Pavlovas

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I found myself with a few extra egg whites after this recipe, and decided to make pavlovas. Pavlovas are meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. They have a crisp crust and soft, light inside and are tyically served with fruit or whipped cream.This tasty dessert is relatively easy to make and requires only a handful of ingredients. Make sure you eat them within 24 hours otherwise they will become very chewy and lose their delicious texture.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces, about 6) large egg whites, preferably room temperature
  • Pinch of salt

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 275°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the vanilla and vinegar into a cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl. In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites and salt, until soft peaks start to become visible, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually add the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar. Increase speed and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted.

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Spoon the meringue into round mounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. With the back of a spoon, create an indentation in the middle of the mound for holding the filling once meringue is baked.

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Place baking sheet in the oven.Reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside, and white, not tan-colored or cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around.

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Once ready, lift from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. They will crack a bit in the middle but since you will fill them up, that’s ok.

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Serve topped with your favorite filling – fresh fruit, lemon curd, raspberry or blueberry sauce, or freshly whipped cream.

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Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

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A few days ago I made these sea salt caramel brownies and then decided they’d go perfectly with a nice scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. I used a simple recipe egg-custard recipe and some of my own vanilla extract to create this easy dessert. 

What you’ll need: 

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup milk 
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and scraped, 
  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract 
  • 6 large egg yolks

What to do: 

Combine cream, half-and-half, vanilla extract, vanilla beans and seeds in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once it begins to boil, remove from heat, cover and allow it to steep for about 15 minutes. 

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Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar in a second large bowl until smooth and fluffy. It should have a light yellow color.  

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Add cream mixture from heat and slowly pour about 1 cup into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly until smooth. Add the rest of the cream slowly, while continuing to whisk (on low) the mixture. Pour cream-egg mixture back into the pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until custard coats the spoon, about 2 minutes. Make sure to not over-cook. 

Remove custard from heat and strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, scraping as much vanilla bean through the strainer as possible. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, about 10 to 15 minutes. Then cover and place in the refrigerator to chill completely, at least 3 hours. Your mixture should be completely chilled before you add it to your ice cream maker. Once chilled, use your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions then freeze overnight and serve.

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This light and creamy ice cream is the perfect addition to a warm brownie, can be served with one of these delectable chocolate chip cookies or scooped on top of this bourbon peach cobbler. 

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Classic Tres Leches Cake

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My mom loves my tres leches cake. It’s her all-time favorite. She requests it for birthdays, holidays, general hang-out days, basically any time I can make it. Considering she is the makes of all my favorite dishes, it’s a great pleasure to know one of my own, is her favorite as well. For Mother’s Day, I knew I had to make it and after the hearty beef bourguignon, this light and airy cake was the perfect dessert.

What you’ll need:

1 cup All-purpose Flour

1-1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder

1/4 teaspoon Salt

5 whole Eggs

1 cup Sugar, Divided

1 teaspoon Vanilla

1/3 cup Milk

1 can Evaporated Milk

1 can Sweetened, Condensed Milk

1/4 cup Heavy Cream

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray your pan liberally until coated. I choose a round pan this time, because I was only making it for 5 of us. But you can choose a larger, square pan if you’re making this for more people.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs. Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow.

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Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.

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Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.

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Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.

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Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.

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Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all the milk mixture and make sure to get the edges of the cake as well. Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes.

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Many people ice the cake, but my mom is not a fan of the whipped cream topping so I usually skip it. If you’d like to ice it however, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable. Spread over the surface of the cake, and then serve yourself a piece…or two. Have you tried tres leches cake?

Dreamy Carrot Cake

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Once I finished my juice cleanse, I had a few bags of carrots left over. Clearly I went overboard at the fruit market but I wasn’t about to let these babies go to waste.

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So I did what anyone coming out of a juice fast would do, I made some carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and some cupcakes, because the only thing better than cake is cake AND cupcakes. 

The recipe below with yield 12 cupcakes and 2 cakes. 

What you’ll need for the cake:

2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 pound carrots, grated

What you’ll need for the frosting: 

3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together until light yellow. Add vanilla. I used my very own from here and felt it made the cake taste extra special.  

In another bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Toss the raisins and walnuts with 1 tablespoon flour and add them to your mixture. Tossing them with flour ahead of time will make sure they do not fall to the bottom of your cake but are evenly distributed throughout. Fold in the carrots, add to the batter and mix well.

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Using an ice cream scooper, take one scoop out for each of your cupcakes. Divide the remaining batter equally between the 2 pans.

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Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes and cupcakes to cool completely in the pans.

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While they cool, mix the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until just combined. Add the powdered sugar and mix until smooth. You want to make sure this is thoroughly incorporated, otherwise your frosting won’t taste as good. It takes about 8 minutes. 

Place 1 layer, flat-side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. 

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Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

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Frost your cupcakes as you usually would and then sit down and enjoy a few

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Pumpkin Bread

As I mentioned in my last post, we went apple and pumpkin picking a few weeks ago. I somehow forgot all about the pumpkins for a few days ( ahem two weeks) but miraculously they were just fine. Thought I’d stop pushing my luck and started preparing them for next week’s Pumpkin Pie eating extravaganza, before they went bad. To preserve the pumpkins, all you have to do is freeze the pumpkin puree and then use it when you’re ready to bake.

Make and store your Pumpkin Puree

Slice the pumpkin in large pieces, and remove the seeds and pulp. Boil with skin on (optional, but I find it easier to remove the skin once the pumpkin is boiled and softer). Once the pumpkin is ready – when a fork is able to easily slide into pumpkin flesh, remove from pot and allow to cool for a few minutes. Peel the pumpkins and puree the pieces until you have a smooth consistency. Place your puree in freezer bags, in an even layer. Try to remove as much of the air as possible from the bags. This will facilitate faster freezing and will make your pumpkin easier to store until it’s time to use it.

If you’re able to get your hands on fresh pumpkins, it really does make all the difference in your final product. People will be thinking you’re a tiny Baking Goddess!

I had more than enough pumpkin to make two pies so with the leftover bag I decided to make pumpkin bread.

What you’ll need

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

What to do

1 Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda.

2 Mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, 1/4 cup of water, and spices together, then combine with the dry ingredients, but do not mix too thoroughly. Stir in the nuts.

3 Pour into a well-buttered  loaf pan. Bake 50-60 minutes until a thin skewer poked in the very center of the loaf comes out clean. Cool on a rack and serve.

Simple and Delicious Chocolate Chip COokies

I’m back with a simple and delicious recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies. These are amazingly moist and chewy cookies that you won’t be able to put down. Foreseeing this, I made them especially small so I could eat a few without feeling extra guilty. Recipe below and enjoy!

Recipe from Apple A Day

What you’ll need:
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened 
3/4 c. brown sugar 
1/4 c. granulated sugar 
1 egg 
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
2 c. all purpose flour 
2 tsp. cornstarch 
1 tsp. baking soda 
1/2 tsp. salt 
1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips
 
What to do:
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In the bowl, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy and light in color. Add egg and vanilla and continue blending. Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chunks.
Drop dough onto a prepared baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until barely golden brown around the edges. The cookies will still be a bit soft when they come out of the oven but will harden afterwards.

Refreshing Peach Ice Cream

I received the Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker as a gift last Christmas. Though I was insanely excited about it – in fact I think I teared when I opened the gift box – I didn’t use it until just a few weeks ago. I decided to make Peach Ice Cream since peaches are one of my favorite fruits. The original plan was to make Ginger Peach Ice cream sandwiches but this was all devoured before I ever got a chance to make the ginger cookies, so that project will have to wait. I used a modified version of this recipe and substituted Grand Marnier for Peach Brandy, mainly because I couldn’t find Peach brandy at the liquor store and also because I have a strangely large bottle of Grand Marnier at home from last year’s peach cobbler. If you have an ice cream maker at home, I’d definitely recommend giving this a try. The result is a very creamy texture with a fresh and flavorful taste.  It’s also really helpful to know exactly what went into your ice cream. You’re able to control the amount of sugar, fruit and type of milk/cream that you add and can choose to use organic produce if you prefer it. Overall you can customize this to your own taste and really create the best ice cream for yourself.

Peaches swimming in Grand Marnier and sugar.

Ice Cream in the making

Adding Fresh Peaches

Ready for the freezer

Final Product