10th April 2010

Tahini Brownies

When I spotted this recipe for Tahini Brownies on Taste of Beirut, I knew it was just a matter of time before we would tackle it ourselves.  Actually, “tackle” is very much an overstatement; this is one of the easiest brownie recipes we’ve ever made.  It literally took more time to figure out the approximate grams-to-cups conversions than to throw everything together and get them baking.  A birthday party was the perfect excuse to make, and give away (lest we eat them all ourselves), these egg-free, butter-free, sesame-sweet treats.

Lisa says:

Yay, we’re finally making these!

Chris says:

I know it — the batter is awesome.

Lisa says:

You sure it’s a good idea to bring these to a party with kids? There’s rum in here.

Chris says:

Heck yes — I’m sure there will be plenty of kid-friendly treats. Besides, I’m sure most of the alcohol is gonna burn off during baking.

Lisa says:

True! Um, I think we should cut these before the party.

Chris says:

Well of course, how else are we gonna taste-test them?

Lisa says:

Wanna split one?

Chris says:

Yes please…

Lisa says:

Ooooh, they’re good… you can definitely taste the tahini!

Chris says:

Yeah, at the end… not overpowering, but you can definitely place it. Okay, these were a success.

Lisa says:

*Totally* — and so easy! Now let’s go before I eat any more of them.


Tahini Brownies
1 Bar of cooking chocolate, such as 60 or 70% bittersweet, 100 g
1/2 cup, plus one tablespoon of tahini
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1 cup powdered sugar
~ 2/3 cup combination of rum and orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350F.
Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler. Meanwhile, mix the tahini, orange juice and rum in a large bowl.
Add the melted chocolate and the powdered sugar. Mix well.
Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture, and again mix well.
Grease an 8 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper. Pour in the batter, spreading it as evenly as possible.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the outside is crispy, and still slightly gooey inside.

posted in Desserts, Vegetarian | 18 Comments

9th November 2009

Pumpkin Scones, a la Starbucks


WTFOMG. I don’t know what to say about these. I love them. I hate them. I’m eating all of them, except for those that have already been eaten by Lisa.  Or the mysterious “mouse” that seems to be able to open the tupperware they’re in, take a few nibbles of one, and reseal it. These scones are a bit softer than what I usually encounter in a scone — almost like a really dense muffin — with two different icings for your sweet-toothery. The recipe Lisa found for these made 6 scones; we made 12 by cutting the dough smaller. We’ll be making these again, for sure. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Chris says:

Wow, these taste really close to the real thing.

Lisa says:

Ohmygod I know.

Chris says:


Lisa says:

It’s a good thing we’re not on a diet.

Chris says:

We may have to be after these.

Lisa says:

But I cut the scones to half the size of the original recipe!

Chris says:

Just means I’m eating twice as many.

Lisa says:

…and I used skim milk instead of whole.

Chris says:

See what you just did? Convinced me to have another.


Pumpkin Scones, a la Starbucks
For the Scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
7 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
6 tbsp cold butter
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 tbsp half-and-half
1 large egg

Powdered Sugar Glaze
1 cup plus 1 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tbsp skim milk

Spiced Glaze
1 cup plus 3 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tbsp skim milk
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch ground cloves

Prepare the Scones:
Preheat the oven to 425F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Use a fork to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until mixture is crumbly and no chunks of butter are obvious. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, half and half, and egg. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and form the dough into a ball.
Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle about 3 times as long as wide. Use a large knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough twice through the width, making three equal portions. Cut each of the portions in an X pattern (four pieces) so you end up with 12 triangular slices of dough. Place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 14–16 minutes. Scones should begin to turn light brown. Place on wire rack to cool.

Make the powdered sugar glaze:

Mix the powdered sugar and 2 tbsp milk together until smooth. When scones are cool, use a brush to spread plain glaze over the top of each scone.

Make the spiced icing:
While the powdered sugar glaze is firming, combine all of the ingredients for the spiced icing. Drizzle over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (about an hour). Attempt not to devour all the scones at once.

12 scones

posted in Desserts | 21 Comments

10th May 2009

Healthy ‘Cause It’s Vegetables: Carrot Cake Ice Cream


Actually, that’s a lie.  A wonderful, wonderful lie.  Well, partly.  It *is* vegetables:  carrots and currants are vegetables, right?  Healthy?  Not a chance.  At a whopping 485 calories and 30g of fat per 1/2 cup serving, this insanely awesome frozen treat isn’t likely to fit into any sensible eating plan.  But who cares — Lisa made it for my birthday, dammit!  Closer to frozen cream cheese frosting than ice cream, this ridiculously rich confection tastes *just like* the real thing.  We have David Lebovitz, author of The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments for this creation.

Chris says:

Best. Dessert. Ever. Those toppings are fantastic.

Lisa says:

Holy crap that’s good.

Carrie says:

Can I try a bite? … wow … that *does* taste just like carrot cake!

Chris says:

That ice cream maker was officially worth it.

Lisa says:

I don’t think that was ever under debate.

Abbie says:

This is RICH — and I can see why you’d love this, Mr. I-Heart-Carrot-Cake!

Chris says:

Don’t forget there’s also Maker’s Mark in it!

Thad says:

Wow — cream cheese frosting, anyone?

Jeremy says:

ZOMG this is awesome.

Autumn says:

This is incredible… can we keep the rest?

Chris & Lisa say:


Chris says:

We’ve been eating this for four days…one more bite and I’ll look like I’m entering my third trimester.


Carrot Cake Ice Cream
Spiced pecans
1 cup pecan halves
1 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the pecans with the butter. In a small bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar and salt. Pour the mixture over the pecans and toss to coat completely. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and cook for 12 minutes, gently stirring halfway during baking to candy the nuts. Remove the tray to a rack and cool the nuts completely. Once cool, coarsely chop the pecans. Set aside.

Maker’s-Soaked Currants
1/4 cup dried currants
2 tbsp Maker’s Mark Bourbon

In a small saucepan, heat the currants and bourbon until boiling. Simmer until the currants have absorbed almost all of the liquid. Remove from heat and cover the pan. Set aside to cool completely.

Candied carrots
2 cups finely diced carrots
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup
2 cups water

In a medium saucepan, combine the carrots, sugar, corn syrup and water. Bring to a low boil and cook until the syrup is reduced to about 2 tablespoons and the carrots are translucent and candied, 20 to 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the carrots during the last few minutes so they do not burn. Drain the carrots and set aside to cool.

Ice cream base and assembly
1 8-oz package cream cheese
1 1/2 cups low-fat sour cream (see? healthy!)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp chopped lemon zest

Spiced pecans
Bourbon-Soaked Currants
Candied carrots

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, blend together the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and lemon zest until smooth. Chill thoroughly.
Freeze the base in an ice cream maker. After churning, gently fold in the spiced pecans, soaked currants and candied carrot cubes. Freeze until firm.

Makes 1 Quart

posted in Desserts | 18 Comments

21st February 2009

Agave-Sweetened Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream


Lisa wanted to make ice cream again, and being a huge fan of both peanut butter and agave nectar, combined this recipe from David Lebovitz with this one from Joy the Baker to create this Agave-Sweetened Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream treat! Wow, was it good. Dangerously good. Pure-evil good.

Lisa says:

Hey, where’s the peanut butter in the picture?

Chris says:

Um, this was the last scoop of ice cream left… we foolishly waited until the next night to take a photo.

Lisa says:

Well, can you blame us? It was SO delicious…

Chris says:

I know it. You heart peanut butter.

Lisa says:

I do! And actually I may have put a little *too* much in… I didn’t really measure and just kept adding.

Chris says:

Well it certainly worked for me… maybe next time you can make something not quite as good.

Lisa says:

Actually, maybe we’ll just invite other people to share. That way we’ll be limited in how much we can scarf down. 🙂


Agave-Sweetened Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream
10 tablespoons agave nectar
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, very finely chopped
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups half-and-half, divided
5 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
1/2 cup valencia peanut butter

In a small saucepan, warm the agave syrup with the unsweetened chocolate over the lowest heat possible, stirring constantly, until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and transfer mixtures to a large bowl. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, add 1 1/2 cups of the half-and-half and whisk in the cocoa powder. Cook over moderate heat until the mixture begins to bubble, then simmer for 30 seconds, whisking frequently, making sure to break up any clumps of cocoa powder.
Remove from heat and scrape the mixture into the bowl with the chocolate-agave mixture. Stir them together, then set a mesh strainer over the top.
Add the remaining half-and-half to the saucepan with a pinch of salt, turn on the heat, and when warm, slowly pour the warm half-and-half into the yolks whisking constantly, then pour the warmed yolks back into the saucepan.
Cook, stirring constantly over moderate heat, until the mixture becomes steamy and thickens — the mixture should reach around 170F degrees.
Pour the mixture through the strainer into the chocolate mixture.
Stir, then let cool a few minutes. When cool enough to handle, mix in a blender for ten seconds until it’s smooth and velvety. (Be very careful: hot liquid + blender = danger!)
Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once the mixture has chilled and thickened in the ice cream maker, slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup of peanut butter. Transfer the ice cream into a freezer safe container and fold in the remaining 1/4 cup of peanut butter. Cover and freeze until solid.

Makes 1 Quart

posted in Desserts | 10 Comments

19th January 2009

Honey Vanilla Ice Cream

Lisa’s first attempt at making ice cream with her new toy worked out really well. She made a honey vanilla-bean ice cream that made us all very happy. This recipe came from… well, the manual for the ice cream maker. 🙂

Chris S. says:

I scream…

Cathy says:

You scream…

Chris says:

We all scream…

Lisa says:

…for ice cream!

(Okay, we really didn’t say that, but this is a week later and I can’t remember what was said, other than…)

Everyone says:


(Oh, and….)

Lisa says:

So rich!


Honey Vanilla Ice Cream
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
1/4 cup honey
1 vanilla bean, split
2 egg yolks

Heat the cream, soy milk, vanilla bean, and honey in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot. Place the egg yolks in a bowl and whisk briefly. Still whisking, slowly pour in about 1/2 cup of the hot liquid. When the mixture is smooth, slowly pour it back into the saucepan, whisking constantly. Cook over medium heat, whisking, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon, about 6 minutes. Scrape the seeds from the beans into the base. Strain into a bowl and cool.

Use this base in your ice cream maker.

Makes 1 pint

posted in Desserts, Main Dishes | 2 Comments