Cranberry Walnut Muffins (Vegan)

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Cranberry Walnut Muffins (Vegan)

Makes 4 dense, moist muffins

1 c. all-purpose flour

1 1/2 t. baking powder

1 t. ground cinnamon

1 pinch salt

1/2 c. honey

1 mashed banana (between 1/4 – 1/3 c)

1/4 c. canola oil

1 t. vanilla extract

1/2 c. dried cranberries (any flavor – I used blueberry for this batch)

1/3 c. chopped walnuts

Confectioner’s sugar mixed with a pinch of cinnamon

 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare four 1/2-cup ceramic ramekins with baking spray (or with vegan margarine and flour). Place ramekins on a baking sheet.

2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

3. In a separate bowl, combine honey, banana, canola oil and vanilla extract. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until there are no dry spots remaining.  Stir in cranberries and walnuts.

4. Spoon batter into prepared ramekins. Place baking sheet in center of oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the tops of muffins are firm.

5. Remove from oven. Dust with confectioner’s sugar mixed with a pinch of cinnamon. Serve warm.

Enjoy! Have a great day!

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Fresh Pineapple Cake

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Fresh Pineapple Cake

This is a very light, moist cake with a coarse crumb that is not overly sweet. Serve for breakfast with fresh fruit and yogurt or for afternoon tea.

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour or white rice flour (for gluten-free)

1 t. baking powder

1/4 t. salt

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

3/4 c. granulated white sugar

2 lg. eggs

1 c. buttermilk or whole milk

3/4 c. fresh pineapple cubes (between the size of raspberries and blueberries)*

confectioner’s sugar for garnish

edible flowers**, herbs, fresh pineapple for garnish, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare an 8″ round cake pan or decorative cake pan with baking spray or with butter and flour. (For gluten-free, use rice flour.)

2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, beat butter until it is light and fluffy. Add granulated sugar and continue to beat for about 5 minutes or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Scrape sides of bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape sides of bowl.

4. Lightly beat in 1/3 of flour mixture, then 1/2 c. of buttermilk or milk. Scrape sides of bowl. Repeat, and then beat in the remaining flour mixture.

5. Fold pineapple into batter. Spoon batter into the prepared cake pan, using the back of the spoon to smooth and level top of batter.

6. Bake for about 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center tests clean.

7. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert cake onto cake plate to serve right away or onto wire rack to continue cooling. Dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar before serving. Garnish as desired.

* Canned pineapple tidbits can be substituted in the recipe for fresh pineapple, if well-drained first.

** Daisies and lemon balm leaves are shown here. Daisies are edible and taste similar to parsley. So they are not very dessert-like in flavor, but they are a pretty garnish.

Enjoy!

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Banana Chocolate Crumb Cheesecake

Happy National Cheesecake Day on July 30th! I decided to mark the occasion by making one of my favorite cheesecakes – Banana Chocolate Crumb Cheesecake!

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 Banana Cheesecake

This is a soft, not-too-sweet, delicately flavored banana cheesecake with a dark chocolate cookie crumb “crust”. The custard recipe comes from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s banana variation of her Cordon Rose Cheesecake in The Cake Bible – a truly excellent cookbook.

Make 1 day ahead

Ingredients (at room temperature)

1 lb. (2 8-oz. pkgs.) cream cheese

1 c. granulated white sugar

1 1/2 t. vanilla extract

1/4 t. salt

2 c. sour cream

2 large, very ripe bananas, enough to make 1 c. mashed

3 T. fresh lemon juice, strained

1 1/4 – 1 1/2 c crushed dark chocolate wafer cookies  (use gluten-free cookies for a gluten-free cheesecake)

Prepare Pan

1. Butter the inside of an 8″ springform pan.  Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the inside of the pan – just smaller than 8″ in diameter. Butter the paper and then place it in pan.

2. Wrap the outside of the pan with a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil to prevent seepage from the water bath.

3. Have ready a larger baking pan – I use a 9″-square brownie pan – to use as a water bath for baking the cheesecake.

Directions for Making Cheesecake Custard

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Using a mixer or large food processor, beat together cream cheese and sugar until perfectly smooth. Scrape bowl. Beat in vanilla and salt, then sour cream. Scrape bowl.  Mash bananas together with lemon juice. Beat bananas into custard. Scrape bowl.

3. Pour custard into prepared springform pan. Place pan in larger baking pan. Pour in 1″ of very hot water. Bake cheesecake for 45 minutes. Turn oven off, without opening the door, and leave cheesecake in oven for one hour.  Remove cheesecake from oven and from water bath.  Remove foil from pan.  Plan pan on a cooling rack and let cheesecake continue cooling at room temperature for one more hour. Cover  pan with plastic wrap. Chill cheesecake in refrigerator overnight.

Serving

1. The next day, wipe outside of cheesecake pan with a hot, damp towel. Run a thin spatula around the inside of the pan. Release the clasp on the springform pan and remove the outside of pan.  If there is condensation on the cheesecake, lightly pat it dry with a paper towel. Invert cheesecake onto a flat plate or a small cutting board covered with plastic wrap.  Remove parchment paper.

2. Pat cookie crumbs onto bottom and sides of cheesecake. Re-invert onto serving plate. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until serving. Garnish and serve.

Suggested Garnishes

• Whipped cream, chocolate shavings and banana and/or strawberry slices.

• Whipped cream and hot fudge.

• Whipped cream and dark cherries.

• For Banana Split Cheesecake, serve with whipped cream, banana slices, strawberry slices, pineapple chunks, chopped walnuts, chocolate sauce, and melted strawberry jam.

Enjoy! Happy National Cheesecake Day!

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Persian Lime Pie

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It seems as though every lime pie is named “Key Lime Pie”, and yet fresh Key limes can be much more difficult to find than fresh Persian limes. Since the smaller, yellowish Key limes are considerably tarter than the larger, dark green Persian limes, the two varieties are not perfectly interchangeable. So, I decided to create a pie recipe based on Persian limes. This delicious, citrusy, cheesecake-like pie is wonderful for entertaining because it can be made up to a week ahead of time. Enjoy!

Persian Lime Pie

serves 12

 

Crust

1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs

1/3 c. granulated white sugar

1/4 t. salt

10 T. unsalted butter, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Whisk together crumbs, sugar and salt. Stir in melted butter. Press crumb mixture into a 9” pie plate.
  3. Place pie plate on a baking sheet and bake crust for 8 minutes. (Make filling while crust is baking.) Remove crust from oven.

 

Filling

8 oz. low-fat cream cheese

2 14-oz. cans sweetened condensed milk

3/4 c. fresh squeezed Persian lime juice

1 1/2 t. lime extract (optional, recipe at bottom of page)

  1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese on medium-high speed until perfectly smooth. Scrape down bowl. Beat in sweetened condensed milk until perfectly smooth. Scrape down bowl. On low speed, beat in lime juice until perfectly incorporated. Again, scrape down bowl.
  2. Taste filling. If desired, beat in lime extract.
  3. Gently pour filling into pie crust and then bake (on baking sheet) for 15 minutes. (Filling should be firm/set, but not browned.)
  4. Remove pie from oven. Cool at room temperature for about 40 minutes.  Chill for two hours before serving. (Cover pie with plastic wrap if not serving within a few hours.)

 

Topping*

3/4 c. heavy cream

2 1/4 T. granulated sugar

1 t. lime, lemon or orange extract

 

  1. Combine ingredients in a deep bowl. Whip on high speed until cream holds peaks.
  2. Scoop into a pastry bag fitted with a large tip to garnish pie slices, or dollop cream onto slices, right before serving.

* Canned whipped cream can be substituted.

 

Garnishes

fresh grated Persian lime zest

12 thin slices of Persian limes

fresh blueberries, blackberries or raspberries (optional)

edible flowers (optional)

 

Sprinkle slices of pie with fresh grated lime zest. Place a twisted slice of lime on each piece of pie. Decorate pie servings with berries and or flowers, if desired. Serve immediately.

 

Lime Extract

make several days ahead of time

1/4 c. vodka

2 t. fresh grated Persian lime zest (green rind only, no white pith)

1 t. granulated white sugar

  1. Combine ingredients in a small glass jar. Seal. Shake well to dissolve sugar.
  2. Store extract in cool dark place. (I use the freezer.) Shake extract well after one day.
  3. The following day, shake extract again. Then strain out lime zest, pressing zest through a sieve. Pour extract back into glass jar and cap tightly.

Boozy Bourbon Brownies

A little something for National Bourbon Day …

(Not for children)

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Boozy Bourbon Brownies

Makes about 25 small rich brownies

Ingredients:

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 c. unsalted butter

1/2 c. dried currants

2 T. bourbon

3/4 c. all-purpose flour

2 T. natural cocoa

1/4 t. salt

2 lg. eggs

1/2 c. granulated white sugar

1/2 c. dark brown sugar, firmly packed

Boozy Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting (Recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 9” square baking pan or spray with baking spray.
  2. Melt chocolate and butter together, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool.
  3. Combine the currants and bourbon. Set aside.
  4. In  small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa and salt. Set aside.
  5. In large bowl, beat eggs and white sugar together until pale, thick and creamy. (This takes about three to four minutes on high speed. Do not underbeat.) Beat in dark brown sugar and then beat in chocolate mixture. On lowest speed, beat in currants and bourbon.  Then beat in dry ingredients just until they are incorporated. Pour batter into baking pan. Spread evenly.
  6. Bake for about 32 to 37 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out almost clean and the brownies feel firm to the touch.  Place baking pan on a wire rack to cool.
  7. Before serving, cut brownies into squares and remove from pan. Frost tops of brownies with Boozy Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting.

 

Boozy Bourbon Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes enough to frost one 9” square pan of baked goods or to decorate about 30 cookies.

Ingredients:

6 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar

1 T. + 2 t. Bourbon, or to taste

 

Directions:

Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Beat until perfectly smooth. Taste. If desired, slowly beat in more Bourbon. Use to frost baked goods.

 

Have a great weekend!

Strawberry Shortcake Donuts

Happy National Donut Day!

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Strawberry Shortcake Donuts

1 3/4 c. + 2 T sifted all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour

1/3 c. granulated white sugar

2 t. baking powder

pinch of salt

3/4 c. buttermilk

2 lg. eggs, beaten

2 T. unsalted butter, melted

1 t. fresh lemon zest

3/4 c. finely chopped ripe strawberries

Lemon Glaze

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a 6-mold donut baking pan with oil. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, butter and lemon zest. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until mixture is smooth. If the mixture is too stiff, slowly stir in a little bit more buttermilk. Fold in strawberries.

4. Divide the batter between the donut molds. Spread with the back of a spoon. If needed, run your fingers under cold water, shake them off lightly, then finish shaping donuts with your damp fingers. The batter will stand above the donut pan. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until done to the touch.

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5. Remove donut pan from the oven and place on a baking rack to cool for just a few minutes.  While the donuts are resting make Lemon Glaze, recipe below. After a few minutes, turn donuts out upside down onto serving plates and then glaze.  The donut holes will have slightly filled in on what was the top and is now the bottom of each donut. Top with fresh strawberries and whipped cream if desired. Serve while donuts are still warm. Enjoy!

 Lemon Glaze

1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar

1 T. fresh lemon juice

1/2 t. fresh lemon zest

Directions: Slowly stir lemon juice into confectioner’s sugar until perfectly smooth. Stir in lemon zest.

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Have a great weekend!

This recipe is loosely based on the Cinnamon-Dipped Donuts recipe that I posted a few years ago which originally came from Frugal Feeding.

White Chocolate Citrus Bars

I’ve been thinking about Mother’s Day coming up, which made me think of this delicious little confection – probably because it is a perfect sweet treat for a ladies’ tea. Enjoy!

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White Chocolate Citrus Bars

Makes 16 large, or 32 small pieces

 

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour, divided

1 c. granulated white sugar, divided

1/3 c. unsalted butter

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 c. (total) fresh squeezed lemon, lime and/or orange juice

1 T. (total) freshly grated lemon, lime and/or orange zest

3.75 oz. chopped real white chocolate or 3/4 c. white chocolate chips

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9” square baking pan. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine 1 c. of the flour and 1/4 c. of the granulated sugar. Cut in butter, using your hands to blend ingredients, until the mixture forms pea-sized crumbs. Press mixture onto the bottom of the baking pan. Bake for about 13 to 15 minutes or until the base looks just set. (Do not overbake or the base will dry out.)
  3. While the base is baking, in a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, citrus juice, citrus zest, remaining 1/4 c. of flour and remaining 3/4 c. of granulated sugar. Set aside.
  4. Once the base is ready, remove baking pan from the oven and sprinkle base evenly with white chocolate. Whisk the lemon mixture again and then spread it evenly over the white chocolate layer.
  5. Bake for another 13 to 15 minutes or until just set. Cool completely before cutting into bars or squares.

Tip: After zesting your lemon, lime or orange, roll it on the counter while pressing down on it with your palm. This will help you get more juice out of the fruit when you squeeze it.

Serving Suggestions: Right before serving sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar. For a fancier presentation, press 1 c. of raspberry preserves through a sieve. Spoon preserves over pre-cut bars. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow preserves to firm up. Top cookies with  fresh mint leaves.

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Have a lovely weekend!

 

 

Ambrosia Fudge

Pretty little candies, perfect for afternoon tea!Image

Ambrosia Fudge

Makes about 36 pieces of fudge

Orange-flavored white chocolate fudge studded with dried fruits and coconut.

2/3 c. evaporated milk

1 2/3 c. granulated white sugar

3 T. unsalted butter

2 c. miniature marshmallows

7 1/2 oz. real white chocolate, chopped

2 t. orange extract

1/3 c. chopped dried apricots

1/3 c. chopped dried cherries

1/3 sweetened flaked coconut

  1. Spray an 8” square baking pan with vegetable oil. Line pan with heavy duty aluminum foil, allowing foil to drape over sides of pan. Spray foil with vegetable oil. Set aside.
  2. In a 2 qt. non-stick saucepan, combine evaporated milk, sugar and butter. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Boil for 4 to 5 minutes or until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage.* Remove from heat.
  3. Immediately stir in marshmallows, white chocolate, orange extract, apricots and coconut. Beat vigorously with a mixing spoon about 3 to 5 minutes until glossy and the only lumps are from the fruit,.
  4. Spread mixture evenly into pan. Cool in the refrigerator for one hour.
  5. Remove fudge from pan by lifting out the aluminum foil. Pull foil away from fudge and then inspect to make sure that no bits of aluminum foil are stuck in the candy. Using a sharp, heavy knife, cut fudge into pieces.
  • Soft ball stage in candy making is 235 to 240 degrees F.  At this stage, a spoonful of the candy mixture dropped into cold water will form a soft ball.

Note: To store fudge, line an airtight container with waxed paper. Arrange the fudge pieces in the container. If you need to stack the pieces of fudge, place wax paper between layers. Top with waxed paper and then the lid to the container. Store in the refrigerator. Allow to come to room temperature in the air tight container before serving.

Honey-Glazed Raisin Pecan Muffins (Gluten-Free)

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Honey-Glazed Raisin Pecan Muffins

2 c. white rice flour (gluten-free)

1/2 c. dark brown sugar

1 T. baking powder

2 1/2 t. ground cinnamon

1 c. Greek yogurt (full-fat)

1/2 c. melted butter

1/2 c. honey, plus extra for glazing muffins

2 lg. eggs

1 c. mixed jumbo raisins

1 c. chopped pecans

muffin papers or foils

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to  400 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with papers or foils.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt, butter, 1/2 c. honey, and eggs. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and then stir with a mixing spoon until no dry spots appear. Fold in raisins and walnuts.

4. Divide batter between muffin cups, mounding batter up in the center of each muffin and rounding with the back of a spoon. (Batter will stand above the top of the muffin pan.)

5. Bake for 20 – 23 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove muffins from the oven and immediately glaze each with about 1/2 t. of honey, spreading honey with the back of a spoon. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Muffins are best served warm with a bit of butter or jam. Enjoy!

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Have a lovely weekend!

Banana Brownies

This is a brownie recipe that I love because the brownies are super moist and let me make use of extra bananas, and an added bonus is that they freeze well. I just made a batch to put out for guests!Image

Banana Brownies

Not overly sweet or overly chocolatey, these have the added flavor and moistness of banana.

3/4 c. + 2 T. all-purpose flour

2 T. Dutch-process cocoa

1/4 t. salt

4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped or just over 3/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 c. unsalted butter

1-2 lg. eggs (use 1 for denser brownies, 2 for cakier brownies)

1/2 c. dark brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 c. granulated white sugar

1 c. mashed overripe banana (about 2 lg.)

1 t. vanilla extract

3.75 oz. chopped milk chocolate or 3/4 c. milk chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 9” square baking pan or spray pan with baking spray.
  2. In  small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa and salt. Set aside.
  3. Melt chocolate and butter together, stirring frequently. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat egg(s) and sugars together until light and fluffy. Beat in banana and then chocolate mixture. On lowest speed, beat in dry ingredients just until they are incorporated. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Spread evenly.
  5. Bake for approximately 40 to 45 minutes or until firm on top and starting to pull away from edges of pan. (Do not rely on a cake tester.) Place baking pan on a wire rack to cool.

Tip: Freeze overripe bananas so that you have them available whenever needed for baking. Thaw and then peel before using.

Serving suggestion: Sift with confectioner’s sugar before serving or tuck into banana splits.

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