I turned a Food52 fan favorite, Blondies -- Gluten-Free and Completely Delicious, into strawberry tart bars: I reserved some of the base and mixed it with almonds and oats for a crumble topping, then chilled both components until they firmed up. By pressing the dough into the pan and baking it like a tart crust—until it browned and crisped—it could handle the weight (and water) of the strawberries and the oat-and-almond nuggets when the whole thing went back into the oven for a shorter stint. The result is a crisp, cookie-like bottom topped by just-cooked berries and a soft nutty dough.
My husband's family has the lovely tradition of sending huge amounts of homemade candy to friends and family around Christmas time. I loved the tradition so much that a couple of years ago, I too started making homemade candy and sending little packages to my loved ones.
This year I was hoping to gift them some truffles but I had never made them before, so I was a little nervous! It did take me a while to figure out the recipe, but I finally managed to get the right taste and texture! I have made these truffles both with and without the hard chocolate coating. My husband likes the softer textured truffles (without the coating) better, while my favorite is the one with the hard chocolate coating rolled in both the sugar and nut mixture. If you make these, let me know which combination you like the best!
Can there be anything more fantastically savoury and moreish to have with a cocktail than a little cheese biscuit? That tang and crunch just go perfectly. These are crisp and with a good bite from strong cheese and a kick from the cayenne. Make a load of these to stash away in your freezer, ready to whip out when entertaining over Christmas. As you can see from my photograph, I served these with a Negroni but naturally the choice of drink is up to you. Or serve them anytime you would like a snack -- my children love them!
Almost everyone has tried crisps and cobblers, but fewer are familiar with the buckle. This is an unfortunate situation that should really be remedied. A buckle is essentially a fruit-laden cake topped with streusel, and it's as yummy as it sounds. This version is inspired by ingredients from the Portland farmer's market. Occasionally on Saturdays my husband and I head to the market for a biscuit sandwich from Pine State and a gibassier from Pearl Bakery. We then meander around the stands and pick out the fresh fruits and vegetables that appeal to us. The bounty from our last visit included some roasted hazelnuts and a half-flat of mixed berries. I decided to incorporate both ingredients into a fruit buckle. I used the buckle recipes from the Joy of Cooking as my starting point. I added hazelnuts to the streusel and swapped buttermilk for regular milk. I thought the hazelnuts would add a delicious layer of flavor and the buttermilk would impart richness to the cake. It took a little tinkering, but the end result was exactly what I'd hoped for. I made several versions with different combinations of berries, and really liked the combination of blackberries & blueberries. It is impossible to chose which is best, so I'd urge you to use the berries that look tastiest at the market.
The recipe for the rice pudding comes from my mom, Risa, but I'm not sure where she got it. It's simple and unfussy. One time, my dad made it and forgot to add the sugar—I don't recommend that.
This recipe is a time capsule—I'm sure it will exist on my mom's 3-by-5 in the acrylic box in the pantry post-apocalypse. It's less complicated than anything I usually make these days—no smoky spices or unusual dairy products or bain marie. It's pleasantly eggy and perfectly simple—all light and warmth, a knitted Afghan of a food.
Eat it while it's warm or do as I prefer: Let it glop up overnight and eat for breakfast in the morning.
Whatever you do, and whenever you're making them, serve these individual cakes—our riff on a Carnival Cruise Line recipe and on-ship favorite—with a little top hat of vanilla ice cream. Watch our test kitchen in action making them here.
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