Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

Simple Pear Cake

Say that a kind friend has sent you 2 pounds of Fruit-of-the-Month Club pears as a thank-you gift. Say that your harried building manager forgets to tell you that these pears are sitting in the office waiting for you to pick them up for 2 weeks, so that when you do finally get your hands on the pears, they are THISCLOSE to being overripe.

What do you do? You make a quick and easy pear cake.


2 pounds pears
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 to 2 tablespoons of butter, chopped into small pieces

Extra butter and flour for the pan

1 Springform pan


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter the inside of the pan thoroughly, then sprinkle flour to cover the bottom of the pan. Shake the pan until you’ve lightly coated the entire bottom. Turn over and tap to remove excess flour.

Peel the pears and cut them in half (top to bottom, not side to side). Use a spoon to remove the seeds and the stringy bits of core. Slice the pears into thin slices. Set aside for a moment.

Beat milk and eggs together in a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and salt, continue beating. Slowly add the flour, and continue beating until everything is mixed thoroughly and there are no lumps. Add the sliced pears, vanilla, lemon juice, and cinnamon to the mixing bowl, and stir gently until they are well integrated into the batter.

Pour the batter into the pan, making sure it’s evenly distributed. Sprinkle the top with the bits of chopped butter. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 50 minutes.

When the time is up, remove from the oven and cool until it’s warm but not hot to the touch. Open the springform and transfer the cake to a serving plate.


  • Taste your pears when slicing them. You may want to adjust the amount of cinnamon and lemon juice depending on the sweetness and flavor of the pears.

Amazing Apple Pie

This is Scott’s amazing apple pie recipe, presented without much comment. It’s not hard to make and tastes fantastic. If you absolutely must, you can buy the crust pre-made, but it really does taste better when homemade.



1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 lb butter
2 tablespoons ice water


6 Granny Smith apples
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 lb butter
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons flour


First, make the crust. Mix all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse the mixer until the ingredients are just starting to form a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes before using. On a floured surface, split the dough in half and roll each sheet to 1/8 inch thickness. Place one sheet in a 9” pie tin and cut the excess from the edge of the tin. Reserve the second sheet for the top.

Next, the filling. Peel, core and dice the apples. Place them in a large saucepan. Cut up the butter and add all ingredients except flour to the pot. Bring it to a boil, then lower to a simmer, cover and cook for one hour. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. Pour off excess liquid and save for the glaze.

Finally, assembly & baking. Preheat oven to 425F. Toss the apple filling with the flour and put it all in the pie tin, cover with the second sheet of dough, seal with a fork, and cut vent holes. Bake for 20-25 minutes until crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and glaze the crust with the reserved filling liquid 3 times.

Mom’s Oatmeal Lace Cookies

These are great, easy party cookies that I’ve been making since I was a kid. The hardest part was keeping them in one piece: they are fragile and break easily if not handled gently. Probably not the best cookie to make if you’re sending cookies or traveling with them.

If you do lose a few to breakage, that’s OK: these cookies also make a fantastic topping for ice cream.


2 1/2 cups oatmeal (preferably not the instant kind)
2 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) melted butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla


Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Put the oatmeal, sugar, flour, and salt into a medium-large mixing bowl. Add the melted butter and stir well, then mix in the egg and vanilla. Blend well.

Place teaspoon-sized balls of the dough onto cookie sheets. Leave at least 2 inches between each piece, these cookies spread a lot while baking.

Bake for 7 minutes or until the cookies are light brown.


  • These cookies tend to stick to the tray unless you either use a Silpat baking mat or grease the trays. Waiting for the cookies to cool a bit before pulling them off the cookie tray also helps get them off without breaking.
  • If you really want to go for sugar overload, add chocolate: drizzle a little melted chocolate on top of the cookies, or even go all-out and dip the cookies into melted chocolate.

New York Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

This is an extremely easy to make, New York style cheesecake recipe that does not require a water bath during baking, just a little patience while the cake cools.


The Crust:
30 chocolate chip cookies, crushed into small crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted

The Cake:
4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 1/2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup milk
4 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips


1. Grease a 10-inch springform pan. In a medium bowl, mix cookie crumbs with the melted butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of your pan. Refrigerate the crust for at least 30 minutes to let it set.

2. Preheat the oven to 350F.

3. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Blend in milk, and then mix in the eggs one at a time, mixing just enough to incorporate. Mix in sour cream, vanilla and flour until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips, and pour the mixture onto your crust.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Then turn the oven off, and let the cake cool in the oven with the door closed until it comes to room temperature; this is a very important step that prevents the cake from cracking. Depending on your kitchen and the size of your oven, this will take about an hour. Resist the temptation to sneak a quick look. After that, you can remove it from the oven. Chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours – overnight is better.


  • We usually use either Pepperidge Farm or Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies for the crust, but any decent-quality cookie can be used as long as it is crispy. The soft & chewy versions should be avoided at all costs.

Pumpkin Chocolate Creme Brulee


This is the basic mini-“brool” (4.5 oz.) version, makes 6. For 12-14 brools, double up.

Day One:

For the chocolate bruleé:

3 egg yolks
¼ cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate baking chocolate

Day Two:

For the pumpkin bruleé:

3 heaping tablespoons of canned pumpkin pureé
3 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped

Day 1 (because the chocolate needs to sit overnight):

1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.

2. In a small sauce pan, bring milk, cream and half the sugar to a boil.

3. Place yolks and the remaining sugar in a heatproof bowl, and slowly pour in the hot milk mixture, whisking continuously. Too fast, and the eggs will curdle (or scramble. Yeccchh).

4. Add the chocolate to the custard, transfer to a clean, cool bowl, cool, and refrigerate overnight. (A hot bowl (especially metal) will keep cooking the custard.)

Day 2:

5. Preheat oven to 300º.

6. Separate egg yolks from egg whites and add yolks to pumpkin pureé in big fat bowl. Whisk together.

7. Slice open the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape it on a paper towel, and add to milk/cream/sugar mixture below.

8. In a small sauce pan, bring milk, cream and half the sugar to a boil.

9. Place 6 4” ramekins on cookie sheet and fill in, first with the chocolate bruleé, then the pumpkin – 7/8 full is full enough.

10. Fill the bottom of the cookie sheet/jelly roll pan with water, so the bruleés cook evenly. Cook for about 35 minutes, or until bruleés shake like Jell-o. Might need to got to 50 minutes. Cool, then refrigerate until firm.

Just before serving, sprinkle bruleés with sugar and broil for a few seconds, until tops are caramelized. Or, better yet, use the brand-new bruleé torch sent by dear Uncle BeeEEerrrnie. Serve immediately (like you had a choice, because the wolverines will already have been tearing at you the second dinner was finished).

Pumpkin-Chocolate Cheesecake With A Gingersnap Crust



30 2-inch gingersnaps, finely ground
3/4 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
½ cup pecans (optional)

(for cinnamon crust, use 1 cup graham crackers, 2tsp. cinnamon and 2 tbsps. sugar)


6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped or broken up
11/2 lbs. (12 oz.) of cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
11/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 lb. canned pumpkin purée
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
2 tablespoons Cognac, Armagnac or bourbon (preferably Wild Turkey)


1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
½ cup whipped cream
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup light corn syrup
½ teaspoon salt
3-4 tablespoons (of whatever booze you used in the filling – optional)
1 ½ cups pecan halves, toasted (350 degrees for 4 minutes)

Make crust:

1. Pre-heat oven to 325°.
2. Toast pecans for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant ands lightly brown.
3. Mix gingersnap crumbs, pecans and butter together (both crushing and mixing can be done in a food processor), and then press onto bottom (and a little up the sides, if you have enough crumb) of a buttered spring form pan.
4. Bake crust in middle of the oven until edge is golden brown – about 8 minutes. (Watch carefully towards the end – gingersnaps burn easily). Cool in the pan on a rack.

Make filling:

5. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, stirring frequently.
6. In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the cornstarch and vanilla.
7. In a separate large bowl, mix together the pumpkin purée, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and Cognac. Add this to the cheesecake batter and mix until really fluffy – almost mousse-like.
8. Lightly mix about half of the melted chocolate into the batter, basically by swirling the chocolate as it pours. Pour into buttered spring form pan. Repeat with other half of the chocolate, making swirls or marbling patterns as you pour. Don’t over-stir – this is the free-form, no-rules part (!)
9. Set the spring form pan onto either a roasting pan or jelly roll pan, put into the center of the oven, and either fill the jelly roll pan as full as you can with hot water, or the roasting pan about half-full. Bake the cheesecake, in its hot bath, for about 1½ hours, or until the cake is firm around the edges but slightly jiggly in the center. Turn the oven off, prop open the door, and let the cheesecake set in the water bath in the oven for 1 hour, or until completely set.
10. Remove cheesecake from the water bath and chill thoroughly (at least 4 hours) or overnight. The cheesecake can live happily in the fridge in its springform for up to four days. When ready, remove the springform rim and plate as desired.

Make topping:

11. Bring sugar, cream, butter, corn syrup and salt to a boil in a medium sauce pan, whisking until sugar dissolves; boil 1 minute without stirring. Remove from heat, stir in booze, then pecans. Cool, stirring occasionally. Top cheesecake, using a spatula – this is easier when sauce is fully cooled.

Easy Summer Fruit Torte

One of Mom’s recipes and an awesome dessert. It’s easy to make, tastes great, and is not so rich that you’ll feel insanely guilty eating it.


Cake Base:
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
2 eggs

12 small ripe purple plums, halved and pitted
OR 12 small ripe apricots, halved and pitted
OR 1 to 1/12 cups fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries are best)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons lemon juice (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9″ springform pan.

Cream the butter and sugar together (if you don’t know how, here’s a helpful link).

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and sift into a bowl, then add them, as well as the eggs, to the butter and sugar. Mix well but do not overwork the dough. Pour into the pan and smooth out the batter with a spatula to make sure it’s evenly distributed.

Add the fruit. If you’re using apricots, plums or strawberries, place the fruit halves skin side up so that the juices run down into the cake as it cooks. Raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries don’t have sides so just sprinkle them on. Tap gently on the fruit pieces to settle them into the batter, but not so firmly that they’re completely covered.

Sprinkle the top of the cake with sugar, and cinnamon and if necessary the lemon juice, adjusting the amount of each depending on the type and tartness of the fruit.

Bake for 1 hour.

Notes & Substitutions:

  • This cake is best served warm.
  • Can be baked in advance, frozen, and reheated.
  • If you don’t have a springform pan, a 9″ cake or pie round will also work. Grease the pan heavily and/or line with parchment paper for easier removal.