Saturday, July 30, 2011

Strawberry Creamsicles

I didn't do a lot of baking over the summer with it being so hot out. So, these popsicles were fun to make in the heat and definitely enjoyed.  My sister sent me this great ice pop book for my birthday and I decided to put it to use.

I like these classic popsicle molds and she sent me the molds to make them too.

They were very easy to make with blending the strawberry mixture and using vanilla yogurt to alternate in the mold and create the yummy strawberry creamsicle.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Coconut Cake with Lime Curd

This is the second year that I've made my own birthday cake. And, for those that really know me (and how 'type A' I truly am), you know that I refuse to do anything the easy way and have to make it completely from scratch. Last year, that meant that I made my own white chocolate fondant. This year, that required the use of my toolbox to get all this lovely coconut you see. I think it was worth it though...and pretty fun.

Dad would be SO proud that I finally put these tools to use...

After boring a hole to get the water out for the cake batter, I finally cracked it open.  Luckily I was alone and had the blinds closed, as I'm sure I looked like a crazy woman laying the hammer to this coconut.

The cake was made with the coconut water instead of just milk and then I made fresh lime curd for the filling. You know that song...."you put the lime in the coconut...." I just LOVE coconut and basically anything with it - coffee, desserts, drinks...

I had some help from a friend to grate all the coconut. I think she thought I was out of my mind since you can buy it already shredded up in bags in the store.

A lot of grating later, we put coconut in between the layers.

I made a lime buttercream with fresh lime juice and zest.  I love all those fresh green specs of lime mixed in the frosting. 

More coconut and grated lime zest on top and my cake was complete!

Little A had a blast.  What little girl wouldn't when you have a huge cake displayed on a platter when you wake up from your nap?  Before my friend and I went out to celebrate, we had a a little birthday celebration with her and enjoyed some of the cake.

After we licked the frosting off the candles, she was so excited to cut the cake. And being quite the sophisticated toddler that she is, she enjoyed my coconut and lime curd cake. 

If you think you have the tools and patience to tackle this one, the recipe is below.  I dare you and bet you'll enjoy it too.  Make sure you have lots of friends to help you eat it though.  I ended up having three separate birthday celebrations to finish this cake off.

Recipe for Coconut Cake with Lime Curd
Adapted from a recipe printed in Gourmet Magazine


3 C. cake flour (not self-rising)
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 C. whole milk
1/2 C. fresh coconut water (from about 3 small or one large coconut)
1 1/2 t. pure vanilla
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 C.) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 C. sugar
5 large eggs

Lime Curd:
6 large 
3/4 C. sugar
1/2 C. fresh lime juice
3 T. heavy cream
3/4 stick (6 T.) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 t. freshly grated lime zest

2-4 C. shredded coconut (depending on how much you want to decorate with)

3 sticks (1 1/2 C.) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 lb. (4 C.) powdered sugar
1/2 t. pure vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line bottoms of two buttered 9- by 2-inch round cake pans with rounds of wax paper or parchment paper and butter paper. Dust pans with flour and tap out the excess.

Make cake layers:
In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a glass measuring cup stir together milk, coconut water, and vanilla. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed one minute and add sugar in a slow stream, beating. Beat mixture scraping bowl occasionally, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to low and beat in flour mixture in four batches alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture and scraping bowl occasionally, until batter is just combined (do not overbeat).
Divide batter among pans, smoothing tops and tapping pans on counter to allow any air bubbles to escape. Bake cake layers in middle and lower thirds of oven (arrange pans so they overlap only slightly) until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert cake layers onto racks. Remove wax paper carefully and cool cake layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped in plastic wrap, in an airtight container in a cool dry place. (Alternatively, cake layers may be made 5 days ahead and frozen wrapped in plastic wrap and foil. Thaw cake layers in refrigerator 1 day before proceeding.)

Make lime curd:
In a heavy saucepan whisk together yolks, sugar, lime juice, cream, and butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking constantly, 5 to 7 minutes, or until mixture just reaches a boil (do not continue to boil). Strain curd through a fine sieve into a bowl and stir in zest. Cool curd its surface covered with plastic wrap, and chill at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.

Assemble cake layers and lime curd:
Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate and spread evenly with about half of lime curd. Sprinkle with 1/2-1 cup shredded fresh or sweetened flaked coconut and chill 15 minutes. Chill cake 15 minutes.

Make frosting:
With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about two minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time.  Beat well after each addition and scrape sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla and beat until frosting is smooth. Frosting can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.  Frosting should be brought to room temperature and beat on low speed until smooth again, about five minutes.

Frost cake and coat with fresh shaved coconut.

To extract coconut liquid:
Pierce softest eye of each coconut with a metal skewer or small screwdriver (I found it worked best to hammer a small screwdriver into the coconut or use a drill) and working over a bowl shake coconut, draining liquid and reserving coconut for shredding or shaving (procedure follows). Makes about a scant 3/4 cup liquid.

To shred or shave fresh coconut:
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Bake reserved drained coconuts in oven 15 minutes
With a hammer or back of a heavy cleaver, break shells and remove meat, levering it out carefully with point of a strong knife or small screwdriver. Remove brown membrane with a sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler.

To shred coconut:
In a food processor fitted with fine shredding blade shred coconut meat from about 1 coconut in batches or shred by hand on fine shredding side (small tear-shaped holes) of a 4 sided grater until you have about 1 cup, reserving remaining coconut meat for another use.

To shave coconut:
With a vegetable peeler shave edges of coconut meat pieces until you have about 3 1/2 cups, reserving remaining coconut meat for another use. Coconuts may be shredded or shaved 1 day ahead and chilled in a sealable plastic bag.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Blackberry and Goat Cheese Bars

I love seeing all the fresh berries at the market each weekend and have enjoyed baking with blackberries lately, including the peach and blackberry tart I recently made. I could just sit and eat a whole bowl of berries or, better yet, cover them in custard and eat them.

These bars consisted of a shortbread crust, a layer of blackberry jam, and then the fresh berries drenched in a custard made with cream cheese and goat cheese.  I think they're supposed to be for dessert, but they were breakfast for my team meeting one morning. They weren't complaining.

Blackberries are so pretty. Last year, I made little meringue shells for them.

And, then the downpouring of custard.  And, not just any custard, but custard with goat cheese, fresh lemon juice and fresh lemon zest.

They're so good together.

The finished product...for dessert or breakfast.

Recipe for Blackberry and Goat Cheese Bars
Adapted from a recipe by Scott Peacock in BHG

1C. unsalted butter (2 sticks) cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 C. packed light brown sugar 
1/2 t. salt
2 C. unbleached all-purpose flour
Softened butter (for brushing sides of foil)
1 C. blackberry jam or preserves
1 pint (2 cups) fresh blackberries
1/2 - 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
4 oz. goat cheese
1/2 C. granulated sugar
1 T. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 T. finely shredded lemon zest
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 t. pure vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with a 24-inch-long sheet of aluminum foil, leaving extra foil extending over ends (use these later to lift bars from pan); set aside. In a large bowl beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until it just begins to blend and soften slightly, about 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and salt, beat on low speed until incorporated, 30 seconds to 1 minute. With mixer off, add the 2 cups flour. Beat on low speed until flour is incorporated. Increase speed to medium, mix until ingredients form an even, cohesive dough.
Break dough into small chunks and distribute in prepared pan; with your fingers press dough into an even layer. Bake 20 minutes or until dough has begun to puff and is just set. Cool on wire rack 5 minutes.
Lightly brush exposed sides of foil with softened butter to keep filling from sticking. Spread jam evenly over crust.
Sprinkle evenly with blackberries.
With a lemon zester, remove peel from lemon, making sure to avoid bitter white pith.
In a large bowl beat cream cheese and goat cheese with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Mix in granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon flour until blended. With mixer running, add egg, egg yolk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
Pour custard batter evenly over berries. Tilt pan back and forth to distribute evenly. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes or until barely set. Transfer to a wire rack until completely cool, about 1 hour; cover and transfer to refrigerator. Chill 2 hours. Top will crack slightly as it cools.
Use foil to lift the bars from pan. With a knife or metal spatula, support the sides of the bars while you gently peel the foil downward and away from sides of the bars.
Cut into long bars, peel foil from bottom, and transfer to cutting boars using side of a long knife or spatula. Cut into 24 squares