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Monthly Archives: March 2012


This is not a dessert recipe but apart from my sweet tooth, I have a great weakness for cured meats. I am especially partial to cured meats between two slices of bread. I think ham, apple and brie is an amazing trio. Brie is arguably my favorite cheese, and ham is my second-most favorite type of deli meat, the first being prosciutto. A tart apple adds crunch. What ups the ante, however, is mustard and fig jam.

Here’s how the humble ham sandwich has evolved for me. As a child, I used to eat ham and processed cheese sandwiches a lot. They were a quick and easy snack that I could make for myself. As I grew older, I’d toast the bread and the cheese, so it’d get all melty and gooey. Next, I’d use brie instead of processed cheese. Slather on fig jam onto a slice. Then I encountered The Grey Dog‘s version of the ham/brie sandwich and I was blown away. They added apple slices and applied a raspberry/mustard spread. It was a wonderful meld of savory, sweet, tart, and spicy, not to mention the creamy texture of the brie along with the crunch of the apple and the crisp, toasted bread.

The following recipe is my tribute to The Grey Dog’s apple/brie sandwich. To amazing sandwiches.

Ham, Brie and Apple Sandwich

Two slices of your favorite bread, ideally a whole wheat one or a really hearty loaf
As much brie as you want
Fig jam
Mustard
Thinly sliced ham
Thinly sliced apple (I used Golden Delicious; I thought Granny Smiths would be too tart for my own tastes)

Toast (or not) the bread. Slather on fig jam on one slice and mustard on another. Apply the brie on one side. Layer the ham on top of it. Cover with the other slice of bread. Done!


I know my frosting skills are pretty much non-existent, but I believe the inclusion of Frangelico and Bailey’s in this cake absolves my sins. I was much too impatient to let the cake cool fully and I should have let the frosting set in the fridge too, but alas. It is at least a good cake. The cake itself is pretty stellar, very moist and tender-crumbed. I had some half-and-half around, and I searched around for a good recipe that includes it, but after several scone and pie recipes (scones are no fun without fresh berries, and pies are just not my area of expertise), I finally found a winner: a chocolate cake recipe. I really like how it’s a one-bowl recipe that doesn’t require the use of a mixer. I’m all about minimizing the amount of dishes I have to wash, and if can prepare a cake using just a bowl and a spatula, that is the recipe for me. Oh, owning a digital scale really helps in reducing the dirty dishes too. I’m so glad I bought it.

I tweaked the recipe some. I don’t have coffee, so I substituted the coffee with Frangelico and water instead. The cake is probably a tad sweeter than it should be because of that, so maybe you should reduce the sugar by a couple of tablespoons if you intend on adding Frangelico, or better yet, Kahlua. The frosting recipe was originally just a chocolate buttercream, but I just eliminated the cocoa powder and replaced it with a couple tablespoons of Bailey’s. The Bailey’s that I happen to have around is the one with a hint of hazelnut, and I thought it’d complement the Frangelico in the cake. Anyway, chocolate and hazelnut, boozed up: it really doesn’t get better.

Chocolate Frangelico Cake with Bailey’s Hazelnut Frosting
Adapted from Cookie Madness
Makes two 9-inch rounds

2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 cups flour, lightly spooned and swept
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 cup half & half
2 large eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Frangelico
1/2 cup water
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9 inch round baking pans with flour-added cooking spray or grease and flour using your favorite method.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, baking soda & baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. Stir them well so that they are very thoroughly combined.

Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Batter will be wet and soupy looking. Mine had little flecks in it, but they baked away.

Bake for 35 minutes or until cakes test done. Let cool on rack for 10 minutes, then flip from pan and cool completely before frosting.

Bailey’s Frosting
Adapted from Baking Bites

3/4 cups butter, room temperature
1/4 cup half and half or milk
2 tbsps Bailey’s with a hint of hazelnut (or just the regular version is fine)
2 1/2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar

Combine all ingredients except the sugar in a large bowl and beat until very smooth. Gradually beat in the sugar until the frosting is smooth, thick and fluffy. Spread on cooled cake.

These bourbon banana muffins might not be lookers but they definitely pack a powerful punch. You wouldn’t think to combine bananas and bourbon but I personally would find any excuse to sneak alcohol in my desserts. The muffins are very moist and flavorful, and have a great texture. You can’t just stop at one.

Bourbon Banana Muffins
From Cookie Madness
Makes 1 dozen muffins

1 1/2 cups (6.8 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra light olive oil or vegetable oil
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg plus 2 tablespoons lightly beaten egg
1 1/2 very large or 2 small bananas, mashed
1/2 cup bourbon whisky
3 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease 12 muffin tins.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl and stir well to mix.
In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the oil, sugar and vanilla until well mixed. Add the egg and beat until light, then reduce mixer speed and beat in the mashed banana and bourbon. By hand, stir in the flour mixture and the water just until mixed. Pour the batter into the muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes. If you like, sprinkle nuts and chocolate chips down the center of the loaf before baking. Let cool for about 5 minutes, then carefully remove from the pan.