Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lemon Bars

I hope this post makes you drool. Skoticus will be so proud of my pictures, they are lovely. Remember those super sweet, tart, almost fake tasting lemon bars you grew up with and devoured without thought? These aren't those. You have the soft crust, like a shortbread cookie, layered with a custard lemon center that has the best of a lemon in it, without being overpowering. The top is a nice crusty crumb top that gives texture to the whole dessert. Oh, yes, they are good.

I even hunted down a really cool glass plate I got from my mom's collection that I dusted off for these pictures. They had to be outside, lemon bars are only for spring and summer days, so the green grass fits oh so well.
I really like old glass that distorts the world. I want some old glass in my house when I grow up, it'd be really cool in the glass around a front door.
The mint was from my garden, I could host a tea party!
Without further adu, here's the recipe. It's from Wegman's Menu magazine. They left out the part that says to bake the crust, but since it had egg, I knew something had to happen, I put that part in.

Lemon Bars (makes 24)

Sable Cookie Crust
12 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1/3 cup Granulated sugar
3/8 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
3/8 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 flour

Add butter, sugar, and salt to mixing blw. Cream on low until combined and lightened, scraping bowl and paddle as needed. Add yolk and vanilla extract. Mix to combine. Stop mixer. Add flour and mix on low until combined. Press dough evenly into a layer in baking pan. Cook at 350 until lightly brown on edges. Refrigerate 1 hour. After dough has chilled 30 minutes, continue with recipe.

Lemon Cream
1 1/4 tsp unflavored gelatine
4 tsp water
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp lemon zest (1/2 lemon)
1/3 cup plus 1 tsp lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons)
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

Sprinkle gelatine over water in small bowl. Set aside. Stir together eggs, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice in top of double boiler. Heat to 170 degrees on medium, stirring often. Stir in softened gelatine. Remove pan from stovetop; let mixture cool to 130 degrees. Place lemon cream mixture into food processor bowl (or in a blender). Add butter through feed tube as processor runs. Pour lemon cream mixture over cookie base.

2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp vegetable shortening
2 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (I wonder how it would be to put lemon extract instead)
1/2 cup flour

Add butter, shortening, and sugar to food processor bowl. Cream on low until combined and lightened. Add honey, salt and vanilla extract. Mix to combine. (f you don't have a food processor, at this point use a fork or biscuit mixing thing to create crumble top) Stop processor, add flour through feed tube. Pulse until pea-size crumbles form. Spread evenly on separate baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes or until brown. Let cool. Break apart if necessary. Sprinkle crumble evenly on top.

Cover; chill approx 3 hours. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired. Cut into 24 pieces (I use a pizza cutter, it works great.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cupcakes Anyone?

I decided I needed another hobby. After each of my kids I started doing something new. First sewing (not so much anymore), then gardening (still got that, see previous post), running came with #3 (trying to get back into that one) and now I want to try cookie decorating. Right, you thought I was going to say cupcakes. Well, this idea was what got me started.

On Sugarbelle (located on the left) the blogger created these awesome 3D cookies that looked like cupcakes. I wanted to try it, and so I did. For my first batch, I made them pretty big, and I didn't like it that much, although my kids did. Since I didn't like them, I didn't take the time to make frosting, I just put store frosting in a pipping bag and twisted it around. Sprinkles make everything look better!
I had to try again. I made them with the 3 smallest fluted edge cookie cutters and stacked them up. Some of them I had the bottoms all the same size, others had the gradual size change, I didn't count the right size of each one. Looking back, I should have made sure the tops of the cookies would be facing up and that the cookies are centered. I don't have that much patience, I really wanted to see what they looked like and just drove right through the construction.
The hardest part about decorating cookies to look really good is getting the frosting the right consistency. I used royal icing and it was kind of drippy, so it went further down the edges than it was suppose to. But I like it that way. Except, with that much royal icing, it's pretty crunchy when it dries, which defeats the purpose of making a fabulous soft cookie. Again, the kids liked it.So I searched the web and found a good buttercream frosting. This seemed better because they said it dried softer.
This time I made some 'cupcakes' for a birthday. I followed a simple design and was amazed at how cute they turned out. I really like the frosting, but before I commit to that recipe, I also want to try a glaze frosting. It's suppose to be pretty hard to decorate with but taste really good.