Hi there! My name is Michelle and I’m the baker over at Hummingbird High, a desserts and baking blog with a focus on seasonal and local ingredients. Some of my favorite desserts I’ve made on my blog include these rhubarb and white chocolate blondies, as well as this yellow saffron butter cake with chocolate cardamom fudge frosting.
I was beyond excited when Better Homes & Gardens reached out and invited me to write a guest post and adapt one of their recipes — I’ve been a long time fan of the magazine and even have childhood memories of flipping through my mom’s copies, oohing and ahhing at the pretty kitchens and gardens. I jumped at the chance, responding within minutes to respond: “Yes, yes and YES!” I already even had a recipe picked out: this chocolate mascarpone pie, but with raspberries instead of cherries since they were at the height of their season.
There was only one problem: I didn’t have a kitchen.
When I got the email, I was the second week into a full gut renovation of my kitchen. That meant both my oven and sink were completely ripped out of the kitchen — actually, at that point, my kitchen didn’t even have any walls or countertops! But still… this was Better Homes & Gardens! There was no way I was going to turn down this opportunity. That would be like saying no to a dinner made personally by Julia Child, or a lifetime supply of KitchenAid products. I was just going to have to use a friend’s kitchen.
victim friend was Noah. I figured he’d be sympathetic to my cause, since he’s a talented baker himself. After all, it was Noah who taught me how to make an incredibly foolproof pie crust and contributed this wonderful recipe for buttermilk cinnamon rolls to my blog. But when I asked, he gave me a look of dismay. “You’re kidding, right? It’s summer. It’s 90 degrees out. I’m not turning on the oven! It’s going to heat up my whole place.”
So much for that. But it did give me an idea — because Noah was right, who wants to turn on their oven during the summer? The original Better Homes & Gardens recipe used a standard pie crust that needed to be baked at a high temperature; admittedly only for 15 minutes or so, but still enough to heat up an already hot kitchen in the summer. What if I swapped used my foolproof, no-bake graham cracker pie crust recipe in its place? It had worked wonderfully with the chocolate in my recipe for brownie sundae pie, so I had no doubts that it would pair well with chocolate mascarpone filling.
With that in mind, I chose my next victim: Carroll. A friend, co-worker and the unofficial “Props Manager” at Hummingbird High, Carroll had been an enthusiastic supporter of my blog for many years, providing darling food photography props like this pink bunting and a darling citrus squeezer throughout my blogging journey. Surely she wouldn’t turn me down, especially with a no-bake crust. I was right. We made plans for the following weekend, but not before she warned me: “I don’t exactly have a well-stocked kitchen,” Carroll said. “I don’t even have a proper oven. All I’ve got is a microwave.”
I shrugged her off. “It’s a no-bake pie. I don’t need one! It’ll be fine, don’t worry about it!” But later, when I was at her place prepping my ingredients, I rummaged through her kitchen drawers to find her measuring spoons. “What are you looking for?” she asked.
“I don’t have any,” she said sheepishly. This baffled me. I’d always taken the presence of measuring spoons as a given in any kitchen. But it suddenly occurred to me that after years of baking, I’d accumulated a well-stocked baker’s kitchen filled with obscure pots, pans and tools that others might not have. As I followed the recipe, I discovered that Carroll lacked other tools that I’d taken for granted in my kitchen. I waved her off as she apologized, using simple substitutes like forks in place of whisks, spoons in place of spatulas and the back of my hand in place of a pie crust tamper.
Later, as the pie came together, Carroll peered over my shoulder. “Wow!” she gasped. “I can’t believe you made that in my kitchen.” We both stared at the beautiful finished result — a deep chocolate pie with a golden graham crust studded with shiny red cherries.
It was living proof that you could make a beautiful dessert in any kitchen, even one without an oven, whisks, and spatulas. Taking our first bites, we confirmed that it was true — the chocolate, mascarpone and height-of-the-season cherries were a wonderful marriage of flavors. Really, the perfect summer dessert. Check out the Better Homes & Gardens recipe here!
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