Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Champagne Preserves

June 18, 2013

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I don’t know what has gotten into me recently. I think it is just pure laziness. I haven’t posted for quite some time and don’t really have any good reason as to why I haven’t. I wish I could say it was because I had been whisked off to some exotic locale, or maybe that I had won an immense lottery jackpot and was busy out spending it all. But no. Nothing like that. Just lazy I think. It’s not like I haven’t been in the kitchen. Oh, believe me I have and I actually managed to get a picture or two. I just haven’t gotten around to writing any of it up. But I woke up this morning and thought perhaps I might want to get with it again, so I thought I’d start with this lovely Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Champagne Preserves recipe.

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Meyer Lemons aren’t available for long in this neck of the woods, so when I spied them in the store a couple of weeks ago I snapped them right up! Meyer Lemons, which originated in China, are a cross between a regular lemon and a Mandarin Orange. This results in a somewhat sweeter, really vibrant tasting lemon without the acidic aspect. They are a gorgeous golden-yellow colour, kind of like egg yolks and have a much thinner skin than regular lemons. I love them and have made quite a few yummy treats with them in the past during their window of availability, like Meyer Lemon Curd and Meyer Lemon Creme Mini Tarts. Now I’m sure you can make these preserves with regular lemons if Meyer Lemons aren’t around, but if you can get them, give them a try.

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These Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Champagne Preserves came out wonderfully! I don’t know how they wouldn’t have considering all of the delicious ingredients that went into them. I’ve told you how delicious Meyer Lemons are and hello?….Champagne?! We love LOVE Champagne in this house! And just think, this recipe only calls for one little old cup. Sooo…you’ll most likely have to finish off the rest of the bottle since Champagne is so difficult to store and you wouldn’t want it to go to waste. But back to the preserves… beautifully golden hued and flecked throughout with vanilla, we’ve been gobbling them up at an astonishing rate! Mostly spread on toast, but last night my husband warmed it up just a bit and put some over vanilla ice cream (YUM!) which got me to thinking about what other sorts of interesting things you could enhance by adding a bit of those preserves. Then I remembered a bar we went to in New York city that serves Jammy Cocktails. That’s right, you get your choice of vodka or gin on the rocks and then they give you a big spoon full of jam to stir into that drink. How refreshing! Now that the humid Virginia summer has kicked into gear, I think I feel a Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Champagne Cocktail coming on right about now…

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Meyer Lemon Vanilla Bean Champagne Preserves

recipe slightly adapted from: Jelly Toast

Yield: 2-3 1/2 Pint (8 ounce) jars

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 lbs of Meyer lemons (about 8 small) scrubbed
  • 1 cup of champagne
  • 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice (from about 4 lemons)
  • Granulated sugar (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 Vanilla Bean

Directions:

Thinly slice Meyer lemons removing seeds and stems.

Place a small plate in the freezer to test the jam’s consistency later if desired.

Fill a large pot with tap water. Submerge three 1/2 pint jars and their lids, making sure they are completely covered by the water. Boil the water.

In a non-reactive pan, place lemon slices and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Drain off water.Repeat this step one more time. Allow lemon slices to cool for several minutes.

Place lemon slices in a food processor and pulse several times to break up pieces. Leave the pieces as chunky or as fine as you desire.

Using a kitchen scale, weigh the lemon mixture. Return mixture to the large pot. Add the same amount of granulated sugar as you had lemon pieces (weigh the sugar to the exact same weight). Add sugar to the pot with the lemons.

Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice, and 1 cup of champagne and the seeds from one vanilla bean to the pot and bring to boil.

Allow to boil over medium/high heat (taking care that the heat is not too high or it will caramelized your preserves) until the preserves reach the gel point (220 degrees on a candy thermometer). This will take about 10-15 minutes. Watch the preserves carefully.

Gel point can also be tested by placing a small amount if the finished preserves on a frozen plate. (My preferred method.) If the preserves thicken and wrinkle when you run your finger through them on the frozen plate, it is done. If it remains runny, continue to cook for several more minutes.

When the desired consistency is reached, ladle the jam into jars. If your plan is to scarf down all of these preserves immediately, just put the lids on and place the jars in the refrigerator. If you would like to save one or both for later, screw rims onto jam jars. Using tongs, pick up the full jam jars and place them back into the boiling water for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, remove the jars and place them on the towel. As they cool, you should hear a ping type noise which tells you the jam jars are sealed. When you push down in the center of the top of the jar, there should be no click noise. Make sure the lids are sealed tightly.

If you are using Weck jars with a glass lid, once the jar has been filled you place the rubber ring and glass top on the jar and secure it with the metal clips. Process the jar in the hot water bath as described above. Let jar cool completely and then remove the metal clips. If a proper seal has been established you should be able to lift the jar by its lid and the lid should remain firmly in place. If the lid comes off, don’t despair. You’ll just need to store that jar in the fridge and eat it up much sooner than you thought you would be.
The preserves can be stored for up to one year.

Serve on toast, scones, English Muffins, over ice cream, stirred into yogurt or in a refreshing jammy cocktail!

Enjoy!


Champagne Cupcakes with Champagne Swiss Buttercream Frosting for our 3 year Anniversary!

April 26, 2012

Three years ago today Jay and I got hitched at Cloghan Castle in Kilcreest, County Galway, Republic of Ireland! Happiest day of my life thus far.

Apparently the traditional anniversary gift for three years of marriage is leather. Really….leather? I’m not sure what an appropriate leather gift would be. The first things that come to mind when I think of love and leather are somewhat naughty and definitely not items to be discussed here, much less presents we would be happy to receive from our parents. Oh my! Moving right along…So what are we doing to mark our three-year anniversary? Well, I’d love to say I’m writing this post from a luxury spa in Ireland.

Or perhaps from a gorgeous balcony overlooking the beaches of the Amalfi Coast in Italy.

But nope, I’m writing from good ole Virginia. We’ve had a lot of stuff going on just recently and as a consequence, were not able to schedule a fabulous vacation to coincide with our anniversary date. But I’m happy to say my wonderful husband has promised to whisk me off on several romantic getaways later this year, a couple of visits to a cozy mountain cabin in West Virginia, a jaunt in Nashville and back to Ireland and possibly even Wales. Yippee! I am so ready! But besides daydreaming about all of our future travel today, I decided to make us some Champagne Cupcakes with Champagne Swiss Buttercream Frosting.

As those of you who know us are aware, Jay and I love Champagne, especially Veuve Clicquot. I’m telling you, that widow knows what she is doing on the champagne making front! I can assure you that we certainly will be drinking a bottle (or two….who knows once you get going…) to celebrate today.

And cupcakes go along brilliantly with champagne. I think so anyway. But then again, I LOVE cupcakes, so I think they go along brilliantly with everything. Or devoured all on their lonesome. We actually had a tower of cupcakes as our wedding cake.

They were adorable. Sunflowers, ladybugs and bees. And they not only looked cute, were really yummy.So with that fond memory firmly in place, I got to baking!

I had to cobble this recipe together somewhat. I took the cake part of these cupcakes from one source and the frosting part from another. Recently Jay and I discovered that we really like the Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting, much more than the regular simple buttercream.

The results? I must say, these Champagne Frosted Champagne Cupcakes rock! So festive, they are just perfect for our celebration today. The cake was very moist and the frosting sweet, but not tooth-achingly sweet. I did sprinkle a bit of vanilla sugar ever so lightly over the tops of these little gems. They were completely scrumptious!

And on that note, I’ve gotta get going. The Veuve is a calling! Cheers!

Champagne Cupcakes with Champagne Swiss Buttercream Frosting

recipe from: cupcakes: Sprinkle Bakes, Frosting: Brave Tart

yield: 17 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup champagne

For the Frosting:

  • 5 oz. egg whites
  • 5 oz. sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • the scrapings from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 2″ chunks, room temperature
  • Champagne to taste- I used 3 Tablespoons

Directions:

For the Cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup champagne and 1/2 cup sour cream (mixture will fizz and bubble). Add flour and champagne mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Batter will be thick.

Fill cupcake papers with 1/4 cup level measures of batter.

Bake for 17-22 minutes.

Set aside.

For the Frosting:

Combine the egg whites, sugar salt and vanilla bean together in a clean bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of water and turn the heat on medium-low.

Whisk frequently to prevent an egg white omelet forming on the sides, but continual mixing isn’t necessary. Aim to get the mixture to at least 145°F for food safety reasons, but reaching 150°F would make for a nice margin of error. If your egg whites are at room temperature, this won’t take very long, maybe just a few minutes.

When the mixture is sufficiently hot, remove from the heat and whip on medium-high speed until the mixture has doubled in volume and turned snowy white. Continue whipping until the meringue is cool. Use your hands to feel the bowl itself, rather than simply testing the temperature of the meringue. You want it to feel perfectly cool to the touch with no trace of warmth.

Change to the paddle attachment and turn the mixer down to medium-low and begin adding the butter, one chunk at a time. If you didn’t let your meringue cool enough, this is when you’ll really regret it. By the time you’ve added all the butter, you may need to scrape down the bowl to fully incorporate any butter or meringue that’s stuck to the sides.

Finally add your champagne. Just keep adding 1/4 teaspoon at a time until it suits your tastes.

The buttercream freezes beautifully. I had about 1 cup’s worth left over.

Enjoy!


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