples, popcorn balls, and hot apple cider. We could sit and eat our treasure right there in the comfort of our kitchen or continue on our costumed journey. I am not sure if we timed it so we would stop at my house midway on our travels to warm up and take a break. Often, we paused only long enough to drink our hot cider, and then went on our way seeking more candy treasure. Mom was always so happy to see everyone dressed up in their costumes, and those caramel apples never tasted so good.
Despite my vivid picture of Mom dipping apples into caramel, I have no memory of how she made them or what recipe she used. Additionally, I cannot remember ever seeing a recipe for caramel apples in her recipe file either. Chances are she got the recipes from either Joy of Cooking or Sunset Magazine, but after a couple of years making them she knew the recipe by heart.
My lack of family recipes from Mom left me to figure out how to make caramel apples on my own. I did not keep up her Halloween tradition, but I love caramel apples and want to bring them back into my life. Over the years I tried a couple of different recipes and I found two options producing delicious caramel for apples. You can choose to go all out and make your own caramel for dipping. Or, you can go the semi-homemade option and melt soft caramel candies for your caramel sauce.
Tips for making caramel apples
Making caramel apples is
easy, temperamental and I learned some helpful tips the hard way from my mistakes and triumphs.
First, make sure there is no wax on the apples. The wax just creates a slippery surface on the apples and the caramel will slide right off. This is one reason why making caramel apples with freshly picked apples is ideal.
All apples bought at a grocery store are coated with wax. To remove the wax, drop apples one at a time in just boiling water for less than a minute. Make sure the apple’s entire surface area gets a good soaking from the boiling water. Be careful with the amount of time the apples spend in the hot water because you do not want to cook them.
Remove the apples from the hot water and rub them with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. You can also add apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to the boiling water. The acid helps break the bonds of the wax. Before you dip each apple in the caramel, make sure the apple is dry.
Another method to remove wax from apples is to wash the apples and rub super fine sandpaper over the apples being careful not to break the skin. Rinse off and thoroughly dry the apples. (Full disclosure, I have never tried this, but I am very tempted to for the next time I make caramel apples.)
Second, firmly secure each stick, popsicle stick, or lollipop stick inside the apple. However, do not push it all the way through the apple. The juices from the apple will leak out and weaken the caramel.
Third, chill the apples for 30 minutes in the refrigerator before you dip them in the caramel. Cold apples will set the caramel faster.
Fourth, if you do not make your own caramel, use the best quality soft caramel candy you can buy. The better the quality of the caramel, the more reliable it is for dipping. Do not use store-bought caramel sauce.
Fifth, less is more. Allow the excess caramel to drip off. Aim for a thin even layer around each apple. This will help prevent the caramel from sliding down and pooling around the base of the apple. The pooling caramel is often unavoidable. You can fix it by pressing on the caramel and pushing it back into shape over the top of the apple.
Sixth, refrigerate the caramel apples until the caramel sets. Once set, serve them or dip them in melted chocolate, then chopped nuts or candy if using. Refrigerate the chocolate dipped caramel apples until the chocolate sets and gets hard.
More Apple Treats
If you have leftover caramel apples, slice them up and briefly sauté them in butter. Serve the sautéed caramel apple slices over vanilla ice cream, french toast, waffles, or Dutch Baby pancakes.
Classic Caramel Apples
- 8-10 medium tart apples like Granny Smith
- 8-10 handles like lollipop sticks popsicle sticks or clean tree sticks
- 1 recipe of caramel sauce
- 8 oz (200 g) pistahios, or other nuts like walnuts or pecans, chopped fine (optional)
Caramel Sauce from Tartine
- 1 cup (225 g) sugar
- ½ cup (133 g) unsalted butter (one stick)
- 2/3 cup (150 ml) heavy cream
- ¼ cup (60 ml or 85 g) light corn syrup
- 2 TB (30 ml) maple syrup
- 1 TB (15 ml) Blackstrap or dark molasses
- ¼ tsp (1 ml) real vanilla extract
- Pinch of Kosher salt
Caramel Sauce Using Store-bought soft Caramel Candies
- 1 lb. (500 g) 500 g soft real caramel candies
- 3 TB (45 ml) heavy cream
- 1 TB (15 ml) real maple syrup
- 1 TB (15 ml) dark molasses
Prepare your apples
Wash and dry the apples. Remove the wax from the apples before you start. See the Caramel Apple blog post for wax removal instructions.
Secure the handle into the apples. Pierce one stick into the stem end of each apple. Do not push the stick all the way through the apple because the juices will leak and weaken the caramel.
Place the prepared apples on a tray and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Cover a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. If using parchment paper, lightly spray it with cooking oil. Set aside.
Make the caramel sauce
Tartine caramel sauce
Add all the ingredients into a heavy-duty saucepan with a minimum of a 3-quart capacity. Place the pot over medium-high heat. Occasionally stir the ingredients to prevent the sugar from burning on the bottom of the pan. Bring the caramel to a boil and cook the caramel until it reaches 236°F (113°C), about 7 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and rest the caramel until it cools down to 180°F (82°C).
Continue to Make the Caramel Apples.
Caramel Sauce Made from Soft Caramel Candies
Add water to the bottom portion of a double boiler filling the saucepan until it reaches shy of 2-inches up the side of the pot. Place the top portion of the double boiler on top then add all the ingredients to the pot. Turn the heat to medium-high and melt the caramel. Occasionally stir the ingredients to incorporate the ingredients and promote even melting. Once the caramel is melted, turn down the heat to low and begin making the caramel apples.
Make the Caramel Apples
Remove the chilled apples from the refrigerator and bring near your saucepan with the caramel sauce. Position the prepared rimmed sheet pan at the opposite side of the caramel sauce.
One at a time, dip an apple into the caramel, turning it over to get an even coating of caramel. Lift the apple out of the caramel and let the caramel drip back into the pot. Turn the apple around to encourage the caramel to evenly drip off and not collect over one spot. Turn the apple right side up and hold it upright for 30 seconds.
If you are dipping your apple into chopped nuts or candies, turn the apple upside down and dip the apple into the bowl filled with nuts or candy.
Place the finished apple on the prepared sheet pan. Once you are done with all the apples. Place the sheet pan in the refrigerator and chill the apples until the caramel firms up.
Once set, serve immediately. Store the caramel apples uncovered in the refrigerator for up to three days.
After you dipped all your apples and notice caramel pooling at the base of the apples, you can press the caramel back into place with your fingers.
Many different types of nuts and candies taste great with caramel apples. Sprinkles, Heath Bar Crunch, Chocolate Chips, and or any nut will easily stick to the caramel if chopped in small size pieces.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Last week I was making a vegan plum crisp for my brother-in-law and while shopping for some plums I spied ripe Forelle pears. It may seem a bit too early for pears, but Forelle pears are now ripe and ready at my local farm stand. I love the way Forelle pears look, they are so adorable in its petit form looking like a baby Bartlett pear with rosy cheeks. I find them hard to resist and are the perfect size for an afternoon snack. Change of plans, my plum crisp just got a makeover and turned into a vegan plum and pear crisp with lots of fresh ginger and a hint of nutmeg.
What Is A Crisp?
Crumble or crisp? I have confused the names of these two desserts for so many years. It is just that the actual name of each dessert is opposite to what my backward brain believes it should be. Essentially aren’t they the same dessert after all? Yes and no. Both the crumble and crisp are baked fruit desserts with a crusty topping. However, one has rolled oats in the topping and the other does not.
A fruit crisp has the rolled oats and flour topping and is so named because the rolled oats make the rough and tumble topping crispy like an oatmeal cookie. A fruit crumble is made with all-purpose flour, butter, sugar and gets all soft and crumbly while baking and soaking up the fruit juices.
Plum and Pear Crisp
This is one of the easiest desserts you can make, and it is one that is so satisfying. Essentially it is baked fruit with a giant cookie topping like two desserts in one. Top it off with some vanilla ice cream and you have 3 dessert indulgences on your plate.
The recipe is a basic formula for all fruit crisps. Usually, crips have around 6 cups (1.5 Liters) of fruit filling for the standard amount. This formula works with any type of fruit like plums, pears, apples or other stone fruit. This amount of fruit filling fills a nine-inch (23 cm) pie plate or 8-inch (20 cm) square baking dish.
The topping generally has equal parts of rolled oats to all-purpose flour with butter and sugar. For this recipe, I wanted to make a vegan dessert so, I used a vegan butter substitute. I have success using Earth Balance Original Buttery Spread. (Not an ad.) The flavor is pleasant and tastes natural, unlike some kinds of margarine. FYI, not all margarine is vegan. It is one of the easiest desserts to convert to a vegan option because the butter is the only animal product to find a substitute for.
Keys to Success
The key to a perfectly baked plum and pear crisp lies in the fruit selection. The type of pear or plum is not as important, but how ripe they are is. Your fruit must be ripe. Ideally just ripe or a smidgen off ripe. Overripe plums and pears will dissolve into a sauce and not keep their shape. Unripe plums and pears will never get soft no matter how long you bake them. It is just not their time. Plus, they do not have any flavor.
I used a combination of black plums and European plums, like a Moyer plum. The European plum has a longer and oval shape compared to the roundness of black plums. Any type of plum will taste great as long as they are ripe.
For the pears, I used only Forelle, because they were ripe. Bosc pears work very well in a crisp or pie because they keep its shape. I did not peel the Forelle pears, but if I used Bosc pears I would peel them as the skin is rougher and thicker than Forelle pears.
I have made this plum and pear dessert many times, yet as you can see in my photographs, this time around I went a little overboard with the fruit filling. Ideally, you want a level surface of fruit filling for the buttery topping to spread over. The fruit cooks evenly when it is not piled up so high and the rolled oats in the topping won’t burn before the crisp is done.
My problem is the result of a shallow baking dish, that I chose because it would photograph better than my trusty Pyrex deep dish pie pan. My vanity resulted in a delicious plum and pear crisp, but one that did not bake as evenly as it should. I say this, so you can learn from my mistake and not feel you must make your crisp overflowing with fruit like I did.
Mix It Up
Use any fruit for the filling. Apples, pears, plums, nectarines or other stone fruit. I added some blackberries with the plums and pears in my crisp just for fun. If you want to make a mixed berry crisp, mix the berries with a type of fruit that retains its shape like nectarines, plums, or Bosc pears. Otherwise, it will look saucy without any distinctive fruit shapes.
Change the spices. I love fresh ginger with fruit and use it often. Other good spices are cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, or ground clove. Lemon zest and lemon juice brighten up the fruit and the juice prevents apples and pears from browning. Lemon zest is also a nice accent flavor mixed in the topping.
Add dried fruit like chopped dried apricots or cranberries. They add a tart concentrated flavor to the fruit filling and help absorb some of the fruit juices. Add about a half a cup (125 ml) at the most. Dried fruit should be an accent flavor, not a featured one.
Add nuts or unsweetened coconut flakes to the topping. Pecans, walnuts or almonds give the topping some extra crunch. If you add unsweetened coconut flakes, add a 1/2 a cup (125 ml), and remove equal amounts of rolled oats and all-purpose flour (1/4 cup, 60 ml, each).
P.S. Yes, I do see the reflection of the chandelier in the spoon. I could not get the darn clone stamp to work in Photoshop so I gave up and included the photo anyway. To all the Photoshop experts out there, how do you get rid of reflections in shiny objects like a silver spoon?
Ginger Plum and Pear Crisp
Fruit crisp has a basic formula that is suitable for any seasonal fruit. This basic formula makes it easy to personalize your crisp using the fruit and spices you love. I love using fresh ginger with fruit as it adds some bite and compliments most fruits like pears, plums and apples. However, ground ginger does not taste as bright as fresh ginger in baked desserts.
Often, I need a vegan dessert and I find fruit crisps are an easy vegan dessert option. There are no eggs or dairy products to maintain the structure of a crisp so all you need to substitute is a plant-based butter-like spread. In this recipe, you can use equal amounts of vegan butter spread or real butter. When selecting a vegan butter spread, read the ingredients list carefully to make sure there are no dairy or other animal-based ingredients in the mix.
- 6 cups (1.5 L) prepared fruit. Depending on the type and size of plums you will need 5- 6 plums. And, 4-6 Forelle pears or 3-4 Bosc pears
- 6 oz (170 g) blackberries optional
- 1 ½ inch (14 g) knob of fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- Juice of half a lemon
- 2/3 cup 113 g packed brown sugar
- ¾ cup 75 g rolled oats ( not quick rolled oats)
- ¾ cup 100g all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup 27 g toasted nuts, like pecans, almonds or walnuts, chopped
- 5 TB 86 g straight out of the refrigerator vegan butter substitute or butter
- Pinch 1/8 tsp of Kosher salt
Set the oven rack into the middle position and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Lightly butter a 9-inch (23 cm) pie pan or 8-inch (20 cm) square pan. Set aside.
Slice open the plums and remove the pits then slice the plums into wedges. Add the plums into a large mixing bowl.
Slice each pear in half and remove the core. Then cut each pear into chunks about 1/2 -3/4 of an inch (1 cm - 1.5 cm). Add the pears into the bowl with the plums. The skin on Forelle pears is very thin and tender so I do not peel them. However, if you are using Bosc pears, you might want to peel the skin.
Add the minced ginger and grated nutmeg to the bowl with the fruit along with the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the sugar. Mix together until the sugar and spices are thoroughly mixed through the fruit. Set aside.
In another bowl add the sugar, rolled oats, all-purpose flour, toasted nuts and a pinch of Kosher salt. Mix together with your clean hands until the butter and all ingredients are evenly incorporated and forming soft clumps of dough.
Pour the fruit into your prepared baking pan then sprinkle the crisp topping evenly over the top of the fruit. Place your baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet, then slide into the oven. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the top is evenly browned and the juices are bubbly.
Cool on wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve hot or room temperature. Best eaten the day it is made. Store leftovers in the refrigerator, loosely covered in aluminum foil.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Finally, I have an apricot dessert recipe to share. It has taken awhile, but from my research and inspiration, I found an apricot dessert that is not a galette, not that there is anything wrong with galettes, but I do like to have a variety. With some help from a recipe by Nigella Lawson, I developed a recipe for apricot streusel cake.
Apricots are my favorite fruit and when I find a perfectly ripe fresh apricot, it is hard for me to resist eating the whole basket. Until recently, getting a good and ripe apricot in New York is as rare as finding a four-leaf clover. You know they exist, but finding one takes a few years of constant searching. My fondness for apricots comes from a vivid childhood taste memory and growing up in Northern California. As a result, all apricots compare to that distinct and memorable flavor.
My parents had an apricot tree, along with a plum tree, a couple of apple trees and a cherry tree growing in their yard. I realize this collection of fruit trees gives the impression I lived on an orchard, or an expansive property, though that is not the case. These fruit trees are my dad’s romantic plantings for our suburban hillside home. Because I was not born when Dad planted these trees, I can only imagine his intent. In reality, once the trees were planted, they were left alone to fend for themselves. Rarely did I see Dad harvest the fruit from his trees, let alone prune a branch.
The fruit trees were my playground and fortresses, with a favored attachment to the apricot tree. I would climb up the tree and look for apricots that weren’t half eaten by the birds or bugs. The rejects were used as ammunition when I played war with two of my brothers. Perched up in my apricot tree I would attack the intruders with rotten apricots for the win. Chris and Andy would scramble about while picking up the fallen ammunition for their defense. It was all in good fun, but I was happy to have the apricot tree on my side.
Memorable Apricot Flavor
I considered the apricot tree as my turf and its’ fruit, mine. I did share with my younger brother as he was quite adventurous and never resisted the urge to climb anything that was taller than him. Together we secured our position either standing or straddling on a strong branch, then pluck off any ripe apricots within reach. If we got lucky and found apricots before the birds did, we brought inside a shirt-full of apricots for mom.
If the California sun has a flavor, it is apricot. The juicy saturated tang is lively and speaks of hours spent ripening in the dry heat, then cooled down from the evening fog. When I bite into an apricot, I can feel the heat of those summer days spent building forts and climbing trees. On those dry windless days, only something with strong flavor could tame down the arid heat. The bitter-sweet tang of ripe apricots did the job, almost as good as an orange Popsicle.
For me, all apricots compare to the ones I picked in my childhood backyard. It is not a fair comparison to the unsuspecting apricots that traveled 3000 miles to reach New York. It’s not their fault they traveled so far only to get bruised and battered along the way.
Fortunately, apricots are grown in the NY Hudson Valley and with the popularity of farmers markets, are now more available. I am so happy for this because since moving to NY and having many a disappointing and mealy apricot, I stopped buying them. It is just in the past couple of years I decided to give local apricots a try.
So now, my big adventure is seeking out reliable markets to get NY apricots that are ripe and full of flavor. I bought these apricots at a local farm stand in Yorktown, but the apricots are grown north of me and on the other side of the Hudson River in Marlborough NY. I have never been to Marlborough, but now that I know there is a winery and fruit farms there, I just might have to plan a visit.
Inspiration for Apricot Streusel Cake
A couple of weeks ago, I discovered a recipe for Strawberry Sour Cream Streusel Cake by Nigella Lawson. One night I needed to make a second dessert after my first dessert was an epic fail. I knew Nigella’s baking recipes are reliable, and her strawberry streusel cake recipe looked easy to make. Although it was my first time making her cake, I made some substitutions because I was pressed for time and could not go to the store. Because my jar of vanilla was almost empty, I used almond extract instead. Almond extract is strong, so I used less than the amount for the vanilla. As long as I kept the almond flavor within reason, I believed it would pair nicely with the cake and strawberries.
Additionally, I switched crème fraîche for the sour cream because that was all I had available. The result was a tender cake with a balanced flavor of strawberries and almonds. The almond flavor was especially a big hit, and it gave the cake an unexpected and memorable flavor.
Sour Cream vs Crème Fraîche
I don’t know what it is about crème fraîche, but when I use it in baking or in pancakes, the outcome is a remarkably tender cake. Ironically, despite the fact there is more fat in crème fraîche than sour cream, the cake tastes lighter. The results are magical. Crème fraîche is considered a specialty item and therefore is more expensive than sour cream. You find it in the specialty cheese section of your store. It has more fat than sour cream, but it does not have any additives and is less tangy. I made this streusel cake with both sour cream and crème fraîche and liked both results. Some stores do not carry crème fraîche, but please do not go driving all over town looking for it. It is just not that important, plus you can spend your time more wisely, like looking for good apricots.
Apricot Streusel Cake
Recently I bought a pound of fresh apricots and it occurred to me the recipe for strawberry streusel cake would work with apricots. Apricots are not as watery as strawberries, but I thought the fruit purée would still have the right consistency for the cake. It is not often you see an apricot cake, so it is a pleasant surprise.
Apricot streusel cake has many personalities as it is like a coffee cake but is equally at home as a dessert after a roast chicken dinner. It is similar to a peach cake but has a lot more butter and jammy flavor. Because there is so much butter in the cake batter a familiar aroma of an all-butter pie crust wafts out of the oven as it bakes.
It may smell like pie, but this is definitely a cake. A cake that is tender, moist and easily transportable. Serve it for breakfast or dessert as it is right at home for either course. It is a perfect cake to bring along for a summer weekend getaway, picnic, or brunch with friends. It also tastes great the second day. However, my real assurance came from Joe when after he took one bite said, “This is awesome.”
More Apricot Love
Substitute the peaches with apricots in Peaches and Berries with Bourbon Sabayon
Apricot Streusel Cake
Almond extract or bourbon are great complimentary flavors with apricots. I like to use either one with this cake or a combination of both instead of vanilla.
This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Strawberry Sour Cream Streusel Cake.
- 7 oz (200 g) fresh apricots about 5-6 small apricots
- 3 TB (72 g) apricot jam
- 1 ½ tsp (4 g) minced fresh ginger a small piece just over an inch long and a half-inch wide
- 1 ½ tsp (7.5 ml) fresh squeezed lemon juice *see notes
- ½ tsp (2 g) almond extract *see notes
- 2 tsp (6 g) cornstarch
- Smidgen pinch of Kosher salt if needed
- 2 cups (309 g) all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup (164 g) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp (4 g) baking powder
- ½ tsp (2 g) baking soda
- 12 TB (188 g) cold butter 1 ½ sticks cut into ½ inch pieces
- 1 cup (8 oz / 225 g) crème fraîche or sour cream
- 1 large egg
- 1 ½ tsp (8 g / 7.5 ml) almond extract or 1 TB (15 ml) Bourbon
- 2 tsp (13 g) Demerara sugar
- 8 g sliced almonds (small handful)
- 2 fresh small apricots
Preheat the oven to 375°F / 190°C / Gas Mark 5 with the rack in the middle position. Oil or butter a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan. Reserve until later.
Make the apricot purée
Peel and cut up the apricots then place in the blender or container for an immersion blender. Add the apricot jam. Zest the lemon peel and grate the ginger over your container or blender to catch any of the lemon oils and juices from the ginger.
Make a slurry with the almond extract, lemon juice, and cornstarch then add to the blender or your container. Purée until smooth. Taste the purée and if it seems too bitter, add a smidgen pinch of Kosher salt. Taste again then set aside. The flavors will balance out when added to the cake.
Make the cake
In a large bowl add the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Use a small whisk and stir the mixture until evenly incorporated. Add the butter and use your fingers to smoosh the butter and mix in with the flour mixture. Do this until your flour looks like coarse sand, just like making a pie crust by hand. Measure a ½ cup (125 ml) of the flour mixture and add to a small bowl. Reserve for the streusel topping.
Add the crème fraîche or sour cream, egg, and almond extract (or bourbon) to the large bowl with the flour mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. This batter looks thick, but it should be smooth.
Add just over half the batter to the prepared pan and spread over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. You want to create a flat bottom well for the purée to rest. Try to get the batter about an inch up the sides. Do not worry about making the bottom level even. The batter is sticky, and I found wet hands helps move the cake batter into position.
Add the apricot purée in an even layer across the bottom and nestled inside the well. Make sure the rim of cake batter is taller than the height of the purée. Spoon the remaining cake batter on top and cover the purée being careful not to push the apricot purée up and over the rim.
Make the streusel topping
Add the sugar and almond slices to the small bowl with the reserved butter-flour mixture. Toss with a fork or your fingers until it is evenly combined. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the cake.
Slice each apricot in half then each half into five wedges. Arrange the sliced apricots over the top of the cake in a haphazard pattern. Sprinkle with a few more sliced almonds.
Bake the cake until it is light golden brown, about 45 minutes. Insert a toothpick in the center of the cake to make sure it is cooked through. You will see some crumbs on the toothpick, but nothing should look wet or raw.
Completely cool the cake on a wire rack before you remove the springform pan and serve.
In the original recipe, Nigella added 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract to the fruit purée. I divided the liquid between the almond extract and lemon juice. Almond extract is strong, so I do not recommend using 2 teaspoons in the recipe. However, I have used anywhere from 1/2 tsp up to 1 tsp with good results. Feel free to divide the lemon juice and almond extract equally, or only use lemon juice. However, keep the total liquid at 2 teaspoons.
I peeled off the skin of my apricots, but I will leave that decision to your discretion. Apricot skins do not have that fuzzy offensive texture of peach skin, so I do not believe it is necessary to peel them. The apricots peels will purée thoroughly in a blender or with an immersion blender.
If you cannot get fresh apricots, use canned apricots packaged in their own juices as a substitute. Dry off the can juices from the apricots then weigh or guesstimate by size pairing the halves to make 5 apricots for the purée. There is no need to peel canned apricots.
Minced candied ginger is a nice addition to the streusel topping. Don’t go overboard with the candied ginger as the apricot is the star of the cake. Nutmeg is another spice that pairs well with this cake. Add about a half teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg in the cake batter to complement the apricots and almond flavor.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
What food do you crave on those warm sunny spring days? I crave ice cream, fresh fruit and salads filled with fresh herbs from my garden. One of my favorite combinations is strawberries and basil. The two just compliment each other perfectly. The strawberries taste so bright and fresh and the basil is warm and sunny. After all, what is more enchanting than the classic combination of strawberries and cream? Strawberries, cream and basil, whipped into no-churn ice cream.
Without an ice cream machine, making homemade ice cream is challenging. So, when I discovered Nigella Lawson’s No-churn coffee ice cream recipe last year I was thrilled. At last ,I can make homemade ice cream. I am not sure who came up with the idea first, either Nigella or Martha Stewart, but it doesn’t matter because it is brilliant and now is a universal recipe. No-churn ice cream is so simple and easy to make, even people with ice cream makers will want to make no-churn ice cream.
How to Make Strawberry No-churn Ice Cream
The basic no-churn ice cream recipe is simple with only 3 ingredients, sweetened condensed milk, heavy cream and flavoring like vanilla or freeze-dried coffee granules. However, if you want fruit flavored no-churn ice cream the fruit must steep in the heavy cream for about 20 minutes. It doesn’t take long for the cream to taste like strawberries, but it does take time for it to chill before you can whip it up into fluffy peaks. Flavoring no-churn ice cream with fresh fruit adds extra time to the overall amount of time to make this ice cream, but it is worth it and essential. The strawberry basil cream, or any fruit flavored cream, won’t whip unless it is completely chilled. This process takes about 3 hours resting in the refrigerator.
Additionally, you must plan for 6 hours to properly set and freeze the no-churn ice cream. This is not a dessert for those spontaneous moments, but your anticipation will be rewarded with homemade ice cream. I did notice the longer, as in days, the no-churn ice cream sat in the freezer to harder the ice cream got. I love the texture within the first 24 hours of making it. It is like a cross between soft serve and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream with it is smooth and creamy texture.
Other than allowing enough time for chilling and freezing, no-churn ice cream is easy to make and tastes just as delicious as churned ice cream. First you whip the heavy cream till fluffy with stiff peaks, then gently fold the whipped cream into the condensed milk. You do not need more sweetener because the condensed milk is sweet enough for the whole mix. One other area to watch out for is mashing the strawberries too much. The pulp could affect the texture of the ice cream if there is a lot of strawberry pulp in the cream.
Along with 80 plus food bloggers and Instagramers, on April 25th we are celebrating this spring featuring strawberries #strawberriesarethejam for a social media strawberry party. Strawberries are not quite in season here in New York, but they are bursting open in other parts of the US. After this crazy sprinter I am wrapping myself in sunshine by any means possible. This collaboration is made possible by Rebecca Bloom and Ruth Bloom the mother daughter team of Square Meal Round Table. We shared our seasonal recipes and ideas over this past year following their inspiring seasonal selection. Below my recipe is the list of all the participants in the strawberry party. Please check out what other creative food lovers are making with strawberries.
More Strawberry Inspiration on Lemon Thyme and Ginger
Strawberry Basil No Churn Ice Cream
I love how easy it is to get real strawberry flavor into ice cream just by steeping the berries in cream for several minutes. It is a great technique and an easy way to build up more flavor. I love strawberries and basil together. They pair almost as perfectly as strawberries and cream, No-churn ice cream is so easy and is a great alternative if you do not own an ice cream maker. Adding the strawberry flavor takes some time and the cream must be completely chilled before you can whip it. Infuse the cream and chill it the night before, then make the no-churn ice cream the next morning.
Note: Allow for a minimum of 3 hours to chill the strawberry basil infused cream before whipping.
Makes about 40 oz (1 liter 250 ml)
- 2 cups (500 ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1 lb. (453 g) fresh strawberries, stems removed and rough chopped divided
- 3-6 medium size basil leaves see notes
- 1- 14 oz can (396 g) sweetened condensed milk
Infusing the cream
Pour the heavy cream in a medium non-reactive sauce pan. Turn the heat to medium. Add 10 oz (296 g) of fresh strawberries and the basil leaves to the cream. Mash up the strawberries in the cream with a potato masher. Bring the strawberry cream just to the boiling point. Turn off the heat and let the strawberries and basil steep in the cream for 20 minutes. Taste the cream and add more strawberries if you want more strawberry flavor.
Pour the strawberry basil cream through a fine mesh strainer held over a small bowl. Strain out the strawberries and basil leaves from the cream. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the cream is completely chilled, about 3 hours. You can prepare this step the day before you make the ice cream.
Making the no-churn ice cream
Pour the sweetened condensed milk in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
Take the chilled cream out of the refrigerator and using a hand-held mixer or a stand mixer beat the cream until fluffy and stiff peaks. Be careful not to over-whip the cream.
If adding chopped strawberries into your ice cream, rough chop about 5 strawberries.
Add a quarter of the whipped cream to the bowl with the condensed mile and fold in to loosen it up. Add the remaining whipped cream to the condensed milk and fold in until completely Incorporated. Be careful not to deflate the cream.
Pour the strawberry basil condensed cream into an 8-inch (20 cm) loaf pan or a 2-quart (2 liter) freezer safe container with a tight-fitting lid. If you are adding fresh strawberries to your ice cream, pour about half of the mixture into the container and scatter some chopped strawberries over the top. Add the remaining cream and sprinkle the remaining strawberries. Take a knife or chop sticks and swirl it through the cream mixture.
Smooth out the top and cover the surface with wax paper or plastic wrap to prevent ice crystals. Freeze for 6 hours or until set. Serve in a bowl with your favorite toppings like chopped pistachios, chocolate sauce, or more strawberries. Or serve in an ice cream cone.
Depending on the size of your basil leaves will depend on how many you need to infuse in the cream. Start with four leaves, then after the cream has steeped for 8 minutes, taste the cream. Adjust the basil with more or less basil leaves if you feel it needs it.
Check out all the great strawberry recipes from all the #strawberriesarethejam participants. All blog posts should be live on April 25th 2018. As this is a collaboration of individuals from around the world the timing could be spotty. If you get a 404 page, try again at a later time. Some of the titles do not have links but you can copy and paste them in your browser. You can follow everyone on Instagram using the #strawberriesarethejam.
Square Meal Round Table’s Roasted Balsamic Strawberry Pavlova
The Cooking of Joy’s Strawberry Matcha Cream Cheese Tart
This Healthy Table’s Strawberry Tahini Shortcake
Flours in Your Hair’s Strawberry Milk Donuts
The Wood and Spoon’s Strawberry Icebox Pie
Smart in the Kitchen’s Rustic Strawberry Galette
The Herb and Spoon’s Strawberry-Jam Filled Brioche Donuts
Better with Biscuit’s Straw “berry” Cobbler
My Kitchen Love’s Strawberry Rhubarb Tart
Sift and Simmer’s Rose Strawberry Hibiscus Mille Crepe Cake
What Great Grandma Ate’s No Bake Strawberry Cheesecake Bars (Paleo, Vegan)
A Modest Feast’s Greek Yogurt With Crispy Quinoa and Roasted Strawberries
Hola Jalapeno’s Strawberry Pink Peppercorn Margarita
Worthy Pause’s Strawberry-Basil Shrub Cocktail
Hot Dishing It Out’s Panna Cotta with Strawberry Jelly
Figs & Flour’s Shrimp Tacos with Strawberry Apricot Salsa
Pie Girl Bakes’ Strawberry Ginger Pie
Crumb Top Baking’s Strawberry Chia Jam Oat Bars
The Gourmandise School’s Strawberry Pistachio Salad
Tiny Kitchen Caper’s Strawberries and Cream Pound Cake
Cook Til Delicious’ Mini Chocolate Cake with Strawberry Ganache
Something New For Dinner’s Watermelon, Tomato and Strawberry Salad with Burrata
A Spicy Perspective’s Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Cake
Easy and Delish’s Strawberry Brigadeiros
Plays Well with Butter’s Strawberry Salad with Goat Cheese, Grilled Chicken, & Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
Katherine in Brooklyn’s Roasted Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream
Sugar Salt Magic’s Strawberry Mousse Tart
The Healthy Sins’ Coconut Flour Crepes Topped with Fresh Strawberries and Coconut Yogurt
Lemon Thyme and Ginger’s Strawberry Basil No Churn Ice Cream
Jessie Sheehan Bakes’ Strawberry Basil Turnovers
Bavette Meat & Provisions’ Pickled Green Strawberries
Rezel Kealoha’s Apple Cider Rose Poached Strawberries with Thyme Flowers
Made from Scratch’s Roasted Strawberry and Basil Ice Cream
Eat Cho Food’s Strawberry Basil Glazed Donuts
What’s Karen Cooking’s Strawberry Eton Mess
More Icing Than Cake’s Strawberry, Balsamic & Black Pepper Babka
What Annie’s Eating’s Vegan Strawberry + Basil Ice Cream
Fufu’s Kitchen’s Vegan Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches
Flotte Lotte’s Strawberry Ice Cream Sandwiches
Rumbly Tumbly’s Strawberry Scones
Well Seasoned Studio’s Classic Vanilla Layer Cake with Mascarpone Buttercream and Fresh Strawberries
A Small Kitchen in Genoa’s Italian Riviera Strawberries Salad
Maren Ellingboe’s Angel Food Cake with Whipped Cream & Strawberries
Cooking with Cocktail Ring’s Basil Balsamic Strawberry Shortcake
Reencontrándome con la Cocina’s Chocolate Meringue with White Chocolate Mousse and Strawberries
Le Petite Eats’ Strawberry Elderflower Ice Cream Sodas
Clean Plate Club’s Mini Strawberry Bundt Cakes with Lemon Glaze
Just Date Syrup’s Strawberry Date Syrup Oat Crumble
Well Fed Soul’s Strawberry Almond Mascarpone Cake
Marianne Cooks’ Strawberry Madeleines
Food Solutions’ Strawberry Soup (Savory and Sweet)
Champagne and Cookies’ Strawberry & Sesame Whole Wheat Pop Tarts with Strawberry Tahini Glaze
Annie Campbell’s Strawberry Pavlova
Blossom to Stem’s Mezcal Lime Strawberry Pavlova
Cosette’s Kitchen’s Strawberry Shortcake
Ful-Filled’s Lilac Sugar Strawberry Shortcakes with Greek Yogurt Whipped Cream
Babby Girl Yum’s Strawberry Spinach Almond Salad
An Amazing Appetite’s Vanilla Strawberry Tart
Cocoa and Salt’s Strawberry Pistachio Tart
Frosting and Fettuccine’s Strawberry Basil Layer Cake with Strawberry Simple Syrup
Baking the Goods’ Mini Strawberry Lemon Cupcakes
My Berkeley Kitchen’s Strawberry Kale Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
No More Mr. Nice Pie’s Fresh Strawberry Pie
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Looking over my blog posts I felt I needed some more dessert recipes, especially cake recipes. It is always good to collect dessert recipes ranging from easy to more challenging that you feel comfortable with. To add to my collection, I set out to publish a post for a yellow cake with chocolate ganache recipe today, but things did not work out as planned.
It all started when I made a cake from a recipe from Joanne Chang’s Baking with Less Sugar. Baking with less sugar is a goal of mine and a personal passion for Joanne Chang because her husband does not tolerate sugar well. I found, with this recipe, that just because there is less refined sugar does not mean it is low in fat. Quite the contrary.
Her cake was lovely, but the ganache frosting was an epic fail. Ganache is sometimes temperamental depending on the type of chocolate one uses. From my experience ganache sets easily by cooling it on the counter. This time something was off. Everything was fine until I put the ganache in the refrigerator as directed to set the ganache. This was the catalyst that turned everything upside down. The ganache hardened so much I could not penetrate the surface with a spoon. Almost as hard as a bar of chocolate. I whipped it with my hand-held mixer and it looked like seized chocolate mixed with over-whipped cream. It was awful.
Ughhh! I blame it on the butter. Immediately I made a second batch of ganache, without refrigerating it, and finished frosting the cake. Unfortunately, I did not love it. The ganache was very bitter, and I did not love the texture. Also, after a couple of hours the cake dried out.
Instead of coming up with a new layer cake recipe, I decided to put together a post with links to some of my dessert recipes. Also included are a couple of links to dessert recipes from other websites. Everything in one place for easy access.
The spring is a time of celebration whether for graduations, new beginnings, and major life events. Make your celebrations special by making a homemade dessert. Here is a collection ranging from quick and easy to involved. All are tested and delicious.
Dessert Recipes for Cake
Nifty Cake made with a sponge cake and whipped cream frosting with fresh fruit. I used to make this for my Dad’s birthday cake in July. Berries are available now, although not quite in season in my area, so instead of peaches, make the cake with strawberries and or blue berries. It is a cake version of strawberry shortcake and always a crowd pleaser.
If you want a gluten free cake, I have a Gluten Free Nifty Cake made with gluten free oat flour instead of all-purpose flour.
For a special occasion, like for a bridal shower, birthday or graduation, this recipe for Pink Champagne Cake is lovely. My recipe differs from the traditional recipe because I made it with an Italian buttercream not with the traditional American buttercream. Pink champagne cake has a subtle strawberry and champagne flavor that grows on you. I love this cake and can’t wait for a special occasion to make it again. Then again, why wait? My recipe is adapted from the cookbook American Cake by Anne Byrn.
Chocolate Stout Cake is a delicious chocolate cake made with chocolate chili stout. You won’t necessarily taste the stout, but it makes the chocolate more enhanced. The white chocolate cream cheese frosting is to die for especially with the chocolate stout glaze.
If a simple chocolate cake is what you are looking for, an old standby for me is Decadent Chocolate Cake by the Silver Palate.
This recipe from Fine Cooking is the one I should have published today because I have made it on several occasions. Four Layer Cake with Chocolate Buttercream. This cake is a yellow cake with raspberry jam and chocolate buttercream frosting. It is very impressive looking even though it is made with your basic cake components. You will have to click-through a couple of links to the yellow cake and chocolate buttercream frosting.
Dessert Recipes for Pies
On this blog I have a couple of recipes for galettes and one crust-less apple pie. Clearly, I need to make some more. Personally, I love the ease of galettes especially during the summer months. You can use the galette recipes as a base and substitute with seasonal fruit. Lemon plums are in season now and taste great in a galette made with mixed berries. Or make a galette with apples and dried apricots.
For a gluten free pie try Double Coconut Pie. This is like eating a giant macaroon cookie.
Other Dessert Recipes
For the Nutella lover in the family, Chocolate Nutella Pots de Creme. This is my husband’s favorite dessert. Smooth and silky with a little kick of sriracha with the chocolate.
For a refreshing custard, Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta. Instead of figs you can substitute pears, or caramelized citrus. The panna cotta has a lovely tang from the yogurt and is silky smooth. This is a gelatin dessert, so it is not vegetarian.
Peaches and Berries with Bourbon Sabayon Traditionally sabayon is made with champagne or Marsala wine, but for this recipe I made it with bourbon to pair with the peaches. Sabayon is an elegant dessert made with whipped eggs combined with whipped cream. Sabayon should not be confused with Zabayon, a similar dessert made from whipped eggs, Marsala and served warm.
Lemon Mousse is one of my favorite desserts. This recipe is very light and airy from Maida Heatter’s New Book of Great Desserts. This mousse is perfect for this time of year when we are between winter and spring fruit availability.
Ever since I first made a pavlova, I put this dessert in the Five Star category. A classic dessert like early Hollywood actresses such as Catherine Deneuve and Grace Kelly It is exquisite with exceptional taste. Here is a recipe for Lemon Pavlova with Kiwi and Passion Fruit sauce. You can get the passion fruit pulp at your grocery store located in the Latin American food section of the frozen foods aisle.
Try making a vegan pavlova using Aquafaba Meringue with berries and coconut whipped cream. This recipe is from one of my first recipe posts when after three trials I could not whip coconut milk for the life of me. Since then, I have made whipped cream from the fat of full fat coconut milk with great success, especially when using Trader Joe’s brand.
My promise to myself and my readers is, I will post nothing on this website that I am not satisfied with. Even though my son and husband thought there was nothing wrong with the cake, I just did not love it. I did not feel this was the type of cake that people will find irresistible and sneak in a slice for a midnight snack.
On the other hand, the above recipes are tried and true. I am looking forward to a new season and learning new dessert recipes to share with you.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.