Cornmeal Lime Cookies

I was first introduced to these cookies by my lovely neighbor, who brought over a batch when we first moved in to welcome my family to the neighborhood. She mentioned that she’d used the Flour bakery recipe (I knew right then that we’d get along great), so when I had some extra lime zest after making my signature “healthy” lime pie one day, I knew just where I could find a cookie recipe to take advantage of it!

These cookies are soft and just a bit cakey, with slightly crisp edges and a little crunch from the cornmeal. The zingy lime glaze on top really brightens them up into something special.

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Bananas Foster Bread Pudding

I have a habit. A not-so-great habit, at that. A bread habit. That is, I have a tendency to buy bread and then forget about it until it’s about to go stale. Usually at that point I chuck it in the freezer and hope that I’ll find a use for it, but as we all know, the freezer is a black hole of storage that things can get lost in for months… In this case, however, it all worked out for the best, because my stash of frozen carbs was just what I needed to use up some bananas that were rapidly reaching over-ripeness on my countertop.

In other words, I made bread pudding. With bananas. And walnuts. And, just for fun, salted butterscotch sauce that I may or may not have added a shot of rum to. I highly recommend making this– it’s amazing for dessert, but may also be one of the best breakfasts for a cold winter morning that I’ve ever had.

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Blood Orange Polenta Cake

Blood oranges are in season, and I never tire of cutting into them to see that gorgeous inside. When I saw a bag on sale at Trader Joe’s I knew I wanted to bake something that showed off the beautiful color, so I cobbled together some recipe ideas from online to come up with this– a moist, dense cake that emphasizes the oranges themselves.

I’ll start off by admitting that this cake, while impressive to look at and tasty to eat, was not my favorite dessert in the world. It was pleasantly rustic and lasted forever without going stale, but it wasn’t quite sweet enough for me (I think I over-caramelized the sugar, making the caramel a touch bitter) and not as moist as I’d hoped. It did display my blood oranges nicely, though, so props for that! I think this works better as a breakfast-style cake, served with some vanilla yogurt or sweetened ricotta on the side, rather than a real dessert. That being said, it would make a fabulous addition to your brunch table, so feel free to give it a shot if you like bitter orange!

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Aardman’s Orange Jelly Cake

Lately my daughter has been watching the show Shaun the Sheep, by Aardman Animations (of Wallace and Gromit fame). During an episode entitled “The Farmer’s Llamas,” her eye was immediately caught by this cake, which is featured only for a few moments:

She was so interested in it that in a fit of reckless abandon, I promised to make it for her once she’d achieved a specific level of proficiency in one of her school activities. And here we are.

One thing I noticed about the cake was that it’s really not a cake at all– it’s a molded jelly dessert. You can tell that the top tier is pure jelly, the middle one is jelly with orange slices in it, and the bottom one is molded jelly with some kind of cream mixed in to make it more opaque (it can’t be cake, it’s too smooth). However, while we enjoy gelatin desserts we like cake better in our house, so we decided to compromise.

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Apple Pie Cake

So last fall we went apple picking. And you know what happens when you pick apples– you eat a bunch the first week, then the remaining apples just languish in the bag until you can find something to do with them. And since we had a lot of apples, several of them languished for quite a while…

I finally decided that it was time to use up the last few apples, so I went in search of a suitable recipe that I hadn’t tried before– and found this one! It’s apparently a copycat of an apple pie they serve at Disneyworld, and it’s pretty tasty! You start with a pie crust, then fill it with pre-steamed apples (to avoid them getting too juicy during baking) and a thick cake batter. It turns out beautifully golden-brown on top, and the addition of a layer of powdered sugar gives it just the right amount of extra sweetness.

Personally, I cut a corner and used a refrigerated pie crust, but you can make your own if you prefer. I find that using pre-made crusts gets you a thinner layer of crust, which I like in this recipe– too thick and it might end up stodgy-seeming with the extra cake batter in there as well.

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Cranberry Gingersnap Pie

First off, my apologies for the 3-month delay since my last post. Between moving to a new house, dropping my laptop (!) and having to get a new one, and now the holiday season, it’s just been impossible to find time to blog! BUT, I haven’t stopped with the projects, so now I’ve got a backlog of posts to clear– you’ve been warned!

So it’s pie season, and it’s cranberry season, which are pretty much the same thing. Right?

Since my family members aren’t huge fans of cooked fruit (something about the texture?), I decided to join the legions of bakers apparently making cranberry curd pie this year– I was inspired by my friends at The Pie Project (they made a different pie every week for a *whole year*!) to make this one, which features a gingersnap-walnut crust and a tangy layer of cranberry curd that’s perfectly puckery. I couln’t help gilding the lily a bit, so I added a fluffy wreath of meringue and some sugared cranberries– I think the meringue adds a nice contrast, while the cranberries are mostly decorative but still tasty.

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Chocolate-Orange Hazelnut Entremet

Having made one fancy entremet, I was eager to try another one– this time, I decided to forego the silicone mold and restrict myself to a plain round shape, which would hopefully lend itself well to a dark chocolate mirror glaze. Finding myself with an extra jar of marmalade, I thought I’d combine it with dark chocolate and some chocolate-hazelnut spread.

This entremet has a base layer of chocolate brownie (cakey, not fudgy, to keep the dessert from being too dense), a thin layer of Nutella-coated cornflakes (a substitute for feutilline), and a layer of orange marmalade, all encased in a chocolate-hazelnut mousse and covered in chocolate mirror glaze. I decorated with some candied orange slices, chocolate ganache truffles, and some edible paint made from gold luster dust and vodka.

The finished dessert was excellent– the mousse was light yet rich, the cornflakes added some much-appreciated crunch (though the chilled nutella was slightly hard to cut through– next time I might add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to soften it a bit), and the marmalade was a nice contrast in flavor. And of course, it was one of the most gorgeous desserts I’ve ever made, so there’s that…

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Juneberry Muffins

juneberry-muffins

Back at the end of June we went out to pick the last of the juneberries– there were masses of them, dark purple and heavy on the tree, so we filled our bucket and decided to freeze them for future use. After washing them and picking out the stems, I spread them in a single layer on a paper-towel-lined baking sheet and froze them overnight. Then it was time to decide what to do with them!

juneberries-frozen

We decided on muffins, figuring that we could treat the juneberries much like blueberries, and went with the Cook’s Illustrated “Best Blueberry Muffins” recipe, which involves a combination of fresh berries and berry compote. Since we already had a stash of juneberry jam we used that instead of the compote. You can use blueberries instead!

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Berry-Yogurt Breakfast Popsicles

I’ve been in a popsicle mood lately (no surprise given the summer weather), so I’ve been turning to some old favorites for desserts. They’re perfect on a warm summer evening– but what about the rest of the day? Especially when the weather is this nice, there’s no reason one should have to wait until after dinner for a popsicle, right?

Enter the breakfast popsicle. You heard me– a breakfast popsicle! I often have fruit and yogurt for breakfast, so what could possibly be wrong with eating it in a slightly more fun form? A frozen form. On a stick.

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Juneberry Jam Bars

juneberry-bars

Remember how I used half a box of vanilla cake mix to make a small batch of cupcake sliders? Well, since I had the other half on hand, I went looking for a recipe to use it in– it was just kismet that we also had several jars of our Juneberry Jam in the refrigerator, which inspired me to make jam-oatmeal bars!

This recipe couldn’t be easier, and it’s very kid-friendly since there’s no special equipment needed! My daughter and I had it mixed up and in the pan in five minutes flat, and they turned out fine– a bit sweeter than I generally like due to the sugar in the cake mix, but the kids liked them. Definitely something that’s easy to whip up on short notice from pantry staples– you can double it to use up a whole box of cake mix and make a 9×13″ pan of bars!

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