Half-Baked / No-Bake Blackberry-Vanilla Swirl Cheesecake

Blackberry and Vanilla Marbled Cheesecake

Blackberry and Vanilla Marbled CheesecakeWe call this “half-baked” instead of “no-bake” cheesecake, because the Graham cracker crust gets a few minutes in the oven, but the filling is the real prize: whipped vanilla and blackberry batters swirled into a beautiful pattern. Using freeze-dried berries lends stability and turns this into a year-round treat — though we love to top it with fresh berries to celebrate berry harvest season.

Even though we have a food blog (this. This what you’re reading now is a food blog. Honest to goodness it is.) we’re not great at keeping up with the regular “National FOOD THING Day” celebrations. Everything has a National Day. There’s a National Peanut Butter Day (March 1). A National Pickle Day (November 14). There’s even a day (August 16) which is simultaneously National Bratwurst Day and National Rum Day (if only someone would write a book which combines food and alcohol OH WAIT THEY DID). And last week, July 30, was National Cheesecake Day.

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Summer Berry Tart with Lemon Mascarpone Cream

Summer Berry Tart with Lemon Mascarpone Cream

[We’ve been running around this week literally spinning plates and juggling knives, so here’s a repost from a few years back. It’s one of our absolute favorites from the blog, and is an absolute crowd-pleaser whenever we make it. It’s super-easy, and, other than the crust, doesn’t need baking. We just planted our own redcurrant bushes this year, so we’re hopeful that within a couple of seasons, we’ll have enough gorgeous berries to decorate a tart entirely from our garden.]

Besides being nerdy about movies, television and all things culinary, Matt and I both share a dorky fascination with etymology (the history of words). I’ve written about my most hated words in a previous post (which had to be titled Asian Cabbage and Fennel Salad because Matt despises the word ‘slaw’). Now I thought we’d list some of our favorites (join us and write yours in the comments!).

Emily: Luminescent, gloaming, nixed, defenestration

Matt: Ramble, button, spandrel, pickle

“Great,” you mumble. “But can I have the recipe for that tart now?”

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Blood Orange and Hibiscus Curd Tart with a Gingersnap Crust

A round curd tart on a platter

Blood Orange-Hibiscus Curd Tart

Our ruby-hued blood orange and hibiscus curd makes a delicious and luscious filling for this beautiful seasonal tart. The crust is made from crushed gingersnap cookies, and couldn’t be simpler. With a great balance between sweet, tart and spicy, this is a real showstopper of a dessert.  

When blood oranges are in season, we just can’t get enough of them so when we found a local shop selling a big bag of them for under 5 bucks, we knew we couldn’t pass them up. But what do you do when life gives you lem… oranges? Make curd! 

We are legit curd crazy in this house. Curds with knives, they call us (no one calls us this). Lemon curd is pretty much a bi-monthly event in our kitchen. We’ve made blueberry-lemon curd, strawberry curd, even rhubarb curd. In fact, it was our experience with rhubarb curd that led us to add an extra ingredient, hibiscus, to our blood orange version (more on this later in the article). 

Blood Orange-Hibiscus Curd Tart

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Best Blondies Ever (with Brown Butter, Bourbon & Butterscotch)

Brown Butter Bourbon Blondies

I was that weird kid who, when offered the choice of a brownie or a blondie, would always choose the blondie. Something about that cookie bar, packed with chocolate chips and toasty nuts, was just more interesting to me than straight chocolate (though I wouldn’t toss a good, fudgy brownie out of bed either. I’m not a monster).

Unfortunately, more often than not, blondies can be underwhelming — either dry and crumbly or doughy and flavorless — so we set out to develop a foolproof recipe for what we consider to be the perfect blondie: a tender, moist crumb filled with deep caramel flavor from brown butter, vanilla and (optional, but oh-so-delicious) bourbon. Then we packed in our favorite mix-ins: chocolate chunks, butterscotch chips and toasted hazelnuts. 

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Ultimate English Toffee

We couldn’t let Christmas come and go without reposting this. It’s one of our earliest posts, but one of our very favorite recipes and something we make every single year for family parties. It just may be the toffee of your (my) dreams and while I may be indulging in a tiny bit of hyperbole, once you try it, you’ll know that I might be dramatic, but I am not a liar. In the past, I proclaimed this Salted Caramel Sauce the best thing ever and I stand by that. It’s just that there’s room on the pedestal for that sauce’s cousin from across the pond, real English toffee.  

FACT: This toffee is so good, it caused this face from Loki, this one from Arya, and best of all, this one from Matt. Okay, nerd business done.

While other toffee types are available, this toffee is hard and brittle, and thin enough that you won’t need a tiny hammer to break it up.

Why This Toffee Works

I’ve made a lot of toffee recipes over the years and this one is by far the tastiest and the easiest. It not only has a really nice balance of sweet and salty but a clever secret. The addition of a very small amount of corn syrup pretty much eliminates the danger of the sugar crystallizing (this has happened to us a few times, and can be a real bummer). This problem is caused when the sugar crystals start a chain reaction of crystallization (the process of sugar particles clinging together) which makes the mixture grainy. Once it happens there’s not much you can do about it, but there are a few things that will help prevent it from starting.

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Cheese and Blueberry Blintzes with Blueberry Preserves Syrup

Cheese and Blueberry Blintzes with Blueberry Preserves Syrup

Sweet, fruity, cheesy blintzes are a great Mother’s Day treat for the Mom in your life. But let’s face it, they’re equally awesome as a weekend splurge you can make for yourself!

Breakfasts at the Nerds household are probably a lot like breakfasts at your house. During the week, we never have time to indulge in anything luxurious – it’s grab-a-slice-of-toast, open-a-yogurt, pour-a-quick-coffee time. So the weekend is when we really get to enjoy ourselves. And when it’s a special weekend like Mother’s Day, we really feel like going for the luxury option. These blintzes … well, let’s just say, if they were on the breakfast-in-bed menu at a classy hotel, I would not look at anything else. No, not the pancakes. No, not the eggs benedict. Well, maybe the eggs benedict, but I’d ALSO order a round of these blintzes. But here’s the thing – I’ve never seen them on a hotel menu, and maybe I’m going to the wrong hotels. but that’s all by-the-by because I’m making them at home now. And yes, they are as good as they look.

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