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Recipes & Entertaining Ideas

Filtering by Tag: Dessert

Farm Stand Peach Ice Cream

Marc J. Sievers

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Regardless of the season, ice cream is always a treat that satisfies like no other. My Farm Stand Peach Ice Cream celebrates fresh peaches in all their glory and it is so easy to make! Peaches are my husband Ryan’s favorite stone fruit and he calls this the perfect combination of ice cream and peach pie. He loves all of my ice cream recipes, but this one is definitely at the top of his list! I believe that simplicity always wins and this recipe is a stellar example of how a handful of familiar grocery store ingredients can be transformed into the most luscious ice cream!

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Ingredients (makes 1 ½ quarts)

Ice Cream Base

  • Heavy Cream – 3 cups

    Sugar – ⅔ cups, granulated

  •  Honey – 2 teaspoons

  • Vanilla – 1½ teaspoons, pure extract

  • Fleur de Sel – ½ teaspoon

Peach Compote

  • Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted

  • Peaches – 1 pound, pitted, ¼-inch diced, skins still on

  • Dark Brown Sugar -  ¼ cup, lightly packed

  • Cinnamon – ¼ teaspoon

Directions

Ice Cream Base

  1. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, add the heavy cream, sugar, honey, vanilla, and salt. Stir until the sugar is just dissolved, about 5 minutes. You can tell the sugar is dissolved by rubbing a bit of the cream between your fingertips. If there are no granules, it is done.

  2.  Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap pressing it directly onto the surface of the mixture. Chill until very cold, or overnight.

Peach Compote

  1. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, add the butter.  Once melted, add the peached, dark brown sugar and cinnamon.

  2. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is very tender and their natural juices start to release.

  3. Transfer the mixture to a heatproof bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, preferably overnight.

Assembly

  1. Once the mixture is very cold, add it to an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s directions.  About 2 minutes before the ice cream base is finished churning, add in the chilled peach mixture and allow it to be fully incorporated into the ice cream. 

  2.  Scoop out the ice cream into a freezer-proof container and freeze for 2 hours.

Tip: I love the ease and simplicity of the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker: https://www.cuisinart.com/shopping/appliances/ice_cream/ice-21

 

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Assembled Parisian Dessert

Marc J. Sievers

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Fabulous desserts do not always have to involve a long list of ingredients or an even longer list of steps to create. My Assembled Parisian Dessert comes together quickly, without sacrificing an ounce of what we love when we just want something delicious and sweet! It’s also a great way to show off any beautiful platters that you wish you used more often! The star of this recipe is fromage blanc, a soft creamy cheese from France.  It is low fat but still has a luxurious texture and delicate flavor, making it a perfect pairing for fresh strawberries and butter cookies. It is also fun to experiment with the fromage blanc; you can add fresh herbs for the summer or add cinnamon for a bit of warmth in the fall. It is an incredibly versatile French cheese and I know that once you give it a try, it will become a staple in your kitchen!

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Ingredients (serves 6)

  • Fromage Blanc - 8 ounces, at room temperature

  • Honey – 3 tablespoons

  • Fleur de Sel – ¼ teaspoon

  • Dark Chocolate - 2 ounces, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish, 72% Cacao recommended

  • Butter Cookies, for serving

  • Fresh Strawberries, for serving

  • Mint, for garnish 

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the fromage blanc, honey, Fleur de Sel and dark chocolate. 

  2. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle the top with more chopped chocolate and place it on a serving platter.  Serve with butter cookies, strawberries or even pound cake.  Garnish the platter with fresh mint.  Serve at room temperature.

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Lemon Pound Cake

Marc J. Sievers

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I love a decadent, extravagant dessert. But sometimes, there really is nothing like a wonderfully simple cake that can quietly take center stage all on its own. My Lemon Pound Cake has been my go-to pound cake recipe for the past 15 years!  It is a version of a recipe I found in an old cookbook that belonged to my nana.  I updated it when I was learning to bake by adding fresh zingy lemon and more salt. Perfect for an everyday treat or for any special occasion, you can serve my Lemon Pound Cake with an elegant sprinkle of fresh berries, a dollop of luscious whipped cream or any of my homemade ice creams (Salted Caramel, anyone?). 

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Lemon Pound Cake

Ingredients (makes 2 loaves)

  • Flour – 3 cups, all-purpose, plus more for preparing pans

  • Fine Sea Salt – 1 teaspoon

  • Baking Powder – ½ teaspoon

  • Baking Soda – ½ teaspoon

  • Butter – 16 tablespoons (2 sticks), unsalted, at room temperature, plus more for preparing pans

  • Sugar – 2 cups, granulated

  • Vanilla – 2 teaspoons, pure extract

  • Lemon – 2 large lemons, zested and juiced

  • Honey – ¼ cup, clover honey preferred

  • Eggs – 4 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Buttermilk – 1 cup, at room temperature

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour 2 (8 ½ by 4 ½  by 2 ½ -inch) loaf pans.

  2. In large bowl sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Set aside.

  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. 

  4. Turn the mixer to low speed and add the vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, and the eggs one at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate. 

  5. Next, add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

  6. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl and transfer the batter evenly between the prepared pans.  Tap the pans on a flat surface to release as many air bubbles as possible. 

  7. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. 

  8. Once you have removed the loaves from the oven, allow them to cool in the pans for 10 minutes.  Then, turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Slice and serve warm, or at room temperature.

Tip: Because this recipe makes two loaves, I can keep and enjoy one now and store the other wrapped tightly in plastic wrap in the freezer for another time.  Allow the frozen loaf to sit at room temperature (unwrapped) for 2 hours before serving. 

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Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Marc J. Sievers

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I scream, you scream, we all scream for anything with salted caramel! Few desserts are as decadent as my homemade Salted Caramel Ice Cream. Making your own ice cream is much easier (and quicker) than you think and you don’t need to bother with trying to make the caramel from scratch, as your favorite store-bought brand of Fleur de Sel caramel sauce works perfectly! I love this straight from the ice cream maker - it has such an elegant texture but also maintains a soft, velvety consistency while in the freezer.  You can serve this (with confidence!) completely solo for dessert, or it can also be paired with a fabulously rich Store-Bought Cake Made Fabulous!

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Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Ingredients (makes 1 ½ quarts)

  • Heavy Cream – 3 cups

  • Dark Brown Sugar – ⅓cup, lightly packed

  • Vanilla – 2 teaspoons, pure extract

  • Fleur de Sel Caramel – 10 ounces, favorite store-bought brand

  • Fleur de Sel – ½ teaspoon

 Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, add all of the ingredients. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

  2. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the mixture. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or until very cold.

  3. Once the mixture is chilled, add it to an ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s directions.

  4.  Scoop out the ice cream into a freezer-proof container and freeze for 2 hours.

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Festive & Fabulous Last-Minute Holiday Ideas

Marc J. Sievers

I love the last few days leading up to Christmas, there is a frenetic buzz in the air, everything seems to smell like peppermint and cloves, and the decorations on the streets and in the windows are like no other time of year!  I was asked by WGN Chicago for my top tips on some last-minute holiday ideas and I think I came up with a few you are going to absolutely love - and best of all you can find everything at your local grocery store!  Below is the clip for you to watch and hopefully get inspired to some festive cheer to your home this time of year!  Here are the recipes for my Cointreau Chocolate Ganache and Cointreau Winter Cider.  Sending love, hugs, and well wishes from my home to yours - Happy Holidays! 

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Watch: Store-Bought Cake Made Fabulous!

Marc J. Sievers

The word “zhush” means to make something exciting or more attractive, or to make it more fabulous (at least, that is how I use it!).  In this case, it is all about saving time by making a plain, simple, store-bought cake fabulous!  When I don’t have the time to make a cake from scratch (or don’t want to be bothered), I like to buy a small simple chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream to zhush up and turn it into something I am not only excited about serving, but also eating!  Grocery store bakeries are usually filled with cakes ranging in size and cost.  My approach for a Store-Bought Cake Made Fabulous is to buy the simplest and most delicious cake I can find.  Instead of relying of those pre-fab decorated cakes, focus on quality, and use these simple options to dress up even the most unassuming store-bought cake!


These are some of my favorite additions to zhush up a store-bough cake:

Edible gold leaf which you can easily find online and also in silver, adds a bit of glamour to fresh raspberries!  The same would be true for using strawberries, blackberries, or even blueberries.  Choose something that will complement the flavor of both the cake and frosting you choose.

Simple store-bought salted caramel makes a truly decedent addition to the top of a cake!  Once you start slicing, the caramel oozes down into the cake and makes each and every bite scrumptious.  I usually keep a little extra on-hand to serve alongside the cake.  For added fabulousness, you can also heat up the caramel and pour it over the cake as you present it!  Or, add a touch more of flaked sea salt for crunch. 

Colorful edible flowers which are typically in the produce department of grocery stores, makes for a very casual yet elegant effect.  I love dusting them with a bit of powdered sugar to help sweeten them (they are VERY earthy tasting) and to add a bit of texture and contrast.  This is especially elegant on larger rose petals!

Homemade whipped cream is also a wonderful decoration for almost any flavor of cake!  I like to use a piping bag fitted with a large round tip (or start tip) and pipe around the base of the cake when the cardboard disk meets the serving plate.  To make homemade whipped cream you need:

Homemade Whipped Cream

Ingredients

  • Heavy Cream – 1 cup, very cold

  • Sugar – 2 tablespoons

  • Vanilla – ¾ teaspoon, pure extract

Directions

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the cold cream. Turn the mixer to medium-low and begin whipping the cream. Once it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla.

  2. Raise the speed to high, and whip it until it thicken and begins to forms medium peaks. I like it to still be a bit “soft” as the texture is much creamier.

Tip: Don’t overbeat, or you will end up with a very stiff whipped cream and it will not have any fluidity to it and will also turn into butter!

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Cointreau Chocolate Ganache

Marc J. Sievers

A really good chocolate ganache is a fabulous recipe to have in your arsenal of quick and easy desserts because once it is made it has so many uses.  It can be used to glaze shortbread cookies, rolled into truffles, served warm over ice cream, used for chocolate covered strawberries, glazing cakes and cupcakes, or even whipped in a stand mixer until light and fluffy to use as a ganache frosting!  My Cointreau Chocolate Ganache is flavored with orange liqueur and Cognac, adding sophisticated (and boozy!) flavor of sharp orange and the warmth of Cognac, both of which happen to pair perfectly with dark chocolate.  Best of all, it takes just a few minutes to make and instantly makes even the simplest garnishes feel special and soirée-ready!


Cointreau Chocolate Ganache

Ingredients (makes 2½ cups)

  • Dark Chocolate – 1 pound, finely chopped, 72% cocoa preferred

  • Heavy Cream – 1 cup

  • Honey – 4 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Vanilla – ¾ teaspoon, pure extract

  • Orange Zest – 1 ½ teaspoons, finely zested

  • Cognac – 2 tablespoons (Remy Martin 1738 recommended)

  • Orange Liqueur – 3 tablespoons (Cointreau recommended)

  • Shortbread Cookies – store-bought (Walkers brand recommended)

Directions

  1. In a heat-proof bowl set over barely simmering water, heat the dark chocolate, heavy cream, honey, and salt until just melted, stirring occasionally.

  2. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla, orange zest, Cognac, and Cointreau. Stir to combine.

  3. Drizzle ½ of each shortbread cookie with just enough chocolate to coat it. Set each coated cookie onto a paper baking cup that has been flattened. Garnish with more orange zest if desired. Allow the ganache to set at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.

Tip: Stirring the ganache as it cooks with help make it shiny when it is used as a glaze, making for a professional and dramatic presentation.  The ganache will stay fresh in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week.  

Idea: Once the shortbread cookies set, do not refrigerate.  Store them tightly wrapped at room temperature.  

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Warm Chocolate Pots with Grand Marnier & Cherries

Marc J. Sievers

Warm Chocolate Pots with Grand Marnier & Cherries from the desserts chapter of my cookbook Table for Two: Cooking and Entertaining for You and Your +1.

When it comes to making desserts at home, I try to keep the recipe easy and elegant – and always with a twist!  My Warm Chocolate Pots with Grand Marnier & Cherries is the perfect dessert for the finale of a casual weeknight meal, yet special enough for a weekend soirée with a glass of Port or Champagne!

The twist comes from (first) a generous “splash” of Grand Marnier, which is an orange liqueur that adds a bit of warmth and depth of flavor to chocolate, and (second) the dried cherries add some sweetness and give it fabulous texture.  My Warm Chocolate Pots require zero (and I mean zero!) special kitchen equipment, and is easier than pie (I mean it!) to prepare.  The recipe uses simple ingredients from your local grocery store (in fact, you probably already have everything on hand!), and from start to finish it takes less than 20 minutes – making this the ultimate dessert to easily have at the ready when entertaining! 


Ingredients (serves 2)  

  • Semi-Sweet Chocolate – 3 ½ ounces, roughly chopped

  • Butter – 4 tablespoons, unsalted, plus more for preparing ramekins

  • Grand Marnier® – 2 tablespoons

  • Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Powdered Sugar – ½ cup

  • Cocoa Powder – 1 tablespoon, plus more for dusting

  • Vanilla – 1 teaspoon, pure extract

  • Eggs – 1 extra-large, AND 1 extra-large egg yolk

  • Dried Cherries – ½ cup

  • Flour – 3 tablespoons

  • Candied Orange Peel – for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Start by pre-heating the oven to 425 degrees F.

  2. Butter the interior of two ramekins (6 to 8 ounces each) and place on a baking dish. Set aside.

  3. In a heat proof bowl, over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally until just melted. Remove from heat.

  4. Next, to the chocolate, add the Grand Mariner®, salt, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Whisk until blended.

  5. Slowly whisk in the eggs.

  6. Toss the cherries with the flour, then stir into the chocolate mixture.

  7. Lastly, evenly divide the batter into the prepared ramekins. Bake for exactly 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 2 minutes. Garnish with cocoa powder and candied orange peel. Serve warm.

Tip: You can actually make these ahead of time!  Bake and allow to cool completely.  Then, wrap each one tightly with foil and place in the refrigerator.  When it's time to serve, remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior.  Discard the foil and warm in a microwave for 45 seconds.  Dust with cocoa powder and serve immediately.

Idea: You can also swap out the Grand Mariner for Cabernet Sauvignon.  I like to add 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon to give it a little extra zing! 

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Table for Two!

Marc J. Sievers

For nearly a year, I have been in the process of creating my new cookbook, Table for Two: Cooking and Entertaining for You and Your +1. And now, finally, it is nearly here! Table for Two debuts November 5 and I am simply bursting with excitement to share it with you! It has been a passion borne from the realization that we entertain for two quite often, and that two is a party! I laid out and wrote my new book with the idea that we each have different plus-ones in our lives—those friendships, relationships, and special connections who deserve our undivided attention. But, cooking (and entertaining) just for two is not always easy. How do you cook and entertain elegantly for two, without it feeling like you’re still throwing a dinner party for ten? Or worse, feeling it’s an effort not even worth making! Table for Two is my answer, presented as an easy-to-use guide.

But, more than just a book of recipes, Table for Two is one-part cookbook, one-part entertaining guide, with a dash of story-telling and memoir. From the very beginning, I set out to address the challenge of cooking and entertaining smartly just for a duo. I created every recipe completely from scratch to ensure each is perfectly portioned for two. I also kept it simple, flavorful, and familiar with elegant recipes you would want to serve to any +1 who is special to you! Giving your undivided attention to your +1 is at the heart of the experience I aimed to capture and guide you through with my cookbook. The food you prepare should support that, and doesn’t need to be complicated, fussy, or overly-extravagant.

What truly sets Table for Two apart is my focus on creating for you a trusted guide. With it, you can set up a catch-up around the coffee table, enjoy a kitchen island soirée, or a marvelous in-bed fête. I have set these scenes and more, with useful ideas, easy menus, and inspired stories, all centered on wonderful recipes with fresh ingredients and straight-forward preparation that doesn’t require exotic tools or wild ingredients.

You do not need to be a wiz in the kitchen, or even an experienced host/ess to entertain at home. What you must be, is willing! Willing to not only learn about fresh ingredients and useful techniques, but also to share that with your +1 and make whoever they are feel as through in that moment they are the only other person in the world that matters! Table for Two is sure to be a welcomed addition to your chef’s library as the first lifestyle cookbook and guide you will turn to for a party of two!

Order your signed copy of Table for Two!


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S'mores Ice Cream

Marc J. Sievers

One of my favorite memoires as a child was making s’mores!  Whether it was a beach bonfire in Maine or by a campfire in New Hampshire, they still are one of my favorite indulgences.  I can remember also making them with my nan over the stovetop, using a fork as a “stick” to toast the marshmallow over the open flame – yikes!  Grandmas will do anything for their grandchildren to make them happy.

Now that I am well into my adult years (I call it “adulting”), I still make s’mores whenever there is a fire pit, bonfire, or even a charcoal grill.  On Ryan’s parents’ farm – regardless of the season – we always make a huge fire and sip wine and make these ooey-gooey treats!

I typically don’t buy or use specialty kitchen equipment – especially things that take up precious cupboard space.  However, there are two items that I cannot live without:  My ice cream maker and small kitchen torch.  Though they have very specific functions, they are what make my S’mores Ice Cream possible!  And not just possible, truly incredible!  The flavors from the homemade milk chocolate ganache, crusty and chewy toasted marshmallows, all enrobed in a velvety vanilla ice cream base will make the purchase of these two new kitchen accoutrement well worth every penny! 

In fact, homemade ice cream is simpler that you think!  It really is just about using a few quality ingredients like cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt.  The hardest part is waiting the 25 minutes while the machine “does its thing” until you have the most luxurious ice cream, ever!  Take a peek at my Salted Hot Chocolate Ice Cream, too!  


S'mores Ice Cream

Ingredients (makes 1 ½ quarts)

Ice Cream Base

  • Heavy Cream – 3 cups

  • Sugar – ⅔ cups, granulated

  • Honey – 2 teaspoons

  • Vanilla – 1½ teaspoons, pure extract

  • Fleur de Sel – ½ teaspoon

Chocolate Ganache

  • Heavy Cream – ¼ cup

  • Milk Chocolate Chips – 4 ounces

  • Fleur de Sel – ⅛ teaspoon

Add-Ins

  • Mini Marshmallows – 3 cups

  • Graham Crackers – 10 full sheets, broken into small and medium pieces, plus more for garnish

  • Milk Chocolate Chips – 7.5 ounces

Directions

Chocolate Ganache & Marshmallows

  1. In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely-simmering water, add the heavy cream, chocolate chips, and salt. Stir until just melted. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

  2. Place the mini marshmallows onto a half sheet pan. Using a small kitchen torch, toast the marshmallows until well-toasted. Set aside to cool.

Ice Cream Base

  1. In a medium sauce pan set over medium heat, add the heavy cream, sugar, honey, vanilla, and salt. Stir until the sugar is just dissolved, about 5 minutes. You can tell the sugar is dissolved by rubbing a bit of the cream between your fingertips. If there are no granulates, it is done.

  2. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap pressing it directly onto the surface of the mixture. Chill until very cold, or overnight.

  3. Once the mixture is very cold, add it to an ice cream maker and follow manufactures directions.

Assembly

  1. Once the ice cream base is finished, transfer to a large bowl and quickly fold in the cooled toasted marshmallows, graham crackers pieces, and chocolate chips.

  2. Then, fold in the cooled chocolate ganache.

  3. Transfer to freezer containers and chill until firm.

  4. To serve, garnish with more crumbled graham crackers.

Tip: I love the ease and simplicity of the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker.

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Herbes de Provence Chocolate Truffles

Marc J. Sievers

 

The dried spice blend Herbes de Provence is such a fabulous ingredient to have on hand!  This South of France signature seasoning is a blend of aromatic spices such as lavender, basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, tarragon, parsley, fennel seed, marjoram, and sage.  Traditionally, it is used to flavor meats, poultry, and vegetables, however, I have used it in soups, breads, and now as the star (yet unexpected!) ingredient in my Herbes de Provence Chocolate Truffles!  I just love how the savory blend of herbs compliments the intensity of the dark chocolate and natural sweetness of the heavy cream – a match made in confectionary heaven!  Serve these sophisticated chocolates with a bold red wine, very dry Champagne, or alongside a cheese plate for an exciting twist!


Herbes de Provence Chocolate Truffles (makes 12-14 truffles)

Ingredients

·       Dark Chocolate – 6 ounces, finely chopped

·       Heavy Cream – ½ cup

·       Butter – 2 tablespoons, unsalted, at room temperature

·       Herbes de Provence – 2 teaspoons, dried

·       Cocoa Powder – ⅓ cup, unsweetened (Pernigotti recommended)

Directions

  1. In a small sauce pan set over medium heat, add the heavy cream and Herbes de Provence. Bring to just under the boiling point, then turn off the heat and allow to steep for 5 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, place the chopped chocolate and butter into a large glass bowl. Set aside.

  3. Bring the heavy cream infusion back up to just under the boiling point. Using a fine mesh sieve strain the mixture over the chocolate, pressing down on the herbs with a wooden spoon making sure to extract all of the cream. Stir until completely smooth. This creates the ganache base.

  4. Place the ganache into the refrigerator to firm up, about 2 hours.

  5. Place the cocoa powder into a shallow bowl. Using a 1-inch scoop or tablespoon, scoop out balls of ganache and place onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.

  6. After you have scooped all the ganache, roll each one by hand into a ball and then roll each truffle through the cocoa powder to coat.

  7. Arrange on a serving platter, or place into an airtight container. Truffles can be stored for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Sparkling Raspberry Sorbet

Marc J. Sievers

It is no secret I love to entertain at home!  From menu planning, to setting the table, or spending time in my kitchen, I will find any excuse to throw a soirée!  While I certainly have a few tricks up my sleeve to ensure my guests are always having a fabulous time, my #1 tip is to never make everything yourself.  I like to choose two or three different dishes to prepare, then rely on favorite store-bought brands, bakeries, and gourmet markets to round out my menu.  It’s the simplest way to ensure that I have fun at my own parties!

They say the dessert is what people always remember from any party.  A really good dessert is always something I like to pay special attention to.  Whether I am making it myself or heading to one of my neighborhood bakeries, I make sure to always have something that will WOW! everyone – myself included!  That is exactly what my Sparking Raspberry Sorbet will do at your next party—it will bring that perfect WOW! factor.  This particular dessert relies on simple components; really good Champagne, really good store-bought Raspberry Sorbet, and the most flavorful homemade Four Berry Sauce.

Besides being a perfectly elegant dessert for any occasion, it is one of the easiest desserts to assemble.  Once you make the Four Berry Sauce (which uses frozen berries and can be stored in the refrigerator), it all comes together in just a few minutes!  I love to serve this in a small coupe, small bowl, or even in a martini glass.  Bottoms (and spoons!) up!


Four Berry Sauce

Ingredients (makes 1 ½ cups)

  • Frozen Berry Medley – 1 pound (raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, & blueberries)

  • Raspberry Preserves – 2 tablespoons

  • Raspberry Liqueur – 1 tablespoon, Chambord preferred

  • Lemon Zest – 1 teaspoon

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, add the frozen berries, preserves, liqueur, and lemon zest.

  2. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the berries have released their juices and are very tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

  3. Place a fine mesh sieve over a glass bowl. Transfer the mixture into the sieve.

  4. Using the back of a wooden spoon press the mixture through the sieve.

  5. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled.

To Serve: Layer this luscious berry sauce in a small coupe with a single scoop of raspberry sorbet and ¼ cup of very dry, chilled Champagne.  It is a perfect dessert for a grown-up celebration, very elegant presentation, and just an all around fabulous surprise for your guests.  

Tip: If you don’t have raspberry preserves, you can substitute strawberry, blueberry, or blackberry.  The pectin in the preserves is what will thicken the berry sauce slightly.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Salted Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

Marc J. Sievers

If you have never made homemade ice cream, you are in for a real treat!  A few months ago, I was making my Velvety Hot Chocolate from my first cookbook Entertaining with Love, and while I was measuring out the ingredients it occurred to me that they were very similar to the base ingredients for my ice cream recipe.  After a bit of tweaking (and lots of taste testing!), my Salted Hot Chocolate Ice Cream was churning away in my ice cream maker, ready for its close-up!

This is by far the best and most luxurious chocolaty ice cream I have ever had, let alone made myself!  The texture is similar to a velvety mousse—light, airy, and incredibly silky.  The flavors are so rich and intense, from using really good ingredients (particularly the chocolate and cocoa powder), and my secret ingredient:  Fleur de Sel caramel sauce.  Rather than make your own caramel sauce for a few tablespoons, I like to use a good store-bought one.  In fact, my favorite jar is from Trader Joe’s (also where I buy my chocolate bars by the pound).

For the ultimate ice cream enjoyment, allow each scoop to sit at room temperature for a few minutes and you will be able to taste the flavors much better than it being ice-cold.  The most perfect chocolate ice cream is calling your name – enjoy!


Salted Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

Ingredients (makes 1 quart)

  • Milk Chocolate – 4 ounces, finely chopped

  • Dark Chocolate – 4 ounces, finely chopped

  • Cocoa Powder – ¼ cup, unsweetened, Pernigotti recommended

  • Heavy Cream – 3 cups

  • Vanilla – 1 teaspoon, pure extract

  • Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce – 3 tablespoons, good store-bought variety

  • Fleur de Sel – ¼ teaspoon

  • Cinnamon – 1/8 teaspoon

  • Dark Brown Sugar – 2 tablespoon

Directions

  1. In a medium sauce pan set over medium heat, add the heavy cream, brown sugar, caramel sauce, and both chocolates. Whisk until the chocolate is just melted.

  2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and cocoa powder.

  3. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap pressing it directly onto the surface of the mixture. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator until it is very cold.

  4. Once the mixture is chilled, add it to an ice cream maker and follow manufactures directions.

  5. Scoop out the ice cream into a freezer-proof container and freeze for 2 hours.

Order a signed copy of my cookbook Entertaining with Love!

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Fig & Cream Scones

Marc J. Sievers

Scones may be one of the easiest things to bake, and with endless flavor combinations!  They can be savory or sweet, and are the perfect addition to a brunch, afternoon tea, or even as a dessert warmed through with a scoop of ice cream.

The process of making scones is really combining just a few simple ingredients and then adding a signature flavor—in this case, dried figs.  Dried Black Mission Figs are a pantry staple in my house.  I love to serve them with cheese boards, as a nibble with drinks, in pasta dishes, and especially in my Fig & Cream Scones.

For this recipe, I increased the salt slightly as it helps to balance the natural sweetness of the figs and cream.  If you really want to up the flavor factor, serve these with English Clotted Cream (or unsalted French butter) and fig preserves – pure heaven!

Happy cooking!


Fig & Cream Scones

Ingredients (makes 8 scones)

  • Flour – 2 cups, all purpose, plus 1 tablespoon

  • Sugar – 1 tablespoon

  • Baking Powder – 1 tablespoon

  • Fine Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon

  • Butter – 12 tablespoons, unsalted, very cold, diced

  • Eggs – 2 extra-large, at room temperature, lightly beaten

  • Heavy Cream – ½ cup, very cold

  • Dried Figs – 1 cup, diced ½-inch, Black Mission variety preferred

  • *Egg Wash – 1 extra-large egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.

  2. In a small bowl, toss the diced figs with 1 tablespoon of flour and set aside.

  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the remaining 2 cups of flour, as well as the sugar, baking powder, salt, and cold butter. Mix on low speed until the butter resembles the size of peas.

  4. With the mixer still running on low speed, add the cold heavy cream, lightly beaten eggs, and figs. Mix until just combined. The dough will be very sticky.

  5. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat the dough into a disc.

  6. Using a well-floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a square, roughly ¾-inch thick. Cut the square into quarters, and cut each quarter in half, as a triangle.

  7. Place each scone onto the prepared sheet pan and brush with egg wash*.

  8. Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the tops and edges are lightly brown.

  9. Remove from the oven, and transfer to a cooling rack to fully cool.

Tip: If you don’t have a stand mixer, use a pastry blender to quickly break the butter into pea-sized pieces.  Then, add the cold cream, lightly beaten eggs, and figs.  With your hand slightly cupped quickly work the liquid and figs into the flour.  Follow the remaining direction numbered 5 through 9.

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Pumpkin Spice Trifle

Marc J. Sievers

My Pumpkin Spice Trifle is one of my all-time favorite desserts to make during the holidays!  Filled with the most flavorful Spiced Pound Cake and luxurious Pumpkin Orange Pastry Cream, this trifle will be a fabulous addition to your holiday soirée.  While there a few steps for each component, a majority of them like the pound cake and pastry cream can be made up to three days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.  Then, all you need to do is make some Vanilla Whipped Cream, and then assemble the trifle!

You can also assemble this dessert in individual glass bowls or parfait glasses.  Simply follow the same assembly instructions but for each individual dish.  The dessert can sit out for a couple of hours, making it a perfect seasonal dessert for entertaining.  This is one of those desserts that you and your guests will always remember – and ask for year after year!

This recipe is part of “An Autumnal Feast!  A Collection of Recipes from Watermarc – Art & Appetite”.  Explore the other recipes in this series:

Happy cooking!


Pumpkin Spice Trifle

Ingredients (serves 8)

Pumpkin Orange Pasty Cream

  • Half and Half – 2 cups

  • Egg Yolks – 6 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Butter – 1 tablespoon, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Granulated Sugar – ¼ cup

  • Dark Brown Sugar – ¼ cup, lightly packed

  • Pumpkin Purée – ½ cup (not pie filling)

  • Cinnamon – ½ teaspoon

  • Orange Zest – 1½ tablespoons, finely grated

  • Vanilla – 1½ teaspoons, pure extract

  • Honey – 1½ tablespoon

  • Fine Sea Salt – ¼ teaspoon

  • Cornstarch – ¼ cup

Spiced Pound Cake

  • Butter – 2 sticks, unsalted, room temperature, plus more for preparing pans

  • Eggs – 4 extra-large, room temperature

  • Flour – 3 cups, all-purpose, plus 2 tablespoons

  • Baking Powder – ½ teaspoon

  • Baking Soda – ½ teaspoon

  • Kosher Salt – ¾ teaspoon

  • Buttermilk – 1 cup, at room temperature

  • Vanilla – 1½ teaspoons, pure extract

  • Honey – ¼ cup

  • Sugar – 2 cups, granulated

  • Golden Raisins – 1 cup

  • Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon

  • Cloves – ½ teaspoon

  • Allspice – ½ teaspoon

  • Nutmeg – ½ teaspoon, freshly grated

  • Ginger – ½ teaspoon, dried

Vanilla Whipped Cream

  • Heavy Cream – 2 cups, very cold

  • Granulated Sugar – 2 tablespoons

  • Vanilla Extract – 1 tablespoon, pure extract

Components

  • Fleur de Sel Caramel – 5 tablespoons, store-bought

  • Gingersnap Cookies – 9 ounces, lightly crushed

Directions

Pumpkin Orange Pastry Cream

  1. In a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, both sugars, pumpkin purée, cinnamon, orange zest, salt, and cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.

  2. Next, in a medium-sized sauce pan set over medium heat add the milk and heat until just under the simmering point.

  3. Remove from the heat and, very slowly, add the hot milk to the pumpkin mixture in small amounts while whisking constantly.

  4. Return the mixture back to the sauce pan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 7 to 9 minutes, until very thick. Do not be alarmed when the mixture turns lumpy.

  5. Remove from the heat and add the butter and vanilla. Whisk vigorously until smooth, about 2 minutes.

  6. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the custard. Refrigerate until completely cool, or until ready to use - up to 3 days.

Spiced Pound Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter and flour (2) 9x5-inch loaf pans and set aside. Toss the raisins with 2 tablespoons of flour and set aside.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

  3. With the mixer turned to low speed, add the vanilla, honey, and eggs one at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate. Turn the mixer off.

  4. Next, in a large bowl sift together the remaining flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.

  5. With the mixer running on low speed, add the flour and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour. Then, scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl and fold in the raisins.

  6. Transfer the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Tap the pans on a flat surface to release as many air bubbles as possible.

  7. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

  8. Once you have removed the loaves from the oven, allow them to cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Then, turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Whipped Cream

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the cold cream and whisk on low.

  2. Gradually raise the speed of the mixer from low to high, making sure the cream does not splatter out of the bowl.

  3. Once the cream begins to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla. Whisk until it forms stiff peaks, or about 1 to 2 minutes.

Assembly

  1. Cut the pound cake into ½-inch thick slices.

  2. Place a layer of cake in the bottom of a 2½ to 3-quart glass serving bowl, cutting the pieces to fit as necessary. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of caramel. Top with a layer of the pastry cream, then a layer of whipped cream, then sprinkle with crushed gingersnap cookies.

  3. Repeat the same process 3 more times. The completed trifle will have 4 glorious layers.

A Helpful Preparation Timeline

  1. First, bake the Spiced Pound Cake - up to 3 days in advance.

  2. Then make the Pumpkin Orange Pastry Cream - up to 3 days in advance.

  3. When you are ready to assemble, find your favorite trifle dish, have your store-bought components ready, and then make the Vanilla Whipped Cream.

  4. Assemble the Pumpkin Spiced Trifle and serve!

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Chocolate Maple Whiskey Cupcakes

Marc J. Sievers

A few years ago I was turned on to Crown Royal Maple Whiskey – and I haven’t looked back!  This particular whiskey still has the bite of a regular whiskey, but also a very smooth maple finish.  This time of year, when the weather starts to change, like clockwork I head over to my neighborhood spirits store and pick up a bottle (or two!).  It is the perfect aperitif to sip on a crisp Chicago evening while relaxing with Ryan.  Although he isn’t a fan, he says that when I drink this elixir, I smell like spicy pancakes in the morning.  I mean, things could be worse!

So in order to make him fall in love with this magical whiskey, I decided to use it as an ingredient in my Chocolate Maple Whiskey Cupcakes.  The cake component is intensely chocolatey with a maple twist, while the frosting has much more of a maple whiskey zing.  Have a giant glass of cold milk (or whiskey on the rocks!) at the ready – this could be your new “thing”, too!


Chocolate Maple Whiskey Cupcakes

Ingredients (makes 12 cupcakes)

Cupcake Batter

  • Flour – 1 cup, all purpose

  • Cocoa Powder – 1/3 cup

  • Dark Brown Sugar – 1 cup, lightly packed

  • Baking Soda – 1 teaspoon

  • Baking Powder – ½ teaspoon

  • Fine Sea Salt – ¾ teaspoon

  • Eggs – 1 extra-large, at room temperature

  • Maple Whiskey – ¼ cup (Crown Royal Maple recommended)

  • Buttermilk – ¾ cup, at room temperature

  • Vegetable Oil – ¼ cup

  • Maple Syrup – 2 tablespoons, Grade A

  • Vanilla – ¾ teaspoon, pure extract

Frosting

  • Butter – 1 stick, unsalted, at room temperature

  • Chocolate Syrup – 1 tablespoon

  • Maple Whiskey – 2 tablespoons (Crown Royal Maple recommended)

  • Confectioners’ Sugar – 2½ cups, sifted

  • Maple Syrup – 4 tablespoons, Grade A

  • Vanilla – ¼ teaspoon, pure extract

  • Chocolate Cookies – ½ cup, crushed, for garnish


Directions

Cupcakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a standard 12-well muffin pan. Set aside.

  2. In a large bowl, sift all of the dry ingredients.

  3. In another large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.

  4. Next, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Whisk until just combined and almost smooth.

  5. Using a 1¼ -inch metal scoop, evenly scoop the batter into each well. The wells should be ¾ filled.

  6. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  7. Allow the cupcakes to cool for 10 minutes inside the pan, then remove from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment set to low speed and cream together the butter, whiskey, vanilla, maple syrup, and chocolate syrup.

  2. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

  3. Frost each cupcake using a flat knife or piping bag fitted with a round tip. Garnish with crushed chocolate cookies.

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