I have entered this post into the annual Bon Appetit Holiday Dessert Bake-Off and I would be deeply thankful if you would follow THIS LINK and vote for my entry!
I have been fretting over this post for DAYS. I have been conceptualizing, racking my culinary brains, wondering if this entry should be super child friendly or uber – urbane and a global foodie galore. I have been hoping for just the slightest break in the driving dark rains here in Massachusetts. I baked all day yesterday while also getting ready for Halloween.
Today was meant to be simple – just assemble the lovely tidbits you see below and shoot. Not so fast!
At least the sun came out.
I asked my 13 yo daughter to help set out a stool onto which I would be setting the tray with the styled food. The 3 yo and the 6 yo decide that it would be time to run hair-burning-crazy amok around the house and outside of it – they see my camera as a few moments where I will be distracted and they run like the wind with it.
As the 13 yo was helping me with the stool one of our roosters attacked her and it was a fierce and brutal one. One of the girl chickens had some how found an antique plastic 6 pack plastic and had it wrapped tightly on her neck. As my DD was leaning over to help this poor hen the rooster launched himself at my poor daughter. She then was chasing the rooster around the garden as I rushed out to shoot while I still had sun.
So, as I am shooting these photos, 3 and 6 yos are running amok, 13 yos are running around in the garden, bleeding and swearing a blue streak, and a whole flock of chickens were assembled around me, the soft rustling of their feathers belying their impending attack.
Jeepers, what I do for food photography these days.
It is my hope that this holiday dessert offering can be considered delicious and non-denominational, good for any tradition.
When I was trying to think of what is THE iconic holiday dessert I was completely at a loss. In my house growing up, we just didnt do desserts. We had no tradition beyond Colombian bunuelos and those are not going to win a Bon Appetit contest.
My husband, being a first generation immigrant from England, suggested trifle. I vetoed that almost as soon as it came out of his mouth – trifle is NOT good food photography food.
I envisioned complicated frosted christmas cakes but decided I wasnt in the mood to do the frosting and knew it would not end well.
At some point, it struck me that holiday desserts have been about precious spices since time immemorial. With this thought in mind, I set out to find recipes that might showcase the spices I like and do it in a way that might win this contest.
I think its possible that the following two recipes might fit that bill. I had also in mind a persimmon panna cotta but I fell deeply in love with my persimmon, she is so very beautiful, that I decided to offer her simply as she is. Many cultures have done the same, serving simple fruits at the holidays.
Once again, please consider visiting THIS LINK to vote for my entry into the Bon Appetit Holiday Dessert Bake-Off. The voting selects favorites and then the chefs at Bon Appetit prepare those recipes and then selects the grand prize winner.
What does the winner get?
A trip for two to NY and dinner at Le Bernardin restaurant with Editor-in-Chief Barbara Fairchild and Restaurant Editor Andrew Knowlton!
If I win, I am going to take my 13 yo daughter (who should have stopped bleeding by then) and we will try things like foie gras and lord knows what else at Le Bernardin! It should be something she will remember for a long time and I would love to be able to meet Barbara Fairchild and Andrew Knowlton though I am not exactly certain what we will talk about!
Besides the persimmon, which is not an entry so much as food porn, we have, in front, Rosemary Coconut Hedgie Cookies (a variation of my very popular Chocolate Coconut Hedgies) and a Cardamom Cream Cake topped by figlets. The hedgies, as usual, are simple but just fantastic. They are crunchy and coconutty and sweet on the outside while still moist inside.
The Cardamom Cream Cake was something new to me and is also a very simple recipe. It is a traditional dessert in Scandinavian countries. The cake is very moist, quite decadent (made with heavy cream) and can stand up to all sorts of decorating abuse you might throw at it. I prefer simple. As such, all I did was make a homemade cardamom syrup, put that on the bottom layer and then sprinkled the top layer with powdered sugar.
Rosemary Coconut Hedgie Cookies
- 1 1/4 C AP flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 C butter
- 1/8 to 1/4 tsp finely minced fresh rosemary
- 1/2 C packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 C white sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 1/3 C flaked sweetened coconut
- powdered sugar, as desired
Mix flour, baking soda, and salt, set aside.
Cream together butter, minced rosemary, brown and white sugars. Make certain that it is very well mixed and that you get a light fluffy texture (you have incorporated air into the mix).
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Make golf ball sized dough balls and put onto parchment.
You can dredge in powdered sugar or more coconut before baking.
Bake for about 25 minutes (your oven may be different, watch the first batch).
Dust with powdered sugar.
Cardamom Cream Cake topped by figlets (adapted from this recipe)
- 2 C all-purpose flour
- 1 C granulated sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp freshly ground cardamom
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
- 1Â 1/2 C heavy cream
- several figlets, sliced in half for garnish
- Powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Put about 2 tsp cardamom pods into a coffee grinder and grind as much as you can. Pick out the pod husks and any other large bits, set aside. You will use some of this in the cake and then in the following recipe for the syrup. Please be careful because this grinding releases A LOT of really intense cardamom essence into the air which can really choke you up. We had to open windows to vet out the kitchen area.
In a large bowl, mix (low speed) together all purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, freshly ground cardamom, and salt. Use an electric mixer so that you can get a really good whip going. Keep your mixer on low and blend in your eggs. Next add your heavy cream and slowly turn the speed up to high. Continue beating until the batter looks like softly whipped cream. There is no water in this recipe so you do not need to worry much about excess gluten development. Really whip it.
You can then pour this batter into a cake pan but I wanted to get fancy so I used two spring form pans and spread it out thin so that I could cut the cake with a cookie cutter.
Bake until the toothpick comes out clean (an hour but check at 40 minutes on to be sure you do not over cook)
Cool on a rack and then decorate as you wish. I think dusting with powdered sugar is the traditional way.
Like I mentioned before, I wanted to turn up the cardamom notch so I made a cardamom syrup that I put on the bottom layer. I sliced my figlets and adorned the top of the cake with them.
Cardamom Simple Syrup
- 1/2 C water
- 1/2 – 1 tsp ground cardamom, pod husks and all
- 1 C granulated sugar
Add ground cardamom to water in small pot, bring to a boil, add sugar, simmer until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool.
Strain out large bits, store in cool place until use.
Dont forget to visit THIS LINK to vote for my entry into the Bon Appetit Holiday Dessert Bake-Off.
Drop me a comment to let me know if you did so I can thank you!