Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lemon Lime Baby Cakes

 Sing Sing it's Spring!!
Beautiful Spring days like today bring back to mind a song from my childhood. As a young child, I loved playing my records on the family record player. I realize I'm probably dating myself by admitting we had a record player, as I'm sure some of you never had/used a record player. We had a record player even after CD's were readily available. New-fangled technology was not at all important to my parents and the record player worked just fine, so why change? My sisters and I had quite a few records that were recorded books with songs. The books to follow along with, accompanied the records. Each one of these records started with instructions on what sound to listen for to know when to turn the pages of the book. We had all the classics, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, etc. But my favorite was the Black Beauty record/book and I could probably still sing the songs from that record. Anyway, one of the story records had a song called "Sing Sing it's Spring" on it. That's all I remember from that particular record but this morning when I woke up to the sounds of happy chirping, that old song popped into my head. 
That recollection has absolutely nothing at all to do with these baby cakes, except that the light fresh lemon lime flavor of these cakes will have you singing for Spring too!
Tint the glaze with some food coloring in pastel colors and these little babies are perfect for Easter! 
Lemon Lime Baby Cakes
Printable Recipe

Source: April 10th, 2009 - by Stephanie Younger
Yields: 18-24 mini cakes using a mini muffin tin or 12 cakes using a regular muffin tin
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh lime zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup plain yogurt

For the drizzle:
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
lemon and lime juice or use several tablespoons of frozen lemonade or limeade concentrate, thawed
Tint with food coloring, if desired
I added some sprinkles too!
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well between additions. Add lemon and lime juice and zests, vanilla and almond extract and yogurt. Add the flour mixture, mix just until combined. Grease the pan of your choice and fill the cups half way. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes or baked through and when cooled, transfer to a wire rack. In a small bowl combine the confectioners’ sugar and enough lemon and lime juice or lemon-aid concentrate to make a nice consistency for the drizzle. Drizzle over the cakes.

Are you singing yet??

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Strawberry Swirl Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Spring has sprung here in the Southeast. I don't know what that means to you but for me it means strawberry season!  For many years, my parents grew strawberries on a commercial level. So as you can imagine, I've eaten a lot of strawberries, in almost anyway imaginable.  One of my favorite ways to use strawberries is to macerate them. Are you impressed by that term?? It's not nearly as impressive as it sounds. It's just sliced berries with sugar that sit until the juices release. We like to mash the berries slightly (I use a potato masher). We called mashed strawberries....fancy, I know, but that's just how we are around here.  At this point you can do anything with the mashed strawberries. They're delicious on top of ice cream, yogurt, pancakes, the list goes on, but pile them on top of a hunk of buttery pound cake maybe a bit of freshly whipped cream...simply wonderful!   
Last month's Southern Living featured a pound cake with strawberries swirled through it, on the cover.  When I read through the recipe it sounded delicious but called for a strawberry glaze for the swirl. I'm not a fan of strawberry glaze. It has a kind of artificially taste that I don't like. I decided to cook down some berries and make my own glaze to swirl in the cake. I was going to strain the berries and make a syrup more like the original recipe called for but I decided I liked the idea of having strawberry pieces baked into the cake. I could have my mashed berries baked right into the cake...perfect!

Strawberry Swirl Pound Cake

Source: Nancy H. Test, West Chester, Ohio,  

MARCH 2011 (adapted)
Printable Recipe
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
3 cups sugar
1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened
6 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon zest

2/3 cup strawberry glaze
1 (6-inch) wooden skewer

Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add cream cheese, beating until creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Gradually add flour to butter mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition, stopping to scrape bowl as needed. Stir in the lemon zest, almond, and vanilla extracts. Pour one-third of batter into a greased and floured *10-inch 14 cup tube pan (about 2 2/3 cups batter). Dollop 8 rounded teaspoonfuls strawberry glaze over batter, and swirl with wooden skewer. Repeat procedure once, and top with remaining third of batter.

Bake at 350° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

Notes:*the original recipe said to use a 10-inch 14 cup tube pan but I used my 10-inch 12 cup bundt pan.

Strawberry Swirl
Strawberry Swirl
2 cups strawberries(about 1 lb), quartered
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon corn starch

Combine the water, strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice in a large saucepan on high heat. Stir and bring up to a boil.
After the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for 5-8 minutes, until the strawberries have completely broken down.  As the strawberries soften, use a wooden spoon or potato masher to break up the berries. (At this point you could strain the strawberries through a sieve for a smooth glaze, but I decided to leave the bits of strawberry in mine.)
Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Then, pour into the strawberries.
Increase heat to high, and continue to whisk the mixture until it thickens and the cornstarch becomes clear and loses it's cloudy appearance, approximately 3-5 minutes.
Remove  from heat, and pour into separate bowl to cool down. Use 3/4 a cup to swirl in the cake. Any leftovers are great served along with the cake.
This is a BIG cake when it's done. With that lovely swirl of berries running through it, this cake would be perfect for our family Easter gathering. Can't wait for an excuse to make this again!
Strawberry swirl!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Bacon Cheddar Whoopie Bites

I found this recipe while searching for new party food ideas. The name caught my attention first...bacon cheddar whoopie bites?! Whoopie pies are sweet, right? Ok so they're not actually anything like a whoopie pie but they kind of look like a whoopie pie so why not? After reading through the recipe, I thought they sounded  like a Southern style cheese straw, kind of a cheesy savory shortbread.  These cheese straws have one up on ordinary cheese straws. These are sandwiched together with a cream filling. It sounded like a great combo to me. Besides they have bacon in them so they're already "Winning"....(hmm maybe it's the whoopie part that brought that Charlie Sheen quote to mind...;)  

Bacon Cheddar Whoopie Bites
Source: Teresa Smith, Santa Rosa, CA, Bake-Off 2012 (adapted) 

1/2 cup ricotta cheese, room temperature
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
2 cups finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
2 to 3 tablespoons ice water

    Heat oven to 400°F. Spray large cookie sheets with no-stick cooking spray or line with cooking parchment paper. To make filling, in medium bowl, beat ricotta cheese and cream cheese with electric mixer on low speed until blended. Add milk; beat on medium speed 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Stir in lemon peel. Cover; refrigerate.

    In food processor, add flour, baking powder and red pepper. Process until well blended. Add butter and process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add cheddar cheese, pecans and bacon. Process with on-and-off pulses until mixture is consistency of fine crumbs. With food processor running, gradually add enough water through feed tube and process just until dough pulls away from side of bowl and forms a ball.

    Shape dough into 1 1/4–inch balls; place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets. Using fingers, press each ball into about a 2-inch round.

Bake 8 to 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Cool 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks. Cool completely, about 10 minutes.

Spread or pipe about 1 tablespoon filling on bottom of half of the rounds. Top with remaining rounds, bottom sides down. Store covered in refrigerator. Assemble these bites a couple of hours before you plan to serve them to let the flavors blend.
These savory whoopie bites just maybe the hit of your next party!