Archives for category: Sweet

Last night, Martin stayed late at work and rather than making headway in my participation of Tara’s Get Rid of 100 Things mission, I baked Momofuku’s Blueberries and Cream cookies. We are moving at the end of next month, which makes Tara’s mission quite timely for us as we are looking to make sure we don’t move unnecessary clutter from our old place to our new place.  Somehow, I think my reasoning last night to bake cookies (“Less flour and sugar for you to move, oh yeah!”) don’t quite hold up to the light of day.

I first tasted these cookies at a party thrown by my friend, Leslie.  She had made them for dessert and I remember eating about five of them and having to mentally remind myself that I was a grown adult and had learned how to share in kindergarten and it didn’t matter that they were friggin’ delicious, I really needed to stop eating them.  The only reason I never tried to make them myself until now was because they have  a crumbly “and cream” part you have to make and a weird ingredient they insist on using (glucose).  Yes, this was actually a high barrier of entry for me.

Then I got the craving and nothing could stop me from going out, buying some dried blueberries and baking these cookies.

My first impression on tasting one of these was that they were saltier than I remembered.  Perhaps I have really potent table salt?  I have no idea.  I also gave up trying to find glucose and subbed in golden syrup.  I thought I’d read online they were equivalent but later examination of the packaging revealed that I was probably mistaken.  I think a fine substitute is probably corn syrup, which I’ll try next time.  So I feel like I didn’t give them a fighting chance but luckily I have enough for a second batch!

Note:  I’ve been eating them over the last couple of days and I think the saltiness actually diminished a little bit.  Either that or the tea I drink it with makes it slightly more palatable.  🙂

Momofuku Blueberries and Cream Cookies

Milk Crumbs
5 tbsp. nonfat milk powder, divided equally into two 2.5 tbsp. portions
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup white chocolate, melted (or about 40g.)

Cookies
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
8 oz. European-style butter (like Plugra), softened
10 tbsp. (1/2 cup + 1/8 cup) granulated sugar
10 tbsp. (1/2 cup + 1/8 cup) light brown sugar
1/4 cup glucose (can substitute corn syrup)
1 large egg
3/4 cup dried blueberries
5/6 cup milk crumbs

1-  Preheat the oven to 225-degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and  set aside.

2-  In a medium bowl, whisk together 2.5 tbsp. nonfat milk powder, 2 tbsp. all purpose flour, 1 tbsp. cornstarch, 1 1/2 tsp. sugar and 1/8 tsp. salt.

3-  Pour the melted butter over the dry mixture and stir together until well-combined.  Pour mixture onto baking sheet and bake until dried and crumbly, about 8 – 10 minutes.

4-  Remove from oven and let cool completely.

5-  When cool, pour chocolate over the mixture and fold until combined.  Mixture will stick together in one large clump.  Let cool and when ready to use, break into crumble-sized pieces.  If using right away, set aside; otherwise, refrigerate.

6-  Heat oven to 375-degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

7-  In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

8-  In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy.  Add sugar and glucose and cream mixture together until fluffy.  Add egg and mix well until combined.

9-  Slowly add flour mixture, beating until combined.  Add blueberries and milk crumbs until combined.   Scoop out onto cookie sheets and chill dough for about 15 minutes (I didn’t chill and didn’t notice a large amount of spreading).

10-  Transfer sheets to oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown, rotating the pans if baking more than one pan at a time.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

Quantity About 3 dozen cookes

Martin’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago and he opted to spend it chasing a wiffle ball around a gym (note: photo is not of Martin).  I opted to spend it running errands and baking a bona fide birthday cake.  For various reasons, in the end, we were both exhausted from our productive (?) activities.

For my part, I took the Princesstårta recipe from the Swedish cookbook Martin’s parents gifted me years ago.  I think there may have been some things lost in translation.  Either that, or the memory of a million princess cakes flows through the veins of all Swedes and they don’t need things like “recipes” or “directions” when it comes to this yummy concoction.  I’m not Swedish, so I followed the recipe to the best of my ability and essentially baked a pancake and stiff, somewhat bland whipped cream.  I know the stiffness of the cream comes from the three (yes, three!) packets of gelatin the recipe calls for and my pancake came from the line: “Beat eggs and sugar until thick and fluffy.”

Well, I beat those eggs, looked at it and thought, “Ehhhh, why not?” (this is a theme for me when it comes to baking this cake) and threw it in the oven, where it chose not to rise at all.

So I did what any OCD-perfectionist baker would do.  I told myself not to cry, threw it all in the trash and started over with a new recipe.  Specifically, Martha’s.  I’ve never met her but I have heard rumors that she is also a bit of an OCD-perfectionist baker.

Armed with my new recipe, I now knew where I messed up.  See the proof:

I ended up remaking the entire cake because shortly after throwing the second set of cakes into the oven, I tasted the original whipped cream I made and while the gelatin was a great stabilizer, it also made the whipped cream taste off for some reason.

Because I’m crazy, I also made my own marzipan.  I had forgotten to buy it and used Google to determine whether or not I could substitute almond paste.  I couldn’t, but I could make my own marzipan from said almond paste.  Good enough for me and a snap with a stand mixer.

Marzipan:  The official recipe is 1 lb. almond paste, 1 lb. confectioners sugar and 1/3 cup corn syrup.

I did end up tweaking the Martha Stewart recipe.  I combined the vanilla pastry cream and whipped cream because – why not?  I wanted a uniform cream, not a thick cream covered by whipped cream.  I skipped the simple syrup and spread a generous layer of strawberry jam on each cake layer.  I also split the batter between two 9″ cake pans rather than cutting circular cakes from a rectangular cake sheet.  And even though Martha Stewart’s recipe states to “reserve the fourth [cake circle] for another use,” I thought, “What am I going to do with another cake circle?” and just made a giant-freaking-princess cake.

The end result, I thought, was pretty good.  I think you could feasibly cut back significantly on the amount of whipped cream as I had a lot leftover even with generous spreading.  Also, in the future, it would help to make sure the cake is very cold, I think that is the only way to get the “smooth” marzipan look that princess cakes are known for.  As for mine, I felt like it basically just looked like a giant, messy M&M.  See for yourself:

So I’m posting the recipe here, because I made some modifications that I’d like to remember.  I kind of want to post the one from the Swedish cookbook, so that you can see the level of detail I first got versus the level of detail I apparently need.  But all in due time, folks.

Princesstårta
Modified from Martha Stewart

Genoise Cake (if only the Swedish cookbook had called it this!)
1-1/4 cups cake flour (or 18 tbsp. [135g] all purpose flour + 2 tbsp. [17.5g] corn starch)
6 tbsp. (56g) almond flour
1/2 tsp. salt
6 large eggs
4 large egg yolks
1 cup (2oog) granulated sugar
1 stick butter, melted

Vanilla Pastry Cream
2 cups whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar, divided
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup (35g) cornstarch
1 tbsp (14g) cold butter

To Assemble
Strawberry jam
2-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
14 oz. marzipan (7 oz. almond paste + 7 oz. confectioners sugar + corn syrup until combined)
Green food coloring

Prep-  Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.  Coat two 9″ circular cake pans with spray oil and line bottom of cake pan with a cut out parchment circle.

1-  First, make the cake.   Combine the cake flour, almond flour and salt in a bowl, whisking to combine.  Combine the eggs, egg yolks and granulated sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer and place over a pot of simmering water.  Stir mixture until sugar is melted and warm to the touch.  Attach bowl to stand mixer with whisk attachment.  Whisk on medium for approximately 2 minutes.  Raise speed to high and whisk until mixture is pale and thick and at last doubled in volume, about 4 – 5 minutes.  Sprinkle dry mixture over the top and gently fold to mostly combine everything.  When everything is almost incorporated, fold in melted butter until everything is completely combined.

2-  Divide evenly between the two cake pans.  Bake until springy, about 6 – 8 minutes.  Let cool to the touch and then pop out of the pans.  Discard parchment and let cool completely on cooling rack.

3-  Now, make the pastry cream.  Combine the milk, vanilla seeds, salt and 1/4 cup sugar in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan.  But it will not matter too much if you misread this part and add all the sugar.  In a separate bowl, combine egg yolks, cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup sugar.  When milk mixture is warm, slowly add the milk mixture to the eggs to bring them up to temperature without cooking.  Place mixture back in saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly until thickened.  Remove from heat and whisk in cold butter.  Strain into bowl, cover surface with plastic wrap and chill until cold.

4-  Now, make the marzipan (if you also forgot to buy it) by combining equal parts almond paste and confectioners sugar in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Start at a low speed to break up the almond paste, then once mixed in with the confectioners sugar, raise the speed as needed to beat the almond paste into the confectioners sugar until the texture of sand has been achieved.  Little by little, add some corn syrup until the mixture forms a ball.  Use a few drips of food coloring until the marzipan is light green.  Remove from mixing bowl, form into a ball and place between two sheets of plastic wrap.  Roll out thinly.  Marzipan can then be rolled into a tube shape for storage.

5-  Make the cream mixture by combining 2-1/2 cups of whipping cream and 2 tsp. vanilla extract in mixing bowl.  Beat until stiff peaks form.  Gently fold the vanilla cream into whipped cream.

6-  To assemble the cake, use a serrated knife to cut the two round cakes horizontally, making 4 total.  Spread the first layer with strawberry jam, then at least 1/2 cup of vanilla cream mixture on top.  Place second cake layer on top and repeat.  Place remaining cake layers on top, repeating with filling.  Spread entire cake with remaining whipped cream.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or 2, depending on how much time your husband gives you).

7-  When ready to serve, unroll the marzipan and gently place on top of the cake.  Trim excess away.  Try to smooth, then give up.  Decorate with a marzipan rose if you are a traditionalist or if your husband says that’s the best part of the cake for him.

Servings:  12.  At least.  This cake is massive.

This weekend turned out to be a baking-filled weekend, all without my meaning to!  I kicked it off with some blueberry muffins and had planned to make a batch of semlor for Martin.

Have you ever had semlor before?  The first time I ever heard of it was not from my own Swedish husband, but from my Swedish teacher.  March was nearing and she mentioned that it was now semlor time.  Immediately, everyone in our class began raving about how wonderful semlor was.  Later that night, I asked Martin about them.  His eyes lit up and he became almost poetic about these almond-paste filled funs.  It was the closest to infatuation I had ever seen stoic Martin get about food.

Fact (according to Wikipedia):  Swedes eat an average of five of these suckers from a bakery.  This does not include however many homemade ones they ate.

Another fact:  Bears eat beets.  Bears.  Beets.  Battlestar Galactica.


This is probably the size of a “normal” semlor.  It is a good 4 – 5″ across and packed full of cream and almond paste.

What’s a girl to do?  Last year, I bought some at a Scandinavian bakery for Martin’s birthday.  The buns, traditionally served the day before Lent and designed to fatten you up, was literally the size of two of my fists.  I couldn’t finish mine but Martin happily finished it for me.  Such a hardship for him.  😉

This year, I decided to make my own.  Armed with several recipes (some of which were from his mom), I chose the one that made dainty, hand-sized buns.  Filling-to-ratio, peeps.  It’s all about the filling-to-ratio.  Unfortunately, it’s also all about how I probably chose the least authentic recipe out there.

A few not-great things happened in the making of mine.  Mistake #1, I seriously overbaked my buns.  I think the issue was that my bread did not rise as much as it should have, so these buns are smaller than typical semlor (and small, period) but I didn’t realize that and didn’t change my cooking time to compensate for that.  Rookie mistake.

After I’d baked the buns and made the cardamom cream came the realization that my particular recipe did not call for almond paste of any kind.   Anywhere.  It was a pretty tragic realization, as Martin is a huge fan of almond paste.  Also, since this is a key semlor ingredient, it did not bode well that this recipe forgot it.  Mistake #2 and #3 (major enough to count for two mistakes!).

I served them cream puff style the first night to lukewarm results.  Mistake #4, I didn’t whip my whipped cream enough so the filing was runny rather than stiff.

So this morning, in an effort to salvage things, I bought some almond paste at the store. I scooped out the insides (a melon baller works great) and mashed them with a bit of the runny-cardamom-vanilla-cream and almond paste.  I stuffed it all back inside and topped it with more whipped cream.

This was more like the semlor I remembered and I savored every bite.  In the end, it’ll go back to a personal preference.  I actually preferred these and even the harder bread to my only other semlor experience.  The portion was half a bakery semlor but the perfect size for me.  The harder bread held the almond paste mixture in well.  I think Martin has childhood nostalgia on his side and holds strong preferences for what he grew up with.  He still prefers a softer, bigger bun and the verdict is out on whether he likes the cardamom added to the dough (most recipes I’d seen, including his mom’s, do not include that but I rather liked it).   We’ll see whose tastes prevail.  🙂

Yesterday, I had a craving like no other for a blueberry muffin.  Warm from the oven, spread with a little lemon curd or butter – I thought I might cry if I didn’t get to eat a muffin.  Sadly, I had no blueberries and the stores were closed.  So I decided to be patient (ha!) and nicely asked Martin to buy me some blueberries on the way home from work today.  He did (ain’t I lucky?) and YESOMG:

MUFFINS.

I used these snack cups, which I love for their plain style and that they’re sturdy enough for free standing baking.  The mini size (shown here) make these adorable muffins an awesome two-bite snack.

Unrelatedly, one of my oldest friends, Megan, had a theory about muffins, which is to say that the kind of muffin you like directly correlates to the kind of sex you like.  Oatmeal bran muffins?  Boring, unimaginative (healthy?) sex.  Banana espresso chocolate muffin?  Spicy, possibly risque sex.  I think you get the picture.  I wonder what she would say about blueberry.

This recipe is one I mashed together from a bunch of different ones so I’ll post it below.  The sugar topping adds a great caramelized crunch to the muffins.  The only thing missing, in my opinion, was a stronger hint of cinnamon so I’ll add a good pinch of that to the batter next time.  Otherwise, guys, it’s love for these little muffins.  And I hope you love them too.

Blueberry Muffins

90 g all purpose flour
90 g white whole wheat flour
150 g granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup fresh blueberries
Topping:
65 g brown sugar
15 g all purpose flour
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp melted butter

1-  Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon together in a medium sized bowl.

2-  Put vegetable oil in a measuring cup and add the egg.  Fill the remaining cup measure with buttermilk (will be approx 1/2 cup).

3-  Drizzle liquid onto flour mixture and gently fold.  Before the liquid is completely incorporated, add blueberries and fold gently until all dry ingredients are absorbed.  Be careful not to overwork the batter.

4-  Fill cupcake tins about half full.  For mini sized muffin cups, use a heaping cookie scoop full (approx. 2 tbsp or 1/8 cup).

5-  Melt butter.  Mix together brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.  Drizzle in melted butter and whisk together until melted.

6-  Sprinkle on top of the muffins.

7-  Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 15 minutes.

Servings:  17 mini muffins

Why hello there, meyer lemons.

These little guys have been showing up in the stores lately and I cannot wait to make something fantastic with them!  I already have a meyer lemon curd planned for tomorrow to use up a couple of leftover egg yolks, which I plan to eat by the spoon like yogurt.  Hey, no judgement allowed!

But I’m kind of at a loss for other ideas so if you have any favorite lemon-y recipes, please share.  🙂

By the way, I wanted to say a quick shout out to our super talented and creative friend Lily who made the bowl that our lemons are in, made it with her own two hands!  Isn’t it amazing?

If there’s one thing you know about me, it’s that I love ice cream.  Actually, it’s probably the fact that my favorite color is yellow but a close runner up (or if you only knew two things about me), it’s that I love ice cream.  Seriously love it.  My one regret for our wedding reception was that I didn’t bring Goodberry’s (an amazing frozen custard chain with locations only in North Carolina)  in to cater dessert.  If I’d known … well, woulda coulda shoulda.

Currently, there are no less than three different ice cream flavors in my freezer.  One of them is Toasted Almond and Candied Cherry, which was one of the major reasons I wanted David Lebovitz’s Perfect Scoop.  I kept thinking I’d make it and a year later, finally got around to it.  And to do that, I had to make this:

Basically, you pit a whole bunch o’ cherries and then boil them in a sugar solution until a thick sauce had formed.  I got this from a recipe in the book and it makes enough for two portions of ice cream.  I quickly used half to make one batch of ice cream, then promptly (and foolishly) tucked the other one in my pantry.  I think we can all see where this is going.  When I went to get it the other day to use the syrup, it had a nice layer of mold on top.

I think I might have thought the sugar would keep the mold away.  I was wrong.

I’ve mentioned before that Martin and I are really terrible at bringing back souvenirs when we travel.  I always keep my eye out for some amazing item that will remind me of sitting at a street-side cafe in Paris or lazy afternoons on Puget Sound, but all we ever come back with are snapshots, good memories and a few extra pounds.  That’s never a bad thing and now the New York Times is telling me I had it right all along.

But that’s neither here nor now.  Here and now is all about madeleines.

When Martin and I were in Paris, I wanted to bring back an authentic French madeleine pan.  One with maximum street cred, so I valiantly searched for French bake shops where no one spoke English or even flea markets with no luck.  Too soon, the last day of our trip was upon us and I was pan-less so I made one last desperate attempt and dragged Martin to the French equivalent of Nordstrom’s and that’s when I discovered beautiful furniture (omg!  the prices!), Panetone mugs (omg!  the colors!) and nothing but silicon madeleine pans.  What the crap, French equivalent of Nordstrom’s!  Where are the French blue steel ones that Mark Bittman assures me is “the key to distinctive browning on the bottom and the crispy edge”?

Needless to say, I went home pan-less.

Funnily, we had madeleines as our “wedding cake” and yet I had never made a madeleine before in my life.  And it was looking like I never would, especially once Martin found out the only thing that made a madeleine different from everyday genoise cake besides their awesome bite-size-ness was the distinctive shell shape.  He just doesn’t understand – the shell shape is the key to the magic of madeleines!  Little genoise cakes … just not the same.

Then Leslie surprised me with one for my birthday and even made my first batch of madeleines with me.  I have the most amazing friends.  🙂

My medium cookie scoop plops the perfect amount of batter into each depression.  There are lots of reasons on why cookie scoops are useful (evenly baked cookies, etc.) so I won’t justify my kitchen gadget sickness here.  I definitely have gotten a lot of use out of mine.  I tried just now to think about what I use it for besides cookies and I don’t think I use it for anything else besides portioning batter (so cupcakes, cookies and madeleines).  Apparently, I just bake enough to make it worthwhile.

Our little secret?  I kind of want the mini version too.  I mean, everything is better in miniature, right?  Then I’d make these, because they are so cute, they just make me want to curl up into a ball.

For my first attempt, I used David Lebovitz’s recipe with baking powder.  I did not notice an overwhelmingly baking powder-y taste but I don’t think my palate is as sensitive as some (coughMichellecough).  I think they (and Michelle’s chocolate chip ones!) were delicious and I wish I could have one now.  I am looking forward to trying other madeleine recipes so please send me any favorites you may have!  The only downside is that I can’t control myself when they are around.  It’s true that they’re best the day of and I think I downed at least 4 shortly after this picture was taken.  And did you see the butter content?  Oh my.

Okay, I might be exaggerating a little bit.  It definitely was not epic and it probably wasn’t really legendary.  But I do like throwing those awe-inspiring adjectives around, to add a bit of excitement to an otherwise humdrum post.  I think next I’m going to try to throw in a splendiferous.  No reason, really, just thought I’d add some spice in there.

So above you can see one of each type of pie crust I made.  Due to filling, crimping, sizing, whatever-ing issues, these are pretty much my most (and only) acceptable looking tartlets.  The left one is a shortening crust and the right one is a butter crust.  I baked up one example of each and ate them for no one’s benefit but science.  That’s right, it was for the good of science, y’all.

And because apple pie is old fashioned and traditional and awesome, I shall start the battle with an old fashioned, traditional, awesome pro / con list.

Pro:  Butter is always better.  That’s why they share 83% of the same letters.

Con:  Except you had to add too much flour so it baked up tough.  Like crackers.

Pro:  I like crackers.

Con:  Not on your pie you don’t!

Pro:  True.  Damn.

Con:  And the shortening crust was much easier to cut through properly.

Pro:  But crumbled to pieces when you picked it up.  Or put it in the mold.  Or just looked at it, really.

Con:  At least it made properly sized pies since we didn’t have to wiggle the mold.

Pro:  But it tasted like “flaky.”

Con:  That last statement should be disqualified, how can anything taste like “flaky.”

Pro:  It tastes like “flaky” when it melts in your mouth like pie crust should but has essentially no flavor.

Con:  Maybe we should call this a draw.

Pro:  So be it.

The pie mold is currently retired in the back of one of my utensil drawers.  I’m sure I’ll attempt it again, but probably not anytime soon.  I mean, this was a lot of work … and I have no more apples.

It all started with an innocent birthday gift: a lattice pie mold.  I was immediately taken by the picture on the box and my head was swimming with possibilities.  Darling little pocket pies!  You could freeze any extras and just pop them in the oven when you felt like fresh apple pie!  You could bring them to potlucks and not worry about portioning!  I could not wait to add the results as proof of my mantra that anything delicious is somehow even more delicious in miniature.

But everyone, I am here to warn you: do not let the cute distract you.  This pie mold does not want to be your friend.  This pie mold does not want to simplify your job of making adorable pocket pies.  I am pretty sure this pie mold wants you to hate pie.

I should have probably been warned after reading some of the reviews on the website.  They complained about the mold not cutting out shapes big enough to accommodate being crimped while actually having filling inside.  They complained about the edges not being sharp enough to cut entirely through the pie crust.  These are all true statements and if I had just listened, I probably would have saved myself a lot of headaches.  But I’m pretty stubborn and when it comes to baking, I’m not content to hitch a ride to hell in my own hand basket.  In those cases, I like to weave it myself.

After reading the reviews, I had the brilliant (not really) idea of pre-cooking my apple filling.  My reasoning was that the apples would cook down, take less space for a really apple-y punch and not end up watery.  So a-peelin’ I went.

Apples!  Unfortunately, not the variety that Brian taught me to use, but that’s what happens when you buy apples from Costco without counting how many you actually need.

I stuck them all in a Dutch oven and cooked these suckers down until they were about half the volume they originally were.  Sometime in there, I also added some sugar and vital apple pie spices, like cinnamon.  Cinnamon?  More like cinna-win!

I am truly sorry I subjected you guys to that.  Please don’t hate me.

After setting aside the filling to cool, I started making the pie crust.  I followed the instructions on the box the pie mold came in, because I figured they must have chosen to include a recipe for a dough that would always work with the pie mold.  I think my reasoning was flawed (or I was too hopeful of my lackluster pie crust skillz), because the dough was pretty difficult to work with at times.

The dough broke all the rules of flaky pie crusts by needing lots of flour to be rolled out.  I was a bit dismayed at how much I was having to add and I knew my crusts would turn out tough.  Also, like people said, it was really hard to cut the dough out.  For the lattice part, I resorted to painstakingly poking the little bits of dough out with a toothpick.

When it came time to crimp the two ends together, just the very ends crimped together because the cut outs weren’t large enough.  I think a small part of it was how much filling I put in and another, slightly larger part of it was because I wriggled the pie mold around after pressing it into the dough to make sure it had cut all the way through, compressing the sides.

I finished making the pies and stuck them in the freezer to set.  Then I decided that working 3 hours to make mini pies that I was fairly certain would not turn out well wasn’t enough, I should try all over again with a different crust recipe. Which is what I did the next day.

We had to buy so much fruit for the sangria at my birthday party that we bought it in bulk at Costco and, of course, overestimated how much was actually needed.  After the sangria was made, I was left with about half of everything … half the giant carton of strawberries, half a 5lb. bag of limes and half a flat of Granny Smith apples.  I hate seeing unfulfilled potential in food, so I racked my brain on how to use everything before it spoiled and came up with:

Strawberry Ice Cream
Key Lime Pie
Apple Tartlets

I was most excited about the key lime pie because Little J‘s girlfriend, Ashley, had made it for him and he had raved about it.  And once I saw the picture, I was sold.  I requested the recipe and set about making it for a cookout.

The recipe calls for about 8 limes to be juiced and zested, but I had 14.  Unfulfilled potential swam in my mind again, so I decided to zest and juice them all and figure out what to do with the extra later.  Action now, consequences later … that philosophy can sometimes produce something wonderful (like the time I made too much cookie dough and ate the leftovers with a spoon) or something awful (like the time I made too much cookie dough and ate the leftovers with a spoon until I was sick).

I think I ended up with a cup of lime zest.  After making the pie and Michelle’s lemonade concentrate, I still had a lot left so I do what I always do – I froze it.  I have a freezer that’s packed to the gills because I always freeze any extra whatever I’m left with, reasoning I’ll use it at a later time.  Casseroles, cookie dough (oh boy you can bet I learned my lesson there), bread … it’s all in there somewhere.  And then some. One time, I opened the freezer and a carton of vanilla ice cream I’d made dropped on my foot.  It hurt so bad, I cried.  Then I ate the ice cream and felt better.  That’ll show you, ice cream.

When freezing zest, I pack it tightly in a mason jar and cover the surface with some saran wrap.  So far, it seems to work, I pulled some out for my apple tartlets and it added a nice zing to the filling.

Before juicing the limes, I took some time to make the graham cracker crust so it could bake while I was juicing the limes.  I didn’t feel that it set up well in its pre-bake, so I might bake it for a bit longer next time.  But sugar + graham crackers + butter can only lead to tasty things, even if slightly underbaked.

You know, I’ve had this juicer for about 5 years and only just recently learned how to properly juice lemons and limes with it.  I always put the lemon in so the curve of the lemon matched the curve of the juicer.  I actually hated having to juice anything because of this method.  The pulp of the lemon would stick to the top part of the juicer and lemon juice would get trapped and it was incredibly time-consuming and annoying to juice anything.  I felt this might be the worst juicer ever and could not understand why it was so popular.

Then someone told me that I should flip the lemon and it was like a complete light bulb moment!  It is so much more efficient.  It actually works well!  I can juice a lemon in … well, I didn’t time myself but trust me, it’s no time at all.


Mmm, egg yolks.  The base of so many yummy things.

After that, mix together the filling, which takes about 5 minutes.  Bake it until the inside is barely set, then let it cool completely before topping it with whipped cream:

And there we go!  The most amazing key lime pie I have ever tasted.  Whoever first came up with key lime pie is a genius, I say.  A genius!  It was sweet, tart and creamy all at once.  At the end of the night, there was nothing left but crumbs (the best sign that others also think its delicious!).  I liked it so much that I’m making it again to take to a potluck we’re going to this weekend.

The recipe is from Cooks Illustrated with the filling doubled.  The link Ashley sent me is here.  Thanks, Ashley, for the link and changing my life, one pie at a time!