Coconut Vanilla Bean Cupcakes - Sweet and Savory Kitchens
Margaux says…

Like I said before, January and February are the official Birthday Months around here.  I crank out cakes and cupcakes every other day, it seems, which is great for me because I get to try out all the recipes I pin on Pinterest but don’t have to eat it all and gain a million pounds.  Cupcakes are especially fun because we can keep a few for ourselves to taste test.

I’ve posted about coconut cupcakes before, and I still stand by that amazingly delicious recipe that is like sweet cake from the gods. That frosting recipe is seriously out of this world. But I also love this recipe. I love the combo of vanilla and coconut, and this frosting is also pretty darn good.  I found this recipe on Epicurious a few years ago, made them a few times, then forgot about it and rediscovered it last month.  I will definitely be making these again!

Coconut Vanilla Bean Cupcakes - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Coconut Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Reduced coconut milk:

2 13-to 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk

Cupcakes:

2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature

Frosting:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature
Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted (for garnish)

For reduced coconut milk:

Bring coconut milk to boil in large deep saucepan over medium-high heat (coconut milk will boil up high in pan). Reduce heat to medium-low; boil until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, stirring occasionally, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat; cool completely. Transfer to small bowl. Cover; chill (coconut milk will settle slightly as it cools). DO AHEAD: This should be made at least 8 hours ahead so that it can settle. Can be made up to 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

For cupcakes:

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line eighteen 1/3-cup muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar; beat on medium-high speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in seeds from vanilla bean and remaining egg. Add half of flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Add 1 cup reduced coconut milk; mix just until blended. Add remaining flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake cupcakes until tops spring back when gently touched and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes in pans to rack; cool 10 minutes. Carefully remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely on rack.

For frosting:

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar, 1/3 cup reduced coconut milk, seeds from vanilla bean, and salt. Beat on medium-low speed until blended, scraping down sides of bowl. Increase to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy.

Using pastry bag fitted with large star tip, pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. (Alternatively, top each cupcake with 2 tablespoons frosting. Using small offset spatula, swirl frosting over top of cupcakes, leaving 1/2-inch plain border.) Sprinkle with coconut. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store in airtight containers; chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Golden Yellow Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Frosting - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

It’s cake season around here…we have several birthdays in January and February in our family, so I’m basically making cake after cake for about two months. This is one of my favorite cake recipes…I typically make it as a 9″ layer cake, but my sister-in-law wanted cupcakes for her birthday party, and they turned out really great.  I’ve posted about the frosting before, on a similar cake that I’ve made often, and also love, but since I discovered this Cook’s Illustrated version I may just make this one from now on whenever I’m wanting a yellow cake.  Because of science-y Cook’s Illustrated details, this cake is fluffier and has a finer crumb.  And the frosting is silky and delicious…you have to try it!

Fluffy Yellow Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Frosting - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Fluffy Yellow Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Frosting

from Cook’s Illustrated

2 1/2 cups cake flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon table salt

1 3/4 cups sugar (12 1/4 ounces)

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

6 large egg yolks, room temperature

3 large egg whites, room temperature

1. Adjust oven rack to middle and heat to 350 degrees.  Place 27 cupcake liners into cupcake tins (or grease two 9″ round cake pans and line with parchment paper, then grease and flour).  Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl.  In 4 cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and yolks.

2.  In clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds.  With machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, continue to beat until stiff peaks form, about a minute or so.  Transfer to another bowl and set aside.

3.  Add flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment.  With mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds.  Stop mixer and scrape whisk and sides of bowl.  Return mixer to med-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10-15 seconds.

4.  Using a rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of the whites into the batter to lighten, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain.  Fill each cupcake liner evenly, about 3/4 full.

5.  Bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 17-19 minutes.  Let cool on rack in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely.  Frost with milk chocolate frosting.

Milk Chocolate Frosting

While cakes are cooling, prepare frosting.

20 tbsp butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder

pinch table salt

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1 tsp vanilla

8 oz. high quality milk chocolate, like Ghiradelli, melted and cooled slightly

In a food processor, process butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, about 30 seconds.  Add corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined, 5-10 seconds.  Scrape sides of the bowl, then add chocolate and pulse until smooth and creamy, about 10-15 times.

Fill a pastry bag with frosting and either cut the tip off so that there’s about a 1/2″ round opening, or fit with a piping tip.  Swirl frosting generously on cupcakes.  Eat and be happy!

 

Sour Cherry Slab Pie

July 22, 2013

Sour Cherry Slab Pie - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…
My family has a farm that dates back to the mid-1800’s. We call it “the Big House.” It is pretty big, and one of my aunts lives in it now. It is one of my favorite places on earth.  There are two Montmorency cherry trees there that were planted in 1967 for my Aunt Gigi’s birthday, and this year we just happened to be down in central Illinois when the cherries were ready to be picked!

cherry picking

cherry pickingWe got just enough cherries before the kids started going bonkers (Stella seriously needed a nap).  I always make pie with the cherries, and this year I really wanted something different.  While browsing Smitten Kitchen (I really used a lot of her recipes this week!), I came across this one.  OMG I will be making this again!!!  You really should try it before this very short cherry season is over! (It might already be…it’s taken me way too long to get around to writing this).

Cherries(Yes his shorts are backwards…oops!  Four-year-olds still sometimes have a little trouble getting dressed.  🙂 )

Sour cherry slab pie

 

Sour cherry slab pie - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

 

Sour Cherry Slab Pie

from Smitten Kitchen

1 1/2 recipes flaky butter pie dough, divided, patted into thick rectangles, wrapped in plastic and chilled for at least an hour in the fridge

6 cups sour cherries, pitted (fresh or frozen will work; if frozen, defrost and drain first)
3/4 to 1 1/4 cups of sugar (depending on how tart your cherries are.  I used 1 cup.)
1/4 cup cornstarch
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch or two of salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream or one egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water

Glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk or water or 1 tablespoon water plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, combine cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Stir to combine; set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger piece of dough into an 18-by-12-inch rectangle.

Transfer to a 15-by-10-by-1-inch rimmed baking sheet, (pastry will hang over sides of pan). Pour cherry mixture into lined baking sheet; set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out remaining piece of dough into a 16-by-11-inch rectangle. Drape over filling. Bring bottom pastry up and over top pastry. Pinch edges to seal. Using a fork, prick top crust all over. Brush with heavy cream or egg wash.

Bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 40 to 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until just warm to the touch, about 45 minutes.

In a medium bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk, water or lemon juice (or combination thereof) until desired glaze consistency is achieved. Use a spoon to drizzle over top. Serve warm or room temperature.

 

Strawberry Shortcake

June 24, 2013

Strawberry Shortcake - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

We’re kind of into strawberries around here. And I’ve been buying them like crazy this year, as usual, even though they’re not that great (all the rain around here made them kind of tasteless). Usually at my house we just eat them fresh with yogurt, or just, well, fresh. But since they don’t have a lot of flavor this year, I’ve been making desserts out of them (add lots of sugar and voila, they taste better!), like strawberry pie, and this amazing strawberry shortcake.

The strawberry shortcake I grew up on was basically a buttermilk biscuit recipe with a little more sugar in it. My husband grew up on angel food cake as the cake part. Both good, but this is so, so much better. The shortcake is so delicious that I’ve been just eating the leftovers plain-ahem-for breakfast. And the recipe is super easy since it’s done in the food processor. I was stressed because I didn’t start making it until after dinner, but it was no problem!

If you don’t have a food processor, you can still make this recipe! But first….you should really invest in a food processor. It’s one of my most-used kitchen tools! Mine is a Cuisinart from the early 90’s that I got from my mom. (She hates to cook, but when I was a kid thought for a minute that she might like it and took a bunch of cooking classes and stocked our kitchen with fancy tools. Lucky for me, I have most of that stuff now.) Anyway, it’s a fantastic machine and if you can find a used one at a garage sale or something, it will most likely work great! But anyway, I’m guessing you’re not going to run out and buy a food processor for this recipe, so in the meantime…I’ll give you instructions below.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

A while back we posted another recipe for Strawberry Shortcake. We might call it the shortcut shortcake because the “cake” is Joy of Cooking cream scones, which have only 4 main ingredients with heavy cream filling in for the butter and eggs. From looking at Margaux’s recipe, these will be much richer and probably more classically “shortcake” as we Americans would think of it for this dessert. I’m going to have to try this once we get strawberries up here in Minnesota. Our winter lasted into mid-May so we are waaaaaaaay behind! Hey, Margaux, how about we make these for breakfast at Wimbledon?

Strawberry Shortcake
adapted from Everyday Food

the shortcake

1/2 cup sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a food processor, pulse flour, baking powder, sugar, and the salt until combined. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal but with some pea-size bits of butter remaining, 10 to 12 times. In a medium bowl, whisk together cream and the eggs; pour over flour mixture, and pulse until some large clumps begin to form, 25 to 30 times.

If using a pastry cutter instead of a food processor: cut the butter into the dry ingredients in a large bowl using a pastry cutter until the mixture is a coarse meal, with some small chunks of butter. Whisk together the cream and eggs, pour into the butter and flour, and using a wooden spoon (or your hands, which is easier), mix together the mixture until large clumps form. Do not overmix.

Using a half-cup measuring cup, gently pack dough, invert, and then tap out onto a baking sheet. Repeat to form 8 biscuits. Bake until lightly golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool, about 15 minutes.

The strawberries:

Hull and quarter about 6 cups of strawberries. Mix them in a large bowl with about 1/2 cup of sugar. Let is sit for at least an hour, until they get nice and juicy.

The whipped cream:

Beat 1 1/2 cups whipping cream with 2 tbsp sugar and 1/2 tsp vanilla until soft peaks form.

Assembly:

When shortcake has completely cooled, you can carefully cut them in half lengthwise with a serrated bread knife. Add strawberries and whipped cream and serve!

Best Chocolate Cake - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

I can’t believe I haven’t posted about this cake yet. I have made this cake more than any other…well, besides the old family stand-by. But this cake is SO GOOD. It has a really nice cocoa flavor, not super deep-rich chocolate, so it’s great for all palates. And the frosting is so fluffy and buttery, it just melts in your mouth. I’ve made this cake for numerous birthdays, get-togethers, and just because we want cake. It’s not super difficult, as far as cake recipes go. If you’re looking for a good, old-fashioned, super moist and chocolatey cake recipe, this is IT.

World's Best Chocolate Cake - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

IMG_0255

My mom gave me the recipe several years ago, in an article cut out of her local newspaper. It was literally called the “World’s Best Chocolate Cake” (I did not give it this ridiculous name). I don’t remember the specifics of the article…someone won a cake contest, or a cake connoisseur happened upon it at a dinner at a friend’s, or something along those lines. I tried to find the original article, to no avail, so I can’t tell you the real story. All I can remember is that the writer thought this cake was the best he had ever had, and I had to see for myself. It’s pretty darn good.

Best Chocolate Cake - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

World's Best Chocolate Cake - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

TIPS AND TRICKS:

There’s a few things that I’ve learned after making this cake numerous times.
flour and cocoa

For one, and this goes for most cakes I make, when sifting the dry ingredients, I use the following method: I cut two pieces of waxed paper, and set them side by side on the counter. I first sift the flour onto the first piece of paper, then put the sifter on the other paper and measure out the flour, putting it back into the sifter. Then I place the rest of the dry ingredients in the sifter with the flour and sift them all together onto the second piece of waxed paper. Then I just set that aside until I need to add it to the batter. It’s pretty easy to add it, just carefully picking up the paper at each edge, creating kind of a funnel, and slowly pour it into the mixer. Save your waxed paper for later…you can use one to sift your powdered sugar onto, and the other for my trick below.

batter

chocolate cake batter

Secondly, don’t be alarmed when the batter looks curdled after you add the water and vanilla. It will smooth back out after the addition of flour and buttermilk. No worries.

preparing to frost

Third. When preparing to frost the cake, cut up one of the pieces of waxed paper and slide them under the first layer. It takes four strips, make sure the plate is completely covered. Then when you’re frosting the cake, the frosting isn’t getting on your serving plate. When you’re done frosting, carefully slide the strips out from under the cake and voila! Clean plate.

World’s Best Chocolate Cake

The Cake:

Have all your ingredients at room temperature. Line two 9″ round cake pans with parchment paper and spray with baking spray with flour (or butter and flour the pans). Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa and salt, and set aside. Cream the butter in a bowl with an electric mixer (or use a stand mixer-my recommendation). Gradually add the sugar, and beat at medium speed for one minute, until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each egg. Gradually add the water and vanilla on low speed, and then beat on medium for one minute more. With the mixer on low speed, add one third of the flour mixture, and beat on low until completely combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add half of the buttermilk, beat on low, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then beat on low until completely combined again. Alternate the flour and buttermilk in this fashion, ending with the last third of flour mixture. Pour into pans, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on racks for 10 minutes, then remove from the pans and cool on rack until completely cooled.

The frosting:

1 six oz. package high quality semisweet chocolate chips, or semisweet chocolate chopped up (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup butter
2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
Bowl of ice

Combine chocolate chips, whipping cream and butter in double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring constantly until smooth (I use a large mixing bowl set on top of a medium saucepan…less to clean up). Remove from heat and add powdered sugar. Set the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice, and using an electric hand mixer, beat on high speed until the frosting holds its shape, about 10 minutes. Make sure you take it out of the bowl of ice immediately, so that the bottom of the frosting doesn’t freeze.

add powdered sugar to frosting

making frosting

chocolate frosting

World's Best Chocolate Cake

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato BananaBread by Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

My dad is the family cook. You can find him in the kitchen most of the time, especially when my brothers were teenagers…I remember him telling me once that he is constantly cooking something; the minute something is done, the vultures descend and gobble it up, and he just starts cooking the next thing. I probably learned the most about cooking from Dad.

Dad

He even comes to our house and cooks (nice boarded-up window in the background, huh?  The pane just fell out one day and smashed everywhere.  It’s fixed now.)

Dad

Like any good cook, he likes to test things over and over and perfect them.  The first thing that I remember him doing this with was pumpkin pie.  We ate pumpkin pie for months (well, it was probably weeks, but in my child-mind we were eating pie every night for a year), which is no problem for me because I love pumpkin pie, until he got his own recipe just right.  Another time we were having all different kinds of stovetop macaroni and cheese…also no problem for me!  This winter he’s been doing quick breads…you can pretty much always find a loaf somewhere in his kitchen right now.  This one really stood out for me.
Whole Wheat Sweet Potato BananaBread by Sweet and Savory Kitchens

I love the texture and earthy flavor the whole wheat gives to this bread.  It’s super moist and dense from the sweet potato and banana, and because of the oil you can refrigerate it without losing any of it’s texture.  It’s really great plain, for breakfast or a snack, and extra super good drizzled with cream cheese glaze for a dessert.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I hadn’t had this before Margaux made and posted it, but I love banana bread and thought the addition of sweet potato would be just that much better.  I made it this morning and both Randy and I loved it!  It’s not too sweet and, as Margaux has noted, has a great texture.  It’s silky and the whole wheat flour gives a slight crunch.  Delish!  I will definitely put this in regular rotation for the occasional Sunday morning treat.

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato BananaBread by Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato BananaBread by Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Banana Bread

1 cup white flour, sifted
1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 small sweet potato, mashed
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour (or use baking spray with flour) 9×5″ loaf pan (or two mini loaf pans like I used).

Sift together flours, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a small bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, banana, sweet potato, yogurt, sugars and vanilla until completely combined. Add the oil and butter and mix until completely combined. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Fold in the chopped walnuts with a rubber spatula. Pour batter into prepared pan(s), bake for 45-55 minutes (I start checking at 45 minutes and kind of babysit it. It gets really dark and crispy on top, check it with a toothpick inserted in the center.) Place on cooling rack for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool on rack completely.

AS Cook’s Notes: I used a 9×4 pan and it took 60 minutes in my oven.  I also did not pre-sift the flours before sifting with other dry ingredients.  I thought I would try this because it seems sifting is not found in many recipes these days, even though this defies everything I learned in 4H and from Mom/Granny. 🙂 I learned recently from the Julia Child cookbook I just got that sifting isn’t necessary with today’s flours.  I used pecans and added currants, which are standard additions in my banana bread recipe.

Cream Cheese Glaze

2 oz. cream cheese, softened
1-2 tablespoons milk
1 cup sifted powdered sugar

Beat the ingredients on medium-high speed with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add more milk if needed to desired consistency. Drizzle over cooled bread.

Any extra glaze can be stored in the freezer until next time you make the bread, or to use on something else. Or you can put way more glaze on your bread than I did! 🙂

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Aunt Suzy says . . .

My blog partner and I are looking for uses for leftover chicken or turkey these days, something we seem to regularly have on hand from roasting or stewing a chicken. . . or maybe buying a rotisserie chicken.  I was looking for a chicken enchiladas recipe last week and was on The Homesick Texan blog when I ran across this taco recipe.  It attracted me because it doesn’t use cheese, a ubiquitous ingredient in enchiladas, and looked unbelievable easy to make, which it was.  It’s one of those recipes where you throw all the ingredients into a blender, heat the blended sauce up and then add chicken.  What could be simpler?  Oh, and did I mention these tacos are delicious and fun to eat?   We served with amped-up Spanish rice and orange-avocado salad.   Both the taco and Spanish rice recipes make a lot, so I’ve been enjoying for lunch.  I think you could also freeze both of these for future meals.

Making the chicken in chipotle sauce

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 small can diced tomatoes with juice

2 chipotle chiles en adobo (from a can), rinsed

1/4 medium yellow onion, cut in chunks

4 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

pinch of ground allspice

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 tablespoons canola oil

Salt and black pepper to taste

About 4 cups cooked, shredded chicken (from stewed or roasted chicken)

Place all ingredients up to the canola oil into a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Place the canola oil into a medium saucepan on medium heat.  Once heated, add the blended sauce.  Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes, until it is a little darker and thicker.  Add the chicken and stir to coat and blend and then keep on a medium burner until heated through, about 10 minutes.  Ready to assemble!

Assembling the tacos

Corn or flour tortillas (I recommend corn)

Lime wedges

Diced white onion

Fresh cilantro, chopped

Other favorite toppings – maybe avocado, tomatillo salsa, radishes, etc.

Place tortillas in foil and heat in the oven at 300 for 5 or so minutes until warm.  For thin tortillas, you will want to use 2 per serving.  Otherwise, for each taco, place chicken on a tortilla, top with your fave toppings and squeeze a little lime over all.

COOK’S NOTES:   I just noticed on The Homesick Texan that she says 4 servings.  4 servings!!  That would be for people who are going to eat 5 tacos per person :-).  I think this makes enough chicken for at least 20 tacos given how many we’ve eaten and how much chicken is left.

This recipe could be made kid-friendly with no or 1 chipotle pepper, then adults could pass the hot sauce.  If you omit the chipotle peppers, I recommend you add 1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika. We like to use sprouted corn tortillas from Food for Life. They are thicker, healthier, GF and have an intense corn taste.  For the chicken, you can use an entire stewed or roasted chicken or chicken parts.  I roasted 2 fairly large breasts and 4 legs (all bone-in/skin-on) and they were the perfect amount.  To shred, I just pulled/broke the meat apart with my hands.  You can also do this with 2 forks.

Meyer Lemon Bars

February 27, 2013

Sweet and Savory Kitchens Meyer Lemon Bars

Margaux says…

I am always looking for recipes using egg yolks or egg whites, to use up whichever I have sitting in my fridge, begging to be made into something. Like I need another sweet sitting on my counter…this time of year it’s birthday after birthday in my family, so I’m on a cake baking spree from the beginning of January until late February. But, no matter, these lemon bars were a nice break for us in our parade of cakes. I love Meyer lemon season, and try to make things with them as often as possible, including savory things with preserved lemons in them like this and this. Oh, and this.  I also usually make a batch of the preserved lemons to have on hand for the year.

Sweet and Savory Kitchens Meyer Lemon Bars

Meyer Lemon Bars

Make sure you keep a close eye on the crust while it’s baking…I would recommend starting to check it at about 22 minutes.  The first time I made these, I just set the timer at 25 minutes and didn’t pay attention and they got rather brown.  Still yummy…but much better when they’re golden!  These can easily be made with regular lemons, and would probably be very good with limes as well.

Shortbread Crust

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more to sprinkle on the finished bars
pinch of salt
8 Tbls unsalted butter, still cool and cut into 8 pieces
Cover a 9-inch square cake pan with two sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil or parchment paper, perpendicular to each other. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
Put the flour, powdered sugar and salt in a food processor and process briefly, about 2 seconds. Add the butter pieces and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then process until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second pulses. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared cake pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the entire pan bottom. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the crust until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Set aside.
Meyer Lemon Filling
7 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 cup + 2 Tbls sugar
2/3 cup meyer lemon juice (from about 4-5 medium lemons)
finely grated zest from the lemons
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tbls unsalted butter, cut in to 4 pieces
3 Tbls heavy cream
In a medium saucepan whisk together the egg yolks and whole eggs until combined. Add the sugar, meyer lemon juice, zest and salt until well combined, about 30 seconds.
Add the butter pieces and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the curd thickens to a thin sauce-like consistency (about 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer), about 6 minutes.
Immediately pour the curd through a fine-mesh steel strainer set over a medium bowl. Stir in the heavy cream and then pour the curd into the warm crust.
Bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center 3 inches jiggle slightly when shaken, about 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 45 minutes. Remove the bars from the pan and transfer to a cutting board to cut into squares.  Use a sifter to sift powdered sugar onto the top.  I’d recommend doing a couple of layers of the powdered sugar, because the bottom layers will just melt into the lemon curd (as you see mine has done in the photo).  I actually prefer them without the powdered sugar at all, but put a small amount of it on there for Jason’s sake.  🙂

S’mores Cupcakes

February 8, 2013

IMG_9614

Margaux says…

I got this idea from a pin on Pinterest, where I get most of my baking ideas lately. The recipe that I found was a little more complicated than I was wanting to deal with, so I simplified it by using a one-bowl chocolate cake. The cupcakes were a hit…some even said they were the best I’ve ever made. Yay! I’ve made them twice in the last two months already.

This cake recipe is one of my old stand-bys. I’ve been meaning to post it for ages, but I’m always rushed when I make it, so never take the time to take any photos. This is an updated version of the original that I’ve been baking since I was in college, the original being a recipe from my “Betty Crocker” cookbook, which was my first cookbook. The original recipe just uses chocolate chips, and in a pinch I still do that for ease, thrift and to save time. Also, with the original recipe, you just mix the cake directly in the pan…but I find that its actually easier to mix in a bowl. It’s a great recipe to throw together when you have surprise company coming, or if you suddenly find yourself needing something sweet to eat. I always store excess frosting in the freezer, and use it to top the cake (I’ve used everything from leftover chocolate frosting to leftover orange-cream cheese frosting), or if it’s just a last minute thing that I’ve thrown together, I leave it in the pan and top with powdered sugar. Both ways are delicious. Lastly, the reason I put this recipe in the vegan category is because of the cake…it’s completely vegan (just make sure you’re using vegan chocolate-very easy to find!), and is really great just topped with powdered sugar as a vegan treat. Another way I’ve made it for vegan friends also is by baking it into cupcakes (without the graham cracker crust it makes about 12 cupcakes), and frosting with vegan whipped cream.

S’mores Cupcakes

Graham Cracker Crust

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (you can buy them in the baking aisle)
1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter, and stir in with graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a small bowl. Line 20 muffin cups with paper liners, and place 1 tablespoon of graham cracker mixture in each cup, pressing down with a small flat-bottomed cup. Bake for about 5 minutes, until base hardens. Set aside and make cake batter.

Chocolate Cake *see note below

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (3 1/2 ounces)

Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add water, oil and vanilla, and whisk until incorporated completely. Add chocolate and stir until just incorporated. Fill prepared cupcake papers 3/4 full with batter. Should stretch to make about 20 cupcakes. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean of cake batter (it may have a little melted chocolate on it, and that’s ok). Allow to cool for 10 minutes on cooling rack, and then remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool completely.

Marshmallow Frosting (or 7-minute frosting)

6 large egg whites**
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and set over medium saucepan of barely simmering water (you can put it in a double boiler, but then you have to transfer it to a mixer bowl, and this way is much easier). Stir the mixture with a whisk, cooking until the sugar has completely melted, about 5-10 minutes. Transfer to the mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed, adding the vanilla while mixing, for about 7 minutes.

To pipe the frosting: Place pastry bag with tip cut off (or ziplock bag with one corner cut off) in a large glass and fold the sides of the pastry bag over the sides of the glass (if you shop at Trader Joe’s and use their coffee, I’ve found that their coffee containers work perfectly for this!). Fill bag with frosting and pipe onto cupcakes. If you have a kitchen torch, AWESOME! Use it to “toast the marshmallow.” Otherwise, you can do what I did and just sprinkle some extra graham cracker crumbs on top. Voila! S’mores!

*Note about cake: to make a plain chocolate snack cake, prepare an 8×8 square pan or a 9″ round pan by spraying with baking spray with flour, pour batter into pan and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. You can either leave it in the pan and allow to cool completely, then just serve from the pan, or you can cool on rack in pan for 10 minutes, then invert it onto the rack and allow to cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar for a simple weeknight dessert, or frost with about a cup of whatever frosting you’d like.

**Note about egg whites: I’m always looking for things to do with my egg yolks, and vice-versa.  You can store yolks in the fridge for up to two days, covered with water.  You can store whites in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze them for a year!  Anyway, here’s an idea for your yolks: meyer lemon bars...I made them, and they’re fantastic!!

 

Strawberry Coconut Cake

June 17, 2012

 

Margaux says…

I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud, but I made a boxed cake today.  This is the first boxed cake I have bought since I was in high school, I think!  Ok, let’s start from the beginning: I pinned this cake on Pinterest, not even looking at the recipe first, because it was so pretty.  Who isn’t attracted to a bright pink cake?  Plus, I love coconut.  Then I realized that it was with a white cake mix and a package of jello, and I thought, well, I’ll just do it from scratch instead someday.  Fast forward to today, Father’s Day, and me asking my husband what he wants for his Father’s Day “treat.”  He didn’t really have any idea, so I took him to my “baking” pinboard on Pinterest, and he picked this cake!  (Shows what I know…I thought for sure he would pick a pie, or the ice cream cake that I’ve been dying to make.)  Ok, it’s 85 degrees outside, and I’m 7 months pregnant…boxed cake mix it is!  Plus, I realized that the original recipe is from Joy the Baker‘s website, who I trust for cakes (I’ve made quite a few of hers), so I figured, how bad could it be if she likes it?

The cake mix is seriously doctored, and the frosting is KILLER, so you can’t really tell it’s from a mix.  Well, actually, I could, but everyone else that was scarfing it down said they couldn’t.  I felt a little betrayed, actually.  All the hard work I put into my cakes, and my family loves the doctored-up cake mix just as much.

Strawberry Coconut Cake

adapted from Joy the Baker

1 (18.5 ounce) box white cake mix (without pudding)

1 (3 ounce) package strawberry jello

1 Tablespoon self rising flour

4 teaspoons granulated sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1/2 cup water

1 tsp pure coconut extract

1/3 cup fresh strawberries, finely diced.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the cake, combine to cake mix, Jello, flour and sugar in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Add the oil.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition  Add the water, coconut extract and strawberries and mix well.  Divide the batter evenly into three 8-inch round baking pans that have been oiled and floured.  Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean and the layers pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer the layers from the oven to wire racks.  Let them cool, still in their pans, for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, run a knife around the inside edge of each pan, then unmold each layer onto the racks to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese, softened

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

2 (1 pound) boxes powdered sugar

pinch of salt

1 tsp pure coconut extract

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

pink food coloring

4 sliced strawberries

To make the frosting, in a bowl combine the cream cheese and butter.  Beat until soft and pliable and no lumps remain.  Add one box of the powdered sugar, salt and coconut extract.  Beat until incorporated.  Add the second box of sugar and mix until incorporated.  If you would like a smoother consistency, and a slash of milk.  If you would like a thicker consistency, and a bit more powdered sugar until the desired consistency is achieved.

Put the coconut in a small bowl and sprinkle with two or three drops of pink die.  Mix with hands to distribute the color and wash hands immediately.  Once the cake is frosted, decorate the top of the cake with the shredded coconut and sliced strawberries.