A couple of weeks ago, in the post titled, Oh You Great Big Beautiful Blondie, I included a recipe for Caramel Blondies with a Peanut Butter Caramel Blondie variation. The post shows a layer of Blondie batter with dollops of Peanut Butter Caramel over the top and a second layer of batter being spread over the caramel. The lead photo also features the Peanut Butter Caramel Blondie variation.
Portland, Oregon is gelato country. Not ice cream country—jeh-lah-toh country. No matter which direction I set out on my walk each day from Northwest PDX, I pass at least one gelato shop along the way.
The challenge is to walk by without stopping in for “just a taste.” One taste always leads to another taste, which always leads to a scoop each of two complementary flavors–one tart fruit based, the other cream based (as in sweet cream, cream cheese, crème fraiche, buttermilk, yogurt, sour cream, or mascarpone). To my palate, it’s a perfect partnership.
Bless your heart if you are actually reading this post rather than running for cover to another food blog. Yes, I know this combination sounds a tad bit unusual, but I assure you it is Pure Genius.
Lest you think I’m being immodest here, the idea is not mine. The combination was recently featured in Gourmet Traveler, and that’s where I first encountered it.
Peanut Butter & Garam Masala Cupcakes with Creamy Dreamy Peanut Butter Frosting, Peanut Praline & Caramelized Banana
I know it’s officially summertime in the Northwest, even though the weather has been cold, wet, and generally grey all month. Strawberries are ripe in the fields, but they look forlorn, and I am strangely uninterested.
It’s COLD, and there is this growing emotional need for something indulgent, nostalgic, and comforting. A strawberry isn’t going to do it. I should be eating sprightly salads bursting with all the freshness of early summer, but instead I want cupcakes—golden, tender, completely decadent–peanut butter cupcakes–loaded with swirls of, you guessed it, creamy, dreamy peanut butter frosting.
A few weeks ago, I posted a story on Metrovino’s Parmesan Pound Cake (Portland, Oregon), which I hope you had a chance to read. It’s all about my adventures with this extraordinary cake (the creation of Metrovino Executive Chef Gregory Denton and Chef de Cuisine Gabrielle Quiñónez), both in the restaurant and in the OtherWorldly testing kitchen.
Nearly a year ago, at the newly opened Metrovino restaurant in Portland, Oregon’s Pearl district, I spied a dessert on the menu that sounded so implausible that I was honestly expecting NOT to like it. I mean seriously, parmesan cheese in a pound cake? I had never heard of, much less tasted, such a combination–even though I have a library full of dessert cookbooks and am always on the lookout for creative, out of the ordinary flavor combinations.
The idea of pairing strawberries with tomatoes originally came to me while perusing one of my favorite culinary sites, FoodPairing, which features dozens of potentially harmonious and sometimes very odd sounding ingredient pairings. (Another great site for this type of exploration is Khymos. Or check out the most comprehensive book ever written on the topic: The Flavor Bible, by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. It lists thousands of ingredient pairings favored by some of the world’s most acclaimed chefs.)
As I said in the previous post, Caramelized Ancho Chile & Cinnamon Almonds, are you ready for one of the most spectacular desserts I have ever created? It is so indulgent, so bright, so refreshing, so festive, and so sinful (Using fresh strawberries out of season? Have I gone to the dark side?) that it may well be the PERFECT dessert with which to bid winter a grateful farewell. Goodbye freezing rain, mud, ice, and threats of snow. Goodbye short grey days and long dark nights. Have a safe journey to the other side of the globe, and please please please don’t hurry back.
Are you ready for one of the most spectacular desserts I have ever made? How about Fried Banana Split with Mexican Bittersweet Chocolate Chile Sauce, Strawberry Mint Salsa, and Caramelized Ancho Chile Cinnamon Pumpkin Seeds?
I flipped on my first bite of this dessert and on each subsequent bite, until I was left with only an empty plate and a serious thought of licking it. I think this is one dessert that you are going to LOVE!
Is there anything better in the world than a scoop of the richest vanilla bean ice cream you can get your hands on and a generous topping of an equally rich dark chocolate sauce? Okay, maybe add a couple of perfect strawberries to that picture. And then, since we’re talking perfection here, how about a small handful of toasted almonds as well?
Whether you call them beignet, zeppoli, bunuelos, crullers, Indian frybread, elephant ears, fritters, funnel cakes, churros, or simply donuts, there is something absolutely magical about freshly fried sweet dough, whether plain, encasing a bit of fruit or chocolate, topped with sugar, or dipped into a creamy, dreamy sauce.
But as I perused further, I saw one resolution that I could easily accomplish TODAY. It said: “Make peanut brittle. No peanuts. Must be exceptional.” Aha! (Did I mention that I have never made peanut brittle or any kind of brittle?)
So I began researching all of my dessert cookbooks this morning. Then I hit the web and looked around there. That took hours and more than 2 cups of coffee. Everyone makes it slightly differently and naming conventions are all over the place. Some cooks make toffee and call it brittle. Some cooks make hard caramel (which I call praline) and call it brittle. One noted cook calls melted white chocolate painted thinly and embellished with raspberry puree, chocolate brittle. EEYIYI!
Every year I develop a new pumpkin pie recipe and add it with a pretend drum roll to the Thanksgiving dessert table. I do this even though no one in the Bradley family, except me and our son Joshua, actually likes pumpkin pie.
So you can imagine my surprise a couple of years ago when we were invited to a Thanksgiving potluck and asked to bring ONLY the pumpkin pie. (How could they know that was my favorite part of the meal?) I used the opportunity to create SIX new pumpkin pies that year and of course brought them all to the potluck, each with a little description alongside. Some folks in that appreciative gathering actually ate a tiny slice from each of the six pies. I was delighted.
To tell you that this pie is beyond delicious is not to do it justice. But perhaps you will get some inkling of how good it is when I reveal that MauiJim ate an ENTIRE LARGE PIECE. Oh sure, he tried to avoid the pumpkin custard while focusing on the caramel, but in the end that effort proved futile, so he ate the whole darned thing. And then he raved about it and asked how long he had to wait to have another slice.
This sauce is absolutely delicious. Imagine a dark caramel sauce with the additional flavor and acidity of tart green apples. I love it on everything in the Fall season–over vanilla bean or sweet corn gelato, with warm-spiced roasted apples, alongside pumpkin bread pudding, with beignet or ebelskiver, over delicate cottage cheese pancakes or Swedish flespannkaka (small, crepe-like pancakes with bits of rendered salt pork) , and most especially with Spiced Pumpkin Sour Cream Upside-Down Cake with Caramelized Cranberry Hazelnut Topping and Orange Cream.