Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

With 2 bags of Meyer Lemons I have made my fair share of desserts. I made the scones I posted last week, a pie which I will be sharing with you on Pi Day (3/14) and these Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins I am sharing with you today. I was planning on making these muffins prior to the scones but I didn’t have any poppy seeds, well, guess what. I have way more than enough now. I honestly thought I would be able to purchase a small bag of them like I did for sesame seeds, but, at my usual supermarket poppy seeds are only available in containers like spices. So, because it was a better value I purchased the larger container. I guess I will be making a lemon poppy seed cake one of these days.

What was nice about these muffins is that they require only one large bowl to make the batter. I began by creaming together butter, eggs and sugar, then added in lemon juice and zest and finally the dry ingredients – baking powder, salt and poppy seeds. I opted to bake them in a 6 – cup muffin tin, but, you could bake them in a 12-cup cupcake tin instead. You will just need to keep an eye on them because the baking time will differ. These tasted good and were a nice treat for breakfast, but, next time I think I will bake them at 350 F instead. I found that baking them at 375 F allowed for the outside of the muffin to overbake a little while the inside finished baking.

Meyer Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons meyer lemon juice

1 teaspoon meyer lemon zest

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon poppy seed

*If you cannot find Meyer Lemons, you can use regular lemons

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 6-cup muffin tin with liners.

In a large bowl cream together the butter, eggs and sugar using a hand mixer or stand mixer on medium speed. Add in the lemon zest and juice and continue mixing until well combined. Add in the flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds and stir together until just combined, being careful not to over-mix.

Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tin.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Store left-over muffins in an air-tight container for 2 to 3 days.

Recipe from Miss in the Kitchen

Key Lime Pie Thumbprints

Thumbprint cookies… A versatile cookie that traditionally has a shortbread base and an indent in the center filled with jam, chocolate, dulce de leche, or for today’s cookie, a key lime chocolate filling. Don’t worry its white chocolate, not semi or milk chocolate. I definitely don’t think these cookies would be as appetizing if key lime juice was mixed in with either of those chocolates. Somehow I think the key lime flavor would be lost. Now, as a filling for a truffle I think it would be perfect. I may have had one or two of those before so I am speaking from experience.

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I have a friend who has all of a sudden fallen in love with Key Lime Pie. I’ve been making it for a few years now but all of a sudden when I made it last year it was like he was eating it for the first time. And when I asked some friends what cookies they wanted for Christmas last year (just over a month ago sounds so much better to say this early in the year) he suggested rugelach and a key lime pie. Which got me thinking of a key lime pie cookie since I wasn’t in the mood to make a pie (which I ultimately ended up making anyway.) So, I initially made the Key Lime Crinkles that were part of Cookie Palooza. While they were delicious, they lacked the key lime filling he enjoys so I knew I would have to try these thumbprints instead and I am happy to say that these were a hit with everyone who tried them. A cookie that will definitely be in my cookie rotation. Thanks to the graham cracker crumbs in the base of the cookie this is almost like enjoying a piece of key lime pie, but, in a bite size grab and go form. And while the key lime flavor is apparent in the filling I could imagine adding another tablespoon or so would kick it up even more.

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Key Lime Pie Thumbprints

  • Servings: 40 cookies
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Ingredients:

Cookies:

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg yolk

2 cups flour

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs (4 graham crackers)

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Filling:

1 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk

3 tablespoons key lime juice

2 teaspoons lime zest (1 lime)

 

Directions:

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the butter and sugars in a large bowl and beat on medium speed until creamy.

Switch the mixer to low and add in the egg yolk and vanilla extract and continue mixing until well combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

In a separate bowl which together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, cornstarch and salt.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing until the ingredients are incorporated. Scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Scoop 2 teaspoons of the dough and roll into a smooth ball and place on the prepared cookie sheets about an inch apart. (Using a standard cookie scoop I scooped the dough and then divided the dough in half to get the 2 teaspoon amount)

Using the back of a rounded teaspoon gently press an indent in the center of each ball. I have tried using my thumb for this step, but, have found that a teaspoon produces a much better circular shape.

Chill the dough in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Freezing the dough prevents the cookie from spreading too much while baking giving you more room for your filling.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Bake the cookies for 10-11 minutes. Immediately after removing the cookie from the oven press the teaspoon into the indent once again to redefine it. Let the cookies cool completely on the sheets before filling them.

To make the filling… Combine the chocolate chips, condensed milk and key lime juice in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat. Stir frequently until the chocolate chips have melted and the ingredients are well combined. Stir in the lime zest and continue stirring until the mixture begins to boil. Reduce the heat to low and using a teaspoon spoon the filling into the cookies.

Allow the filling to cool and set before serving. When storing the cookies, keep in mind that the filling may remain a bit tacky. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe from Sugar Spun Run

Meyer Lemon Scones

I recently purchased 2 bags of Meyer Lemons to make a pie which I will be sharing with you in a couple of weeks in honor of Pi Day. I was pretty sure I only needed 1 bag of the lemons since each bag had about 6 each, but, I wanted to be sure I had enough in case of any mishaps and I figured I could always make something else with the extra ones. Initially I was thinking of making muffins, which I may still do, but quickly realized that most lemon muffins include poppy seeds, which I didn’t have. Then I came across a recipe for scones and for some reason I always thought that scones were difficult and time-consuming to make but the recipe I opted to try was the complete opposite.

Unfortunately I did not take any pictures of the prep work that went into making these scones. I was cooking/baking about three or four other things so my counter was a mess and I was trying to make sure I didn’t overcook or burn anything. What was nice about this recipe was that it only required two bowls to mix all of the ingredients and it came together quickly. After stirring together my dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder) I added in diced cold butter. Here’s a tip, if you want to ensure your butter is cold enough and incorporates into the flour well, freeze it for a few minutes and instead of dicing it grate it in to the flour mixture. I then used a combination of a pastry cutter and my hands (actually just one hand, I ended up with a pretty bad cut on one of my fingers when I was cleaning lemon zest off my Microplane Grater) to work the butter in and get the mixture into the consistency of small peas. In a measuring cup I whisked together the heavy cream, an egg yolk and lemon zest and then added this to the flour mixture and stirred it until the dough formed. I then transferred the dough to a baking sheet, formed it into a circle and then cut it using a pizza cutter into four equal pieces. I separated the pieces so they weren’t touching and then brushed them with heavy cream. While the scones were baking, I whisked together a glaze of confectioners’ sugar, heavy cream and lemon juice to pour on them right out of the oven. I was never one to add glazes to my baked goods, I always thought doing so would make them super sweet. But, I have come around and realized that all glazes are not super sweet and sometimes can add another level of flavor to things. Like the cardamom glaze on the Rum-Raisin Apple Bundt Cake I posted a few months ago… YUM!

These scones were delicious and made for a nice breakfast treat. Maybe next time I will add some blueberries. Blueberries and lemon go together like peanut butter and chocolate!

Meyer Lemon Scones

Ingredients:

For the Scones:

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

4 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold and diced

1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream, plus more for brushing

1 large egg yolk

Zest of 2 Meyer lemons

 

For the Glaze:

1/3 cup Confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon heavy cream

2 teaspoons freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Add the butter and using your preferred method (knives, pastry cutter or hands) work the butter into the flour mixture until the consistency is smaller than peas.

In a measuring cup whisk together the heavy cream, egg yolk and lemon zest and then pour over the flour mixture. Stir the mixture until a shaggy dough forms and everything is incorporated, being careful not to overmix the dough.

Transfer the dough to a small cookie sheet and form it into a circle.

Using a knife (or pizza cutter) cut the circle into 4 equal pieces. Separate the pieces a bit so they are not touching and brush the pieces with heavy cream.

Whisk together the ingredients for the glaze in a small bowl and set aside.

Bake the scones for 13-15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean and the edges of the scones are beginning to brown.

Drizzle the glaze on the scones immediately after removing them from the oven. Enjoy warm.

To store, place the scones in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days.

Recipe from Dessert for Two

Hidden Heart Cake

Are you looking for something fun to bake for Valentine’s Day but are thinking that it’s too late? Well, this may just be the cake for you. All you need is 2 boxes of cake mix (I used white & chocolate), a loaf pan, a 2-inch heart cookie cutter and pink (or red) food coloring. While I used a white cake mix tinted pink for the hearts inside of a chocolate cake, you could try pink hearts inside of a white cake, red hearts inside of a white cake, red hearts inside of a yellow cake and so forth. It’s really up to you.

To begin, I prepped a box of white cake mix per the directions and then tinted it pink with a few drops of gel food coloring. I poured it into a loaf pan that I sprayed with baking spray and baked it in a 350 F oven for 40 minutes, the cake wasn’t quite done but was browning considerably along the top so I dropped the temperature to 325 F and baked it for another 10 minutes. I let the cake cool for about 20 minutes in the pan and then transferred it to a wire rack to cool completely.

After the cake cooled, I sliced it into approximately 1 inch slices. Some of the slices were a little thicker, some a little thinner. In the end, it didn’t matter.

Next, using a 2-inch heart cookie cutter I cut hearts from the slices of cake and set them aside. Those mini hearts were for a different baking project that turned out to be a fail… Oh well.

You will have a bunch of cake scraps left, I ended up snacking on a few pieces and then tossing the rest. If you make cake pops, or have been wanting to make cake pops, save these scraps for just that.

I then prepared the chocolate cake mix per the box directions. I spread about a 1/2 inch layer of the batter into the bottom of my loaf pan that I prepped with baking spray.

Next, I arranged the 2-inch hearts in a row down the middle of the pan, leaving a small space between the first and last heart and the pan, but, making sure the hearts in the middle were close together. This is why I said that if your slices aren’t exactly 1-inch thick it won’t matter. Once you line them together it will all be good.

I used a ladle to slowly pour the rest of the batter along the sides and on the top of the hearts. You don’t want to just pour the batter into the pan, this could disturb the hearts and you could end up with chocolate in between them. I did make sure that the hearts were completely covered with the batter. You don’t want a heart peeking out of the top of the cake… that would ruin the surprise.

I then baked it in a 350 F preheated oven for about 40 minutes. I inserted a cake tester and the inside was still a little underdone so I lowered the oven temperature to 325 F and baked it for an additional 10 minutes, similar to what I did with the pink cake. Once again, I let the cake cool for about 20 minutes in the pan and then removed it and let it completely cool on a wire rack.

Once it was cool it was time to slice and see if my hidden heart cake was a success (and it was)!

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Are you all set for Christmas? Are your gifts wrapped? Cards in the mail? Cookies baked? Or, are you looking for just one more treat to make? If so, you should try these Chocolate Truffle Cookies.  They are chocolaty without being overly sweet thanks to the addition of unsweetened chocolate, which helps to offset the sweetness of the semi-sweet chocolate and sugar.

One thing you will definitely need to make these cookies is time. Once the batter is made it needs to be refrigerated for at least 3 hours so it can become firm enough to handle, but, it’s worth the time. The final result is a cookie similar to a truffle, firm on the outside and soft on the inside.

These cookies were part of a box of treats I mailed to a friend. Included in the box were the Chocolate Covered Pretzels and Candied Nuts I posted about earlier this week. Also included were Peanut Butter Blossoms. All wonderful homemade treats to gift to anyone on your list and can easily be made this last weekend before Christmas.

 

Chocolate Truffle Cookies

Ingredients:

12oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1/3 cup unsalted butter, cubed

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup flour

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)

 

Directions:

In a microwave, melt 1 cup of the chocolate chips, unsweetened chocolate and butter; stir until smooth and let cool for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl beat the sugar and eggs on medium speed until well blended. Beat in the cooled chocolate mixture and vanilla extract.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Gradually beat this into the chocolate mixture. Once fully incorporated stir in the remaining chocolate chips.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a cookie scoop, scoop the dough (it will be quite firm) and then roll into a ball and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies have puffed and are set. Cool on the pan for 3 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if using.

Recipe from Taste of Home

Freezing Cookie Dough

I knew I would be pressed for time this year when it came to baking cookies for Christmas, so, I decided to do something I’ve never done before and was always skeptical of doing… freezing cookie dough. I normally have a good day or two to bake, but, the way things are falling this year I am only going to have one good full day to bake all of my cookies and I just knew that it wouldn’t be enough time due to the fact that I have a few other things to take care of that day as well. So, currently there are about 6 or 7 different batches of drop cookies in my freezer along with the dough for these Checkerboard Cookies . And, there is also a batch of Gingerbread People ready to be popped in the oven. I also went out and purchased some extra-large baking sheets. I am sure you have seen them, the Wilton Mega-Sized Baking Sheet. As you can tell, I am serious about baking these cookies in record time.

So, let’s talk about freezing cookie dough. Were or are some of you skeptical like me about it? Or, is it something you have been doing for years and are shocked to read my apprehension about it? The best cookies to freeze are drop cookies and slice and bake cookies. You can also freeze the dough for roll out cookies (sugar cookies, gingerbread people, etc.), but, I would suggest rolling out the dough and cutting it into your desired shapes first and then freezing it. That’s exactly what I did with the Gingerbread ones. Using a freezer-safe container, I lined it with two pieces of plastic wrap lengthwise and widthwise leaving a few inches of overhang. I layered the cookies in the containers making sure they were flat and placed a piece of parchment paper between each layer and on the top layer. Once filled, I wrapped the plastic wrap over the top layer making sure to press out any air. Topped the container with the cover and placed it in the freezer. You could freeze the entire disk of dough as well, but, I personally think that the time spent waiting for it to defrost would be better spent just making the dough to use immediately. My plan for these is to let them thaw a little and then press mini M&M’s into them before baking and then ultimately decorating them with royal icing.

 

Back to the drop cookies and slice and bake variety…. For the drop cookies I simply made the dough, rolled the dough into balls (scooping it with a cookie scoop) and then placed it on a baking sheet. Since the dough was going in the freezer and not in the oven I was able to place the dough really close together on the baking sheet. I just made sure none of them were touching which could ultimately lead to them freezing together. I then placed the sheet in the freezer for a few hours until the dough was thoroughly frozen. Once frozen, I transferred the dough to a freezer-safe plastic zip bag. I labeled the outside of the bag with the type of cookie it was. Since I wasn’t planning on leaving it in the freezer too long I opted not to include the date, oven temperature and baking time on the bag as well. The suggested length of time for leaving dough in the freezer is 3 months. I actually baked a batch of one of the cookies this weekend and I am happy to say it was a success. To bake them, I placed the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet 1 to 2 inches apart and increase the suggested baking time by 1 to 2 minutes to account for the dough being frozen. The cookies baked perfectly and tasted like I had just made the dough that morning. That’s really what my fear was (and still is to a certain extent), that the cookies will somehow have a weird flavor from the dough being frozen.

 

For the slice and bake cookies, you can follow your directions and form the dough into a log, wrap it in a few layers of plastic wrap, place it in a freezer-safe bag that has been labeled and then freeze it. It’s not necessary to refrigerate the dough prior to freezing as most slice and bake cookies require prior to slicing. To bake these cookies, let the dough sit at room temperature unwrapped for 10 to 15 minutes. The dough should feel cold to the touch, but soft enough that you will be able to slice it. Slice and bake per the directions, once again adding an additional minute or two to the time.

Since my test batch was a success I am little less unnerved by the process. Fingers crossed I will still be singing high praises come Sunday when I bake quite a few more batches.

Rainbow Cookie Cake

This cake might be a stretch as a holiday cake, but, since I normally make Rainbow Cookies around the holidays I figured a Rainbow Cookie Cake would be a nice addition as a holiday cake. It definitely has a bit of a wow factor and it’s much easier & quicker to make than the cookie version.

One of the things that made this cake easy was using three boxes of white cake mix. I prepped each following the directions on the package and added in 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract to each. While the almond flavor was noticeable, I think it would have been better to add in 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of extract to each. Or, you could skip the extract altogether and grate in almond paste. I would suggest buying one package of almond paste and dividing it into three equal parts. Once the cake mix was prepped I then added in gel food coloring to achieve the pink, yellow & green colors. Here’s a tip, instead of adding a bunch of one color to achieve your desired shade, add in a little orange to the yellow, add a drop of red to the pink and a bit of blue for the green. This will also result in more vibrant shades of each color as well.

I baked each of the layers in a 9 inch square pan. While the directions said to bake the cakes in a 350 F oven for about 35 minutes, I found that after 30 minutes my cakes were still undercooked so I lowered the oven temperature to 325 F and baked the cakes for an additional 10-12 minutes. I let the layers cool in the pan for about 15 minutes and then inverted them on wire racks to cool completely.

Once the layers were cooled I leveled each of them with a serrated knife. I placed the pink layer on a cake board, trimmed side up, and spread about 1/2 cup of raspberry jam. I repeated this step with the yellow layer and then topped the cake the green layer, trimmed side down. While the directions called for the cake to be frozen for 1 hour, unfortunately I used a round cake board that wouldn’t fit in my freezer so I ended up refrigerating it for about 2-3 hours. Don’t worry if your layers are not flush, i.e. not the same width, you will be trimming the sides of the cake once you top it with chocolate. This ended up happening to me because while both of the pans I used were 9 inch squares the sides of one of the pans was straighter than the other.

Before removing the cake from the refrigerator I made the chocolate topping. I melted chocolate and butter together in the microwave in 30 second intervals. Well, to be truthful, I microwaved it once at 30 seconds and the second time at 45 seconds and then stirred it together until smooth. I set it aside for about 10-15 minutes so it could cool and thicken before pouring it on the cake. If you pour it right away the chocolate will be too thin and just run down the sides of cake when you try to spread it. Also, you won’t be able to create the usual wavy lines in the chocolate that rainbow cookies normally have.

Once the chocolate was ready I removed the cake from the refrigerator and poured the chocolate over the top and using an offset spatula I spread it into a thick even layer over the cake. And for the final touch, using the tines of a fork I created wavy lines in the chocolate. If you find that the chocolate isn’t holding the wavy pattern, wait a minute or two and then go over the patter again with the fork. It could just be that the chocolate needs to cool a bit more. I then returned the cake to the refrigerator so the chocolate could set, but, not harden.

And finally, I trimmed all for sides of the cake. I did find this part a bit tricky as my cake was crumbling while doing so. Partly because, as per the directions, I only used eggs whites in the batter which produces a much lighter cake. You could use whole eggs as opposed to the egg whites which would produce a denser and moister cake and one that is slightly yellower, which would be good when tinting the yellow layer of the cake.

So, everyone who tried this cake, including me, loved it. They all agreed that it was light and not crazy sweet. The perfect type of dessert.

Rainbow Cookie Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

3 16 to 18–ounce boxed of white cake mix (plus the required ingredients)

1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract

Pink, yellow and green gel food coloring

1 cup seedless raspberry jam

Chocolate Topping:

2 4–ounce bars semisweet chocolate, chopped

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 9-inch square pan with baking spray and set aside.

Prepare 1 cake mix per box directions adding in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Tint with the pink food coloring, stirring well making sure no white streaks remain. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 35 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Repeat to make the yellow and green layers.

Trip the tops of each of the cakes to make level. Don’t worry if the widths of the cakes are different, you will even it out at the end.

Place the pink cake, trimmed side up, on a cake board and spread with 1/2 cup of jam. Top with the yellow cake, trimmed side up, and spread the remaining jam on top. Top with the green layer, trimmed side down. Freeze for 1 hour.

Microwave the chocolate and butter together in 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until melted and smooth. Let it cool slightly.

Pour the cooled chocolate over the top of the cake and using an offset spatula, spread the chocolate in a thick even layer over the cake.

Using the tines of a fork create a wavy lines pattern in the chocolate. Return the cake to the freezer so the chocolate can set, but not harden, about 15 minutes.

Using a long serrated knife trim all four sides of the cake.

 

Recipe notes:

You can use whole eggs as opposed to the recommended egg whites on the box directions

For a stronger almond taste try adding in more almond extract, or substituting it with almond paste.

To achieve brighter shades of pink, yellow and green, add a little red to the pink, orange to the yellow and blue to the green

You can place the cakes in the refrigerator as opposed to the freezer, but, will need to leave them in longer.

Recipe from Food Network