Category Archives: Dessert

Grandma’s Rhubarb Custard Pie

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a year now so I figured I’d better get on it while rhubarb is once again in season.  Back in the day my husband would speak longingly about his favorite childhood pie, a rhubarb custard pie.  I’ve always been a rhubarb purist.  A nice rhubarb cobbler with nothing to interfere with the favor of rhubarb was my idea of heaven.  I poo-pood the rhubarb custard pie and kept up my purist rhubarb ways. 

Then once while we were visiting my mother in law during spring she made this pie and I saw the error of my ways.  I do still love rhubarb cobbler, don’t get me wrong.  And I know legions of fans worship the rhubarb strawberry combination, including my father.  But this pie has  come to herald spring for us.  I love it for all the same reasons I love key lime pie – it’s at once creamy and tart and sweet, all wrapped up in each perfect bite. I try to make it once a week while rhubarb is in season yet we somehow don’t manage to tire of it by the time the strawberries ripen.

Even if you are a hardcore rhubarb purist I hope you’ll give this pie a chance. 

Rhubarb Custard Pie

1 double pie crust or shortbread crust

Finely chop enough rhubarb to fill a pie crust, the fresher the better
Mix together well:
3  beaten eggs
2 cups sugar (adjust up or down to your liking next time)
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon mace (not necessary but adds to the flavor)
1/2 cup Golden Glen cream

Line a deep dish pie plate with one crust  then line the inside of the crust with aluminum foil.  Cover the lined bottom of the pie crust with beans and pre-bake it at 425 for 15 minutes.  Fill the crust with chopped rhubarb and pour the custard over the top.  Use cookie cutters to cut shapes from the remaining crust and arrange them on top of the pie.  Sprinkle the cutouts with sugar or a cinnamon sugar mixture.

Bake at 450 farenheit for 10 minutes then reduce the oven to 325 and continue baking for 1 hour.

Pantry Pudding


Did you think I was going to pull a box out of the pantry? :)

Last year when I started this journey I was a pretty decent cook but there are so many pantry items I never would have even thought about making from scratch. Pudding was one of those things.

When you read the list of ingredients on the back of the pudding box it sounds so magical, so mysterious, so laboratory and so improbable that you could make pudding yourself from things you already have in your pantry or fridge in the same amount of time it takes to cook box pudding.

Imagine making amazing pudding anytime you want without having to run to the store because you are out of boxed pudding, and without giving a dime to a large food corporation. No special packaging to dispose of and no artificial flavors or chemicals. And because you control the amount of sweetener the ingredients are, for the most part, totally wholesome ingredients that can help you get nutrient dense calories into a growing child. How cool is that?


Tonight’s pudding is dessert but it could just as easily be breakfast if I increased the number of egg yolks and cut back on the sugar. In fact, I may just make a bacon and maple syrup flavored pudding for breakfast one day. It would be the same basic recipe that I’m about to share with you and that would be one of a million ways in which you could personalize it.

By adding various flavoring extracts in place of the vanilla (think orange, coconut, mint, almond) or steeping herbs and spices for 30 minutes in the warm milk before making the pudding (think mint, lemon verbena, cardamon, coffee beans, tea with Chai spices, cinnamon, even garlic, rosemary or basil), adding solids (think citrus zest or pureed pumpkin) or substituting another liquid at the end as part of the total liquid in the recipe (think Frangelico, Kahlua, scotch) your options are endless.

You can dial up or down the sweetness and the fat to your own personal preference since the sugar and butter have nothing to do with getting the pudding to set. The cornstarch and egg yolks take care of that for you.

And really, there’s always room for pudding. Everyone knows that.

Master Recipe for Pudding

3/4 cup organic sugar
3 tablespoons organic corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup whole milk
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons butter in 3 pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla


If you plan to steep herbs or spices in the milk gently warm the milk, add the spices, then turn off the heat and let the milk sit for 30 minutes before straining. Discard the herbs or spices and use the milk as directed in the recipe.

In a saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. If you were making chocolate pudding you would add your cocoa powder now as well. Add half of the cream and the egg yolks and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in the remaining cream and milk.

Place the pan over medium heat and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly once the mixture thickens. Boil the pudding for 1 minute then remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter along with any extracts, liquors or chocolate chips until the mixture is smooth.

Pour into individual serving dishes then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Pudding will set once it is chilled.


I have not found a satisfactory work around for covering the pudding surface with plastic wrap and I hate to use it around food. This step is not necessary but it does help make the pudding creamier since the steam doesn’t escape as the pudding cools and that thick skin doesn’t form on the surface.

What I do is put all the ramekins on a tray and cover that with another tray. Because the steam is trapped under the top tray the skin doesn’t form but as condensation forms on the tray above the pudding, it drips back down and discolors the pudding surface. The texture is still intact and you could easily hide the surface with some whipped cream if you were entertaining. My kids certainly don’t mind though! 

Flavor Variations:

Chocolate Pudding
Add 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder along with the sugar. Once the pudding is cooked and you’ve removed the pan from the heat stir in about 1/2 cup of chocolate chips or chopped baking chocolate. Cinnamon, mint, orange, coffee, Kahlua, or Frangelico would all be great in this chocolate variation.

Butterscotch Pudding
Substitute 3/4 cup brown sugar for the granulated sugar. Once the pudding is cooked and you’ve removed the pan from the heat stir in 2-3 tablespoons of Scotch along with the vanilla.

Chai Latte Pudding
Steep 1 tablespoon of black or rooibos tea along with 3 cardamom seeds, 3 peppercorns, 1/2 stick of cinnamon, 6 cloves and a pinch of ginger in the milk before making the pudding as discussed above. Proceed with the master pudding recipe.

Cocoa Spice Meringue Cookies


Last week we ended up using quite a few egg yolks between egg nog and homemade ice cream. I know many of you might throw those in an omelet but I had about 8 of them which would have made for a very bland omelet.

Marshmallows and meringues are my two favorite things to do with egg whites. Since it’s December and all I’ve gone spice crazy so I started off trying to make cocoa meringues and then went sideways with cinnamon and nutmeg. I love how they came out, with just a hint of cocoa and strong spice notes. They were perfectly crunchy on the outside but a little too chewy inside for my tastes – they could have used another minute but by the time they were cool enough for me to test them the pot roast had moved into the oven and there was no going back.

These are so simple to make that a 3 year old can do most of the work provided you have a stand mixer.

Cocoa Spice Meringue Cookies
4 egg whites
pinch cream of tartar
pinch salt
1 cup of organic sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 300F. In the bowl of a standing mixer beat egg whites, cream of tartar and salt on high until soft peaks form. Add the sugar in a slow but constant stream, beating until stiff peaks form. Add the cocoa powder and spices.

Drop from rounded tablespoonful onto a parchment of silpat lined cookie sheet and bake for about 40 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Tonnemaker Apple Quince Tall Tart


You can make this using a deep pie dish or use a spring form pan to make a tall tart as I have done. For a deep dish pie use the lesser quantities of fruit and thickener I’ve listed, the larger quantities are enough to fill a high-sided spring form pan about 3/4 of the way up.

This crust is so forgiving that I started to roll it out, stopped to sort some one’s squash order, helped the kids with something and then gathered some boxes up for a neighbor who stopped by. By the time I got back to the crust it was sticky and soft but I was able to press it into the pan using moist fingers. This is truly the most forgiving pie crust I can think of.


Tonnemaker Apple Quince Tall Tart

  • Recipe for shortbread crust
  • 2 to 4 prepared quinces
  • 5 to 7 apples – I prefer tart ones with a well rounded flavor like pink lady, any of the pippins or granny smith. By combining several varieties of apples you’ll get a more interesting tart.
  • 2/3 cup organic sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons tapioca granules or organic cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest or Rockridge Orchards apple cider vinegar
  • Preheat the oven to 400 F

    Divide the pastry crust into two balls, returning one to the refrigerator. Roll the other out on a lightly floured surface. Rolling the dough out in between two floured silpats will make this even easier. Line a 9″ pie plate with the crust and chill it while you prepare the filling ingredients. Alternatively you can roll out 3/4 of the dough and line a tall spring form cake pan.

    In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients including the quince slices. One by one peel the apples, halve them and scoop out the cores using a melon baller. This makes short work out of a laborious process and you can fly through them since you aren’t concerned with cutting yourself with a knife. Slice the apples thinly and add them to the mixing bowl as they become done.

    Allow the filling to sit in the bowl for 10 minutes so the apples start to juice and the tapioca can soften.

    After your filling has started to juice carefully arrange the fruit in the prepared crust-lined pan then dot the top with butter.

    Roll out the remaining pie crust and cut out patterns in it using small cookie cutters or a shot glass, then arrange the cookies on the top of the crust, slightly overlapping where you’ve cutout. If you are making the a tall tart simply arrange the cutout shapes on top of the butter dotted filling. If you want to be extra fancy you can brush the top crust with egg wash and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of organic sugar.

    Bake the tart or pie for 15 minutes at 400F until golden then reduce the heat to 350 F and bake another 15 minutes. After 15 minutes cover the top of the pie and continue cooking until the filling starts to bubble. It will probably take another 20 – 30 minutes for the deep dish pie and another 45-60 minutes for the tall tart.

    Shortbread Crust


    If you get tired of trying to get the perfect American flaky pie crust – give yourself a break and make this instead. Instead of layers of flaky which only come from lard or shortening this uses butter to make a forgiving, fuss-free crust that essentially gives you two desserts in one.

    Begin this dough the day before because it needs to rest 24 hours in the fridge. This recipe makes enough dough for 2 9 inch pies or 1 double crust.

  • 1/2 cup organic sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 stick plus 6 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or Rockridge Orchards apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry or spelt flour
  • Beat sugar, salt and butter together until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl mix together the remaining ingredients. Add to the butter mixture and mix until well combined. With the mixer on low or using a wooden spoon add the flour to the wet mixture and combine until it just begins to come together in a ball. Pat the ball into a flat disc, wrap with plastic wrap or put it in a tight fitting reusable container and refrigerate for 24 hours.

    This dough also freezes well and can be used to make rolled cookies in a pinch. It’s also fun to cut out large circles using a cottage cheese container and form tiny tarts using a muffin pan. Kids especially love the idea of getting an entire pie and it makes for a great way to use up extra preserves in the late spring!