15 May 2010

Friday Night Dessert ... Cornbread Cassatas

Okay, so this evening I'm having some friends in for dinner ... I've been planning a fun GF dessert all week. So, I'll start with a pretty plate. I love this plate. I found it at a yard sale a while back. It will be perfect for serving these little cornbread cassata cakes that I've been dying to make, but I get ahead of myself.

We're hopeful for a summery weekend, so we decided to go for a grilled summertime meal. It's babyback ribs on the grill, a potato salad, some roasted asparagus, cornbread fritters with a sweet dipping sauce (another special bready GF offering for Harold!) and cornbread cassatas and coffee for dessert.

I know ... cornbread is heavy on the menu tonight, but I just have to make this stuff when Harold can 'taste-test'. When you know a soul who needs GF foods, you look for things that are really appetizing and that fulfill the inborn wish that we all have for 'good bread'. These cornbread offerings are at either end of the menu spectrum ... the fritters will satisfy the need to rest our tongues from the 'hotter than Hell' ribs that Hiel will be grilling. The cassatas are a light and airy ending to the meal and should meld well with the strong grind that I plan to brew.

We'll see ...

The beauty of the cassatas is that the cornbread base comes from the muffins that I made the other day to go with Angel Eggs. I bagged eight of the thin muffins and froze them. They'll thaw this afternoon and then I'll assemble dessert from a fluffy whipped cream that is made with light brown sugar. The whipped cream has rum-soaked cherries and white chocolate chunks turned into it. Then, the cassatas have a final garnish of white chocolate crumbles and a cherry or two. Yum!

If GFcornbread muffins get you all stressed, then just make regular cornbread muffins and turn in some drained crushed pineapple when you make the batter. No problem ... no worries! I came upon this recipe years ago. It was featured in the Boston Globe's Sunday Magazine and I have to say that whoever the food editor was at the time was way ahead of the time when it comes to using dried fruits and alternative grains to achieve a novel dessert experience ( God, did I just type that drivel?). Really, though! Back then, everything was about tiramisu and funky Martha Stewart cakes. Yeah, okay ... how do I get out of this post gracefully? I know! Post a pretty picture of this yum dessert and leave it at that!

 So for your experimentation ...

Cornbread Cassata - printer friendly
Cornbread Cassata


2 tbsp. rum
1 ½ c. dried cherries
1 ½ c. heavy cream
2 tbsp. brown sugar
½ c. chopped white chocolate chunks
cornbread muffins, warmed (recipe follows)

Making the Cassata desserts:

1. Place the rum and the dried cherries in a small saucepan and bring to a slow boil. Toss the cherries to wet them all. Let the rum absorb. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.

2. Whip the cream and the brown sugar until soft peaks form. Place in the fridge to cool (no more than 2 hours before serving, though!).

3. Break the chocolate into chunks and freeze the chocolate to expedite handling.

4. Make the cornbread muffins and cool.

5. Before you want to serve dessert, let the muffins warm in an very low-heat oven.

6. Split a muffin and place one warm half on a plate.

7. Drain the cherries, if there is still rum in the bottom of the pan.

8. Toss some of the chunky chocolate and drained cherries in the whipped cream.

9. Place a dollop of the whipped cream mix on the muffin.

10. Top with the other half of the muffin and put a dollop more whipped cream on top.

11. Garnish with a cherry and a chunk of chocolate.

12. Serve with coffee.

Gluten Free Cornbread Muffins


1 c. brown rice flour
¾ c. cornmeal
¼ c. rough-grind polenta
1 tbsp. GF baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum
¼ c. sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 – 8 oz. can of crushed pineapple, drained
4 tbsp. melted butter
2 large eggs
1 c. buttermilk

Making the Muffins:

1. Pre-heat oven to 450° F.

2 Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

3 Make a well in the dry ingredients and toss in the pineapple.

4 In a large measuring cup, whisk the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter.

5 Add to the well and stir no more than 25 times.

6 Spray Pam into muffin tins and spoon batter (2/3 full) into muffin tins.

7 Bake about 13 minutes or until a cake tester comes clean.

8 Cool for a couple minutes and turn onto racks to cool.

9 Serve immediately, bag and freeze, or wrap tightly and store.



  1. pssst ... the leftover whipped cream was really good in my morning coffee!

  2. Susan, thanks for following my travels. It's good to be home and to be able to check in with you.

    These cassatas look amazing. Do you think they'd work with dark chocolate? Heck, EVERYTHING works with dark chocolate!

  3. Hmmm... dark chocolate and cherries ... always a winning combo! The only reason I think the original recipe has the white chocolate is that it melds well with the brown sugar sweetening in the whipped cream ... and keeps the light coloring (always aesthetics, right?) with the cornbread/whipped cream thing ... and a bit of a lighter taste thing . The only heavy thing going on here is that burst of rum-soaked cherry ... really tasty ... and different!


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