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Ellen’s Sweet Recipes

Spruce Tip Panna Cotta: Recipe

My dinner guests are often confused by this pale green dessert, and I can’t blame them. But I don’t tell them what they’re eating until AFTER they’ve tasted it. Why? I want people to experience these new, unbuyable flavors with an open mind, without any pre-conceived notions. After all, green is an unusual color for a dessert, and most people don’t think of evergreen trees as food plants. Not until after they’ve eaten spruce tip panna cotta. (more…)

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Juniper Berry Icing: Recipe

Are you a cookie maker? Whether you’re baking for a school event, an office party, or a picnic, why not add a new and unusual flavor to your next batch? Even if all you do is bake from a mix, you can add a personal touch that makes your cookies stand out. This simple juniper berry icing takes even the simplest gingerbread cookie over the top. It would also be delicious on butter cookies, pumpkin cookies, any cookie that might benefit from a sweet, spicy glaze. (more…)

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Spruce Needle and Spruce Tip Ice Cream: Recipe

For many years I only used the soft, young tips of spruce branches for cooking, but recently I tried some mature, first year branches, harvested on a snowy December walk. I kept the branches in the freezer, waiting for a special occasion, and pulled them out last week to use in spruce tip ice cream. Their flavor is different from that of the tips. It contains more of the quintessential “spruce” fragrance. It’s slightly resinous, sweet, and woodsy, and I love what it brings to this dessert. I recommend using a combination of young tips and first year needles for the best possible flavor. (more…)

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Locust Blossom Sorbet: Recipe

Every once in a while I make something I’m really proud of, and this is one of those times. The New Mexico locust trees (Robinia neomexicana) have burst into bloom here in Santa Fe, and their purple-pink flowers are so fragrant, I was sure they’d be tasty, too. I’ve used the flowers of black locust (R. pseudoacacia) in fritters, but I wanted to make the most of both the color and flavor of the New Mexican variety. Plus, it was in the mid-80s here today, and a cool dish of locust blossom sorbet sounded like it would hit the spot. (more…)

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Rumex hymenosepalus and a Wild Rhubarb Jello Recipe

My husband builds model rockets. It’s a perfect hobby for him, one that combines art and science and also lets him get outdoors. I’ve been wanting to go to one of the monthly launches, so last weekend we got in the car at the ungodly hour of 6 am (ungodly because it was Saturday) and headed out to the launch site. Only to find that the launch date had been changed. Michael was very apologetic, but no apology was necessary. Because the landscape surrounding the site was full of Rumex hymenosepalus (aka wild rhubarb), a very succulent species of dock I’d been wanting to try. (more…)

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Prickly Pear Syrup Recipe (and a How-to Video!)

No matter how many times I cut open a prickly pear fruit (aka tuna) I’m surprised by its color. On the outside they’re a pretty pink, but cut the fruit open and bam! It’s a vibrant magenta you wouldn’t expect to find in nature. Prickly pear syrup is a great way to preserve both the flavor and color of this fruit, and it’s easier to make than you might think. (more…)

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Wild Ginger Syrup Recipe

Making wild ginger syrup is a great way to preserve our native wild ginger. In liquid form, wild ginger can flavor cocktails, soft drinks, sorbets, crepes, or marinades with its complex and versatile taste.

For years I’ve used wild ginger freshly chopped or dried and powdered. That’s great for baking, but liquids are better for certain applications. By making wild ginger syrup, you get both. When the syrup is done, you’ll be left with candied wild ginger, which can be frozen or dried, and used later as a spice. (more…)

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Dr. Nadia’s Acorn Sweet Bread Recipe

This is not my recipe. I got it from Dr. Nadia Navarrete-Tindall. Nadia took my wild syrups class at the Midwest Harvest Festival, last year in Prairie du Chien, WI. She is a native plant educator and consultant living in Columbia, Missouri, and last November I read an article she wrote about acorns in the Jefferson City, MO News Tribune. At the end of the article, Nadia referred to a recipe for a Salvadoran quesadilla made with acorn flour. She said that unlike the Mexican quesadilla, a Salvadoran quesadilla is actually a sweet bread or cake. She added that if anyone were interested in the recipe, she’d send it to them. (more…)

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Meyer Lemon Mousse Recipe

Meyer Lemon Mousse is a superb dessert. “Why?” you ask. Because it’s everything you could want in a dessert. Its flavor and texture are sensuously satisfying. It’s both sweet and tart. It’s creamy and rich, yet light and fluffy. It’s easy to make, but looks like you slaved over it in the kitchen. Your dinner guests are sure to be impressed.


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Silverberry Meringue Pie Recipe

I have a confession to make and I realize it may send some of you running, screaming from the room. Here goes: I don’t bake pie crusts from scratch. Oh sure, I could. I have. But I just don’t think it’s worth it.

I love to bake and I do most of it from scratch: cookies, cakes, brownies. But when it comes to pie crusts I think the store bought are pretty darn good and I prefer to spend my time on other tasks, like running copious amounts of silverberries through a food mill to produce a gorgeous pulp you can’t buy in any store. If you have a favorite pie crust recipe, by all means, use it. But if you come to my house for Silverberry Meringue Pie, rest assured, the crust will be straight from the dairy case. The filling, however, will be lovingly handmade by yours truly. (more…)

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