There is currently six inches of snow outside. We still have a couple of months of this. I need something bright to remind me of the light of at the end of the tunnel, Spring. That’s where these lemon bars come in. Lemon bars are a staple of your local bake sales for good reason. They’re incredibly easy to make, tangy, creamy, and chewy. Great flavor and texture, which is what we all really want. Bakery-style bars right from your own home. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Thanksgiving is inching closer and closer as each day passes and I can not wait! It’s by far my favorite holiday. For me it’s all about family, food and football. The ultimate All-American holiday. Of course, the All-American holiday can’t be complete without some pie for dessert. But, what is THE pie for Thanksgiving? There is always an intense debate about which of the holy trinity of pies is THE pie for Thanksgiving. Obviously, the holy trinity of pies include pumpkin, pecan and apple.
Well, I’m not really a pecan fan. I do love pumpkin, but there’s still one that has my heart even over pumpkin. Yes it’s true. I only have eyes for one pie in my life and that’s easily apple. I mean you have apples, cinnamon and brown sugar blanketed in a flaky pie crust. You really can’t go wrong with that. If you’ve never tried a homemade apple pie, now is your chance to check that off your bucket list. We’re going to turn you into an apple pie making machine. I know some of you are fearing this, but it’s going to be okay…I promise. Some of you are intimidated by the mere thought of making pie at home. I’ll tell you the honest truth. It’s SO much easier than you think. I guarantee it.
Lemon curd is the best of both worlds. It’s delicious and it’s super easy to make. It’s jam and jelly’s richer, more luxurious cousin. I don’t know about you, but I play favorites. And curd is definitely my favorite of the fictitious food relatives. You can eat curd with fresh fruit as is or you can use the curd as a filling for a variety of tarts and pies or you can pour it over some ice cream. You have plenty of options. This curd is just tart enough. If you want a make your face pucker tart curd, you’ll have to add more lemon to this one. In my opinion, it’s perfectly balanced. Do yourself a favor and make this. It’s too easy, it’s ridiculous and it’s always great to have on hand for a nice light dessert.
**Note: For my fellow Muslims or for anyone else who can’t use pork gelatin, there is halal beef gelatin available. Other substitutes include agar agar or you can just use cornstarch. Both will act as thickeners.**
Bloom your gelatin in about a tablespoon or two of cold water. Set aside.
Prepare a pot of water and get it simmering. Meanwhile, combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, whole eggs and egg yolks in a medium to large sized bowl.
Place the bowl of ingredients over the simmering water and whisk until the mixture reaches 180°F.
Take off the heat, add in the bloomed gelatin and whisk in until dissolved. Immediately, whisk in the diced up butter, a couple pieces at a time. Whisk until smooth.
Pour through a sieve into a container. I love using mason jars personally, but you can use whatever container floats your boat. You can see from the picture below, this is a necessary step because the sieve will catch any eggs that were partially cooked. Cooked eggs are lovely for breakfast, but they’re not welcome in my lemon curd.
That’s it! You are finished. Wait until the mixture is room temperature. I like skimming the top foam with a spoon. Then, I cover the container and place it in the fridge. You’ll notice it will be a thin consistency, but it will thicken as it cools.
I took final pictures after a couple days because I was working all week. You can see how significantly thicker the consistency got. It will look like this after a few hours in the fridge as well. Give a stir before using or leave it as is if you like it very thick. Enjoy in whatever application you’d like!
See how I do it:
- 3 Whole eggs
- 2 1/2 Egg yolks
- 3/4 cup Granulated sugar
- 4 Lemons (juice)
- 1/8 cup lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon gelatin
- 5 oz, unsalted butter, diced
- small pinch of salt
Bloom your gelatin in about a tablespoon or two of cold water.
Combine the zest, juice, yolks, whole eggs and salt in a medium to large size bowl.
Prepare a pot or saucepan with water and heat until simmering.
Place the bowl of combined ingredients over the simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 180°F or about five to ten minutes on medium-low heat.
Once the proper temperature is reached, remove from heat.
Immediately whisk in the bloomed gelatin. Stir until dissolved.
Then, immediately whisk in the diced butter, a couple pieces at a time.
Whisk until completely smooth.
Pour the mixture through a sieve into the appropriate container for storage. I love using mason jars.
Leave uncovered until room temperature.
Skim the foam off the top with a spoon.
Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours.
I find lemon curd is best used the day it's made. It will store in the fridge for up to a week in a mason jar or a well-covered container, but really is the best day of or within the first few days. Lemon curd freezes well. Just place it in a well-covered container and thaw before use. It will last up to a month frozen. You may leave the gelatin out completely, it won't be as thick or you can substitute the gelatin with agar or a bit of cornstarch. If you're using cornstarch instead, experiment with the amount and you would have to place it in while cooking the curd, not after you remove it from the heat. I think this is perfectly tart, but if you want it more tart, add more lemon to the recipe.
I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Ice cream is an American favorite and with good reason. Creamy, cool and flavorful, what’s not to like? Well, summertime is here and it’s the perfect time to munch on some ice cream. I can’t think of a better type of ice cream to eat than some homemade, eggless strawberry ice cream. Yes, it’s homemade. That’s a plus. The recipe has no eggs. That’s a bonus. And it’s strawberry ice cream…which yeah….is kind of amazing. So, kick back, relax and cool down with this great recipe. Oh yeah, did I mention none of those pesky ice crystals? There are two keys to this recipe’s success. First, we toss the strawberries in sugar and let the large amounts of liquid in the berries drain. We don’t want that water in our ice cream. Secondly, we use milk powder. It’s key to absorbing the excess liquid and contributing to a creamy texture. Enough talk, let’s get started.
Start by tossing the strawberries in sugar and letting them sit at room temperature covered with plastic wrap for 6-8 hours.
Drain the excess liquid through a colander and place in a bowl.
Pour in the milk, sugar, vanilla, milk powder, salt.
Use a blender or immersion blender to blend the mixture together. You don’t want any lumps of powder or berries. It should be a smooth, uniform mixture. Pour in the heavy cream and stir until combined.
Pour the mixture into your ice cream machine until about 1/2-3/4 full and churn 15-20 minutes or until soft serve consistency.
You can enjoy at this point, but I suggest freezing it from anywhere to a few hours up to overnight. If you choose to freeze, leave out for 5-10 minutes before serving.
See how I do it:
- 1 lb fresh or frozen strawberries
- 1 1/4 cups granulated or cane sugar
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 3/4 cup skim milk powder
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Toss the strawberries in 1/2 cup of the sugar in a bowl and allow to sit out at room temperature covered with plastic wrap for 6-8 hours.
Drain the strawberries in a colander in the sink.
Combine the strawberries, milk, milk powder, vanilla extract, 3/4 cup sugar in a bowl and use a blender or immersion blender to puree until smooth. No lumps should remain.
Pour in the heavy cream and stir until uniform in color.
Transfer this ice cream base into the ice cream maker and churn about 15-20 minutes, according to manufacturer's instructions. Make sure you only fill it about 1/2 way full or 3/4 way full when you pour the base in. You'll have two batches of base.
Transfer the finished ice cream to a storage container. Serve immediately or harden in your freezer for 8 hours or up to overnight.
Temper ice cream for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish how you please and enjoy!
You'll have extra ice cream base. It makes about two batches worth. Don't over churn and leave some space in the ice cream maker so "overrun" can occur.
So, I was sitting there on my lunchtime, at work and I noticed that this Wednesday was national sponge cake day. Yes, there is such a thing. In fact, there are many national food “holidays.” Who knew? Not wanting to be a Grinch, I decided to go with it. So to honor the holidays, I thought, I’d share a great chiffon recipe, I received from our C.M.P.C (Certified Master Pastry Chef) at school. Chiffon sponge cakes are known for being less sweet than the butter based cakes. They are also, of course, spongier and lighter. This is due to having a meringue incorporated into the batter. Fruit and whipped cream are the perfect complements for this light and fluffy cake and though it is a little bit of extra work, it’s well worth it. Taste it and you’ll agree.
We will be making a meringue, so it’s important to have room temperature eggs.
Start out with some hot water. Sift in some good cocoa powder. The cocoa is the only thing that will provide the chocolate flavor in this cake, so use good quality cocoa, because you will be able to taste it. Whisk in the cocoa until well combined.
Add in the egg yolks and oil and whisk well. Add in the vanilla and whisk well.
Sift together your dry ingredients, including the sugar. Dump it into the wet ingredients and fold in carefully.
Whisk for a smooth batter.
With your mixer and whip attachment, begin whipping the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until tracks begin to form. Gradually add in the sugar and turn it up to high until stiff, moist peaks form.
Gently fold in the meringue all at once.
Wipe the cake pans with a very damp towel. You should see the water streaks on the pan clearly. Pour in the batter in the pans. Spin the pans to let the air out.
Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.
Once out of the oven, flip the pans on a sheet pan and cool upside down until completely cooled.
If you’re making a whipped cream and fruit layer cake, prepare your whipped cream and fruit while the cakes are cooling. Unmold by running a sharp paring knife around the edges and tapping the pan on the counter hard.
Top with whipped cream and fruit or any way you’d like and enjoy!
See how I do it:
- 1/2 cup very hot water
- 10 oz cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup vegetable or salad oil
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 egg yolks
- 4 oz cake flour
- 6 oz granulated sugar
- 10.63 grams baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 3/4 cup egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 oz granulate sugar
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
In a large moon bowl, sieve the sifted cocoa into the very hot water.
Add the rest of the wet ingredients from the second set of ingredients.
Whisk until smooth.
Sift together the dry ingredients from the third set of ingredients and add them to the wet ingredients in the bowl. Fold in until mostly absorbed, then switch to whisk for a smooth batter.
Begin whipping the whites and cream of tartar in an 8 quart mixer, ideally, on medium speed. When you see tracks form and the whites are 3/4 whipped, add the granulated sugar gradually.
Finish whipping the whites on high speed until you get firm, moist peaks.
Fold the meringue all at once into the batter until a uniform color is achieved. Take your time and be gentle not to deflate the meringue.
Pour the batter equally into two 8" cake pans that have been wiped out with a very damp cloth. Wet streaks should be visible.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
Immediately out of the oven, turn the pans upside down on a sheet pan and let them cool completely that way.
Un-mold and enjoy!
It was just another day. I was online browsing recipes as I usually do and I made a discovery that would forever change my life. I saw a picture of a lovely white meringue, topped with fruit and cream. It looked absolutely delicious. I thought, hey, why not? Let’s give it a try. Little did I know, just how freaking good this dish is. Pavlova is a dish that originated in New Zealand. It’s a meringue that is topped with cream and fruit, traditionally. I’ve never had anything like it. The outer shell gives a little bit of a crispy texture. The inside has a marshmallow texture. It is the lightest dessert ever. Topped with the fresh whipped cream and strawberries to add some sweetness. It has all the elements you want in a dessert and all the elements really contrast well with each other. Strawberries go great with it, but really any berries will work. If you haven’t had Pavlova, it will change your life. Seriously. You’ll thank me later.
Ensure that the egg whites are at room temperature. This will ensure you get a proper meringue. Also, we want to make sure these meringues don’t stick to our baking sheet. You’ll use a parchment or silicone sheet. You can use a stand mixer or Pre-heat your oven to 200°F.
To begin, prepare your oven and baking sheet. Using a whip attachment, whip up the egg whites on low speed until slightly frothy.
Add the cream of tartar and increase the speed to high. Continue whipping until tracks form and the whites are at a soft peak. It should be a soft, drooping peak when you lift the beater.
With the mixer running, gradually add in the sugar, vanilla, vinegar and cornstarch.
Continue whipping until it’s a shiny stiff meringue with stiff peaks. For me, it only took a couple of minutes after adding the rest of the ingredients. You can stop the mixer and check if you’re not sure. If it’s stiff and holds it’s peak, you’re good to go.
You can pipe the meringue, use a cutter to ensure that there’s an even amount, or you can just spoon them onto the sheet. Drop the meringue into 5 equal mounds with a couple inches between them on the prepared baking sheet.
Dip a soup spoon in hot water, wiping off each time you dip it and you the back of the spoon to create a divot in the center of the mound. This will be where your cream and fruit will go.
Bake the meringues for 1 1/2 hours and then turn off the oven and leave them for another hour to dry out. Remove from the oven and let them cool completely before topping them. All ovens are different, so if you see that the meringues are browning too quickly, open the oven door for 10 minutes to let it cool down. Cracks are totally normal too.
Now, prepare the cream and the berries. I like to macerate the strawberries in a little sugar and lemon juice. If you’d like to top it with a strawberry sauce, that would be delicious, as well.
Top them as you please and enjoy. These don’t last long around here. I finished them all off within the hour. Hey, I can’t help it! They’re so light. It’s like I’m eating air. It’s my ultimate dessert cheat code, when I want something sweet without a ton of fat.
On this particular day, I woke up to weather that just wasn’t cooperating. It was cloudy, raining and just dark. It was really depressing. Whenever weather like that hits, I have to make something to pick my mood up. A comfort food usually does the trick. Nothing says comfort food to me, like fried foods. These apple fritters sure did the trick. Along with a glass of milk, I felt like I was at a carnival somewhere not so rainy. I’ve tried to make apple fritters many times. I’ve had many problems with them as I’m sure many of you have as well. The problems are typically that the batter yields a soggy fritter or the fritter is usually undercooked. I didn’t have either problem with this recipe. This fritter was delightfully crispy from the outside, but fluffy on the inside. I was in fritter nirvana.
To start out wash, peel, core and dice apples to 1/4″ thickness. Place in orange juice or pineapple juice in between to prevent browning. Lay out the apple dices on a paper towel lined baking sheet. Pat dry and wait until dry, about five minutes.
Sift the dry ingredients. Combine the wet ingredients. Toss the apples in the dry ingredients. Add in the wet ingredients and fold in until flour and sugar are absorbed. Don’t over mix.
Heat the oil to 350°F. Pour the batter into a 1/3 measuring cup and pour in the batter into the oil once it’s heated to the right temp. Flatten with a back of the spoon. Cook each side for 2-3 minutes. Remove to a paper towel lined baking sheet.
Combine the glaze ingredients and whisk until smooth. Glaze the fritter after cooling for five minutes. Let it drip onto a wire rack. Top with confectioners sugar if you’d like. Enjoy!
I’ve never was a fan of muffins. I would see them at the bakeries and they wouldn’t even be on my radar. They just always looked big, dense, and dry. My mom and brother on the other hand always have loved muffins. They eat that more than any other sweet I can think of. My mom was constantly making the boxed muffins growing up, but I never ever tried them. When I was younger, I wasn’t a big fan of berries. So, that’s why I never really cared for blueberry muffins. As I grew older and more interested in food though, my fondness for berries and other fruits really grew. Thus, I decided to put my aversion to muffins behind me. But, if I was going to do this, I wanted to try the real deal. I wanted to make home-made muffins. With real blueberries and everything. Over the years, I have tried many muffin recipes. Some were decent, some were just plain bad. The two main problems were my blueberries always sunk and the muffin turned out dry. It wasn’t until about two years ago I figured out the solutions to these problems. The first was easily solved by coating the blueberries in flour. I also noticed that frozen berries always worked better than fresh room-temp berries. I was also most likely overbaking the muffins. The more you bake, you start to realize that most of the time, you have to take things out of the oven sooner than expected.
This recipe requires ground cardamom. I didn’t have any on hand. You can do what I did and have a mix of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Sift all the dry ingredients together, including the sugar.
Next, in a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until well combined.
Pour in the wet ingredients to the dry, add in the lemon zest and fold until just combined. Wrap in saran and place in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours. Take your blueberries and toss them in a tablespoon of flour. Freeze for five minutes. Take out the batter and fold in the blueberries. Portion out your batter 2/3 of the way full. Sprinkle the tops with sugar.
Pre-heat the oven to 425°F and place pan in the oven, bring down the temperature to 350°F and bake for 20-25 minutes. Let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack.
All done! Enjoy with some coffee or milk.
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1/4 cup of coarse sanding sugar or vanilla sugar
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour for blueberries
Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cardamom into a bowl and whisk until combined.
In a large measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients. Add in the lemon zest. Fold until just combined. Place in the refrigerator anywhere from 2-36 hours.
Toss the blueberries in the tablespoon of flour and freeze for five minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 425°F and spray the paper muffin cups.
Remove batter from the fridge and with a cookie scoop, portion out the batter about 2/3 full. Sprinkle the tops with the sugar.
Place the pan in the oven then immediately bring down the temperature to 350°F and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool.
20 minutes was enough for me. Do the toothpick test.
If you don't have cardamom, combine 1/8 tsp of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
Muffins can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
You can use fresh blueberries and freeze them yourself. Just rinse them, dry them really well, then place in a single layer on a sheet pan and freeze for 30 minutes. You can leave the extra blueberries frozen in an airtight container or Mason jar for up to 6 months.
When you live in the mid-west, you suffer through cold winters that feel endless. Because of that, you miss the simple things in life. You miss the flowers, the sounds of birds chirping and most importantly, you miss seeing the sun! Yes, southerners, we miss the sun. I really can’t wait for spring to finally arrive. A way for me to bring spring a little earlier is to make things I associate with spring. One of those things is this lovely lemon loaf cake. I call it a loaf cake and not a pound cake for one reason. It’s technically not a pound cake. It doesn’t have the pound ratio of ingredients that makes up a pound cake. So, loaf cake it is. This cake is so delicious! The bright, tart lemon flavor with the sweetness with some berries on the side, really sets this off. If you’re feeling wild, add some whip cream or ice cream on the side as well. I wouldn’t blame you. The texture of the cake is perfect. It’s fluffy, moist and a fine crumb. Exactly what I want from a cake.
*Some mise en place includes: pre-heating the oven to 350°F. Zest and juice 2-3 large lemons. Butter and flour a loaf pan.
Sift all your dry ingredients together.
Combine your buttermilk and vanilla extract. I also added a couple of drops of almond extract, but that’s totally optional.
Cream the butter and sugar for 5-7 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time. Scrape in between. Add in half the dry ingredients. Mix on low. Add in all the buttermilk mixture and mix on low. Scrape and add in remaining dry ingredients. Scrape. Fold in lemon juice and half the zest.
Bake for 45-55 minutes. I really only needed 49 minutes. Don’t overbake! Good test is if it springs back when touched. Also, if a toothpick comes out with a little bit of crumbs. That’s perfect. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then unmold. After it cools slightly, you can move it.
Make the syrup by boiling sugar and lemon juice for 5 minutes while whisking. Poke holes in the cake with a skewer and pour syrup all over.
Make glaze with lemon juice and confectioners sugar. Pour over the cake and put on remaining lemon zest. Enjoy with fruit, ice cream or whip cream!
Preheat your oven to 350°F degrees. Prepare a loaf pan by lining it with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside. With a mixer cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs, 1 at a time. Scrape the bowl well. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add 1/2 of the flour mix to the butter mix and mix on low until just combined. Don't over-mix! Then add 1/2 of the milk. Mix on low, don't over-mix! Add the remaining flour mix. Don't over-mix. Take the bowl off the stand mixer and fold in the remaining milk and lemon zest. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs. In the mean time, combine the juice from 1 lemon with 1/4 cup sugar. When the cake is done baking, take it out of the oven, and pierce holes in it with a knife – make sure to get to the bottom of the loaf so the lemon juice mixture can get right down into the cake. Pour lemon juice/sugar mix over warm cake. Enjoy! Cover when not eating or the cake will dry out.
Preheat your oven to 350°F degrees.
Prepare a loaf pan by lining it with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
With a mixer cream together the butter and sugar.
Add in the eggs, 1 at a time. Scrape the bowl well.
In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Add 1/2 of the flour mix to the butter mix and mix on low until just combined. Don't over-mix! Then add 1/2 of the milk. Mix on low, don't over-mix! Add the remaining flour mix. Don't over-mix.
Take the bowl off the stand mixer and fold in the remaining milk and lemon zest.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs.
In the mean time, combine the juice from 1 lemon with 1/4 cup sugar.
When the cake is done baking, take it out of the oven, and pierce holes in it with a knife – make sure to get to the bottom of the loaf so the lemon juice mixture can get right down into the cake. Pour lemon juice/sugar mix over warm cake.
Cover when not eating or the cake will dry out.