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Lemon Cream Whoopie Pies

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It’s been a year since I left the Secret Recipe Club but I’m finally back, baby! So excited! If you haven’t been around here long enough to know what the heck the Secret Recipe Club is, lemme break it down for ya. Once you’re in the club (click the link to sign up), each month that you participate, you’re assigned to another participating blog. Nobody knows who has whose blog, and everyone in the group picks a recipe from their assigned blog and makes it, then everyone posts on the same day and it’s all fun and exciting looking through the posts to figure out who had your blog and to see which recipe they picked. It’s a really fun way to visit new blogs and make recipes you might not usually try.

This month I was assigned to Chris and Amy’s blog, A Couple In The Kitchen. Aww! So sweet – a couple that cooks and blogs together! Their motto is, “The couple that sautes together, stays together.” I just love it.  The coolest thing is that they had my blog back in October of 2011 and made my Apple Cider Doughnuts, so it’s neat to finally get assigned to them in return.

I went crazy perusing their blog and pinning the recipes I wanted to try to one of my secret boards.  I’ve never made a risotto and really want to try it, so I was very close to picking their Springtime Risotto.  Their Corn and Black Bean Salsa Nachos were also calling my name, along with their Seared Scallops with Blood Orange Gastrique and Chicken Piccata.  However, my sweet tooth and curiosity drew me to their Flour Frosting and I thought I could use it as a filling in some springtime-y whoopie pies.

I’ve heard of flour frosting before and have wanted to try it for a long time, much longer than I’ve wanted to make a risotto, and I was glad to have the extra motivation to finally make it.  But let me tell you, I nearly had as much trouble with this frosting as I did with another SRC post on the whole wheat bread that would never turn out for me, even after 9 loaves. I don’t know what my problem is, but I just could not get the flour mixture right – it was always lumpy and made my frosting lumpy no matter how much I beat it (we’re talking 20 minutes people!).  Through trial and error, I devised a fool-proof way to create the smooth and fluffy frosting it’s meant to be, and while it’s a little more tedious because it involves an extra step, it’s worth the effort if you have lumpy thickened milk issues like me.  This lightly sweet frosting is incredibly light and fluffy, perfect for sandwiching between sweet, lemony cake-cookies.  Get your whoopie on!

Lemon Cream Whoopie Pies

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

Cookies:
1 (15.25 oz) lemon cake mix
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup water
3 eggs

Filling:
¼ cup (1 1/8 oz) all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup (3 ¼ oz) vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheet(s) with parchment paper and set aside.

Before starting the cookies, do the first step for the filling: whisk the flour and milk together in a small saucepan and continue to whisk constantly while cooking it over medium heat until it forms a thick paste, about five minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

Combine cookie ingredients in large bowl and beat on low until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl to incorporate. Increase speed to medium and beat for an additional minute. Drop 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons of dough (preferably from a cookie scoop to make them nicely round) onto prepared baking sheet, 2 inches apart, and bake for about ten minutes or until lightly golden brown on edges and set in the center. Remove onto a wire rack to cool and repeat with remaining batter.

To make the filling, add the cooled milk and flour mixture to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add the vanilla and process until completely smooth and no lumps remain, a minute or two. (You can also beat it with a mixer but if there are any lumps, it will ruin your frosting. I couldn’t get the lumps out of mine without using the food processor.) In a large mixing bowl, add remaining filling ingredients and beat on medium-high for four minutes, then add in the flour mixture and beat together until nice and fluffy and no grit from the sugar remains, 3-4 minutes.

To make the pies, turn half the cookies over and spread about 2 tablespoons of filling over the flat side. Top with another cookie, flat side down and press lightly together.

Recipe source: a Veronica’s Cornucopia original, with the filling recipe adapted from A Couple in the Kitchen

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Lemon-Basil Peach Dumplings

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So this recipe is totally crazy.  Just wanted to warn you before you got too involved and the list of ingredients sent you reeling.  I’m just going to put it out there.  Right here and now.

This recipe has two whole sticks of butter in it.  And 1 1/2 cups of sugar.  Both are poured/sprinkled over only sixteen itty bitty peach “dumplings” which are really only slices of peach wrapped in crescent roll dough.  And you know what else I  poured over the top along with the butter and sugar?  Sprite.  Yup.

But here’s the deal.  These dumplings are so good and totally worth the butt dimples you will get after the little artery-cloggers work their way through your system and your body decides to skip the digesting part and just add them straight to your butt.

I made this for a cooking challenge on Facebook to make a recipe using fresh peaches, Sprite or 7-Up, and fresh basil.  So this is what I came up with, based on a cooky Midwestern recipe for apple dumplings (see it on PW’s blog here).

I still have yet to make the original version, but now I know I have to come fall because you would not believe how good this summery version is.  Sweet, yes, but not too sweet, incredibly.  And the juicy peach is the star, somehow not overpowered by the lemon & basil*, or all that sugar and butter. When I took them out of the oven, the liquid was pretty sloshy but thickened up and seemed to absorb a little more after 10-15 minutes, making the dumplings crispy with sugar on top and gooey on the bottom, but definitely not soggy, which is what I had feared.

They are best warm, but I served the leftovers (after Dennis and I had our way with a few) at room temperature to my family after a barbecue and they went crazy for them.  Even my sister, Danielle, who refuses to eat my (beloved) pumpkin gooey butter cake because it has two sticks of butter in it (light weight!), and generally only takes a few bites of my desserts, not only ate one ( a whole one!) but also took one home with her for later. Miracle!

*The fried basil does add a nice color and the mildest of flavor, which I thought was perfect, but if you’re really hoping for a huge pop of basil, I’d double (or more) what the recipe calls for.  Or just make extra to munch on–they are even crispier than potato chips!

Fried basil is so cool-it gets transparent and shatteringly crisp. Would also make a great garnish on soup!

While making these, I admit I cringed the whole time I was pouring and sprinkling sugar over the top.  I tried to stop myself several times.  How could sixteen little bitty teeny weeny dumplings need that much butter and sugar?!  But I had to go with the original measurements in the end, and I’m glad I did.  Because they are perfect.  Besides, divided between 16 servings, it’s really not too bad and actually lower in fat/sugar than most of the cakes I make.  Or at least, that’s what I was telling myself when I helped myself to seconds. >:)

Lemon-Basil Peach Dumplings

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

3 medium fresh peaches
2 (8 oz) cans refrigerated crescent roll dough
1 lemon
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup Sprite
½ cup fresh basil leaves (not packed)
Coconut or vegetable oil for frying

Fill a pot that is big enough to fit three peaches with water high enough to cover them. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice and water to have ready to cool the peaches. When the water is boiling, add the peaches and boil for 1-2 minutes, until the skin is easy to remove. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to ice water. Once they are cool to the touch, take them out to peel off the skins. If the skins don’t peel easily, boil again for a minute.

Preheat oven to 350F. Slice the peeled peaches in half around the pit, separate the halves and remove the pit. Slice each half into thirds. You will only need 16 of the slices so feel free to nibble on two of them as you continue with the recipe.

Butter a 9×13 baking dish. Wrap each peach slice in a crescent roll and place in prepared dish. Grate the zest from the lemon and sprinkle over the dumplings (reserve the lemon), then sprinkle 1 cup of the sugar over the top. Melt the butter and pour over the top, then sprinkle the remaining sugar over. Juice the reserved lemon, then add the juice into the Sprite.  Pour over everything, then bake for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat ½ inch of coconut or vegetable oil in a small skillet or saucepan to 360F. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test it by throwing a basil leaf in.  If it is ready it will pop and spatter big time so be ready to cover it with a splatter screen or jump away. When the oil is ready, throw the basil in the hot oil, then IMMEDIATELY cover with the splatter screen. Fry until crisp, then remove to a thick layer of paper towels to drain. Once cool to the touch, about a minute or two, crumble up with your fingers and set aside. The oil makes the basil stick to your fingers so just get as much off as you can.

Remove the dumplings from oven and sprinkle the fried, crushed basil over the top. Serve the dumplings warm with ice cream, spooning the sweet sauce from the pan over the top.

Sunshine Bars {Citrus Gooey Butter Cake}

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Food blogging can be rough on a girl’s diet.  I told you that I didn’t have any Easter-ish recipes and gave you what I could, and yet I still felt the pressure of posting one before the holiday.  And so I got to work in the kitchen and came up with something so delicious that sampling it when it came out of the oven at 1 AM, and having more for breakfast this morning (the breakfast of champions!) has completely depleted all my Weight Watchers Points Plus for the day.  And then some.  Oi.  But a dedicated food blogger owes it to her readers to sacrifice valuable points for the sake of their holiday enjoyment, right?  Yeah, that’s right.  I did it all for you.  Because I so wouldn’t have eaten all that tart-sweet gooey butter cake without my readers as motivation.

What?  You don’t believe me?  OK, fine.  I so totally would have made and eaten this regardless, but I’m rushing to post this recipe before work so you can make it for Easter and that’s all for you.  You’re welcome.  :)

I really love gooey butter cake, and in fact I was already planning to do a few posts on the basic recipe and the chocolate version since I made both almost two years ago and never got around to blogging them.  It reminds me of a different form of cheesecake, sort of like cheesecake bars, but muuuuuch more buttery.  The crust layer is soft, yet firm enough to hold the bars together, somewhere between cookie and cake, while the filling is creamy & gooey.  In this springtime version, I used an orange cake mix for the base (though lemon or even yellow would be great), and used up the rest of my lemon curd in the filling.  I had no idea how it would turn out and was greatly relieved to be rewarded with something I can proudly share with my husband’s family this weekend.  Well.  I mean.  What’s left of it.

Sunshine Bars 

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

Crust:
1 (18.25 oz) orange or lemon cake mix
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 egg

Filling:
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup lemon curd
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 eggs
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 lb (4 cups) powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F with rack in center of oven. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with oil and set aside. In a large bowl, mix the cake mix, egg, and butter with an electric mixer until well combined. Press the dough into the prepared pan and set aside. Wipe out the bowl and clean off the beaters, then cream together the cream cheese and lemon curd until well combined. Mix in the lemon juice, then the eggs until incorporated. Add the butter and powdered sugar and mix until well combined. Spread over the crust layer and smooth the top with spatula. Bake in preheated oven for 45-47 minutes, or until browned on top but still jiggly in the middle. Cool on wire rack until completely cool, about two hours, before cutting and serving. Can also be served cold, depending on your preference.

Recipe source: adapted from Paula Deen’s Gooey Butter Cake recipe.

Easy Lemon Cookies

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5 reasons why you need to make these cookies ASAP:

5. They’re insanely easy to make.
4.They’re bright and pretty!
3. They have superb texture–firm on the outside, chewy on the inside.
2. They taste like sunshine.
1. You can have two whole cookies for just 102 calories!

What, you need more reasons? What are you waiting for?!

I like to really douse the cookies with powdered sugar so they take on the "crinkle" look.

Easy Lemon Cookies

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 (18.25 oz) package lemon cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
grated zest from 1 lemon
powdered sugar for decoration

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Pour cake mix into a large bowl. Stir in eggs, oil, lemon juice & lemon zest until well blended. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes, and up to overnight to make the dough easier to handle. Roll teaspoonfuls of dough into balls and then drop into a small bowl of powdered sugar. Roll around until lightly or heavily covered, depending on how much you want. Once sugared, place on an ungreased or parchment-lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 6-9 minutes in the preheated oven. The bottoms will be light brown, and the insides chewy.

Makes 60 cookies
Per cookie: 51 calories, 2 g fat, 7.8 g carbohydrate

This recipe is linked with GirliChef for BSI: Lemons!

Lemony Orange Cake

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We recently celebrated my Dad’s 61st birthday and I meant to only provide a Banoffee Pie, but I’ve been in an experimental baking mode lately and we ended up having a dessert-athon with three cakes in addition to the pie…all for only 8 guests!

The surprise favorite turned out to be this Lemony Orange Cake.  It is heavier than a regular cake, but lighter than a pound cake and extremely moist with a wonderful orange glaze that locks in the moisture.  The citrus flavors make it the perfect summer treat.


Lemony Orange Cake

Printable recipe

Cake
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (3 ounce) package instant lemon pudding mix
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon extract

Glaze
1/3 cup orange juice
2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

Grease & flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

In a large bowl, stir together cake mix and pudding mix. Pour in the 3/4 cup orange juice, oil, eggs, orange zest, and lemon extract. Beat on low speed until blended. Scrape bowl, and beat 4 minutes on medium speed. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Once it’s cool, fit the Bundt pan back over the cake and flip it over so the cake is back in the pan.  In a saucepan over medium heat, cook 1/3 cup orange juice, sugar and butter until it comes to a boil and continue to boil for two minutes. Pour the glaze over the bottom of the cake and use a spatula to spread to the sides so that it drips  down evenly on all sides and on the inside circle.  You don’t want all the glaze sitting on top, you want it to drip down so it can soak into the cake evenly.  Allow to soak for 10 minutes, then place a serving plate on top of the pan & flip it over so that the cake comes out on the plate.  Glaze will dry so that the cake can be covered with plastic wrap until serving.  If made more than two days in advance, store in the fridge.  Don’t worry–it will stay moist even if made several days ahead!

Blueberry Lemon Trifle

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We have several diabetics in our church group, with whom we joined last Saturday for a barbecue in the countryside.  To accommodate their sugar abstinence, I brought two sugar-free desserts: rugelach & blueberry lemon trifle.  Both desserts were enjoyed by diabetics & non-diabetics alike, but this is the one I will continue making for myself (Den can fend for himself–the trifle is mine!) because it’s low in calories and it tastes FABULOUS!

If you prefer to make this with full-fat and full-sugar (oooooh, I bet that would be even better!), follow the suggestions in parentheses.


Blueberry Lemon Trifle

1 sugar-free angel food cake (or 1 pound cake)
1 lemon, juiced
1 1/2 cups skim milk (or whole milk)
1 (8-oz) tub fat-free sour cream (or regular sour cream)
1 (8-oz) tub sugar-free cool-whip, divided (or regular Cool Whip/real whipped cream)
2 packages fat-free/sugar-free instant lemon pudding (or regular instant lemon pudding)
3 pints blueberries, rinsed & dried

Cut the cake into cubes and lay them out on a cookie sheet, then sprinkle the lemon juice evenly over them (I actually dipped my clean fingers into the juice & dabbed the juice on–you could use a pastry brush too) & carefully toss.  Don’t mash the cake–keep it as pretty as possible. This won’t be as difficult with pound cake b/c it’s not as delicate so you don’t have to be as careful.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, sour cream & half of the cool whip until smooth, then beat in the pudding mixes until it starts to thicken.

Set a few blueberries aside for garnish.  Put 1/3 of the cake cubes in the bottom of a trifle bowl, sprinkle on 1/3 of the blueberries (1 pint), then spread 1/3 of the pudding mixture over it.  Repeat two more times, then spread the remaining Cool Whip over the top & garnish with the reserved blueberries.  Chill until ready to serve–can be made up to two days in advance–or just sit it down on the table and dig in.

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