Wild Blueberry Hibiscus Breeze Smoothie

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the Wild Blueberry Association of North America and I am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

As each New Year rolls around, I always have the best of intentions to eat healthy, get fit, and lose a bit (or a lot) of excess weight that has crept up on me.  In my case, this is often accompanied by some sort of overly regimented eating plan that is unrealistic for the long haul.  I diligently follow said eating plan for about a week (maybe two) and then move on to focus on an enlightened eating plan that is more about eating super healthy foods, feeling great, and limiting processed goodies.  I am in that place right now, and it perfectly aligned with this fun smoothie contest that highlights one of my favorite ingredients, frozen Wild Blueberries.

I seriously always have frozen wild blueberries on hand (I usually buy Wyman’s brand at Wegmans, but have also gotten Trader Joe’s brand).  I actually had two bags stashed in my freezer already.  Why do I love these tiny superfoods?  Let me count the ways!

  1.  I love these in smoothies, but also in baked goods.  Because they are tiny, you can add them frozen into your pancakes. Muffins, waffles, etc…and they will cook quickly, but not turn your batter purple.
  2. They have a more intense blueberry flavor than fresh berries. They taste amazing!
  3. They have double the antioxidants of fresh berries.
  4. They are good all year round and keep in the freezer for a very long time, with no compromise of quality.
  5. They are small, so they blend very easily into smoothies, rather than larger chunks of frozen fruit.  No need for ice!

 

Frozen Wild Blueberries

Not to toot my own horn, but I came up with the best smoothie EVER with these gorgeous berries!  Plus it has protein, antioxidants, and probiotics. I think that because it is currently sleeting her in VA, my mind went on a much needed tropical vacation with this recipe… The taste is exotic, but easy for even children to love.  I am in love with this smoothie!  Here’s how to make one for yourself:

First, steep 2 hibiscus flavored herbal tea bags in 3/4 cup very hot water.  The mixture will be very concentrated.  Remove teabags and let cool.  This step can be done ahead of time or you can add an ice cube to chill the mixture quickly.

Next, add 1-1/2 cups wild frozen blueberries to blender.  Chop up one fresh mango and add it to the blender, being careful to remove the skin and pit.  You could also use frozen mango in this recipe.  Throw in one small container of your favorite Greek yogurt.  I recommend coconut flavored yogurt, but vanilla, plain, or  blueberry would also be great!  Pour in your hibiscus tea concentrate, 1/2 cup of coconut milk (or your favorite milk), the zest of 1 lime plus 1 teaspoon lime juice, and blend on High until very smooth.  If you like things a little sweeter, you can add a teaspoon or 2 of honey.  Totally optional though- The Blueberries and mango are already sweet!  Enjoy with a parasol and pretend you are on the beach….

Wild Blueberry Hibiscus Breeze Smoothie

Ingredients:

2 herbal Hibiscus teabags

3/4 cup hot water

1-1/2 cups frozen Wild Blueberries

1 cup fresh or frozen (thawed) mango chunks

1 container (4-6 ounces, depending on brand) coconut Greek yogurt

1/2 cup coconut milk

zest of 1 lime

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1-2 teaspoons honey, optional

Pour 3/4 cup boiling water into a heatproof measuring cup.  Steep 2 teabags in the hot water for 3-4 minutes.  Let cool completely or add an ice cube to cool quickly.  Set aside.

In a large blender, combine frozen Wild Blueberries, mango, yogurt, coconut milk, Hibiscus tea, lime zest and juice, and honey (if desired).  Blend on high until very smooth.  Pour into 2 large glasses and enjoy immediately.

 

World Food Championships, Thanksgiving Pie, and a Vanilla Giveaway!

A lot of exciting things have been going on for me lately.  I have been so busy developing secret recipes and doing some public speaking that I haven’t blogged for a while, and I do apologize, but I am about to share what I have been working on with you.  I was lucky enough to qualify for The World Food Championships in Orange Beach, Alabama in the Dessert category.  The World Food Championships is the largest cooking competition around, and their mission is to bring Food Sport front and center in a multi-round, multi-category live cook off.  Each category narrows down to a top 10, then ultimately the #1 chef, and then the top competitors from each category compete to find an ultimate champion who wins $100,000.  It is intense!  Thank you so much to my sous chefs Grace and Kim, and to my sister-in-law Sherylyn for managing our time and doing Live Facebook videos for us.  You guys rocked, and I couldn’t have done it without you all.

The fabulous company, Rodelle Vanilla, was kind enough to sponsor me!  I can’t thank them enough for their support!  They sent me a bunch of amazing products, t shirts, and a beautiful display as well for the WFC.  I would love to share the wealth, so to speak, and give away some of these Rodelle products for you to try.  Please go to Rodelle Vanilla on Facebook or Rodelle Vanilla on Instagram and/or  Rodelle Vanilla on Twitter and Like or follow their pages for an entry into my drawing for free Rodelle goodies.  I will be giving away a combination of extracts, Baking Cocoa, vanilla beans, and/or vanilla bean paste to at least 3 lucky followers.  You will get 1 entry per page you “like” or follow.  Just let me know how many entries you qualified for in either the comments here, or on my Facebook page hereLauren Katz.  If you have never tried Rodelle, I urge you to order some of their products, because they really are top notch and make a big difference in your baked goods.  Best of luck to everyone!

Now, on to my desserts!  The recipe I am going to share first is near and dear to my heart.  It was my “signature” dessert in the competition, but it is a twist on something I make every Thanksgiving for my family.  Because my son is highly allergic to nuts, we needed an alternative to pecan pie.  A few of my friends had mentioned that they had recipes for a “Faux Pecan Pie” (we affectionately call it “Faux-can Pie” in my house) using pretzels instead of the pecans.  Well, the first time I made it, I was blown away.  I actually liked it more than pecan pie, which is saying a lot, because pecans are my favorite.  The recipe for that pie is at the bottom of this post, and is more beginner-friendly than my WFC tarts.  I also want to mention that I really enjoyed working with Challenge Butter for all of my WFC recipes, as they were a sponsor of the dessert category.  This is some great butter to work with, and will be my brand from now on!  It is high quality, super creamy, and free of additives.

img_0366
My turn in tray for the signature dessert round at WFC!

So for the competition, I decided to turn the Faux-can pie into individual tarts, substitute a shortbread crust, and “Southern it up” a bit with Bourbon, Chocolate, and a salted Bourbon caramel.  We added a lot of salt to balance the sweet, and a special whipped cream made with the addition of sour cream, brown sugar, Bourbon, and vanilla bean paste to give a slight sour twang to the recipe.  You definitely don’t have to make all of the components.  Just the tarts are fabulous with some vanilla ice cream.  Just the caramel sauce is fabulous as an ice cream topping as well.  The whipped cream is great on pretty much anything from pumpkin pie to apple cake.  Really this is a recipe with a lot of components, but none of the pieces are difficult to make.

So, here is the recipe for approximately 7-8 tartlets.  My sous chef, Grace, recommends making them in disposable muffin tins, so that you can pop them out afterwards easily.  We used egg custard tart tins for the competition which are less than a dollar each at Bed Bath and Beyond.  I will also include the original pie recipe below, so that you can make this for Thanksgiving with either a homemade pie crust or a store bought crust!

 

Black Bottom Bourbon Pretzel Shortbread Tarts with Salted Caramel and Sour Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream

makes 6-8 muffin sized individual tarts

These individual tarts are sweet, salty, creamy with just a hint of sour, and perfectly balanced with a rich Bourbon and brown sugar filling. A buttery shortbread crust envelops a hint of chocolate as well as a crunchy pretzel topping that adds the perfect salty note. This all sits atop a homemade Bourbon caramel sauce and is studded with a brown sugar sour cream and vanilla bean whipped cream.

Ingredients
For the shortbread crust:
1/2 cup unsalted Challenge butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
Bakers joy non-stick spray

Tart Filling:
2 eggs
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar (granulated)
6 tablespoons unsalted Challenge butter, melted
1/3 cup corn syrup (light)
2 tablespoons Bourbon
1 teaspoon Rodelle vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Chocolate chips (6-8 per tart)

Tart Pretzel topping:
1 1/2 cups thin twist pretzels, crushed
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar

Brown sugar sour cream vanilla bean whipped cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 pack whipped cream stabilizer (optional, but used for potential competition heat)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon Bourbon
1 teaspoon Rodelle vanilla bean paste or Rodelle vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Salted Bourbon caramel:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup heavy cream (go with 1/2 cup cream if you want this to be a liquid caramel sauce and have time for it to cool completely)
2 tablespoons Bourbon
1 teaspoon fine kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon Rodelle pure vanilla extract

Garnish:
1/2 cup dark Chocolate melts (ghirardelli)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray tart tins with Baker’s Joy non-stick spray, if desired.
For the crust: Place all ingredients in a stand mixer or a large food processor and pulse or mix until the dough comes together into a ball. Remove from processor and pat into tart tins, trying to shape a thin layer up the sides of the tin. Place tins on silicone-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let sit for 1 minute and press with pastry tamper or back of a spoon to reform tart shells, as they will puff and settle slightly. They will only be partially baked at this point. Place 6-8 chocolate chips in the bottom of each tart. Set tart shells aside until ready to fill.

While tarts shells are baking, make filling. Combine all filling ingredients (except for chocolate chips) in large bowl, whisking until smooth. Pour into tart shells, leaving a slight bit of room at the top of each tart for pretzel topping.
In a small bowl, combine pretzel topping ingredients, tossing well to coat. Place a small amount of topping on each tart. Bake for 24-26 minutes (still at 350 degrees) or until just set in center and golden brown at edges. Let cool. Place in freezer to cool faster, if necessary.

Make the caramel sauce: Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan until sugar begins to bubble and caramelize. Do not stir caramel while it bubbles. You can swirl the pan gently, if necessary. Remove from heat just when sugar turns dark amber. Add butter immediately, whisking constantly. Add cream, whisk well. Add Bourbon, salt, and vanilla. Pour into bowl and chill. Pour into piping bag, if desired.

Make the sour cream whipped cream: In a stand mixer with the wire whip attachment, whip cream and stabilizer until stiff peaks form. In a separate bowl, combine sour cream, brown sugar, Bourbon, and vanilla bean paste. Whip sour cream mixture in with whipped cream. Place mixture in a large star tipped piping bag. Chill until ready to use.

To make garnish: melt chocolate in microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals. Pour melted chocolate into piping bag with writing tip. Snip tip and pipe chocolate in daisy shapes onto wax paper. Place in fridge to harden.

To plate: drizzle caramel decoratively on plate. Place 1 tart on end of drizzle, top center of tart with more caramel, 1 large dollop of cream on top, and dots of whipped cream on the drizzle as well. Garnish with the chocolate daisy and serve.

Now, if that recipe is a bit daunting, this one is so simple, anyone can’t make it:

Lauren’s Thanksgiving Faux Pecan Pie

1 prepared deep dish pie crust or homemade dough for single deep dish pie crust, unbaked

For the Filling:
4 eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted Challenge Butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 teaspoons Rodelle pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons Bourbon
1/3 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet Chocolate chips

For the Pretzel topping:
1-1/2 cups crushed thin twist or wheel shaped pretzels (I like to still have bigger bits of pretzels in there!)
3 tablespoons unsalted Challenge Butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I use the convection setting on my oven with great results.
Press pie crust into deep dish pie dish (I love Pyrex for the see-through and sturdy aspect of it). Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all filling ingredients except for the chocolate chips. Whisk well until smooth. Sprinkle chocolate chips onto the unbaked pie crust and evenly arrange across the bottom. Pour pie filling over top until about 1/4 inch from the top of the crust.
In a small bowl or bag, combine the Pretzel topping ingredients and toss them together well to coat. Sprinkle mixture on top of pie filling evenly. Bake for 45-55 minutes, covering with foil if top browns faster than the bottom. Pie is done when crust is golden brown and center is set but still has some give to it when pressed.
Let cool completely. Can be done up to 2 days ahead and stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

img_0061

Enjoy, and don’t forget to check out Rodelle Vanilla and “Like” or follow to enter my product giveaway!

Salted Caramel Apple Rugelach

Rosh Hashanah is coming soon, and luckily it is a bit late this year.  I always appreciate the years that I don’t have to pull my kids out of school on the 1st or 2nd day of the school year.  So, since I have a bit of free time on my hands (ha!), here is a little recipe that I created as a mash-up of my 2 favorite recipes from The Great Holiday Baking Show last year- my Rugelach and my Salted Bourbon Raisin Caramel Apple Pie.  I will be teaching a group of women this recipe in Massachussetts next week and can’t wait to share this one!

Many people are intimidated by making rugelach from scratch, and it really needn’t be daunting.  I like making this simple, quick dough in the food processor.  It really only takes a minute to throw together.  First, add your flour, powdered sugar, and salt to the processor and pulse to combine.  Then add cubed cold butter and cream cheese to the mixture.  Process and pulse until a coarse consistency dough forms, and starts to pull away from the edges of the bowl (3rd photo).  Divide dough into 2 balls.  Roll out each dough ball into a thin, 9 inch circle.  I like to do this between 2 well floured pieces of wax paper or parchment.  Stash discs in the fridge for at least 15-20 minutes, but even overnight is fine.

Now, the filling:  You can definitely make your own caramel, like I did on the show.  This Bourbon caramel was Mary Berry’s favorite thing I made (I think).  She kept coming back between shots and grabbing a spoonful of it!

So, the alternative to making caramel is buying a good quality salted caramel from a jar.  That is what I did today.  Smuckers makes a nice, affordable one.

In a small food processor, combine nuts (optional), caramel, and apple butter.  Add a tablespoon of bourbon.  Process well until smooth and spreadable.  You will see fine bits of nuts, and that is okay.  Spread 1/2 filling in a very thin layer with an offset spatula, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the edge.  Repeat with other dough disc and the rest of the filling.

Now, I like to divide this into 12 wedges.  You could do 16, if you would rather have smaller cookies, or 8 if you want to have large ones.  Here is how I cut my rugelach, using a pizza wheel.

Then, I roll each wedge up as if it were a crescent roll.  Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown at edges.

image

Now you have some options.  You could just sprinkle these with powdered sugar and call it a day.  Or you could make a caramel drizzle.  Here’s how you do it:

Combine powdered sugar, a bit of your caramel (homemade or store bought), some salt, and thin it with milk or cream until it is a thick drizzling consistency.  If too thin, add more sugar.  If too thick, add more cream.  Easy peasy!  Now, transfer the mixture to a ziptop bag, snip the very edge of cone corner, and drizzle over the cooled rugelach.

Voila!  At this point, you could sprinkle with a little sea salt (very sparingly) or even sprinkle a bit more chopped nuts.  Really, whatever you want works.  Enjoy!

Salted Caramel Apple Rugelach

For the dough:

1 cup flour, plus additional for dusting
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 ounces cream cheese, cold
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
honey-bourbon caramel (optional, or buy salted caramel from a jar):
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons butter, sliced
1/4 cup heavy cream
1-2 tablespoons bourbon
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

For filling (per 2 rounds):
1 tablespoon bourbon
1/2 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, finely ground
1/2 cup apple butter
1/4 cup of prepared caramel (from recipe above or jar)

For icing drizzle:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup caramel (from recipe above or jar)
1-2 tablespoons milk or cream to thin to desired consistency

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
To make the dough, combine flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a large food processor. Pulse to combine. Add cold butter and cream cheese to processor, and pulse until dough begins to form a ball and pull away from sides. Divide into 2 equal pieces. Sprinkle parchment paper and top of dough with approximately 1 tablespoon of flour each, to prevent sticking. Roll out both dough balls to 9 inch diameter circles. Leave on parchment and place in fridge until firm. Can be done ahead.

To make the caramel sauce, in a medium-sized saucepan, bring sugar, water, and honey to a simmer without stirring. Let mixture boil until it becomes caramel in color. Immediately turn off heat and whisk in butter, vigorously. Add cream, bourbon, and salt. Whisk well until smooth. Set aside in clean bowl. Can be done ahead and refrigerated. Prepared salted caramel sundae topping can also be used, if desired. Just add 1-2 tablespoons of bourbon if using jarred caramel.

To make the filling: Combine all filling ingredients, mixing in a small bowl with whisk or spoon or process in a small food processor.  Divide, using half to spread on top of each dough round.

To assemble: Spread chilled dough with a thin layer of the filling, leaving a 1/4 inch border around the edge. Using a pizza wheel or knife, cut dough in quarters. Then, cut each quarter into thirds. Starting at the outer edge, roll each triangle into the center to form the rugelach. Place on parchment lined baking sheet at least 2 inches apart.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden at edges. Let cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the icing drizzle ingredients, adding milk until desired consistency is achieved. Place in a piping bag or plastic zippered bag and snip one corner with scissors. Drizzle in back and forth motion across cooled rugelach.
Let dry for 10-15 minutes to set icing.

30 Second Chunky Monkey Cake

Sometimes it is 9pm, the kids are in bed, the dishes are done, and one suddenly feels the intense urge to consume a decadent ooey-gooey PB and Banana and chocolate and marshmallow…cake.  Stat.  Okay, so maybe this is not true for everyone, but I am here to say that it happened to me last night.  I borrowed the base recipe from this lovely blogger….http://backtoherroots.com/2011/07/09/sweet-saturday-one-minute-peanut-butter-cake/

But being me, I embellished a bit.  You’re welcome.  Cake in 30 seconds!

First, spray 2 ramekins, Pyrex dishes, or mugs with nonstick spray.  Generously.image

Then, mix together 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of soy nut butter (or peanut, or almond, or whatever-you-want butter)

image

Then, cut up about 1/4 of a banana.  Note that I am too lazy to use a cutting board, so instead used the banana peel as a cutting board.  I am not making this up….I really did.

image

Add the heaping tablespoon flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, pinch salt, bananas, and any type of chip you want (chocolate, butterscotch, or PB are recommended.  Highly.)

Stir it up until everything is well mixed.

image

Divide between the two prepared ramekins.  Microwave for 30 seconds.  Mine looked like they were just about to overflow, but then miraculously didn’t.  I am thinking about naming a holiday in honor of said miracle (It is what my people do).

image

Now, you have options.  You could make a simple glaze, icing, stick a marshmallow on top and torch it, or just go with a healthy dollop of marshmallow fluff.  Whatever floats your boat…  Just run a knife around the edge of the ramekin, turn it upside down onto your plate.  Top with your favorite thing and enjoy warm.

image

 

30 Second Chunky Monkey Cake

  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 2 tablespoons Wowbutter (or peanut, almond, or any other faux or real nut butter!)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon (about 1-1/2 tablespoons) flour (or gluten-free flour blend)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 1/4 banana, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate chips (substitute butterscotch, white chocolate, or peanut butter chips)
  • 2 tablespoons marshmallow fluff (optional)

Coat bottom and sides of two (individual serving) ramekins or glass bowls with non-stick spray.  In a small bowl, whisk together egg, brown sugar, and soy or nut butter until well combined.  Whisk in flour, baking soda, and salt.  Fold in chopped banana and chips.  Divide evenly amongst ramekins.  Microwave on high for 30 seconds.  Cake might look slightly underdone, but resist the urge to cook longer.  There will be some carryover cooking time, and it will become dry if heated longer.  Run a knife around edge of cake and invert onto serving plate.  Top with marshmallow fluff, and enjoy warm with a cup of decaf before bed.

 

 

Mayan Spiced Chocolate Chewies (for Passover and beyond)

I have a strict rule about Passover desserts:  One should never try to make cakes or cookies with matzo meal or any of it’s derivatives.  They always taste like matzo and the bondage of my people, rather than dessert.  I am only partly kidding, people, so please don’t try to convince me that you made a delicious Passover cake with matzo cake meal.  You didn’t.  So, my approach to Passover baking is to instead choose desserts that are flourless by nature, like pavlovas, flourless chocolate torte, and macarons/macaroons.  These Mayan Spiced Chocolate Chewies are a spicy variation on the popular gluten-free favorite that can be found at Whole Foods.  The spices were inspired by another old favorite of mine the “Mayan Mystery Cookie,”  which is a well-known recipe that has been circulating for a while.  My version is a bit more interesting with warm spices and lots of ginger.  Of course, if you like the original or are serving kids, feel free to omit all the spices and the crystallized ginger.  These cookies are made in one bowl, quick, easy, gluten-free, can be dairy free, Parve, nut-free, and very low in fat.  Enjoy!

First you want to sift your powdered sugar and cocoa into the bowl of your mixer (you can definitely use an electric hand mixer).  Add your dry spices at this point, if using.  Give it a mix on low, just to combine.  Then, just add your egg whites and vanilla.  Mix on medium speed for ablout a minute.  Fold in chocolate chips and minced ginger by hand, if using.

This is the crystallized ginger that I minced.  It is optional, and only suggested if you are a ginger lover or hosting adults only.  Kids tend to think it is too spicy.  I like to cut it with kitchen shears.image

Drop by tablespoonful onto parchment or silpat lined baking sheets.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until set and shiny on top and still a bit soft in the center.

Let cool completely and peel off of parchment.  Happy baking and Happy Pesach!

Mayan Spiced Chocolate Chewies

Parve, perfect for Passover, gluten-free/dairy-free/nut-free diets, and for all year round.

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (find the Kosher for Passover variety)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Small pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 cup egg whites (approximately 3 large eggs)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (parve and K for P variety)
2 tablespoons crystallized or candied ginger, finely minced (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine powdered sugar, cocoa, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne. Mix on low to combine.
Add in egg whites and vanilla, mixing well for 1 minute on medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl. Fold in chocolate chips and minced ginger (if using). Spoon by the tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between cookies. Bake for 12-14 minutes until tops are set and shiny. Let cool for 10 minutes on parchment. Peel cookies off parchment and serve or store in airtight container.

Pink Grapefruit and White Chocolate Curd

When I was pregnant with my third child, my only craving was for pink grapefruit juice. Odd, but true. I don’t know why pink grapefruit tastes better than yellow, but there is just something magical about the pink sweet-tart fruit. It is so refreshing.  In an effort to create a new dessert for a contest the other day, I ended up inadvertently creating this surprisingly versatile Pink Grapefruit and White Chocolate Curd. As is sometimes the case when I am experimenting, the actual dessert was a failure, but I realized just how many other options I would have with this special treat. If you have never had a “curd,” and think that I am talking about cheese…I am not. The most common type would be lemon curd, and it is a sweet, thick spread that you have probably had before. Lemon bars and lemon meringue pie tend to use variations on a lemon curd. You can really make curd with almost any fruit juice, but citrus fruits are perfect with their tartness that can hold up to a bit of sugar, butter and eggs. My main tips for a successful product (and not making accidental scrambled eggs) is to use a double boiler, and to whisk constantly and vigorously. Happy curdmaking!

First, zest your grapefruit(s) and combine your freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, zest, egg, egg yolks, and sugar. I like to use a large measuring cup for this. Whisk it together well. Now it is time to set up your bainmarie (or double boiler). You do not need any fancy equipment. Just a saucepan and a stainless steel mixing bowl that fit together pretty well. The bowl needs to be large enough that it rests on the top of the saucepan without the bottom touching the inch or so of water that you will put in the saucepan. Before beginning, make sure that you set out your white chocolate and butter, cubed. Also have your vanilla, an oven mitt, and pink food coloring gel (if using). Once you start cooking, you can’t leave, so it helps to be prepared.

Heat your liquid mixture in a bowl on top of a saucepan with an inch of water on medium-high.  It will seem very liquid-y for a long time, and then suddenly it starts to thicken.  Whisk constantly for about 5-10 minutes or until mixture gets thick (like a pudding) and slightly frothy. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the white chocolate until it is smooth. Add the cubed butter and again whisk vigorously until all of the butter has melted and emulsified with the rest of the mixture. Add in your vanilla and a drop or two of pink food coloring (optional). If you are concerned about any egg bits or not wanting the zest in the mix, strain the curd into another bowl. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until set. Overnight is best.

image
So, now that you have this fabulous curd, what to do with it? Pour it into a tart shell or even a store bought graham cracker crust. Top with whipped cream or a meringue and call it a day. A pretty good day.  Or just scoop it up with a butter waffle cookie (and maybe some sprinkles on top).  I seriously ate a million of these the other day.  You could also use it as a cupcake filling, an eclair filling, or  top a shortcake.  It would be delicious on a pavlova, pound cake, or angel food cake….The list goes on and on.  Enjoy!

Pink Grapefruit and White Chocolate Curd

1/2  cup freshly squeezed juice and zest from 1 ruby red grapefruit

1/4-1/3 cup sugar (depending on desired level of sweetness)

1 large egg

4 large egg yolks

1/4 cup white chocolate, chopped (can use good quality white chocolate chips)

6 tablespoons butter, diced

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-2 drops pink food coloring gel (optional)

Combine freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, zest, sugar, egg, and egg yolks in a large measuring cup.  Whisk well.  In a mixing bowl over a double boiler on medium to medium-high, whisk mixture constantly until thickened to the consistency of a pudding, approximately 5-10 minutes.  Add white chocolate, whisking well.  Taste for sweetness.  If mixture is too tart, more white chocolate can be added at this point.   Whisk in diced butter vigorously until melted and emulsified.  Whisk in vanilla and 1-2 drops of pink food coloring, if desired.  Strain mixture through a sieve into a bowl.  Chill for 4 hours.  Mixture could also be poured into a tart shell and chilled overnight.*

*If making a tart, you might consider adding a small amount of unflavored gelatin.  About 1 teaspoon should be plenty.  Bloom gelatin for a few minutes in 1/4 cup cold liquid (more grapefruit juice would work).  Heat gelatin in microwave for about 15-20 seconds or until gelatin looks more translucent.  Whisk this into curd before placing in tart shell.

 

 

 

Mini Chocolate Chip Scones with Vanilla Bean Glaze

I make quite a few variations of these scones, and they are always wildly popular. My kids love these Mini Scones with Chocolate Chips and tempting speckled Vanilla Bean Glaze icing. They are perfect for a grab and go breakfast or a sweet after school snack. They freeze beautifully after baking, and make a great housewarming gift. They are pretty much perfection in scone form. This recipe is adapted from Kittencal’s Blueberry Sour Cream Scones on Food.com

First, combine your sugar and other dry ingredients in a large food processor. Pulse a few times to combine evenly.  Cube or slice your cold butter to make it easier to process.  Pulse 10-15 times until pea sized bits of butter remain in the dry mixture.

Next combine the sour cream (or yogurt), egg, vanilla, and baking powder in a measuring cup.  Whisk well to combine.  Pour into processor and pulse until a shaggy dough forms.  Remove to clean surface and knead briefly, just until dough comes together.

Knead in chocolate chips (mini-chips would have been fabulous, but I was out of them and snowed in….).

Next, roll each section into a ball and flatten into a disk.  Cut each disk in 4, then cut each section in half again so that you have 8 wedges per disk.  Place 1/2 inch apart on parchment lined baking sheet.  You can be OCD like me and place them in a back and forth pattern, or you can be normal.  That is your call.

Bake scones at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes or until edges turn slightly golden brown.  Do not over-bake.  We do not want dry scones!  Let cool for  few minutes before dipping in glaze.

To make the glaze, whisk together powdered sugar, milk or half and half, vanilla, vanilla bean specks, a pat of melted butter, and a pinch of salt.  Dip the top of each scone in glaze and let set on wire rack until dry to the touch.  Serve or freeze for later, as desired.

Enjoy with tea, coffee, or milk.  Freeze before glazing in large freezer bags for up to 2 months.  Try variations like swapping out the chocolate for blueberries, adding orange zest, swapping cranberries and lemon zest for the chips, and more…This is a very adaptable recipe.

Mini Chocolate Chip Scones with Vanilla Bean Glaze

Makes 32 mini scones or 16 larger scones

Dough:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour (or you can just use another cup of AP flour)

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, diced

6 ounces sour cream or Greek yogurt

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup chocolate chips (mini or regular, or any other mix in you would like-nuts, chips, dried fruit, blueberries, etc…)

for the glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk or half and half

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped (optional)

1/2 tablespoon butter, melted (in microwave is fine!)

Small pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt.  Pulse to combine.  Add cold butter chunks to processor, pulsing a few times to combine until butter is pea sized.

In a measuring cup, whisk to combine sour cream (or yogurt), egg, vanilla, and baking soda.  Pour into processor.  Pulse until a shaggy dough forms.  Dump dough out onto a clean surface and knead a few times, just until dough comes together.  Knead in chocolate chips quickly and gently.  Dived dough into 4 for mini scones, 2 for larger scones.  Take each section and form a ball.  Flatten balls into 1 inch high discs.  Cut each disc into 8 wedges, like you would cut a pizza.  Place scones onto parchment-lined baking sheets.  Bake 15-17 minutes or until edges just start to brown.  Center will still be a tad soft, but will set when cool.  Cool for 3-5 minutes on wire rack before glazing.

To make the glaze icing, whisk together powdered sugar, milk or cream, vanilla extract, Vanill bean caviar, melted butter, and salt.  Dip top of each scone in glaze or drizzle on top of slightly warm scones.  Set on wire rack to dry.  Serve or store covered.  Scones may be frozen before glazing in zip top freezer bags for up to 2 months.

 

 

 

Healthy Oatmeal Banana Chip Cookies

I realize that I might seem a bit Dr. Jekyll and Mr.Hyde with this blog- One week decadent desserts, the next healthy treats, with almost no in between. That is actually pretty much the way I roll with my diet in real life, too. I love to eat for absolute pleasure and look for rich, gooey sinful treats that are no good if made “low fat” or “low sugar” or my favorite… “low carb.” I eat that way until it catches up with me, then it is time to reign it in and eat a healthier, whole food type diet. Recently, I decided that this oppositional yo-yo approach is not great for me, mentally or physically. So, I am going to work on balance this year, having the occasional decadent treat, but mostly opting for better choices for my health. Enter the “Healthy Oatmeal Banana Chip Cookie.”

I had been seeing a similar recipe pop up on Facebook from time to time. That other recipe pretty much consists of bananas, applesauce, almond milk (a no-no in this nut free home), oats, raisins, and a couple of other ingredients. I decided that the recipe looked flawed to me (too much liquid), and I could recreate it in a yummier (albeit slightly less perfect nutritionally) way. I cut a lot of the liquid, added some soy nut butter (you could use almond or peanut butter), and added a small but satisfying amount of brown sugar and mini-chocolate chips. Voila! A healthy cookie that would make the perfect pre-workout energy/carb boost without breaking the caloric bank. There is no butter in there, and only a minimal amount of brown sugar for flavor. They have a nice dense, chewy texture and are best enjoyed warm. You could reheat them in the toaster oven for a minute before serving.

Overripe bananas
I always have overripe bananas laying around.

Begin with 3 very ripe (brown) bananas. Mash those babies up with one egg, a teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, and 1/4 cup of soy nut butter (or almond or peanut butter!). Stir in 2 cups of old fashioned or rolled oats and 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips. The dough will be wet, but will firm up during baking. Scoop out cookies and spread them out slightly on the parchment, leaving a little bit of space between cookies. They won’t spread much. Bake for 14-16 minutes at 350 degrees on parchment lined baking sheets. Makes 12 large cookies (about 100 calories each) or 24 smaller cookies (50 calories each). The larger ones are great as a breakfast cookie. Serve warm or reheated.

Allergy friendly versions:

You could definitely make these dairy-free by using chocolate chips that contain no dairy ingredients.  You could leave out the egg, and I think they would still work, though I have not tested them.  At that point, they would be vegan.  If you used gluten-free oats, they would (obviously) be gluten free as well.  If you are not eating added sugar, feel free to leave out the brown sugar and/or chocolate chips.

Healthy Oatmeal Banana Chip Cookies

Healthy Oatmeal Banana Chip Cookies

Healthy cookies, warm and ready to enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 3 overripe bananas
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy, sun, almond, or peanut butter
  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Mash bananas in large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in egg, vanilla, brown sugar, and "nut" butter.
  4. Stir in oats and chocolate chips.
  5. Spoon 12 large cookies or 24 smaller cookies onto parchment paper, spreading batter out slightly until 1/4 inch thick. Batter will be wet, but will firm upon baking.
  6. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until golden around edges.
  7. Let cool 5 minutes and serve warm.
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
https://cloudsofcream.com/712-2/

New York Crumb Cake

You know how pregnant women crave very specific, seemingly random things?  Well, I am not pregnant and haven’t been for a while, yet sometimes I get a craving so strong that I will not rest until I have that exact thing.  Nothing else will do.  It is not good enough to just have a mediocre version- It has to be the very best iteration of my dream food.  Yesterday, in the midst of the biggest blizzard the East Coast has seen in 20 years, I was suddenly overcome with an intense urge to have the ultimate New York Crumb Cake.

You know, the one that is half moist yellow cake, half giant buttery brown sugar and cinnamon crumbs lightly dusted with powdered sugar. I even dreamed about it.

So, the next morning, I set about looking for a good recipe.  Some recipes called for cake flour and buttermilk, but I am both out of those and snowed in.  Some recipes made gigantic 9×13 inch cakes, but let’s be real, I am going to eat the whole thing, so an 8 inch is plenty.  I put together a combo of a few different recipes, scaled it down to 8 inches square, and am writing it up just for you all to make while you are snowed in.  Also, so I can justify eating a whole cake.  Enjoy!

Virginia Snowmaggedon 2016
The view out back this morning

First, preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  I use the convection setting on my oven, though conventional is fine. Spray an 8 inch square cake pan with non-stick spray.

Now, cream your butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric hand or stand mixer.  In a measuring cup, measure out milk, adding egg and egg yolk, vanilla and additional extract (if using).  Whisk together lightly.  Add to creamed butter mixture and beat on medium for a minute.  It will have some lumps, but that is okay.  Add flour salt and baking powder.  Mix until well blended for about 30 seconds on medium speed.  Spread in prepared pan.

In a separate bowl, make crumb topping by combining all dry ingredients, pouring in melted butter, and mixing well until it feels like damp sand.  Pack it down a bit, break into large crumbs, and sprinkle evenly over cake batter.  You want big crumbs on top for the most part, with some smaller crumbs underneath.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Mine took 42 minutes.  Let cool completely and dust with a bit of powdered sugar.  Enjoy with coffee on a snowy day!

Final New York Crumb Cake 2

New York Crumb Cake

Ingredients

    For the cake batter:
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon Lor-Ann Princess Emulsion, or 1/4 teaspoon lemon or almond extract, or 1 teaspoon lemon juice (all optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    For the crumb topping:
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2-3 teaspoons powdered sugar, for dusting on top

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Grease an 8inch square cake pan.
    For batter,
  1. Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy.
  2. Pour milk, egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and additional extract or lemon juice (if using) in a measuring cup, whisking lightly to combine.
  3. Add liquid to butter mixture and mix until combined but slightly lumpy.
  4. Add flour, salt, and baking powder and mix on medium speed until smooth, thick batter forms.
  5. Spread evenly into prepared pan.
    For crumb topping,
  1. Combine flour, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  2. Pour melted butter over top, and mix well with a fork.
  3. Press down firmly to pack mixture.
  4. Scoop out some of mixture with hands, squeeze into large clumps, and break into smaller crumbs.
  5. Sprinkle evenly over cake batter in a thick layer.
  6. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  7. Let cool completely and dust with powdered sugar.
  8. Cut into large squares and serve with coffee.
  9. Makes 9-12 servings.
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
https://cloudsofcream.com/new-york-crumb-cake/

Perfect Crispy Oatmeal Cookies

This cookie is simple and unassuming, but I swear it calls to me like no other.  So much so, that I have inadvertently eaten a whole batch by myself without surfacing for air.  My family is not known for their baking, or even cooking, for that matter.  They are kind of famous for their eating skills, but that is another story.  Anyway, the only particularly notable recipe that I remember from childhood would be my Aunt Ruth’s Crispy Oatmeal Cookies.  They are highly addictive, perfectly crisp, lacy yet substantial, and delicately flavored with brown sugar, nutty whole oats, salt and vanilla.  Just try to resist them.

Aunt Ruth, who is not actually my blood relative (more of a relative by marriage through another relative), was a sweet, kind, adorable lady that you couldn’t help but love.  Her charming barely-there Southern accent and warm, perfect manners made her a lovely host and gave her cookies something extra that nobody since has been able to replicate….even with her exact same recipe.  My Aunt Adele, who has even made them side by side with Aunt Ruth, says that she can’t get them to taste just right.  So, I set about testing this recipe with little tweaks in the method to see if I could get close to the original.  They came out pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.  Maybe, just a hair different than Aunt Ruth’s cookies, but definitely worthy of making on a leisurely day of baking.

Crispy Oatmeal Cookie

Aunt Ruth’s Crispy Oatmeal Cookies Recipe

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups old fashioned oats

Makes 4 dozen cookies

In a large bowl, cream together softened butter (or margarine for pareve cookies) and sugars.  Aunt Ruth specified to do this whole method by hand, but I used the kitchen aid on low speed.  Add in eggs and vanilla.  Mix until just incorporated.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add dry ingredients to butter mixture.  Mix until just combined.  Again, do this by hand or on very low speed with mixer.
Fold in oatmeal by hand. Refrigerate dough for 3-4 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll into small balls (a rounded teaspoon) and flatten until very thin (the thinner the better) onto greased cookie sheet.  You can flatten with a fork or your hand, but try to get a very thin, even layer.

Flatten well! This is the key to a crispy cookie all the way through.
Flatten well for a crisp cookie.

Bake 9-12 minutes or until medium brown and crisp at edges.  Remove from oven and let sit on pan for 1-2 minutes.  Remove to wire rack to cool completely.  Can be stored in airtight container for a few days, if they last that long.  Enjoy!

imageimage image