Food & Drink

Lemon Sorbet

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Ahhh summer.  One dessert I can never get enough of is sorbet.  I love, love, love the perfect combination of cold and citrus on a hot day.  The best part is sorbet is super easy to make and only requires ingredients I always have on hand.

I like to serve the sorbet in the lemons that I hollowed out.  It’s such a cute way to serve this simple dessert.

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Lemon Sorbet

  • Servings: 6
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Ingredients

  • 3 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar

Method

  1. In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar over medium-low heat.  Cook until sugar is melted.  Stir in lemon zest and lemon juice.  Let mixture completely cool.
  2. Pour in ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Food & Drink

No-Bake Mini Lemon Cheesecake Cups

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I LOOOOOOVE no-bake desserts.  Especially when the heat is high in the middle of summer, no-bake desserts are the best.  Lately, I’ve been on a citrus kick, and I’ve been experimenting with the jar of lemon curd I made a week ago.

Coincidentally, I’m also cleaning out my pantry at the moment, and I found a sleeve of graham crackers that I need to eat before it expires.  I started experimenting with combining the two to make a no-bake dessert.  After some brainstorming, I came up with a really simple, lemon cheesecake cup.

The base is just like a regular graham cracker crust.  It’s very buttery and has a lot of bite to it.  The filling is not as dense as a cheesecake, but it’s nice and fluffy, which will give you serious lemon meringue pie vibes.  I topped the whole thing with a generous layer of lemon curd and voila!

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No-Bake Mini Lemon Cheesecake Cups

  • Servings: 24
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Ingredients

  • 16 graham cracker sheets, crushed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd

Method

  1. Line the 24 cavities of a mini-muffin tin with paper liners or grease with butter.  In a small bowl, combine crushed graham crackers and butter.  Stir together until it forms a crumbly mixture.  Divide and press evenly along the base and sides in mini muffin tins.
  2. In a medium bowl, whip cream cheese until light and fluffy.  In a separate bowl, beat heavy cream with granulated sugar until it reaches stiff peaks.  Fold in the whipped cream cheese until well-combined.  Spoon approximately 2 tsp of cream cheese mixture in each cup (leave a little room on top).
  3. Spread a thin layer of lemon curd on the top.  Refrigerate 2 hours before serving.

Food & Drink

Lemon Curd

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If you know me, you know that my favorite desserts come from the citrus family.  And because I love citrus things so much, when it comes to lemon curd, the more the merrier.  I like to spread lemon curd on basically anything – scones, crackers, I can even eat it by the spoonful.

But I think the thing I love the most about lemon curd is how easy and simple it is to make with ingredients you probably already have at home!  Lately, I find that a lot of my desserts that I’ve been experimenting either uses only egg whites or egg yolks.  So I end up having to shift my cooking based on what I have in my fridge.  Since I had an overage of egg yolks last week, I decided to whip up a quick batch of lemon curd.

Lemon Curd

  • Servings: 12 oz
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Ingredients

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Method

  1. In a double boiler over medium heat, combine all the ingredients.  Using a whisk, whisk the mixture gently until it thickens and can coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.
  2. Pour mixture into a heatproof container and let it come to room temperature.  Refrigerate before serving.

 

Food & Drink

Cranberry Walnut Scones

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Cranberry Walnut Scones

  • Servings: 24
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Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk

Egg wash

  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tb water

Optional icing

  • 1-2 tsp milk
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  2. In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter until mixture resembles dry crumbs.  Alternatively, you can use a pastry cutter.  Place dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir in cranberries and walnuts.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together egg, vanilla, and milk.  Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Stir with a large spoon until no more flour is visible.  The dough should be quite sticky.
  4. Sprinkle some flour on a work surface and transfer the dough to the work surface.  Knead a couple times until it forms a smooth ball.  Divide dough into 4 (or 2 for larger scones).  Roll each portion into a ball, then gently flatten into a disk.  Cut the disk into 6 triangles.  Place each triangle on the baking sheet.  Whisk together ingredients for egg wash and brush a thin layer of egg wash over each scone.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until tops are golden brown.

Food & Drink

Hua Juan (Flower Buns)

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You guys, I’ve been wanting to make this for soooooo long.  So I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not I should get a bamboo steamer.  There are so many Chinese goodies I want to make, but they all require using a steamer.  Something in me always cheapened out and I never got one.  Until last week when my mom surprised me with her old bamboo steamer when she came to visit.  I guess she got tired of me telling her my justifications of getting one vs. not.  Regardless, I’m stoked.

I knew right away that the first thing I had to make were hua juan.  This literally translates to “flower twist”.  It’s a variation of traditional Chinese steamed buns, but with a twist (quite literally!).  The bun is shaped with a twist to mimic a flower blooming and is seasoned with salt, white pepper, and scallions.  It’s such a simple bread but so delicious.

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Hua Juan (Flower Bun)

  • Servings: 10
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Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (+more for dusting)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tb sesame oil
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Method

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together flour, salt, water, and yeast using a dough hook.  Mix on low for about 5-10 minutes, until the dough is soft and passes the window-pane test.  Cover and set aside in room temperature until it doubles in size, about 1 hour.
  2. Dust work surface with flour.  Roll dough into a long log and split into 10 portions.  Roll each portion into a long rectangle (about 6 inches in length).  Using a paring knife, make several slits lengthwise, leaving about 1 cm at each end.  Using a pastry brush, brush on a thin layer of sesame oil.  Sprinkle with a little bit of white pepper, salt, and scallions.  Using both hands, grab both ends of the dough and twist the dough in opposite directions.  Then spiral the dough together to form a coil.  Tuck one end in the middle and the other end in the bottom.  Repeat with remaining dough.
  3. Line bamboo steamer with parchment paper.  Let dough rest for about 10 minutes.  Fill a large pan with about 2 inches of water, place the steamer in the pan.  Bring to a boil and steam for 15 minutes, and rest for 5 minutes before lifting the lid.

Food & Drink

Castella (Honey Cake)

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If macarons are the finicky, pain-in-the-butt to make cookies, then castellas are the macaron-equivalent of a cake.  At first glance, castellas don’t look super difficult.  It’s a loaf cake.  What can be so hard about it?  Well, the hardest part is keeping the shape once it’s out of the oven.  A lot of times, castellas will sink in the middle and create this dip in the center.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s still crazy delicious, but it just doesn’t look as nice.

The tricky thing about castella is that the only rising agent is eggs.  That’s right, there’s no baking powder, baking soda, nada.  Additionally, there aren’t a lot of flour in the cake mixture, so whipping the eggs to the correct stages is absolutely crucial to ensure the perfect castella.

I have such fond memories of castella (my family calls them honey cakes).  My mom would always buy one from the Asian grocery store when we were growing up.  Since we don’t really like overly sweet desserts in my household, this was the perfect amount of sweetness.  And the best part is it only uses 5 ingredients – that you probably already have at home.

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Castella (Honey Cake)

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tb honey
  • 1 Tb water
  • 3/4 cup bread flour, sifted

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a 9×5 loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a stand mixer, whisk eggs on high speed for 3-5 minutes, until light and fluffy, slowly add granulated sugar.  Continue whisking until the mixture is thick and pale.
  3. Stir together the honey and water.  Microwave in 10-second intervals until the honey is easily pourable.  Pour honey into the egg mixture with the mixer running.  Continue mixing for another 2 minutes.
  4. In 2 parts, slowly shake in the bread flour.  Using a rubber spatula, carefully fold in the flour into the egg mixture.  Be sure to not overmix.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Then lower oven to 300°F and bake for an additional 30 minutes.  Remove cake from the oven and tap the loaf pan on the counter to prevent it from sinking.  Turn cake upside down and transfer to an airtight container (or wrap in plastic wrap).  Refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours.
  6. Using a serrated knife, cut the sides off of the cake before serving.

Food & Drink

Triple Mango Macarons

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I’ve been waiting all week for these!  Ian is going out of town for work and this weekend, my best friends are coming down from New York to have a girls’ weekend in Philly.  We’ve been saying that we want to have a fancy tea party, so tomorrow, we’ll be serving so many tea party worthy foods – cranberry walnut scones, crackers with goat cheese and dill, cucumber sandwiches, and so much more.  But the crowning glory to the spread we’ll be having are these triple mango macarons.

I had this idea of making a mango macaron with a mango buttercream AND a mango jam center.  Since summer is here and mangos prices are dropping, I thought there is no better time than now to tackle these macarons.

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Triple Mango Macarons

  • Servings: 30 macarons
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Ingredients

Mango Macarons

  • 100g egg whites
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 100g almond flour
  • 100g powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp mango extract (optional)
  • Yellow and red food coloring (optional)

Mango Jam

  • 3 cups chopped mango (I used 3 champagne mangos)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Mango Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup mango jam
  • Yellow and red food coloring (optional)

Method

Macarons

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Over a double boiler, whisk together egg whites and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is frothy, about 2 minutes.  Transfer this to a stand mixer or a handheld mixer with a whisk attachment and beat on medium-high.  Put in a pinch of salt, cream of tartar, and mango extract.  Beat until stiff peaks, about 3-5 minutes.  If you want to color your macarons, add a little bit of gel food coloring at this point and beat for 5 seconds only.
  3. In a food processor, combine the almond flour and powdered sugar.  Pulse 5x.  Sift the mixture into a bowl,  Discard any remaining chunks that cannot be sifted.
  4. Carefully put the almond flour & powdered sugar mixture into the egg white mixture bowl.  Beat on medium-low for 10 seconds.  Use a rubber spatula to fully incorporate the mixture.  Do the figure 8 test by scooping some batter up with your spatula and draw the number 8.  If the batter does not break, it’s done!  Make sure you do not overmix.
  5. Pour macaron mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip.  Pipe out 1-inch circles on a baking sheet.  Bang the pan on the countertop a couple times to release any air bubbles.  Let it sit out to dry until the top forms a skin, about 20 minutes.  You should be able to touch the top without anything sticking to your finger.  When it’s dry, it’s ready to bake.
  6. Bake for 13-14 minutes on the middle rack, rotating the pan halfway.
  7. Find matching pair of macaron shells.  Place them side-by-side and belly up.  Pipe the mango buttercream around the outer edge of the macaron to create a barrier.  Spoon about 1/2 tsp of mango jam in the center.  Gently place another macaron on top and press gently to adhere.

Mango jam

  1. In a pot, bring sugar and water to a boil.  Add mango and lemon juice and bring this mixture to a gentle boil and stir.  Use a potato masher and mash the mango until it breaks apart.  Cook until the jam is thickened.  Set aside to cool.

Mango Buttercream

  1. In a large bowl, beat together butter, powdered sugar, and mango jam until light and fluffy, about 7-10 minutes.  Add food coloring, if desired.

Recipe notes:

  1. The mango jam will yield about 1 pint of jam.  The rest of it … do with it what you will!