Gingered Cantaloupe with Sage Honey.

Fresh fruit makes the simplest dessert and is that perfect sweet ending to any meal.

We always look forward to the early summer garden with fresh corn-on-the-cob and tomatoes bursting in bright vivid colors. But there’s really something to be said about the early fall garden. For us here in Central Illinois that’s when our “orange” fruits and vegetables ripen giving us big beautiful pumpkins, the sweetest sweet potatoes, plump carrots, and a personal favorite, juicy sweet fruits like redhaven peaches and cantaloupe. It’s the cantaloupe that is highlighted in this fruit dessert.

Cantaloupe is perfect sliced in wedges and eaten plain, but if you want to elevate the flavors cut the fruit into melon balls and mix them with freshly grated ginger and a drizzle of sage honey. That peppery tang in the fresh ginger just hits the tongue in the most delightful way and changes the cantaloupe giving it a more dynamic flavor. Then the sage honey comes in with a sweet, clover-like flavor and tames the ginger. But what really brings it all together is the floral undertones in all three of the ingredients. The flavors explode in your mouth and then come together in a gentle swaying dance.

Just use a light hand with both the ginger and honey. Fresh ginger can be very potent and can overtake the more mellow cantaloupe. You know the rule: you can always add more, but you cannot take it away.

Bread Pudding

Bread pudding, once known as poor man’s pudding, has come a long way since its humble beginnings. It evolved as a use for stale bread. Today’s bread puddings, however, take advantage of fresh, gourmet breads, such as brioche, and include expensive ingredients, such as vanilla beans, flavored liquors, gourmet cheese, or pecans. It has shaken its modest origins and now shows up on the dessert menus of upscale restaurants and creative home cooks.

For us it is the ultimate comfort food and we love how versatility it is. The dish is made by layering bits of bread (or leftover muffins, croissants, buns, you get the idea) with any imaginable addition from fruit, to liquor, to spices, to leftover chocolate, in a dish and soaking it in a custard sauce before baking. It bakes up golden and fluffy and as if that isn’t enough it is often drizzled in creamy flavorful sauces. Seriously, what’s not to love?

The Basic:

Start with a basic bread pudding. I usually tear a loaf of challah bread into a large bowl. In a medium saucepan heat 3 cups milk (or half and half, or 2 cups milk and 1 cup heavy cream) with 3 tablespoons butter just until butter is melted. Pour over bread and let sit 15 minutes to cool. In a small bowl whisk 3 eggs with 1/2 cup sugar until it is smooth ad thick. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla (or vanilla bean). Gently mix into the bread mixture. Let the bread sit and soak, making sure that the bread is sufficiently moist before it goes into the oven. Pour the mixture into a greased pan or casserole. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 minutes, or until puffy and no liquid is visible when a knife is inserted. Let cool to room temperature. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

Add Some Yum:

Serve with fresh berries and a basic vanilla sauce.

Raspberry Bread Pudding:

Bread Pudding with raspberries

Follow the basic recipe but add 1/2 pint fresh raspberries when adding the vanilla. While the bread is cooling make the white chocolate sauce: In a small saucepan, heat ½ cup half and half with the beans from a 1-inch slice of vanilla pod. When it starts to boil, remove from heat. Add 2 teaspoons unsalted butter and 8 ounces white chocolate that has been chopped into small pieces. Whisk until smooth. Spoon the white chocolate sauce onto a serving dish. Set a slice of raspberry bread pudding in the center. Drizzle with caramel sauce and top with whipped cream. Serve immediately.

Caramel Whiskey Bread Pudding:

Combine 1 cup raisins and 1/2 cup caramel whiskey in a small saucepan. Heat just to a simmer, cover and set aside. Make the basic bread pudding as listed above, but add 1/2 pint of blueberries, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and the drunken raisins when adding the vanilla. While the bread pudding is baking make the pudding sauce: Melt 1 stick unsalted butter; stir in 1 cup brown sugar and 1 beaten egg. Simmer to thicken. Stir in 1/4 cup caramel whiskey, 1/4 cup milk and keep warm until ready to use. Serve with bread.

Lemon Meringue Tart

These Lemon Meringue Tarts are filled with a bold burst of lemon wrapped in a buttery flaky crust with a perfect swirl of slightly sweetened meringue.

Lemon Meringue Tart

Cedar Oak Farms
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 18 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Traditional
Servings 12

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter plus some butter to grease the molds, cubed
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 4 ounces creme fraiche

Instructions
 

  • In a food processor bowl add the flour, powdered sugar, and a pinch of salt. Pulse 1 – 2 times to mix. Add the butter cubes and pulse until dough is crumbly with peas-sized pieces. Add about 2 tablespoons cold water and pulse into a smooth dough. Wrap in foil and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush a tartlet mold with butter. I just used a 12-cup muffin tin.
  • Roll butter pastry on a floured work surface. Then cut with a cookie cutter circles of about 3-inches in diameter. Carefully place them in the molds and press all the way to the edge. Cut away the overhanging dough with a knife.
  • Place some dough weights or beans in cups to weigh the dough down to prevent shrinking or buckling. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the weights and bake another 5 – 8 minutes, or until golden brown. .
  • In the meantime, zest and juice the lemons.
  • Separate eggs. Add the egg yolks to the lemon juice, zest, 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan, stir well and heat on the stove with constant stirring until a pudding-like consistency. Stir in crème fraîche.
  • Carefully pour the lemon cream into the pastry tarts and let cool in the fridge.
  • For the meringue beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff, gradually adding 1/4 cup sugar.
  • Pour egg whites into a piping bag with star spout and pipe on the lemon cream. Flush the meringue briefly with a flambéer.
Keyword Pies & Tarts