Archive for the 'dessert' Category

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble

strawberry rhubarb crumble 1 Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

I have a bit of a rhubarb problem.

The problem is, when I see an enormous crown of it in someone’s back yard, or if I’m offered up an armful of it, I can’t resist – even though we’re trying to clear out the kitchen and whittle the contents of the fridge down into the little bar-sized one in the garage and the already-full chest freezer in the basement. And yet I keep cramming our newly excavated spaces with freezer bags full of chopped rhubarb. Because it’s there. And it’s free. And it just keeps on growing.

strawberry rhubarb crumble 4 Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

I could easily live on pie for these 8 weeks of summer, but daily pastry is not the best choice from a time and waistline perspective. And so often I resort to crumble – which is almost like pie, with all its best elements in easy-to-bake, scoopable form. And if you haven’t had cold crumble with a big spoonful of thick Greek yogurt on the back porch with coffee for breakfast in the morning, you haven’t fully experienced summer yet.

strawberry rhubarb crumble 3 Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Because a warm crumble on the countertop leaves me prone to picking, sometimes I’ll divvy up the mixture between two smaller dishes (or cast iron skillets, as I tend to favour) and send one over to a neighbour. The problem with this scenario is no leftovers for breakfast.

strawberry rhubarb crumble 2 Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

I’ve also been known to blitz up a big batch of the crumble mixture to keep in a bag in the freezer (alongside the rhubarb) for dessert emergencies. All you need to do is toss your choice of fruit, chunked if it needs it, with sugar and cornstarch and upend the bag overtop for a nearly instant summer dessert. (Minus baking time, of course.)

It goes without saying that in July there should always be vanilla ice cream or whipping cream within easy access.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble

Peaches would do well here too, when they arrive… or raspberries, blackberries, plums – you get the idea. Measurements are pretty lax – unlike a pie, it’s not a big deal if your crumble is a little runny in the bottom. And to be honest, when I do a crumble I toss roughly equal amounts of butter, sugar, flour and oats into a food processor and pulse until crumbly – you don’t have to be precise here, either.

3-4 cups chopped rhubarb
3-4 cups hulled, halved strawberries
1/2-3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Crumble:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup oats
3/4 cup flour
pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 350F. To make the filling, toss the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar and cornstarch in a bowl or directly in your baking dish; spread it out in the dish.

To make the crumble, blend all the ingredients in a bowl with a fork or your fingers, or pulse it in the food processor until well combined and crumbly. Sprinkle it over the fruit, squeezing to create larger clumps as you go.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until golden and bubbly around the edges. Serves 8.

button print gry20 Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

July 12 2014 | dessert | 8 Comments »

Homemade Fiddlestix (and Magic Shell!)

Fiddlestix 1 Homemade Fiddlestix (and Magic Shell!)

I thought I was prepared for summer, the end of school and the start of Stampede this year. I was not. I’m not even used to it being June yet, and it’s well into July. (I see a recurring theme here…)

Fiddlestix 8 Homemade Fiddlestix (and Magic Shell!)

But. Priorities: I have figured out how to make those iconic midway treats I always picked as a kid, when my sisters would opt for cotton candy (mostly air) and candy apples (just a whole fruit, disguised with sticky red stuff – suckers!). The teenage summer staff would make Fiddlestix onsite in their box-sized concessions, opening up a box of vanilla ice cream, slicing it into bars, then dipping each piece into chocolate and rolling it in peanuts before handing it through the window in exchange for $2. I’m sure there’s a more mechanized, streamlined version out there now – but I still hold on to a scrap of nostalgia for ice cream that was sliced instead of scooped.

Fiddlestix 10 Homemade Fiddlestix (and Magic Shell!)

I came across a recipe for homemade Magic Shell – something I remember, but my mom never bought – and it occurred to me that such a thing could be used to dip bars of ice cream. Unlike plain melted chocolate, which is warm in its liquid state and will start to melt your ice cream on impact, magic shell is made with coconut oil, which keeps chocolate liquid even at room temperature and hardens almost instantly on contact with cold. It’s a very cool, delicious science experiment.

Fiddlestix 9 Homemade Fiddlestix (and Magic Shell!)

And it gives me an excuse to buy ice cream in a box. I opened mine up, sliced it into bars with a sharp knife, stuck in popsicle sticks and returned the open box to the freezer, top flap torn off, to firm up and wait until I was ready to dole out ice cream bars to a back yard full of friends.

Fiddlestix 7 Homemade Fiddlestix (and Magic Shell!)

The basic principle is that the saturated fat in coconut oil (which conveniently has a flavour that enhances chocolate – it won’t make it taste coconutty) will turn hard and snappy upon impact with something cold. Most recipes call for dark chocolate and coconut oil in various ratios: Food 52 does two parts coconut oil to three parts chocolate. Instructables does one part oil to one and a half parts chocolate, by weight. Serious Eats adds a dose of corn syrup to replace some of the sweetness that gets lost when you dilute chocolate with coconut oil, and to create a slightly fudgy texture. Their formula is 250 g (1/2 pound) chocolate, 200 g (about one cup) coconut oil, and 125 g (a little more than half a cup) corn syrup.

Fiddlestix Collage 2 Homemade Fiddlestix (and Magic Shell!)

I read this wrong and did a pound of chocolate (in the form of chips – only because the store was out of big bars of dark chocolate) to 1 cup of coconut oil and a squirt (maybe 1/4 cup) of Roger’s Golden Syrup, which I use instead of corn syrup. Melted together in a glass bowl in the microwave, stirring every minute until melted and smooth. It worked beautifully as both magic shell on a scoop of ice cream and as a chocolate dip. So you can see that this is a very forgiving formula.

Fiddlestix Collage Homemade Fiddlestix (and Magic Shell!)

Let it cool to room temperature and it can sit on your countertop until you need it; once it hits ice cream, it takes about 20 seconds to harden into a substantial, solid shell. You’ll be able to tell when it goes from glossy to matte; if you’re dipping, let the excess drip off before sprinkling with or rolling in a shallow dish of finely chopped, salted peanuts. I imagine sprinkles would be a hit too – or nothing at all. You could set out dishes of small sweet or crunchy things – gummy bears, crushed Oreos and the like – and do ice cream bars made to order. I saw an older couple in line at the store the other day buying a box of cherry ice cream, which made me wonder why I stuck with plain old vanilla. (Although – there are few better combos than vanilla ice cream, thick slabs of chocolate and salty peanuts.)

Fiddlestix 2 Homemade Fiddlestix (and Magic Shell!)

Whatever combination you choose (with a bowl of chocolate shell at the ready, it could be a new one every week – or every day), these will undoubtedly contribute to the thorough enjoyment of summer.

pixel Homemade Fiddlestix (and Magic Shell!)
button print gry20 Homemade Fiddlestix (and Magic Shell!)

July 06 2014 | dessert | 19 Comments »

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