Tuesdays with Dorie: La Palette’s Strawberry Tart







This lovely, simple dessert was the perfect ending to a summery meal, eaten al fresco in the garden.

Oh, wait. I’m daydreaming. Seattle is in the throes of one of the coldest springs on record. Cold. Damp. Chill. Rain. Wind. Brief glimpse of sun. More rain. So this tart was a welcome breath of summer, even if we did have to take off our mittens to eat it.

I made the pâte sablée crust, without nuts, and it was wonderful. I wanted to eat the whole thing, unadorned, like a big cookie. Just break it up and devour it. But I exercised restraint, because the combination of the buttery crust, the strawberry jam, and the strawberries is luscious – especially with a dollop of crème fraîche on top.

I cut up the strawberries and let them macerate for half an hour or so in just a sprinkling of sugar and a splash of home-made rhubarb liqueur. After topping the individual portions of crust with the jam, fruit, and crème, I sprinkled on some chopped pistashios.

I’m inspired to try this recipe with other combinations of jam and fruit.


Filed under strawberries, tarts, Tuesday with Dorie

Tuesdays with Dorie: French Chocolate Brownies

To my mind, chocolate, raisins, and rum are a great combination. I used a mix of golden and dark raisins and black strap rum, which has a lovely, dark, molasses-y flavor. I know this will make you raisin-haters out there shudder – but I would add more raisins if I made this again; they just weren’t enough of a presence. Neither was the rum, for that matter. I think next time I would skip boiling the raisins in water and just steep them in warmed rum for half an hour or so.

Making these brownies in a square pan seemed a bit plain to me, so I decided to play around with the shape. I wanted individual brownie “cakes” instead of cut brownies. I have a so-called “muffin top” pan, which I’ve never used for muffins. (I bought is because I liked the shallow shape, and I’ve made beautiful mincemeat tarts in it.) This pan has a non-stick surface, but I buttered it anyway. Good thing I did, as the first batch I made was difficult to remove after 15 minutes’ cooling time as you can see from one of the mangled brownies below.

I let the second batch cool in the pan for 25 minutes, and they came out easily.

The result is a classic shiny, crackly brownie top with a cakey interior, and quite fragile. I had this crazy idea that if I made individual brownies, Mark and I would each have one and I would freeze the rest for later – to be eaten in moderation over a period of time. Ha! As soon as I whipped some cream to have with the brownies for dessert that night, moderation went right out the window. These would be perfect to stack, with cream in between!

But I guess we did use moderation – we only stacked two, not three or four.


Filed under Uncategorized

Tuesday without Dorie – Or, Sunday with Nigella

Forgive me Dorie – I strayed this week. Instead of trying your recipe for Traditional Madeleines, I made my version of Nigella Lawson’s Pantry-Shelf Chocolate-Orange Cake as a special request for a friend’s birthday.  Alas, no time to do both.

The Chocolate-Orange Cake is absurdly simple, eminently adaptable, and just plain good. The first time I made it (intending to follow the recipe to the letter) I mistakenly added double the chocolate called for. The cake turned out dense and fudgey with a heart-stopping hit of chocolate. Mark and I loved it, and I’ve made it that way ever since. In addition to the original version using orange marmalade, I’ve made versions with pear preserves, prune lekvar, and crème de marrons. All wonderful.

Double Chocolate Orange Cake, adapted from Pantry-Shelf Chocolate-Orange Cake in How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson

1/2 cup unsalted butter

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces

1 jar Hero bitter orange marmalade (or about 1 1/3 cups)

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 large eggs, beaten

1 cup flour sifted with 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon espresso powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch springform or other false-bottomed pan, and lay a piece of parchment paper, cut to fit, on the bottom.

Put the butter in a heavy saucepan and melt over low heat. Add 6 ounces of the chocolate and remove pan from the heat. Let the chocolate soften in the butter, then stir until the chocolate is melted and mixed smoothly with the butter.

Add the marmalade, sugar, and eggs, and stir to incorporate everything well. Stir in the flour mixture gradually, then the espresso powder. Lastly, fold in the reserved 2 ounces of chopped chocolate.

Turn the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes. Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes before turning out of the pan. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, and serve with ice cream, whipped cream, crème fraîche – or by itself.


Filed under cakes, chocolate, Nigella Lawson

Tuesdays with Dorie: Florida Pie

I really wanted to like this pie. I love Dorie’s idea of having a coconut cream layer below the lime custard. And I love meringue pies. But the flavors all together just didn’t make me swoon. Maybe it’s because I felt harried and the baking gods weren’t looking kindly on me that day.

I halved the recipe and made three little pies. I had all of the ingredients – except graham crackers or anything like them, and there was no time to go to the store. So I used my usual pâte brisée, which was good, but I’d like to try the recipe with the graham cracker crust (and maybe some chopped macadamia nuts).

À la prochaine!




Filed under coconut, lime, meringue, Tuesday with Dorie

Tuesdays with Dorie: Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

Although I love honey cakes, this recipe didn’t really thrill me when I first read it. But as I started to put it together, the smell of the lemon zest and the honey were so heavenly I knew it had to be good. I had some of the same misgivings others in the TWD group had about the sweetness, but I decided to use the amounts of sugar and honey called for in the recipe. I didn’t find the cake too sweet (and I don’t like really sweet desserts) and neither did anyone else who tasted it. Funny how this varied so much among those who made the recipe; I wonder if it has to do with the kind of sugar and/or honey we used? For the record, I used organic evaporated cane sugar and 1/2 cup white clover creamed honey and 1/4 cup macadamia nut honey.

The only real change I made in the recipe was that I used white cornmeal instead of yellow, or polenta. I had white cornmeal on hand and have used it before for cakes, so I was curious to see if using it would make much of a difference in this recipe. I think my cake probably had a finer texture than one made with yellow cornmeal, but it still had a nice “cornmeal” crunch to it.

I think I will probably make this cake again sometime, but play around with the recipe some more – although I love all of the basic components: honey, cornmeal, ricotta, and figs.


Filed under honey cakes, ricotta, Tuesday with Dorie

Tuesdays with Dorie: Marshmallows

My first Tuesdays with Dorie post!

The recipe for the week was marshmallows. I made them several years ago, and at that time I was surprised at how easy they were to make and how well they turned out. This time, things didn’t go as smoothly.


Sunday, the day that I had set aside to make the recipe, was chilly and rainy in Seattle – quite a contrast to Saturday’s warm, sunny weather. (We do get the odd tease of summer weather in April here in the Pacific Northwest.) So much for keeping the marshmallows cool AND dry. It’s amazing that they turned out as well as they did, actually. I was a bit distracted as we’re trying to fix up our basement, and several times I was called to run downstairs to hold a piece of plywood that Mark was sawing, or drill screws into a piece of pegboard. I ended up overbeating the egg whites, but I went ahead and beat the sugar syrup and gelatin into them and they looked fine. When I laid the mixture out on the baking tray, though, I had a bit of trouble smoothing it and keeping it level to one inch. The result was less-than-lovely, unevenly sized marshmallows. Unlike the beautiful ones pictured in Dorie’s book, mine were brutti ma buoni – ugly but good.



The best part was playing around with different coatings for the plain vanilla marshmallows. I decided to divide the batch of cut marshmallows into thirds, with a different coating for each. I toasted some coconut for one.



I grated nutmeg into some powdered sugar for another.



I had some dark cocoa I thought would make a nice contrast with the white marshmallows, so I mixed some of that with some cinnamon and espresso powder, like one of Dorie’s “playing around” flavorings.





Mark emerged from the basement to ohh and ahh and gobble a coconut-coated marshmallow. I took the rest to work yesterday and they were a big hit. People were amazed by the seeming alchemy of it. “You made marshmallows!?!”




   I have to miss next week’s carrot cake recipe, but I’m looking forward to whatever comes after that.


Filed under marshmallows, Tuesday with Dorie

Welcome to Bismarck’s Favorite

I have loved to bake for as long as I can remember, and I never seem to have enough time to do it. When I received Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours last Christmas, I immediately wanted to bake my way right through it. Then I stumbled on Tuesdays with Dorie and found kindred spirits.

This is the first time I have tried writing a blog, so bear with me. I named it after my beloved cat Bismarck, who loved baked goods and was my biggest critic. I always thought that if I ever opened a bakery, I would name it after him.


Filed under Uncategorized