Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Shaker Lemon Pie and Other Just Desserts

Here are some dessert recipes I tried recently, worth writing home about.

First, two pies.
The recipe for Shaker Lemon Pie looks like it came from a magazine in the 60s or 70s. There is a photo of a woman in Shakertown who is hanging strings (pasta?) and wearing a bonnet and gauzy wrap around her shoulders. The recipe is attributed to Alan Guebert. It is surprising and lemony and delightful.


Shaker Lemon Pie

2 large lemons
2 c. sugar
4 eggs, well beaten
Pastry for double-crust 9” pie

Slice lemons as thin as paper, rind and all. Combine with sugar; mix well. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand 2 hrs., preferably overnight. Stir occasionally.
Add beaten eggs to lemon mixture; mix well. Turn into 9” pie shell, arranging lemon slices evenly. Cover with top crust. Cut several slits near center.
Cover pie edge with foil. Bake 450° for 15 min. Remove foil.
Reduce heat to 375°, and bake for about 20 min. or until knife inserted near the edge comes out clean. Cool before serving.


Maple Cream Pie

9” pie crust
2 ¼ c. whole milk
2 c. maple syrup
3 large egg yolks
½ c. flour
3 T. cornstarch
2 ½ tsp. vanilla, divided

1 ¼ c. chilled whipping cream
1 T. sugar
Toasted chopped walnuts

Bake and cool pie crust.
Whisk milk, syrup and yolks in large bowl to blend. Whisk flour and cornstarch in medium bowl. Gradually whisk 1 c. milk mixture into flour mixture. Gradually whisk in remaining milk mixture. Transfer to large saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until custard thickens and boils, about 8 min. Whisk in 2 tsp. vanilla. Pour into pie crust. Chill until cold, about 3 hrs.
Beat cream, sugar and remaining ½ tsp. vanilla in medium bowl until peaks form. Spread whipped cream over pie and sprinkle with walnuts.


This pumpkin roll recipe was snipped from the Libby’s pumpkin label. Lately I’ve been freezing fresh local fall pumpkin, and before I use it, thawing it overnight over cheesecloth to let some of the liquid drain. It’s so much better than canned, much cheaper, and easy too. Just cut the fresh, gutted pumpkin into large hunks, lay into a cake pan with a foil drape, and bake until it’s tender.
The walnuts make this recipe. Pure genius.


Pumpkin Roll

Powdered sugar
¾ c. flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. salt
3 eggs
1 c. sugar
2/3 c. pumpkin
1 c. chopped walnuts

1 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
6 T. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease 15x10” jelly-roll pan; line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a small bowl. Beat eggs and sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan. Sprinkle with nuts.
Bake 13-15 min. or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool on wire rack.
For filling, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth. Carefully unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Reroll cake. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.


Occasionally there will be leftover cookies, and I like to grind them into crumbs and stash them in the freezer for cheesecake crusts. When I use homemade cookies, I skip the extra sugar in the crust.


Mocha Cheesecake

1 ½ c. chocolate wafers, finely crushed
1/3 c. butter
½ T. sugar

2 oz. sweet chocolate
2 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese
4 eggs
¾ c. sugar
3 tsp. instant coffee (I keep a small jar of instant coffee in the freezer just for baking)
Dash salt

Raspberries or chocolate leaves or powdered sugar for garnish

Combine crumbs, butter and sugar. Butter sides and bottom of 8” springform pan. Press crumb mixture evenly onto bottom of pan. (More than pressing, I just kind of lay the mixture in lightly so it doesn’t adhere to the pan like some kind of mortar.)
Melt chocolate in microwave, stir until smooth.
Beat cream cheese until soft and smooth. (Thanks to my friend Amy for suggesting that this may take as long as several minutes. Turn the mixer on and go have some coffee.)
Add eggs, one at a time to cream cheese. Gradually add sugar, mixing until well blended. At this point, scrape everything down so there aren’t any sneaky lumps lurking about.
Add melted chocolate, instant coffee and salt. Stir until blended.
Turn mixture into prepared pan. Bake 350° in center of oven for about 40 min. or until center is almost set. It will firm when chilled. *Very important!* It should be plenty jiggly when you take it out. That will ensure creaminess.
Let cheesecake cool on counter for about 45 min. Cover and chill for at least 4 hrs. or overnight.
Remove sides of pan. Garnish with chocolate leaves or raspberries, or, right before serving, powdered sugar.


Thank you to Marjorie Breivogel of Montello, Wisconsin, who published this recipe in the Oshkosh Northwestern many years ago.

Chocolate Snowballs

1 ¼ c. butter
2/3 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
½ tsp. salt
½ c. cocoa
1 c. chopped pecans

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla. Add sifted dry ingredients and nuts. Chill for one hour. Form into small balls about the size of a walnut. Bake at 350° for 15 min. on an ungreased cookie sheet. Cool. Roll in powdered sugar.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Youngstown Cash Mob May Event!

“The Cash Mob has a sweet tooth!” someone told me recently. More likely a soft spot. The businesses that are nominated come with stories about dreams and commitment to the community. It’s as fun for me to hear about how a place came into being, or about how much the owners believe in Youngstown, as it is to go there.

Our May Cash Mob will take us to Clarencedale Cake. The special order cakes are as much sculpture as dessert! Here are a few, and you can find more photos on their Facebook page and their website.



The May vote was neck and neck with Mahoning Valley Vacuum. Talk about an incredible story! This owner was in the first graduating class of the Rich Center for Austism here at Youngstown State. He always loved vacuums, and by the time he graduated, he had over 100. (Great mom there, right?) So he and his mom opened a vacuum store: repairs, reconditions and new.

When I called called Ellen at Clarencedale Cake to tell her they had won the Cash Mob, she posted a note on the Youngstown Cash Mob wall expressing admiration and support for Mahoning Valley Vacuum, and the very next morning went down to buy a new vacuum for her shop.

Yeah, it’s that kind of community. That’s what makes Youngstown such a great place to live.

If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by Clarencedale Cake on Sat. 26 May, anytime between 9-5. That’s Memorial Day weekend. Houseful of company? Picnic?  There’s dessert: cupcakes like they’re on parade.

You can find the Youngstown Cash Mob on their Facebook page here, and by email at

Here are a few cupcakes for you to take on your way!



Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Poetry Book Discussion: Summer


Our May selection, C.D. Wright's Rising, Falling, Hovering is so beautiful, so deft, haunting, political, vulnerable, angry. It asks questions like what happens when we want something and what happens when we want something that’s wrong for us and what happens.

In June we’ll read If There is Something to Desire by Vera Pavlova, translated by Steven Seymour (Alfred A. Knopf 2010). You can read about Pavlova's amazing life here.

Our August book is Gathering the Tide: An Anthology of Contemporary Arabian Gulf Poetry, edited by Patty Paine, Jeff Lodge, and Samia Touati (Ithaca Press 2011). Patty is the editor of diode poetry journal, one of my favorites, and she teaches at Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Doha, Qatar.
Gathering the Tide: An Anthology of Contemporary Arabian Gulf Poetry Cover

We're going to take July off. What poetry books will you take on vacation?