Tag Archives: easy dessert recipe

finished curd 2

Lemon Curd Dresses Up Simple Summer Desserts

Just as jewelry accessorizes outfits, condiments can accessorize recipes. Around this time of summer when blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are abundant, a jar of lemon curd stashed in the fridge is the key to instantly dressing up quick and appealing fruit desserts.

Rich and tart lemon curd is the perfect foil for fresh and juicy berries, particularly blueberries. You can make up a batch using our favorite recipe below, or just buy a jar from the store. Once you have lemon curd on hand, you’ll keep discovering new uses for it. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Serve it with freshly baked scones or biscuits.
  • Whip heavy cream and fold in lemon curd; use as a filling for tarts, as in this recipe, or serve it in small dishes with berries and shortbread or wafer cookies on the side.
  • Swirl it into the filling of your favorite cheesecake recipe right before baking.
  • Layer it with whipped cream or yogurt and fruit for a classic fool.
  • Use dabs of it as a filling for thumbprint cookies.

We’re currently adoring these impressive but easy no-bake lemon-ginger ice cream sandwiches. Crisp and spicy ginger cookies soften in the freezer and provide a contrast to a smooth filling of lemon curd folded with premium ice cream. The flavor is decadent, but the portion size is perfect for when you want a satisfyingly cool and sweet nibble.

plated frozen sandwiches

These summertime faves are sweet and satisfying.

Easy Lemon-Ginger Ice Cream Sandwiches
From Linda Faus, former test kitchen director for The Oregonian

Makes small 16 sandwiches

These cool and refreshing four-bite treats hit the spot. They make a wonderful sweet midday snack or light dessert.

  • 1 pint premium vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd, storebought or homemade (see recipe below)
  • 32 thin, crisp ginger cookies

In a medium bowl, beat the ice cream briskly with a sturdy wooden spoon until it is smooth. Return to the freezer for 15 minutes to firm.

sandwiches in tray to freeze

Be sure to freeze your sandwiches at least three hours before serving.

Lay 16 cookies, bottom-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Using a small ice cream scoop, dole about 2 tablespoons of the ice cream mixture onto each cookie and top with the remaining 16 cookies, pressing to flatten slightly.

Clear out a space in the freezer where the sheet will lay flat. Freeze for at least 3 hours before serving. To freeze longer, wrap each sandwich tightly in plastic wrap and place carefully in a plastic freezer bag. Use within 2 weeks.

finished curd 1

You’ll love finding scrumptious new uses for this lemon curd recipe!

Lemon Curd
Adapted from Lynne Sampson for The Oregonian

Makes 1⅔ cups

It takes time to make lemon curd, but it can feel meditative to stand at the stove and stir. If you don’t anticipate using all of the lemon curd within a month, simply freeze half to use later.

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice
  • Grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 6 tablespoons butter

In a medium stainless steel, nonstick, or enameled saucepan, beat the eggs, yolks and sugar with a whisk until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Whisk in the lemon juice and zest.

Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant spatula, making sure to scrape the bottom and corners of the pan. The mixture will slowly turn more opaque and the spatula will start to make visible swaths through the mixture, 10 to 15 minutes. Keep stirring until the curd is as thick as sour cream and coats the spatula, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter until it melts and the curd is smooth. Pour into a medium bowl and lay a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the lemon curd to prevent a crust from forming. Chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours before using. Store the lemon curd tightly sealed in the refrigerator for 1 month or in the freezer for up to 1 year.

by Sara Bir

shortcake plated

Old-Fashioned Shortcakes Make the Most of Summer Fruits

Berries, the colorful glories of summer, are out in full force. Depending on where you live, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and cherries are abundant at farm stands, U-pick orchards and grocery stores. It’s a little challenging not to go overboard when working these sweet fruits into salads, smoothies and cobblers, or just popping them into your mouth, straight-up, as snacks.

Sandwiching berries in a tender and buttery shortcake is a classic option in which you should indulge this season. As a kid, you may have coveted those packages of golden sponge cakes that produce managers displayed next to the eye-catching display of ripe strawberries. Now that you’re older, you can pull together far superior shortcakes in your own kitchen with minimal baking time.

We prefer old-fashioned, biscuit-style shortcakes for their homespun charm and the berries’ sweetness that shines without an excessive amount of added sugar. And, best of all, they’re even faster to make than a boxed cake mix.

shortcake strawberries

Take advantage of strawberry season by preparing this sweet summertime treat!

Light and Fluffy Old-Fashioned Shortcakes

Makes 9 shortcakes

This comes from Marion Cunningham’s The Fannie Farmer Baking Book. The mixing technique is similar to our Mother’s Day scones, but there’s a beaten egg added here for a more cake-like crumb. We recommend using cake flour to make your shortcake light and fluffy, but regular all-purpose flour also works fine with this recipe. You may prepare the shortcakes a day in advance.

For the Shortcakes:

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick or ½ cup) unsalted butter, cold
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream or whole milk
  • 1 egg

For the Berries:

  • 2 pints fresh berries
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar, or to taste (some berries are sweeter than others)
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon or lime zest, optional

For the Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1. To make the shortcakes, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, cream of tartar and sugar. Grate the butter on the large holes of a box grater and toss it with the flour mixture. Using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour until it looks like fine crumbs. Measure the cream in a glass measuring cup, crack the egg into it, and beat with a fork until well combined.

shortcake butter cut into flour

Combine your butter and flour until the mixture has a fine crumb-like appearance.

3. Pour the cream mixture over the flour-butter mixture and, with your hands, gently work until it comes together to form a rough, shaggy dough that’s slightly sticky. (Add a sprinkle of flour if the dough it too loose; add a drizzle of cream if it feels too dry or crumbly.) Knead for four or five turns on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7-inch by 7-inch square. Cut into nine squares and transfer to the baking sheets (giving the shortcakes plenty of room allows them to brown more evenly).

4. Bake until golden in spots, for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

shortcakes, baked

You can choose to prepare your shortcakes a day in advance.

5. Rinse and drain the berries when you’re ready to prepare them. If using strawberries, stem them before halving or slicing. Toss together with the sugar and (if using) lemon or lime zest. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

6. Prepare the whipped cream shortly before serving. Combine the heavy cream and sugar in a large bowl and beat by hand or with an electric mixer until it makes soft, rounded peaks.

7. Gently split the shortcakes with a serrated knife or fork. Spoon the berries and their accumulated juice over the bottom halves of the shortcakes, top with a generous dollop of whipped cream, then top with the top half of the shortcake. Serve immediately with any remaining berries or whipped cream on the side.

shortcake plated 2

This seasonal treat makes one fabulous dessert!

We hope you enjoy making this delightful summer dessert! Bon appétit!

by Sara Bir

baked chocolate scones

Surprise Mom (or Yourself) With Delicious Scones for Mother’s Day

We’re accustomed to gobbling fist-sized scones out of small brown paper sleeves at coffee shops, and it’s a fun way to start the day on the go. But few items in the baking sphere are as easy to master—and as rewarding to enjoy at home—than scones.

Our scone recipe is a chameleon—we’re giving you options for making it sweet and studded with chocolate, or savory with chives and aged white cheddar. You can even get crafty and flavor each half of the dough separately, so you can have a savory scone to kick things off and nibble a sweet one for seconds.

scones for mom

Scones are a sweet treat for Mother’s Day or anytime!

We prefer not to add sugar to our scones, because that way there’s leeway for piling on a big dollop of fruity jam or a golden-yellow smear of lemon curd. With savory scones, a poached or fried egg on the side is a nice touch—a boon you can’t enjoy with coffee shop scones.

Homemade scones are perfect for special weekend mornings, because it’s easy to prep them in advance, and they’re certainly not taxing to make on the fly. Instead of dragging mom to a crowded, mediocre brunch buffet this Mother’s Day, why not bake her some delectable scones and share relaxed time together at home? If you’re the mom, you’ll be treating yourself to a job well done. 

baked cheddar chive scones

These versatile scones are simply delicious!

Flaky Scones Two Ways
Adapted from Nancy Silverton
Makes 12 Scones

Some scone recipes call for lots of butter and no eggs; some call for eggs; some call for just cream and neither eggs nor butter; some call for all three. Though the results in texture and flavor will differ, the main key to scone success is not over-handling the dough. Scone dough that’s mixed just enough will bake up high and pillowy.

You can make and shape the scone dough the night before and refrigerate it, covered, to bake in the morning. You may also cover and freeze prepared, unbaked scone dough wedges for up to three months. Simply put them straight onto the baking sheet in their frozen state and extend the baking time about five minutes or so.

grating butter for scones

Be sure you prep your butter by grating it or cutting it into small pieces!

For the basic dough:

  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • ¼ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional)
  • 11 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, grated on the large holes of a box grater or cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1-2 tablespoons heavy cream, for brushing

For the chocolate-lemon scones:

  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
  • 1 teaspoon coarse or granulated sugar, for sprinkling

For the cheddar-chive scones:

  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, plus about 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced chives or the green tops of scallions

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

looks like coarse meal

Your dough will start out looking like cornmeal.

2.  Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon peel (if using) in a large bowl. Add the butter and, using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, work until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal (you may also do this step in a food processor, pulsing to combine, and then transferring to a large bowl to finish by hand).

finished dough will be rough but not dry

Once you’ve prepped the dough, it should have a rough texture but not be dry.

3. Make a well in the center and pour in 3/4 cup of the milk. Using a fork or your hand, stir until just moist but still rough and shaggy. Gently knead in the add-ins; if the dough seems dry, add 1-2 more tablespoons milk. Divide the dough in half and pat each portion into a 3/4-inch-thick round. Cut each round into 6 wedges and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart. Brush the tops with remaining 2 tablespoons cream. For the chocolate scones, sprinkle the tops with sugar; for the cheddar scones, sprinkle with a little bit of the reserved grated cheese.

shaped scones with decorating sugar on top

These dough wedges are sprinkled with sugar and ready for baking!

4.  Bake until light brown, about 18-20 minutes. The scones are best enjoyed within a few hours of baking. To refresh day-old scones, warm them in a 350 degree F oven for a few minutes before serving.


by Sara Bir


Marsala: Discover the Wine Behind the Color

When Pantone announced that the plummy-brown shade of Marsala would be their 2015 Color of the Year, everyone pounced. It’s made its mark on runways and the red carpet, from Beyoncé to Tilda Swinton, and we here at Heirloom Finds fell under its spell, too.

Marsala is way more than just a color. This robust and storied Sicilian wine has a history centuries old, and is making a comeback in restaurants and forward-thinking wine shops across America and beyond. Bloomberg Business reported early this year that “higher-grade vintages are displacing cooking-quality wine in stores and on shelves. Cocktail maestros such as Death & Co’s David Kaplan are experimenting with it as a new ingredient to add to their menus, and it’s slowly surfacing on high-end wine lists.”

Such fortified, often sweet sipping wines have fallen out of favor in recent decades, and they’ve never truly taken hold in America (they’re all but an institution in the U.K.), but they’re slowly making a comeback, and for good reason. They’re a wonderful final act for a multi-course dinner, either at home or at a restaurant. A small, chilled glass of the dryer styles also makes a wonderful aperitif and awakens the palate when served with nibbles like nuts or hard cheeses.


This fabulous wine inspired 2015′s color of the year!

Marsalas are classified according to their color and sweetness; unlike its Pantone namesake, marsala the wine varies in palate from gold to amber to ruby. Just stay away from the stuff sold with the cooking wines at the grocery store. And even if you don’t have access to a wide selection of marsalas, you can get a fairly decent bottle for all of seven to ten dollars.

Since marsala is a fortified wine, it keeps fairly well at room temperature once it’s opened. You can store it in your liquor cabinet (or, as I do, refrigerator, just so I remember it’s there) for three to four months with only a little flavor deterioration. That’s quite a few aperitifs and batches of zabaglione and chicken marsala.

But there are other ways to polish off a bottle. This splendid pound cake, made with olive oil and an entire cup of marsala, offers a complexity of flavor that easily trumps its buttery cousin, and only gets better as it ages a day or two.


Celebrate Marsala by baking an especially delicious pound cake.

Olive Oil and Marsala Pound Cake
Adapted from Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert

Makes one standard tube pan or Bundt, or two 8 x 4-inch loaves.

I used marsala instead of medium-sweet sherry in baking doyenne Alice Medrich’s ingenious recipe (rush out and buy any one of her many excellent cookbooks – you can’t go wrong). Don’t balk at the olive oil, which adds a fruity element to this dense, fine-grained pound cake. You’ll need an electric mixer to make it. It freezes well, and keeps at room temperature for about four days. I like it with a dab of creme fraiche and a little fresh fruit.

3 cups (13.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon table salt
1-¾ cups granulated sugar
1 cup fruity, good-quality extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
5 large eggs, cold
1 cup marsala (we used Taylor, which is medium-sweet)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the center. Grease and flour one tube or Bundt pan, or two 8 x 4-inch loaf (4 cup) pans.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the sugar, olive oil, and orange zest until blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula and continue to beat at high speed for 3-5 minutes, until the mixture is thick and pale. Stop the mixer and add a third of the flour mixture; mix on low speed until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl, add half of the marsala, and mix just until blended. Repeat with another third of the flour, followed by the remaining marsala, and then the remaining flour, stopping to scrape the bowl down each time.

4. Scrape the batter into the pan(s). Bake until a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Set the cake(s) in their pans on wire racks to cool for 15 minutes, then unmold and set upright to cool completely. Well wrapped, the cake will keep for four days, or frozen for up to three months.


Delicious pound cake and tasty wine: what more could you ask for?


by Sara Bir


Taking on Chocolate Truffles at Home Is Easier than You Think

Finished Truffles

Create delicious chocolate truffles at home for Valentine’s Day or any occasion.

There’s nothing wrong with those red heart boxes of candy from the drugstore, but they’re filled with just that—candy, which pales in comparison to the intoxicating power and intensity of real chocolate truffles.

If you have access to good-quality bittersweet chocolate, you can make your own truffles at home that will blow most anything from a store out of the water. A gift of nine or twelve in a small box makes a sweet gesture for your friends or sweetheart, but they’re also wonderful to covet for your own brief moment of bliss.

As for the chocolate: don’t use chocolate chips on these, even if they’re good ones. Chocolate chips are coated with a non-melting coating to help them keep their shape in cookies, and they won’t make your truffles as velvety and smooth as you want them to be.

Alice Medrich’s Truffles Au Cocolat
From Alice Medrich’s cookbook Bittersweet

Makes about 64 truffles

These very French truffles use butter and egg yolks instead of cream, yielding a silky texture. The high amount of butter in the ganache makes it difficult to roll it into balls with your hands (the ganache melts easily in warm hands), so I like to cut the truffles into squares and leave them that way.

1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
10 tablespoons (1-1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
½ cup boiling water or freshly brewed espresso
½ cup best-quality unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably not Dutch-process)

  1. Once you’ve chopped the chocolate finely, line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper or foil, letting the ends of the paper extend out over the pan to create handles. Set aside.
    Step 1

    If you take the time to chop the chocolate finely, it will melt quickly and evenly. A serrated knife, not a chef’s knife, is actually the best tool for the job, because the serrations bite down into the chocolate and hold it in place.

    Step 7

    A properly lined pan will make it easy to remove the ganache after it’s chilled.

  2. Place the butter in 1-quart saucepan and put over medium heat, swirling the pan from time to time so the butter melts evenly. You want to get it not just melted, but a little hot; just when you begin to hear little popping sounds, dump all of the chocolate in at once. Stir to coat the chocolate with the melted butter, remove the pan from heat, cover, and let rest for two or three minutes.
    Step 2

    Put the chunks of butter in a saucepan over direct heat—no messing around with double boilers necessary.

    Step 3

    Dump the chocolate into the hot melted butter all at once.

  3. Stir the butter-chocolate mixture again, placing the pan over low heat and stirring constantly if you still see small bits of chocolate that are not melted; do not let the chocolate burn. Set aside.
    Step 6

    At first, the chocolate and butter will look like a huge mess.

    Step 5

    It will take a little patient, gentle stirring once you add the egg yolk mixture for everything to come together. Focus your stirring in the center of the pan at first, then widen the strokes.

  4. Place the egg yolks in a small stainless steel bowl and stir in the boiling water or espresso. Place the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water and stir the egg mixture constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Immediately scrape into the melted chocolate and stir gently (do not whisk or beat) until completely blended and smooth. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the lined pan and spread evenly. Cover and chill until firm, at least 2 hours.
    Step 4

    The finished ganache is smooth and shiny.

    Step 8

    Pour the ganache into the pan and, if necessary, smooth it evenly.

  5. Sift the cocoa into a medium bowl. Remove the truffle pan from the refrigerator and use the liner to transfer the truffle sheet to a cutting board. Allow to soften until you can cut the truffle sheet without it cracking, about 30 minutes. Invert the sheet and peel off the liner. Cut the truffles into 1-inch squares or smaller and toss them in the cocoa powder to coat.
    Step 9

    Score the firmed-up ganache into small squares.

    Step 10

    Lightly shake the cocoa-dusted truffles in a wire strainer to remove excess cocoa powder.

  6. Store the truffles, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Remove from refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving to allow them to soften slightly.

by Sara Bir


Bake Colorful, Cranberry-Studded Holiday Bread

Cranberry bread is a delicious alternative to traditional holiday fruitcake.

Fruitcake gets a bad rap. The best examples are dense with flavorful, recognizable fruits—none of those scary kelly green cherries. In England, where fruitcake is serious business and not the butt of jokes, the rituals of preparing holiday fruitcake begin months in advance, so the flavors can age and develop by Christmastime.

This holiday recipe is family tested and approved!

My family always avoided those gluey brown bricks you see at the grocery store. We baked dozens of cookies and kept them in tins in the chilly garage. Mom made multiple batches of her Aunt Margie’s cranberry bread, a bejeweled loaf sweet with golden raisins and tart with garnet-hued fresh cranberries. I always thought of them as quick breads, but they’re much more akin to what fruitcake should be: complex, festive, gorgeous. Unlike their English cousins, these cakes don’t need months of aging and periodic infusions of rum. They keep well, use readily available ingredients, and can easily be made on a whim. In my family, it’s not Christmas without them.

Cranberry bread adds delicious flavor to your holiday baking lineup.

Cranberry Bread Makes three 7 x 3-inch loaves or two 9 x 5-inch loaves These loaves freeze well and make wonderful gifts around the holidays, especially if you bake them in smaller loaf pans. The original family recipe says you can bake two loaves in 1-pound metal coffee cans, though we’ve never tried it before. You may bake them in any size loaf pan, as long as you don’t fill it more than 2/3 with batter. (We use two 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 inch pans, plus one 7 x 3-inch pan, just because that’s what we happen to have.)  2 large eggs 4 cups (1 pound, 2.5 ounces) all-purpose flour ¼ teaspoon salt 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans 2 cups (14.5 ounces) granulated sugar 1-1/3 cups orange juice (store-bought is just fine) 1 teaspoon baking soda 2 cups (9.25 ounces) golden raisins 2 cups (9.25 ounces) fresh cranberries, thawed if frozen 2 cups (8 ounces) toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter and flour the loaf pans. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and baking powder. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until lightened, about three minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add half the flour mixture and mix at medium speed until combined. Dissolve the baking soda in the orange juice (it will foam slightly) and, with the mixer running on low speed, slowly add to the batter. Scrape down the bowl, add the remaining flour mixture, and beat until smooth. Fold in the raisins, cranberries, and pecans (the batter will be quite stiff). Divide the batter between pans, filling no more than 2/3 full. Smooth the tops with a spatula, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a loaf comes out clean, about 45 minutes for smaller loaves and 1 hour and 10 minutes for larger loaves. (You may need to tent the loaves with foil midway through baking to keep the tops from browning too much, especially with the larger loaves.)

Share and enjoy!

Cool on a wire rack for five minutes, then remove the bread from the pans and cool completely. The bread will keep well wrapped for up to a week; freeze for up to two months. by Sara Bir


Pumpkin Panna Cotta: An Easy No-Bake Thanksgiving Dessert

panna cotta overhead

Pumpkin panna cotta, a delicious alternative to traditional Thanksgiving desserts.

For many dessert lovers, it’s not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. For us, baking pumpkin pie is an annual drag with too many steps—making the crust, rolling it out, making the filling, and then nailing the baking time so the bottom crust isn’t gluey and the filling is set but not overcooked.

So we came up with a no-bake dessert that’s simpler, faster, and just as tasty. The classic Italian dessert panna cotta (the name translates to “cooked cream”) is a delicately-textured cream set with just enough gelatin to help it keep its shape. At once rich and light, it’s not as cloyingly sweet as pumpkin pie, and it’s a satisfying finale to a big, grand meal. With pumpkin puree and warm autumn spices added, this panna cotta takes the flavors of pumpkin pie to a refined level. Our secret weapon? A little white chocolate to soften the edges of the spice. Best of all, it takes only about ten minutes to mix together, and you can make it up to three days in advance. This recipe easily doubles.

 Pumpkin Panna Cotta

Serves 6-8

We’re using vintage aspic molds with an average 1/2 -cup capacity in the photos here, but you can just as easily chill the panna cottas in ramekins, Pyrex custard cups, or small teacups. A large, shallow dish or bowl that holds at least one quart will work, too, though it will take longer to set in the refrigerator.

Aspic Molds

Vintage aspic molds are a great option for chilling panna cotta, but teacups and ramekins will work just as nicely.

We like to serve these panna cottas with a sprinkling of pretty pomegranate seeds; they add a pleasingly tart crunch. Small store-bought cookies like gingersnaps or wafer rolls are nice garnishes, too.

 1 small envelope (2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
¼ cup cold water
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon garam masala spice blend, optional but highly recommended (just trust us here)
pinch salt
2 ounces good-quality white chocolate, finely chopped (Ghirardelli is a decent, widely available brand)
½ cup sour cream (not low-fat)
¾ cup pumpkin puree (canned is fine, but don’t use canned pumpkin pie mix)

If you plan on unmolding the panna cottas for serving, spray the inside of the molds with nonstick vegetable spray.

Put the cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Set aside for five minutes to allow the gelatin granules to hydrate.

panna cottas in molds

The mixture is divided between molds and ready to chill.

In a 1-quart saucepan, combine the heavy cream, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, garam masala, and salt. Warm over medium-high heat until it’s the temperature of a very hot bath; do not allow to boil. Add the chopped white chocolate, remove from heat, and stir with a rubber spatula until the chocolate is melted. Then add the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.

In a large bowl or glass measuring cup with a 4-cup capacity, stir together the sour cream and pumpkin. Pour in the cream mixture and stir until combined. Divide between the serving dishes (or dish) and chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours, or up to three days before serving. If you won’t be serving them the day you make them, cover the panna cottas with plastic wrap.

panna cotta side

Serve and enjoy. Bon appétit!

To unmold, gently dip the mold in hot water for about ten seconds and invert on a serving plate. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and sprinkle a tiny bit of garam masala on top, if you like.

by Sara Bir


Light & Cool Sweet Wine Syllabub Recipe

wine syllabub photo

Here are a few things that are easier than making syllabub: sneezing, taking a nap, making instant pudding. Syllabub is way better than instant pudding, and way more grown-up. But, just like instant pudding, it requires no standing over a hot burner or turning on the oven. It’s boozy yet light and citrusy all at once, and it can even be made a few hours in advance.

The wine flavor should be strong, yet not overpowering; syllabub is a dessert, not a dessert cocktail. This old-time treat has British origins, dating back to at least the sixteenth century. Those early syllabubs contained much higher proportions of wine and were intended to separate so the froth could be served in a different glass alongside the liquid.

Syllabub also has deep roots in America’s South. Heirloom Finds’ co-founder Jeanne, who grew up in Georgia, recalls her mom’s syllabub pump. But you don’t need a goofy gadget to make syllabub. All you need is a bowl and a whisk, though an electric mixer is helpful. And if you avoid alcohol, there are still options for simple, cooling desserts. Try a fool, which likewise stars fruit and heavy cream.

picture of syllabub ingredients

All the makings of a light, summery syllabub!

Light and Summery Syllabub

Serves 6-8

We like to use Quady Electra white wine, made with orange muscat grapes. Preferably you should use a drinking-quality wine, one you’d be happy to sip on later, but you don’t need to splurge.

  • ½ plus 2 tablespoons sweet white wine
  • 1 tablespoon orange liqueur, such as Grand Mariner (or just add an extra tablespoon of the sweet white wine)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • Finely grated zest of one lemon
  • Fresh fruit, such as blueberries and sliced strawberries, for serving
  1.  In a small bowl, whisk together the wine, orange liqueur (if using), and granulated sugar until the sugar dissolves.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the cream until it’s doubled in volume and has soft, but not stiff, peaks.
  3. Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the wine mixture and the lemon zest. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.
  4. To serve, spoon the syllabub into small glasses and garnish with fruit. Offer simple but good-quality butter cookies on the side, if you like.

By Sara Bir