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Monday, April 7, 2014

Fun For Easter AND Fun Forever!

Happy Monday everyone! On Friday I noticed I had a few bananas past their deliciousness, so rather than toss them aside and smell up the garbage (I hate to waste!), I turned them into my favorite chocolate chip banana cake with an addictive caramel cream cheese frosting. Had to get those bad boys out of the house fast! Yum, yum.

Back to business...this week we are talking about BOTH Passover and Easter! A celebration for so many religions, whether you celebrate one or the other (or both!) expect lots of delicious food and desserts. Here are a few recipes to get your imaginative Easter juices flowing:

Savory and sweet...
Lemon Challah Souffle
Michael Symon

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 4 cups 1/2-inch-cubed challah (1/2 pound)
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
  1. In a small bowl, whisk the flour and cornstarch. In a large heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks and whole egg with 3/4 cup of the milk and three-fourths of the flour-cornstarch mixture until smooth. Gradually whisk in the remaining flour mixture until smooth.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 1 1/4 cups of milk with 1 1/2 teaspoons of the granulated sugar and bring to a boil, whisking. Slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk constantly until smooth. Whisk in the butter until melted. Add the lemon juice and zest and fold in the challah. Refrigerate until cooled.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375° and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Dust with granulated sugar, tapping out the excess. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 3/4 cup of granulated sugar in a steady stream and beat at high speed until the whites are firm and glossy. Fold the meringue into the challah custard until no streaks of white remain. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.
  4. Bake the soufflé in the center of the oven until risen and golden, about 45 minutes. Let rest for 10 to 30 minutes. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The soufflé can be prepared up to 2 hours before baking; let stand at room temperature.

One of my favorites, with a chocolate interpretation...
Cocoa-Carrot Cake with Cocoa Crumble
William Werner

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup almond flour (3 ounces); see Note
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil
  • 1/3 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the flour, sugar, almond flour, cocoa powder and salt. Add the butter and beat at medium-low speed until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Press the mixture into 1/2-inch clumps and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Spread the clumps on the baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, until fragrant and firm. Let cool. Wipe out the mixer bowl.
  2. Butter and flour two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In the mixer bowl, combine the sugar with the eggs, oil, crème fraîche, ginger and vanilla seeds and beat at medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in the dry ingredients at low speed, scraping down the side of the bowl occasionally. Beat in the carrots.
  3. Scrape the batter into the pans and top with the crumble. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean; cover the cakes loosely with foil during the last 30 minutes of baking. Transfer the pans to a rack and cool for 1 hour.
  4. Lightly wrap the top of each cake in a sheet of foil to prevent the crumble from dislodging. Top with a rack and invert the cakes; remove the pans. Turn the cakes right side up and let cool completely before serving.
NOTES Look for almond flour, made from whole blanched almonds, at

It isn't Italian American without ricotta...
Ricotta Cheesecake
Melissa Roberts and Maggie Ruggiero

  • 3 tablespoons finely crushed amaretti (crisp Italian macaroons) or plain fine dry bread crumbs
  • 2 pounds fresh ricotta at room temperature 30 minutes
  • 6 large eggs at room temperature 30 minutes
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Equipment: an 8-inch springform pan
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in lower third.
  2. Lightly butter pan and coat with cookie crumbs, leaving any loose crumbs distributed over bottom of pan.
  3. Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour into crust.
  4. Bake until puffed and golden but center is still slightly wobbly, about 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Cool in pan on a rack (cake will sink a little).
  6. Serve cheesecake warm or at room temperature.
  7. cooks' notes:
Ricotta cheesecake is best eaten the day it is made but can be made 1 day ahead and kept at cool room temperature.

Happy baking!

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