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.
I feel like I am jumping the gun today by writing a post and recipe for succotash. It is March, almost April, and without a doubt corn and baby lima beans are summer vegetables. Yet, I have delicious memories enjoying succotash with my Easter dinner. This vegetable dish is one I could eat in any season in a year. Fortunately, good quality frozen vegetables are available making it possible to eat this light but hearty side dish whenever I please. I happen to love succotash, especially paired with ham.
My first introduction to succotash was after getting married and living in New York. Succotash was a regular vegetable dish at my in-laws Thanksgiving and Easter dinners. I clearly remember how my sister-in-law made it with corn, lima beans, green bell pepper and plenty of fresh ground black pepper. Green beans are sneaking into my memory recipe as well but not as clearly as the other ingredients. It was love at first bite. When I went for seconds, I usually came back with another helping of succotash.
There is just something about succotash that sings to me. Maybe because this meal has a simple nature implying ease and comfort. Or, because each vegetable compliments the other for a harmonious vegetable medley. The flavors taste fresh, sweet and light, even when made with frozen vegetables.
Also, what’s not to love about saying “Succotash” with its fun and jazzy rhythm. As it happens, Herbie Hancock believes succotash has a jazzy rhythm as well and wrote a song titled, “Succotash” on his Inventions and Dimensions album.
History of Succotash
Succotash dates back to New England Native Americans from the word, msíckquatash, meaning boiled cut corn kernels. Back in the 17th century succotash mostly consisted of corn and native beans like cranberry beans. The English settlers soon adopted this hearty and nutritious stew and made it throughout the year from dried corn and beans.
Succotash grew in popularity throughout the US during the great depression and other eras of economic hardship. The ingredients were readily available and inexpensive and made a meal with a lot of sustenance. Over time, succotash evolved from a stew into a lighter side dish made with additional vegetables added to the corn and beans. Any succotash variation is acceptable, as long as corn and beans feature prominently in the ingredients.
With the invention of refrigeration and frozen foods, we can enjoy succotash year-round. However, make this with fresh corn during the summer months when corn is sweet and beans are fresh and just harvested. You will need to soak and cook the beans ahead, but the corn will quickly cook with the other vegetables after the fresh kernels are cut right off the cob.
Serve succotash with a grain like brown rice or farro for a plant-based main entrée meal. When legumes and grains combine they create a complete protein with all the essential amino acids accounted for.
During the winter months, substitute the zucchini with winter squash.
Make succotash with corn, cranberry beans and green beans with a splash of cream and choice of a fresh herb.
Use succotash for the filling of a pot pie, either with grains or other proteins like chicken or turkey.
Make succotash into a vegetable soup just by adding vegetable or chicken stock with some aromatics. Or, turn it into a crab and succotash chowder with fresh crab and cream.
Succotash is a vegetable dish traditionally made with corn, and cranberry beans. This recipe builds up from the traditional recipe by adding to the corn lima beans, zucchini, sweet bell pepper, onion and fresh herbs. Any fresh herb like sage, thyme, tarragon, chervil or basil will nicely compliment the corn and vegetables.
For a plant-based main entrée, serve succotash with a grain such as farro or brown rice.
- 1 lb (16 oz / 454 g) frozen corn 4 ears of fresh corn
- 10 oz (285 g) frozen baby lima beans
- 2 TB extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large Vidalia onion about 10 oz (300 g)
- 1 red or green bell pepper 7-8 oz (219 g)
- 1 tsp Kosher salt, divided
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 zucchini about 1 lb (454 g)
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 oz (87 g) grape tomatoes
- Several rounds Freshly ground black pepper
- 5-6 leaves fresh sage tarragon, basil, chervil, lemon thyme
Prep the Vegetables
Defrost the frozen corn and lima beans. If using fresh corn on the cob, slice the corn kernels off the cob and set aside. Peel and dice the onions. Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and white pith. Cut into long 1/2-inch (1.5 cm) strips then dice into 1/2-inch (1.5 cm) pieces. Peel, remove the green germ and mince the garlic. Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise, then each half into quarters, lengthwise. Cut across each wedge into pieces about a half-inch wide (1.5 cm). Slice the grape tomatoes in half. Set each vegetable aside in separate piles.
Sauté the Succotash
Place a large sauté pan or skillet, about 12-inches (30 cm) or larger, over medium-high heat. Add the extra virgin olive oil and heat up. Before the olive oil gets hot and smoky, add the diced onions and bell pepper. Stir to coat the vegetables with olive oil, and add ¼ teaspoon of Kosher salt. Sauté until the onions are translucent but not browned, and the vegetables have softened, about 4-5 minutes
Add the minced garlic. Stir and cook until the garlic releases its aroma, about a minute.
Add the zucchini and stir to mix the vegetables together. Add the thyme sprigs, another ¼ teaspoon of Kosher salt and several rounds of fresh black pepper, and stir. Continue to sauté the vegetables until the zucchini starts to soften, about 4 minutes, but is not cooked all the way through.
While the zucchini is cooking, slice the fresh sage leaves, chiffonade cut, and set aside.
Add the corn, lima beans and tomatoes. Stir, taste and correct the seasoning with more salt. Sauté the vegetables until they are cooked through and the corn and lima beans are warm, about 4 minutes. Add the sage and stir. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, sage, or black pepper if necessary. Turn off the heat.
For another version of succotash, make it with corn, lima beans, green beans with a splash of cream. Season with herbs like tarragon, chervil or basil.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Today is the first day of Spring but you would not know it from looking outside my window. The fourth nor’easter of the month is hidden behind the current dusting of baby snowflakes. Despite the unpredictable weather, I love spring. Here in the Hudson Valley it arrives just in time to boost up our winter weary mood. At this time of year, I search for that first bright green blade of grass, or the first crocus leaves pushing towards the sun under a bed of winter debris, and seeing fuzzy fresh buds ready to bust open and leaf out. Witnessing nature wake up after its winter nap makes me feel like a kid given free run of a toy store, excitedly scurrying from flower bed to wooded acre not knowing where to first look.
Sadly, there are no spring blooms yet, so my focus is inside, planning our meals for spring celebrations and family gatherings. In my family, cured ham is a favorite choice for a spring or Easter dinner served with pineapple stuffing, a green vegetable such as Asparagus with Orange Mayonnaise and a green salad. I am not sure if my family uses ham as an excuse for pineapple stuffing, or the other way around. Either way, ham and pineapple stuffing make a mandatory appearance for our Easter dinner.
How to cook a Spiral Sliced Ham
Nothing could be easier than cooking up a cured ham. Essentially all you need to do is heat it in the oven and make a glaze. Unfortunately, if one is not careful the ham will dry out while cooking in the oven, especially a spiral sliced ham. After a couple of dried out hams, I adopted the technique created by Cooks Illustrated for heating up spiral-sliced ham. It has a two-step heating process. The first step requires a container large enough for the ham to soak in. With the second step requiring a large oven bag for roasting the ham.
This technique was created with the understanding, that the less time the ham roasts in the oven, the less likely it will dry out and over cook. To gently encourage the process along, the ham soaks (with its plastic covering still intact) in hot tap water for 90 minutes. After soaking the ham in hot water and removing the plastic coverings, the ham gets sealed in a large oven bag. This cooking method seals in any juices and keeps the ham moist.
Cooks Illustrated recommends heating the spiral sliced ham in the oven bag until it reaches an internal temperature of 100°F (38°C). Then open and roll down the oven bag and baste the ham with a glaze. At this point you only need to cook the ham until the glaze heats up and gets sticky.
I find the 100°F (38°C) is on the cool side of warm and I like my ham slightly warmer. Cooks Illustrated reasoning for stopping at the 100 degree mark is cooking the ham longer will dry it out. Plus, ham tastes delicious either hot or at room temperature. Though, I read on the Reynolds Oven Bag link they recommend cooking to 140°F (60°C). This high temperature could easily dry out a spiral sliced ham. However, I believe there is a happy medium in the middle at 120°F (49°C).
Glaze for Spiral Sliced Ham
For the glaze I mixed and simmered some orange marmalade and leftover canned pineapple juice from the pineapple stuffing. I also mixed in Dijon mustard, brown sugar, rum, ground clove, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. It sounds like the works, but each ingredient adds a little more depth and blends well together. The amount of spice is just a pinch of each, so it is not overpowering. I also believe sweet sauces taste better when cut with some heat.
The glaze is multi-dimensional. In addition to coating the spiral sliced ham, I mix it with pan juices for a pan sauce. Additionally, I like the glaze mixed with some grainy mustard making a condiment to serve with the ham. Feel free to adjust the amounts of each ingredient but remember you need enough to use in three different ways.
Need a dessert? Make my Pavolva with Kiwi, Berries and Passion Fruit Glaze.
Left Over Recipe Ideas for Spiral Sliced Ham
Add chopped ham to a pasta dinner for another family favorite treat.
Make a cheese omelet and add some chopped ham with the cheese or your choice.
Add ham to my Onion Tart for a recipe similar to Quiche Loraine.
There is nothing like a good ham and Swiss cheese sandwich on good crusty or whole grain bread. Spread the bread with some Dijon mustard (or leftover mustard from your ham dinner) and mayonnaise, then add some crispy lettuce and you are good to go. Or make a Cuban Sandwich.
Spiral-Sliced Ham with Orange Pineapple Glaze
A fool-proof method for making a moist spiral sliced ham and enough glaze to add to pan juices and extra mustard on the side. This technique is borrowed from Cooks Illustrated recipe for Glazed Spiral Sliced Ham. The ham is slowly warmed up in a water bath then heated in the oven. I basted the ham with an orange pineapple glaze for a sweet and slightly spicy seasoning. The ground cayenne is optional.
A container large enough to hold the ham with water.
A large oven bag for roasting. See link in blog post.
- 8-10 lb Spiral Sliced bone t half Ham butt or shank end
- Orange Pineapple Glaze
- ½ cup (140 g) orange marmalade or peach or apricot jam
- 2 TB (27 g) brown sugar
- 4 TB (34 g) Dijon mustard
- 2 TB dark rum brandy, or bourbon
- 4 TB pineapple juice apple juice/ orange juice
- 1/8 tsp ground clove
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
- Fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Dash ground cinnamon
Cooking the ham
Place the ham, still in its sealed plastic covering, in a container large enough to fit the ham and cover the entire ham with water. Add enough hot tap water to completely cover the ham. Rest on the counter for 45 minutes. Drain the water and fill the container again with hot tap water and rest for another 45 minutes.
Meanwhile preheat the oven to 250°F / 120°C / Gas Mark 1/2 and place the rack at the lowest position.
After the ham has warmed up in its water bath for an hour and a half, drain out the water then remove the ham from its plastic cover. Check to see if there is a plastic disk over the bone or other plastic covers, and remove it. Place the ham, cut side down into a large oven bag. Gather up the ends and tie together just above the top of the ham. Make 4 two-inch (5 cm) slits in the oven bag, just a couple of inches down from the tied end and placed equidistant around the circumference of the bag. One on each side of the ham. Place the ham on a roasting pan then place on the rack in the oven. Roast until the internal temperature reaches 100°F (38°C), about an hour and a half depending on the size of your ham. It roasts 10 minutes a pound.
Remove the ham from the oven and turn up the temperature to 350°F / 175°C / Gas Mark 4. Open the oven bag and roll the sides down to expose the ham. Baste the ham with about a third of the glaze and return the ham to the oven. If the glaze is too thick warm it up over medium heat until it thins out. Bake until the glaze is sticky and congealed, about 10-15 minutes.
Remove the ham from the oven and place on a cutting board. Loosely cover the ham with aluminum foil and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Carve the ham and serve with the sauce and or country style Dijon mustard.
Make the Orange Pineapple Glaze
While the ham is roasting, combine the ingredients to a small sauce pan set over medium heat. Stir the glaze until it reaches a simmer. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your tastes. Simmer until the glaze thickens, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Make the pan juices
While the ham is resting on the carving board, add about a third of the glaze with 4 tablespoons of pan juices to a sauce pan over medium high heat. Simmer until the juices thicken slightly. Taste and adjust the seasoning. For a smooth pan sauce, strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a serving container. Or keep it chunky.
Make the Orange Glaze Mustard
Add 3 TB of mustard to 1 TB of the glaze in a small bowl. Stir to mix. Taste and adjust with more or less mustard and glaze to suit your taste.
Baste any remaining glaze over the ham before carving.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
In many cultures, bread is symbolic for life and sustenance. If there is bread in the house, no one will go hungry. Bread has symbolic meanings in different religions as well. Throughout Europe, Easter bread symbolizes new life and served at breakfast on Easter morning. The history of Easter bread goes back hundreds of years and is enjoyed during a meal at the end of Lent.
Sweet Easter Bread
For the Dough
- 2/3 cup / 150ml whole milk
- 5 Tbs / 70g granulated sugar- divided
- 1 3/4 tsp / 1/8oz / 6g active dry yeast
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 2 3/4 cups / 405 g all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp / 3 g Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup 10 stick / 113g unsalted butter, melted
- 1 Tb / 23 g melted butter
- Finely grated zest of 1 orange optional
- 1/2 tsp of ground anise or fennel pollen optional
- Poppy Seeds for decorating optional
- 1 egg plus 2 teaspoons of water mixed (for egg wash)
For the decorative eggs
- 5-6 large eggs
- Food coloring of your choosing
Make the Dough
Heat the milk in a 2-cup microwave safe glass measure in the microwave until the milk reaches 110-115F (43-46C). (Can also heat the milk on the stove in a small sauce pan). Start at 30 seconds and check the temperature of the milk and add 10 seconds until you reach the desired temperature. You do not want it hotter than 115C because the higher temperature will kill the yeast.
Gently stir in 1 tablespoon (13g) of the sugar, and the yeast into the milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes. The milk should get foamy from the yeast. (If the milk does not get foamy your yeast is not active).
Melt the butter and let cool.
Whisk the eggs into the milk and add the cooled melted butter.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the remaining 4 Tb (58g) sugar, all-purpose flour, and Kosher salt, orange zest (optional), and ground anise or fennel pollen (optional). Mix together with a whisk or fork to get the ingredients evenly combined. Attach the bowl to the stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
On low speed, add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix to get the ingredients combined. Stop and scrape the bowl when necessary. About one minute. Turn the speed up to medium high and mix for 5 minutes until the dough gets soft and silky.
Brush the insides of a medium mixing bowl with the remaining half tablespoon of melted butter. Add the bread dough into the bowl and butter the tops and sides of the dough with the remaining butter. Turn the dough around in the bowl to get a good coating of butter all over it. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter in a warm spot until it doubles in size, for 1 1/2 hours up to 2 hours.
The dough can be made ahead up to the point of the first rising. Refrigerate the dough, then when ready, rest the dough at a warm spot on the counter and let it rise for 2 1/2 hours.
Color your eggs according to the directions of your food coloring. You do not need to hard boil the eggs first, just be careful not to crack any eggs while you are coloring them. The eggs will cook in the oven while the bread is baking. Refrigerate your decorated eggs until you are ready to use them.
Assemble the bread
Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
After the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and divide the dough into three equal pieces.
Lightly sprinkle flour over your work surface and dust your hands with flour.
Roll each piece of dough into long tapered ropes about 16 inches (41cm) long. If your dough is springing back and not lengthening, cover the strands with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Arrange the strands lengthwise across the sheet pan and pinch the top of the strands together. Loosely braid the dough. Drape the outer left strand over the middle strand, then drape the outer right strand over the (new) middle strand. Repeat alternating the left and right outer strands until you are at the bottom. Pinch the bottom strands together and secure. Tuck the eggs between the braided strands down the middle of the bread. The eggs will slide out if they are too close to the sides of the bread. Loosely cover the bread with plastic wrap or clean kitchen towel and let the bread rise for 45 min - 1 hr. The bread will puff up but not double in size.
Meanwhile, arrange the oven rack to the middle position, and if you have a baking stone place it on the middle rack. Pre-heat the oven to 350F/ 175C/ Gas Mark 4. When baking bread, I like to preheat my oven for an hour. I believe the temperature is more even and accurate.
After the final rise, whisk together one egg with 2 tsp water and brush the bread with the egg wash. Avoid getting the egg wash on the eggs. Sprinkle with poppy seeds, if using, and place the sheet pan with the bread on the middle rack in your oven. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until the internal temperature is 190F (88C).
Take the bread out of the oven and slide it with the parchment paper onto a cooling rack. After 5 minutes remove the parchment paper. Can be served warm or room temperature.
The bread can be made the night before serving for breakfast, 8 hours in advance. After 8 hours, the eggs might start to turn bad. The bread will be fine for a couple of days, but not the eggs.