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.

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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

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!

Food & Drink

S’mores Ice Cream

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S'mores Ice Cream

  • Servings: 1 quart
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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 graham crackers, crumbled
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup hot fudge sauce
  • 1/4 cup marshmallow cream

Method

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine whole milk, heavy cream, granulated sugar, and cocoa powder.  Whisk until sugar is melted.  Add vanilla extract and salt.  Whisk until combined.  Refrigerate mixture for 2 hours, or until cold.
  2. Pour mixture into ice cream maker.  Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions, or until soft-serve consistency.  Pour ice cream into the desired container.  Swirl graham crackers, marshmallows, marshmallow cream, and hot fudge sauce into the ice cream.  Freeze until ready.