Blueberry Pie Sorbet

SONY DSCA long time ago I posted a recipe for blueberry compote. I have since adjusted that recipe a bit and used a blueberry syrup from that compote to make blueberry pie sorbet – the lemon and the fresh nutmeg make it taste like filling from blueberry pie. If you prefer your sorbet more tart than sweet, increase the amount of lemon juice and decrease the blueberry syrup accordingly.

Make sure that the bowl of your 1 quart ice cream maker has been in the freezer for at least 24 hours, and make the simple syrup explained below and chill that in the fridge.

You will need:

  • 2 cups of cold simple syrup. It’s easy to make: In a medium saucepan mix 2 cups granulated sugar with two cups of water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer without stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and then chill until ready to use.
  • 8 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar (or to taste, depending on how sweet the berries are)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (must be fresh, or omit it)

In a large saucepan combine the berries, sugar, lemon juice and nutmeg. Bring to a boil for 3-4 minutes and then reduce to a simmer. Keep them on simmer until the berries fall apart and the juice thickens. Taste it to be sure that it is as sweet as you like it and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (and your tongue, since you’re tasting). It should not be watery at all. Let it cool to warm or room temperature.

SONY DSCOnce the berries are cool, place a sieve over a large measuring cup/bowl and fill the sieve 3/4 full and let the syrup drip through. It’s okay to stir the berries to speed up the process. Keep adding the berry mixture to the sieve when it gets too thick, and stop when you have 1 1/2 cups of syrup. (If you don’t have quite enough syrup you can add enough lemon juice to bring it up to 1 1/2 cups.) Combine the syrup with the 2 cups of cold simple syrup and pour the mixture into your 1 quart ice cream maker and mix until thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove to a 1 quart container, top with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.


Makes  quart.

Shirley’s Ginger Cookies

Imported from Iowa. Scroll down to see substitutions for a gluten-free version.

Regular sugar for these is fine, but organic sugar taste even better because it is a little closer to brown sugar.

  • ¾ cup butter (if butter is unsalted add a pinch of salt to the dough)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 4 teaspoons molasses (I use Brer Rabbit Blackstrap)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • extra sugar in which to roll the cookies

Preheat over to 350 degrees. In an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg and molasses. Assemble the dry ingredients and sift them into the butter mixture. Put some sugar in a small bowl or saucer. Shape the dough into one inch balls (it will be a little sticky) and roll them in sugar and place them on a backing sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 7-9 minutes. Let the cookies cool for a couple of minutes before removing them to a rack and cooling completely.

Gluten free: substitute 2 cups King Arthur Gluten Free All Purpose Flour, plus 1 teaspoon xanthan gum.

Makes about 40 cookies.

Dark Chocolate Espresso Cookies

A word to the wise – don’t give these to children at night.

  • 10 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder (or instant coffee granules)
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (recommend Ghiradelli bittersweet chocolate chips)
  • parchment paper for lining the cookie sheets

Preheat oven to 325F.  Line two or more cookie sheets with parchment paper cut to fit.

Melt both chocolates (but not the chips) and the butter in a double boiler over simmering water.  When melted, cool slightly.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a small bowl and set aside.

 Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder in a medium sized mixing bowl until they are mixed together, about 20 seconds. Add the sugar to the egg mixture and blend until thick, about 1 minute.  Scrape the bowl. Add the melted chocolate/butter mixture and blend 1 minute more.  Scrape the bowl. Add the flour on low speed and mix until blended, about 20 seconds.  Add the chocolate chips and stir in by hand or on low speed.

Drop the dough (it’s very gooey) by large tablespoons full about 2 inches apart onto the parchment-lined cookie sheets.  Bake until the cookies rise slightly and form a think crackly crust, 11-13 minutes.  Let cool for a minute or two then remove to more parchment paper or a rack to cool completely.

 Adaped from the Rosie’s Bakery baking book

I Scream: Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Cream

This ice cream is for people who like their chocolate really dark.  I use a Cuisinart ice cream machine.


  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder (Green & Black’s or Valrhona)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Ghiradelli Bittersweet chocolate chips (or 8 ounces ch0pped bittersweet chocolate)
  • 1 Tablespoon espresso powder


In a medium saucepan over medium low heat combine the milk and heavy cream.  Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the milk mixture and then add the empty pod to it, too.  Simmer it all over low heat for 30 minutes, then remove and discard the bean pod.

In a mixing bowl beat together the sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, eggs and egg yolk until thick.  Measure about 1 cup of the hot milk/cream mixture and, with the mixer on low, add in a thin stream to the egg/sugar mixture, mixing thoroughly.  Stir the chocolate chips to the hot milk/cream that remains in the pan and once the chips have mostly melted, add the egg/sugar mixture to it.  Cook over low hear stirring constantly until it thickens and looks like chocolate pudding.  Remove to a heatproof bowl, cool ever so slightly and then cover with plastic wrap pressed to the surface (so that a skin does not form on the top).  refrigerate until completely chilled, 4 to 6 hours or overnight.

Spoon the chocolate mixture into the ice cream maker (it won’t pour if it’s thoroughly chilled) and mix until thickened, about 30 minutes.  It may be served immediately or further firmed in the freezer until ready to serve.  Serve with sweetened whipped cream.

Makes 1 quart.

Dark Amber Caramel Ice Cream

Another member of our family is now gluten free so I need to diversify my desserts.  Cambridge, Massachusetts ice cream purveyor Toscaninni’s makes a Burnt Caramel Ice Cream I used to get when I worked at MIT in the 1990s.  Now the local Whole Foods carries it and it is just as good as I remember, and when I found a caramel ice cream recipe I thought I would try and replicate the burnt version at home by cooking it longer and adding some sea salt.  It worked!  I use a Cuisinart ice cream maker.


  • 1 1/4 cups organic sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon coast sea salt (flaked is even better)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 large eggs


In a dry 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat, heat 1 cup of the sugar, stirring to assuring even heating.  Once it starts to melt swirl the pan over teh ehat until all of the sugar is melted and it turns a deep amber color.  Carefully add 1 1/4 cups of the cream (careful – it can splatter) and stir until all of the caramel has dissolved.  Transfer to a bowl and add the salt and vanilla.  Cool to room temperature.

Once the caramel is cool, in a small saucepan bring the milk, the remaining cream (1 cup), adn the remaining sugar (1/4 cup) jsut to a boil.  Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a medium bowl then add half of the hot milk and sugar mixture in a thin stream, whisking continuously.  Return this mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat and stir with a wooden sppon until the custart coats the back of the sppon adn registers 170 ndegrees on an instant read or candy thermometer.  Do not let it boil.  Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl, then stir in the cooled dark caramel.

Chill the custard in the refrigerator, strring now and then, until completely cool – 4 to 6 hours.  Our it into the prepared ice cream maker and mix it according to the manufacturer’s instructions, about 25-30 minutes.  It will still be quite soft when it is finished, and is delicious as a cold custard, or you can transfer it to an airtight container(s) and firm it up further in the freezer.

Serve it on its own or with bittersweet chocolate sauce and/or whipped cream.

Makes 1 quart plus 1 cup.

Blueberry Lemon Tart



This recipe is adapted from one I found on a few years ago.  It is particularly good with small wild blueberries, if you can find them.

  • For the shell
    1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup sugar
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
    1 large egg yolk, beaten with 2 tablespoons ice water
    raw rice or pie weights for weighting the shell

Note:  European-style butter, such as Plugra, makes an especially nice dough.

  • For the filling
    1 cup buttermilk
    3 large egg yolks
    1/2 cup granulated sugar
    2-3 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
    1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    2 cups picked over blueberries

Make the shell
Sir together together the flour, the sugar, and the salt in a medium bowl.  Add the cold butter, and blend the mixture with a pastry cutter or your fingers until it resembles coarse meal. Add the yolk and water mixture, and toss the dough until the liquid is incorporated, and form it into a ball. Dust with flour and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, for 1 hour. Roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick on a floured surface, fit it into a 10-inch tart pan (if it cracks just put it back together again) with a removable fluted rim, and chill the shell for at least 30 minutes or overnight (covered). Line the shell with foil, fill the foil with the pie weights, and bake the shell in the middle of a preheated 350° oven for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and rice/weights carefully, bake the shell for 5 to 10 minutes more, until it is pale golden, and cool in the pan on a rack.

Make the filling
Spread the berries over the bottom of the shell – if they are big, you can put them in a single layer.  In a food processor blend together the buttermilk, yolks, granulated sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, butter, vanilla, salt, and flour until the mixture is smooth, and then pour them over the berries in the shell.

Bake the tart in the middle of a preheated 350° oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the filling is just set.   Let it cool completely in the pan on the rack and serve it at room temperature or chilled (it has more flavor at room temperature, though).

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

This recipe is adapted from one I found by Thomas Keller, and it is nature’s version of a Jolly Rancher – sweet and tangy and tart and fantastic.  It’s versatile and can be used to as a topping for breakfast or a summer dessert. Our favorites are: french vanilla ice cream, Liberte Plain or Lemon Yogurt, Lemon pound cake (that recipe will be posted soon), and Mascarpone Cheesecake

  • 1 pound fresh strawberries
  • 1 pound trimmed rhubarb
  • 1 whole  lemon
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar

Cut the strawberries into equal sized pieces either by halving or quartering them and place them in a medium saucepan.

Remove the stringy outer layer of the rhubarb by using a paring knife to peel if off the stalk – like peeling celery.  Cut the stalks into into 1 inch pieces and add to the strawberries in the saucepan.

Zest the lemon with a microplane and add to the pan (1-2 teaspoons).  Squeeze half of the lemon into the mixture as well (about 1 Tablespoon).

Add the sugar and stir to coat.

Cook over medium high heat stirring to help dissolve the sugar.  Bring to a gentle boil and let it boil for about five minute to reduce the liquid in the pan, then simmer for five minutes more.  All of the fruit will fall apart but it will still have a nice pink color.  Remove from the heat and let it come to room temperature.  Once cool, refrigerate.

It will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.

This recipe doubles nicely.

Salted Shortbread Cookies

It all began with a recipe from the New York Times that recommended salt on top of chocolate chip cookies.  They are divine.  So when I first made these cookies I felt the needed something so I frosted them with confectioner’s icing.  They were good, but still not right.  The next time I dipped them in chocolate.  Also good, but this time I thought of the Time’s cookies and thought – all that butter and sugar needs a counterpoint. You can make these cookies any of these ways, but I think the salted version is tasty and unique.

Doubles easily.

  • ¾ lb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 c. flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 3 T. coarse sea salt
  • More sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a medium bowl sift the flour and the ½ teaspoon of salt.

In an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, combine the butter and cup of sugar and mix until they are just combined.  Add the vanilla and then the flour mixture until just combined, the remove to a floured surface and shape into a ball.  Flatten it into a disk, wrap it in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.   If you chill it much longer than that you will need to let it warm up slightly on the counter so that it will roll out evenly.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about 1/3 to 1/2 inch thick and cut into shapes with cookie cutters (simple shapes like hearts and circles work best with this dough).

Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and sprinkle each one with a little pinch of the sea salt and, if desired, some plain or decorative sugar. If you have the time and the room, chill them for 10 minutes before putting them in the oven.  This step helps them hold the edges of the shape a little better, but it’s not imperative.

Bake for 12-16 minutes, until they are brown at the edges.  Leave in the pan for a minute or so and then remove to a rack to cool completely.  Some people like their shortbread very brown, others prefer them light and crumbly – you decide.

Store in an airtight container; they freeze well.