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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!

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