Desserts

Dessert Recipes

Honeydew + Mint Sorbet

I am not a huge fan of honeydew.  I enjoy a good cantaloupe, but find honeydew to be an inferior melon.  But I wound up with a whole honeydew melon after trying unsuccessfully to take some cute maternity shots with it when baby was about the size of a melon.  So I had to find something to do with the honeydew.  I figured sorbet would be a good choice and it wound up being one of the best choices I’ve ever made with unwanted fruit!

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I found this recipe on Simply Recipes.  There is also a variation for a cantaloupe sorbet.  The mint in this honeydew sorbet makes it extremely refreshing and a perfect light summer dessert.  I think it would be a spectacular ending to a spicy meal.

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It’s lovely all by itself, but also quite good with some sparkling water poured on top, making for a rather wonderful slushy drink.  Come June I can easily see myself adding in a little vodka for a spiked version.

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Making the mint simple syrup doesn’t take much time, and neither does the prep for the melon.  But then you do have to let it sit in the fridge for a while.  And then you do have to let it freeze for a while longer after it freezes in the ice cream maker.  So this isn’t something you decide to make in the morning and enjoy that evening, unless you’re amazing or have a super cold freezer.  Make it a day or two or a week in advance and it will be ready when you want it.

The texture of my sorbet wasn’t super smooth, more on the icy side.  But it’s still delicious, lovely and sweet with added interest from the mint.  This is definitely a summer dessert that I’ll be making again in the coming months.

Honeydew + Mint Sorbet

From Simply Recipes

Ingredients

  • 5 cups honeydew melon chunks (1 medium sized honeydew melon)
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves (I used 1 pouch of mint, a little less than 1/2 cup)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

  1. Make the simple syrup: combine sugar, water and lemon zest in a small saucepan set over medium heat.  Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved.  Remove from the heat and stir in the mint.  Let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Puree the melon in 2 batches in a blender until very smooth.  Transfer to a large bowl after blending.
  3. Strain the simple syrup and pour it with the pureed melon.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice and corn syrup.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  5. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions.
  6. Scoop into a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least a few hours.  Sorbet will be hard, let warm up on the counter before scooping.

Chocolate Chip and Toffee Pudding Cookies

In high school and college I was a lifeguard at a community pool during the summers.  A couple of the other girls and I baked treats and brought them up to share with everyone a couple times a week.  One of the cashiers brought chocolate chip pudding cookies a few times and I fell in love with them.  She shared the recipe with me, but since this was more than 10 years ago and it was written on a piece of notebook paper I have lost it.  But thanks to Pinterest I found another recipe for pudding cookies that seems close to the recipe I got from Ashley!  What would we do without the internet?!

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These are thick, chewy and soft chocolate chip cookies, the kind I prefer.  It’s a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, but contains a secret ingredient,  a small package of vanilla pudding mix!  This makes them softer than typical cookies and quite addictive.  I added in some toffee pieces along with the chocolate chips.  The options are endless when it comes to mix-ins though.  You could add any kind of chocolate chip, nuts, caramel bits, crushed up pretzels, etc.

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These are my favorite chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips from Guittard.  They’re bigger than the standard chip, have terrific milk chocolate flavor and melt terrifically in these cookies.  And in your mouth.  I may or may not eat them by the handful straight from the bag on occasion….or daily.

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 Chocolate Chips and Toffee Pudding Cookies

From Life in the Lofthouse

Makes 24-30 cookies depending on their size

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks of butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 small box (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 bag (11 ounces) chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup toffee pieces

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugars until fluffy.
  3. Add in the pudding mix and beat to combine.
  4. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating between additions, followed by the vanilla.
  5. Beat in the flour, baking soda and salt until just combined.  Use a spatula to stir everything together from the bottom of the bowl.
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips and toffee with the spatula.
  7. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Scoop dough by rounded tablespoons onto the sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart, 6-8 cookies per sheet.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until cookies are slightly browned.
  9. Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  Scoop dough onto the other cookie sheet while the one you just used cools off.
  10. Cookies will firm up as they cool, so if they appear under-baked wen you take them out of the oven, don’t worry.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

This past weekend was spectacular.  The weather has been so nice and I am embracing spring in Texas and trying hard not to think too much about what summer will bring.  We spent this weekend at my husband’s family lake house on Lake LBJ, northwest of Austin.  While we were there we took a little trip to Sweet Berry Farms.  It’s in Marble Falls, a quick drive from the lake.  It’s a quaint and fun place to visit for berry picking in the spring and summer.  It’s also where Ben and I got engaged 9 years ago.  Yes, NINE.  So visiting this past weekend was sweet and nostalgic for me.

Berry Picking

We picked strawberries and had a lovely time (except for my son who kind of lost it due to lack of good sleep and just being 3 1/2.)  If you are ever in the area, please make the time to visit, especially during blackberry season.  Blackberry cobbler is what summer is all about!  And other things too, I guess.  But mainly cobbler.

My mother-in-law and I split the berries and my brain was working on all kinds of ways to use them.  I don’t subscribe to Food Network Magazine, but picked up a copy last week to have some mindless reading material for the lake.  When I saw the recipe in the magazine for strawberry rhubarb pie right after we’d been berry picking I knew it was a sign.  Plus I’d never made or even eaten a strawberry rhubarb pie before.  I had to give it a try.

Sweet Berry Farm Strawberries

I had a few hiccups with this pie.  First the crust.  It says to chill it for 30 minutes.  I chilled it for an hour.  I rolled it out between parchment but when I went to transfer it to the pie plate I lost half of it, all stuck to the parchment in a seriously gooey mess.  So I tossed it and decided to try a different crust recipe.  I went with this one from Smitten Kitchen.

Unfortunately I’d already made the filling, anticipating that the first crust was going to work out.  Silly me!  Fruit releases juice when it sits with sugar and lemon juice, and strawberries and rhubarb release a LOT of juice.  I stuck it in the fridge while I waited for my new crusts to chill for 2 hours.  I think 2 hours is the minimum time for pie crust, you just can’t rush that step.  Unless you roll out the dough between parchment first and then chill it in the freezer…wish I’d thought of that…

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After rolling out the new crust I went to fill it.  I used a slotted spoon and left all of the liquid in the bowl.  I had a tough time doing it since I knew that stuff had to be good.  But I am so glad I resisted the urge to add a little to the pie.  As the pie baked it released even more juice and even managed to escape the pie plate and get all over the bottom of my oven and fill the kitchen with smoke.  Fun times.  I can’t imagine the mess if I’d added more liquid.  NOTE:  This is why you put foil under fruit pies when you bake them.

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A lattice top adds something so special to pie.  It takes a little extra time than just a top crust, but is well worth the effort.  A little cream and turbinado sugar on top creates a terrifically crunchy and beautiful topping.  Don’t skip this step.

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After cooling the pie I cut a slice and knew that we were in for a mess.  Maybe the filling could use more flour for thickener?  Or maybe this is just the way it is with this type of pie.  But there was lots of juicy goodness going on that creates a delicious, but not incredibly aesthetically pleasing piece of pie.  The bottom crust was pretty soggy, but the top crust was so crunchy that I didn’t care a bit.  We enjoyed this a la mode, but fresh whipped cream or simply plain would be great.  The filling is tart and sweet but not cloying.  The rhubarb cooks down so nicely and gives a texture to the filling that strawberries alone could not achieve.  And again, that top crust.  Amazing.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie | Hottie Biscotti

So if you find yourself with some strawberries and/or rhubarb this summer, give this a try.  Or these, or this.  Or THIS!  Tis the season!  Why has it taken me this long to try rhubarb?  The checker at the grocery store didn’t even know what it was.  Oh, and if you have access to free or cheap rhubarb, be ever so thankful.  I had no idea it was so expensive, almost $8/pound at our HEB.  Someone tell me, where can I get it for less?

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie | Hottie Biscotti

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Filling adapted ever so slightly from Food Network Magazine

Crust from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 sticks of cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2-3/4 cup ice cold water
  • heavy cream, half and half or milk
  • coarse or turbinado sugar

Filling

  • 1 pound rhubarb, end trimmed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon

Directions

Crust

  1. In a large bowl whisk flour, sugar and salt together.
  2. Add in the cold butter cubes and using either your hands or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is relatively evenly incorporated with just a few larger pieces.
  3. Pour in 1/2 cup of the cold water and use either a spatula or your hands to bring the dough together.  Add a little more water, a tablespoon at a time, if the dough seems dry.
  4. Turn out onto a clean work surface and work into a nice ball of dough.
  5. Cut in half, take each piece and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill for at least 2 hours.

Filling

  1.  Combine strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract and lemon juice in a large bowl and stir to combine.  Set aside.

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F and place a piece of foil or a foil lined cookies sheet on the lower rack.
  2. Roll one dough ball out (between parchment if you like that method) on the counter into an 11-12 inch circle.  Transfer to a 9 inch pie plate, press into the plate and leave the overhang.
  3. Fill with the strawberry filling.
  4. Roll the other dough ball out into an 10-11 inch circle.
  5. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to slice the dough into long strips, between 1/2 and 1 inch wide.
  6. Lay out half of the strips on to the pie, evenly spacing them about 1/2 inch apart.  Use strips that are longer in the middle and shorter on the edges.
  7. Peel back every other strip and lay a strip perpendicular to the first set, replace those strips, peel back the others and repeat.  Here is a truly entertaining step-by-step for this. (Complete with toddler commentary!)
  8. Trim off any excess from the lattice work, then fold the overhang from the bottom crust over the edges and crimp everything together.
  9. Brush the crust with cream, then sprinkle with sugar.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven to 375F and bake for another 40-50 minutes, until filling is bubbling and crust is nicely browned.  Don’t forget to put foil or a foil lined cookie sheet on the rack under the pie!
  11. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before slicing and serving.  Serve with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

 

Coconut Milk and Pineapple Popsicles

I might have a little bit of an obsession with coconut and pineapple at the moment.  These ice cream sundaes, the coconut milk and honey lotion I bought yesterday and these popsicles make me wonder if I have a problem.  Maybe it’s the thought of summer and I’m just trying to mentally transport myself somewhere sunny and tropical.  And maybe it’s a pregnancy craving thing.  Either way, I’m ok with it.  And I’m totally ok with these pina colada-like popsicles.  They’re refreshing, the ingredient list is short and they take almost no time to make!  If you haven’t tried making your own popsicles (like me up until I made these) you should try it!

Coconut Milk and Pineapple Popsicles | Hottie Biscotti

All you need for these is a can of coconut milk, a small can of crushed pineapple, a little vanilla and a little sugar.  Mix it up, pour the mixture into popsicle molds and pop them into the freezer until they’re frozen solid.  That’s all there is to it!  Then you can sit outside and eat one of these and pretend you’re at the beach somewhere.  Maybe put on some island music, wear a big floppy hat and put your feet in your kid’s sandbox for added effect.

Coconut Milk and Pineapple Popsicles | Hottie Biscotti

Betsy couldn’t resist trying these, and I was surprised how much she liked it.  She enjoyed her bite so much that I had to go get myself another one because there was no way I was going to pry it from her hands.

Coconut Milk and Pineapple Popsicles | Hottie Biscotti

I found these popsicle molds at World Market.  I like that they have the built in drip catchers, it’s perfect for my kids who get all kinds of bothered when their hands start to get messy.  And really it’s a good thing for adults, too!  To unmold them after a full 24 hours in the freezer I had to run them under warm water and occasionally wiggle the sticks until they were ready to come loose.  Overall I was pleased with the $5 purchase.

Coconut Milk and Pineapple Popsicles | Hottie Biscotti

The texture of these popsicles is creamy thanks to the luscious coconut milk, but with just enough chew from the pineapple to make them interesting.  I found one tablespoon of sugar to be enough sweetness, but if you like things sweeter you could add another tablespoon.  These are also really satisfying because of the coconut milk.  It’s almost like eating ice cream.  Do you have a favorite at-home popsicle recipe?  I’d love to hear about it!

Coconut Milk and Pineapple Popsicles

Makes 6 pops

Ingredients

  • 1 can of full fat coconut milk
  • 1 small can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Pour mixture into the popsicle molds.
  3. Freeze for at least 8 hours or until frozen solid.
  4. Unmold by letting popsicles warm up on the counter, or by running molds under warm water (without letting water get into the tops of the mold) wiggling sticks occasionally to see if they’ve thawed enough to remove easily.
  5. Eat and enjoy.

Simple Sundae: Brown Sugared Pineapple with Toasted Coconut and Almonds

I love ice cream.  And I eat it a lot.  I have some pretty much every night of the week.  And I usually have 2 flavors in my freezer at all times.  I’m not even lying.  Sometimes I keep it really simple, especially if I have a flavor that already has a lot of goodies in it.  When I eat vanilla ice cream, though, I just have to mix something in, chocolate chips, crumbled cookies or chopped up candy like Reese’s or Snickers.

With summer weather upon us I can’t think of anything better than trying out some new ice cream toppings!  This one has pineapple cooked in warm brown sugar sauce and is topped off with toasted coconut and almonds.  It’s real good and real easy,

Brown Sugared Pineapple Sundae with Coconut and Almonds | Hottie Biscotti

This week I found myself with an incredibly delicious container of fresh pineapple after using one as a pregnancy photo prop.  It’s great for snacking and for adding to yogurt, but I wanted to try something a little different with it.  A while back a friend made dessert for a dinner party by just cooking up some fresh pineapple in butter and brown sugar and serving it on top of ice cream.  I used the same method but added some toasted coconut and almonds to make a delicious, quick and simple ice cream sundae.

I used vanilla ice cream in this sundae, but coconut would be delicious and add to the tropical-ness of the dessert.  To toast the coconut and almonds, simply spread them out on a cookie sheet and pop them in a 350°F oven for a few minutes, until everything just begins to brown.  The coconut will brown quicker, so you can do them on separate cookie sheets, or remove the coconut from the cookie sheet and continue to toast the almonds.  But do make sure to have them toasted!  The flavor is better and so is the texture in the sundae.

Brown Sugared Pineapple Sundae with Coconut and Almonds | Hottie Biscotti

Do you have any favorite toppings for your ice cream?  I can always use some new ideas!

Brown Sugared Pineapple, Toasted Coconut and Almond Sundaes

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the Pineapple

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 heaping cup fresh pineapple, cut into chunks

For the Sundaes

  • vanilla ice cream
  • toasted coconut chips or unsweetened coconut
  • toasted sliced almonds

Directions

Pineapple

  1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add the butter.  Allow it to melt almost completely.
  2. Add in the brown sugar and increase the heat to medium high.  Stir the sugar and butter together until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Add in the pineapple and stir to coat each piece of pineapple.  Let it cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar mixture has thickened a bit and the pineapple has warmed through.  Remove from the heat.

Sundaes

  1. Scoop ice cream into 4 small bowls.
  2. Divide the pineapple and sauce evenly among the bowls.
  3. Sprinkle coconut and almonds on top and serve.

 

 

Frozen S’mores Mousse

The name of this retro dessert in the cookbook I found it in is chocolate marlow, but I figured that while that might intrigue some people, it would be better to describe it more…descriptively.  It’s a chocolate and marshmallow mousse that’s frozen then topped with whipped cream, sugar coated graham crackers and some chopped chocolate.  In other words,  amazing.

Frozen S'mores Mousse | Hottie Biscotti

If you like the flavors of a s’more but want something a little different and dressed up, then you’ll love this.  The marshmallow flavor is there but is not overwhelming or cloying.  The graham crackers are baked with egg white and a sprinkling of sugar that transforms them into something really incredible.  There’s a terrific crunch from the sugar and a kind of toasted-ness that makes these a perfect garnish.  I’d definitely make more graham crackers next time since they’re also a good alternative to a spoon or fork!

After making a chocolate base of marshmallow, chocolate and milk it is chilled then folded in with whipped cream.  After a 1 hour chill in the freezer it is perfectly scoop-able.  If you allow it to harden completely in the freezer you need to let it sit out for 20-30 minutes before scooping.

Frozen S'mores Mousse | Hottie Biscotti

After scooping I decided topping this with a little sweetened whipped cream couldn’t hurt anybody.  A couple of the graham crackers and a square of chocolate top this off perfectly.

Frozen S'mores Mousse | Hottie Biscotti

Crumble up the graham crackers over everything before enjoying!

Frozen S'mores Mousse | Hottie Biscotti

Frozen S’mores Mousse

From America’s Best Lost Recipes 

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

Mousse

  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate (I used 4 ounces semisweet and 2 ounces 60% cocoa) chopped
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cups heavy cream

Sugared Crackers

  • 4 whole graham crackers (or more)
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • granulated sugar

Garnish

  • Sweetened whipped cream
  • chocolate squares

Directions

Mousse

  1. Combine the marshmallows, milk and chocolate in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly until marshmallows are melted completely and mixture is smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for an hour in the refrigerator.
  3. Whip cream to soft peaks and stir in vanilla.
  4. Fold whipped cream into chocolate mixture,
  5. Scoop into a 2 quart souffle dish and freeze for 1 hour.

Sugared Graham Crackers

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Lay crackers out on cookie sheet.  Brush each with the egg white, then sprinkle evenly with sugar.
  3. Bake for about 5 minutes, then let cool completely and break into pieces.

Assemble

  1. If mousse is still scoop-able, scoop into dessert bowls.  If it is too hard to scoop, let warm up a bit.
  2. Top with whipped cream, a couple of crackers and a chocolate square.

 

Easter Cookie Placecards & A Thick Cut-Out Sugar Cookie Recipe

What could be better than a lovely place card to designate your place at the table this Easter Sunday?  Why, a cute and sweet one that you can eat, of course!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to give Betsy her own china place setting.

I’ve made my fair share of sugar cookies but haven’t ever stuck with one recipe.  I almost always find myself trying a new one.  Not because the others have been bad, but I have an idea in my head of what I want a decorated sugar cookie to look and taste like, and I haven’t yet found it.  This one is much closer to what I’ve been looking for.  It’s sturdy and thick, it holds up well to rolling, transferring and baking and also has good flavor.  Part of that is due to cutting them thicker than I normally do, and part to a new method I tried this time around for cutting the shapes.  It’s genius and greatly decreases the floury mess my kitchen becomes when I make cut outs.

Whenever I decide to make these decorated cookies I have the tendency to make too many shapes which means lots more coloring of icing and piping different designs which translates into late nights, a messy kitchen, color dyed fingernails and sore hands.  It’s more work than you think on those muscles!  Making just a couple different shapes makes life easier and allows you to get really good at decorating that particular shape and design.

I chose eggs (no fancy edges) carrots and bunnies.  I kept everything simple since I’d be writing names on the cookies.  And I kept the colors muted to not distract from the table or stick out like a sore thumb.

The icing recipe here is the best I’ve tried for these cookies.  It takes a while to dry completely, but dries with a nice gloss and isn’t rock hard like royal icing.  You can add more powdered sugar to small amount of this icing to make it good for piping.

For rolling these out I used a new method.  Instead of chilling the dough and then rolling it out (which can often be difficult when the dough is cold from the fridge) I rolled it out right after mixing  in between two pieces of parchment.  Then I placed the sheets of dough in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.  Then I cut out the shapes, moved them to a parchment lined cookie sheet and baked them.  The dough never once touched the counter and I didn’t have to use any flour or get frustrated with a cookie falling apart or sticking to the counter top.  This is definitely the method I will be using from now on.  Thanks to The Kitchn for introducing me to it!

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I used the recipe from The Kitchn for these cookies, just left out the lemon zest and added an extra egg yolk for a sturdier cookie.  Since they’re made with all butter, the flavor is still there, but without the super crunchy texture some sugar cookies often have.  And to be honest, I prefer that texture if I’m eating the cookies plain or with just a sprinkling of sugar.  But when I’m going to be decorating them and giving them as favors or gifts, I want them thicker and therefore not as crunchy.  Since the cookies are so thick, I reduced the baking temp to 325 to prevent the bottoms of the cookies from getting too dark before the centers are set.  Then I increased the baking time.  The baking time with depend on what size and just how thick your cookies are.  Mine, which were just about 1/4 inch thick, cooked for almost 15 minutes.  They should be just beginning to brown on the edges  when you remove them from the oven.

You can find lots of good tips on decorating sugar cookies on the web.  But here are some of the cookies I’ve decorated, some with step by step instructions and some without.

And here are the tools I find to be very helpful when making these types of cookies.

  • Frosting tips (Wilton plain tips 2 and 3 are the ones I use most, I have a few of each)
  • Piping bags
  • White-white, it makes white icing solid white instead of semi-translucent and can tone down a color that is too dark
  • Gel colors for coloring the icing, it produces the best color
  • Toothpicks for coloring icing, pushing icing into small spaces and for popping bubbles that form in the icing as it settles and dries
  • Small bowls for coloring small amount of icing
  • Small spoons for filling the cookies
  • Space to work and a place for cookies to dry away from little hands

Thick Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Adapted very slightly from TheKitchn

Makes 18-24 thick cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Beat butter, cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
  2. Add in the egg, egg yolk, and extracts and beat until well combined.
  3. Add in the flour, salt and baking powder and mix just until combined.
  4. Prepare 4 sheets of parchment, each about the size you’d use to line a cookie sheet.
  5. Lay a towel down on the counter, then place one piece of parchment on top.  Spoon half of the cookie dough onto the parchment and then lay another piece of parchment on top.  Use a rolling pin to roll the dough evenly to the thickness you desire.
  6. Set the sheet of dough onto a cookie sheet.
  7. Repeat with the rest of the dough, stacking them on top of each other.
  8. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer and let them chill for 20-30 minutes.  You want the dough to be firm but still be able to cut it with the cookies cutters.  If you leave it too long in the freezer, just let it sit for a few minutes before cutting your shapes.
  9. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  10. Using your desired cookie cutters, cut your shapes from the dough and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, leaving space between the cookies, 8-12 per sheet depending on the size
  11. Bake for 10-15 minutes, checking after 10 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown.  Let them sit on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack.
  12. Repeat with the remaining dough.  Any dough scraps can be combined and re-rolled, chilled, cut and baked.
  13. Let cool completely before decorating.

Gluten Free Coconut Pavlovas with Lemon Curd and Raspberries

In preparing for Easter lunch this coming weekend I wanted to make a dessert that was light and fresh and beautiful.  These coconut pavlovas with tart lemon curd and fresh raspberries will fit the bill perfectly.

coconutpavlova3A good friend made pavlovas for Easter a few years ago and they were not only delicious but beautiful.  When served individually, they’re an extra special dessert for your guests.  Pavlovas might sound fancy, but they are just baked meringue layers.  Topping them with lemon curd and berries makes them completely lovely.  You can use the recipe below for lemon curd, or buy lemon curd at your grocery store.  I love the combination of raspberries with the coconut and lemon, but blueberries, strawberries or blackberries would be nice.  And in fact, pineapple might be amazing…

You can make the lemon curd and the meringue a day in advance.  This will free you up on the day of your lunch or dinner to tend to everything else you have to do.  But this also means that if you’re bringing these somewhere you don’t have to worry about them in transit.  Bring everything in separate containers and assemble right before serving.  No balancing cake plates in your lap and getting mad at the driver for taking those corners too quickly!

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If you’re not a fan of coconut, then you can leave it out and make plain meringues.  You could also add nuts, pulsed well in a food processor, in place of the coconut to create a different flavor.  The coconut adds a texture you won’t find in a plain meringue, which I found to be really nice against the smooth and creamy lemon curd.

coconutpavlova2 Coconut Pavlovas | Hottie Biscotti

These are gluten free, not because I did anything to make them that way but because the ingredients are all gluten-free friendly.  It’s nice to serve something like this when serving a group that may contain some people who do not or cannot eat gluten.  Since it’s becoming more and more common, at least in my experience, to encounter those people, it’s great to have some recipes that don’t leave anyone out or make it hard for them to enjoy the meal.  Any gluten-free readers who see something wrong with the recipe below, please let me know so that I can correct it.  Enjoy!

Coconut Pavlovas with Lemon Curd and Raspberries

Lemon Curd from The Dessert Bible and Pavlovas adapted from A Passion for Desserts

Serves 6

Ingredients

Lemon Curd

  • 2 egg yolks (reserve the whites for the pavlovas)
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche OR 1/4 cup whipping cream + 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 9 chunks

Coconut Pavlovas

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • fresh raspberries for serving

 Directions

Lemon Curd

  1. Combine the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice in a medium sized saucepan.  Whisk together over medium low heat, whisking constantly until mixture begins to thicken.  Reduce heat to low and continue to cook and whisk until mixture reaches a pudding-like consistency.
  2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the creme fraiche or cream mixture all at once.  Add in the butter, 3 chunks at a time, and stir to almost melt them before adding the next few pieces.  Stir until all the butter is melted.
  3. Pour the lemon curd through a fine mesh sieve to remove any pieces of cooked egg.
  4. Let cool at room temperature for about an hour, then cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface so that a skin does not form, then refrigerate until cold or overnight.

Pavlovas

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Find a cup, bowl or glass that will serve at your guide for piping the meringue.  It should be small enough to fit 6 circles on the cookie sheet with enough space for them to spread a bit.  Trace the circle with a pencil on one side of the parchment, turn the parchment over on the cookie sheet and set it aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites and the vanilla on high speed until mixture is very foamy.
  4. Add the sugar in a steady stream, and continue to beat on high until mixture is very thick.
  5. Fold in the cornstarch, vinegar and coconut.
  6. Transfer meringue to a large ziploc bag, cut off one corner, and pipe circles onto the parchment paper.  With the back of a spoon smooth out the circles and make a crater in the center of each.
  7. Put pan into the oven, then reduce the oven temperature to 300°F and cook for 45 minutes.
  8. Remove from the sheet to a wire rack and cool completely.
  9. If not using right away, store in an airtight container.

Assemble the Pavlovas

  1. Divide the lemon curd evenly among the meringue circles.
  2. Place a few raspberries on top of the lemon curd, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

 

Mini Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cakes

When you buy a bag of Meyer lemons, you need to use that bag of Meyer lemons.  I made these lovely lemon pudding cakes a few weeks ago and loved the flavor of the Meyer lemons, sweeter than a regular lemon but still tart.  How could I go wrong by using them in a lemon pound cake?

Meyer-Lemon-Pound-Cake-Slic

I’ve been on a kick with this cookbook lately.  It’s a great resource and it’s where I found the recipe for this pound cake.  I’ve made a cold oven pound cake before that is really special, but is pretty involved, whipping egg whites and such.  This cake come together quickly and uses a food processor to mix the wet ingredients so that curdling isn’t an issue thanks to the quick mixing speed.

Meyer-Lemon-Poppy-Seed-PounMeyer-Lemon-Popy-Seed-PoundMeyer-Lemon-Pound-Cake

You can make this pound cake in an 8-inch loaf pan or in mini loaf pans, which is what I chose to do so that I could give these as gifts.  I added lemon juice, lemon zest and poppy seeds to the classic pound cake recipe to make these cakes.  From what I can tell, this would create a fantastic plain pound cake as well and I’ll probably be trying it soon.

The flavor of this cake is perfectly lemony.  The texture is light and the crust is slightly crunchy and totally delicious. I think it’s sugaring the pans, one of my favorite things to do with quick breads, and now with pound cake.  The small loaf pans allow you to have a small piece that still looks complete instead of cutting a larger piece in half.  I think these would be perfect for a brunch, bay shower, tea party, etc.

Meyer-Lemon-Pound-Cakes

Mini Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cakes

Adapted slightly from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Makes 1 8-inch pound cake or 4 mini loaves

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 teaspoons Meyer lemon juice
  • zest of one lemon
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 sticks of butter, melted and hot
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6-9 teaspoons Meyer lemon juice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease and sugar your pan/s.
  3. To make the cakes: Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl, then set aside.
  4. In the food processor combine the sugar, lemon juice, zest, eggs and vanilla and mix until combined, about 10 seconds.  With the processor still running, pour in the melted butter through the tube in a slow, steady stream.  Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
  5. Sift 1/3 to half of the flour mixture over the wet ingredients and whisk until almost no flour is visible.  Repeat with the remaining flour in 1 or 2 more additions.  Whisk in the poppyseds just to combine and be careful not to overmix.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan/s.  If you use mini loaf pans, 2 cups of batter each is about right.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes (for mini loaves) and 50-60 minutes for an 8-inch loaf until a cake tester comes out with a few crumbs.
  8. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack.
  9. To make the glaze: after sifting the sugar add lemon juice, start with 1 tablespoon, then add juice one teaspoon at a time until it reaches the consistency you desire.  Drizzle onto the cooled cakes.

Black Cherry Jam & Granola Crumb Bars

I spent last weekend in Richvale, California for my cousin’s wedding.  My mom grew up there.  It’s a small rice farming town where quite a few of my cousins are carrying on the rice farming business.  I was able to visit with a lot of family this weekend, many of whom remember me as being “just this big!” the last time they saw me.  The last day we were there we had brunch with my mom’s cousin’s family and a few other people.  Their daughter is a senior in high school and we started talking about baking.  She said one of her favorite things to make were these jam bars that had granola on top.  I asked her where she found the recipe and she said it was from a Barefoot Contessa cookbook.  As luck would have it I was able to find the recipe on food network’s website.  Thanks for sharing this recipe, Emily!  It is truly amazing.

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You can easily make these bars your own by using your favorite jam, your favorite granola or your favorite nuts.  I used Hero black cherry jam, an almond vanilla granola and sliced almonds.

These come together quickly, bake up beautifully and, once cooled, slice up wonderfully.  The crust is thick enough to keep them sturdy.  I cut my 8-inch square pan into 9 squares, but that makes for a hefty bakery-sized serving.  Which is really fine by me!  But you can cut the pan into 12 squares or cut larger squares into smaller ones after taking them out of the pan.

blackcherryjambars1

Black Cherry and Granola Crumb Bars

From Ina Garten

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks of butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 jar (10-12 ounces) of your favorite jam
  • 2/3 cups granola (without dried fruits)
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds (or your favorite nut)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Beat butter, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) until combined.  And in the vanilla and beat.
  3. Whisk the flour and salt together.  Add the flour mixture to the butter and mix on low until it just comes together.  Remove about 1 to 1/2 cups of the dough.  Pat the remaining dough into the bottom and about 1/4 way up the sides of an 8-inch square pan.
  4. Spread the jam onto the crust, but not onto the edges.
  5. Mix the reserved dough with the granola then evenly spread over the jam.  Sprinkle with the almonds.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes.
  7. Let cool completely before cutting into squares.