Do you ever get mad when suddenly your favorite restaurant, establishment, grocery store etc. stop carrying a product you love? You know the feeling…you’re cruising along about your day and ready for something familiar or favorite and suddenly, WHAM you’re told “We stopped making that” or “We stop carrying that”. Excuse ME?! Like for real? I’ve been waiting all darn Winter long for a Blackberry Mojito Shaken Ice Tea Lemonade-whatever the heck that name of that darned drink- was. Uh huh. Now, I was craving that drink. CRAVING IT. I kept thinking okay, about Spring time they would start bringing it back. Nope. I inquired- They “decided” not to bring it back this year. Well, that was not going to do, so I decided to play around with the recipe (I knew the components cause I asked one day while chatting up the Starbucks gal last year) and set up my lab/shop in my kitchen to experiment. I know the original mixture contains blackberry mojito green tea from Teavana, but I found this tea mix at Cost Plus one day and I think it is lovely. If you use a green tea based mint flavored tea you should be fine. After playing around with different measures this is what I’ve come up with. So for all of you Blackberry Mojito Ice Tea Lemonade lovers out there, this is for you.
Copycat Starbucks Blackberry Mojito Ice Tea Lemonade
yield: one serving
3/4 Cup Mojito or Mint flavored Iced green tea (follow package directions for making iced tea)
1/4 Cup store bought lemonade (I like Simply Lemonade)
1 1/2 Tbsp. Blackberry Syrup such as Torani or Monin
Fill a glass with ice, stir the iced tea, lemonade and syrup together. Enjoy~
Soon you can “legally” wear white pants. Memorial Day is looming…You don’t really follow that silly rule, do you? Nor do you know you can only enjoy a popsicle that you purchase in a frozen store case. The world is yours to discover. Break out the Vitamix, blender, or food processor and start making your own frozen pops. Start with your favorite fruit or two and add a little yogurt or extra jam for flavor. Pick a fruit that is in season and remember that anything frozen looses a little sweetness when it’s at frozen state, so if adding any sugar this helps to gauge before you make your final pour into your pop molds. Enjoy~
Cherry Vanilla Yogurt Pops
1 1/2 Cups vanilla low fat yogurt
1/2 Cup fresh sweet cherries, pitted
1/3 Cup cherry jam
In a blender, food processor or Vitamix in this order; place the yogurt and jam. Process/pulse until mixture is smooth. Add the fresh pitted cherries and pulse until the cherries are small pieces; if you like your pops a little more chunky, then so be it. Once processed to your liking pour into clean pop molds and if using wooden sticks, wait for about 15 minutes to place sticks. Freeze until firm.
Several years ago I went on a Caribbean cruise with a stop in Jamaica. It was a quick stop and I really, really, really, wanted to go on this agricultural tour, so I signed up since I’m a total geek when it comes to things like that (I love anything that involves a working plantation where they show you how they harvest crops). I’m a sucker for it-I Love it. It did not disappoint. I was able to see trees of cocoa pods, allspice trees, and various other tropical fruits and plants. After our tour we were taken to another part of the island to have a catered lunch which had Jamaican meat patties as part of the spread. OMG, where had these little beauties been all my life. Well- duh- they were in Jamaica. I needed these in my life. Eventually of course I forgot about them until fast forward, years later when I came across an actual recipe for them by chef Lucinda Scala Quinn. You may know her by the show Mad Hungry. She apparently spent quite a bit of time in Jamaica in her day and her cookbook-which I checked out from the library has some amazing authentic recipes. I did tweak the recipe slightly by adding a pinch of cinnamon, a little more salt than her recipe, and ended up using empanada premade dough rounds found in a Hispanic market, but I’ve included her original recipe for her dough here.
Jamaican Meat Pies “Patties”
recipe: slightly adapted from Lucinda Scala’s Cookbook: “Lucinda’s Authentic Jamaican Kitchen”
Pastry: recipe from original recipe which I did not use*
*Full disclosure- I used store bought Goya empananda dough rounds-which I found in a Hispanic market in the frozen food section. They worked perfectly! They came 12 in a package- which ended up working to use exactly all of my filling. If you can find them it saves a lot of time, but here is the original recipe for the pastry.
2 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 Cup butter (1 stick)
3/4 Cup ice-cold water
(optional: 2 Tbsp. curry powder- I personally would omit this– it’s part of the original recipe) by Lucinda (I’m not a huge fan of curry and I thought the curry in the filling was suffice)
Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and (optional curry) in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the bowl. Working quickly; using fingertips, squeeze together the flour mixture and butter and toss together by scooping under the mixture with both hands. When mixture resembles a very coarse meal, add the water to the bowl. With floured hands, mix and squeeze the dough just until it forms a ball. Knead it once or twice to combine it fully (avoid too much kneading). Form the dough into 2 pieces, flattening each into a thick pancake shape. Wrap in plastic and set them in the fridge to chill for at least 15 minutes. Remove from fridge 30 minutes before using it.
Roll out each dough round on a lightly floured surface and cut 4 3/4 inch sized rounds. (This is the size of the Goya empanada rounds I found and thought the size was perfect).
Place a large spoonful of the cooled filling on one side of the dough round, and using a clean finger, paint water around the border. Fold over the opposite side of the dough; being careful to press out any air bubbles and press to crimp. Use the tines of a fork to crimp to seal. The patties may be frozen at this point and saved to bake off later. To bake: brush with egg wash, sprinkle with (optional) a little bit of kosher salt, and bake in a preheated oven at 400° F. for about 16-18 minutes or until golden brown.
Egg wash: one egg whisked together with 1 Tbsp. water.
1 lb. ground beef (I used 90 % lean)
1 small-medium onion, diced
3 scallions, chopped fine (white and green parts)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Habanero peppers, seeded, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. curry powder
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cinnamon
2 Cups water
1/2 Cup plain (dried) bread crumbs
1. In a large bowl mix the beef, onion, scallions, garlic, peppers and thyme. In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat and add the beef mixture. Fry until the meat is browned and the moisture is evaporated. Add the curry powder, salt, black pepper, and cinnamon, stirring constantly and allowing a crust to form somewhat on the bottom of the pan; scraping frequently to avoid burning. Add the water and stir the mixture, scraping the bottom to incorporate any browned crust. Add the bread crumbs and stir. Cover, and reduce heat to very low and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the meat mixture to a bowl and allow to cool, refrigerate if you plan to assemble the pies on a separate day.
This is my new favorite way to bake mini cupcakes-in “party cups”. The cake does not stick and they push right out- no peeling of paper needed. Perfect for a party! I was in one of those girly, pretty in pink kind of moods today, so decided to make mini rose cupcakes. You can pair the cupcakes with either pistachio buttercream or vanilla buttercream, but they are especially pretty with sugared rose petals. I chose to divide the vanilla buttercream and tint half of it with rose pink. Pistachio and rose is a classic combination-made popular by middle eastern and certain cultures. If you use rose flavor- just make sure to use a subtle amount because they flavor can turn soapy tasting if too heavy.
(yield: 24-28 mini cupcakes)
1 1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp. Cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 Cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 Cup sugar
3 (Lg,) egg whites (room temp)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. rose water (make sure to use rose water and NOT extract)
1/2 Cup milk (room temp)
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare mini muffin tins with paper liners or use “party cups” as I have done here. If you use party cups you simply place them on a sheet pan; no other prep is needed. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy; about 2 minutes. With the mixer on medium low speed, add the egg whites one at a time, stopping to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix until combined. Mix in the vanilla and rose water. Starting with the flour mixture add 1/3 of the mixture alternating with the milk in two additions, ending with the flour mixture. Note: if you desire you can add a little pink gel food coloring paste if you want a pink colored cake.
2. Fill the cups or tins 2/3 full with batter. The batter really rises, so resist the urge to fill them further. Bake in a preheated oven at 350° F for about 10-12 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean or if you press on them lightly the cake springs back. The cakes will not brown. Frost cooled cupcakes with either Pistachio Buttercream (recipe below) or Vanilla Buttercream, decorate with optional sugared rose petals.
1 Cup shelled unsalted & roasted pistachio nuts
3/4 Cup sugar
3 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. pistachio oil (or vegetable oil)
1. Prepare a sheet pan with either a Silpat or by lightly greasing with vegetable oil.
2. Pour the water in a saucepan and then add the sugar. With a clean finger mix the sugar and water until it looks like wet sand. Have a cup of water with a clean pastry brush placed in the cup. Bring the sugar to a boil stirring to dissolve the sugar. Once sugar dissolves-stop stirring. If sugar crystals form along the sides of the pan; use the wet pastry brush to let water drip down to dissolve the crystals. Continue to cook until the mixture comes to a light caramel color. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the nuts. Return to the heat and cook until comes to a medium amber color. Working quickly- pour the nut mixture onto prepared pan and with a heat proof spatula do your best to flatten out nuts. Allow the nuts to cool until they become hard.
3. Once mixture is hard and completely cooled- use your hands to break apart any large clumps. Place the mixture in a food processor and pulse several times to initially break up the mixture. Proceed to process the mixture until it starts to form a thick paste. When the blade no longer seems to move add the oil and continue to process until as smooth as possible.
Swiss Meringue Vanilla Buttercream
4 large egg whites
1 Cup sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
2 tsp. vanilla
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the eggs whites and sugar and place over a pot with simmering water. Whisk the egg whites and sugar and heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is about 160 degrees F on an instant read thermometer* (*alternatively- you can feel the mixture with your first two fingers and if you don’t feel any sugar granules then it is ok). Turn off the heat. Attach the mixer bowl onto the mixer with the whisk attachment and whisk the mixture on medium until the bottom of the bowl is almost cool to the touch and the mixture has turned into a nice stiff meringue. This will take several minutes. With the mixer on medium high, add the softened butter one tablespoon at a time and continue to mix until all the butter is incorporated and the mixture is smooth. It will go through a curdled looking stage as it mixes; but don’t worry keep adding the butter and it will come together. Add in the vanilla and mix to combine.
For Pistachio Buttercream: Mix in 4-5 Tbsp. Pistachio paste (recipe above) and 1-2 drops of “Mint Green” colored gel paste
For PInk/White Vanilla Two toned Buttercream: Divide buttercream into two equal portions. Tint one half with 3-5 drops “Deep Pink Rose” colored gel paste- mix well to combine. Prepare a large piping bag by standing it upright in a tall glass fitted with chosen piping tip (such as star tip). Place one color down inside of the pastry bag and the other color down the other side; make sure to get the buttercream down all the way to the tip. I find it helpful to place each color inside a disposable pastry bag and squeezing each color down inside the bag.
For sugared rose petals: Place a small amount of liquid pasteurized egg whites (such as 100 % liquid egg whites) in a bowl. Have your organic (non pesticide) rose petals already cleaned and dried. Using a soft clean brush- brush each rose petal (front and back) and then sprinkle with fine granulated sugar. Place petals inside a mini muffin tin to dry. This is best done the day before you assemble your cupcakes- as it takes them several hours to dry completely.
Note: any leftover buttercream may be frozen in an airtight container. To use from frozen; allow buttercream to thaw at room temperature, then rewhip using the whisk attachment.
In my favorite dream I’m laying in a hammock swaying under a breezy palm tree sipping a cold pina colada. I have no job to return to, no bills to pay, I have thin thighs, and no worries what so ever. Oh, and there are no calories at all in my pina colada. It’s my dream, okay? My personal beach butler is only there to return every so often to ask me if I want another drink… Yeah, nice fantasy, huh? At least in reality you can create a tasty macaron…
3 egg whites (room temperature)
pinch cream of tartar
1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/2 tsp. coconut extract
3/4 Cup almond meal, sifted
1/4 Cup unsweetened (desiccated) coconut
1 1/4 Cups confectioners sugar
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites and cream of tartar and whisk on medium speed until foamy. Once they start to become foamy slowly add the 1/4 cup sugar and continue to whip until they are stiff. Towards the end of whipping add the 1/2 tsp. of coconut extract. Hint: if you remove the bowl and turn it upside down and the whites do not slide out they are ready! (Just be careful when checking!)
2. In a separate bowl whisk together the almond meal, coconut, and confectioners sugar well to remove any lumps. Gradually add the mixture to the egg whites and mix/fold with a rubber spatula until mixture falls in sheets when the spatula is lifted. About every 5th fold lift the spatula up and let the batter fall back into the bowl.
3. Prepare a sheet pan with either Silpat or parchment paper and preheat the oven to 300° F. Pipe the macarons onto the prepared sheet pan about a quarter size with 1 1/2 inches space between. Note; if after piping there are visible peaks then the batter is too thick and could cause problems such as cracking or not rising correctly. Squeeze out all the batter back into the bowl (with firm pressure) and refill the batter back into the piping bag and re pipe. Usually the act of doing this will thin the batter enough (without having to mix more) to get a more ideal thickness. Once you have piped the batter take the sheet pan and rap it on the counter a few times (3-6) to release any air bubbles. If you still see any visible air bubbles pop them gently with a bamboo skewer or toothpick. Allow the sheet pan to sit for 30-60 minute to form a “skin” so when touched the batter is no longer tacky feeling.
4. Bake the macs for about 13-15 minutes until when touching the top of a macaron, the top does not wiggle or slide but is firmly set. If they look like they are getting too browned then cover with tinfoil for the last few minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Do not attempt to remove until they are completely cool. Once cooled; fill with your choice of fillings such as purchased key lime curd, vanilla bean buttercream, purchased pineapple jam, or pineapple curd. See below for a few recipes.
3 egg whites
pinch of cream of tartar
1/4 Cup superfine sugar
“Electric Yellow” gel food color (4-6 drops)
2 Tbsp. finely ground pineapple powder (from purchased freeze dried pineapple)
1 Cup almond meal
1 1/4 Cups confectioners sugar
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites and cream of tartar and whisk on medium speed until foamy. Once they start to become foamy slowly add the 1/4 cup sugar and continue to whip until they are stiff. Add the gel color paste towards the end of the whites becoming stiff.
2. In a separate bowl whisk together the almond meal, pineapple powder, and confectioners sugar well to remove any lumps. Gradually add the mixture to the egg whites and mix/fold with a rubber spatula until mixture falls in sheets when the spatula is lifted. About every 5th fold lift the spatula up and let the batter fall back into the bowl.
Follow steps 3 and 4 as above with the coconut macarons. Fill with Pineapple curd, pineapple jam or vanilla bean buttercream. For the pina colada macaron sandwich one coconut mac and one pineapple mac and fill with vanilla bean buttercream.
Vanilla Bean Buttercream
4 egg whites
1 Cup granulated sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter (room temp)
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla bean paste
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine egg whites and sugar. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until mixture is hot and sugar is dissolved. Remove bowl and place on mixer and beat until stiff meringue forms and bottom of mixer bowl is cool to touch; about 5 minutes. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. Add vanilla bean paste, then beat until smooth.
Pineapple Curd (click here for recipe link)
You know my obsession for mini desserts, right? The shaker lemon pie is no exception. I love these little dainty lemon pies. Perfect for a shower or garden party or a brunch.
Since Summer is coming, and the last thing you want is a hot kitchen, they are perfect when you don’t want the oven on for too long, as they only take about 20 minutes of baking time. The recipe makes 24 mini pies. If you don’t have a silicon mini muffin pan I highly encourage you to buy one as it will make removing these SO much easier; there is no breaking or tearing of the crusts when you need to remove them, you simply just push them up out of the pan. I purchased mine quite a while ago and I LOVE love love it. If you plan to make a lot of mini muffin sized desserts it is a good investment. I have several silicon pans of different sizes and they are my favorite.
Mini Shaker Lemon Pies
4 organic (preferably unwaxed) lemons
1 1/3 Cups sugar (divided), plus more for sprinkling
1/4 Cup water
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pans (if not using silicone pans)
3 large eggs
one recipe fearless pie crust dough (or your favorite pie crust)
flour (for rolling out pie crust)
egg white for topping prep
1. Take 2 of the lemons and slice very thinly; removing seeds as you go along. Place in a medium saucepan with 1/2 cup of the sugar and 1/4 cup water and stir to combine. Heat over low heat until sugar dissolves and lemon slices turn translucent. Remove from the heat and scoop out the candied lemon slices, and place onto a parchment or wax paper lined tray. (Keep the lemon syrup). Once the candied lemon slices have cooled, cut them into quarters and save for assembling the pies; you may wrap them in parchment or wax paper and store in the fridge.
2. Grate the rind from 1 1/2 lemons as well as squeeze all the juice; add to the lemon syrup. With the remaining half of lemon- slice paper thin slices to equal roughly 1/4 cup (I used a mandolin for this) and also add to the syrup. Add the butter and remaining sugar to the syrup and then heat over low heat until butter is melted. Once butter is melted, remove from heat.
3. In a small bowl beat the eggs, then using a strainer- add the eggs to the syrup mixture-a little at a time while whisking after each addition to ensure the eggs do not scramble. Once all the eggs are added, return the pan to the heat and cook gently while stirring frequently until the mixture becomes thickened and the consistency of jam. Increase the heat a little bit if needed, but be careful to ensure it does not get too hot, or the eggs will curdle. Remove from the heat and transfer the filling to a bowl and allow to cool. You may make the filling the day before and store in the fridge if you like.
4. Prepare mini muffin tins by lightly greasing; or as I prefer- use a silicone mini muffin pan. No need to grease if using a silicon pan. Roll out half of the pie dough thinly on a lightly floured surface. Stamp out 24 circles using a 2 1/2 inch cutter. Press each dough circle into prepared pan(s), rerolling trimmings as needed. When pressing the dough into the wells make sure to allow an edge of the dough so there is a bit of ridge around each well; this will help when placing the tops on to adhere to form a seal.
5. Using the other half of the dough cut out 24 circles with a 2 or 2/14 inch cutter with scalloped edge. Cut 3-4 slits in the tops of each of the dough tops. Fill each well of the prepared bottom crusts 3/4 full and top with 2 pieces of the candied lemon slices you made in step one. Brush the top edge of each of the filled pies with beaten egg white (I prefer to use a clean finger as opposed to a pastry brush for this as it is easier), then top each filled portion with the dough tops and press well to seal. Brush the tops of the completed assembled pies with beaten egg white, (rescore your vent slits at this time if need be) then sprinkle each pie with sugar and bake in a preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool over a rack for about 10 minutes before removing carefully. Serve slightly warm or cool.
Do you like to entertain but you don’t want to be cutting or scooping out any dessert at the last minute? Yep, me too. You can make these ahead of time a few hours before your event or party and if you want to have the fun and include your guests you can even wait to brulée the tops of the custards with your friends if you like. Summer is the perfect time to find ripe raspberries on sale.
White Chocolate Crème Brulée with Raspberries
recipe: adapted from Ghirardelli
yield: 6-7 ramekins (depending on the size of your ramekins)
4 large egg yolks
1/3 Cup sugar + (4-6 tsp. more for brulee)
4 oz. white chocolate chopped fine
2 Cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 tsp. vanilla bean paste
fresh raspberries washed and dried
1. Preheat oven to 300° F.
2. Whisk egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar until smooth in a medium size mixing bowl. Bring cream to a simmer in a saucepan. Turn off the heat and add the chopped white chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Temper the egg sugar mixture with the hot cream mixture by add in a little bit at a time while whisking until all the hot cream is added. Whisk in the vanilla bean paste. Place 4-5 raspberries in each individual ramekins and then pour the custard into each ramekin; filling almost all the way to the top. Place the ramekins in a baking pan with 2 inch sides. Pour enough hot tap water into the bottom of the baking pan so that the ramekins are sitting in enough water to cover at least 1/2 of the ramekin. Bake at 300° F for 50-60 minutes or until custard is set. Remove the pan from the oven and move the ramekins to a rack to cool for about 20 minutes.
3. Sprinkle each ramekin with enough sugar (about 1 1/4 tsp) and brulée each with a bakers’ torch or under the broiler until sugar is caramelized. Chill the custards until ready to serve. Serve ideally within a few hours of making as raspberries tend to give off a bit of liquid.