that's forking good

adventures in a culinary neophyte's kitchen

Archive for the ‘desserts’ Category

jam on

Posted by culinaryneophyte on August 4, 2013

When people ask for my help moving, I typically carry odds and ends and leave the heavy lifting to the big dogs. But yesterday, one of my brothers bailed on helping my dad and stepmother move (and the other left for work with a decent amount to go), so I had no choice but to lift things up and put them down. (Please tell me you get that reference.) By the time I got home, it was that awkward too-late-for-lunch/too-early-for-dinner time, and I was too famished to wait more than five minutes for something small to cook, so I whipped up a sweet snack inspired by a post I saw on Instagram: cinnamon protein rice cake with strawberry jam and chia seeds.

cinnamon protein rice cake

enough for two rice cakes
♦2 brown rice cakes
3 tbs. plain Greek yogurt
2 tbs. whey protein
♦1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbs. cinnamon (or to taste)
Jam/jelly (any flavor, organic if clean)
♦chia seeds

Mix yogurt, protein, vanilla and cinnamon together. Slather on rice cakes. Top with a dollop of jam and a sprinkling of chia seeds.

Calories? About 120 calories per rice cake
Total time? 3 minutes
Cost? $1.29 rice cakes, $2.99 jam, $1 Greek yogurt
Overall success relative to expectations? 9 out of 10. These rice cakes helped kill my hunger and give me a little boost after a strenuous morning. The health benefits of chia seeds are plenty, but in this case, the fact that they absorb 10 times their weight in water helped keep me full until dinner time arrived. I am usually a little iffy on yogurt-based things, but this protein “sauce” was delicious. The only point deducted came from how messy this was. This is the first time I’ve topped rice cakes with anything outside of my usual sunflower seed butter or the occasional avocado and cayenne pepper, so I’m excited to experiment some more.

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are you ready for some baseball?!

Posted by culinaryneophyte on March 31, 2013

It’s pretty rare to find someone [at least in my generation] who doesn’t get the reference, “You’re killing me, Smalls.” And if they do give you a quizzical look, well then they probably deserve the Scotty Smalls comparison. The Great Bambi?!

smore cookies

Anyway. My point is “The Sandlot” may not have won Best Picture in 1993, but from my comedy-loving, film-novice standpoint, it’s a classic. Bunch of ragtag kids playing America’s game, trash talking crosstown rivals, talking to specter Babe Ruth and taming James Earl Jones’ scary dog. Who doesn’t get chills hearing, “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die”? And what prepubescent boy didn’t dream of having cajones big enough to pull a Squints and kiss the hot lifeguard at the pool?

I’ll bet you knew about s’mores before you saw Sandlot, but it’s hard to put one together without recounting the treehouse scene in which Squints lays out the “s’more stuff” and demonstrates proper construction techniques. When it came time for me to choose a dessert to make for my fantasy baseball draft last weekend, I thought s’more cookies was an apropos (albeit, slightly contrived) offering. When the boys made the connection, I heard, “It’s nice to have a woman’s touch in this league.” They probably would have said that even if I brought some box mix cookies, but hey, whatever.

Happy MLB 2013, everyone!

Slightly adapted from Lindsey’s Kitchen
Makes about 40 cookies
♦2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 tbs. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 c. mini chocolate chips
1 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 c. mini marshmallows
2 bars of milk chocolate or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. In mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in egg, egg white and vanilla. Slowly mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and graham cracker crumbs. Drop tablespoons of dough on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, and remove from oven. Press one small square of chocolate and a few marshmallows into each cookie. Bake for 3 more minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Transfer for wire rack to cool completely (or steal a bite of a hot, melty, delicious cookie).

Calories? 76 calories per serving (based on approx. 40 cookies made).
Total time?
 30 minutes prep and bake.
Cost? $2.69 mini chocolate chips, $3 chocolate bars, $1 marshmallows, $2.50 graham crackers
Overall success relative to expectations? 10 out 10. These cookies were soft and delicious, packed with a little bit of s’more stuff in each bite. They were most delicious fresh out of the oven, which can be easily recreated by a few seconds in the microwave. My fellow fantasy baseball managers obliterated the plate of these before the sixth round, so I take it they were a success. I’m not a big sweets girl, but I absolutely loved these. I’d eat them — dare I say? — FOR. EV. ER. FOR. EV. ERRRRR.

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reverse Samoa

Posted by culinaryneophyte on February 16, 2013

“Clean eating”  and “Paleo” are all over the place these days, and I’m kind of intrigued. Generally speaking, the Paleo diet focuses on eating like a caveman — things that were around 10,000 years ago, like meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, healthful oils, etc. I still need to do some research, but from what I can tell, the biggest difference is that clean eaters can have grains and Paleo followers should not.

I’m in the middle of the Insanity workout, playing soccer four days a week and trying to reduce (ideally eliminate, but one step at a time) the bad-for-you things I occasionally put in my body. And we’re still in the thick of Girl Scout cookie season, so that’s not always an easy task, especially when you have a weakness for the delicious, caramely, coconuty Samoas. Fortunately, Elana’s Pantry posted a Paleo Samoa recipe that caught my eye, and I decided to try out my first caveman confection.

paleo samoas

A few notes: I don’t think budget is an excuse for eating poorly; if you plan it right, you can buy a week’s worth of healthy foods for the same amount as two meals at Wendy’s. That being said, clean eating is expensive. More than likely, you will have to hit a more specialized supermarket like Wegmans, Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods to find what you’re looking for, and you’re going to pay significantly more. It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons.

Also, I botched two steps in this recipe, so these cookies are like, the Samoa’s cousin — a reverse Samoa if you will. (I stupidly dipped the tops of the cookies in the chocolate instead of the bases, and then I put the toasted coconut in the chocolate instead of the caramel.) There are a lot of steps in this recipe, but nothing too challenging. They are coated with dark chocolate and drizzled with a vegan caramel. The end result is a tasty organic cookie that serves as a healthier bit of indulgence at the end of your meal (or in the middle of the day when you’re craving something sweet…which happened to me three times today — eek!).

Paleo Samoas – Makes about 30 cookies
♦2 c. almond meal

♦1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut
♦1/2 tsp. baking soda
♦1/4 c. honey
♦1 tbs. vanilla extract
♦1 egg
♦3 tbs. coconut oil, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor (recommended — I admittedly used my Kitchen Aid mixer), combine almond meal, coconut and baking soda. Pulse in honey, vanilla, egg and melted coconut oil until dough forms. Put the dough in the freezer for 30 minutes or until firm. Roll dough between two pieces of parchment paper until 1/4 inch thick. Use a 2-inch round cookie cutter to cut out cookies. You may also cut out holes in the middle for a more authentic-looking Samoa. Bake on parchment paper for 6-8 minutes. Allow cookies to cool completely before dipping.

♦1/2 c. unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
1 c. dark chocolate chunks
1 c. coconut sugar
1/4 c. coconut nectar
1/2 c. coconut milk

In a double boiler, melt dark chocolate. Meanwhile, toast coconut in toaster oven until just browned. In a separate saucepan, combine sugar, nectar and milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Once cookies are cooled, dip the base of each cookie in the chocolate mixture and place on parchment paper to set. Remove caramel from heat and mix in toasted coconut. Drizzle a small amount of caramel over each cookie. If desired, top with additional chocolate and/or toasted coconut. Allow to set in the fridge.

Calories? About 95 calories per cookie.
Total time?
 8 minutes baking, 10 minutes for caramel, 10 minutes prep.
Cost? $8.57 almond meal, $8.49 coconut oil, $2.50 dark chocolate chunks, $7.49 coconut nectar, $1.99 coconut milk, $5.49 shredded coconut
Overall success relative to expectations? 8 out 10. These cookies have certainly opened my eyes to how great a “clean” dessert can taste. They’re not necessarily low-calorie, but I felt less guilty about dessert knowing that all the ingredients are organic. As I mentioned, I didn’t follow the directions exactly and these don’t look much like Samoas (nor are they very pretty in general), but they sure were tasty. I docked points only because I felt they were a little light on coconut. It’s best to keep these in the fridge (and I prefer to eat them on the colder side). One other thing worth mentioning is that the caramel is very sticky and you may end up with a little in your teeth after the cookie is gone. Small price to pay, though, amIright?

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naughty & nice Valentine’s

Posted by culinaryneophyte on February 14, 2013

Valentine’s Day is pretty polarizing. You have the friends posting 50-line odes to their significant others on Facebook or getting engaged in some grandiose fashion (which is basically everyone I know), or you have the people touting their Cupid contempt and blaming Hallmark for ruining an otherwise perfectly average February day. I’m pretty indifferent, and that’s not because Valentine’s Day hasn’t treated me well; I’m just too busy these days to feel one way or another about it.

Still, I had the urge to bake up a what could be considered a Valentine’s Day treat last night, though it was mostly motivated by the abundance of unused strawberries in my fridge. Thus, I present my “naughty and nice” strawberry doughnuts. Half are glazed and half are plain, but all are baked and made with organic, good-for-you stuff so you don’t have to feel as guilty cramming one in your mouth.  (Well, the sprinkles aren’t organic nor good for you, but hey, they’re pretty.)

Baked Whole Wheat Strawberry Doughnuts

I bought a doughnut sheet specifically for this recipe, but if you’re unwilling (or too lazy, as I almost found myself to be), I imagine you can bake these in a muffin tin and make doughnut holes instead. You can choose to go glazed or unglazed, but the doughnuts turned out so much prettier when they were decorated, so I did both. I’m not a sweets person and preferred the plain, but sweet treats are as synonymous with Valentine’s Day as acts of love and gag-inducing Facebook posts, so don’t feel bad indulging.

Adapted from iVillage
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/3 c. organic sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. vanilla almond milk
1 egg
1 tbs. unsalted butter, melted
1/3 c. diced strawberries
1 tbs. agave nectar
2 tsp. organize strawberry preserves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray doughnut sheet with cooking spray and set aside. In a small bowl, combine diced strawberries, agave nectar and preserves. In a separate bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add milk, egg and melted butter, and stir until just combined. Add strawberry mixture and stir. Fill doughnut wells 2/3 of the way.  (Batter is enough for six doughnuts.) Bake for 7-9 minutes. Allow doughnuts to cool for at least five minutes before removing from pan, and longer if glazing.

♦1.5 c. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. cold vanilla almond milk
Pinch of salt
Sprinkles (optional)

Whisk all ingredients together. For a thicker glaze, add more powdered sugar. Set out a piece of parchment paper. Carefully dip one side of doughnut in glaze. For a “clean” glazed look, lift, let excess drip off, then twist and turn wrist to keep glaze on top of doughnut. If you don’t care about being messy (like me), dip, twist and let that excess drip where it may.  Place on parchment paper and add sprinkles if you so choose. If you want a deeper looking glaze, dip twice, then decorate.

Calories? 224 calories per plain doughnut; about 310 calories per glazed.
Total time?
7 minutes cook, 10 minutes prep
Cost? $3.99 whole wheat flour,  $3.99 organic sugar, $2 agave nectar, $2.99 almond milk, $1.99 strawberries ($9.49 doughnut pan)
Overall success relative to expectations? 6 out 10. Like I said, sweets aren’t my thing, and I very rarely eat doughnuts, but if I’m going to, I think I’d just prefer a fatty, bad-for-you doughnut from DD or Jack’s (this awesome little place in Laurel Springs, N.J.) These were a lot easier to make than I imagined, so if you’re looking for a healthier alternative and/or an edible Valentine’s Day gift, give ‘em a go.

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chocolate-covered strawberry footballs

Posted by culinaryneophyte on January 29, 2013

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Footballs

Looking for an easy but impressive Super Bowl snack? For our game day feast last year, I made about 10 different things. (I got a little carried away because the Giants were playing in — and subsequently winning — the big game.) One of my favorites I cranked out were these chocolate-covered strawberry “footballs.” Simply dip in melted chocolate, set on parchment paper, wait until the chocolate has dried and line with melted white chocolate or decorative icing.

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National Peanut Butter Day ’13

Posted by culinaryneophyte on January 24, 2013

Um… hi. I know it’s been an unreasonably long time since I last posted and I’ve got some ‘splaining to do. The good news is that I finally have a home and a kitchen and I’m hoping to get back to posting on a much regular basis. More on that to come…

In the meantime, it’s National Peanut Butter Day, so I want to share the peanut butter-iest thing I’ve ever made: peanut butter pudding pie. Check out the story of how I damn near broke my fingers making this for a friend’s birthday.


Peanut butter and I were not on good terms for the majority of my life (including at the time I wrote that post), but I have grown to embrace the sweet spread for all its nutty goodness. Now, it’s a daily player in my diet, whether it’s a spoonful in my morning smoothie, slathered on some apple slices, in my oatmeal or frozen in the middle of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

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