Monday, June 20, 2016

Lemon Poppyseed Cake with Strawberry Buttercream









Lemon poppyseed...  It was one of our wedding cakes, and the caterer actually told me during the reception that my recipe was the best lemon cake she'd ever tasted.

When the days get warm, I feel inspired to make lemon cake, perhaps because the fluffy, poppyseed-speckled cake and tart, bright citrus mimic these hot, sunshiny days.  Usually I keep my lemon cakes all lemon - lemon cake, lemon filling and lemon buttercream - but this time I made a sweet, strawberry buttercream to complement the lemon.











Strawberries are bright red and juicy right now, and I brought home two pounds to make homemade jam.  A batch of jam later, a bowlful of pretty pink buttercream and one beautifully frosted cake on the kitchen counter, the sunlight sparkling through the crystal pendants of my silver cake stand...  A perfect summer day.











Lemon Poppyseed Cake with Strawberry Buttercream
printable


Cake.

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • zest of 3 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons poppyseeds
Filling.
  • 1 cup lemon curd
Strawberry Buttercream:
  • 1/4 cup strawberry jam
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 3-4 tablespoons cream or milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Cake.
Preheat the oven to 350 and spray three 8 or 9-inch pans with non-stick spray.  In a large bowl, whisk all cake ingredients together to combine well.  Divide the batter between the pans and bake for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Set the pans on wire racks, covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel, and cool completely.

Buttercream. With a food processor or blender, puree the strawberry jam until smooth.  In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and jam until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar and meringue powder, mixing on low to combine.  Add the cream/milk and vanilla; whip on medium high for 4-5 minutes until very light and fluffy.

Assembly.
Stack the cooled cakes, filling with the lemon curd, then frost all over with the buttercream.

Recipes from Curly Girl Kitchen


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake







Summer is for desserts made with all the lovely berries that are in season, and I can't get enough.  I eat blueberries year round, keeping them in the freezer and topping them with a spoonful of yogurt and a little cinnamon for a quick breakfast or dessert.  But I only buy them fresh in the summer, and there's nothing like that sweet, juicy burst of flavor from a sun-ripened blueberry.

Blueberries pair beautifully with lemon, and I put them together in a lusciously creamy and cool cheesecake that's bright, citrusy, and just the right amount of sweet.  A spoonful of tart lemon curd is a nice touch as well, but my favorite thing is the garnish of pretty little flowers.










It's starting to get hot here, with our first 90-degree days this week, and we finally gave in and turned on the air conditioning.  I might have been able to hold out a little longer, but being pregnant, I just can't stand being hot while trying to get a decent night's sleep.  It's going to be a hot summer for this pregnant curly girl.








Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake
printable

Crust.
  • 1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
Filling.
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 pounds cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • zest and juice of 2 small lemons
  • 2 cups blueberries
Preheat the oven to 325 and spray an 8-inch springform pan with non-stick spray.  In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, salt and melted butter with a fork until moist.  Press firmly into the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Cool while you make the filling.

Pour 1/2 cup of the cream into a microwaveable bowl and stir in the gelatin.  Let stand for 5 minutes, then microwave on high for 30 seconds to dissolve.  Stir and set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest and juice until smooth.  Add 1 cup of the cream and beat until smooth.  Beat in the remaining 1/2 cup cream and gelatin.

Fold in the blueberries and spread over the crust.  Refrigerate until set, about 4-6 hours.

Top each slice with lemon curd and more blueberries.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Key Lime Pie Cake






Key lime pie has a special place in my heart, since it was key lime pie that led a cookbook author to my photo of key lime pie cupcakes and tartlets, which ended up as the cover photo for his latest cookbook on key lime pie.

Creamy, citrusy and refreshing, it's the perfect summer dessert, and I put it into a cake, of course.  Three layers of fluffy cake infused with lime zest are layered with cool and creamy lime cheesecake, and then frosted with lime buttercream.  Salted, buttery graham crackers are sprinkled over the cake and in between each layer, and a simple garnish of fresh cherries and slices of lime are all the decoration it needs.

Today is a special day, too, because it was exactly seven years ago that my husband and I met.  Seven years later, with a wedding, a house and a baby due in September, there's no one else I could imagine spending the rest of my life with.  He's everything I every wanted, needed and dreamed of in a husband, future father to our kids, and best friend.










Key Lime Pie Cake
printable


Cake.
  • one box white cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
Preheat the oven to 350 and grease three 8-inch pans with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cake ingredients for several minutes until well blended.  Pour into the cake pans and bake until a toothpick in the center comes out clean, about 22-25 minutes.  Cool cakes completely.

Cheesecake Filling.
  • zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 1 packet gelatin
  • 1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
The cheesecake filling should be prepared a few hours in advance, or even overnight.

In a microwaveable bowl, combine the lime juice, zest and gelatin.  Let stand for 5 minutes, then microwave for 20-30 seconds to dissolve.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese, sour cream and powdered sugar until smooth.  Whisk in the gelatin mixture.

Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with a circle of parchment paper.  Spread half the cheesecake filling into the pan.  Place two more circles of parchment paper on the first layer of cheesecake.  Spread the rest of the filling over the papers, and add a fourth circle of parchment paper on top.  Refrigerate for several hours, or overnight, until set.

Buttercream.
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk or cream, if needed
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter, shortening and lime zest until smooth.  Gradually add the powdered sugar and meringue powder until combined.  Add the milk and whip on medium high for 5 minutes until fluffy.

Graham Cracker Crumble.
  • 1 cup crushed graham crackers
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
In a bowl, combine the graham crackers, salt and butter until moist and crumbly.

Assembly.

Unmold the cheesecake by removing the sides of the springform pan, then slide a spatula between the two circles of paper that separate the layers of cheesecake.

Place one of the cooled cakes on a cake pedestal or cardboard cake circle.  Peel the paper off one side of one of the cheesecake layers, then carefully invert onto the cake, removing the other paper.  Sprinkle with some of the graham cracker crumbs.  Repeat with another layer of cake, cheesecake, crumbs, and the last layer of cake.

Frost the cake all over with the buttercream, and garnish as you like with more graham crackers, fresh fruit and lime slices.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Doughnuts for Sundays, Birthdays and Everydays







I realize I'm a day late for Friday's National Doughnut Day, but when it comes to doughnuts, better late than never, am I right?

Last Sunday was my husband's birthday, so I made this assortment of doughnuts for his birthday breakfast.  As it happens, I always have a stash of leftover buttercreams and glazes which made it relatively easy to assemble so many different kinds of doughnuts in one morning, but this more of a special occasion sort of ensemble, and not for every day.

There were German chocolate doughnuts with a sprinkling of toffee, lemon cream-filled with powdered sugar, buttercream and sprinkles, plain glaze, dark chocolate glaze with vanilla cream filling, jam-filled with powdered sugar, chocolate chips, and what turned out to be my favorites for their delicious simplicity, doughnuts rolled in cinnamon and sugar.

You can find the doughnut recipe here, but as far as the flavor variations, I leave those up to your imagination!








Saturday, May 21, 2016

Almond Cream Cheese Shortbread Bars







At last, after days of chilly rainy weather, it's finally getting warm here, and summer is on its way.  This morning, before the day grew too hot, we (mostly my husband, though) dug holes for the trees we bought last weekend to try to fill in some gaps along the fence in our back yard.  Five trees in all - two smallish maples, two hawthorns, and a peach tree.  I'm hopeful that the peach tree will thrive, and in a few years, we might have our own peaches!  How fun would that be?

Once the maples and hawthorns along the side of the house grow, they should provide a beautiful, shaded pathway around the house, leading into the back yard.  There's so much work to be done outside, and the thought of it is overwhelming.  It will be a year, or two, before we can begin most of our plans which include a pergola over the existing patio and digging up the side yard to put down pavers to extend the patio.  I'm dreaming of outdoor suppers with twinkling lights strung overhead, flowers and vines climbing up trellises, an arbor over the path to walk through, and raised beds for vegetables with the sweet scent of tomatoes and basil on warm summer nights.

As the daylight fell tonight, Jamie built the first fire of summer in our fire pit, and we relaxed in the growing darkness until the air was chilly.  The only thing missing was s'mores.












We do, however, have these almond bars for dessert this weekend, which, given my deep love of almond pastries (and shortbread), I'm more than a little biased towards.  They are basically the best almond cookie bar you'll ever eat, and are so simple to make.

The buttery shortbread crust also serves as the crumb topping, and in between is a filling of cream cheese and sweetened almond paste, subtly flavored with a hint of cinnamon and bourbon.  The layers of crust, filling and topping melt together a bit, so that you can't quite discern one from the next just by looking at them, but when you bite into one, the salted buttery crust touches your tongue first, followed by the creamy almond filling and then the crumbly topping, and you fall a little bit in love.













Almond Cream Cheese Shortbread Bars
printable


Crust and Topping.
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks
Filling.
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 8 ounces almond paste
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 and spray an 8x8 baking dish with non stick spray.

In a food processor, or with a pastry cutter, combine the crust ingredients until pea-sized pieces of butter remain.  Reserve one cup of the crumbs for the topping, and press the remainder of the crumbs firmly against the bottom of the baking dish.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the filling ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth.  Carefully spread the filling over the hot crust, and sprinkle the filling with the reserved crumbs.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the topping is a pale golden.

Cool completely before cutting.  Yields about 9-16 servings.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Saturday, May 14, 2016

German Chocolate Bourbon Cupcakes






For our wedding almost two years ago (has it really been that long?) I made a German Chocolate Cake for the groom's cake (as well as four other cakes), with a little bourbon in the coconut pecan caramel filling.  By the time we finished the wedding dinner and the cakes were cut, I was too full to taste more than a bite of each, but I remember being thrilled with how they all turned out, and so happy that I'd made the decision to make them myself, even though the weeks leading up to our wedding day were so busy and tiring.  Even the caterer told me that my lemon poppyseed cake was the best lemon cake she'd ever tasted.

Maybe I was feeling sentimental, but last weekend, on Mother's Day, I recreated the German Chocolate Bourbon Cake in the form of these beautiful cupcakes.








The filling itself, I could eat by the spoonful.  Sweet and thick, with notes of brown sugar, vanilla, butter and bourbon, it pairs perfectly with the dark chocolate cake.  And if you don't mind making two buttercreams, it's nice to have the choice between salted vanilla and chocolate.

All together, though, the cupcakes are mouthfuls of bliss.












German Chocolate Bourbon Cupcakes
printable


Filling.
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup sweetened coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
In a saucepan, whisk together the cream, brown sugar and egg yolks until smooth.  Cook over medium low heat, whisking constantly, until thick and bubbly, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, vanilla, bourbon, pecans, coconut and salt.  Cover and let cool at room temperature for several hours.

Cupcakes.
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened, special dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin pan with 20 paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, salt and baking soda.  Add the remaining wet ingredients and whisk until smooth.  Divide between the paper liners, and bake the cupcakes until risen and a toothpick comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes.

Vanilla Buttercream.
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons milk
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and shortening together until smooth.  With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar and meringue powder until combined.  Add the salt, vanilla and milk, and whip on medium high until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.

Chocolate Buttercream.
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons milk
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter until smooth.  With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar, cocoa powder and meringue powder until combined.  Add the salt, vanilla and milk, and whip on medium high until light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.

Assembly.
To assemble, use a cupcake corer to remove the centers of each cupcake.  Fit piping bags with large star tips and fill with the two buttercreams.  Pipe a swirl of buttercream around the edge of the cupcakes.  Spoon the filling into the center.  I also sprinkled each with a few toffee bits.

Yields about 20 cupcakes.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen