Summer Cocktail Series: #2: The Key Lime Pie Martini

 

I have a serious THING for key lime pie, so turning that into a martini? yeah…

Is there really anymore to say? Other than this is for my Summer Cocktail Series. Cocktail # 2

Commence with the sippin’ and the porch sittin’ !!

 

Key Lime Pie Martini

(serving: 1)

1.5 oz. vanilla vodka

1 oz. key lime juice

1 tsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. Coco Lopez

0.5 oz. (1 Tbsp.) pineapple juice

1 oz. heavy cream

One drop mint green (gel) food color

 

Fill a martini glass or coupe glass with crushed ice to chill.

On a small plate mix the graham cracker crumbs and sugar together.

Mix the martini per instructions* in the cocktail shaker.

Pour out the ice water from the martini glass and wipe dry.

Cut a small piece of lime and wipe around the rim of martini/coupe glass.

Dip the rim of the glass into the cracker mixture.

Strain the cocktail into the glass and serve immediately.

 

* Fill a cocktail shaker with all the ingredients then fill with ice. Shake vigourously.

Graham Cracker Rim:

1 full rectangular square graham cracker ground to crumbs in either a mortar/pestle or in a ziplock bag using rolling pin. Mix the crumbs with 2 tsp. of sugar. (You could also use cinnamon graham cracker if you prefer).

 

 

 

 


Blood Orange Poppy Seed Loaf

Lets face it-there are certain fruits or foods which given their name do not exactly evoke a tasty image. Case in point, the blood orange. I mean….how could one get excited over something with the word blood in it if you’re going to be shoving it in your mouth? Well, these little beauties lend the most amazing ruby red color when juiced. You’ll find them used in everything from cocktail recipes to baking. Mix the juice with a little confectioners sugar and you have the most beautiful AND flavorful princess pink icing.

It’s always a surprise when you slice one in half to find how deep in color your prized beauty really is. When picking one out you want to find one that has a good patch of crimson red mixed with deep orange.

 

 

Blood Orange Poppy Seed Loaf

1  1/2 C all purpose flour

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

 

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, room temp

1  1/4 Cups sugar

2 large eggs, room temp

1 tsp. vanilla

zest of 2 large blood oranges

2 Tbsp. blood orange juice

1/3 Cup milk

1 tsp. white vinegar

2-4 Tbsp. poppy seeds

 

Combine milk with vinegar and set aside for about 10-15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare a standard loaf pan with non stick baking spray and line with parchment paper so the ends are extended over the long side of the pan. Leave at least 2 inches of overhang.

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix until combined. Add the vanilla and combine. Zest the oranges over the mixer bowl and also add the blood orange juice. With mixer on stir setting, stir to combine. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add in half the flour mixture and beat gently to combine. Add in milk mixture with mixer running on slow speed and mix gently to combine. Add in last half of flour mixture and beat gently to combine. Stir in the poppy seeds (Note* this is a matter of preference on how much poppy seeds you like-I add in only 2 Tbsp. but you can much more to your liking).

Pour the batter into the pan and smooth out the top. Bake in preheated oven for about 55 minutes to an hour or until a wooden skewer inserted shows a few moist crumbs.

Make the Blood Orange Syrup by placing ingredients into a liquid glass measuring cup and microwaving until mixture comes to a boil.

Let the cake cool for 30 minutes then gently pour the Blood Orange Syrup over the cake until cake absorbs all of syrup. Let cake cool completely, then apply glaze with a large spoon until top of cake is covered.

For glaze– in a medium bowl place sifted confectioners sugar and blood orange juice and whisk to combine.

 

Blood Orange Syrup

1/2 Cup water

2  1/2 Tbsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. blood orange juice

 

Glaze

1  1/2 Cup confectioners sugar, sifted

3-4 Tbsp. fresh blood orange juice

 


Creamsicle Macarons (Orange-Vanilla Macarons)


Does your childhood Summer evoke memories of you and your friends sitting on the porch eating a creamsicle popsicle? That sound of the dude with the push cart full of popsicles with the distinct unmistakable sound of bells clang al-ang- ing against each other. You could spot that sound 3 blocks away I swear. Just enough time for you to run in the house and yell, “Mom!!!!!!” “The ice cream man is coming, can I have a popsicle?” “Pleassssse?” The tang of the orange encapsulating that sweet vanilla flavor. There is nothing like it. It’s still one of my favorite flavors.

These macarons will transport you back to the 70’s (if you’re in your 50’s like me) when times were simpler. No WiFi, no reality Tv, no silly internet stories clouding your brain, just the nice weather forcing you to play outside. One bite will have you day dreaming of peaceful summers….

Creamsicle Macarons

75 g aged egg whites, room temp

pinch of cream of tartar

1 tsp. egg white powder

50 g superfine granulated sugar

90 g almond flour

135 g confectioners sugar

1 tsp. vanilla powder

orange gel food coloring

clean small brush for “painting piping bag” (cheap @ the craft store) or use the blunt end of a wooden skewer

* A note about superfine sugar- please do NOT buy it-it’s priced higher. Simply make up a batch by pulsing some in a food processor and store away in an airtight container.

1. In a food processor pulse the almond meal, and confectioners sugar, stopping to push contents down into the bowl and process until fine. Sift contents into a bowl and discard any hard lumps. Stir in the vanilla powder. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the egg whites, cream of tartar, egg white powder, and superfine granulated sugar, and hand whisk until foamy. Fit a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and mix on low speed (Kitchen aide stop 4) for 2 minutes, then medium speed (stop 6) for 2 minutes, then on high speed (stop 8) for 2 minutes, then increase to highest speed (stop 10) for one minute, or until whites are stiff. 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. Gradually add the almond flour mixture to the meringue and mix/fold with a rubber spatula until mixture when lifted is able to form a figure 8 ribbon. About every 5th fold lift the spatula up and let the batter fall gently back into the bowl. Once you can form a figure 8 ribbon without the mixture breaking, the mixture is ready. Prepare the piping bag with a round tip and swipe three stripes of orange gel coloring inside the piping bag. Fill gently with the mac batter.

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 as described below.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

3 large egg whites, room temp

3/4 Cup granulated sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 tsp. vanilla

 

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 the vanilla,  then beat until smooth.

To assemble macarons- Pipe a ring of vanilla buttercream onto one half of the underside of a cookie, then pipe the orange curd inside the vanilla ring, cover with another half of mac cookie. (see photo)

Orange Curd

1/2 Cup fresh orange juice

zest of two oranges

3/4 Cup superfine granulated sugar

6 large egg yolks

pinch of salt

1/2 Cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Combine yolks, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, salt, and butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan; whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick, 8 to 10 minutes. Let mixture come to a boil and cook, continually scraping sides of pan, for 2 minutes. If desired, strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and very firm, about 2 hours.

Any leftovers will last in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks in the fridge. You may also freeze leftover curd.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Lemon-Vanilla Cake (Speckled Easter Egg Cake)

 

I haven’t made a layer cake in a while, but for some reason I was feeling it. My lemon tree is dropping lemons like grenades every four seconds right now as it’s time for the ol’ tree to shed all of it’s lemons, so after making what seemed like endless pitchers of lemonade, I decided a lemon cake was in order. This cake is super fun to make because of the speckled decorating part. It’s a bit of an ambitious cake, so by all means make parts of it ahead; such as the filling and the cake a day before if you like. Just make sure to wrap the cakes well in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge. I even brushed the cakes with the syrup the day before and wrapped the cakes each separately in plastic wrap and chilled in the fridge. If you’re not feeling that ambitious you can of course buy a store bought cake mix such as vanilla- and use that (I won’t judge)- but by all means make the buttercream yourself as you’ll want that amazing vanilla flavor that you can’t get from store bought.

 

For pure white looking layers- use a sharp knife to cut off the browned areas of the cakes from top, bottom and sides.    

                  

 

Speckled Easter Egg Cake: Lemon-Vanilla Cake

yield: 4 layer 6 inch cake or 2 layer 9 inch cake

Lemon Vanilla Cake

1 Cup unsalted butter, room temp (227 g)

1  1/2 C sugar (300 g)

finely grated lemon zest of 2 lemons

6 large egg whites, room temp

3  1/4 C sifted cake flour

1 Tbsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. pure lemon extract

1  1/3 C whole milk (320 ml), room temp

Optional for finished garnish: toasted coconut and Cadbury mini chocolate Easter eggs

 

Prepare four 6 inch cake pans with baking spray; bottom and sides (that contains flour) or grease and flour pans. Line bottom of each pan with parchment paper. You can use 2 nine inch cake pans also if you don’t want to make a six inch tall cake.

In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of stand mixer place the sugar and lemon zest and rub the sugar and lemon zest together with fingers to release natural oils in lemon zest. Add in the softened butter and using paddle attachment cream on medium speed until fluffy; about 2 minutes.  Add in the egg whites one at a time and mixing until incorporated. Stir in the vanilla and lemon extracts.

Add in flour mixture in 3 additions alternating with milk; beginning and ending with flour mixture. Note: I like to fold in the flour mixture and milk with a spatula by hand first then gently turn on the mixer and beat gently- This ensures a lighter cake and avoids over beating the batter and helps that the crumb stays light and soft. Divide the batter evenly between the pans.

Bake the pans in a preheat 350° F oven for 27-29 minutes or until the cake springs back when pressed gently with a finger. The cakes will just start to pull away from the sides of the pans.  Do NOT overbake. Cool the cakes in the pans for about 15 minutes, then turn out and allow to cool completely.

Lemon Syrup

1/2 Cup sugar

1/2 Cup water

4 one inch strips of fresh lemon peel (careful to make sure no white pith remains)

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

In a glass measuring cup place the sugar, water, and lemon peel and microwave on high until sugar dissolves. Let lemon peel steep for 15 minutes, then remove. Stir in lemon juice. You can do this a day or two before to save time.

Note: any leftover syrup you can strain to remove any cake crumbs , keep chilled in the fridge and use in iced tea.

 

Lemon Cream Filling

3 oz. cream cheese, room temp

9 Tbsp. heavy cream, cold

1 1/2 tsp. nonfat dried milk powder

1/2 tsp. vanilla

3/4 Cup purchased Lemon Curd (I like Dickinsons brand)

Beat the heavy cream and dried milk powder on high speed using an electric hand mixer to stiff peaks. Move the whipped cream to a separate bowl and chill while proceeding. and using the same mixer bowl (no need to wash), beat cream cheese on medium speed for 2 minutes. On low speed, beat in vanilla. Add in the lemon curd and beat until well incorporated and smooth. Fold in the cold whipped cream by hand until mostly blended (don’t overmix), and cover and chill while making buttercream. Note: you can make a day or two ahead if desired and keep covered and chilled.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

5 large egg whites

1 Cup + 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

4 sticks unsalted butter

2 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla, or seeds of one vanilla bean + 1 tsp. vanilla

Sky blue gel food coloring

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,  then beat until smooth.

Note: Reserve about a cup of the buttercream (before coloring blue) to pipe a dam of buttercream on 3 of the layers to “hold” in the lemon cream layer.

To color the buttercream: Beat in one drop at a time of gel color until desired color is achieved. [I ended up using about 6 drops, but go SLOW and add a tiny bit at a time]. Note: the color of the buttercream will deepen in color about 1-2 shades as it sits.

 

Cocoa Speckle for decorating

1 Tbsp. cocoa powder

1  1/2 Tbsp. vanilla

small clean brush for decorating (I used a never used clean toothbrush)

In a small bowl whisk together the cocoa and vanilla. To “speckle” lay down wax paper underneath your work area and dip your brush into the mixture and then dab the brush onto the wax paper to remove any excess. You don’t want it too thick- if too thick you’ll end up with huge spots or unattractive drips. Practice first a few times on the wax paper-you’ll want to use your index finger to quickly flick the bristles of the brush about an inch away from the cake. It’s also best to whisk your cocoa mixture from time to time to prevent it from becoming too thick-you may need to add a few TINY drops of water occasionally if needed. If you end up with a real bad boo boo just chill the cake then use a small offset spatula to lift off any spots you don’t want. Note: you WON’T taste any cocoa flavor in the finished product.

 

To Assemble: Brush each layer of cake with the lemon syrup. Pipe a ring of “dam” of vanilla buttercream on 3 of the layers to hold in the lemon cream filling. Spread the lemon cream inside the dam of buttercream and continue stacking until you reach the top layer. Apply a crumb coat of buttercream and chill the cake for about 30 minutes. Continue frosting the top and sides of the cake.

Make the cocoa speckle mixture and speckle the top and sides of the cake as noted above.  (Note- I find it helpful to lay down a few sheets of wax paper as you will get speckles of brown on your work area).

Garnish the top of the cake by toasting small amount of sweetened coconut in the oven at 350° F for about 6 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Top off with a few of mini candy coated Easter eggs.


Raspberry Lemonade Bars

Raspberry Lemonade Bar

Happy Independence Day

Raspberry Lemon Bars

raspberry lemonade bars 3

raspberry Lemonade bars 4

Raspberry Lemonade Bars

yield: (about 30-32 bars-depending on the size cut)

Crust:

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp

1/2 Cup sugar

2 Cups flour

pinch of salt

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk the flour and salt together, then add to butter/sugar and beat until combined. Prepare a 9×13 inch pan lined with parchment paper with a 2 inch overhang. Press the crust into the bottom of the pan and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350° F and bake for 15-20 minutes until very lightly browned. Place the pan on a wire rack while you make the filling.

Filling:

2 1/2 Cups sugar

zest of 3 lemons

1/2 Cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 Cup seedless raspberry puree (press fresh or thawed frozen raspberries through a fine sieve).

6 large eggs

1 Cup flour

red and/or burgundy gel paste food color (optional)

Confectioners sugar for serving

1. In a food processor pulse the sugar and lemon zest together several times; about 8-10. Add the lemon juice, raspberry puree, and eggs and combine until smooth. Add in the flour and pulse to combine. The filling is not quite the color that I liked- so I added a few drops of red and burgundy gel paste food coloring.

2. Pour the filling onto the crust and bake in a preheated 350° F oven for about 30 minutes until set; when you jiggle the pan the center should not look loose. Let pan cool over a wire rack. Refrigerate the pan of bars until well chilled before cutting into bars. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar before serving.


Mini Shaker Lemon Pies

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

Shaker Lemon Pies

 

Mini Shaker Lemon Pies 2

shaker lemon pie inside

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.


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.