The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Egg Nog Custard Tarts

In the busy, crazy holiday season, necessity is often the mother of invention, and this recipe is proof of that. Some years ago, after a trip to Portugal with a group of girlfriends, I worked out a recipe for Portuguese Custard Tarts. It was really an attempt to recreate a memory for my friends, but they are so easy to make and lovely to serve, that they became something of a staple for me. I always seem to have the ingredients in the house.

Until last year at Christmas, a last minute event was added to an already busy calendar and I was tasked with bringing something sweet. These delicate tarts immediately came to mind. But alas, I had no milk. It being the whirlwind of the season, however, I had a bottle of egg nog from a local dairy in the fridge (as I usually do in December) and I thought why not give it a go. And the results are as lovely as the original, with an added holiday flair. This version is a little sweeter than the original because there is some sugar in the egg nog, but in the holiday season I like my sweets sweet, so I think it is a perfect result.

As with the original, these tarts are perfect all on their own – with just a little dusting of nutmeg on top, but they are also versatile. You could still try a drizzle of dulce de leche, and the little hollows on the top are a perfect cradle for a pretty, wintery dollop of unsweetened whipped cream. And I’d like to try a sweet cranberry sauce on the top for a very festive dessert.

Egg Nog Custard Tarts
Yields 18
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Ingredients
  1. 3 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  2. 3 eggs
  3. 2 cups granulated sugar
  4. 2 cups dairy egg nog
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  6. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, plus more for sprinkling
  7. ¾ cups flour
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°.
  2. Put the butter, eggs and sugar in the carafe of a blender and blend until smooth. Add 1 cup of the egg nog and blend, then add the flour and the remaining egg nog, vanilla and nutmeg. Blend until smooth.
  3. Spray 18 muffin cups with cooking spray. Spray them really thoroughly right before you pour the batter in. Pour the batter into the cups, filling them ¾ full. Sprinkle a little nutmeg on top of each tart. Bake the tarts on the upper and middle shelves of the oven for 40 – 45 minutes until firm and golden in the center. Do not bake less than 40 minutes. If using two muffin trays, swap them from the top shelf to the bottom after 30 minutes of cooking.
  4. Cool the tarts in the tins, then use a plastic knife to loosen the tarts and remove them carefully from the muffin cups. (A plastic knife won’t scratch the surface of the tin). These want to stick, but be patient and gentle and ease them out.
  5. The tarts keep remarkably well for several days in an airtight container.
Notes
  1. I used a nifty little fluted muffin tin I happen to have which adds a pretty touch, but plain tins work beautifully.
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Gingerbread Cake with Cookie Butter Frosting

I didn’t really grow up eating gingerbread, though there is a long history of gingerbread cake in the South. I mostly knew those classic gingerbread men cookies, which I have never much liked. I think they dry out too much and never have enough spice for me. But over the years, I started to experiment with various gingerbread recipes, both cookie and cake form, and it is now an essential part of the holiday season to me. And I think gingerbread and spiced cookies just scream holiday. So I’ve combined them in to one moist, delicious dessert that feeds a crowd, perfect for holiday entertaining. I love a good 9 by 13 cake for serving at a party, either in large slabs on a dessert plate or smaller squares on a bigger spread.

The joy of gingerbread is that not only the taste, but also the wafting fragrance of sugar and spice while it’s in the oven. It’s like a nice extra gift. I sprinkle crushed cookie crumbs on the top, but I have been known to add a little gold glitter to jazz things up. I once had some little reindeer cake picks that have unfortunately disappeared, which is a shame, because they would be adorable marching across this cake.

Gingerbread Cake with Cookie Butter Frosting
Serves 12
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Ingredients
  1. 4 cups all purpose flour
  2. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  3. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  4. 1 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  6. 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  7. 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  8. 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
  9. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
  10. 1 1/2 cups molasses
  11. 1/2 cup water
  12. 2 eggs
  13. 2 cups buttermilk
For the Frosting
  1. 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  2. 3/4 cup cookie butter spread, such as Biscoff
  3. 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  4. 3 cups powdered sugar
  5. 3-4 Tablespoons milk
For the Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 13x9 pan.
  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove in the bowl of a stand mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the melted butter and molasses, mixing until combined (the batter will be thick). Add the water, mixing until everything is loosened. Beat in the eggs and buttermilk then until evenly combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  3. Pour the batter into the pan and bake 45-50 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.
For the Frosting
  1. Beat the softened butter and the cookie butter together in the bowl of the stand mixer until smooth and combined. Beat in the powdered sugar at low speed 1 cup at a time. Drizzle in the milk a little at a time until you have a spreadable icing. Spread the icing over the top of the cooled cake.
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Sweet Potato Pralines

I aspire to be, but am not much of a candy maker. I get a little nervous about the candy thermometer and the exactitude. In fact, I first started making pralines when I learned how to do them in the microwave. But I have been experimenting and expanding for awhile, and have come to discover making candy is not nearly as intimidating as I had feared. Sure, it takes some organization and patience, but the reward is so great, it’s utterly worth it.

As with a great deal of cooking, what really gets me interested and motivated is old community cookbooks, those treasure troves of local knowledge that always inspire and excite me. Many of these gems have whole chapters on candy making, everything from fudge to toffee to divinity and parlaines. And that is where I found this recipe for “yam” pralines. The idea intrigued me so, I had to try it. With a little tweaking and modernization and some interpretation from a clearly expert praline maker to a real novice, I got this version just right.

These pralines are incredibly autumnal, as sweet and luscious as the original, but with this lovely earthy undertone from the sweet potatoes. And they are celebratory – everyone is impressed with homemade candy. Wrap these individually in little cellophane bags tied with ribbon for a sophisticated Halloween treat, stack them up in a Mason jar as a hostess gift for friendsgiving, or lay them out on a pretty silver tray for the Thanksgiving dessert display.

Sweet Potato Pralines
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups granulated white sugar
  2. 1 cup heavy cream
  3. 1 ¼ cup cooked, mashed sweet potato*
  4. pinch of kosher salt
  5. 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  6. 2 cups chopped pecans
Instructions
  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set near the stove.
  2. Combine the white sugar, heavy cream, sweet potato and salt in a large, heavy saucepan with a candy thermometer clipped to the side. Stir to blend thoroughly, then cook over medium heat until the thermometer reaches 234 degrees (sift-ball stage. Stir occasionally. Meanwhile, melt the brown sugar in a heavy saucepan. When the sweet potato mixture reaches 234, quickly stir in the melted brown sugar and the pecans until thoroughly combined. Remove the pot from the heat, then quickly drop large tablespoons of mixture onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave to cool for several hours until firm and dry. These will keep for at least a week in an airtight container.
  3. Makes about 2 dozen
Notes
  1. * You can cook about 2 sweet potatoes by pricking them all over with a sharp knife and microwaving for 10 minutes until soft when pressed. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, but still warm, cut in half and scoop the flesh into the bowl of a food processor. Process until you have a smooth puree, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Leave the puree to cool. I have, however, also used a canned sweet potato puree – just sweet potatoes, not candied yams. I find these at better grocery stores.
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Rosemary Chocolate Caramel Tart

One of my favorite indulgences on my yearly trip to London is Millionaire’s Shortbread, a crumbly cookie crusted bar with rich caramel and a layer of chocolate on top. These bites are decadent and delicious. I have to stop myself from eating one every day, which proves to be my greatest challenge in self-control. I have often tried to recreate the bars, but I suppose they just never live up to the original. But I finally hit on a close approximation in a Millionaire-inspired tart. And this version is perfect for Fall, and perfect for a time when we could all use a little comfort and indulgence.

Rosemary is a surprising and fantastic addition to this lush dessert, so infuse it in every layer. I served this to a friend who exclaimed she never would have imagined rosemary with chocolate, but damn was it a good idea! That’s how I feel – it adds a new dimension and cuts through the decadent richness of this tart. And the finished product is beautiful to boot. I promise, anyone you serve this too will be impressed, and very, very happy.

Rosemary Chocolate Caramel Tart
Serves 8
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For the Crust
  1. 10 ounce box of shortbread cookies (I use Lorna Doones)
  2. 1 Tablespoon rosemary needles
  3. ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling
  1. 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  2. ½ cup water
  3. 2 stalks fresh rosemary
  4. 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  5. 6 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  6. ½ teaspoon sea salt
For the Topping
  1. 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  2. 1 stalk fresh rosemary
  3. 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
For the Crust
  1. Spray a 9-inch removable bottom tart in with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350. Place the cookies and rosemary in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. With the motor running, pour in the melted butter until the crumbs star to come together and are moistened evenly. Transfer the crumbs to the tart tin and press to create an even crust on the bottom and up the sides of the tin. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and set aside.
For the filling
  1. Place the sugar, water and rosemary sprigs in a medium sized, heavy bottom saucepan. Cook over medium high heat, swirling the pan a few times, until the bubbling mixture is amber colored. Remove from the heat and use tongs to lift out the rosemary stalks. Stir in the butter, cream and salt, being careful as it may spatter initially, until smooth and combined. Pour the caramel into the prepared pie crust and let stand for 15 minutes. If there are any stray rosemary needles in the caramel, you can use the point of a sharp knife to lift them out if you’d like.
For the topping
  1. Place the cream and the rosemary stalk in a medium saucepan and bring just to a bare simmer over medium heat – just until little bubbles form on the surface. Lift the rosemary stalk out of the cream, the drop in the chocolate. Let the chocolate sit for a few minutes, then stir until smooth and completely combined. Pour the chocolate over the caramel in the crust. Let stand until completely set, about 2 hours.
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Spiced Apple Torte

Recipes in my life go around in circles. I used to make a version of this apple dessert when I was just starting out in my first apartment, when a springform pan was considered exotic kitchen kit. I don’t know where I originally found it, but I imagine it might have been in my mom’s extensive file of apple recipes. My mother loves a good file folder, and when the apple tree my dad and I planted in the backyard started to produce fruit, she started filling a folder. I thought I was fancy because I added cinnamon for flair. Somehow, the recipe fell out of my rotation and I had not thought about it in years, but a recent internet search led me in a circuitous route to several recipes for apple sharlotka, a traditional Russian dessert. These recipes reminded me of this classic from my repertoire, so with apple season in full swing, I pulled it out again and updated and modernized it a bit. It was a treat to rediscover an old favorite.

What I love about this dish is that is mostly apple, tart chunks held together by a light, almost custard like filling – making the most of the season’s best fruit. In the spirit of autumn desserts, I’ve added a bouquet of warming spices – veering away from simple cinnamon to the less explored end of the spice rack. Of course, you can just use a dose of cinnamon, or leave out the spices altogether, but I think this combination adds a great hint of mystery and warmth. The cake is lovely on its own, but a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream never goes amiss, or a scoop of ice cream. I recently served it with salted caramel gelato to great effect.

Spiced Apple Torte
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 6 tart green apples, like Granny Smith
  2. 3 eggs
  3. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  4. 1 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  7. ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  8. ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  9. ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  10. ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  11. ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  12. confectioners’ sugar for dusting the top
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper, then spray the paper and the pan with cooking spray.
  2. Peel the apples and cut them into small chunks, about the size of dice. Layer the chunks directly in the prepared pan.
  3. Beat the eggs, flour, sugar, vanilla, spices and salt together in the bowl of stand mixer. At first, it may look like dough, but beat for a few minutes until you have a smooth, thick batter. Spread the batter evenly over the top of the apples. Use a spatula to cover all the apples with batter and to encourage it reach down between the apples. Let the pan sit for a few minutes for the batter to distribute, then bake for 50 – 60 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Cool the cake completely, then remove the springform ring. Sprinkle generously with confectioners’ sugar.
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Chocolate Chocolate Chess Pie

You may not forgive me for this one. It is the very definition of decadence. Chess pie, in all its forms, has always been a favorite of mine, from the traditional to my Sweet Potato Buttermilk Chess Pie. Add in some chocolate, and I am a really happy girl. I recently made a classic chocolate chess for a lake weekend with friends (and a traditional chess, just to be safe) and though I licked my plate, and got rave reviews, I couldn’t help but think what I could do to snazz up the original, as I am wont to do. And it came to me – chocolate overload. Swap out a standard pie crust for one made with a hit of cocoa, and you have got something special.

The crust can be a little ticky to work with, just be patient and patch any holes with scraps of dough when you fit it in the plate. You can, of course, pour this filling into a standard butter pie crust, but really. The center of the pie needs to be firm, but with a tiny little wiggle. It will fall a little on cooling and some cracks may appear, but those just reveal the gooey chocolate center. I think this pie is amazing on its own, but a little dollop of whipped cream is never a bad thing.

Chocolate Chocolate Chess Pie
Serves 6
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For the Chocolate Crust
  1. 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  2. 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  3. 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  4. ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  5. ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
  6. 3 – 4 Tablespoons ice water
For the Filling
  1. ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  2. 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  3. ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  4. a pinch of kosher salt
  5. 3 eggs
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 1 Tablespoon cornmeal
For the Crust
  1. Place the flour, cocoa powder, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to blend completely.  Cut the butter into small pieces and drop into the food processor. Process until you have a crumbly mixture with the butter distributed evenly. With the motor running, add the water a little at a time, just until the dough starts to come together. Dump the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and knead a few times into a cohesive ball. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in the plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but overnight is fine.
  2. When ready to assemble the pie, remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes. Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough into a round large enough to fit into a 9-inch pie plate (about 12 inches around). Spray the pie plate with cooking spray. Carefully drape the crust over the rolling pin and transfer it to the pie plate. Press the crust into the plate and crimp the edges. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
For the Filling
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the sugar, cocoa powder and salt together in a large bowl. Add the eggs, melted butter and vanilla and stir until completely combined and smooth. Stir in the cornmeal until combined. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 30 – 40 minutes until the pie is firm, with just a teeny jiggle and the top has formed a crust.  Cool the pie completely.  The pie can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept on the counter for one day, or refrigerated for two days, or wrapped in plastic and then foil and frozen for up to two months. Thaw in the fridge before serving.
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Simple Summer Peach Pie

Pie speaks so of summer to me, particularly ones bursting with the best of summer fruit. And when it easy to make, like this one, it is a real bonus. I pulled the original version of this recipe from a community cookbook years ago when I had some peaches sitting on the counter. Like most of the best of summer produce, I buy peaches in bulk when they are at their peak, some to eat but mostly to make jams and preserves. When I buy by the quart or the basket, I always end up with a few more than I need for a canning. The first time I made this, I chose it because it uses ingredients I always have on hand. Now I buy peaches just to make the pie. I have often thought of this as a peaches and cream pie, but there is no cream, and though it has a creamy filling, it isn’t really a custard pie either. Just a simple summer peach pie.

I leave the peels on the peaches, because I think it adds extra flavor and color and helps keep the peach slices intact (and because it is easiest), but you can peel them if you prefer. And get creative with filling – use almond extract instead of vanilla, or scrape in the seeds of a vanilla bean. Add some cinnamon or cardamom, or a little fresh ginger. Some orange or lemon zest would work nicely as well.

Simple Summer Peach Pie
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. Pastry for on 9-inch pie, homemade or store bought ready rolled
  2. 3 large or four small peaches
  3. 3 eggs
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  5. 1 cup granulated sugar
  6. 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a pie plate with the pastry and set aside.
  2. Slice the peaches into thin slices and layer in the pie crust. Fill the crust with peach slices right up to the top.
  3. Beat the eggs and vanilla in a bowl, then beat in the sugar until well combined. Stir in the melted butter, then pour over the peaches in the crust. It may not look like enough filling, but it will all come right in the end. Try to pour some over the surface of every exposed peach slice. Bake the pie for 45 minutes to an hour, until the center is firm with just a little bit of a wiggle. If the crust starts to brown more than you’d like, loosely cover the pie foil.
  4. Cool the pie completely, then refrigerate until chilled through.
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Blueberry Buttermilk Bread Pudding with Lemon Caramel Sauce

I have to say, this recipe involves a lot of words I like. Juicy fresh summer blueberries, rich buttermilk and caramel. Bread pudding has always been a favorite of mine and this fresh summer version bursting with berries is a great way to make the most of the farmers market fruit. Buttermilk adds a nice tang to the luscious custard. Top the whole with a silky caramel sauce freshened up with lemon juice for a lovely dessert, or brunch dish.

This recipe started life as a way to use up a basket of blueberries and an unused loaf of bread, but the idea was so solid that I set to work on a formal recipe. I added buttermilk because, well, I love buttermilk and always have some around. Challah is an airy, soft, eggy pairing for this summery version. I found a traditional caramel sauce a bit heavy for the fresh fruit, so lightened it up with a nice hint of fresh lemon. And, obviously, the sauce is delicious over ice cream or any variety of sweets.

Blueberry Buttermilk Bread Pudding with Lemon Caramel Sauce
Serves 6
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For the Caramel Sauce
  1. 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  2. 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  3. 1 cup boiling water
  4. Zest and juice of one lemon
  5. 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  6. Pinch of sea salt
For the Bread Pudding
  1. 1 pound loaf challah
  2. 2 cups fresh blueberries
  3. 3 whole large eggs
  4. 2 egg yolks
  5. ¾ cups packed light brown sugar
  6. 3 cups buttermilk
  7. 1 cup heavy cream
  8. zest and juice of one lemon
  9. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  10. ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
For the Caramel Sauce
  1. Whisk the brown sugar and flour together in a medium saucepan, then pour over the boiling water and whisk until smooth. Heat over medium heat, and when it just begins to bubble, stir in the lemon zest and juice, then add the butter, whisking until melted. Bring to a low boil and cook for five minutes, watching carefully and stirring occasionally. The sauce will be just a little thicker than maple syrup. Stir in a pinch of salt. Remove from the heat. The sauce can be made a few hours ahead and served at room temperature or served warm.
For the Bread Pudding
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Cut the challah into 1 inch cubes and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Don’t brown the bread, just let it crisp up slightly.
  2. Spray a 13 by 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread half of the bread cubes in a solid layer in the dish. You don’t want too much of the dish showing through, so use a little more than half of the bread if needed. Sprinkle over half of the blueberries, then repeat with the remaining bread and berries.
  3. Beat the eggs lightly in a large bowl, then whisk in the brown sugar. Add the buttermilk, cream, lemon zest and juice, vanilla and nutmeg and whisk until smooth. Pour the custard evenly over the bread in the dish. Press the bread cubes down into the custard to saturate. Leave to soak in for at least half an hour, but you can cover and refrigerated for several hours.
  4. When ready to serve, cook the bread pudding at 350 until set, golden and firm, about 30 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes, then serve drizzled with the caramel sauce.
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Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

Recipes are born from many things. This one came one summer when I had promised to bring cookies to a gathering. When I volunteered, I was no doubt thinking it would be the easiest assignment – just whip up some chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies and go. But when it came down to it, I had this desire to make something lighter and more summery. I had some lemons on the counter, so I turned to an old recipe for a lemon poppy seed cookie and that seemed more like what I wanted. I opened the fridge to get out the butter, eggs and sour cream and found some blueberries I’d picked up in bulk at the farmers market. Why not, I thought. Thus this cookie was born.

These are a lightly sweet cookie in the old-fashioned Southern tea cake style. Pillowy and cakey with a simple glaze to sweeten things up. I love the burst of juicy berries this version has, and the poppy seeds add interest, and make them very pretty. By the way, they were a big hit at the event.

Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies
Yields 24
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Ingredients
  1. 10 Tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter
  2. 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. ¼ cup sour cream
  5. zest and juice of one lemon
  6. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  7. 1 ½ teaspoons poppy seeds
  8. 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  9. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  10. ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  11. 1 cup fresh blueberries
  12. 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer to break it up, then add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Beat in the sour cream, most of the lemon zest (save a pinch for the glaze) and 2 Tablespoons lemon juice (save the rest for the glaze), vanilla and poppy seeds. Beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the flour, baking powder and salt until the batter is smooth and well combined and there are no dry ingredients visible in the bowl. Fold the blueberries into the batter with a spatula.
  3. Use a cookie scoop or large spoon to scoop mounds of dough an inch or so apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake until firm and just lightly golden on the bottoms, about 15 minutes. Cool on the pan for a few minutes, the remove to a wire rack placed over paper to catch drips from the glaze. Cool completely.
  4. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and a little lemon zest together with enough lemon juice to make a glaze you can drizzle over the cookies. If you don’t have enough lemon juice, add a touch of milk. You can add a pinch of poppy seed to the glaze as well if you’d like. Drizzle the tops of the cookies with the glaze and leave to set.
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Raspberry Orange Pudding Cake

Summer fruit desserts are such a sunny joy. And whether you call this type of dish a cobbler, a slump or a pudding cake, it makes the perfect summer dessert. Sweet and juicy summer fruit melts into a saucy layer tucked beneath a tender cake. I’ve shared before my Saucy Peach and Bluebbery Cobbler version. Raspberries are a rare local treat and when I find them I make the most of them. If I find them in abundance, I freeze them, and can then use them throughout the year for this lovely dessert.

Part of the beauty of this recipe is its adaptability. I love the twist of using fresh orange to compliment the raspberries, but you could certainly use lemon, or even lime. Add some scraped vanilla beans to the cake to pump up that flavor, or a little raspberry liqueur to the berries. This dish is perfect on its own, but there is something special about hot pudding cake served with a scoop of cold ice cream. You could also top it with whipped cream, plain, sweetened or with a little liqueur. I love bring the dish to the table, and watching the looks of delight when the juicy raspberry layer is revealed on the first scoop.

Raspberry Orange Pudding Cake
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. Raspberry Orange Pudding Cake
  2. 2 cups fresh raspberries
  3. 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  4. 2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice (zest before squeezing for the cake)
For the Cake
  1. ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  2. ¾ cups granulated sugar
  3. zest of one orange
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  5. 1 large egg
  6. 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  7. 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  8. ½ teaspoon baking soda
  9. ½ cup whole buttermilk
  10. 1 Tablespoon orange juice
For the Topping
  1. ¾ cup granulated sugar
  2. 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  3. ¾ cup hot water
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray an 8 inch square pan with cooking spray.
  2. Spread the raspberries evenly on the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the top, then sprinkle over the orange juice.
For the Cake
  1. Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer to break it up, then add the sugar, orange zest and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the egg until the batter is smooth. Beat the flour, baking powder and baking soda in two additions alternately with the buttermilk, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until the batter is smooth. Dollop the batter evenly over the berries, then spread it out to cover the berries completely. I find lightly damp fingers the easiest way to do this.
For the Topping
  1. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl, then sprinkle evenly over the batter in the pan. Place the pan on the oven rack, then pour over the hot water evenly, making sure the entire surface is damp.
  2. Bake the cake for 50 minutes, until firm and golden. Serve warm
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