• Mini Pavlovas

    Spring is in the air bbs! And to me, a quintessential spring dessert is pavlova. Pavlovas are meringue nests, either in mini or large form, and are typically filled with whipped cream, pastry cream, lemon curd, or fresh fruit. It can be adjusted based on what is fresh and in season, so there are practically endless possibilities. I feel like that is a running theme of this blog, desserts that can be customized to your liking, and I’m not mad about it. I encourage everyone to play around with flavors and combinations and find what works best for you, the fun is in the process! For these pavlovas, I borrowed the basics from this recipe on ZoeBakes, doubled for more minis, and went from there!

    I feel like I may be the only person on this earth not watching Game of Thrones right now (it’s Sunday night as I’m typing this), and I am instead choosing to watch the 2nd season of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina AGAIN because that’s exactly how I roll. Something I should have done today is give my room a good spring cleaning, but what did I do instead? Take a nap, watch TV and make pavlovas. Good stuff good stuff, guess that spring cleaning will have to wait until next week!


    Until then, here are 5 things to be happy about!!
    ONE. 
    Staying up to watch that extra episode because you know you can sleep late tomorrow.
    TWO. Tent dresses.
    THREEFern fossils.
    FOUR. Fried chicken with hushpuppies.
    FIVE. Cleaning out your wallet, makeup case, and purse.
    Let’s get baking!!

    MAKES: 12 mini pavlovas
    PREP TIME: 45 minutes
    BAKE TIME: 2 hours

     

    PAVLOVA INGREDIENTS

    8 egg whites
    ½ tsp kosher salt
    ½ cup cold water
    2½ cups sugar
    2 tsp vinegar (cider, white wine, or distilled)
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch

    PAVLOVA STEPS

    ONE.  Preheat your oven to 300ºF. To prepare your baking sheets, trace 3″ circles about 2 inches apart from each other on the underside of a sheet of parchment paper cut to size. Flip the paper over so that the circles show through but no pencil marks will rub off on the meringues.

    TWO. In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the egg whites with the salt until medium-stiff peaks form. At this point, drizzle in the water with the mixer on low speed. Slowly add the sugar a little at a time, and once all is added, turn the mixer up to high speed and whip until the egg whites form stiff peaks. This means that if you remove the whisk attachment and hold it upright, the egg whites will stick straight up.

    THREE. Add the vanilla and vinegar, and then sprinkle in the cornstarch. Fold the cornstarch into the egg whites with a rubber spatula, lightly shaking the spatula as you fold to eliminate any lumps.

    FOUR. Scoop even amounts of meringue onto each traced circle. Using an offset spatula, start by smoothing around the sides, then create a dip in the center, which will prevent the top from cracking during baking. For a more polished look, smooth the sides of each meringue by holding the spatula horizontal and dragging from the bottom to the top in quick strokes all the way around.

    FIVE. Bake the pavlovas at 300ºF for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 275ºF and bake for another 15 minutes. Finally, turn the oven down again to 250ºF and continue to bake for 30 more minutes. At this point, turn off the oven, turn the oven light on, but do NOT open the oven door. Allow the meringues to sit in the off oven for at least an hour, up to overnight to fully dry.


    BLUEBERRY SAUCE INGREDIENTS

    1 pint of blueberries
    ¼ cup sugar
    ½ tsp cinnamon
    Splash of amaretto liquor (optional)


    BLUEBERRY SAUCE STEPS

    ONE. Combine all the above ingredients in a saucepan and mix to combine. Cook on medium heat until the blueberries begin to break down and the alcohol cooks off. Allow to cool completely before serving.

    WHIPPED CREAM INGREDIENTS

    1 cup heavy whipping cream
    2 Tbsp sugar
    2 tsp vanilla extract


    WHIPPED CREAM STEPS 

    ONE. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the heavy cream on medium high speed. Add in the sugar and vanilla until the sugar is dissolved and the whipped cream is the desired consistency. For this, some stability is helpful since the blueberry sauce will go on top.

    ASSEMBLY

    ONE. To serve, carefully remove a meringue from the tray so as not to shatter the thin sides, top with a generous scoop of whipped cream, a pour of blueberry sauce, and some extra berries. Best eaten immediately, but if needed, unfilled meringue shells can be stored in an airtight container overnight.

    XoxoxoxoxoD

  • Almond Bundt Cake with Candied Citrus Peels

    Since when is it April?? Literally where has the time gone? I’m all turned around and suddenly I’ll be 24 in a week? Yikes. But before I worry about that, I’m here to give you this life-changing recipe for an almond bundt cake so moist and so versatile that you may never need to make another cake again. Adapted from this recipe from Zoe Bakes, I tweaked a few little things and switched a blood orange glaze (I think they’re out of season now) with a lemon and orange one instead, similar to a frosting my grandma used to make when I was little. The combination of citrus and almond is heavenly and bright and springy and when I served this cake for dinner, there was not a single piece left over.

    Some notes about this cake- the recipe calls for cake flour, which is much finer than all-purpose, and as a result creates a cake with a smaller, denser crumb. For some reason I had a box of cake flour in my house that had baking powder and salt already mixed in, do not use this! You want to be able to control the amounts that you add in, so stick with the straight up stuff. Also, it’s important to use almond paste that’s relatively new/ fresh, because if it’s too old and dry, it won’t incorporate into the batter and you’ll end up with chunks of almond paste throughout. Finally, the base cake recipe is pretty customizable, you can add a touch of citrus zest to the cake itself, serve it with or without glaze, change up the fruits, it’s all up to you! But I myself am dramatic as hell so I decided to teach myself how to make candied citrus peels to go on top, and 10/10 would recommend you try that at least once yourself, it’s deceivingly easy and SO good. Everyone’s getting chocolate covered orange peels as gifts this year.

    Before we get started however, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
    ONE. Receiving food as presents.
    TWO. Phone calls that accidentally last over an hour.
    THREE. The first day of the year that you can go outside without a coat and realize it’s comfortably warm. (Thanks Taylor!)
    FOUR. Naps on a rainy Sunday.
    FIVE. Spring cleaning.

    Let’s bake!

    SERVES: 8-9 people
    PREP TIME: 30 minutes
    BAKE TIME: 45-50 minutes
    DECORATING TIME: Unlimited!!!

    ALMOND CAKE INGREDIENTS

    ¾ cup cake flour
    ½ tsp baking powder
    1/8 tsp kosher salt
    7 oz. almond paste, diced into squares
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    1 tsp vanilla bean paste
    5 eggs, room temperature

    CITRUS GLAZE INGREDIENTS

    3½ cups powdered sugar
    Zest of two lemons
    Zest of one orange
    4 Tbsp. lemon juice
    4 Tbsp. orange juice

    CANDIED CITRUS INGREDIENTS

    Peels from 1 lemon + ½ orange
    2½ cups sugar
    1 cup water (plus more for boiling)

    ALMOND CAKE STEPS

    ONE. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Generously butter and flour a 10-cup bundt pan, tapping out the excess flour. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

    TWO. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cubed almond paste until it breaks into tiny pieces. Add the sugar a little bit at a time until combined and grainy. Add the softened butter, a tablespoon at a time, until half is in, scraping the bowl with a spatula every now and then. Beat the mixture on medium speed until smooth. When the mixture is uniform, add in the rest of the butter, and beat until fluffy and light.

    THREE. Add the vanilla bean paste, and then the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. At this point, take the bowl out of the stand mixer and fold in half of the flour with a spatula. Repeat with the rest until just combined, don’t overmix!

    FOUR. Fill the prepared pan with batter, smooth out the top, and bake for 45-50 minutes until golden. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then flip onto a cooling rack to cool completely.


    CITRUS GLAZE STEPS

    ONE. In a bowl, mix together the powdered sugar and citrus zests, then add the lemon and orange juices, a few tablespoons at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. You may not use all of it if you want a thicker glaze, and that’s fine! Transfer the glaze to a measuring cup for easier pouring.

    CANDIED CITRUS PEEL STEPS

    ONE. Using a vegetable peeler, cut wide strips of peel from a lemon and an orange, avoiding the bitter white pith as much as possible. If you want smaller pieces, cut the peels into smaller strips, but you can also leave it as is.

    TWO. In a small saucepan, add the peels and enough water to generously cover them and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, strain the water out, add fresh water, and bring to a boil again, then drain again. Repeat this one more time. This process will take some of the bitterness out of the peels!

    THREE. In the same saucepan, whisk together 2 cups of the sugar and a cup of water, then bring to a boil. Add the peels and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the peels are tender and translucent, about 10 minutes, then drain.

    FOUR. In a small bowl, toss the peels with the remaining ½ cup sugar until they’re thoroughly coated, then remove one at a time, shaking off the excess. Allow the candied peels to dry before arranging or packaging.


    CAKE ASSEMBLY STEPS

    ONE. Set a cooking rack in a rimmed baking dish, then place the cake on the cooling rack. Pour the glaze over the cake*, coating as little or as much as you’d like. Let the excess glaze fully drip off into the sheet pan below, then transfer the cake to a stand or plate. Arrange the candied citrus peels on top, and serve!!

    *Tip: save the glaze that drips off onto the sheet tray, and use it to drizzle over the cake when serving!!

    XoxoxoxoxD

  • Bourbon-Vanilla Bean Challah Bread Pudding with Creme Anglaise

    Wow this is a mouthful. Both phonetically and literally, huh? This week’s recipe is brought to you accidentally by Ina Garten again. I promise this isn’t a Barefoot Contessa-only blog all of a sudden, I’ve just been in such a mood and this bread pudding looked like exactly what I needed and I couldn’t get the thought out of my head once it was in there. Classic D.

    This is the simplest of bread pudding recipes, altered slightly from Ina’s brioche to use challah from a local bakery, and because I like to give myself more work whenever possible, a side of Creme Anglaise to go with it. That sounds much fancier than it actually is, to be honest it’s really just vanilla custard, but for some reason it takes this dish to the absolute next level. I really don’t think you can ever have too much vanilla, and it makes me sad when people say it’s a boring flavor. Vanilla is my favorite, there, I said it!! Vanilla ice cream? I’ll take that any day. Vanilla tootsie rolls were clearly the best ones, vanilla cake is classic for a REASON people! Anyway, now that we’re all hungry, let’s get down to business. This recipe is really easy, although waiting an hour and a half to eat it will be the most difficult thing you do all day. While you’re waiting, might I suggest doing a face mask or some other form of self-care, watch an episode of your favorite show, and then make some Creme Anglaise (but not too early, otherwise you’ll want to drink all of it before the pudding is done).

    Another fun thing to do while you wait is think of some things to be happy about, and speaking of which, here are your first five. I apologize in advance, I am my fullest form in the Christmas season and it begins NOW:
    ONE. The first Christmas song of the season.
    TWO. Drinking iced coffee long after it gets too cold to be acceptable.
    THREE. Peppermint hot chocolate.
    FOURStaying in for a movie night.
    FIVE. Half-priced Halloween candy on November 1st

    Serves: 8 to 10 people
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Bake Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

    Bread Pudding Ingredients
    adapted from Cooking Like A Pro

    1 Challah loaf plus another half loaf
    3 whole eggs
    8 egg yolks
    4 cups half-and-half
    1 cup whole milk
    1¼ cups white sugar
    2 tsp bourbon
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 tsp vanilla bean paste/ seeds from 1 vanilla bean
    Confectioners’ sugar; for serving
    Crème Anglaise; for serving (recipe below)

    Steps

    ONE. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Cut the half loaf of challah into roughly five slices ¾” thick and lay them on a sheet pan. Trim the crust off the full loaf and dice into roughly 1-inch cubes. Spread the cubes on a second sheet pan and toast both pans in the oven for 5 minutes.

    TWO. To make the custard, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, milk, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean paste/ seeds in a large bowl. Set aside.

    THREE. Line a 10 x 12 inch baking dish with the toasted slices of challah, trimming as necessary so that they fit neatly and cover the bottom of the dish entirely. Evenly distribute the cubed bread pieces on top. Pour the custard over the whole thing and gently press down so that the mixture is absorbed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

    FOUR. Place the baking dish in a roasting pan large enough that the dish fits flat, and add an inch of boiling water to the roasting pan (avoid getting water in the pudding). Cover the whole thing with tin foil, poking a few holes here and there to allow steam to escape. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes. Remove the tin foil and bake for an additional 45 minutes, until the custard is set.

    FIVE. Serve warm, with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar and a generous drizzle of Crème Anglaise.


    Crème Anglaise Ingredients

    1 cup milk
    ¾ cup heavy cream
    1 tbsp bourbon (optional)
    2 tsp vanilla bean paste/ seeds from 1 vanilla bean
    4 egg yolks
    1/3 cup white sugar

    Crème Anglaise Steps

    ONE. Add the milk, cream, bourbon, and vanilla bean to a saucepan and heat on medium until small bubbles appear around the edges and steam begins to rise. Separately, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and combined.

    TWO. While whisking continuously, slowly drizzle the hot milk mixture into the eggs, a little at a time so as not to scramble the eggs, until all is incorporated. Then, transfer this mixture back to the saucepan.

    FOUR. Cook this mixture on low heat. whisking constantly, until it becomes slightly thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Strain the thickened mixture through a sieve and then allow to cool before serving.

    YAY!! xoxoxoxo