If you’re willing to part with two cups of precious huckleberries, I have a recipe for you! I know how hard these little berries are to come by, and I usually use them sparingly, but my youngest son (who shall now be known as my favorite son) just gave me eight pounds of them, and I’m feeling a little reckless.
If you don’t have huckleberries (frozen are fine, by the way) you can substitute wild Maine blueberries, available in the freezer section of most grocery stores.
I added a pie crust bottom, just for fun, and lots of marshmallows. The texture of this candy is more marshmallow-like than that of chocolate fudge. If you prefer a more traditional texture, you can cut the amount of marshmallows in half.
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (save the zest for the fudge)
2 tablespoons milk
2 cups fresh or frozen huckleberries (wild Maine blueberries are good, too)
1¾ cups sugar
1 small can (5 oz.) evaporated milk
½ cup butter
1½ cups white chocolate morsels
4 cups miniature marshmallows
zest from one large lemon
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional) or more to taste
Heat oven to 375 F. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with a piece of parchment, extending over two sides. This will serve as a "handle" to lift your fudge out when it's firm.
In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Cut in the shortening and butter with a pastry blender or your fingers until you have no lumps of butter bigger than a pea.
Add lemon juice and milk. Toss with a fork until combined.
Press firmly into the prepared baking pan and poke holes into the dough with a fork, covering entire pastry evenly. Press all the way to the bottom of the pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the crust begins to turn brown around the edges. Move to a cooling rack. While pan is still warm, brush a little butter on the two sides of the pan without parchment, to keep the fudge from sticking.
In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, combine huckleberries, sugar, evaporated milk, and butter. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally with a heat-proof silicone spatula, until the mixture thickens and reaches a temperature between 235-240 F. (If you are high-altitude, don't forget to adjust for this by subtracting 1 degree for each 500 feet above sea level.)
Remove from heat and stir gently a few times, allowing bubbles to settle down. Add the white chocolate, marshmallows, and lemon zest. Stir until incorporated and pour over baked crust.
Allow fudge to cool, then refrigerate several hours. Slide a thin knife along the two buttered sides, then lift the fudge onto a cutting board and cut into squares.
Lemon juice goes in the crust, lemon zest is saved for the fudge.
Press the dough firmly into the pan. Stab repeatedly with a fork. (Bwa haha)
Combine hot berry mixture with marshmallows, white chips, and lemon zest.
Pour hot mixture over cooked crust.
Cool and chill, then lift fudge onto cutting board and cut into squares.
I have so many uses for these berries (margaritas) that I never seem to have enough. But this year, I think I’m covered (margaritas). I may be pulling out the huckleberry recipes at Christmas! Hot buttered margaritas?
These scrumptious blueberry rhubarb muffins were served to my friend and me at a charming bed and breakfast recently, and I begged for the recipe—only to find out that the batter was made using a boxed mix. How easy is that? (For the record, I have nothing whatsoever against boxed mixes; I usually just like the challenge of creating my own recipes.)
Our hostess added a few more blueberries, a little chopped rhubarb, and a simple crunchy topping, and I assure you we gobbled those muffins up with enthusiasm.
Vicki Broeckel is the heart and soul behind The Parsonage, a lovely old home surrounded by an oasis of trees in the middle of the rolling hills of the Washington Palouse.
The Parsonage, seen from the Highway.
When you make a reservation at The Parsonage, you get the house to yourself. The whole house. (And it’s big!) Vicki lives down the road, but comes in each morning with a huge hamper of food to make a hearty breakfast for her guests. She is a fabulous artist (some of her paintings adorn the walls of The Parsonage) and her creativity also extends to the colorful food she serves
All big blue eyes and energy, Vicki seems to magically produce a meal in seconds, then whisks the dishes into the dishwasher, chats for a moment, and disappears. We coaxed her to stay and visit as long as possible, because she’s so much fun.
And that food!
Her blueberry rhubarb muffins are in the background of this photo. Oh, so good. She told me how she made them, but I didn’t get exact measurements, so my recipe may be a little different, but it’s close to what we enjoyed at that kitchen table.
I lived in Seattle for fifty years, so I’m a little bit “local loyal” when it comes to ingredients. I don’t get paid to promote products . . . I just trust Darigold and Krusteaz. I used local eggs, huckleberries from our nearby mountains, and fresh rhubarb from The Parsonage. Good ingredients make a difference!
Hint: Don’t be stingy with that topping. Cover the batter with a liberal hand. On this batch I used half brown sugar and half white for a lighter color.
I thought I didn’t like rhubarb, but I was wrong. I only added a little to these muffins, but I think they’d be better with twice as much. The tart/sweet combination is delightful, and now I regret having destroyed our rhubarb plant. Thank goodness for farmers markets!
If you have a chance to visit southeastern Washington, I hope you’ll spend a night or two at The Parsonage. Here I am, fixated on the food, when there are so many other wonderful things to see and do. Visit the Pataha Flour Mill for dinner (donation only), a journey to see the Palouse Falls, or spend a quiet afternoon of bird watching on the front porch swing (I got photos of two owls). All are sure to bring you joy.
Bing cherries have hit the supermarket and I couldn’t rest until I’d turned some into a pie. Traditionally, bakers use tart pie cherries, but those aren’t always easy to find . . . so I improvised. (Any sweet cherry will do.) The Man actually used the word “superb” when he took his first bite.
You won’t need much sugar in this recipe, but fresh lemon is a must to add a touch of tang. The filling is thick, resulting in neat slices once the pie has cooled. Throw in a thick, flaky pie crust and a tower of whipped cream (or a scoop of vanilla ice cream) and you have a spectacular dessert.
I made the mistake of using an extra-large pie pan (because, red) so my pie wasn’t as deep as I would have liked, but if you use a standard deep-dish pie pan, 2 pounds of cherries is going to be just right.
I’m giving you a generous recipe for pie crust so the crust can be thicker and you’ll have a little left over if you’d like to play with decorations. I made some leaves and cherries, which would have been more obvious on a solid top crust instead of the lattice, but still . . . cute.
2 pounds of fresh sweet cherries, pitted and halved (about 5 cups)
½ cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch (3 tablespoons if you like your pie soft)
juice and zest of 1 large lemon, separated
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups all purpose flour
1½ teaspoon salt
1¼ cup cold shortening
¼ cup cold butter
1 tablespoon vodka (or vinegar)
⅓ cup cold milk
2 tablespoons butter
egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
FILLING:In a large saucepan on medium heat, combine the cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice (reserve the zest for later) salt, and cinnamon. Stir frequently until mixture begins to bubble, then continue to cook for 6 minutes. Filling will be thick.
Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest. Allow mixture to cool, stirring occasionally.
CRUST: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut in the butter and shortening, using a pastry blender or your fingers. Aim for lumps of butter no larger than good-sized peas.
Combine the vodka and milk, and add all at once to the pastry. Stir just until combined.
Divide in half. Roll one piece out on a well-floured board, rolling from the center to the outside - about ⅛ inch thick. Cut a circle at least 1 inch bigger all around than your pie pan. Roll lightly onto floured rolling pin and lift into pan. Fold excess under and crimp edges. Place pan in the refrigerator.
With the other piece of dough, cut strips for a lattice crust, using a ruler to keep them straight. Mine were about 1-inch thick and long enough to reach across the top of the pie pan. Place a piece of parchment on a baking sheet and dust lightly with flour. Lay 4 or 5 strips parallel to each other, leaving space between each strip. Work with one side at a time, folding every other piece over at the center. Lay a piece across the remaining strips and gently replace the folded pieces. Now fold back the pieces that had remained down before, place another piece next to the other cross piece, and replace the folded pieces. Repeat once more to complete the side. Do the same with the other side and cut around the edge to make a circle the same size as the top of the pie. Press around the edges with your finger. Place the lattice crust in the freezer for now.
Heat oven to 375 F.
Once the filling has cooled, remove the pie from the refrigerator and fill. Cut the 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces and drop them all over the top of the filling. Remove the lattice from the freezer and slide it onto the top of the pie. (You may need to use a thin cutting mat or baking sheet to help it along.)
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle generously with sparkling sugar.
Bake 55-60 minutes. If your crust begins to get too brown, cover lightly with foil.
Allow the pie to cool for 1½ - 2 hours before cutting.
You don’t HAVE to use vodka, but it sure makes a nice, flaky crust!
Flute those edges! (I know . . . mine aren’t Martha Steward perfect. Hey . . . rustic is good!)
Bend every other strip down, place cross piece and replace the bent strips.
Bend remaining pieces back and add a cross piece.
Now we’re getting there!
Cut out leaves, cherries, and stems.
Added some leaves, stems, and cherries
Slightly warm. Now just add a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a mound of whipped cream!
Cut into this pie while it’s just barely warm! Mmmm.
If you like your pie a little on the soft side, reduce the cornstarch to 3 tablespoons. Otherwise, if you don’t gobble it up while it’s warm, it gets fairly firm in the refrigerator. Personally, I like it that way. Holds the ice cream up better, right?
I’m leaving for a short writing retreat, but when I get back I’ll have something good to post – I’m just out of time right now! Hint: it has fresh huckleberries in it!
Last month I posted a photo of a German chocolate cake I’d made for a friend’s birthday, and got lots of requests for the recipe. I meant to make it for you but got sidetracked by the thought of cookies instead. Soft cookies, similar to a cake brownie, topped with coconut-pecan filling inside a ring of chocolate ganache.
Disclaimer: These aren’t German cookies. There’s been a little confusion about that. They’re meant to look like German Chocolate Cake, which is actually a recipe that was created in the United States by a baker named Samuel German. So . . . just humor me and roll with it, ‘kay?
My husband, who obviously is treated to lots of goodies (and isn’t much of a German chocolate fan) says these may be his favorite cookie of all. That’s saying a lot!
The filling and ganache both have to sit for a couple of hours before assembly, so plan accordingly. The filling can be refrigerated for days, so you can always make it ahead if that’s easier for you. Just cover it and hide it well in the refrigerator; it’s yummy to eat by the spoonful. I know this for a fact.
The recipe for the filling was slightly adapted from one of my very favorite cookbooks, “The Village Baker’s Wife”, by Gayle and Joe Ortiz. They don’t take shortcuts. I sometimes do. In the past, since I seem to have a mental block about owning a double boiler, I’ve made it on the stove in a heavy pan without any problems. That’s how I wrote the recipe below, assuming I can’t be the only person who doesn’t own one of those pans. But just for grins I improvised and tried my own version, which worked very well. So if you want to err on the side of caution and go the double boiler route, try a heat-safe bowl over a big pot of boiling water.
I also took my filling’s temperature just to make sure that the cooking time was long enough to bring the eggs to a safe temperature, and it was perfect. You’re good to go.
COOKIES: Place unsweetened chocolate and milk in a small pan. Cook on low heat, stirring frequently, until melted. Remove from heat, add vanilla, and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar thoroughly.
Add eggs and beat until mixture is light and creamy, scraping the bowl often - 1 to 2 minutes.
Sift together the flour, baking powder salt, and cocoa.
Mix half of the dry ingredients into the batter. Scrape the bowl and add half of the milk/chocolate mixture. Beat until combined. Repeat. The dough will be soft and fluffy.
Refrigerate for 60 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 F.
Using a large cookie scoop (mine holds a rounded tablespoon of dough), scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving 1½ inches between each ball of dough. Bake for approximately 10 minutes. Move baking sheet to a cooling rack. Allow the cookies to remain on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before sliding the parchment onto the rack. Cool completely.
GANACHE: Place chopped chocolate into small bowl.
Heat the whipping cream on medium-low in a small pan until bubbles appear around the edge of the pan. Remove the pan from the stove. Pour half of the cream over the chocolate and wait 5 minutes before gently stirring. Return the remaining cream to the stove, heat until bubbly again and pour over the chocolate mixture. Stir gently until smooth. Cover loosely and set aside, stirring occasionally. Ganache will be ready to pipe onto cookies when it is thick enough to hold a shape.
FILLING: Stir whipping cream, sugar, and egg yolks together in a heavy medium-size pan. Add the butter and turn the heat to low. Stirring often, cook until butter is melted. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. The mixture should be slightly thick. Pour into a medium bowl, stir in vanilla, and set in a larger bowl of cold water to cool completely, stirring occasionally.
Once cool, add pecans and coconut. Cover and place in the refrigerator until needed.
When ganache is thick enough to pipe, place in a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip. Pipe a decorative ring on each cookie.
Fill rings with filling. Serve, or refrigerate in an airtight container.
May is Burger Month, and this post is part of a fantastic burger grill giveaway hosted by Girl Carnivore, where we all try to outdo each other to produce the best burger imaginable . . .but the burger you’re about to see is all my own. (So are the inevitable opinions and tasteless jokes.)
Play along for a chance to win an impressive grilling package. The entry link is at the bottom of the post. Be sure to follow along every day for the entire month of May for chances to win the Ultimate Burger Grilling Giveaway and check Burgermonth.com daily for all of the tantalizing burgers.
This zesty burger is filled with cheese, smothered in a crispy cheese skirt, and surrounded by a cheese and pickle bun. So much cheese! And that dilly bun is amazing, with a surprisingly restrained dill undertone, although a generous amount of chopped dill pickle and some fresh dill is added to the dough. Even those who aren’t pickle fans will like this bun.
And it’s all about the bun for me. I mean, I’m The Rowdy Baker, not The Rowdy Grillmaster. Hamburgers are simply a wonderful excuse to scarf down big, fat, fresh buns!
We’ve had some munificent sponsors who have sent us products to try. What a kick!
One of our wonderful sponsors, Red Duck, sent me a bottle of their Red Duck Smoky Ketchup, and I added a lavish amount to the burger before grilling, along with some chopped onions and a dash of balsamic vinegar. The result was a mildly sweet, slightly savory burger. I drizzled a little more of the ketchup over my burger; it’s that good.
I could afford to be generous with the cheese, thanks to Cabot Cheese, who sent me six different varieties. They were all wonderful, even the (whooEEEE) Fiery Jack. Through experience I can assure you that the quality of your cheese really matters when making cheese skirts. I experimented, and my usual brand (which shall not be named) made a greasy mess.
And for the pièce de résistance, a bag of hickory chips arrived from Western BBQ Products, which made a huge difference in the flavor of my burgers. I didn’t know you could use them in a gas grill, but it turns out you can! I put some in a stainless bread pan and let the grill get all smoky before the burgers went in there. You’ll want to go to their website to see all of the tempting flavors. I’m dying to try the Maple, Pecan, and Jack Daniels chips. It’s like they know me!
Bun recipe makes 8 Burger recipe makes 6. Don't complain - just eat the extra buns!
1 cup very warm water
1 package active-dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup milk powder
¼ cup oil (light olive, canola, peanut oil all work well)
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 large (or 4 spears) dill pickle (more to taste)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (more to taste)
1 cup water
¼ cup baking soda
2½ pounds lean ground Angus beef
⅓ cup Ketchup (I used Red Duck Organic Smoky Ketchup)
½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound cheese, grated (I used Cabot Pepper Jack)
Whatever condiments float your boat!
BUNS: Prepare two large baking sheets by covering in parchment, or by greasing lightly.
In a large bowl (a sturdy stand mixer with a dough hook is recommended), combine very warm water, sugar, and yeast. Let it sit until foamy - about 5 minutes.
Add egg, milk powder, and oil. Mix well.
Add flour and salt. Mix well and continue to knead by machine for 5-6 minutes (7-8 minutes on floured surface if kneading by hand).
Mix in the grated cheese.
Place dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat the surface. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled - about an hour.
Quarter the dill pickle (or use pickle spears). With a sharp knife, remove the soft, seedy centers. Finely chop the remaining pickle. You should have about ½ cup of chopped pickles. Roll in several layers of paper towel and squeeze firmly to remove as much of the juice as possible.
On floured surface work the chopped pickles and fresh dill into the dough, along with pepper if you choose to add it. (Dust with flour as you work, if necessary.) Divide dough into 8 equal pieces and form each into a ball, placing 4 on each prepared baking sheet.
Press to flatten, using the palm of your hand or the bottom of a salad plate, aiming for 4 inches across. cover and allow to rise in a warm place until puffy - about 40 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 F.
In a small bowl, thoroughly whisk together the cup of water, the baking soda, and the egg. Using your hand, carefully pick up a bun and drop it top-down in the soda mixture.Remove quickly by gently pressing on one side as you lift the other, flipping it upright. Place it back on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or cheese if you wish, and bake for 12-14 minutes, until top is a rich golden brown. Cool on baking racks.
In a medium bowl, combine burger, ketchup, sweet onion, vinegar, and pepper. Divide into 12 equal portions.
Flatten each into thin 5-inch patties. Place a small handful of grated cheese in the center of 6 patties. Cover each with one of the remaining patties, pressing edges together firmly. Using your hands, press around the outer edge, toward the center, creating a nice, round, plump patty. Cook to desired doneness.
To create cheese skirt: place each cooked burger on greased (don't skip that step!) piece of foil. Place a large handful of cheese on the top and close the lid to the grill (or cover each patty with a foil tent). Check often - the cheese should be melted in a lovely pool around the burger. Once it starts to get crispy, remove from the heat.
Construct your burger, adding whatever vegetables or condiments you like.
Once dough rises add chopped pickle, fresh dill, and pepper (optional). Combine, but be careful not to overwork your dill dough. (Snort) So many jokes regarding buns and dill dough. I know, I know. I’ll stop now.
Divide dill dough into eight equal pieces. I’m a nerd; I weigh them.
Form into balls and flatten on baking sheet.
Once the buns have risen, dip in baking soda mixture. Be careful – don’t squeeeeze!
Add goodies to your meat. Here’s the Red Duck Ketchup going in.
Make twelve thin patties. Add cheese to six of them.
Cover with the remaining patties and pinch the edges.
Grill your burgers, then set each one on a greased piece of foil. Cover with a mound of cheese.
This post is part of a fantastic burger grill giveaway hosted by Girl Carnivore, where we all try to outdo each other to produce the best burger imaginable . . .but the burger you’re about to see is all my own.
Play along and maybe you’ll win a big grilling package! (I strategically put the contest info below my post so you’ll have to at least LOOK at my burger to get to the good stuff.)
Produce a grilled masterpiece this summer with this lavender-and-garlic-infused burger. Savory garlic blends with the delicate taste and fragrance of French lavender, creating an experience that will entertain your taste buds without crashing the party. As pungent as the infusion may seem while it’s cooking, the resulting flavor—once blended with the beef—is mellow. Complex. Slightly obscure. Oh, you’re gonna love this!
I added cheese and garlic to the burger buns, too, because there is no such thing as too much garlic! The buns are easy to make, and a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach, with bits of crispy cheese poking out of the rich golden crust.Cabot Cheese sent participants a generous assortment of cheeses, and I made good use of each amazing variety. Choose your favorite flavor, of course, but I liked using a Colby Jack on the burger itself, sharp cheddar in the buns, and a sprinkling of spicy “Fiery Jack” on top of the bun as it baked.
Cheesy garlic buns top these lavender and garlic burgers. The recipe makes 6 burgers and 8 buns. That will give you two extra buns to "test". Enjoy!
CHEESY GARLIC BUNS:
1 cup very warm water
1 package active-dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ cup milk powder (whole milk powder if possible)
¼ cup oil (light olive, canola, peanut)
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped and sauteed briefly in a small amount of olive oil
1 cup grated cheese - more if you'd like. (I used sharp cheddar and Parmesan)
¼ cup baking soda
1 cup warm water
½ cup grated cheese (I used Cabot's Fiery Jack) to sprinkle on buns before baking
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 large cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 tablespoons culinary lavender
½ cup undiluted canned consommé
1 teaspoon brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
2½ pounds burger (I used Angus, 80% lean)
In a large bowl (a sturdy stand mixer with dough hook is recommended) combine warm water, yeast, and sugar. Allow mixture to sit until foamy - about 5 minutes.
Add egg, milk powder, and oil. Mix well.
Add flour and salt. Mix until combined. Knead by machine for 5-6 minutes (if kneading by hand, turn out onto floured surface and knead for 7-8 minutes.)
Knead in 1 cup grated cheese and the sauteed garlic. Place in a greased bowl, turning to coat the dough. Cover and let rise until doubled - about 1 hour.
Cover two large baking sheets with parchment (or lightly grease them).
Punch down dough and divide into 8 equal pieces, forming each piece into a smooth ball.
Place 4 balls onto each baking sheet and press to flatten each into a 4-inch circle, using your hand or the back of a salad plate. Cover lightly with a dish towel and allow the buns to rise until puffy - about 40 minutes.
Heat oven to 375 F.
For a rich brown crust, place the baking soda, water, and egg into a small bowl and whisk or beat until foamy. Lift each bun gently and drop, top down, in the bowl. Press on one side as you lift on the opposite side to remove the bun. Place carefully back on the baking sheet and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake until brown - approximately 14 minutes. Cool on rack.
In a small pan on medium low heat, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil and the chopped garlic. Cook gently on medium-low for 5 minutes. Don't let the garlic get brown - reduce heat if necessary. Add lavender and consommé and simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Turn off heat and cover the pan. Let it sit for 1 hour. Strain into a medium bowl, pressing mixture with the back of a spoon. Discard the garlic and lavender. (Or if you want to go for the gusto, add some of it to your burger mixture.)
Stir 1 teaspoon brown sugar into the broth. Add meat and mix well. Mix in salt and pepper if desired.
Cover and place bowl in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
Press burger into 6 patties and grill to desired doneness, adding cheese at the end.
Add your favorite veggies and condiments and serve with the cheesy garlic buns.
Cut into equal pieces (yes, yes, I use a kitchen scale. I can’t help it) and form balls.
Once the buns have risen and are puffy, whisk together the baking soda, water, and egg.
Dip. Be careful – don’t squeeeeze!
Sprinkle dipped buns with cheese and pop them in the oven, one baking sheet at a time.
Cook garlic gently in oil. Add lavender and broth.
So much flavor going into that burger!
Strain the broth into a bowl and add brown sugar.
Stir in the meat, make 6 patties, and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
Grill the burgers and top with cheese if desired. Grill those buns, too, but watch them; they go fast! Add your favorite veggies and condiments.
Look at all of these participants! I hope you’ll give them a visit. The calendar is full of upcoming burger posts, so between now and the end of the month you’ll see something from each and every one of these creative people:
Luscious lemon cake is layered with violet flavored icing for a unique dessert that is perfect for Mother’s Day or a spring tea. Violet flavoring can be purchased online, or a substitution can be made by soaking violet candy in heavy cream overnight. Top the cake with sugared violets for a simple, stunning presentation. For fun I made petits fours, too. The recipe is just a bit different, since a denser cake is called for; if you’re interested in making them I’ll give you instructions at the bottom of the post.
The recipe will make two 9-inch cakes (split to make 4 layers) or three 6-inch cakes (split to make 5 or 6 layers).
2¼ cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup shortening (or coconut oil), room temperature
1½ cups sugar
grated lemon peel from 2 lemons
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup milk
yellow food coloring if desired
5 egg whites
1 cup butter, room temperature
½ cup shortening
4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
4-5 drops violet flavoring
violet food coloring
Fresh violets (violas, Johnny Jump-ups). Make sure they haven't been treated with any chemicals! Grow them, find them wild, or order online.
1 teaspoon meringue powder (found in cake decorating section of large stores)
4 teaspoons warm water
Heat oven to 350 F.
Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans or three 6-inch cake pans. I like to put a circle of parchment in the bottom of each pan. (If you only have two 6-inch pans, bake two cakes and then clean one pan and bake the other cake. The batter will be fine on the counter while the first cakes bake.)
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar. Add the grated lemon peel and mix well.
In a small bowl combine the buttermilk, lemon juice, and milk.
To the large bowl with the shortening and sugar mixture, alternately add the dry ingredients and milk mixture, beginning with the flour and ending with the milk mixture, adding about a third of each at a time.
Beat for one minute at medium speed.
In a medium bowl, whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold gently but thoroughly into cake mixture.
Divide between the cake pans. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Allow to cool for 10 minutes on a rack and then turn out of the pan to finish cooling completely.
For easiest slicing, wrap and freeze cakes for several hours.
ICING: Beat butter and shortening well. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. If mixture gets too stiff for your mixer, add a little of the whipping cream. Once all powdered sugar is incorporated, add the whipping cream and beat well until smooth and fluffy. Add the flavoring and a tiny amount of coloring. Beat until combined.
Slice cake into layers. If making the 6-inch cake, you may want to just use 5 layers. Stack the layers with icing in between, making sure to get the icing all the way to the edge of each layer. For easiest handling, spread a thin layer around the outside of the cake and freeze for at least 1 hour. Ice the outside and top of cake and top with sugared violets.
VIOLETS: Place a piece of waxed paper or parchment on a cooling rack. With a toothpick, poke holes every few inches. This will allow airflow as the flowers dry.
Combine meringue powder and warm water in small dish. Whisk well. Place flower face-down on your hand, and with a soft paintbrush, brush a layer of meringue mixture on the back. Flip the flower over and brush the front. Sprinkle back and front with superfine sugar. Pinch off stem and place flower, stem down, on prepared cooling rack. Let the flowers dry for at least 24 hours. In the oven with the light on is great - the slight warmth from the light helps the flowers dry quickly.
Paint flowers with meringue mixture, then sprinkle with superfine sugar.
Sugared and drying.
Violet everything. If you can’t get the flavoring, drop 12 violet pastille candies into 1/4 cup heavy cream. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Strain and use in the icing.
I graduated the colored icing – but really not necessary.
To make a denser cake for petits fours, increase flour to 2 1/2 cups, decrease baking powder to 1 teaspoon, add 1/2 cup softened butter (in addition to the shortening), and instead of 5 egg whites, add two whole eggs (one at a time, scraping the bowl between each egg) to the creamed butter and sugar mixture, beating well. The remaining three egg whites will be beaten and folded in at the end. Put batter in a greased and floured 9x13x2-inch pan. Bake until a toothpick comes out cleanly when inserted in the middle. Once cool, cut into 1 inch squares. Remember – the freezer is your best friend! For help with icing and technique, here are instructions for Petits Fours
Note: one of my testers suggested a layer of lemon curd in the petits fours. What a great idea! I’ll do that next time, for sure.
I loved listening to this song on YouTube. It says Dinah Shore sang it, but the pictures in the video are of Doris Day. Meh. Whoever sang it, it was a clever little ditty.
Sweet violets, sweeter than the roses, Covered all over from head to toe, Covered all over with sweet violets.
Kulich, a traditional Russian Easter bread, is a tall column of buttery, slightly sweet bread filled with fruit. The texture is feathery, not soft like a cinnamon roll. Lightly spiced, with a hint of orange (and if you choose, a touch of cognac, brandy, or rum), this recipe is certain to become a family favorite.
In Russia, the kulich is taken to church to be blessed after the Easter service; it’s that important! Some believe the iced, domed top is supposed to represent a snow-covered orthodox church. (It snowed a lot on my kulich. I may have gotten carried away with the icing this time.) It’s also traditionally decorated with flowers on top, which is a stunning presentation for Easter.
Have you ever eaten Panettone? Kulich is very similar. Some people like to add chopped almonds, but I prefer to just use fruit.
I bought paper panettone molds—which made the whole process so much easier. There are very nice nonstick molds available too. They’re on my wish list! You can also use coffee cans that are lined with buttered parchment.
This will take a while to make, but requires very little hands-on effort. It’s a rich dough and rises three times, with a total of six to ten hours of rise time. Plan to hang around the the house the day before Easter so you can monitor the dough as it progresses from sponge to dough to masterpiece. While it’s doing its thing you can dye eggs, eat chocolates, run to the store, and go about your business.
Start this project in the morning. The bread is very slow to rise! Makes two tall loaves or three shorter loaves.
1 cup very warm milk
1 tablespoon sugar
2 packages active-dry yeast
2 cups bread flour
1 cup raisins
½ cup currants or chopped dried fruit
⅓ cup cognac (or brandy, rum, or orange juice)
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup butter, melted
Zest from one orange
¼ teaspoon cardamom
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups bread flour (a little more if necessary)
½ cup candied citrus peel, chopped
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoon orange or lemon juice
Milk to thin the frosting if necessary
In a large bowl (a stand mixer is recommended), combine the warm milk and sugar. Add the yeast and let it sit for 2–3 minutes. Add the egg and mix well.
Add 1 cup of the flour and beat for 1 minute. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of flour over the yeast mixture. Do not stir! Cover and let the sponge sit for 2–3 hours. The yeast mixture will rise and cover most of the flour.
While the sponge is rising, combine the raisins, dried fruit, and alcohol (or orange juice) in a small bowl. Cover.
When the sponge has risen (expect to see pockets of flour) add the eggs and egg yolks to the sponge and mix well.
Add sugar and mix well.
Add the melted butter gradually, until completely incorporated.Switch to a dough hook if you're using a stand mixer.
Add the orange zest, cardamom, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, and 2 cups flour. Mix well.
Gradually add remaining cup of flour.
Drain alcohol from raisins. (Don't waste it - it's wonderful in coffee!) Add drained raisins and candied citrus to dough.
Knead by machine for 5 minutes (or by hand 7-8 minutes). Dough should come cleanly away from the sides of the bowl, but should still be soft and slightly sticky. If it is too sticky, add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time.
Place dough in greased bowl and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled. This will take several hours.
If you are not using disposable panettone molds, prepare pans. Line the bottoms and sides of two or three (depending on the height you want) 1-pound coffee cans with buttered parchment paper. You can also use large ramekins, with heavy foil wrapped around the outside to add height.
Place molds on a baking sheet. Divide dough in half for two taller loaves, or into thirds for three shorter ones. Form into smooth balls and place into prepared molds. Press gently with fingers to flatten the tops slightly; this will keep them nice and even when they bake. Cover and allow to rise until the dough gets close to the top of the molds. This can take 3-5 hours!
Heat oven to 350 F.
Cover molds lightly with foil and bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the dough comes out clean. Remove foil if a darker top is desired. Depending on the size of your pans, baking time can be 45–60 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Lay them on their side on the rack for 10–15 minutes, rolling gently every few minutes. Slide kulich out of the cans or molds and cool on the rack, rolling once or twice to avoid flat sides.
When cool, combine the powdered sugar, lemon or orange juice, and enough milk to make a frosting that will ooze slowly over the sides of the kulich when the top is frosted. Frost the tops and decorate with flowers, nuts, raisins, or sprinkles.
These crisp chocolate shortbread nests are filled with ganache and pretty blue eggs, a perfect treat to place by each plate on your Easter table.
You’ll be surprised by how easy and fun these are to make—a great project for the whole family. They’re a little fragile after they’ve been baked, so if your littles are . . . well . . . little, you may want to supervise the filling and egg placement. To make the process even easier, you can always use canned frosting instead of making ganache.
6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (I used mini-chips)
Small candy eggs
In a large bowl (a stand mixture is recommended) beat the butter, shortening, and powdered sugar together until creamy.
Add egg yolk and coffee (or milk) and mix well.
Add flour, cocoa powder, salt, and cornstarch. Beat well. Be patient - it may take a few minutes before the mixture comes together.
Divide into two parts and chill for 1 hour.
Heat oven to 350 F.
Lightly spray mini cupcake pan with baking spray (an oil/flour mixture).
On floured surface roll half of the dough out approximately ⅛-inch thick. To keep the cookies similar in size, cut out 3-inch rounds (or squares). Using a thin spatula or bench scraper, chop one piece into thin strips. Lift the strips into a cavity of prepared pan, loosely surrounding the sides. Leave a few stray pieces sticking out of the top. Place a scrap of dough into the bottom of the cup if needed and press gently. Repeat with all of the remaining dough.
Bake approximately 8-9 minutes. Allow cookies to cool for several minutes, then gently lift each out of the pan and place on a cooling rack. Once cooled the cookies should be fairly crisp. If not, add another minute to the remaining cookies.
GANACHE: Heat heavy cream until it's steamy. Remove from heat, add chocolate and let it sit for 3-4 minutes. Stir well.
Add a dollop of ganache to the bottom of each nest and decorate with small candy eggs.
Loosely arrange shortbread strips in prepared cups. Bake!
Hint: Once they’ve cooled a bit, try putting something lightweight but stiff (cardboard, a flexible cutting board, etc.) over the top and then flipping the whole works over. It’s easier than lifting each one out of the pan.
So simple. Even the ganache is easy to make. Hope you’ll try this!
Here’s a fun idea for a St. Patrick’s Day party: a flaky tart with boozy, creamy filling, made to pull apart, piece by luscious piece!
A simple custard is divided and enhanced to create a contrast of flavors in the baked tart. Crème de menthe adds all the green coloring you’ll need, and I added some mini chocolate chips just before filling the tart. The brown custard is a combination of whiskey, Irish Cream, and espresso powder – my nod at Irish coffee.
St. Patrick’s Day is the perfect time to bring out the booze, right? Um. Yeah, I think I said that at Christmas. And Valentine’s Day. Okay, we’ve established that I love to cook with alcohol. There are just so many fun flavors out there!
Making the pull-apart crust is a little (gulp) time-consuming. You can always just make a regular crust and add the filling, but it’s not nearly as fun. Here’s a mini-tart I tried. It would have looked much nicer if I hadn’t added the chocolate chips to the green custard. And . . . if I hadn’t stuck my thumb right in the middle before I got the photos.
One bonus that came out of this culinary adventure is the crust. I knew that my usual pie crust would be too fragile for a pull-apart, so I added a little butter, sugar, and an egg white. Oh, man – this is a good crust! I may use this exclusively in my pies from now on. Flaky but stable, and easy to work with. You’ll love it!
1 egg white (saved from the eggs in the filling recipe)
2 tablespoons softened butter
1 egg and 1 egg yolk (extra white is used in crust)
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
2 cups buttermilk
pinch of salt
¼ cup Crème de menthe
2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips (optional)
⅛ cup whiskey
⅛ cup Irish Cream
1 tablespoon espresso powder
CRUST: In a medium bowl combine the flour, sugar and salt. Blend in shortening and butter using a pastry blender (or two knives). The mixture should be fairly fine - no chunks of butter larger than a pea.
In a small cup, whisk together the milk and egg white. Add to dry mixture and stir just until blended. Divide into two parts.
Working with half of the dough at a time, roll out on generously floured surface, about ⅛-inch thick. It can be a little thicker, but not more than ¼-inch. Cut out as many 2-inch circles as possible and set aside the scraps. (Repeat with remaining dough when needed, saving all scraps to roll together at the end.)
Gently fold one round in half, like a taco. Squeeze together the ends, making a small cup. Press one long side against the side of the tart pan, pressing it firmly, leaving the "cup" open. Repeat with the next round, pressing one side against the pan and one pointy end against the other round, connecting them firmly. Repeat all the way around.
For the next ring of dough cups, place them perpendicular to the existing row, pointy edges placed where the others are joined. Gently press the edges together, easing them together as you go. The goal is not to leave any large gaps.
From this point on, the rings will be pointing toward the center. Add one round to the very middle, to look like the center of a flower.
Place tart pan on baking sheet and put it in the refrigerator while you make (and cool) the filling.
FILLING: In a medium bowl, stir together the softened butter, egg, egg yolk, and cream. Butter will be clumpy - that's okay. Set aside
In a medium pan on medium heat, stir (or whisk) together the sugar, cornstarch, buttermilk, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until it gets steamy and thickens. Remove from heat.
Very slowly pour into the bowl with egg mixture, stirring vigorously. Pour back into the pan and reduce heat to medium low. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and it begins to bubble gently. Remove from heat.
Pour half (about 2 cups) of the mixture into the bowl the eggs were in. Add Crème de menthe and stir until combined. To the remaining mixture in the pan, add the whiskey, Irish Cream, and espresso powder. Stir well. Allow both mixtures to cool until lukewarm.
Heat oven to 350 F.
Once cooled, add chocolate chips to the green mixture if desired.
Working with a small spoon (or two pastry bags with the tips cut off) fill the dough cups. Alternate the colors or make your own design! (You will have a little filling left over. If you have leftover dough, make a mini pie OR fold in some whipped cream for a delicious mousse.)
Place the tart pan (on the baking sheet) in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes. You will see the filling puff up. When it begins to sink and bubble, take the tart from the oven and place on a cooling rack. It can be served lukewarm or totally cooled. Just remove outer ring and slide the tart off the bottom onto a serving board.