Dessert Recipes

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How to Make Macarons, the Perfect Holiday and Hostess Gift

A pretty plate of homemade cookies is just about the nicest gift one can give or receive during the holidays. But if you’re the type of giver that isn’t satisfied with just nice, you might want to skip the traditional frosted Christmas cookies this year and step it up with a batch of traditional European macarons. As colorful and lovely as your sprinkle-topped snowmen cutouts, these meringue confections aren’t as difficult as their preceding reputation.

How to Make Macarons

We met with expert macaron maker Megan Gordon, aka Lady Yum, for an encouraging tutorial on creating these comely cookies. Her guidance breaks the recipe down in simple steps that even novice bakers can accomplish.

How to Make Macarons

THESE COOKIES MAKE GOOD(IE) GIFTS: GET THE RECIPE

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Food & Drink

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites Recipe from Tastemade’s Amy Lee

Just in time for your Thanksgiving plans—whether they be getting together with family and friends or eating turkey in front of the TV—the geniuses at Tastemade have gifted us some yummy holiday dishes that you’ll want to keep in your recipe repertoire.

Amy Lee from Tastemade

First up is adorable Amy Lee’s vegan dessert. But wait, these little nuggets of deliciousness are just as tasty as any nonvegan variety. Plus, the cheesecakes are pretty easy to whip up for a seasonal party with friends or coworkers. And you don’t have to tell anyone that they’re a healthy, nondairy pumpkin treat if you don’t want to—they’ll never know.

SAY “CHEESECAKE”: GET THE RECIPE

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ALL POSTS Food & Drink

Blueberry Almond Buckle (Gluten-Free Cake) Recipe | What’s Cooking

Blueberry Almond Buckle Cake (a gluten-free dessert) recipe from Nordstrom.

Buckle: if you aren’t familiar, it’s sort of like a coffeecake and a muffin had a sweet, delicious child, and is so called because the butter and sugar stuesel topping caramelizes and “buckles.” Our version is served at selected Nordstrom restaurants. Packed with blueberries (two pounds to be exact), it’s an excellent way to capitalize on summer’s bounty.

This recipe sprung from a happy accident. Our chefs were working with corn and almond flour for our Blueberry Almond Cake and realized afterward that it just happens to be gluten-free—though that affects neither the texture nor the flavor of this moist and tender blueberry cake.

Serve this easy-to-make dessert with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on a warm summer night.

Gluten free dessert: Blueberry Almond Cake recipe from Nordstrom.

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Food & Drink

Easy Fresh Blueberry and Strawberry Cobbler Recipe | What’s Cooking

Easy, fresh mixed berry cobbler recipe with strawberries, blueberries and vanilla bean from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.

Looking for a way to use up those ripe summer berries—or an excuse to have more of them? Our mixed-berry cobbler combines fresh blueberries and strawberries into an easy-to-prepare dessert that’s just right for the season. A little sugar sweetens the berries, and seeds from a vanilla bean dot the perfectly thickened juices with their rich, warm flavor—all underneath a crisp and crumbly old-fashioned oat topping.

For an added layer of sophistication (i.e., to make people think you spent a whole lot more time on this super-simple recipe than you actually did), serve it as we do in our Blue Stove Restaurants in individual crème brûlée dishes. However you present it—in individual portions or a family-style casserole dish—this Strawberry and Blueberry Cobbler couldn’t be a better way to punctuate the end of a delicious midsummer dinner.

Easy, fresh mixed berry cobbler recipe with strawberries, blueberries and vanilla bean from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.

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Food & Drink

Crisp Strawberry Crostata Recipe with Vanilla Pastry Cream and Balsamic Reduction | What’s Cooking

Straberry Crostata Dessert Recipe with vanilla pastry cream and balsamic reduction from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.

Ripe, sweet strawberries; rich, luscious pastry cream; syrupy balsamic; and a scoop of vanilla-bean gelato, all atop a buttery, flaky crostata shell. You’re going to want to make this summery dessert next time you have people over: it’s a showstopper. Making homemade pastry cream and dough may sound like a challenge, but it’s actually pretty easy and requires only a few ingredients. Even better, you can whip up all the components of this extremely delicious dessert four days ahead of serving, and assemble it in just a couple minutes for your guests (just save macerating the strawberries for the last minute). Serve, sit back and enjoy how popular you have now become.

For a nice touch, warm up the crostata shells in a 350°F oven for a few minutes before serving. And a really good jam can stand in for the streak of raspberry sauce, if you don’t want to make it yourself. Just warm the jar in a microwave and add a few drops of water to loosen it to a spreadable consistency; passing it through a sieve to remove any seeds is also a good idea.

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Food & Drink

Dark Cherry Crisp Recipe with Fresh Summer Cherries | What’s Cooking

Dark Cherry Crisp Recipe with Fresh Summer Cherries from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.

Crisps and cobblers are a simple dessert to throw together, but they still taste like you did a lot of work. We’ve shared our Maple Apple Cobbler, but this recipe for an easy cherry crisp takes advantage of the bounty of summer cherries that are coming into season. In our from-scratch version, sweet cherries get quickly simmered to preserve their texture along with ginger and lemon and apple juices to brighten and highlight the cherry flavor. Topped by a generous layer of old-fashioned rolled oats, butter and pie spices, our crumbly streusel provides the perfect textural foil once crisped in the oven to those softened but still plump cherries.

Dark sweet summer cherries.

GET OUR RECIPE FOR HOMEMADE DARK CHERRY CRISP

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Food & Drink

Best From-Scratch Lemon Ricotta Cookies Recipe with Icing | What’s Cooking

Best from-scratch lemon ricotta cookies recipe from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.

I love lemons. Seriously. I even wrote a poem about them in a college poetry writing class. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to share it here.) So, when I saw this Nordstrom Lemon Ricotta Cookies recipe in our Family Table Cookbook, I was into it. Real into it.  Then I read the recipe and saw it called for the zest of six lemons in the dough–plus more for sprinkling on top. All that bright lemon flavor packed into a cookie? I got excited. Then I made them, and now I’m hooked.

Lemon zest

Closer in texture and tenderness to a cake than a cookie, these moist and almost cheesecake-y lemon ricotta cookies are perfect little winners. The tablespoon of salt seemed like a lot, but it adds just a trace of savoriness (think salted caramel)—the perfect foil to all that citrusy sugariness. Bonus: our recipe requires portioning and freezing the dough, which will keep for weeks in the freezer and be ready whenever the mood for a ridiculously good, soft lemon cookie strikes.

Once you’re ready to bake, be careful not to leave the frozen dough out to thaw too long, as I did. The cookies ended up pooling together slightly, which looked a bit of a mess, though they were still delicious! I actually baked a second batch without waiting at all for them to defrost, and they turned out beautifully with a few additional minutes in the oven.

A COOKIE LIKE NO OTHER: GET OUR RECIPE

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Throw a Kentucky Derby Party with Our Recipes and Style Inspiration

How to throw a Kentucky Derby party with recipes and style inspiration from Nordstrom.

One day each year, folks dress in their spring finery and head to the racetrack. Or, for about two minutes, some with otherwise no interest in equine affairs turn to their televisions. Mint juleps are poured. Bets are placed. Rapt eyes focus on Louisville, Kentucky, where for over a century 20 of the most beautiful and athletic horses in the world compete in the first of three races that form the Triple Crown.

“The Run for the Roses”—or the Kentucky Derby—is one of our enduring national pastimes. Although originally modeled after the English Epsom Derby, it has become distinctly American. Southern style, food and customs pervade the event and the many events surrounding the main one. But just as the race’s founders took liberties with the equestrian traditions of Europe, many households and barrooms throw alternative versions of the party on the lawn at Churchill Downs.

How to throw a Kentucky Derby party with recipes and style inspiration from Nordstrom.

Since the sporting life is as good a reason as any to rally around delicious food and drink, we invited some of our favorite Nordstrom people over for a Kentucky Derby party. Our menu included snack variations on traditional Southern foods, some strong cocktails and plenty of horsing around in front of the camera in candy-colored clothes. Since the main event usually takes just minutes, there’s ample time to catch up with each other and enjoy a pleasant, lazy afternoon that can easily drift from a casual cocktail hour into a light dinner.

How to throw a Kentucky Derby party with recipes and style inspiration from Nordstrom.

The Kentucky Derby is Saturday, May 7. Undercard races begin at noon ET and the main event is at 4pm ET.

READ ON FOR OUR RECIPES AND “RACY” STYLE

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Food & Drink

Classic Homemade Carrot Cake Recipe with Cream Cheese Frosting | What’s Cooking

Easy, moist carrot cake recipe from scratch with homemade cream cheese frosting from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.

Meet the cake that bridges the divide between lovers and haters: our easy, moist carrot cake. Carrots seem like a weird thing to put in a cake, but not if you’re from ye olde times before the advent of processed sugar, or if you’re looking for something that grows abundantly and is rich with natural sugar. Or if you had lived through times when supplies were limited. These days, we don’t rely on the carrots as the sole source of sweetness, but they do lend a flavor layer and moisture content of their own, which have kept this cake kicking around and beloved by many.

Even so, there are many among us who don’t usually think, “Root vegetable? Mmm … that’ll make a delicious dessert!” Especially when you look at a typical slice and there are all these scraggly bits of bright-orange vegetable debris poking out of each forkful. But in our from-scratch carrot cake recipe, the carrots are finely grated, which not only helps distribute their flavors evenly as they break down throughout the cake, but you also end up with much more hydrated, visually appealing crumb. Also to its credit, our method keeps flavors simple, traditional and delicious—without walking on the wild side by adding raisins or pineapple or whatever else (though you certainly could, if you’re an advanced carrot cake connoisseur).

Topping it all, you have the rich, tangy cream cheese frosting. Cream. Cheese. Frosting. Nobody hates that. We challenge you to put a slice of this carrot cake in front of its worst enemy. The only fight that will ensue will be over the last slice. It’s really just that good.

Easy, moist carrot cake recipe from scratch with homemade cream cheese frosting from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.

OUR RECIPE FOR THE BEST HOMEMADE CARROT CAKE

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Food & Drink

Roasted Pineapple with Vanilla Bean Spikes and Caramel (And an Infused-Vodka Bonus) | What’s Cooking

Roasted Pineapple Dessert Recipe with Vanilla Bean Spikes and Caramel Glaze from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.

As I was thumbing through our Nordstrom Cookbooks looking for potential recipes to share, I stumbled across this crazy stunner. At first, I thought it looked like a kind of atomic centerpiece I’d imagine you could have seen at at ’50s cocktail party, sitting next to some sort of bright green, molded gelatin salad brimming with olives and tuna. I was hooked—at least on the mid-century cocktail party part. And then I thought a little more. Studding a pineapple with vanilla beans and roasting it in an oven until tender while periodically basting it with caramel really couldn’t be a bad idea, no matter the era.

Pineapple-Dessert-Recipe-with-Vanilla-Beans-and-Caramel-from-Nordstrom

Turns out, it definitely isn’t. Roasting the pineapple concentrates its flavor while bringing out its sweetness…along with a little help from that creamy caramel. Basting while cooking ensures it doesn’t dry out, and also distributes those beautiful vanilla-bean-seed specks all over the surface. This is something you present before serving to ensure maximum oohs and ahhs, and then we recommend serving the carved, roasted pineapple on a couple scoops of vanilla bean ice cream topped with a generous drizzle of the vanilla-caramel pan juices.

It takes a little finessing to carve out the ‘eyes’ of the pineapple to achieve those impressive swirling grooves, but it’s worth the fuss–and also provides more surface area and basting channels to facilitate maximum caramelization and flavor. While a great pineapple is easy and inexpensive to get your hands on, vanilla beans can be more of a splurge. To extend their life, keep reading to the very end: our chefs offer up a genius way to make use of the roasted beans with a delicious vanilla-pineapple-infused vodka recipe (fancy tropical adult beverages!), which lasts for months.

Roasted Pineapple Dessert Recipe with Vanilla Bean Spikes and Caramel Glaze from Nordstrom. Photo by Jeff Powell.

GET OUR 3-INGREDIENT PINEAPPLE DESSERT + VODKA-SOAKED LEFTOVERS RECIPE

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