Monday, January 23, 2012

Key Lime Pie with Meringue Topping

Today just happens to be National Pie Day and I have chosen to participate. Awesome, I know! I love pie and to be honest, it's probably my dessert of choice. There is something so simple and somewhat old-fashioned about pie that gets me. It's classic and it always has been and always will be around. There are SO many different kinds of options for pie, some require more skill than others and some can cost a ridiculously high amount of money. But pie can also be the easiest, cheapest dessert you can choose to make. The decision is all yours, and the possibilities are endless. Savory or sweet, man, pie can do it all.  

I chose to do Key Lime Pie on National Pie Day because it's my favorite pie of all time. Bold statement, but very true. I found a recipe that included meringue on top of this pie and I was sold. Meringue just happens to be my favorite pie topping. This particular meringue recipe turned out perfect, it looks and tastes just like how my grandma's does on her rhubarb pie and that is exactly what I wanted. I was way more excited about this than I should have been. I'm super cool, ya know. I have officially conquered meringue and I'm damn proud of it. Now, this recipe is based off one from Paula Deen and her Food Network gang. This is the first recipe I've ever made from Paula Deen's recipe collection. Recently the popular southern cook has been getting some (a ton) of bad press because of her health issues, selling diabetes pills, and use of butter or something, but I decided to give her a chance anyway. Even if you are despising Paula Deen at the moment, don't take it out on this pie. It's great. It's better than great. I plan on using this recipe many more times. Happy National Pie Day to you and I hope you're able to get a slice, or two. 

Key Lime Pie with Meringue Topping
Adapted from Paula Deen on Food

1 1/2 cups graham crackers, finely ground (about 12 crackers)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup heavy cream

4 egg whites
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
Pinch salt


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Pulse graham cracker crumbs, butter, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Firmly press crumb mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie dish. Bake until crust is fragrant and edges are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and condensed milk. Stir in the lime zest, lime juice, and cream. Pour the filling into the crust and bake about 30 minutes or until firm. Mine only took about 25 minutes. Remove pie from oven.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, which will take several minutes. In a second bowl, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add the sugar mixture, a little at a time, to the egg whites, beating between additions. Continue to beat until the sugar dissolves. Spoon the meringue over the hot pie filling. Spread it out to the ends of you can. The meringue tends to shrink a bit. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Serve pie warm or at room temperature

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cranberry-Creme Fraiche Bundt Cake

This recipe will be my official farewell to cranberries, until next year that is. To be honest, I've gotten sick of them. Every year I get so excited for fresh cranberries to get stocked in our grocery store and I bake with them until I can't stand it anymore. This year I even made jam from them, which I will do again. Cranberries are just a nice distraction for me until rhubarb rolls back around. Rhubarb is my true love and I miss it dearly. Yes, I realize I'm a very strange person. In all honesty, rhubarb is probably my favorite thing to bake with and it makes me sad that I still have several months to wait for it. Don't you feel sorry for me? I do.

I will admit it, cranberries have been good to me this year and this newest cake is quite swell. I was a flipping through a cookbook and one of the reasons I stopped on this cake's page and decided to make it was because of the bright pink glaze. It looked interesting and tasty. I figured I should make one more thing with my winter friend, the cranberry. Hope you get a chance to make it before the cranberries disappear.

Cranberry-Crème Fraîche Bundt Cake
Recipe adapted from  Cake Simple


1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup crème fraîche (recipe follows)
1 1/2 c. whole-berry cranberry sauce (recipe follows)
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds
Cranberry Glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the inside of a 10-cup bundt pan with a non-stick baking spray.

Whisk the flour with the baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter with the sugar on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture (in three increments) alternating with the crème fraîche (in two increments), beginning and ending with the flour and beating after each addition until just combined.
Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Swirl half the cranberry sauce over the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the cranberry sauce, and then swirl the remaining cranberry sauce over the batter. Sprinkle the almonds over the top. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack and let it cool completely. Transfer the cake to a serving plate and drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake. The cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Crème Fraîche (I bought mine, nobody will judge you if you do as well.)
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons buttermilk

Combine the heavy cream with buttermilk, cover tightly, and let sit at room temperature (in a warm room) for at least 8 hours. Stir the mixture, it should be thick and creamy. If it hasn't thickened completely, cover the mixture again and let it sit in a warm place for another 2 to 3 hours and check it again. when it has a nice, thick consistency, it will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Whole Berry-Cranberry Sauce
12 ounces fresh cranberries
3/4 cup water
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cranberries with the water, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and salt and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and most of the liquid has reduced. After about 10 minutes of cooking, remove about 1 tablespoon of the liquid for the cranberry glaze. Let the sauce cool completely before using it in the cake. The sauce keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Cranberry Glaze*
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 tablespoon cranberry juice (reserved from making the cranberry sauce)
*I added a little orange juice to make the glaze a little smoother. It was pretty stiff before I added a little more liquid. You could also reserve more cranberry juice as well.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Caramel

I wanted to share these cookies with you because I think they are incredibly rad. I'm not even that much of a fan of coconut, not at all actually, but I still enjoyed these treats quite a bit. I'm pretty much a sucker for anything oozing with caramel and judging from the reaction my fella gave me after trying one, these might be the best thing I've baked in a while. 

The awesome thing about these cookies is that they aren't at all difficult to make, though they do tend to be a bit time consuming. I warned you, remember that. The strangest part of preparing these cookies was the process of dipping them in the egg wash and then rolling them in the coconut. It was weird, don't ask me why. Moving on, the salted caramel turned out to be easy to prepare as well. The hardest part about the sauce is unwrapping the caramels and making sure it doesn't burn while you're cooking it. When the recipe says to constantly stir, you seriously need to constantly stir. This sauce will burn and stick to that pot of yours and then you will be cursing my name while you are trying to clean it out. Trust me, I figured this part out the hard way and my pot is still soaking. Hope you get a chance to try these out. Enjoy!

Coconut Thumbprint Cookies with Salted CaramelRecipe from Martha Stewart Living Feb 2012 

3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs beaten
12 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
44 small soft caramel candies (12 oz.)
6 tablespoons heavy cream
Flaky Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350. Beat together butter and sugar with  mixer on medium speed until it is pale and fluffy, then add vanilla. With your mixer on low, gradually add flour and 1/2 tsp salt and beat to combine. Using plastic wrap, press dough together, and roll into 1 1/4-inch balls. Dip each ball into the beaten egg, shake off any excess egg, and then roll in coconut.

Place balls on parchment-lined baking sheet and press and indentation of your thumb into each cookie. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove sheet from oven and re-press indentations. After that, put the sheet back in the oven and bake for another 9-10 minutes or until golden. Let cool on wire racks. Repeat with remaining dough.

For caramel: Place unwrapped caramels and heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the caramels have melted and the mixture is smooth, 4-6 minutes. Spoon caramel into the indentations of each cookie and sprinkle with sea salt. If the caramel starts to harden, rewarm it on low heat! (Store in airtight containers for up to 2 days.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Part II: My Holiday Cookies

I recently fell in love with Rustica, the bakery, and their chocolate chip shortbread cookies. In this list of cookies, there is a recipe which is my attempt to copy them. They don't quite taste the same, but they are still quite good. Along with that one, there is a few more of my holiday cookies. They are all pretty quick and simple, which is how I like my holiday baking. If you received any of my holiday goodies and there was a cookie in there that isn't on this list, let me know and I will get you the recipe! Enjoy.

Grammy's Chocolate Cookie


Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Nutmeg Maple Butter Cookie

Peanut Butter Kisses

Surprise Kisses

Sugar Cookie

Part I: My Homemade Holiday Candies

I haven't posted for a while and I really don't have any excuses, unless you count being addicted to the television show 'Law and Order'. It's streaming on Netflix and I can't seem to stop watching it, therefore no time for anything somewhat productive. Yes, I may be addicted to crime TV, but I finally shut it off to tell you about my holiday treats. I made SO many different things this year and I couldn't choose which treat I liked the best, so I decided to give you a list of some of my favorites with a link to the original recipe. This first post is just of the candies that I thought turned out to be quite tasty. Most of my recipes this year came from Martha Stewart. Even though her recipes are sometimes difficult and don't always turn out, her golden caramel recipe is probably the best thing I made this holiday season.

I'm planning on doing a separate post on the holiday cookies I made, so stay tuned! I know Christmas is over, but you can always try these recipes now or save them until next year. All of the recipes I'm posting work great and I had zero problems with them! Shocking, I know. Hope you enjoy. 

Golden Caramels

Honey-Pecan Granola

Cherry, Almond and Cinnamon Granola

Peanut Brittle
Old-Fashioned Butter Crunch Candy

Chocolate-Covered Almond Pralines

Creamy Peanut Butter Cup

Hope you had a happy holiday!