Dessert Menu

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is comfort food at its best. This version is rich, gooey, chocolaty and nutty, just like your favorite chocolate chip cookie.

Start to Finish: 1 hour 50 minutes
Hands-on-time: 20 minutes

1 1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 cups white bread, torn into small pieces
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chunks
3/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts
Whipped cream as an accompaniment
Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter an 8 cup baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs. Pour in the milk, cream, vanilla and salt. Whisk to combine.

Place the bread cubes in the buttered baking dish. Add the chocolate and walnuts. Toss to combine.

Pour the custard mixture over the bread cubes and let sit for 40 minutes to allow the bread to absorb some of the liquid. Set the baking dish in a larger baking pan or roasting pan. Set the pan on the middle rack of the preheated oven.

Pour boiling water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake for about 50 minutes or until the custard is slightly jiggly in the middle. Use a knife to peek inside the center of the pudding. If it is still liquidy at the bottom, it’s not done. Put it back in the oven and check it every 5 minutes until it is ready. Dish it warm or chilled into bowls and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Make-ahead: The bread pudding can be assembled and kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours ahead. An extra 5 minutes may be necessary to add to the bake time. Or bake it a day in advance and serve it chilled. It’s delicious both ways.

Serves 8 to 10

Recipe created by Carla Snyder

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Hazelnut and Cranberry Biscotti

Biscotti is one of those cookies that’s delicious dipped in coffee or all by itself. It can be made a week in advance so is perfect for a busy host. Feel free to play with this recipe by subbing out other nuts or dried fruit like dried apricots, cherries or figs.

Start to finish: 1 hour
Hands on time: 30 minutes

2 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut up into small pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 2/3 cups hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
6 oz dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350° F

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a mixer bowl and mix on low until coarse crumbs form.

Beat eggs, brandy and almond extract together in a small bowl. Add to the flour mixture with the hazelnuts and cranberries. Continue to mix until dough is blended and moist. Divide dough into three logs about 12-by 4-inches on a cookie sheet lined with parchment.

Bake for 30 minutes. Set the cookie sheet on a rack to cool. Put the cookie logs on cutting board and cut crosswise into 3/4-inch (1.5 cm) slices. Reduce the oven to 300°F. Transfer the biscotti back on the cookie sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the biscotti over and bake for another 15 minutes or until toasty.

Make-ahead: May be prepared one week in advance and stored in an airtight container, or frozen for up to 6 weeks. Thaw at room temperature.

Makes 40 biscotti

Recipe created by Carla Snyder

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Lemony Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Why must pound cake include a whole pound of butter? How about subbing out half the butter with cream cheese? The velvety rich taste could only make pound cake extra delicious and the addition of citrusy zest and a tart lemony glaze is sure to brighten any day. Serve it with fresh fruit or sorbet. This hefty cake loves to soak up all that sweet juice.

Start to finish: 3 hours
Hands on time: 40 minutes

3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened (3 sticks)
8 oz cream cheese, softened
3 cups granulated sugar plus 1/3 cup
4 lemons, zested and juiced, about 2/3 cup juice, divided
6 large eggs, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350ºF

Grease and flour a 12-cup or 10-inch bundt pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt onto a sheet of parchment paper.

Beat the butter and cream cheese in a mixer bowl on medium speed until creamy. Add the granulated sugar and zest and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Reduce the speed and add the eggs one at a time, beating until well combined.

Using the parchment as a funnel, add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in three additions, beating until smooth.

Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Set the pan in the middle of the preheated oven and reduce the heat to 325°F for 1 to 1-1/4 hours, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes, then unmold the cake and turn it right side up. Cool completely.

Combine the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup lemon juice in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat just until the sugar is dissolved. Brush the glaze over the warm pound cake. Slice with a serrated knife once it’s completely cool and serve with sliced fruit or ice cream.

Make-ahead: This cake is even better made a day or two ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.

Makes 1 bundt cake serving 10 plus

Recipe created by Carla Snyder

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Navel Oranges with Caramel

Oranges and caramel are a classic duo much like coffee and chocolate. Both are great alone, but really good when paired together. You won’t believe how easy it is to pull this bright orange and crispy caramel flecked dish together. I find myself craving it every few weeks or so, even for breakfast, so stock up on the citrus and have at. This is a dessert that’s good for you…really!

Start to finish: 30 minutes
Hands on time: 30 minutes

8 navel oranges, peeled and sliced into rounds
1/1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
Arrange the oranges on a heatproof serving plate.

In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water over medium-high heat. Don’t stir. Swirl the pan to wet down the sugar and a few times more to melt the sugar evenly. About 2 or 3 minutes after the sugar has melted (about 6 minutes total) and it is liquid, the syrup will begin to amber. At this point watch the syrup carefully as it will brown quickly. Once the sugar is a dark amber, remove it from the heat and drizzle it over the oranges. It will sizzle and harden on contact with the fruit. Be careful not to drip any on your skin as it is super hot.

Serve warm or chill the oranges in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.

Make-ahead: The hard caramel will melt into a delicious caramel syrup if the oranges are held covered and refrigerated for more than 4 hours. (I like it both ways).

Serves 10

Recipe created by Carla Snyder

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Rustic Plum Tarts with Mascarpone Cheese

Plums are a refreshing option when pondering “what’s for dessert.” This tart is so pretty, you’ll want to take a picture of the juicy purple sweet-tart fruit against the sandy, golden flecked tender pastry.

Start to finish: 1 hour
Hands on time: 30 minutes

2 lb plums (about 8 small or 6 large), each cut into 8 sections
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling over the tart
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch of salt
Pinch of nutmeg
1 box frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten
Extra sugar for sprinkling
1 cup mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Preheat oven to 425ºF

In a large bowl, toss the plums, sugar, flour, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, salt and nutmeg. Taste and adjust the flavor with more sugar if necessary.

Roll out the one of the sheets of pastry on a floured surface to make it a little longer and lay it out on a parchment lined sheet pan. Dump half the fruit down the center of the pastry and arrange it so that the fruit spreads to within an inch or so of the edges. Flip the edges of the pastry over the top of the fruit to contain it. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle extra sugar over all. If the pastry has become warm, pop the tart in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to firm it up. Repeat with the remaining pastry and fruit.

Bake the tart in the lower rack of the preheated oven for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the tart is browned on top and crispy on the bottom. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack.

While the tarts are baking, combine the mascarpone with the brown sugar and remaining teaspoon lemon juice.

Serve the tart warm with a dollop of mascarpone on top.

Make ahead: The tart can be made up to 8 hours ahead kept at room temperature. If serving warm, reheat in a 350ºF oven for about 15 minutes.

Variation: If plums don’t look good, try making this tart with pears.

Serves 12

Recipe created by Carla Snyder

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