Desserts

Haitian Ginger Cake (Bonbon Siwo), Birthdays, and a Break

As many of you may have noticed, we at the Hungry Hounds took a long break over the holidays from posting. Of course, that didn't mean a pause in cooking and eating, just a pause in posts while we relaxed with family, enjoyed time with our kids, and caught back up on work. This week our Madeline turns two, and last month Gideon passed the six-month mark. Gideon is (finally) mostly sleeping through the night, and Madeline is getting more and more fascinating as her vocabulary grows and she is able to share what she's thinking. Last week when we mentioned her upcoming birthday she asked us if "Maybe...maybe...I can eat cake....that'd be DEEEELicious!" Well cake you shall have, Madeline! We will be making her this subtly sweet Haitian classic ginger cake, Bonbon Siwo. It is a warmly spiced Haitian gingerbread cake that is dark and dense with coconut milk and blackstrap molasses, and boldly flavored with fresh ginger, cloves and cinnamon.

Haitian Ginger Cake (Bonbon Siwo), Birthdays, and a Break

Aunt Mary's Spiced Pumpkin Bars

My Great Aunt Mary was a meticulous and brilliant woman, who also happened to have a stellar repertoire of holiday baked goods. She passed her recipe for Spiced Pumpkin Bars down to my mother years ago. I returned to Aunt Mary's recipe after a run of failed pumpkin bar experiments. Aunt Mary's Spiced Pumpkin Bars are a homey old-fashioned bar, with a soft texture, warm spices and gooey cream cheese icing. With only a few minor tweaks from the original, I present to you, the best pumpkin bars you will ever eat. 

Aunt Mary's Spiced Pumpkin Bars

Rich and Salty Coconut Blondies

Blondies, for those of you unfamiliar, are a brilliant dessert creation that takes a chocolate chip cookie, and mashes it into bar form, reminiscent of its brownie cousin. My Mom made blondies for us growing up, and they have remained a key dessert on my easy-and-failsafe shortlist; requiring only that you dump ingredients into one bowl, mix, add in some treats, and bake. These Rich and Salty Coconut Blondies are a densely gooey treat. As many of our North American readers have cool temperatures this long weekend, consider firing up your oven to bake these decadent Rich and Salty Coconut Blondies.

Rich and Salty Coconut Blondies

Rhubarb Strawberry Cake

Madeline is quite focused on her Papa these days. We hear her little voice calling out 'Papa' from her crib when she wakes up in the morning; she sits riveted in her highchair in the middle of the kitchen to watch Paul cook; she babbles on early morning walks with Paul, trying out her new words of the day; Madeline bangs on the door when Paul is working, shouting 'book... Papa;' and she maintains a steady chant of 'Papa....home,' as we drive home after an overnight at her grandparents. My favorite though, is her own made up game of Marco-Polo with her father. Throughout the day, Madeline will frequently interrupt her playing, eating or reading to say; 'Papa?' with a questioning lilt. Paul will respond 'Yes, Madeline.' and she will give a small nod of satisfaction, and go back to her play. 

This year our Father's Day celebrations will be spread over both this weekend and the next, as we plan to welcome our new baby next Friday. For me, celebrations bring to mind cakes, and given my dislike of baking, fool-proof is a requirement. This Rhubarb Strawberry Cake has a rustic moist vanilla base, with jammy pools of cooked strawberry and rhubarb dotted on top, and a sweet crunch of caramelized sugar.

Rhubarb Strawberry Cake

Simple Rhubarb Danishes

It is high rhubarb season here in Northern Indiana where Rebecca and I are spending these last weeks of her pregnancy. Since rhubarb is something we can't find in Haiti, Rebecca has been doubling down on it while we are here. We eat rhubarb strawberry jam on our toast, in yogurt, and as a topping for ice cream. We make batch upon batch of rhubarb strawberry jam bars, and of course many a rhubarb cream pie. These Simple Rhubarb Danishes are easy (for a pastry), delicious, and elegant -- great for a crowd, or in scaled down version for a weekend breakfast.

Simple Rhubarb Danishes

Old-Fashioned Rhubarb Strawberry Jam Bars

We made these Old-Fashioned Rhubarb Strawberry Jam Bars five times in the last two weeks. Each time we swore to ourselves it would be our last. But then another picnic would pop up on the calendar. Each time we turned to the jars of crimson hued roasted strawberry rhubarb jam perched in the fridge, tempting us. And so another batch of Old-Fashioned Rhubarb Strawberry Jam Bars would hit the oven, followed by much happy gobbling.

Old-Fashioned Rhubarb Strawberry Jam Bars

Roasted Rhubarb Strawberry Oven Jam

Every year, in the hot months of summer, my Oma would make oven jam. My Opa would buy her bushels of fresh apricots and plums from the farmers markets, and she would slow roast the fruit until they caramelized and the juices thickened, creating silky fruit jams that she tucked into layers of her torte cakes for celebrations throughout the year. In the years since she died, I find myself craving the custardy texture, and caramelized fruit taste of her jams. I started experimenting with my own oven jams recently, and found them to be simple, fail-safe, and delicious. My favorite is this tangy spring rhubarb strawberry jam, with rhubarb fresh from a friend's garden.

Roasted Rhubarb Strawberry Oven Jam

Buttermilk Popovers with Quick Strawberry Jam

For my father's family, Christmas Eve, Heiliger Abend, is the heart of Christmas. It is a magical dark and cold night, where old hymns are sung by memory in German, acapella, by candlelight. My sister and I would look forward to the special appearance of traditional Christmas sweet and savory foods made by my Oma for Christmas Eve snacking. For Heiliger Abend this year, our young family of three is once again together. We will start new traditions as a family, and borrow from the past. Tonight we will be making my Oma's roast meat filled pastries, fleisch pieroshki with pickles. As a nod to our ravenous little eater's current favorite breakfast, will crank up the oven Christmas morning to make a batch of these airy buttermilk popovers with homemade strawberry jam, before an afternoon Christmas feast with our family. We will be thinking of our family and friends far away this Christmas as we celebrate, Merry Christmas! This recipe is inspired by Jenny Rosenstrach and adapted from King Arthur Flour.

Buttermilk Popovers with Quick Strawberry Jam

Easy Guava Jam Bars

November means fall back home; the smell of mulled cider, pumpkin picking, and trick-or-treating. Feeling nostalgic for the tastes and colors of fall, while sweating in the 90s here in Haiti, we created a Caribbean-fall dessert, Easy Guava Jam Bars. These easy to make, and addictive bars combine the warm spices of cinnamon and allspice with the tropical sweetness of fresh guava jam. It is a stunning match of tart bright guava enveloped in a warmly spiced buttery crumble.

Easy Guava Jam Bars

Fresh Guava Jam

Hurricane Matthew is churning through the southern Caribbean this weekend, and we can already feel the winds picking up and the temperature falling here in Port-au-Prince. Currently, it looks like the eye-of-the-storm is likely to pass just off the southwestern tip of Haiti, but the damage may be significant. People are bracing for the storm; battening down the hatches and stocking up the larders as they are able. Keep Haiti in your prayers. 

One of the new additions to our pantry stock, in addition to some pickled red onions and granola, is Fresh Guava Jam, courtesy of jam making with our staff this week. Rather than traditional Cuban-style guava jam, which relies on long cooking to create a darker caramelized flavor, our Fresh Guava Jam has a bright fresh fruit flavor. It is not too sweet and has a tart bite from fresh squeezed key limes, which balance the warm tropical sweetness of the aromatic guavas.

Fresh Guava Jam

Easy Coconut Baked Oatmeal

We have been in Honduras this past week for work meetings with our regional colleagues. One thing that makes our organization unique, is an emphasis on cultivating relationships and being a good host. In this spirit, our Honduras-based supervisors welcomed us into their home with delicious home cooked meals, among them a scrumptious breakfast of baked oatmeal with fresh strawberries. Not only did we stuff ourselves, but coincidentally, we had been experimenting with our own baked oatmeal recipe over the past month. Our version of Easy Coconut Baked Oatmeal is a hearty, crunchy, warm and filling breakfast. This simple to make breakfast dish will perfume your house with cinnamon and oats and is best hot out of the oven, doused in cold milk, a perfect meal to share with guests.

If you want to try out a spring-ish baked oatmeal recipe, check out our Strawberry Rhubarb Baked Oatmeal.

Easy Coconut Baked Oatmeal

Fresh Coconut Pancakes in the rainy season

A quick trip out to get ingredients can be a big ordeal here in Haiti, especially this time of year. May marks the start of the rainy season. We’ve seen torrential downpours almost daily for several weeks now here in Port-au-Prince. These heavy rains wash out main roads, swell the region’s rivers, overflow the sewers, and cause flash floods which can destroy the fragile homes that line the city’s narrow ravines. Add to this near daily political protests, that bring traffic to a halt with barricades and can shut down whole sections of the city. Recently, two of the three main bridges to the north (on our side of the city) have been out of commission after one collapsed when critical bolts were pilfered. So when I woke up this morning, craving a hearty pancake breakfast, convincing Paul to brave the traffic for butter, milk, or any other breakfast staple was a no-go. This recipe emerged from the bounty of our backyard; toasted coconut from our coconut tree and fresh-as-they-come eggs from Paul’s chickens. These Fresh Coconut Pancakes are absolutely delicious, custardy, and with just the right amount of chew, a perfect start to a rainy day. 

Fresh Coconut Pancakes in the rainy season

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Finding that magical overlap between the foods you crave and the ingredients you have on hand can be a challenge in the best of times. Last week, Rebecca woke up craving cookies...but with little butter or flour on hand and no fancy mix-ins to fall back on, I was stumped. Opening the fridge, I saw the jar of fresh-ground natural Haitian peanut butter we'd picked up the day before. The resulting cookies combine the nutty roasted flavor of natural peanut butter and oats with a subtle salty sweetness and rich moist texture. Success!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

6 Chocolate Recipes for Valentine's Day

Post-delivery, I've found myself craving chocolate...lots of chocolate. This weekend is a great excuse to indulge! We've put together a collection of tempting chocolate recipes, from gooey, to spicy, luxurious, to simple. Go ahead, make yourself something sweet!

  1. Chocolate Maple Granola with Quinoa and Cranberries

  2. Mexican Chocolate Custard Cake

  3. Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

  4. Black Fudge Pudding Cakes

  5. Mocha Mascarpone Mousse

  6. Dark Chocolate Pretzel Granola Bars

6 Chocolate Recipes for Valentine's Day

Spicy Maple Hazelnut Brittle

Paul and I approach desserts very differently. Paul is the give-me-a-challenge-dessert-maker. His enjoyment of the dessert making process appears to be directly correlated with the hours of prep and level of complication. Full disclosure, this is a great food type to be married to, all I have to do is casually mention a complicated dessert, note that it sounds amazing and nonchalantly question both Paul's ability and willingness to reproduce it. Then I settle in for a long wait, a complicated confectionery process (often involving candy thermometers and scales), and a stunning end result.

Spicy Maple Hazelnut Brittle was inspired by the a jar of maple syrup and bag of hazelnuts I found during our house packing and was loath to discard. While the recipe involves some tricky chemistry and the use of a candy thermometer, the result is spectacular: a crunchy sweet and spicy maple brittle loaded with tons of perfectly toasted (almost smokey) hazelnuts. A perfect winter treat!

Spicy Maple Hazelnut Brittle

Apple Walnut Bundt Cake with Caramel Glaze

Thanks for following along with our new adventures! We recently moved from Pittsburgh to Haiti where we are starting a 5 year volunteer assignment with a non-profit relief and development organization. We will be in transition for the next few months as we complete our in-country orientation, language study, spend time living with host families in both the countryside and capital... and lest we forget, have our first baby somewhere in there as well! Please bear with us as we will not have ready access to internet or a kitchen throughout this time. We will continue to share new recipes that we've prepared in advance, and updates on our new life in Haiti as often as we are able.

As much as we love the tropical fruits and Caribbean flavors of our new home in Haiti, we are nostalgic for the apple and spice combination, so classic to this time of year in North America. We love this old-fashioned Apple Walnut Bundt Cake with Caramel Glaze, pungent with cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and ginger, glazed with a salty caramel.

Apple Walnut Bundt Cake with Caramel Glaze

Salted Maple Buttercream

In the countdown before our departure, we have been cooking and eating our favorite things... with maple syrup topping the list! We are both mad for maple; we like it in baklava, with smoked salmon, in granolamixed into french toast, even baby back ribs, and we stockpile it compulsively. Last month we set out to make a fall/winter dessert that would showcase this extraordinary elixir at it's finest, and a dark almost bittersweet Blackstrap Molasses and Fresh Ginger Cake with Salted Maple Buttercream was the delicious result. This dessert was a team effort, while I whipped up a spicy molasses cake, Paul boiled down dark amber maple syrup, whipped eggs yolks and butter to a creamy consistency for a transcendent, incredible salted maple buttercream. Paul made Salted Maple Buttercream no less than 4 times in the past month, and while we try to avoid superlatives, I'm pretty sure this is the best flavor of buttercream I have ever tasted. Paul's comment, as he made batch after batch; "remember this one, I want a big bowl of salted maple buttercream for my last meal." 

Salted Maple Buttercream

Blackstrap Molasses & Fresh Ginger Cake

Blackstrap Molasses and Fresh Ginger Cake is a dark, moody, and moist dessert masterpiece. Warm spices are on prominent display with fresh ginger, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, and the rich and smoky tones of blackstrap molasses. This cake is a great foil to a rich frosting (stay tune for Paul's salted maple buttercream next week), but has the verve to stand alone as simple seasonal dessert. Blackstrap Molasses and Fresh Ginger Cake is crowd favorite whenever we make it and is a stunning high holiday treat. We've adapted this recipe from one of our favorite dessert authors, David Lebovitz. Check out our review of his cookbook at our Bookshelf.

Blackstrap Molasses & Fresh Ginger Cake

Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everyone needs a go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. This is mine. This Oat Chocolate Chip Cookie combines the luscious butteriness of the classic grandma-style cookie with the chewy texture and nutty flavor of oats and the rich warmth of extra vanilla. While Rebecca (and the health department) may not approve, I'll also share that this dough is almost as good raw, as it is baked!  Our recipe is relatively light on chocolate chips, but feel free to amp up the chocolate if you prefer. Treat yourself!

Oat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mocha Mascarpone Mousse

We all have our food indulgences. For Paul, it is a perfectly seared steak. For me, it is a custardy coffee dessert. This incredibly easy mousse recipe adapted from Gordon Ramsey, uses mascarpone cheese as a brilliant shortcut to avoid messing with egg whites. Somewhere between a classic mousse and an airy cheesecake, this Mocha Mascarpone Mousse is a crowd favorite. If you find the coffee and chocolate combination stuck on the brain, check out two of our other favorites:  Mexican Chocolate Custard Cake & Black Fudge Pudding Cakes.

Mocha Mascarpone Mousse

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Peaches

For me, the panna cotta is the answer to my classic conundrum of low-dessert-making-confidence, contrasted with a voracious craving for custardy desserts. Panna cottas are a light-tasting Italian custard dessert made with cream and gelatin. If you are looking for a summer dessert with an outstanding work to reward ration and guaranteed guest appreciation, Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Peaches is your dessert. Simple to make and tasting of sweet peaches and tangy cream, we eat a lot of panna cottas in our household. My goal in Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Peaches was a recipe with a nuanced tangy buttermilk base, and found that I couldn’t resist the classic peaches and cream combination.

Looking for more creamy summer desserts?  Check our funky Basil Yogurt Panna Cotta with blueberries and dead simple Meyer Lemon Posset.

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Peaches

Berry Dutch Baby

I was in the mood for a new breakfast dish one morning a few years ago, as I hungrily browsed the web for inspiration. The promise of both incredible lift and alluring creamy texture initially drew me to the Dutch Baby. This is an odd name for a fantastic hybrid dish that brings together the best of a popover, crepe, and pancake: spectacular poof, crispy edges, and subtly sweet custard-like middle. Rush your guests to the table as this flamboyant beauty of a breakfast dish comes out of oven!

Berry Dutch Baby

Homemade Berry Yogurt Cups

We just got back from a weeklong trip to Canada for my sisters’ wedding, it was a magnificent weekend of celebrations, and we are thrilled to have a new brother-in-law! Driving home yesterday, we realized that in all the wedding festivities, it sort of slipped our minds that we have a food blog to write!

In the meantime, we have been busy cooking and eating summer produce and I wanted to share a simple make-ahead breakfast I have been eating this berry season. It all started with a craving for a decent berry yogurt cup; just a simple cup with plain yogurt and some fresh tasting berry puree that didn’t have the caloric count and saccharine sweetness of an ice cream Sunday. It turned out that this was a tall order! My grocery store hunt yielded a host of unpalatable and over-priced results, so I decided to try my hand at making yogurt cups at home. These Homemade Berry Yogurt Cups are simple to make and delicious to eat, a refreshing summer breakfast on the go.

Homemade Berry Yogurt Cups

Watermelon Chiffon Pie

Four years ago, in dreary mid-April, Rebecca asked me what I wanted for my Birthday dinner. I'd been preparing for the question, and quickly pointed to a quirky recipe I'd found for Watermelon Chiffon Pie. The pie was a winner; light, airy, and fresh, with the undeniable, but subtle flavor of fresh watermelon. This oddly addictive pie balances a sweet buttery graham crust with an almost cucumber-like freshness in the fluffy pastel-pink filling. While I request it every April, the best flavor comes from using fresh-from-the-market local watermelon in the heat of summer.

Watermelon Chiffon Pie