Announcement!

Where did the summer go?  Seriously, it was June like…5 seconds ago.  I have no idea where the time went.

pink curlique

Well…I kind of know where the summer went, even if I still can’t really believe it.  My summer has been all-consumed by a very exciting new development that has kept me from blogging (but not baking!) and actually has just generally taken over my life.  I bought a house.  A HOUSE.  That makes me a homeowner.

pink curlique

Now, considering I am still a person who sometimes thinks it is acceptable to eat pickles and babybells for dinner, because hey, that’s all I have in my (now huge, gleaming, I-have-an-entire-shelf-just-for-different-types-of-lemon-and-lime-juices) fridge, this may seem wild.  But I love, love, love it.  Having a house is the best thing ever.

pink curlique

It’s also not the easiest thing ever.  Besides mortgage payments (gulp) there are a hundred million things to do that you don’t even think about when you’re just walking through the house oohing and aahing over everything because it’s finally a house that actually has a kitchen and isn’t actually about to crumble around you so everything seems perfect.  Things like having to get someone to rewire all your phone jacks so you can actually get the internet and picking out paint colors (and actually painting…), not to mention landscaping…casually ripping out all the carpets upstairs to install hardwood flooring, trying to find a cute couch that isn’t eight zillion dollars and is a good size for your little living room…the list goes on.  And on and on and on.  Insert panic attack here.

pink curlique

So being a homeowner has taken up all of my time, in the best possible (although sometimes extremely stressful) way.  So now I’ll be trying to update more – and not just with Treat Tuesday, but with some more Friday Favorites as well.  Like, how to make all of the lightswitch plates in your house way nicer by only spending $10.  Not to mention, general insights on my decorating (cough how much pink is too much pink cough cough) and so on and so forth.

pink curlique

Anyway, I’m ridiculously excited about my house.  And I’m also still wondering when the heck I am ever going to be prepared to have a housewarming party when my to-do list is currently 107 pages long and grows every time I turn around.  Not that it matters, because I’m pretty sure people will only show up for the cupcakes anyway and would probably not care if there were still boxes everywhere.  (Sidenote: I will NOT have a housewarming party while there are still boxes everywhere!!)  Regardless, it will get done (eventually) and I’m sure there will be many, many interesting experiences along the way!

Home Sweet Home!

Home Sweet Home!

So now you know.  That’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing…homeownering like a boss. But don’t fret!  I’m baaaaaaack.

When a house becomes a home, 

zlj-signature

PB&J Bars

Life confession:  I don’t like sandwiches.  I will occasionally eat them now, but that is a VERY recent thing.  Recent as in, like 2 years ago.  What don’t I like about sandwiches?  Well, for starters, the texture of sliced bread.  Blegh.  And sogginess is a big concern for me.  I don’t like deli meats.  I am not big on mayo.  The list goes on.

pink curlique

These days, even though I do eat a sandwich from time to time – and even enjoy it – the fact remains that growing up, I. Did. NOT. Eat. Sandwiches.  But all children eat sandwiches for lunch, right?  So what did my mother pack me for lunch every day?  Well, instead of a sandwich, she packed me Ritz crackers with Skippy peanut butter. (I was a peanut butter fiend from the start.)  Same idea, really, just no risk of sogginess.  You know what causes sandwich sogginess for most children?  Jelly.  Jelly + bread = sogginess.  Simple equation.  You put peanut butter and jelly on a cracker together, and chances are it’s going to do the same thing after sitting in a lunchbox all morning.  So yes.  I am that rare child who grew up not eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, not even in my preferred cracker form.  I didn’t like them and I didn’t want them in my lunchbox, and I’m sure my mother was far too tired to argue with me about my quirky habits every morning, so I only ever ate peanut butter crackers and things were good.

pink curlique

I still don’t like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  They haven’t found a way to fix that soggy bread problem yet so I am just not there.  However, I did discover that I am a pretty big fan of peanut butter and jelly bars, or pb&j bars.  (Yes, trust me to like the dessert version of just about anything…)  I understand now why people like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches so much.  Except that i still don’t actually like those sandwiches, because…sogginess.  Solution:  Crackers and peanut butter for lunch, pb&j bars for dessert.  Problem solved!!!

pink curlique

PB&J Bars

Ingredients

2 sticks unsalted butter

3 cups all-purpose flour

1.5 cups granulated sugar

2 eggs

2.5 cups smooth peanut butter (Skippy for life)

1.2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

12 oz. strawberry jam

12 oz. grape jam

pink curlique

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter a 9×13 pan, then line with parchment paper.  Butter and flour the paper and set pan aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue beating.  Then add the peanut butter, making sure to scrape down the bowl and mix until everything is well-combined.  Once smooth, add the flour, salt, and baking powder to the bowl and beat on low speed until just combined.  Mix in the vanilla.

Spread approximately 2/3 of the mixture in the bottom of the prepared pan and spread it evenly.  Then spread the strawberry jelly on one half of the peanut butter mixture, and the grape jelly on the other half.  Obviously you can use any kind of jelly you prefer, and you can always also just use one flavor of jelly if you want.  I just thought it was fun to do the two jellies, since grape and strawberry tend to be the most popular jellies for pb&j sandwiches!!

Take the remaining 1/3 of peanut butter mixture and drop it onto the jelly.  Spread it lightly with an offset spatula, but don’t worry about making an even covered surface with this remaining batter.  The bars actually look better when some of the jelly peaks through!

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top layer of pb mixture is a deep golden brown.  Once finished, remove pan from oven and allow the bars to cool.  If you have time, refrigerate them for an hour or so, and then cut into bars.

Sandwiches in dessert form = winner

Sandwiches in dessert form = winner

Stack of goodness

Stack of goodness

Just look at all that jelly

Just look at all that jelly…

 

So maybe these bars are a smidge more time consuming then actually just making yourself a sandwich, but they are definitely worth the effort.  And they’re great to just throw in, say, a lunchbox.  No sogginess to be found, just deliciousness.  Being an adult is great.

It’s peanut butter jelly time, 

zlj-signature

Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

I really like pineapples.  I really do.  But that being said, I do have a couple problems with them.  First, whenever I think of pineapples, I think of that god-awful Spongebob Squarepants theme song.  (You know, who lives in a PINEAPPLE under the sea, Spongebob, blah blah blah.  AH.  Now I hope it’s stuck in your head too.)  Secondly, whenever I eat pineapple I feel like I should be on some tropical beach, or at the very least, sunbathing beside a pool.  I don’t really know why, it just seems like a reasonable correlation.

pink curlique

But the actual worst problem I have with pineapple is that they are so darn hard to cut.  I’m sure there are proven easy ways to cut and slice them, and I’m sure it helps if you actually have legitimately sharp knives to carry out the task, but seriously.  This is especially problematic if you need perfect little pineapple circles for none other than perfect little pineapple upside down cakes!!  Soooo I went ahead and said forget it, real pineapple.  You go be a sea-house for a Spongebob and I’ll get the kind in a can, which never fails to be the right shape and size, and doesn’t cause any grief.  With the bonus that the pineapple rings come in pineapple juice, which you can then use in the recipe (if you don’t want to use pineapple juice, you can always substitute milk.)

pink curlique

Pineapple upside down cake is, no joke, a cake that makes most people think of their grandmothers.  It personally makes me think of summer and tropical pig roasts, but just be aware that this cake is a lot more nostalgic than I realized for a lot of people.  Whatever it makes you think about, this cake is pretty iconic looking, with the pineapple rings and maraschino cherries baked in.

pink curlique

It’s usually either made as a sheet cake or a round cake, but what could be more fun than individual pineapple upside down cakes?!  Not to mention, this approach solves a very serious dilemma of who gets a piece with a maraschino cherry…because everyone gets one!!  Not sharing is the best. Your grandmother probably would have approved.

pink curlique

Mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes

Ingredients

27 pineapple rings

14 maraschino cherries, cut in half

1 1/3 cups light brown sugar

2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

2 cups all-purpose flour

1.5 cups granulated sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup pineapple juice

2 eggs

pink curlique

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease the inside of your muffin pans, because these cakes take no liners.  Also, since it makes a funny number of cakes, you can always make 24 mini cakes and then use a very small pie pan to make one larger cake with all the remaining batter.

In a small bowl, mix together the light brown sugar and 2/3 cup butter, melted, until well-combined.  Spoon this mixture into the bottom of each greased muffin cavity, dividing it evenly until it is all used.  Take the pineapple rings and cut a small section out of each ring (depending on the size of your pineapple ring, you will cut out about 1/5-1/4 of the ring) so that it will fit in the bottom of your muffin pan.  Place the cut pineapple rings in the bottom of each cavity, pressing the ends together so it doesn’t look like they have been cut! Press half a maraschino into the center of the pineapple ring, with the cut side facing up.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and baking powder.  Add the stick of butter and pineapple juice and beat on medium speed until the batter is smooth.  Add in the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

Once the batter is ready, pour it over the pineapple and brown butter, filling the muffin cavities to slightly over 3/4 full.

Place in the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the cake tester comes out clean.  Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for about five minutes.  Then place a baking sheet on top of the muffin pan and flip over, so that the pineapple is on top!  Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Sometimes the maraschino cherries sink in when they bake...but the cake is still good!

Sometimes the maraschino cherries sink in when they bake…but the cake is still good!

A fun little "I wish I was on a beach sipping something out of a coconut right now" dessert.

A fun little “I wish I was on a beach sipping something out of a coconut right now” dessert.

 

These little cakes are relatively unfussy – no frostings or glazes – but they are sweet and summery and fun.  And if you sit outside in the hot sun eating them for long enough, you might even start to think you’re in a tropical paradise.  Win!

Summer has arrived, 

zlj-signature

Caramel Cake

NEWSFLASH:  Caramel cake is amazing.  And delicious.  And amazing.  Seriously though.  Up until a short while ago, I had lived my life without knowing about caramel cake and now my life before caramel cake seems so…bland.

pink curlique

Here’s how my dessert world changed:  My friend Blair and I were texting about Treat Tuesday, because obviously it’s now a pretty central part of life.  And she said, “Why don’t you make caramel cake?”  And I said, “Why what’s so special about that?  You mean just a caramel flavored cake with some frosting?”  And Blair said, “No.  Caramel cake.  It’s a thing.  How have you never had caramel cake?”  And even though we were just texting, I could sense her shock/dismay/pity for my tastebuds.  Blair raved about this cake, so naturally I had to try it.

pink curlique

And apparently caramel cake really is a thing.  When I asked some of my favorite Southerners if they had ever tried caramel cake, they looked at me like I had grown 4 heads and slowly replied “yeeeesssss” like it was a trick question or something.  Sorry I grew up in the Northeast and we don’t have caramel cake, guys!!  And here’s the thing.  Making a cake that you have never had before (like my Derby Pie adventures) can be very tricky, especially when this is a cake that is so well-loved in the South.  This can prove especially challenging when you ask people questions about how it’s supposed to taste, the texture it’s supposed to be, etc. and their reply is, “Well, let me tell you about caramel cake.  All you really need to know it, it tastes gooooood.”  Super helpful.

pink curlique

Well, well, well.  Let me tell you.  I went ahead and tried to make a caramel cake, using a popular Southern recipe that Blair sent me from a cookbook called “Sweetness Follows” (and go read the story behind this cookbook – precious!!)  And it was a snap.  Seriously so easy, and the cake turned out perfectly.  But let’s get on the honesty train for five seconds and talk about the real star of this recipe, which is the caramel icing.  RIDIC GOOD.  It’s made with half and half – only in the South, I swear – so I don’t even think I need to say more.  Just that wow.  This cake is seriously goooooood.

pink curlique

Also, I would like to take this opportunity to express my anger and disbelief at all my Southern friends who allowed me to live my life for so long without caramel cake.  It’s just unacceptable.  To make up for lost time, I think I’m just going to have to make one of these every week from now until the end of time…

pink curlique

Caramel Cake

Ingredients

Cake

1 package of yellow cake mix

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup sour cream

4 eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Icing

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup half and half

3.5 cups confectioner’s sugar

1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract

pink curlique

Directions

Cake

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Lightly butter and flour a 9×13 in baking pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix on a low speed for 1-2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat on medium speed for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until the batter is thick and smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake is a golden brown color and the top springs back when gently touched.  Let the cake cool on a wire rack, but do not remove from the pan.

Icing

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Once melted, add the dark brown sugar and cook until smooth.  Make sure to stir constantly.  Once the mixture is smooth, slowly pour in the half and half and continue to stir.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and mix in the confectioner’s sugar.  Whisk until very smooth.

Pour the warm icing over the cake in the pan, and smooth the surface lightly with a spatula.  The icing will set once the cake and icing begin to cool completely.

Cut into squares, lift out of the pan, and enjoy!!

This icing is crazy good.  Pour it over anything and everything.

This icing is crazy good. Pour it over anything and everything.

It cuts into perfect squares, too.

It cuts into perfect squares, too.

If this is Southern living, I'm so in.

If this is Southern living, I’m so in.

I would eat a bucket of that icing with no regrets.

I would eat a bucket of that icing with no regrets.

Let me also quickly say that if there are any other regional desserts that people are holding out on, I will expect those recipes sent to me ASAP so that my life can become instantly more fulfilled.  I don’t ever want to be left in the dark about such a wonderful dessert ever again.

Sooooo goooooood, 

zlj-signature

Dark & Stormy

Derby weekend = Derby drinks = Derby fun.  Most people will be sticking to mint juleps or straight up bourbon for the festivities this weekend, but guess what?  I do what I want and what I want to do is drink dark and stormies from silver cups.  You should try it sometime because it’s straight up fantastic.  Anyway, I have no idea why this drink is not more popular, because it is delicious.  Maybe I just don’t hang out with the right people.  Or maybe it’s because it doesn’t have its own awesome designated cup…

I love these.  So much.

I love these. So much.

Regardless, I first had this drink in a restaurant called “Southern Hospitality” so I suppose I was just destined to be smitten with it.  And it’s super easy to make – no crazy ingredients or instructions, just the perfect beverage for a sunny day and a horse race.  Or just a sunny day.  Or just a day, really.

pink curlique

Dark & Stormy 

Ingredients

1 cup ice

3 oz. dark spiced rum (I like Kraken rum the best)

6 oz. ginger beer   (Barritt’s is pretty good but really any will do!)

1 lime wedge + lime juice

pink curlique

Directions

Put ice in glass.  Pour in rum and ginger beer, then add a splash of lime juice, toss in the lime wedge, and stir gently.  Then enjoy responsibly, rinse and repeat.

Dark & Stormy.  In a normal glass.

Dark & Stormy. In a normal glass.  No less delicious.

Let’s also be honest about this.  Measuring ounces?  Not usually.  Just pour ingredients to taste – especially true if you are making a big batch of the stuff for a gathering!  This weekend is just all about living life on the edge, I tell you.  But seriously.  Put down the mint for a hot second and get acquainted with this drink.  It’s a winner.

Stormy in my cup, not in the sky please, 

zlj-signature

 

Kentucky Derby Pie

Oops.  Where does the time go?  Somehow my “I’ll just write that post tomorrow” turned into a couple of weeks away from blogging.  How do days turn into weeks so quickly??  Luckily, a little event this Saturday snapped me back into focus.  The Kentucky Derby!

pink curlique

That’s right, the Kentucky Derby is this weekend, and there are not many activities more fun than a day devoted to Lilly Pulitzer, fun hats, day drinks, sunshine, parties, and picking horse winners based on their totally ludicrous names.  And obviously, with all the rituals and traditions of Derby Day, they HAD to have a special dessert – Derby Pie!  Now, I’m going to be completely honest here.  I have never had real, Kentucky-made Derby Pie.  So I couldn’t actually tell you a lot about it, except that I read a whole mess of recipes all claiming to be the original Derby Pie, and well, let’s just say it probably would have been easier and faster to take a trip to Kentucky, buy a pie, and eat it myself to try and figure out what it should be like.  I mean, most of the recipes couldn’t even agree if the pie should contain pecans or walnuts!!  (I went pecans.  I’m not a huge fan of walnuts anyway.)

pink curlique

Regardless of what “real” Derby Pie is supposed to taste like or include, I think that this amalgamated version of Derby Pie would probably go over pretty well in Kentucky.  It’s full of pecans, and chocolate, and tastes rich enough that you could eat it and probably not care if you just lost your life savings gambling on horses.  (That’s a lie.  You would still care.  At least I would hope that you would still care.  And if you wouldn’t, I will save you the gambling and you can just hand over your life savings and I’ll give you two pies of your own.  Deal?)

pink curlique

So make this pie for Saturday, especially if you have eaten Derby Pie in Kentucky before, and then you call tell me whether or not this tastes anything like what real Derby Pie tastes like.  But let’s be honest.  With a Lilly dress on, silver cup in hand, cheering for a horse whose name practically takes longer to say than the time it takes to actually run the race…pie is pie.  And it tastes good.

pink curlique

Derby Pie

Ingredients

1 9-in pie crust (use your favorite recipe or a boxed pie crust)

1 stick unsalted butter

.5 cup granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 cup light corn syrup

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 cup coffee

1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips

1.5 cups chopped pecans

pink curlique

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450F.

Lightly butter a fluted pie plate.  Roll the pie dough out and press into the pie plate, trimming and then crimping the edges.  Sprinkle 1/4 of a cup of chocolate chips on the bottom of the pie crust.

In a medium bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Then add the corn syrup and the vanilla extract, and beat for 1-2 minutes, or until combined.  Slowly pour in the coffee and continue mixing until well-combined.

By hand, mix in the pecans and 1 cup of chocolate chips until they are evenly spread throughout the batter.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust.

Place in the oven and bake at 450F for 15 minutes.  Lower the temperature to 350F and continue baking for 45 minutes.  The crust will be golden brown, and the top of the pie will be dark brown and look almost caramelized.  Be careful not to overbake, as the pie will solidify more once it has been removed from the oven and it has cooled.

Chocolate, Pecans, Pie

Chocolate, Pecans, Pie

 

Ooey gooey insides

Ooey gooey insides

 

My friend Blair religiously instagrams all my Tuesday Treats and makes them look delicious.  She should probably just be in charge of all photos ever.  OK GREAT.

My friend Blair religiously instagrams all my Tuesday Treats and makes them look delicious. She should probably just be in charge of all photos ever. OK GREAT.

 

To be honest, the next time I make this pie I will probably also add at least a tablespoon or two of bourbon.  I mean, this IS a Kentucky pie after all.  But I still wouldn’t skip the coffee, because I think it heightens the chocolate flavor.

pink curlique

I have another Derby confession to make:  I know the silver cups are for mint juleps, but I do not like mint juleps.  Blegh.  I do, however, really and truly love those silver cups.  So…I fill my classy little cup with dark and stormies.  I know, I’m a rebel and a rule breaker.  And I love a good dark and stormy.  That recipe, coming Friday!

See you at the races, 

zlj-signature

Key Lime Cheesecake Bars

It’s spring and the sun is shining enough that you don’t look crazy if you wear sunglasses and people are starting to walk outside without their winter coats on but those people are IDIOTS.  Do not believe what you see…it is still freezing outside.  Yes, cold enough that I actually needed to wear gloves on my way home today, despite the sunny deception in the sky.  I am not sure how much longer this cold snap is supposed to last, but I am for sure ready to move on from my winter coat.  I am also over tights.  In short, spring is technically here according to my calendar but I would like to have the proof.

pink curlique

Anyway, because it should be beautiful outside and we should be sitting on patios, refreshing and light desserts should be out in full force.  And that means hello, citrus.  So I decided to try and tempt some warmer weather to come out and play by making key lime cheesecake bars.  Key lime = Key Largo = Beach Boys = Beach = Warmth.  See how that works??  Anyway, despite the fact that I had to eat these bars while shivering inside in front of a space heater, they were still pretty darn good.  And they’ll be even better when I finally get to eat them on a patio in some sunshine!!

pink curlique

Key Lime Cheesecake Bars

Ingredients

For the Crust:

1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 cup pecans (after measuring, finely chop them in a food processor…)

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

.5 cup granulated sugar

For the bar filling:

4 egg yolks

2 cans (28 oz.) sweetened condensed milk

1 cup lime juice (fresh if possible)

pink curlique

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter the bottom of a 9×13 in baking pan, and then line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang for easy removal.

For the crust:  Make sure the graham cracker crumbs and pecans are finely ground.  Whisk together with the sugar, then blend in the butter.  Once the crust mixture is clumping together, press into the bottom of the prepared pan, also spreading the mixture up approximately one inch on each side of the pan.  Bake in the oven until the crust is set and golden brown, approximately 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let the crust cool.  (*Note:  If you get distracted like I did when I was making this and you forget the prebake the crust, it’s not the end of the world.  It will mostly set if you leave the bars in about 5 minutes longer.  But if you prebake, you definitely get better results!)

For the bar filling:  In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk under smooth.  Add the lime juice and continue whisking until well-combined.  Pour the mixture into the cooled crust and use an offset spatula to make sure it is evenly distributed in the pan.

Place in the oven and bake until the filling is set, approximately 15-20 minutes.  Once set (the bars will still seem a little jiggly) remove the pan from the oven and let the bars cool in the pan.  Once cooled, place the bars in the refrigerator to chill for about an hour.  Remove from the fridge, lift the bars out of the pan by the parchment paper, cut into squares, and serve!

I love a good graham cracker crust...so I sprinkled some extra on top of the bars as soon as I removed them from the oven!

I love a good graham cracker crust…so I sprinkled some extra on top of the bars as soon as I removed them from the oven!

Don't be fooled by the yellow color...these bars are actually lime not lemon!

Don’t be fooled by the yellow color…these bars are actually lime not lemon!

 

So hurray for key lime cheesecake bars.  But seriously, if it doesn’t hurry up and warm up soon, I am boycotting this city and moving somewhere warmer.  Although I was told today that even Mississippi isn’t as warm as it usually is in April.  I repeat, 45F is not April weather.  Hashtag sigh.  Hashtag crisis.  How’s that for global warming???!!

Thinking sunny thoughts, 

zlj-signature

Homemade Lemon Curd

There comes a time in everyone’s life where they have a lot of egg yolks left over because they made a lot of meringues, and the only reasonable thing to do is to make homemade lemon curd.  And then someone asks why you felt obligated to make lemon curd in a pretty substantial quantity, and you explain your very rational line of thought because what else are you going to do with 8 egg yolks, and that person looks at you like you are not rational at all and then you think to yourself oh my goodness am I actually the least fun person ever?  And then you contemplate that while you’re eating a spoonful of fresh homemade lemon curd and you’re all, whatever!  I made lemon curd!  That’s so fun!

pink curlique

And then you realize that this time probably does not come in all that many people’s lives and yikes maybe you really need to get out more and then you eat another spoonful of lemon curd and you thank the Lord that you somehow still have so many good friends.

pink curlique

ANYWAY.  I seriously do not know what else you would do with so many leftover egg yolks – whether from meringues or other egg white-only recipes – and making lemon curd is probably the best way to put those yolks to good use.  (I mean, yes, you could technically just scramble the egg yolks and eat them…but I am fairly certain that’s nutritionally frowned upon.)  I thought that making lemon curd would be tedious, but it’s actually very easy, tastes delicious, doesn’t take a lot of time, and makes a great addition to a hostess gift or to give to people just because.

pink curlique

I whipped up this batch of lemon curd, gave a jar to my parents, and then decided to make some cookies with the rest.  I used my coconut drop cookie recipe (here) and substituted lemon curd for the salted caramel center for a very spring-like, refreshing cookie.  FUN!!

pink curlique

Homemade Lemon Curd (adapted from Martha Stewart Living magazine December 2012)

Ingredients

8 egg yolks

2 tablespoons lemon zest (optional)

.5 cup plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh is best, but in a pinch…!)

1 cup granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1.25 sticks unsalted butter

pink curlique

Directions

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, lemon zest (if using), lemon juice, and sugar until combined.  Attach a candy thermometer to the pan and place over medium-high heat.  Heat the mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the spoon and the temperature registers 160F.  This will take approximately 8-10 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the butter (cut into pieces) and salt.  Stir until smooth and lump-free.  If there are any lumps, strain the mixture until it is completely uniform.

Place in a bowl and cover the top with saran wrap touching the surface of the lemon curd.  Chill for about 2 hours and then serve, place in jars, or use in these cookies!

Lemon curd keeps well but must be refrigerated.

I like that lemon curd basically looks neon in photos.  How very on-trend...

I like that lemon curd basically looks neon in photos. How very on-trend…

Thanks, leftover egg yolks, for making these a reality

Thanks, leftover egg yolks, for making these a reality

 

Trust me, homemade lemon curd is better than store bought!

Trust me, homemade lemon curd is better than store bought!

So the next time you have egg yolks lying around and you have no idea what to do with them…well, now you can follow my rational line of thinking and do the obvious…make lemon curd.  You’re welcome in advance.

In lemony-freshness, 

zlj-signature

 

Sweet Meringues

Meringues are fluffy-looking little puffs of basically pure sugar.  Ok, sugar and egg whites.  They’re super cute and super sweet, and they’re really supposed to be mini little things.  You know, for that, “it’s tea time but this conversation is getting tres boring and i need a jolt of a sugar rush before I just fall asleep at the table” feeling.  At least, I’m pretty sure that’s why the English invented these things.  Also probably because the “whipped cream” they put in the middle of everything (like their donuts) is very bland.  And by bland I mean not at all sweet, which if you ask me is very deceiving.  Anyway, the whipped cream filling probably does a lot to offset the extreme sweetness of meringues.

pink curlique

Buuuut since this is America, and I was in the “everything’s bigger and better here” mindframe, I made large meringues.  As in, more than just  one or two bites of sugary goodness, and certainly far too large to sandwich 2 together.  I don’t know if I mentioned that these are sweet, so let me just reiterate:  SO SUGARY.  And delicious.  Anyway, I definitely suggest making little bite-size meringues and sandwiching them together with some whipped cream.  But just know that the larger meringues are just so pretty on a plate that you might want to go ahead and make them large and let everyone suffer from a little (big) sugar rush.

pink curlique

I obviously went for pink here, but you can mix in any gel food coloring you want for these.  Or, for an added fun factor, leave them plain white and then mix some food coloring into the whipped cream instead.  That would be a fun, unexpected pop of color!  Regardless, these do look really pretty as part of a dessert table.  And with a kitchen aid, they really don’t take too much time to make, because most of the time you spend making them, they are really just slowly baking in the oven!  They also keep really well, so you can make them a day or two ahead of time if needed.

pink curlique

Meringues

Ingredients

8 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon salt

2.5 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla (I used a clear extract to preserve the whiteness of the meringue)

pink curlique

Directions

Preheat the oven to 225F.  Prepare cookie sheets by lining with parchment paper.

In a medium metal bowl, beat the egg whites and salt together on low speed.  When the mixture starts to form soft peaks, add half of the sugar and continue beating until the mixture holds stiff peaks.

Using a large metal spoon, fold in the remaining sugar and the extract into the mixture.

If you want to color, also fold in gel food coloring at this step, and mix gently until color is evenly distributed.

Pipe the mixture onto the prepared cookie sheets like you are frosting the top of cupcakes.  Once all the mixture has been piped, place in the oven and bake for approximately 2 hours.  Once they are finished baking, they will be glossy and smooth.  Unstick from the cookie sheets (but leave them on there), then turn off the oven and place the meringues back in the oven to cool.

If sandwiching, pipe whipped cream onto the bottom of one meringue and then gently press onto another meringue.  Serve and enjoy!

Piped and ready to be baked!

Piped and ready to be baked!

 

So pretty and pink!  Sometimes the tops do crack a little.  I like to think of it as a charming vintage effect...

So pretty and pink! Sometimes the tops do crack a little. I like to think of it as a charming vintage effect…

A whole mess of meringues!

A whole mess of meringues!

Dessert table ready!

Dessert table ready!

 

And of course, when you make a recipe with this many egg whites, what do you end up with a lot of?  Egg yolks!  So stand by for a quick and tasty recipe you can make to use up all the egg yolks you’ll have left over!

In a sugar rush, 

zlj-signature

Happy Valentine’s Day 2013!

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Today is the day every year when I freely judge people who aren’t wearing pink and/or red and I also attempt to eat my body weight in conversation hearts.  (Thus far unsuccessfully.)  I have never understood the anti-Valetine’s Day crowd, because let’s face it.  If it makes you feel lonely or whatever your gripe is, then you can always:

a) Wear pink, which is a natural remedy for curing blah-ness.

b) Eat as many conversation hearts and/or pieces of chocolate as you possibly can.

c) Watch “The Proposal.”  Or some other rom-com that is equally as precious.

d) Engage in a ludicrous task such as making Valentine’s Day treat boxes.

pink curlique

So there is definitely no reason to dislike Valentine’s Day.  And reason d) will actually take up so much time that you might not even realize Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but then you will be surrounded by cuteness and you will regret having missed it.  So do yourself a favor – make these ahead of time for next year, then revel in the glory that is Valentine’s Day and send those naysayers on their way.  With a treat box, of course.

pink curlique

I am obviously not amazing enough to have dreamed up these little boxes.  This was all Glorious Treats, so I will send you over to her blog to see her tutorial on how to make these:  Right here. I used her chocolate rolled cookie recipe, which requires chilling time in the fridge but is totally worth it because these cookies are killer fantastic and actually roll out PERFECTLY.  (Direct link to the cookies here.)  And Valentine’s Day requires perfection!!  I also used her royal icing recipe, (here) but with 3 tablespoons of meringue powder instead of 4.  Ready, set, go!

pink curlique

I didn’t do any elaborate decorating for the box tops, just some basic royal icing and then sanding sugars…the boxes are pretty enough and fun enough that you can keep it really simple!  I also filled the boxes with conversation hearts.  (Note:  I realize that I talk way too much about conversation hearts.  I really really like them and they are really really only available once a year.)

pink curlique

So without further ado, my version of the Valentine’s Day treat boxes:

Hot pink!

Hot pink!

 

Red heart box, waiting to be filled

Red heart box, waiting to be filled

 

Filled with conversation hearts!  (Yes, that blue one says "hold hands!")

Filled with conversation hearts! (Yes, that blue one says “hold hands!”)

 

Pink & Gold

Pink & Gold

 

Side view: I made them with 4 cookies total; 2 with cutouts

Side view: I made them with 4 cookies total; 2 with cutouts

 

Finished boxes

Finished boxes

 

Sealed and ready to be given to my favorites!

Sealed and ready to be given to my favorites!

 

Plus, those cutouts from the middle cookies need to be put to use…so decorate them as cute little side Valentine’s Day cookies!  They’ll be a huge hit.

Precious little heart cookies

Precious little heart cookies

Oh, but the secret downside to these treat boxes?  They are so cute that no one wants to touch them.  Let alone eat them.  Sigh.

Text me, 

zlj-signature

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.