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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Easter Desserts: Less Than a Week to Go!

Happy Tuesday everyone! In the final Easter countdown, you still have time to make a fabulous dessert for your holiday brunch (or something memorable to bring to a party - sure to get you invited back next year!). Be warned - these recipes might also lead to more spring-like temperatures and flowers in bloom (one can hope, anyway...).

Meyer Lemon Bars
Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand, The Kitchn Cookbook

  • 2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tbsp powdered sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt plus more
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 to 2 tsp ice water
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp Meyer lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease a 9" x 13" baking pan and line it with parchment paper, leaving 1" of overhang on the two long sides.
  2. In a food processor, pulse 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add ice water 1 tsp at a time if mixture is too dry. Press dough into bottom of prepared pan, pressing snugly against the inside edges.
  3. Bake crust for 20-25 minutes, or until golden. Set pan on a wire rack to cool slightly. Reduce oven temperature to 300°.
  4. Whisk together eggs and granulated sugar until well combined and pale in color. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, remaining 1/4 cup flour, and a pinch of salt. Pour topping over warm crust. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until set.
  5. Set pan on a rack to cool. Remove squares by lifting parchment. Cut into bars. Dust with remaining 3 tbsp powdered sugar.

Strawberry Cream Puffs
Ed Jiloca

Cream Puffs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 large eggs
Pastry Cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup strawberry preserves
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
Strawberries with Tarragon
  • 2 pints strawberries, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
  1. Preheat the oven to 400° and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, bring the water, salt, sugar and butter to a boil. Add the flour all at once, remove from the heat and stir until a smooth ball forms. Transfer the dough to a bowl and let cool for 1 minute. Using an electric mixer, beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions, until smooth.
  2. Scoop the dough onto the baking sheet in 8 mounds. Using a lightly moistened finger, smooth the tops. Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 250° and bake for 15 minutes longer, until the puffs are lightly golden. Let cool completely.
  3. In a saucepan, bring the milk, salt, vanilla bean and seeds to a boil. In a bowl, whisk the sugar, cornstarch and eggs. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the hot milk. Whisk the mixture into the remaining milk in the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until very thick and bubbling, about 4 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the butter. Strain the pastry cream into a bowl, place a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
  4. In a small saucepan, combine the strawberry preserves with the water and bring to a simmer. Whisk vigorously to break up the fruit. Strain the mixture into a medium bowl. Add the confectioners' sugar and whisk until smooth.
  5. In a medium bowl, toss the strawberries with the sugar, vanilla seeds and tarragon.
  6. Split the cream puffs horizontally and gently pull out any soft dough from the centers. Spoon the pastry cream into the puffs, top with some strawberry slices and replace the tops of the puffs. Spoon some of the glaze on top and refrigerate until set, about 10 minutes. Serve.

Victoria Sponge Cake

  • 3⁄4 lb. plus 1 tbsp. salted European-style high-fat butter, 
  • softened
  • 3 cups plus 1 tbsp. self-rising cake flour
  • 1 1⁄2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1⁄4 cups double Devon cream
  • 3⁄4 cup high-quality strawberry jam
  • Confectioners' sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 360ยบ. Grease two 2"-deep 8" round cake pans with 1/2 tbsp. butter each. Dust each with 1/2 tbsp. flour; set aside.
  2. Beat remaining butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes. Add granulated sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Combine eggs and 6 tbsp. water in another bowl. Add half the egg mixture and half the flour to butter–sugar mixture. Beat well for 1–2 minutes. Add remaining egg mixture and flour; beat batter for 5 minutes.
  3. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, 35–40 minutes. Invert cakes onto a rack, remove pans, and let cool completely.
  4. Beat cream in a medium bowl until stiff. Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate, spread top with half the jam, then cover jam with the cream. Spread top of remaining cake layer with remaining jam and place it, jam side down, on top of cream. Dust cake with confectioners' sugar.

Happy baking!

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