Bring on September – Sweet Inspiration No. 4

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I hope you had a nice Labor Day! These past couple weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind with work and some leisure travel. B and I were actually in Napa during the earthquake…kind of terrifying. Excluding “napaquake”, the trip was just what I needed to relax and recharge. (Especially because it involved the above (insert dramatic pause) chocolate-dipped salted caramel macaron from Bouchon Bakery…you guys…omg.

Given all of the recent travel, I haven’t been baking up as many treats (but I still have some coming this week), so we are going to do the round-up out of order this week. Given that we are entering the best part of summer (in my mind), which is to say the part that is about to be fall, some of these recipes are just begging to be made in order to soak up the last bits of the delicious summer bounty.

Weeknight Cobbler for Two from Joy the Baker
Good-NESS this looks delicious. Plus, it’s individualized, which means I can’t say that I’m making dessert and that I will “bring it in to work”, but really just hoard it all myself.

No-Bake PBJ Cheesecakes from Sugar and Cloth
For those that still don’t want to turn on the oven, but are looking for something tasty (and a little nostalgic), this might fit the bill.

Mojito Ice Cubes also from Sugar and Cloth by way of Lulus
Because porch-sipping and weekend day drinking don’t only happen in the summer (Plus, gives you the taste of a mojito without the alcohol, if that’s your jam)

Caramel Strawberry and Brie Toasts from Lady and Pups
Can we all just agree that brunch should be allowed everyday and that this should always be served?

Cherry Preserves with Honey and Rosemary from Food in Jars
Canning and preserving was one thing that I really wanted to get into this summer, but still haven’t. Maybe it’s going to be on my agenda for the weekend because I want to do is spread these preserves on toast with some really good, really fresh goat cheese. Yum!

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Weeknight Dessert

Sometimes the week just gets out of control and it becomes quickly clear that you are no longer winning the battle. And that’s ok. That’s when you throw together a little getaway in a bowl, a little something that makes your weeknight a little easier.

In walks Strawberries and Whipped Cream…

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Just take a minute to appreciate the simplicity. You need 2 ingredients (ok maybe 4), but given that it’s summer, you might already have one of those in your fridge. I threw this together a couple of weeks ago on a work night when both B and I needed a little pick-me-up after dinner.

Go forth. Enjoy. Gussy it up for friends, because this would be excellent with some mint or basil, (or don’t and eat it all yourself — I’ve definitely done that)

Ingredients
Strawberries, cut into quarters
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla together until just stiff peaks form (or use any other whipped topping that you would prefer). Place some strawberries in the bottom of your serving vessel. Cover with whipped cream. Add more strawberries. Eat all of it and feel better about your week.

Summer Fruit Pie

So this week has been a little crazy to say the least! I actually sprained my ankle this week on my way to work and am now dealing with the unfortunate items that are crutches. Hoping to be up on my feet and actually walking soon (and then hopefully training for my Thanksgiving 8K).

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In the meantime, at least we have pie. And not just any pie, but the kind of pie that makes the best use of the huge bounty of ripe juicy summer fruits at this time of year. I made this pie with cherries, blueberries, strawberries and the couple plums I found in my fridge, but use what you have on hand. I used a new pie crust recipe that I didn’t like as much, so I’m going to recommend my usual pie crust. Let me know what you think.

For methodology on working with pie crust, check out Smitten Kitchen here, here, and here. The key is to keep the dough cold so that the butter melts in the oven and not on the counter. Then you get flaky pies.

Summer Fruit Pie adapted from Sweet by Valerie Gordon

Crust (for a double crust pie)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surfaces
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small cubes
1/4 – 1/2 cup water, very cold (I pour 1 cup and add ice while I work, then measure 1/4 – 1/2 cup from it when I need it)

Filling
7 cups mixed fruit
3/4 cup sugar, adjusted to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons Pie Dust
1 egg
Raw Sugar (optional)

Pie Dust
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar

To make the crust, put the flour, sugar, and salt into a medium bowl and mix together. Add the cold, cubed butter to the dough and mix by hand until the bits of butter are about pea-sized and the dough looks like course crumbs. Slowly add the water over the dough and continue to incorporate until the dough just comes together. If at any point, the butter starts to melt too much, put the mixture in the fridge to cool. Form into 2 equal disks and wrap in plastic and place in fridge for at least 2 hours.

Put 3 cups of the fruit and the 3/4 cup sugar into a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fruit softens and releases some juice, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the remaining berries and toss. Taste for sweetness; add more sugar if needed. Stir in the melted butter, lemon zest, and cornstarch and let cool to room temperature.

Remove one disk of dough from the fridge and roll-out on a cool, floured surface, rolling into a 13-inch circle. Rotate the dough every roll 2 to 3 inches. Once the dough is the correct size, roll the dough up onto the rolling pin and then unroll into a 9-inch pie pan. Gently press the dough into the pan and sides, removing any air pockets. Trim any excess dough. Chill the crust for at least 15 minutes.

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and center the rack in the oven. Cover the bottom of the crust with pie dust (created by whisking or sifting the flour and sugar together). Fill the pie with the fruit filling, being careful not to overfill. Roll-out the second disk of dough (if using both crusts). You can cover the pie entirely, but be sure to cut vents in the top crust, or you can create a lattice pattern by interweaving pieces of dough. I find it easiest to start with the top and interweave one row at a time. Be sure to work quickly. (the Smitten Kitchen links above have good advice on lattices). Crimp the crusts together and brush the top with a beaten egg and raw sugar (if using).

Place pie on a baking sheet (to catch any fruit spillage) and bake for 30 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Cover the edges of the crust with a pie ring or with foil and continue cooking for another 25-30 minutes until the visible crust is golden brown. Once the crust is golden brown with no translucent areas, remove the pie ring or foil and bake for another 5 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rake to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Sweet Inspiration – No. 3

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What do you all have on tap for the weekend? That picture is what I have planned for my weekend. Porch and rooftop sitting with some wine or “day punch” (aka adult juice aka wine spritzer, but I like calling it day punch…it makes me feel better). These treats also caught my eye…

Red Fruit Galettes from Apt 2B Baking Co – I mean first off, these photos are straight up stunning. But then I was staring at them and realized (1) I was salivating and (2) that I was having a daydream about host a lovely dinner party in a Parisian flat where at the end of the party I walk into the room holding 2 of these galettes #swoon

Blackberry Thyme Muffins from The Faux Martha  – I.LOVE.BLACKBERRIES. full stop. Berry season is in full swing and these look so delicious. Plus, I love bringing in herbs that typically are used in savory dishes to let them shine in something sweet. I’m making these muffins when we get blackberries

Florentines from Fifteen Spatulas – Confession: I love cookies. Oh, you already knew that? Phew, then let’s make these. I love florentines. they are so delicate and caramel-y and this version is one that i’m aching to try (and try and try and not share and eat them all before you know it)

Deviled Eggs from Joy the Baker – Ok, Ok, so deviled eggs aren’t really “baking”. And they don’t use sugar or butter (ooo could we make them sweet?), but I can totally relate to Joy’s thoughts on deviled eggs and it totally has me dying to whip up another batch. Now I just need to find a party to take them to…

Popsicles from Lady and Pups and from the Faux Martha (twice in 1 round-up!) – I am so happy that popsicles are making a come back. If I had any room in my freezer right now, I would be running out to the nearest place that sells a popsicle mold (how is it that I don’t already have one, not sure?!) and just spending the whole weekend making popsicles of a grown-up variety…boy, I love summer

Have a great weekend!!

…and the wheels came off (plus a recipe)

Woah, last week, just woah. The wheels definitely came off my week last week. Sorry for not updating with any new content at all!! But I have still been in the kitchen whipping up some new goodies

Some of you might remember that a couple of weeks ago, I said how good Deb’s brownie ice cream sandwiches looked. Well, they were better than that. Plus, because it’s Deb, this recipe is pretty perfect on its own (but I just had to make some tweaks).

Considering that my family likes to stretch out all birthdays to last for at least a month week (because who doesn’t?), we had another celebration 2 weekends ago to continue the birthday festivities for my dad. I took it as another opportunity to make dessert for a purpose (so that I wouldn’t eat it all by myself…just some of it)

Let me just say that the ice cream sandwiches were a giant hit, but they did make a giant mess. I used a combination of 2 gelatos and let the pan sit in the freezer for an hour before cutting, but that was not long enough. But you should definitely make these…right now…why are you still reading?

Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the brownies
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1 stick unsalted butter, plus extra for pan
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt (I use vanilla sea salt…mmm)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

For the filling
2 1/2 cups ice cream (one or multiple flavors, I went with Sea Salt Caramel and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup)

Heat oven to 350°F. Line two 9×9-inch square baking pans with parchment paper, extending it up two sides. Butter the parchment and exposed sides of the pan or spray them with a nonstick cooking spray.

Using a double bolier method, in a large bowl over gently simmering water, heat chocolate and butter together until almost completely of the way melted. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Stir in sugar until fully combined, then eggs (make sure when you add the eggs that the bowl and contents have cooled a bit so as not to scramble the eggs), one at a time and vanilla. Stir in salt and cinnamon, then flour, until just combined.

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Divide batter between two prepared pans and spread evenly. Bake on different racks for 10 to 15 minutes (or on the same rack if they will fit in your oven), rotating once top to bottom and front to back, until a tester comes out clean. Transfer pans directly to freezer. Chill until cold and firm, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove one pan from freezer, and, working quickly (like really quickly), cover with ice cream. (I followed Deb’s method and used an ice cream scoop to alternate flavors for mixed sandwiches.) Use the ice cream scoop to pat down all ice cream to remove gaps. Remove second brownie pan from freezer. Make sure the brownies are not sticking anywhere and use parchment sling to life the brownie out of the pan, remove the parchment and place it on top of the ice cream. Place the empty brownie pan on top of the brownie lid, to weight it, and press down a little. Keeping the weighting pan on top, return brownie-ice cream stack to freezer until fully firm, at least 1 hour (unless you have some magical freezer). Use the parchment sling to transfer the ice cream sandwich block to a cutting bard. Cut into squares, working quickly. (I started out with squares, but my ice cream was not firm enough – and I was cutting over the running dishwasher that was heating the counter – so I ended up doing rectangles like the ones from growing up near the end.)

Once each square/rectangle/sandwich was cut, I rolled all of the edges in multi sprinkles and then wrapped all of the ice cream sandwiches in waxed paper to make them more fun to eat and less messy.

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Blueberry Lemon Yogurt Cake

Can we talk about this weekend? I did a bunch of baking and I made this cake for birthday breakfast for my dad’s birthday (which turned into a giant sugar fest, but that’s another story), but somehow I didn’t even take any home and I’m already dreaming about it again. I have some leftover yogurt in the fridge so I might make a mini one today!

This cake is super moist and has a great crumb. Perfect for breakfast as a coffee cake or for dessert, or eating over the sink because you can’t be bothered to get a plate when it is that good…wouldn’t ever happen in our house…)

I adapted this from my favorite French Yogurt Cake recipe that I tore out of my Bon Appetit magazine many years ago. Feel free to throw in other berries that you might have lying around or trying other citrusy combinations. I did a version of it a couple years ago with grapefruit which was delicious.

Enjoy!

Blueberry Lemon Yogurt Cake adapted from Bon Appetit

INGREDIENTS for cake
3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 handful fresh blueberries (optional)
1 1/2 cups greek yogurt
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen

INGREDIENTS for lemon glaze
Juice from 1 lemon
Powdered sugar to taste

INSTRUCTIONS
Preheat oven to 350. Grease bundt pan with butter or non-stick spray. Dust with flour and tap out excess.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Muddle handful of blueberries in a small bowl. Using your fingertips, rub sugar with lemon zest and muddled blueberries in a large bowl until the sugar is moist.

Add yogurt, oil, eggs, and vanilla to sugar, mix to blend. Fold in dry ingredients. Add the blueberries and mix. Pour batter into the pan. Bake until the top of the cake is golden brown and the tester comes out clean, about 50 minutes). Let cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert on rack and let cool completely.

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While cooling, whisk lemon juice and powdered sugar to taste. Once the cake is cooled, brush the top of the cake with glaze. (It is helpful to do this once the cake is on your serving tray, or with paper towels under the wire rack.) Sprinkle with powdered sugar if you want for serving. Enjoy!

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Weekend Recap

This weekend was great. Not too much scheduled, a little R&R and some errands made for a very calm weekend.

I didn’t end up doing any baking over the weekend, but I just had to share what I made for Father’s Day weekend back in June. I needed a dessert that would travel well and could work for Father’s Day brunch with one side of the family and dinner with the other side.

I ended up making strawberry shortcake adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe. I used farmer’s market strawberries which were just bursting with juice. I also made the biscuits smaller than the original recipe called for and served in a buffet style so that everyone could decide how many they wanted (and could load up on whipped cream). They were delicious!!

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Strawberry Shortcake adapted from Bon Appetit

INGREDIENTS
SHORTCAKES
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1 large egg, beaten to blend
BERRIES AND ASSEMBLY
2 pounds fresh strawberries, hulled, quartered (about 4 cups), divided
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
5 sprigs basil
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

SHORTCAKES
Preheat oven to 400°. Whisk sugar, baking powder, salt, and 2 cups flour in a large bowl. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, work in butter until the texture of coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining. Add cream and mix until dough just comes together (it will be sticky).

Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 12×4” rectangle about ¾” thick. Cut out rounds with a 1” biscuit cutter (or other size if you prefer), re-rolling scraps as needed to make rounds. Whisk egg with 1 Tbsp. water in a small bowl. Transfer rounds to a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush tops with egg wash (I forgot to do this! WHOOPS). Bake until tops are golden brown and shortcakes are cooked through, 10-15 minutes (or longer depending on size of biscuits.
DO AHEAD: Shortcakes can be made 2 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature.

BERRIES AND ASSEMBLY
Coarsely chop 3 cups strawberries (use any bruised or less perfect ones) and cook with 4 Tbsp. sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until berries are softened and mixture is slightly thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Let berry compote cool.

Meanwhile, muddle basil and 1 Tbsp. sugar together, then toss with remaining 1 cup strawberries in a medium bowl and let sit until fruit begins to release juices, 15–20 minutes. Discard basil.
Using an electric mixer, beat cream, vanilla extract and remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar to soft to medium peaks, about 4 minutes.

To serve, top shortcakes with berry compote, whipped cream mixture, and macerated strawberries.