Every fall I try to think of fun and different Apple recipes to take advantage this awesome autumn fruit with its growing number of varieties. My grandmother has many tasty Apple dessert recipes in “The Art of Fine Baking.” I’ve been baking my way through them and posting those such as Apple Cheesecake Puff and Sauteed Apple Cake on this site. The majority of these Apple recipes are more refined desserts, fit for a crowd or dinner party. I often crave something easier, something that takes the idea of Apple pie but simplifies, making it guilt-free in the process. Well maybe not entirely guilt-free, but at least more so than a traditional Apple pie or the over-the-top (but awesomely delicious) Stuffed Baked Apples with Homemade Caramel Sauce I made last year. These sweet cinnamon baked apple snack stacks are the perfect compromise.
As we say good-bye to summer, I give you this lovely Peach Lemon Thyme Upside Down Cake. Local ripe peaches are still available at farmers markets around New York and New Jersey while fresh herbs such as lemony thyme remain abundant in many of our gardens. Pair these seasonal favorites with buttery cake, and summer may finally feel complete.
What’s the best part about summer? The weather? The beach? In my opinion, it’s the abundance of fresh local fruit and veggies. I find Farmers Markets and seasonal produce more and more important (and fun!) with each passing year. Freshness can make all the difference in a good meal or dessert. For example, have you tasted a farmers market strawberry against a store bought one? They don’t even taste like the same fruit. A farmers market strawberry is so much sweeter and juicier, you will never want to buy that plastic container of grocery store ones ever again. In season strawberries and remaining spring rhubarb is one of the best seasonal pie combinations around. I usually make a strawberry rhubarb pie or crisp every spring or summer. This year I decided to go with a crostata, the rustic Italian friend of the American pie.
Rhubarb, one of the best parts about spring, is late this year in the Northeast. We just started seeing this perfect pie fruit at farmers markets within the last week or so – I’ve been looking for it since mid-April! Rhubarb is definitely a favorite of mine. Always a fan of tart and tangy, rhubarb is juicy, sweet, yet slightly sour when baked with sugar. Although my grandmother didn’t have many recipes for it, her mentor, James Beard has a few in “The James Beard Cookbook,” which is where I got the idea for this super simple baked rhubarb recipe.
If you’re not familiar with speculoos or cookie butter, you’re missing out. This growing trend started a few years ago and is now said to be one of Trader Joe’s best selling products. Some may argue that the popularity of cookie butter peaked back in 2014 but I see more of it now, especially in baked goods, than I did then. It’s a deliciously simple concept: ground spiced shortbread cookies and oil are made into a spreadable butter, similar to peanut butter or nutella. The idea seems to have come from Belgium and Biscoff was one of the first, most recognizable brands in the US. The dessert-like spread is a wonderful nut-free alternative for those with nut allergies and although it’s easy to eat by the spoonful or simply on toast, it turns out this sweet spiced cookie spread makes an amazing molten lava cake.