Adapted from an Ina Garten Recipe in The Barefoot Contessa

I adore lemon desserts. Lemon tarts, lemon mousse, lemon scented shortbread, well, you get the idea. My daughter asked me if I had even made lemon bars. I had but the recipe was too long and complicated and I wanted something simpler. These are just scrumptious. I came across an easy, quick recipe in one of Ina Garten's books and adapted it slightly. The principal difference is that I have used less sugar in both the crust and filling, less flour in the filling, and added lemon zest and pistachios to the crust. They keep really well, and are just about perfect with an afternoon cup of tea, or a morning coffee says my daughter! I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

 

For the crust:

8 oz unsalted butter, at room temperature

2.5 oz  (1/3 cup) granulated sugar

8 ½ oz (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons chopped pistachios

Zest of 1 lemon

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt


For the filling:

6 large (or 7 medium) eggs at room temperature

2 1/3 cups granulated sugar

Zest and juice of 5-6 lemons to yield ¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

3/4 cup flour

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting.
 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the flour, chopped pistachios and salt and, with the mixer on low, mix until just combined. Place the dough into a parchment lined 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill for 10 minutes.
  3. Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.
  4. For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is just set. Let cool to room temperature.
  5. Cut into squares and dust with confectioners' sugar.

ROASTED SPICED APPLES SERVED WITH MANCHEGO, ALPINE HONEY AND FLEUR DE SEL

Serves 8 people

3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
3 whole cloves
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
4-5 grinds black pepper
1 pinch allspice
6-8 apples – peeled, cored and thinly sliced
Wild honey
Manchego Cheese – you’ll need a 4-6 ounce piece that you can cut shavings from
Fleur de Sel or another fine sea salt (Murray River Salt works well too)
Thick Greek yogurt (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt the butter, sugar and spices all together in an ovenproof dish placed over medium-heat. As soon as the sugar has melted and the butter is foaming a little add in the apple slices and toss to coat well.
  3. Place the dish in the oven and roast for 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the dish from the oven and divide the apples evenly onto eight dessert plates. Drizzle a little of the alpine or wildflower honey over the top of the apples, then top this with the Manchego shavings. Add a sprinkle of fleur de sel and serve.

Note: You can also add a spoonful of thick yogurt on top. It’s delicious.

 

APPLE AND GINGER PUDDING

Serves 8 people

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon ground ginger

¾ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

5 large eggs at room temperature

4 large egg yolks

¾ cup sugar

Just less than ½ cup unsulphured molasses

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

4 ½ oz unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Butter and flour 8 -  ½ cup ramekins and then set them on a baking sheet.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the ground ginger, baking powder and salt and then stir in the crystallized ginger.
  4. Place the whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar molasses and lemon zest in the bowl of a standing mixer and whisk until well combined. Add the melted butter and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Add in the dry ingredients and whisk for 10 seconds more.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared ramekins and bake for about 20 minutes, until the puddings have risen and a tester comes out clean. Let the puddings cool for at least 10 minutes before un-molding.
  6. To un-mold the puddings, run a sharp knife around the edge of the ramekins carefully turn the pudding out onto a dessert plate. Spoon the apple-ginger sauce (see below) over the tops of the puddings.

For the apple-ginger sauce:

1 tablespoon butter

4 granny smith apples – peeled and diced

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1-inch piece fresh ginger – peeled and diced

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup water

  1. Place the butter in a medium sized saucepan placed over medium heat. Once the butter has melted add in all the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring frequently until the apples start to fall apart. You may need to add a little water to the mixture. You will have a fairly chunky sauce.

APPLE, ALMOND AND AMARETTI CRUMBLE

Serves 8 people

For the apples:

6-8 large apples – peeled, cored and chopped into 1 inch pieces

Chopped zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 cup raisins

¼ cup sugar

1/3 cup water

For the crumble:

10 oz unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup almonds – chopped

10-12 ameretti - crushed

9 oz butter – cut into little pieces

1/3 cup sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a deep baking dish (at least 1 ½ inches deep) and toss to combine them well.
  3. To make the crumble, place all the flour in a large bowl. Add 8oz of the butter and mix it with the flour, using the tips of your fingers, until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Don’t worry if you have little lumps of butter left – it should look like that! Add in the sugar and mix to combine. Add in the chopped almonds and crushed ameretti and mix to combine.
  4. Cover the apples with the crumble mixture. Sprinkle a little extra cinnamon and sugar over the crumble. Dot the surface with the remaining butter. Bake in the center of the oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of crème fraiche.

In the first century AD, Pliny the Elder wrote in his remarkable book Naturalis Historia, "The Muscat grape has been grown for a long time in Beaumes and its wine is remarkable." My grandmother obviously agreed with him as Muscat de Beaumes de Venise was one of her favorite wines. She loved to have a glass of it as an aperitif. I distinctly remember the first time she allowed me to have a taste. It was light, not too sweet with the fragrance of orange blossoms and honey. I was therefore intrigued, whilst reading an old magazine on Provencal desserts, when I came across a cake using this wine and adapted the recipe to the cake we have here. Unfortunately my lovely “Mamie” had passed away before I could make it for her. This cake is a tribute to her and to all the “delices” she used to make for me as a child.



GENEVIÈVE’S GATEAU

Serves 8 – 10 people

5 extra-large eggs - separated

4 oz sugar ( ½ cup plus 1 ½ tablespoons)

5 oz butter (1 ¼ sticks)

Zest of 2 lemons and the juice of ½ lemon

Juice of 1 orange

8 oz all-purpose unbleached flour (1 ¾ cups)

½ teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups Beaumes de Venise or Muscat

1 lb grapes – you can use red or white seedless varieties

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 tablespoon sugar (mix with the light brown sugar above in a small bowl)

1 tablespoon slivered almonds

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 10-12 inch cake tin with a removable bottom with a little olive oil. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the egg whites until they hold firm peaks. Set aside.
  3. Place the butter in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat until creamy. Add the sugar and beat 1 minute more. Add in the orange juice and beat until smooth.
  4. Whisk in the lemon zests and juice, and then add in the egg yolks one at a time and beat until you have a smooth mixture.
  5. Add the flour, salt and wine to the egg yolk mixture and whisk until well combined. The batter may look a little granulated.
  6. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Pour half of the batter into the prepared cake tin. Distribute half of the grapes over the batter. Cover with the remaining batter and then drop the remaining grapes over the surface.
  7. Cook the cake for 30 minutes. Open the oven and carefully sprinkle the combined sugars and slivered almonds over the surface of the cake. Bake for a further 5-10 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and serve at room temperature.

ROASTED PERSIMMONS WITH VANILLA-LEMON CRÈME FRAICHE

Serves 8 people

2 oz butter

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cloves

1 teaspoon crystallized ginger

8 regular or 4-6 large persimmons – wiped clean and then thinly sliced

8 oz crème fraiche

Zest of 1 lemon

1 vanilla bean – seeds scraped out or 1 teaspoon vanilla paste

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan placed over medium heat. Add in the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and ginger and stir until the sugar has melted.
  3. Place all the persimmon slices on a baking sheet. Pour the butter/sugar mixture over the top of them and ensure that all the fruit are coated with mixture.
  4. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Whilst they are baking, combine the crème fraiche, lemon zest and vanilla in a small bowl. Keep refrigerated until you are ready to serve the dessert.

Serves the roasted persimmons on dessert plates with a spoonful of the crème fraiche mixture. This is also very good with vanilla ice cream.

Semifreddo, meaning half-frozen in Italian, is a luscious dessert. It is creamy and similar to ice cream in texture but not as cold. Here are two versions to try.

HONEY ALMOND SEMIFREDDO

Serves 8 people

6 oz almonds – chopped

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 vanilla bean

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons orange blossom or other perfumed honey

4 large eggs, separated

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Salt

  1. Place the almonds, sugar and cinnamon in a heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat and toast for 4-5 minutes. They should be lightly golden brown. Set aside.
  2. Remove the seeds from the vanilla bean by scoring down the length and scraping the seeds out of each half.
  3. Whisk the vanilla seeds and sugar with the egg yolks in a large bowl until they are pale. Whisk in the honey and set aside.
  4. In a second bowl whisk the cream until soft peaks form, being careful not to over whip them.
  5. In a third bowl whisk the egg whites until they form firm peaks.
  6. Add the toasted almonds to the egg yolk mixture, then gently fold in the whipped cream, followed by the beaten egg whites, making sure you incorporate all of them gently to capture as much air as possible.
  7. Spoon the semifreddo into a large shallow dish, Pyrex works well. Cover and freeze for 2 hours.
  8. Remove the dessert from the freezer 5 minutes before serving. Spoon some of the semifreddo into each of 8 bowls.

 

RASPBERRY AND GINGER SEMIFREDDO

Serves 8 people

1 large ginger root, peeled and grated

1 ½ cups fresh raspberries, plus extra for garnish

1 1/4 cups superfine sugar

1 tablespoon crystallized ginger pulverized

2 ½ cups heavy cream

8 egg yolks

  1. Place the ginger in cheesecloth. Squeeze to strain the juice into a small pot over medium heat. Add the raspberries and 1 cup of the sugar, and bring to a boil. Cook until the raspberries soften and the sauce is syrupy, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool.
  2. In a bowl, whip the heavy cream to medium peaks, and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar until frothy. Fold this mixture into the whipped cream, and slowly stir in the raspberry syrup. Pour into 8 individual dishes and refrigerate overnight. Garnish with a single raspberry and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.
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