Food & Drink

Apple Butter Muffins

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Fall is here!  I absolutely adore fall and everything that comes with it.  The best part of fall, in my opinion, is all the apple things we get to eat.  One of my favorite activities each fall is making a huge batch of apple butter to can and give out to neighbors.  This year, I made close to a gallon (!!!) of apple butter!  While I am a fan of spreading apple butter on almost everything, my favorite thing to do with apple butter is bake with it.  I decided to convert a very simple muffin recipe into the moistest apple butter muffins.  It will fill your home with the smells of fall, and it comes together in less than an hour.  Score!

Apple Butter Muffins

  • Servings: 12
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Ingredients

Apple Butter Muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tb baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup apple butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Apple Butter Buttercream

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tb milk
  • 1/4 cup apple butter

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line or grease standard muffin tins.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  In a separate bowl, whisk together egg, milk, apple butter, and vegetable oil.  Incorporate dry ingredients into wet ingredients in parts.  Stir with a spatula until well combined and no dry ingredients visible (little lumps are okay).
  2. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  3. While muffins are baking, make the buttercream.  Beat butter until light and fluffy, about 8-10 minutes.  Slowly add powdered sugar until you get an airy texture.  Mix in apple butter and beat until desired consistency.

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.