Here comes the fanciest dessert ever to step out of my Instant Pot. Pressure cookers have a special talent for foods that need to cook in a hot, wet place – including the finicky oven/hot-water-bath setup required by cheesecakes and, yes, creme brulee!
Yes, this holiday cookie recipe is a bit late to the party – but I’m sharing it today as my silly food-bloggy way of commemorating some new-life-news: believe it or not, I’m a married lady now! After 11 years together, Grant and I finally made it official over new year’s weekend and held a tiny elopement ceremony overlooking Seattle’s waterfront in a gondola aboard the Great Wheel. Love is magic – feels good, man!
The New Year is my favorite holiday, but there’s one sad thing about January: no more eggnog! If you’re a nog-lover like me, these cookies make a good antidote for the withdrawals.
Did you know blackberries run wild in Seattle? Like, really run wild. Rubus armeniacus, the “Himalayan” blackberry, is an invasive species that has a special talent for sprawling its thorny brambles into every green nook and cranny of the urban landscape. This has earned it a reputation as a “problem child” of the local ecosystem, but I have to confess a soft spot for these wildlings. Who can stay mad at something so delicious? And how can anyone stare down a loaded thicket like this without their latent hunter-gatherer instincts kicking into overdrive?
Over the past week, Seattle has found itself in the middle of both a record-setting heat wave and a thick haze of smoke. Naturally, these conditions make me nostalgic for my days in southern California. (zing!)
In all seriousness though, I really have been doing some California Dreaming. With summertime in full swing, I’m craving sunshine and avocados, and generally feeling inspired by left coast vibes (the Cowabunga Lifestyle, you know?)
Given this set and setting, I got into the kitchen and combined two beloved regional socal desserts:
As I scramble through my last month living in San Diego, I was lucky enough to take part in one last Healthy Dining Office Potluck. When you work with a team of Culinary Dietitians and other foodie health professionals, potluck celebrations are serious business. Looking back on the 2.5 years that I’ve worked with this team, I’m pleasantly surprised that I had a chance to document several of my contributions online here: there have been polenta-crusted quiches, gluten-free peach cobbler scones, worksgiving goat cheese mashed potatoes, and platters of avocado toast slathered with chimichurri sauce. But to date, my crowning achievement was at a banana-themed bash we held last October, so this week I had go out with a bang and recreate my biggest hit.
This may be the most festive snack you can enjoy while watching the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio. Not only is the brigadeiro the hosting country’s most beloved dessert… there’s also something delightfully ironic about admiring world-class athletic prowess, while eating bonbons on the couch.
This was a big week for my favorite pressure-cooking kitchen companion: can you believe that among all the super-sales on Prime Day, Instant Pot was the #1 top-selling non-Amazon-device item in the US? That means the cult following surrounding this multi-talented multi-cooker just grew by 215,000, and there are flocks of new fans that are just getting to know its time-saving/energy-efficient/flavor-boosting abilities. Welcome aboard, amigos! Let’s share recipes and celebrate with cheesecake.
In Instant Pot’s dessert repertoire, cheesecake is the unexpected star. What makes the pressure cooker such a good tool for this job? The high-pressure steam in the sealed vessel cooks the dense filling evenly, while the moist environment helps prevent the surface from drying and cracking. It’s the perfect storm for cheesecake perfection!
Seasonal cooking gets tricky when the calendar says it’s Fall, but the weather does not. This is a treat that can ease the pain of being stuck in that awkward limbo between seasons – when you’re dreaming of warm spices and baked goods fresh from the oven, but what you really need is something out of the freezer. If you’re drawn to the autumnal charms of apple pie, and you agree that it’s at its best when a la mode, you’re way overdue for an inside-out twist!
Join me in lazy-cooking bliss by buying a box of apple turnovers from your local bakery. Freeze them, slice them in half, and admire the airy void between the pastry and the filling. Soften a tub of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt and use it to fill the pocket, gently pressing a spoonful at a time to create an even layer. Pop your stuffed triangles back into the freezer to firm up, and look forward to blowing your mind.
Each stuffed triangle is a perfect hand-held package, but it’s a rich dessert, so keep portion size under control by choosing smaller pastries. I’m on the hunt for mini-sized turnovers, because this would just be such a killer finish for a dinner party!
Need another easy way to indulge your cravings for Fall flavors? Check out last year’s suggestion: The Easiest Seasonal Pumpkin Treat (Dark Chocolate Edition)
This summer, I’ve had two recipe-testing obsessions. The first involves whole-grain sourdough pizza crust*, and although it satisfies my endless curiosities into both bread baking and home fermentation, it also makes me feel like a crazy person every time I insist on turning on my oven. The other fixation is much more seasonally reasonable: the quest for the perfect healthy fudgesicle.
I’ve been dreaming of a deeply dark chocolate pop, lightly sweetened, and I had my heart set on achieving a rich and creamy texture from nutrient-dense avocado. I also set high standards for a classic fudge flavor (ie. I didn’t want this thing to just taste like chocolatey guacamole). It took a few tries to get it just right, but this is it!
Depending on the size of your avocado and the type of dark chocolate you use, this recipe comes out to about 200 calories per serving (with about 13g total fat, 4.5g saturated, and 13 grams of sugar). So it’s a legit dessert – but one that is built from real food ingredients, a dessert that will give you real satisfaction in addition to its richness in nutrients. You can also cut the portion size if you have smaller popsicle molds – my squeeze-pop molds hold about 1/2 cup of liquid.
I wasn’t about to waste my weekend trying to create beautiful images of tubes of brown goo, so you’re stuck with the quick pic above. They may not be photogenic, but they have a lot of good qualities that should convince you to try the recipe: a short list of simple ingredients, healthy fats, antioxidants, limited sugars, fiber (5g per serving!), vegan-friendly, and a super-easy technique that will leave you with plenty of time for summer fun.
*Posts on my new sourdough habit are coming soon! In the meantime, get your fermentation fix on my sourdough pinboard.
As good as these cookies look, I have to tell you that they can look even better. The part that you’re not seeing is the impeccably crackly turbinado sugar crust that sadly dissolved in my humid kitchen in the 24 hours between the baking session and the time I managed to get the camera out. I really wanted to bake a fresh batch to give you some more true-to-life images, but I had to tackle these, and then a gluten-free version for a potluck party, and then Halloween happened… and you guys, I’m sorry, but I just can’t handle another batch of cookies in my house right now. I promise, when the occasion strikes to bake my next batch, I’ll Instagram it for you. Deal? Surely you understand that I just had to get this online, because pumpkin season is fleeting, and I don’t want you to miss out on such a great cookie. I mean, seriously: Whole-Grain. Pumpkin. Snickerdoodles.