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Easy-Peasy Desserts


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Dessert is always a challenge when I'm having a dinner party. Sometimes I do a cheesecake, which can and should be made a day in advance, or wine-poached pears. Otherwise, I often don't have the time to make something elegant on the day of the dinner. But tonight, I made my own version of a flourless chocolate cake--the basic concept, using cocoa powder instead of ground nuts, was adapted from a recipe in the Gourmet Cookbook. It is so simple, using one bowl, and is amazingly elegant and chocolate-y, despite being whipped up in no time.

Flourless Grand Marnier Chocolate Cake

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, broken up (I used a mix of Sharffenberger and Valhrona)

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

6 large eggs

1 cup cocoa powder

1 T. Grand Marnier (or mix of Cointreau and brandy)

1/4 t. orange oil

Prehear oven to 350

Prepare a 10" springform pan--butter the pan, line bottom with parchment and butter the parchment.

Melt chocolate and butter together in a medium-large mixing bowl in the microwave. Mix until well combined, whisk in sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking after each egg. Sieve the cocoa powder into the bowl and stir until smooth. Add liquor and orange oil, stir in lightly. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake on center rack of oven for 35 to 40 mins or until a toothpick comes out with crumbs, not goo.

After it is slightly cooled, remove springform, invert onto a plate and remove the parchment and invert onto a serving dish. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar.

I served it with whipped cream. Next time I make it, I will plan to have some raspberries alongside or make a berry coulis. The top cracked a little, but so what. It was rich and elegant, and the easiest scratch cake I've ever made. One bowl, a spatula and a whisk. Easy peasy.

Got any wonderfully simple dessert recipes you'd care to share?

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We're about 5 1/2 months before I can make it again but it doesn't get any easier than broiled blueberries.

Take a pint of blueberries. Mix with sour cream and brown sugar. Put in a piece of double layer tinfoil formed into a bowl. Place under the broiler for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is bubbly and slightly browned. Put on top of shortcakes or vanilla ice cream.

Sigh, I wish it was June.

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I made something for dessert tonight for some friends that couldn't be easier, if you don't mind frying. Otherwise, it takes about 5 minutes to make. Ricotta fritters! (Yes, it's a cheese doughnut. [Homer Simpson] Mmmmmmm.... cheese doughnut [/Homer Simpson]).

3 large eggs

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 pound whole milk ricotta cheese (1 cup)

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch salt

Whisk eggs, sugar, vanilla until combined. Add in ricotta, then flour, salt and baking powder until smooth. Fry at 375, dropping by about 1 tsp dollops (they puff up quite a bit).


Edited by cjsadler
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Well, if you are going to fry something easily, this goes back to my Girl Scout days.

Pour some Bisquik (yes, you read that right) in a bowl. Add enough water to make a stiff dough which you can form. Roll into balls and drop in hot oil. Have a bowl of cinnamon sugar available. Drop fried balls into the sugar and roll around.

This isn't Tom Power's chocolate tart, but you won't have any of these things left, either.

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This is definitely a summertime thing as well, but always gets rave reviews, and people always think its exotic (before they find out what it is):

Cold fruit soup:

Take some nectarines, and about an equal amount of cantaloupe.

Peel, chop, blend in blender till really smooth. Strain. Add some honey if the fruit isn’t sweet enough. Pour into bowls, and if feeling extravagant, add a dollop of crème fresh on top.

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Got any wonderfully simple dessert recipes you'd care to share?

See my recipe for panna cotta in the Meyer lemon thread. I also like to flavor it with Tahitian vanilla, or rosewater, or orange flower water, and serve it with fresh fruit in season. I'm especially fond of the rosewater flavor with strawberries.

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My grandmother used to make a lemonade pie that I like to do when time restricts me to semi-homemade stuff:


8 oz cool whip (make your own whipped cream if you so desire)

8 oz frozen lemonade, thawed to the point where you can mix it in the batter

8 oz sweetened condensed milk

Pour into a 9 x 9 pyrex pan coated on the bottom with a 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick graham cracker crust (crumbled graham crackers and melted butter - press til firm...you can blind bake it for a few minutes if you'd like, but not necessary).

Put it in the freezer covered with plastic wrap for at least 4 hours. Slice into squares and serve with raspberry coulis.

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