It’s no secret I love citrus desserts. Frankly I like citrus anything. Anytime I can make a dessert wrapped around a piece of citrus I’m happy. These cakes pack a very bright citrus punch but the syrup balances out the cakes so they are not too tart. This is the recipe you make when limes are on sale. Limes were on sale the other day so I grabbed a bag and walked home thinking about how to impart them into a dessert. If you like you can make one standard size loaf cake. I happen to have a silicon bundtlette pan that I like to use for individual minis. These cakes are bright in taste and perfect after a spicy meal or after a meal where you want something not too heavy.
Lime Syrup Cakes
yield: 12 mini (1/4 cup capacity) bundtlettes OR one regular 9×5 size loaf cake
1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Cup thick yogurt
1 Cup sugar
3 Lg. eggs, room temp
zest of 2 1/2 large limes
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 Cup vegetable oil
1. Preheat oven to 350° F or 180° C. Prepare a mini bundtlette cake pan by brushing with melted butter and dusting with flour.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside. In a medium bowl whisk together the yogurt, one cup of sugar, eggs, zest of 2 limes (reserve the rest of zest for decoration), and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk until combined. Using the whisk, fold in the vegetable oil until combined. Fill wells of bundtlettes to 3/4 full.
3. Bake at 350° until toothpick inserted comes out clean. My bundtlette pan size is a bit smaller than most-the wells hold a 1/4 cup filling and my baking time took 18 minutes, so check often until done as I’m not sure the standard size. If using a standard loaf pan the time will take about 45-50 minutes.
4. While the cakes are baking make the lime syrup by placing the 1/3 cup lime juice with the 1/3 cup sugar in a small saucepan and heating until sugar is dissolved, and simmer for 1 minute.
5. Allow the cakes to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove and place a piece of parchment paper under the rack. Pokes holes in the top of the cakes with a toothpick about 1/2 inch apart. Dunk the cakes into the lime syrup by dunking all of the cakes except the very bottom. Turn the cakes upward so the tops are facing up. After 30 minutes, dunk the cakes one more time and sprinkle lightly with remaining lime zest. Allow cakes to cool completely. If making a large loaf-poke holes in the top of the cake and pour the syrup over and down the sides of the cake; after 30 minutes repeat the process using all of the syrup and sprinkle with lime zest.
1/3 Cup fresh lime juice
1/3 Cup sugar
Before you know it, the dog days of summer will be here, (WOOF!) and everything will seem unbearably hot. In the next instant– you will be scratching your head wondering where the summer went as you cover your plants to prevent frost. Does it not happen that fast?
The day the mercury reaches 90 is when you realize you do not have a tank top (silly you for waiting until July) and you will head to the mall to find winter coats on display. What- you were not aware you passed into that parallel universe of seasons?
Sitting on the porch, with your heels kicked up, the music playing a soft Marvin Gaye in the background…The kids are at the movie theatre with their friends, the husband is out playing golf and it’s just you and the dog staring at each other. Woof.
Yes, I hate to tell you, but you are panting just like the dog. Woof. That’s why he’s staring…
Pull this ice pop out of the freezer, kick back, close your eyes and enjoy the solitude, and try to forget you were too late in buying a tank top, ’cause it doesn’t really matter…relaxing is what matters.
Tank top be damned.
Pineapple Mint Ice Pops
yield: ~ 6-9 pops (depending on size of molds)
one pineapple (rind removed, cored) cut into chunks + it’s own juice OR one 20 oz. can chunk pineapple packed in juice
Sugar (to taste-1/4 Cup to 1/3 Cup)
8-10 mint leaves, washed
In a blender place the pineapple including all the juice, and the sugar and blend until smooth. Add the mint and pulse the blender until mint is the size of very small flecks (about 3 pulses). Let the mixture sit about 10 minutes (bubbles will float to the surface). Pour the mixture into popsicle molds and tap the molds on the counter to release any bubbles. Freeze for 40 minutes and insert wooden popsicle sticks. Continue to freeze until firm.
I have to admit, the only reason I made strawberry mousse this week was because I have these silicon half moon shaped molds that I’ve been dying to try out. I actually bought them a long time ago, but have never used them. I wanted to make pretty domed shaped mousse. I have a lot of silicon baking pans/molds and I swear by them. They have become my absolute favorite, and the best part is that you can shove them into a drawer and I mean literally shove. I stayed pretty simple for this recipe, but you could top the molds with a piece of store bought poundcake and when you flip the mousse out you would have a nice mousse topped dessert. The mousse would also be great as a filling for a layered cake–just make sure to use a springform pan if you decide to use it for that purpose.
recipe from Miette cookbook
yield: 4 Cups
5 Cups fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/3 Cup sugar
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. water
2 tsp. unflavored gelatin powder
3/4 Cup heavy cream
purchased pound cake (optional)
(whipped) heavy cream (optional for topping)
extra fresh berries (optional for topping)
1. In a small saucepan over very low heat, cook the berries, sugar, lemon juice, and water until very liquid, about 30 minutes. Strain the mixture through a sieve and let cool completely. You should have about 1 1/4 Cups of strawberry juice.
2. Pour 3/4 cup of the juice into a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the surface to soften.
3. Reheat the remaining juice until it is warm to the touch. Add the softened gelatin mixture to the warm juice and whisk until the gelatin has completely dissolved.
4. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the cream until it holds medium peaks. Fold one-third of it into the strawberry mixture. Gently fold in the remainder until no streaks remain. Pour mousse into a bowl or small molds, or ramekins, or wine glasses, and chill. If desired, place cut out rounds of pound-cake on top of the mousse molds. If using molds– to unmold, dip the molds or ramekins in hot water for a few seconds and invert on a plate, decorate with whipped cream and fresh berries.
What is it about Spring that sneaks up on you? You wait for it forever, and then suddenly…WHAM! here it is. Full on. Warm weather, and allergies. You have to take the good with the bad sometimes to appreciate the good. Spring has always been my favorite season. When I grew up in Michigan it seemed like forever before the winter thaw came, but when spring finally did arrive it was glorious. Rhubarb is one of those vegetables that signals Spring is finally here. You almost feel compelled to make something with it as it is not about for very long. I have to admit I’m a bit more intrigued with the color of it than the taste, but when you combine it with something sweet; such as the ever popular combination of strawberry you get something amazing. Throw in a few other flavors like orange and ginger and it makes a great pie. Note–this recipe also makes enough filling for one galette if you like to make just one pie.
Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies
yield: ~ 18 3 inch hand pies (will also make one large 9 inch round galette)
1 recipe fearless pie crust or your favorite pie crust recipe
1 Cup diced fresh strawberries
1 Cup diced fresh rhubarb
1 tsp. orange zest
1/4 C sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split & scraped
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. cornstarch
egg wash: one egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp. milk
coarse sugar for sprinkling top
1. In a small bowl combine the sugar, vanilla bean seeds, ginger, and cornstarch then set aside. Roll out the pie crust and cut out 3 inch circles. Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place pastry rounds onto sheet tray 2 inches apart. Mix the diced fruits, orange zest and sugar mixture together. Top each pastry round with 2 teaspoons of filling (being careful not to include too much juice) and brush edges of circles with egg wash. Take a round of pastry for the top and stretch it out slightly larger by pressing around the edges with the heel of your hand and place over the top of the fruited round, press down and around the filling with your finger to seal edges, then crimp with a floured fork. Cut a slit in the top of each pie, brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Freeze the pies for 10 minute while you preheat the oven to 400° F.
2. Remove the pies from the freezer, redo the slit in the top if needed, then bake the pies at 400° F for 20 minutes until pies are golden brown. Let pies cool on the tray placed over a wire rack.
I came up with this when I had leftover chocolate ganache sitting in my fridge and wanted a fun way to use it up. Every time I opened the fridge there was that ganache in the bowl staring back at me. “Aren’t you going to use me?” “Aren’t you going to bake with me?” “Aren’t you going to pour me over something?” Ganache guilt. That damn ganache kept talking to me. Egging me on, scolding me. What-the food in your fridge doesn’t talk to YOU? You definitely don’t want to throw away perfectly good ganache. Quite often I end up having ganache leftover from a previous recipe. The first time I made these I brought them to a summer potluck BBQ party. People do not like to be cutting desserts at a party; myself included. Mini desserts are perfect for a party because you want to be able to sample other things and not fill up on one dessert, and more importantly-when people hear the word “s’more” they get a little giddy. Even if you’re 50.
Note- if you don’t want to make home-made marshmallows you could buy store-bought (large size) and cut them in half (horizontally) place them on top of the ganache and toast (blow torch) them like that.
Mini S’more Tarts
Note: This recipe takes several hours, so read through first and plan accordingly. Tarts can be filled day before and kept in fridge before topping with marshmallow.
yield: ~24 mini muffin size tarts
Graham Cracker Crust (can prepare day before)
5.4 oz pkg. whole graham crackers (they usually come as 9 crackers in a bundle) or 1 1/4 Cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
In a bowl combine the crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and butter until well combined. Line mini muffin pan(s) with paper liners. Press about 2 1/2 tsp. to 1 tablespoon of crumb mixture into the wells (and up along the sides) of a mini muffin pan(s) (using the back of a rounded measuring teaspoon to pack helps) pack the mixture as tightly as you can. Bake at 350° F for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and being careful, smooth the bottoms of the crusts with the back of your measuring teaspoon as they will puff up slightly. Return to the oven and continue to bake for another 3-5 minutes. Upon removing the pans smooth the crusts once more if you need to get rid of any puffing that occurred while baking. Place the pans/tins on wire rack to cool completely before filling with ganache. The crusts will completely firm up once cooled.
Prepare the ganache. Note: if you are using leftover ganache simply microwave until melted, stirring after 30 second intervals and proceed with filling.
Chocolate Ganache Filling (can prepare the day before)
5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
5 oz. heavy cream
Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Microwave cream until boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate and starting in the center stir the mixture gently (to avoid air bubbles) and continue stirring until mixture is completely emulsified. Pour warm ganache into the individual graham cracker crusts (to the top) and place in the fridge to chill to become firm. Once firm proceed with making the marshmallow topping. Allow the tarts to come to room temperature before piping on the marshmallow.
2 1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin (such as Knox)
cold water divided: 1/3 C cold water + 1/4 C cold water
2 tsp. vanilla
1 Cup sugar
Note: before you start have your tarts already filled (ganache needs to be firm) and ready for topping.
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer place 1/3 cup cold water and stir the gelatin to mix, then leave to bloom while you prepare syrup mixture. Prepare a piping bag fitted with a large round tip such as an Ateco 806 or 808 (I like an 808). Have a small cup of water with a pastry brush handy as well as a candy thermometer.
2. In a small saucepan over medium high heat stir sugar and 1/4 cup cold water until sugar dissolves. Once sugar dissolves, stop stirring and insert a candy thermometer and boil until you reach soft ball stage (238° F which is soft ball stage). (Have a small cup of water with a pastry brush next to stove in case sugar crystals form while syrup cook-if sugar crystals form brush the sides of the pan with the wet brush). Remove syrup from heat and pour about one tablespoon of syrup down the side of your mixer bowl and whisk to combine, then pour the rest of the syrup into the bowl down the side of bowl and whisk to combine by hand for 2 minutes to cool a bit. Secure the whisk attachment to mixer and whisk on high until you reach soft peaks; about 8 minutes. Immediately place mixture into piping bag and pipe marshmallow onto ROOM TEMP prepared tarts. Note: PIPE THE MALLOW ONTO ROOM TEMP TARTS as if the tarts are cold the mallow tends to separate from the ganache.
(You will most likely have extra mallow leftover and you can pipe mallow “hats”onto a sheet pan sprinkled heavily with powdered sugar. Let the mallow topped tarts rest for a couple hours or overnight to set. Once mallow is set toast the marshmallow topping with a hand-held brulee torch. Serve at room temperature.
I love a good lava flow. Cocktail that is. Okay, perhaps witnessing an actual lava flow (from afar) is pretty cool too. Years back we took a cruise to Hawaii. NCL cruise line does a Hawaii cruise and it’s pretty darn fun. The ship cruised around the Hawaiian islands and at night our ship was strolling past the big island (I think it was the big island) when we saw the actual lava flowing into the sea. Now, I’ve never seen The Husband get so excited before. Who knew it took molten hot lava. He was like a little kid when he saw that red orange hot lava flowing over the cliff edges into the cool sea. I’m getting just as excited to think these little puppies are sitting in my freezer box as we speak. So whenever you’ve had a bad week; take some time to whip these little pops up and sit back, close your eyes and pretend you are sitting in Hawaii. No lava needed…
Lava Flow Cocktail Pops
yield: ~ 6-8 pops depending on size of your molds
1/2 lb. (about 8 or 9) fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
2 Tbsp. sugar
10 oz. can Bacardi Frozen Pina Cola Mix, thawed
6-10 oz. Coconut milk
4 oz. Light Rum (optional)
In a blender combine the thawed pina colada mix and 10 oz. of coconut milk, blend to combine. Pour into a 2 cup measuring container. Set aside and rinse the blender. Combine the strawberries and sugar in blender until pureed. Strain the seeds either through cheese cloth or a fine mesh strainer. Place the pureed strawberry mixture into a 1 cup measuring cup and set aside.
For original version with alcohol: Follow instructions as above except use 4 oz. of rum and 6 oz. of coconut milk instead of the 10 oz. of milk.
To create Ice Pops:
Pour about 1 Tbsp. to 1 1/2 Tbsp. of strawberry mixture into bottom of ice pop molds. Take the mold and hold it in your hand at a 45 degree angle and carefully pour the prepared pina colada mix along the side of the molds until mold is full. Hold the mold up straight, and take chopstick or table knife and insert to hit bottom, and drag the strawberry mixture along the sides of the mold in 3-4 places from the bottom upwards to create a flowing effect. Freeze the molds for about 40 minutes and insert wooden sticks and continue to freeze until mixture is completely frozen. To remove pops run mold(s) under hot water for a few seconds to release.