The Crumble – Strawberry and Cherry

Summer is officially in full swing, though this sadly also means we are well into bikini season.  The good news is that summer months bring in cherries, peaches, plums, and more wonderful fruit, and while I should be working out a lot so I can hit the beach, I’ve really just doing a lot more baking and eating.

In preparation for the coming of stone fruit season, I took a baking class on cobblers, crisps, crumbles, and buckles back in April.  We had a potluck dinner for the Kawasaki twins’ birthdays at the end of the month, but the aforementioned fruits from my local grocery stores weren’t quite ripe yet.  I decided to make a crumble featuring strawberries instead.  I prepped everything in advance and assembled and baked it at Kelli‘s.

Happy Birthday, Twinsies!
Happy Birthday, Twinsies!

I forgot to take photo of finished Strawberry Crumble with the ice cream on top, so the above is the closest thing I have.  Here’s the recipe!

Topping:

  • 3/4 C flour
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C almond or hazelnut flour
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 C old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, cold and cubed

1. Place the flours, sugars, and butter in a food processor and pulse until pea sized clumps form.

Crumble Topping - Butter, White and Brown Sugar, Oats
Crumble Topping – Butter, White and Brown Sugar, Oats

2. Fold in the oats.

3. Place on a baking sheet and freeze until butter is cold.

Strawberry Filling

  • 1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
  • 4 C strawberries
  • 1 T flour
  • 3/4 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C freshly squeezed orange juice

1. Toss the strawberries, sugar, and the orange zest together in a large bowl.

2. In a measuring cup, dissolve the flour in the orange juice and then mix it into the fruit.

Strawberry Filling - Strawberry, Orange Zest, Orange Juice, Flour, Sugar
Strawberry Filling – Strawberry, Orange Zest, Orange Juice, Flour, Sugar

3. Pour into ramekins about 2/3 full, or in an 8×11 pan if making a bigger one.

4. Add crumble topping on top.

Strawberry Crumble
Strawberry Crumble

5. Bake at 350ºF for 12-15 minutes until bubbly (50 minutes if using an 8×11 pan).

The great thing about crumbles is that they are quick to make and pretty much foolproof.  For those that turn the simplest of recipes into culinary disasters, the crumble is perfect for you.  You’re essentially just tossing some fresh fruit in some sugar, tossing the crumble on top, and popping it in the oven!  You don’t need to be precise with measurements or too pretentious with presentation.  You also can make as little or as much filling as you want and save the crumble topping for later.  I froze the leftover topping from the twins’ birthday and ended up using some for a couple mugs of cherry crumble for Kevin and I a few weekends ago using the first batch of gorgeous cherries I saw at the market.  Easy!  Here’s the cherry filling recipe:

Cherry Filling

  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 6 C fresh cherries, pitted
  • 2 T flour

1. Whisk flour and sugar together and then toss in fruit.

2. Add crumble topping.

3. Bake at 325ºF for 10 minutes.

4. Top with lots of ice cream!

Cherry Crumble in a Mug
Cherry Crumble in a Mug

Fingers crossed all of the basketball Sho-Yu has been playing lately will negate all of the sweets!

Eggnog Cupcakes

We’re officially 6 months away from Christmas, folks.  During one of my recent attempts to catch up on blogging, I realized I still had sweets from Christmas I still hadn’t posted about so I decided to wait til now to post since maybe now we’re a bit closer to the holiday recipe bookmarking season.

I made a batch of Apple Pie cookies for the 2011 Annual Kawasaki Family Christmas party, but wanted to do something a little more holiday-esque for 2012’s.  I never drink eggnog, but I do like eggnog-flavored baked goods.  I combined two recipes to make this version – the cupcake recipe is from A Good Appetite, and the frosting recipe is from Dollhouse Bake Shoppe.  Here’s my combination!

Ingredients
Eggnog Cupcake
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups + 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2/3 teaspoon salt
  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup eggnog
  • 2 teaspoons of rum (optional)
Eggnog Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8oz cream cheese, room temperature (don’t use light or low fat)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar), sifted
  • Pinch of Ground Nutmeg
  • 1-2 tablespoons eggnog, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Rum, to taste (optional)
 Directions
For eggnog cupcakes:
1.  Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 24 mini cupcake tins or 15 regular tins with size appropriate liners.
2. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter & 1 1/3 cups of sugar together until light & fluffy. Beat in the rum & vanilla. Add the baking powder, salt & 2/3 cup flour, and beat until combined. Beat in 1/3 cup eggnog. Then beat in another 2/3 cup flour, followed by the rest of the eggnog & then the rest of the flour.
3. In another bowl beat the egg whites until foamy. Add in the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold (not stir!) 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter until completely combined then fold in the remaining egg whites.
Fold (not stir!) the Egg Whites Into the Batter
Fold (not stir!) the Egg Whites Into the Batter

4. Divide the batter between the cupcake tins, filling each one 2/3 full. Bake 15 minutes for mini cupcakes or 22 minutes for regular. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.

Too Much Mixing = Flat Cupcakes
Too Much Mixing = Flat Cupcakes

5. Cool completely on a rack.

For eggnog cream cheese frosting:
1. With an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth (make sure they are both at room temperature so you do not get lumps in your frosting). Gradually beat in powdered sugar until incorporated. Add vanilla, a pinch of ground nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons eggnog, add more to taste. Add 1-2 tablespoons of rum if desired. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until smooth and creamy.
Fluffy!
Fluffy!
2. Garnish cupcakes with a sprinkle of ground nutmeg (a cinnamon stick will work too!).
Piping the Mini Cupcakes
Piping the Mini Cupcakes
 My brother was over that day and started hovering over my work station, nearly knocking over my bowl of freshly made frosting.  I of course yelled at him to leave me in peace, and then proceeded to frost the cupcakes one by one, and then sprinkle the nutmeg on top.
A Little Sprinkle of Nutmeg!
A Little Sprinkle of Nutmeg!

Getting nervous that he would tornado into the kitchen and knock over the box of perfect little cupcakes, I put the box in my room until it was time to leave for the party.

Ready for the Party!
Ready for the Party!

And of course, I really didn’t have to worry about my brother because I managed to knock the box over onto its side right before I left for the party.

Failing at Life
Failing at Life

The good news is they didn’t last longer than 10 minutes once they got to the party, regardless of the way they looked.

Lavender Lemon Bars

I made these bars so long ago, I can’t even remember what for. I do remember finding the inspiration for them from trying a lavender lemon bar from the bakery case at Surfas when Kelley and I went there a year or two ago.  Jennifer got me a sachet of dried lavender last Christmas and I think that’s what prompted me finally get in gear and make them.  I’m sure Jenn meant it to be used for other things, but alas, my world revolves around whatever I can eat.

Here’s the recipe, as adapted from Studio Cuisine Blog.

Ingredients

Crust:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp dried lavender
  • pinch of kosher salt
Filling:
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • zest of one lemon
  • powdered sugar, for topping

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 8×8 baking dish and set aside.

2. To make the crust, cream together softened butter and sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy. Stop mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add flour, lavender, and salt. Mix at low speed until just combined.

Crust - Dry Ingredients
Crust – Dry Ingredients

3. Press crust into buttered (or foil-lined) baking dish, and bake for 18-20 minutes until light brown.

Lavender Shortbread Crust
Lavender Shortbread Crust

4. While crust is baking, make your filling. Whisk together eggs and sugar in a medium-sized bowl until smooth. Add flour, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and whisk until fully combined.

Clever Seed Strainer
Clever Seed Strainer

5. Remove crust from oven, and pour filling over warm crust. Place lemon bars back in oven and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes until crust is firm to the touch.

6. Cut bars into squares and dust with powdered sugar before serving.

7. Lemon bars will last sealed in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Lavender Lemon Bar
Lavender Lemon Bar

Ta-da!  I’ve had a few floral-inspired desserts before, and there’s definitely a fine line between having that floral essence and…something that tastes like soap.  This recipe nicely manages to avoid the latter, but still had that nice lavender smell to it.  With the dried lavender in the crust, you didn’t get any of the dried lavender texture in your mouth either.

Potato Chip Cookies

People don’t traditionally associate dessert with Super Bowl food, so I combined two of America’s favorite snacks (the cookie and the potato chip) for this year’s Super Bowl party!

I’m proud to say I’ve been getting a little braver with my baking and improvising a lot more.  I’ve done it with cooking, but I always hesitated to do the same with baking since even the slightest bit too much or too little of something can throw a dessert’s chemistry off and completely change the texture and sometimes even the flavor.  Most of my experimenting has come with flavor rather than texture as of late.

I sourced the recipe for these cookies from Emeril, but I like my sweet-and-salty desserts a bit saltier so I adapted the recipe as such:

Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped and toasted pecans
1/2 cup finely crushed potato chips (I used Kettle Sea Salt potato chips smashed in a baggie with my hands)
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour

Chocolate and potato chip dip finish (optional)
1 cup crushed potato chips (used a food processor to crush finer)
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon canola oil (butter will work too)

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter with 1/2 cup of the sugar until lightly and fluffy with a dough blender.  Two knives will work too, as I made these at a friend’s and had forgotten to bring my pastry blender. Mix in the vanilla and salt until smooth. Add the pecans, 1/2 cup crushed potato chips and flour together and mix until just combined.

I Miss My Dough Blender
I Miss My Dough Blender

2.  Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Scoop a tablespoon-sized mound of dough and form it into a small, firm ball.  Roll the ball in the remaining sugar until coated.  Place on prepared baking sheet and slightly flatten the cookie balls.  The cookies only spread a wee bit, so they only need to be about an inch apart.  Repeat with remaining dough.

3.  Bake cookies until lightly golden around the edges, about 15 minutes. Transfer to cool on a wire rack.

4.  If dipping in chocolate, melt chocolate with oil in the microwave (do a few 30-second increments) or in a double boiler.  Stir until smooth.  Dip half of each fully cooled cookie in the chocolate, and sprinkle with pulverized potato chips.  Let dry and set on a wire rack.

Dipped and Setting
Dipped and Setting

I probably slightly overdid the salt between using salted chips and adding more salt (I used a full teaspoon originally) than what Emeril’s recipe called for, so I dipped them in bittersweet chocolate and then sprinkled crushed potato chips on top.  They were looking a little on the plain side any way, so it worked out nicely!

My New Cake Stand. Thanks, Melo!
My New Cake Stand. Thanks, Melo!

Melody was my Sho-Yu secret santa this year and got me this fabulous Martha Stewart miniature cake stand.  I’m very excited to be using it to show off my latest edibles!

PS – I loved Beyonce’s catwalk during her half time performance this year.  I’ve been practicing it myself, but I just don’t think it’s quite on par yet…

Apple Mosaic Tart with Salted Caramel

Not a lot of time but severely backlogged on posts, so here’s a quick one!

I made this as part of Christmas dinner dessert (yes, very late on these posts) for my dad and I as the final round to my Holiday Bake-A-Thon 2012.  He’s diabetic and while I’ve tried to make diabetes-friendly baked goods before, they just aren’t the same.  So, I found a dessert recipe on Smitten Kitchen with relatively low sugar in it.

Add Butter and Sugar
Add Butter and Sugar

Most of the sweetness comes from the apples.  I picked Fuji for this batch since they’re naturally a bit sweeter than Granny Smith. I also cut down on the amount of sugar that the recipe called for to be sprinkled on top of the tart prior to its first round in the oven. This tart wasn’t that hard to make, but it was definitely tedious making every thinly sliced apple layer perfect within the visual masterpiece.  While the tart was baking, I started the salted caramel in the last 10 minutes of baking time.

Salted Caramel Glaze
Salted Caramel Glaze

This was my first time making anything with puff pastry, though I’ve eaten my fair share of homebaked goods entailing aforementioned flaky layered goodness… enough to know there are a lot of bad puff pastries out there. I used DuFour puff pastry for this and don’t recommend anything less – it’s the best stuff money can buy and worth every penny!  Smitten Kitchen recommends it too!

Ready for Glazing
Ready for Glazing

My dad and I ended up eating about 2/3 of the tart after our hearty dinner (which I’ll post about eventually!).  It was so addicting hot out of the oven, and would have been absolute heaven with some cinnamon ice cream on top!

Apple Mosaic Tart with Salted Caramel Glaze
Apple Mosaic Tart with Salted Caramel Glaze

I also made this again for the Annual Sho-Yu Holiday Party we have every January along with a batch of Samoas Cupcakes, the official team cupcake.

Plenty more updates coming!  Until next time!