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Don’t worry, guys: I haven’t died; it’s just the end of tax season. Well to be more specific, it was the end of tax season. Now I am sitting here, in what remains of my life after pulling 10-12 hour work days, and trying to find the motivation to start working reconnecting with the rest of the world. Step one, put on glitter shoes; step two, use the internet for something other than Facebook. Before things went completely to hell, I did manage to work in another recipe from my new challenge book. I figured since my first recipe was from the “muffin” section, it only made sense for me to try something from the “biscuit” sections this time around. It’s all about balance, people. Okay, also what I have in the fridge, but you get what I am saying.
I went for the very first recipe in the section, and I was very, very pleased with the results. So was Andy. And Stanley who got up on the stove and ate the top off of a biscuit or two before we caught him.
- I only have one teeny issue with this recipe: I had to add a splash more of the cream than it called for, since I just couldn’t get the mixture so come together the way it was supposed to. This led to just a bit over-mixing, which the recipe warns you about. I think with a couple more tries, I will have this down perfectly, and I will be able throw together a batch in next to no time. Andy is already counting the days until he can say goodbye to the canned biscuits forever 🙂
For the last couple of years, my yearly lists of goals have included trying a certain number of recipes from a cookbook I’d purchased. This started in part because I was one of those people who bought books and very seldom used them, and also because I wanted to be more intentional about the things I was bringing into my life (books included). For years 30 and 31, I picked books that would force me to stretch my abilities and push me further out of my comfort zone, but this year I wanted to try something different. With me starting to write recipes of my own, I wanted to go back to the basics and really work on refining my scratch baking. Also, regardless of how I look, I am southern, and I think it’s a bit embarrassing that I bake and I’ve only made biscuits once or twice. So I took to Amazon and found Muffins and Biscuits, and just a few days after my 32nd birthday, I tried my first recipe: Blueberry Muffins. I am hoping to alternate and make their basic biscuits the next time around.
- Yummy, yummy muffins! And the streusel recipe for the topping!? These are great without it, but it really elevates the whole muffin.
- I split the difference between 12 regular muffins and 6 jumbo muffins, and settled on 9 muffins in a regular tin, but just really full. My baking time increased by 5ish minutes, but they turned out just fine.
- Don’t be afraid to really layer in the fruit. I got a bit jumpy, and I didn’t use the full 2 cups of blueberries because everything was looking a bit crowded as I assembled, but they puffed up quite a bit and, while delicious, would have benefited from the additional fruit.
With my birthday mere days away, I had to write one more recipe to cross #7 off my 31 before 32. This weekend’s trip to the VegFest inspired me to create a vegan dessert. I did some research, cobbled together bits and pieces of some things that I found interesting, and came up with this recipe.
- 2 cans of full fat unsweetened coconut milk
- 2/3 cup of sugar
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 2 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2-3 bananas
- 1 box vanilla wafers
- 1/3 cup melted vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
- Pre-heat over to 350 F and spray pie tin with nonstick spray.
- Crush all the cookies into crumbs and mix with the vegan butter.
- Pat the crumb mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 10 minutes.
- While your crust cools, pour the coconut milk into the pan and heat, ultimately to a boil.
- As your coconut milk heats, combine cornstarch with 1/4 cup of the heating milk.
- After the cornstarch has completely dissolved, add the sugar and stir.
- Right as your coconut milk beings to bubble, whisk in the cornstarch mixture.
- Once the mixture again reaches a boil, remove from heat and whisk for 2 minutes while it thickens. Set aside to cool slightly.
- While your “custard” cools, slice your bananas and layer them on your cooled crust.
- Pour the custard over your sliced bananas and place the entire pie in the fridge for at least an hour to set.
* To take your pie to the next level, sprinkle with toasted coconut when you serve it 😉
All in all, not bad for my first vegan custard.
I consider myself a fairly competent amateur baker, and I have made some really delicious things, but every once in a while I surprise even myself. That’s how I feel about these Lightly Lavender Lemon Meringue Cupcakes I made this weekend. I’ve wanted to frost something with simple meringue ever since I tried this recipe a few weeks ago. The meringue was so pretty and glossy, and the flavor was lovely on its own. Perfect for a spring cupcake. We all know lemon is a time honored companion for meringue, so figured that would be a safe bet for my main flavor. Last year, I had lavender in lemonade so I decided to make that the “something special” that would take these cupcakes up a notch. Honestly, I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever made, and my taste testers RAVED about them. I am so excited to share this recipe with you guys, and I hope you love them as much as I do.
- 1 box King Arthur Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 tbsp veggie oil
- 4 eggs
- 2/3 cup of milk
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tsp lavender extract (optional)
- 2 tsp chopped or pulverized lavender buds
- 1 jar of lemon curd (I used Wilkin & Sons, Ltd)
- 5 egg whites
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
Special equipment: Kitchen torch
- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Combine cake mix, butter, veggie oil and eggs in mixer until combined.
- Mix in zest, milk, extract and mix until thoroghly combined
- Fold in chopped buds.
- Fill cupcake liners
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Allow cupcakes to cool.
- Using a knife or a cupcake corer, create a hole in the center of each cupcake.
- Transfer lemon curd to ziplock bag and clip off one corner. Use to fill cored cupcakes.
- In a double boiler, heat 2 inches of water in the lower pot. When water boils place top pot over boiling water carefully so that the boiling water doesn’t touch the bottom of the upper bowl.
- Combine egg whites and sugar in top bowl.
- Whisk gently over heat until mixture become slightly more opaque and the sugar has fully dissolved.
- Transfer the mixture to a mixer and whip on high for 10 minutes until it doubles in size and reaches stiff peak stage.
- Pipe your meringue onto your filled cupcakes.
- Toast meringue lightly (and carefully) with kitchen torch.
- I’ve doubled the amount of lavender called for in my first trial. Lemon is a strong flavor, and my first batch only had the passing hint of lavender. Don’t over do it though; too much lavender will leave your cupcakes tasting like soap.
- I recommend chopping or pulverizing the lavender buds before incorporating them into your batter. A whole lavender bud in a single bite can be off putting for a lot of people. I usually crush mine with a mortar and pestle. Same flavor, just a little more diffused throughout the mix.
I like making cupcakes, and I am always looking for an excuse. One of the things I’ve been doing consistently for the last few years is sending cupcakes to work with Andy for Valentine’s Day. Let’s face it, even if you’re in a relationship, the holiday can be a bit intense, and what better way to brighten someone’s day than with a cupcake? I gotta make sure my diligent taste-testers are taken care of, right? In the past, I’ve done some more traditional flavors – chocolate, chocolate-covered strawberry, strawberry, white chocolate, etc. – so this year I wanted to do something a little less expected. I liked the idea of going a little darker and more mature with the flavor profile, but I still wanted a little holiday “cheese” so I decided to pair black cherries and Disaronno. So good! Plus the cherries really did bake up almost black, which made things interesting from an aesthetic stand point.
- 1 Box Betty Crocker White Cake Mix
- 3 egg whites
- 1/2 veggie oil
- 1 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup cherry puree
- 4 tbsp Disaronno
- Swiss Meringue Buttercream (recipe here)
- 4 tbsp cherry puree
- 4 tbsp Disaronno
- Pre-heat oven to 350F
- Combine cake mix, egg whites, oil and water and mix thoroughly. Mix in Disaronno.
- Put two cups of mix into a separate bowl and mix in cherry puree.
- Fill cupcake wrapper 1/2 full of regular mix, top off to 2/3 full with cherry mixture. Swirl together with toothpick or skewer to create a marbled effect.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- While cupcakes cool, prepare the frosting.
- Add cherry puree and Disaronno to completed frosting and combine thoroughly.
- Frost cooled cupcakes and enjoy!.