Category Archives: Desserts/Sweets

Graham Crackers, homemade

These crackers are perfect for cheesecake crusts, graham cracker crusts, s’mores, or just to have as a snack (excellent with cream cheese).

Homemade graham crackers have a delightful flavor from the molasses or honey — and a unique texture when made with graham flour, but you can make them from whole wheat flour, too.


  • 240 grams/2 cups graham or whole wheat flour
  • 53 grams/½ cup AP (white) flour
  • 53 grams/½ cup brown or dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ⅛ tsp cinnamon
  • 85 grams of butter
  • 60 grams molasses or honey up to
  • 40 grams of milk (you can substitute 1 tbs of milk for 1 tbs of vanilla)


  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together.
  2. Cut in the butter until it is the texture of sand.
  1. Add in the molasses or honey plus the liquid.
  2. Stir until well combined.
  3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to hydrate the flours.
  1. Roll out into the shapes you would like.
  2. Bake in a 350F/180C oven for 20 – 25 minutes.
  3. Cool and serve.

How to change a cheesecake from 124 calories to 32, the ‘Japanese Rare Cheesecake’

Japanese Rare Cheesecake sets the cake with gelatin and adds yogurt for a refreshing tartness.


  • 250 grams Cream Cheese or Greek Yogurt
  • 250 grams regular yogurt
  • 5 grams of gelatin
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • 60 – 80 grams of sugar (or sugar replacement)
  • Flavorings (chose one)
    • Matcha powder 1- 3 teaspoons
    • Lemon Juice – 2-3 tablespoons
    • Freeze dried strawberry powder 2 – 3 teaspoons
  • 150 grams whipped cream or whipped milk (optional) (recipe follows)


  1. Drain regular yogurt overnight in a strainer to make the Greek Yogurt or use regular cream cheese.

  1. Bloom the gelatin in the water (at least five minutes).

  1. Combine the Greek Yogurt/Cream cheese with the yogurt, sugar, and flavoring and mix to combine.
    1. If the mixture is lumpy, strain it thought a mesh sieve into a new bowl.
  1. Melt the gelatin in the water by placing it in the microwave or in a double boiler.
  2. Add the melted gelatin to the Cream Cheese/Greek Yogurt mixture.
  3. Add the optional whipped cream or whipped milk, if using.
  4. Pour into pie shell, graham cracker crust, or other serving vessel.
  1. Chill at least six hours to over night.

Whipped Milk is an under appreciated way to add lift to desserts without all the calories. It’s a blank canvas onto which you can add different flavors that are incorporated into your desserts.


  • 300ml (1 ¼ cups whole milk)
  • 5 grams gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
  • Any flavoring you like (optional)


  1. Bloom the gelatin in the ¼ cup milk.
  2. Melt the gelatin and let cool.
  3. Put the one cup of cold milk in a bowl and place that bowl over ice.
  4. Add the sugar and any flavorings, if you are using.
  5. Add the gelatin and stir to cool the mixture.
  6. Start to beat the mixture with an electric beater until soft peaks form. This will take about 10 minutes at medium speed.
  7. Keep cold until ready to use.


Mushroom Tarts

Below is the pastry I used in making my Mushroom Tarts. The recipe I’ve used for years is from Julia Child’s ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ with two minor changes:

  1. I add more sugar to help in browning (see how golden that crust is?).
  2. I used only butter, replacing the lard in her original recipe for butter. (I prefer lard in my crusts but I wanted to keep the recipe vegetarian as the tart can be thought of as vegetarian.)

For The Tart Shell

  • 240 grams AP flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt (for flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (for color)
  • 224 grams of butter (see note)
  • 1/2 cup ice water

(note: Child’s original recipe calls for 184 grams butter and 56 grams lard and ¼ tsp sugar.)


  1. Mix the flour, salt, and sugar — let it whirl in the food processor.
  2. Cut the butter into cubes.
  3. To break up the butter cubes, toss them with the flour mixture (in the food processor).
  1. Either pulse your food processor 5 or 6 times to blend the butter with the flour mixture or cut the butter into the flour mixture with a fork or pastry cutter until it’s the size of small peas.
  2. If you’re using the food processor, turn on the machine and pour the water in all at once. Stop when the dough gathers round the blade. (It will take less than 30 seconds.)
  3. If you’re mixing by hand, pour in all the water and gently toss it all tother with a fork or spatula until the water is absorbed.
  1. Whichever method you used, put a large tablespoon of the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and smear it with your palm. Scrape the remaining dough off the surface and repeat until all the dough has been smeared together.

(You’re trying to cream the largest bits into the flour, not every piece, so just one press is enough.)

  1. Gather with a pastry scraper and quickly and lightly knead into a ball — this should take no longer than 30 seconds.
  1. Wrap and put it the refrigerator to rest at least 30 minutes — or overnight.
  2. When you’re ready, roll out the dough adding flour if and when the dough starts to stick.
  1. Make sure the dough is large enough to fit whatever pan you’re going to be using, roll it onto the rolling pin and lay it over the pan.
  2. Press it gently into the tart shell, poke it full of holes with the tines of a fork and put it into the refrigerator for the butter to harden.
  3. When you’re ready to use it, add a piece of wax parchment and some kind of weight to keep the pastry from rising and bake.
  1. Bake it in a 200C/400F oven for 30-40 minutes for a fully baked tart shell or as per instructed by your recipe.


pastry dough

(recipe follows)

Pastry is simple, but food stylists, paid professionals, and ideals on what pastry should be have set a high bar on personal expectations zapping creativity and confidence — and the will to try.

The only rule for pastry is that everything be cold, but crusts and shells can also be made from hot melted fat, oil, be moulded from ground cracker crumbs or raw dates.

For any pastry, flour is mixed with fat and liquid. We add fat to the flour to cover the gluten. Just as water and oil do not mix, the fat coats the gluten, keeping the water away. Making less gluten results in tender crusts. Recipes that call for butter also include another fat. This is because butter is 20 water and that extra shorting, oil, lard is to make up for that water to achieve the golden ratio for pastry: 3, 2, 1

3, 2, 1: three parts flour, two parts fat, one part liquid

People who want to decrease calories often remove some — or all — fat; others add whole grains to improve the nutrition; others add milk, stock, or even vodka for one reason or another. This means you can change the flour, fat and liquid to meet your needs.

To make them flakey I roll individual sheets, stack them on each other layered with either butter, oil, cocoa, almond meal, powdered milk or even sugar. This provides flavor and helps the individual sheets remain separate, so when you you bite, the shell crumbles — or flakes.
To make them flakey I roll individual sheets, stack them on each other layered with either butter, oil, cocoa, almond meal, powdered milk or even sugar. This provides flavor and helps the individual sheets remain separate, so when you you bite, the shell crumbles — or flakes.

This is the formula for standard French pastry.

Tier one (you must use)
2 cups All-Purpose flour (you will add flour throughout the rolling, so precision through grams is unnecessary)
168 grams or 6 oz (unsalted) butter as cold as possible
56 grams, 4 tablespoons shorteing or lard as cold as possible.
Ice water
Up to 1/4 teaspoon salt

Tier three (optional)
Cinnamon or other sweet spices (for sweet crust)
Fine herbs (for savory crust)
Up to 1 teaspoon Vinegar (to weaken gluten)
Up to 1 tablespoon sugar (to brown the crust)
Up to 1/4 baking soda (to brown crust, works with sugar)


Cut the butter into chunks. Put the flour, salt, butter and shortning in a food processor with the S-Blade (pic 1 below) and pulse three times, which feels too short, but only three times. Turn on the machine and add all the water and vinegar all at once. In seconds it will form a ball, or otherwise clump together (pic 2). Stop the machine. To harden the fat and allow the dough to absorb the water, quickly place the dough in a plastic bag (pic 3) and put in the refridgerator for at least an hour or over night — you do not need to handle the dough (pic 4).

making pastry
It looks horrible, but notice all the chunks of butter. Even when you make it in a bowl with a pastry cutter or the tines of a fork, your butter must be in little chunks.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and press it into a rectangular shape through the bag (pic 5 above). Put the contents on a floured surface (pic one below). Sprinkle flour on it and gently roll it out (pic 2). Sprinkle a little flour on it and fold it in half (pic 3). Sprinkle more flour and fold it into a quarter (pic 4). Put it back in the plastic bag and refrigerate for at least a half an hour.

As you work with the dough gently push the edges in to form a rectangular shape. It will not form a rectangle until the very last step.
As you work with the dough gently push the edges in to form a rectangular shape. It will not form a rectangle until the very last step.

Roll the dough into a rectangular shape (pic one below). Sprinkle flour and fold it into thirds, like a letter (pic 2 and 3). Roll again into a rectangular shape (pic 4). Sprinkle flour on it, fold it into thirds again and put it back in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.

Look carefully and you can still see pieces of butter. Notice that the edges are misshapen. Each time you roll, gently press the edges in.
Look carefully and you can still see pieces of butter. Notice that the edges are misshapen. Each time you roll, gently press the edges in.

Take out the dough and roll it into a rectangular shape and apply a very light dusting of flour then fold it into thirds (pics 1 and 2). Roll it out again and fold it into thirds. Apply just a little flour fold it into thirds and put it in the refrigerator for half an hour.

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 0.09.54
Notice the little bits of butter in the dough. That’s perfect. The edges are still ragged. The dough now feels like dough.

Take it out of the refrigerator. Roll it out one last time and fold it into thirds. Congratulations, you’ve made pastry. Cut it in half and freeze or refrigerate it. The next time you roll it out you can make a pie, a tart, a quiche.

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 0.10.12
Tighten up the edges with your hand to form a rectangle then fold those imperfect edges (to the left and right) over into thirds. You’re done. You can cut it into two pieces and freeze or refrigerate until you need them. And, once again, notice that you can still see tiny flecks and pieces of butter.

Each time you fold cold dough, you create laters of fat. When that fat melts and the steam escapes it creates a flakey crust.

The principle is the same for any dough with hard fat. Each time you dust with flour, fold the dough into thirds and roll it out, you crate layers. As long as the dough is cold the fat stays sold and separate creating a micro layer of fat. However, it if gets warm, the fat melts into the flour. The dough is still good to eat, but it’s no longer flakey. Look carefully at this finished crust. The holes are from those small, thin layers of cold butter.


In the next post we’ll roll the dough into pie, tarts, and something very special.