Blueberry Jam Crumble

Blueberry Jam Crumble

Blueberry Jam Crumble

Here’s another way to enjoy your homemade or favorite store-bought jam this summer. Like so many of my favorite homey desserts, this dish is less a recipe than a method of combining a handful of flavorful ingredients.

Toss together about equal parts jam and fresh fruit, in this case blueberry jam and fresh blueberries, drizzle in a bit of lemon juice, and season with a scant pinch of salt. Make my quick Crumble recipe (see the one below) and simply layer the crumble and fruit filling in individual oven-safe jars (I use Weck), bowls, or cups. I like to layer thusly: crumble, fruit, crumble, fruit, crumble, fruit. I then speckle the tops with coarse sugar and bake the crumbles in a 375 oven until they are bubbly, golden brown, and fragrant, about 20 minutes. Serve these fruity crumbles warm or at room temperature.

Crumble

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/2 cup rolled oats (optional)

Pinch of sea salt

Combine all of the ingredients, lightly stirring with a fork, until the mixture is crumbly. Sometimes it will look damp and clumpy, depending on the humidity and brand of flour you’re using. Not to worry. If it does appear too pasty, simply stir in a bit more flour. This crumble can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Easter Cookies, Continued

Cut-our sugar cookies decorated with rolled fondant, royal icing, and coarse sanding sugar

Cut-our sugar cookies decorated with rolled fondant, royal icing, and coarse sanding sugar

Although Easter Sunday has passed, many of us continue to celebrate the Easter season for nearly another 50 days (through Pentecost). If we are to maintain the celebratory mood for that long, it certainly helps to keep some decorated cookies on hand.

Here is another variation of my cut-out sugar cookie. Cut out rolled fondant using the same cutters you chose for the cookies, and then ornament them further with royal icing and/or sanding sugar. Stored in cellophane bags or airtight re-sealable bags, these cookies keep well for weeks.

Colorful Easter Cookies

Pastel-colored chicks are the perfect addition to any Easter basket.

Pastel-colored chicks are the perfect addition to any Easter basket.

Decorated cookies are a delightful and special addition to any Easter basket, but these vibrantly colored treats elevate the confection even further. Using my trusted sugar cookie dough as the base, I simply color the dough with food coloring (I like Wilton Icing Color, available at local craft stores), cut out my desired shapes, and then bake them.

Serve these cookies plain, or add additional flourish with piped royal icing and a sprinkling of clear or colored sanding sugar.

About 30 three-inch cookies

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon sea salt

Pinch of baking powder

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Food coloring paste or icing, such as Wilton Icing Color

Royal icing for decorating (optional)

Colored sanding sugar for decorating (optional)

Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl.

Put the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and begin beating on medium speed. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Drop in the egg and add the vanilla and mix just until incorporated. Gradually spoon in the flour, mixing on medium-low speed, just until the dough comes together.

If coloring the dough with a single color, add the Icing Color in small amounts, about 1/8 teaspoon at a time (a little goes a long way), mixing until evening distributed. Add more as needed. If using more than one color, divide the mixed dough into as many parts as colors you are using and mix in by hand or in the mixing bowl, cleaning the bowl and paddle in between colorings.

Transfer the dough (or each piece of colored dough) to a large sheet of plastic wrap, bring together to form a disc, and wrap well. Set in the refrigerator to chill and rest, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using about half of the dough at a time, roll on a lightly floured work surface to about ¼ inch thick. Cut into desired shapes and arrange about 1 ½ inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Set in the refrigerator to chill until firm, at least 20 minutes. (The cutouts can also be arranged on a plastic wrap-lined board or baking sheet, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and frozen for up to 1 month. When ready to bake, arrange the frozen cutouts on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake as directed below.)

Bake the cookies (depending on the size) until light golden brown and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool on the baking sheets for several minutes before transferring them to the racks to cool completely.

Decorate with royal icing and sanding sugar, if desired.

Revelation Dried Fruit-Carob Rounds

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Another year has passed, and we are again about to enter Holy Week. Although many of us have our minds and spirits focused on spiritual enlightenment and reflection, I’m sure there are more than a few among us with Lenten palates anticipating the resurrection of chocolate in our culinary repertoires.

Yes, I will be providing plenty of chocolate bunnies and cream-filled Easter eggs, among a multitude of other pretty little confections, in my children’s Easter baskets. And in the interest of full disclosure, I will most likely be nipping at those bags of store-bought treats myself.

Even during this celebratory time of year though, we don’t have to completely abandon our commitment to healthy eating. Here is a delicious revelation befitting the season–a satisfying “chocolaty” goodie that is not only nourishing enough to enjoy throughout the year, but also pretty and sweet enough to share this Easter.

A chewy combination of walnuts, dried fruit, carob powder, almond butter, coconut, and cinnamon, these mahogany-colored rounds are nutrient dense and not too sweet—the perfect little grab and go treat to quell hunger throughout the day or even to enjoy as dessert.

These rounds are delicious just as they are, but to make them even spiffier, coat them in melted dark chocolate or carob and then roll in shredded unsweetened coconut.

¼ cup toasted or raw walnuts

1/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup pitted dates

1/3 cup dried apricots

¼ cup dried cranberries, cherries, or golden raisins

¾ cup almond butter

¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut

¼ cup carob powder

¼ cup brown rice crisp cereal, coarsely crushed

3 tablespoons maple syrup

1 heaping tablespoon raw sesame seeds

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of sea salt

Melted chocolate or carob for coating (optional)

Shredded unsweetened coconut for coating (optional)

Put the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade attachment and pulse until chopped to a texture resembling very coarse breadcrumbs. Set aside in a medium bowl.

Return the food processor bowl to the machine, fit with the metal blade attachment, and add the raisins, dates, apricots, and cranberries, pulsing until coarsely chopped. You don’t want the mixture to become a paste; chopped bits are best. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of walnuts.

To the nuts and fruit, add the almond butter, coconut, carob powder, cereal, syrup, sesame seeds, cinnamon, and salt. Using a rubber spatula or your hands, fold the ingredients together until well combined. The mixture will be quite thick.

Using a tablespoon or a good quality, sturdy metal scoop (I like one that holds about 2 teaspoons), shape the mixture into about 32 rounds and then roll into balls. The rounds can be served immediately or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

If you wish to coat the rounds with melted chocolate (or carob) and coconut, chill the rounds until firm. Drop into melted chocolate and then roll in coconut. Set aside at room temperature or in the refrigerator until set. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Chou-Chou Granola Bars

Granola bars are perfect for dessert or snacking any time of day.

Granola bars are perfect for dessert or snacking any time of day.

Here is a nourishing but sweet treat to celebrate the first weekend of spring, as well as the launching of my new confections company, Chou-Chou. Pronounced “shoo-shoo,” the term is not only French for sweet little thing, but it is also my son’s nickname. These granola bars are sure to become a signature item in my line-up of goodies—some purely sweet and decadent, and others based on healthful whole foods, such as my Dried Fruit and Nut Squares (published below).

These bars contain a goodly amount of flavorful and healthy ingredients, but they come together quickly and easily. After a relatively short time in the oven and a cooling rest, they cut nicely into semi-soft bars that satisfy a sweet tooth, as well as an empty tummy rumbling for a “good-for-you” snack.

Makes eighteen 1 ½-by-3-inch bars

2 cups rolled oats

½ cup slivered blanched almonds

½ cup raw pumpkin seeds

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/3 cup raw sesame seeds

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ cup golden flax seeds

1/3 cup toasted wheat germ (optional)

About 1 ½ cups chopped dried fruit, such as pitted dates, stemmed figs, cranberries, cherries, raisins, golden raisins

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup molasses

¼ cup packed dark brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Stir together the oats, almonds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, sesame seeds, salt, and cinnamon on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until just fragrant and beginning to color lightly, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in the flax seeds, wheat germ, if using, and the dried fruit.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300. Line a 9-by-2-inch square baking pan with 2 sheets of parchment paper, long enough to drape over the edges by about 1 inch. Hold the paper in place over the edges with small binder clips.

Stir together the canola oil, maple syrup, molasses, and brown sugar in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Pour the hot syrup over the oats mixture and stir to coat evenly. Pour into the prepared baking pan and, using the back of a damp spoon or damp fingers, press into the pan until flat and firm.

Bake until the granola is golden brown and fragrant, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely in the pan, at least 3 hours or overnight.

To cut the granola bars, remove the binder clips from the pan and hold onto the parchment paper to lift out the entire square of granola. Using a large chef’s knife, cut into 18 even rectangles. Store the bars in an airtight container, separated by small sheets of parchment paper, or in re-sealable bags at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Super-Big Chocolate Chip Cookie

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It’s not everyday that you need a recipe for an extra-large celebratory chocolate chip cookie, but when you do, I think this one will suit you quite well. A slight variation of my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, this dough is sweetened with both dark brown and granulated sugars, generously perfumed with vanilla extract, given additional structure and body with extra-large (rather than the traditional large) eggs, and packed with the best quality chopped semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips you can find.

Despite the grand size of this confection, this recipe is really quite simple and quick to prepare. The finished 1-inch-high cookie is dense and moist (but not gooey) and keeps well at room temperature wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or in the freezer.

Decorate with royal icing or rolled fondant to make this giant treat even more fun.

Makes one 14-inch cookie

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 extra-large eggs

3 ½ to 4 cups chopped semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and arrange the rack in middle position in the oven. Butter a 14-by-2-inch cake pan, line the bottom with parchment, butter again, and lightly dust with flour.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and sea salt in a medium bowl. Combine the butter, sugars, and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Drop in the eggs and beat until incorporated. Reduce the mixing speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, beating until it is nearly all incorporated. Add the chocolate and mix just until the pieces are evenly distributed.

Spread the dough evenly in the prepared pan (using a the back of a damp spoon or small offset spatula) and bake until the cookie is puffed, golden brown, and fragrant, 40 to 45 minutes. Set on a wire rack to cool in the pan for about 15 minutes.

Run a paring knife around the edges to loosen the cookie from the pan. Set a 14-inch round cardboard cake board on top of the cookie and invert onto the board. Lift off the pan and, using another cake board, invert the cookie once again so it cools completely right side up.

Wrap well in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.