Sweet Comfort from a Vermont Kitchen

December 5th, 2012 / comments 3

This time of year the sun sets before I’ve finished my afternoon tea. The cold damp air mandates a roaring fire in the woodstove. This is the season between holidays. There’s lots to do and not a lot of energy to do it. It’s comfort food time. To me, comfort food is food that’s easy to prepare, flavorful with a creamy consistency – the perfect description of pudding.
pudding c egbert Sweet Comfort from a Vermont Kitchen
As a young cook, I made pudding by combining pudding mix with milk, cooked the mixture, stirring patiently, until it had big bubbles that plopped and spattered like the boiling mud pots at Yellowstone. … read more

Candy Bar Pie – Hint from the ’50s

July 6th, 2011 / Comments 0

candy bar pie sm Candy Bar Pie   Hint from the 50s

Painting by Carol Egbert

Not a Reddi Wip Chocolate Birthday Cake!

December 1st, 2010 / comments 7

When I was a child, a red and white aerosol can of Reddi-wip often appeared with dessert. White fluff spurted out when I pushed the nozzle. It was fun to dispense it directly from the can into my mouth, it was great ammunition in a food fight and its appearance promised that dessert would be either an ice cream sundae or a slice of pumpkin pie.

reddi wip Not a Reddi Wip Chocolate Birthday Cake!

Invented in 1948, it uses nitrous oxide as a propellant for a mixture of cream, sweeteners and stabilizers and was a definite step up from its predecessor, a cream substitute made with vegetable oil, called Sta-Whip.

The chocolate whipped-cream cake I chose from an upscale bakery for my seventh birthday was my cream epiphany. It was covered with real whipped cream, without nitrous oxide, corn syrup, artificial flavor, monoglycerides, or carrageen. I’m not implying that at seven I was an informed foodie, however, even then I knew that heavy cream, beaten until stiff with was sublime.

pink beater c egbert Not a Reddi Wip Chocolate Birthday Cake!

Since that birthday, if a chocolate cake isn’t frosted with real whipped cream, I don’t think it deserves to be called a birthday cake. As a young cook, the birthday cakes I made began as a cake mix, but as a young mother I decided that my sons deserved birthday cakes made from scratch. Our family’s traditional birthday cake is a rum infused, dark chocolate cake, slathered with whipped cream. The cream is still whipped by hand, but now I use a wire whisk instead of the hand-cranked mixer I used as a child.

Sunday will be my younger son’s birthday. If Matthew were living on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, I would make his birthday cake rather than sending this to his wife.

Dear Alison,

Here’s the recipe for Matthew’s birthday cake: … read more

Chocolate Pear Cake to Celebrate Mosque

September 8th, 2010 / comments 8

Last week, our friend Richard called to say that it was time to pick pears. As I drove to his house, I remembered the first time I had seen pears on that tree.

pear basket c egbert Chocolate Pear Cake to Celebrate Mosque

It was nearly fourteen years ago, just after we had moved from Washington DC, leaving behind townhouses, taxicabs, and sirens, to come to live in rural in Vermont with farmhouses, tractors, cows and of course pear trees.

For the most part, adjusting to the changes was easy. I loved seeing mist rising on the river, wildflowers at the roadside and blue skies with white fluffy clouds. I wasn’t so comfortable when a snake appeared when I was mowing the grass or when a troop of turkeys wandered by. Luckily, those creatures were as timid as I was. Cows were another matter. I liked seeing them in the pastures, I marveled at their beauty but I needed to have a fence between me and them – until the first time I saw Richard’s pear tree. As I drove along the road near his house, I had to stop for a herd of cows. The cows were not in the meadow, they were in the middle of the road, and in no time at all, I was in the middle of the cows.

cow c egbert1 Chocolate Pear Cake to Celebrate Mosque

What to do? I sat in my car, with the windows closed and, after a minute or two, all of the cows, except for one lovely Jersey, walked slowly up the road, away from me and toward the barn. The remaining cow turned, looked back at me, batted her glorious eyelashes and headed for the pear tree growing in the center of the garden in front of a large house. She downed at least a dozen pears and then her herding instinct overwhelmed her desire for pears and she hustled off. I followed the cows at a safe distance, until the wanderers reunited with the rest of the herd at the top of the road. When I was certain that the cows had no interest in me, I knocked on the front door of the house and told the woman who opened the door that her cows were on the loose. She shrugged her shoulders, and said, “They’re not my cows but they like to stop by. I’ll call the farmer.”

A couple of years later, that woman, Nancy, and her husband Richard became our friends. I shared my story about the cow and the pear tree at our first meeting. Nancy explained that even though the cows still stopped by I was welcome to share the bounty of the pear tree with them. Each August, as summer winds down, when Richard calls about the pears, I think about Nancy who died four years ago.

mosque CF Egbert Chocolate Pear Cake to Celebrate Mosque

On Saturday we had a picnic with friends and other sculptors at the opening of Sculpturefest in Woodstock. Charles’ sculpture of a mosque made its Vermont debut and I wanted to mark the day with a celebratory cake. The pears from Richard’s tree and a chunk of bittersweet Callebaut chocolate from the Coop inspired me to make a chocolate studded, pear cake. Here’s how I did it:

… read more

Chocolate Fig Cake – Competition Worthy!

February 8th, 2010 / comments 4

A couple of weeks ago my friend Edie told me about friends who had moved to San Francisco from Vermont.  ( I’m sure that they didn’t move for the natural beauty, this Vermont sunrise was worthy of Maxfield Parish.)Winter Sunrise 01 Chocolate Fig Cake   Competition Worthy! They created Recchiuti Confections with the idea “… once you introduce people to truly exquisite chocolates they will be won over instantly and forever.”  The next day Edie sent me a link to the Hot Chocolate Recipe Contest. I called to find out where I could buy some of the Hot Chocolate wafers and was surprised when I was told that they would send me a sample. The chocolate came a few days later – they were yummy. The wafers are meant to be used to make a perfect cup of hot chocolate but I decided to create a new cake that would feature this wonderful semisweet chocolate.

I was inspired by a package of dried mission figs in the pantry and decided that figs and chocolate would be an interesting combination. I emailed my recipe for a Chocolate Figgy Cake with coffee mousse to Recchiuti and I am waiting to see it they agree with my friends who declared it a winner. Their site says that the winning recipe will be announced before Valentine’s day.D Chocolate Figgy Cake Chocolate Fig Cake   Competition Worthy!

Here’s the recipe, written in cookbook recipe style, that I sent: … read more

Chocolate Walnut Toffee Cookies – Cookie Memory Part 2

January 21st, 2010 / comments 10

Cookies are simple to make with few ingredients and can be modified to include fruit, nuts, seeds, and spices, and rolled, cut and decorated for any occasion.

Ptu mixer sm 03 orange c egbert  Chocolate Walnut Toffee Cookies   Cookie Memory Part 2Whether making and sharing easily transportable energy bars or delicate treats served on fine china, cookies are a sweet way to say, “I love you.”

Since my early attempts at cookie baking, I have been fascinated by the endless variety of both names and flavors of cookies. There are snaps, sandies, hermits, dainties, thumbprints, gems, biscotti, pizzelle, crisos, mondel brot, tray bakes, gems, moon cakes, whoopee pies and snicker doodles. I enjoy saying Karlsbader Oblaten as much as I enjoy eating the delicious butter wafer made crunchy with coarse sugar and groundnuts. Learning names of exotic cookies and tasting them is a hobby similar to stamp collecting but one I find more rewarding.

Pto Garden Gate 01 c egbert Chocolate Walnut Toffee Cookies   Cookie Memory Part 2

When my younger son, Matthew,  was eight he had a cookie stand during an annual two day garden tour in our neighborhood. We baked trays of cookies and after two very successful days, he was able to made a hefty deposit to his drum kit fund. Toffee cookie bars, called toffee tray bakes in the UK, topped with nuts and chocolate were the most popular. Here’s how we made them a few days before the garden tour: … read more

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