Sunday, February 28, 2010

Meyer Lemon Creme Brulee w. Raspberries & Blueberries

I was recently gifted a bounty of gorgeous meyer lemons from LA baking maven and lover of all things bundt Mary (aka The Food Librarian). The beautiful fruit came right off of trees in the backyard of Mary's dad --- Thank you Mary and Poppa Food Librarian!!! I knew I couldn't use all of this precious fruit right away, so I prepared most of them for the freezer.

I zested,
halved the zested lemons,
then did some serious juice squeezing.
I used snack size zip top bags to store the zest (the zest of 3 lemons in each bag),
and portioned the juice into 1/2 cup packages in sandwich bags. After marking the bags with a sharpie, they go into a large freezer bag and into the deep freeze. Now, I can enjoy fresh meyer lemon juice any time of the year!
I did set aside a handful of fruit for some immediate meyer lemon gratification. I've been reading through Karen DeMasco's book, The Craft of Baking, and her recipe for Lemon Raspberry Creme Brulee was calling my name.

The recipe calls for steeping the cream with lemon zest, cooling the mixture in an ice bath, adding lemon juice and salt, then resting the mixture overnight in the fridge.
Instead of tempering the eggs with the hot cream mixture (as I'm accustomed to), the eggs are whisked in to the cold lemon infused cream. The mixture is strained, and ready for the ramekins.

A handful of raspberries are scattered in each ramekin (I also added a few blueberries), and the custard mixture is poured into the prepared dishes.
These babies are ready for the oven.
Once the custard is set, it is chilled in the fridge overnight. Now, my favorite part - the brulee! After sprinkling some sugar on top,
the top is torched to melt the sugar and to create that scrumptious crunchy top.
My favorite part of this dessert is cracking the crunchy top, which yields to the creamy goodness underneath.
The custard delivers a nice refreshing tang from the meyer lemon, and has a wonderfully soft texture, which is a great contrast to the crunchy sugar top. The berries are soft and jammy, and provides a wonderful complement to the lemon flavor.
If you're a lover of all things lemon, I highly recommend that you take this recipe for a spin!

Meyer Lemon Creme Brulee w. Raspberries & Blueberries
adapted from The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco
Serves 6

2 C. heavy cream
1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 4 meyer lemons
1/2 c. strained fresh meyer lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 large egg yolks
1 c. raspberries
1 c. blueberries
additional sugar

Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl.

In a medium saucepan, bring the cream, sugar, vanilla and meyer lemon zest just to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture ino a medium bowl. Set the bowl into the ice bath and stir until the mixture has cooled. Once cooled, removed the bowl from the ice bath, and whisk in the lemon juice and salt. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Pour about one third of the chilled cream mixture into the yolks, and whisk together well. Add the remaining cream mixture and whisk to combine. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 300F.

Place 6 ramekins in 9x13x2 baking pan. scatter the raspberries and blueberries in a single layer in each ramekin. Divide the custard mixture among the ramekins. Place the prepared baking pan in the oven, and carefully pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the ramekins. Be careful not to dilute the custard mixture with the hot water.

Bake in the water bath for 30 minutes, or until just set.
Let the custards cool to room temperature, then chill until they are ready to be served.

Just before serving, sprinkle sugar evenly over the tops of each custad and caramelize with a torch or under a broiler. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Honey-Wheat Cookies (TWD)

With all of the chocolate-centric recipes baked this month, this week's Tuesday's With Dorie selection, Honey-Wheat Cookies, was a welcome change of pace to my baking agenda. With a healthy amount of wheat germ and honey, as well as a touch of lemon zest, you could almost consider these cookies a healthy snack - just ignore the stick of butter that is part of the ingredient list.
I may be in the minority, but I really enjoy the nutty flavor and crunchy texture of wheat germ. Its a great topping for my morning oatmeal or yogurt, and if I'm feeling particularly health conscious, I'll substitute a portion of flour with wheat germ in my muffin recipes.
I'm still in detox mode (one more friggin' week to go), so I'll have to defer to all of you on taste. I have some cookie dough sitting in the freezer and I look forward to sampling this once this cleanse chapter comes to a close.
I just pictured myself making a meal of all of the recipes from the past three weeks --- I may have to start another detox in order to recover from that sugar binge...NOT!
You can find the complete recipe for these Honey-Wheat Cookies at Michelle's blog, Flourchild. To find out what the TWD bakers thought of this cookie recipe, please make sure to peruse the TWD Blogroll.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Buttery Jam Cookies (TWD rewind)

I've been meaning to write about this cookie eons ago, as this recipe for Buttery Jam Cookies was a Tuesdays With Dorie selection back in December 2008. Can we say that I'm just slightly overdue?

It is a pretty simple and straightforward butter drop cookie with a bit of jam mixed into the dough. I always have several open jars of jams and preserves sitting in the fridge (what can I say, I enjoy variety with my morning toast), so this is a perfect cookie to bake in a moment's notice. For my first try, I went with apricot jam. Next time, I will have to try strawberry-rhubarb.
I really enjoyed this cookie - soft, buttery with slight hint of jammy sweetness. This is not one of the those rich, decadent in-your-face kinda cookies. The flavors are subtle, and it is the perfect accompaniament with an afternoon cup of tea.
For the complete recipe, please visit Heather's blog, Randomosity And The Girl.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mississippi Mud Cake (TCS)

After baking along with The Cake Slice group for the past 15 months, I've decided that this will be my last recipe with the group (at least for now). Along with appreciating the beauty of triple layer cakes and the traditions of favorite southern cakes, I've enjoyed baking along with a supportive and enthusiastic group of bakers.

The Cake Slice group voted, and Mississippi Mud Cake came out on top as February's recipe. For me, this resembled less a cake and more a brownie, with its thin, rich and pecan-studded chocolate cake layer. If the cake alone isn't rich enough, it is topped with marshallows and a thick chocolate frosting as the cake comes out of the oven. The warmth of the cake allows the marshallow and frosting to melt into this ooey, gooey goodness.
I haven't sampled this recipe, so couldn't tell you how it tastes. My hubs took the cake to work, and he said that it was devoured in minutes. In fact, people came back looking for more...I would say a crowd pleaser, wouldn't you agree?
Click here for the complete recipe.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dorie Greenspan's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies (TWD)

Week 1 of my "crazy-ass detox plan" (as oh so appropriately described by my homegirl Mary, The Food Librarian) is in the books, with two more weeks to go. Detoxing and food blogging is not a very good combination (I know...DUH!!!). When I peruse all of your beautiful blogs, I get cravings that are more intense than when I'm in the kitchen baking....seriously.

I'm no saint, but so far I haven't not veered off the plan. Still, there is not a day that goes by without my longing for a cup of coffee, a glass of red wine, brownies, ice cream, cheese, sushi...the list goes on and on. Okay, enough of my whining...

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie selection is what Dorie Greenspan dubs her Best Chocolate Chip Cookies. I don't know of anyone who doesn't have an opinion on what makes a perfect chocolate chip cookie - thick vs. thin, crispy vs chewy, nuts vs no nuts, milk chocolate vs bittersweet, butter vs. shortening, etc.

I've done my share of research and baked through a long list of recipes, and none have been able to trump Jacque Torres' version as my absolute favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. I've written about this heavenly cookie here.

I haven't tasted Dorie's recipe, so I won't be able to do a comparison until next month (I have some cookie dough sitting in the freezer for this purpose). I sent these cookies to my hub's work, and he reported back with rave reviews from his colleagues...a good sign.

Dorie's states that her recipe is in the thin and crisp category, but I think many of the TWD bakers (myself included) were caught off guard by how much these cookies spread in the oven. The first batch that I made spread into one giant cookie....make sure to space the dough far apart!
For this recipe, I finely chopped pecans, and hand chopped a block of Calleabut bittersweet chocolate. In Dorie's notes, she recommends that bakers forego the packaged chips and hand chop chocolate for their recipes. I wholeheartedly agree with her!
Thin and crispy, these cookies are perfect for ice cream sandwiches:

For the complete cookie recipe, please visit Kait's Plate.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Rick Katz's Brownies For Julia (TWD)

I had mixed feelings about making this week's Tuesdays With Dorie selection, Rick Katz's Brownies For Julia. I love brownies. Let me clarify...I really LOVE brownies. Those of you who have followed my blog long enough know how much I {heart} making and eating brownies. When it comes to sweets, brownies are my achilles heel.

So, what's my problem? I just started a 21 day detox following the Clean Program, and I'm pretty sure brownies are not on the allowable foods list. I should have thought ahead and indulged in these brownies before the detox, but of course my planning was less than stellar.

Instead of skipping out of all of my baking commitments for the entire month of February, I decided to bake, but not eat a morsel...not even a taste, folks! We'll see how long this lasts before I give in to temptation. Now I know how Siena feels:
The namesake in the recipe title is THE Julia...Julia Child. If these brownies were good enough for Julia, they have to be pretty damn good, right?

Preparation-wise, this recipe is unique as half of the eggs and sugar call for are beaten until they double in volume and are as light as a sponge. In Dorie's notes, she shares that whipping the eggs creates the surprisingly creamy, soft and fugdey texture.
By the looks of the final results, I would say have to say that Dorie's description is spot on. Unfortunately, I can't tell you how they taste....they look pretty yummy, don't they?
If you're curious to hear feedback about this recipe, make sure to peruse the TWD blogroll to read more. For the detailed recipe, head over to Tanya's blog, Chocolatechic.
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