Well, the inevitable has happened, and it’s my Cake and Bread classes’ fault. I gained 10 pounds. I’m not usually that concerned about my weight (my giant sweet tooth is more persuasive than my vanity), but I recognize that if I’m going to happily and successfully complete my journey toward becoming a pastry chef, I’ll need to keep my health a priority. Tight chef’s pant aren’t comfortable no matter how many people say they’re like pajama pants.
So while I get myself to the gym more often, I hope y’all don’t mind a few lighter recipes on the blog this summer. It won’t be bad, I promise. No diet soda cakes, or weird fat-free ingredients used, just lots of fresh fruit and smaller slices of cake!
Don’t think of these cookies as diet food. Think of them as French Macarons without the filling, or surprise your gluten-sensitive friends with these delicious gluten-free cookies! They’re crunchy on the outside and a bit chewy on the inside from the almond flour. The secret ingredient is the cinnamon. I never would have thought about adding cinnamon to merginue cookies, but the spice is so delicious with the intense sweetness that meringue cookies can have.
Almond Cloud Cookies
adapted from Weight Watchers (sorry I can’t link to the original recipe)
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup almond meal
- Preheat over to 250°. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or spray lightly with non-stick spray.
- Beat whites, salt and cinnamon to a soft foam.
- Add sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold in almond meal.
- Pipe or spoon batter into 1-inch mounds or rosettes.
- Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until firm and dry to the touch. Let cool on sheet and then gently lift off the pan.
I haven’t been able to come up with many words for you today. I think maybe I have too many things to tell you so they are clogging up my brain.
I will however tell you a little about these cookies. They are a nice subtle change from the ordinary lemon bar. They aren’t as tart, and the lemongrass gives them a nice floral flavor. I also thought the coconut in the crust was perfect. It added flavor and some nice chewy texture underneath the creamy filling.
If you decide to make these, and I think you should, make sure your lemongrass has the white bulbous end. Unfortunately some grocery stores trim this part off thinking it is the unusable part when actually that is the only part you can really chop up and eat.
Lemongrass Coconut Bars
from Bon Appetit
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons, unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 lemongrass stalks, bottom 4 inches only, tough outer layer removed
5 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup all purpose flour
pinch of salt
powdered sugar, as needed
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter a 13×9 inch baking pan.
- Finely chop the trimmed lemongrass, it should measure about 1/2 cup.
- In electric mixer with paddle attachment, combine flour, coconut, powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt until well blended.
- Add butter and beat on low speed until dough comes together in large clumps. Press dough into bottom of pan and 1/2 inch up the sides. Bake crust until golden and slightly dark on edges, about 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put sugar and lemongrass in a food processor. Pulse until lemongrass is finely ground and sugar is moist. Add lemon juice and process until well blended. Add eggs and process to blend, 10-15 seconds. Add flour and a pinch of salt. Pulse until smooth.
- When crust is removed from oven, reduce temperature to 325° F. Pour filling over hot crust and bake until filling is firm, 22-23 minutes. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
- Dust with powdered sugar and cut into desired bar sizes.
I have had this recipe ready to share for weeks but haven’t been able to sit down and write about them until now. I don’t even have a good excuse. I have been taking lots of naps lately. Not sure if it is being on my feet all day, or just a cuddly dog and cold weather that draws me to the couch.
Have you ever tasted anything made with brown butter? It is AH-mazing. These cookies got me hooked on it. My favorite thing about brown butter (besides the taste) is how it sounds while it is cooking. It is like little crickets chirping at you from your pot. When they quiet down, you know the butter is very close to being done.
These cookies come out soft and chewy and taste like nutty caramel. The frosting is a bit sweet and rich so next time I would probably just drizzle it on.
Oh man these are so good it is taking some serious will-power not to go make another batch right now.
Brown Butter Cookies
adapted from allrecipes
makes 2 dozen cookies
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
hot water as needed
pecans for decorating
- Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or not, these cookies won’t stick).
- Heat butter in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat until brown and nutty smelling. This will take 8-10 minutes and it will foam and bubble and talk to you. Watch carefully though because you don’t want to burn it. Remove from heat and reserve 1/4 cup for the frosting.
- Pour remaining butter (and browned bits) into a bowl and beat (by hand or mixer) with the brown sugar until the butter has cooled off some. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, mix baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and mix until a uniform, glossy dough is formed. Stir in the pecans.
- Drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes until slightly golden around edges.
- Let cookies cool before frosting.
- To make the frosting, mix reserved butter, confectioners sugar, vanilla, and some hot water (up to 1/4 cup) until smooth and spreadable or drizzle-able.
I’ve been a terrible blogger. But here I am, back with an incredibly delicious and adorable treat. I made these mini cheesecake-like cookies for a high school reunion party for my aunt. The guests at the party loved them, and I was certainly not disappointed that there were leftovers for me to eat.
A quick update on our DC plans:
Last week John and I were in DC scouting out places to live. After a few frustrating days of terrible apartments and being turned down because we have super cute dog, we were finally shown a basement apartment in Eastern Market on Capitol Hill. I love it. The living/kitchen area is open and has lots of light (unusual for a basement). One of the walls is dark brick with a fireplace and a built-in shelved recess to store spices or cookbooks or kitchen gadgets. We’d have our own small backyard and share a front yard. It’s right across the street from the market, which is open everyday and has a larger outdoor farmers’ and flea market on the weekends. There’s a bakery, produce stand, butcher, seafood market, cheese shop and pasta maker in the market. On top of all that, the apartment’s right next to a liquor store. Very convenient. Although we haven’t signed a lease on it yet, I’m pretty sure it’s not going to get any better than that.
One thing I loved about these tassies is how adaptable they can be for different seasons and flavors. A cinnamon spiced filling with candied pecan topping would be great at a fall basement housewarming party!
The recipe is straight forward although forming the little crusts is pretty time consuming (especially if you only have one mini muffin tin). Also, the dough is very crumbly but comes together really easily.
I wish I could show you the recipe I used, but I can’t reference the cookbook because it is buried in our moving mess. It was based on Martha Stewart’s recipe, but I made 48 and didn’t use candied lemon zest. I used a stabilized whipped cream and local blueberries for the topping, but they would be perfectly simple without any garnish.
I’m pretty sure cookies are my favorite food. It’s a toss up between cookies and ice cream. Cookies are winning right now because I don’t have an ice cream maker (yet) and can make cookies whenever I want.
These cookies are bright tasting and melt in your mouth, which I’m sure has nothing to do with all that butter in them. Seriously though, butter makes everything better, and I’ve recently discovered a limited summer edition of my favorite organic brand. It says right on the label “champagne of butters”. Yes, please.
I love the texture the poppy seeds give them and how fresh the lemon flavor is. There’s no lemon extract in them, only lemon zest and reduced lemon juice.
I’m hoping to get a lot of fun baking done during this long weekend. There will certainly be lots of fruit involved but I think it’s also time for some chocolate. What are y’all cookin’ for the Fourth?
Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies
adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon poppy seeds, plus more for sprinkling
- Bring lemon juice to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, cook until reduced by half. Add 1/2 cup butter and stir until melted.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
- Put remaining 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup of sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until creamy. Add egg and reserved lemon butter and mix until pale, about 3 minutes.
- Mix in vanilla and 2 teaspoons lemon zest. Reduce speed to low and mix in dry ingredients and poppy seeds. Refrigerate dough until firm enough to roll into balls (about an hour).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in a small bowl. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and roll in sugar to coat. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Press bottom of a glass (coated with a little butter or cooking spray) into the sugar and then flatten the dough balls until 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.
- Bake until browned around edges, 12-13 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Cool for 5-10 minutes on cookie sheets and then transfer to wire rack.
A few weeks ago, I helped my mom with a fundraiser for Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL). It was an upscale affair at a home in the Gainesville Country Club, meaning I probably shouldn’t have been there. It was great to meet the senator, but it was even greater that there was unlimited wine. I sipped on a Sauvignon Blanc that was crisp and perfect with the cheese plate and sweets.
Mom asked me to be in charge of the sweets for the afternoon so the first things I decided to make were Coconut Macaroons from America’s Best Recipe.
I have made these a few times before and they always turn out beautiful looking and have great flavor. There are three kinds of coconut in the recipe, unsweetened, sweetened, and creme of coconut. The cookies come together quickly and dipping in chocolate is optional but highly recommended.
I also made the Golden Lemon Almond cake from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. I am glad that I am starting to try more recipes from this book. Her exact weights and temperatures for ingredients – plus her charts and graphs – have intimidated me for a while, but this cake turned out very fresh tasting with an incredible soft texture.
All in all, I think the event was a big success. A lot of money was raised, and a lot of calories were consumed. Still, I don’t know what was more sugar-coated, Senator Nelson’s talking points or my macaroons.