I always wanted a house with a big wrap around porch. You know the kind you see on those fancy home renovation shows. It would have dual porch swings facing each other and trees in the front yard lending soft breezes. My friends would stop by and I would whip up some boozy fruit flavored drink and we would sit for hours talking about nothing. I have a backyard pool with palm trees that give off a nice breeze, so don’t feel too sorry for me, but this is the kind of drink that evokes porch sippin’. If you have a nice covered front porch I demand you to make this drink and invite over a friend or two….
Blackberry-Mint Vodka Fizz
1.5 oz. blackberry mint syrup (recipe below)
crushed ice (this is key)
lime (or plain) flavored sparkling water (I used La Croix lime)
1.0 oz. vodka (optional)
4-5 fresh blackberries
sprig of fresh mint
In a short glass tumbler place crushed ice and blackberry mint syrup. Add in sparkling water or plain soda and optional vodka. Stir. Top with berries and fresh mint.
Blackberry mint syrup
makes a generous 1 Cup
1 Cup water
1 Cup sugar
2 Cups fresh or frozen blackberries
1/4 Cup fresh (clean) mint (about 20 leaves)
Bring everything to a boil except the mint. While mixture is coming to a boil crush the blackberries softly (they don’t have to be totally crushed). Let mixture boil for about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and then add the fresh mint. Let mint steep for 20 minutes, then strain out solids and store syrup in refrigerator.
Happy Independence Day
Raspberry Lemonade Bars
yield: (about 30-32 bars-depending on the size cut)
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.
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.
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.
I don’t know why but for the last 2 weeks I’ve been craving a donut. I pushed it back into the corners of my mind and tried to wage war on it by eating yogurt every day. Then I added granola with berries to my yogurt. That SO did NOT work. On about the 8th day I woke up again and craved a donut. On the 9th day I started fantasizing about what kind of donut exactly it was that I needed. Not just any donut would do. However, I like my donuts simple. Nothing too crazy usually. That does not mean that for time to time I won’t experiment and come up with something outrageous; it’s just that when it comes to a donut craving it’s usually a simple sugar rolled donut or an “old fashioned” donut that calls me. I like my donuts pillowy soft and somewhat plush. I knew that a cake donut would not do. It had to be yeast, soft, and FRESH. The kind of donut you sink your teeth into.
This is that donut-a pillowy soft, fluffy interior kind of donut. When you bite into it, the sides envelope you like a feather bed kind of hug, then the sweet and tangy blackberry filling oozes just enough in contrast to the grainy sugar crystals that dance across your lips. Uh huh. You reach for your slightly bitter coffee to wash it down. Yep, I know. Some things are worth waiting for….
Happiness is a blackberry filled donut; pillowy soft on the inside and rolled in sugar
yield: about 1 dozen
recipe: adapted from “Glazed Filled Sugared & Dipped” by Stephen Collucci
3 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 1/2 Cups (room temp-slightly warm) whole milk
3 Cups bread flour
3/4 Cup all purpose flour
1/4 Cup sugar + more for rolling donuts in
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/ tsp. nutmeg
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
Vegetable oil for frying
Blackberry seedless preserves for filling (I like Dickensons)
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment combine the milk and yeast on low speed for 2-3 minutes. You should see bubbling on the surface.
2. In a medium bowl combine the flours, sugar, salt, and nutmeg with a fork. Add the mixture to the stand mixer bowl and mix to combine. Switch to the dough hook, add the egg and vanilla and mix to combine. Add in the butter and mix on medium speed until well combined. Mix the dough for about 5-8 minutes until the dough gathers on the hook and pulls away from the bowl. The dough should feel mostly smooth but a little sticky. Form the dough into a smooth ball by gently working it with your hands or with a little floured work surface.
3. Grease a large bowl and place the dough in the bowl and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Place bowl in a warm, draft-free place and let dough rise until tripled in size. Line a sheet pan with wax paper- you will use this to place the cut donuts onto. Line another sheet pan with paper towels and place a wire rack over the towels.
4. Turn the risen dough onto a floured work surface and lightly flour the top of dough and roll gently into about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 3 inch circular shapes or smaller if desired, place on prepared sheet pan lined with wax paper.
5. Fry donuts 1-3 at a time in a 350° F oil for about 1-2 mins per side until donuts are golden brown. Resist the urge to over fry donuts too dark as that will take away from the dough staying pillowy soft. Allow donuts to cool slightly over a sheet pan lined with paper towels over a wire rack. While donuts are still warm poke a hole in the side of each donut. Roll donuts in sugar and allow donuts to cool completely. When cooled then fill donuts with blackberry (seedless) preserves.
6. To fill donuts use a pastry bag fitted with a start tip (I used Ateco 822 size) and gently fill the donuts by squeezing the filling inside the holes of each donut.
Who doesn’t love pie? There is something comforting and soothing about making pie. The methodical rolling out of the pie crust, the frustrations of daily life easing every time you put your weight into the rolling pin as you turn and re arrange your pie crust is very comforting to me- and of course the ultimate reward is sitting down and savoring a warm slice with a glass of cold milk. The rain was falling the morning I made this pie, and I had the window screens open letting in the morning breeze. The simple pleasures and joys of life are so important, so if that means making pie for your loved ones or maybe just lazing around a rainy Sunday morning sipping coffee- remember to take the time and find your joy.
I always make extra pie crusts and store them in the freezer. I highly encourage this practice of squirreling away pie crusts in your freezer to save time. Every time I make crust- I make a double batch and save the extra crust. Another tip I like to give is write the measurements down for pie crust on a little card or sticky note and secure it to the inside of your cupboard. Once you’ve made the pie crust and you have the technique down you will memorize the ingredients and method. See my recipe for fearless pie crust.
yield: one standard 9 inch pie
one recipe of my fearless pie crust
5-6 cups fresh berries or (24 oz. defrosted and drained frozen berries)
1 Cup sugar
3 Tbsp. instant (also known as quick-cooking) tapioca
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. pure almond extract
1. Note: before rolling out pie crusts allow pie crust to rest for at least 30 minutes before rolling; this ensures that the crust does not shrink and is also easier to roll out. If making a standard pie top and not lattice make sure to pierce the top of pie crust a few times to allow steam to escape. Prepare one half pie crust in a 9 inch pie plate and set aside.
2. To prepare filling: In a bowl toss all ingredients gently until well coated and pour evenly in prepared pie crust. Dot with filling with about 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter. Top filling with second pie crust and crimp as desired. Brush pie crust with milk, heavy cream, or half and half (whatever you have on hand), and sprinkle granulated sugar, raw sugar or coarse sugar over top of pie. Chill prepared pie for 30-40 minutes before baking.
3. Bake pie at 400° F for 30 minutes, then decrease oven to 350° F and cover edges of pie with a pie shield or tinfoil until crust has browned and filling is bubbly. Remove pie and allow to cool over a wire rack.
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
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.
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 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
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.