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Apple Sour Cream Scones

"I asked the maid in dulcet tone

To order me a buttered scone

The silly girl has been and gone

And ordered me a buttered scone."

I had no idea that there were two ways to pronounce the word"scones" until I was in the basement of a youth hostel in Ireland. It was the morning after I’d taken my very first flight across the Atlantic. I was tired and jet lagged, wandering around trying to find the "Free Breakfast" that had been advertised in the price of the room. My budget was too tight to pass up free food, fueling my persistence to locate the illusive no cost sustenance. A long corridor lead me to a bare kitchen, fitted with a small table of baked goods, cereal and coffee that may as well come straight from heaven. As I took the quickest, most direct route to my caffeine siren, I heard a very thick English accent, unlike any I’d heard before. It was hard for my American ears to make out his words, too embarrassed to ask him to repeat himself. The last bit of his introduction was all I was able to catch.

"…..wanna sc-Gone?"

I smiled, sc-Gone? What would that be…

"I’m Jackie." I smiled an apology for not understanding.

"Sc-Gone?"

"Ahh..Hi."

"SC GONE??? SC GONE??!!" He shook a biscuit at me with the fury or a trail weary traveler.

"OH, Scone!"

There were quite a few sentences that came out of his crumb laden mouth, but all I was able to catch was "It’s called ENGLISH, not AMERICAN!"

 Well, yes, I will have a ScGone. I’ll have it with a cup of coffee and I will enjoy my very first morning outside North America, no mater how I pronounce it.

I smiled and sat across from him, "This ScGone is delicious."

He gave me a very detailed stare before hidding his smiled behind his breakfast pastry.

I can’t exactly say that this traveling linguist became my first friend abroad, but he was my first breakfast companion and inadvertent dialect coach.

Apple Sour Cream Scones

1 stick of unsalted butter

2 cups of apples, peeled, cored and chopped

1/3 cup sugar

3 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp Kosher salt

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1/4 cup brown sugar

In a pan over medium heat, add the butter and apples. Cook until the apples are soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool. In a large bowl, add the sugar, flour, baking powder, nutmeg, baking soda and salt, whisk to combine. Add the apples and butter and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Add the sour cream and buttermilk and stir until combined. On a flowered surface, place the scone dough. Form into a log about 1 foot long, four inches wide and 2 inches high.

With a sharp knife, cut the log in half. Cut each half in half.

Then make a diagonal cut across each of the pieces making triangles.

Place the triangles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Beat the egg in a small bowl and brush egg on to the tops of the scones. Sprinkle each scone with about 1/2 tsp of brown sugar. Place the baking sheet in the fridge and chill for at least an hour. Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees and then bake scones for 18-22 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.


Maple Bacon Blondies

Blondie’s used to baffle me. Why would you take a lovely chocolaty brownie and take OUT the chocolate? Isn’t that the good part? I just saw blondie’s as chocolate-less brownies, and really, that didn’t sound like much fun. Then I had a blondie awakening of sorts. If a brownie is a vessel for chocolate consumption than blondie’s can be a vessel for…caramel? Peanut butter? Maple? Blueberries? Bacon? Well, I guess just about anything. I am officially on board.

Maple Bacon Blondie’s

1 cup butter

1 ½ cups brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

½ tsp salt

2 eggs

¼ cup oil

2 tbs honey

2 cups flour

Topping:

6 strips of bacon

2 cups brown sugar, packed

1 cup of cream

3 tbs butter

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup chopped pecans

¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease a 9×13 glass baking dish.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar. Add the vanilla and salt, mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing on high for at least two minutes until well combined and mixture is light and fluffy. Add the oil and honey and mix well. Add the flour, mixing on low until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until top is a golden brown, edges are a dark brown and pulling away from the pan. Allow to cool. Place 6 strips of bacon on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Bake in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes or until bacon is cooked, darkened and crisp.

In a pot over high heat, add the brown sugar and the cream. Stir until the sugar has melted and the mixture starts to boil. Using a candy thermometer, allow to mixture to boil undisturbed until the temperature reaches 210, about 7-10 minutes. Add the 3 tbs of butter and the vanilla and stir until combined. Allow to cool (20 minutes). Pour the maple sauce over the Blondie’s. Chop the bacon and place in a small bowl, add the pecans and salt and mix. Sprinkle the bacon pecan mixture over the maple sauce. Refrigerate until maple has cooled and set.

 

The Help: Minny’s Caramel Cake

I just finished The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. Great. Now what I am going to struggle to stay awake to read at 1am when I know I should be sleeping because Tater is a 6am girl? There is always this vague grief that goes along with finishing a book that has attached itself to you. You start to watch the pages on the right side thin. At first you’re excited that you are so close to knowing whats gonna happen, and then you resist it, knowing you aren’t ready to let go. You read the last page slowly, savoring the last minutes you will ever spend with the characters and then you just sit, one hand on the cover. Smooth it with your hand, think about what the characters will likely do next, briefly wish for a sequel, and then…bake a cake.

In the book, Minny is a sass mouth southern maid that can bake her way out of just about any situation her impetuous tongue can put her in. I love her. In the movie, Hollywood cast her with Octavia Spencer, my brain cast her with Gabourey Sidibe.

I thought a lot about what kind of cake Minny would make for that caramel cake of hers. Definitely not a white cake. Not just for the obvious double entendre, but because it calls for dissposing of the egg yolks. Minny would never do that. She would never NOT use something as lovely and perfect as an egg yolk. She would have used whole eggs, butter, oil, cream and molssas. I also saw this as a cake that would stand on its own, with a mild caramel flavor, even without the lovely caramel icing.

Here is my version of the world famous cake:

Minny’s Caramel Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) of butter

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white granulated sugar

4 eggs

1 tbs molasses

1 cup heavy cream (or buttermilk)

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup whole milk

3 cups of flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

Caramel Frosting:

2 cups brown sugar, packed

1 cup of cream

3 tbs butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

 Pre heat oven to 350.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter, brown sugar and white sugar and cream until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add the molasses and mix until combined.  With the mixer on low speed, add the cream, oil and milk and mix until well combined. add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix until just incorporated. Add evenly between two greased and floured 8 inch round cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tooth pick come out clean. Allow to cool.

To make the lovely frosting, and I really think that I want to take a bath in this stuff, combine the brown sugar and cream in a pot. Stir over medium high heat until it starts to boil. Allow to boil, without stirring (this is the hard part for me) until the temperature reaches about 210 (about 7-10 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the butter and the vanilla. Allow to cool until thickened. Pour half the caramel over the first layer, stack the second layer on top and then pour the rest over that.

Yum. I want to make cupcake versions of this soon.

Nebraska Beer Cake

I have this fascinating friend named Mike. He’s done quite a few interesting things in his life: bass player for a Grammy winning artist, handy man extraordinaire, one-true-love to a 96 year old Cuban woman.  His next interesting venture: moving to Nebraska.

Why Nebraska? You ask.

He must have a job offer out there? Nope.

Well, then family? Not one.

Then….why is he moving to Nebraska? The better question, I say, is: Why not Nebraska? It’s a perfectly wonderful place to live.

I do predict that Mike and his super adorable wife are going to love the mid-west. They will  “Win” at Nebraska. And those two California natives will freeze. Their. Asses. Off.

Obviously this cake is in the shape of Nebraska, but there is a little more of that corn husker state in there than meets the eye. I made it with Nebraska’s own Black Betty Imperial Stout. Black Betty is still a smaller craft brew so if you aren’t able to find it, use a dark beer or a chocolate stout.

Cake:

3 cup flour

1 tbs baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp kosher salt

2 sticks (16 tbs) unsalted butter

2 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 1/2 cup (2 3.5 oz bars) 72%  dark chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 cup dark stout beer

1 cup of brewed coffee, cooled

Ganache:

2 cups of dark chocolate chips

2 cups of dark beer

Crust:

9 graham crackers

2 tsp salt

1 tbs brown sugar

Frosting:

4 cups cream cheese room temperature

2 cups butter, room temperature

8 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Cake:

First, preheat the oven to 350, and then combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and the cocoa powder in a bowl and whisk until well combined. In the bowl of a stand mixer add the butter and sugar and cream until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg. In a microwave safe bowl, put the 72% chocolate. Microwave for 30 seconds, remove and stir. Repeat until the chocolate is melted. Add the melted chocolate to the sugar/egg mixture and blend well. While the mixer is on a medium-low setting, add the stout and then the coffee, continue to combine until well mixed, then add the flour mixture a little at a time until well combined. Grease and flour the cake pans that you are using. I used two 9×13 inch sheet pans. Bake for between 25 and 35 minutes (depending on your cake pan size) or until the cake is set in the center. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Ganache:

Place chocolate chips in a heat safe bowl. In a pot on the stove, add the 2 cups of beer and cook over medium heat until reduced by half, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Pour the beer, that you have reduced to 1 cup, over the chocolate chips and stir until well combined. Place in the fridge and allow to cool completely about 30 minutes.

Cream cheese frosting:

Place all the icing ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high until well combined and creamy. You really, really need softened butter and softened cream cheese. If either of those are cold, your frosting will have lumps in it.

Crust:

I used this on the outside of the cake, but it’s optional. Just place all the crust ingredients in your food processor and process until all combined.

Assembly. This will be the easiest if everything is cold. Also, I like to use a piping bag to help with the first layer of frosting (I always do 2 layers of frosting). Put about half of your frosting in a piping bag with a large opening tip. You can also use a large zip lock bag with the corner cut off, like this:

[singlepic id=378 w=520 h=440 float=]

works great.

On your bottom layer of cake, put a rim of frosting around the edge, that’ll make it easier to keep the ganache in the center.

[singlepic id=438 w=520 h=440 float=]

Add the ganache to the center of your frosting ring and allow to spread out evenly over the layer. If your ganache was warm at all, it would be a good idea to place the cake in the fridge at this point to allow to cool before proceeding. Top with the second cake layer, then add the first layer of frosting to your cake with the piping bag and smooth out with an off set spatula. Some people call this a crumb coat, because crumbs will invade this layer. I call it the dirty ice, because it sounds more fun. Place the cake in the fridge and allow the first ice to set, about 1 hour. Once you are ready for your final icing, use an off-set spatula and try to make it as smooth as possible. Before the final frosting layer has set, add the crust to just the sides with your hands, using as much as will stick to the sides. Allow the final ice to set before decorating as you wish.

Cabernet Cherry Brownies

On of my favorite smells in the entire world is red wine reducing on the stove. It reminds of bistros in Paris and lazy winter evenings. Mr. Fits and I spent our anniversary in Paris a few years ago. We ended up at a small cafe in the Bastille District eating Steak Frites and sharing a bottle of wine. We finished the meal by sharing a dense piece of chocolate cake.  As we sat on the side walk patio, watching the night go by, chatting and laughing, I remember feeling so grateful that this was the man that I got to spend my life with. These brownies remind me of that night, the wine, the chocolate and the love of my life.

Red wine is a great addition to baked goods and the alcohol cooks off completely so you have nothing to worry about while serving these to under aged guests.

Cabernet Cherry Brownies

¾ cup fresh bing cherries, pitted and chopped

1 cup red wine

¾ cup butter (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter

8 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate

1 tbs instant coffee powder

4 large eggs

3 1/2 cups sugar

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.

In a pot over medium/high heat, bring the cherries and the wine to a simmer, stiring occasionally. Allow to reduce by half, the cherries and wine will amount to a little less than one cup combined.

Combine the butter, chocolate and coffee powder in a microwave safe bowl. If you hate coffee, don’t be affriad of this ingredient. Coffee, in small doses, is widely known in the baking world to intensify the flavor of chocolate without leaving any of it’s own flavor behind. Microwave on high for 20 seconds, stir and repeat until melted and combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs and sugar, at high speed for 5 minutes. I recently learned that beating the eggs and sugar together is what gives brownies that beautiful crust on top.  Reduce speed to low, and add the chocolate mixture then beat until combined. Slowly add flour and beat until combined, but don’t over mix. Stir in chocolate chips and reduced wine. Pour the batter into a greased 9×13 glass baking dish. Bake until the edges start to pull away from the pan and the center is no longer wobbly, about 35 minutes.

 

Truffled Soft Pretzels with Smokey Garlic Aioli

 

A few weeks ago I professed my love for Hepp’s Salt Barrel. They have this amazing Black Truffle salt that I have a huge culinary crush on. I’ve spent that last week inventing a recipe that would showcase this gorgeous spice. What better vehicle for salt consumption than a pretzel? Salt makes everything taste better, but in this case, it’s the star.

Truffled Soft Pretzels with a Smokey Garlic Aioli

1 cup water, warmed between 105-110 degrees fahrenheit

1 tbs sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp active yeast

2 2/3 cups flour

1/4 cup truffle oil (can use olive oil instead) plus 2 tbs, divided

2 tbs veggtable oil

5 cups of water

1/2 cup baking soda

1 tbs black truffle salt

Aioli:

4 cloves of garlic

1 tbs olive oil, plus 1 tbs, divided

3 egg yolks

1 whole egg

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/8 tsp salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, sugar and then sprinkle the yeast on top. Give it five minutes to get foamy before proceeding. With a dough hook attachment, put the mixer on low and slowly add the flour and kosher salt. slowly add the 1/4 cup truffle oil, then increase the speed to medium and allow the mixer to knead the dough unit it’s smooth and gathers around the hook about 6-8 minutes. Coat the inside of a glass or metal bowl with the vegetable oil. Gather the dough into a ball and place inside your oily bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to sit in a warm place for about an hour or until it’s doubled in size (this may be a good time to start working on the aioli, instructions at the bottom).

Preheat your oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Bring the water and baking soda to boil in a pot on the stove.

Remove the dough and place on a sheet of parchment paper (if you don’t have parchment paper, use a clean oiled surface that will resist the dough sticking to it). Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into three equal sized pieces, then cut each of those pieces in half, giving you six equal sized pieces of dough.

grab one end of the dough and hold so that the other end hangs towards the ground. Using your other hand, gently squeeze the dough from top to bottom to form a long rope, using gravity to assist. You can also try rolling the dough on an oiled surface, to form a 12-18 inch rope of dough. Place on the parchment paper, forming a U shape, then brining each end in towards the bottom, crossing the ends in the middle to form a pretzel shape, pressing the ends in to secure them in place. Once the water has come to a boil, add one pretzel at a time. Allow the pretzel to boil on one side for 20 seconds and then flip it over and allow to boil on the other side for 20 seconds and remove and place on the baking sheet covered with parchment paper. once all of the pretzels have been shaped and boiled, brush with the  remaining truffle oil and sprinkle with the truffle salt. Bake in the oven for 12-14 minutes or until a dark golden brown.

To make the aioli, you first need to roast the garlic. I prefer to roast whole cloves at a time, because it smells amazing, and you can always use roasted garlic in just about everything. But you only need 4 cloves for this recipe so that’s what we’ll do. Preheat your oven to 450. Take your four cloves from the bulb and leave the paper skin on. Place on a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with 1 tbs olive oil. Fold the aluminum into a tight package and place in a baking dish. Roast in the oven at 450 for 20 minutes, allow to cool. In a food processor, add the yolks, whole egg, smoked paprika and salt. Cut the root of you roasted garlic bulbs (where it was attached to the clove) and squeeze the garlic out and add to the food processor.  Turn the food processor on and allow to process for about 3 minutes, or until thick and frothy. While your food processor is still on, slowly, slowly add the remaining 1 tbs oil, a tiny bit at a time. Allow to process for a few more minutes, until thick.

Serve your pretzeles right away. These just don’t keep very well, so if you have leftovers the next day, put them in your food processor because they make amazing bread crumbs. Keep the pretzel bread crumbs in an air-tight container in your refrigerator.

 

Italian Eggs Benedict with Pesto Hollandaise

 

 

I worked in a breakfast cafe through college. This is the reason that I will never be able to eat Hollandaise sauce in a restaurant. Those of you who have also worked in breakfast joints may be nodding your heads in agreement, while those who haven’t may have a puzzled look on your face. If you want a further explanation, this book does a pretty good job. I do, however, love Hollandaise and appease my cravings with a homemade Eggs Benedict at least once a month. I love a twist on a classic recipe (as you can clearly tell by my postings) and pesto goes well with just about everything.

Italian Eggs Benedict with Pesto Hollandaise

4 eggs

4 slices of crust Italian loaf bread

4 slices of prosciutto

4 slices of tomato

4 basil leaves

4 tbs melted butter

2 tsp pesto

4 egg yolks

2 tbs room temp water

1 tbs lemon juice

Poach the eggs, one at a time in simmering/boiling water. Remove with a slotted spoon after about 3 minutes or when the whites are solid and yolk is still soft and uncooked.

This recipe really comes down to the sauce. First, melt the butter with the pesto. Then, in a good quality sauce pan, add the yolks, lemon juice and water and whisk quickly and continually over low heat until it’s frothy and doubled in size (this is an arm work out, be prepared). You don’t want too much heat or you’ll have scrambled eggs. If you need to step away for a second, or if it’s getting to hot, remove from the heat. While continuing to whisk, slowly add the butter in a steady stream. Continue to whisk until thickened, and almost doubled. If your sauce gets too dry and thick, you can add a few tbs of water.

Slice four pieces off a loaf of crust Italian bread. Ciabatta would also work nicely.

 

Toast your bread lightly. I placed mine under a broiler for about 3 minutes. Top your bread with tomatoes, prosciutto, basil, poached egg and then a few tbs of your pesto hollandaise.

Watermelon Jalapeno Margaritas

Jalapenos have been popping up in cocktails all over the place lately. Are you skeptical? Scared? Intrigued? I’m just plain excited. I have a deep love in my culinary soul for jalapenos, as you can see, I’ve add them to my Mac N' Cheese, as well as my Bacon Cornbread. Why not cocktails? And I dare you to find a better adult beverage than a margarita to showcase this beautiful pepper.

Watermelon Jalapeno Margaritas

4 cups seedless watermelon chunks

1 1/2 tbs chopped fresh jalapenos, seeds removed (very important)

1 cup of tequila

1/2 cup triple sec

1 tbs Agave nectar

1/4 cup lemon juice

Put all of these ingredients in a blender and blend for about a minute.

Taste to see if you want to booze it up and bit and adjust accordingly. Now, you can add ice and blend or you can serve it on the rocks. Either way, you will porbaly need about 3 cups of crushed ice or ice cubes.

You can rim the glass with either sugar or salt, this recipe lends itself very well to both.

I added a jalapeno ring as a garnish, but that is totally optional.

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

 

Here’s a little something you should know about me. I have a head full of statistics. I hear one and it sticks. Mr. Fit’s teases me about the fact the a rare week goes by that I don’t reference one. Including the fact that 36% of all statistics listed online are outdated or inaccurate. So take that for what it’s worth.

Here is one that’s more useful. California produces 86% of the nations strawberries. More fascinating than that is the fact that California also grows more than HALF the nations total produce. Seriously, HALF of the fruits and vegetables that are grown in the U.S. come from just one little state (ok, so it’s not that little, but STILL!).

We’re not all palm trees and reality TV, there is some amazing food here. Nothing is better than local produce, especially strawberries. If you have the opportunity to visit our great state, skip Beverly Hills and Hollywood Blvd and head straight for a farmers market, we get to have them year round.

Here is another fun fact about strawberries (have I lost you yet? is this stuff interesting only to me??) They are one of the few fruits that will NOT continue to ripen after being picked. If you pick a green strawberry, it will never turn red. Once they are taken from the vine they become a ticking clock towards rotten fruit so use them quick. Or freeze them fast.

 Chocolate is always a welcome twist on a classic. I love a great homemade shortcake and adding chocolate is great surprise. This is just my biscuit recipe, modified to add chocolate.

Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake

Ingredients

Shortcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 stick (8 tbs) butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup of carbonated water
  • 1/4 cup cold brewed coffee (can use coffee made with instant coffee powder)

Strawberries:

  • 2 1/2 cups of chopped strawberries
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

ChantillyCream:

  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup powdered sugar (depending on your desired level of sweetness)
  • 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In a food processor combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and sugar and pulse until combined. Add the butter and process until it is all incorporated and it resembles coarse meal. Add the milk, water and coffee and process until combined.
  2. These are more like drop biscuits than roll ’em out and cut ’em variety. Take about 1/3 of a cup of the dough and form a disk, about one inch high, with your hand place it on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
  3. Put your shortcakes in the fridge and allow to chill for 20 minutes while you preheat your oven to 350. Bake for about 18-20 minutes. Allow to cool.
  4. In a bowl, combine your strawberries, powdered sugar and lemon juice. mix until combine and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  5. Chantillycream sounds super fancy, but in reality it’s just whipped cream that you make with powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar. It has a slightly different taste and texture that goes well with this recipe. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream, powdered sugar (between 1/4 cup and 1/2 cup depending on how sweet you like it) and vanilla extract. Beat on high for 3-5 minutes or until stiff peaks form.
  6. Once your shortcakes have cooled, cut in half the long way and fill with the Chantilly cream and strawberries.

Miniature Deep Dish Peach Pies

Clearly, I like things in miniature form. Not only are they just plain adorable, it provides some much needed portion control. If I have a pie, just sittin in the fridge, I have a strong temptation to constantly cut off a sliver if I’m in the vicinity. If I just have these small versions, I’m less tempted and I’ve tricked my brain into thinking I had much more than I actually did. I just ate a WHOLE pie! Well, a pie the size of a cupcake, but still. Plus, how great are these for dinner parties?

Mini Peach Pies

Pie Dough:

(adapted from Fool Proof Pie Dough, Cooks illustrated 2007)

3 cups of all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbs sugar

10 tbs butter (1 stick, plus 2 tbs), cut into cubes

1/2 cup shortening

1/4 cup vodka

1/4 cup cold water

Peach Filling:

4 1/2 cups of diced peaches

1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbs unsalted butter

1 tbs honey

1/4 cup lemon juice

Sour Cream Filling:

2/3 cup Sour Cream

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla

I seems to make a lot of pie dough. I love it, and after years of research and practice, I am loyal to the homemade version and it’s vast superiority over the store bought stuff. If you plan ahead, it really doesn’t take much time at all.

First, food processors are great at getting the job done as quickly as possible, and as previously mentioned on this blog, the more you mess with dough the tougher it becomes. So break out that food processor and add 2 cups of the flour, salt and sugar and give it a quick pulse until it’s combined.

Add the cubes of butter and the shortening and pulse until combined, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Add the remaining flour and process until it’s all combined. Move to a bowl, add your water and vodka with a spatula. Your dough will be very moist, but you can add a bit of flour if it is too moist to hold together. Then split into two evenly sized disks and wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours. If you need to, this can be made up to three days in advance, just store the plastic wrapped disks in a large zip lock bag.

In a pot over medium heat, combine the peaches, butter, powdered sugar, salt,  honey and lemon juice. Stir frequently, allowing to simmer until reduced and thickened. About 15-20 minutes.

In a bowl, combine the sour cream, sugar, egg and vanilla and stir until combined.

Roll out your cold dough on a flowered surface. Cut circles large enough to fit into your muffin tins, with a bit of an over hang. I found that for mine, 4 inch worked the best. My largest biscuit cutter was 3 inches so I used a wine glass as my pie dough cutter.

Spray your muffin tins with butter cooking spray and then place your dough circles inside the wells, making sure there is a tiny bit of overhang.

Poke holes in the bottom of your dough and then fill with about 2 tsp of the sour cream mixture and then two tbs of the peaches mixture.

Cut out top circles for your mini pies using a 3 inch biscuit cutter (or a size appropriate for the muffin tins you are using). I had a cute little tiny cookie cutter in the shape of a star that I used for the top. You can just cut slits in the top if you don’t have a tiny cutter. I have also found that the lid of a chapstick tube (cleaned, of course) makes a great tiny circle cutter in a pinch.

Place your top circles in place and pinch the edges together.

In a small bowl, wisk one egg with a fork. Brush on top of your pies and then sprinkle with sugar.

Place your mini pies in the fridge for 20 minutes to all to chill.

Preheat your oven to 350. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the tops are a golden brown.

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Watermelon Caprese Skewers with Honeyed Balsamic Vinegar

 


I’ve been making Caprese skewers for years. Great for parties. Anything that is in a smaller form is just inherently more adorable. I had the idea the other day to substitute a watermelon ball for the standard grape tomato that I use. Hmm…cheese and mellon? Is this OK? I waited a week for this to sink in. I tried it. Now it’s all I can think about and I want more. Right. Now.

Watermelon Caprese Skewers With Honeyed Balsamic Vinegar

1 large watermelon

16 oz of Ciliegine or 'Cherry Size' Fresh Mozzarella

6 leaves of basil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tsp raw honey

Cut the watermelon into 3 inch rings (slices? is that a better term?). This will make it easier to get as many balls out of it as you can with your melon baller. Make as many balls as you can out of your watermelon, because, if you have leftovers you also have a great snack! Store the extras in a container filled with water to keep them fresh. These ciliengine mozzarella balls are pretty fantastic. They sell them at just about any grocery store, in the fancy cheese section, and they come in a tub filled with water.

Photo:http://www.lionimozzarella.com


Slice the basil leaves into thin strips, discarding the thick vein that runs down the middle. Skewer one mozzarella ball and one watermelon ball on each skewer, drape with a basil slice. In a small bowl, mix the balsamic and the honey until well combined. Drizzle over the skewers or serve on the side.

ENJOY!! I love these cute little guys!


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Cucumber Cups Stuffed with Spicy Crab

Barbecue season is upon us. And as much as we need a great sundress and cute pair of wedge heels, we also need great party recipes. What makes a party food recipe great? Three qualities: 1. Tasty (obviously) 2. Travels well (in the event of off site parties) 3. Possible to sit at room temperature for a period of time without becoming a huge mess (sorry cheese dip and ice cream cake, we still love you)

Here are some of my favorites:

1. Jalapeno Popper Filled Potato Bites. The marriage of two great bar snacks

2. Olive & Goat Cheese Tartlets.

3. Caprese BLT Sliders with Puff Pastry Buns 

4. Boozy (or not) Watermelon Stars.

5. And the reason you are all here today: Cucumber Cups Stuffed With Spicy Crab

I saw these a few years ago on Iron chef. Cups made of cucumber. Brilliant. I am embarrassed to say that it took me nearly a year to figure out how it was done. Turns out, it’s so easy. All you need is a melon baller.

For a vegetarian filling, check out my Cucumber Cups With Goat Cheese Caprese 

Cucumber Cups Stuffed with Spicy Crab

Ingredients

  • 3 long cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup crab meat, excess water removed
  • 1 tsp hot pepper sauce (Tabasco or tapito)
  • 1 tsp brown mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbs minced green onion
  • Garnish with chili powder or paprika if desired

Instructions

  1. Remove the peel from the cucumbers using a vegetable peeler. Cut the cucumber into 2 inch slices. Using a small melon baller, scoop out most of the inside. You want to leave the walls and a thick portion of the bottom intact.
  2. In a bowl, combine the sour cream and the cream cheese with a fork until well combined. add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Fill each of the cucumber cups with the crab dip. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve within 2 hours of making.

 

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Apricot Mango Creme Brulee Tart

I remember the very first time I had Creme Brulee. A friend of Mr. Fits (a very fancy friend) order it for me while we where all out for dinner at a little restaurant in Pasadena. I was young, in my last year of college, and I was too embarrassed to say that I had no idea what Creme Brulee was. So I waited. Every dessert flanked waiter who came within ten feet of my table was given a thorough visual molesting as I tried to figure out if what he was carrying was, in fact, Creme Brulee. Is that cake-like thing it? Nope. What about that Chocolate thing in that tiny ceramic pot? hmmm, wrong table. And then it was in front of me. I was intimidated. Do I pick off this thick, hard crust on the top? What do I do? I stalled and waited to see what Fancy Friend did with his. Oh..you crack it open by smashing it with the tip of your spoon. I like dessert that involves very subtle violence. I loved it. The fleeting thought did cross my mind that I would love this vanilla custard with the hardened sugar top in a tart shell. Six years later, I did just that.

This week I wrote another article for the Glendale Examiner on the Montrose Farmers Market. It was there that I discovered that apricots are in the last few weeks of their season. I was so drawn to these huge bins of beautiful pale orange fruit they became the center of my recipe. I wasn’t until I was leaving the market that I noticed the lovely Manilla mangos begging to join the party. I obliged.

Apricot Mango Creme Brulee Tart

Tart Crust:

1 1/4 cups of flour

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

3-5 tbs ice coldwater

Apricot Mango Filling:

1 cup chopped apricots

1 cup chopped mango

1/4 cup of honey

1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

Custard:

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup of sugar

1 1/4 cup of heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp slt

1/4 cup granulated sugar for brulee crust topping

In a food processor, combine the flour, powdered sugar, and salt. Pulse to combine. Add the cubes of butter and process until combined, about 1-2 minutes. Your dough should resemble course meal. Start with 3 tbs of water, pulse until combined. If the crust doesn’t hold together add more water, a bit at a time, until it does. Dump the dough into a tart pan with a remove-able bottom. Starting with the sides, form the crust inside the pan, trying your best to make it all as even as possible. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a least 3 hours (don’t even think about skipping this step).

Heat your oven to 375.

Once your tart is all chilly cold, remove from the fridge and poke holes in it with a fork.

Place a sheet of parchment paper inside your tart and fill with pie weights. If you don’t have any, dried beans work great. Just don’t forget which beans you’ve used as pie weights and accidentally try to make soup out of them later.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until your tart is a light golden brown.

In a pot over medium heat, combine the apricots, mango and the honey. Sprinkle with the cornstarch and stir. If you hate mangos, or apricots or maybe have an undying love for one or the other, this recipe is easily altered. You need 2 cups of chopped stone fruit, you can use whatever ratio of each that you want or 2 full cups of either. You can even sub in some peaches if you wanna get craaaazy. Cook the fruit, stiring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until it is thick and the fruit is broken down a bit. Add to the bottom of the tart crust.

In a bowl, combine the yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar and whisk until light and frothy. In a pot, combine the cream, salt and vanilla and heat until steamy but not boiling. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. While you whisk the eggs, slowly, slowly add the cream, whisking until combined. If there are any lumps or "eggy bits" in your cream mixture (possibly because you didn’t let your cream cool down) strain the custard through a mesh strainer. Pour into the tart shell on top of the fruit.

Bake at 300 degrees until the edges are set and the middle is still wobbly (it will continue to set as it cools) about 40-45 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and keep cold until ready to serve. Just before serving, top the tart with an even layer of granulated sugar. Pass the flame of a kitchen torch slowly and evenly over the tart until it’s liquified and a light amber colored. Serve immediately. The sugar crust will start to break down after about an hour.

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Lemon Pepper Biscuits

This was my breakfast this morning. Even if you aren’t a make-it-from-scratch kinda guy, biscuits should be the exception to that rule. A homemade biscuit tastes so wonderful, and it takes only about 10 minutes to throw these babies together. Plus, the leftovers are great for sandwiches.

Lemon Pepper Biscuits

2 cups of flour

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 tsp black pepper

1 1/2 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sugar

1 stick (8 tbs) butter, cut into small cubes

1/4 cup whole milk

1/4 cup of carbonated water

1 tbs lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450.

I’ve mentioned this before, a time or 12, but overworking dough makes it tough. The less you work with dough the better the texture. BUT, when making biscuits it’s important to make sure that all the butter is distributed evenly or you’ll get pockets of butter that will cook differently. Your goal is to distribute the butter as quikly and evenly as possible. To do this, cut the butter into small cubes and have a food processor do the quick work for you.

Put the flour, salt pepper, zest, baking powder, baking soda and sugar in your food processor and pulse until combined. add your butter cubes and  process until the butter is evenly distributed, about 1-2 minutes. Then add the milk, lemon juice and carbonated water and process until the liquid is well combined with the dry ingredients, about a minute.

Dump the dough onto a floured surface. Squish together with your hands to form a ball and then flatten into a rectangle about 6 -8 inches long and 2 inches high. Use a sharp knife to cut the biscuits into squares. You can make them as big or small as you want, but this recipe will make 4-6 average sized biscuits.

Place the biscuits on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Sprinkle the top with a bit of sea salt and pepper.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until light golden brown.

Fondant Basics

I am not usually a baker for hire. Especially cakes. They take so long and frustrate me. I can never get them as perfect as I want and I end up feeling (in a very overly dramatic fashion) that they are a complete disaster. A friend of Mr. Fits asked me to make a Monkey Cake for the baby shower she was throwing for her sister and her sisters wife to welcome their baby boy. Maybe it was the mushy soft spot that I now have for babies since Tater was born (this did not really exist prior to birth of my adorable little lady) or maybe it’s how easy it is to guilt me into baking by merely asking, but I said yes. *sigh*

Fondant 101

If you’re not sure what the stuff is that covers those cakes, it’s fondant. It’s a sugar dough that is rolled out like cookie dough to cover a cake and can even be sculpted, like clay, for decorations. If you have an interest in giving it a try, you should. It takes a little practice but general gives a very impressive look to your cakes.

I have been working with fondant for about 5 years and I have learned a thing or two about this sugar dough that I’ll share with you all.

First, it’s not very tasty. Really, even the good kinds don’t really add to the taste of a great cake. I have never, ever heard anyone say, "This cake tastes really good, but you know what it needs? A nice layer of fondant." It’ll never happen. It’s use is purely aesthetic. If you can perfect the technique of buttercream your cake can look just as good and taste somewhere around a million times better, but that’s for a different post.

Fondat can be difficult to work with, but if you really want to make a cake that  has a professional look to it, this is a great option.

There are three brands of fondant that I have worked with, and as far as my experience goes, these are the three main brands:

Wilton

Satin Ice

 Fondx

The basic rule, when it comes to yummy vs easy, is that the better it tastes the more difficult it is to work with.

Wilton is at the bottom of the yumminess food chain. It tasted like sugary play-dough. I would however, suggest you start here if you have never given fondant a try. Wilton fondant is a tank compared to the other two. It’s forgiving and tough. Use it your first time to get a feel for how to use fondant then move on when you think you’re ready.  Just let your guests know that, although it is edible, you would recommend peeling it off before eating the cake.

Satin Ice is far superior to Wilton in the taste department, but, it’s a bitch to work with. I’ve renamed it Satan Ice and probably won’t use it for cake covering ever again. It has a great flavor and tends to blend well with the frosting but it is extremely fragile, cracking and tearing easily. It is a great option for molding decorations or adorable little monkey mommas and babies.

Fondx, and Elite by Fondx are my favorite. Not as yummy as Satin Ice (although some would disagree), but much easier to work with. It isn’t as hearty as Wiltons, but it is much tastier.

Fondant comes in nearly every color you can imagine and is much easier if you buy it pre-colored. The draw back to this is cost. If you look at the monkey cake picture, you can see there are 9 different colors. If I was to buy 9 different colors of fondant it would cost me about $150. Since I’m pretty sure no one wants to pay that much for a cake that only serves a few dozen, coloring fondant is the way to go. I buy white and then use gel food coloring to achieve the color I want. The use of gel is important in order to keep a solid consistency to your fondant, instead of turning your fondant to a sticky mess with too much liquid. Just add a bit of the gel to your white fondant and knead until the color is consistent. If it starts to turn mushy, add some powdered sugar.

You need to ice your cake at least two separate times. Some call the first icing a crumb coat, because the cake crumbs will invade this first layer, and others (including myself) call it dirty ice, because it sounds more fun. Allow first layer of icing to set completely, about an hour.

The next coat is your final coat and it helps to smooth everything out and cover any bumps or holes in your cake. Think of fondant as that super shiny, thin bridesmaid dress that makes you look awful and shows every flaw, and you would never be caught dead it in it, let alone PHOTOGRAPHED in it over and over, if you didn’t really love your friend–and the final ice is the Spanx that allowed you to keep your sanity and hit on the cute bartender. The final ice is the compression garment of the cake world, makes everything look smooth and pretty.

Fondant will show every imperfection so make sure your final ice is as smooth as you can make it. If you need to go for round 3 on icing, then do that.

Roll out your dough, on a flat surface covered with powdered sugar, the way you would roll out pie dough. Make sure that you roll out a circle large enough to cover your cake with at least a two inch overhang on all sides.  To transfer your dough to your cake, you can either use an extra set of hands, or you can try and slide a large cardboard sheet (like a cake board) underneath.

Once its over your cake use your hands to smooth it down the cake. Start at the top and work your way down.

Using a sharp paring knife or a pizza cutter, remove the excess fondant.

The bottom will probably look a bit rough. Making a perfectly even cut around the bottom is very difficult so don’t beat yourself up about it, just cover it up. To do this, I have used the following:

Long strip of fondant

Small balls made of fondant

Candy gumballs

Marshmallows

Mini cupcakes

If you look at novelty cakes, most of them have some type of bottom boarder.

To get that powdered sugar off the cake, I use a clean make-up blush brush that I bought specifically for the job.

To make the cake shine, spray the fondant with vodka. The alcohol will evaporate so you don’t have to worry about getting the pregnant lady drunk at her own baby shower. I use a small travel sized spray bottle that was probably intended for transporting hairspray across TSA lines.

If you have ever used clay, fondant reacts in similar ways when sculpted. There is an adorable British girl who has several You Tube posts about making fondant animals.

Good luck in your caking adventures. Remember that every cake is a learning process and your first cake won’t be perfect, it’ll be a starting point.

4th of July Treat: Patriotic Mini Pies on Sticks

Clearly, from my recent posts, I have a soft spot in my heart for childhood treats. When these babies were finished, they tasted like Pop-tarts. Strawberry Pop-tarts, which were always the best ones. I loved these so much that I am even going to give you all the cheater notes. And by this I mean the shortcuts to make them in about 15 minutes. While I am a strong advocate for making everything from scratch, I also realize that most people don’t love to spend all day in the kitchen (whaaaat???). So, you can follow my long direction (highly recommended route) or you can go out on your own with pre-made pie dough, strawberry jam (at least buy the good kind) and a cookie cutter.

Mini Pies on Sticks

Pie Dough:

(adapted from Fool Proof Pie Dough, Cooks illustrated 2007)

3 cups of all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbs sugar

10 tbs butter (1 stick plus 2 tbs), cut into cubes

1/2 cup shortening

1/4 cup vodka

1/4 cup cold water

Strawberry Filling:

1 cup of sugar

1 tbs corn starch

3 tbs unsalted butter

2 cups of diced strawberries

Egg Wash:

1 egg white

1 tsp water

plus 2 tbs sugar for sprinkling

Royal Icing:

1 egg white

1 tbs lemon juice

1.5 cups powdered sugar

PLUS:

16, 6 inch wooden skewers

Really, if you have the time, homemade pie dough is the jam. It is so far superior to that store bough nonsense that it could stand on it’s own. You could even make cookies out of it and eat it plain. I have been over this before but there are a few pie dough rules that one must never deviate from:

1. Cold dough will always cook better than warm.

2. The less it is worked with, the more tender it is. Don’t overwork your dough.

3.  Using vodka creates a flakier crust because it cooks off completely, unlike water.

First, food processors are great at getting the job done as quickly as possible, and as previously mentioned, the more you mess with dough the tougher it becomes. So break out that food processor and add 2 cups of the flour, salt and sugar and give it a quick pulse until it’s combined.

Add the cubes of butter and the shortening and pulse until combined, about 1 1/2 minutes. A mix of shortening and butter gives a good flavor and texture.

Now, if you have a larger food processor that mine, then add the remaining flour and pulse until it gathers around the blade. MINE is tiny and I need a new one. So if you are in the same boat as I am, just transfer it to a bowl and add the remaining flour by hand. (if you have a nice big guy food processor, transfer to a bowl after you add the remaining flour)

Then add the water and the vodka and squish it into the dough until its all combined. Your dough will be very moist, but you can add a bit of flour if it is too moist to hold together. Then split into two evenly sized disks and wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours.

To make the filling, add the sugar and cornstarch to a pot and stir quickly to combine. Add the butter and strawberries and stir over medium heat until the berries are broken down and the sauce is thick and dark. Allow to cool

Once the dough has chilled, roll it out on a floured surface. If it breaks up, which it may since it is a pretty flakey recipe, just smoosh it back together with your fingers. Cut out your desired shape, 3-4 inches seems to be ideal. I used stars because of our upcoming I Heart America holiday, as well as 3 inch circles. Place the bottom circle on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

Place the stick more at least halfway up into your shape and top with a spoonful of the sauce.

Now, quickness is key at this point. Place a matching shape on top and smoosh the edges together.

I had some red and white straws left over from Taters party that I bought from Sweet Lulu’s that I used for sticks on a few of the pies. I wasn’t sure it they would bake well so I only did a few. I just pinched the  top shut and placed it on the star cutouts. I liked them so much that the ones that had boring ol' 6 inch wooden skewers were covered with those cute striped straws to match. Refrigerate your pies for at least 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, beat the egg white and the water until combined. Brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are goldeny brown.

Allow to cool. If the filling leaks out, its OK. Just try and cut around the shapes with a sharp knife before trying to remove from the pan.

In a small bowl, combine the royal icing ingredients and stir until well combined. Top the pies with the icing and then with the sprinkles of your choice.


O


Junior Mint Cupcakes

 

 

I have a confession to make. I really don’t like mint. I respect mint as a flavor and agree with the idea of it…but I don’t love it. There was on ordeal a few years ago when I was in Middle Atlas, Morocco that will always be refereed to as the Moroccan Mint Experience. Overall, I would classify this episode in the "good experience" category, but either way, I have a hard time eating mint ever since. Mr. Fits, however, is a huge fan. And although I don’t prefer mint, I still really loved these cupcakes.

How cute are those cupcake papers? I got them at Bake it Pretty. I love baking cupcakes in something other than standard cupcake papers, makes them feel special.

Junior Mint Cupcakes

Chocolate cake:

2 2/3 cup flour

1 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 1/4 cup of brewed coffee, cooled

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 sticks of unsalted butter

2 1/2 cups of sugar

1 tsp vanila extract

2 eggs

Mint Buttercream:

2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/3 cup milk
1/4 tsp natural mint extract

Chocolate Sauce:

1 cup dark chocolate chunks

2/3 cup heavy cream

Garnish with Junior Mints if desired.

Preheat the oven to 350. in a large bowl, add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Sift to combined. in another bowl, add the buttermilk, coffee and oil. In a stand mixer, add the butter and cream until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and while the mixer is on high, slowly add the sugar and cream until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time. With the mixer on medium speed, alternating between the wet and dry ingredients, add each a bit at a time until all three are well combined in the stand mixer. If you are using the cute brown floret baking cups, just place them on a baking sheet, they don’t need to go in a muffin tin. If you are using standard cupcake papers, just line them in the muffin tin as normal. Fill standard cupcake papers 2/3 of the way full and cute floret papers only 1/2 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20-25 minutes.

Mint Buttercream

In a stand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Your butter needs to be softened, cold butter won’t work. With the mixer on a low speed, slowly add the powdered sugar until all combined (you can add less if you prefer a less sweet frosting). Then add the milk and the extract and beat until well combined.

Chocolate sauce

Place the chocolate in a heat safe bowl. Heat the cream until hot and steam, but not boiling (microwave is fine but you can also heat on the stove) and pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Stir for about 3 minutes or until well combined. If you have never made ganache or chocolate sauce you may get a bit concerned about half way through. It is completely normal for your sauce to look like chunky chocolate milk for the first few minutes, just keep stirring and it’ll all work out.

Once your cupcakes are cool, pipe the buttercream on, top with a spoon full of the chocolate sauce then a Junior Mint, if you’d like.

Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts

 

More lemon. I  know, My citrus obsession is reaching a bit of a fevered pitch. Summer, to me, is lemon flavored.

Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts

Shortbread cookie crust:

2 cups of flour

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 stick plus 6 tbs unsalted butter

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp butter extract

Lemon Curd:

2 tbs lemon zest

5 egg yolks

1/2 cup white sugar

3/4 cup lemon juice

5 tbs unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Meringue:

4 egg whites

1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

In a bowl, add the flour, powdered sugar and the salt, whisk until well combined. In a stand mixer cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the granulated sugar, then the extracts, beating until well combined. Add the flour mixture, about 1/4 a cup at a time, and beat as little as possible until your dough is combined and the butter is mixed through. You can also finish by squishing with your hands to make sure the butter is well incorporated. Your dough will look like course meal. Put 1 tbs of the dough into a muffin tin (grease it with some butter flavored cooking spray first) and pack it into the bottom, about one inch up onto the sides to resemble a mini tart shell.

Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours. Heat the oven to 350 and then bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges start to turn a golden brown.

 

Lemon curd:

Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and yolks to a bowl and mix well. Add the lemon mixture to a pan over medium/low heat along with the butter

Whisk until thickened, about 8 minutes. Once the mini tart shells are cooled, spoon in the curd.

Meringue. Add the egg whites (not a hint of yolk or this will never work), cream of tartar and salt to a stand mixer and beat on high until stiff peaks form. While the mixer is still on high, slowly add the sugar and continue to beat until well combined and stiffly peaked.

Top the mini tarts with the meringue.

You can brulee them a touch with the kitchen torch if you’d like

Enjoy!