Apple Crisp is about the easiest, most satisfying dessert recipe I make. It is also easy to adjust the quantity from one or two servings to a whole @#% load.
First butter your baking dish. I use about any kind of apple- Granny Smith's are less juicy and are good for crisps and pies, Mac's and Cortland's make a more liquidy dessert. Peel and slice apples to fit your need. Four or five good sized Granny's will fill an 8"-9" square pan or deep dish pie pan. More will be needed if smaller apples are used. Mix a teaspoon of cinnamon and a 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg with about a quarter cup of brown sugar and sprinkle over the apples.
Mix one cup of rolled oats with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of flour (whole wheat or white), and a teaspoon of cinnamon and a 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg. Now work in 3-4 tablespoons of softened butter or real margarine. The mix should clump. Sprinkle the crisp over the apples.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.
Variations: Add blueberries, cranberries or any other berries to the apples. Instead of apples, use peaches and blueberries or raspberries.
Blueberry Almond Biscotti isn't an old Maine recipe, it just uses blueberries in a new way - dried.
Recently I bought myself a tin sifter with a crank handle at Reny's. So we'll start with that. Sift two cups of flour, one cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon of cinnamon. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and crack two eggs into it. Add 1/2 cup of milk, 1/4 cup of oil and a teaspoon of almond extract. Mix well and add 1/2 cup each of almonds and dried blueberries. Knead until it holds together in a smooth ball. Divide in half and roll each half into a 15" snake. Place the rolls on a greased cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake about 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and turn the heat back to 325.
Cool the biscotti for 10-15 minutes. Cut each cake into 1/2 inch slices on a strong diagonal. Lay the biscotti cut side down on the cookie sheet and return to the oven for 10-12 minutes. Cookies should be slightly browned but still soft. They will harden as they cool.
Great to dunk in tea, coffee, hot chocolate or milk. Makes about 3 dozen. Stores well an air tight tin.
Gingerbread is an old stand-by. Why not dress up this favorite dessert with blueberries?
Start your Blueberry Gingerbread by preheating your oven to 350 and greasing an 8 or 9 inch square pan.
In a large bowl, cream 1/2 cup butter or margarine with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of white or brown sugar. Add 1 egg, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp cinnamon, and beat until smooth. Add 1/4 cup of molasses and mix again. Sift 2 cups of flour with 1/2 tsp of baking soda and 1 tsp of baking powder. Add to molasses and egg mix alternately with one cup of hot coffee OR one cup of milk (sour or sweet). Finally mix in a cup of wild Maine blueberries. Pour into you prepared baking pan and sprinkle top with raw sugar.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Check for doneness - are edges pulled away from side of pan? Does cake spring back when top is gently pressed.
Serve warm or cold, with or without ice cream, whipped cream, lemon glaze or hard sauce. For a fancy presentation, skip the sugar top before baking. When the gingerbread is cool, lay a paper doily on top and sprinkle with powdered sugar. You'll have a fancy top when you remove the doily.
One of my favorite berry recipes is a super moist, Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake. I got the recipe from my old friend and former principal Barbara Neilly. Start by mixing a cup of brown sugar, 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped walnuts and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon in a small bowl. Set this aside. Now beat 1/2 cup of butter or margarine and 1 cup of sugar (brown or white) in a large bowl until fluffy. Add a little salt, a teaspoon of vanilla and 2 eggs. Sometimes I add a dash of nutmeg. Beat well. Now add 2-1/4 cups of sifted flour with 2 teaspoons of baking soda and a cup of sour cream. Mix well. Add a good cup of wild blueberries and mix gently.
Pour half the mix into a greased tube pan. Sprinkle with half the sugar and nut mix. Spread the rest of the batter on top and sprinkle the remaining sugar mix on top. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 50-60 minutes. Do the toothpick test. If it comes out clean and the edges of the cake are shrinking back from the pan, then your cake is done. Serve warm or cold, with or without whipped cream.
Variations: Instead of walnuts, try pecans. Instead of blueberries, try raspberries. This cake even works well with a peeled and chopped Granny Smith apple! I make it up with chopped rhubarb evey June at least once.,
Date Bars are a heavy duty cookie bar that you can often find in real bakeries or, increasingly, individually packaged by cottage industry bakers at convenient stores around the state. Just a small one fills the belly and satisfies the sweet tooth.
Start by creaming a cup of butter or margarine (none of that low fat stuff) with a cup of brown sugar, 1/2 tsp of salt and a tsp of vanilla. I like to add cinnamon and nutmeg and a 1/2+ cup of chopped walnuts. When light and fluffy, add in 1 and 3/4 cups of flour sifted with 1 tsp of baking soda and 1 and 3/4 cups of oatmeal. Mix well and press half the mix into a 7X11, greased baking pan. Bake about 10 minutes at 350.
For the filling: cook 1 cup of chopped dates, a dash of salt, 1/2 a cup of water and 1 cup of brown sugar in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir frequently and be careful not to scorch! You will probably need to add a little water from time to time. Cook and stir until thick and smooth.
Pour the date mix over the crust and spread the reserved crust mix evenly over the top. Return the pan to the oven and bake another 20 minutes or until top is golden.
Cool for 10 minutes and cut into 2X2" (approximately) squares. They keep well if tightly wrapped or stored in a tin.
These bars are good in a bag lunch or picnic basket, but they are especially great with a cup of tea anytime!
Filled Cookies are an old stand-by that are great with tea or hot chocolate on a cold afternoon. Here's our recipe with a variety of fillings.
Start by creaming 1/2+ cup shortening or butter. Don't use that fake low fat stuff. Add a 1 cup of sugar (brown or white), a dash of nutmeg, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Add a large egg and beat some more. Sift 2 cups of flour and 1 tsp of baking soda. Add flour gradually to egg mixture. Dough should be stiff but not dry - you may need to add a very little milk. Knead a little to form dough into a smooth ball, cover and place in refrigerator for an hour or so. Meanwhile make up your filling...
You can use jam - blueberry, raspberry or strawberry work great. Try lemon curd, too. Traditionally, a chopped raisin filling is used. Chop a cup of raisins and mix with a cup of water, a tsp of flour, a dash of salt and a tblsp of lemon juice (optional). Heat slowly until thickened. Cool before using. You can make a similar filling using dates. I make mine with a dry fruit mix from the health food store (various raisins, dried apples, dates) to which I add some cinnamon and 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts.
Divide your dough and roll out very thin - about 1/16th inch. You have to be quick so the dough doesn't warm up and become sticky. I cut mine with this neat old doughnut/biscuit cutter... the center hole cutter twists off. You can cut your's with a drinking glass. Cut half the dough and move to a lightly greased cookie sheet. Put a tblsp of filling in the center of each. Then roll and cut the second batch of dough for tops; I use the doughnut cutter for this. Cover each bottom cookie with a top and crimp edges with a fork. If you didn't cut the tops with a doughnut cutter, make a few vent holes in each cookie with a sharp knife.
Bake in a 400 degree oven until golden brown - about 12-14 minutes. Makes about 30 cookies. When cool, you can get fancy and sprinkle with confectioners sugar or drizzle with a thin glaze.
To make a Frozen Charlotte dessert, line the sides and bottom of a springform cake pan (or other tin mold) with (24) ladyfingers. Soften a teaspoon and a half of unflavored gelatin in a little water. Whip 2 cups of heavy cream until stiff. Put the softened gelatin and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar in a heavy pan and heat carefully until sugar dissolves. Flavor the whipped cream with vanilla or a couple spoonfuls of sherry or rum, then add gelatin mix slowly to cream while continuing to whip with a beater. Fill the lined pan with the cream mixture.
Freeze for several hours until set or overnight. Unmold and thaw slightly if very frozen. Serve with chopped nuts, more whipped cream, cherries, hot fudge sauce or fresh strawberries.
I have a really easy variation that I make with yogurt. Line your pan and whip the cream as above. Instead of the gelatin mix add an 8 oz. tub of yogurt with fruit. Strawberry or peach are both great; you can add some sliced strawberries to the mix and serve with more strawberries fixed as a sauce. Lemon yogurt with pineapple chunks and coconut are another good choice.
Visit Maine Stories: Frozen Charlotte for the story behind this famous desert!
Ginger Cake with Lemon Frosting: Try this spicy cake recipe for a dessert that is reminiscent of a good Maine gingerbread and topped off with a lemon frosting.
Cream 1 cup of brown sugar with 1/2 cup of butter or margarine, Add 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses, 1 egg, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. salt and 2 tsps. ginger. Sift 2-1/2 cups of flour with 1/2 tsp. of baking soda and 2 tsps. baking powder. Add to the butter /sugar mix alternately with 1 cup milk. Beat 3 minutes. Pour into two 8 or 9 inch greased round cake pans. Bake at 325 for 35-45 minutes. Do the toothpick test or check to see if cake edges have pulled away from the sides of the pans.
When the cake layers have cooled frost with lemon frosting made by beating 2 tblsp. of butter or margarine with 2-3 cups confectioner sugar and 2-3 tblsps. of lemon juice.
Indian Pudding is a long time popular dessert in Maine and New England with origins in Colonial times. Bread Pudding (in all its variations) is a favorite with frugal cooks. Both puddings can still be found in Maine restaurants. Moody's Diner features Indian, Bread and Grapenut puddings along with apple crisp -each on their own day of the week.
Indian Pudding: This recipe is adapted from the old Maine Jublilee Cookbook. Scald a quart of milk and add 2 Tblsp butter, 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal, 3/4 cup molasses, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, and 1 tsp salt. Cool slightly and add two beaten eggs.
Mix well. Pour into a greased casserole and top with another cup of milk. Don't mix it in! Bake for one hour at 350 degrees. Serve warm or cold, with or without whipped cream or ice cream.
Bread Pudding: Grease an 8X8 or 9X9 inch cake pan and fill it with stale bread cubes. Beat two eggs in a separate bowl and mix in 3/4 cup of brown sugar, a tsp of vanilla, a dash of salt, and cinnamon and nutmeg. Then add 1/4 cup melted butter and about a quart of milk. Mix well and pour over the bread cubes. Let it sit a few minutes. It should look soupy, you may need to add some milk.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-60 minutes. Test by inserting a knife blade in the center. If it comes out clean, its done! Serve warm or cold, with or without ice cream or whipped cream.
Variations: The above is a straight bread pudding recipe. To jazz it up you might add a couple of chopped apples and a handful of cranberries. Or try this special Thanksgiving version.
Pumpkin Bread Pudding: Use a bigger pan, 9X13, and fill with 5 to 6 cups bread cubes. Mix 5 cups milk, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. ginger, a dash of salt, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 4 eggs and 1 teaspoon vanilla with a One-Pie can of pumpkin. Pour over the bread crumbs and let it set for a few minutes. Bake as above.
Molasses Cookies come in all varieties- hard, soft, rolled, dropped, boiled or not, with or without coffee... But they are a great addition to any picnic basket or lunchbox. Our recipe below is for a soft cookie flavored/colored with coffee.
Beat 1 stick margarine with 1/2 - 3/4 cup brown sugar until fluffy then beat in 3/4 cup of molasses. Next beat in one egg followed by 1/2 cup of coffee. Sift 3 cups of flour with 1 tsp each ginger and cinnamon, 1/4 tsp each ground cloves, nutmeg and salt, and 2 tsp of baking soda. Mix dry and wet ingredients well. The mix will be like thick cake batter. Cover bowl and put in refridgerator over night or at least for 5-6 hours.
Preheat your oven to 375 and grease your cookie sheets. You can roll out your cookie dough 1/4" thick and cut with a drinking glass or cookie cutters. Or you can drop spoonfuls of dough on the cookie sheet. I roll the dough into balls the size of a pingpong ball, roll the balls in raw sugar and put them on a cookie sheet. I flatten the balls with the bottom of a drinking glass that I have dipped in cold water. You might also squash the balls with a fork as is done with peanut butter cookies.
Bake 12-14 minutes depending on thickness (drop cookies take longer than rolled). Makes 36-40 cookies that store well in a sealed container.
Needham's Candy: Peel and cook enough potatoes to yield 2/3 to 1 cup when mashed. Mash well but do not season or add milk. To hot potatoes add 1 tsp vanilla, 2 boxes (1 lb. ea.) confectioner sugar, dash salt, and a large bag of coconut. Mix well and spread evenly in a 9X13 pan or on a cookie sheet that has been lightly greased. Chill.
Chop 4 oz of unsweetened chocolate and 2 oz of semisweet. You can use chocolate chips for the semi sweet. Add a 1/2 a bar of chopped paraffin wax (yep, really). This is the kind of wax you use to seal the tops of jelly and jam jars. Melt this mix in a double boiler or microwave, mixing well. Cut the potato mix into 2 inch squares. Use toothpicks or a small fork (better for klutzes) to dip the squares in the chocolate mix.
Put the dipped squares on wax paper to set up. Store in an air tight container in a cool spot. Enjoy!
This Oat Cake recipe is for an old fashioned, popular cookie still found across Maine and the Maritimes. It is great with tea or coffee but be forewarned - it is not at all sweet.
Sift 1 - 1/2 cups of flour with a half teaspoon each of salt and baking soda and 1/2 cup of sugar. Mix in 1-1/2 cups rolled oats (not instant). Cut in 1/2 cup of softened butter or margarine. Add just enough water to make the dough clump up - 1/2 cup or less. Be careful not to add so much that dough becomes sticky. Roll dough out to 1/4" thick and cut in shapes. Traditionally this is a 3 +/- inch circle and can be done with a glass or biscuit cutter. Bake at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned. Stores well in a tight container.
I generally use brown sugar and may add cinnamon or nutmeg. Because these aren't very sweet at all, you might want to frost them or better yet make a sandwich of two cakes with jelly or with date filling. The last time we were in Nova Scotia we bought oatcakes with date filling that were just wonderful.
Pineapple Upside Down Cake - This is a great cake to serve at Easter or as desert after a ham dinner. Start by melting 4 tblsp. of butter or margarine in a cast iron fry pan or 8" square pan. Use butter or the real margarine not the low fat stuff that turns watery. Tip the pan to spread the butter around then sprinkle with 3/4 cup of brown sugar. Arrange pineapple slices in the pan and put cherries in the center of each. Reserve the pineapple juice for the batter.
To make the batter: cream a stick of butter or margarine with 1 cup of sugar, Beat in an egg and some vanilla. Sift 2 cups of cake flour with salt and 2 tsp. of baking powder. Combine butter mixture, the dry ingredients and a cup of the reserved juice by parts. You may need to add a bit of milk if the mix is dry. Beat well, pour into the cake pan and spread over the pineapple carefully. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. If the edges of the cake have pulled away from the side of the pan, the cake is done. Or test with a toothpick or by carefully pressing the top of the cake with your finger. If the cake is done, it will spring back.
Run a knife around the edge of the pan. While the cake is still hot, invert the pan onto a cake plate. That's the upside down part. If you're lucky you'll have a nice caramelized pineapple pattern on top. If not, scoop it onto plates and eat it anyway! Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.
Variations: You can use almost any fruit. Rhubarb or raspberries are old time favorites. My mother's Good Housekeeping Wartime (WW2) Cookbook gives a recipe using canned apricots. Apples or pears might be another good idea, but don't forget to add cinnamon.
In our house everyone gets to choose their birthday meal and desert. Dave's favorite is Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. Fortunately his birthday and the fruit season are aligned.
For the filling, wash, trim and hull a quart or more of strawberries. Wash and chop a bunch of rhubarb. You can proportion the two to suit your tastes, but I use an equal split. In a big bowl, mix a cup of sugar, three tablespoons of corn starch and a dash of nutmeg. Mix in the fruit. I sometimes use brown sugar or substitute some honey for sweetner. Also flour can be substituted for the corn starch, but I prefer the corn starch.
Now, I usually cheat on the pie crust and doctor up a package of Betty Crocker, but I asked my friend Joy, who makes a killer pie, how she does hers. She's a middle school teacher, so if this sounds a little like a science fair experiment, don't worry. Stay the course; it's worth it.
First, decide if you will be using a glass or tin pie plate. If glass, then follow the directions on the Crisco butter flavored can. But if the pie is a liquidy type like strawberry rhubarb or blueberry then use Soft as Silk Cake Flour instead of regular flour.
If you are using a metal pan, mix 1/2 tsp of baking powder into two cups of regular flour (we both agree that King Arthur is the correct brand to use). Then cut 1/4 cup of butter into the flour. Mix well while adding up to 1/4 cup of milk slowly. Don't let it get too sticky. At this point you can wrap the dough up and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to roll it out. It will be easier to handle if it has chilled.
For either glass or metal pans: Roll half the dough out and line your pan. Add the filling and the top crust. Crimp the edges and pierce the top. Mix a tablespoon of milk with a beaten egg. Paint the top of the pie with the egg mix to get a shiny brown crust.
Joy's pie crust is never burned or over cooked around the edges because she wraps tinfoil around the pie pan and up over the edge. She also bakes her pies at the relatively low temperature of 350 degrees. No starting high and turning the temp back after 15 minutes. She says a strawberry rhubarb pie baked in her crust will take about an hour. Make sure you put a cookie sheet under the pie pan to catch the boiled over syrup.
Serve warm with a scoop of French vanilla ice cream.
We don't have any pecan trees here in Maine but walnuts make a nice substitute. Walnut Pie and Tarts can be found in diners and kitchens around the state instead of the better known southern nut confection.
Start with a single pie crust. You can use the recipe below under Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (makes two crusts- cut quantities in half). Line your pie pan and crimp a pretty edge around the lip of the pan.
To make the filling: You can use your favorite pecan pie filling and substitute walnuts or try this. Cream a couple tablespoons of butter with about 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Beat in two eggs, a tsp. of vanilla and a tblsp. of flour. Next add a good cup of chopped walnuts and 3/4 of a cup of (real) maple syrup. In a pinch you can substute a little sugar for a little of the syrup or cut the maple with corn syrup. Mix well. Pour into crust and bake for 45 minutes at 325 degrees.
For tarts: Roll and cut your pie crust with a biscuit cutter or drinking glass. Fit rounds into a small (not tiny) cupcake pan and fill with a spoonful of filling. Last time I made these, I used a one crust pie and about 1/2 a filling recipe to make 18 tarts. Bake for about 10-12 minutes.
Good warm or cold, with or without whipped cream or ice cream.
Email me at: