Originally published March 22, 2015
It has come to my attention that not everyone loves to bake and that easy holiday dessert recipes are something that many people really appreciate to get them through Easter. I saw a video for some lemon tarts yesterday on YouTube on the Simple Cooking Channel. Lots of fun videos to watch!
I decided to try my hand at the Lemon Tarts. I did make two modifications to the very simple recipe.
Lemon Berry Tart
6 mini graham cracker crusts or one regular size one
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp of Knox plain gelatine – not in the original
Fresh or frozen berries of your choice – also not in the original
1. Combine the sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice and plain gelatine and beat until a little fluffy.
2. Spoon into crusts.
3. Refrigerate for a few hours until set.
4. Top with berries of your choice and serve!
The original recipe didn’t call for the gelatine but I decided to add it because I was skeptical that the tarts would set. I knew that if I added a tiny bit of gelatine they would. Of course, this addition makes them unsuitable for Passover. But have no fear! My Mini Pavlova are perfect for Passover!
Holidays can be such a blessing. Gathering with family and friends to celebrate your faith is a gift, even though it is often fraught with stress and angst. I hope this simple recipe can help relieve you of some of that stress.
The 2017 Major League baseball season opens this week. I am not a baseball fan at all but baseball’s opening day does signal the official beginning of spring so I like it.
But, as we inch towards opening day, we are enduring another dreary day in Central Maryland. It’s windy and a little cool and very cloudy. Sounds like a good day to make cookies! I wanted to make something from the Betty Crocker Cooky Book that I got My Faithful Assistant for his birthday. I didn’t think he’d jump for joy when he opened it. I just wanted a copy in our house.
I paged through and settled on the Best Cooky of 1950-1955, the Salted Peanut Crisp. You can find the original recipe on Food.com. I ended up changing it up a bit.
Opening Day Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar (white or brown or somewhere in between)
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups Prince and Spring Peanut Lovers’ Trail Mix (available from Boxed.com)
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Cream the butter and sugar.
- Beat in the eggs, and vanilla.
- Add the flour, salt and baking soda and mix until combined.
- Stir in the trail mix with a spoon. If you use an electric mixer, you will destroy the tiny little pretzel bites in this particular variety of trail mix.
- Drop by the spoonful onto a baking sheet.
- Bake for 12 minutes.
I honestly can’t remember the last time I made such an attractive cookie. Slightly brown around the edge yet still soft. I’m really proud of myself. And I will probably never meet with such cookie baking success again.
We have a busy week at work which includes a few extra hours tomorrow. Won’t my coworkers be happy when I show up with a little treat for them!
Let’s be honest. The main reason for clearing the freezer is to make room for ice cream. I am happy to have a little Ben and Jerry’s but one of my favorite treats is Homemade No Churn Ice Cream. As we shrug off sweaters and the heaviness of winter, our pallets turn towards the fresh flavors of spring and summer. Fresh fruit, asparagus, and, of course, lemon!
Lemon Swirl No-Churn Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup lemon curd
- Start whipping the cream with the vanilla. As peaks begin to form, slowly add the sweetened condensed milk.
- Continue whipping until the peaks are a little more firm.
- Microwave the lemon curd for 30-45 seconds so it’s slightly runny. Fold into the whipped cream mixture so the lemon is swirled through the ice cream.
- Freeze for 4-5 hours minimum.
- Serve with fresh berries or all alone.
This picture below shows the ice cream right before it was put in the freezer. It gives you an idea of how it should look when it is whipped the right amount of time.
No Churn Ice Cream – No fancy equipment required!
Note the lovely swirls? Isn’t it inviting? Don’t you see yourself diving right in and doing the backstroke through the waves?
I love this ice cream because, as I’m sure I’ve said too often, there are so many things you can do with it! It’s great with cookie chunks, or fruit. You can swirl in chocolate or caramel. And it’s a delicious treat that doesn’t require any special equipment. And you can freeze some in popsicle molds for a lovely and properly portioned treat!
It was not a joyous week. Work was beyond difficult. I can only hope next week is better. Thankfully, Friday ended on an upbeat note. My Faithful Assistant’s asthma has been a little out of control but after a month on a different inhaler, he is much better. And my College Boy is home for Spring Break. What better way to celebrate the weekend than with a nice cake.
I saw a video for a southern gem; an 18 layer cake. Well that clearly wasn’t going to happen. I decided that I would make as many layers as I could using one batch of batter and my two round cake pans. Let me tell you, this wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. The basic method for making a multi-layer cake is baking a bunch of thin layers. But there is a HUGE difference between making a regular thickness cake layer and a thin one. Please pay attention to what I tell you and you will meet with at least 6 Layer Cake success.
6 Layer Cake
Batter for a yellow cake made with your favorite mix – in my case that was Immaculate
Round cake pans
12 oz chocolate chips
2 cups heavy cream
You will make the frosting first and then bake the cake.
- Heat the cream in the microwave for four minutes. Don’t allow to boil.
- Pour hot cream over the chocolate chips. Let sit for a couple minutes and then stir until combined. Chill for two hours and then whip. If it isn’t whipping fast enough, add a splash of cream. When it’s whipped, refrigerate it.
- Prepare the cake batter according to the instructions.
- Using your cake pan, trace six circles and cut them out.
- Pour 1/2 cup of batter in a round cake pan sprayed with cooking spray AND lined with a circle of parchment paper. This is key. Don’t skip this step or you will have serious issues getting the super-thin layer of cake out of the pan.
- Bake for 5-7 minutes until done but not browned.
- Remove from the pan and allow to cool and move on to the rest of the layers. With the average sized cake pan and box mix, you should be able to get 6 layers.
- When all the layers have been baked and cooled, place one on your cake plate, cover it with frosting, and so on until you have all the layers on the cake. Frost the top and sides.
I am often disappointed with cakes. They never have the right frosting to cake ratio. Or the cake is dry and the frosting tastes like sweetened lard. This cake solves that problem. The cake layers are balanced perfectly with basically chocolate whipped cream. Like many of my desserts, it isn’t too sweet.
Of course, this method can be used for any type of cake you like. I was thinking it would be nice as a Carrot Cake or a Red Velvet Cake. I was also wondering how it would work to make different colored layers for say, your favorite college basketball team during March Madness.
I hope my baking adventure inspires you to try something new this weekend.
Late into the winter each year, our church has a Spaghetti Lunch and Dessert Auction to raise funds for summer youth programs. It’s loads of fun to see all the clever creations all the amazing bakers come up with. I also enjoy trying to find something new and exciting to make each year. We’ve made a really fun Angry Birds cake, a Mustache cake, and Snapchat cupcakes.
I had a lot of success with my Festive Rum Cake Balls. Not only did they taste great, they got me over my fear of dipping! I feel like a dipping pro now! So I decided to invest in some small cookie cutters for the express purpose of making cake bites to sell at the Dessert Auction.
Springtime Cake Bites
1 box yellow cake mix, prepared according to the instructions on the box. A rectangle is fine.
3 cups powdered sugar
2- 6 oz bags of Wilton Candy Melts
- Bake your cake and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. It should still be warm.
- Crumble the cake into a large bowl. Add the powdered sugar and mix well. The resulting mixture should be quite sticky.
- Press onto baking sheet. It should be about 3/4 inch thick.
- Chill for 30 minutes.
- Using your cookie cutters, cut a bunch of cake bites. Just like you do with cookie dough, press it back together and if needed, chill again. Continue cutting cake bites until you are out of batter.
- Chill your bites for another 30 minutes.
- Melt the candy melts according the instructions on the package.
- Carefully did, one at a time. I find the easiest way to cover the bites is to plop into the bowl and use a fork to flip so all sides get coated.
- Gently remove onto a sheet of waxed paper.
- Chill until set.
My test run went very well. My Faithful Assistant was very pleased with the final product. We was very happy to be the taste tester. He did pay close attention to the dipping process so he will be able to help next time and cut the prep time in half.
If you’re interested in something for a more adult audience, use rum or whiskey in place of half the water (or milk) in your recipe. Our cake bites were made with about 3 oz of whiskey. They have a nice flavor but they aren’t too boozy.
I’m excited for our Auction next week. Our congregation is not only generous but so creative. And I love how involved the youth are in an event that benefits them. It’s a great way to get them interested in helping others as they help themselves.