a little of each

A family's cookbook

Vanilla Sauce for Gingerbread June 2, 2013

Filed under: Desserts — alittlemoreofeach @ 3:45 pm
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January 5, 2017. Today is my dad’s birthday. He would’ve been 68. Should’ve been. Instead he died nine years ago, and it still stinks. I try so hard to remember him outloud. I don’t know that I believe that it keeps him alive, but I will do anything to create him as a full person in the girls’ minds and memories. So we talk about him, how he loved to bake and how they’ve inherited that. How he loved the Boston Red Sox and umpiring and playing golf and the Beatles. I sing Yesterday to them as a (depressing) lullaby and Blackbird. And I tear up. Every single time.

I also talk to them about nutmeg, my dad’s “secret” ingredient. I get to use those irony quotes because it was a secret from no one that he loved nutmeg and would put it in any recipe he thought needed a little special something. It often worked. But sometimes he’d be a little heavy-handed with the powerful seasoning. If someone mentioned, “Maybe there’s a bit too much nutmeg?” he’d take it personally and pout just a bit.  So nutmeg is my dad. After he had his stroke and was in the ICU for nearly two weeks, my sister would bring in whole nutmegs and hold them under his nose. To connect with him, to remind him that we are here, to try to bring him home. As powerful as nutmeg is, it wasn’t up for that job.

I make this dessert because of the nutmeg. It is the star. The gingerbread is nice enough (and often comes from a box – shhh!), but the warmed vanilla sauce with its specks of nutmeg and velvety texture is heavenly. I acknowledge that it could be straight out of a 1960s-era Good Housekeeping cookbook and maybe not the prettiest thing ever plated. But it’s comforting, and it connects us, and it brings me home for just a minute.

 

Ingredients

½ cup sugar

2 Tbl cornstarch

1 cup boiling water

2 Tbl butter

1 tsp vanilla

nutmeg, to taste

 

Directions

Mix sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan. Stir in boiling water and simmer for five minutes or until thickened. Add butter, vanilla and nutmeg. Serve warm.

 

 

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Gingerbread-Pear Tart

Filed under: Desserts — alittlemoreofeach @ 3:18 pm
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From “Better Homes and Gardens.”

 

This is a delicious mix of cheesecake and fruit with both pear and raspberry flavors. Take care, and the presentation will be beautiful. I used two large cans of pears, and the results were delicious.

 

Ingredients

2 cups water

½ cup sugar

2 Tbl lemon juice

5 medium pears, peeled, cored and sliced

1/3 cup seedless red raspberry jam

½ cup butter, cut up

1 (14.5 oz) package gingerbread mix

1 egg yolk

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup sugar

3 eggs

½ tsp vanilla

1 tsp finely shredded lemon peel

 

Directions

In a large saucepan bring the water, the ½ cup sugar and lemon juice to boiling. Add pears. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in raspberry jam. Cool 1 hour. (If desired, cover and chill up to 6 hours.) Drain.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place gingerbread mix in a bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into mix until pieces are pea-sized. Stir in egg yolk just until combined. Remove and discard ½ cup of the crumb mixture. Press remaining mixture onto bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. Bake for 25 minutes and then cool completely.

In a medium bowl beat cheese on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1/3 cup sugar; beat until light. Add eggs and vanilla; beat on medium speed until combined. Stir in lemon peel. Spoon about half of the cheese mixture into crust.

Spoon drained pears evenly over cheese mixture. Spoon remaining cheese mixture over pears. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until center is set. Cool 30 minutes on rack. Loosen sides of pan. Cover; chill 2 to 24 hours. Remove sides of pan.