Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta

One of my pet peeves is how early product commercialization for the winter holidays begins. Just last week, when I walked through the electronic doors of a grocery store, the potent artificial scent of cinnamon pine cones accosted me. These pine cones were prominently on display at the entrance of the store. Why now? Is there really going to be a run on scented pine cones that you need to start selling them in August? I did not see pumpkins for sale, so why are scented pine cones available now? Instead of pine cones, grocery stores should feature the best produce that is in season now, like figs.

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe
Fresh Mission Figs

I am pushing figs for several reasons, they are delicious, can be prepared for any type of meal, and I believe they are exquisite. In the Northeast US, figs have two short seasons in early summer and in late summer. In places like California, the season extends over the course of the summer. So, get them while you can because they will disappear soon.

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe.

Eat them ripe and fresh as is, or serve with any number of cheeses. Figs and cheese are a classic pairing. I particularly enjoy figs with blue cheese or goat cheese. The sweetness of the fig mingles nicely with the sharp flavors of each cheese. Another great pairing is fig jam and brie. Figs are also delicious for dessert in cakes and pastries like an almond and fig tart. Or, make figs for a savory sauce for pork.

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe.
Figs with blue cheese and chopped walnuts.

I wanted to make an easy and elegant dessert and decided to simmer the figs in a simple syrup with warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger and black pepper. Along with the spiced figs, I made a yogurt panna cotta. Together, the figs and panna cotta created an exquisite dessert with creamy, tangy and warm flavors. The silky texture of the panna cotta is so smooth and nicely contrasts with the vivid pink color and warmth of the spices in the sauce. I realize I complained about the cinnamon scented pine cones earlier, but this sauce has a natural cinnamon infusion along with other spices. It has just enough spice for the early fall.  What is great about this simple syrup recipe is you can use whatever spices you like. Freshly grated nutmeg, allspice, star anise, thyme, and rosemary are all wonderful choices to infuse this light fig sauce.

Figs and Prosciutto Salad Recipe

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe

Along with the fig sauce, panna cotta is one of the easiest desserts to make and has a luscious silky texture. My recipe is based on one from Food and Wine magazine. There are no eggs, just cream, yogurt, sugar and gelatin. You can adjust the flavor of the panna cotta with a number of sweeteners and spices. Because sugar is not important to the structure of panna cotta, it is easy to vary the amount of sugar when you make it. You can adjust the amount depending upon how sweet your sauce or fruit is.

I am always looking for ways to use my homemade yogurt, so I included yogurt in my recipe. If you do not like yogurt, you can use a mixture of whole milk and heavy cream. I have also seen recipes for using goat cheese, yogurt and milk. Or, use a plant based milk product such as almond or coconut milk. I have read from TheKitchn, that unflavored Vegan Jel by Natural Desserts works very nicely for panna cotta. Currently, Vegan Jel by Natural Desserts is unavailable on Amazon. However, other vegan gelatin alternatives are available. Also, I read Whole Foods carries Vegan Jel. If anyone has used it I would love to know how you like it.


Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe.

The most difficult thing when making panna cotta, is unmolding it from your ramekins or cups. I recommend a ramekin with smooth sides as it is easier to run a knife around the edge. Also recommended, is a light coating of canola or vegetable oil. The oil, and a quick dunk in a warm bath will eventually release the panna cotta from the dish to present on a plate. Or, forget about unmolding it and serve it directly in the container you set it in.

Save the scented pine cones for when it is cold enough to build a fire in the fire place and threatening to snow. Now is the time to set our sights on fresh produce, recently harvested and ripe. Fresh figs are a real treat so get them while you can.

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe.


Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta

Prep Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 42 minutes

Category: Dessert

Cuisine: Italian American


Serving Size: 1- 4 ounce panna cotta with fruit and syrup

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta

Spiced fresh figs in a simple syrup is the perfect pair with creamy and tangy yogurt panna cotta. Season the simple syrup with any spices you prefer, or use the ones suggested in this recipe. This dessert is so easy to make and gives an elegant presentation that defies its simplicity. Panna cotta with fresh figs simmered in a spicy syrup is a real thing of beauty to look at and eat.

If you do not have ramekins, small coffee cups will work. Or, use wine glasses and serve them straight from the glass without unmolding them. If you serve them in glasses or cups, make sure there is plenty of room to add the fruit and spiced syrup.

The panna cotta recipe is adapted from Food and Wine Magazine, Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Honey-Glazed Apricots. The spiced figs recipe is adapted from, The Spruce, Figs in Spiced Syrup.

See notes for ingredient substitutions.


    Yogurt Panna Cotta
  • Canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin 2 1/4 tsp (7 g)
  • 2 TB cold water
  • 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup (68 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp real vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean split and seeds scraped
  • 1- 17.6 oz (500 g) tub Greek yogurt, about 2 cups
    Spiced Figs
  • 1/3 cup (36 g) walnuts halves
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (250 ml) water
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1/2 stick cinnamon
  • 1-inch (2.54 cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and smashed
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 1/8 tsp anise seed
  • 12 fresh figs


    Yogurt Panna Cotta
  1. If you are planning to unmold the panna cotta, lightly grease the sides and bottoms of 6 - 1/2 cup (4 oz /125 ml) ramekins. Set aside. No need to do this step if you are keeping the panna cotta in the serving container.
  2. Add the gelatin and 2 Tb cold water to a small bowl. Let the gelatin rest to soften for 5 minutes.
  3. In a small sauce pan add the cream, sugar, vanilla or vanilla bean, and bring to a slight simmer Once the sugar is completely dissolved, turn off the heat and add the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is melted.
  4. Pour the yogurt into a medium mixing bowl and whisk out any lumps. If using, remove the vanilla bean. Slowly add the cream into the bowl with the yogurt. Stir, or whisk, as you add the cream to help temper the yogurt.
  5. Once combined, pour the yogurt mixture into the greased 1/2 cup ramekins, or other serving containers and refrigerate, uncovered, at least 3 hours until set. It should look and feel solid with a little bit of jiggle. Once the panna cotta is set, cover each dish with plastic wrap until ready to serve.
    Spiced Figs
  1. Heat an 8-inch (20 cm) skillet over high heat. When the pan is nice and hot, but not smoking, add the walnut pieces and toast until the oil releases. Keep the walnuts in motion, by stirring them or flipping the nuts in the pan like a pro. You will know the walnuts are toasted when you see a slight sheen on the pan’s bottom surface and on your walnuts. Also, the aroma of the walnuts will be slightly more pronounced. Be careful not to burn the walnuts, or they will taste bitter. Remove the walnuts immediately from the skillet to cool.
  2. Add the water and sugar to a sauce pan just large enough to fit all the figs. Turn the heat to medium high and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the spices and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Clean and trim the figs. Clean the figs by wiping them gently with a damp cloth. Remove the stems and discard. Add the figs and walnuts to the syrup and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the figs and place on a plate and turn off the heat. Cool the figs and syrup separately so the figs do not fall apart. After 15 minutes or so, strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and add the figs. Serve warm or chilled.
  5. Store the figs in the syrup in the refrigerator in a covered container. They will last for two weeks, covered in the refrigerator.
    Assemble the panna cotta and spiced figs
  1. Remove the panna cotta from the ramekins. Run a thin sharp knife around the inside edge of the ramekin. Dip the container into warm water for 10 seconds. Remove the ramekins and place upside down on your serving dish. Tap the sides and top of your ramekins and jiggle them to encourage the panna cotta to slide out. If no movement occurs, dip the ramekin right side up in the warm water again. Try again. Repeat until the panna cotta are all unmolded.
  2. If you are not serving them right away, loosely cover each panna cotta with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
  3. Just before serving, spoon the spiced syrup over and around the panna cotta. Arrange the figs and walnuts on top or around the panna cotta and serve.


Use any spice combination you like. Cinnamon, clove, ginger, cardamom, freshly grated nutmeg, allspice berries, vanilla bean, black peppercorns are all good suggestions. The spices in the simple syrup are subtly blended and not an overpowering taste experience.

I realize not everyone likes yogurt, so substitute the yogurt with 2 cups (500 ml) whole milk. and continue as directed. Any ratio of yogurt, to heavy cream, to half and half, to milk will work if you use the specified amount of gelatin for 3 cups (750 ml) of dairy.

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© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Peaches and Berries Layered with Bourbon Sabayon

I can smell the peach aroma as soon as I walk into the market. It is sweet, floral and distinctive. Instantly, the peach scent produces an urge in me to make a pie. I follow the scent to their location and examine the peaches, taking in the glory of a massive display. Once satisfied, I look and listen to any orange hued fuzzy globes that speak to me, then make a selection and breath in its’ perfume. I wonder how many days must pass before they are ripe enough to eat.  The summer sunset colors are seductive, so I gather up a collection and bag them for home.

Peaches with Berries and Bourbon Sabayon recipe

Peaches with Berries Layered with Bourbon Sabayon recipe

Peaches and Berries Layered with Bourbon Sabayon recipe

Once home, my peaches are carefully placed on my kitchen windowsill to soak in the western sun. With gratitude and anticipation, I watch over the sun-drenched peaches and wait for the fruit to ripen.

My favorite way to eat peaches is as nature intended ripe, fresh and unadorned. Typically, I eat them standing in front of the kitchen sink, and with each bite into the sweet and yielding flesh, I feel the squirt of peach juice dripping down my chin. The taste is sweet and refreshing at the same time, like the first morning sip of orange juice after a long nights’ sleep. Ah, how I love summer peaches in all their glory.

Peaches with Berries Layered with Bourbon Sabayon recipe

Peaches and Berries Layered with Bourbon Sabayon recipe

Originally, I planned to make a galette. I love galettes and often make them for dessert. However, I changed my mind because I wanted to make something different. Once I get that curiosity itch I can’t stop. An idea came to mind for making a dessert I have not made in a long time, sabayon. Sabayon layered with fresh fruit is a delightful dessert and one that deserves to be served on a regular basis.

Peaches with Berries Layered with Bourbon Sabayon recipe

Sabayon is the French name for Zabayon, which is an Italian egg foam dessert. It is a delicate dessert made with egg yolks and wine, or Marsala. Eggs and wine are gently warmed and whisked together, creating a luscious and foamy sauce. It is light and creamy with a sweetness that perfectly complements fresh fruit.

Sabayon is usually chilled and the egg foam is folded into whipped cream. The whipped cream gives it a similar texture to mousse, and is less foamy than Zabayon. Because it is also chilled, sabayon is prepared ahead of time. Thus, it makes a perfect dessert for entertaining. Unlike sabayon, zabayon does not have cream and is served immediately while still warm and frothy. Both options are elegant dessert sauces.

Peaches with Berries Layered with Bourbon Sabayon recipe

Peaches and Bourbon Sabayon

Peaches combined with berries and complimented by the sweet boozy sabayon is smooth, nutty and airy. I forgot how exquisite this dessert is. Every bite is a fruity explosion tempered with warm and subdued notes of bourbon, basil and sabayon. Bourbon sabayon is not as airy as my Lemon Mousse, but it satisfies just the same.

Peaches and Berries Layered with Bourbon Sabayon recipe

Sabayon is a great way to dress up a fresh fruit dessert. It does not take long to make, but it does take some practice, confidence and whisking power. It is important to control the heat and prevent the egg yolks from cooking and scrambling. The eggs require gentle heat and constant whisking. The process can take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes, depending on your set up and how many eggs you are using. The result is all about keeping the yolks at the right temperature and vigorously whisking them into a thickened foamy sauce.

Traditionally, Marsala or a sweet sparkling wine, is used for sabayon and zabayon. Bourbon and peaches pair well together so I decided to try it with sabayon. I also added a touch of orange juice and zest to cut some of the sharp boozy notes. However, I noticed a difference in texture between sabayon with bourbon vs. with Marsala. The bourbon sabayon does not get as frothy, but it still works and I like the caramelized flavor with the peaches.

Peaches and Berries Layered with Bourbon Sabayon recipe

Peaches with Berries Layered with Bourbon Sabayon recipe

Summer Loves Peaches

This post is part of a collaborative project between food enthusiasts and bloggers. On June 29th, 2017, we are all celebrating the summer by posting a recipe featuring peaches. You can follow along on social medial and see what everyone else made using the hashtag, #summerlovespeaches. Below are links to all the #summerlovespeaches participants websites.

Amanda Skirp

Flours in Your Hair

Prickly Fresh

Mindy Cooking Obsession

Cocoa and Salt

The Good Cooker

Farm and Coast Cookery

Sprouting Radiance

Cooks and Kid

The Whole El’Chilada

Gobble the Cook


Pamela Salzman

Feed the Swimmers

The Gingered Whisk

Its a Vegworld Afterall

What Annie’s Eating

Blossom to Stem

Hola Jalapeno

Square Meal Round Table

Something New For Dinner


Cloudy Kitchen

Allo Maman, Whats Cooking

Always Eat Dessert

My Afternoon Kitchen

Especially Southern Dishes

Baking the Goods

Easy and Delicious

Fork to Summit

Playz with Food


Flotte Lotte

Carly Diaz

Pie Girl Bakes


Noci Sonoma- Salty Spicy Bitter and Sweet

Wellness With Alyssa

Jessie Sheehan Bakes

Measuring Cups Optional

Weeknight Bite

Confetti Kitchen


Linda Campos

Do you have a favorite recipe using peaches? I would love to hear about it. Please post your favorite way to serve peaches in the comments section below my recipe.

Peaches and Berries Layered with Bourbon Sabayon

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Category: Dessert

Cuisine: French - American

4 servings

Peaches and Berries Layered with Bourbon Sabayon

Sabayon makes a luscious sauce to layer between, or mound over fresh fruit. It makes for an elegant dessert and perfect for an intimate dinner with friends or family. Sabayon with fruit tastes best when it is assembled right before serving. The sabayon and raspberry sauce can be made ahead and kept chilled in the refrigerator. Peeling and slicing the peaches will take some time, and should not be done too far in advance. Once that is complete, assembly is simple and quick.

For this recipe, I selected bourbon as my spirit of choice because it pairs nicely with peaches. You can substitute Marsala or a sweet sparkling wine if you prefer. Any alcohol beverage like rum, brandy, fruit brandy, whiskey or wine should work. When selecting your spirit keep in mind how it pairs with what your are serving the sabayon with.

Slivered basil leaves are also added for extra panache. Mint leaves are nice additions as well.

Included is a raspberry sauce recipe adapted from, Seasonal Fruit Desserts by Deborah Madison. She makes this sauce with blackcap raspberries, or black raspberries. If you can find them, their distinctive flavor is delicious. Fresh or frozen berries can be used to make the sauce.

My sabayon recipe is inspired by and adapted from Peaches and Raspberries Layered with Honey Sabayon in Seasonal Fruit Desserts by Deborah Madison.


    Bourbon Sabayon
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 TB (27 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 TB (45 ml) Bourbon
  • 1 TB (15 ml) fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) heavy cream
  • zest from half an orange
    Raspberry Sauce
  • 2 cups (500 ml) fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 2 TB (27 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) water
  • Lemon juice to taste, around 1 teaspoon
    Fruit filling
  • 6 ripe peaches
  • 2 TB basil, thinly sliced - chiffonade (optional or substitute with fresh mint leaves)
  • 1- 6 oz (175 g) basket raspberries
  • 1- 6 oz (175 g) basket blackberries
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) raspberry sauce


    Bourbon Sabayon
  1. Prepare a medium saucepan and fill with about an inch of water. Measure the bourbon and orange juice and keep in a measuring cup close to your work area. Add the egg yolks to a bowl that will easily fit over your saucepan, but will not touch the water. Add the sugar to the egg yolks placing the sugar to the side of the yolks.
  2. Turn on the heat to medium and place your bowl over your saucepan. Vigorously whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in the bowl. Continue to whisk the eggs until it gets light and frothy. Slowly add the bourbon and orange juice and continue to whisk. The eggs should double in volume, become lighter and creamy looking. You do not want to scramble the eggs, so keep the temperature low and constantly whisk. You can move the bowl on and off the heat while you are whisking to control the temperature and make sure your water is not boiling.
  3. The eggs are done when they have doubled in size, and there is no liquid left in the bowl, and everything is frothy. About 10 - 15 minutes, depending on the shape and size of your bowl and temperature. A recommended temperature when the sabayon done, is around 150F (65C) on an instant read thermometer.
  4. Remove the bowl with the eggs off the heat and continue to whisk for another five minutes to cool.
  5. Cover the frothy eggs with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.
  6. Whip the heavy cream and zest from half an orange until soft peaks are formed. Fold the whipped cream into chilled sabayon. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to assemble.
    Make the raspberry sauce
  1. Add the raspberries, sugar and water to a small saucepan. Bring the fruit to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cook the berries at a high simmer for 3 minutes. Pour the raspberry liquid over a fine mesh strainer, catching the sauce in a bowl underneath. Press the pulp through the strainer. This will take some time, as the pulp clings to the seeds, but keep at it and you will be rewarded with a delicious berry sauce. The back side of a flat spoon is a great tool to press the pulp through the mesh. Scrape off any pulp from the underside of the strainer and add to the bowl. Discard the seeds. Cover and chill the sauce until needed. Will last 3 days in the refrigerator.
    Prepare the fruit
  1. Fill a large stock pot with water and bring the water to a boil. Partially fill a large bowl with ice and water. Set aside near your stove.
  2. Lightly score the peaches with a crisscross pattern across the pointed south pole of the fruit.
  3. When the water is boiling, add the peaches and boil for 30 - 40 seconds. If your peaches are large and not as ripe, they will need the longer time. Quickly remove the peaches from the boiling water and put them in the ice bath to stop the cooking.
  4. Once cooled, peel away the skin from the peach flesh starting at the crisscross center. The skin should easily peel away. Use a sharp paring knife to assist you at any stubborn parts.
  5. Cut the peaches in half and slice into 1/2 inch wedges and place in a bowl. Add the basil and gently mix together. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to serve the sabayon.
    Assemble the Sabayon
  1. You have at least two choices for how to present the sabayon. Use a tall wine glass or flute, and layer the sabayon between layers of fruit and raspberry sauce. Or, fill each glass with fruit and raspberry sauce, then top off the fruit with sabayon. Either way looks inviting and tastes delicious.
  2. Assemble the sabayon right before you serve it for dessert.
  3. Best eaten the day it is made.


The most time-consuming part is peeling and slicing all the peaches. Everything else is done within a 15-minute time frame.

The peaches will get soggy and discolor if you slice them too early, and it sits around for a while.

Deborah Madison recommends you can make the sabayon earlier in the day, then fold in the whipped cream one to two hours ahead of time. Peel and slice the peaches before you sit down for dinner. Assemble the dessert right before serving.

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Click the see more for links to Orchards in the Hudson Valley where you can visit and pick your own peaches.

Continue reading “Peaches and Berries Layered with Bourbon Sabayon”

© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Taste of Mexico: Double Coconut Pie

Every celebration deserves a fun dessert, and for Cinco de Mayo I discovered Coconut Pie. This pie is from the Yucatecan region of Mexico with a nutty crust and a creamy fresh coconut filling. This is not a custard pie, more like a giant nutty coconut macaroon. Coconut pie has a nice balance of sweet, nutty and light caramel flavors with crumbly and chewy textures.

This recipe originated from Rick Bayless, Yucatecan-Style Fresh Coconut Pie, in Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen. My intention was to make his coconut pie recipe as directed with fresh coconut, then adapt it. Unfortunately, my first pie did not work out as I planned, and left me with more unanswered questions than not.

Double coconut pie recipe


The truth is, after cracking open my coconut, the shell had moldy looking spots on the inside. This unappetizing vision shattered my tropical dream and forced me to consider if the coconut was going bad. So, instead of reveling in fresh coconut perfume and fantasizing about sunny Mexican beaches, I scoured the world wide web. Google, “Do coconuts go bad?” The unanimous answer is, yes. Normally I am up for any culinary adventure, but this experience left me feeling there was too much work involved for something with a high chance of not working out.

Double coconut pie recipe

Double coconut pie recipe

Nowadays, coconut products are widely available in all stores. Purchased coconut water and dried shredded coconut may not be fresh, but they have their merits. The biggest merit being, I could confidently buy them seeing the expiration date in clear view. But more importantly, buying the coconut water, coconut flour, and shredded coconut made it easier to make this delicious pie.

About Double Coconut Pie

Traditionally, Pay de Coco, Estilo Yucateco has an almond and breadcrumb crust and filled with grated fresh coconut, slivered almonds and condensed milk. Rick Bayless altered the traditional coconut pie recipe by replacing the condensed milk with a reduction of fresh coconut water and heavy cream. He essentially made a condensed milk, but with extra coconut flavor.

I liked his idea of using coconut water, but because I planned to buy it, I needed to figure out how much to use. Based on the amount of coconut water that dribbled out of my expired coconut, I estimated a 1/2 cup of coconut water. You could add more, 3/4 cup, but keep in mind the time needed to reduce the cream will take longer.

Double coconut pie recipe

Gluten Free Double Coconut Pie

As much as I wanted to make a traditional Mexican dessert, the original crust seemed dry.  Additionally, I wanted to make a gluten-free pie. Alice Medrich has a delicious gluten-free pie crust recipe in Flavor Flours, using coconut flour and shredded coconut. I believed if I adapted her recipe and substituted it for the traditional one, the integrity of the Yucatecan pie would still be intact. Also, this gluten-free coconut pie crust adds extra cookie-like texture and doubles the coconut flavor. I included ground almonds in the crust with the shredded coconut to keep the warm nutty flavor of the traditional coconut pie recipe.

Double coconut pie recipe

Double coconut pie recipe

Double coconut pie recipe

Poblano Chili Cream Sauce with Grilled Chicken recipe

Hungry for more Mexican Food? Try Poblano Chili Cream Sauce with Grilled Chicken

With my recipe adjustments, I made coconut pie easier to make, yet maintain the appeal of the original recipe. By using store-bought products I cut down on the time commitment, and the risk of buying a bad coconut. If I ever live in a tropical environment, I will certainly make it with fresh coconut. Until then, my tropical daydreams will continue while enjoying coconut pie. Not only is this a great dessert to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, it will be well received any time of the year.

Double coconut pie recipe


Taste of Mexico: Double Coconut Pie

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Category: Dessert

Cuisine: Mexican American

8 servings

Taste of Mexico: Double Coconut Pie

This is a luscious pie and a great combination of a coconut and almond crust with a creamy coconut filling. A double coconut treat. It is not too sweet and had wonderful coconut flavor. The original recipe is made with fresh coconut, but I adapted it to be easier to make. Feel free to make this with fresh coconut if you wish.

Best served warm and with a dollop of creme fraiche or ever so slightly sweetened whipped cream. Also, delicious drizzled with melted dark chocolate.

You will need a 9 inch / 23 cm tart pan with a removable bottom.

The pie recipe is adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen by Rick Bayless. The pie crust recipe is adapted from Flavor Flours by Alice Medrich.


  • Pie Crust:
  • 1 cup / 122 g almond slivers
  • 1/2 cup / 112 g granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup / 40 g coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tb/ 50 g unsweetened dried shredded coconut
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 6 Tbs / 85 g unsalted butter - very soft
  • 1 large egg white
    Coconut Filling
  • 1/2 cup / 125 ml coconut water
  • 1 cup / 250 ml heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup / 147 g granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 cup grated dried coconut - flaky coconut 1 1/4 cup / 94 g, and shredded coconut 1 1/4 cup / 105 g - plus more flaky coconut for garnish
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla


    Pie Crust
  1. Preheat the oven for 325F / 160C / Gas Mark 3. Place the almonds on a sheet pan and toast in the oven until lightly golden, about 7-10 minutes. Halfway through the toasting, stir the almonds and turn the sheet pan from front to back.
  2. Once toasted, measure 1/2 cup / 61 grams of the almonds and set aside for the pie filling.
  3. Put the remaining almonds and the sugar in a food processor and pulse until the almonds have a fine texture.
  4. In a medium size bowl, mix the almond-sugar, coconut flour, shredded coconut, baking powder, salt, softened butter and egg white until well combined. Your clean hands will do the best job of getting everything all mixed through.
  5. Press the coconut / almond mixture evenly across the bottom and up the sides of a tart pan. The sides should be thicker than the bottom of the pan.
  6. Place the pan on a sheet pan and bake in the oven for 12 minutes, or just starting to turn golden at the edge. Remove the crust from the oven and set aside.
    Pie Filling
  1. Raise the oven temperature to 350F / 175 C/ Gas Mark 4
  2. While the crust is baking, simmer the coconut water, heavy cream and granulated sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the liquid to 1 cup / 250 ml. It could take from 15-20 minutes from the time the cream reaches a good simmer. The cream will become thicker and lightly golden. And bubbles will be larger and less foamy. I measure it in a heat proof liquid measure just to make sure.
  3. Add the reduced cream to a mixing bowl, then add the reserved slivered almonds, shredded and flaky coconut, egg yolks, and vanilla. Stir until well combined and spoon into the pie crust. Make sure the filling is up against the sides. Place the pie on a sheet pan then bake in the middle rack in the oven for 30 - 35 minutes until lightly golden. Check the pie half way through and make sure the crust is not browning too much. Cover the edge with foil if needed
  4. While the pie is baking, scatter a couple of handfuls of flaky coconut on a sheet pan and toast in the oven with the pie, until it is just beginning to brown in the oven. Watch the coconut carefully so it does not get too dark and burn. About 4-5 minutes. Slide the toasted coconut on a plate to cool. Set aside.
  5. Once finished, cool the pie on a wire rack for 10 minutes then slip off the rim of the tart pan by placing the tart on top of a secure glass, and easily slide the side rim down. This will help prevent the crust from sticking.
  6. The pie slices easier when it is cool or cold, but tastes best warm. If you wish, completely cool the pie or chill it, then slice the pie into serving pieces and warm in the oven.
  7. Garnish with toasted coconut flakes and creme fraiche.
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© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecakes

Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecakes

My family knows, they can always give me a cookbook as a gift.  It does not matter if the cookbook is an older publication or a new one, I will always welcome any addition to my collection. This year my husband gave me The Baking Bible Cookbook by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I am familiar with Rose Beranbaum’s work because I own another book of hers, The Cake Bible. She is a one of a kind baking guru and a significant authority about the science involved with baking. If you are curious about culinary science, she is the number one resource. Learning from her cookbooks will make you a better baker.

Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecakes

Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecakes

As I turned each page of my new book I made mental notes to myself of baking projects to try later.  Ultimately, my goal was to find inspiration for something I could make immediately. Upon first sight of her recipe Stilton Baby Blue Cheesecakes, I decided this was the one. These baby cheesecakes enriched with blue cheese instantly grabbed my attention. They were beautifully photographed with slivers of Bosc pears draped over their tops. Additionally, the crust of the baby cheesecakes is made with one ingredient, crushed walnuts. They are a new twist on the classic pairing of walnuts and blue cheese. Add some champagne to serve with these baby blues and you have an elegant party spread for all to enjoy.

Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecakes

Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecake

Another great feature of these baby cheesecakes is the blue cheese itself. The combination of blue and cream cheese creates flexibility for the cheesecakes to be served as either an appetizer or a dessert. I can add additional blue cheese to make them more savory, or less to make them sweeter for dessert. As well, they can be made in advance, which is always a plus. I am not usually a cheesecake fan, however this recipe for baby cheesecakes came across as a pleasant surprise. They are savory, sophisticated and unexpected all in one bite.

Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecajes

One change I made to the original recipe was to switch the type of blue cheese. The original recipe called for Stilton cheese, which I like, however I love Point Reyes Blue Cheese. It is creamier and not as sharp as Stilton, yet still maintains that distinctive blue bite. This is my favorite blue cheese, and is made in the sacred land of my childhood, the Point Reyes National Seashore in California. I can’t help myself when it comes to Point Reyes Blue Cheese or any of the other cheeses from Cowgirl Creamery. Their cheeses remind me of home and help me feel connected to this treasured seashore.

Dinner Ideas when serving Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecakes

Serve Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecakes as a first course with a green salad then  Grilled Sherry Marinated Flank Steak , or My One Pan Chicken Dinner as the main entree.

Serve Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecakes as a cheese course along with fresh and/or dried fruits at the end of the meal. 

Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecakes

Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecakes

My new book, The Baking Bible, has been christened and I have a new recipe using one of my favorite cheeses. Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecakes are an elegant, versatile and creamy bite of bliss.

Cheers to a beautiful, happy and healthy 2017. Enjoy!

Helpful Hints Making Point Reyes Baby Cheesecakes:
  1. If using a metal muffin pan, do not skip the step of placing parchment paper into each muffin cup. Even if you have a non-stick pan the parchment will make it a lot easier to lift the baby cheesecakes out of the cups. Additionally, the parchment paper will stick to the pan so you will not have to pull the paper off the bottoms.
  2. Boil water in a tea kettle and then pour into a medium bowl. Use the hot water to heat up a metal spatula or knife and then wipe clean with a kitchen towel. The heated and cleaned knife will make lifting the cheesecakes out of the tins easier and smooth out the edges.
  3. Garnish the baby cheesecakes with fruit, nuts or minced arugula combined with chopped walnuts and pears. Lightly dress the greens with extra-virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar.
  4. If serving as an hors d’oeuvres, serve them on a multigrain cracker. It will taste great and will be easier to manage.
  5. For a first course serve the Blue Cheese Baby Cheesecakes with a salad of arugula and pears, lightly dressed with extra-virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar.


Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecakes

12 baby cheesecakes

Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecakes

These delicious Point Reyes Blue Baby Cheesecakes can double as a dessert or an appetizer. For a personal touch, feel free to use your favorite strong flavored blue cheese. The original recipe used Stilton cheese in these baby cheesecakes. This recipe is from The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, Stilton Baby Blue Cheesecakes.


  • 1 shy cup (3 oz/84 g) walnut halves
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tb (2.6 oz/75 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 Tb (9 g) cornstarch
  • Kosher salt, a pinch
  • 1 1/3 cups (12 oz/60 g) cream cheese at room temperature and cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup (2.1 oz/35 g) sour cream
  • 2 -3 Tb (35 g - 52 g) Point Reyes Blue Cheese*
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten


    Prepare the muffin pans
  1. 2 - 6 cup silicone muffin pans set on a wire baking rack and placed into a sheet pan Or 1 - 12 cup muffin tin.
  2. For the silicone muffin pans - lightly coat the muffin pans with cooking spray then place them on a wire rack set in a baking sheet.
  3. For the muffin tin - coat each muffin cup with shortening or butter and cut small circles of parchment paper to set in the bottom of each cup. Lightly spray each cup with cooking oil spray.
    Toast the walnuts
  1. Set the oven rack in the middle of the oven and pre-heat the oven at 350˚ F/175˚ C/Gas Mark 4. Let the oven heat up for twenty minutes before you toast the walnuts.
  2. Spread the walnut halves evenly over a small baking sheet, place in the oven and toast the walnuts to bring out the oils and enhance their flavor. Toast for 7 minutes turning the walnuts over a couple of times while baking.
  3. When finished spread the toasted walnuts over a clean lint free dish towel and fold one end over the walnuts to cover. Place your hands over the covered walnuts and gently rub back and forth to loosen and remove the walnut skin. Rub off as much of the walnut skins as you can and place the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor. Discard the skins.
  4. Lower the oven temperature to 225˚ F/107˚ C
  5. Pulse the food processor to finely chop the walnuts. You want an even consistency without turning the walnuts into flour.
  6. Spoon 1 Tb of ground walnuts into each muffin cup and press down evenly to pack the walnuts together.
  7. Using a stand mixer or hand held mixer, mix the sugar, cornstarch and salt until just mixed together. Add the cream cheese and beat on low speed until the ingredients are evenly combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until very smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape the batter down the sides of a bowl.
  8. In a small bowl, mix together the sour cream and blue cheese until evenly combined. A fork is great for this job. Add the blue cheese mixture to the cream cheese and mix together on low speed until just combined, about 15 seconds.
  9. Add the lightly beaten eggs and mix until evenly combined. The batter consistency should resemble sour cream.
  10. Pour the cheesecake batter into each muffin cup almost up the top, about 1.8 oz/50 g in each muffin cup. Smooth over the tops of each cheesecake with an offset spatula.
  11. Bake in the 225˚ F/107˚ C oven for 15 minutes. Rotate the muffin pan in the oven from front to back to encourage even baking and bake for 15 to 20 minutes longer. The muffins are done when an instant read thermometer reads 160˚ F/71˚ C. The batter will jiggle somewhat and the centers of each muffin will spring back when touched. Put muffin tin and/or baking sheet on a cooling rack.
  12. Allow the cheesecakes to cool in the muffin pan for 30 minutes. Cover the muffin pan(s) with plastic wrap lightly coated with cooking spray and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before unmolding.
  13. For the metal muffin pan: run a small spatula or knife, heated up with hot water, around the edge of each muffin cup. Press the spatula or knife up against the side of the pan to not scrape the sides of the cheesecakes. Clean the spatula with warm water and wipe clean with a cloth for every cheesecake. Lift the cheesecakes out of the muffin cups with a spatula. Smooth the sides of each cheesecake using a small metal spatula that has been heated with hot water and wiped clean.
  14. For silicone muffin pans: Rose Levy Beranbaum recommends placing a baking sheet on top of the plastic wrap-covered muffin pan and turn it upside down. Then place a dish towel in very hot water. Wring out the excess water and drape it over the muffin pan. Make sure to press the hot wet towel into the recesses of the pan. Let it sit for about 2 minutes. Remove the towel and carefully lift off the muffin pan. If the cheesecakes do not release, repeat the above steps, and try again after another minute. Once released, place a second sheet pan on top of upside down cheesecakes and turn them right side up.
  15. Place the cheesecakes on a serving platter and serve.
  16. Store, refrigerated for up to 5 days.


*To make the cheesecakes more savory add the total 3 Tb blue cheese to the batter. If you want the cheese cakes for dessert use 2 Tb blue cheese.

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© 2016 – 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Tis the Season: Chocolate Bark

A thank you. A greeting. An introduction. A small gesture… A homemade gift can be all those things. Homemade treats do not have to be fancy or time consuming to make, a simple gift will do. They are always appreciated. I like making gifts, but I do not get around to making them as much as I would like. I usually think of an idea for a homemade gift too late and eventually buy something along the way. When I found this recipe for chocolate bark, I had an ah ha moment. I can do this. This recipe for chocolate bark is unusual, simple to make, beautiful to look at, and satisfies all chocolate cravings.

Chocolate Bark Recipe
Dark chocolate bark ingredients
Chcoclate Bark Recipe
White chocolate bark ingredients
Chocolate Bark Recipe
Orange zest, hibiscus flowers and lavender

I have been a fan of chocolate bark for some time now and must admit to be a total dark chocolate fanatic. A day does not go by without a chocolate snack.  My dessert choice usually has chocolate as the main attraction. I can’t help myself and totally find chocolate irresistible. I discovered this recipe while reading, Seasonal Fruit Desserts, by Deborah Madison. Yes I see the perplexed expression on your face: a chocolate bark recipe in a fruit dessert cookbook? Yes, Deborah Madison is no dummy and included this recipe in her dried fruit and nuts chapter. There is something for everyone in all of her cookbooks.

Chocolate Bark Recipe
Dark chocolate with dried fruits and nuts
Chocolate Bark Recipe
White chocolate with edible dried flowers and orange zest

Her chocolate bark recipes are different, which was the main attraction for me. Laden in her chocolate bark are dried fruit, nuts, rose petals, citrus zest, and other floral attractions, reminding me that chocolate bark can be whatever I want it to be. The add-ins do not need to be limited to pretzels, peppermint and coconut. It can hold up to any variety of flavors that compliment chocolate, like citrus, chili, cinnamon, coffee, sea salt, ginger, and all nuts, just to name a few. One could go crazy with add-ins for chocolate bark and have a surprise in every bite. I do not recommend going too crazy, the flavors do need to get along and marry with each-other and the type of chocolate.

Chocolate bark is a welcome dessert by itself or with fruit, nuts, cookies, or sorbet. You can keep it in your refrigerator to have on hand to serve for an impromptu dinner party. Chocolate bark will also make a lovely hostess gift, or a small gift to the chocolate lover(s) in your life. A homemade gift that can easily fit into anyone’s busy schedule.

Chocolate Bark Recipe

Chocolate Bark Recipe

Tis the Season: Chocolate Bark

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

One 10 x 6 inch slab of chocolate bark

Tis the Season: Chocolate Bark

Dark Chocolate bark flavored with crystallized ginger, dried apricots and pistachios make a delicious dessert and pairs well with fruit, cookies, nuts and ice cream. Pair Dark Chocolate Bark with White Chocolate Bark flavored with orange zest, pistachios and lavender, and you have an extra special dessert treat that is almost too pretty to eat.

Both chocolate bark recipes are delicious and easy to make. They will make an excellent hostess gift or a nice gesture just for giving.

The actual cooking time is very short but you will need at least an hour for the chocolate to set in the refrigerator. Plan on at least 1 1/2 - 2 hours in total.

This recipe is very slightly adapted from Seasonal Fruit Desserts, From Orchard, Farm and Market by Deborah Madison, 2010


    Dark Chocolate Bark -makes one 10 x 6 inch slab of chocolate bark
  • 4 oz dark chocolate, between 60% to 70% cocoa butter
  • 2-3 Tb chopped candied ginger
  • 2-3 Tb chopped dried apricots
  • 3 Tb salted green pistachio nuts, some chopped and some nuts left whole
  • Pinch of flaky sea salt like Maldon
    White Chocolate Bark makes one 8 x 5 inch slab of white chocolate bark
  • 4 oz white chocolate, good quality such as Lindt - or Lindt white chocolate with coconut
  • 2 Tb finely chopped salted green pistachios
  • Orange zest removed with a citrus zester in thin strips
  • 1/2 tea lavender or other dried edible flower pedal like hibiscus or rose petals


    Dark Chocolate Bark
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Put the broken up chocolate in a bowl fitted over a pot of simmering water. If you want to add any dried spices add them now as well. Make sure the simmering water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Just a small amount of water is all that is needed, no more than an inch high. Gently stir the chocolate while it is melting, and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. When the chocolate is melted stir in half of the chopped fruit and nuts.
  4. Spread the melted chocolate over the parchment paper in a thin slab, then sprinkle the remaining fruit and nuts evenly across the bark. Gently press down of the fruit and nuts so they will stick to the chocolate when it sets. Sprinkle lightly with flaky sea salt.
  5. Refrigerate the chocolate until it is set, at least an hour.
    White Chocolate Bark
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper large enough to hold a 10 x 6 inch slab
  2. Add the chopped white chocolate bark to a bowl and place over a pot of simmering water. Keep the heat low and stir and scrape down the sides of the bowl while the white chocolate is melting.
  3. When the white chocolate is melted, pour it out on the parchment paper and spread the chocolate into an even slab.
  4. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients decoratively and evenly over the white chocolate and gently press them to adhere to the chocolate.
  5. Refrigerate until set, at least an hour.
  6. Break up the bark into irregular pieces and serve by itself or with other nuts, fruit, cookies or ice cream.
  7. Keep the chocolate bark in an air tight container and wrapped in parchment or wax paper. Keep in the refrigerator.
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© 2016 – 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.