Lowfat Apple and Cinnamon Cake


Joey and I really both love dessert, but it's hard to find desserts that are figure friendly. Yes, I know all about Skinny Cow, etc., but sometimes we really want something besides ice cream.

Now, I am not a baker at all. While I do own a fancy mixer, it pretty much sits there neatly covered. I have had so many of my baking attempts fail, that I am always hesitant bake. This time I am glad I took the chance, because not only is it figure friendly, it's super tasty.

I got this recipe from the new Lifetime show, "Cook Yourself Thin." This particular recipe stood out to me because it uses sweet potatoes instead of butter or oil. The outcome is extremely moist AND extremely dense. You can not eat a huge slab of this, so I guess this makes it even more figure friendly. I followed the recipe really closely except I didn't have an 8-inch springform and was not about to buy one. (Okay, I confess I would have bought one but I couldn't find it in my neighborhood.) I used an 8x8 square metal baking dish and it turned out just fine.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 1 large apple (about 10 ounces)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/4 cups finely ground almonds
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 cups peeled sweet potato (the white variety), finely grated at the very last minute to prevent
  • discoloration
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • For the icing
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the base and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with a little vegetable oil and a pastry brush. Line the pan with parchment paper.
  2. Peel, core and chop the apple into 1/4-inch cubes. Toss them in a small bowl with some lemon juice to prevent oxidation.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the ground almonds, flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
Notes

As I mentioned earlier, I did use a square dish rather than a springform. I did use parchment paper, though, and that was really helpful.

I didn't particularly love the icing. It could be that my powered sugar is too old, but when I make this again I am going to use non-fat whipped topping or ice-cream instead.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream


Our friend Kevin has this amazing herb garden and brought us over a huge bag of herbs the other day. All sorts of delicious treats - parsley, sage, rosemary, (no thyme), marjoram and a mint. A lot of mint. I could figure out what to do with all the other herbs, but what was I going to do with all that mint? I decided that I would make some sort of dessert thing with it but couldn't figure out what until Joey reminded me that I had a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. I had bought it refurbished a couple years ago and totally forgot I had it. The one and only time I used it was not at all a success, but I thought, "What the heck?" I will try this again and went out on a search for Mint Ice Cream.

It's amazing how hard it was for me to find a recipe that actually used fresh mint. Finally I found one on Epicurious by Isaac Mizrahi. Now I am a huge fan of The Fashion Show so I just had to try this out.

I followed the recipe fairly closely, but I have adapted it. First off, I don't like food coloring and refuse to buy it and for this recipe the natural green of the mint comes shining through as you can see from the pictures below. Second, Isaac must be a huge chocolate queen because he calls for WAY too much chocolate. I have cut that in half and trust me you will want to follow my recipe below and do the same.

Ingredients

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (original recipe called for 8 ounces)

Instructions
  1. In large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar.
  2. In heavy medium saucepan over moderately low heat, stir together milk, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and mint. Heat until steaming but not boiling, then remove from heat.
  3. Ladle about 1/2 cup hot milk mixture into egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent eggs from cooking, then slowly stir the egg mixture back into the hot milk, whisking constantly.
  4. Place over low heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat back of spoon (finger drawn across spoon will leave clear path), 5 to 6 minutes total (do not let boil or custard will curdle). Strain through fine-mesh sieve into large bowl, pressing on and then discarding solids.
  5. Whisk in heavy cream. Cover and chill until cold, at least 6 hours or overnight.
  6. Process custard in ice cream maker, adding chopped chocolate during last minute of churning.
  7. Transfer to airtight container and freeze until hard, about 3 hours.

Baked Brie with Dried Cherries and Toasted Almonds


Every once in awhile I make something that I am particularly proud of. Something that just turns out so right that I even surprise myself. That was the case when I made this Baked Brie. Not only did it look beautiful, but it was cooked to perfection. That doesn't happen to me all that often. My food usually tastes pretty good, but it rarely is pretty.

Joey and I have not had guests over since Christmas so when we planned afternoon cocktails and game night with Kevin and Karolyn I really wanted to make something special. I knew what our entree would be, Island Pork Tenderloin Salad, since Kevin had seen it on my blog and requested it. What, though, would I make for appetizers? I had made baked brie before with dismal results. Either the cheese came screaming out of the puff pastry or it stubbornly refused to soften. In either case it was a disaster.

Joey kept bring home rounds of brie, which was a sure hint that he wanted me to master this, so after and exhaustive search online I finally found a recipe I thought would work. Oh my goodness! JACKPOT! This is the perfect baked brie recipe. I found it on Food Network and it had five stars out of 45 reviews. The recipe is courtesy of Jill Davie. I have no idea who she is, but bless her! This baked brie turned out perfectly from the flackly crust to the ooey gooey goodness of the brie. The dried cherries, toasted almonds and brown sugar were the perfect filling. I even decorated the darn thing and it looked oh-so fancy. You MUST try this recipe. It is as delicious as it is beautiful.

Ingredients

  • 1 (7 to 8-inch) wheel brie cheese
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 sheets (12 by 18-inch) puff pastry
  • 2 eggs, beaten
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. Remove puff pastry from package and thaw on table (at least 1 hour)
  3. Using a warmed sharp knife, or unflavored dental floss cut the wheel of brie in half horizontally and separate the top half of the wheel from the bottom half.
  4. Toast almond over medium heat until golden brown.
  5. Sprinkle the bottom half of the brie with the dried cherries, toasted almonds, and brown sugar.
  6. Replace the top half of the brie and apply pressure to secure the stuffing.
  7. Working on a well-floured surface, roll out the puff pastry so that it will fully cover the brie. (Don't roll it out too much, just enough.)
  8. Place the brie in the middle of the puff pastry and fold the excess pastry around the wheel.
  9. Put the wheel aside.
  10. Roll out another piece of puff pastry and cut out a circle the same circumference as the top of the brie. (If the pastry comes in a round box, just use that as a guide.)
  11. Save the trimmings for decorations.
  12. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg on top of the brie in the puff pastry and place the circle on top.
  13. Brush the top of the circle and and sides with egg.
  14. Cut out decorations using cookie cutters or a small knife and place on top of brie. (I did little leaves and made twists around the circle and a twist cross through the middle.)
  15. Brush the entire top side of the brie with the egg and place the brie on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
  16. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the pastry begins to turn golden brown.
  17. Turn the temperature down to 325° F and bake for another 20 minutes.
  18. Remove from oven and let sit about 5 minutes
  19. Place brie and serving dish and serve with sliced baguette or crackers.
Notes

I think the key to this is the higher temperature at first then lowering the temperature. I actually started this way too early so I lowered the temperature to about 250°, opened the oven door to cool it down and then baked it about 30 minutes more. Perfection!

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About Sean & Joey

Joey and I are just a couple of guys living in San Francisco. I love cooking and we both like trying new things. Planning our meals is one of our "together" things. I hope you enjoy our blog! - Sean

Dedication

This blog is dedicated to the two most important people in my life - my mom, Ernee Jean O'Brien, and my partner Joey Concepcion. They both have showered me with unconditional support and love and have always encouraged me to be myself. I will always miss my mom and I don't know what I would do without Joey.

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