If you're looking for a reason to splurge on a decadent dessert, here's a good one: Sunday is National Dessert Day. I'd never heard of it, but it pops up on websites that list food "holidays," so it must be true. Whatever the case, I love desserts and I'm willing to celebrate with two outstanding recipes.
The first recipe, Raspberry Brownie Ice Cream Pie, comes from Francine Pitcairn of Mt. Lebanon, who loves to bake and cook. She found this recipe years ago in a Bon Appetit magazine. "I made this cake for my daughter Olivia's seventh birthday and it's been a birthday request ever since. Olivia is now 21. What I like about this cake is that it's easy to make and you can keep any leftovers in the freezer for a couple of days. And you can change the recipe to suit your favorite flavors. That's what I did when my son Samuel at the age of 9 asked me to make this cake for his birthday. He prefers more chocolate."
I found the second recipe, Apple Crumble Sponge, in the "Cake Boy" cookbook by Eric Lanlard (Mitchell Beazley, 2011, $19.99). It's loaded with Granny Smith apples and is topped off with a buttery oatmeal crumble. Enjoy!
RASPBERRY BROWNIE ICE CREAM PIE
For the brownies
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons strong coffee
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 375 degrees. Line an 8-inch square pan with foil. Butter foil. In a heavy saucepan, cook butter and coffee over medium heat until butter melts. Reduce heat to low. Add chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Cool 10 minutes.
Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla until thick, about 2 minutes. Stir in chocolate mixture. Mix in flour. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until brownies are cracked around edges, about 25 minutes. Cool. Cover and chill overnight. Cut brownies into 1/3-inch pieces.
For the Chocolate Crumb Crust
Butter for pan
9-ounce package chocolate wafer cookies, crushed to crumbs
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter 9-inch springform pan. Mix crumbs with melted butter until crumbs are evenly moist. Press crumb mixture over bottom and 2 inches up sides of prepared pan. Bake 10 minutes. Cool completely on rack.
For the Chocolate Truffle Sauce
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whipping cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Bring whipping cream and unsalted butter just to simmer. Remove from heat. Add chocolate chips and vanilla extract and whisk until sauce is smooth. (The sauce can be prepared 2 weeks in advance. Before using, re-heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.) Cover and chill.
For the pie
1 quart raspberry sherbet, softened slightly
1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened slightly
Spread raspberry sherbet on crust. Sprinkle half of brownie pieces over sherbet. Drizzle 1/2 cup warm sauce over brownies. Spread vanilla ice cream over sauce and brownies. Finish with remaining brownie pieces and 1/2 cup warm sauce. Freeze pie still in the pan, just until firm, about 1 hour. Or wrap and freeze pie overnight.
Let pie stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Warm remaining Truffle Sauce. Cut into wedges and serve, passing warm sauce separately.
Makes 10 to 12 servings
-- Bon Appetit, Aug. 1991
APPLE CRUMBLE SPONGE
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 cup self-rising flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large Granny Smith apples
For the crumble
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup rolled oats
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 81/2-inch springform cake pan with extra butter; line with parchment paper.
Cream 7 tablespoons butter and sugar together using an electric hand mixer at medium-high speed until fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, still beating. When eggs are incorporated sift on flour, cinnamon, and baking powder. Fold gently, using a large metal spoon, then add and fold in vanilla extract.
Spoon into pan, and smooth it out so that it is level. Peel and core apples, cut into fine slices and place them on top of the batter leaving a gap between apples and the edges of the pan.
Place crumble ingredients except oats in a food processor and process briefly until you have a rough crumble batter. Transfer batter to a bowl; stir in the oats until well combined. ("I like my crumble chunky, so on purpose leave larger bits and pieces; they give a pleasing rustic look and are nice and crunchy," writes Eric Landard. )
Sprinkle top of cake generously with the crumble. Bake 35 minutes. Allow to stand 5 minutes, remove the sides of the pan and peel away the paper. Put in a serving dish and serve with honey to drizzle over it.
-- "Cake Boy" by Eric Lanlard" (Mitchell Beazley, 2011, $19.99)
Sue La Barbera of South Park, sent this letter in response to recipe requests last week from Victoria Prostko of Upper St. Clair -- for Patio Cake from Kaufmann's department store bakery -- and Jill Baer of McMurray for the store's Thumbprint Cookie:
"I have a recipe book, given to me by a friend, and neither of the requested recipes are in it. I do not know if any other Kaufmann's recipe books were printed, but I have a feeling the recipes contained in this book are all from the restaurant, not the bakery. There is no information in the book to date when it was printed.