Traveling Circus: Cooking Dinner for Six – Dessert!

Magneto will tell you that I have a wicked sweet tooth, something I got from growing up with a grandmother who baked like a pro, and a dad who loved to indulge.

Now that we’re older, my dad and I try to be a little more conscious of the amount of sugar (especially refined sugar) that we ingest, so when it comes to desserts, I try to create some balance.

For our big family dinner, we went with simple pleasures: blood orange-dark chocolate brownies made by my mom, a selection of cheeses from Oakville Grocery in St. Helena, my homemade raspberry chevré truffles, rich and tasty chocolates from Woodhouse Chocolate from Magneto’s mom, and my not-quite-homemade fresh strawberry pie.

The pie was super easy; I baked a frozen Marie Calender’s crust, filled it with super ripe fresh strawberries from the roadside farmstand, and glazed it with some Smucker’s Simply Fruit strawberry jam that I’d melted down in a saucepan. After letting it chill in the fridge for a couple hours, it was shiny and gorgeous, needing just a touch of whipped cream for garnish.

The chocolates were a selection of pretty pieces, though none of us remember what filling was in what. They were quite delicious, and Woodhouse is absolutely worth a stop if you’re ever in the area.


The cheeses worked really well with the wine, something that I’d planned for when choosing them. Left to right: triple creme truffled brie, a cheddar-parm inspired Merlot-washed BellaVitano, and the Gloucester-Stilton layered Huntsman. The truffles also paired nicely with the wine, the earthy goat cheese mingling well with the smooth ripe plum and black cherry notes.


My mom’s blood orange brownies were extra dark, moist, and that perfect balance between fudgy and cakey. The addition of blood orange oil to the batter gave these brownies an unforgettable aroma, as well as an underlying floral taste that cut the sweetness of the chocolate.


With our bellies full and our heads buzzing, we spent the rest of the evening hanging out: our dads plotting some new venture, our moms trading stories, and the two of us relaxing to the happy sound of our parents becoming family.



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