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!


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!


Quick & Easy Meyer Lemon Curd

June 2, 2012

Meyer Lemon-palooza continues…As you all most likely know by now, after many months of searching, I finally came across some Meyer Lemons and bought a whole slew of them! I made Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes and Meyer Lemon Cream Mini Tarts. Both were stunning if I say so myself. And I still had some gorgeous Meyer Lemons left. (told you it was a really big bag…) So I went ahead and made up a batch of good old Meyer Lemon Curd.

I found the recipe on Craving Chronicles and it really did live up to its name. It  was very quick and easy and delicious to boot! It made about 1 1/2 cups of a delightfully sweet yet tart spread. Veritable sunshine in a jar I tell you!

Delicious smeared on scones, added to your morning oatmeal or yogurt, or simply eaten by the spoonful! I must admit, when I made up this curd, I did have another dessert in mind that uses Lemon Curd as one of its ingredients. I mention that just as a teaser, because I’ll be posting about that fabulous creation next time. Check back soon! In the meantime, get your jars of Meyer Lemon Curd ready to go!

Quick & Easy Meyer Lemon Curd

recipe from: Craving Chronicles

yield: about 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • zest of 2 Meyer lemons
  • 1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice (about 3-4 large lemons)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces

Directions:

Add all ingredients except butter to a saucepan over Low heat. Whisk to combine. Add butter. Continue whisking gently but constantly, heating slowly, until curd thickens and reaches 160°F on an instant read thermometer. Remove from heat.

For the smoothest curd, pour through a fine mesh strainer. Transfer to a storage container. Cover and refrigerate overnight before use. Curd keeps up to 1 week in the fridge.

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!


Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes

May 17, 2012

Eureka! I have struck gold! And by gold, I mean some lovely, golden hued Meyer Lemons. This may not excite you, but then I bet you haven’t been looking for them as long as I have. Apparently, these little devils are difficult to ship, so most local grocery stores and chains do not carry them. They are in season from November through the end of April. But don’t you know it, just when I had given up all hope of finding any, I walked into my local Harris Teeter grocery store and there they sat, shining just like the sun!

Well, needless to say, after reading the label several times and pinching myself to make sure it wasn’t some weird culinary dream that I was destined to wake up from with a huge sense of disappointment,  I grabbed a bunch of them and ran to the check-out lest someone steal them away from me if I dared to dawdle.

So what’s so good about Meyer Lemons? Well, 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. It is a gorgeous golden-yellow colour, kind of like egg yolks. They have a much thinner skin than regular lemons and have a nice floral fragrance. If you can find these little guys, they are well worth buying!

What did I make with them. Well, for starters I made this lovely little Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes. Yup, you heard me…Pudding…Cakes. They are the best of both worlds, you know, the pudding universe and the cake universe. As you dig into these fabulous treats, you first encounter a fluffy lemony cake, but once you get through that layer you sink into a rich, creamy, decadent lemon pudding layer on the bottom. I’m not even usually interested in fruit desserts, that’s generally my husband’s territory, but these were really irresistible! I served some topped with a bit of whipped cream and some au natural with just a tiny dusting of confectioner’s sugar. If you are lucky enough to come across any Meyer Lemons, act fast! Buy them right away and make some of these yummy treats.

Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes

recipe from: The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

yield: 8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup ( 2 1/2 oz. / 75 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup ( 8 oz./ 250 grams) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated Meyer lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup ( 3 fl. oz./ 80 ml) fresh Meyer lemon juice
  • 1 1/3 cups (11 fl. oz./ 330 ml) whole milk

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Place eight 1/2 cup (4 fl oz./ 125 ml) ramekins in a large baking dish and pour in water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour and salt. In a separate nonreactive bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cup ( 6 oz. / 180 grams) of the sugar until pale and thick, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour mixture and beat until very thick, 2 minutes more. Stir in the lemon zest, juice and milk.

Using an electric mixer on high-speed, whip the egg whites until foamy. Sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup (2 oz. /60 grams) sugar and whip until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Using a silicone spatula, stir one-fourth of the egg whites into the lemon mixture. gently fold in the rest just until no streaks of egg white are visible. Divide the mixture evenly among the ramekins.

Bake until the centers are firm to the touch and the edges pull away slightly from the sides of the ramekins, 40-45 minutes. Removes from the oven but leave in the water bath for 15-20 minutes.  Dust the tops with confectioner’s sugar or top with a bit of whipped cream. Serve warm or at room temperature straight from the ramekins.

Enjoy!


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