Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

Image: PublixApparently, in Isobel’s mind, the best way to distract a mother from the grief of losing a child is to have her over for lunch. And, oddly, she turns out to be right, but mostly because Robert shows up to make a scene and look like a intolerant jerk and a buffoon yet again. Though he’s enraged by the idea of his wife, daughters, and mother being served luncheon by a (gasp!) former prostitute, the ladies all take one look at the pudding and decide to stay. I’ve never had a Charlotte Rousse, but if the picture’s anything to go by, I don’t blame them one bit.


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Brownies-Image from cocomaleLook, Sybil’s having her baby. It’s tense; you’re gonna want some chocolate, just trust me on this one. And these are possibly the greatest chocolate brownies I’ve ever encountered in my entire life. Rich, fudgy, so, so good. Bake up a plate and have it on hand.

Best Damn Brownies

Adapted from Martha Stewart


1 stick (8 T) butter

4 oz bittersweet chocolate

2 eggs

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 c dark brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 c flour

1/4 c chopped walnuts, pecans, or chocolate chips (optional)


Butter an 8″ x 8″ baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the bittersweet chocolate together with the butter. Let cool slightly. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl, and whisk in teh salt, sugars, and vanilla.

Whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Fold in flour until just combined. Stir in nuts or chocolate chips if using. Pour batter into the prepared ban and bake 35-40 minutes, until shiny and beginning to crack. Cool in pan on a rack, slice and serve.

1 tsp vanilla

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Photo: Deliaonline.com

It’s Christmastime at Downton, and at last Edith actually gets a present (sort of)—the unexpected return of Sir Anthony Strallen! In honor of that, let’s set out a plate of his favorite dessert: Apple Charlotte, the very dish Patmore refused to prepare way back in series 1. Charlottes are an old dessert whose origins (and even the origins of the name) are uncertain. Some think the name was a corruption of the old English word charlyt, which means “dish of custard”. Others believe the dish was named after Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III.

Apple Charlotte

From Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course and Delia Smith’s Comlete Illustrated Cookery Course

1 lb apples

1 T caster sugar

1 stick

6 slices bread from a large loaf, about ¼ inch thick, crusts removed

1 egg yolk


Peel, core, and thinly slice the apples. Place them in a saucepan with ¼ stick of butter. Cook over low heat until the apples are soft enough to beat into a puree. Beat and set aside to cool.

Melt the remaining butter slowly and cut each slice of bread into rectangles. Brush the slices with melted butter on both sides and line a 1 pint pudding basin with approximately ¾ of the bread. Don’t leave any gaps between the pieces—overlap them and press firmly.

Beat the egg yolk into the apple puree and fill the bread-lined basin with the mixture. Seal the top with overlapping pieces of remaining bread and put an ovenproof plate over the top of the basin. Weight the plate down with something. To keep it in place and seal the Charlotte.

Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. Carefully remove the plate and weight and bake the pudding for another 10 minutes to brown the top. Let it settle in the basin for a minute before removing from the oven, then carefully invert it onto a warmed plate to serve.

Serve with whipped cream or a custard sauce.

Cooking note: Charlotte takes well to other flavors, so feel free to add spices as you see fit, or to try using other fruits like strawberries, raspberries, etc.

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Photo: Closet Cooking

I don’t think it’s too spoilery to say that there’s a wedding coming to DOwnton Abbey, and weddings in England apparently mean fruitcake.

Now, fruitcake’s gotten a bad rap over the years, but the real stuff is pretty damn good. Unfortunately, it usually needs several days (even weeks) to cure, so I found a recipe that skips that step entirely by leaving out the alcohol. For those purists, a traditional recipe follows.

Mrs. Middlemiss’s Rich Fruit Cake

From The Complete Traditional Recipe Book

1 c caster sugar
1c dark brown sugar
2T + 2tsp treacle
18T (2 ¼ sticks) butter
4 eggs
¾ c self-rising flour
1 ½ c white flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1 ½ lb mixed dried fruit (candied peel, currants, sultanas, glace cherries, crystallized ginger, chopped dates, chopped prunes)
1 T milk

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease and line an 8-inch square cake tin. Cream the sugars, butter, and treacle. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition until combined. Sift the flowers and mixed spice in a separate bowl, add the dried fruit, and mix together. Gradually fold into the butter and sugar mixture, then add the milk. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 2 ½ to 2 ¾ hours, until done.


Royal Fruit Cake

By Fiona Cairns

1 1/2 cups candied cherries
2 cups golden raisins
2 cups dark raisins, preferably Thompson
1 1/4 cups mixed candied citrus peel
2/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 cup dried currants
3 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons bitter orange marmalade
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
finely grated zest of 1 organic orange
finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon
1 heaped tablespoon apple pie spice
6 tablespoons brandy, plus 3 tablespoons to feed the cake
1 cup walnuts
1/3 cup blanched almonds
1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups almond flour
5 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preparing the Fruit Cake Batter:

The day before, rinse the cherries, then dry them well with paper towels and cut each in half. Place the golden and dark raisins, mixed peel, ginger, currants, cherries, molasses, marmalade, tamarind paste, zests and spice into a large bowl. Pour in 6 tablespoons of brandy, stir well, cover with plastic wrap and let stand overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Wrap the outside of the pan with brown paper and tie with string, to protect the cake from scorching in the oven.

Spread the nuts on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes in the oven, shaking once. Cool slightly, chop coarsely and set aside.

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. In an electric mixer on high speed, beat the butter and sugar for at least 5 minutes until it turns pale and fluffy. Add the ground almonds, then very gradually the eggs, mixing well between each addition. Fold in the flour with a large metal spoon and then the soaked fruits (and any liquid) and nuts.

Spread the batter into the pan. Bake on an oven rack in the lower third of the oven for about 2 1/2-3 hours. If a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, it is ready. If it browns too much before it is fully cooked, make a circle of foil a bit larger than the cake, pierce a hole in the center and open it up, then place it over the pan.

Let cool in the pan. Pierce all over with a wooden toothpick and evenly sprinkle over the remaining 3 tablespoons brandy. Remove from the pan and discard the paper. Wrap in fresh parchment paper, then aluminum foil, and let stand for a week or up to
three months. Unwrap and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon more brandy every other week, if you like, for extra succulence and booziness!

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Image: Culinary Camel

Ok, I was going to be all sensitive and PC and do something innocuous today, like scones. But since tonight’s episode revolves heavily around I guy with burns, I just couldn’t resist. I shrugged and said: “Eh, the hell with it. I’m doing crème brûlée.” What can I say? I have a rather morbid sense of humor sometimes. Besides, crème brûlée is delicious deliciousness, and it gives you the opportunity to wield a torch in the kitchen–how often do you get to do that?

Crème brûlée–which literally means “burnt cream”–dates back to at least 1691, when it was featured in Francois Massialot’s cookbook. At some point, after crossing the Channel, the name was changed to crème anglaise.

In the late Victorian period, a version of crème brûlée with the college arms burnt into the top was served at Trinity College, Cambridge and became known as Trinity Cream or Cambridge Burnt Cream. At the time, the recipe was attributed to a country house in Aberdeenshire and brought to the college by one  of the cooks.

Crème brûlée’s custard base make it an easy vehicle for many different flavors. This version is classic vanilla, but feel free to experiment–I’ve had excellent chocolate, pumpkin, and fruit crème brûlées in my day.

Crème Brûlée

2 cups heavy cream

8 large egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar plus extra for the caramel crust

3/4 tsp vanilla

Heat the cream almost to a simmer over medium-low heat.

Stir the egg yolks and sugar with a wooden spoon until just blended and gradually stir in the heated cream, taking care not to scramble the eggs. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl or a large measuring cup with a pour spout. Stir in the vanilla.

Carefully pour the custard into four 6-oz or 6 4-oz custard cups or shallow ramekins and place on a baking sheet with a lip around the edge. Add enough water to go about halfway up the sides of the ramekins and carefully set the whole pan in a 325 degree oven.

Bake until the custards are set but still slightly quivery in the center when gently shaken, about 30-35 minutes. Remove from the water bath and let cool to room temperature.

Cover each custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or up to 2 days. Just before serving, gently blot away any liquid that has formed on the surface of the custard, sprinkle 1 1/2 to 2 tsp of white sugar evenly over the tops of the custards, and caramelize with a kitchen torch or by placing the custards under the broiler for a minute or two.*

* As my mother once discovered, a regular butane torch does not work well for this purpose. As I once discovered, kitchen torches and crème brûlée irons are bloody hot, so be careful!

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Photo: 2010foodproject.wordpress.com

My dear readers, I can’t believe, with my love of cooking and Downton Abbey, that it didn’t occur to me until now to put the two together. As we all settle down for another episode, it’s nice to have something to snack on, and let’s face it—regular old popcorn simply won’t do (what would Violet say?!) Instead, perhaps we should turn to this classic, elegant dessert, which also happens to be one of the few dishes actually referred to by name on the show: the Crêpe Suzette that Ethel so wanted to try.

Since this is also a bit of a history blog, here’s some background on this particular dish: it was allegedly created accidentally in 1895 by a fourteen-year-old assistant waiter named Henri Charpentier, who was preparing a dessert for the future King Edward VII and his companion. According to Charpentier himself (who is not a reliable narrator), the cordials near the chafing dish caught fire while he was preparing dessert, and he served it anyway. Edward loved it and even sent Charpentier gifts of a ring, panama hat, and cane as thanks. Other sources dispute the story (for one thing, it’s incredibly unlikely that such a young lad would be tasked with serving a VIP like the Prince.) and claim that Crêpe Suzette was named in honor of French actress Suzanne Reichenberg, who served crêpes on stage in one of her roles. The owner of Restaurant Marivaux, Monsieur Joseph, provided the crêpes and chose to flambe them in order to attract the audience’s attention and keep the food warm. The recipe was first published in 1896 by Oscar Tschirky, who only left out the flambeeing part.

So, there you are. A little history, and now, a little dessert (no Ethels allowed!)

Crêpes Suzette

(Recipe by Bobby Flay)


1 ½ c flour

Pinch salt

3 eggs

½ c sugar

2 c milk

1T orange liqueur (Grand Marnier is traditional)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 T orange zest

½ c clarified butter


1 ½ c freshly squeezed orange juice

2 T sugar

2 tsp grated orange zest

2 T orange liqueur

3 oranges, peeled and sectioned

Vanilla ice cream

Whisk flour and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs and sugar in a large bowl until pale. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups of the milk, orange liqueur, vanilla, orange zest and flour until combined. If the mixture is too thick, add the remaining milk until a thin consistency is achieved. Cover and refrigerate batter for 30 minutes.

Heat an 8-inch crêpe pan or skillet over medium heat for about 1 minute. Cover the surface of the pan with clarified butter until it gets sizzling hot. Ladle some batter onto the middle of the crêpe pan and immediately start swirling the pan to distribute the batter over the surface. Cook for 45 to 60 seconds or until lightly golden brown. Flip over and cook the other side for 20 seconds. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter.


In a large skillet over high heat, bring the orange juice to a boil. Add the sugar and zest, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the sugar has melted and the mixture is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the orange liqueur and orange sections. Set aside.

Working in batches, gently place a crêpe into the pan holding the orange juice and orange sections. Leave for 1 minute to absorb some juice. Using a narrow spatula, remove the crêpe to a warm serving plate. Repeat with remaining crêpes. Roll the crêpes into a cylinder. Spoon on some of the orange sections. Serve 2 crêpes per person. Top with vanilla ice cream and serve immediately

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