Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Key Lime Pie

I love citrus flavors. I love them in fresh fruit, and I love them in desserts. Key lime pie is a favorite at our house. Not only is it quick and easy to make, but it is very satisfying.

Now, after viewing the ingredient list, you may be thinking, "Sweetened condensed milk? Seriously?". I know, I know, it isn't good for you (even though the only ingredients are milk and sugar). However, every once in a while, I think its okay to splurge. So, here is the recipe - its delicious and definitely splurge-worthy.

Key Lime Pie
Adapted from Nellie & Joe's
Makes one 9" pie

9" graham cracker pie crust (for homemade crust, see recipe below)
14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup lime juice (I use 3/4 cup - for more tartness)

In a bowl combine the milk, egg yolks, and lime juice. Blend until mixture is smooth. Pour into pie crust.

Bake for 15 minutes at 350ºF. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before refrigerating. Once pie is chilled, slice and serve with whipped cream, if desired. Enjoy!

Graham Cracker Crust
Adapted from
Makes one 9" pie crust

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar (or honey sucanat)
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter, melted

Mix together crumbs and sugar. Add butter and stir until thoroughly mixed.

Press into bottom and up the sides of pie pan.

Bake at 350ºF for 10 minutes. Remove and fill with key lime pie filling. Bake as directed. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Crème Brûlée

The very name sounds gourmet - Crème Brûlée. A hard sugar crust hiding a smooth and creamy custard. Never would I have thought that creme brûlée would be so quick and easy to make.

I had never made a creme brûlée before, daunted by the thought of having to blow-torch my dessert before enjoying it. However, after I read that a broiler could be used to create the iconic brown sugar shell, I decided to give it a go. One day, when I get up the nerve, I would love to try out that blow torch though...

Crème Brûlée
Adapted from the Pioneer Woman
Makes 6-8 servings

4 cups heavy whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
10 egg yolks
3/4 cups sugar (or honey sucanat)
6-8 tablespoons superfine sugar

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

In saucepan combine cream and vanilla. Simmer mixture over medium-low heat.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow and thick.

While whipping yolks, slowly drizzle in about 1 cup of the warm cream. (Pour slowly so as not to cook your egg yolks. After adding the first cup, slowly add the rest of the cream mixture. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain mixture.

If using ramekins, place on a rimmed baking sheet and fill evenly with custard. (or you can use a 13x9 pan). Fill bottom of pan with water, until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins (creating a water-bath). Bake until set, about 30 minutes for ramekins, or 1 hour for 13x9. (Do not allow custard to get brown)

Cool ramekins on counter before covering with plastic wrap and transferring to refrigerator to chill for 2-3 hours.

When ready to serve, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over each ramekin, or 7 tablespoons over 13x9 pan. Use a kitchen torch or broiler to brown the sugar. It should create a thin, crisp surface of browned sugar over the top. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Friday, October 15, 2010

New York-Style Cheesecake

There are few things as rich and decadent as cheesecake. Cool and creamy, smooth and luscious...I love cheesecake.

You may be surprised how easy this cheesecake is to make. I've made it countless times, and it turns out delicious. I like it best with homemade strawberry sauce cascading down the sides...yum!
New York-Style Cheesecake
Adapted from Kraft Recipes
Makes one 13x9 or 9" cheesecake

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons sugar (or honey sucanat)
6 tablespoons butter, melted
5 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar (or honey sucanat)
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 325ºF for 13x9 pan, or 300ºF for springform. If making in 13x9 pan, line with foil, extending ends over sides of pan. Mix cracker crumbs, 6 Tbsp. sugar, and butter until mixed. Press mixture firmly in bottom of pan (and up the sides, if using springform). Bake crust 10 minutes.

In the bowl of an electric mixture beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, flour and vanilla on medium speed until well blended. Mix in sour cream. Add eggs one at a time, until blended. Pour mixture over crust.

Bake until center is almost set, about 40 minutes in 13x9, or 75-80 minutes in springform pan. Cool completely. Refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight. Remove cheesecake from 13x9 pan by lifting foil "handles", or from springform pan by releasing the clasp. Cut into pieces and serve plain, or with strawberry sauce drizzled over top. Enjoy!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Graham Cracker Crumbs

Before you can have graham cracker crumbs, you must have graham crackers... and I do love this recipe for graham crackers ever so much.

Surprisingly easy to make, these crunchy little crackers are delicious plain, or as the bookends for a healthy-er S'more. However, more often than not, these crackers end up being crumbs. And what delicious crumbs they make.

Graham Cracker Crumbs
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
Makes about 20 crackers, or 5 cups of crumbs

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (or 12.5 oz Soft White wheat flour)
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed (or honey (or molasses) sucanat)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cubed and frozen
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

(These cookies can be made in a food processor using the steel blade, or in an electric mixer using the paddle attachment.) Combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer or food processor. Mix (or pulse) on low to incorporate. add butter and mix on low (or pulse on and off) until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Whisk together honey, milk, and vanilla in a small bowl. Add to flour mixture. Mix or pulse until dough barely comes together (It will be soft and sticky.)

Pour dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Wrap and chill for about 2 hours (or overnight), until firm.

Once chilled, take half of the dough and roll out on a floured surface into a 1/8-inch thick rectangle.The dough will probably still be a little sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim rectangle to make it 4 inches wide. cut strips every 4 1/2 inches. Gather scraps, re-chill, and repeat. Place crackers on parchment-lined trays. Chill in freezer until firm (about 10 minutes). Repeat with other half of dough.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. If making actual crackers instead of crumbs, make a vertical line down middle of each cracker (but don't cut through the cracker), and using a toothpick, poke two rows of dots roughly 1/2-inch from each side of the dividing lines.

Bake crackers for 25 minutes, or until browned, and lightly firm to the touch. (You can rotate the sheets midway through the baking to help them cook evenly).

To make crumbs: Allow crackers to cool completely, then pulverize in a food processor. The crumbs can be frozen for a month or so, using as needed to make pie crusts, to sprinkle on top of ice cream, or anywhere else you would use graham cracker crumbs.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cookies and Cream Cake

This is the cake my little brother requested for his birthday. Not only did it have to taste yummy, but it had to look like it was made out of Legos, giant Legos.

So this is my attempt at making a Lego cake for a ten year old. Thankfully, he's pretty easy to please : )

This cake tasted very yummy. I still have yet to find the perfect "white cake" recipe (and I have tried probably a dozen different versions). Whereas I don't think this recipe will mark the end of my quest, I do think it would definitely be worth making again.

High Ratio Yellow Butter Cake
Adapted from Not So Humble Pie
Makes two tall 8" or 9" cakes or one 13x9 cake

3 1/2 cups cake flour (can sub all-purpose) (or 17.5 oz Soft White wheat flour)
2 cups sugar (or honey sucanat)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature
1 cup whole milk, divided
4 large eggs
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10-15 chocolate-creme sandwich cookies, crushed

(If using two 8" or 9" pans, you will need them to have 3-inch high sides, otherwise the cake will rise over the top. Feel free to use 3 or 4 of the shorter sided pans instead. Or you can opt for a 13x9 cake, or cupcakes).

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Greese cake pan(s) and line with parchment paper.

Lightly beat eggs, egg whites, vanilla, and half of milk in a bowl. Mix until incorporated. Set aside.
In stand mixer bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and sift together. (Note: If using the wheat flour, sifting may remove the bran. You can just dump the bran back in after sifting, or just sift everything but the flour, and stir it in afterward.)

Equip your mixer with whisk attachment. Add butter and remaining milk. Beat on medium speed until smooth (about 4 minutes), scraping bowl as needed.

The mixture may start out rough looking, then turn thick and paste-like. After beating, add one-third of the egg mixture and mix on medium for two minutes. Add another third and beat for two minutes on medium (the mixture will start to increase in volume). Add last third of the egg mixture, and beat for two minutes on medium speed. Stir in crushed cookies.

Pour batter into pan(s) and level it out smooth. Bake for about 40 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back slightly when touched in the center. If it feels under-baked after touching, add 5 minutes.

Once baked, remove from oven and cool completely in pan(s) on wire wrack. (The cake should pull away from the sides of pan as it cools, but if it doesn't, just run a knife around the edges to release). After cake is cooled, remove from pan(s) and peel parchment paper off.

Once ready to frost, level top of cake and spread with frosting.

Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from Wilton
Makes about 3 cups

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (about 1 lb.)
pinch of salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Add confectioners' sugar gradually. After all the sugar is added, beat for 1 minute. Scrape bowl as needed. Once mixed, if frosting appears dry, add 1-2 tablespoons of milk.

For whipped frosting: After frosting is mixed, switch to whisk attachment and beat for 1 minute on medium.

Frosting can be stored for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Just rewhip slightly before using.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Easy Crepes

I always thought that crepes would be impossibly difficult to make. I had never even had crepes other than once at my neighbor's house. However, despite my apprehensions, I took the plunge. I made crepes.

Let me just tell you - If you have every been worried about the skill level needed to make delicious crepes, fear no longer. I was pleasantly surprised by the ease of making them. Granted, the first one or two may not be the prettiest thing, but once you get the hang of it, it will look like you've been making them for years. Plus, they are SO YUMMY!

Easy Crepes
Adapted from Epicurious
Makes about 10 large crepes

1 1/2 cups whole milk, room temperature
1 cup all purpose flour

3 large eggs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar (or honey sucanat)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients in blender until smooth. Strain batter to remove any lumps. Cover and chill 15 minutes, (or up to 1 day).

Oil crepe pan (or I use an iron skillet), and heat over medium. Once pan is heated, pour about 1/4 cup of batter into pan. Swirl so that it coats the bottom. Cook until the crepe edges are light brown (about 1 minute). Loosen with spatula, and carefully turn crepe over. Cook about 30 seconds, or until the bottom begins to brown in spots. Transfer crepe to a plate, and cover with paper towel (or I use wax paper cut into about 5 inch squares). Oiling the pan as needed, repeat with the rest of the batter, covering each crepe. (Cooked crepes can be made the day before and kept in the refrigerator (covered).

Fill crepes with desired items, such as fruit, pudding, whipped cream, preserves, chocolate syrup, candies, or whatever else sounds delicious. Enjoy!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chocolate and Vanilla Pudding

Creamy, delicious, and relatively quick to make, pudding can be a fabulous dessert. Why then, I ask you, don't I make it more often? I really have no idea why. I suppose the more typical desserts (cookies, brownies, cakes) usually win out. Hmmm...maybe I should remedy this.

I love pudding. I like it hot, I like it cold, and I can pretty much eat it anywhere in between. Yummy!
Not only is pudding awesome as a stand-alone, it can also be used to enhance other dessert. From trifles to cake filling, pudding is very versatile...and delicious. You should treat yourself to some : )
Vanilla Pudding
Adapted from this recipe
Makes about 4 servings

2 1/2 cups whole milk
2/3 cup sugar (or honey sucanat)
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter, softened

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat combine milk, sugar, and salt. (If using vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise, scrape seeds from pod, and add seeds to mixture). Heat until mixture begins to steam.

Combine the cornstarch with remaining half cup of milk, and whisk until there are no lumps. Add cornstarch mixture to milk mixture. Stirring occasionally, cook until mixture begins to thicken, and barely reaches a boil (approximately 5 minutes). Immediately reduce heat to very low. Stir pudding for 5 minutes, or until thick. Stir in butter and vanilla extract (if using).

Once thick, pour pudding into 4-6 small ramekins, or a 1-quart dish. Cover with plastic wrap, allowing wrap to lay on the surface of the pudding, to prevent the formation of a skin. Refrigerate pudding until chilled, and serve within a day.

Chocolate Pudding
Adapted from an old family recipe
Makes about 4 servings

2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar (or honey sucanat)
1/4 cup cocoa
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together all ingredients except vanilla. Cook in a double boiler over low heat until thick, stirring often. (I usually do not use the double boiler, but I do stir it constantly). Once thick, remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Divide pudding into ramekins, or pour into a 1-quart dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, or serve warm - it is delicious both ways! (This recipe doubles well).