Lemon Mini Bundt Cakes

Awhile back, one show I really enjoyed watching on the Food Network was Kathleen Daeleman’s show. She focused on healthy food choices, portions and exercise to maintain a well balanced and healthy lifestyle. Her show is no longer on air but it doesn’t stop me from trying her recipes. I prepared this recipe for my Chef Spotlight Dinner where we highlighted health conscious chefs. Rather than a loaf, I prepared this as individual mini bundt cakes for all my guests.

Lemon Mini Bundt Cakes
recipe adapted from Kathleen Daeleman

1-1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup + 1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons finely minced lemon zest (about two lemons)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a mini bundt pan of 6, set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and 1/2 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and lemon zest and mix until combined. Add the dry ingredients alternating with the milk. While there are still bits of flour to be seen, add the pecans and mix until ingredients are just combined. Don’t overmix or you’ll be serving lemon butter pecan hard tack.

Pour batter into prepared pan, bake in the center of the oven until bread is golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Prepare the lemon glaze while your bread is baking by whisking together in a small bowl the lemon juice and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. Just after the bread comes out of the oven, poke holes all over the top with a fork or skewer and pour lemon-sugar mixture over the cake. Cool bread in the pan on a rack 1/2 hour or as long as you can stand it. Serve warm or cool.

I garnished my cakes with a sliced strawberry, raspberry puree (drizzled on) and fresh blueberries.

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse

I’ve pretty much had my fill of baked sweets with the many cookies, brownies, fudge, biscotti, etc I either made this holiday season or indulged in at parties or made by friends. For dessert this Christmas I wanted something lighter but still rich. The first thing that came to mind was chocolate mousse.

It was the perfect dessert to end our Christmas meal. I used organic coffee infused chocolate, compliments of my friend Aisha of eSutras. (Check out her site as she offers quite a bit of organic products!) Another special touch I added to the original recipe was the raspberry sauce I used as a garnish. It complimented the chocolate well and added a nice burst of color!

Chocolate Raspberry Mousse
recipe from Simply Recipes

4 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons espresso or very strong coffee
1 cup cold heavy cream
3 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon sugar
(Optional) Raspberries or Raspberry sauce and extra whipped cream

Whip the cream to soft peaks, then refrigerate.

Combine the chocolate, butter, and espresso in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not simmering, water, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool until the chocolate is just slightly warmer than body temperature. To test, dab some chocolate on your bottom lip. It should feel warm. If it is too cool, the mixture will seize when the other ingredients are added.

Once the melted chocolate has cooled slightly, whip the egg whites in a medium bowl until they are foamy and beginning to hold a shape. Sprinkle in the sugar and beat until soft peaks form.

When the chocolate has reached the proper temperature, stir in the yolks. Gently stir in about one-third of the whipped cream. Fold in half the whites just until incorporated, then fold in the remaining whites, and finally the remaining whipped cream.

Spoon or pipe the mousse into a serving bowl or individual dishes (I used martini glasses.) If you wish, layer in fresh raspberries or raspberry sauce and top with whipped cream.

Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. (The mousse can be refrigerated for up to a day.)

Serves 5-8, depending on the size of the servings.

Chocolate Fondue

The perfect sweet ending to fondue is a chocolate fondue! To finish off our wonderful Christmas Eve fondue dinner, I prepared this chocolate fondue by melting chocolate almond bark and serving it with a few dippers.
Dippers to compliment the chocolate included French butter cookies, fresh banana slices, banana nut biscotti and some peppermint marshmallow trees (which also topped our hot cocoa!).

Red Velvet Cake Balls

This is such a common recipe among fellow food bloggers these days. I had some leftover Red Velvet Cake that my friend Jen brought us a few days ago and made these Red Velvet Cake Balls to use it up and share.

The recipe for this is rather easy and can be easily found on a slew of other blogs in greater detail, but I thought it would be interesting to provide a link to a New York Times article that outlines the popularity, legends and the history of Red Velvet Cake.

Red Velvet Cake Balls
original recipe unkown

Prepared red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting
Chocolate bark, melted
small scoop
parchment lined baking sheet

– In a large bowl, mash the prepared and frosted cake to fully combine.
– Using a small scoop, form small balls of mashed cake.
– Roll each ball with your hands to form a more uniform ball.
– Melt chocolate according to package directions and place melted chocolate in a small bowl.
– Carefully place ball of cake into the melted chocolate and coat completely.
– Remove coated cake ball and place on parchment lined baking sheet to harden.

Key Lime Bars

I made the following recipe for our annual Holiday Party where our menu highlighted Floribbean cuisine. No Floribbean menu would be complete without Key Lime Bars. I was watching the America’s Test Kitchen(ATK) tv show where they featured these key lime bars. They made it look so easy and it was! Then again, ATK recipes have never failed me…

Key Lime Bars
recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

ATK Note: If you cannot find fresh Key limes, use regular (Persian) limes. Do not use bottled lime juice. Grate the zest from the limes before juicing them, avoiding the bitter white pith that lies just beneath the outermost skin. The optional coconut garnish adds textural interest and tames the lime flavor for those who find it too intense. The recipe can be doubled and baked in a 13- by 9-inch baking pan; you will need a double layer of extra-wide foil for the pan (each sheet about 20 inches in length) and should increase the baking times by a minute or two.

Crust

5 ounces animal crackers
3 tablespoons packed light or dark brown sugar
pinch salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Filling

2 ounces cream cheese, at room temp
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
pinch salt
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg yolk

1/2 cup Key lime or fresh lime juice (see note above)

Garnish (Optional)

3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut about 12-inch length extra-wide heavy-duty foil; fold cut edges back to form 7 1/2-inch width. With folded sides facing down, fit foil securely into bottom and up sides of 8-inch-square baking pan, allowing excess to overhang pan sides. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.

TO MAKE THE CRUST: In workbowl of food processor, pulse animal crackers until broken down, about ten 1-second pulses; process crumbs until evenly fine, about 10 seconds (you should have about 1 1/4 cups crumbs). Add brown sugar and salt; process to combine, ten to twelve 1-second pulses (if large sugar lumps remain, break them apart with fingers). Drizzle butter over crumbs and pulse until crumbs are evenly moistened with butter, about ten 1-second pulses. Press crumbs evenly and firmly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake until deep golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack while making filling. Do not turn off oven.

TO MAKE THE FILLING: While crust cools, in medium bowl, stir cream cheese, zest, and salt with rubber spatula until softened, creamy, and thoroughly combined. Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk vigorously until incorporated and no lumps of cream cheese remain; whisk in egg yolk. Add lime juice and whisk gently until incorporated (mixture will thicken slightly).

TO ASSEMBLE AND BAKE: Pour filling into crust; spread to corners and smooth surface with rubber spatula. Bake until set and edges begin to pull away slightly from sides, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cover with foil and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours.

Loosen edges with paring knife and lift bars from baking pan using foil extensions; cut bars into 16 squares. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, if using, and serve. (Leftovers can be refrigerated up to 2 days; crust will soften slightly. Let bars stand at room temperature about 15 minutes before serving.)

Tropical Fruit Salad

I made the following recipe for our annual Holiday Party where our menu highlighted Floribbean cuisine. This recipe is adapted from my mom’s Filipino Fruit Salad that she often made when she catered parties. I added this because of the tropical fruits it includes: mangoes, papaya, pineapple.

When making this, it’s important that the fruit is dry and drained thoroughly. If there is too much moisture or liquid, it will be slightly soupy… which is not ideal. Another tip is that this is great frozen. Whenever we had leftovers, my parents would freeze it portioned in ice cube trays and pop them out for something sweet and frozen for later.

Creamy Tropical Fruit Salad
adapted from my Mom’s recipe

2-3 cans of tropical fruit salad, drained well
1/4 cup condensed milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 jar maraschino cherries, drained & patted dry
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 cup fresh mango chunks
1 cup fresh papaya chunks
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained

Combine all the ingredients and toss to fully combine.

Chill overnight and serve cold.

Tres Leches Trifle

I made the following recipe for our annual Holiday Party where our menu highlighted Floribbean cuisine. Tres Leches is a popular dessert in Mexican cuisine. I added it to my menu as a bundt cake. Originally I wanted to do individual cupcakes, but I had more than enough to do as it is and so I opted to take the easier route for this one. It was a great recipe and looked great displayed!

Tres Leches Trifle
recipe adapted from FoodNetwork/Alton Brown

Cake :
Vegetable oil
6 3/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces sugar
5 whole eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Glaze:
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup half-and-half

Topping:
2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
maraschino cherries (garnish)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour a bundt pan and set aside.

Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and with the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar over 1 minute. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches and mix just until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared bundt pan. This will appear to be a very small amount of batter. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.

Remove the cake to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes to an hour. Poke the top of the each cupcake all over with a skewer or fork (I used a chopstick). Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.

Glaze:

Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the half-and-half in a 1-quart measuring cup. (I also added about 1/3 cup caramel sauce for additional sweetness.) Once combined, pour the glaze over the cupcakes. Refrigerate the cake overnight.


Topping:

Place the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk together on low until stiff peaks are formed. Change to medium speed and whisk until thick. Spread the topping over the cake and allow to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Slice cake into cubes and layer in a trifle bowl with whipped cream and maraschino cherries.