Cherry Crumb Pie + 5 Must Try Pie Links

 

 

We planted bamboo in our backyard, placing the roots in a thick plastic bag so as to prevent the invasive species from taking over our yard entirely.  The roots were then covered with a thick layer of soil and neatly outlined with gray stone bricks.  We made a choice: restrict the plant’s natural growth pattern.  Watch and see.  Wait and wonder. Will it flourish in such restrained, unnatural conditions?

Yes.  It reached for the sun, ached for it really.  Absorbed the rain like a drunk, waiting patiently for a change of state, until finally, its branches hung heavy with delicate chartreuse leaves.  It pushed itself to the very corners of the neat space it inhabited, hoping, I think, to cross the stone barrier and when it realized some things are just not possible, it reached for the moon and sun, Orion and the Big Dipper.

The bamboo tolerated dog piss, little hands shaking and pulling at it, suffocating mounds of snow, branch breaking ice, drought and heavy rains.  Many long and relentless days and nights tested the bamboo season after season and yet it stood, reaching higher every day.

Today I watch the bamboo from our kitchen, my view partially obscured by an old air conditioner rattling away, attempting to bring relief to an old house surrounded by more concrete than grass.  In the stove, a cherry crumb pie bakes.  I can smell cinnamon and vanilla build in the air while the heat from the stove thwarts the cool air blowing from the AC.  The kids play outside on the swing set.  Red-faced, dirty feet, sticky skin, happy. The dog surveys our small yard, weaving in and around the kids, the toys.  [Life’s junk, carried from one place to the next as if it holds value.]  Nose to the ground she sniffs the same smells.  [Are you hoping for something new, sweet girl?]  And the bamboo? The bamboo bends a bit with the wind.  It waits patiently, absorbing what it can, not asking too much, quietly preparing for the next growth spurt.

I envy the bamboo.

Cherry Crumb Pie

Pie crust recipe adapted from The Washington Post

Cherry filling recipe adapted from My Baking Addiction

Crumb topping adapted from My Recipes

Serves 6-8

Ingredients for Pie Crust:

1 + 3/4 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose, unbleached flour

1 tablespoon raw sugar

1 + 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean

16 tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 of very cold water

Directions for pie crust:

Grab a medium bowl and sift flour into the bowl.  Whisk in the sugar, salt, and vanilla bean seeds.  Add the butter.  Combine butter and flour with your fingers until the butter resembles small peas.  Stir in the cold water, a little at a time, until shaggy dough forms.  If the dough is too wet, add a bit more dough or if it is too dry add a just spoonful of water.  Knead the dough into a ball.  Wrap in plastic, refrigerate and allow to rest while you make the cherry pie filling.

Ingredients for cherry pie filling:

5 cups of fresh cherries, washed and pitted

1/2 cup of sugar

1/4 teaspoon of vanilla

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1/2 cup water

4 tablespoons of cornstarch

Directions:

Add cherries, sugar, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon to a medium sauce pan.  In a small bowl mix together the water and cornstarch to make a slurry.  Add the water/cornstarch mixture to the cherries.  Stir to combine.  Over medium heat, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  **Filling can be made several days ahead.  Be sure to store in an air-tight container and refrigerate.**

Ingredients for crumb topping:

1/2 cup or 1 stick unsalted butter

3/4 brown sugar

3/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour

3/4 old fashion oats

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions for topping:

Add all of the dry ingredients to a medium bowl and stir together.  Next, add the butter.  Combine the butter and dry ingredients with your fingers until the mixture resembles wet sand.  Set aside or refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.

Pie Assembly Time!

Preheat your oven to 350F.  While the oven is preheating, flour a work surface.  Divide dough in half.  Roll out one portion of the dough into a 14-inch round.  Place gently in pie plate, pressing into the corners.  Trim the excess to 1+1/2 inch overhang.  Fold the overhang to the middle to create a 3/4 inch border all around that sits on the rim of the pie plate.  Refrigerate the pie crust for 20 minutes before proceeding.  (While the pie crust is chilling wrap the second portion in plastic wrap and refrigerate for another use.   Clean up a bit and before you know it the crust will be ready!)

Add filling to pie and spread evenly.  Top cherry filling evenly with crumb topping.  Brush a bit of heavy cream on the border of the pie crust.  Place the pie in the oven on the middle rack and bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 50-60 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.  Serve with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream or as is.  Enjoy!

**Pie can be kept at room temperature lightly wrapped in aluminum foil for a couple of days but I doubt it will last that long.**

5 Must Try Pie Links

Take advantage of peach season and make my peach ricotta pudding pie.

If a pie feels like too much work, try Whole Hearted Eats dark fruit galette.

Craving ice cream?  Try Jelly Toast’s marshmallow ice cream pie or my recipe for bourbon brown sugar ice cream pie.

Fall is just around the corner and I can’t wait to make Pastry Affair’s caramel apple crumble pie.  Yum!

Soba Noodle Salad with Tahini Dressing + 5 Healthy Soba Noodle Links

 

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It has been a year since I last saw her.  Her face is easily recalled yet appears in my mind’s eye like a photograph, unmoving, resistant to the 8760 hours that have passed.  A day’s struggles, a sleepless night, an argument, a good laugh.  Tears?  All leaving their subtle marks on her face.  But.  I see her still, captured in a time and place that is no longer relevant to who she is now.  You think 8760 hours don’t leave a mark?  You are mistaken. Thumb through photographs of loved ones.  You will see.  Every year, good or awful, stamps their face leaving lovely little lines crisscrossing this way and that.  One story to another.

“Lets do something together we love.”  She requests via text.  I look over at my running shoes, a small hole already developing above the left big toe.

[Miles upon miles of an attempted escape.  No such luck.  She understands.  She lives with the same beast, gently breathing on her neck, quietly reminding her of the solitary run she craves.  Needs, really.  We come from a long line of solitary women.]   

“Ok, pick a race.” I reply.

[Two women, same blood, running together while the icy ocean air puffs up our lungs, sends oxygen to our capillaries, reaches our thick pulmonary veins and enters our hearts. The feeling of flight briefly releasing us from all that grounds our minds, our bodies to this earth.]      

Five weeks from now I will see her beautiful face again, lines appearing where none existed a year ago revealing a life of every days, small moments I know little about.  Yet, I can imagine. And when, a few days later, she returns home to her husband and two boys, I’ll carry her new face with me.  And wonder about her lovely, little lines, the stories we didn’t get to because time gallops along.  She is gone.

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Soba Noodle Salad with Tahini Sauce

Soba noodles, a creamy tahini dressing and tons of vegetables make this a perfect marathon training meal.  Enjoy!

recipe adapted from Run Fast, Eat Slow by Shalane Flanagan & Elyse Kopecky

serves 6

Ingredients for noodle salad:

1 head of broccoli, cut into bite-size florets

2 peppers ( I used 1 red and 1 orange), seeded, sliced thin

half of an English cucumber, sliced thin

3 rainbow carrots, grated

jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, sliced thin

2 packages of soba buckwheat noodles

2 cups shredded chicken ( I bought a rotisserie chicken to make it easier.)

2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 cup cilantro, chopped

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced ( I didn’t use them but I think it will be a great addition.)

sea salt and pepper to taste

Tahini sauce (see recipe below)

Directions:

**Cut vegetables, make sauce and shred chicken before proceeding.**

First add ice and water to a medium-sized bowl.  Set aside.  Next, add water to large pot, add a big pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Add broccoli to the boiling water and cook for two minutes.  Remove broccoli with a slotted spoon and place in ice water to stop cooking.  After a few minutes, drain the broccoli and set aside.

Bring the same pot of water back to a boil and add the soba noodles.  Cook according to package directions.  Drain the noodles.  Run cold water over them.  Drain.  Add noodles to a large salad bowl.  Toss with sesame oil and soy sauce.  Set aside.

Arrange all of your vegetables including the green onions and cilantro on a serving platter.  Place shredded chicken in a bowl.  Gently warm tahini sauce over low heat.  Transfer sauce to a small bowl.  Place bowl of noodles, chicken, plate of veggies and tahini sauce on the table and allow your guests to create their own soba noodle salads.  Be sure to have sea salt and pepper available!  Enjoy!

**Makes excellent leftovers!**

Tahini Sauce

recipe adapted from Run Fast, Eat Slow

makes  2 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk

1/2 cup light roasted tahini  (unsalted creamy peanut butter could be substituted for tahini)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon raw sugar

good squeeze of honey

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add more if you want it spicier)

juice of 1 lime

juice of 1/2 lemon

kosher salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Over medium-high heat warm olive oil.  Add the onion and salt.  Cook until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.   Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add coconut milk, tahini, soy sauce, honey, raw sugar and red pepper flakes.  Bring to a low boil and whisk constantly until the sauce is smooth.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 10-15 minutes.   Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender) blend the sauce until smooth.   Add lemon and lime juice.  Stir.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with soba noodle salad.

**The sauce will last refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to 5 days.**

5 Healthy Soba Noodle Links

If it still feels like winter where you live cozy up with Dolly and Oatmeal’s turmeric miso soup with shiitake, turnips and soba noodles.

Looking for a healthy and quick weeknight meal?  Head to A Beautiful Mess for their sweet and spicy soba noodles with shrimp.

FoodieCrush’s soba noodles with sriracha meatballs is on my must make list.  Mouth watering.

Ribboned eggs meet sesame soba noodles in Smitten Kitchen’s can’t miss recipe.  Curious? Head here for the recipe.

It is officially spring in just a couple of weeks so why not celebrate with Food 52’s cold sesame noodle and fava bean salad.  Yum!

Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes + 5 Tasty Cupcake Links for Your Sweetheart

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He sat at the edge of the hotel bed drunk, cheeks flushed, bow tie from his rented tux askew, the left lapel stained with a bit of vanilla buttercream, one black sock still erect, the other crumpled around his hairy calf, his middle-aged belly bursting against an already taut cummerbund. His wife slept peacefully alone in the middle of the king size bed in the overpriced hotel room, in the small city he wished he could flee.  The location for his daughter’s wedding had not been his choice, like many decisions in his life. What is a choice really? An option. One path verses another. An alternative.  What if you there is no alternative? Is it still choice?  Well these thoughts penetrated his foggy, alcohol soaked brain, leaving him even more depressed than he was just hours before when he witnessed his daughter say yes to love, while the love he left and the love he ran to sat near.

You don’t have to do this.  I’ll tell the driver to take you to the airport.  Like Julia what’s her name in that bride movie!  

Jesus, Dad.  She said.  C’mon let’s go.  It’s time.  

He conceded, walked beside her with arms linked, held open the church door with one hand and her long, simple veil with the other hand, for he knew better than to stand in the way of desire.

Desire always wins…at least it did in his life.  He was powerless to it, yet if he could have turned his flesh to stone, felt nothing, remained in a perpetual, unchangeable state for the rest of his days he would have done so many years ago.  His first wife.  First love.  A beautiful brunette from the same small town, left him for his best friend.  A loss that changed the map of his heart, leaving roadblocks where paths once laid.  His second wife. The mother of his children.  His need for her so intense [at the time, before the resentment, anger and hate left him sprinting to another life.] he proposed just months after their initial meeting.  [And if you asked him today why marry again? Those blue eyes.  I’m a sucker for big, blue eyes.]  He loved her more than the others.  A love full of blood, sweat and tears, literally with each child she bore him.  Lives entwined like a tree trunk and ivy.  [Which will survive? Neither.  An impossible feat removing one from the other…permanently.]  His third and final wife.  She promised less expectations.  Loved him as is, barricades and overgrown paths to his heart were OK if his warm body remained beside her in bed.   

So, he wept.  His heaves muffled by a throw pillow for he didn’t wish to wake his wife.  He wept for desire and love.  Wept for thinking he understood either.  Wept for his daughter and his new son-in-law. [Fools!]   Yet, now sitting in a tearful, drunk haze on the edge of a plush bed, in a dark hotel room, he wished to do it all over again.

He rubbed a single finger across the dried vanilla buttercream and watched it fall like snow onto the hotel carpet then disappear into its fibers.  A single flash of his daughter’s smile, a bit of buttercream above her lip while they danced to a Beatles song.  He smiled, eased the rest of his tired body onto the bed and slept.

Chocolate Ganache Cupcakes with Sour Cherry Buttercream Frosting   

makes about 16 cupcakes

recipe adapted  from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

Ingredients for ganache filling:

4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup heavy cream

Ingredients for cupcakes:

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (good quality, I sued Guittard)

1/2 cup freshly brewed coffee, hot (I used French Vanilla)

1/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 canola oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 Dutch process cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon Ovaltine

Directions for ganache filling:

Place chocolate chips in a medium bowl.  Using a small saucepan, heat the cream until it simmers and almost boils.  Pour the cream over the chocolate chips, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.  Remove plastic and wrap and whisk until completely smooth.  Place bowl in the refrigerator until it is cold but not hard, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Do not let it chill completely, as it will be too hard to use!

Next make your cupcake batter.

Directions for cupcakes:

Make sure oven rack is in the middle, then pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Line two standard muffin tins with paper liners.  Only 16 to 17 will be filled.

Place bittersweet chocolate in small bowl and pour hot coffee over it.  Cover with a piece of plastic wrap.   Using a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, canola oil, eggs and vanilla.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, Ovaltine,  baking soda and salt on low speed until well combined.  While the mixer is running on low, slowly pour in the buttermilk mixture.  Increase speed to medium and beat until completely combined, about 1 minute.

Remove the plastic wrap from the chocolate/coffee mixture and whisk until completely smooth.  Lower the speed of the mixer and add the coffee mixture to the cupcake batter.  Grab your spatula, swipe the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times to make sure everything is incorporated.

Using a ladle or cookie scoop, add batter to prepared pans until they are about 2/3 full.  Remove ganache from refrigerator and add 1 teaspoon of ganache, placing it in the middle of the batter until each cupcake is filled.

Bake for about 15-18 minutes, until the center of the cupcakes springs back when touched.  Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Sour Cherry Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

3 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 + 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons sour cherry jam

Directions:

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and creamy.  Add the vanilla and salt.  Scrape down the bottom and the sides with a spatula.  Beat on low for a minute or so and then increase the speed to medium and beat for another 2 minutes.  Reduce the speed and add the confectioners’ sugar.  Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Increase speed to medium/high and beat until light and fluffy.  Add sour cherry jam and beat for an additional minute.  Frost cupcakes using an offset spatula.  Cupcakes are best the day they are made but will last for a couple days stored at room temperature in an air-tight container.

5 Tasty Cupcake Links for your Sweetheart

If your sweetheart loves crème brûlée check out Call Me Cupcake’s crème brûlée cupcakes.

Take advantage of winter grapefruit and a little champagne this Valentine’s Day and make Baking a Moment’s grapefruit champagne mimosa cupcakes.

Love all things banana?  Check out The Whole Bite’s caramel filled banana cupcakes with sugar cinnamon frosting.  Yum!  And check out my recipe for banana cupcakes with Nutella buttercream frosting.  So damn good.

White wine cupcakes? Yes they exist and they are awesome.  Check out my recipe here.

 

 

Twix Bars with a Twist + 5 DIY Sweet Treat Links

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Halloween night I will walk our leaf covered sidewalks [crunch, shuffle, crunch…God I love that sound] with a warrior, Robin Hood and a jovial [fingers crossed, two is tough] ghost. Cold little hands resting in my hand, momentarily, before breaking free in a frantic scamper for more candy.  A warrior, headstrong and fierce will lead the way, while brave Robin Hood and a charming ghost shuffle along.

Robin Hood’s Epi-pens stored in one coat-pocket while a bag of “trade” candy sits in the other pocket…waiting.  Please no ER trips, not tonight.

Charleston Chews, Tootsie Rolls, Swedish Fish, Twizzlers, filling their orange plastic pumpkin buckets, while I hand off Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Snickers to Bubba quickly, efficiently, much like a bomb squad taking care of a situation before someone gets hurt.

Our boy, our prince of thieves, safe for now. 

House after house, we will trek along, until the air is just too chilly, our feet weary, the sugar high becoming a low.  When we reach our front door, the candy basket we left out will be nearly empty.  Robin Hood will steal the remaining safe candy, as he should.  With a tired ghost resting against him, snuggled in his neck, sticky cheeks touching coarse stubble, Bubba will open the front door.  The heat from the house will escape out the front door, warming our cold faces, reminding us we are home.  Safe.  Happy.

Happy Halloween.

Twix Bars with a Twist

A shortbread cookie topped with caramel, Sunbutter and a dark chocolate glaze

adapted from Not Without Salt’s Homemade Twix Bars

Makes 12 large bars or 24 small bars

Ingredients for shortbread:

1 stick + 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1/4 sugar

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Spray 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, leaving a bit of an overhang.  (This will make it easier to remove the bars later.)

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a handheld electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Slowly add the flour and salt.  Mix until the dough comes together.  The dough will be crumbly but should hold together when pressed in between your fingers.

Press the dough evenly into the prepared baking pan.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Rotate pan and bake for another 12 minutes or until the shortbread is golden brown.  Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Next prepare the Sunbutter layer.

Ingredients for the Sunbutter layer:

1 cup, all natural, no sugar added Sunbutter

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

4 + 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter

Directions: 

Place Sunbutter, sugar and butter in a medium size bowl and mix together with a wooden spoon until completely smooth.  Set aside.

Now prepare the caramel.

Ingredients for caramel:

2 cups sugar

3/4 light corn syrup

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Sea Salt for sprinkling

Directions:

Combine sugar, corn syrup, water and lemon juice in a large saucepan.  Using your hand or a pastry brush, wipe down any sugar crystals on the side of the pan with water.  Over medium-high heat bring the mixture to a boil.  Again wipe down any stray sugar crystals.  Do not stir the caramel from this point on.  The mixture will bubble vigorously.  When the syrup begins to turn golden brown, insert a candy thermometer.  When it reaches 300F, remove the pan from the heat.  Allow to rest for 1 minute.  Add heavy cream and stir until smooth, then whisk in the condensed milk.  Next, add the salt.  Whisk until smooth.

Return the pan to the heat and stir constantly until the caramel reaches 240F.  Remove from heat and pour over cooled shortbread.  Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt.  Place in the refrigerator and allow to set for 2 hours.  While the caramel layer sets prepare the chocolate glaze.

Ingredients for chocolate glaze:

6 ounces of dark chocolate- chocolate chips are fine

3 tablespoons of butter

Directions:

Slowly, melt the butter and the chocolate in the microwave.  (I checked it every 20 seconds.)  Stir well until completely melted and smooth.

Spread Sunbutter mixture evenly over caramel  layer.  Pour the melted chocolate over the Sunbutter layer.  Smooth with an offset spatula.  Decorate with holiday sprinkles, if desired.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.  They are easiest to cut when cold.  Cut into squares, big or small and serve.  Enjoy!

**If taking to a party, cut into squares when cold.  Store in an air-tight container in between layers of parchment paper.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.**

5 DIY Sweet Treat Links

If you love chocolate turtles check out Creme de la Crumb’s 3 ingredient caramel cashew clusters.  My mouth is watering!

One of my favorite sweet treats is chocolate covered almonds.  Sally’s Baking Addiction has a recipe for sea salt dark chocolate almond clusters that is now on my  must make soon list.

Love truffles?  Make your own!  Head to Alexandra’s Kitchen for her boozy Grand Marnier chocolate truffles recipe.

Screw moderation.  Make  I Am Baker’s Halloween saltine toffee candy and eat every last bite.  You deserve it!

Dealing with nut-allergies?  We are too.  I feel your anxiety especially around Halloween. Head to The Kitchn  and check out 5 nut-free Halloween treats that are sure to make your kids smile.

White Wine Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream + 5 Cupcake Links for Mom

“Most was said in our first moment, when we were so quiet.  He swam through the air to me and there was nothing.  No spaces.  I suppose it was the first moment I was thoroughly alive because I fell too far in it to ever describe it.  There was nothing to look at because I was too busy seeing, and I got to be a beginner too.  Will always be now, as every moment with your child will never repeat itself with something lovely after it, like a sunset or a passage in a book.  Real time with them, I think, is the only actual.  Everything left over is just a weather report.” Mary-Louise Parker, Dear Mr. You

[My words, lost for now, adrift in a dense, gunmetal fog will come back.  Thank, whomever, whoever or whatever for Mary-Louise Parker’s insight.  Happy Mother’s Day. xo]

White Wine Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

A lightly sweet cupcake with a tight crumb topped with a super silky chocolate buttercream

Recipe adapted from Silver Palette Cookbook and Cambridge School of Culinary Arts

Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar

4 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup dry white wine ( I used Pinot Grigio)

2 + 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 + 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Line two standard muffin tins with cupcake liners.  Set aside.

Grab a medium bowl and sift together the flour, salt and baking powder.  Set aside.  Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the sugar and eggs on medium speed until incorporated, about 30 seconds.  Reduce speed to low and add oil, wine, dry ingredients and vanilla.  Increase speed to medium and beat until well combined, about 1-2 minutes.  Pour batter into prepared muffin pans.  Place 1 pan on the middle rack and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.  (Be sure to check at 20 minutes.)  Once baked, remove cupcakes from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.  Proceed with baking the next pan of cupcakes.

Once cool, frost the cupcakes generously with chocolate buttercream.  Enjoy!

*Cupcakes are best the day they are made.  However, they still taste great the next day.  Be sure to store them in an air-tight container, at room temperature.*

Chocolate Buttercream

Ingredients:

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature

6 eggs, whites only, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1lb. unsalted butter, at room temperature

pinch of kosher salt

Directions:

Cut the butter into tablespoon chunks and set aside.  Melt your chocolate either in the microwave or stove top and set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, place egg whites in bowl and beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  While the egg whites are beating, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan.  Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.  Cook on high until it reaches 238F or the softball stage.  Immediately, with the mixer on medium speed, add the hot sugar in slow but steady stream.  Beat until the whites have cooled.

Reduce the speed to low and the add the butter, one chunk at a time, until it is completely incorporated.  Increase the speed to high and beat until glossy and light.  Turn the mixer off.  Grab a rubber spatula and fold in the melted chocolate until smooth.  Mix in a pinch of salt.  Frost your cupcakes generously!

**If your buttercream breaks or looks curdled when mixing, hold a cloth ice pack or ice against the bottom of the bowl and continue to beat on medium speed.  The buttercream will eventually come back together.  Be patient!  This happened to me and the cloth ice pack trick worked!**

5 Cupcakes Just for Mom

Rhubarb is showing up the in market just in time for Mother’s Day so why not make mom cupcakes studded with fresh rhubarb?  Head to Kitchen Konfidence for the the recipe.

Looking for a quick and easy cupcake recipe mom is sure to love?  Head to i am Baker for Amanda’s coconut angel food cupcakes.

Eat your bananas and make Local Milk’s buttermilk and roasted banana cupcakes with Lindt truffle filling and marshmallow frosting.  This sounds like a bite of heaven to me!

David Lebovitz’s chocolate, peanut butter and pretzel cupcakes will make any mom forgot a horrible, no good, very bad day.

Keep it simple and make my chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate buttercream.

 

Tahini Chocolate Chip Banana Bread + 5 Loaf Pan Recipes You Can’t Miss!

 

 

I found myself childless and alone, aimlessly wandering a Nordstrom attempting to return a pair of on sale, over priced Ray-Ban sunglasses, the frames suffocatingly hip for me.

It’s all about choices, honey.  This sentence spoken so intimately, I turned around, searching for the voice.  I found a mother/daughter pair, or so it seemed, slowly walking next to each other, each gazing in different directions.  [Choices.  Some they will share, others unmentionable in this relationship.]

I quickly returned the sunglasses and drove home;  it’s all about choices on repeat now, a sentence so achingly true. Like our blue-eyed, rabbit chasing heroine, Alice, I fell into a rabbit hole that afternoon. My choices floating in out of memory: some too easy, others heartbreaking, a few regretful and a handful of hallelujah, brow-wiping ecstatic choices.  I may have kept falling that April day if it weren’t for the sound of little hands banging on the front door, tiny, round faces pressed against the glass.  Home again.  This family, my husband, our house: a wonderland in its own right.

Later that afternoon, I made banana bread.  I replaced peanut butter with tahini, a choice, though small, proved successful.  The tahini added a umami taste which paired well with the sweet bananas and bittersweet chocolate.  We loved this version of banana bread so much, I may not make it any other way.

A small choice changing everything.

Tahini Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

yields 1 9×5 loaf

recipe adapted from Aida Mollenkamp’s Keys to the Kitchen

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 + 2/3 cups white whole wheat flour

1 + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 + 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 + 1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 + 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar

1 + 1/4 cups mashed banana, about 3 bananas

2/3 cup tahini, stirred well before measured ( I used light roast tahini.)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1/4 raw sugar for sprinkling (optional)

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Grease a 9×5 loaf pan with butter or cooking spray.  Line with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, allspice and baking soda.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, bananas, tahini and butter on medium speed until well combined.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat until just combined.  (Always scrape down the bowl once to make sure everything is well incorporated!)

Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and chocolate chips.  Mix until you can no longer see the flour.  Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and sprinkle with raw sugar.  Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes about clean, about 55-70 minutes.  (If the top of the bread is browning too quickly, cover with aluminum foil and finish baking.)

Remove bread from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes.  (If necessary, run a knife along the outside of the bread before removing from the pan.)  Remove bread from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.  Enjoy!

*Bread will last up to a week if stored in an air-tight container at room temperature.*

5 Loaf Pan Recipes You Should Check Out!

Have a date lover in your life? Make them Not Without Salt’s salted caramel date loaf .

Alexandra’s Kitchen’s orange and ricotta pound cake is a perfect baked goody for the holidays, but there is no need to wait until November.  Make it now!

Love lemon?  Here are three recipes sure to satisfy any lemon craving: A Cozy Kitchen’s lemon upside down loaf cake, Adventures in Cooking very lemon loaf with poppy seeds and The Sprouted Kitchen’s lemon blueberry loaf.

Key Lime Curd Coconut Bars + 5 Key Lime Links!

3:46 AM glows green.  My sleep swollen eyes want more sleep, but my mind has other plans.  Should I just get up? Read? Finish my key lime curd blog post?  Bake muffins? Fill them with the leftover curd?  Maybe I’ll go for a run.  Maybe not.  I turnover and watch my husband: his profile outlined by the ambient light in our bedroom, the chest I rest my weary head on nightly heaves up and down, his handsome face is relaxed, peaceful.  I want to kiss the tiny, fine lines around his eyes.  What are you dreaming about J?  Have you escaped to someplace far away?  I feel such tenderness for him.

Snore. Snore.  Ugh.  A good shove should do it.  And hate.  [Marriage is complicated in the dead of night. First light, we start again.  Love renewed…mostly.]  I turnover, face the blank wall and curl up like a newborn fresh out of the womb.  Tonight, I will chase sleep like a coy lover.  J seduced her a couple of kids ago.  Good for him.

Eyes heavy again.  I’m drifting.  Little voice: “Mama? My belly hurts.”

5:30 am and the day has begun.

Key Lime Curd Coconut Bars

Creamy key lime curd paired with a whole wheat coconut crust and drizzled with melted white chocolate is a dessert you should commit to memory!

Makes 12 bars

Key lime curd recipe adapted from Food 52 lemon curd

Coconut crust adapted from Bob’s Red Mill Coconut Lemon Bars

Bars inspired by Taste of Home Easy Lemon Curd Bars

Ingredients for key lime curd:

1/2 cup key lime juice

3 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

3/4 cup sugar

pinch of kosher salt

1 stick + 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 white chocolate chips, melted (for topping)

1/2 cup unsweetened, flaked coconut (for topping)

Directions for curd:

Pour two inches of water into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Grab a stainless steel or oven proof glass bowl large enough so it will sit in the rim of saucepan without touching the water.

Using that bowl, whisk together the key lime juice, eggs, egg yolk, sugar and salt.  *Do not let the eggs and sugar sit together.  The sugar will start to cook the yolks resulting in a granular texture.*  Place the bowl over the saucepan and whisk constantly until the mixture becomes very thick, about 10-12 minutes or when it registers 180F on a candy thermometer.  You know it is ready when your whisk leaves a trail in the curd.

Remove bowl and allow to cool slightly (5 minutes or so), stirring occasionally.  While the curd is cooling, cut the butter into 1 tablespoon pieces.  Add the butter 1 piece at a time and whisk until completely incorporated.  Alternatively, you could use a blender or immersion blender to incorporate the butter.  The curd will be a slightly pale yellow and super thick.  If you are not making the bars right away, store the curd in an air-tight container for up to 5 days.  Bring to room temperature before using.

Ingredients for Coconut Crust:

1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1/4 powdered sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Spray a 8×8 baking pan and line with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Spread 1/2 cup of coconut flakes on a small baking sheet and bake until the coconut is golden brown, about 5-6 minutes.  Cool.

Using a medium bowl mix together toasted coconut, flour, powdered sugar and butter until a dough forms.  Spread the dough into the prepared baking pan and press evenly, covering the bottom of the pan.  Bake crust until golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Let cool.

Once the crust is cool, pour the key lime curd on top and spread evenly.  Sprinkle with a 1/2 cup of coconut flakes.  Bake until the curd is set and the coconut flakes are golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Cool to room temperature on a wire rack.  Once cool, drizzle with melted white chocolate.  Loosely cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 2 hours or overnight.  Cut into 12 bars when ready to serve.  Bars will last in an air-tight container for two days.  Enjoy!

5 Key Lime Links!

Looking to combine your love of cheesecake with your love of key limes?  The Merry Gourmet has a recipe for key lime cheesecake that will unite both loves into one delicious dessert.

Nostalgic, handheld desserts are the best kind of sweet treat.  Head to Martha Stewart for her key lime whoopie pie recipe.  Who doesn’t love a whoopie pie?

Key lime doughnuts? Yes, please! A Zesty Bite has the recipe for you.

Part cake, part custard; Foodness Gracious has a recipe for key lime magic cake that is sure to win the hearts of all!

Foodess’ no bake whipped key lime pie is on must make summer dessert list.  I’m drooling…and dreaming of summer.