Polenta Cake with Italian Prune Plums

This luscious cake is kissed with juicy Italian plums and citrus peel.

Ingredients:
4 Italian prune plums, pitted and cut into wedges
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
1½ teaspoons baking powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
4 egg yolks, plus 2 full eggs
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon or orange peel
1 teaspoon vanilla
Crème fraîche for serving (optional)

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease and flour bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan; line bottom with a 9-inch circle of parchment paper. Arrange plums on parchment in pan. Sprinkle brown sugar over the plums. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar and beat until light. Add egg yolks and eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add lemon peel and vanilla; beat until combined. Beat in the flour mixture. Spoon batter over plums in pan and spread evenly.

4. Bake about 50 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove sides of pan; cool cake completely. Invert cake onto serving platter; remove bottom of pan and parchment. If desired, serve with crème fraîche.

Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone, Pistachios & Balsamic Glaze

Peaches off the grill are a true summer delight—we particularly love this salty, sticky-sweet topping.

Ingredients
4 large ripe (but not overly soft) peaches, halved and pits removed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 ounces mascarpone or cream cheese
¼ cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla
2-3 teaspoons grapeseed oil (or other neutral tasting oil)
Handful of pistachios, lightly crushed

Method:
1. In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, sugar and melted butter. Set aside. In another small bowl, combine mascarpone (or cream) cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla and beat with a hand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Set aside.

2. Preheat grill over medium low heat. Gently brush each peach half with oil and place it flesh side down on the grill. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Use tongs to carefully rotate peaches a quarter turn and cook for another 1-2 minutes until the peaches are slightly softened and have grill marks. Remove and cool slightly.

3. When ready to serve, drizzle balsamic mixture over peaches and spoon a small scoop of cheese mixture into the hollow of each peach. Sprinkle with crushed pistachios.

Variations: Once you master the art of grilling peaches, the sky’s the limit! They are also wonderful topped with vanilla ice cream or Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey.

Apricot Cobbler

It’s hard to beat this summery dessert—just add vanilla ice cream!

Ingredients:
F&L cobbler crust mix
¾ cups milk plus 2 tablespoons
4 cups sliced apricots
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup sugar
Ground cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)

Method:
1. Melt butter in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the F&L cobbler crust mix with the milk, stirring until dry ingredients are just moistened.

2. Bring 1 cup sugar, apricot slices, and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Pour the fruit mixture into the baking dish and top with cobbler batter. Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg, if desired.

3. Bake at 375° for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve the cobbler warm or cool.

Cherry Clafoutis

This rustic French dessert combines fresh, juicy cherries and creamy, custardy batter, all baked to golden-brown perfection.

Ingredients:
4 large eggs
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons melted butter
¾ cups all purpose flour
2 cups cherries, pitted and halved
Powdered sugar for dusting

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and lightly flour a 9-inch round pie dish or cast iron pan. Reserve.

2. In a food processor, combine the eggs, sugar, salt, milk, lemon zest and vanilla extract. Blend just until combined. Add the flour and blend again, just until combined and smooth. Finally, add the melted butter and pulse a few times to incorporate into the batter. (You can also mix the ingredients by hand.)

3. Pour the batter into the prepared dish. Top with the cherry halves, placing them cut side up. Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the custard is just set. A knife poked in the center should emerge relatively clean. Remove from the oven and let cool 20 minutes, then run a knife around pan sides to loosen clafoutis. Dust the top with powdered sugar; cut into wedges and serve.

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