Category Archives: Dessert

Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd

Lemon curd… just the words make me start drooling.  I happen to love sour foods (read: vinegar, citrus, mustard, rhubarb, etc.) and pairing sweet and sour together makes me even more happy.   On a recent trip to London I enjoyed some lemon curd spread on scones with my afternoon tea.  The British are so darn civilized with their little sandwiches and scones in the middle of the afternoon.  When I came home, I was itching to make some curd of my own.  Lemon curd is one of those things (like custards and pie crusts) that have always intimidated me.  Turns out, I really didn’t need to fret.  Making lemon curd was surprisingly easy and the results were fantastic.

Curd ingredients

Curd ingredients

Marc helpfully picked up a sack of organic lemons from Trader Joe’s and set about juicing them over a fine mesh sieve using a lemon reamer.  On the other side of the counter I zested the spent lemon halves, measured the sugar, and cut up the butter.  Then came the stirring, and the standing in front of the stove, and more stirring.  Admittedly, the stirring part took a long time.  I kept my heat on the low side of medium because I was afraid of scrambling my eggs.  Next time, I might turn it up a bit to speed things up (keep in mind, I have an old electric stove that takes quite a while to heat up. I might not try this if I had a powerful gas version).

Spent lemons

Look at all those spent lemons

Luckily, all the stirring time was absolutely worth it. The finished curd is a thing a beauty… deep yellow color, thick, satiny-smooth texture, and the best tart/sweet lemon flavor.  I had my mother-in-law do a taste test – our curd vs. Trader Joe’s.  We did not tell her one was homemade.  She picked ours “hands down because it tasted more like lemon and less like sugar.”  Now that is a ringing endorsement if I ever heard one!

Straining the thickened curd

Straining the thickened curd

Lemon Curd

Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 tbls plus 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

1-1/3 cups sugar

4 large eggs

14 tbls salted butter (if you use unsalted butter, make sure to add a pinch of salt to the curd)

To Make:

Choose a 2 quart, heavy-bottomed sauce pan to make the curd in.  Set the pan over medium-low heat and whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and eggs until smooth.  Adding the butter, a few tbls at a time, and whisking constantly, cook until the curd is done.

How to tell if the curd is done:

After you have been cooking for a while, the curd will start to thicken noticeably.  It is done when the curd is thick and bubbles are just starting to form on the top.  The original recipe said this take about 10 minutes.  Using medium and medium-low heat it took us closer to an hour.  So don’t be surprised if it takes longer than you think.  Just keep whisking and be patient and you will be rewarded with a rich, thick curd.

As soon as the curd is finished cooking, run it through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.  Let it cool to room temperature on the counter, stirring occasionally.  Once it is cool, refrigerate covered until it is cold.

To Serve:

Lemon curd is a remarkably versatile condiment.  You can spread it on toast, spoon it over ice cream, or use it between the layers or on top of a cake.  You can fold it into whipped cream to make an instant “mousse”.  Spread it on a muffin, scone, or waffles.  Or just eat it with a spoon.  The original recipe says to consume within a few days and once you taste it, I assure you that won’t be a problem.

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Filed under Add-ons, Breakfast, Dessert, Eggs, Gluten-Free, Recipes

Sesame Honey Lace Cookies

Sesame Honey Lace Cookies

Sesame Honey Lace Cookies

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and despite being a mother for 4.5 years now, I still always pause for a moment when Marc asks me what I would like to do for the day.  You see, I still think of my mother and my mother-in-law when Mother’s Day rolls around.  I forget that I am part of the celebration now too.

Sesame Honey cookie ingredients

The short list of ingredients

So to celebrate moms everywhere, here is a recipe for a light, deliciously sweet cookie that is a perfect pairing for afternoon tea.  These cookies are thin, crisp, and have a delicate, lacy structure.  They are a pretty golden color and taste of honey.

Lots and lots of sesame seeds

Lots and lots of sesame seeds

Make sure to use an excellent quality honey as it is the predominant flavor in these cookies.  When you place them on the cookie sheets, make sure to space them wider than you think you need to.  They spread a lot.

Cookies ready for the oven

Cookies ready for the oven

Happy Mother’s Day!

Sesame Honey Lace Cookies

From The Gourmet Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 cup confectioners sugar

3 tbls unsalted butter

3 tbls honey

2 tbls water

1 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup flour

Pinch of salt

To Make:

In a 1 1/2 quart heavy sauce pan over moderately high heat, combine the confectioners sugar, butter, honey, and water and bring to a boil.  Stir and boil for one minute.  Remove from heat and stir in the sesame seeds, flour, and salt.  Let cool to room temperature.

Position oven racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.  Set the oven to 350F and allow to preheat.  Have ready two large baking sheets, lined with parchment paper.

Scope out level 1/2 teaspoons of dough, roll each scoop into a ball.  Place each ball about 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets.  The cookies will spread a lot so better to space them further apart. Bake until the cookies are flat and golden, rotating the baking sheets half way through, about 10 minutes.

Remove from the cookie sheet and let cool.  The cookies will crisp as they cool.

To Serve:

Serve at room temperature, as a complement to afternoon tea.

Serve room temperature.  Cookies will keep, kept in an air tight container, for 3-5 days.

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Filed under Cookies, Dessert, Recipes

Chocolate Mint Brownie Thins

Chocolate Mint Brownie Thins

Chocolate Mint Brownie Thins

First, I would like to offer a warm hello to all of our new readers.  We were “Freshly Pressed” on WordPress the other day and got a lot of traffic.  We hope that everyone sticks around!  We love to read all of the comments, ideas, and suggestions about the blog that others have.

The cast of characters

The cast of characters

And now, it is time for more cookies!  I really love cookie season because I love any excuse to bake (and eat) butter and sugar-laden treats.  Last night I got the urge for something chocolate.  Since it was already late I knew I needed something relatively quick (no long rests in the refrigerator) and easy.  These cookies fit the bill.

Melted chocolate goodness

Melted chocolate goodness

These are rich and chocolatey cookies with an unusual chewy/crispy texture.  The recipe describes them as the top layer of a brownie and that is exactly what they are like.  If you could skim the very top crackly layer off of a pan of brownies, you would have these cookies.  They deliver all the chocolate punch of brownies but they are lighter and less of a commitment.  The addition of a little bit of mint extract makes them very festive.  Of course, if you wanted pure chocolate, you could omit the mint and use chopped nuts instead of peppermint candies on top.

Spreading the dough

Spreading the dough

A couple of notes to make baking these easier.  First, the thinner you spread the dough, the thinner and crispier the cookies will be.  This makes the cookies great for eating, but challenging to get off the pan.  I found that using a very thin, flexible spatula (like an offset spatula that you would use to frost a cake) helps to get the cookies off the sheet in one piece.  Also, the original recipe says to bake the cookies for 7 minutes.  My oven probably runs a bit cool but I found I needed to go to 10-11 minutes in order to get cookies to the appropriate state of crisp.

Cookies ready for baking

Cookies ready for baking

Chocolate Mint Brownie Thins

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients:

6 tbls butter, cut into pieces

2 ounces good quality dark chocolate (at least 72% cacao), chopped

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg

3 tbls plus 1 tsp all purpose flour

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp mint extract

pinch of coarse salt

Crushed peppermint candies, for garnish

To Make:

Position your oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Grease two baking sheets and set aside.

Place the chocolate and butter in a medium, microwave safe bowl.  Microwave the chocolate and butter using medium power until almost melted (about 1.5 minutes).  Remove from the microwave and whisk until completely melted.  Add the sugar and egg and whisk until smooth (about 1 minute).  Add the flour, extracts, and salt and stir until just combined.  Set the batter aside and let it stand for 10 minutes.

Scoop teaspoonfuls of batter onto the baking sheets, spacing them so you get about 12 per sheet.   Using the back of a large spoon, spread the dough into thin circles, about 2 inches in diameter.  Top with the crushed candy.  Bake in the oven, one sheet at a time, until the edges are darkened and the centers are nearly set, 7-10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 4 minutes.  Using a thin spatula, remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

To Serve:

Serve with milk.  Makes 2 dozen.

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Filed under Baked goods, Bars and Brownies, Cookies, Dessert, Recipes

Simple Peanut Butter Cookies

Simple Peanut Butter Cookies

Simple Peanut Butter Cookies

Cookie season is in full swing.  Thing 1 and I had a great time making the first batch of Christmas cookies last Sunday and I will be making these this coming weekend.  In the meantime, when I get a hankering to whip up a batch of cookies on a weeknight, this peanut butter cookie recipe is one I reach for again and again.

Mmm, sugar, butter, and peanut butter

Mmm, sugar, butter, and peanut butter

First, it is super simple to put together.  The dough doesn’t need to be refrigerated before rolling so the cookies come together quickly.  They are easy to decorate (a must when you are talking about Christmas cookies).  And they taste just like peanut butter cookies should… buttery and full of peanut flavor, with a texture that is soft but a little crumbly.

Peanut butter balls

Peanut butter balls

Putting a tray of these together only takes about a half an hour so if you find you need to make an emergency batch of cookies for your next holiday party, this is the recipe for you.  It is easy enough that it makes a great project to do with budding chefs.  Kids love to roll the dough and to use the fork to flatten the balls.  And of course they are excellent to decorate.

Dressed and ready for the oven

Dressed and ready for the oven

Simple Peanut Butter Cookies

Adapted from Clueless In the Kitchen

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 egg

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

To Make:

Combine butter, peanut butter, white sugar and brown sugar in a mixing bowl.  Beat until combined.  Add in the egg and beat until smooth and creamy.

Whisk together the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth.

Scoop out the dough with a teaspoon.  Roll into 1″ balls and place on foil lined cookie sheet, approximately 2″ apart.  Use a fork to flatten each ball, making a criss-cross pattern.  Since it is Christmas, feel free to decorate the cookies with chocolate candies, sprinkles, cinnamon candies, etc.

Bake in at 375 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.  The cookies will be soft when they come out of the oven but don’t over bake.  They will firm up once they cool.  Allow them to cool on the cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before you remove them from the cookie sheet to a wire rack to cool completely.

To Serve:

Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies.  Store in an air tight container for 3 days.

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Filed under Cookies, Dessert, Recipes