Perfect Coconut Party Cake

September 23, 2014

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Recently another friend of mine had a birthday. Now I’ve told you how much value I place on the homemade birthday cakes. So of course, I started making baking plans for her cake. I wanted it to be a surprize, so this took a bit of sneaky detective work on my part. I was eventually able to deduce that her favourite cake was ” a yellow cake with white frosting and coconut all over it”. Hmmm…possibly a problem. I was familiar with the cake as it was described to me, but I didn’t have any coconut cake experience. The husband doesn’t like coconut. Actually he likes the flavour of coconut just fine, but finds the texture very objectionable, so I don’t pay a lot of attention to any recipes which call for the stuff. But luckily I had Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours close at hand. And voila! It seemed I flipped the book open to the exact recipe I needed, Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake.

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She claimed that this cake will be “just-right” for any celebration and as usual, she did not fail me. The cake not only looks festive, but also tastes delightful and met all of the requirements for my friend’s favourite cake, layers of delicious bright lemony cake interspersed with summery raspberry preserves and lemony buttercream frosting all topped with sweet coconut flakes.

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Well, I guess it met almost all of them. This cake is not yellow, but is a snowy white cake which makes the contrast of that raspberry jam layer all the more vibrant and festive! This cake is a reason for celebrating all on its own if you didn’t already have one in mind. And even better, it is easily customizable to fit your celebratory needs, switch out the raspberry preserves for another or you could use fresh berries along with a whipped sweetened cream frosting, …the possibilities are endless. The cake layers are moist, light and fluffy yet won’t crumble when you split them in half or begin piling on layers of preserves and frosting. This truly is a perfect cake recipe that you should always keep close at hand. It will make any celebration all the merrier!

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Perfect Coconut Party Cake

recipe from: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure lemon extract

For the Buttercream

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice ( from 2 large lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing:

  • 2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves, stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
  • About 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Directions:

Center a rock in the oven and preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter two 9 X 2″ round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.

Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk/egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2 minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months).

For the Buttercream: Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or other large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.

Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream on medium-hight speed until it is thick and very smooth 6 to 10 minutes. During this time, the buttercream may curdle or separate just keep beating and it will come together again. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. You should have a shiny, smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

To assemble the Cake: Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. (or use a cake leveler, like I did.) Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Spread it with one third of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream left over). Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the side and top. Press the coconut in the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.

Enjoy!

Perfect Coconut Party Cake brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )

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Bourbon Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Bun Bread Pudding

April 16, 2013

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Since I just shared that wonderfully spicy Chicken & Andouille Jambalaya recipe with you, I thought you might like something with a bit of a Creole flavour to serve for dessert. New Orleans Bourbon Bread Pudding is just such a dessert. Usually this bread pudding would be made with a French baguette or other egg rich bread like brioche or challah.But I had just made a huge batch of Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday. Those Buns were deeee-lish!

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The best Hot Cross Buns I have made to date. However, there were quite of few of those gems sitting around here. Even after the husband and I had eaten our fill, and I’d set one aside for its good luck/medicinal value, we still had quite a few and they were rapidly heading towards a very stale state. Perfect for Bread Pudding! Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Bun Bread Pudding!

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Oh and don’t forget that I’m putting some Bourbon in the mix as well. That is always a good thing! I had made Dorie Greenspan’s Bourbon Bread Pudding before and knew it was a winner, so I just made her Bourbon Bread pudding using my Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns for the bread. I decided to make up a bit of Bourbon Syrup to drizzle over the pudding as well. Oh yeah…and we might have added a little scoop of ice cream on the side. Let me tell you, this bread pudding is just da bomb! I hope you won’t wait until next Easter to make it!

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Bourbon Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Bun Bread Pudding

Recipe slightly adapted from: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces left over Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Demerara sugar to sprinkle over top

For the Bourbon syrup:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Bourbon ( I like Knob Creek)

Directions:

Butter a 9×5 inch loaf pan ( Pyrex or ceramic will work well. I had so many Buns left over to use, I doubled the recipe and made mine in a 9×13″ pan). Line a roasting pan big enough to hold the loaf pan with a double thickness of paper towels. Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off the heat.

Cut the buns into 1″ cubes and remove the cross from the top of the bun as it tends to have a tough texture. If the bread is stale, put it into the loaf pan. If it is not stale, spread it out on a baking sheet lined with parchments and bake it in a 350° F oven to “stale” it for 10 minutes. Once finished, place the bread in the loaf pan and set the loaf pan in the middle of the roasting pan.

Bring milk and cream just to a boil.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, yolks, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a bowl. Still whisking slowly drizzle in about one-quarter of the hot milk mixture-this will temper, or warm the eggs so they don’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining milk. Add the bourbon and vanilla and whisk gently to blend. Rap the bowl against the counter to pop any bubbles that might have formed, then pour the custard over the bread and press the bread gently with the back of a spoon to help cover it with liquid. Cover the pan lightly with wax paper and leave it on the counter, giving the bread the back-of-the-spoon treatment now and then, for 1 hour.

Center a rack in an oven preheated to 350°F.

Discard the wax paper. Sprinkle Demerara sugar over the top of the pudding. Cover the loaf pan snugly with a piece of aluminum foil. Poke about 5 holes in the foil. Slide the roasting pan/loaf pan into the oven and very carefully pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the loaf pan. Bake the pudding for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for 15 minutes more, or until the pudding is puffed and golden and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean. Transfer the baking pan to a rack and cool the pudding until it is just warm, or reaches room temperature.

While pudding is baking make the Bourbon Syrup. Stir the water and sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar melts, then bring to a boil for about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Bourbon. Pour the syrup into a heatproof bowl and let cool.

Once you a ready to serve the pudding, sprinkle powdered sugar over the top and serve with a Bourbon syrup drizzle. Or you could go even one step further and serve it along with a scoop of ice cream.

Enjoy!


French Brownies

February 4, 2013

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All you brownie lovers, pay attention now! These French Brownies a la Dorie Greenspan are just perfect. Well, let me be more specific. If you love “cake like” brownies, these probably are not for you, so sorry for the interruption. You can move on now and go ahead about your business. But for those of you who prefer a nice, moist, fudge like brownie, look no further! These French darlins have a completely silky texture and decadent chocolate flavour. I love the addition of the rum soaked raisins. I never would have thought to add raisins to my brownies, but it works oh so well. Another amazing thing about these brownies is that they don’t taste too sweet. You know how the first bite of some brownies can send you into a full-on sugar conniption, they are just that tooth-achingly sweet? Not these. They have just the right amount of sweetness to leave you satisfied.

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So easy to make, I bet you could have a batch baked before you know it. And their appearance will give you and excuse to talk with an outrageously ridiculous french accent. Come on…you know what I’m talking about! I want to hear zee  “Sacre Bleu!” , “Ooh là là!”,  and “Mon Dieu!”, followed by that crazy French laugh “Hon, Hon, Hon!”, which I’ve heard does not actually occur in France, but we are being ridiculous here, so I say go for it! I want to hear outrageous accents like the French Knights were sporting in Monty Python’s Holy Grail. (I love that movie! To see a clip of the actual “French Taunting” click here.)

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Well, there you have it (voilà)! What else can I say at this point but “Bon Appètit”!

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French Brownies

recipe from: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

yield: 16 bars

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 sticks ( 12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar

Directions:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 300° F. Line a 8X8″ pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk the flour, salt and cinnamon together.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum and let it warm for about 30 seconds, then turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum with a long match. Allow the flames to die down and set the raisins aside.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate melts. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring until it melts. Don’t let the butter/chocolate mixture to get very hot.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter mixture, mixing only until it  is incorporated. You’ll have a thick, creamy batter. add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds-the dry ingredients won’t be completely incorporated. Then finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula. Fold in the raisins, along with any liquid remaining in the pan. Scrape the batter into the pan.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Enjoy!


Chicken, Apples and Cream a la Normande with Lemon-Steamed Spinach

November 16, 2012

Good Grief! It has been over one month since I last posted!! I would love to say something like “Time flies when you’re having fun”. I would like to tell you that I won a squillion (squillion = much more than one million) dollars and I was busy trying to find ways to spend it. Or maybe that I was a spy for the CIA and that espionage took up a whole heck of a lot of time. Or that I was just out living it up and having boat loads of fun. But believe you me, I have decidedly NOT been having fun. When I last left you, I believe I was apologizing for not posting for a while (hmmm….this seems to be becoming a habit…) because I had been on holiday in Ireland and was a bit jet lagged. Well, I caught some sort of crud on that plane coming home. I remember sitting on that flying hospital ward and thinking to myself that it would be a miracle if I didn’t get sick, cause everyone around me was hacking and wheezing non-stop for the eight-hour flight. Don’t you know it, about 4-5 days after getting home, wham! I got smacked with some cold. And it wasn’t one of those little annoying things that you can go basically go about your normal business with, albeit with a box of tissues in tow. No it was a bear of a thing. Grizzly, not black bear. I used so many tissues I was sad I didn’t own stock in the Kleenex company! Just when I about had that one kicked, and was ready to dive into blogging again, we lost power for 3 days with Hurricane Sandy. And then, KAPOW! Another coldy/virusy thing descended upon me. I know I said the last one was a bear, well this one was essentially Godzilla! It totally body slammed me to the floor and proceeded to do some sort of celebratory dance all over my prone body. Seriously, it was bad news. And then, apparently I was in the sharing mood, cause I passed it on over to my poor unsuspecting husband, whose usual immune system of steel was unable to protect him from this nightmare. So, I’m sure you can see, there hasn’t been a whole heck of a lot of “fun” going on around here! The good news is, we both seem to be on the road to recovery. I’d appreciate it if everyone would cross their fingers (and perhaps toes) for us at this point!

So enough of our trials and tribulations for now. Please accept my apology for the disappearing act. I’ve finally re-emerged with a lovely Fall recipe, Chicken, Apples and Cream à la Normande, from Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table. This dish doesn’t have a whole ton of ingredients, mainly just chicken breasts, mushrooms apples, cream and Calvados (an apple brandy from Northern France), but it tastes wonderfully decadent! It also looks quite fancy, but it very easy to make. I served mine on a bed of Lemon-Steamed Spinach which paired perfectly with the apples and cream sauce.

Great for a romantic dinner for two and impressive enough to serve at a larger dinner party. And it has apples in it, which are good for you. You know what they say, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”…too bad I didn’t think of that about a month ago!  🙂

Chicken, Apples and Cream à la Normande

recipe from: Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table

yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • All purpose flour, for dredging
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves at room temperature
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 8 mushrooms, stemmed, wiped clean, thinly sliced and slices cut crosswise in half
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons Calvados, apple jack or brandy
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Put some flour on a plate and season it with salt and pepper. Pat the chicken pieces dry and run them through the flour, coating both sides lightly and tapping off the excess.

Put a large deep skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon each butter and oil. When the butter is melted, slip the chicken into the pan. Cook for 3 minutes, to brown the undersides, then turn over and cook for 3 minutes more.

If you’re low on butter and oil, add a little more now, then toss in the apple, onion and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and turn the new additions around so that they’re well mixed and glossy with butter and oil. Cook for 1 minute, then pour in the broth. When the broth bubbles, reduce the heat and cook for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is almost cooked through.

Turn the heat up again, pour in the Calvados and boil until it’s almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Add the cream and keeping the heat on high, cook until the cream reduces by about one quarter, a matter of a few minutes. Taste the sauce for salt and pepper. arrange the chicken on a dish or on a bed of steamed spinach if you wish, pour sauce over it.

Lemon Steamed Spinach

ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 lbs. (two 10 oz. bags) baby spinach – cleaned and trimmed
  • 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Have your steamer set up and ready to go. Put the spinach in a bowl and toss it with 1 tablespoon of the oil, the zest and salt and pepper to taste. Taste for seasoning and if the spinach looks dry, add some or all of the remaining olive oil.

Turn the spinach into the pot, cover and steam for 3 minutes. Turn spinach and cook for another minute or two until it is tender. The spinach should be served as soon as it’s cooked.

Enjoy and stay healthy!


Rum Drenched Lemon Loaf Cakes

June 6, 2012

I told you that I had something yummy in mind when I made up that batch of Meyer Lemon Curd. As if the curd wasn’t fabulous enough, all on its lonesome, I thought it would be even better if I slathered it over the top of Rum Drenched Lemon Loaf Cake and then added some fresh fruit and whipped cream. Have Mercy! This dessert was unbelievably delicious. So fresh and light. Perfect summer dessert! Now I must admit, Dorie Greenspan’s Rum Drenched Lemon Loaf Cakes can stand up all on their own. I’m sure nobody would be complaining if they were served a gorgeous slice of this cake, completely unadorned.

It has a wonderful texture and fresh lemon zing. The rum glaze that it is drenched in is not too shabby either. Excellent with a cup of tea. But since I had the Meyer Lemon Curd and some fresh fruit, I just couldn’t resist dressing it up a bit more.

These loaf cakes are quite easy to make, so if you’ve already made some curd, why not whip up a couple of these cakes to go along with it? You won’t be sorry!

Rum Drenched Lemon Loaf Cakes

recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

Ingredients:

For the Cakes:

  • 2 2/3 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 1/3 Cups sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out and reserved, or 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • zest of 2 Meyer Lemons
  • 6 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
  • 2/3 Cup heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoons dark Rum
  • 1 stick plus 7 tablespoons (15 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Rum Syrup:

  • 1/3 Cup water
  • 1/4 Cup sugar
  • 1/4 Cup dark Rum

Directions:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350° F. Butter two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x2 1/2-inch loaf pans, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pans on an insulated baking sheet or two regular sheets stacked on top of the other.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Put the sugar, the pulp from the vanilla bean and the lemon zest in a large bowl and, working with your fingers, rub them together until the sugar is moist and thoroughly imbued with the fragrance of vanilla and lemon. (If you are using vanilla extract, add it later, after you’ve added the eggs.) Add the eggs and whisk them into the sugar, beating until they are thoroughly incorporated. Whisk in the extract, if you are using it, then whisk in the cream, followed by the Rum. Continuing with the whisk or switching to a large rubber spatula, gently stir in the dry ingredients in 3 to 4 additions; the batter will be smooth and thick. Finish by folding in the melted butter in 2 or 3 additions. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, smoothing the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. ( As soon as the cakes go into the oven, make the syrup.) After about 30 minutes in the oven, check the cakes for colour – if they are browning too quickly, cover them lightly with foil tents.

For the syrup:

Stir the water and sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar melts, then bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Rum. Pour the syrup into a heatproof bowl and let cool.

When the cakes are done, transfer them to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before unmolding them and turning them right side up on the rack. Place the rack over a baking sheet lined with wax paper and, using a thin skewer poke holes all over the cskes. brush the cakes all over with the syrup, working slowly so that the cakes sop it up. Leave the cakes on the rack to cool to room temperature.

Top slice of the cake with Meyer Lemon Curd, fresh fruit of your choosing and whipped cream or perhaps a scoop of ice cream.

Enjoy!


Meyer Lemon Cream Mini Tarts

May 25, 2012

After only a short delay, I’m back to those Meyer Lemons. I mentioned previously how long I had been looking for these little devils and how thrilled I was to finally find some last week. The first thing I made was Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes, which were fantastic. But I still had some Meyer Lemons left after those pudding cakes, (remember, I did say that I grabbed a sack full of them) so I decided to make Meyer Lemon Cream Mini Tarts.

I found a recipe for “Lemon Cream” in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours under “The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart”. I thought this looked fantastic, but rather than use regular Sweet Tart dough for my tart shell, I decided to go with a graham cracker crumb base, sort of like you would find in a key lime pie. I also had these adorable 4″ Mini Tart pans that I had been dying to try, so I made 6 Mini Tarts rather than a regular 9″ tart.

You may wonder what the difference is between Lemon Cream and Lemon Curd. They are very similar but differ in when the butter is added into the mix. In a curd, all of the ingredients, including the butter are cooked together until they thicken. In this cream, the eggs, lemon juice and sugar are cooked together and the butter is added only after the mixture cools down a bit. This causes the butter to emulsify rather than melt, which results in a light and well…creamy texture.

All in all, these were very easy to prepare. I baked the graham cracker tart shells in the morning and while they cooled I prepared the Meyer Lemon Cream. Once the cream was done, I popped it into the fridge for its requisite 4 hours. I didn’t assemble the tarts until right before I was ready to serve them and then garnished them with some freshly whipped cream and bits of fresh fruit. These little tarts were outstanding! The Meyer Lemon Cream is velvety smooth and satisfyingly sweet yet tart. I loved the contrast that the crunchy graham cracker crust provided. My husband is in fruit filled dessert heaven! We can’t believe we’ve been missing out of these exquisite Meyer Lemons all of our lives! If you’ve been likewise deprived, I urge you, search high and low, don’t stop until you find some of these gems and then get baking!

Meyer Lemon Cream Mini Tarts

Recipe adapted from: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

Yield: 6 Mini Tarts (4″ diameter)

Ingredients:

For the graham cracker tart shells:

  • 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

For the Meyer Lemon Cream:

  • 3/4 cup sugar (if you are using regular lemons in lieu of the Meyers, increase to 1 cup sugar)
  • Grated zest of 3 Meyer lemons
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup fresh Meyer Lemon Juice (from 4-5 lemons)
  • 2 sticks plus 5 tablespoons (10 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, at room temperature

Directions:

For the graham cracker tart shells:

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Butter 6 mini tart pans (or one  9″ tart pan).

Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour in the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the mini tart pans and use your fingers to pat an even layer over the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crusts aside to cool on a rack while you make the Meyer Lemon Cream.

For the Meyer Lemon Cream:

Have an instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.

Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the Meyer Lemon Juice.

Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. As you whisk – you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling – you’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger and then, as it gets closer to 180 degrees F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks.

As soon as it reaches 180 degrees F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the blender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.

Turn the blender to high, and with the machine running, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going – to get the perfect light airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to blend the cream for another 3 minutes.

Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. The cream will keep in the fridge for 4 days or, tightly sealed, in the freezer for up to two months)

When you are ready to assemble the tarts, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell. Serve the tart or refrigerate until needed.

Garnish with freshly whipped cream and fruit.

Enjoy!


Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake

May 14, 2012

Here it is Monday and I must admit I’ve been back at Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table again. I just love that cookbook! It has yet to disappoint, so if you don’t own it already, you might want to look into it. This time I decided to try her recipe for Marie-Hèléne’s Apple Cake.

I love apples, my favourite fruit, so anything apple gets my attention. And well, I’ve already mentioned how my husband loves a good fruit dessert, so I got busy making this cake. I’m happy to report that this cake is very easy to prepare. Really there is no fuss. Just a no-nonsense simple apple cake. And I love that apples really steal the show here. I would say it is as close as you can get to a pie, but still be a cake. The chunks of apple are held together ever so slightly by a thin matrix of cake.

Oh, and it has rum in it. Always a plus! The cake was absolutely delicious and was gobbled down in its entirity by folks on the very night it was served. Not a left-over in sight!

I dusted the top of the cake with some powdered sugar and served it with freshly whipped cream to which I had added a bit of cinnamon. Cinnamon or vanilla ice cream would also be fantastic. Try this winner today!

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake

recipe from: Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table

ingredients:

  • 3/4 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 large apples (if you can choose 4 different kinds)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 Cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons dark rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Directions:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350°F. Generously butter an 8″ springform pan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the springform on it.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.

Peel the apples, cut them in half, and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1 – 2″ chunks.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half of the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have  smooth rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it’s evenish.

Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 – 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.

Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it’s fully opened, make sure there aren’t any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.

Serve with ice cream or freshly whipped cream. I served this one with some cinnamon whipped cream.

*This cake is very moist. When you store it, do not cover it. Simply place a piece of plastic wrap against the cut surface. Will keep at room temperature for 2 days.

Enjoy!


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