Thursday, June 30, 2011

Yellow Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

I have a few upcoming birthday cake orders next month and I wanted to try out a new yellow cake recipe.  I love the Nick Maglieri one that I usually use, but I wanted to find one that was a bit fluffier.  I tried the Joanne Chang recipe from her Flour book, and it's bang on.  Super moist and ultra fluffy, this is what birthday cakes are made of.

I actually made them into cupcakes and they got rave reviews from my lucky taste testers.  That said I still think that Nick's has a lot more vanilla flavor, so I plan to use his recipe but Chang's technique and see what I end up with next time.

The buttercream is super silky and has great strawberry flavor.  I used be quite on the fence with meringue buttercreams, a few recipes were like literally eating a stick of sweet butter.  But then I realized my problem was the temperature.  If Swiss meringue buttercream is even slightly cold it has a rather unpleasant consistency, this frosting must be served at room temp.  Then it's a smooth silky dream.  Enjoy!

Yellow Cake
from Flour

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks/342 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups (360 grams) cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (240 grams) buttermilk

Adapted for making 24 cupcakes:

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachement (or a handheld mixer), cream together the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed for 3–4 minutes, or until light and fluffy. (This step will take 8–10 minutes if using a handheld mixer.) Stop the mixer a few times and use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and the paddle to release any clinging butter or sugar.
in a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla just until combined. On low speed, slowly pour the egg mixture into the butter mixture and mix just until incorporated. Scrape the bowl and paddle again, then beat on medium speed for 20–30 seconds, or until the mixture is homogeneous.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. On the lowest speed, add about one-third of the flour mixture to the egg-butter mixture and mix just until barely combined. Immediately pour in about half of the buttermilk and continue to mix on the lowest speed until the buttermilk is almost thoroughly incorporated. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl well. Again on the lowest speed, add about half of the remaining flour mixture and mix just until barely combined. Add the rest of the buttermilk and mix just until combined. Be careful not to overmix.
At this point, it is best to finish the mixing by hand. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and, using the rubber spatula, fold in the remaining flour mixture just until the batter is homogeneous. As you fold, be sure to incorporate any batter clinging to the sides and bottom of the bowl. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.  (The cooled cupcakes can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the freezer for up to 1 week. Thaw at room temperature, still wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.)

Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
adapted from Martha Stewart

4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup strawberries pureed in a food processor
In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch (about 160 degrees).
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.

Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. (If frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.) Beat in vanilla. Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes. 
Beat in strawberry puree, adding a few spoonfulls at a time until desired strawberry flavor and consistency is achieved.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Coconut Lime Semifreddo

This is a simple dessert with a fancy name, well, I think semifreddo sounds fancy anyways.  I am all about the coconut these days so when I saw this lovely cool dessert in my Everyday Food magazine a few months ago I ripped it out immediately.  Coconut, lime, and mango?  Yes please!

Know this:  this semifreddo is RICH.  I made it for just my husband and I and more than half is still sitting in the freezer over two weeks later.  For some reason I thought it would be lighter than ice cream, but it has a lot of cream, condensed milk and full fat coconut milk in it.  Yum but after a thin slice I felt like I had eaten half a cake.  After a few partial thawings and re-freezing it starts to taste a bit funny, so I highly recommend making this when you have guests.

Coconut Lime Semifreddo
from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food

Serves 12
1 can unsweetened coconut milk (13.5 oz)
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz.)
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/2 cup cold heavy cream
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
1 mango, thinly sliced

Line a 4 1/2 by 8 1/2 inch loaf pan with parchment paper leaving an overhang on each side. Prepare a large bowl of ice water, set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk and the sweetened condensed milk together and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and cook at a rapid simmer until the mixture starts to thicken, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt & lime zest. Place saucepan over the bowl of ice water and stir the mixture until it's cool, about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, beat cream with a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the coconut milk mixture. Pour into the loaf pan and top with coconut. Freeze until firm, 6 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, let the semifreddo sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Invert on a platter, remove the parchment and top with the sliced mango.

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Blueberry Apricot Galette

Had I known Galettes were so ridiculously easy to make and insanely delicious I would have been making these lovely free-form tarts for years.  The dough literally took me about five minutes to make, and the filling about three minutes.  The fresh colorful fruit makes for a gorgeous dessert, and it was a perfect light treat for a warm summer's evening.

I got this recipe out of my Baking with Julia book, which is one of my favorites.  While the recipes in it range from very easy to very difficult, I love how there is loads of information and detail about each step in a recipe.  I recently made the brioche dough which I was initially totally intimidated by, but the recipe was practically foolproof.

There are two versions on how to make the dough, one by hand and one by food processor.  I used and included the food processor version which is super easy and quick.  Use any fruit you like, although the recipe cautions that strawberries tend to make the Galette a bit soggy since they're so watery.  This recipe calls for only half of the recipe of Galette dough, just wrap up the other half and stick it in the freezer.  When you're ready to use it just take it out of the freezer and let it defrost in the fridge overnight.

Galette Dough
from Baking with Julia - Flo Braker

3 Tbls. sour cream (or yogurt or buttermilk)
1/3 cup (approximately) ice water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
7 Tbls. cold unsalted butter, cut into 6-8 pieces

Makes two 8-inch galettes

To make the dough with a food processor: combine ingredients in the work bowl of your food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse to combine. Drop butter in and pulse 8-10 times, until butter pieces are pea sized or smaller. With the machine running, add the sour cream mixture and process just until the dough forms moist soft curds.)
Turn the dough out of the bowl. Divide it in half. Press each half into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

For the Filling:

For filling
1 1/2 cups mixed fresh berries or sliced fruit
1 Tbls. plus 1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbls. hone
1 Tbls. cold unsalted butter

Makes 4 to 6 servings
Preparing the Galette: Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remember this uses a half recipe of the above galette dough. Put dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll into an 11 inch diameter circle about 1/8 inch thick. Continuously sprinkle flour under the dough while rolling to prevent sticking. Once rolled out, transfer dough to your prepared baking sheet. Spread the berries over the dough, leaving a 2-3 inch border. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the sugar over the fruit and drizzle on the honey. Cut the butter into slivers and scatter it on top of the fruit. Fold the uncovered border of the dough up over the filling, allowing the dough to pleat as you lift it up and work your way around the Galette. Dip a pastry brush in water, give the edge of the crust a light coating, and then sprinkle the crust with the remaining teaspoon of sugar.
Baking the Galette: Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until pastry is golden and crisp. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the Galette rest on the sheet for 10 minutes. Slip a wide spatula or small baking sheet under the Galette and slide it onto the cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, cutting the tart with a pizza wheel or a sharp knife. Serve the same day.

Linked to:
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Friday, June 24, 2011

Firetruck Birthday Cake

I recently made this cake for a lovely little boy's 3rd birthday party.  It was a white vanilla cake with vanilla frosting, and the decorations are made from marshmallow fondant.  I was really happy with the way it turned out, and I'm excited to try decorating with fondant again.

Photo by: Jamie Lacey Photography

Photo by: Jamie Lacey Photography

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Coconut Tea Cake

I love bundt cakes.  The way all the edges get kind of crunchy, how dense and delicious it is, how they're totally acceptable to make for no reason at all, and how you can eat them for breakfast, brunch, coffee, tea, dessert, or anytime in between.

This is a Dorie Greenspan recipe, full of lovely coconut flavor.  Coconut has to be one of my favorite flavors, and this cake is full of it, made with coconut milk and plenty of shredded coconut which I toasted for an extra nutty taste.  It's very easy to make, and was enjoyed by all at our house. 

Coconut Tea Cake
from Dorie Greenspan

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (stir well before measuring)
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter cut into 4 pieces
4 large eggs at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons dark rum
¾ cup unsweetened toasted coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 10 to 12 cup bundt pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt together.

Put the coconut milk into a small saucepan with the pieces of butter. Heat until the butter is melted. Remove from heat but keep warm.

Fit mixer with whisk attachment. Beat the eggs and sugar at medium high speed, about three minutes until pale and thick. Beat in vanilla and rum. Reduce speed to low, and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until blended.

With mixer on low, add coconut. Then add the warm coconut cream and butter.  When the mixture is smooth, stop mixing and give the batter a couple of turns with a rubber spatula, to ensure all ingredients are evenly incorporated.  Pour the batter into the pan and give the pan a few back and forth shakes to even the batter.

Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until cake is golden brown and an inserted cake tester comes out clean.  Transfer to a rack and cool 10 minutes before unmolding and letting it completely cool to room temp.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Whole Grain Caramel Rum Bars

I knew these would be trouble.  I bought a bag of caramel pieces with no recipe in particular in mind.  I started hunting through my many cookbooks and found this recipe in King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking book.  Unfortunately the recipe used less than half of the bag so I ended up eating the rest which wasn't what I had in mind when I bought them.  Oops?  

Back to the recipe!  I loved these bars.  They were very easy to make, and the rum flavor was heavenly.  I would add more chocolate chips next time since they seemed a little sparse, but otherwise these were fantastic.

Whole Grain Caramel Rum Bars
from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking


1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp orange juice
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted


2/3 cup caramel (from a block) or 21 individual candies
2 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp rum
2/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted


1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch square pan.

To prepare the crust: Whisk the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Add in the orange juice and melted butter, stirring till thoroughly combined.

Measure out 1 3/4 cups of the crust mixture and spread it in the prepared pan, gently patting it down. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then remove it from the oven and set it aside to cool while preparing the filling.

To prepare the filling: Melt the caramel, milk and rum in a small saucepan, stirring constantly until smooth. Pour the thinned caramel mixture evenly over the baked crust. Sprinkle with the almonds, then spread the remaining crust mixture over the almonds.

Return the pan to the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle them with the chocolate chips. Let cool until chocolate has solidified before cutting.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Blueberry Boy Bait

I had never heard of blueberry boy bait coffee cake before.  It's in my Cook's Country cookbook which gives some history of each of the recipes it features.  This one apparently came from a teenage girl in the 1950s who won a baking competition with a similar recipe.  She named it blueberry boy bait because one bite and teenage boys were hooked.  How cute!

This coffee cake is super quick to make, the cake isn't too sweet and it has a lovely blueberry cinnamon combination.  The recipe calls for inverting the cake once it's cool but I enjoyed the crunchy sugary cinnamon on top.  

Blueberry Boy Bait
from Cook's Country
Serves 12
If using frozen blueberries, do not let them thaw, as they will turn the batter a blue-green color.

2 cups  all-purpose flour plus 1 teaspoon
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon salt 
16 tablespoons  unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup  packed light brown sugar 
1/2 cup  granulated sugar 
3 large eggs 
1 cup  whole milk 
1/2 cup  blueberries , fresh or frozen, (see note above)

1/2 cup  blueberries , fresh or frozen (see note above)
1/4 cup  granulated sugar 
1/2 teaspoon  ground cinnamon 

For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

Whisk 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated. Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture. Toss blueberries with remaining 1 teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries. Spread batter into prepared pan.

For the topping: Scatter blue-berries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (I didn't invert it). Serve warm or at room temperature. (Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Milky Way Tart

Yum.  Way better than a milky way chocolate bar for sure.  I would liken this more to a coffee crisp bar minus the wafers since I don't think there is any coffee in a Milky Way, but it's a lovely name don't you think?  I got this recipe from my Flour cookbook, and it is simply heavenly.

This tart is fairly simple to make, just know that most of the components require quite a bit of resting time in the fridge, so this really isn't something you can throw together in a couple hours.  The tart starts with a Pâte Sucrée tart shell, which is crisp, slightly sweet, and thoroughly delicious.  Top that with rich caramel sauce, then comes the glorious milk chocolate coffee whipped cream,  then more caramel and finally milk chocolate shavings.  Mmmmm.

These pictures were taken only moments before I dropped the leftovers all over my chair.  Tragic, but lesson learned: tarts belong on plates, not cake pedestals.

Milky Way Tart
from Flour


For the milk chocolate mousse
5 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream
2 teaspoons instant coffee powder
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
For the caramel filling
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the tart
1 baked and cooled 10-inch Pâte Sucrée tart shell
3- to 4-inch slab milk chocolate, at warm room temperature, for decorating

Pâte Sucrée Recipe

1/2 cup (1 stick/114 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 8 pieces
1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (140 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and salt on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, or until pale and light. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the flour and beat on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the flour mixes with the butter-sugar mixture. The mixture will look like wet sand. Add the egg yolk and continue to mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the dough comes together.
  Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 1 hour. (At this point, the dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. If frozen, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before using.)

If making a pie shell, have ready a 9-inch pie pan dish. If making a tart shell, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place a 10-inch tart ring on top. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let soften at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Using a rolling pin, bang and flatten the dough into a disk about 1/2 inch thick. Flour the work surface, and then sprinkle the dough disk with a little flour. Roll out the dough into a circle 10 to 11 inches in diameter and about 1/4 inch thick for a 9-inch pie shell, or about 12 inches in diameter and just under 1/4 inch thick for a 10-inch tart shell. Make sure the work surface is well floured so the dough doesn’t stick to it, and make sure the disk itself is floured well enough to keep the rolling pin from sticking to it. Roll from the center of the disk outward, and gently rotate the disk a quarter turn after each roll to ensure the disk is evenly stretched into a nice circle. Don’t worry if the dough breaks a bit, especially toward the edges. You can easily patch any tears once you have lined the pan.

Roll the dough circle around the pin and then unfurl it on top of the 9-inch pie pan or the 10-inch tart ring. Press the dough well into the bottom and sides of the pan or ring, and use any scraps or odd pieces to patch up any tears or missing bits. Make sure the entire interior is well covered with dough, and then press one last time all the way around to ensure any holes have been patched. Trim the edge of the dough so it is even with the rim of the pan or ring.

Refrigerate the pastry shell for at least 30 minutes. The gluten needs a little time to relax so the pastry doesn’t shrink in the oven. (The pastry shell can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 1 day or frozen for up to 2 weeks. Bake directly from the refrigerator or freezer.)

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool to room temperature on a wire rack. If you are making a tart shell, remove the tart ring. Proceed as directed in individual recipes.
Make the mousse
Place the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream and instant coffee powder and heat over medium-high heat until the mixture is scalded, which means when bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan but the cream is not boiling.

Immediately pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and let stand for about 1 minute. Then whisk gently until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a small container, stir in the salt, cover tightly, and refrigerate until it is absolutely, completely chilled, at least 8 hours and up to 3 days. A few hours is not enough. (Because the cream has been heated, it will not whip properly unless it is very cold.)

Make the caramel filling
Place the sugar in the bottom of a medium saucepan and slowly pour in the water. Stir gently to moisten the sugar. If any sugar crystals are clinging to the sides of the pan, brush them down with a pastry brush dipped in water. Place the pan over medium-high heat and leave it undisturbed until the mixture comes to a rolling boil. (You want to avoid crystallization of the syrup, which can happen if the pan is disturbed before the sugar starts to color.) Then continue to boil rapidly without moving the pan until the sugar syrup starts to caramelize. This will take 3 to 4 minutes: the sugar syrup will boil furiously; then as it thickens, it will boil more languidly; and then you will see some of the syrup starting to color and darken around the edge of the pan.

When you see color in the pan, gently swirl it in a circular motion so the sugar caramelizes evenly. The syrup will start to turn golden brown, and then as you swirl the pan, the syrup will continue to get a bit darker and then darker still. To check the true color of the caramel, tilt the pan so you can see the syrup covering the bottom. This is the actual color of the caramel, and you want to keep cooking the caramel until this layer is a deep amber-brown. It takes just seconds for caramel to go from great to burnt, so be sure to tilt and check constantly.

As soon as the caramel is ready, slowly add the cream and then reduce the heat to low. Be careful. The steam that rises when the cream hits the caramel is extremely hot. Let the caramel and cream sputter for a few seconds until the mixture settles down, and then whisk to mix in the cream. Turn the heat up to medium and whisk together the caramel and cream (the mixture will have hardened a bit) for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they come together. Whisk in the butter, salt, and vanilla. Remove from the heat, pour into an airtight heatproof container, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 1 week.

Assemble the tart

 Place the tart shell on a flat plate. Spread about three-fourths of the caramel filling evenly in the bottom of the tart shell. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment or a hand-held mixer or a whisk, whip the mousse on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. Mound the mousse in the tart shell, and spread it evenly over the caramel filling. Drizzle the remaining one-fourth caramel filling in a crisscross pattern on top of the mousse. Using the back of a small knife or a vegetable peeler, shave curls from the milk chocolate slab. (Make sure the chocolate is slightly warm, or you will get splinters instead of curls.) Decorate the tart with the curls. Refrigerate the tart for at least 30 minutes before serving. (The tart can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.)

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cherry Lime Mini Tarts

Mmmm boy do I love cherries.  When I was growing up we had several gorgeous cherry trees in our yard so my mom was always making delicious cherry treats.  We barely have what you could call a yard now and definitely no cherry trees, but we made our way to Brentwood, CA a few weeks ago and had a great time cherry picking with the kids. 

I froze and canned most of the cherries that weren't eaten fresh, but I did make these delicious cherry lime mini tarts.  They are really easy and quick to make, and the cherries and lime make a perfect tart/sweet combination.

Cherry Lime Cups
from Martha Stewart

for the crust:
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces plus more for muffin pan
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

for the filling:
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (from 3 limes)
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
9 cherries, halved and pitted

Make crust: preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly butter six standard muffin cups.  In a food processor, process butter, flour, sugar, and salt until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add yolks and vanilla and process until dough comes together when pressed (dough will be crumbly).

Divide dough into 6 pieces.  Roll each into a ball and place in a muffin cup, pressing evenly into bottom and up sides.  Place a paper cupcake liner into each muffin cup over dough and fill with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake until edges are dry, 15 minutes.  Remove liners and weights; bake until crusts are dry and barely golden, 5 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, make filling: in a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, flour, sugar, lime juice, and salt.  Place 3 cherry halves into each crust and divide filling among each.  Bake until filling is set, about 25 minutes.  With the tip of a knife or small offset spatula, remove cups from pan.  Let cool completely on a wire rack.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Brown Butter Crispy Rice Squares

I made these for my son's 3rd birthday party, and I think the parents enjoyed them just as much as the kids.  I love rice crispy squares, they're such a comfort food.  I can only imagine how many people have fond memories of making these with their moms.

For me this recipes definitely improves the original though.  The brown butter adds a glorious nutty flavor, and the vanilla beans add a different and more intense vanilla flavor than extract does.  Love these tasty treats and I'll definitely be making these with my kids when they're older.

Photo by: Jamie Lacey Photography

Brown Butter Crispy Rice Sqaures
from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery & Cafe by Joanne Chang

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 vanilla bean (or substitute 1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
2 10-oz bags marshmallows
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
9 cups crispy rice cereal

Spray a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

Add the butter to a large saucepan set over low heat.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pan with the butter.  The butter will melt then begin to bubble and foam.  Eventually it will start to turn brown and smell nutty - watch carefully, it can go from brown to burned quickly.  Once the butter is browned, add all of the marshmallows and the salt.  Stir the mixture constantly until the marshmallows are completely melted.

Turn off the heat under the pan and add the cereal.  Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to coat the cereal evenly with the marshmallow liquid.  Spread the mixture in an even layer in the prepared baking pan.  Let cool for at least an hour before cutting and serving.

You can store the treats in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rocky Road Bars

This recipe was easy and deeeelicious.  I really should be banned from making them again.  When I first made them I had a bite after about 1 hour of refrigeration, and I thought, hmmm not bad.  I had them again a few hours later and somehow they had changed from not bad to irresistible.

The fudgey chocolate, silky smooth marshmallow, toasted almonds, and crunchy graham cracker crust were too much for me to resist.  In a matter of about three days I almost singlehandedly polished off an entire 9X13 pan full.  My husband stared at me in disbelief when I told him there were only a few squares left.  Ooops?

Fudgy Rocky Road Bars
from Martha Stewart


8 graham crackers
1 1/2 cups natural almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 cup marshmallow topping
1 bag (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (14 ounces) condensed milk


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with graham crackers, breaking them to fit if necessary. Bake until crackers are lightly toasted and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with almonds and dollop with marshmallow topping.

In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water, combine chocolate chips and condensed milk. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Pour chocolate mixture over marshmallow topping; working quickly, swirl together with a thin-bladed knife. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour. Cut into 18 squares.

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