Buttery Blueberry Crumb Cake

Blueberry Crumb Cake

Smitten Kitchen is a wonderful blog, and although I’ve spent a little time exploring it, I’ve spent much more time looking at Deb Perelman’s cookbook of the same name, which has such terrific ideas and spins on tastes and flavors. Very inspirational. And of course, I’m right on board with her when it comes to baking. This is one of my favorite bakes from this cookbook. I made it last weekend for my sister’s baby blessing, and am happy to share the recipe here for those who were wanting it! Such a simple cake, but just delicious, and perfect for brunches or breakfast or dessert. Interestingly, this is not the same recipe that is on her blog! 

Buttery Blueberry Crumb Cake

Streusel
6 tablespoons (40 grams) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold is fine
Pinch of salt

Cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups fresh blueberries, clean and dry
1/3 cup sour cream

Heat oven to 350°F. Butter a 8-inch square baking pan (with at least 2″ sides) and dust it lightly with flour, or line it with a round of parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt until combined, and set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Add eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and the zest and beat until combined. Beat in 1/3 of the dry ingredient mixture until just combined, followed by all of the sour cream; repeat with another 1/3 of the flour, mix, and then combine the blueberries with the remaining flour mixture and fold this blueberry-flour mixture gently into the batter.

Pour cake batter into prepared pan and smooth so that it is relatively flat. Prepare the streusel by mixing the flour, cornmeal, sugar, cinnamon and salt, then mash in the butter in with a pastry blender, fork or your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Sprinkle the cake with the prepared streusel. Bake in heated oven for 40(ish) minutes (mine has taken 50 minutes, but the original recipe suggested 35), or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out batter-free. You can let the cake cool completely in the pan on a rack, or just cool it in the pan for 20 minutes before flipping it out onto a cooling rack, removing the parchment paper lining, and flipping it back onto a plate. Enjoy!

 

Chocolate Sorbet & Pizzelles

Chocolate Sorbet 1

A couple of summers ago, my husband had business that took him to Lisbon, Portugal for about a month. I joined him for the last week of his travel, which put me there with the heat of summer. There weren’t many places with air conditioning, including the apartment we were staying in, and after walking up and down the hills of the city all day, we frequently stopped to get ice cream or cold drinks. Luckily, someone had recommended that we stop into a chocolate shop called Claudio Corallo (though I think the name has since changed). The first day we went in, we just ordered some of their handcrafted chocolate when the woman working there asked if we had had their chocolate sorbet. It wasn’t listed on the menu, so we of course didn’t know anything about it, but she brought us out two scoops.

It was made from their own cocoa (not available in the U.S. but sometimes a friend will bring us a bar–such kindness!) and had the most incredibly smooth texture, even though she told us it was just chocolate–no cream or dairy. Well, the other day I came across this recipe, and it seemed possible that it could be similar to the chocolate sorbet at Corallo’s. I’m sad to say it probably wouldn’t win a competition with Corallo, but I’m happy to say that with a little Caillebaut chocolate and dutch cocoa, I came pretty close. This recipe comes from Joanne Chang’s Flour cookbook.  I served it in a pizzelle, which I added orange zest to, as a compliment to the chocolate, and then I shaped it into a cup in a large muffin tin, rather than a cone. Aah, summer. Wish I was heading back to Lisbon soon!

Chocolate Sorbet 2

 

Bittersweet Chocolate Sorbet

1 cup (200 grams) sugar
3 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup (90 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
4 ounces (114 grams) bittersweet chocolate (60-70 % cacao), finely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Put the sugar in the bottom of a medium saucepan. Add 1/2 cup (120 grams) of the water and gently swirl the pan to moisten the sugar. Place the pan over high heat and leave it undisturbed until the contents come to a rolling boil. Then continue to boil rapidly without moving the pan until the sugar syrup starts to caramelize. This will take 3-4 minutes: the sugar syrup will boil furiously, then as it thickens it will boil more languidly, and then you will see some of the syrup start to color and darken around the edge of the pan.

When you see color in the pan, gently swirl it in a circular motion so the sugar caramelizes evenly, and then keep swirling gently until the caramel is a medium golden brown. Turn down the heat to low and slowly and carefully add the remaining 3 cups (720 grams) water. Be careful, because it will sputter and spatter when it hits the caramel. The caramel will harden at the bottom of the pan; turn up the heat to high, bring the mixture back to a boil, and whisk for a few minutes until the caramel fully dissolves. Then whisk in the cocoa powder until fully dissolved.

Place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Pour the hot caramelized liquid over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute, then whisk gently until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a container, and whisk in the vanilla and salt. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until cold.

Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Sorbet can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 week.

Chocolate Sorbet 3

Passion Fruit Tres Leches Cake

Passion Fruit Tres LechesI got thinking about one of my favorite Brazilian desserts, Passion Fruit mousse, and realized it has a lot in common with tres leches cake and actually could make a tres leches cake even more fantastic. So, I brought them together and loved the result. There really isn’t much else to compare passion fruit with! The flavor is just stunning, and now that a local market carries REAL passion fruit, I could even scoop some of the flesh out for a delightful finish on top of the cream. What a delicious dessert! I also put this as part of my cinco de mayo menu, and loved it.

Passion Fruit Tres Leches Cake

  • 12 T. (180 grams) butter (softened)
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 T. vanilla extract, divided
  • the grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 5 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 t. baking powder (cut down to 1 t. if at high altitude!)
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup passion fruit pulp (I find this in the frozen section of a Latin American Market)
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1/3 c. powdered sugar
  • passion fruit (fresh, pulp, to serve)

Prepare a small casserole dish (7″x 11″) or 8″ spring form pan by lightly greasing it. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place the butter and sugar in an electric mixer and beat for 8–10 minutes or until pale and creamy.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

To the butter and sugar mixture, add 1 T. of  vanilla extract and lemon zest and beat to combine. Gradually add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add the flour and beat until just combined. Spoon the mixture into prepared pan lined with non-stick baking paper and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Meanwhile, combine the milk, condensed milk, and the 1 c. passionfruit pulp in a medium bowl, whisking to combine. While the cake is still warm, use a skewer to make holes all over the top of the cake. Gradually pour the milk mixture over the cake. [If you prepare it this way, there will be a layer of passionfruit mousse on top of the cake, which the whipped cream will rest on top of. If you would like a moister cake with the passion fruit flavor seeped inside, first pour the passion fruit pulp over the cake, then, mix the milk with the sweetened condensed milk and pour over separately. When mixed together, the passion fruit and sweetened condensed milk will make a mousse that will not seep into the cake.] Let the cake rest and room temperature for one hour, and then refrigerate it for 2-3 hours or until the milk mixture is absorbed.
Just before serving, place the cream, powdered sugar, and 1 T. vanilla extract in a bowl and whisk until soft peaks form (or beat in a stand mixer!). Top the cake with the cream and drizzle with fresh passionfruit pulp to serve.

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

 

 

Banana Cake 2

I made this cake because it came to my email box the other day, and it just sounded really good. Plus, it got the billing that it was one of the favorite recipes of all time on bon appetit‘s website. That claim surprised me a little because very few people have reviewed it (and it only gets three forks?!!) on their site, but having said that, what a fantastic recipe! I could tell by the ingredients that this cake had a lot going for it, and the best thing about it is that all the tastes are in great balance, sweet and salty and chocolatey. I made it in a 9″x 13″ pan instead of two circle pans, because it’s more of a casual cake in my opinion, but otherwise stayed true to the original. Delicious! Everyone was poking around the kitchen the next morning, hoping to find a little extra left for breakfast. Guess that just means we need to make it again!

Banana Chocolate Chip Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Cake:
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups mashed very ripe bananas
1 cup sour cream
1 10-ounce bag mini chocolate chips

Frosting:
2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Chocolate chips, mini chocolate chips, and chocolate kisses

For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat cake pans with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pans with parchment; coat paper. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occasionally scraping down sides and bottom of bowl. Beat in vanilla.

Add dry ingredients; beat on low speed just to blend. Add bananas and sour cream; beat just to blend. Fold in mini chips. Divide batter evenly among pans; smooth tops.

Bake cakes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes (50 minutes, if using 9×13). Transfer to wire racks; let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks; peel off parchment and let cool completely.

For frosting:
(Note: If using a 9×13 pan, a half recipe of the frosting is enough.) Using an electric mixer, beat first 4 ingredients in a medium bowl until a light and fluffy frosting forms, 2-3 minutes.

Place 1 cake on a platter. Spread 1 1/4 cups frosting over. Place remaining cake on top. Cover top and sides of cake with remaining frosting. Garnish with chocolate chips and kisses. DO AHEAD: Cake can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frostin

 

 

 

Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies

 

Carrot Cake Sandwich 2

Milk & Cookies because it seemed like such a great kid treat, and by leaving the raisins out, my kids just loved them. Although they didn’t turn out to be the most graceful cookies (I blame high altitude! I’m playing with this recipe a little more to get the measurements better for our height), I’m happy to add them to the luncheon we’re having tomorrow for both Easter and for my son’s baptism. Seems like a great addition to the table, along with the Hot Cross Buns I loved last year at Easter. I think I’ll make them a little smaller, and I’m sure they’ll be gorgeous and well loved. 

Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 1/2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 cups Cream Cheese Filling (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line two baking sheets with nonstick silicone bakings mats or parchment paper. Set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a mixing bowl. Also, set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for three minutes on medium speed, or until light and creamy. With the motor running, gradually add the brown sugar and granulated sugar, beating until ver light and creamy. 

Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and when blended, gradually add the dry ingredients along with the oats, beating until completely incorporated. While the dough is still streaky, remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape the paddle clean. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the carrots and raisins until evenly distributed. 

Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon together into a large bowl. Add to the creamed mixture all at once and mix on low just until combined.

Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets using a tablespoon scoop about 2 inches apart. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Rotate and switch the baking sheets as necessary for even baking.

Allow the cookies to cool for a minute on the baking sheets then transfer, using a spatula, to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Use an offset spatula to spread a few tablespoons of frosting on half of the cooled cookies, then sandwich the cookies together.

Store the cookies in a single layer in an airtight container.

Carrot Cake Sandwiches

Cream Cheese Filling

2 cups cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. ground allspice
3/4 t. vanilla

Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle. Begin beating on low speed. Increase the speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes or until light and creamy.

With the motor running, add the sugar, ginger, and allspice, beating until very light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla.

Store, airtight, in the refrigerator for up to a week.

 

Mini Mint Brownies

Mini Mint Brownies

These two-bite, in-between-cupcake-and-brownie, treats are just delightful. They should only be made in a mini-muffin pan (they aren’t right for baking full-size), and as such, are great for little get togethers or late-night or after-school snacking. [This is quickly becoming a hyphen-heavy post.] I took Alice Medrich’s advice (it is her recipe, after all) and added some mint ganache to the top, which makes these little bites even more of a treat. And, the green sprinkles seemed to dress them up even for St. Patrick’s Day. This recipe comes from Medrich’s Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy book, where she calls them “Lucy’s Chocolate Minis.”

Mini Mint Brownies

  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons natural (non-alkalized) cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups (9.33 ounces) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Combine the flour, cocoa, and salt in a small bowl and mix thoroughly with a whisk or fork.

Place the butter and chocolate in a medium to large heatproof bowl set directly in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir frequently until the chocolate and butter are melted and quite warm to the touch. Remove the bowl from the water bath. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well to blend each before adding the next. Add the flour mixture and whisk just until smooth and blended, not longer.

Spoon about 1 ½ tablespoons of the batter into each muffin cup — the batter will come almost to the top of each liner. Bake for 14-18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Rotate the pans from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Cool the cakes on a rack.

Mint Ganache

  • ¼ cup lightly-packed, coarsely-chopped fresh mint leaves [This is unavailable for me right now, so I used peppermint oil instead, meaning I just put a few drops of oil in the cream when heating]
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces white chocolate (not chocolate chips), very finely chopped

Stir the chopped mint into the cream. Cover and refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to 12 hours. Strain the cream into a small saucepan, pressing gently on the leaves to drain out as much cream as you can. Discard the mint leaves. Heat the cream to a simmer. Meanwhile, put the chocolate into a clean bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Cool; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.

To use, remove the ganache from the refrigerator and check its consistency. If it is smooth and creamy, it can be used right away. If the ganache is too fluid or soft to spread without dripping, stir it vigorously with a rubber spatula for a few seconds (it will appear to soften; don’t worry) and return to the fridge for a few minutes, then check again.

Salted Chocolate Granola

Chocolate Granola 1

When I get a new cookbook, I usually have a recipe I make the very next day because I just can’t wait to find out what it is. Well, my husband surprised me with a new cookbook in the mail while he was out of town recently (he knows my language of love), and this is the recipe I hopped to the very next minute I could. It comes from Valerie Gordon’s Sweet, with just one revision. She finely chops 8 oz. of bittersweet chocolate and sprinkles it on top of the granola when it’s hot out of the oven, stirs the granola after the chocolate melts, and then lets it cool before serving. She also serves this as a dessert (on top of ice cream or pudding). Well, I wanted this to be breakfast, so I omitted the extra chocolate, and it has been breakfast (and even lunch) nearly every day since I made it. I think it tastes like a very much improved version of Cocoa Puffs (that’s my high-brow opinion). And it’s very easy to not want anything to do with boxed cereals when you have this tucked in your cupboard. Yields about 12 cups.

Chocolate Granola Bowl
Salted Chocolate Granola

  • 4 cups wholemeal rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced raw almonds
  • 1 cup raw hazelnuts, halved
  • ¼ cup cacao nibs
  • 1/3 cup  cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 t. vanilla bean paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fleur de sel or fine sea salt (I found some smoked chocolate salt that I used. Wow!)
  1. Preheat the oven to 250 F / 120 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon liner and set aside. [I did 350 degrees and only baked it for 40ish minutes.]
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the rolled oats, almonds, hazelnuts, cacao nibs, and fleur de sel or fine sea salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, brown sugar, honey, oil and vanilla.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir well with a rubber spatula until combined and evenly moistened.
  5. Spread the granola in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes, until crisp and the nuts are turning golden.
  6. Remove the granola from the oven and move the baking sheets to a cool area and allow the granola to cool. It can be stored in an airtight container for up to three weeks.

Chocolate Granola Spoon

Blueberry Cream Hand Pies


So, right now my kitchen is a mess and I have papers to grade, but I’m so excited to write about these little pies that I can’t wait. Having Valentines be on Sunday this year will make it easier to have these sweet little pies for breakfast, which I usually try to do, and have been known to even roll out of bed early to make it happen (though this is really not typical of me). I started making these handpies specifically for Valentines Day a couple of years for the simple reason that I bought a pie press in the shape of a heart and I wanted to use it. But now, these are just my favorite way to share a little love, and create one of the best breakfasts (or desserts, depending on how busy the day becomes!) of the year. I’ve changed the filling, but otherwise am using the recipe from the
Flour bakery cookbook called Homemade Pop-Tarts. 

Blueberry Cream Hand Pies

Pâte Brisée (recipe below)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup (340 grams) blueberry jam*
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese or cream cheese, whipped, and at room temperature

Simple Vanilla Glaze
1 cup (140 grams) confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 3 tablespoons water

Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and divide it in half. Press each half into a rectangle. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each half into a 14-by-11-inch rectangle. Using a paring knife, lightly score 1 rectangle into eight 3 1/2-by-5 1/2-inch rectangles (about the size of an index card). [If using a decorative cutter, plan accordingly.]

Brush the top surface of the entire scored rectangle with the egg [this is an IMPORTANT step]. Spoon 1 tablespoon of cheese and 1 tablespoon of the jam in a mound in the center of each scored rectangle. Lay the second large dough rectangle directly on top of the first. Using fingertips, carefully press down all around each jam mound, so the pastry sheets adhere to each other.

Using a knife, a pizza roller (easier), or a fluted roller (easier and prettier), and following the scored lines, cut the layered dough into 8 rectangles. Place the rectangles, well spaced, on a baking sheet. [You, of course, can also use the heart pie press if you also couldn’t resist buying one at the store.]

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the tops of the pastries are evenly golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.

IMG_8474

To make the glaze: While the pastries are cooling, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and enough of the water to make a smooth, pourable glaze. You should have about 1/2 cup. (The glaze can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.)

When the pastries have cooled for 30 minutes, brush the tops evenly with the glaze, or write sweet messages with the glaze in a piping bag. Let stand for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the glaze to set before serving.

The pastries can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

IMG_8491

Pate Brisee Recipe

1 3/4 cups (245 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks / 228 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons cold milk

Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer), mix together the flour, sugar, and salt for 10 to 15 seconds, or until combined. Scatter the butter over the top. Mix on low speed for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or just until the flour is no longer bright white and holds together when you clump it and lumps of butter the size of pecans are visible throughout.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and milk until blended. Add to the flour mixture all at once. Mix on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until the dough just barely comes together. It will look really shaggy and more like a mess than a dough.

Dump the dough out onto an unfloured work surface, then gather it together into a tight mound. Using your palm and starting on one side of the mound, smear the dough bit by bit, starting at the top of the mound and then sliding your palm down the side and along the work surface (at Flour we call this “going down the mountain”), until most of the butter chunks are smeared into the dough and the dough comes together. Do this once or twice on each part of the dough, moving through the mound until the whole mess has been smeared into a cohesive dough with streaks of butter.

Gather up the dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and press down to flatten into a disk about 1 inch thick. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

*I usually make my own blueberry jam by heating up about a cup of frozen blueberries, without adding water, and a 1/2 c. of sugar, over medium heat, in a covered pot. Once the mixture is boiling, I mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a tablespoon of water and stir it in slowly, and return the mixture to a boil. After it thickens, I remove the pot and add 1 T. of vanilla extract (I love it with the blueberries!) but you can be more circumspect, or even not include it altogether. One teaspoon of lemon juice is also a nice addition. As is vanilla bean paste.

IMG_8506

Happy Valentines Day!!

Italian Cherry Cookies

Italian Cherry Cookies
This cookie calls out to be a perfect Valentines Day treat. I found it after going through my friend’s blog, Judy’s Culinaria, this Christmas. I was so motivated to try some of her incredible looking cookie recipes, and I was delighted with every single one! With her permission, I’m posting some of them (in case she accidentally deletes them or some other horrible disaster, and also just to share them with more people!). This cookie was an instant favorite, and honestly, the maraschino cookie recipe I’ve been looking for, and I’ve spent a long time looking! I know these cherries are quite divisive among tastes, but in my opinion, when maraschino cherries are in the mix, it’s always an automatic, “yes. please.” So, for the holidays, for Valentines. And maybe just for Fridays, here’s a fantastic cookie.

Italian Cherry Cookies
1/2 c. unsalted dairy-free margarine or butter
1/2 c. shortening
2 c. granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 T. almond emulsion or extract
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. almond milk or regular milk
1/2 c. maraschino cherry juice
1 c. maraschino cherries, chopped
7 c. flour (can use 1/2 c. more if too sticky)
5 t. baking powder
1/2 t. kosher salt

Cherry Glaze
1 c. powdered sugar, sifted
3 T. maraschino cherry juice
1-1/2 t. almond emulsion or extract

In a mixing bowl combine margarine and shortening. Beat to mix together, then add sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and extracts. Mix well. Add milk and cherry juice. Mix, then add cherries and beat until mixed, about 1 minute. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt and gradually add to the wet ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. The next day line four baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle a bit of flour over the dough and onto hands. Roll dough into balls just a bit larger than a marble. Place on baking sheet and bake 8-9 minutes until cookies are light golden on bottom. Cool on rack. Whisk together glaze ingredients until smooth. Dip cookies into glaze. Let excess glaze drip off. Place on rack to dry. Store in an airtight container with wax paper between cookie layers. Allow cookies to age for several days before eating. Makes 175 cookies. (For me, it was more like 100.)

Judy suggests that these cookies are best when they have aged a few days, but we weren’t able to test that theory at our house. All gone. Very soon.

Spiced Lemon Almond Cake

Spiced Lemon Almond Cake
I frequently find myself wanting to bake something, or even needing to bake something for a party or such, and then of course, not having the right ingredients around. (I actually prepare myself constantly against this horrible scenario–perusing specialty baking stores for rose water, non-pareils, anise oil, or any other thing I just may need at any given time.) At these times, baking falls back to fanning the pages of my favorite baking books just to see what I could possibly make that would still be a little interesting, new, and fun. This recipe, the original title of which is “Mrs. Chubb’s Nut Cake” did not stick out because of it’s title. In fact, the title is not a great description of what it is, and had I not been looking carefully at ingredient lists, I probably would have skipped on by it. But, it had the good fortune of my pantry being completely ready for it, so I went ahead and baked it for a friend gathering. So glad. It’s a beautiful winter cake, nuanced by the nutmeg and the cloves, with the hint of lemon and the unique texture of the almond flour. I loved that when one of my friends asked what I had been up to this year, and I replied, “not much,” his response was, “whatever! You made that cake!” The small triumphs 🙂  This recipe comes from the Brass Sister’s Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters, a truly sensational baking book. I served this with a homemade raspberry jam.

Spiced Lemon Almond Cake

1 c. almond flour (the original recipe has you pulse your own almonds with a little of the sugar to make your own flour, but it’s easy to buy almond meal these days, so I did)
1 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/8 t. cloves
1 c. butter
4 eggs, separated
3 t. grated lemon zest
4 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. lemon extract
3/4 c. milk

For the topping
3 T. untoasted slivered almonds
3 T. clear sanding sugar

Set the oven in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut a parchment paper or wax paper liner to fit the bottom of a 10-inch round tube pan. Coat the pan with vegetable spray. Insert the liner, spray again, and dust with flour.

To make the cake, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cloves.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add egg yolks, 2 at a time. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon extract, and vanilla, and mix to combine. Add sifted dry ingredients alternately with milk, mixing after each addition until completely blended. Fold in almond flour.

Place egg whites in another bowl of standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until egg whites hold a firm peak. Fold egg whites into batter.

To add the topping: Place batter in tube pan. Sprinkle almonds and sanding sugar on top of batter. Bake 50-55 minutes, or until tester inserted into cake comes out dry. Cool on rack completely before turning out of pan. Store loosely wrapped in wax paper at room temperature. I recommend that you serve this cake with berry preserves!