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Pear Fritters with Lemon and Ginger

I have to admit that growing up I wasn’t too keen on pears.  But as an adult I have come to enjoy them in savory and sweet dishes.  Pears are not only juicy and sweet but are a good source of vitamin C and copper (helps protect the body from free radical damage).  They’re also a very good source of fiber (helps prevent constipation, helps to lower high cholesterol).  While there are literally thousands of pear varieties, the Bosc, Bartlett, Anjou and Comice pears are the most commonly available types in the United States.  To get the most antioxidant protection from pears, eat when fully ripened as that’s when their antioxidant levels actually increase.  
Makes about 40 fritters
adapted from Fine Cooking

2 small firm-ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and finely diced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
finely grated lemon zest of one small lemon
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons plus 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large egg whites
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
2 to 2 1/2 cups canola oil 2 to 2-1/2 cups canola oil

In a small bowl, combine the pears, ginger, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon of the cinnamon. Macerate at room temperature for 15 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. In another medium bowl, whisk the milk, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the vanilla until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is slightly frothy. Whisk in the flour just until combined—it shouldn’t be completely smooth. With a rubber spatula, fold in the egg whites, and then fold in the pear mixture.

 In a small bowl, mix the remaining 1 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Pour 1/2 inch of oil into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with a candy thermometer clipped to the side. Heat over medium-high heat to 350°F. Using 2 tablespoons or a small ice cream scoop, carefully drop a ball of batter into the hot oil. Add 4 or 5 more to the oil, but don’t crowd the pan. Fry until golden-brown, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, turn the fritters over and continue frying until golden-brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and drain briefly. Toss in the cinnamon sugar to coat and transfer to a platter. Continue cooking the rest of the fritters in the same manner. Serve hot.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  I love the combination of pear and ginger.  These pear fritters brought back memories of when I used to eat Tim Hortons apple fritters…although these are much nicer (sorry TH!).   My daughter enjoyed dropping the batter into the hot oil but not as much as she did consuming these little gems!  Cheers!

Blackberry-Lime Cornmeal Shortcakes

I love interesting and unique types of cookbooks.  I received my copy of Ripe last week and thus far have cooked 4 dishes from this beautifully, color co-ordinated book.  Whenever I get a new cookbook I always flip through the pages and jot down the page number of the recipe I want to try.  Thirty-six noted pages later, I am salivating and wondering which recipe to try first!  Whole Foods just received a shipment of delicious-looking blackberries…need I say more?

Shortcake originated in Europe around the late 1590’s.  Shakespeare mentions it in his play, The Merry Wives of WindsorShortcake gets it’s name from the adding of shortening or butter to a dough which makes it tender.  Strawberry shortcake, which I grew up with, has been around since the 1850’s.  Harpers Magazine in 1893 said, “They give you good eating, strawberries and short-cake- Ohh My!”  Strawberry shortcake for me has always been synonymous with Summer, when life is a bit laid-back and fun in the sun is the order of the day. 

Serves 4
adapted from Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables

125g (1 cup) flour
40g (1/2 cup) medium-grind cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen hard
120ml (1/2 cup) cold heavy cream (plus 1 tablespoon)
1 1/2 teaspoons Demerara sugar (for sprinkling)

440g (4 cups) fresh blackberries
65g (1/4 cup) plus 1 teaspoon sugar, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
237ml (1 cup) cold, heavy cream (whipping cream)
lime zest, for garnish

Preheat oven to 190c (375f).  Line a baking sheet with parchment.  To make the shortcakes: In a large bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, sugar, and zest.  Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the butter over the dry ingredients.  Fluff gently with a fork.  Drizzle with 1/2 cup of the cream.  Stir with a wooden spoon just until the ingredients come together and there are no visible floury bits remaining.

Transfer the dough to a floured board and form into a 4 1/2-inch (11.5cm) diameter, 1-inch (2.5cm) high disc.  Cut into quarters and transfer to the baking sheet.  Brush with the remaining tablespoon of cream and sprinkle with Demerara sugar.  Bake until golden, risen, and firm to the touch, 18 to 20 minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.  Cut in half horizontally.

To make the filling:  Toss the blackberries with 1/4 cup of the sugar and the lime juice.  Transfer half of this mixture to a small bowl and set aside.  Take a potato masher to the remaining blackberry mixture and mash until pulpy.  In a large bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks with the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar.

To assemble:  Lay 1 shortcake bottom on a plate.  Dollop with some whipped cream, top with a few whole berries, followed by the shortcake top, and spoon some the mashed berry pulp on top. Garnish with lime zest.  Repeat with the remaining shortcakes, berries, cream and zest.  Serve immediately.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  Repeat after me:  delectable!  I’m a huge fan of strawberry shortcake but these might just topple the strawberry crown for me…they were that good!  According to the author, Cheryl Sternman Rule, grating frozen butter into the dry ingredients yields flaky shortcakes with the need for a pastry blender.  She was right!  Enjoy!

Apple Pie Egg Rolls with Cardamom Whipped Cream

In this recipe, the humble apple pie gets a make over…finger-food style!  These were so easy to whip up and I absolutely love the warm, lemony flavor of cardamom.  It can be the predominant spice or as a background note.  Cardamom goes well with cinnamon, ginger, clove combinations and is the third-most expensive spice in the world after saffron and vanilla.  It is known as The Queen of Spices (The King of Spices is black pepper) and belongs to the ginger family.  Click here for health benefits of cardamom.

Makes 16 
adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon 

Apple Pie Filling: 
2 green apples (abut 2 heaping cups), peeled and diced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground all-spice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
16 egg roll wrappers

Cardamom Whipped Cream: 
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup superfine sugar (granulated is fine)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat oven to 190c ( 375f). Place filling ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir together until well combined.  Lay 1 egg roll wrapper onto a clean surface and brush edge with a 1 inch perimeter of egg wash.

Divide the filling equally and spread across one side of the prepared egg roll wrapper. Fold the sides over and brush with egg wash. Carefully roll filling tightly in the wrapper and press gently to seal.

Place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment and coat with a thin layer of cooking spray. Repeat until all the filling and wrappers have been used. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Serve immediately with the cardamom whipped cream.

Cardamom Whipped Cream: Place cream in a mixing bowl and whip with a hand mixer, on medium-high speed. As the mixture thickens, slowly add sugar until fully incorporated. Add vanilla and cardamom and continue to whip until medium to stiff peaks form. Serve with baked apple pie egg rolls.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  These were scrumptious especially with the cardamom added to the whipped cream.  As you can see, the apples weren’t peeled and I cut them into big chunks but next time I’ll reduce the size as the apples were a bit al dente.  Use your favorite apple pie recipe and enjoy!


Rugalach (other spellings: rugulach, ruggalach, rogelach, rugalah, rugala) is a Jewish pastry and the name is a Yiddish diminutive form of the Hebrew meaning “creeping vine” perhaps because of the rolled-up shape of the cookie.  It can be made with a cream cheese dough, though the dough is more typically pareve (no dairy ingredients), so that it can be eaten with or after a meat meal and still be kosher. The different fillings can include raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, chocolate, marzipan, poppy seed or apricot preserves which are rolled up inside. Rugelach is a traditional Jewish food that is eaten any time of year, including, but not limited to Shabbat. It is not traditional on Hanukkah because it is not fried in oil.  Serve these warm for maximum enjoyment.

Makes 48
recipe from Canadian Living
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2 cups flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold butter
250g cream cheese, chilled
3/4 cup apricot jam
1 egg
1/3 cup chopped almonds (optional)

Place flour, salt and icing sugar in a food processor and whirl until mixed.  Cut butter and cream cheese into small cubes.  Add to flour and pulse just until dough starts to come together.  Form dough into 3 balls then flatten into discs.  Wrap separately with cling film and refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 5 days (freeze up to 1 month).  Remove dough from fridge and let stand until soft enough to roll.  Preheat oven to 180c (350f).  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place apricot jam in a bowl and microwave until its easy to spread (30 seconds or less).

On a lightly floured surface, using a rolling pin, roll 1 disc into 30cm (12 inch) circle.  Spread 1/4 cup of jam evenly over the rolled out dough.  Cut into 16 wedges.  Beginning at wide end, tightly roll dough wedge up toward the point.  Places crescents on baking sheet 2 inches apart.  In a small bowl whisk egg and lightly brush over cookie.  Then sprinkle with almonds (optional).  Bake until golden 15 to 20 minutes.  Cool and store in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month.

The Culinary Chase’s Note:  This was my first time making these and I have to say these little beauties are a definite repeater!  Experiment with different flavorings and enjoy the outcome.  Instead of using almonds, I sprinkled sugar on top of the egg wash before baking. I had some jam left over so I lightly brushed some the tops of the cookies with the jam followed by a sprinkling of sugar before baking.  Use a pizza cutter to cut the wedges (it’s much easier than a knife).  I used the cling film the pastry was wrapped in to help roll it out and I found that if the pastry got too warm it was more difficult to roll so leave the other discs in the fridge until ready to use.  Happy Hanukkah!   

By The Glass Note: These delicious pastries can be enjoyed from morning to night, so the best wine to have with them is of course a sparkling wine; a genre that is as familiar to early mornings topped with orange juice as it is with midnight toasts. Kosher wine has come a long way, and with some research you can know find sophisticated Kosher sparkling wines include Arbanel Cremant D’Alsace from France and of course there are selections from Israel. The Golan Heights is an emerging viticultural region and producers such as Yarden make very credible sparkling wines utilizing traditional methods. If a Kosher wine isn’t available or necessary, keep the sparkling wine choice on the fresher side to match these little pastries. Avoid the heaviest of Champagnes and opt instead for the balanced attack of Spanish Cava or Northern Italian Prosecco.