Olivia Dish

Posts Tagged ‘Sweets’

Cronut in a Can?

In Homemade, Sweets, Taste Tests on July 7, 2013 at 9:38 pm

Could these become cronuts?

The trademarked treats are supposed to taste like fried heaven. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to get your hands on one of these $5 sugar bombs unless you wake at dawn and wait in line at the bakery for two hours. Or pay a scalper.”

–Anne Kadet in The Wall Street Journal

I’ve read about the cronut craze and wondered what could possibly be so great about a hunk of fried dough…..so great that people wait in block-long lines and fight with each other.

So great that the creator has trademarked the name.

A name that, by the way, left me cold.  Cronut.  Too much like Cro Magnon man.  Crone. Crows gone wild. Croak.

For years, I’ve made trashy donuts from canned biscuits.  As I saw yet another story about these things, I wondered:

If a cronut was a croissant that’s been friend like a donut, could I make trashy cronuts (or to be safe, perhaps I should say croughnuts) from crescent rolls in a can?

If so, then this whole thing might genuinely amuse me.

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Too Sweet, By Half

In Homemade, Sweets, Taste Tests on December 14, 2012 at 12:37 am

Would Jeni’s ice cream be as splendid with half the sugar?

I wrote a while back about making Backyard Mint ice cream as instructed by the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home recipe book.

The results were mixed: I loved the scoopability but didn’t like how sweet it was.

In fact, it was so sweet that I didn’t bother making it again. Or experimenting with it.

I just went back to my old standby recipe, one I liked pretty darned much as it was.

Then a few days ago, I found a comment under the Jeni’s post.

Nadya wrote:

I was just wondering if you’ve tried a version with less sugar since?? I received this book as a gift and have tried two recipes so far. They both have been overwhelmingly sweet for my taste, but i did enjoy the creamy texture. Any luck cutting some of the sugar out?

I wasn’t alone! Someone else found the recipes too sweet. I was finally inspired to try cutting the sugar, to see what happened.

So I pulled out the book, got my hands on some fresh mint, and gave it another go.

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Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream

In Cookbooks, Homemade, Sweets, Taste Tests on August 1, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At (my) Home

I knew from the moment I saw it that I would eventually buy the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home recipe book.

I’m a bit of an ice cream making nut, myself.

I’ve also been to Jeni’s original shop in Columbus‘s North Market.

I’ve been reading about this woman and the magic she works for years.

Maybe you, like me, expect homemade ice cream to be different from store-bought stuff–not as scoopable, say, but the flavor makes up for it.

Jeni has experimented–and studied chemistry–to fine-tune her recipes, so that you can have your flavor-packed homemade ice cream and scoop it too.

The recipes work.  Everyone says so.

But….do I like the ice cream?

I bought Jeni’s book this week. I thought the best place to start was comparing her version of fresh mint ice cream to the recipe I’ve worked out on my own over the years.

I had plenty of mint growing in my backyard, ready for Jeni’s Backyard Mint.

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Perfect Strawberry Sherbet

In Homemade, Local Flavor, Sweets on June 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Get me a Biore pore strip–those seeds have got to go!

I hate the seeds on the outside of strawberries.

I always wish I could use one of those pore cleansing strips and rip them off.

And when I’ve made ice cream with the seedy things, not only have I despised the texture but I’ve always found the taste to be a sort of cloying sick-sweet.  Maybe I’ve had too much medicine in my life that tasted of strawberries.

You might wonder why I bothered, then, to make my own strawberry sherbet.

I’m not sure.

I kept watching other people at the farmers’ market buy fresh local strawberries.  They were so durned happy about it.  I wanted some of that happy for myself, I guess.

So, I systematically (well sort of systematically and sort of haphazardly) started to address the things that make me go ick.

Step 1: seed removal.  I wanted to use fresh strawberries, not cook them, so I macerated a batch in a little brown sugar and pureed them in the food processor.  I strained the whole mess through fine mesh and extracted their thick, juicy, seedless essence.

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My Darling Clementines

In Homemade, Sweets on January 16, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Standing by to make citrus reticulata sherbetus

Clementines are that bit of sunshine that gets you through the winter, I’ve decided.

For years, when I’ve spent winter weeks in Paris, I’ve loved that I could buy bottles of deep orange clementine juice at the corner grocery. At home, clementines are everywhere come December, in their cute little crates, making them a great fruit treat to take to a dinner host (surpassed for me as a “hostess” gift only by the pineapple).

I’d bought a crate for myself and had been enjoying daily salads made of sunflower sprouts tossed with clementine wedges and toasted almonds, drizzled with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Then a family crisis forced me to be out of town for some weeks. When I returned, the clementines needed to be consumed or we’d have to just say goodbye.

Before the crisis, I’d though I might try making clemoncello–a variation on limoncello with clementines. But I wasn’t in the mood to bother with it. Life had already become too difficult, at least for the moment.  I was exhausted just by the thought of trudging over to the liquor store to buy Everclear.

So I decided to make a simple sherbet with my aging clementines.
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Variations on a Snow Cream

In Beverages, Homemade, Sweets on January 10, 2011 at 8:21 pm

A bowl of snowy goodness

I’ve never understood the attraction of snow cream. In my experience, it always turned out a watery, milky mess.  Once I tried pouring maple syrup over snow, the way they did in Little House on the Prairie (the book is one of my major culinary influences, by the way), hoping to get some kind of frozen candy effect. Nothing.

snowy backyard

A snowy day in the South is always a holiday.

Over Christmas, my mom was recalling the joys of snow cream in her youth. “We didn’t have ice cream all the time, so it was a real treat for us,” she said. Today, we have plenty of snow to burn, so I decided to set past disappointments aside and give it a go. I mixed sugar and a bit of vanilla bean into milk. I scooped up a big bowl of snow from my backyard. Then I combined to make a slushy. It was pretty decent, sort of a milky granita.

Which got me thinking about other possibilities.  How about espresso and snow?  Or bourbon and snow?  A day of experimenting lay ahead…

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Souffle to Lift the Spirits

In Cookbooks, Homemade, Paris, Sweets on December 20, 2010 at 9:01 pm
Saveur Souffle

A souffle to banish the "my car's been towed" blues

I skipped down the steps of the hair salon, tossing my mane and feeling saucy….only to discover that my car had been towed.

Well, that little boost to the spirits was short-lived. Now, sleek hair be damned, I was trudging over to pay off parking tickets I didn’t know I had, then walking to my next appointment, then catching a ride to pay even more money to get my ride back.

By the time I got home, I needed some cheering up, the sort one might get from a quality bourbon, or, yes! A dark chocolate souffle!

Souffles, if you’ve never tried whipping them up, are surprisingly easy to make.

As Mr. DeSpoon can vouch, I’ve been known in restaurants to turn to my dinner companion and say, “let’s skip dessert and go to my house. I’ll make souffle.” Within 30 minutes or so of getting started, I’ll  take a few eggs from the fridge and a couple of pantry items and deliver a precious puffed-up-but-gooey darling.

So, forget a sensible dinner. Tonight’s meal is rising in the oven even as I type. Take that she-whose-name-will-not-be-mentioned and 30 Minute Meals!

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Cafe Du Monde Mystery

In Local Flavor, New Orleans, Restaurant, Sweets on November 23, 2010 at 6:58 pm
Cafe Du Monde

What is it about this place?

Cafe Du Monde is a destination for any tourist in New Orleans. And yet, I go there. Keep going there.  I like it. Wouldn’t miss it.  How is that? How can that be?

Mysterious, don’t you think?

I realized on this last visit that I’ve been coming to Cafe Du Monde since I was 14, when I made my first trip to New Orleans with my high school French club. I had chocolate milk and beignets back then.

And I was hooked.

Cafe Du Monde beignet

The classic: cafe au lait and a plate de beignets

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Adult Doughnuts

In Portland, Sweets on October 1, 2010 at 4:15 pm
Voodoo Doughnut

Their slogan: The Magic is in the Hole

I once worked with a woman from a conservative “think tank” who was outraged that her children were exposed to Horny Goat Weed at the convenience store checkout counter.  “Why should I have to explain that?” she wanted to know.

I recommend that she never take her darling daughters to Voodoo Doughnut.

Portland Cream Doughnut

The official doughnut of Portland

In case you haven’t heard of it, Voodoo Doughnut is a popular destination in Portland, Oregon. It’s also a great example of how you can take your average doughnut, tart it up with a rude name and junk food toppings, then create a sensation.

My friend Adora Adeel and I were working in Portland. She’d brought her daughters along on the trip.  They, like every other visitor to Portland, had been urged to go to Voodoo Doughnut. So we did, on a Friday night around 8:30.

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Whoopie Pie Yay

In Homemade, Sweets on July 21, 2010 at 11:26 pm
whoopie pies in progress

Let them eat whoopie pies!

You go ahead and eat your of-the-moment cupcakes. I’m already on to the next small thing: whoopie pies.

Whoopie pies may be old news to the people of Maine and Pennsylvania Dutch country, but in the South, I still have to explain what they are. Odd, isn’t it, since a whoopie pie sounds pretty danged Southern, right up there with the Moon Pie and Cheerwine.

Despite our being Southerners, my nieces and I have made baking whoopie pies into something of a summer vacation tradition. I first learned about whoopie pies while visiting Rockport, Maine, with my friend Beans Somegood. Beans insisted we stop at a gas station and pick up a couple of homemade ones. “They’re everywhere,” she promised me. And they were.

Whoopie pies, if you don’t know, are two small rounds of  cake (a bit like mini hamburger buns) sandwiched around a cream filling. The story on the name is this: Amish wives packed the easy-to-hold desserts in their farmer husbands’ lunches. When the husbands would find the cakes, they’d cry “whoopie!”  True? Who cares? Let the cupcake top that story, I say.

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