Tuesday, May 29, 2012

When life gives you lemons...make lemon bars: Lemon Squares

        My mom just returned from a European vacation, and like any world traveler, she came home with armloads of souvenirs. She does not tend to buy your run-of-the mill chotchkies. She indulgences in regional olive oils, fresh garlic, and other gourmet goodies. She spent some time Italy, where she picked up a few souvenirs. There was definitely a theme with all the things she purchased: everything lemon. She brought home limonchello, lemon cookies, lemon candy, and lemon soaps.
           Personally, I happen to love lemon. It adds so much vibrancy to every food you pair it with. It has the ability to bring dishes to a whole new level. Seeing all the lemon flavored things that my mom brought home, really made me want to bake one thing: lemon squares. I have yet to find a better recipe than King Arthur Flour's. The use of cold butter creates a flaky and buttery crust, which perfectly balances the sweetness of the lemon filling. These are very easy to make, and are a perfect summer treat. They are best when served immediately.

You Will need:

1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) butter
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup (1 ounce) confectioners' sugar

2 large eggs
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) lemon juice
2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
a pinch of salt
Cut 8 tbsp. (1 stick) of butter into pats, and preheat oven to 350〫F

Combine flour and confectioners sugar

Add butter to flour mixture and mix with a pastry blender until coarse crumbs form.

Press into 8X8 or 9X9 square pan. Make sure to push the dough up 1/2 in. on the sides of the pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until lightly golden brown

Whisk together eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Set aside.

Pour over hot crust (after it has baked) and continue baking in oven for another 25 min, or until filling has set. 

Let cool completely, and lightly dust with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

If you like Pina Coladas... Pina Colada Cake Ball Truffles

You will need: prepared 9X13in. cake, 16 oz (or 1 can) of soft frosting. white candy coating, & gel food coloring, and pina colada flavor/candy oil ( I prefer LorAnn Oils)

I really wish I could just escape to a tropical island right now. Sandy beaches and crystal clear waves sound absolutely amazing. I am constantly reminded by the fact that I already have prior responsibilities, not to mention an intensive summer class starting soon. The possibility of escaping anytime soon, does not sound promising. 

I figured we all needed a little island getaway. The Pina Colada  is an iconic island drink. What better escape than a bite-sized version of it? Cake balls, are pretty much the same thing as a cake pop, except you do not have to worry about putting them on stick. 

I promise, they are just as good. They may even be a little easier to eat. You can decorate them however you like, but I recommend putting them in little bon bon wrappers or mini muffin liners. It just adds a little something more, and makes them look a little more professional. 

For you little five minute escape: Bon Voyage!

Bake a cake (preferably golden yellow cake) as directed, in a 9X13in. pan lined (and sprayed with pan release) with foil. cut the cake into four pieces , and place in a large bowl. 

crumble cake by rubbing each piece between your fingers. Make sure there are no large clumps. 
Add several drops Pina Colada Flavor oil to frosting. (enough to flavor the cake balls) Add 3/4 of frosting, and mix until it comes together. Add more frosting if it is too dry. 

Roll balls into uniform sizes. Think about the size of a truffle. Not too big, but not too small. 

Place palls on a wax paper lined baking sheet. Place balls in the  freezer for about 15 minutes (so that they can firm up).  Transfer to refrigerator until ready to coat.

Melt candy coating and 1tbsp. of shortening (helps keep the melted coating from thickening up)  until smooth. 

You can use a tempering fork, for coating the chocolate. I just made my own using a plastic fork.  

Take the chilled cake balls one by one, and hold them in the tempering fork, and spoon candy coating all over. Make sure to get an even coating. 

Allow them to dry on wax paper. Decorate as desired. I used the remaining candy coating, by deviding it up and adding food coloring. I then put them into plastic sandwich bags (Be sure to cut a small corner at the bottom), and piped the remaining coating onto the truffles.

Once dry, you can move them to the baking cups, and add any accents. 


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mini Spanish Churros

You will need: 1 cup water, 1 cup flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 1/2 tbsp. granulated sugar,  2 tbsp. vegetable oil, 2 quarts oil (for frying), piping bag & star tip. 

I must say that frying is not one of my preferred cooking methods.  The amount of grease and calories that come along fried foods, is usually enough to keep me away. However, there is just something about fried dough that cannot be replicated. Its warm melt-in-your-mouth texture is one of a kind. Throw in a little cinnamon, and you’ve created a simple thing of beauty.
Bring water, oil, salt, and sugar to boil. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, heat 2  qt. of oil to 375 〬F

There are many fried desserts out there, but there is one that is so iconic, you can find it almost anywhere: the Churro. The Churro is known for its crunchy exterior, and soft interior.  It can be served plain, but is usually rolled in cinnamon sugar.
Add flour to water mixture, and stir until a ball forms.

Although Churros are widely known as a Mexican treat, they actually originated from Spain. In Spain, they are commonly served for breakfast. With their arrival to North America, they evolved into a much more complex dessert. They are frequently filled with chocolate, dulce de leche, and other various fruit fillings.  They can even be seen topped with ice cream, and whipped cream.
Combine 3 tbsp. granulated sugar, and 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, and set aside 

In Spain, the Churro holds much higher meaning. It is a tradition that is taught to children of every generation. The professional Churro makers are well respected.  It is an art form that takes time to master.
Fill dough into a piping bag, and pipe into hot oil. Fry until golden brown. 

There are various versions of the Churro. Some include melted butter, cream, and eggs. I am partial to the classic Spanish version, which is  the recipe I chose to use. 
Allow the cooked churros to dry on plate, lined with paper towels ( to seep up any excess oil)
Dredge churros in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Tap off any excess. 
Serve with caramel, chocolate, or plain.