Posts Tagged ‘Baking’

You put the lime in the coconut!

August 28, 2009

I’m a chocolate loving girl. I tend to think a dessert doesn’t qualify as dessert if there isn’t chocolate in there somewhere. This is why I am so reluctant to try any recipe that doesn’t include some kind of chocolate. But I’m trying to be more adventurous and open-minded as of late, so I am determined to seek out other treats.

So I was excited this week when a little gem showed up in my email in-box. It was a recipe for Martha Stewart’s Key Lime Coconut Bars. I recently signed up for Martha’s “Cookie of the Day” emails and have been receiving all kinds of yummy recipes that I can’t wait to try. I went shopping for the ingredients for the the bars the very next day!

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Even though I live in Florida, I did not find key limes or key lime juice. I know our grocery store carries it, but apparently not on the day I was shopping. I substituted regular limes and juice, which the recipe states is an alternative. I honestly don’t know what a difference in flavor the key limes would make, but I will try that in the future.

The crust for the bars is a pastry crust and the dough can be made using either a pastry cutter or two knives. Well I tossed out my pastry cutter a few years ago after a very frustrating and extremely unsuccessful attempt at making apple pie. I swore to never make another pie crust again and the cutter went straight into the garbage…such is the temper I have! I tried using two knives to cut the dough as suggested by Martha. It was a mess and I was starting to get really aggravated when I had one of those clever “light bulb” moments. I dug out my potato masher and used it instead. It did the job, but man it was a workout on my forearms and biceps! I made a mental note to purchase another pastry cutter.

I sprayed the pan with non-stick spray, but in retrospect I should have lined it with foil to make it easier to remove the bars for cutting. I was still able to cut them fairly easily using a pizza cutter. I have found that the pizza cutter works really well on bar desserts and is faster and less messy than using a knife.

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The end result is that I was really happy with these Key Lime Coconut Bars. The toasted coconut added just the right crunch to these creamy little bites. I realized after tasting them, that these are basically mini key lime pies with coconut added. In fact, when I looked up a recipe for Key Lime Pie, it was almost identical. While the powdered sugar sprinkled on top was tasty, I think they would be even better with a spoonful of whipped cream.

As usual, the majority of these goodies were sent to work with my husband to share with his coworkers. He is not a fan of key lime pie and wasn’t sure if these would go over well. He was surprised (and I was quite pleased) that his coworkers went crazy for these and they did not last long! So if you are in the mood for a taste of tropical Florida in a yummy little treat, definitely give these a try!

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The perfect classic cupcake

August 22, 2009

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I found it! The perfect vanilla cupcake recipe!

Over the past few months, I’ve tried a few yellow or vanilla cake recipes with varying success. When I made cupcakes for my daughter’s birthday earlier this summer(see Cupcakes), I was not completely happy with the yellow ones. I really wanted to find the recipe for THE ONE and I did… all thanks to Magnolia Bakery in NYC.

While I’ve never actually been to the bakery, I’ve read many great things about their incredible cupcakes. Perhaps one day I will be lucky enough to make the trip from Florida and try one of their delicious cupcakes, but for now I’m happy just to have found the recipe. It turns out that they also have several cookbooks, so that is something to add to my wish list!

This vanilla cupcake recipe (courtesy of the Food Network) is super simple and super delicious. I ended up making one change out of necessity. The recipe calls for all butter, but I didn’t have enough so I had to substitute 1/2 shortening and 1/2 butter. I’m not sure how much better it would have been with all butter, but I will have to try that another day. As it was, these cupcakes baked up perfectly…golden, light and fluffy. They were yummy the day I baked them, the day after I baked them and even the day after that! I did end up eating quite a few of them, but I also sent some home with a friend in order to pass on the cupcake love.

Magnolia’s says that their most popular cupcake is the vanilla with vanilla buttercream. While I’m sure their vanilla buttercream is wonderful, I wanted chocolate. Vanilla with chocolate is such a classic cake combination that conjures up sweet memories of the cakes my mother used to bake me. I found the recipe for their chocolate buttercream on the Recipe Zaar’s website. This is another easy recipe that turns out a silky, creamy and wonderfully chocolaty frosting. I used it earlier this year on a baptism cake for my daughters and was so happy with it that I couldn’t wait to make it again. I will caution you that this frosting is best served at room temperature as it gets too firm when cold. If you chill your cakes with the frosting, remove them at least 30 minutes to an hour prior to serving so it will soften up.

I’m curious to see how this vanilla cupcake recipe would bake up as a regular cake. I’m hoping it will maintain the same light and fluffy texture on a sweet layer cake overflowing with chocolate buttercream. But I will have to save that adventure for another day!