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Irrisistable Icebox Cake

Posted on: Tuesday, June 16, 2015

In the spirit of Father’s Day, we’re planning to make a wow-worthy dessert for Dad. Our father appreciates dishes that evoke memories and hold a thoughtful meaning. In the past, we opted for nostalgic Root Beer Floats one year and classic Strawberry Shortcake another. This year, we are whipping up a dessert that features one of his favorite flavors, malt. In college, Dad would add malted milk powder to glasses of milk and sometimes eat it by the spoonful. As youngsters, we remember finding his cardboard carton of malted milk balls in the kitchen cabinet and were instantly intrigued by the distinct flavors of barley, wheat flour, milk powder, sugar and chocolate.
For Father's Day, we are planning to layer a dessert that showcases one of Dad’s favorite treats. When we think of layers, we think of Icebox Cake which has tiers of flavored cream and cookies. The whipped cream infused with the caramel, almost nut-like malted milk powder pairs perfectly with rich, chocolate, Nabisco wafers. As the cookies and cream chill in the refrigerator, the layers transform into a soft, cake-like texture...like magic!
Malted Icebox Cake (Adapted Razzle Dazzle Recipes)

Malted Whipped Cream
3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 c malted milk powder
1 t vanilla extract
1 t salt
1/4 c confectioners sugar


24-30 (2 packs) chocolate wafer cookies (we used Nabisco Chocolate Wafers)
1 5 oz. box malted milk balls, roughly chopped (we used Whopper’s)

To make the whipped cream, In a medium bowl, whip the heavy cream with an electric mixer on high. When the cream starts to thicken after a couple of minutes, add the vanilla extract and sugar. Add the malted milk powder and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Set aside. 


Arrange 8-10 chocolate wafer cookies to form a thin, circular layer on the bottom of a round serving dish. Break up the cookies to fill in some of the gaps. Spread ⅕ of the malted whipped cream in a thin, smooth layer atop the cookies. Add another layer of 8-10 cookies, filling in the gap with broken cookies. Continue layering the cookies until there are five layers of cookies and end the last layer with an additional dollop of cream. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least six hours. Before serving, sprinkle the top with an even coating of chopped malt balls. Slice and serve! Serves 6-8.

While our dad enjoys malt, the Icebox Cake trend of layering whipped cream and cookies can be adapted in many ways. If your dad likes mint, try forming a cake layering mint chocolate wafers and cream with mint extract and crushed Andes. If your dad likes a punch, layer ginger snap cookies with a cream filling with specks of crystallized gingers. The combinations are endless!

Sweet Feta

Posted on: Thursday, June 4, 2015

I have yet to try Kara’s Pimento cheese and the suspense is killing me! This past weekend, with twin sis in mind, I whipped up my own cheese spread for a late afternoon gathering on my apartment’s patch of green. Kara and I share an obsession with Feta cheese (the whole being Greek might be why), and find any reason to add it to a dish. I decided to think outside of the box and transform the savory, salty cheese into a sweet snack.

I blended feta, whipped cream cheese, a touch of honey, lemon and cinnamon together. The resultant smooth and creamy spread added a pungent tang to spring’s first batch of strawberries. Paired alongside glasses of hot pink Rosé, this appetizer set the tone for balmy days ahead.
Whipped Feta Dip

8 oz feta cheese, crumbled and at room temperature
4 oz whipped cream cheese, at room temperature
1 T honey (add more if not sweet enough)
1 t fresh lemon juice
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t salt
1 lb fresh strawberries

Place the feta and cream cheese in a food processor and process for 20 seconds. Add the honey, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt and process for about 30 more seconds until the spread is combined and smooth. Pour spread into a bowl and serve with fresh strawberries for dipping.
If you find yourself with leftover dip, I encourage you to slather it atop toast with with sliced apples and a drizzle of honey. A quick and intensely flavored breakfast treat!

Pimento Cheese

Posted on: Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Pimento cheese is a southern staple and to me, a new-found delicacy. I was first introduced to the pleasantly rich cheese dip a few years back while visiting my now in-laws in Richmond. The blend of grated cheese, chopped pimiento peppers, and a little mayonnaise will add a touch of southern charm to any gathering. Some people add their own spin with ramps or pickles, but I like to keep my variation fairly simple with a solid kick. While my take may not be the most traditional approach, it’s approved by my Virginia-born husband and trusted critic.
Paired with crackers or veggies, this is a quick and easy appetizer for any Memorial day potluck.


Pimento Cheese (adapted from Sean Brock’s in his Heritage Cookbook)

4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 t hot sauce (I like Frank’s)
1/4 t granulated sugar
1/4 t cayenne pepper
1/8 t paprika
salt and pepper throughout
4 c grated cheddar cheese
1 12 ounce jar pimento peppers, chopped
your favorite sturdy cracker (Patrick and I choose Triscuits)

In a large bowl, add the cream cheese and mayonnaise and combine with an electric mixer. Add the hot sauce, granulated sugar, cayenne pepper, paprika, large pinches of salt and pepper and blend further. With a wooden spoon, fold in the cheddar cheese. Fold in the chopped pimientos, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least a few hours. Serve with crackers.

Pimento cheese is also absolutely delicious spread atop a burger straight off the grill too!

Strawberry Rhubarb for Mother's Day

Posted on: Thursday, May 7, 2015

When I think of spring I think of the intriguing rhubarb plant. Growing up in Manchester by the Sea, the little plant would pleasantly emerge each May in front of our house. While Kara and I ran around our yard with our eight-year old imaginations running free, I remember our yiayia pruning flower buds and trimming the bitter stocks from the rhubarb plant. Soon after, she’d call us inside for an afternoon sweet treat. As we walked into the aromatic kitchen, we’d marvel over a tiny cauldron of tart rhubarb and sweet strawberries bubbling away on the stove. Yi would spoon the rosy compote over big scoops of vanilla ice cream for us to enjoy on the porch.
After enjoying Kara’s epic Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Pie last weekend, I was inspired to make my own pie with Yi’s rhubarb compote in mind (and Mother’s Day around the corner!). For the base, I created a custard similar to key lime pie but a bit lighter with Greek yogurt. I also incorporated the addition of orange - a favorite flavor of our mom’s. For the topping, I combined rhubarb, strawberries, and a bit of sugar. With a sprinkling of salty pistachios to finish before serving, this pie was the ultimate combination of creamy, tangy, sweet and pretty.
Strawberry Rhubarb Cream Pie

Crust
1/2 c shelled pistachios, toasted and ground (I pulverized them in a plastic bag, or you could do this in a food processor), plus more for garnish
1 1/2 c graham cracker crumbs
1/4 c granulated sugar
pinch of salt
5 T unsalted butter, melted

Filling
3 large egg yolks
1/2 c plain Greek yogurt
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1/4 c fresh orange juice
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
1/2 t vanilla extract



Compote
3 stalks rhubarb, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
2 T water
1/4 c granulated sugar (use more if you would like it sweeter)
1 lb strawberries, hulled, quartered and sliced
1 T lemon juice
1 t vanilla extract
pinch of salt

For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, combine the pistachios, graham cracker crumbs, sugar and salt. Stir in the melted butter and mix well. Press into the bottom and sides of a greased 8-inch springform pan (or 9-inch pie pan). Bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

For the filling: With an electric mixer, whisk the egg yolks, Greek yogurt, sweetened condensed milk, orange juice, lemon zest and vanilla together in a large bowl until incorporated. Pour into the prepared pie crust and bake for 20-22 minutes until set. Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes. Place in the refrigerator and cool for at least 1 hour.

For the compote: While the pie is cooking, in a medium saucepan, add the rhubarb, water, and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the strawberries, lemon juice, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally until the rhubarb breaks down slightly and the sauce thickens, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl and cool in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Pour the compote evenly atop the surface of the pie filling. Sprinkle pistachio seeds on top. Return to the refrigerator and let cool for 20 more minutes. Slice and serve. Serves 8-10.

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I encourage you to try this delightful blend of rhubarb, strawberries and citrus.

This pie.

Posted on: Monday, April 27, 2015

With spring starting to bloom, I invited some of my best city girlfriends down to Pomfret for a weekend retreat. After a day of wine tasting at Taylor Brooke Winery and shopping at Periwinkles and Martha’s Herbary, we sat around my porch sipping cucumber cocktails and nibbling on grilled flank steak with arugula, watermelon and feta salads.
To end on a sweet note, I found inspiration from Marni’s last visit to the countryside. She brought down with her a delectably decadent Mississippi Mud pie from one of her beloved neighborhood bakeries, Petsi Pies. This time, I wanted to replicate another one of the shop’s irresistible classics for dessert. This pie is the ultimate indulgence.
Petsi’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Pie (adapted by Cooking Channel)

Chocolate Cream Filling
4 large egg yolks
2/3 c granulated sugar
1/4 c cornstarch
1/2 t salt
3 c whole milk
6 oz semisweet chocolate, melted
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 T plus 1 t unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 t vanilla extract

Chocolate Cookie Crust
1 1/4 c Oreo cookie crumbs (cream filling removed)
3 T granulated sugar
5 T unsalted butter, melted

Peanut Butter Filling
1 c creamy peanut butter
8 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 c sifted confectioners' sugar
2 bananas, peeled and sliced

Chocolate Ganache
4 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 c heavy cream

Chocolate Cream Filling: Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a heavy saucepan until well combined, then, while whisking, slowly pour in the milk. Warm the mixture over medium heat until a few bubbles burst at the surface, reduce the heat to low, and gently simmer while whisking until the mixture thickens, about 1 minute. Turn off the heat and whisk in the semisweet and unsweetened chocolates, 2 tablespoons butter and the vanilla until well combined. Lightly grease a sheet of waxed or parchment paper with the remaining 1 teaspoon butter and press it flush against the surface of filling. Set the filling aside to cool completely, about 2 hours.

Chocolate Cookie Crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine the cookie crumbs, sugar and butter in a small bowl and stir until the crumbs are well moistened. Pat the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom and all the way up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan.  Bake the crust until firm, about 5 minutes. Remove the cookie crust from the oven and set aside to cool.
Peanut Butter Filling: Beat the peanut butter and butter with an electric mixer at medium speed until well combined. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the confectioners' sugar. Once it is all added, increase the mixer speed to high and beat until the peanut butter filling is smooth and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
Chocolate Ganache: Add the chocolate chips, heavy cream and instant coffee to a medium heat-safe bowl and set it over a medium saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water. Whisk the mixture occasionally until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth and warm.

Pie assembly: Arrange the sliced bananas over the chocolate cookie crust. Add the chilled chocolate cream filling and use a spatula to spread it into an even layer. Top with an even layer of the peanut butter filling, then drizzle with chocolate ganache. Refrigerate until serving (I recommend refrigerating the pie overnight to let it set). Serves 10-12.
An irresistible treat for my irresistible amigas!

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