The Brellis House


Category Archives: Dessert

Sourdough Cinnamon Raisin Swirl

Posted on November 5th, 2012 by Dan

Susanna and I were very lucky to come out of hurricane Sandy with only 12 hours of lost internet. We’ve had good luck with bad storms so far in this house. We spent the night swing dancing and preparing for the power to go off.

On Monday I worked from my grandparent’s house (they didn’t lose internet) and my sister happened to be there in the morning for breakfast. She has a slice of cinnamon raisin bread from the store and it smelled amazing. I thought, I need to make me one of those!

So I found a nice looking recipe from the kitchn. And oh, by the way, my sourdough is back! It died, I was too lazy to grow a new one, when I tried it took 2 weeks… but now it’s alive and healthy. So I modified the recipe I found to use up some of the sourdough starter. Here it is, very tasty for breakfast.

cinnamon raisin swirl bread


  • 5 oz starter
  • 4 oz AP flour
  • 4 oz warm water
  • .5 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1.5 oz milk
  • 1/8 cup (1 oz) Earth Balance, melted, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 7.5 – 8.5 oz all-purpose flour
  • 0.5 cup (3 oz) raisins
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon


  1. Soak the raisins in enough boiling water to cover. Let sit for an hour or more to plump.
  2. Combine the starter right out of the fridge and feed it with the 4 oz of flour and water. Let it sit in a mixing bowl for an hour or over night if you have the time.
  3. Mix in the yeast, milk, butter, salt and  7.5 oz of flour. Stir until a rough dough forms, then turn out onto the table and knead until smooth, adding more flour to make a tacky, elastic dough. NOTE: when we add the raisins it will add more moisture, so you can make this a bit drier than usual.
  4. Let the dough relax on the counter, covered, for a half hour. Drain the raisins and toss with someflour to absorb excess moisture. Stretch the dough on the counter and fold the raisins in, adding more flour as necessary to take up the moisture from the raisins.
  5. Let rise in an oiled bowl until doubled (1.5 hours).
  6. Deflate and form into a loaf using the technique from the kitchn to get the cinnamon swirl effect. Preheat over to 375°F
  7. Rise in a loaf pan until cresting the top and then bake at 375°F for 40 minutes.

Blueberry Glaze Doughnuts

Posted on June 29th, 2012 by Dan

I’ve been overwhelmed with how bountiful and beautiful summer is. Farmer’s markets are full of fresh produce and I’m hoarding berries. So far we’ve bought/foraged and frozen cherries, black berries, plums, and wineberries. Our freezer is literally stuffed to the brim and we can barely keep it closed.

Among the berries I haven’t frozen are blueberries. I bought some last week to use for a dessert competition at Berry Festival. Last year we placed second with a berry, lemon torte. This year, we decided to make doughnuts, though Susanna was skeptical, topped with a blueberry glaze.

Blueberry Glaze Doughnuts

They despite the fear, they turned out awesome. Light, fluffy, airy, fried doughnuts that would beat the pants off of Dunkin Donuts…

Unfortunately, they didn’t beat the winner at the Berry Festival… popsicles. I know right?

Inside of DoughnutOh well, better luck next year. For anyone who wants to serve an amazing dessert/breakfast/snack, but maybe not win in a competition, I used the dough from VeganDad’s Vegan Chocolate-Glazed Donuts. I doubled the recipe and got 40-45 doughnuts out of them.

It took me a bit of time to figure out what to do for the glaze. Nightmarish memories of overly sweet, runny icing rushed back to me. As I’m complaining to Susanna with my glazey woes, she suggests, “Just mush up some blueberries and mix them with sugar”. And that’s what I did!

Blueberry Icing

Ingredients (for 40 mini doughnuts, adjust as necessary)

  • 1/4 – 1/2 pint fresh, organic blueberries
  • powdered sugar


This method has no real measurements. It makes it tough to describe, but super easy in that if you add too much of the one ingredient, you add more of the other. Also, since you start out with a little bit, you don’t have to worry about making more than you need.

  1. Start by placing a 1/4 cup of blueberries in a flat bottoms bowl and mash them to a pulp with a potato masher. Make sure there are no chunky parts (save for the bits of skins) and mash them enough so the purple pigment from the skin is extruded into the juice.
  2. Transfer about half of the blueberry soup into a mixing bowl, and using an electronic hand mixer, stir the blueberry soup on low while sprinkling in some powdered sugar until it totally clumpy and won’t mix (more than you think). Now, add in a little but more blueberry liquid while mixing until it just comes together. This might take some practice, but if you add too much liquid, just add more sugar (and vice versa).
  3. Stop when the mixture is thick, like room temperature molasses. Now dip your doughnuts and move them around to make sure the entire top is covered, but not goopy.  The icing should flow just enough to smooth out any peaks or ripples, but shouldn’t really run down the sides. It should stiffen within a minute of being on the doughnut.
  4. Once your glaze reserve is too low to dip a doughnut, just add in some more powdered sugar and repeat step 2. Additionally, you can heat up the bowl just slightly until the glaze is runny, but it will harden quickly afterwards.

Strawberry Sorbet

Posted on May 28th, 2012 by Dan

Late spring means local, delicious  strawberries in Maryland. For Mother’s Day we brought bread and strawberry sorbet to my sister’s for dinner. The sorbet was bursting with flavor, bright red and crazy fragrant. The texture was just perfect. It reminded me of the strawberry popsicles that we would get at amusement parks. Full of intense flavor, these homemade delights almost seem artificial, though they are as simple and natural as they come.

strawberry sorbet

This recipe is straightforward, from the Ezra Pound Cake blog, and very easy to make. As a reminder, the mixture needs to be cold before putting in the ice cream maker in order to get tiny ice crystals for a smooth result. I made a double batch for our dessert with 6 people.


French Macarons

Posted on May 15th, 2012 by Dan

UPDATE: View my working recipe at French Macarons (Part II).

vegan French macron

Ever since visiting France last summer, I have been in dessert envy for macarons. Those things litter the street side stores in every color imaginable. They’re such a prominent window display, that you’d think the French are born knowing how to make them.

I had a proud day last week. I finally achieved a vegan macaron. It wasn’t perfect, but to me, getting this to work was 90% looking the part, which I am pretty happy about.

This was the first of multiple attempts to make macarons. Previous experiments left me with a sticky, gooey mess all over the pan as the cookies melted out in the oven. This time, though, I gave them a good rest to form a ‘skin’, and to my excitement and shock, my little cookies stayed firm and grew little feet.

vegan French macron

My recipe was an alteration from Bittersweet’s ‘Vegan Desserts‘. Her method for the egg white wasn’t working for me, so I used another egg white substitution, Willpowder’s VersaWhip. And somehow, it all worked out.

I made a chocolate mint and chocolate peanut butter. I obviously didn’t take as much care with the frosting application- they’re a little sloppy. I need to practice piping the cookie batter onto the sheet pans and applying the frosting, but the hard shell and feet are a big enough accomplishment for one week.

I promise I’ll post tips once I get a truly successful batch. I can not wait to give them another try and perfect my VEGAN FRENCH MACARONS.


vegan French macron


Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Posted on April 4th, 2012 by Dan

Yesterday was the first grass cutting of the year… awful. Our grass was clumpy and thick, which makes cutting it with a push-blade mower near impossible. Afterwards, I was craving some chocolate and peanut butter.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

These peanut butter cups were easy to make and relatively quick.


  • 1.5 cups chocolate chips, finely chopped
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 10 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup puffed rice
  • 1/8 tsp salt (if using unsalted peanut butter)
  • 1 tbsp oil, preferably peanut oil
  1. Heavily oil the inside of a muffin tin, but not so it’s dripping
  2. Melt the chocolate, salt and peanut butter in a double boiler until smooth
  3. Pour ~1/2 tbsp of chocolate in each muffin mold, just enough to cover the bottom
  4. Refrigerate or put in the freezer until hard (about 15 minutes)
  5. Combine the remaining ingredients in a food processor (except for the oil) until well combined
  6. With the food processor running, slowly drip in the oil until the mixture clumps and sticks together
  7. Take the chocolate out of the fridge, roll 1 tbsp of the peanut butter mixture into a ball, flatten in a 1/4″ disc and place in the center of each muffin mold.
  8. Cover with the rest of the melted chocolate, tap on the counter to flatten out and then refrigerate or freeze until solid (about 30 minutes).
  9. To de-mold, simply flip the muffin tin upside-down onto the counter and tap the bottom.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake (Gluten-Free)

Posted on March 18th, 2012 by Dan

I made these gluten-free chocolate shortcakes for my niece’s birthday. This was my first successful gluten-free baking experiment and tasted great topped with soy whipped cream and sliced strawberries. They’re more like biscuits in both recipe and method.

I used King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour Mix. It worked well, the cakes stayed together and were soft and chewy.

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes

Gluten-Free Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

Makes about 15-20 shortcakes:


  • 3 cups gluten-free all purpose flour mix
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 cup dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar (omit if using non-alkalized cocoa powder)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil


  1. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, use a food processor or sift to ensure there are no clumps.
  2. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the oil and milk.
  3. Fold together until thoroughly combined.
  4. Scoop batter onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Make scoops a bit larger than the size of a gold ball and flatten in a patty-like shape. Space about 1 inch apart.
  5. Bake at 400°F for 7 minutes, rotate pan and then bake for an addition 7-10 minutes or until cookies are firm (but not hard) and not burnt.

Lemon Coconut Blueberry Bundt Cake

Posted on February 12th, 2012 by Dan

Lemon Blueberry Coconut Bundt Cake

This cake just came out of the oven as my breakfast, about 2pm. Worth the wait though. Served warm with soy vanilla ice cream, it was fantastic.

Blueberry Lemon Coconut Bundt Cake

This bundt cake is from Veganomicon. I substituted a half cup of spelt flour in with the all purpose flour, cut the sugar down to 1 cup and added about a 1 – 1.5 cups of fresh blueberries.


Cantaloupe Sorbet

Posted on August 17th, 2011 by Dan

Cantaloupe Sorbet

This recipe is heavily inspired by two sorbet, or water ice, recipes I recently found. The cantaloupe idea came from one of my favorite, if not my absolute favorite, cooking blogs, VeganDad. The other came from one of my childhood favorite tv chefs, Alton Brown.

When I saw VeganDad’s cantaloupe sorbet, I knew I had to try it. And I figured I could have done it exactly as he posted, but I wanted to be creative in my own right. That’s whenI turned to a set of sorbet ‘guidelines’ if you will from Mr Brown.

The key with water ices is to have a cold 35-45% sugar solution go into your ice cream machine. If you go on the high end of the sugar percentage, your ice will be thicker, more scoop-able and more solid. The low end will yield a more slushy-like result.


  • 1/2 of a large cantaloupe (about 6in diameter) pureed ≈ 3 cups ≈ 407g (32g sugar)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (~305 g)
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp dry pectin powder (optional, for smoothness)
  • 2 tbsp vodka


  1. Take the pureed cantaloupe and pour in a saucepan under medium heat. Whisk in the sugar, zest, juice and pectin until fully dissolved. If you’re using the pectin, it’s important not to bring this to a boil or else the pectin will lose its functionality.
  2. Add the vodka and pour into a wide glass container and refrigerate until cold.
  3. Take the chilled mixture and churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
  4. Place back into a glass container in the freezer for at least 3 hours or over night before serving.