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Did you know there are still places where you can pick wild fruit, and it’s actually edible? I sure didn’t, until we found some wild blackberries on a paddleboarding expedition on the Stockton delta. These berries had been hanging out in the freezer for a while so I decided it was time to bake!

This recipe could easily be made with any fruits, fresh or frozen, that you have lying around. You can also make your own almond meal with almonds and a food processor if you’re enterprising like that, but I use Bob’s. Next time I want to serve this with some coconut milk “whipped cream”, not that it wasn’t amazing on its own.

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Paleo Blackberry Cobbler
(Adapted from La Petite Maison Verte)

Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 small servings

  • 2-3 C blackberries (if frozen, allow to thaw)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 1/2 C almond flour/meal
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp honey

Preheat the oven to 350.

Distribute fruit evenly in a medium baking dish and sprinkle with cinnamon.

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In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients until it makes a thick paste.

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Using your fingers, spread the paste, I mean topping, over the fruit. Warning: this part gets messy!

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Sprinkle the top with a bit more cinnamon if you want, then bake at 350 for 30 minutes (or until the topping is golden brown). Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly; serve warm.

Hi blog readers – it has been a while since I’ve posted anything, and I apologize for that. I’ve been spoiled by the professional baked treats at my wonderful job, and swamped by the work they get me to do in return. Anyway, that’s the excuse I’m going to use. 🙂

If you know me in real life, you can’t miss the fact that I recently made a huge change for my health by adopting the Paleo lifestyle. It’s more than a diet (I know, that’s a super cheesy line, but it’s true). If you don’t know anything about Paleo, I highly encourage you to visit RobbWolf.com, BalancedBites.com, Whole9Life.com, or MarksDailyApple.com. The quick and dirty version is this: eat meat and vegetables, seeds and nuts, and some fruit. Avoid all processed food, starches, grains, beans/legumes, dairy, and sugar. YES, you read that right, this means I no longer eat sugar. That’s quite a conundrum for a baking enthusiast, right? Wrong! There are some amazing Paleo bakers out there (I’m looking at you PaleOMG.com), so I’ve decided to start chronicling my adventures in Paleo baking. I may also still post a recipe here and there for you non-Paleo folks too, since I do love to bake for my friends and loved ones.

With that – here’s my first, from scratch, completely original Paleo recipe: Paleo Protein Cookie Bars! These are chewy, just sweet enough, and full of healthy fats with a kick of protein from the almonds, pepitas, egg, and protein powder. I completely improvised here based on what I had in my kitchen – feel free to do the same!

Paleo Protein Cookie Bars

Paleo Protein Cookie Bars
(Somewhat adapted from PaleOMG.com)

Cooking Time: About 14-16 minutes
Servings: About 18 1.5″ x 1″ bars

  • 8 Medjool dates
  • 1/4 C almonds
  • 1 C unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 large scoops of vanilla protein powder (chocolate would also work)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 C raw pepitas
  • 1/2 C mini chocolate chips (I use the Enjoy Life dairy, nut, and soy-free brand)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 C coconut chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Line a glass baking dish or cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In your food processor, pulse your pitted dates until they form a paste and come together into a ball. Remove from food processor.

Add your almonds and pulse until coarsely ground. Add the coconut, coconut oil, and protein powder and process until blended. Add the date ball (you may need to break it up in order for it to process back in with the rest of the ingredients). Once fully combined, add egg and pulse until you get a nice sticky dough-like product. Remove the dough from the food processor and place in a separate bowl.

With a large spoon, mix in pepitas and chocolate chips. Spread dough onto parchment linked dish/baking sheet until it’s about 1/2 to 2/3″ thick. (I used my hands.) Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and coconut chips.

Bake at 350 for about 14 minutes or until dough is firm and browning on the edges. Remove from dish/baking sheet to cool and then cut into bars.

These cookies were not in my original holiday baking plan, but Little Bayley gave me a hard time about it because she liked them so much last year and I capitulated. You can use just about any kind of brandy for the cranberries – I use a Vanilla Cognac that I’ve had for ages, but you could really use anything you have on hand. They are a really fun twist on a basic white chocolate chip cookie, and don’t worry – there’s nearly no alcohol flavor left by the time you bake these delicious treats.

Brandied Cranberry White Chocolate Orange Cookies
(Adapted from SimplyRecipes.com)

Cooking Time: 10-12 Minutes
Servings: About 2 1/2 Dozen Cookies

  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Grated peel of 1 large orange
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

Soak the cranberries in the brandy in a wide, shallow bowl/dish. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Strain the cranberries, reserving 1 1/4 teaspoons of the brandy.

Preheat oven to 375. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Beat butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Cream together the butter and sugars.

Add the eggs, vanilla, 1 1/4 teaspoons of the brandy, and grated orange peel. Mix well, scraping down sides of bowl to ensure even mixing.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to the creamed mixture, mixing well after each addition.

Fold in brandied cranberries and white chocolate chips.

If you want thicker, softer cookies, chill dough in the fridge for 15-30 minutes. If you want thinner, crispier cookies you can skip this step like I did this time.

Place by rounded tablespoons on to your lined baking sheets. Bake cookies at 375 for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.


Allow to cool for 1-2 minutes on baking sheet and then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Enjoy, preferably with a glass of brandy!

I really wanted to make a fruity cookie to complement the other cookies I was baking for the holidays, and these looked so cute in my holiday cookie book that I had to make them. They turned out to be cute little sandwich cookies with crispy lemon shortbread and a tangy lemon filling.

Lemon Snowballs
(Adapted from Taste of Home)

Cooking Time: 10-12 Minutes
Servings: About 3 Dozen Sandwich Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Lemon Butter Filling

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons butter, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon extract and rind.

In a small bowl, combine flour and salt. Gradually add to the butter mixture and beat well.

Roll teaspoons of the batter into small balls and place on lined baking sheet.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes and then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare the Lemon Butter Filling.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the egg, sugar, lemon juice, lemon rind, and butter. Cook until thickened, about 20 minutes, stirring regularly. Remove from heat and refrigerate until fully cooled.

Spread Lemon Butter Filling on half of the cookies, pressing cookies together to create sandwiches. Tip: lay out all of the cookies round side down on a cookie sheet and sort into those that are flat and those that aren’t. Use the flatter ones as the bases for the cookies.

Sift extra powdered sugar on to the sandwich cookies to create the “snow” topping.

Earlier this season, I was killing time at a bookstore and stumbled upon the Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies & Candies 2010 magazine. Flipping through the pages and pages of recipes and adorable decorated treats, I knew that the magazine was coming home with me and that I was going to have some fun trying new recipes out this season. This was my first new recipe, and I am very happy with the results! My only deviation from the original recipe was to substitute whole wheat flour for part of the regular flour – I just wanted them to be a bit healthier and chewier.

Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti
Adapted from Taste of Home

Cooking Time: 36 Minutes
Servings: About 24 Cookies

  • 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup pistachios
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and eggs together. In a separate bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients.

Gradually add the dry ingredients into the large bowl and mix well. Note that the dough will be sticky. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.

Aren't the colors pretty?

Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a 10″ x 2″ x 1″ box or log, like below.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until firm. Err on the longer side of this time amount if you’re unsure. Remove your baking sheet from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.

Transfer the logs to a cutting board and slice diagonally into 3/4″ slices. Place the slices cut side down on your baking sheet again.

Bake for 5 minutes, flip the slices over and bake 5-6 minutes longer. The edges should be nice and golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool for 3-4 minutes on the baking sheet, then let them cool completely on wire racks.

Store in an airtight container, and serve with a festive cup of coffee or hot chocolate.

I got some beautiful Fuyu persimmons in my produce delivery box recently so I made some persimmon pulp to use in baking this holiday season. Persimmon pulp is simply ripe persimmons made into a liquid-like pulp with a blender or food processor. Last year I made persimmon muffins, but at Thanksgiving my friend’s sister introduced me to breakfast cookies and I fell in love with the concept. Here is my mash-up recipe, based partly on the persimmon oatmeal cookies found on SeedtoSupper.com. These are chewy, filling, and just sweet enough with hints of spice and persimmon.

The Perfect Breakfast Cookie

Persimmon Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
(Adapted from SeedtoSupper.com)

Cooking Time: 20 Minutes
Servings: About 36 Medium Cookies

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup persimmon pulp (Fuyu or Hachiya)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons apple pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (I used cherry flavored ones)

Preheat the oven to 350. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, applesauce, sugars, and honey. Feel free to play around with the sweeteners like I did (the original recipe called for 1 cup of regular sugar but I wanted to make these lighter so I substituted honey and a bit of brown sugar). Beat in the egg and then the persimmon pulp, mixing well after each.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flours, salt, baking soda and apple pie spice. (Note that I cheated here and didn’t actually sift these in a separate bowl because I was feeling lazy. Don’t be like me.)

Persimmon Cookie Ingredients

Sorry this picture is a bit dark.

Mix into a stiff batter. Use a spatula or large spoon to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure it is well mixed.

Persimmon Cookie Batter

With the same spatula or large spoon, fold in the oats, almonds, and cranberries.

Persimmon Cookies Ready to Scoop

Drop by rounded spoonfulls onto your lined cookie sheets. Use teaspoons for smaller cookies, tablespoons for larger cookies. Be sure to adjust the baking time if you make yours much larger or smaller than mine (which were small tablespoons for medium sized cookies). These cookies also don’t spread out much, so if you prefer flatter cookies you should press them down prior to baking.

Persimmon Cookies on the Sheet

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Enjoy warm or at room temperature, preferably with a cup of coffee, and smile with the smug satisfaction that you had healthy cookies for breakfast!

Persimmon Cookies Baked

What’s more American than apple pie? (Other than baseball of course, Go Giants!)

Nothing! That’s why, for our all-American themed book club meeting to discuss Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, I had to find a way to make an apple pie cupcake. Some quick googling turned up these adorable creations from Annie’s Eats and I was inspired. I had to take them one stop further, so I combined them with this tasty sounding apple spice cupcake recipe. Together, they were nothing short of apple pie overload and 100% patriotic deliciousness.

Apple Pie Overload Finished Product

American Apple Pie Overload Cupcakes with Light Vanilla Buttercream

Cooking Time: 20 Minutes
Servings: About 24 Regular Cupcakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon apple pie spice*
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups applesauce, unsweetened (exactly 2 individual servings cups)

Apple Pie Filling

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2-3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced (Note: The original recipe called for 3 apples. I found 2 was PLENTY, but it’s your call.)

*Homemade Apple Pie Spice
Who needs to pay for ANOTHER spice that is made up of the ones you already have? Found this recipe over at BakingBites.com.

In a ziploc baggie or other small container, combine:

  • 1/4 cup ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 with the rack in the middle.  Line a standard cupcake pan with paper liners.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, apple pie spice, nutmeg, and cloves. Set aside.

The Dry Ingredients

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream the room temperature butter and both sugars until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and splash in the applesauce. Whatever you do, don’t think about how gross this looks right now.

The Wet Ingredients

Add the flour mixture in thirds and beat until just combined. Adding the dry ingredients in small batches prevents flour from flying all over your kitchen, and frankly I’m a messy enough baker as it is.

The Batter

Divide the batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarter full (as always, I recommend an ice scream scoop here). Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 2-3 minutes in the cupcake pan and then remove them to wire racks to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, it is time to make the filling. If you were short on time you could use store-bought apple pie filling, but I encourage you to try making your own – it’s so easy!

Heat the butter in a medium non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Once melted, add the cinnamon and sugar and cook for a minute, until the mixture begins to bubble and look like a paste.  Lower the heat to medium and stir in the apples.

The Apples

Mix well. Cook until the apples are somewhat tender, about 10-15 minutes depending on how small your apple chunks are. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Once the cupcakes and the filling are cool, use a small knife to hollow out the cupcakes. Start around the edge of the cupcakes, angling the knife in towards the middle and cut out a small cone shape. Reserve the cones for making cake pops (if you don’t eat them first). Spoon in a generous amount of apple filling.

The Filling

Light Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
This is a basic buttercream frosting that I use for a lot of different purposes. The basic ingredients stay the same, just add flavorings or modify to your tastes. And when I say light, I mean in texture, not in fat content. Cupcakes are no place to be counting calories!

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4-6 cups powdered sugar, sifted to remove lumps

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until it is fluffy. Add the milk and vanilla and then slowly beat in the powdered sugar until it reaches your desired consistency. I wanted the frosting for the Apple Pie Overload Cupcakes to resemble Cool Whip, so I kept mine slightly thinner than normal.

This frosting is also great for taking on the go: take a sturdy ziploc baggie (the freezer ones work nicely) and fill it with the frosting. Store it in the fridge and bring it with you when you take the cupcakes. When you are ready to frost, just cut a small slice of the corner of the ziploc baggie with some scissors and – voila! – an instant piping bag.

The Frosting

And there you have it – delicious American Apple Pie Overload Cupcakes with Light Vanilla Buttercream Frosting. They’re sure to be a hit at your next Americana event or anytime you need a recipe to get rid of surplus apples.

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