Sunday, May 31, 2009

Yes. More lemon.

I think about half of my baking comes from having ingredients I need to use or lose. Okay, maybe a quarter. This is one such recipe.

I STILL had lemons sitting around that I just couldn't ignore for another weekend but knew absolutely what I DIDN'T want to make from them (cake/cupcakes or sorbet/ice cream). That left me with a tart (which I've done before) or curd. Making the tart shells seemed like too much effort so I settled on curd.

It's relatively easy to make in the same way custard is; you cook it VERY slowly over low heat so the eggs don't curdle. I was actually considering cooking longer (even though I went the recommended time) because I imagined curd as thicker. However, I saw a bit of cooked egg and immediately took it off the fire (then put it through a sieve, of course).

It was quite good because c'mon; it's full of butter. What's not to like?

I then had to make some scones for it to go on and they're like mildly sweet biscuits. I think I could do better but they are better than my first batch many moons ago which were like hockey pucks. I'm improving!

Adapted from: Tyler Florence

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut in chunks
1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing the scones

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a food processor, mix together the dry ingredients; the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut butter into cubes and pulse into processor until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Transfer to large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour heavy cream into well and fold everything together just to incorporate; do not overwork the dough. (Refrigerate or freeze for a few minutes to firm up butter if it has gotten warm.)

Press the dough out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 by 3 by 1 1/4 inches. Cut the rectangle in 1/2 then cut the pieces in 1/2 again, giving you 4 (3-inch) squares. Cut the squares in 1/2 on a diagonal to give you the classic triangle shape. Place the scones on an ungreased cookie sheet and brush the tops with a little heavy cream. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until beautiful and brown. Let the scones cool a bit before you serve.


Source: Williams-Sonoma

5 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Grated zest of 2 lemons
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

In a heavy saucepan, combine the egg yolks and sugar and whisk vigorously for 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and zest and whisk for 1 minute more. Set the pan over low heat and cook gently, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool, stirring occasionally. Cover tightly and refrigerate before using. Makes about 1 cup.


1/2 cup heavy cream, well chilled
1 tbsp confectioners' sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. Place a mixing bowl and beaters from electric mixer in the freezer or refrigerator until well chilled, about 15 minutes.

2. Combine the heavy cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla extract in the mixing bowl.

3. With an electric mixer on low speed, begin beating the cream, gradually increasing the speed to high as cream thickens. (Do this slowly, or the cream will splatter.)

4. Beat until the cream forms soft peaks. Test to see if it is ready by turning off the mixer and lifting the beaters out of the cream - if the cream makes soft peaks that topple over slightly, then it's done.

Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.

Altogether, it was delish!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Lucky number 4

I think me and pound cake are done, professionally. #1, was bland and disappointing. #2, was okay but dry and nothing special. #3, I completely screwed up (under-baked in an attempt to not dry it out) AND it tasted junky. #4, was the best yet but still not Perfection In A Loaf Pan. What can I say; I seek perfection.

With four, count them, FOUR ultimate disappointments, I think I'm through with pound cake. At least for now. Maybe I'll go back to it some day. I just need to move on.

I would like to share this recipe, however, because it did come out the best of what I tried. It was from the ever-trustworthy Williams-Sonoma. It wasn't dry but not overly moist. It came out nice and soft (due to the very light and fluffy beat-the-butter phase) but not entirely a cake-like consistency. It was definitely worth making though I, personally, will probably continue on, in search of the Perfect pound cake before I make this again.
Source: Williams-Sonoma

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract (optional - but seriously do it)
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature

Preheat an oven to 325°F. Lightly grease an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan, preferably glass, and dust with flour.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt until blended. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla and almond extract on medium to medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until just blended. Sprinkle half of the flour mixture over the egg mixture and stir until both are just incorporated. Stir in the sour cream, then sprinkle with the remaining flour mixture and stir until evenly distributed.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and tap gently on the counter to even out and settle the ingredients. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 70 minutes, or longer if using a metal pan. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes.

Run a thin knife around the inside of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack and lift off the pan. Place the cake on one of its sides and continue cooling. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 8 to 10.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Making candy now

So, remember that aside I made in the coconut ice cream post about every time I have coconut I start wishing there was some chocolate with it? It was more than an aside in my life. It was a CRAVING.

A normal individual might get in their car, drive to the store and purchase that which they crave: a Mounds bar. To those unacquainted, it's a chocolate covered, coconut-filled candy. And it's delish. I, however, am almost shamefully lazy and didn't want to drive to the store. So I made it.

I went with the first semi-reputable recipe I could find that got rave reviews. I had all the necessary ingredients (I love having tons of chocolate and coconut cream just sitting around my house) so I went to it.

I did run into a slight snafu when I opened the can of coconut cream and found something that appeared to be a greyish-tan sludge. I'm talking tub paste here, people. The kind your kids spoon out with that stick attached to the top of the lid. D: Needless to say, I called in for help and Mom assured me that could probably (maybe?) be okay. The label on the can said it might solidify in cooler temperatures and I am in Alaska so, okay. I set the can in a bowl of warm water and waited it out. It turned liquid in no time so all was well. Crisis averted.

The coconut mixture itself was extremely wet and sticky and impossible to shape. I wish I could've figured out another way. Another problem I encountered was coating the frozen coconut balls; my chocolate was not warm enough or maybe just not thin enough because it coated too thick. I didn't hear complaints from the people who ate them but they're just not very pretty all globbed up with chocolate...

Other than that, I got a great reaction from those who did try them! They're sweet but they definitely defeated that chocolate and coconut craving I was having!


12 ounces flaked coconut
1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
1/2 can cream of coconut milk
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 tsp of vegetable shortening

Mix together coconut, confectioner's sugar and cream of coconut. Roll into 1-inch balls and chill thoroughly or freeze. Freezing is not necessary, but it helps with the chocolate coating.

Melt chocolate and vegetable shortening in double boiler (or microwave in 30 second intervals and careful not to burn) and dip frozen centers, using a wooden skewer or toothpick.

One batch makes about 60 pieces of candy.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


It's that time again! Summer is upon us (a whopping upper 50s in Alaska! BREAK OUT THE SANDALS AND JEAN SHORTS!). That can only mean one thing: it's finally respectable to start making ice cream again. I should disclose the following factoid: Alaska eats the most ice cream per capita in the United States. Think about that for a second because we get about 3 months of summer and the rest is 40 and below from there. I've personally worn that factoid like a badge of honor; I've TOTALLY driven through McDonald's just for an ice cream in the dead of winter.

That being said, I don't MAKE a lot of ice cream in the winter. That just seems weird. But almost overnight, the sun started coming out and even though it's 50's-ish, it's still summer to us!

As previously mentioned in the last post, I started with coconut to duplicate a recipe I saw on a beautiful Flickr picture. I browsed my ice cream cookbooks and didn't find the coconut gelato she made, but did find a Toasted Coconut Ice Cream from David Lebovitz and this is the guy who came up with the bacon ice cream so I had to trust him. He's some sort of an authority on good ice cream so I felt I was in good hands.

And, man he was right. I don't mind taking two days to make something (the cooking then overnight freeze time) if it comes out this good. The coconut flavor infused in the ice cream is delicate but distinct and stands on its own perfectly. HOWEVER, I will admit that while I'm enjoying something purely coconut, my mind always wanders to chocolate (Mounds bars!) or maybe sliced almonds (Almond Joy!).

I even added more coconut on top of the ice cream when I devoured it because double double coconut is even better!

A quick note: the recipe requested unsweetened coconut but I didn't have that so I had to use sweetened. I kept the same amount of sugar that was called for, meaning mine would have come out slightly sweeter than Lebovitz' original. So you may want to weigh your options when deciding which road to take; I thought the sweetness of mine was perfect!

Source: David Lebovitz

Makes about 1 quart (1 liter)

1 cup dried, shredded coconut, preferably unsweetened
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
Big pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
5 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, or 1 teaspoon rum

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring it frequently so it toasts evenly. Remove it from the oven when it's nice and fragrant and golden brown.

In a medium saucepan, warm the milk, 1 cup of the heavy cream, sugar and salt and add the toasted coconut. Use a paring knife, and scrape all the vanilla seeds into the warm milk, then add the pod as well. Cover, remove from the heat and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

Rewarm the coconut-infused mixture. Set a mesh strainer over another medium saucepan and strain the coconut-infused liquid through the strainer into the saucepan. Press down on the coconut very firmly with a flexible rubber spatula to extract as much of the flavor from it as possible. Remove the vanilla bean pieces and discard the coconut.

Pour the remaining 1 cup heavy cream into a large bowl and set the mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm coconut-infused mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir in the cream. Mix in the vanilla or rum and stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.