Tags Posts tagged with "spring desserts"

spring desserts

Biscuit Strawberry Shortcake. Photo from Family Features

By Barbara Beltrami

Last week I wrote about spring pastas. This week it’s about spring desserts, and don’t be surprised if next week it’s about spring something else because I am so happy to see this beautiful season that it’s just about all I can think of. Now is the time for some tangy lemon pavlovas and in May a rhubarb tart (I like rhubarb straight without strawberries upstaging it), and finally when those strawberries are ready to be plucked from local fields, they can have their own spotlight with old-fashioned strawberry shortcake. 

Mini Lemon Pavlovas

YIELD: Makes 6 servings


3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon potato starch

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup + 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 extra large egg or 2 medium eggs, beaten

Freshly grated zest of half a small lemon


Preheat oven to 225 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl combine egg whites with vinegar, vanilla, salt and cream of tartar; beat on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add 3/4 cup of sugar, one heaping tablespoonful at a time and beat on high speed after each addition until sugar is dissolve. After all the sugar has been added continue beating until stiff glossy peaks form. 

Gently transfer meringue to a pastry bag or plastic bag with a small corner cut out and pipe the mixture into six 3-inch circles, building up the sides to form shells or cups; bake 45 to 50 minutes until dry and set; turn off oven but leave shells inside (without peeking!) for one hour. Then remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet. 

In a small saucepan combine remaining sugar and potato starch; whisk in water and the 1/4 cup lemon juice until smooth; over medium heat cook, stirring constantly until thick and bubbly. Reduce heat to low and cook and stir over low heat two minutes more; remove from heat, stir in remaining lemon juice and the zest, transfer to a small bowl, let cool but don’t stir and refrigerate, covered until chilled. When ready to serve, spoon into shells and serve with whipped cream and fresh raspberries.

Rhubarb Tart

YIELD: Makes one 9” tart


One 9” pie crust, baked until golden

3 tablespoons currant or strawberry jelly

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons fruit-flavored brandy

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 pounds fresh rhubarb, leaves removed, ribs trimmed and cut into 1/2” pieces


Brush bottom of crust with jelly. In a large saucepan over medium heat combine sugar, water, brandy, lemon juice, nutmeg and cinnamon; stir until sugar dissolves and bring to a boil; add rhubarb and bring back to a boil, then reduce. Heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until rhubarb starts to soften, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat, keep covered and let sit about 15 minutes, until rhubarb is tender, then uncover and cool completely.

With a slotted spoon, remove rhubarb from liquid and place in baked pie shell. Boil remaining liquid over medium-high heat until reduced to glaze consistency, then brush over rhubarb. Serve hot or warm with vanilla or strawberry ice cream.

Biscuit Strawberry Shortcake

Biscuit Strawberry Shortcake

YIELD: Makes 8 servings


2 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Half a stick cold unsalted butter

1 cup milk

1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 tablespoon orange liqueur

2 cups whipped cream


Preheat oven to 425 F. Lightly grease a baking sheet. In a large bowl combine flour, two tablespoons of the sugar, baking powder, and salt; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal; gradually stir in milk to form a soft dough. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls into 8 mounds on baking sheet; bake until lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes; cool on wire rack, then split horizontally. In a large bowl combine strawberries, remaining sugar, orange juice and liqueur. Spoon onto bottom halves of biscuits, add on top halves and finish with dollops of whipped cream. Serve with coffee or tea.

Julia's Chocolate Chiffon Cake

By Barbara Beltrami

Last week I wrote about spring holiday meals and how much in common there is among the cuisines of various religions. From tender young vegetables to lots of eggs as decorations or ingredients, to light, fluffy desserts, everything seems to converge on the spring theme. Last week I also promised to give you a few recipes for those light-as-a-feather cakes that, whether angel food, sponge or chiffon, rely heavily on egg whites.

Spring-y and delicate, none are difficult to make. All of them make beautiful presentations, especially if decorated with seasonal pastels or confections and all of them function beautifully as complements to fruits, sauces, ice cream and sorbets. So tie on your apron, heat up that oven, get out your electric mixer and cake pans, take those eggs out of the refrigerator and let’s bake!

Julia’s Chocolate Chiffon Cake

Julia’s Chocolate Chiffon Cake

YIELD: Makes 8 to 12 servings


¾ cup boiling water

½ cup cocoa

1¾ cups cake flour

1¾ cups sugar

1½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup vegetable oil

7 unbeaten egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

7 egg whites

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 325 F. Combine boiling water and cocoa; let cool. Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center, then add oil, egg yolks, vanilla and cocoa mixture, and beat until smooth. Put egg whites and cream of tartar into large mixing bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Pour egg yolk mixture in thin stream over entire surface of egg whites. With rubber spatula gently fold in until well blended. Pour into ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Bake 55 minutes, then raise heat to 350 F and bake another 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven; invert onto wire rack until cool. Remove from pan and decorate with your favorite frosting, if desired. Otherwise, serve with fudge sauce, whipped cream, liqueur or vanilla or chocolate ice cream.

Nana’s Orange Sponge Cake

Nana’s Orange Sponge Cake

YIELD: Makes 8 to 10 servings


6 eggs, separated

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

½ cup Passover cake meal

¼ cup potato starch

Freshly grated rind of half an orange

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. In another larger bowl combine the egg yolks, sugar and orange juice and beat until frothy and pale. In a third bowl combine the cake meal and potato starch and gradually beat into the egg yolk mixture until batter is smooth. Fold in the egg whites and orange rind. Transfer batter to an ungreased tube pan with a removable bottom and bake for one hour. Remove from oven and invert over wire rack until cool. Unmold and serve with orange sorbet, stewed fruit or fresh berries.

Rebecca’s Angel Food Cake

Rebecca’s Angel Food Cake

YIELD: Makes 8 to 10 servings


8 egg whites

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

½ teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1¼ cups fine granulated sugar

1 cup cake flour

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 325 F. Dust a 10-inch tube pan with flour but do not butter it. Beat egg whites with salt until foamy; add cream of tartar and continue beating until egg whites form soft peaks. Add almond and vanilla extracts; lightly stir once. Sift together the sugar and cake flour over a separate bowl; repeat three times. Using a whisk or spatula, gently fold the sifted mixture, two tablespoons at a time, into the beaten egg whites until the batter is completely blended. Spoon evenly into prepared tube pan. Bake for 50 minutes; turn the oven off and leave cake in for another 10 minutes. Turn cake upside down on a wire rack and let sit for one hour, then carefully unmold. Serve with chocolate sauce or pureed strawberries.