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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.
With a month to spare, I have finally completed #3 on my 31 before 32 and made the last of the 12 recipes from my Sweet & Vicious cookbook! There are so many great recipes I still can’t wait to try out, but I am happy to have the ones I “had” to do behind me. Since I’d done a few of the main recipes and a couple of the extracts, I wanted to try something from the back of the book. The frosting area seemed as good as any so I decided to tackle Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
So light and wonderfully fluffy! It made for some very pretty cupcakes.
I took some pictures of the process, just so you’d have an idea of how things were going to look as you went along. I find that sort of thing helpful whenever I’m trying out a new recipe.
The egg white/sugar mixture when I put it on ⇑ and took it off ⇓ the double boiler.
How the meringue looked when it was ready for the butter.
- I think the thing I liked best about this was the sweetness. I like sugar as much as the next pudgy American, but I hate frosting that is sickly sweet. Standard buttercream is easy to make, but usually it’s a bit much and has ruined many a cupcake for me. It’s really nice to have this in my back pocket for future baking.
- This recipe also pipes like a dream; I had wonderful frilly frosted cupcakes with minimal piping bag manipulation, and it held its shape and didn’t dry out overnight.