Tag Archives: mini desserts

Banana Cream Pie Dessert Shooters

Each year, I live for that two month period that begins with Halloween and sees me through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. I’m totally grateful that it’s filled with family, fun and way, I mean way too much food. It’s a whirlwind of turkeys, hams, cookies, cakes and lots and lots of sugar. In fact, I think I need to detox from all the sugar still in my system.

Banana Cream Pie Dessert Shooters

Banana Cream Pie Dessert Shooters

But alas, it’s January 6th and the party’s over. The east coast friends have all gone home, the kid’s back at school and Mama is left jonesing for her next gig. Just business as usual. And so, I set my sights on Super Bowl Sunday.

The truth is, I don’t even like football, (did I just hear a gasp from all over America). But I love all the commercials, and who doesn’t love a good ‘ol half-time show. Ok, so just me. I know it’s a little far in advance, but I’ve already started planning my menu for game day. For dessert, I decided to serve these Banana Cream Pie Mini Shooters. Their taste scores a touchdown, but their small size won’t hit ‘ya in the end zone if you know what I mean. I know, lame football humor…

Banana Cream Pie Dessert Shooters

Banana Cream Pie Dessert Shooters

Banana Cream Pie Dessert Shooters

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Chocolate Truffle Brownies

Chocolate Truffle Brownies

Chocolate Truffle Brownies

What’s the best way for a mother to send her child off to college; with a pan of super-chocolatey brownies of course. I had spent days packing for my son Michael, purchasing him some pots and pans, bedding and laundry detergent, as well as a variety of other items I know he’ll never use. I had filled boxes with every and anything a young man would need for his survival out there in the world. It was as if we were sending him off to the most remote region of the universe, when in reality he was only going an hour away to Santa Barbara.  Oh my God, did I pack the electric pencil sharpener?

We loaded two cars and made the quick trip up the Pacific coast to the student housing where he was sharing an apartment with three other guys. I laughed to myself as we entered the apartment. There were three sets of parents unpacking, making beds, setting up tv’s and printers, and stacking a hundred boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese into the pantry closet. The kids all sat in the living room with their cell phones and laptops, laughing and getting to know one another, while the mothers nervously scurried about.

After roughly four hours in that apartment my work there was done, and I could see the look on my son’s face. “Mom, will you just go!” He couldn’t wait to begin his new adventure…without his mama!  As my husband and I left, I handed him a tray of my chocolate truffle brownies. He had his pencil sharpener, a year’s supply of black sox, and brownies. Mission complete.

Chocolate Truffle Brownies

Chocolate Truffle Brownies

Chocolate Truffle Brownies

Bon Appetit, July 2010

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Chocolate Truffle Brownies

Chocolate Truffle Brownies

Mama’s Tips:

Using better quality chocolate will yield better tasting brownies. Use the best you can afford.

When the brownies have cooled, place them in the refrigerator for an hour for easier cutting.

I like to keep my chocolate truffle brownies in the refrigerator as they turn to a fudge-like consistency. At room temperature they remain more cake-like.

Recipe: Easy

Mini Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Mousse

Last weekend my job was to bring a dessert to a friend’s wedding shower. I thought I had been handed quite a daunting task. I knew that if I was going to serve dessert to a group of women in Los Angeles that it would have to be in mini portions. Perfect.  No problem. What better way to end a meal than with a rich, creamy, chocolatey mousse.  Any three ounce vessel will work for the mini portion.  Being the Mama that I am, it made me very happy to see that everyone had finished their desserts.

Mini Chocolate Mousse

Mini Chocolate Mousse

Mini Chocolate Mousse 

From Tyler’s Ultimate 

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Mama’s Tips:

  1. Do not get any egg yolk into the egg whites, or stiff peaks will not form.
  2. Make sure all bowls and utensils used to whip egg whites are grease-free, or stiff peaks will not form.
  3. Do not get any water into chocolate, or the chocolate will seize.

Recipe: Intermediate


Mini Apple Pies

Mini Apple Pies

Mini Apple Pies

Tradition is a funny thing. You don’t mess with it, that’s how something becomes a tradition. You do it over and over. It is rituals that are handed down from one generation to the next. Thanksgiving is the most important and revered tradition in my family. It’s been an American tradition for a couple hundred years, but  for my family in particular, it began with my grandparents. It’s a day that my whole family now waits for all year, and it’s all about the food. In my house I’m known as the CEO of Thanksgiving, the Titan of Turkey and the Potentate of Potatoes. I rule this holiday with an iron fist. I make the same meal year after year. So, after 27 years of making this particular meal, I have in fact perfected it. My turkey is worthy of any glossy food magazine, my potatoes glisten in buttery goodness, and my cranberry sauce has just the right amount of tart and sweetness.

My mother however is the VP of stuffing. For 27 years that has been her contribution, and she nails it every time. However, sometimes traditions have to change. In with the new, and out with the old. In this case, I’m the old. My son graduated culinary school over 2 years ago, and he has been working as a chef in a fine dining restaurant. Last night he approached me and said that he would like to make the turkey and mashed potatoes this year for our dinner. I was stunned at first. Was he trying to yank control of this holiday out of my hands? When I gained my composure I realized that it may be time to hand the baton over to the next generation. Yes, I guess it was time to pass the tradition on.

Mini Apple Pies

So, now that I didn’t have to worry about the main course, I could focus on the really important aspect of the dinner; dessert. I decided to go very traditional, and serve a trio of desserts. I’m going to do mini pumpkin cheesecakes with praline topping, vanilla bean ice cream and these mini apple pies. Here’s to tradition.

Mini Apple Pies

Mini Apple Pies

Mini Apple Pies

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Recipe: Intermediate

Strawberry Mousse.. is Berry, Berry Good!

It’s one of those dry, scorching Southern California summer days and I’m headed back to the valley through Malibu Canyon. What was once so green and lush has quickly turned brown and parched now that the rain has stopped, and summer is clearly here. Malibu Canyon is one of those places that’s been seemingly untouched since prehistoric times. It’s just jagged mountains, huge rocks and dried brush, really not much else. As I meander my way through the canyon, out of nowhere appears a strawberry stand. My eye is attracted to a giant hand-painted sign of a large, red strawberry. I figure, if you’re out in the middle of nowhere, the these must be some mighty fine strawberries this guy is selling. I pulled over to the side of the road, dust flying everywhere and approach the stand that seems like an oasis in the middle of a desert. Damn, these are some good looking berries…so I buy five baskets.

When life gives you berries, make mousse!

A layer of lemon curd & a layer of strawberry mousse

Strawberry Mousse

The Silver Palate Cookbook

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When life gives you berries…make mousse!

Lemon Mousse in Chocolate Cups

Lemon Mousse  in Chocolate Cups

Lemon Mousse in Chocolate Cups

Ever since I was a little kid I’ve always been very crafty and artistic. When I was six years old I entered a drawing contest on the Gene London show, a Saturday morning children’s program. Anyone from Philadelphia growing up in the sixties should remember that show. Gene was a little odd to say the least.  Anyway, first prize was a trip to Disneyland, and second prize was a box of “Sparkle Paints”.  I won second prize. I was excited none-the-less.

I still like to make things with my hands. I love making these chocolate cups, I just do. Several years ago when we were making our final graduation dinner from culinary school, I made 225 of these cups for the dessert course. Since then, I seem to look for any reason or occassion to make them. I fill them with homemade ice cream, fresh fruit or a light, lemon-y mousse. Chocolate and lemon is one of my favorite flavor combinations, and it’s the perfect dessert for a warm summer evening.

Lemon Mousse in Chocolate Cups

Lemon Mousse in Chocolate cups

Chocolate Cups

I use the 5 ounce paper cups because the inside of the cup is waxed and it will peel off of the chocolate easily. Measure up from the bottom of the cup 2 1/4″, mark it, then with a sharp scissor, cut the top of the cup off. (For me the 5 ounce cup was just too large as is). You can use any good quality bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate to make the cup. Melt about 16 ounces of chocolate in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring well after each increment. When the chocolate is a smooth consistency, pour it into the cup, filling the entire cup, and then empty the excess back into the bowl. Place into the refrigerator to harden. Once hard, re-melt your chocolate and repeat the process giving the cups a second coat. Place back in the refrigerator to harden again.

To prepare cups for filling: Using a rubber band to secure it, wrap double thickness parchment paper around the cups so that it’s 1 1/2 inches above the top of the cup.

Lemon Mousse
From Barefoot Contessa, Back To Basics

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Recipe: Advanced