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Monday, August 31, 2015

Desserts for the BBQ

Happy Monday! We are down to the last few days of summer and Mother Nature sure is making up for last year's rainy summer with this heatwave! In order to beat the heat, let's get crackin' on more end-of-summer bbq party desserts. Here are a few ideas:

A fave with a twist...
Brownie Pudding
Ina Garten


  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the dish
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup good cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon framboise liqueur, optional
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter a 2-quart (9 by 12 by 2-inch) oval baking dish. Melt the 1/2 pound of butter and set aside to cool.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.
  3. When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds, framboise, if using, and the cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix only until combined. With mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.
  4. Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean. The center will appear very under-baked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.
  5. Allow to cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Easy peasy...
Ultimate S'more 

  • 4 large marshmallows
  • 5 (2 1⁄2") square graham crackers
  • 2 (1.55-oz.) milk chocolate bars, preferably Hershey's, halved
  • 2 (12") wooden or metal skewers
  1. Build a hot fire in a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to medium-high. 
  2. Thread marshmallows onto 2 wooden or metal skewers, 2 marshmallows per skewer; hold skewers over grill 4" above heat. Grill, turning as needed, until marshmallows are puffed and charred in spots, 4-6 minutes. 
  3. Place 1 marshmallow on top of 1 graham cracker and top with half a Hershey bar. Continue layering crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate until you have made a tower; if chocolate isn't melted, wrap s'more in aluminum foil and grill 1-2 minutes until gooey. Serve immediately.

Gourmet this partay...
Top Pot Triple Coconut Donuts
Top Pot Donut Shop

  • 3 1⁄2 cups (15 3⁄4 oz.) bread flour, sifted
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 tsp. coconut extract
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1⁄4 cups canned coconut milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Canola oil, for forming and frying
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  1. Whisk flour, baking powder, soda, 1⁄2 tsp. salt, and the nutmeg in a bowl; set aside. Combine sugar, butter, 2 tsp. coconut extract, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 cup coconut milk, and egg in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment; mix until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add dry ingredients and mix until a soft, sticky dough forms.
  2. Heat 2" oil in a 6-qt. saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reads 370°. Using lightly oiled hands, roll about 1⁄4 cup batter into a loose, sticky ball; pat gently into a disk. With your thumb, make a 1 1⁄2" hole in the center of dough; carefully slide into oil and fry, flipping once, until puffed and golden, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a baking sheet with a wire rack; repeat with remaining dough and let donuts cool completely.
  3. Heat oven to 350°. Spread coconut on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Bake, stirring, until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes; cool. Whisk remaining salt, extracts, and coconut milk, plus confectioners' sugar in a bowl until smooth. Dip tops of donuts in glaze, then in toasted coconut; return to rack until glaze is set.

Happy baking!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Desserts for Labor Day

Happy Thursday everyone! Since I've got my weeks all jumbled up, I keep thinking Labor Day is sooner than it actually is (I keep forgetting it's not this weekend). But even though I've still got over a week to plan, it never hurts to get a heads start. With the humidity about to head back up this weekend, I think it's safe to say we can keep our cool down recipes in mind for the holiday. Here are a few unique recipes to keep you cool while enjoying the last dregs of summer's rays.

Two-Tone Fudgesicles 
Merrill Stubbs

Makes 6-8 pops.

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • Large pinch ground cinnamon
  • Large pinch cayenne
  • 3 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
  • Seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
  1. Combine the cream and milk in a heavy saucepan and set over low heat.
  2. Combine the bittersweet chocolate, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, cinnamon and cayenne in a medium heatproof bowl. Set aside.
  3. Combine the milk chocolate, remaining brown sugar and the vanilla seeds in another medium heatproof bowl.
  4. When the milk is just about to boil, carefully pour half of it into each of the two bowls with the two different chocolates, whisking well to melt the chocolate and dissolve the sugar.
  5. Pour the bittersweet chocolate mixture about halfway up the sides of 6 to 8 popsicle molds (you may have extra -- it's great stirred into coffee!). Put the molds in the freezer until just beginning to set, about an hour to an hour and a half. (In the meantime, cover and refrigerate the milk chocolate mixture.)
  6. When the surface of the bittersweet mixture has firmed up, but the rest is still soft enough to insert a popsicle stick, give the milk chocolate mixture a quick whisk and divide it evenly among the molds (you know what to do with the leftovers!). Gently insert popsicle sticks, stabilizing them by pushing them a little bit into the bottom layer. Freeze the fudgesicles for several hours, until completely hard. To serve, dip the popsicle molds into a bowl of very hot water for a few seconds -- the fudgesicles should slip out easily.

Mojito-Watermelon Pops
Patricia Richards

Serves 8.

Mojito Layer
  • 5 ounces Simple Syrup (see Note)
  • 4 ounces water
  • 2 1/4 ounces light rum
  • 2 ounces fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons packed mint leaves
  • 1/4 ounce lime cordial
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (see Note)
Watermelon Layer
  • 10 ounces watermelon juice
  • 2 ounces light agave nectar
  • 1 1/2 ounces citron vodka
  • 2 ounces fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 ounce lime cordial
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (see Note)

  1. MAKE THE MOJITO LAYER: In a blender, puree all of the ingredients except the xanthan gum on high speed until smooth and bright green, about 30 seconds. Pour into a bowl. Slowly sprinkle the xanthan gum over while quickly whisking, until slightly thickened and foamy. Let rest for 15 minutes, then skim any foam. Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mojito layer into eight 3-ounce popsicle molds or paper cups. Freeze until almost firm, 1 hour. Poke a popsicle stick into the center of each.
  2. MAKE THE WATERMELON LAYER: In another bowl, combine all of the ingredients except the xanthan gum. Slowly sprinkle the xanthan gum over while quickly whisking, until slightly thickened. Let rest, then skim.
  3. MAKE THE WATERMELON LAYER: Carefully add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the watermelon layer to the mojito layer in the molds. Freeze until almost firm, 1 hour. Pour the remaining mojito mixture on top and freeze until almost firm, 1 hour. Top with the remaining watermelon layer and freeze until firm, 2 hours. Unmold and serve.
NOTES: The thickening agent xanthan gum is available at many supermarkets and on Simple Syrup: In a saucepan, simmer 4 ounces of water with 1/2 cup of sugar over moderate heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes; let cool. Refrigerate for up to 1 month. Makes about 6 ounces.

Tropical Watermelon Fruit Salad
Tasting Table Test Kitchen

For the Pickled Watermelon Rind:
  • ½ seedless baby watermelon (about 3 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2⅓ cups water, divided
  • ½ cup cider vinegar
  • ½ cup rice wine vinegar
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf

For the Aleppo-Sumac Salt:
  • 3 teaspoons flaky sea salt
  • 1½ teaspoons Aleppo pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons sumac
For the Fruit Salad:
  • 4 cups watermelon pieces (from the baby watermelon above)
  • 2 cups bite-size mango pieces (2 mangos)
  • 1 cup pickled watermelon rind
  • 1 cup sliced kiwi rounds (2 kiwis, peeled)
  • 3 teaspoons Aleppo-sumac salt, plus more to taste
  • ¼ cup agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1½ cups bite-size avocado pieces (2 avocados)
  • ½ cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ⅓ cup toasted and roughly chopped macadamia nuts
  1. Make the pickled watermelon rind: Using a vegetable peeler, peel off the watermelon skin. Slice off the green flesh, leaving ¼ inch of the red flesh attached. Reserve the rest of the red watermelon for the salad.
  2. Cut enough of the green watermelon into ¼-inch pieces until you have about 2 cups, and combine with the salt and 2 cups of the water. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour or up to 24 hours in the fridge.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the remaining ⅓ cup of the water, both vinegars, the cinnamon stick, cloves and bay leaf. Bring to a boil then remove from the heat.
  4. Rinse the watermelon rind well and add it to the pickle brine saucepan. Bring to a boil, cooking for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a quart jar. Let cool to room temperature. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hour before using.
  5. Make the salt: In a small bowl, combine the flaky sea salt, Aleppo pepper and sumac.
  6. Assemble the salad: In a large serving bowl, combine the watermelon, mango, watermelon rind and kiwi. Season with the Aleppo-sumac salt, agave and lime juice, tossing gently to mix. Fold in the avocado pieces. Garnish with the coconut flakes, macadamia nuts and a pinch more of the Aleppo-sumac salt. Serve in a watermelon shark's head (optional).

Happy baking!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Holding onto Summer in Late August

Happy Tuesday everyone! Sadly it's nearing the end of summer but that doesn't mean delicious summer produce has wilted and turned brown. Instead we are in PEAK season for a few of our faves - so rather than countdown until fall starts, let's crank the AC and turn up the oven; it's time to celebrate.

Sweet corn...
Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Blackberry Verbena Sauce
Melissa Clark

  • 4 ears fresh corn, shucked
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 225 grams granulated sugar (about 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 sprigs lemon verbena or 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 ½ cups blackberries (about 6 ounces)
  1. Using a large knife, slice the kernels off the corn cobs and place in a large saucepan. Break cobs in half and add to pot along with milk, cream and 110 grams (1/2 cup) sugar. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring, then remove from heat. Let stand to infuse for 1 hour, then discard corn cobs.
  2. Using an immersion or regular blender, purée kernel mixture. Return mixture to a simmer, then turn off heat. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks, 1/8 teaspoon salt and another 55 grams ( 1/4 cup) of sugar. Add a cup of hot cream mixture to yolks, stirring constantly so they don’t curdle. Add yolk mixture to saucepan, stirring. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until custard thickens enough to coat the spoon, about 10 minutes.
  3. Pass custard through a fine sieve, pressing down hard on the solids. Discard solids. Whisk in sour cream until smooth. Let custard cool in an ice bath, then cover and chill for at least 4 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine remaining 60 grams sugar (5 tablespoons), lemon verbena (or zest) and 1/4 cup water and bring to a simmer. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar melts and syrup thickens slightly, about 7 minutes. Add blackberries and cook for 5 to 7 minutes longer, until fruit just softens, but doesn’t fall apart. Let cool, then discard verbena.
  5. Freeze corn mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Serve with blackberries and syrup on top.

Cantaloupe, Honeydew, and Almond Bombe
Gourmet June 2003

  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 3 cups cubed (1/2 inch) ripe cantaloupe
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 cups cubed (1/2 inch) ripe honeydew melon
  • Vegetable oil for brushing mold
  • 1 pint super premium vanilla ice cream, slightly softened
  • 1 1/2 cups slivered almonds (7 ounces), toasted
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • Special equipment: an ice cream maker; a 7- to 8-cup decorative metal mold in the shape of a half-melon or a 2-quart metal bowl
Make sorbets:
  1. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool syrup.
  2. Purée cantaloupe with 2 tablespoons lime juice in a blender, then transfer to a bowl and stir in 1 cup sugar syrup. Purée honeydew with remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice in cleaned blender, then transfer to another bowl and stir in remaining cup sugar syrup. Chill both mixtures, covered, until cold, about 2 hours.
  3. Freeze sorbets separately in ice cream maker. Transfer to airtight containers and freeze until firm but still spreadable, about 30 minutes.
Assemble bombe:
  1. Lightly brush mold with vegetable oil and freeze mold 30 minutes. While mold chills, put vanilla ice cream in refrigerator 20 minutes to soften.
  2. Pulse almonds in a food processor until finely ground (do not grind to a paste).
  3. Stir together almonds, ice cream, and almond extract until blended. Spread evenly onto bottom and up sides of chilled mold. (If ice cream begins to melt, freeze 10 minutes.) Freeze ice cream until firm, about 30 minutes. Spread honeydew sorbet in an even layer over ice cream and freeze until sorbet is firm, about 20 minutes. Fill center with cantaloupe sorbet, pressing in firmly, and smooth top. Cover mold with plastic wrap and freeze until hardened, at least 8 hours.
  4. To serve, unwrap mold and invert bombe onto a chilled serving platter. Wet a kitchen towel with hot water, quickly wring it dry, and drape over pan 30 seconds. Lift off pan, then peel off plastic wrap and put bombe in refrigerator 10 minutes to soften.
  • Sorbets can be made 2 days ahead of assembling bombe. Soften in refrigerator before using.
  • Assembled bombe can be frozen up to 3 days.

Skillet Peach Cobbler
Valerie Gordon

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 1 1/2 cups crème fraîche, divided
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds peeled, pitted peaches, each cut into 1/2" wedges (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup Lord Grey's Peach Preserves
  • 1 cup chilled heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, 1/2 cup crème fraîche, milk, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients; whisk until smooth. Melt butter in a 12" castiron skillet over medium heat. Swirl pan to coat with butter. Remove from heat.
  2. Add batter to pan. Scatter fresh peaches over, then spoon dollops of preserves evenly over batter. Bake until a tester inserted into center of cobbler comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Let cool slightly. Meanwhile, whip cream in a medium bowl to form soft peaks. Fold in sugar and remaining 1 cup crème fraîche. Cut cobbler into wedges and serve with whipped cream mixture.

Happy baking!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ice Cream Cake for the August Heat

Happy Wednesday everyone! My favorite time to read the New York Times is on Wednesday - food day. So today I was inspired by an article on ice cream. I L-O-V-E love to make homemade ice cream, alas as a preggo lady it's not always a safe choice for me (the eggs get cooked - but not fully cooked). I was thrilled to see Philadelphia-style featured in the NYT: no eggs necessary! Soooo, today I present you with a few ice cream cake ideas to get you started, as well as that wonderful Philly-style chilly dessert so you can create your own version of ice cream cake. Remember no rules apply for this dessert. Just make sure your ice cream is soft and perhaps freeze your cake layers (if that's what you're using) or your crust (if you're making more of a pie or sandwich) to firm them up first. Then enjoy!

7-Layer Ice Cream Cake
Everyday Food, May 2012

  • 1 frozen pound cake (10 3/4 ounces) in aluminum loaf pan, unthawed, or 1 homemade 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch pound cake, room temperature
  • 2 cups raspberry sorbet, softened
  • 1 cup vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped chocolate wafer cookies
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Remove cake from pan and cut horizontally into 4 slices. Line pan with plastic wrap, leaving 6-inch overhang on two sides. Build cake layers in pan in this order: bottom cake slice, 1 cup sorbet, cake slice, 1/2 cup ice cream, cookie crumbs, 1/2 cup ice cream, cake slice, 1 cup sorbet, top cake slice. (If necessary, return ice cream to freezer as you work.) Wrap in plastic and freeze at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days).
  2. In a heatproof bowl, lightly whisk together egg whites and pinch of cream of tartar. Set bowl over (not in) a pan of simmering water and whisk until whites are foamy. Slowly whisk in sugar and cook, whisking, until sugar is dissolved (to test, rub some between your fingertips).
  3. Remove bowl from heat and, with an electric mixer, beat on medium-high until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. Add vanilla and beat 1 minute. Remove cake from pan, trim sides if desired, and dollop meringue on top.

Coconut Coffee Marbled Ice Cream Cake
Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez

  • 3/4 cup chocolate wafer crumbs (from about 15 cookies such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers)
  • 1 teaspoon instant-espresso powder
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Ice Cream Layer
  • 1 pt premium coffee ice cream, softened slightly
  • 1 pt premium coconut sorbet, softened slightly
Fudge Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Special equipment: a 1 1/2-qt rectangular mold such as a 12- by 3 1/4- by 2 3/4-inch pté mold; parchment paper; an offset metal spatula
Make crust:
  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Line mold with a double layer of parchment paper, allowing a few inches of overhang along each side.
  3. Stir together crumbs, espresso powder, and butter and press over bottom of mold. Bake until crisp, about 10 minutes, then cool completely in mold on a rack, about 20 minutes.
Make ice cream layer:
  1. Scoop and drop ice cream and sorbet alternately into mold in 1 layer until crust is covered, then smooth with offset spatula until flat. Make another layer in same manner. Freeze, covered with plastic wrap, until firm, at least 2 hours.
Make fudge sauce and finish cake:
  1. Bring cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, cocoa, salt, and half of chocolate to a boil in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until chocolate is melted. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
  2. Add butter, vanilla, and remaining chocolate and stir until smooth.
  3. Cool fudge sauce to warm, at least 15 minutes.
  4. Pour warm sauce over ice cream layer and freeze again, uncovered, until firm, about 15 minutes. Remove cake by grasping both ends of parchment, and transfer it to a platter. Using a spatula to stabilize end of cake, carefully slide parchment out from under cake.
  • Sauce can be made 1 week ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled in an airtight container or jar. Reheat before using.
  • Cake keeps, wrapped well in plastic wrap and then in foil, 3 days.

And now, build your own...start with some homemade ice cream! Find your favorite cake recipe, make sure it's frozen enough to spread ice cream on it without breaking, and get started! (Don't forget some frosting at the end!)

Easiest Vanilla Ice Cream
Julia Moskin

  • 2 cups heavy cream, preferably organic and not ultra-pasteurized
  • 2 cups half-and-half, preferably organic, or 1 cup additional heavy cream plus 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out with the tip of a sharp knife, or 3 tablespoons (about 8 bags) loose Earl Grey tea plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar or 3/4 cup light corn syrup, more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon salt, more to taste
  1. In a saucepan or a microwave-safe container, combine cream, half-and-half and vanilla bean and seeds (or tea and vanilla extract). On the stove or in the microwave, bring mixture to a simmer. Immediately turn off heat.
  2. Add sugar or corn syrup and salt and mix until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Taste and add more sugar and salt as needed to balance the flavors. The mixture should taste slightly too sweet when warm; the sweetness will be muted when the ice cream is frozen.
  3. Strain mixture into a container and refrigerate until very cold, at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.
  4. Churn mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Serve immediately or transfer to an airtight container and let freeze until hard.

Happy baking!

Monday, August 10, 2015

What's in a Hummingbird Cake?

Happy Monday everyone! While on vacation I ordered a piece of hummingbird cake for dessert; something I don't eat often and usually skip...but I'm certainly glad I didn't skip it this time! You can bet when I got home from my trip I just had to make my own version. The origins of this cake are a little sketchy, depending on where you do your research: some say the flavors in the cake (pineapple, banana, pecans) are CLEARLY reminiscent of the Caribbean, while others say the cake hails from the south. Either way the flavors make for a moist, delicious cake. Paired with cream cheese frosting, this cake is perfect anytime of year. Let's take a look at how it comes together!

Mix the fresh bananas with FRESH pineapple chunks (no cans here!).

Toast your pecans and measure them out.

Easy peasy: Whisk all the wet together with the sugar.
Notice the oil? No butter here!

Sift and stir the dry ingredients.

Dry into wet; mix well, and then bake.

When frosting a cake, don't forget the crumb coat.
This is the layer that looks like paste but holds it all together.

Finished cake

Southern Living published a version of the cake recipe first in 1978; this is their finely-tuned version of that original recipe.

Hummingbird Cake
Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, January 1999

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained (Lizzy Bee's Note: my recipe uses FRESH. Try it before you knock it!)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups chopped bananas
  • Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; add eggs and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not beat.) Stir in vanilla, pineapple, 1 cup pecans, and bananas.
  2. Pour batter into three greased and floured 9-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
  3. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake; sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped pecans on top. Store in refrigerator.

Happy baking!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Goin' on a Picnic

Happy Thursday everyone! With the humidity at a slight lull and the clouds coming and going, the weather seems pretty perfect for a picnic. Finger foods are key; not too messy but a little gooeyness can't hurt. Let's see what we can do...

Lemon Ripple Cheesecake Bars
Elinor Klivans

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/4 pounds cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat the oven to 325° and position a rack in the center. Butter a 9-inch-square nonstick baking pan. In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar, lemon zest and salt. Add the butter and pulse until a soft, crumbly dough forms. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and a scant 1/2 inch up the side of the pan. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, or until golden and firm.
  2. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water. In a medium sauce-pan, whisk the egg yolks with 3/4 cup of the sugar and the lemon juice. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture and cook over moderate heat, whisking gently, until the sugar is dissolved and the lemon mixture is hot, about 4 minutes. Boil over moderately high heat for 1 minute, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick and glossy. Strain the lemon mixture into a heatproof bowl. Stir in the lemon zest and let cool.
  3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup of sugar until smooth. Beat in the flour until blended. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well between additions. Add the sour cream and the vanilla and beat until the batter is smooth. Pour the cream cheese batter over the crust and smooth the surface with a spatula. Dollop the lemon mixture on the cheesecake batter and carefully swirl it into the batter; take care not to cut into the crust.
  4. Bake the cheesecake for about 40 minutes, or until golden around the edge and just set. Run the tip of a knife around the edge to loosen the cheesecake from the side of the pan. Let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour, then refrigerate the cheesecake until thoroughly chilled. Cut into 16 bars and serve.
Notes: Use the back of a table knife to gently swirl together the lemon mixture and the cheesecake batter. Take care not to swirl too much—each mixture should remain distinct so you have a lovely white and yellow pattern on top.

The cheesecake bars can be refrigerated in the pan for up to 3 days.

Peach Date Bars

  • 2¼ cups peach jam
  • 2 cups pitted dates, minced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup plus 1 tbsp. flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  1. Make the filling: Simmer jam, dates, lemon juice, and 3 tbsp. water in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Cook until dates are softened, about 8 minutes.
  2. Make the crust: Heat oven to 400°. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, and using an electric hand mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. With the motor running, slowly add flour mixture and oats; beat until a crumbly dough forms. Press half the dough into the bottom of an 8″ square baking dish. Spread filling over crust. Crumble remaining dough over the top. Bake until golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely before slicing.

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake
Melissa Clark

  • Butter, for greasing pan
  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour, more for pan
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a bowl, combine lemon zest and sugar and rub with your fingers until it looks like wet sand. Whisk in buttermilk, 3 tablespoons lemon juice and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk dry ingredients into the batter, then whisk in oil and poppy seeds.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in pan until warm to the touch, then turn out onto a baking rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Turn cake right side up.
  4. Whisk together remaining 4 teaspoons lemon and the confectioners’ sugar. Use a pastry brush to spread glaze evenly over top and sides of cake. Cool completely before slicing.

Happy baking!