Lemon Bars

The following recipe was shared during my Chef Spotlight Dinner highlighting recipes of Chef Wolfgang Puck. You can view other recipes and pictures of the event HERE.

Lemon Bars
shared at the event by Joelen
Original recipe found here
Crust
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 ounces unsalted butter, cut into chunks

Lemon Custard
8 eggs
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup lemon zest
Confectioner’s sugar, for decorating

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2. In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the flour, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. With the machine running, add the butter and continue to process until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Transfer the mixture to a buttered 12-by-18-inch baking pan. With your fingers, press it in to form an even layer of crust.

3. Bake the crust until light golden in color, 15 to 18 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the lemon custard topping. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the sugar, flour, and salt and stir until well blended. Finally, stir in the lemon juice, milk, and lemon zest.

5. Pour the lemon mixture over the prebaked crust, return the pan to the oven, and continue to bake until the custard has set, 20 minutes more. Remove the pan from the oven, let it cool to room temperature, and then chill, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

6. Before serving, use a sharp knife to cut down through the topping and crust to make 3 dozen bars. Carefully pry them from the pan and dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving.

Harv: My Ice Cream Idol

One very special friend of mine, Harv, surprised me with a fabulous new kitchen toy over the weekend. He graciously gave me a Cuisinart Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker. Thank you Harv! He’s quite the ice cream connoisseur and well, I have ice cream maker envy because he has the king of all ice cream makers. Even more impressive is that he’s rebuilt/refurbished 2 commercial ice cream makers from scratch himself! (I’m in complete and utter awe…) Here are similar pics of his handsome ice cream maker, a Taylor 104-27 (which is very similar to what is used on Iron Chef competitions of Food Network):

My first recipe I tried was a simple strawberry ice cream. Unfortunately my attempts to make it healthier by using 2% fat milk and half & half didn’t result in the consistency I wanted. I learned from a fellow friend and blogger, Annie of Annie’s Eats, that full fat is definitely necessary. Check out her blog for the same recipe but with much better results!

So for my second attempt I wanted to use up some well ripe fruits and ingredients I had on hand. Thankfully this time around I had success! I made an adaptation of a sherbet recipe included in the instruction/recipe booklet. Here’s my recipe for a low fat pineapple sherbet:1 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
2 cups 2% low fat milk
1 cup processed fresh pineapple*
3-4 tablespoons powdered sugar

*Process fresh pineapple in a blender. Use 1 cup of this processed fresh pineapple for the recipe.

Combine all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.
Pour into your ice cream maker and churn/freeze based on your manufacturer’s directions.
You may want to transfer the finished product in a freezer proof container so that it can “ripen” for an hour or two in the freezer.

Puff, Puff, Give…

It’s Sunday and that means it’s a cooking class! Sundays have been a great day for me to schedule cooking classes to teach folks about various culinary techniques and applications, in hopes to inspire them to tackle cooking challenges they may face. So today, the challenge was puff pastry.

Food trivia ~ how many layers are typically in a sheet of puff pastry dough that’s been made by the classical method? 10? 24? 50?….. No. The answer is 729! How can that be? Well the classic method in making puff pastry involves working a simple pastry dough into a stick of butter by rolling & folding the dough into thirds, then chilling the dough for at least an hour after every fold. This is done 6 times so 3 folds to every 6 times is 729. (Think of it as 3 to the sixth power – if that helps!). As you may have guessed, this is an extremely time consuming process which is probably why puff pastry can be a pricey ingredient to work with.

Another piece of information I talked about was why the dough puffs up to begin with. Because the dough uses so much butter that’s been embedded into the layers, the butter still has water molecules within it. When these water molecules heat up, they produce steam and expand, hence the dough “puffs”. Interesting huh?!

This is why I love teaching folks so much. Its one thing to blog about recipes I’ve made, but its a whole other reward when I’m able to apply what I know to empower and inspire others in the kitchen personally…. and to create opportunities for people around me to learn hands on and interact with them.
So back to my puff pastry. In the 2 classes (afternoon & evening) I hosted today, everyone made their own puff pastry creation, either sweet or savory. For the savory version, we made a caprese tart using fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil. For the sweet version, we made a strawberries & cream tart, with fresh strawberries and a vanilla cream cheese spread.Here are pictures of our final products, along with the recipes:


Caprese Tart

1 sheet puff pastry dough
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 egg, scrambled (egg wash)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tomato, sliced thin
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt & pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 400.
Prep your baking pan with parchment paper.
Place your puff pastry sheet on the baking pan.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top to cover.
Brush the egg wash along the sides of the dough.
Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
While dough is baking, prepare the tomatoes.
Slice the tomatoes and place on 2 layers of paper towels on a single layer.
Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and let side for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, dab the top of the tomatoes with a paper towel to remove excess moisture.
In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, minced garlic, salt & pepper to create a garlic infused oil.
Set aside oil.
When the puff pastry has cooled slightly, spinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top.
Top the mozzarella cheese with slices of tomato.
Brush the tomato slices with the garlic infused oil.
Bake in the same oven for another 5-7 minutes until the cheese has melted and baked golden.

Strawberries & Cream Tart
1 puff pastry sheet
1 block cream cheese
1/2 tablespoon vanilla paste or vanilla extract
1/2 cup half & half
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup sliced or quarted strawberries

Preheat oven to 400.
Prep your baking pan with parchment paper.
Place your puff pastry sheet on the baking pan.
Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, 10-12 minutes.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.
While dough is baking, prep the vanilla cream cheese frosting.
Whip the cream cheese until soft, adding half 7 half to help ease it.
Slowly add the powdered sugar, vanilla and remaining half & half until fully combined.
When the puff pastry has cooled slightly, spread the frosting on top of the pastry dough.
Top with fresh strawberries.

Cherry Clafouti

The following recipe was made and shared at my Chef Spotlight dinner, highlighting Julia Child. You can read and view links to the other recipes HERE.

Lisa’s Cherry Clafouti
recipe from Julia Child


1 1/4 cups milk<!–milk–><!––>
2/3 cup sugar<!–sugar–><!––>, divided
3 egg<!–eggs–><!––>
1 tablespoon vanilla<!–vanilla–><!––>
1/8 teaspoon salt<!–salt–><!––>
1/2 cup flour<!–flour–><!––>
3 cups cherry<!–cherries–><!––>, pitted
powdered sugar<!–powdered sugar–><!––>, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Using a blender, combine the milk, 1/3 cup sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt and flour, and blend.
Lightly butter an 8-cup baking dish, and pour a 1/4-inch layer of the blended mixture over the bottom. Set remaining batter aside.
Place dish into the oven for about 7-10 minutes, until a film of batter sets in the pan but the mixture is not baked through. Remove from oven (but don’t turn the oven off, yet).
Distribute the pitted cherries over the set batter in the pan, then sprinkle with the remaining sugar. Pour the remaining batter over the cherries and sugar.
Bake in the preheated oven for 45 to 60 minutes, until the clafouti is puffed and brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.
Servings: 6-8 for dessert, 4 for breakfast.

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes

This recipe was featured in my Springtime Cupcake swap event, which you can read about HERE.

Tricia’s Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes:

1 cup Guinness
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups superfine sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350° and grease and line with parchment paper a 9-inch springform pan. Pour the Guinness into a large saucepan and add the sliced butter. Heat until the butter is melted and remove from the heat. Whisk in the cocoa and sugar.

In a separate bowl, beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla. Add the sour cream mixture to the Guinness mixture in the saucepan. Finally, beat in the flour and baking soda. Pour the batter into the greased and lined springform pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour.

For cupcakes, pour into lines cupcake pan and bake for 15-20 minutes. (keep checking with a toothpick for doneness. Your oven may vary.) Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

For the frosting, beat the powdered sugar and cream cheese together until well combined and creamy. Add the cream and beat again until it’s a spreadable consistency. I found slowly adding the cream and beating the icing very well gave excellent results. At first there seems like a lot of frosting for just the top of a 9-inch cake but don’t skimp! The idea is to frost the top of the cake until it resembles the frothy head of a pint of Guinness.

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

This recipe was featured in my Springtime Cupcake swap event, which you can read about HERE.

Joelen’s Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes:

1 butter yellow cake mix
1 3oz box french vanilla instant pudding
1 cup half & half
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cup chocolate ganache
(or 1 tub prepared chocolate frosting, slightly melted)

Prepare yellow cupcakes as directed.
In the meantime, prepare the vanilla custard filling by combineing the instant pudding with the half & half in a medium bowl.

In a stand mixer using the whip attachment, place cream, vanilla and powdered sugar on medium speed. Whip the cream until you get soft peaks.

Gently fold in pudding mixture into the whipped cream until fully incorporated.

Place filling into a piping bag or makeshift ziploc bag, fitted with a coupler and a #21 tip.

When cupcakes have cooled, place tip inside the center of each cupcake and pipe in filling, being careful not to overfill.

When all cupcakes are filled, have your ganache (or melted chocolate frosting) ready and dip only the tops of the cupcakes. Place glazed cupcakes on a cooling rack to dry.

Drain and pat dry maraschino cherries. While cupcakes are slightly “wet’ from the glaze, place a cherry on top to garnish.

White Cupcakes w/Raspberry White Chocolate Frosting

This recipe was featured in my Springtime Cupcake swap event, which you can read about HERE.

Susan’s White Cupcakes
w/Raspberry White Chocolate Frosting:

2 2/3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 large egg whites at room temp
1 cup + 2 tablespookns whole milk at room temp
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temp, cut into tablespoons
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Frosting:
1/2 cup soft unsalted butter
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup raspberries, pureed & strained
4 ounces white chocolate finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cupcake tins with cupcake liners.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Whisk together egg whites and milk in a small bowl; set aside.

Beat butter using flat beater attachment until soft and creamy (about 2 minutes). Add the sugar gradually and beat until very light and fluffy(about 3 minutes). Scrape down the bowl once ot twice and then beat in vanilla.

Add the flour mixture in 4 additions, alternatively with the egg white/milk mixture. Begin and end with flour mixture. Beat until smooth on low-medium speed after each addition.

Fill cupcake holders. Bake for 25 minutes. Cool

For Frosting:

Beat butter until flurry. Add sugar. Once blended add raspberries. Mix. Add 2 ounces of white chocolate. Spread on cupcakes. Garnish with 2 ounces of remaining chocolate.