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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Not Your Grandma's Cookies

Or maybe they are? Happy Tuesday everyone! Today happens to be my birthday and my amazing husband bought me my favorite kind of cake - cookie cake. I just love the combination of a giant soft cookie smothered in sweet frosting! So in honor of cookies everywhere, I give you a few unusual recipes over which you can salivate.

Oatella Cookies
Dagmara Kokonas

Ingredients
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • One 13-ounce jar Nutella
  • 2 cups rolled oats
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the salt, cinnamon and baking soda. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the shortening with both sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the side of the bowl. Add the Nutella and beat until smooth. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then beat in the oats.
  2. Scoop 1-tablespoon mounds of dough 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned and the cookies are just set; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Immediately transfer the cookies from the pan to racks to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough.
MAKE AHEAD The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.


Korova Cookies
Dorie Greenspan

Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (30 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (5 1/2 ounces; 150 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup (120 grams) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 ounces (150 grams) bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small bits
Directions
  1. Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together and keep close at hand. Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until the butter is soft and creamy. (Alternatively, you can do this and all subsequent steps by hand, working with a sturdy rubber spatula.) Add both sugars, the salt, and vanilla extract and beat for another minute or two. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the sifted dry ingredients. Mix only until the dry ingredients are incorporated—the dough will look crumbly, and that's just right. For the best texture, you want to work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a smooth work surface and squeeze it so that it sticks together in large clumps. Gather the dough into a ball, divide it in half, and working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) in diameter. (Cookie-dough logs have a way of ending up with hollow centers, so as you're shaping each log, flatten it once or twice and roll it up from one long side to the other, just to make certain you haven't got an air channel.) Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill them for at least 2 hours. (Wrapped airtight, the logs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for 1 month.)
  3. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and keep them close at hand.
  4. Working with a sharp thin-bladed knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) thick. (Don't be upset if the rounds break; just squeeze the broken-off bit back onto the cookie.) Place the cookies on the parchment-lined sheets, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) spread space between them.
  5. Bake only one sheet of cookies at a time, and bake each sheet for 12 minutes. The cookies will not look done, nor will they be firm, but that's just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies stand until they are only just warm or until they reach room temperature—it's your call. Repeat with the second sheet of cookies.
Notes: Dough can be made ahead & chilled or frozen. If frozen, the dough needn't be defrosted before baking—just slice the logs & bake 1 min longer. Packed airtight, baked cookies will keep at room temp for up to 3 days; they can be frozen up to 1 month.



Blackberry Walnut Cookies
Paul Grimes

Ingredients
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted, cooled, and finely chopped
  • About 1/2 cup seedless blackberry or raspberry jam
  • Garnish: confectioners sugar for dusting
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
  2. Blend together butter, sugars, vanilla, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl with a fork. Stir in flour and nuts (dough will be sticky).
  3. Form level tablespoons of dough into balls (total of 40) and arrange 2 inches apart on 2 ungreased large baking sheets. Flatten balls to 1/3 inch thick using bottom of a glass dipped in flour. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until edges are golden, about 20 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.
  4. Spoon 1 teaspoon jam onto flat sides of 20 cookies, then sandwich with remaining cookies.
Notes:
  • Unfilled cookies can be made 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.
  • Cookies can be filled with jam up to 8 hours ahead.

Happy baking!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Father's Day Fare

Happy Thursday! If your weather today is gray, it's the perfect time to start planning/baking for Father's Day. I've got a few recipes that will impress dads of all kinds, but most importantly, made by you.

When you don't want to turn on the oven...
No-Bake White Chocolate Cheesecake with Strawberries
Kamran Siddiqi

Ingredients
Crust
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (7 ounces)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
Filling
  • 7 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons strawberry jam mixed with 1 teaspoon hot water
  • Quartered strawberries, for garnish
Directions
  1. MAKE THE CRUST In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs with the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt until evenly moistened. Press the crumbs over the 
bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan. Freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.
  2. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE FILLING In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave the white chocolate on high power in 10-second intervals until just melted. Let cool slightly.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the cream cheese with the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla bean paste and orange and lemon zests until smooth. Gradually beat in the white chocolate. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl.
  4. Wipe out the bowl of the stand mixer and add the cream to it. Attach the whisk and beat the cream at high speed until firm peaks form. Stir one-third of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture, then fold in the remaining whipped cream until no streaks remain. Spread the cheesecake filling over the chilled crust in an even layer. Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 
3 hours or overnight.
  5. Unmold the cheesecake. Top with the strawberry jam and garnish with quartered strawberries. Cut the cake into wedges and serve.
MAKE AHEAD: The cheesecake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Top with the jam and strawberries before serving.


When Dad loves ice cream...
Blues-Busting Blueberry Ice Cream
Holly Herrick

Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 3 cups whole cream
Directions
  1. Puree the blueberries with the sugar and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. 
  2. Whisk in the cream until thoroughly combined. 
  3. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's directions. Serve in separate bowls garnished with a few fresh blueberries and a sprig of mint.
Note: This can also be frozen in a container in the freezer and stirred every 15 minutes.


When he's an adventurous cake-eater...
Cherry-Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake
Lori Longbotham

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 cups whole pitted fresh Bing cherries or other dark sweet cherries (about 21 ounces whole unpitted cherries)
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal (preferably stone-ground medium grind)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Directions
  1. Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Combine 1/4 cup butter with brown sugar and vinegar in 10- to 11-inch ovenproof skillet with 2-inch-high sides. Stir over medium heat until butter melts and sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to high; add cherries and bring to boil. Remove from heat.
  2. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter in large bowl. Add sugar; beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with milk in 2 additions each, beating just until blended and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until whites are stiff but not dry. Using rubber spatula, fold 1/4 of whites into batter to lighten slightly. Fold in remaining whites in 3 additions (batter will be thick). Spoon batter over cherries in skillet, then spread evenly with offset spatula to cover cherries.
  3. Bake cake until top is golden brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool in skillet on rack 5 minutes. Run spatula around edges of cake to loosen. Place large serving platter upside down atop skillet. Using pot holders or oven mitts, firmly hold platter and skillet together and invert. Leave skillet atop cake 5 minutes. Remove skillet. If necessary, rearrange any cherries that may have become dislodged. Let cake cool at least 45 minutes. Cut cake into wedges and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Happy baking!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Everything With Blueberries

Happy Monday everyone! I love summer for many reasons, but one of those reasons is the FRUIT, blueberries to be exact. What better excuse to bake than to say you're baking with a super fruit? That must make it healthyish.

Nectarine Blueberry Cobbler
Hedy Goldsmith
Ingredients
  • 6 large ripe nectarines, cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Butter, for greasing pan
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup candied ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
  2. Toss nectarines and blueberries with the granulated sugar, ginger, salt, vanilla extract, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cornstarch. Place the fruit in a 2-quart buttered baking dish or eight 4-ounce ramekins. Bake in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly. 
  3. Make the biscuits while the nectarines are baking. Begin by stirring together in a bowl, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cardamom. With your fingers pinch in the butter until the mixture resembles small peas. Quickly stir in the buttermilk to form soft dough. Knead into a ball. Roll the dough out on a well-floured surface to 1/2-inch thickness. Using a 1-inch biscuit cutter, cut out 16 biscuits. Re-roll the trimmings and cut an additional 8 biscuits. 
  4. Sprinkle the candied ginger over the cooled nectarines. Arrange the biscuits on top of the fruit, fitting snuggly next to each other. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle the turbinado sugar. 
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake the cobbler20 to 25 minutes or until the biscuits are golden brown. Serve withice cream or soft whipped cream.


Open-Faced Fresh Blueberry Pie
Rose Levy Beranbaum

Ingredients
  • Basic Flaky Pie Crust for a 9-inch pie
  • 1 tablespoon egg white, lightly beaten
  • 4 cups blueberries, rinsed and dried
  • 1/2 liquid cup and two tablespoons water, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whipped cream (optional)
Directions
Make the crust:
  1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. If necessary, allow it to sit for about 10 minutes or until it is soft enough to roll.
  2. Using a pastry cloth and sleeve rubbed with flour or two sheets of plastic wrap lightly sprinkled with flour, roll the dough 1/8 inch thick or less and large enough to cut a 13-inch circle. Use an expandable flan ring or a cardboard template and a sharp knife as a guide to cut out the circle. Transfer the dough to the pie pan, fold under the excess, and crimp the border using a fork or your fingers. Cover it loosely and refrigerate it for a minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of 24 hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425°F at least 20 minutes before baking.
  4. Line the pastry with parchment, pleating it as necessary so it fits into the pan, and fill it with rice or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes. Carefully lift out the rice or beans with the parchment. With a fork, prick the bottom and sides, and bake 5-10 minutes, or until the crust is pale golden. Check after 3 minutes and prick any bubbles that may have formed.
  5. Cool the crust on a rack for 3 minutes, so it is no longer piping hot, then brush the bottom and sides with the egg white.
Make the filling:
  1. Measure out 1 cup of the blueberries, choosing he softest ones. Place them in a medium saucepan together with the 1/2 cup water. Cover and bring them to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and the remaining 2 tablespoons of water. Set it aside.
  3. When the water and blueberries have come to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, stirring constantly for 3 to 4 minutes or until the blueberries start to burst and the juices begin to thicken. Stirring constantly, add the cornstarch mixture, the sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Simmer for a minute or until the mixture becomes translucent. Immediately remove it from the heat and quickly fold in the remaining 3 cups of blueberries.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the baked pie shell and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving. When set, the berries will remain very juicy but will not flow out of the crust.
  5. Just before serving, if desired, pipe or spread the whipped cream around the sides of the pie, leaving the center unadorned and brilliantly glistening.
Store: Room temperature, up to 2 days (without the whipped cream).
Note: The low amount of sugar in this pie maintains the tart freshness of the berries. Taste the berries before you begin. If they are very tart, increase the sugar by a few tablespoons.



Fresh Blueberry Tart
Laura Calder

Ingredients
Pastry:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg white
Filling:
  • 8 ounces/225 g high quality cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup/55 g sugar
  • 1/4 cup/60 ml creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup/60 ml water
  • 1/4 cup/55 g sugar, more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. For the pastry: Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg yolks. Quickly add the flour and mix just to incorporate. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill one hour. Roll out and line a 9-inch/23 cm-tart shell or ring. Wrap again and chill. Line the shell with foil, then pour in the beans right to the rim. Bake 20 minutes. Remove the beans and foil and return to the oven until lightly golden and completely cooked. Pull from the oven and paint the base with a little whisked egg white to seal the base.
  3. For the filling: Cream the cheese with the sugar, then beat in the creme fraiche and vanilla. Spread the mixture in the base of the cooked shell once it has cooled.
  4. Put 1 cup of the blueberries in a saucepan with 1/4 cup/60 ml water, the sugar, and the cornstarch. Bring to a boil and simmer until juicy and thick. Pour over the remaining berries in a bowl and toss to coat. Spread over the cream base and let set. Serve.

Happy baking!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Less Oven, More Fridge!

Hump day is almost upon us, and with that comes the muggy air and steamy sidewalks. As the weather gets warmer, using the oven gets less and less appealing. Insert parfait here! The parfait, baked or not, can be very exciting and welcome in the hotter summer months. Fast, easy, and best of all, fits any kind of party!

Just a low oven and a little time...
Lemon Curd Parfaits
Sarah Jordan

Ingredients
Meringue:
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
Lemon Curd:
  • 9 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Whipped Cream:
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 pints raspberries
Directions
Make the meringue:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, stir the vinegar with the cornstarch to form a slurry.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites at medium speed until soft, frothy peaks form. Increase the speed to medium-high and gradually add 1/3 cup of the sugar; beat for 2 minutes. Repeat with the remaining sugar in 2 batches, beating for 2 minutes between additions. Continue to beat until the meringue is stiff and glossy, 7 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle the slurry over the meringue and fold it in.
  3. Using a large spoon, dollop the meringue onto the prepared baking sheet. Using an offset spatula, spread the meringue 1 1/2 inches thick. Bake for about 3 hours, until firm and white; turn off the oven and keep the oven door slightly ajar. Leave the meringue in the oven for 2 hours, until mostly dry but still slightly chewy.
Make the lemon curd:
  1.  In a glass bowl, combine the egg yolks, lemon juice and sugar and whisk until smooth. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water) and cook, whisking constantly, until the curd has thickened to the consistency of cake batter, about 20 minutes. Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the butter, a few cubes at a time, until incorporated. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the lemon curd and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or until cold.
Make the whipped cream:
  1. In a large bowl, combine the cream, sugar and vanilla and beat with an electric handheld mixer until soft peaks form. Refrigerate.
  2. To serve, break the meringue into small pieces. Spoon half of the meringue and 1/4 cup of lemon curd into each of 8 parfait glasses. Top with 1/2 cup of whipped cream and a few raspberries. Repeat with the remaining meringue, lemon curd, whipped cream and raspberries. Serve immediately.
MAKE AHEAD: The lemon curd can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. The meringue can be stored in an airtight container overnight.


Cold and boozy, adults only...
Frozen Mocha Rum Parfaits
Gourmet, May 2003

Ingredients
  • 6 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
  • 2/3 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons dark rum
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups chilled heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
Special equipment: an instant-read thermometer

Directions
  1. Melt chocolate in coffee in a metal bowl set over a large saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth, then stir in 3 tablespoons rum. Remove bowl from heat.
  2. Beat together eggs, granulated sugar, and a pinch of salt with a handheld electric mixer in a large metal bowl until combined well. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water and beat mixture until tripled in volume, very thick, and registers 160°F on thermometer, about 6 minutes. Remove bowl from heat, then beat in chocolate mixture. Chill until cool, about 10 minutes.
  3. Beat 1 cup cream in a bowl with cleaned beaters until it just holds stiff peaks, then fold into chocolate mixture. Divide among 8 (8-ounce) stemmed glasses and freeze, covered with plastic wrap, until set, at least 3 hours.
  4. Before serving, let parfaits stand at room temperature 15 minutes to soften slightly. While parfaits are standing, beat remaining cup cream with confectioners sugar until it just holds stiff peaks, then beat in remaining 2 teaspoons rum and spoon onto parfaits.
Note: Parfaits can be frozen up to 1 day.



Frozen for the kiddos...
Raspberry-Vanilla Parfait Pops
Charity Ferreira

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen raspberries, plus 4 raspberries, halved (optional)
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vanilla low-fat or whole-milk yogurt
Directions
  1. In a blender, purée the 1 1/2 cups raspberries, the sugar, and 1/2 cup yogurt until smooth and thick.
  2. Divide about half of the raspberry mixture equally among ice pop molds. Divide the remaining 1 cup yogurt among the molds. Slide in the halved raspberries (if using). Follow with the remaining raspberry mixture and insert sticks. Freeze until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 1 week.
  3. To unmold the pops, run hot water over the outsides of the molds for a few seconds, then gently pull the sticks.

Happy baking!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Party Pics AND Graduation Ideas

Happy Monday everyone! Last weekend we had a fabulous party for a special grandfather and Lizzy Bee's Bakery was in full baking mode. Check out the results:

Top: Rich, moist white cake filled with fudgey chocolate filling and ganache frosting.
Topped with buttercream roses.
Bottom: Lizzy Bee's brownies and orange butter cookies (a sleeper hit!)

Now onto ideas for graduation! If you're not ordering from the bakery, but are looking to bake at home, you'll need some finger foods to get your guests moving and mingling. Here are a few ideas that are easy to pick up and enjoy:

Black and White Cupcakes
Justin Chapple

Ingredients
Cupcakes:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Frosting:
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Directions
  1. MAKE THE CUPCAKES Preheat the oven to 350° and line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a bowl, whisk the flour with the cocoa powder, baking powder, salt and baking soda. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then beat in the sour cream and vanilla until smooth. At low speed, beat in the dry ingredients. Scoop the batter into the lined muffin cups.
  2. Bake the cupcakes in the center of the oven for about 17 minutes, until springy and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cool slightly in the pan, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
  3. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE FROSTING In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, salt and 2 tablespoons of the milk and beat at low speed just until combined, then beat at medium speed until smooth. Scrape half of the vanilla frosting into a medium bowl. Add the cocoa powder and the remaining 2 tablespoons of milk to the frosting in the large bowl and beat at low speed until fully incorporated.
  4. Lay a large sheet of plastic wrap on a work surface with the long side facing you. Using a small spatula, spread the vanilla frosting in a 3-inch-wide strip down the center of the plastic wrap. Spread the chocolate frosting in a 3-inch-wide strip alongside the vanilla. Using the plastic, fold the chocolate frosting over the vanilla, twisting one end of the plastic to seal. Pull the twisted end of the plastic through a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and cut off the protruding plastic at the tip. Refrigerate the frosting until barely firm, about 15 minutes. Pipe onto the cupcakes and serve.

Caramel Crumb Bars
Saveur

Ingredients
  • 20 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
  • 2 1⁄2 cups flour, plus more for pan
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350°. Line a 9" x 13" baking sheet with parchment paper; grease and flour. 
  2. In a mixer fitted with a paddle, beat together 16 tbsp. butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until fluffy. Add 2 1⁄4 cups flour; mix. Transfer 3⁄4 dough to pan; press into bottom; chill. 
  3. Rub remaining dough and flour into large crumbles; set aside. 
  4. Combine remaining butter, brown sugar, syrup, and milk in a 2-qt. saucepan. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat to make caramel, 8–10 minutes. 
  5. Pour over dough; scatter crumbles over top. 
  6. Bake until golden, 25–30 minutes. Let cool. Cut into bars.

Dream Bars
Mindy Segal

Ingredients
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (64% to 66% cacao), melted
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
Directions
  1. Invert a baking sheet and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Line the top with parchment paper. With an offset spatula, spread the melted chocolate evenly across the parchment. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until firm, approximately 30 minutes.
  2. Lightly coat a quarter sheet (9 by 13-inch) pan or glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving 1 inch of overhang on the long sides.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium speed for 5 to 10 seconds. Add the granulated sugar and beat the butter mixture until it is aerated, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together.
  4. Add the water and vanilla to the egg yolks. On medium speed, add the yolks, one at a time, mixing briefly until the batter resembles cottage cheese, approximately 5 seconds per yolk. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula to bring the batter together. Mix on medium speed for 20 to 30 seconds to make it nearly homogeneous.
  5. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together but still looks shaggy, approximately 30 seconds. Do not overmix. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer. With a plastic bench scraper, bring the dough completely together by hand.
  7. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Using a rubber spatula and then your fingertips, press the dough into the corners of the pan and smooth the surface.
  8. Remove the chocolate from the freezer and break it up into shards. Scatter the chocolate shards across the surface of the dough and then press into the dough. Cover the top with plastic wrap, pressing down through the plastic to smooth down the top. Refrigerate until the dough is set, at least 20 minutes or overnight. (If refrigerating the dough overnight, refrigerate the egg whites as well, letting them come to room temperature before proceeding with the meringue.)
  9. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  10. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and a pinch of kosher salt on medium speed until frothy, approximately 45 seconds. Add the brown sugar and whip on medium-high speed until shiny peaks form and the meringue holds its shape, 2 to 3 minutes. Spread the meringue evenly over the chilled dough.
  11. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through the baking process, until the meringue resembles a lightly toasted marshmallow, 23 to 25 minutes. It will start to crack on the sides but should still be slightly soft in the center, and the shortbread should be cooked through but still pale-not golden brown. (Do not overbake or the shortbread will be too crumbly to cut.) Cool completely in the pan. Once cool, refrigerate until chilled.
  12. Lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment handles and transfer to a cutting board. Cut the bars lengthwise into 3 strips. Cut the bars crosswise into 10 strips to make small, rectangular bars. Serve the bars at room temperature.
Do ahead: The bars can be baked, cooled, then refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.


Happy baking!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Memorial Day Desserts

Happy Tuesday! Somewhere between moving to a bigger apartment, unpacking, finishing the school year - this blog was suddenly buried under the work! But now I'm back and ready for Memorial Day (if only the warm weather would stay for the pool openings)! I hope you've got your menu planned (or almost) and are ready to fire up the grill! Here are a few desserts to add to the end of your meal.

Twist on a classic summery dish...
Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes
Food Network Kitchens

Ingredients
For the shortcakes:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 ounces milk chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Raw or turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
For the toppings:
  • 1 quart strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered if large (about 3 cups) if large
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Directions
  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Make the shortcakes: Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture until sandy. Add the chocolate. Whisk 1 egg, the cream and vanilla in a glass measuring cup; stir into the flour mixture with a fork to make a shaggy dough (there will be some dry bits). Turn out onto a lightly floured surface; pat flat until 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut into 6 rounds with a knife or cookie cutter, using the scraps for the last cake.
  2. Place the rounds on the baking sheet; freeze for 20 minutes. Beat the remaining egg; brush onto the cakes and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake until firm, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, make the toppings: Toss half of the strawberries with half of the sugar in a bowl; set aside. Place the other half of each in a saucepan; cook over medium-low heat, mashing with a fork to make a thick puree, about 10 minutes. Cool completely. Whip the cream with a mixer until medium peaks form; swirl in the strawberry puree.
  4. Split the shortcakes in half. Layer some of the strawberry cream and reserved fruit on the bottoms; cover with the shortcake tops. Finish with more strawberry cream and the remaining berries.

To please the little ones...
Skewered Strawberry & Marshmallow S'mores
Karen Adler and Judith Fertig, The Gardener and the Grill

Ingredients
  • 12 medium-sized strawberries
  • 8 large marshmallows
  • 8 slices French baguette
  • Olive oil, for brushing
  • One (4-ounce) bar dark chocolate, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher or sea salt
Directions
  1. Prepare a medium-hot fire on one side of your grill.
  2. Thread the strawberries and marshmallows alternately on 4 skewers (if using wooden skewers, pre-soak them). Lightly brush the slices of bread with olive oil.
  3. Place the skewers directly over the fire and grill for about 4 or 5 minutes until the marshmallows have browned.
  4. At the same time, grill one side of the bread. Turn the slices over and move to the indirect side of the grill. Place a piece of chocolate on each slice and sprinkle with a pinch of coarse salt. Remove from the grill when the chocolate is soft but still holds its shape.
  5. Serve the skewers with the grilled bread for a grown-up version of s'mores.

Change em up...
Apricot Blondies
Daniel Orr

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup dried apricot halves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white-chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup salted roasted almonds, chopped
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter an 8-inch square metal baking pan. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper.
  2. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with the brown sugar and vanilla at medium speed until creamy. Beat in the egg until smooth. At low speed, beat in the apricots, chocolate chips and almonds, then beat in the dry ingredients.
  3. Using a spatula, scrape the dough into the prepared pan, pressing it into an even layer. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 45 minutes, until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool completely. Cut into 2-inch squares.

Happy baking!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Appreciating Mama on Her Day

Happy Tuesday! Mother's Day is fast approaching, and whether you're appreciating someone special or you are that Mama yourself, here are a few recipes to let her know how you feel.

Let her eat cake...
Walnut Cake with Apricot Preserves
Sarah Copeland

Ingredients
  • Unsalted butter and all-purpose flour, for greasing and dusting the pan
  • 3 1/2 cups walnuts (about 10 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • Confectioners' sugar for dusting
  • Whipped cream and sliced peaches, for serving
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan. In a food processor, pulse the walnuts with a pinch of the sugar until very finely ground. Add the baking powder and pulse to combine.
  2. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the egg whites at high speed until soft peaks form.
  3. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar at medium-high speed until pale and thick, about 3 minutes. At low speed, beat in the walnuts, just to combine.
  4. Stir one-third of the egg whites into the batter. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining beaten whites in 2 batches, until no streaks remain.
  5. Scrape the batter into the pan and bake for 40 minutes, until golden and springy. Transfer to a rack and let cool in the pan. Run the tip of a knife around the cake and unmold it.
  6. Using a serrated knife, split the cake horizontally. Set the bottom layer on a cake plate and spread with the apricot preserves. Replace the top layer and dust with confectioners' sugar. Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream and sliced peaches.

Dessert for breakfast...
Dark Chocolate Waffles
Mast Brothers Chocolate

Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (at least 70% cacao), finely chopped
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • Unsalted butter and warm pure maple syrup (for serving)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 250°F. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add egg yolks, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Blend with a fork, then gradually incorporate dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.
  2. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat egg whites in a small bowl until soft peaks form. Working in 2 batches, fold egg whites into batter just until combined. Fold in chocolate.
  3. Heat a waffle iron until very hot; lightly coat with nonstick spray. Working in batches, cook waffles until cooked through. Transfer to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet, cover loosely with foil, and keep warm in oven until ready to serve.
  4. Serve waffles with butter and syrup.
DO AHEAD: Batter with egg whites can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.


When she just wants an extra spoon...
Rhubarb Ice Cream with a Caramel Swirl
Melissa Clark

Ingredients
  • 1 and 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 and 3/4 cup plus 6 tablespoonsgranulated sugar
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 and 1/2 cups sour cream
  • ¾ pound rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • ½ cup heavy cream
Directions
  1. In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, whisk together the milk, 3/4 cup sugar, the salt, the vanilla bean seeds and its pod. Simmer gently until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and steep 30 minutes. Discard the vanilla pod and return mixture to a bare simmer.
  2. Place the yolks in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in hot milk mixture. Scrape the custard back into the pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Whisk in sour cream. Chill at least 3 hours or overnight.
  3. In a saucepan, combine the rhubarb with 1 cup sugar. Simmer until rhubarb is just tender and has begun releasing its juices, but has not started to fall apart, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer rhubarb to a bowl. Continue to simmer the juices until syrupy, 5 to 10 minutes more. Pour the syrup over the rhubarb. Cool completely.
  4. In a clean, dry and preferably nonstick skillet, sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over medium heat. When it begins to melt and lightly color, sprinkle in 2 more tablespoons and start swirling pan to help evenly distribute sugar. Add the final 2 tablespoons and cook, swirling pan until all the sugar has melted. Let cook, swirling occasionally, until the sugar syrup caramelizes and turns dark brown. Pour in the heavy cream and 2 tablespoons water (stand back; it may splatter). Simmer, stirring with a heatproof rubber spatula until smooth. Cool completely.
  5. Pour the custard base into an ice cream machine and churn. Add rhubarb compote for the last minute of churning.
  6. Scrape a quarter of the caramel into the bottom of a freezer-proof quart container. Top with a quarter of the ice cream. Repeat layering until all of the caramel and ice cream has been used, ending with the ice cream. Freeze until firm for at least 2 hours and up to 1 week.

Happy baking!