Three Easy Easter Desserts, Sweeeeeet. Team Them With Fresh Berries.

Cooking, Recipes By Mar 27, 2015

Meringue cookies with chocolate and pecans nest atop marinated fresh berries. Yum!

These Easter sweets fall into the easy-peasy school of dessert preparation. They are old favorites of mine, treats that I can practically prepare with my eyes closed. All team with fresh berries, scrumptious symbols of springtime.

All three treats can be prepared a day or two in advance, making a more relaxed and happier host on Easter Sunday.


French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze

Made in a loaf pan, this delicious cake is a scrumptious cross between pound cake and sponge cake. It’s glazed with an on-so-glossy mix of strained marmalade heated with a little water.

Although orange marmalade works beautifully, I often use Rose’s Lemon and Lime Marmalade (frequently available at Bristol Farms, Newport Beach, and Surfas Culinary District, Costa Mesa).


I like to use it like shortcake, topping a slice with whipped cream or ice cream and generous scoops of fresh berries. But the cake is very versatile.  It is also delicious topped with store-bought or homemade lemon curd and clouds of sweetened whipped cream.

Peanut Brittle Bars

The best bar cookie on the planet.

I love the crunch and the salty-sweet flavor notes of these easy to make bar cookies. The cookie crust is crisp and buttery good.

The topping goes on top of the hot crust; it’s a trio of salted peanuts, chocolate chips and store-bought caramel sauce mixed with a little flour. Baked until golden brown and cooled for about an hour, they are ready for cutting into bars.


I like to serve them cut into triangles, and accompany them with ripe locally-grown strawberries. If you feel ambitious, chocolate dip the strawberries.

Easy Meringue Nighty-Night Cookies with Marinated Mixed Berries


If you have a stand-alone electric mixer, Nighty-Night Cookies are probably one of the easiest treats you can bake from scratch.

They are light as air, with chocolate and nuts hidden inside. When my daughter was a child she called them “angel kisses.” The recipe uses French meringue, the simplest style of meringue to prepare.


Although in classic French baking, a bowl-shaped meringue would hold the berries, but that requires a skilled hand and a pastry bag; this easy version has the marinated berries in the bottom of a bowl with the meringue cookie(s) plopped on top.

Voila, my friends. Easy and delicious, too.


Meringue Nighty-Night Cookies with Marinated Mixed Berries
Yield: about 24 cookies, enough marinated berries for 6 servings
2 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla, see cook’s notes
Marinated berries, see cook’s notes
Garnish: sprigs of fresh mint
Cook’s notes: When I use these cookies as toppers for marinated berries, I like to keep them bed-sheet white, so I omit the vanilla. In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup medium-dry sherry, 1 teaspoon minced orange or tangerine zest, 1/4 cup fresh orange or tangerine juice and 1 teaspoon sugar; stir to dissolve sugar. Add 2 1/2 cups hulled and quartered strawberries (if large, cut into sixths).Refrigerate at least 1 hour, tossing occasionally. Add 1/2 cup fresh raspberries and 1/2 cup fresh blackberries; gently toss and set aside for about 15 minutes. Gently toss before serving.
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In an electric stand mixer, beat egg whites until foamy on medium speed. Add salt and increase speed to high. When soft peaks form, add 1 tablespoon sugar and beat 30 seconds. Repeat adding sugar one tablespoon at a time and beating 30 seconds afterwards, until all sugar is added. After all sugar is added, beat 1 minute on high speed. Fold in chocolate chips, walnuts and, if using, vanilla. Drop tablespoonful portions onto prepared sheets. I use two spoons – one to scoop and the other to push the batter off the spoon.
3. Place in middle of preheated oven. Turn off heat and allow cookies to “bake” overnight. OR, bake in a 325-degree oven for about 25 minutes. Cool.
4. For serving: Divide berries and the marinade between 6 bowls. Top each with one or two cookies. Garnish with sprigs of fresh mint.
Advance preparation: Cookies can be prepared up to 3 days in advance. I leave them at room temperature on the baking sheet covered loosely with parchment paper or waxed paper. Strawberries can be tossed with marinade up to 3 hours in advance and refrigerated; toss in remaining berries about 15 minutes before serving.

Peanut Brittle Bars
Yield: about 48 bars
Butter for greasing pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cut into about 16 pieces
2 cups salted roasted peanuts (not dry roasted)
1 cup milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (12.5-ounce) jar caramel ice cream topping
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; preheat to 350 degrees. Grease a 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pan (jellyroll pan) with butter.
2. In large bowl, combine all base ingredients except butter. Stir to blend. Add butter; using a pastry cutter or large fork, cut in butter until crumbly (you can also pulse on/off in a food processor, but make sure to stop when it gets crumbly, do not process until it forms dough). Press evenly into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 12 to 14 minutes.
3. Sprinkle peanuts and chocolate chips over warm base. In small bowl, combine caramel topping and 3 tablespoons flour; blend well. Drizzle evenly over chocolate chips and peanuts. Bake at 350 degrees for an additional 15 to 17 minutes or until topping is set and golden brown. Cool 1 hour. Run a knife around the edge. Cut into bars.
Advance preparation: Bars can be prepared up to three days in advance. Store at room temperature loosely covered.
Source: Adapted from “Pillsbury Best Cookies Cookbook” (Clarkson Potter, $19.95)

French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze
Yield: 8 servings
Butter for greasing pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almonds, see cook’s notes
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup plain yogurt (not Greek-style)
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
1/2 cup lemon marmalade or orange marmalade, strained
1 teaspoon water
Cook’s notes: To grind almonds, place slivered almonds (without skin) in food processor; whirl until finely ground.
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan with butter. Place pan on baking sheet.
2. Whisk together the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt in medium bowl.
3. In a large bowl, combine sugar and zest; use fingertips to rub zest into sugar until sugar is slightly moist and aromatic. Add yogurt, eggs and vanilla; whisk vigorously until mixture is very well blended. Still whisking, gradually add dry ingredients. Switch to a large rubber or silicone spatula and fold in oil. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.
4. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until cake begins to come away from the side of the pan; it should be golden brown and a thin knife inserted into the center will come out clean. Place pan on cooling rack and cool for 5 minutes. Unmold and place on cooling rack right side up. Cool to room temperature.
5. For glaze: Put marmalade in small saucepan and stir in water. Heat on medium-high, stirring, until jelly is hot and melts. Using a pastry brush, gently brush cake with glaze.
6. For serving: If desired, use the cake for strawberry “shortcake.” Cut into eight slices and place in shallow bowls or plates with lips. If desired, brush top with high-quality strawberry jam. Top with sweetened whipped cream and (hulled and cut) fresh ripe strawberries. Finish with more whipped cream.
Advance preparation: Wrapped well, this cake can be prepared 3 days in advance at room temperature. It can be frozen airtight without the glaze.
Source: “Baking From My Home to Yours” by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin, $40)


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