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Category Archives: Cakes and desserts

Raspberry Clafoutis

A French dessert is always enchanting to me. And an easy quick dessert is a gift! Jackpot!

I found this recipe at Food52. It’s a David Lebovitz recipe. Food52 is a tremendous source for cooking enthusiasts!

Have you made a Dutch baby? Or Aggkaka? Clafoutis is the same basic concept. All three of these are made of thin batters baked in a well buttered shallow baking pan. As it cooks in a hot oven it puffs up with air and then deflates soon after removal from the oven. These brunch foods or desserts end up with slightly crusty and custardy textures.

Clafoutis can be a brunch food or a dessert. It’s slightly sweet and has a crust of crystalized sugar on top. The Aggkaka and Dutch Baby are less sweet and more of a breakfast or brunch food. Check my website for the Aggkaka recipe. Aggkaka


1 pound fresh raspberries or 1 1/4 pounds sour or sweet cherries, pitted
3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/3 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sugar, plus 3 tablespoons for sprinkling on top
1/2 cup flour
Softened butter for buttering the baking pan.


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Liberally butter an 11 1/2 inch caste iron fry pan or a 2 quart shallow baking pan.
  • Cover the bottom of the pan with the fruit.
  • In a medium bowl beat the eggs with an immersion blender.
  • Add the milk, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla, and flour and beat just until blended.
  • Pour batter over the fruit
  • Sprinkle the 3 tablespoons sugar over the batter.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until just set. An inserted knife will come out relatively clean.
  • Serve warm, room temperature or cold.
  • May be prepared a day in advance. Refrigerate overnight
  • Serves 8

Cover the buttered pan with fruit

Blend batter ingredients with an immersion blender

Pour the batter over the fruit layer

Clafoutis ready for sprinkling with sugar and then the oven

Clafoutis in the oven

Voila! Ready to serve with a large spatula or spoon!

No Carb Key Lime Cheesecakes posted this recipe on Pinterest. It’s delish, practically no carbs and low cal if you eat only one serving!  Making small shooters or 1/2 cup size containers is what keeps the calories down. I also use Greek cream cheese and yogurt instead of cream cheese. It has more of a tang and fewer calories and fat. 

I slightly changed the recipe by adding more lime juice, less Splenda, and no vanilla.I also omitted the food coloring. The lime zest and juice add a hint of green that reminds me of Florida and their Key Lime Pies!

I have a Ninja food chopper which pulverizes the pecans! No added butter needed for this crust. A few seconds in the Ninja and its smaller vessel and your crust is ready to be layered in your serving containers. Use a larger amount of pecans if you’d like more crust

  • Finely chop 1/2 to 3/4 cup pecans
  • Distribute evenly into 6-8  small 1/2 cup size containers such as 4 oz canning jars or punch cups
  • Tap down the pecans to form a crust with the bottom of a spice jar or something similar in size
  • In a medium bowl beat together until smooth and creamy:

8 oz Greek cream cheese and yogurt

Zest of 1 lime (reserve 1-2 short strips of rind to garnish the final topping)

1/2 cup fresh lime juice (this may take 2 limes)

  • Whip until stiff 

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

  • Fold into the cream cheese mixture 1/3 of the whipped cream
  • Spoon this over the pecan crust and spread evenly with the back of a teaspoon
  • Take the remaining whipped cream and spoon over the cream cheese mix. Spread evenly with a teaspoon
  • Slice the reserved strips of rind into 6-8 thin pieces
  • Layer on top of your cheesecakes
  • Voila! Refrigerate until ready to eat!

Goat Cheese and Cashews with Honey and Lemon Salt

This mix of fresh favors was made with memories of Turkey and Sicily. Snack food, dessert, lunch….

  • Goats milk feta cheese is centered on a platter.
  •  Then my addicting raw unsalted cashews are poured around it. 
  • Local Michigan honey from my friend Peachie Martin is then drizzled over the cheese and nuts, as much as you like in a few layers.
  • Sprinkle over it all a sea salt. Mine is from the salt pans of western Sicily which was mixed with dried bits of lemon. These salt pans and windmills of western Sicily, north of Marsala were one of our most favorite memories of travel. Part of the tour were the Phoenician islands, a salt tasting and the windmill museum.

We stayed in Erice, a hill town high above the Trapani region. With our car we took day trips to Segusta and Selinunte, the Greek ruins and to the ancient tuna fishing village Castellammare del Golfo and nearby Scopello. Took a boat tour of the Egadi Islands and had private tours of a cheese manufacturing facility and their local sheep farm and milking barn! Look for more video and pics under “travel” here at NinaintheKitchen.

Apple Crisp

This fruit crisp is a lighter substitute for apple pie. It has less flour, sugar and fat than pie!


I made these crisps in individual ramekins. About 12 per recipe. Cut the recipe in 1/4 if you only want to make a few little ones!


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F or 350 if using a glass or ceramic baking pan.


Prepare topping first in a food processor with the steel knife blade or large mixing bowl

3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour, lightly added to measuring cups, not packed

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup white granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated if possible

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon salt

10 Tablespoons cold butter (1 stick + 2 Tablespoons) cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1 and 1/2 cups almonds or pecans, coarsely chopped (finely chopped if mixing topping by hand)

Combine dry ingredients in food processor or bowl. Add butter and pulse for 3- four second bursts so it looks like cornmeal. Add nuts and pulse again for 5-one second bursts till it looks like wet sand. Do not over mix. Keep in frig while preparing apples. If mixing by hand add butter and pinch butter till it looks like wet sand. Then mix in finely chopped nuts.

This is what the topping looks like before adding the nuts.


6 pounds McIntosh and Granny Smith apples (12 cups peeled and cut into medium chunks)

1/2 cup white granulated sugar

1 and 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice or more if desired

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Combine above ingredients in a large bowl. Pour evenly into a 9×13 inch baking pan. 

Sprinkle topping evenly over apples.

Place crisp in middle of oven. Bake 40 minutes or until fruit bubbles and the topping is light brown. 

Other fruit can be used. If using plums, mix 2 Tablespoons quick cooking tapioca with the plums.

If you want a darker crust, use the broiler for a few minutes.

Serve with ice cream

French Pastry Cake with French Custard Filling

French Pastry Cake with Soft French Custard and Fresh Strawberry Filling

French Pastry Cake with Soft French Custard and Fresh Strawberry Filling

I have been making this cake since 1968. My mom learned to make it from a series of cooking classes she took at the Antoinette Pope Cooking School in downtown Chicago.  This was our family birthday cake Mom made for her large family who would gather at our home. The only cake similar I have tasted is the Yule Log made by the French pastry chef at Café Zinc, Jeremy Lecreuse.

This recipe is taken from The New Antoinette Pope Cook Book. I made a double recipe for this large cake.

One recipe is described here and is for an angel food cake pan or any pan of similar volume. A deep 9 x 13 inch baking pan would work as long as it is at least 3 inches deep.

In these cake photos I doubled this recipe and for my baking pan used a liner to a warming tray measuring 20 x 12 x 2.5 inches

This is a sponge cake which is similar to an angel food cake, except it has the addition of beaten egg yolks. The cake filling is fresh strawberries and a thick stove top custard, also a French recipe. The icing is beaten heavy whipping cream. I don’t add sugar, but you may add confectioners sugar as you beat the cream. Mom used to also decorate the cake, but I prefer to decorate with fresh flowers

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

1 1/2 cups sifted cake flour

1 3/4 cup sifted granulated sugar

12 large egg yolks (1 1/2 cups white and 1 cup yolks)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Measure egg yolks and whites

Sift and measure sugar and cake flour

  • In a large bowl combine flour with about 1/2 the sugar. Sift together at least 3 times.
  • Separate eggs carefully. In a medium bowl, beat yolks for several minutes until lemony
  • In a large bowl combine egg whites and salt. Beat until foamy. Sprinkle cream of tartar over surface. Continue beating until whites cling to sides of bowl. Beat 1 more minute.

When egg whites are beaten to foamy, add the cream of tartar which stabilizes the foam

  • With a plastic spatula fold beaten egg yolks into whites.

  • Fold in the other 1/2 of the sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time.
  • Fold in the flour and sugar mixture, 1/4 cup at a time.

Sonia Sanders folding the flour into the cake

Sonia Sanders folding the flour into the cake

Sprinkle 1/4 cup flour-sugar mixture over top and fold in

Sprinkle 1/4 cup flour-sugar mixture over top and fold in



  • Fold in vanilla.

  • Pour batter into a round loose bottom ungreased deep pan about 12 x 3 inches or an angel food cake pan about 4 x 10 inches. If using a pan without a removable bottom, place a 3 inch round of parchment paper on center bottom of pan, holding it in place with a little butter.
  • Bake 1 hour at 300 degrees.
  • Increase to 325 degrees and bake 10-20 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick or cake tester.
Double size cake baking in oven

Double size cake baking in oven

  • Turn cake upside town and balance so the cake does not touch the counter.

Standard round baking pans make 2-3 round cakes

Turn cake pan upside down and balance with cups to hold cake above the counter. Cake does not fall out!

Turn cake pan upside down and balance with cups to hold cake above the counter. Cake does not fall out!

  • Let cool about 2 hours or until cold. It is best to remove cake from pan as soon as it is cold.
  • Loosen sides and bottom with a spatula or dinner knife and turn out onto serving platter or cake rack.
  • When ready to ice, cut cake in half horizontally with a bread knife.

French Cream Filling (Top of Stove Custard)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup sifted flour mixed with 2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 egg yolks

1/4 cup cool milk

2 cups warm milk

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

  • In a stainless steel saucepan combine sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt.
  • In a small bowl beat yolks slightly and add the 1/4 cup cool milk.

  • Whisk yolk mixture slowly into dry ingredients.
  • Whisk warm milk into yolk mixture, a little at a time, until blended.

  • Cook over moderate heat until thickened, stirring constantly.
  • Lower heat and simmer 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add butter.

  • Cool and continue to whisk often to prevent crust from forming.
  • Add vanilla when cool.
  • Cover top of custard with piece of plastic wrap to prevent crust from forming. Refrigerate until ready to use. 

Constructing the cake

  • Prepare a cake platter. I use a tray covered with aluminum foil and white paper doilies.
  • Divide the custard in half. Spread half of it on the cut side of the bottom cake layer.
Cake sliced in half and spread with custard and covered with fresh strawberries

Cake sliced in half and spread with custard and covered with fresh strawberries

  • Place fresh strawberry slices over the custard.
  • Spread the remaining half of custard on the cut side of the top layer of cake.
  • Carefully flip the top layer onto the strawberry layer.
Cake Assembled!

Cake Assembled!

It's a beautiful thing! And not super sweet!

It’s a beautiful thing! And not super sweet!

  • Beat at least 1 pint or more fresh whipping cream until spreadable. You can add some powdered sugar before beating if you want it a little sweeter.
  • Frost the cake top and then the sides with the whipping cream.
  • Voila!

Il Flotante, Floating Islands

Floating Island, A Classic French Dessert Adaption

Floating Island, A Classic French Dessert Adaption

Two years ago in Paris, I first tasted Il Flotante at an adorable little bistro in Saint Germain called la Coupe Chou, which means chopped cabbage. It is a term of endearment, something like ” my little cabbage” or “my little muffin” 🙂 Anyway, this recipe is from Food and Wine Magazine and the link is below. As you will read, the classic meringue is poached, but this one is baked. It looks like a giant marshmallow and tastes like the meringue of a lemon meringue pie.

This was our dessert for dinner club. Rose Thill prepared it beautifully and used whole milk instead of the classic heavy cream to save us a lot of calories. The fresh vanilla bean seeds made it delish! It was also very beautiful! Rose added the raspberries for color. Bon Apetit!

Strawberry Pistachio Semifreddo

Strawberry Pistachio Semifreddo

Strawberry Pistachio Semifreddo

This “semi-frozen” dessert does not require an ice cream maker and is perfect for a dinner party because it serves 8-12. Or you can keep it all for yourself in the freezer! Thank you to Martha Stewart, this was a big hit at our last Dinner Club! Martha Stewart is the entertaining queen of our time. Her magazine, Martha Stewart Living and her website are inspiring sources. You can also find this recipe at

Our dinner party of 8 divided this dessert into 8 portions. Not a lick was leftover!

Thank you to Rose Thill for discovering this recipe and to Nadine Kanuch for preparing it so exquisitely!

1/2 cup unsalted roasted shelled pistachios

8 ounces strawberries, hulled (about 2 cups)

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar, divided

3 large egg yolks, room temperature

1 1/2 cup cold heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Line a 5-by-9 inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 2 inch overhang on all sides.
  • Pulse pistachios in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl.
  • Place strawberries and 3 tablespoons sugar in the processor
  • Puree until smooth and transfer to a fine sieve set over a bowl. Stir puree, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids.
  • In a medium bowl set over a pot of simmering water combine egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar.
  • Beat on high until pale yellow and tripled in volume, about 3 minutes.
  • Transfer bowl to a larger bowl of ice water. Stir until mixture is very thick and cool, about 3 minutes.
  • In another large bowl beat together cream and vanilla until soft peaks form.
  • Whisk 1/3 of whipped cream into egg mixture, whisking until smooth.
  • Then fold egg mixture into remaining whipped cream with a rubber spatula just until thoroughly blended.
  • Pour 1/2 of the cream mixture into strawberry puree. Gently fold together until thoroughly incorporated.
  • Pour strawberry cream mixture into the prepared loaf pan; smooth top.
  • Fold pistachios into remaining cream mixture. Pour evenly over strawberry cream; smooth top.
  • Fold plastic wrap over surface and freeze at least 12 hours.
  • Keep frozen until ready to serve. Invert pan onto a cutting board. Unmold semifreddo, remove plastic, and cut crosswise into 3/4 inch thick slices. Voila!

Guinness Stout Chocolate Cake

Julian Angel of is my inspiration for decorating this Guinness cake. You can also find his videos at These fresh flowers are all edible. Gerber daisies and mini carnations. The pink drizzle I made with Wilton pink baking wafers melted with cream. You can also use white chocolate, cream and food coloring.

This 14.9 ounce can of Guinness is an almost perfect size. I added 2 tablespoons of water to make the 16 oz.


A beautiful rich moist black color cake!
The finished product! Bellisima!

My fitness center friend, Norma Brooks, shared this recipe with me and it has become our favorite family cake. All three of my daughters bake it for their celebrations! It is a beautiful firm rich cake and is worth purchasing 3 large 9 inch x 2 1/2 inch high round baking pans. Using the traditional 9 inch x 1 1/2 inch baking pans works, but you’ll need 5 and decreased baking time. You can make a very tall cake, or freeze 2 or 3 of these smaller layers for a later time. I prefer the 3 larger pans.

Cake Ingredients

2 cups (16 oz) Guinness Stout

1 lb. butter

1 1/2 cups unsweeted cocoa powder (Hersheys Regular or Extra Dark)

4 cups all purpose flour

4 cups sugar

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

4 large eggs

1 1/3 cups sour cream

Frosting Ingredients

2 cups (16 oz) heavy whipping cream

16 oz. bittersweet chocolate (Ghirardelli 60% cacao)

Cake Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the large 2 1/2 inch high x 9 inch wide baking pans. 
  • Line buttered pans with parchment paper by drawing a circle using the bottom of the pans as patterns and place circles into the buttered pans.
  • Now butter the parchment.
  • In a heavy saucepan, bring Guinness and butter just to a simmer. 
  • Remove from heat and whisk in cocoa powder until smooth. Cool
  • In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer/Kitchen Aid, beat eggs and sour cream just until blended.
  • Add the stout-butter-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat briefly at low speed till combined.
  • Add flour mixture to batter and mix at low speed just till blended. Use a rubber spatula to thoroughly mix.
  • Divide batter into the 3 large baking pans.
  • Bake 35-40 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Do not overbake.
  • Place cakes on cooling racks for 10-20 minutes. Then turn cakes out of pans onto these racks. Remove parchment paper.
  • Cool completely. If you leave them overnight, wrap in plastic wrap when cool.

Frosting takes a few hours because this involves cooling, so don’t wait to the last minute to make the frosting.

Frosting Directions

  • In a medium size heavy saucepan bring the cream just to a simmer.
  • Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until melted and smooth.
  • The frosting will be thin at this point. It thickens as it cools. 
  • I use one of two methods for cooling the icing. 1. Pour the icing in a bowl and whisk it within another bowl of ice water until cooled and spreadable. OR 2. Pour the icing into a bowl and place it in the refrigerator with the whisk sitting in the bowl. Check the frosting every 5 minutes and whisk it until it is spreadable. If it’s refrigerated too long it will become hard
  • When frosting is spreadable, choose your serving platter and place the bottom layer of cake on it. Place a layer of icing on the cake. Top this with the 2nd cake and frost it’s top. Now layer on the 3rd cake. First frost the sides of this 3 layer giant and finally frost the top of your cake. Voila!
  • I find it is best to place thinner layers in between the cakes and reserve plenty of frosting for the sides and top.
  • This is a very moist cake that does not need ice cream.  To cut slices, I cut the cake in half. Use one half at a time and cut perpendicular thin slices (but thick enough to maintain it’s shape.) 
  • Voila!


Baklava baked and cut in diamond shapes








This is an authentic Greek recipe from Mercin Karris of Midland Michigan. She made this for her family and the annual Greek Festival in Saginaw Michigan. When I made the recipe her husband George would critique it for me. I have enjoyed making this for 30 years with heartfelt appreciation for George and Mercin.

1 lb package frozen phyllo leaves, measuring 14 inches x 18 inches (follow package directions for thawing. If phyllo starts to crack, let thaw  longer at room temperature)

1 lb salted butter or more, melted

2-3 lbs walnuts, chopped coarsely, or as desired

3 tablespoons cinnamon


4 cups sugar

3 cups water

1/2 lemon

2-3 inch cinnamon sticks

1/2 cup honey

In a large saucepan combine the sugar, water, lemon and cinnamon sticks. Whisk together and heat to a simmer. Continue simmering uncovered. Keep an eye on this as you proceed with the baklava. The goal is to have room temperature syrup that is the consistancy of Karo syrup. As you complete the baklava, cool a tiny amount in the freezer. Then place a drop on your thumb nail. This drop should not roll off.

Add the ground cinnamon to the chopped walnuts and mix.

Use a shallow baking sheet measuring about 14 inches x 18 inches x 1 1/2 inches. Brush the bottom and sides with butter.

  • Compiling the baklava involves layering the leaves of phyllo and brushing each layer with melted butter.
  • You should use at least 1 pound of butter, but not over 1 1/4 pounds.
  • For the bottom layers, place 6 leaves of phyllo brushing each layer with butter.
  • If the leaves are too large for the pan, fold the excess towards the center. Switch sides of the folds to make an even pastry. The center layers continue with phyllo and butter with the addition of 2 or 3 handfuls of walnuts sprinkled on top.
  • As you make several layers with nuts, count out the last 6 layers of phyllo. These are the top layers and should be phyllo and butter only as the bottom layers without the nuts.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Before baking, cut the baklava. Your skills for cutting and visualizing even measurements determines how you go about this. You can use a ruler if you want.
  • I use dental floss to mark out 6 lengthwise strips. Then I use a sharp paring knife to cut these strips.
  • Then I use the dental floss to mark out the diagonal corners across the baklava. Cut through this center diagonal line with the knife.
  • At this point I use my eye to cut the remaining strips in parallel to the center diagonal.
  • The end products are diamond shape baklava measuring about 4 inches by 1 1/5 inches. If you want smaller pieces, start out with 7 or 8 lengthwise strips.
  • Before baking, check your syrup. If it is ready, pour into a ceramic bowl and add honey. Cool quickly  to room temperature over ice. The goal is to pour cold syrup over hot baklava. Set the syrup aside to cool.
  • Place the baklava in the hot oven. Sprinkle a wet hand of water over the baklava to promote a crisp crust. Bake about 30 minutes or until just starting to turn a light toasted color.  Do not overbake.
  • Remove from the oven and recut with a sharp knife.
  • Pour the cold syrup over the hot baklava. Cool overnight before serving. Syrup absorbs into pastry as it cools. Wait to  serve until there is no more syrup pooling in the baking pan.
  • You can make this large quantity and freeze part for another time.  When ready to serve I like to use a paper cupcake liner for each piece
  •  You can use pistachios instead of walnuts. Another flavor to sprinkle on is rose water just before and/or after baking.

Fresh Cheese with Honey & Figs/Mel I Mato Amb Figues

This is a traditional Catalyan dessert made with a cheese only a day or two old. This cheese that is barely a cheese is traditionally made with goat’s, sheep’s or now cow’s milk. The best examples are from Montserrat, outside of Barcelona. When purchased there, the cheese is wrapped in large green leaves to keep it’s shape and freshness.  The best substitute available is whole milk ricotta and when sprinkled with a little sugar is also a delicious popular breakfast in Catalonia.

For each serving place on a small plate:

One 1/2 inch slice or a spoonful about 1/2 cup in size of whole milk ricotta cheese

One fresh fig, stem removed, cut in quarters, flesh side up; dried figs are a good substitute

Drizzle evenly with honey

Serve at once!

Nutrition Note: This cheese is a rich source of calcium and protein and a very healthy dessert lower in fat & sugar than most!