Raspberry Streusel Bars

You’ve probably figured that raspberries are one of my favorite fruit; since I have many recipes on the blog using them. I had to squeak in one more recipe before summer ends. I’ve been hanging onto this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated for a while now, but I tweaked the recipe slightly by using seedless jam instead as I can’t stand a ton of seeds in my filling. I also added a bit of cinnamon-I also do that when I make raspberry linzer tart as I find it adds a nice back note of warmth to the flavor. The third change I made is by using walnuts instead of pecans; so use pecans if you like. The bars are best served the day they are made as the crust and topping remain crunchy. They will soften the following day; but they are still delicious. Store in an airtight container.

raspberry streusel bars

raspberry streusel bars 2

Raspberry Streusel Bars

recipe: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

yield: 24 (2 inch squares) more if cutting into smaller bar shape.
2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
2/3 C sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 Cup) + 2 Tbsp. unsalted softened butter, divided
1/4 C packed brown sugar
1/2 C rolled “old-fashioned” oats
1/2 C finely chopped walnuts
3/4 C seedless raspberry preserves
3/4 C fresh raspberries
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375° F with rack in middle position. Line a 9×13 inch pan with aluminum foil; both sides allowing about 2 inches overhand on all sides. Spray foil with baking spray.

2. In stand mixer mix flour, sugar, and salt a few seconds to combine. With machine running add the 16 tablespoons of butter; one piece at a time on low speed until mixture resembles damp sand. Measure 1 1/4 Cups of the flour mixture into a medium bowl and set aside; distribute remaining flour mixture into bottom of prepared pan and press evenly into bottom of pan. Bake until edges begin to brown; about 14-16 minutes.

3. To make streusel; while crust is baking, add brown sugar, oats, and nuts to reserved flour mixture; toss to combine. Work in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter with a fork and set aside.

4. Combine preserves, raspberries, lemon juice and cinnamon in a small bowl; mash with fork until combined but some berry pieces remain.

5. Spread filling over hot crust and spread evenly using a small offset spatula. Sprinkle the streusel over topping; DO NOT press streusel into filling. Return pan to the oven and bake for about 22-23 minutes until filling is bubbling and topping is golden brown. Cool to room temp on a wire rack; about 1-2 hours.

6. Remove foil sling from pan by lifting with extensions. Use serrated knife to cut into squares or bars.


S’more Martini

Do you ever go blank when your waitress or waiter ask you what do you want to drink? You KNOW you want a cocktail; but you want something different or something fun and special. I love it when restaurants or bars carry a specialty drink list-and especially if they include a picture of the cocktail! It makes it easy to pick something you might not ordinarily order. I recently bought a really fun book with all kinds of specialty drinks; “Candy Cocktails” by Flannery Good and Katherine Good. I’m enjoying looking through the recipes and the pictures. This super fun cocktail is from that book. This would be a great drink to make for a fun girls night in! I even toasted my marshmallow indoors right over the stove.

smore martini 1

S’more Martini

recipe: “Candy Cocktails”

yield: one martini

milk chocolate, melted for rim

graham cracker crumbs, for rim

2 oz. heavy whipping cream

2 oz. marshmallow vodka

1 oz. creme de cacao liquor

1/2 oz. chocolate syrup

pinch of salt

1 toasted marshmallow for garnish

Rim a martini glass with the melted chocolate and graham cracker crumbs, and set aside. In a shaker with ice, pour the cream, vodka, crème de cacao, chocolate syrup, and salt. Shake vigorously and pour the mixture into the martini glass. Garnish with toasted marshmallow.

Note: you may make a larger batch ahead of time (by just mixing all the ingredients) and keep chilled in the fridge until ready to serve.

smore martini 2

smore martini 4


Cheese Sables

I’m a huge fan of slice and bake. These little tasty crackers are the savory cousin to the sweet sable we all are familiar with, such as pecan sandies. Slice and bake is your friend when you need to bring something to a party since you can make the dough ahead of time and they take no time to slice and bake off.  These sables taste even better the next day after baking-they intensify a bit in flavor. You can easily double the recipe and store extra logs in your freezer for an impromptu party snack- just make sure to wrap them well in parchment paper and label them and seal the ends well. You can increase the cayenne in these if you want a really spicy cracker, but the amount I’ve used below also packs a nice subtle after burn.

 

Romano Parmesan Sables

Romano Parmesan Sable Crackers

Romano Parmesan Cheese Sables

yield: ~ 4 1/2-5 dozen

 

13 Tbsp. (1/2 C + 5 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, room temp

1 Cup grated Romano cheese

3/4 Cup Parmesan cheese

1  1/2 Cup all purpose flour

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1. In a food processor combine the softened butter and cheeses to combine. Add the flour, salt, and pepper and pulse to combine. Divide dough in two halves and roll each half into a log about 1 1/4 inch in diameter. Wrap each log in parchment paper and chill for about 40 minutes.

2. Unwrap paper and slice logs into 1/4 inch slices. Place crackers at least 1 inch apart on a parchment lined or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake at 325° F for about 17-19 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Allow to cool over a wire rack. Store leftover crackers in an airtight container.


Raspberry and Rose Muffins

I got the inspiration for this recipe by the leftover rose sugar that collects on the bottom of a bag of Turkish delight. Typically you will see both lemon and rose flavored candy in one bag of Turkish delight, and the rose flavor is what I usually pick out to eat. I love anything rose flavored when it comes to sweets. The powdered sugar that coats the candy gets permeated from the rose flavored candy and usually there is quite a bit of it leftover in the bottom of the bag. It’s like a little present waiting for you once you finish your candy. The smell of the sugar is amazing. I certainly did not want to throw it away so I got inspired when I had some fresh raspberries to make muffins. When I’m coming up with new recipes, it usually comes from something in my daily life that awakens my senses or tastes. If you have access to organic roses you can make your own rose infused sugar. Here is a great link I found on how to do that.

 

 

raspberry and rose muffins 1

raspberry and rose muffins 2

 

Raspberry Rose Muffins

yield: 12 muffins

 

2  3/4 C all purpose flour

1 C sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 Cups (about 12 oz. or 2 pints) fresh raspberries

1 Cup milk

1 Cup sour cream

2 eggs

3/4 Cup melted unsalted butter

1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. rose water

3/4 tsp. vanilla

Rose Sugar (optional)*

*To make “fast” rose sugar in a food processor place 1/3 cup granulated sugar and scant 1/3 cup organic dried small rose buds (you can usually find the rose buds in tea shops that sell loose tea) and process until sugar turns into powder. Store leftover sugar in a ziplock baggie or airtight container.

 

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Spray a non stick muffin tin with baking spray. (I used a tall European style muffin tin for tall muffins- but you can use a standard American muffin tin-adjust the baking time as needed). If you have a mini popover pan that works too.

2. In large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients. Gently add the raspberries and gently toss with the flour mixture to coat.  In a measuring cup whisk the milk, sour cream, eggs, butter and flavorings. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently fold together being careful not to break the berries. Using a ice cream style scoop divide the batter evenly into each muffin well. If you have any extra berries- top the muffins with a berry. Sprinkle granulated sugar over each muffin.

3. Bake muffins at 375° for 10 minutes then DECREASE the oven to 350° F and bake for an additional 10-12 minutes, or until a wooden skewer comes out clean.

4. Let the tin cool over a wire rack and after 5 minutes remove the muffins and let them cool the rest of the way on the rack. Once cool dust over a little rose sugar if you like right before serving.


Glazed Meyer Lemon Shortbread

 

There are days I really miss San Francisco. I miss all the wonderful restaurants.  I miss all the eccentric, diverse weirdos, people. I miss hearing the clang-clang of a distant cable car rolling down a steep hill.  I miss the faint orange of the Golden Gate bridge peeking through the dense fog.  I miss being able to drive up to the wine country at a moments notice. I could go on for hours with all the reasons.

Most of all, I miss my dear friends. Especially my friends with Meyer lemon trees….

and you know who you are… 

I used to get BAGS of them for free willingly dropped off onto my work desk.

Oh, the amazing meyer lemon. How I love thee…

I don’t even know how to describe the scent of a meyer lemon. Sure the taste is amazing- but it’s the smell that borders on exotic. You just have to smell one to experience it- One cannot simply describe how it smells (but I’ll try- It’s sweet, it’s distinctly floral, but at the same time lemony).

I recently found a bag of meyer lemons at the market (albeit-expensive)-insert appropriate child like weeping here)- so I just had to splurge and buy them. I was down right giddy when I spotted them. I admit I sat in my kitchen and snorted the scent coming off of those lemons for several minutes. Some of them I sliced thin and macerated them with sugar for a few hours at room temp until a natural syrup formed and then I added the syrup to my iced tea.

The rest I used to make shortbread. These little gems are packed with flavor- but I didn’t want to stop there- so I used some of the juice to mix with confectioners sugar to make a glaze.

Cheers to the meyer lemon, and more importantly to my friends who I miss. Even without your lemon trees you are forever dear in my heart.

meyer lemon shortbread 1

meyer lemon shortbread 2

glazed meyer lemon shortbread

Glazed Meyer-Lemon Shortbread

 

2 sticks (1 Cup) unsalted butter, room temp

1/2 Cup confectioners sugar

zest (finely grated) of 3 meyer lemons (reserve juice for glaze)

2 Cups all purpose flour

3/4 tsp. fine (table salt)

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. lemon extract

1. Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy; about 3 minutes, stopping often to scrape bottom and sides of mixer bowl. Stir in zest and combine. Add extracts and combine well. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Add flour mixture to ingredients and mix on low until combined. Place cookie dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and flatten out into a disk. Wrap well and place in refrigerator to chill for one hour.

2. Roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper to about 1/4 inch thickness. Peel off top sheet of paper. Dip desired cookie cutter in flour and cut cookies. (I used a 1 inch x 3 inch long cutter). If dough becomes soft while working- place back in the refrigerator to chill; before attempting to remove cut out cookies; cookies release much easier if dough is very cold. Re-roll any scraps and cut out remaining cookies. Place cookies onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 325° F for about 14-15 minutes or until edges are just turning light brown. Allow cookies to cool on sheets then remove to a wire rack. Once completely cool, glaze with lemon glaze.

 

Lemon Glaze

1 Cup confectioners sugar

2 1/2-3 tsp. meyer lemon juice

In a small bowl whisk together sugar and lemon juice. You are looking for a fairly thick glaze; you don’t want it too runny. Spread glaze onto cookies with a small off set spatula. Let cookies sit for glaze to set; about one hour. Store cookies in an air tight container.

 


Fourth of July Meringue Cookies

Happy Birthday America.

On Independence Day you MUST wear something red white and blue as well as try to eat something red white and blue. I’ve got you covered with the last one. The rest is up to you.

An extra special Thank You to all the Men & Women in our Armed Forces for your selfless and brave service.

 

fourth of july meringues

fourth of july meringues 2

Fourth of July Meringues 3

Eton Mess with red white and blue meringues

Eton Mess: Layer sweetened whipped cream, top with macerated raspberries and macerated blueberries, drop in some crumbled meringues, top with whipped cream and repeat…

Fourth of July Meringues

yield: about 16 meringues

 

3 large egg whites

3/4 Cup superfine sugar

large pinch (1/4 tsp.) cream of tartar

pinch of salt

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

 

In the bowl of a clean stand mixer bowl place the egg whites and sugar. Place over a saucepan that has about 1 inch of water. Bring water to simmer and whisk whites and sugar until sugar granules are no longer felt when you feel with two fingers, and mixture is warm. Whisk in cream of tartar and salt. Place bowl on stand mixer with whisk attachment and whisk on medium speed until meringue forms and is stiff peak and glossy; about 7 minutes; towards the last minute pour in the vanilla while whisking.

Take a disposable pastry bag and fit with a round large tip (such as 804 or 805 Ateco). Using a bamboo skewer use gel paste food coloring and make a stripe of red color down one side of the inside of the bag. Do the same with blue gel coloring on opposite side of the bag. Make sure the stripe of color is fairly thick. Place the pastry bag inside a large glass or tumbler and fold the cuff of the bag over the glass to keep the bag in place. Carefully use a large spoon and drop dollops of meringue down inside of bag being careful not to disturb the sides of the inside of bag as much as possible.

Pipe decorative swirls of meringues going about 4-5 turns onto prepared sheet pan. Bake meringues for about 1 hour and 15 to 1 hour and 20 minutes (depending on the humidity and size baking times will vary) or until meringues are dry. Rotate baking sheet half way through baking time. If meringues are taking long to become crisp you can turn off the oven and keep door propped open and let meringues cool the rest of the way inside the oven.

Meringues will keep for several days in an airtight container.

Serve meringues crumbled over ice cream or with whipped cream and macerated berries to make Eton Mess.

 

 

 


Pina Colada Cake

I’m not gonna lie; this is an ambitious cake with many components which you may decide to make only parts of. I recently made this for both my nephews graduation party. The oldest graduated from college, and the younger graduation from high school, so excuse my not so great pictures as I only spent a few minutes taking pictures of the cake at the party.

I love nothing more than a good three layer dramatic cake. Of all the things I make- 3 layer cakes are still my favorite. If you love the taste of pina colada, then this is the cake for you. As I always say, make it your own. If you decide you want to leave out the curd filling and just make a coconut cake with a simple filling, then by all means. I have made this cake many times with different variations. I will also give the variation for this cake in 2 layers at the end of the post for those who want just a 2 layer cake.  If you can find the large flake unsweetened coconut- it is an especially elegant cake; Bobs Red Mill makes a good version of the large flake coconut if you can find it.  Another variation is to fill it with store bought lemon or lime curd. Dickensons makes a great lime curd if you can find it. Since I cover the cake with sweetened coconut I purposely leave the coconut buttercream on the subtle side. If you like a real full on coconut taste you may also decide to flavor all of the buttercream with more coconut extract. Just play around with it- by adding a little at a time until you like the taste. The cake takes a while to make and assemble, so when I am planning to make it- I like to make the syrup, pineapple curd and the buttercream the day before to save time. Just keep all 3 components chilled overnight.

* If you don’t like the visible flecks of vanilla bean in the frosting then you can use vanilla extract instead. I personally like the flavor of the vanilla bean paste over the vanilla in this buttercream as it adds a more pronounced flavor.

Coconut Pina Colada Cake

Pina Colada Cake 1

Pina Colada Cake 2

PIna Colada Cake 3

Pina Colada Cake 5

Pina Colada Cake

 

Pineapple Curd

recipe: adapted from Donna Hay

300 gms Fresh Pineapple, chopped coarse

2 tsp. lemon juice

3 egg yolks

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

1/2 Cup caster (superfine) sugar

150 gms unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces.

In a food processor or vitamix, or super powered blender; process the pineapple until smooth. Strain pineapple directly into a small saucepan. Add in the lemon juice and stir with a heat proof spatula. Add in the sugar, egg yolks and cornstarch and stir vigorously or whisk to combine. Place over medium heat and stir continuously with the spatula or non metal whisk until thickened; about 6-8 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter in pieces. Place in a bowl and cover directly with plastic wrap over surface. Chill until ready to use. Makes about 1 1/2 Cups; you will have a little left over. The curd will keep in the fridge for up to one week.

 

Rum Cake Syrup

1/2 Cup sugar

3/4 Cup water

2 Tbsp. dark rum

1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water to a boil, stirring to ensure sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Set aside to cool at room temperature while you prepare the cake. Note: you can also prepare this a day or two ahead and keep in refrigerator to chill. Makes about 1 cup and you will have some leftover.

 

Coconut three-Layer Cake

4 3/4 + 2 Tbsp. Cake Flour
1 1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt

1 1/2 Cup unsalted softened butter (3 sticks)
2 1/4 Cup sugar
9 egg whites (if using liquid egg whites from a carton- use 1 1/2 cups liquid measured)
zest of one lemon- finely grated/zested
2 tsp. vanilla or vanilla bean paste. (I like to use the paste)
1 tsp. coconut extract

1 Cup (full fat) coconut milk [shake several times before opening]
1 Cup whole or 2 % milk

1 Cup sweetened flake coconut + more for covering sides and top of cake.

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare three 9 inch cake pans by spraying with nonstick baking spray and lining with parchment circles, then spray lightly again.
2. Whisk first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. In bowl of stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy; about 2-3 minutes. Mix coconut milk and whole milk in a 2 cup glass measuring cup, set aside. Add egg whites to butter sugar mixture one at a time or slowly if using liquid whites; stopping frequently to scrape down bottom and sides of bowl. Add extracts and mix. Note: mixture will look really loose and curdled (this is okay and normal)- it will come together in the end. In 3 additions on medium speed, alternate adding 1/3 of the flour mixture with 1/3 milk mixture starting an ending with flour mixture.  Fold in sweetened coconut with a spatula. Divide batter equally between the three pans.
3. Bake at 350° F for about 25 minutes or until cake pulls away from sides and a wooden skewer comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake. It’s okay if you get a few moist crumbs on skewer. Let pans cool on a wire rack until completely cool, then flip out cakes.

Vanilla Bean & Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream

6 egg whites (note: I do not use liquid egg whites for this)

1 1/2 Cups sugar

5 sticks unsalted butter, room temp (slightly softened)

2 tsp. vanilla bean paste

1/2 tsp. (+ more to taste) coconut extract

In a medium to large saucepan place an inch of water. In the bowl of your stand mixer place the egg whites and sugar. Place the bowl directly over the pan of water and bring water to a simmer; whisking continuously. Whisk the whites and sugar until mixture is 160 degrees F. If you don’t have an instant read thermometer- just heat until you no longer feel any sugar granules and mixture is warm to touch. Remove bowl; wipe off the bottom of any water and place on mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk on medium high speed until a meringue forms and is shiny and stiff; about 5 minutes. Continue to whisk until the bottom of the bowl is no longer warm. Reduce speed to medium and add in one tablespoon of butter at a time until buttercream is smooth. Stop as necessary to scrape down sides and bottom to ensure you are getting on the meringue mixed in. NOTE: It will go through a grainy curdled phase- but don’t worry (this is normal) it will come together- just keep adding in the butter and continue to whip. Once smooth, stop and remove about 1 1/2 cups and place in a bowl large enough to mix. Mix the 1 1/2 cups of buttercream with the coconut extract, then set aside. Mix the remaining buttercream with the vanilla bean paste until all the paste is incorporated.

 

To assemble:

1. Trim off cake tops with a large serrated knife to level any domed tops. Flip cakes over and also shave off a thin layer of the cake that has turned brown; this helps the syrup soak in a bit more.

2. Place a small dollop of buttercream onto a cardboard cake round. This helps “glue” the cake, so as not to slide while assembling. Place one cake layer down over the dollop of buttercream, being careful to center on cardboard round. Brush cake liberally with the rum syrup. Frost this first layer with the coconut buttercream, until buttercream is level and smooth.

3. Prepare a second cake layer by brushing with syrup and carefully flipping cake over so syrup soaked side rests over the coconut buttercream. Brush the top side of cake also with syrup. Place a generous amount of the pineapple curd over the cake layer and smooth to the side of cake leaving about 1/2 inch boarder as curd will spread a bit. If you want extra assurance; you may pipe a border of vanilla buttercream (about 1/2 inch tall) along the outside edge border of the cake and place the pineapple curd inside the piped boarder. If you like a thicker layer of curd this is a way to get a thicker layer without having to worry about it seeping out the sides of the cake. If you don’t have a piping bag you can simply use a plastic ziplock bag and snip off one of the corners and pipe that way. If find I like this way (using the piped border) as some of the curd tends to soak into the cake after assembling and you can get a thicker layer of curd this way.

4. Brush the third and final layer of cake with syrup and place it soaked side down over the curd layer. Brush the top layer of the cake also with syrup and spread a thin layer of vanilla buttercream over the top and sides of cake to “crumb coat”. Place the crumb coated cake into the fridge for 30 minutes. Frost the cake top and sides with remaining vanilla buttercream until smooth and cover top and sides of cake with flaked coconut. Keep cake chilled in refrigerator. Remove cake about 1 hour before ready to serve to come to room temperature. Store any remaining cake in the refrigerator.

 

For a 2 layer cake: Follow directions as above but reduce amounts as per below and prepare two 9 inch cake pans and bake as above. Prepare a 5 egg white buttercream.

3 1/4 Cups cake flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 Cup unsalted butter

1 1/4 Cups

6 large egg whites

1 tsp. lemon zest (fine)

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or vanilla)

1/2 tsp. coconut extract

2/3 Cup coconut milk

2/3 Cup whole or 2 % milk

3/4 Cup sweetened flake coconut + more for finishing cake

 

Five egg white Swiss Meringue Vanilla Bean Buttercream

Follow method directions as above for buttercream

(enough to frost and fill a 2 layer cake)

5  egg whites

1 1/4 Cup sugar

4 sticks unsalted butter

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste OR (Coconut extract to taste if you want coconut buttercream)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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